Josip Manolic was today cross-examined by the accused Slobodan Praljak and the defense counsel for five other leaders of the former Herceg Bosna. According to Praljak, Manolic was the former “Tudjman’s closest associate and number two person in the Croatian state”

Slobodan Praljak examining a witnessSlobodan Praljak examining a witness

The Appeals Chamber dismissed the appeal filed by the defense counsel representing the six former Herceg Bosna leaders, confirming the previous decision of the Trial Chamber to allot to the defense cross-examination as much time as the prosecution took for the examination-in-chief. Nevertheless, the cross-examination by the defense of Josip Manolic will take twice as long as the prosecution’s examination-in-chief, which took two days.

The first to question Manolic was the accused Slobodan Praljak. He labeled the witness as “the late President Tudjman’s family friend and closest associate and number two person in the Croatian state” in the period relevant for the indictment against the six former Herceg Bosna leaders. Praljak first tried to challenge the evidentiary value of the transcripts from the sessions of the Defense and National Security Council (VONS), admitted into evidence through Manolic’s testimony. He claimed that the meetings were “talk shops” where “spur-of-the moment, casual conversations” where people “made claims unsupported by anyone”. The participants didn’t know the sessions were taped and “didn’t mind their words”. Manolic disagreed with this description. He said that the meetings were “limited in time and had their agenda” and “people couldn’t talk about virginity” there.

As for Manolic’s claim that after Tudjman’s secret meeting with Milosevic in Karadjordjevo he had told Manolic that the two of them had reached “in principle, an agreement on the division of BH”, Praljak challenged it by quoting the “categorical denials” of that by Tudjman and Milosevic themselves and their associated Bilandzic and Jovic. Their denials of “unfounded speculations” about the deal did not sway Manolic, who stuck by what he had said in the examination-in-chief.

Praljak then presented a number of documents about the aid the Republic of Croatia gave Bosnia and Herzegovina, by arming BH Army, training its soldiers, officers and pilots, treating the wounded, allowing 5,000 mujahedin to pass through Croatia on their way to BH. He asked Manolic to explain how this fits with his description of Tudjman as “a man who hates Muslims and who wants to divide Bosnia”.

"This is the double policy pursued by Tudjman and Milosevic,” Manolic replied.

Praljak’s defense counsel Bozidar Kovacic pursued the same topic, showing the witness a document from the BH embassy in Zagreb, showing that in July 1993, when the Croat-Muslim conflict in BH was at its height, the Croatian authorities authorized the opening of a “military and economic representative office” and “logistics department of the BH Army Supreme Command” in Zagreb and in Split.

"Please, let us distinguish between politics and smuggling arms,” Manolic replied.

After Praljak and his defense counsel, Josip Manolic was cross-examined by the defense for the first accused, Jadranko Prlic.