General Slobodan Praljak defence - Final Brief - 16, 17, 21 February , 2011
The prosecutor says simply: the eastern part of the town of Mostar has no water in the town water supply since 30th June 1993.
The accusation: HVO is culpable.
Who deliberately to a large degree disabled in 1992 the sources Radobolja in Mostar and Studenac in Raštani, sources which supplied water to the town of Mostar?
Who controls the source in Raštani and until when (A BIH until 24th August 1993)?
Who destroyed the bridges in Mostar and the water pipelines which connected the sources (right coast of Neretva) and the eastern part of the town?
Who and on which points and how, damaged the water pipeline network, how old is it and what was its technical condition?
How big was the loss of water due to a bad state of the main pipelines before the artillery attacks of the JNA on Mostar in 1992?
How much water can be obtained from these two sources in the summer, especially in a very hot summer of 1993?
What was the pressure of water in the pipelines and why did they have to have compressors for pumping the water to the floors of the buildings?
Who, why and with what purpose took the generator-pump which was supposed to pump water into the higher floors on the eastern side of Mostar?
Why, in the period between June 1992 (when with the destruction of the Railway Bridge – the northern entry into Mostar – the main pipeline in East Mostar from the source Studenac- Raštani was cut) and August 1993 a replacement of this pipeline was not made over the dam which is close by?
Why the authorities in East Mostar, after the attack of A BIH on 9th May 1993 and ceasefire which was concluded afterwards, did not ask for an inspection and repair of the main valves on the Bulevar, why did they not arrange a pipeline over the Old Bridge?
Why, after the attack of A BIH and the betrayal of Muslim members of the HVO on 30th June 1993 the authorities from East Mostar never brought up the problem of water by means of UNPROFOR (as they did with the problem of the wounded)?
Why did they not ask for the procurement of a dozen pumps which, with the use of fire hoses, could regularly and in sufficient quantities pump the water from Neretva to a sufficient number of locations. Neretva at the time was clean enough to provide drinking water.
The prosecutor is not interested in that.
He is also not interested in how the water pipelines are being filled after having been empty, what is the technical and what is the health care procedure.
The prosecutor is also not interested in clarifying who from the HVO took the decision to cut the water supply to the eastern part of the town, who implemented this decision, nor how it is all technically feasible.
Nothing of all of this.
HVO is culpable – the military or civilian or both; unless you can manage to prove your innocence.
In the spring of 1992 the artillery of the JNA destroyed the post office in Mostar. Together with the post office the telephone exchange was also destroyed.
JNA also destroyed, by explosives placed there earlier, all bridges on the Neretva River north and south of Mostar, and those in Mostar, except the Old Bridge, which it damaged.
Together with the bridges all utility installations that were fixed below those bridges were destroyed.
The Republic of Croatia donates one small telephone exchange (approx. one hundred numbers), a coaxial cable of a length from Mostar to Široki Brijeg, over its repeater on Biokovo it enables a wireless transmission of the signal to Split and further into the world. These hundred numbers were distributed according to need – both to Croats and Muslims – SDA BIH, individuals and institutions.
This same and only connection via Split was used for communication with the world by Tuzla and Zenica and Travnik and Bugojno and anyone else from the non-occupied part of BIH who could find a hill and any kind of repeater to achieve a wireless connection toward Split.
Are you aware of a single bill that someone paid to the Croatian Post and Telecommunications for these services?
And the prosecutor claims that it was all done in order to attach "Banovina" to Croatia with this code for Split (021).
Joint criminal undertaking.
And Zenica, and Tuzla and Visoko…all of this is "Banovina" in the logic of the prosecutor. The prosecution need assertions, but not proofs.
The proof of innocence by facts "at this court" is the duty of the defence.
Having destroyed in 1992 the electric power plant in Raštani, Čule and the Mine, having destroyed 400kV, 220kV, 110kV, 35kV power lines and transformers which enable the distribution of electricity toward Mostar, Jablanica, Konjic, Stolac, Čapljina, Čitluk, Široki Brijeg… JNA and VRS caused damage of several hundred million euros.
With great, but successful efforts of HZ-HB and HVO, with every possible help of Croatia the damages were partly repaired.
With understandable difficulties, connected to the electric distribution system of Croatia, the power system was kept functioning not only in the Electric Power Industry of HZ-HB, but in the Electric Power Industries of all areas of BIH not occupied by JNA and VRS.
With instructions received from France, thanks to the skill of engineers and courage of soldiers of the HVO in the summer of 1992 the functioning of the electric furnace in the "Aluminij" factory in Mostar was successfully put out.
The damage thus prevented is close to a billion euros.
When by the betrayal of Muslims in the ranks of the HVO synchronised with the attack of A BIH on the HVO in Mostar and the Neretva Valley the Muslim side took all the electric power plants on the Neretva River, HZ-HB was getting electricity only from one small reversible electric power plant south of Čapljina and from Croatia.
Why the eastern part of Mostar does not have electricity is a complex technical and financial issue, but one thing is certain – HVO, civilian and military, has nothing whatsoever to do with that fact.
This, however, does not prevent the prosecution of this court to simply say and accuse: The eastern part of Mostar has no electricity, HVO is culpable. And the honourable judges have no possibility to ask the prosecutor to produce evidence which would support this claim before the start of the proceedings.
E.g. when the disconnection of electricity to East Mostar was ordered and executed, in which way, by the disconnection of which power plant, the disconnection of which transformer, redirection on which distribution facility, the suspension of which power line?
The defence, the accused must prove their innocence.
This is not the way things are done in any legal system of the countries which they come from – the prosecutor, the honourable judges, the accused, the lawyers of the accused.
The valid war law says, however, that the supply of electricity to the opposing side in a conflict can be cut, its power plants, power lines and transformers may be incapacitated, and under certain conditions, also its dams, power plants and levies.
HVO did nothing of that.
Only general Slobodan Praljak, the Commander of the Headquarters of HVO gave the order to destroy one key on a dam above Mostar, because with the closing of all floodgates, of all dams north of Mostar, A BIH began flooding Bijelo Polje.
Because there was a real danger and threat of A BIH to flood, by simultaneously opening all outlets on the dams north of Mostar, the entire area south of Mostar, including the territory of Croatia.
Such an act would have catastrophic consequences for the people and material goods.
INFORMATION – RADIO, NEWSPAPERS, TV
In the summer of 1992 Sarajevo was attacked, besieged, shelled and destroyed by JNA and VRS.
The Post Office and telephone exchange were destroyed, the building of the Sarajevo TV was badly damaged, there was no electricity, repeaters on surrounding hills were in the hands of the VRS.
All coaxial cables towards Sarajevo were out of function for numerous military and technical reasons.
The main TV repeater on Velež above Mostar (covers the area of Herzegovina) was destroyed by JNA and VRS in the summer of 1992.
Outside of Sarajevo one can – to an extent – listen to RADIO SARAJEVO (middle and long wave) and people are listening to it.
Radio amateurs are also communicating.
If, therefore, people in Mostar and Herzegovina watch HTV (Croatian TV) which they watched also earlier, via the repeater on Biokovo above Makarska, if they listen to Radio Split and Zagreb, than it is a choice and not a media occupation.
The same is true of the newspapers printed in Croatia, the same is true of all other papers printed in the West, the same is true of all TV and radio stations whose signal can be received by means of a satellite of any other antenna.
This includes the BBC, Chanel 5, ZDF, WDR, CNN, RAI UNO...
I cannot understand why these countries were also not accused for an information occupation of BIH and a joint criminal undertaking.
In the eastern part of Mostar since autumn 1992 Radio Mostar was continuously on the air. Their location was not seen as a military target by the HVO.
After the attack of A BIH on the HVO – 9th May 1993, and especially later, the legitimate military targets are:
THE OLD BRIDGE
All relevant data about the Old Bridge in Mostar are presented in the book "How the Old Bridge was Destroyed". It was significantly damaged by the shelling of the JNA and VRS in 1992/93.
How much, how, and by whom the town of Mostar had been destroyed is described clearly and unambiguously in the book "URBICID" written by a group of authors, Croats and Muslims, printed in autumn of 1992.
In the operation of the liberation of the left and right coast of the town of Mostar and surroundings in June 1992, an operation which I had prepared and in which I was commander, the Old Bridge was protected.
a) I ordered the protection of the Old Bridge at the moment when the military bridgehead in that area was not deeper than 200 metres of air line from the Old Bridge. b) On the Old Bridge it was necessary firstly to place a steel tube construction, and then on this construction fix the wooden planks 7 cm thick. c) This was supposed to be a relatively good protection from the mortar shells which were continuously falling on that area during fights against the JNA and VRS. d) With respect to the intensity of the conflict, the depth of the bridgehead, situation in the town, it was very demanding to find a steel construction, transport it, place it on the Old Bridge, fix it and plate it with wooden planks. e) HVO – some 30–40 lads, executed the order. f) To risk the lives of 40 men for the protection of a bridge which at that moment had only minimal military purpose, strictly militarily speaking is an unreasonable and irresponsible act of the commander Slobodan Praljak. g) Justification can only be found in the symbolic-cultural level of meaning – not the military one.
At the time of attacks of A BIH on HVO in 1993, and at the time of the offensive of A BIH "Neretva 93" HVO commanders of the operational zone, brigade commanders and the artillery they commanded had clear orders and instructions not to shoot at civilian targets, and also to avoid those military targets which the A BIH placed among civilian population. HVO never fired at the Old Bridge.
The Old Bridge could have been destroyed by using artillery from the Hum hill with a maximum of three cumulative grenades in 1 minute maximum.
Artillery of the VRS since the spring of 1992 until the end of 1993 (as far as I know) unselectively shelled the town of Mostar and the Bridge itself with greater or lesser intensity. At the time of the attacks of A BIH on the HVO in Mostar from 9th May 1993, and especially after 30 June 1993 the Old Bridge was used on a daily basis as a military means. Thereby it became a legitimate military target.
Not only that bridge, but also the hanging bridges which A BIH mounted were not shelled, although they were easily accessible military targets.
The Old Bridge was destroyed on 9th November 1993.
The way in which the Old Bridge was destroyed has been determined by experts.
HVO – not a single commander on any level of command ever gave a written or verbal order to do such a thing.
The started investigation about the tank crew which fired on the Old Bridge, in spite of my requests was never completed by any authority of BIH or F BIH.
A perpetrator was produced and a lie became the "truth".
This confirms Goebbels's axiom on repetition.
I will go into more details in my testimony.
The best experts have clearly, with scientific precision, determined the way in which the Old Bridge had been destroyed.
From these findings it is transparent that HVO has nothing to do with the act of destruction.
If I had done what, by military logic, as a commander I should have done, if I had ordered the destruction of the Old Bridge in Mostar, by which legal provisions would I be judged?
Maybe as Monte Cassino, as the bombing of London, Rotterdam, Dresden, Hamburg, Hiroshima, maybe as the destruction of more than 50 bridges in Serbia by the NATO forces in 1998/99.
The reasons for destruction can be detected from the way of destruction, the filming of destruction and a subsequent media harangue against me personally and the HVO.
But this, unfortunately, cannot be proven. Too big were the players who played that game. As an ending point to this story, the Bridge was destroyed on 9th November 1993 at 10.30, and I had then not been the commander of the Headquarters of HVO for three hours.
Slobodan Praljak, B.S.E.E., B.A. in sociology and philosophy, motion picture and theatre director
The Hague, 16th of September 2008
To Whom it May Concern:
In her book „La Caccia – Io e I Criminali di guerra“ in 10th chapter „Zagabria, dal 1999 al 2001“, on page 254, Ms. Carla Del Ponte says:
„One of the prosecutors of the Tribunal, a Canadian, well-known in his circle for his wit and anecdotes, had an aphorism that did a good job capturing the difference between the Serbs and the Croats who attempted to obstruct the work of the Tribunal: 'The Serbs are bastards', he used to say. 'In contrast, the Croats are perfidious bastards'.“
1. This Prosecutor of the Tribunal, a Canadian, speaks Hatefully.
1.1. Del Ponte uses the phrase „he used to say“ which means that it was not a „witty remark“, once used, but the habitual, chauvinistic and racist characterization of CROATS – as „perfidious bastards“.
1.2. Carla Del Ponte repeats the words of one of the Prosecutors of the Tribunal with no restrictions, which means that she completely agrees with such an opinion. Moreover, she agrees on an ongoing basis in accordance with the meaning of the phrase „he used to say“.
2. The lack of any reaction to such a pro-fascistic manner of speech about one nation is completely unclear to me. I am interesed whether the indictment against me itself was composed within the atmosphere of such opinion. I am asking for this to be examined. I am asking for this issue to be examined and established through the court procedure before the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia in The Hague.
If I, by any chance, Slobodan Praljak, had written or said such qualification, no matter when, in any form whatsoever, in relation to any nation or group during the war in the territories of the former Yugoslavia, I would have been sentenced to 5 years of prison for it only. I wish to know whether in the Tribunal in The Hague „Quid licet Iovi, non licet bovi“ is held true. I wish to find out whether the international organizations, which established the Tribunal and which ensure that it is just, support the position mentioned in the aforementioned book.
QUID PRO QUO
The attack by JNA on Croatia and BIH, helped by the organized and armed formations of local Serbs sent hundreds of thousands of refugees fleeing from burning villages.
Concentration camps, killings of civilians, destruction, rape were all a part of that aggression.
As in social relations there exists nothing else but a law of causal relationship (the law of action and reaction), when in individuals or smaller, organized groups, outside of the control of the already weak government on all levels, the pain and despair makes them cross the threshold of what is legally permissible, revenges occurred. This is true of both attacked peoples, Muslims and Croats alike.
This is how it was in every war until the present day in a greater or lesser degree. With the passing of time and due to mixed population, the war in BIH began, by the course of its own logic, to also assume the characteristics of a civil war.
Muslims, pushed to the brink of extinction by Serbian conquests, expulsions and other acts, along with the international denial of the right of defence by the introduction of the embargo on the import of weapons, accepted the help of the fighters from the Islamic world – the Mujahedin.
Mujahedin introduced into that war chaos elements of religious war and substantially contributed to the idea of attacking the Croats.
It is self-understood that a commander on any level (including others who hold any kind of office in that chaos) cannot take decisions contrary to the international war law.
This is indisputable.
What is disputable is the thesis of the prosecutor (and I fear the honourable judges might reduce the entire system in a similar way) that the impossibility of managing all the parts of that chaos is guilt.
Such a thought occurred to many who call themselves humanistic intellectuals.
One of them says that in 1992 he came to Mostar to help, but, when he saw the chaos he returned home.
People with such a mind set, full of fictitious intellectuality and humanism remain to relate these stories in salons, stories about the people who remained, and if there is something they don't like in that phenomenology of war, they will put the blame on them. They could have, they say, if they wanted.
I personally despise the role of war theatre audiences and observers and irrespective of acts which must be sanctioned, for 98% of the boys (and girls) over whom I had authority I say:
"GLORY BE TO THOSE WHO DECIDED TO DEFEND THE THERMOPYLAE" (KAVAFIS)
I respect their death, wounds, courage, freezing in the trenches, poor clothes and boots, poor food, despair when they would think what will happen to their parents if they get killed, poor arms and very often an unclear aim and sense of this struggle, which had too many unprincipled and immoral conductors.
Unprincipled proposals of international community adapted to a war state about how BIH should be ordered oftentimes took away the only possible sense from those deaths – what will be the position of the Croatian people in the state for which they fight.
Because states are created by peoples, and not the other way around.
Finally, for the sake of truth, we should remark that even the international war law in some cases accepts THIS QUID PRO QUO logic.
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