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|Accused:||KUPRESKIC, Zoran; KUPRESKIC, Mirjan; KUPRESKIC, Vlatko; JOSIPOVIC, Drago; PAPIC, Dragan; SANTIC, Vladimir|
|Type of Decision:||Judgement and Sentence|
|Date of Decision:||14-01-2000|
|Heading:||Judgement: General background|
|Keywords:||Armed Conflict / Armed Forces / History Of Former Yugoslavia / Attack On Civilian Population|
|Reference to case-law:|
|ALC:||Volume 4, p. 888-892|
|Paragraphs:||38 - 338|
A.The Origins of the Muslim-Croat Conflict (October 1992 - March 1994 )
1. The Case for the Prosecution
39. The Prosecution contends that the attack on Ahmici of 16 April 1993, which is the principal subject of this judgement, took place as part of a campaign of "ethnic cleansing" waged by the Bosnian Croats during the Muslim-Croat conflict in order to create ethnically homogenous regions which could be united in an independent Bosnian Croat state. This autonomous region, under the control of the Bosnian Croat authorities and independent from the central control of the Government of the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina in Sarajevo, could eventually be annexed to the Republic of Croatia as part of a "Greater Croatia" in the mirror image of the "Greater Serbia " plan.
40. Croatia and Serbia's designs on the territory of Bosnia appear to be long-standing .  When, in April 1992,  the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina gained its independence, it appears that Serbia and subsequently Croatia put these designs into effect, with the use of their respective Bosnian Serb and Bosnian Croat agents.
41. The Prosecution has argued in this case that the Bosnian Croats pursued a separatist agenda through their political and military authorities.  As regards the evidence adduced in this case of Bosnian Croat aspirations to statehood , a Prosecution witness, Witness Q, referred to a conversation with one of the accused, Vlatko Kupreskic, after an October 1992 attack on the Muslims in Ahmici, in which the accused stated that the Croats would now get their own State.  Similar evidence indicates that Bosnian Croats sought autonomy from the central government of the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina, based in Sarajevo.  Another witness, Vlado Alilovic, said that while the so-called Croatian community of Herceg-Bosna was not conceived of as a State, it was thought of as a Croat community . 
(b) The Vance-Owen Plan
42. The Prosecution has suggested that one cause of the Muslim-Croat war was the Vance-Owen Agreement, which was formulated by the negotiators Cyrus Vance and David Owen in an attempt to solve the Yugoslav crisis. The Vance-Owen plan, which envisaged the partition of Bosnia into ethnically-based cantons, is said to have provided Bosnian Croats with the motive to "ethnically cleanse" Muslim minorities from what would be, under the Vance-Owen plan, Croat-dominated cantons. The Vance-Owen plan , it is claimed, was regarded by the Croats as lending the stamp of legitimacy to "ethnic cleansing" for territorial gain.
43. Ahmici, the village in which the events that form the subject of this judgement took place, was situated in the Croat-dominated Canton 10. Certain witnesses have seen in this a motive for Bosnian Croat forces to attack it and to expel or kill its Muslim inhabitants.  As the witness Lt. Col. Watters explained, there was not only the motive but also the opportunity to do so on 16 April 1993. 
44. The attack on Ahmici, the Prosecution argues, represented one part of a coordinated plan of the Bosnian Croat authorities to "ethnically cleanse" Bosnian Muslims from the Lasva River Valley,  and to secure a Croat-controlled route through Kiseljak. 
45. In April 1993, an ultimatum was addressed by the Croatian authorities of Bosnia to the authorities in Sarajevo to implement the Vance-Owen Plan immediately and to withdraw the Muslim troops from the provinces attributed to the Croats under the Geneva plan. Exhibit P333 is the report by Reuters of this ultimatum of 15 April 1993:
48. The Prosecution explained the rise in discriminatory attitudes on the part of Bosnian Croats towards the Bosnian Muslims as, in part, the product of a campaign of virulent anti-Bosniac propaganda by the Bosnian Croat TV stations and authorities .  Witness S testified to the pro-Croatian and anti-Bosniac propaganda spread by Vitez TV under the patronage of the HVO, and the increasing emphasis on the division between Bosniacs and Croats .  Witness DD testified that once the Bosnian Croat political party was founded, the Bosniacs began to notice subtle changes, e.g. the fact that even small Croatian children had camouflage uniforms , made for them by their mothers.  Witness S, who had spent all his life in Ahmici until 16 April 1993, described the rise of Croat chauvinism in his area:
52. Given the paucity of evidence adduced by the Prosecutor in this trial, the Trial Chamber is unable to find that there existed a "Greater Croatia" project or that Bosnian Croats nurtured aspirations to statehood at the relevant time.
53. As regards the nature of the armed conflict, it is not necessary for the purposes of this trial to determine whether the armed conflict was international or internal , since the indictment contains no counts relating to grave breaches of the Geneva Conventions, which would require proof of an international armed conflict.
54. By contrast, the Trial Chamber is satisfied that Croat nationalism and discrimination against Muslims was on the increase in central Bosnia in 1992-1993, due to a variety of factors, and that this may have contributed to the commission of the crimes forming the subject of this indictment. Whether there was equally a species of Muslim nationalism being preached does not affect this finding.
1. The Fall of Jajce to the Serbs and the Influx of Muslim and Croat Refugees
(a) The Case for the Prosecution
56. The Prosecution has cast doubt on the causal nexus that the Defence has sought to establish between the influx of Muslim refugees and the genesis of fear and mistrust between the Croats and the Muslims, which would be the precursor to the attacks of October 1992 and April 1993.
(b) The Case for the Defence
57. The Defence has maintained that the displacement of several thousand Muslims and Croats, who entered Vitez and its environs, added to the already substantial influx of refugees who had fled the Serb aggression in eastern and western Bosnia and exacerbated pre-existing tensions between the two nationalities. 
(c) Findings of the Trial Chamber
58. The fall of Jajce to the Serbs undoubtedly did contribute to mutual fears and suspicions among the Muslims and Croats in the Vitez area. For the purposes of the present judgement, however, it is not necessary to dwell on these matters extensively .
59. The evidence adduced here was only led by the Defence; it appears that the Prosecution does not contest this evidence as to the facts.
(b) The Case for the Defence
60. The Defence contends that the Muslim-Croat war, and in particular events in the Lasva River Valley, can only be truly understood in the light of certain, specific attacks perpetrated by Muslim forces against Bosnian Croats in early 1993,  chief among which was an attack on the village of Dusina, as one of the defence counsel explained. 
62. On 25 January 1993, the village of Lasva was attacked by the Muslims. Women , children and elderly persons left Lasva because they were warned of the attack , but men, including the witness's husband, stayed. The women and elderly, including the witness, went to Dusina, where at 5 a.m., on 26 January 1993, the village was attacked by rocket-propelled grenades. There were many Muslims, in two groups. First, there was one group of 50 or so who spoke Serbo-Croatian, and then a group who seemed to be Mujahedin. All were in uniform and had the insignia of the BiH army. They took their captives to the Muslim part of the village, using them on the way as "human shields".  The group of captives which included the witness were mistreated by the Muslims. Elderly Croats were taken out in groups and beaten. Then five men were executed.  According to the witness, a BiH soldier called out Augustine Rados Rajic and executed him, and then boasted of having killed the witness's husband.  The witness's husband had indeed been murdered while trying to negotiate the release of the captives.  Others were killed in this same way. One at least was savagely tortured before being killed.  Subsequently, Croat houses in the village were torched. Today - it is alleged - not a single Croat lives in Lasva or Dusina. In Lasva where the Croats lived, Muslims moved into their houses. Many other Croat witnesses for the defence testified that the events in Dusina traumatised the Croat community. 
(c) Findings of the Trial Chamber
68. The Trial Chamber finds that there were undoubtedly attacks by Muslim forces on Croat villagers in early 1992, which contributed to a background of mutual fear . The Trial Chamber, however, does not find that compelling evidence has been produced to show that the BiH army or the Muslims in general were planning to launch an attack on the Croats on 15-16 April 1993.
69. The evidence of defence witness Zvonimir Cilic, who was a good friend of Mario Cerkez and who joined the latter on the municipal staff as a political officer to provide information for the troops and the members of the municipal staff of the HVO, is instructive in this regard. His testimony reveals a tendency on the Croat side to spread alarm among the Croat population. Exhibit D34/2, a videotape of a news programme reporting the kidnapping of Zivko Totic, is also instructive . The broadcaster recites all the alleged crimes committed by the Muslims against the Croats in an apparent attempt to incite hatred against the Muslims and BiH army . This vitiates Zvonimir Cilic's assertion that the Croat leadership was trying to achieve conciliation among ethnic groups.
70. Moreover, the "Operations Report" dated 16 April 1993, produced by Zvonimir Cilic, appears to be one-sided in that it only mentions attacks on "Croatian houses in Krcevine and Nadioci", and nothing about the assault on Ahmici and massacres of Muslim civilians. The Report complains of Muslim forces attacking from Preocica and states, inter alia, that "attacks by Muslim forces are becoming more ferocious and bestial". The Trial Chamber finds that this evidence is not conclusive in as much as it could prove either that the Muslims were preparing for an attack or that the Croat forces were creating misinformation and propaganda to prepare their own population for an attack on the Muslims. The correct interpretation depends on the true situation: whether the Muslims were indeed preparing for an attack or not.
1. The Case for the Prosecution
71. All the evidence shows that before the Muslim-Croat conflict in 1992-1993, Muslims and Croats got on very well together in Ahmici and its environs. Muslims and Croats would visit each other, go to each other's weddings and help each other out as good neighbours. Witness KL testified to this effect of his Croat neighbours Zoran Kupreskic, Mirjan Kupreskic and Vlatko Kupreskic.  Prosecution witnesses Mehmed Ahmic,  Fahrudin Ahmic,  D,  L,  N,  S,  V,  W  and FF  testified in a like manner.
72. An expert witness who testified at the request of the Trial Chamber, the Norwegian anthropologist Dr. Tone Bringa, pointed out that before 1992, relations between Croats and Muslims were good. Except for religious practices, where they of course followed different habits and rituals, they did share aspects of their daily lives . They co-operated in the running of their villages, they visited one another at life-cycle events (weddings, funerals, etc) and they took an interest in each other's lives. Normally neighbours got along well, irrespective of whether they were Croats or Muslims. There were of course misunderstandings or quarrels, but they did not have to do with the ethnic community to which the neighbours belonged. 
73. According to the same expert witness, there was nevertheless potential for conflict. The Muslims and the Croats did not intermarry. There was therefore potential for having two opposite groups, each based on kinship ties, which coincided with ethnic ties or ethnic identification. As the witness put it:
74. According to Prosecution witnesses, it was chiefly the Croats who were to blame for the split between the Muslims and Croats in 1992. Fahrudin Ahmi c said it was the Croats who started to arm themselves and appeared menacing . Witness F said that Croats told him that Ahmici would be "another Vukovar ", i.e. that it would be destroyed and its inhabitants killed. 
75. Dr. Bringa, the expert witness called by the Trial Chamber, testified as to her experiences and conclusions from the times she had spent with a Muslim family in a village in central Bosnia. Dr. Bringa visited the former Yugoslavia several times between 1987 and 1997 for a total of 15 months. She noticed the gradual shifting of allegiance from the neighbourly relations between Muslims and Croats to a more ethnicity-oriented affiliation and self-identification of sections of the Bosnian population. 
76. When asked for an explanation of whether and in what manner she had noticed the beginnings of ethnic divisions, the witness stated that originally it was not so much ethnic hatred as a growing fear of the events which were threatening the villagers from outside their close-knit community.  As Yugoslavia disintegrated, nationalist ideologies gradually brought about a change in the attitude of each group. Nationalist propaganda fuelled a change in the perception and self-identification of members of the various ethnic groups. Gradually the " other" persons, i.e. members of other ethnic groups, who were originally perceived merely as "diverse", came to be perceived as "alien" and then as "enemy". More specifically, they were perceived as potential enemies who were threatening to the identity or future prosperity of one's group.  The witness also felt that oppressive tactics such as checkpoints and interrogations were being used predominantly by the Croats and less by the Muslims. 
77. Other prosecution witnesses testified that the Bosnian Croat authorities set up checkpoints, for example at Dubravica, where they arrested Bosniacs, and otherwise tried to provoke them, that they would seize humanitarian aid bound for Tuzla, and do all they could to undermine the Bosniacs. The authorities would not investigate murders of Bosniacs, thus creating a culture of impunity and lawlessness.  Linked to this deterioration in relations was the separation of the joint village guards into Muslim and Croat guards in the spring of 1992.
79. Where prosecution and defence witnesses differ is on the question of who bore the responsibility for the split between the two nationalities. The majority of defence witnesses (who were mostly Croats) maintained that it was the Muslims who wished to separate themselves from the Croats. 
1. The Case for the Prosecution
81. The Prosecution maintains that the attacks on Ahmici in October 1992 and April 1993 were part of a systematic attack on the civilian population of the Lasva River Valley intended to "cleanse" the area of Muslims.
82. Witness AA, a Muslim member of the "Jokers" i.e. of the Croatian Military Police, provided key evidence for this contention:
A. My conclusion was that it should be cleansed, and at that time I believed it too. Later on, my colleagues with whom I was, and we said that the air should be rid of Balijas, you know, that it should be ethnically cleansed, and we talked about it, and that we would go to Vitez the next time.
Q. Vitez would be the next target, is that what you're saying? That was the understanding ?
A. Yes. Yes, this is what we talked about, we in the Military Police.
Q. When you talked about Vitez being the next place to be ethnically cleansed, did that include Ahmici as well? Was that also understood?
A. Yes, of course.
Q. Why do you say "of course"?
A. Because Ahmici was practically on the road between Busovaca and Vitez, and there were Muslims there too, the majority was Muslim, it had to be cleansed or removed . They simply had to be removed from there. Something had to be done, because they were a hindrance.
Q. Was the BiH army in Ahmici?
A. I never saw a single member of the BiH army in Ahmici, never. I say that because I passed there many times. So never. But I do know that most of them went to fight against the Serbs in Vlasic, Visoko, somewhere else, but not -- they were not stationed in Ahmici.
Q. When BiH soldiers came home on leave, what would they do with their weapons, as far as you knew?
A. Most of them would leave them at the front, leave the weapons at the front. I know that, because I talked to some of the members that I knew, and they always complained that they didn't have enough weapons. And they even went in civilian clothes.
Q Now, you say that you knew that the BiH army was not in Ahmici. Did you think that was common knowledge in your group, in the Military Police, that there was no threat from the BiH army in Ahmici?
A. Yes. Yes. Had there been a Bosnian army in Ahmici, we would have known of it , or we would have at least seen someone in uniform or some other side, a member of the other side, but I never saw them, and everybod knew that. It was common knowledge.
Q. Which army was all around Ahmici at this time?
A. The HVO, on all sides more or less... 
83. The Trial Chamber has reviewed Prosecution evidence, which tends to show various factual elements that may be taken to constitute persecution of Muslims. In addition to these elements, the following material should be taken into account.
84. After the October 1992 attack, the HVO allowed Bosniacs to return to Ahmici , but the situation was evidently very tense. It would seem that the local Croats provoked and discriminated against the Muslim population. The Croats were in control of Ahmici after the October 1992 attack,  and "everything became Croatian". As Witness G testified: "... when we were allowed to go back home, everything was according to the Croats. For instance, at school I had to study the Croatian language, history was called Polviest, the Croatian term for it, instead of the subject musical culture, it was given an another name. The money that was used was the Dinar, the Croatian money, instead of the previous currency".  The HVO demanded the total surrender of Muslim forces and the right to re-locate, to disarm and to impose a curfew on them.  The Jokers , a special HVO unit referred to above, was notable for its persecution of the local civilian Muslim population. 
85. According to the Prosecution, Bosnian Croat persecution of the Bosnian Muslim population was designed to dehumanise the latter so that it would be easier to commit acts of violence against them. Croats started to call Muslims by the derogatory term "balijas", expel them from their homes, threaten them and otherwise harass them on the sole basis of their ethnicity. 
86. In the view of the Prosecution the following examples of persecution of Muslims during this time are illustrative.
87. Fahrudin Ahmic testified that he was told by Dragan Papic and Vinko Vidovic, when he tried to return to his home following the attack of October 1992 , that he needed permission to do so. The following day, Papic and Vidovic threatened Fahrudin Ahmic. Dragan Papic approached Ahmic holding the fuse of a bomb, and addressed him with the words "Why don't you monkeys surrender?" in reference to the Muslims . As a result of this intimidation, Fahrudin Ahmic left his home the next day, fearing that it might be bombed if he stayed. 
88. Other instances of provocation were recounted by Witness A, who recalled a conversation which he had at the house of Ivo and Dragan Papic, in which the Papi cs blamed the Muslims for the war-time problems.  Abdulah Ahmic referred to a conversation with Dragan Papic in which the latter expressed admiration for Adolf Hitler and said that Hitler's methods should be applied to Bosnia.  Witness G told of the appearance of Croatian flags flying above Ivo and Dragan Papic's house, as if to suggest that Ahmici was now part of the territory of Croatia.  Conversely, the flag of the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina was dragged along the road behind a motorcycle ridden by two HVO soldiers, according to the testimony of Fahrudin Ahmic, whose sister-in-law witnessed this incident. 
89. Witness I, a Muslim who lived in the part of Ahmici known as Santici , where about 80% of the houses were owned by Croats, referred to the fact that Muslims were discriminated against in petrol rationing. The witness would have to go to the Hotel Vitez in order to get a certificate from the HVO for petrol. Other Muslims would not go to the Hotel Vitez for such a certificate, as they were afraid. 
90. Witness U, a Bosniac refugee who left Karaula because of Serb aggression , arrived in a village adjoining Ahmici around February 1993. This neighbouring village consisted mostly of Croat inhabitants, and he was forced to leave there after only 45 days due to Croat harrassment. He described the pressures put on Bosnian Muslims by the Bosnian Croats in the village, who stole from the Muslims , seized their property, searched their houses for weapons and generally mistreated them in such a way as to make it impossible for them to continue to live in the village.  His house was searched three times by the HVO Military Police. The witness also described the murder in the village of a Bosniac, Esad Salkic, which finally provoked his flight to Ahmi ci in February 1993. He went to Ahmici precisely because it was a Muslim village . There were approximately 150 other refugees in Ahmici, all of whom were Bosnian Muslims. During this period in Ahmici, the Bosnian Croats would say that they could not guarantee the Muslims' safety because of "extremist" Croats, who wore HVO insignia .
91. Witness V referred to regular "drive-by" shootings by Bosnian Croats in Ahmici before the conflict of April 1993.  Witness Y confirmed this pattern of harrassment of Bosniacs in the period from October 1992 until April 1993 in Ahmici and surrounding villages - with houses being burnt, Bosniacs expelled, and drive-by shootings in Ahmici practically every night at dusk. Muslims were also expelled from surrounding villages such as Strane , Merdani, Pezici, Kovacevac, Rovna and Loncari.  The witness explained that the BiH army did not defend those villages because "all those who were armed and uniformed and members of the army were up at the frontlines towards the Serbs". 
92. Witness AA, a Muslim who served in the HVO, was 23 years old in 1993 . He had known Vlado Santic since childhood. Vlado Santic had most recently been his superior in the police force. The witness grew up in the municipality of Vitez , in a mostly Croat village with mostly Croat friends despite the fact that he was himself a Muslim. Suprisingly for a Muslim from a Muslim family, Witness AA joined the HVO in the spring of 1992. He joined the 4th battalion of the Military Police , assigned to provide security to the Hotel Vitez, which was being used as the Headquarters for the HVO in central Bosnia and where Santic had an office. Santic wore a uniform and was in charge of investigating crimes committed by HVO soldiers. The HVO stole from Serbs, Muslims and the BiH army. Vlado Santic knew these crimes were being committed but he did not investigate them.
93. From late 1992 until early 1993, when Witness AA was sent by Vlado Santic to Busovaca, he saw in Kaonik, 2-3 km from Busovaca, Muslim houses which had been set on fire and that Muslim civilians had been sent to dig trenches. On the same trip , the witness saw that the village of Strane had been "ethnically cleansed" of Muslims : "not a single Muslim man, woman or child had remained there. All of them were expelled" by the HVO.  The same was true of Busovaca  and Merdani .  The witness, who participated in the campaign, stated that the purpose of the Busovaca campaign was "ethnic cleansing " - "to rid [the place] of [the] Balijas". 
94. Captain Stevens attested to the climate of persecution in the Vitez area in April 1993. After Easter 1993, Zenica, overwhelmingly a Muslim town, was shelled by the HVO. Also in mid-April 1993, a petrol tanker exploded in the Muslim part of Vitez. Captain Stevens arrived on the scene the day after this explosion and heard that the tanker had been placed near what was thought to be a munitions dump. Local militia-type forces told him that two Muslims had been strapped into the cab of the tanker and that the HVO fired RPG 7 rounds to cause the explosion . Captain Stevens saw the effects of the explosion, namely massive destruction to the Muslim part of town (the western part of Vitez). These can be seen in Exhibit P160. This incident, referred to also in Lt.-Col. Watters' testimony, led immediately to a mass exodus of some 400 Muslims from Stari Vitez. Captain Stevens also saw the results of "ethnic cleansing" by local HVO forces in Nova Bila towards the end of his tour of duty.
95. The Defence and defence witnesses have frequently pointed out, as the Prosecution did, that prior to October 1992, relations between Muslims and Croats in the Las va River Valley were very good.
(b) Croat Nationalism
96. Defence witnesses have downplayed the significance of Croat nationalism, for example the flying of the Croat checkerboard flag from Croat houses, including the Papic house, in Ahmici. Ivo Vidovic said that flags were flown simply to celebrate religious holidays, and that the Muslims also displayed flags.  This statement is supported by other witnesses. Several Croats flew a Croat flag in Ahmici, as Ljubica Milicevic testified,  including Ivo Papic, Slavko Milicevic and Dragan Papic. She also explained that even though Ivo Papic flew a Croatian flag and never a Muslim one, the sympathy of the Papic family lay with both communities.
97. By the same token, defence witnesses placed less emphasis upon the importance of Bosnian Croats donning uniforms. Goran Papic, the younger brother of the accused Dragan Papic, testified that Dragan Papic wore a black uniform - which was a gift - simply in order to make it easier for him to pass the black-shirted HOS checkpoints in Zenica. 
98. Zvonimir Cilic testified that the Press Service of the Muslim-Croat Crisis Staff,  where he worked after the break-up of the SFRY in 1991, was composed of three Croats and two Muslims. The purpose of the Staff was to deal with the crisis which had arisen due to attacks being launched on Bosnian Croats and Muslims by the Serb-dominated JNA in 1991-1992 . The crisis staff was staffed in proportion to the nationalities present in the Vitez municipality, i.e. Muslims, Croats, Serbs, Yugoslavs and others.
99. In her everyday life, Gordana Cuic stated that she never noticed any intolerance towards Muslims, nor a desire to "cleanse" Ahmici of Muslims or to burn their houses. 
100. The Defence for Zoran and Mirjan Kupreskic has also emphasised that both accused did not only have generally good relations with Muslims, but that they were especially friendly with a number of Muslims who, like the accused, were members of a folklore society. Both accused have testified that this society and socialising with the other members meant very much to them. Zoran Kupreskic explained at length how he kept up his interest and involvement in folklore from secondary school until 15 April 1993.  The group had performances on the occasion of Muslim and Croatian festivities (Bajram and Easter) up until March and April 1993.  Counsel for the accused submitted four photographs showing both accused in the company of the other members of the society and during performances. 
101. The accused Mirjan Kupreskic told the Trial Chamber that even a number of marriages across ethnic divides originated in that society.  He himself had very close personal contacts with members of the folklore society who came from a different ethnic background, namely Fahrudin Ahmic, a Muslim, who was his best friend, and two Serbs who were the best men at his wedding.  In his view, the first conflict in October 1992 brought the members of the society even closer together. 
(c) Muslim Nationalism and Persecution of Croats
102. In contrast to the Prosecution case, the Defence have also painted a picture of Muslim nationalism and belligerence.
103. Witness DB/1,2, who lived in Kruscica, near Vitez, stated:
(d) Absence of an Official Plan or Policy on the Part of the Bosnian Croat Political and Military Institutions to Persecute Muslims
105. Defence witnesses testified that the official organs of the Croatian community of Herceg-Bosna did not systematically or as a matter of policy discriminate against Bosnian Muslims. 
106. Vlado Alilovic testified that the Croatian Community of Herceg-Bosna was not intended to be a separate State and nor did it aspire to be a State. Alilovi c conceded that the Croatian Community of Herceg-Bosna was, at a minimum, a Croatian autonomous region, but referred to the referendum on the integrity of Bosnia and Herzegovina in which 99% of the Muslims and Croats voted in favour of the integrity of Bosnia and Herzegovina, with Serbs voting against. This would, in his view, tend to demonstrate that the Croats of Bosnia and Herzegovina were not opposed to the existence of Bosnia and Herzegovina as a State and did not have designs on parts of Bosnia and Herzegovina as prospective Croatian autonomous regions.
107. Zvonimir Cilic stated that Ivan Santic, head of the HVO in Vitez and commander of the crisis staff of Vitez municipality,  was working to achieve peaceful co-existence with the Muslims. The Defence produced various exhibits to Zvonimir Cilic to show that attempts were continually made to promote inter-ethnic harmony. 
108. Rudo Vidovic testified that there was no discrimination against the Muslims at the Post Office, a public service in Vitez, where he was chief. After the incident of 20 October 1992 - which he said resulted from a "misunderstanding " between the Muslims and Croats - the Muslims did not show up at work for seven days, because they were afraid, but they were not disciplined for not showing up , even though by law an employee could be fired for being absent without leave for five days. Moreover, Vidovic's deputy was a Muslim who remained employed throughout 1992-1993. There was no attempt at the Post Office to impose an HVO oath of loyalty on employees. 
(e) Whether the Croatian Community of Herceg-Bosna had a Separatist Agenda
109. In cross-examination, Zvonimir Cilic was asked about the separatist ambitions of Herceg-Bosna. The witness admitted that he was familiar with the arguments of a book by Anto Valenta entitled the partition of bosnia and the fight for its integrity, which advocated the creation in Bosnia, through re-settlement, of ethnically pure and homogenous regions in order to prevent civil war. Cilic said that the Vance-Owen plan proposed the same arrangement, but he averred that this was never the policy of the HVO and nor was it official policy. While the money and language and so forth in the Croatian Community of Herceg-Bosna was to be Croatian, this was only in contradistinction to the Cyrillic script and Serbian symbols, which the people did not wish to have imposed on them by the Serbs. The aim of the Croat authorities, he said, was not secession, although differences between Croats and Muslims were created by the Vance-Owen plan, which was accepted by the Bosnian Croats but rejected by the Bosnian government.  The witness added that "they (the Bosnian Muslims( felt, and this is my personal view, of course, they felt that they could gain from Croats what they had lost from the Serbs", and because of that they refused to sign the Vance-Owen plan. 
(f) Whether the Bosnian Croat Authorities Condoned Persecution of Muslims by Private Individuals
110. The Defence introduced evidence to rebut the Prosecution's allegation that the Bosnian Croat authorities condoned atrocities committed against Bosnian Muslim civilians. Exhibit D51/2 - produced to Vlado Alilovic  - shows the HVO authorities trying to conduct an investigation into violations of international humanitarian law on 24 April 1993. Under item 2, it is stated that the HVO government of Vitez unanimously condemns all recorded crimes committed during the conflict between the BiH army and the HVO by any party.
111. Zvonimir Cilic stated that at this time, the civilian police were not functioning, as they did not have the necessary power. Nevertheless, they tried to enforce law and order and to protect Muslims and Croats alike. In this connection , the Defence produced Exhibit D29/2, a public announcement that a Croat had been killed in Novi Travnik while resisting arrest by Novi Travnik HVO for seriously wounding a Muslim citizen.
112. Similar evidence was led as to the diligence of the HVO civilian police in investigating offences against Muslims in relation to the Salkic slaying.
113. Zoran Strukar, a civilian police officer in Vitez at the relevant time , testified at length on this point. He stated that there was an atmosphere of general lawlessness in Vitez, and that explosions and other such occurrences were happening practically every evening, with Croat houses being blown up as well as Muslim houses. 
114. As mentioned above, before October 1992, the police forces in Vitez were jointly Croat and Muslim, but thereafter they split into Muslim and Croat police forces. Strukar said that the "Vitezovi", a special unit, took over the Vitez police station .  There were then plans to once again merge the two police forces. As part of the negotiations, the Muslims demanded that Pero Skopljak resign. In return the Croats asked the Muslim police chief to resign. Skopljak resigned because he did not want to be an obstacle to reconciliation . According to the witness, the Muslims did not, however, sack their chief, as promised, so an end was put to this rapprochement. The Muslim and Croat forces were severed, and the witness started to receive his salary from Mostar rather than from Sarajevo. Consequently, investigations split up - Croat police dealt with Croat areas and Muslim police with Muslim areas. Nevertheless, Muslims and Croats continued to conduct some investigations together.
115. The witness said that the situation was out of control. Everyone was in danger and afraid. In village areas, both Muslims and Croats, and some Serbs, set up a village guard at night, to ensure safety, because people realised that the police could not do much. As regards the killing of Muslims, Strukar stated that there were Croats killing Muslims, but also Muslims killing Muslims, and Croats killing Croats. Where Muslims were killed by Croats, investigations were carried out. An example was the Salkic slaying. The perpetrator was a Croat - Miroslav Bralo, alias Cicko - who was arrested and imprisoned in Kaonik. However, in the event he was treated leniently during his incarceration, as other witnesses have testified.  In short, Strukar testified that in his work as a civilian policeman, he did not have a different attitude towards a situation when the victim was a Croat from when the victim was a Muslim. 
(g) Whether State Enterprises Discriminated Against Muslims
116. In the geographical area of Vitez and Ahmici, a large segment of the population was employed in the times relevant to this indictment in large State-run factories and enterprises, such as the Princip factory in Vitez, or Vitezit, and Impregnacija . The evidence is that these factories, though allegedly under Bosnian Croat control , did not discriminate against Bosnian Muslims, but on the contrary, throughout the war maintained equitable proportions of Muslim and Croat workers in the workforce .
117. Defence witness Vlado Divkovic was general manager of the Vitezit factory at the relevant time. He testified that there was no discrimination in lay-offs at the Vitezit factory against Muslims or on any ethnic or national basis. Lay- offs were occasioned by the Serb aggression, since Serbs bombed the factory complexes and cut off the supply of raw materials from eastern Bosnia (e.g. Gorazde), reducing output. The ethnic make-up of the factory reflected the national make-up in terms of percentage of Muslims, Croats and Serbs right through until 15 April 1993.  Divkovic added that Muslim workers did not have to sign an oath of allegiance to the HVO. 
(h) Whether Relief Supplies were Distributed Equally to Muslims
118. Vlado Alilovic stated that Muslims and Croats were equally able to obtain goods in Vitez in 1992-1993.  Defence witnesses also pointed out that Caritas, the Catholic charity, treated Muslims and Catholics, i.e. Croats, completely equally. Zeljko Blaz,  for example, a resident of Vitez who worked for Caritas from 1991 after he was made redundant by the Princip factory in Vitez, testified that Caritas helped all of those in need - refugees, old people - regardless of their ethnicity or religion . Merhamet, on the other hand, was a religious organisation which tended only to help Muslims. Blaz testified that Caritas continued to help both Muslims and Croats after Merhamet had been established. After the Muslim-Croat conflict started, Caritas still helped some 50 Muslim families in Vitez. Moreover, there was no attempt by any political or military body to influence Caritas to refuse assistance to Muslim families. Vlado Alilovic testified to the same effect - that Caritas helped everyone, Muslims and Croats alike, but that Merhamet only helped Muslims - adding that Ivan Santic, the HVO President in Vitez, requested aid for villages, e.g. Preocica , which were exclusively Muslim. 
(i) The Fact that Croat Civilians were also the Victims of Attacks by Bosnian Muslims
119. Defence counsel emphasised that atrocities were also committed against Croat civilians by Muslim forces. In particular, they drew attention to a particularly horrendous episode which took place in Miletici, a remote Croat hamlet in the mountains of central Bosnia, in April 1993. This was testified to by Witness HH  and Mr. Kujawinski.
120. Witness HH visited Miletici during his fact-finding mission for the United Nations Special Rapporteur Tadeusz Mazowiecki. In Miletici, he entered a room which was badly damaged, and which had blood on the floor and walls. He was told by locals that apparently five foreign Mujahedin had stayed there. These Mujahedin had tortured and killed five young Croats. As a consequence, most of the Croatian inhabitants of the village had fled. 
121. Witness HH also testified that there were reports of harassment and arbitrary executions of Croats in Zenica. 
122. Mr. Kujawinski, a British army NCO, visited Miletici on 27 April 1993 . He was dispatched with two Warriors and a UNHCR Land Rover. It was very high in the hills, a "very, very small village". He saw dried blood by the entrance to a pink house in the village. The villagers were reticent, but eventually said that soldiers had come to the village, rounded everyone up and separated the few men of fighting age, who were then taken into the pink house. Eventually Kujawinski gained access to the house and found congealed blood everywhere, pillows that had been used, he thinks, to muffle shots, and clumps of hair and bone strewn on the walls. He was told that five men had been tortured or killed there.
123. Kujawinski went back to the hamlet the next day with a van and coffins and crosses. He managed to get the bodies, which had been there for several days and were therefore in a state of decomposition. He noted their names and took the bodies to a Catholic Church in Guca Gora, where he handed over the bodies to a monk for burial. The bodies were in a "shocking state" - one had his neck cut all the way around with a blunt instrument. Another had his fingers bent all the way backwards . On the second day, the witness was told that Mujahedin had been to the area - people whom they had never seen before. Miletici is 15-20 km from Ahmici.
124. It would appear that the events in Miletici may have been in reprisal for the events in Ahmici.
127. The two most important positions in the political leadership of Vitez were divided between the Croats and Muslims. Ivan Santic, HVO President in Vitez and a Croat, was President of the municipality and Head of the Crisis Staff as a representative of the HDZ, while Fuad Kaknjo, a Muslim, was the President of the executive body . The other positions were shared out to correspond to the results in the elections . Ivan Santic's deputy was Pero Skopljak, a Croat, who was thus Vice-President of the HVO in the Vitez municipality.  According to Alilovic, harmonious relations were maintained between the Croats and Muslims between October 1992 and April 1993.  However the Muslims and Croats eventually split up and formed parallel governments , the Croats basing theirs in Vitez, the Muslims in Mahala (Stari Vitez).
(b) The HVO and the Vitez Brigade
128. The HVO (Croatian Defence Council) was formed on 10 July 1992 in Vitez as a civil authority in order to most effectively organise defences against possible aggression. It was an executive authority.  While the Prosecution has portrayed the HVO as an instrument of Muslim oppression , the Defence has argued that it was primarily a defence council formed because of regional insecurity and the threat from the Serbs. The Defence have also argued that the HVO soldiers received instruction on the laws of war.  The HVO had various brigades in central Bosnia, including the Vitez brigade, with Mario Cerkez as its Commander, while Tihomir Blaskic was Commander of the HVO Central Bosnia Operative Zone.
129. The Defence has called a number of witnesses to show that the Vitez brigade , into which several of the accused were apparently conscripted on or after 16 April 1993, was barely operational and still in the process of being set up on 16 April 1993. The Defence therefore submits that it could not, and did not, have any role in the atrocities committed in Ahmici, which were instead the work of the Military Police, and in particular a specialist anti-terrorist unit thereof known as the Jokers. 
(c) Croatian Paramilitary Formations
130. In addition to regular HVO units, such as the Vitez brigade, there were Bosnian Croat paramilitary formations and Special Purpose Units (PNNs) such as the Vitezovi .  The Jokers - a special anti -terrorist unit of the Croat Military Police headquartered in the Bungalow in Nadioci - were also an élite unit functioning outside the traditional HVO structure, in this case operating through the command of the Military Police rather than the HVO . The Defence asserts that these private armies and paramilitary groups were responsible for much of the lawlessness rampant at the time in Vitez and its environs. 
131. The Defence argued that even Tihomir Blaskic, the regional commander of the HVO, could not issue orders to forces such as the Vitezovi. The Defence contends that the general situation was anarchic, with crimes being committed by both Muslims and Croats, but generally in the pursuit of petty criminality rather than for reasons linked to the struggle for ethnic hegemony.
(d) The Military Police and "The Jokers"
132. It appears that the Jokers were a specialist, anti-terrorist unit of the Croatian Military Police based locally in the Bungalow in Nadioci. Both the Jokers and HOS members wore black shirts and appeared to have assumed a "special operations" profile , replete with face paint, advanced weaponry, etc.
133. Both prosecution and defence witnesses have testified to the presence of members of the Jokers in Ahmici on 16 April 1993, and prosecution witnesses in particular also witnessed individual Jokers committing killings of unarmed civilians. A prosecution witness, Mr. Kujawinski, an non-commissioned officer in the British army, saw a large group of soldiers celebrating at the Bungalow on 16 April 1993, and inferred that they were responsible for what had happened there that day. Members of the Jokers also confirmed to Captain Lee Whitworth that they had been involved in the assault on Ahmici. 
134. Witness AA, a member of the Jokers, testified that he was invited to join this unit in January 1993 by the accused Vladimir Santic, who was the commander of the company to which the unit belonged - the 1st company of the 4th battalion of the HVO. Santic told him that the unit would be better armed, equipped, paid and trained than the regular HVO and that it would be based in the "Bungalow" in Nadioci. The witness went to report there after the Busovaca campaign, where he witnessed the destruction of Muslim villages.  He saw Santic at the Bungalow virtually every day. On the instructions of Santi c, the members of the unit equipped the Bungalow by looting from Muslim houses in Busovaca. Santic also told them to find a name for the unit and they came up with the name Jokers which he approved; the Jokers could do nothing of significance without the orders of Vladimir Santic.  The Jokers came from Vitez, Busovaca, Nadioci, Vidovici, etc. As far as Witness AA knew, none of the Jokers were from Ahmici. The Bungalow itself was 5-10 minutes on foot from Ahmici.
135. Lee Whitworth, who served in the British army in Bosnia from May to November 1993 also spoke of the Jokers as an élite police unit based in the Bungalow . The witness was a liaison officer, tasked with building rapport with the local political, military and civilian leaders in the Bosnian government army and HVO. In that capacity, the witness met Vladimir Santic as a senior military policeman in Vitez, at the 4th Battalion Military Police Headquarters of the HVO in the Hotel Vitez.  The witness also had occasion to pass by the Bungalow - which he referred to as the "Swiss Cottage" - and to converse with eight to ten soldiers. These soldiers described themselves as an élite police unit that was active in all the military successes of the HVO in the Lasva River Valley. They were predominantly dressed in black. They referred to themselves as Jokers - "Jokeri" - and they were very aggressive at first and made the witness's Muslim interpreter very fearful. Lee Whitworth wanted to meet the commander of the Jokers, and thus went to the Hotel Vitez. Vladimir Santic came out in response to Whitworth's request to meet a senior police chief. He was introduced as the senior military police commander in the area. It later became apparent to the witness , throughout his tour, that in each of the municipalities - Vares, Zepce, Busovaca , Travnik, Novi Travnik and Vitez - there would be a company group of the 4th Battalion . Hotel Vitez, it appears, was both a Battalion Headquarters and a Company Headquarters . Vladimir Santic was head of the Company Headquarters, with the Jokers a part of that Company, while Pasco Lubicic was head of the Battalion Headquarters. The Jokers were set up as an anti-terrorist unit; they were part of the Military Police . 
136. The Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina had its own army, namely the army of Bosnia and Herzegovina or the government forces. The Bosnian army was overwhelmingly deployed during the relevant period in the front-line against the Serbs, while the HVO was engaged to a lesser extent against the Serbs, being deployed instead in the Lasva River Valley.  In Ahmi ci, there were no BiH battalions before April 1993.
137. This characterisation of the BiH army and HVO deployment has been contested by the Defence. 
(b) Muslim Paramilitary Formations
138. Defence witnesses have described several Muslim defence forces: the Patriotic Legion, the Green Legion, the 7th Muslim Brigade, and the MOS (Muslim Defence Forces ) which was formed by the Mujahedin.  The genesis of these organisations coincided with what the defence witnesses perceived to be the formation of the BiH army by the Muslim people.  It has also been contended by defence witnesses that these structures acted in concert  and fell under the mandate of the BiH army. 
(c) Mobilisation of Muslims
139. After the events of October 1992 described below, the Croats saw signs of what they perceived to be Muslim militancy.  , 
(d) The Territorial Defence
140. The Bosniac Territorial Defence was incorporated into the BiH army in December 1992, but this produced no real change in how the Ahmici patrols were conducted.  There was some military training in the BiH army, but it was not a sophisticated military operation and it lacked equipment, supplies and manpower. 
(e) Bosnian Muslim Roadblocks and Checkpoints
141. The Prosecution has argued that Croat forces erected roadblocks at which Muslims were systematically harassed.  The Defence has sought to establish, however, that the practice of setting up roadblocks ,  at which civilians were subject to harassment, was as much a practice of the Bosnian Muslim forces as of Bosnian Croat forces. The Prosecution has not disputed the latter fact.
142. Zvonimir Cilic stated that, at least until 15 April 1993, the HOS was a joint Muslim and Croat force. HOS members, like the Jokers, wore black uniforms . However, after the Muslim-Croat split in October 1992, the Muslim part of the HOS remained as the HOS while the Croat element of the HOS became the Vitezovi, as distinct from the regular HVO's Vitez brigade. 
143. Major Michael Dooley, an UNPROFOR Platoon Commander in Bosnia from October 1992 to 1993, noticed that the army of Bosnia and Herzegovina was very poorly armed compared to the HVO.  There were no BiH army soldiers in the region of Ahmici, and very few in Vitez. The majority of the BiH army soldiers were towards Travnik on the Serb front. 
(b) The Defence Case
144. The Defence, on the other hand, claim that the BiH army was better equipped than the HVO, and certainly had more manpower due to the greater concentration of Muslims in central Bosnia than Croats.  , 
145. Defence witnesses also claimed that the Vitez armaments factory, Vitezit, continued to supply both the HVO and the BiH army during the conflict.  Defence witness Anto Rajic alleged that after the dissolution of the Anti -aircraft Defence (PZO), the Muslim contingent, which was apparently reabsorbed by the Territorial Defence, obtained two anti-aircraft guns from the Impregnacija explosives factory in Vitez and was allocated half of the cannons.  Nonetheless, defence witness Divkovic conceded that Vitezit was, after 16 April 1993, exclusively under HVO control and indeed that its production and supply to the HVO had a decisive impact on the latter's war effort against the BiH army .  Defence witnesses did not contest that it was easy for the Bosnian Croats to arm themselves. 
148. There exist traditional names for the various parts of the village. Lower Ahmici is referred to as Donji Ahmici, the most commonly referred to landmarks are the Catholic cemetery along the main Busovaca/Vitez road, the primary school and the lower mosque on the secondary road leading off into Ahmici. This road goes up towards to Upper Ahmici or Gornji Ahmici, but between the upper and lower parts of Ahmici is an area called the Sutre or Grabovi, where the Kupreskic houses and the Sutre warehouse are situated. The upper mosque, which did not have a minaret is the landmark of Upper Ahmici. The area of Zume around Santici was predominantly an area inhabited by Croats and the landmark most frequently referred to is the Pican café. In Nadioci, the principal landmark is the Bungalow.
149. In the 1991 census, the population of Ahmici-Santici-Pirici-Nadioci was 2173 . Of these 4 villages, Muslims represented 32% of the population, Croats 62%, and minority groups made up 5%. A number of Muslim refugees came to the village in 1992. The total Muslim population of the Ahmici area was around 600 at the time. Ahmici is a small rural village similar to many others in the Lasva Valley. It is a village where entire families live under one roof. Children attend primary school there, but due to its rural character, most residents at the time of the events covered here worked in the larger towns of Zenica and Vitez. Many of them worked in the Slobodan Princip Seljo factory (SPS) in Vitez which employed 2,400 persons, constituting 50% of the workforce in Vitez, with an estimated 70% of the population of Ahmici working there. Around the village, employment consisted mainly of manual labour and small-scale agriculture, mainly for the support of the families , many of whom would have a cow or two for milk, a few hens for eggs, and other livestock.
151. Around 4.30 a.m., on 20 October 1992, a shell was fired from the direction of Zume and hit the top of the minaret. Heavy shooting then broke out. This went on until about 12 p.m. Houses, sheds and barns were set alight. The Bosniacs returned fire. 
152. During the attack, Upper Ahmici was shelled and the minaret, among other buildings , was hit by shells.  A Muslim boy was killed, apparently by a sniper bullet. The attack was mostly one-sided, with the Croatian assault predominating, although according to Abdulah Ahmic there were some 30-40 armed Bosniacs resisting, and some unarmed Bosniacs, as well as some assistance from the BiH army. Due to conflicting accounts, it is difficult to estimate precisely how many Bosniacs were defending the barricade that day. It was also rumoured that some Croats were killed. 
153. During the attack, Mehmed Ahmic's house was destroyed. Mehmed Ahmic was awakened that morning by the sound of an explosion. His house lay across the road from the Papic house on the main road in Ahmici. By gaining control of the house, Bosnian Croat forces could thus control the main road from both sides.  A burst of gunfire was directed at Mehmed Ahmic's house, apparently from the direction of Ivo and Dragan Papic's house. His house was directly hit and set on fire with inflammable bullets. He crawled out of his house with his family, whilst being shot at by several soldiers from the direction of the Papic house and the woods, including, allegedly, by Dragan Papic himself from both locations, who used, inter alia, an anti-aircraft gun.  The witness and his family managed to escape without fatalities.
154. Witness D was also a victim of this attack. Bosnian Croat forces burned down her house and severely beat her husband for trying to save his cows. Witness D and her husband abandoned the village after their house was burned down. 
155. Fahrudin Ahmic heard a detonation and an explosion, and saw that a fellow Muslim's barn had been set alight. He noticed shots being fired from the direction of the forest and the Papic house.  The witness himself was seriously wounded in the arm by a gunshot during the attack .
156. Anti-aircraft guns were evidently used by the Bosnian Croats in the attack, fired from the vicinity of the Papic house. According to Witness Y, the HVO seized the anti-aircraft guns from the Princip factory.  Witness Z confirmed that there was shooting from an anti-aircraft gun mounted on a flat-bed truck. 
157. More than half the Muslim population of the village fled Ahmici after the attack .  Witness B testified that the Bosniac population which was chased out came back between then and April 1993 ,  pursuant to an agreement reached with the Bosnian Croat authorities. Despite this, however, Muslim-Croat relations significantly worsened after the attack. 
158. The Defence, by contrast, have argued that the conflict of 20 October 1992 was the Muslims' fault,  on the basis that they had erected a barricade to prevent Bosnian Croat forces from travelling on the Vitez-Busovaca road to fight the Serbs in Jajce, with the eventual result that Jajce fell to the Serbs.  Another reason for the conflict was given by defence witness Pero Papic. He was allegedly told by Muris Ahmic that the latter had been ordered to chase out the Croats, with permission to remove anything and to set the Croat's houses on fire so that the Croats could not return.  Hence, it would seem that the Croats of Ahmici claim that the 20 October 1992 attack was a pre-emptive strike against their Muslim neighbours, who for their part were preparing an attack on their Croat neighbours. According to Goran Males,  a further possible rationale for the roadblock was that the Vitez-Busovaca road on which the roadblock was situated is the main communication route, and "just at the crossroads near Kaonik it links on to the Sarajevo to Zenica main road".
(b) The Conflict of 20 October 1992
159. Croat witnesses have presented a largely uniform account of the 20 October 1992 attack. They maintain that it occurred as a result of the establishment of the barricade by the Muslims and that it was considered as the first serious conflict between the HVO and the BiH army.  They say that the attack took the local Croats by surprise. Before dawn, there was heavy gunfire which woke them up and which continued for about ten minutes, with bullets flying everywhere. The shooting appeared to come from the HVO positions in Hrasno, which forms part of the municipality of Busovaca, across the Lasva River .  They also heard explosions.  A number of Croat witnesses state that around 5 a.m., they heard music from the mosque followed by an announcement: "Croats surrender - this is a holy war - jihad - you are surrounded, you have no chance".  This broadcast could be heard from 5-10 kilometres away, implying that some loudspeaker device must have been used.  Explosions lasted until around 9:30 a.m., and gunfire stopped in the afternoon.  The mosque's minaret was hit. Around 7:30 p.m., when there was a lull in the shooting , the local Croats were able to move to a shelter in Mirko Sakic's basement  and Anto Bralo's shelter.  The Military Police of the HVO were involved in dismantling the barricade, assisted by members of the unit that was going to Jajce from Busovaca and Kiseljak. There were approximately 15 soldiers defending the barricade, assisted by about 50 soldiers constituting "outside help".  The Croats from Ahmici, Santici and Pirici did not take part in the conflict.  Some houses were damaged, including the houses of Pero Papic and Mehmed Ahmic,  and some barns were set on fire. A few Croats fled in the direction of Donja Rovna . They saw Muslims fleeing towards Upper Ahmici.  There were not too many casualties during this conflict, although they heard that a Muslim and a Croat had been killed. 
(c) Croat Neighbours Helped Muslims to Return to Ahmici after 20 October 1992
160. After the attack, the Muslims from Ahmici fled, some of their houses and barns having been damaged or destroyed. They started to come back, however, only four days after the conflict.  According to the Defence, the Croats did all they could to assist their former Muslim neighbours to return in peace. Ivica Kupreskic testified that the Croats protected the homes of the Muslims while they were away and that they arrested and reported a thief who tried to steal from one of the temporarily abandoned Muslim houses.  Ljubica Milicevic testified that the mayor of Vitez insisted that the Muslims come back. She was never aware of any complaints from the Muslims that their property had been plundered.  A coordination commission was formed to protect the interests of citizens and which assisted in the reconstruction of destroyed houses.  Meetings were held in the village to create peace between Muslims and Croats. Every attempt was made to find a solution and to return to the situation as it had been before the first conflict. 
(d) Muslim-Croat Relations from October 1992 to April 1993
161. Despite these efforts, it appears from the entirety of the testimony that Croat -Muslim relations deteriorated significantly after the first conflict.  The two communities no longer trusted each other and tensions remained high. 
(e) Findings of the Trial Chamber
162. In the view of the Trial Chamber, it is apparent from the evidence that the establishment of the road-block by the Muslims on 19 October to prevent the passage of HVO troops heading toward Novi Travnik was the act that sparked the armed conflict of 20 October. In this regard, the Defence assertion that the conflict was caused by the Muslims seems to be persuasive. It would also seem to be established that the armed conflict occurred primarily between HVO armed forces from outside Ahmi ci and Muslim soldiers belonging to the BiH army. Nevertheless, some local Muslims and Croats either took part in the conflict or assisted those who were fighting.
163. The evidence also shows that the principal victims of the armed confrontation of 20 October were the Muslims. A number of their houses and barns were destroyed or set on fire or damaged, while fewer Croatian houses were damaged. That the local Muslims suffered most from the shelling and firing is borne out inter alia by the fact, admitted by both parties, that at the end of the armed clashes, most of the Muslim population of Ahmici fled the village, whereas no Croats left.
164. The Trial Chamber also finds that when the conflict was over, the Croatian population of the village endeavoured to encourage the Muslims of Ahmici to return and actually helped them to do so.
1. The Case for the Prosecution
165. The Prosecution alleges that the attack on Ahmici was carefully planned and that local Croats knew that it was going to take place and were evacuated before the offensive was launched. Many Muslim witnesses testified that on 15 April 1993 , they saw many signs of a possible forthcoming attack or the harbingers of forced expulsion from the village. However, almost none of the Muslims took any precautionary measures, nor was the population evacuated, because, as Witness B put it, no-one expected the Croats to attack the Bosniacs in such a brutal manner. 
167. Esad Rizvanovic testified that on 15 April 1993, in the early morning , he saw many vehicles moving about on the road from Vitez to Busovaca. He saw men in uniform, but did not see any women or children.  Witness B said that he noticed a lot of activity in the Bungalow on 15 April 1993. He heard that a young ex-HVO soldier, Zoran Santic, stated that he heard that Vladimir Santic had said, before the attack of 16 April 1993, that no men from 12 to 70 years of age should be left alive during the attack. 
168. Witness I noticed the signs of an imminent attack on 13-15 April 1993 . On 13 April 1993, he was stopped and provoked by men in uniform, who would not let him go home. He was called into a bar by Nikica Plavcic who threatened him with a knife and then tried to shoot at him with an automatic rifle. 
169. Witness L described how, on 15 April 1993, he was working in Zume, in the direction of Santici. He passed by the Sutre shop of Vlatko Kupreskic, between 4 p.m. and 7 p.m. that evening, where he saw Ivica Kupreskic, Vlatko Kupreskic and two other men who he did not know standing outside the shop. As he passed by Vlatko Kupreskic's house that evening, the witness saw 20 to 30 uniformed soldiers on his lower balcony.
170. Witness M referred to the fact that on 15 April 1993, she saw 5-6 soldiers going into the basement of Vlatko Kupreskic's house. 
171. On 15 April 1993, Witness O went to Zume, where he saw an anti-aircraft gun covered by tarpaulin. He also saw 5-6 soldiers in front of Vlatko Kupreskic 's house.
172. Witness T related how, on 15 April 1993, her husband was in Stari Vitez . That evening he made a telephone call to the wife of her husband's uncle to find out about the situation in Ahmici, because in Vitez the Croats were arresting Muslims and taking them away. He passed the message to his family that they should not go anywhere out of the house and to take care. He also asked whether they had noticed anything. Witness T said that it was the only night which was so quiet that nothing could be heard. By contrast, on every other night shooting could be heard, but not on that particular night. 
173. Witness V recounted how his suspicions were aroused on 15 April 1993 , when, around 5 p.m., he saw a group of approximately ten soldiers wearing camouflage uniforms and with weapons, as well as two civilians, between the houses of Zoran Kupreskic and Ivica Kupreskic. The witness did not, however, see Zoran or Mirjan Kupreskic. 
174. Witness X on one occasion saw Croat soldiers in Ahmici. When she asked where they were going, they replied, "We're going to Busovaca, to take care of the balijas there".  On 15 April 1993 , a Croat came and urinated on her fence and laughed at her family. 
175. Witness Y did not notice anything on 15 April 1993, but Nermin Kermo and Suad Ahmic came to his place and said that they had noticed a large number of HVO soldiers in uniform around the Kupreskic houses and that as a result they had decided to double the night patrols to four men. 
176. Witness CA testified that, on 15 April 1993, she was drinking coffee with her husband at 3.30 p.m., and watching a television programme on which Dario Kordic and Tihomir Blaskic were saying that their combatants had been attacked in the Bungalow, that there would be no more negotiations and that they "had only to wait for the order". Her son came to her house at 9 p.m., and said that Vitez television was showing the same provocative material. 
178. Witness Z described an ominous atmosphere on 15 April 1993:
179. Witness FF noticed that on the evening of 15 April 1993, there were no lights in the Croat houses, which was unusual. The Muslim houses were lit as usual. 
(b) The Attack on Ahmici on 16 April 1993 
181. Payam Akhavan, an international human rights lawyer who at the time was working for the United Nations Centre for Human Rights, now a Legal Adviser in the Office of the Prosecutor of this Tribunal, was in Ahmici on 1, 2 and 6 May 1993 as part of an investigative team, with witness HH, to compile information for a report of the Special Rapporteur on Human Rights, Tadeusz Mazowiecki. Akhavan spoke of the degree of destruction inflicted upon Ahmici as "total and all-embracing ":
183. Akhavan shared the view of Lt.-Col. Watters that Ahmici was not a military target but an undefended village and that the civilian inhabitants who were victims of the attack offered no military resistance. The attack on Ahmici lasted only one day, with the take-over and destruction completed on 16 April 1993. The exact number of victims was impossible to determine with certainty since many bodies could not be recovered from the rubble due to the danger of unexploded mines and booby -traps. Three hundred of the original Muslim inhabitants were still missing and in addition to these locals there had also been a large number of refugees in Ahmi ci on the day of the attack who had yet to be accounted for. Akhavan stated in cross-examination that although there were atrocities against Croats, for instance the beheading of a Croat in Miletici apparently committed as a reprisal for Ahmi ci by rogue Mujahedin, looking at central Bosnia as a whole, the Muslims were disproportionately victimised. There was a climate of fear and terror in the region that everyone experienced, but allegations of large-scale atrocities committed against Croats, for example in Zenica, were not credible at the time.  The attack on Ahmici was part of a pattern, according to Akhavan, namely that of establishing control by means of "ethnic cleansing" and there had been simultaneous and concerted attacks on Ahmici and surrounding villages.
184. Witness HH was at the time working at the United Nations Centre for Human Rights in Geneva and was fluent in Bosnian/Croatian/Serbian. The witness visited Ahmici on 2 May 1993 with BRITBAT. He saw that most of the homes in Ahmi ci were destroyed, except for what he was told were Croat homes. He and Akhavan attempted to speak to a woman with two children but they were shot at and fled. One soldier was wounded in this incident. Witness HH investigated one incident in particular, namely the attack on the house of Witness KL. Witness HH was told that he would find bodies at KL's house,  which he visited with BRITBAT. The house was gutted by fire and there were human remains - a charred backbone and other fragments that appeared to be human. 
185. Captain Charles Stevens, who was in central Bosnia from November 1992 to May 1993, provided personal security to Colonel Bob Stewart, the commander of BRITBAT. Captain Stevens accompanied Col. Stewart to Ahmici on three occasions at the end of April and early May 1993. The first visit took place on or around 17 April 1993. As BRITBAT arrived in Ahmici, the place was totally devastated, to an extent which was worse than the witness had hitherto seen elsewhere in central Bosnia. The minaret of the mosque had been destroyed by explosive charges which had been placed at its base in such a way as to cause it to fall onto and damage the mosque. There was no sign of life in Ahmici at all. As Captain Stevens moved up towards Upper Ahmici, where there were some fires still burning and some smouldering . Around the houses there were, in general, a large number of spent AK-47 cases. In the doorway of one house, he found two burnt bodies, one of a man and one that appeared to be a child.  On further investigation, he found the bodies of at least two other adults and a number of children in the cellar of the building.
186. During this visit, Captain Stevens met someone called "Dragan", who was armed with an AK-47 and who, by means of sign language and by drawing with a stick in the sand, intimated proudly that he, or he and his friends, had killed thirty-two Muslims. "Dragan" wore a camouflage jacket and darker civilian trousers, and was clean-shaven. The witness could not conclude whether "Dragan" claimed to have killed the thirty-two Muslims in Ahmici or elsewhere, for example, on the battlefield.
187. The next day, the witness went back to Ahmici in the light of reports that BRITBAT had received from people who had fled. Captain Stevens went to Witness KL's house. The building was totally gutted, fire damage having destroyed the roof . There were red tiles covering the floor, charred wooden beams, and the witness saw the burnt upper body of an adult, and further back in the room, on the other side, what appeared to be the body of a smaller person, perhaps a child.  Overall, Captain Stevens got the impression of a pure "ethnic cleansing" operation having taken place in Ahmici on 16 April 1993. 
188. Corporal Skillen, a member of the British army who was based in Vitez as a United Nations peacekeeper from November 1992 to May 1993, went to Ahmici twice on or around 22 April 1993 when he heard rumours of killings. The witness noticed the fallen minaret of one of the Ahmici mosques. He saw that the majority of the houses in Ahmici were totally destroyed or damaged beyond repair. Corporal Skillen visited one house, slightly above the mosque, which contained burnt bodies. On the outside of the house were two burnt bodies, one small  and one large male.  Downstairs there were the burnt corpses apparently of one adult and two small humans, the gender of which could not be determined due to the carbonisation of the bodies.  The whole cellar of the house was burnt and the windows smashed. Based on his expertise , the witness thought that the damage had been caused by a blast. The only people whom Corporal Skillen saw alive in Ahmici that day were a woman and a small child , sitting on the balcony of a house which stood out because it had sustained no damage at all, although the house was surrounded by buildings which had been destroyed . The woman and child were acting as if everything was normal and they were ignoring UNPROFOR. They did not ask for any assistance. The witness identified the house from photographs as Vlatko Kupreskic's house.  Passing the same house later, Corporal Skillen noticed two males in their mid-twenties , in matching uniform, casually passing the time of day. Corporal Skillen considered that the operation on Ahmici of 16 April 1993 transgressed all the principles and rules of warfare. 
189. Mr. Kujawinski, a Non-Commissioned Officer in the British Army was stationed in Vitez from November 1992 to April/May 1993 as a Platoon Sergeant in charge of a platoon equipped with four Warrior armoured fighting vehicles. He was sent to Ahmici on the afternoon of 16 April 1993, around 2.40 p.m. His mission was to recover a broken-down "Scimitar" (a light-weight vehicle used for reconnaissance). He saw palls of smoke from the turn-off to the mountain road to Zenica and many houses destroyed or on fire. Women and children who appeared to be dead were lying out in the open. He saw about 13 bodies. Then as he passed the cemetery, a woman, whom he later evacuated, jumped out with her hands in an imploring gesture. Kujawinski then went up past the Bungalow where he saw many soldiers, more than he had hitherto seen in one group during his tour in Bosnia. He estimated it was a company group , i.e. 100 soldiers. Everyone was dressed in very dark uniforms. They also bore an insignia which he was unable to identify - a red, white and blue shield, with an arch across the top - which he did not recognise as an HVO patch. He only recalled seeing that one unidentifiable patch that day. The soldiers had a lot of weapons and were very joyful, drinking beer and waving their weapons in the air as if to toast or celebrate what had happened. The witness "put one and one together" and concluded that these soldiers, who were 400-500 metres from the scenes of recent killings of women and children and of the destruction of the houses which he had just seen, had committed those acts.
190. The witness carried a camera everywhere with him and took photographs.  From the Bungalow, the witness drove through Ahmici, noticing dead cattle on the way and finding the broken-down Scimitar. At this point he could hear gunfire behind his soldiers and could see cattle being shot in a cruel manner in the fields. The witness towed the Scimitar back to the garage, and then returned to the village to rescue four women and a child, and in the event picked up 13 women and 2 children . Another vehicle accompanying him also collected a number of people with their belongings, including one man in civilian clothes who crawled out from behind a chained fence and boarded the vehicle. The witness did not hear shots at that time . He took the refugees to Travnik Hospital. The witness concluded that there had not been two sides to the conflict in Ahmici that day - merely one group of soldiers at the Bungalow and no defences in the village. The witness did not see any men in uniform or armed in Ahmici that day, neither of the HVO nor of the BiH army.
191. Major Michael Dooley, UNPROFOR Platoon Commander in Bosnia, testified that he went to Ahmici to investigate the situation there around noon on 16 April 1993. He led four armoured vehicles into the village. He saw many dead people by the side of the road and no signs of life, much less of resistance. Occasional shots were to be heard, which Major Dooley determined, on further passes through the village, represented a one-sided shooting into the village, rather than fighting between two sides. Major Dooley further ascertained that, despite the absence of any armed resistance, an anti-aircraft gun appeared to have been used in the attack : he saw large holes in the buildings from 0.5 calibre fire and 0.5 calibre shells , which is the calibre used by either a light anti-aircraft gun or the heaviest automatic fire.
192. As Major Dooley and his armoured vehicles continued to move through the village , the shooting around them intensified. Major Dooley and his soldiers themselves came under fire. He also saw ten HVO soldiers, lying in a ravine, who looked like a "cut-off" group.  Major Dooley and his troops collected some twenty bodies in the three passes, but they saw many more dead, perhaps as many as fifty, who were civilian men and women, and included elderly persons, who appeared to have been shot at close range.  He considered that the initial attack was over by the time he arrived at noon. In his opinion, the assault on Ahmici was a very well coordinated attack by the Croats, executed by someone with a good grasp of military tactics.
193. The witness denied that there was any resistance by the Muslims in Ahmici. He did not see any BiH army soldiers in Ahmici, only Croat soldiers, and the victims he saw were all civilians, without weapons by their bodies. The witness conceded that he knew from Northern Ireland that terrorists could wear civilian clothes, but in these circumstances he believed the victims were not soldiers in civilian clothes because many had no shoes and none had any weapons besides them.
194. Under cross-examination, the witness admitted that it was strategically important to control the road to Travnik which cut through Ahmici. There were Mujahedin trying to get to Travnik; therefore it was important to the Croats to cut them off. Ethnically , the region was "like a dart-board - enclave followed by enclave". The witness admitted that it was a legitimate military tactic to cut the opponent's lines of communication to stop reinforcement. He also agreed that surprise is always condoned in warfare; "surprise is the name of the game".
195. Major Woolley was deployed to Bosnia in November 1992 as a British army captain with UNPROFOR. During his stay in Bosnia, Major Woolley was mostly based in Vitez. On the morning of 16 April 1993, he was informed by a colleague that Vitez was a battle zone and that there were dead civilians and soldiers in the streets . Up until then, there had been nothing which indicated a Muslim-Croat conflict . He was despatched to Ahmici, with 2 Scimitars and a Warrior. He arrived at the village at around 11.30 a.m., and saw plumes and pillars of smoke.  He did not form an impression of what had happened until he spoke to a survivor, a Muslim woman, in a Muslim house by the lower mosque.  From what she told Major Woolley and from what hehad seen, he gathered that there had been a Croat offensive, starting around 6 a.m. Major Woolley saw an injured man who had suffered a gunshot wound to the back and elbow and who had lost a lot of blood. He spoke to survivors in one house. The people were all old women and children, in a state of shock, panic and fear. Major Woolley administered first -aid, and then went up the road. He saw that about 20% of the houses were burning , while the road and entire area appeared to be deserted. He did not see any military activity until he reached location II on Exhibit P229, where he saw soldiers dressed in green and carrying Kalashnikovs, whom he assumed belonged to the HVO because of their positioning outside the village.
196. Major Woolley then went into house no. 2 on Exhibit P229, where he saw a woman on a makeshift stretcher. She had a head wound evidently inflicted by a gunshot . He dressed the wound but she died. The other persons in the house were in great distress. The witness then went to the house belonging to Nermin Kermo where some thirty people were gathered:
198. Based on his own observations, on the report of a woman in the village, and on the fact that "most deliberate offensives conducted by military men are done at dawn, because that's the time when the people are at least alertness, probably in their beds," Major Woolley believed that the attack on Ahmici was a dawn raid . He also confirmed that the dead bodies he found were all civilians. For example , at location VI on his map, he found five civilian bodies, which included elderly persons, who had died from multiple wounds.  These dead bodies were not in uniform, nor "mixed dress", i.e. with one or two items of uniform, which the witness was accustomed to seeing on Bosnian soldiers. Nor were there any guns anywhere near any of the victims. Moreover, each victim appeared to have sustained more than one gunshot wound, one looking as if he had been shot with automatic fire. Besides these evacuations, Major Woolley affirmed that he had picked-up many other bodies. Major Woolley's conclusion was that what happened in Ahmici was not a military operation but a "slaughter". 
200. The witnesses' accounts also agree on this point: that the conflict on 16 April 1993 was a one-sided offensive by heavily-armed HVO soldiers or paramilitaries against mostly unarmed civilian men, women and children. The witnesses all agree that there was no Bosnian Army in Ahmici on 16 April 1993, that the village was undefended and that the only defence which took place that day were some gunshots from 2 or 3 Bosniacs around Nermin Kermo's house to defend that house and, more importantly, the many refugees in the basement, from massacre.
201. Abdulah Ahmic was awakened before dawn by loud detonations which went on for approximately 15 minutes.  He heard one extremely loud detonation which possibly killed his brother, Muris, outside their house. Then his father and he were led out of their house by Bosnian Croat soldiers and shot at point-blank range, following a repeated command by one soldier to another to carry out his orders. The witness's father died - the witness saw his father's brains blown out before his eyes - but the witness himself miraculously survived when the bullet entered one cheek and passed out the other side.
202. The witness stated that both he and his father were wearing civilian clothes at the time and were clearly not soldiers. The Bosnian Croat soldiers who shot them were well-armed, with automatic rifles and bullet-proof vests. The witness and his father offered no resistance at all.
203. After being shot, Abdulah Ahmic played dead, and then ran off and hid, semi -submerged, in a river under a bridge. From that position, he saw HVO forces being deployed in accordance with what appeared to be a plan, with 80-100 men moving in from the north side and 50-60 men from the south side. The witness saw both HV (army of the Republic of Croatia) and HVO soldiers among these men.
204. Subsequently, Abdulah Ahmic left his position under the bridge and hid in a house, where he was attacked with a grenade which a soldier threw into the house . The witness was eventually rescued by Ivo Papic and then taken to Dubravica school . While he was held in the Dubravica school, some Bosniac men were killed and he heard rumours of Bosniac women being raped.
205. The witness lost his father, mother and 3 sisters, who were 24, 23 and 16 years old.
206. Witness A was also a refugee in Ahmici, who had been driven away from Fo~a,  in eastern Bosnia, by the Serbs. He heard explosions and bombs and bullets flying about. Then he heard a loud banging on the door of his house. Soldiers entered, who were heavily armed and wearing camouflage uniforms, with painted faces and ribbons on their sleeves ., A soldier asked Witness A's brother-in-law how old he was and left him alone when he replied that he was only fourteen years old. The soldiers, however, took the witness, who was older, with them.
207. As Witness A left the house, he saw houses burning and heard non-Muslims taunting dispossessed Bosniacs, saying that the "Balijas" were "burning down their own houses ". The witness was made to put on a uniform and to walk ahead of a soldier who was wearing a Jokers patch. As he walked along, the witness saw five bodies lying against a fence: his father, the Paca family - a father and two sons - and a refugee from Zenica.  Witness A himself was, however, spared. He was told to identify the Croat houses and the Muslim houses , for the purposes of their selective destruction. 
208. Witness B testified that he heard a loud explosion and falling shells from 6 a.m. onwards. He saw HVO troops shooting, killing, and torching houses. The witness saw the slogan "48 hours of ashes" written by Croats as graffiti on the fallen minaret shown in Exhibit P66, and elsewhere.  He testified that the BiH army was not in the Lasva River Valley at all on 16 April 1993. There were no Bosniac military units, because they were all away fighting the Serbs, nor were there any Bosniac civilian police.
209. Witness C was 13 years old in April 1993 and lived in the lower part of Ahmici with his family, two boys, two girls and his mother and father. The witness and his brother were woken by the sound of gunfire. Bullets broke the window of their room and plaster fell on them. The family took refuge in the larder. Soldiers then came into the front yard and set everything on fire, including the stable where the family cow and sheep lived. A soldier then entered the house. He was wearing a Jokers patch, and the HVO insignia with checkerboard flag and a "U" for Ustasa . The soldier took the witness's brother to the balcony of the house. The witness then heard 3-4 gunshots being fired. Next the witness was taken out to the balcony with his mother and told to jump, whereupon he saw his dead brother on the ground below the balcony. The witness jumped next to his dead brother and then ran off . As he ran away, the witness saw a soldier trying to force the mother to jump by threatening her with a knife. Other soldiers in camouflage uniforms stood below the balcony, armed with knives and guns, and laughed and shouted, "Jump, jump" at the witness's mother.  As the witness ran towards the road, shots were fired at him, but he survived by zig-zagging and thus managed to reach the road where he was rescued by a man driving a Lada and was subsequently helped to flee by a Croat called Jozo.
210. Witness D, witness C's mother, said that the first thing she heard was bullets whizzing into her house. She fled to the larder. She then heard someone in the yard saying, "Burn everything here". The stable was set alight, and the animals burnt alive. Soldiers then entered the house and made her elder son jump from the balcony and shot him dead in the process. The soldiers then tried to make the witness jump, using the insulting term, "Balija", shouting "Jump, balija, jump !" A gun was put to her temple to force her to jump onto her murdered son and the soldiers were "laughing as if they were having fun".  She told the soldiers to kill her there and then, if they were going to kill her as she was not able to jump. However, the soldiers did not shoot her.
211. Among her family members, the witness's husband was shot in the shoulder and one son was murdered. Her daughter was slapped with a Koran and later was in a state of shock, trembling and covered in sweat. The soldiers looted the witness's house and shouted at her family, "Give me your money!" and "If I find more money , I'll cut you into pieces!"  Later the witness managed to escape to the Upper Ahmici with her daughter. Witness D did not see a single armed Muslim in Ahmici on 16 April 1993.
212. Fahrudin Ahmic testified that he awoke to the sound of gunfire. Shells were falling and all kinds of weapons were being fired. As he ran from his house , he was shot. Women and children were with him when he was shot, and thus also in the line of fire. The witness went into a house where UNPROFOR administered first-aid to him, but he was not taken to hospital because UNPROFOR said that the Croatian army had ordered that no-one was to be helped.  Shortly after UNPROFOR left, the house was nearly set on fire by incendiary bullets . The injury sustained by the witness was very serious: his hand was almost blown off and he remained in intense pain for months. He still has severe problems with his arm.
213. Fahrudin Ahmic, like all the other victims of the attack who testified before the Trial Chamber, testified that he was not in uniform, nor had he any weapon with him; he had never possessed a weapon. The witness did not hear of any Croatian soldier being killed on 16 April 1993. He affirmed that there was neither a BiH army presence in Ahmici in April 1993, nor any Bosniac combat lines. The Croats , on the other hand, were well organised.
214. Witness E was 15 years old in 1993 and a refugee from Travnik. He was woken by shooting at 5.50 a.m. Soldiers threw grenades into his house, whereupon he left the house with his mother, sister and father, seeing two dead bodies as he emerged. He and his family members were told by soldiers to put their hands up and to keep their heads bowed. The witness then saw a further two dead bodies . The soldiers whom the witness saw were in camouflage uniforms, with automatic rifles and anti-tank rocket launchers. The witness's father, an elderly man, was called out of the line as they walked along and the witness never saw him again. The witness then saw another two soldiers, one wearing a balaclava, the other with his face painted black and both in camouflage uniforms. The soldiers had Military Police insignia. The witness walked very slowly with his mother and sister amidst heavy shooting from both sides, and from Croatian houses, to Upper Ahmici, from where they were later evacuated with women and children to Zenica.
215. Witness F was 14 years old in 1993, and lived in Ahmici with his 4-year -old sister, 8-year-old brother and his mother. Witness F lost his mother and brother . On that morning, he was awakened by heavy shooting. A grenade was thrown into the house. His mother tried to throw the grenade back but it exploded in her hand , blowing off her arm and at the same time killing the witness's brother. Another grenade was then thrown in which exploded and injured the witness in the lower part of his body, followed by a third grenade. Next, a soldier came in, dressed in a camouflage uniform and with his face painted black, carrying an automatic rifle and a rocket launcher on his back. The soldier had an orange armband, which was identified through Exhibit P103 as HVO insignia.  This soldier asked Witness F where his father was. Explosions erupted upstairs and the witness and his family hid in the pantry. The witness's mother was then hit by a bullet in the stomach. The family fled to the barn, with the witness carrying his dead brother and his sister. His mother joined them in the barn and died there some fifteen minutes later. The witness passed out in the barn, which was set on fire by soldiers.
216. While the witness was in the barn, he heard a soldier outside saying that they had killed everyone in Lower Ahmici (around the lower mosque) and that they should move to the upper mosque. The soldiers saw the witness and his sister in the barn , next to the corpses of his brother and mother. The soldiers threw in a grenade to kill the livestock; they threw a grenade under the cow and then killed it with a rifle. The soldiers also killed a lamb. The witness testified that the soldiers were using a radio or mobitel to stay in touch with each other.
217. The witness sustained 18 injuries from the three grenades, including shrapnel wounds all over his body.
218. Later the witness returned to his house and collected some food and clothes . As he left, he saw Melissa Zec, a young child, lying next to her dead mother. She refused to leave her mother's side. Witness F also saw the body of Husein Ahmi c lying in his backyard. Witness F tried to go to Upper Ahmici, but he was turned back by a large group of soldiers with Jokers insignia, camouflage uniforms and automatic rifles, who said, "You cannot go up there. (The( HVO is up there. They don't distinguish between women, children and men. They kill everyone". Later, walking through the woods, he saw the dead body of Fata Pezer. The witness was taken to Dubravica school with his sister and Melissa Zec. There he saw HOS and other HVO soldiers. In the school, the witness saw Dzemila Ahmic who was taken out and came back an hour later crying and saying she had been raped. Like other witnesses, Witness F did not see or hear of any Bosniac line of defence. If any such line existed, the witness said, it was a spontaneous defence - people standing before their homes to defend their families.
219. Witness G was thirteen years old in April 1993 and lived in Lower Ahmi ci with his father, mother and two sisters. The witness and his family were all asleep when they were woken by heavy fire, explosions, and bullets coming through the windows of their rooms and through the roof tiles. The witness heard his parents running down the hallway yelling, "Children, get up and get dressed!" The whole family ran downstairs to avoid the bullets coming through the ceiling. They went into a little room on the ground floor. An incendiary bullet then hit the house , but his mother managed to extinguish the fire. His father then said that they should go to the next-door neighbours' house. His father was unarmed and the whole family was in civilian clothes.
220. Witness G's family left the house one-by-one, with the witness in front. The witness ran towards their barn and some other houses. He heard a very loud burst of gunfire as he ran. He saw a neighbour, Zahir, lying dead in his garden, in civilian clothes - possibly in pyjamas - and a soldier in camouflage uniform and with insignia , and his face painted black, standing over Zahir with a rifle.
221. The witness next saw three soldiers wearing camouflage clothing and carrying rucksacks who were shooting at the upper village. These soldiers had insignia, possibly of the HV. The witness also saw Dragan Papic standing with a rifle. The soldiers told the witness to run back and as he turned to run, they shot him in the back of the legs and he fell. He could see his parents and sisters running from the house.  His father, mother and elder sister were all killed.
222. The witness lay where he was and played dead all day. During that time he heard several explosions and sounds of attack and saw soldiers in camouflage uniforms , with rifles and rucksacks, passing by, including Dragan Papic. He noticed insignia of the Vitezovi, the Jokers, the HVO and the HV. Some soldiers were in black uniforms . None of the soldiers tried to assist the witness, his parents or his sisters. While lying there, among other things, the witness saw two soldiers setting a house on fire and heard female screams and other sounds of people being killed, some of whom, he subsequently discovered, were his relatives. He saw a man killed in cold blood at close range, after his wife, son and daughter had been told to walk away . This happened right in front of the witness. The witness saw incendiary bullets being shot at a Bosniac, Hidajet's, house, which set it on fire. That night Witness G saw about 30 soldiers. The soldiers set Elvir's house on fire. On the radio he heard the soldiers saying: "How are you doing in Pirici? Do you need any assistance ? There's plenty of us over here", and then, "Please send us explosives for the lower mosque in Ahmici". 
223. When the soldiers had gone, the witness staggered over to a barn where he lost consciousness. He was woken by a powerful explosion which he believed was the mosque being blown up. The witness then went into another smouldering house - Elvir's - and collapsed there. According to his watch, he spent two days and two nights on the landing of the house, unconscious, and stayed in the house seven days in total, leaving on the eighth day. While in the house, he survived on water from a pipe and some marmalade. From the house he could see several bodies, including the bodies of his father, mother and older sister (the witness's little sister had disappeared but had not, in fact, been killed as the witness had believed), and the bodies of two others whom he believes were refugees. From his vantage point in Elvir's house, the witness also saw the Croatian families coming back to Ahmi ci after the assault with their livestock and belongings and continuing to live normal lives among the carnage as if nothing had happened. The witness could see that the Muslim houses had been destroyed while the Croat houses remained intact . The witness was finally rescued by UNPROFOR on the eighth day following the attack on Ahmici, and he was later reunited with his only surviving family member, his youngest sister.
224. Witness H was thirteen years old in April 1993 and belonged to a family of five, comprising herself, her father, mother, and two twin sisters who were five years old at the time. The witness was a next-door neighbour of Zoran, Mirjan and Vlatko Kupreskic.
225. Between 5.15 - 5.30 a.m., the witness was woken by a burst of gunfire which shattered the glass of the children's room. Her parents told her to go down into the basement, which was a shelter in which they had previously hidden during air -raids by the Serbs in 1992. From the shelter, the witness heard people running about in their house. Two grenades detonated; one in the kitchen and one in the living-room. The witness heard voices in front of the garage, telling her father to open the door. The witness thought the voices were friends wanting to enter the shelter, because they had fine relations with their neighbours, so she told her father to open the door. Her father went to open up the garage door. As he did so, there was a burst of gunfire in the hallway and a scream. The voices outside then said "Balija, come out", and her father started crying, saying "Please don't kill me". She then heard a burst of gunfire. The lid of the basement was then lifted and a voice said, "Is there anyone down there?" The witness replied, "Yes , me and my sisters".
226. Besides the Kupreskic brothers, there were three other soldiers, one of whom began to set the witness's house on fire by pouring petrol and setting it alight with a match while another soldier was looking through their closets. The witness got on her knees, begging Zoran Kupreskic for mercy. She tried to put the fire out but was abruptly ordered to stop and sent out of the house. As the witness left the house, she had to step over the corpse of Meho Hrustanovic, a neighbour , who had been killed. She saw blood on his chest and realised that he had been killed by gunfire. The witness also saw the corpse of Hrustanovic's wife, Zafra , lying in front of her own house where she had been killed. She then saw the corpse of her own father. The witness, with her mother and sisters who were barefoot and in pyjamas, escaped to Upper Ahmici; then, amidst much shooting and shelling, to Vrhovine, and finally on foot to Zenica.
227. Witness I was woken in his home in Zume, a part of Ahmici, on 16 April 1993 by a powerful explosion. He saw that all the Muslim houses in Ahmici were on fire. He also noticed that his Croatian neighbours were hiding in Jozo Vrebac's shelter. An HVO soldier ordered him out of his house. The soldier had an automatic rifle and a "Scorpio", and wore a white belt. The witness surrendered two hand grenades to the soldier. The soldier said, "You see this house? ...This is no longer yours, and don't you dare come back here". The witness locked up his house and gave the keys to the soldier and left Zume. A Croat from Busovaca now lives in his house.
228. Witness J testified that she awoke at 5.15 a.m. At 5.25 a.m., shelling started, and the mosque was fired upon. Around 5.30 a.m., she saw that Witness KL's house was on fire, as well as neighbouring houses, including that of Fahrudin Ahmic. She heard a lot of shooting and hid in her pantry. Then soldiers broke down her door and started breaking everything. There were five soldiers, including Nenad Santic, who was a neighbour, and whose face was painted black. The other soldiers did not have their faces painted. The soldiers were in camouflage uniforms , with HVO patches, and had rifles. They killed her husband and left. The witness then saw that the house was on fire, as well as all the surrounding Muslim houses , but apparently it did not burn down. She came out of her house towards dusk to feed the cow and saw her husband's body. She spent the night there. The next day , she was taken by Bosnian Croats to Dubravica, where there was rape and "a lot of terrible things going on". 
229. Hendrikus Prudon, a crime scene officer, corroborated Witness KL's account of what happened in his home on the morning of 16 April 1993. Prudon was commissioned by the Office of the Prosecutor to compile a ballistic-incendiary report on Witness KL's house amongst others, and he investigated the ruins for signs of fire damage , gunfire and explosives. During his investigation, Prudon found bullets and cartridge cases in various parts of the house, including anti-aircraft projectiles (Exhibit P170). He also found textiles and bone fragments. Prudon's Report concluded that the bones were of a child (of ten or eleven years of age) charred by a temperature of 1,000º - 1,600º celsius. In three areas of the house, there were holes in the floor, which appear to be where the sofas and table had burned and fallen through the floor. 
230. Witness K lost her husband and son on 16 April 1993. Her family consisted of her husband and three children: a son aged ten and two daughters aged six and four years. She was awoken by gunfire in the morning. Bullets were coming into the room in which she and her husband slept with all their children. She heard gunfire outside, as well as whispers and general noise. There was a banging on the door. At this point, bullets were flying about everywhere inside the house. The witness struggled over the door for about ten minutes to stop the soldiers outside from opening it, with the help of her husband. She screamed, saying, "There's only me and the children here! There's nobody else here! Stop shooting! Don't fire! Don't shoot my children!" Her son then said that he was wounded and her husband started shouting for the first time. A gun was pointed through the window and a blond soldier appeared, shouting "Out, out, out!" Her husband put his son on his shoulder and went out to the hallway and out the front door. There was a burst of gunfire, and the witness's husband and son fell down. Her son was dead, with bullets in his stomach while her husband was covered in blood, in great pain but alive. She tried to clean him up and lift him, but he died. The witness then went back into her house with her two daughters and stayed in the house. From there she saw Witness KL's and others' houses burning and the corpse of Munib Ahmic and others. She realised that the soldiers were killing everyone and burning all the houses. She and her daughters eventually crawled out of the house to safety.
231. The witness estimated that the gunshots fired at her house came from the direction of the Croat houses in Lower Ahmici, the Kupreskic houses. She assumed they were attacked by their Croatian neighbours since the Muslims' properties were destroyed and Muslims were killed, whereas the Croatian houses were left untouched and their children were unharmed.
232. Witness L was wounded in the left arm during the attack as he ran from his home towards Upper Ahmici. Nevertheless he reached Vrhovine, where he was reunited with the rest of his family. His house was burned by the Croats that day. The witness was treated in Zenica.
233. Witness N, who was born in 1957 in Prijedor, was a former inmate of Keraterm camp and a refugee, expelled from Prijedor by the Serbs. He arrived in Ahmici on 20 August 1992, and settled in Upper Ahmici, living next door to the mosque . His family went to Austria and he stayed in Ahmici alone. Witness N participated in the village guard in Ahmici; his duty was to guard the people while they were praying in the mosque at dawn and evening. He possessed a short-barrelled weapon , which he carried on his person. The witness recalled that the assault of 16 April 1993 began with a direct hit on the minaret at 6.15 a.m. It was dawn, daylight had broken, but at the same time it was misty. There was then shooting from all quarters. Next came an infantry attack from the direction of the Catholic cemetery . As the attack went on, the witness helped to evacuate the wounded. He noticed shooting from Vlatko Kupreskic's store. The witness himself came under fire from a bunker consisting of sandbags piled up one on top of the other, from the direction of Vlatko Kupreskic's store,  at around 10 a.m. He thought it was a small anti-aircraft weapon firing at him. The witness succeeded in leaving Ahmici around 2 p.m. He escaped to Zenica, with the assistance of UNPROFOR.
234. Witness O was a refugee who came to Ahmici in November 1992. His family comprised his wife, three sons and two daughters. On 16 April 1993, the witness rose at around 3.45 a.m.; at 4 a.m., he saw lights at Vlatko Kupreskic's house. He rose again around 5 a.m. At 5.30 a.m., there was considerable shooting. He then saw six soldiers in "motley" uniforms and with weapons going from house to house , who he believed had killed the local Muslims called Kurja, Sukrija, Naser and Huso, because he had seen the six soldiers going to their houses.  The witness, as he fled with his family to Vrhovine, saw the village ablaze and the houses of Muslims burning.
235. Witness P was 19 years old in April 1993 and lived in Lower Ahmici, where she had lived since her birth. Her family comprised her mother, father (Witness Q), a younger sister (Witness R), who was 16 years old, an elder sister and a brother (who was in Stari Vitez at the time of these events). Her brother lived with his family - his wife (Witness T) and three small children (aged 1½, 2½, and 4½ years ) - on the ground floor of the same house. On 16 April 1993, a friend was also present in her house, and her family was also joined by her paternal uncle (Witness S) and his wife, and by two refugees, a man and woman, from Prijedor; thus making fourteen persons in total. Her closest Croatian neighbours were Vlatko Kupreski c, and Dragan, Gordana and Mirko Vidovic.
236. Witness P's account of what transpired on 16 April 1993 is corroborated by the accounts of the members of the family who also testified - Witnesses Q, R, S , T and their evidence will, therefore, be treated together.
237. According to Witnesses P, Q, R, S and T, there was a loud detonation or explosion and shooting broke out between 5 - 5.30 a.m. The father Witness Q and the mother of the family told the children to get out of their beds. The family went down to the basement of the house. In the basement, the family was joined by Witness S who lived next door and who had also been woken by the sound of loud shooting from heavy weaponry. Witness S had seen houses burning near Vlatko Kupre skic's house and noticed shooting from Dragan Vidovic's house and had seen wounded people passing by. The family continued to wait in the basement and in the brother's garage. The shooting intensified and they saw houses on fire and a wounded man. Witness T also saw shooting from heavy weaponry from Ivica Kupreskic's house; loud detonations could be heard from the lower part of Ahmici. Witness Q noticed soldiers manoeuvring in a forest below the school, and other HVO soldiers in camouflage uniform advancing towards his house. The group in the basement then saw that they had no option but to flee to the upper village, which they did at around 8 - 8.30 a.m. They left the house together and climbed an elevation where the group hid in a shelter for ten minutes, discussing the escape route they should take.  This shelter was too small, however, for everyone to hide in, so they left for Nermin Kermo's house, as pre-arranged in the event of an air attack. They took a very narrow path with which Witness R was familiar from her childhood.
238. On their route, there was a plateau with a large clearing free of any growth . As the group of fleeing persons traversed this area and came to the edge of the hill, they heard people swearing at them. Witness Q then turned around and saw three soldiers and Vlatko Kupreskic in front of the latter's house, all holding automatic weapons. The soldiers cursed the group as "Balijas", asking why they had not been killed and where they had been hiding and telling them to give themselves up. According to Witness Q, the soldiers said "Fuck you balija mothers. Where were you? Where have you been so far?"  Witness R, who did not see the soldiers nor recognise the voices, testified that the voices she heard said, "Fuck you balija mothers, how come you're still alive ?" Witness S heard the cursing of a group of soldiers, calling from the direction of Vlatko Kupreskic's house, 50-70 metres away, and cast a momentary glance towards them. He saw a group of soldiers there, and one man who was not wearing a uniform , but Witness S was not sure that Vlatko Kupreskic was among them. According to Witness S, the soldiers shouted, "Balija mothers, where have you been hiding? How come you haven't been killed yet?"
239. The soldiers then began to shoot at the family and the other refugees. From the damage caused to surrounding trees, they appeared to be using fragmentation bullets. Witness T described how the bullets prevented her from helping her two and a half year old child, Maida, who had been shot and was apparently injured, with blood running down her face: "... from the shooting I couldn't help her, because bullets were falling all around her, and the bullets -- the earth would be -- shot up into the air when the bullet touched it. There were bullets all around and bullets going into the tree trunks".  As the shooting started, everybody ran. Witness T fell to the ground to protect her child.
240. When the soldiers started shooting from Vlatko Kupreskic's house, Witness R lay down, at which point a bullet hit her in the leg, by the knee. Witness Q, the father of witness R, heard his daughter cry out and saw blood coming from her leg . The other members of the fleeing group ran "every which way" in order to save their lives and to escape the shooting. As his daughter cried out, "Mother, dear , I've been wounded. I'll die. You will lose me", her mother returned to help her and as she came to within three to four metres of the place where her daughter was, she fell, herself hit by a bullet. At the time she was hit, according to Witness Q, she was turned with her chest facing towards the direction from Vlatko Kupres kic's house whence the shooting was coming. Witness Q then had to save his child by pulling her to the other side of the hill where she could not be hit by any more bullets coming from Vlatko Kupreskic's house. After he had pulled Witness R out , crawling on the plain, he came to the place where his wife was and pulled her by the legs to one side. He lifted her head and watched to see whether she gave any signs of life, but she did not. Her mouth was full of dirt and she was dead . Then a neighbour approached them from the other side of the hill, and Witness R cried out to him to help them. They took Witness R and carried her away to Nermin Kermo's house. All this time, there was shooting coming from Vlatko Kupreskic's house.
241. There was a basement in the lower section of Nermin Kermo's house where many other people from the lower section of the village had already gathered and were crying.  There Witness R received first aid; shirts were used to dress her wounds. After an hour's time, UNPROFOR came, and also administered first aid to Witness R and then removed her, and the other seriously wounded, in an Armoured Personnel Carrier.  Witness T noticed that when UNPROFOR arrived, the shooting stopped, but that once UNPROFOR left, there was intensive shelling of Nermin Kermo's house.
242. Witness P stayed at Nermin Kermo's house until midnight due to the constant shooting. Then she and others escaped in small groups to Vrhovine and Zenica via Dobrila. Witness S told the court how his father did not want to leave, thinking that he would not be hurt as he was an old man of 83 years, but that he was later killed, as was his mother, who was 70 years old. 
243. Witness U remembered hearing a strong blast at the time of the morning call to prayer on 16 April 1993. He heard shooting and saw four young uniformed soldiers bearing HVO insignia running past. People were fleeing - men, women and children - and those who did not flee were killed. The witness fled with his family , including his sister who was an invalid, in a group of 15-20 civilians, mostly women and children. They stopped between two hills, where they were blocked. Before his eyes, one woman, Nadira, was shot in the head and died from the wound.  The witness was himself wounded in the left arm, and remains disabled in that arm to this day. His sister, 37 years old at the time and bedridden, whom he was carrying in his arms, was also wounded. Another woman, Hajra, was at the same time shot in the chest and died instantly. Her sister, Zela, was also wounded. The shooting was coming from the direction of the Sutre store, owned by Vlatko Kupreskic. Witness U described how a female refugee, whose young son and husband had been killed, told them that they should hide "because they were killing all males, all males indiscriminately ". She said, "Hide even in a mouse hole, but just hide". 
244. The witness hid in a pit for a while, until some HVO soldiers came along and ordered his family out. The witness's family was taken away, but the witness managed to remain concealed and, when soldiers started burning the garage where the pit was located, he and others managed to run out and returned to his house for four to five days, hiding under a concrete staircase, which had not burned. Then the witness and the others surrendered to four soldiers. One soldier bore the HVO insignia , while the others were in blue uniforms which had led him to believe they were UNPROFOR soldiers. The soldiers took the witness to a collection centre near a soccer stadium. On the way to the collection area, Witness U saw that most of the houses in the Muslim area of town were damaged or burnt down, while not a single house was damaged in the Croatian section.
245. Witness V lived in Upper Ahmici in April 1993 with his wife and two sons. He was on patrol on the evening of 15 April 1993. He went to bed at 4.30 a.m., but was woken by shooting.  He left the house with his gun to find out what was going on and went towards the main road. There was heavy shooting coming from the direction of Vlatko Kupreskic's house. The witness saw houses burning, notably from the direction of Sukrija or Witness KL's house. The witness, his brother and some others gathered by a stable . Then he retreated towards his house. He saw the wife of Sukrija "running with her children and crying, and she was so distraught. She cried out to us, 'Run for your life. They have killed Sukrija, they have set my house on fire'. She looked so terrible it defies description".  The witness said he had the impression that they "wanted to kill every living thing in sight". 
246. Witness V's cellar became crowded with civilians.  The witness and Mirhad Berbic took up a position in order to defend the civilians in his cellar and because they had no means of retreat. The witness exchanged gunfire with HVO soldiers who were running towards his house, and one of whom was armed with a grenade launcher. Being outgunned, the witness then took up a position between his house and the upper mosque, behind some construction material, until UNPROFOR came. As soon as UNPROFOR arrived the shooting stopped. When UNPROFOR left, the shooting started again, and indeed intensified, particularly in a vengeful burst directed towards the witness's house, which had served as a haven for the wounded .  The witness stayed in his position - between the mosque and his house - until it became dark, and then he and the civilians in his basement decided to withdraw towards Vrhovine and Zenica. Those who stayed behind were killed and burned.
247. Witness W's mother, wife, sister and son were all murdered on 16 April 1993. That day, he was woken at 5.30 - 5.40 a.m. by an explosion. The witness saw soldiers running past and heard heavy shooting. The soldiers swore at Sefik Pezer , a Bosniac, cursing his "balija mother" and threatening to set his house on fire , which they eventually did. The witness and his whole family left the house due to the falling mortar shells and went towards Upper Ahmici. The witness caught up with his family by Vlatko Kupreskic's house. His wife was severely wounded in the head. Other Bosniacs were also wounded, while the daughter of a friend of his , Esad, was killed. 
248. The witness waited with his wife, by Vlatko Kupreskic's store, amidst heavy shooting for 3-4 hours. A group of five HVO soldiers, wearing camouflage uniforms with the Croatian checkerboard flag, then came from towards Vlatko Kupreskic's house , and saw the witness and his wounded wife. The soldiers searched the witness and his family and started mistreating them. In the end, the witness said, "they came to some kind of compromise, that they wouldn't liquidate us".  From what the witness said, it is clear there was an order to exterminate the Muslims :
250. Witness X lost her husband and one daughter that day. The witness heard a loud detonation from the direction of the Kupreskic houses. Then shooting started from all sides. Her family went down into their cellar. She saw people shooting at the Pezer house from Jevco Vidovic's, Ivica Vidovic's, Niko Vidovic's and Slavko Papic's houses. The witness saw a total of eight Bosniac houses burning.  She was told by a neighbour, "Run away, because they're taking everybody prisoner and killing people". She sent her children off with the neighbours and then heard her children crying from the direction of Vlatko Kupreskic's house and then a burst of gunfire.
251. Next, four HVO soldiers who had just set Cazim Ahmic's house on fire stopped her and her husband. One of these HVO soldiers killed her husband in front of her eyes with a bullet through his forehead. The witness saw his brain spurting out . Her husband was wearing civilian clothes and had no weapon. The soldier then said to Witness X, "I'm going to set your house and barn on fire, so escape".
252. The witness fled and reached a spot below Vlatko Kupreskic's house where she found her children. One of her daughters had been killed by the shooting, another daughter had been wounded from shrapnel from a mortar shell and another woman had been killed. She was told "to get away from that open space because there was sniper fire coming from Vlatko's (Vlatko Kupreskic's( house and that they would kill (her (".  Eventually, after some three and a half hours, the witness surrendered to HVO soldiers and, seeing Franjo Kupre skic, Vlatko Kupreskic's father, asked for help. 
253. Franjo Kupreskic and two or three other soldiers stood over the witness and said, "We kill our own wounded, let alone yours", and "This is all for the village of Nezirovici. We'll kill you or we'll slaughter you, but we should rape you first , and you tell us that we can do what we like with you".  The Muslims had to agree that they were at the soldiers' mercy.  The HVO soldiers told them to go to Upper Ahmici to the upper mosque.  The witness walked to Upper Ahmici and emerged at Vrhovine with her children. She spent the night at Vrhovine and was transferred to Zenica the next morning.
254. On re-examination, Witness X referred to the fact that she heard soldiers calling for brandy and celebrating the fact that "they were all killed down there" (in Lower Ahmici), and saying "we've done a good job".  The voices were coming from Vlatko Kupreskic's yard and house. When the witness walked past Vlatko Kupreskic's house, it "was full of HVO soldiers in the yard". She also added that she saw that day the bodies of Sukrija and Meho and Meho's wife - all killed, all in civilian clothes.
255. Witness Y rose at 5 a.m., to go to work at the Princip factory. He was having coffee when he heard two bursts of gunfire from the direction of the Kupreskic houses. He told his wife to hide beneath the staircase. He saw Sukrija Ahmic's house on fire and five to ten uniformed soldiers in front of the house, armed with rocket-propelled grenades and with helmets on their heads. He ran back into his house, put on his uniform and took his rifle. He ran to Upper Ahmici to report to the command in Preocica. He telephoned the command and told them that the village had been attacked and was on fire and asked for assistance. The communication lines went dead, while they were talking. When the witness returned from Upper Ahmici, he saw that almost all the houses were burning, apart from his house and those of Nasid Ahmic and Nermin Kermo.
256. The witness then joined Nermin Kermo and his brother and took cover in a thicket , near the upper mosque, and started to return fire. Witness Y said that 5-7 Bosnian Muslims - he, Nermin Kermo and a few others - defended the Bosniacs from the Croat attack in the upper village, and approximately the same number defended the lower village. They did not receive any assistance. The weapons the Bosniacs had were mostly burnt out rifles from Slimenje, of very poor quality and not very accurate .  They shot at the soldiers to stop them from burning his house and thus killing Witness Y's wife, and to protect the civilians who were in Nermin Kermo's basement. The witness shot about three magazines with his automatic rifle, i.e. 90 bullets, that day. UNPROFOR came at around noon with 3-4 vehicles. The witness went over to speak to them. He saw Nadira Ahmic lying dead. UNPROFOR put some wounded people into the vehicles. At that point, the witness's wife broke cover and ran for Kermo's basement. The shooting died down when UNPROFOR came. Once UNPROFOR left, however: "there was a cannonade . There was shooting from all kinds of weapons, mortars, RPGs, PAMs, PATs, anti -aircraft guns, all kinds of weapons, artillery pieces. Whatever they had, they used to shoot all over Ahmici". 
257. Witness Y and Nermin Kermo stayed in their position until dusk. There was shooting all day. As dusk fell, more survivors from the lower part of the village appeared and they were transferred to Vrhovine. Some old people stayed and were all killed. 
258. Witness Z woke to the sound of shooting. His mother was in the hallway , "beside herself". Witness Z ran out with his rifle. He saw the Ahmic houses on fire, bullets flying from anti-aircraft guns and shooting directed towards the lower mosque and surrounding houses. The witness said he did not use his gun that day, because he was afraid for the safety for his wife and mother. Moreover he took off his uniform, in which he had slept, and hid his weapon. His house was hit with bullets, so he ran with wife and mother to Galib Imsirevic's house, which was also already completely "drilled" with bullets. Galib was lying dead outside . Next the witness ran with a group of people to the house of Vlado Santic (a neighbour , not the accused, who lived in Vitez). There was shooting all around and bullets flying all around them. Eight of them hid in a shed by Vlado Santic's house from 8.30 a.m. until approximately 4.30 p.m. When UNPROFOR came by, he flagged them down , and disguised himself as a woman in order to get on board. As they drove off, he saw Drago Josipovic in camouflage uniform, with an automatic rifle but without face paint, in the company of four other soldiers with rifles.
259. Witness BB woke up at 5-5.30 a.m., when she heard a detonation. She and her family hid in the pantry. Then a female neighbour came by and said, "Let's run. We're being attacked. They are torching everything. They are killing everyone ". The witness went with the neighbour and the neighbour's daughter to Ahmici, leaving her husband and son behind. They reached the Kupreskic houses, where they had to stop because the Grabovi houses were all burned. She saw the HVO running everywhere and she hid under a hill. There was shooting from all sides, from the Kupreskic houses as well as from Pirici. After some time, a neighbour, Nadira Ahmic, was hit in the back of the head and killed, then a 18-year old girl, Zirafeta Ahmic, Hajra and Kemo were all hit by gunfire. They went with Kemo into a house and hid there, nine women and children. The shot which killed Nadira Ahmic came from either Vlatko Kupreskic's house or Franjo Kupreskic's house; according to the witness, it could not have come from anywhere else. 
260. In the same group as the witness were a dozen or so persons, including three men and a very young boy. None were in uniform and none had guns. HVO soldiers burst into the house in which they were hiding and harassed them.  They took them to a swamp called Dolina and kept them there for 2-3 hours. They then led the witness to the main road. They asked her where her husband and son were. When she said that she did not know, the soldiers said: "Well, we know where they are. We killed them and we sent them to God's garden to pick tangerines".  But in fact her son lived and she found him in Travnik hospital.
261. The witness was evacuated in an UNPROFOR vehicle. While waiting for UNPROFOR , she met a large number of refugees in a shed who had had members of their families killed before their very eyes. 
262. Witness CC was woken at approximately 6 a.m., by the sound of shooting and explosives. She saw houses on fire and decided to stay indoors with her family . Then soldiers arrived and started kicking and breaking the window with rifle butts. At that point, the witness and her family left the house. Outside, there were two soldiers - in black uniforms, with rifles and rucksacks, standing in front of the house of Husein Ahmic. They told them to put their hands up, to bend their heads and not to look around, which they did. The witness saw two soldiers by Husein Ahmic's house brutally evicting a woman and her children from their house.  She saw another two soldiers on the other side of the house. One soldier had his face painted with black lines and the other had some sort of mask on his face so that only his eyes could be seen. As she left the house, she saw dead bodies lying on the ground two metres from their front door. At the front of the house, she left her father, as she was told to run wherever she could. So she ran by the mosque towards central and Upper Ahmici. 
263. Witness DD lost both her husband and son on 16 April 1993. She awoke to the sound of heavy shooting. She saw flashes outside the window and Muslim houses on fire. Looking out of the window, she saw three or more soldiers, including Drago Josipovic with a rifle, shooting in the direction of her house. Soldiers started banging on the door, shouting "Nazif, come out, Nazif you balija motherfucker". Children were screaming. Bullets were flying everywhere, and there was a lot of smoke. The witness tried to find some clothes to dress the children, and her husband went downstairs and then came back and said, "Amir, Elma, you should go out too. They are calling you too". At this time, the soldiers, some of whom were masked , broke into the house. They took the family downstairs. The witness's son was then taken aside. The witness jumped at a person who was not wearing any mask - a very thin man with some black paint on his face - and yelled, "Do not take my Amir away, please, my Amir". She started struggling with the soldier. At that point, Drago Josipovic came from around the house. He had taken off his mask to wipe off some sweat but then he put it on again. The soldier with whom the witness was struggling became very angry and pointed his rifle at the witness. He was about to shoot the witness, when Drago Josipovic shouted, "Leave her alone". 
264. Next, Witness DD's husband, Nazif, was led away. The witness herself was told to "get lost". She was led away to a barn, where her daughter and some other women were. They were locked in the barn. The soldiers then set fire to her house. The group was told to leave the barn and to go to the house of Slavko Vrebac. Witness DD asked a Croat if she could go to her son, Amir, who may have been killed or wounded , and she did not want him to suffer. But he would not let her. They reached the house of Slavko Vrebac. The wife of Vrebac was "very merry".  They stayed there when night fell. They were not allowed even to go to the toilet . They were given wooden frames of couches and sofas, without cushions or other comforts, to sleep on. It was damp. Later they were taken to Sivrino Selo, and then on towards Zenica.
265. Witness EE lived in Lower Ahmici until 16 April 1993. Her family comprised her husband, daughter (12 years old) and son (9 years old).  The first thing the witness remembered was a loud detonation, followed by shooting . She grabbed her children and with her husband tried to go to the bathroom, but the moment she opened the bathroom door, bullets flew through. She returned to the hallway. Then there were "terrible voices" calling on them to open up. They repeated several times "Open the door, this is the police", but the witness and her family kept quiet because they were terribly afraid by now. Then a burst of gunfire shattered the glass and the door. The witness's husband unlocked the other door. She saw soldiers in full military uniform. She recognised the soldiers as the accused Vladimir Santic, Drago Josipovic, as well as Zeljo Livancic, Marinko Katava and Karlo Cerkez. Vladimir Santic and Zeljo Livancic were in camouflage uniform, with the HVO patch and helmets. They took her husband away, whereupon she heard a burst of gunfire. She never saw or heard from her husband again. As her husband was led away he said, "Don't kill my wife and children". The husband was in the clothes he slept in, namely an under-vest, underwear, vest and short pants.
266. One HVO soldier, Stipo Alilovic, was left to guard her and her children as they went and stood in the corner. Then the other soldiers came back and stared at her and the children. Stipo Alilovic, holding a grenade, said "What do I do with this grenade?" Zeljo Livancic told her and her children to "get lost". The witness's mother had also been evicted from her house and was crouching outside, suffering from burns. The witness then went with her mother and two children to hide in a shed. She saw various soldiers around, some of whom were jumping from her verandah . Her house was on fire. She and her mother ran back into the house and managed to put out the fire with a hose. She then ran back and joined her children in the shed. But then her house was again set on fire with incendiary bullets and began to cave in. At this point, the witness saw soldiers outside Ramiz Ahmic's house saying, "Come out you balijas so that we can cut your throats. Come out you balijas , we're going to slaughter you".  She heard Ramiz Ahmic telling his wife to come out and saw his house on fire.
267. The witness and her children stayed in the shed until dusk. There was shooting the whole day. Some soldiers came up to the shed, including Drago Josipovic and Anto Papic, both in full military gear. They called her out of the shed. Drago Josipovic said, "Your shed is going to be set on fire now". Drago Josipovic then told them to go to Anto Papic's house, where there were other Muslims, ostensibly for their own safety. She said she did not dare go and asked them to escort her there, which they did. At Anto Papic's house, the witness saw men, women and children who were crying, describing how their loved ones had been killed. Drago Josipovi c said, "Ah, Musafer has been killed too". Muslim men were sent out to go pick up their dead. 
268. Subsequently Witness EE was told to leave Anto Papic's house and to go in the direction of Zume. She ended up in a house in Santici which was a sort of camp. There were Muslims there, full of fear, who had learned of their relatives who had been killed. At one point, two HVO soldiers came in and selected the men from the group, took them out and - as it later emerged - pursuant to orders, killed them.  Fatima Ahmic asked Nika Plavcic what had happened to her husband, Hasim. He told her, "Orders were issued and they were all killed". Then the witness had to go by foot to the Dubravica school where she stayed until 1 May 1993. At the Dubravica school, Ustasa propaganda was prominently displayed on the walls, including the sign of the black legion of the Ustasa. 
269. Witness FF was awoken at around 5.20 a.m., by two loud detonations. Her husband got up and woke the children. The witness looked out of a window and saw Muslim houses on fire. A bullet came through the window. Then her father-in -law and mother-in-law were at the entrance to their house. A voice told them, "If there are any men in there, they should come out". They left the house. She saw her brother-in-law standing in front of his house. A group gathered. She heard five shots from the shed. It all went quiet after that. A soldier said, "This is Alija Izetbegovic's fault for the war breaking out". The witness went to the cellar of Zdravko Vrebac. Women were there crying, saying that their husbands and sons had been killed. She stayed the night there. Later she fled, eventually reaching Zenica.
270. Witness GG was 28 years old and living with her father (who was away on 16 April 1993), mother and sister on the upper storey of a 2-storey house in Ahmici (Zume). She was awoken by shooting. An incendiary bullet entered their living-room and set the sofa on fire, which she tried to put out with water. She tried to telephone for help but the telephone was not working. The witness moved with her family down to the lower storey, via the outside staircase. There they were seen by five armed soldiers, who harassed them by pushing them into the lower storey apartment and cursing their "balija mothers". One of the soldiers was Anto Furundzija, wearing camouflage uniform with a Jokers emblem on his sleeve, and one black line painted on both of his cheeks. The witness was told to go out to call her neighbours and to see if there were any menfolk. She protested, as there was shooting outside but the soldiers told her and her mother to get out. As she left , she heard one soldier saying into a walkie-talkie, "Everything is going to plan ". The witness's mother turned around at one point, whereupon a soldier fired a burst of gunfire at her feet to make it clear to her that she had to keep going.
271. Witness GG walked in the direction of Santici. She saw Muslim houses burning . She also saw a soldier pouring something from a canister and flames rising in another part of the house. The witness then stayed at Mira's house. That evening , a Croat neighbour came by and said that it was not safe to stay there and that she should go to her daughter's house. That neighbour and her husband stayed the whole evening with them for their protection. The next day, the witness's mother went back to see her house, and after she had come back she told them that she had seen terrible things. 
272. The witness then had to move on to another house, where there were a lot of women and children, and a few men.  Anto Papic, a Croat, was there as a guard, in uniform and with a rifle. While they were there, soldiers came in and took men out to kill them.  Then Nikica Plavcic, with a uniform and a gun, came and took them all to Dubravica school, where the witness was held from 18 April 1993 - 1 May 1993.
273. Witness CA, who was 58 at the time, heard a detonation at around 5.20 a.m., and immediately thought it had to be connected to what Dario Kordic had said on the television the day before about waiting for orders. The witness called to her husband to get up. She saw four soldiers coming into her yard, in camouflage uniforms and carrying weapons. They stopped her and asked where her son and husband were. A soldier then threw a bomb into the larder. The witness noticed fire around her son's home. Then a soldier kicked down her door and said "I'll fuck your mother ". Two other soldiers entered the house. One soldier took a lighter and set fire to the curtains. When she came back later, her house had burnt down.
274. The soldiers then told her husband to come out and got ready to kill him. The witness pleaded for mercy, and the soldiers let both of them go. They went to their son's house, being pushed along by a soldier with a rifle. There she found her son's children in tears. Her daughter-in-law said, "they're going to kill my children". The witness assured her that they would not. The youngest child was afraid, and said "they killed Dad". The witness went outside and saw her son, Fahran , lying there dead. A soldier said, "I didn't kill him. Alija killed him". The soldiers then said, "Go fuck yourselves". The witness and her husband went towards the Lasva River.
275. The witness then saw Drago Josipovic and Anto Papic, both in camouflage uniforms and armed. Drago Josipovic was crying, saying that the witness's deceased son had been like a brother to him. She asked him who did this, and Drago Josipovic replied that it "must be some higher force" or somebody higher up. Drago Josipovic arranged for the witness, her husband and grandchildren to be taken to Anto Papic's house . 
276. Later Witness CA went back to her son's house to collect her son's things and chickens. There was a pool of blood where her son had lain. She asked Drago Josipovi c if she could live in the summer kitchen. Josipovic replied ".... As far as I am concerned don't go anywhere. But people will come and kill you. I can't do anything , I can't save you. Go and follow your people". She then saw some soldiers, one of whom spoke into his radio saying, "Yes, the operation was successful, they're lying in front of every house like pigs". The soldiers then took away her husband . She tried to stop them but he was taken away with other Muslims. She insisted that a person she knew named Nikica Slikica, who was passing by, tell her what happened to her husband, and Nikica replied that "the order came and they were all killed . Don't even ask, they were all killed". 
(c) Burial of the Victims of the Attack on Ahmici of 16 April 1993
277. Scores of victims were buried in a mass grave in Vitez on 28 April 1993. Stephen Hughes, an UNPROFOR officer, was involved in this mass burial. Three Croat bodies and approximately 96 Muslim bodies were buried. He assumed they had died violent deaths, either from gunshot wounds or from mortar blasts. Of the 96 bodies, he could see only two with camouflage jackets. The rest were civilian males and females of a variety of ages. He also saw some small packages which contained either heads of decapitated bodies or children; he could not see inside the sacks so he did not know which. The burial in the mass grave went on all day and into the evening.  The details of the mass grave burial were fully corroborated by Nihad Rehibic, a former member of the JNA, who organised the burial in Stari Vitez on 28 April 1993. Rehibic testified that the bodies buried were received from the HVO, via UNPROFOR, who acted as an intermediary. The corpses were from the Vitez area, mainly from Ahmici. Ninety- four bodies arrived that day, although there were more bodies on the list compiled by the HVO.  Initially, the bodies would be examined before burial and an attempt made to verify their identities from documents, for example identity cards, found on the bodies. However, as the day went on and darkness began to fall, they had to speed up the burials and the identities of the corpses could not always be verified and it was necessary to rely upon the HVO list alone. Some bodies were in a shocking state, with crushed skulls or knife marks on the necks. There were also a number of burnt or carbonised bodies. According to this witness:
(d) Detention of Bosnian Muslims Following the Conflict of 16 April 1993
281. Witness CA spent ten days at Dubravica school, where horrible pictures were displayed showing the killing and raping of women.  The living conditions were terrible. Someone threatened to carve a cross into her forehead. Although she was not beaten, she said "there was lots of fear and we barely survived". 
284. The Prosecution suggested that this picture of HVO unpreparedness did not fit with HVO directives from Dario Kordic and Tihomir Blaskic, which had been produced in evidence as exhibits and which placed Croat units on a "higher state of readiness ".  An order entitled "Combat command " dated 16 April 1993 (Exhibit D38/2), 0130 hours, had been presented to Zvonimir Cilic. This order, which warned of the threat of incursion and attack on Vitez itself from "enemy (extremist Muslim forces)", was signed by Tihomir Blaskic and was addressed to the commander of the HVO brigade in Vitez, Mario Cerkez. The order stated that the task of Cerkez's HVO forces was "to occupy the defence region to block the villages and prevent all entrances to and exits from the villages". The order went on to state: "In the event of an open attack by the Muslims, neutralise them and prevent their movement with precise fire from P/N (small arms). Time of readiness at 0530 hours on 16 April 1993". Exhibit P336, a report prepared by Zvonimir Cilic on the night of 16-17 April 1993, refers to the "... regrouping of Muslim forces , whereby we could conclude that they will make an attempt at a breakthrough from the direction of Vrhovine in the Santici-Ahmici direction ... We are doing our best to thwart these intentions". However, Zvonimir Cilic stated categorically that the crimes committed in Ahmici were not committed by members of the Vitez brigade . No Croatian official ever said which individuals or unit were responsible. There were different theories as to who did it. In his report, though, he referred to what happened in Ahmici as "combat".
(b) Bosnian Army Offensive on Kuber on or around 16 April 1993
285. The Defence has also submitted  that Muslim forces initiated offensives around Kuber - an elevation in the vicinity of Vitez - on 15 April 1993. Several witnesses testified to this effect: Zvonimir Cilic, Dragan Grebenar,  Rudo Kurevija,  Ljuban Grubesi c,  Dragan Stojak  and Anto Plavcic  .
286. Anto Plavcic testified  as to a Muslim attack on Jelinak on 15 April 1993. Jelinak, Loncari and Putis are all on the slopes of Mount Kuber. Jelinak consisted of approximately 100 households - 50 Muslim, 50 Croat. Putis has about 80 households, 20-30% Croat. Loncari has about 70-80 households, comprised of Muslim as well as several Serb or orthodox households. Bakija was inhabited exclusively by Croats and there were about 20 households. These villages are directly adjacent to Ahmici.
287. Plavcic testified that the HVO had control of Kuber in 1993, but that there were BiH forces nearby and members of the Territorial Defence. On 15 April 1993 , there was shooting from the Kuber area, which resulted in the wounding of some HVO members from Jelinak, who were evacuated. The witness heard that the BiH army had attacked the HVO from Zenica.
288. On 16 April, the fighting in Kuber intensified. The village of Jelinak came under fire from mortar shells. The village was surrounded and the only escape was toward Kaonik. People started fleeing Jelinak on 16-17 April 1993 - there had been fighting all night. On 17 April, the shooting was from all directions, and very close. All the Croats fled towards Kaonik, apart from two old men, one of whom was killed, whilst the other lost part of his leg from an explosion.
289. The BiH army took control of Jelinak on 18 April 1993, and it has been under Muslim control ever since. The same is true of Putis and Loncari. While Muslims who fled the conflict have returned, the Croats have not.
290. When the witness went back to his house in Jelenak on All Saint's Day, he saw that all the Croat houses had been burnt, and that they were abandoned and destroyed . The witness further pointed out that in Jelinak, it was the Croats who kept pigs , not the Muslims, who traditionally do not keep pigs. Thus if pigs were killed in Jelinak,  a plausible inference is that they were killed by Muslim forces. The witness also heard that Muslims had set houses in Putis and Bakija on fire around 18 April 1993. He, the witness , has not returned to his house to this day. The Prosecution submitted that his testimony was consistent with the whole Kuber area being one big battle-zone between Croats and Muslims, rather than one-sided "ethnic cleansing". 
(c) Bosnian Army Attacks on Croatian Villages in the Vicinity of Ahmici on 16 April 1993
291. The Defence further argues that the Bosniacs attacked the villages of Poculica , Kruscica, Brdo, Sivrino Selo and Bukina Kuca (Kuca) on 16 April 1993. The following witnesses testified concerning this: Zvonimir Cilic,  Vlado Alilovic,  Rudo Kurevija  and Zeljko Papic. 
292. Dragan Grebenar testified  that Poculica was shelled by the Muslims on 16 April 1993. Poculica was a village bordering on Ahmici with a majority Croat population, surrounded by Muslim villages . Prnjavor and Vrhovine were exclusively Muslim, whereas the upper part of the village of Poculica was mixed and the lower part of the village was populated exclusively by Croats. On 16 April 1993, around 5 a.m., a Croat woman called villagers to warn them that Poculica would be attacked by the Muslims from Vrhovine, Prnjavor and Veternica.  Subsequently, the witness testified, Poculica was shelled. The witness then heard the Hodza from the Mosque declaring, "Croats, you have five minutes to surrender or there'll be a slaughter".  The Muslims entered the village and the Croats tried to flee. The witness evacuated his house, under very heavy fire and was hit by shrapnel. He then reached Krizancevo Selo. One Croat was killed "in action", whilest other Croats were taken prisoner by the Mujahedin and killed by them.  All forty -two Croat houses, in the lower, Croat part of Poculica were burned down. Some houses were also burned down in the upper part of the village and towards the border with Visnjica. 
293. Grebenar testified that no Croat houses have since been rebuilt in Poculica nor have any of the 400 Croats who lived in Poculica returned after having been evacuated on 16 April 1993.  However , he did not himself see any Muslim soldiers on 16 April 1993 in the lower part of the village nor did he see where the shelling of his village came from; he relied on what people told him to form his opinion that the shelling came from certain Muslim positions; from trenches which had been dug around Tolovici.
294. The witness also admitted that his house had been burned down about a week after the attack of 16 April 1993, and therefore that the Croat houses might have been burned down later in reprisal for the massacres and destruction of property committed against the Muslims in Ahmici.
295. The witness testified that the Mujahedin forced Croat captives to dig trenches . He also admitted that he heard that the Croats made Muslim captives do the same . 
296. Zeljko Papic also testified concerning the "ethnic cleansing" of Croats by Muslims in Poculica. On 16 April 1993, around 5.30 a.m., the witness was awoken by large explosions coming from the direction of Vitez. He went and hid in his basement with his family.  He could not identify who was shelling whom.  During the attack, the witness saw armed soldiers going around "clearing" the Croat houses. He believed from the insignia that they were Muslim armed forces. 
297. The Croats were ordered out of their basement with their hands up. Some old people were left in the basement, where conditions were terrible. The witness's grandmother, who was over 80, died there. The others were marched in a column to Prnjavor. There the witness was imprisoned in the Community Centre. The army and police took him from there to dig trenches in Sivrono Selo. The Croats were occasionally used as human shields against shooting from the Croatian side.
298. The food and conditions at the community centre were terrible - the detainees had to lie on a concrete floor and there were insufficient blankets for the thirty people incarcerated there. They had to lie down in their clothes. They were often provoked by the soldiers. One soldier beat them up and made them shout Muslim prayers .
299. On 23 or 24 April 1993, in the community centre the witness was shot and was eventually taken to hospital, where he stayed until 13 May 1993 when he was exchanged .
300. The witness never returned to Poculica because Muslim refugees were now living in the Croat houses there. The Catholic church and graveyard in Zvisda were desecrated - the chapel was burnt, the gravestones broken.
301. The witness declared that he had seen foreign Mujahedin on 16 April 1993. 
(d) The Attack on Ahmici
b. 15 April 1993 in Ahmici
303. According to the Defence, and contrary to the assertions of Prosecution witnesses , there were no harbingers of the attack on Ahmici on 15 April 1993. Defence witnesses stated that everything was as normal that day. One witness (DC/1,2) described how her children went to school as usual, and that she went to Ankica Kupreskic's house to greet her upon her return to the village after being in Germany where, again, everything was normal.  Most defence witnesses testified that they were not aware of the impending conflict . 
304. Ankica Kupreskic returned from Germany to Ahmici on 15 April 1993, following reports from her husband that the situation in Bosnia had returned to normality. She said there were no real fears of a Muslim offensive in Vitez at the time, even though she had heard about the Totic kidnapping incident, and had seen a lot of Muslim roadblocks en route to Ahmici. That night people came to visit her and the party went on until midnight. No Muslim neighbors visited her but the witness did not know why this was so. During the conversations of that night, nobody mentioned any possible danger.  Gordana Cuic, who visited Ivica and Ankica Kupreskic that night, also testified that there was no discussion of an imminent attack.  Mirko Sakic testified that the men at the party did speak about the problems in central Bosnia, including the kidnapping of Commander Totic.
305. Ivica Kupreskic,  the husband of Ankica Kupreskic, picked up his wife at the airport on 15 April 1993. He was warned of the tensions caused by the Totic kidnapping on 15 April 1993 when he passed through HVO and BiH army roadblocks. He arrived home around 6:30 p.m., and subsequently the above-mentioned gathering took place at his home until around midnight.
306. Niko Sakic testified that he had no idea that there would be an attack on 16 April 1993, otherwise he would have warned his Muslim neighbours. 
308. Witness DA/5, who at the relevant time was working to organise the HVO's Vitez brigade testified that on 15 April 1993, she had heard no mention of an imminent attack by the HVO. 
310. The Defence denied that Ahmici was targeted because of its religious significance . Zvonimir Cilic stated that Ahmici was not special in terms of Islam. If anything, the town was known merely as being more urban than other villages in the area. 
312. Ivica Kupreskic was awoken by Dragan Vidovic at 4 a.m., and warned of a possible attack by the Muslims; he was told that he should take his family to a shelter. He woke his wife, Ankica Kupreskic. She packed some clothes and food and left for the shelter at about 4:55 a.m. She went to the house of Dragan and Jelena Trajanovski (the so-called Vrebac shelter). She was one of the first to arrive there. Mirjan Kupreskic arrived five to ten minutes later, pushing his sick mother in a wheelbarrow, accompanied by his wife and their two children. Zoran Kupreskic also came to the shelter. Ankica Kupreskic stayed there until 17 April 1993 when she was evacuated to Donja Rovna.  She was told the conflict was the result of an attack by the Muslims on Mahala. According to the witness, the shooting continued on 17 April 1993 as well  ; in other words, it went on for two days.
313. Ivica Kupreskic returned to his house after having taken his family to the shelter, and he could see smoke and flames everywhere. He saw soldiers going in the direction of Vlatko Kupreskic's house. He also saw Zoran Kupreskic and Mirjan Kupreskic evacuating their families. He hid in a boiler room near the Kupreskic houses. Two soldiers ran in, one in black, one in a camouflage uniform.  The soldiers told him to run to his house to get brandy for them. They said they were Jokers.
314. Milutin Vidovic was awoken at 4.30 a.m., on 16 April 1993 by his father . He thought it was a false alarm as there had been many before. All his Croat neighbours were gathering in front of his house. Zoran and Mirjan Kupreskic passed with their families, moving in the direction of Zume, and then returned. After the shooting started, the witness, Zoran Kupreskic and others went in the direction of a depression below the Kupreskic houses referred to as Dolina.  Several local Croats are alleged to have spent most of the day there, including Milutin Vidovic, Zoran Kupreskic, and Mirjan Kupreskic. 
315. After about fifteen minutes in the depression, the group of men saw smoke rising from the direction of the Kupreskic houses. Between 9 a.m. and 10 a.m., Zoran Kupre skic and the witness went to see their families. They stopped by Milutin Vidovi c's house first and went to the cellar. Milutin Vidovic saw his and other families there. Zoran Kupreskic, Mirjan Kupreskic and Milutin Vidovic then went in the direction of Zume to see the Kupreskic families. They met Anto Vidovic on the way, who told them that one of their friends, Fahran Ahmic, had been killed and "Mirjan Kupres kic literally started to cry, because they played in the band together and they were practically inseparable". 
316. On 18 April 1993, the group in the depression was taken by military policemen to some sort of front line in Pirici to dig trenches. It was the first time that they saw that the Muslim houses had been burnt down and that there were dead Muslims . Enver Sahic was one of them. Zoran Kupreskic cried because they had been friends . 
317. Croat inhabitants of Ahmici who had not been warned earlier of the impending conflict stated that they had been woken around 5:30 a.m., on 16 April 1993 by heavy gunfire. According to Croat witnesses, the gunfire apparently came from the direction of Busovaca and Ahmici.  Ivo Vidovic went out to the street where he could see people fleeing and he asked them what was going on. They replied that Muslim units had attacked Ahmici and that they were fleeing to a shelter. He fetched his family and also went towards a shelter.  Ljubica Milicevic also took her children and left her house, first towards the woods, and then to a shelter. Goran Males was woken up by his mother, who had heard the shooting. Realising the seriousness of the situation, Males went to Rijeka to protect his farm. He went to the area called Cerveno Brdce, a defence line on a hill, where he stayed throughout the war.
318. Zdenko Rajic received a telephone call from Karlo Grabovac informing him that a conflict had broken out in Ahmici. He was ordered to go to Cerveno Brdce , on high ground some 200-300 metres from his house. He was tasked with seeing that the Muslims did not advance from the Vraniska area. The line of defence was established at Cerveno Brdce and covered about four kilometres. There were approximately 130 men at the defence line, including Goran Males. Zdenko Rajic pointed out the importance to the Croats of holding Radak bridge near Rijeka, since the Muslims blocked the road between Busovaca and Vitez at Buhine Kuce.  Traffic had therefore to go through Rijeka and pass over Radak bridge, as the only way to get to Busovaca via Nadioci. The witness stated that the Croats in the area would have been completely cut off if the bridge was inoperable, so units were sent to protect it from sabotage by the BiH army.
(e) Casualties on Both Sides in Vitez and Ahmici on 16 April 1993
319. Dragan Stojak testified that 1,300 - 1,400 Croats were killed during the conflict in Vitez and that almost 5,000 were wounded.  This figure, however, was for the whole war period, so it included those killed in the war with the Serbs. Under cross-examination by the Prosecution, it appeared that very few Croats died on 16 April 1993,  despite the witness's contention that the fighting on that day in Mahala was very intense and that Croats were killed there, including one who had had his throat slit.
320. Rudo Vidovic and other defence witnesses consistently emphasised that there were casualties on both sides in Ahmici on 16 April 1993. However, while no defence witness contested that more than one hundred Muslims died in Ahmici on that day, only one Croat death is consistently mentioned, namely that of Mirjan Santic.  Vlado Alilovic testified that five Croats were killed in Ahmici on 16 April 1993; however, he could name only Mirjan Santic, whom he knew. Moreover, whereas the vast majority of Muslim victims were civilians, Mirjan Santic was a soldier.
(f) The Jokers and/or a Special Unit Committed the Attack on Ahmici
321. Many defence witnesses from Ahmici testified to having seen a large group of 30-40 armed soldiers in Ahmici on the morning of 16 April 1993, moving about at around 5 a.m., from Zume in the direction of the Kupreskic houses.
322. Milutin Vidovic described seeing thirty well-armed individuals as he went to Niko Sakic's shelter at 5 a.m., on 16 April 1993. The soldiers were in camouflage uniforms, with blackened faces and automatic rifles. The witness said they "looked like something out of a ninja film".  The soldiers also had white belts and Military Police insignia.
323. Dragan Vidovic testified that he saw a group of soldiers that morning which appeared to be Military Police. 
324. Witness DC/1,2 saw a smaller group of soldiers: "They were all wearing camouflage uniforms. They were all in black, their faces were painted, all smeared . And I was so frightened [...]". 
325. Other defence witnesses who testified to seeing this group of soldiers in the early hours of 16 April 1993 moving from Zume towards the Kupreskic houses include Mirko Sakic  and Niko Sakic. 
326. Ivica Kupreskic saw two soldiers possibly belonging to this group as he hid in the boiler room near the Kupreskic houses.  "They had automatic rifles with them, and they had rounds of ammunition and several hand grenades. They had black bands over their foreheads, and they had paint on their faces. One of them had an M-48 rifle slung over his shoulder".
327. The accused Zoran Kupreskic gave evidence before the Trial Chamber. He stated that by April 1993 the situation was not good: there had been talk about crimes against Croats in Dusina and Lasva and he had heard rumours that there were Muhajedin in the vicinity of Pirici. There were numerous refugees in Ahmici. Soldiers fired weapons in the air. There was apprehension but Zoran Kupreskic was not afraid of his neighbours. 
328. He said that he was at work until 2 p.m. on 15 April 1993 and then went into Vitez for a coffee with Senad Topoljak and Dragan Grebenar. Just before dusk his uncle Ivica brought his wife from Split. The accused and his wife went to Ivica's house that evening after 8 p.m., and stayed for half an hour. Zoran Kupreskic then went home, and to bed about midnight. 
329. When cross-examined about the evidence of Witness V, Zoran Kupreskic said he saw nothing of what Witness V claimed to have seen outside Zoran Kupreskic's house ; nor did anyone else mention it. None of the Kupreskics left that night. 
330. Mirjan Kupreskic also gave evidence. He testified that on 15 April 1993 he was at work in the Sutre shop in Vitez. Friends came to the shop, such as Zdravko Vrebac and Veljko Cato. Mirjan Kupreskic finished work at 5 p.m. and went to the café where the musicians usually met. He noticed nothing unusual. About an hour and a half later he was taken home by Zdravko's cousin. There was only the regular checkpoint on the road and nothing out of the ordinary. When he arrived at home he found his son was ill. He went to Ivica's house and returned at 11 p.m. 
331. The accused Vlatko Kupreskic testified that he left with Ivica on 14 April 1993 for Split in the latter's car.  They arrived at Split at about 12 noon and bought salt, jeans and sneakers, all of which they put in the boot of the car. At about 9 p.m., they met Ivica's wife Ancika at the airport and spent the night in Baska Voda. 
332. On 15 April 1993, Vlatko Kupreskic arrived in Ahmici at about 6.30 p.m. He unloaded and prepared the goods which were to be delivered to Travnik the next morning . There were no soldiers at Vlatko Kupreskic's house or the shop that evening.  He had nothing to do with the attack and in no way helped with the preparations.  He denied having been outside the Hotel Vitez on 15 April or having been,  on 15 April, in the company of a group of soldiers, in front of his shop with soldiers , or on the balcony of his house. 
334. The Trial Chamber finds that the attack was carried out by military units of the HVO and members of the Jokers. The able-bodied Croatian inhabitants of Ahmici provided assistance and support in various forms. Some of them took part in the military operations against the Muslims. It is also true, however, that a few Croatian inhabitants of Ahmici endeavoured to save Muslim friends or neighbours by prompting them to escape and helping them in such attempts, or at any rate by providing them with suggestions as to how to avoid being killed.
335. The attackers targeted Muslim civilians and their houses. The Trial Chamber considers it to have been proved that there were no Muslim military forces in Ahmici nor any military establishment belonging to the BiH army. In addition to the men not of military age, the elderly, women and children, there were also able-bodied Muslims who were members on leave from the BiH army, or reservists who participated in the village guards. When the Croatian forces initiated the attack, not more than 10-15 Muslims in the upper part of Ahmici and not more than 10-15 Muslims in the lower part of the village responded by the use of arms. Given the patent disparity in number and in military equipment between the combatants, the Muslim response was clearly directed only toward the protection of a few houses where some survivors of the initial attack had taken shelter. Possibly the Muslim combatants also hoped to limit as much as possible the massacre of civilians.
336. The purpose of the attack was to destroy as many Muslim houses as possible, to kill all the men of military age, and thereby prompt all the others to leave the village and move elsewhere. The burning of the Muslim houses and the killing of the livestock were clearly intended to deprive the people living there of their most precious assets. It should be noted that, as convincingly proved by the testimony of a court expert witness, the Norwegian anthropologist Dr. Bringa,  the house and livestock had for their owners not only economic value, but also and probably even more importantly, emotional, psychological and cultural significance . The house represented the moral unity of the household and the moral character of its members. For the man as a father, the house he managed to build symbolised his social value, his commitment to his family and to their future well-being. For the women in particular, due to the communist tradition of repression of public religious life, the house was also the place where religious and ritual life could unfold. In addition, the house was a very important place for socialising; the seat of social links with other people. In short, to attack one's house meant to attack one's whole being.  Also the livestock, in addition to their economic value, took on a symbolic significance (for instance because Croats had pigs and Muslims did not). 
337. The Trial Chamber also finds that the attacks carried out on the Muslim inhabitants of Ahmici constituted a form of "personalised violence", as defined by Dr. Bringa ; that is, violence directed at specific persons because of their ethnic identity . 
338. In short, the Trial Chamber finds that the Croatian attack of 16 April 1993 in Ahmici was aimed at civilians for the purpose of "ethnic cleansing". Whether the forced expulsion of Muslims from Ahmici was motivated by the strategic purpose of removing a Muslim pocket as the route between Busovaca and Vitez, or was instead conceived of as a retaliation against the attacks by Muslim armed forces on Kuber and a few predominantly or exclusively Croatian villages of the area is a question that the Trial Chamber may leave unresolved for the purposes of this case.
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