1 Wednesday, 5 March 2003
2 [Open session]
3 --- Upon commencing at 2.19 p.m.
4 [The accused entered court]
5 JUDGE AGIUS: So good afternoon, Madam Registrar. Could you call
6 the case, please?
7 THE REGISTRAR: Good afternoon, Your Honours. This is case number
8 IT-99-36-T, the Prosecutor versus Radoslav Brdjanin.
9 JUDGE AGIUS: I thank you. Mr. Brdjanin, can you hear me in a
10 language that you can understand?
11 THE ACCUSED: [Interpretation] Good afternoon, Your Honour. I can
12 hear you and I can understand you.
13 JUDGE AGIUS: I thank you. Good afternoon to you. Appearances
14 for the Prosecution?
15 MS. RICHTEROVA: Good afternoon, Your Honours, Anna Richterova and
16 Denise Gustin, case manager.
17 JUDGE AGIUS: I thank you and good afternoon to you. Appearances
18 for Radoslav Brdjanin?
19 MR. ACKERMAN: Good afternoon, Your Honours. I'm John Ackerman
20 with co-counsel Milan Trbojevic, Marela Jevtovic and Barbara Baruch.
21 JUDGE AGIUS: Good afternoon to you all. Yes, Madam Richterova?
22 MS. RICHTEROVA: I have three very short things. The first is I
23 was informed by Ms. Korner that she will -- she is in the Stakic case
24 right now until 4.00 and she would like to ask Your Honours if we could
25 discuss the motion for adjournment of trial either after 4.00 or better
1 towards the end of today's session.
2 JUDGE AGIUS: I have no problem with that unless Mr. Ackerman.
3 Yes, Mr. Ackerman has no problems with that so we will communicate later
4 on to Ms. Korner whether the debate will take place at 4.00 or after 4.00
5 or towards the end of the sitting.
6 MS. RICHTEROVA: The other thing is we haven't received any
7 response with respect to Prnjavor Rule 92 bis witnesses and because we
8 already started calling the Prnjavor witnesses we would appreciate to know
9 whether we need to call more witnesses than scheduled.
10 JUDGE AGIUS: Yes, Mr. Ackerman?
11 MR. ACKERMAN: I'll have a response as soon as I can, Your Honour.
12 I'm doing the best I can. I'll have it -- certainly I'll have it by
13 Monday. That's -- that may be the best I can do because there is a lot of
14 reading to do there.
15 JUDGE AGIUS: Would that satisfy you, Ms. --
16 MS. RICHTEROVA: Yes, we would appreciate it sooner but we
18 MR. ACKERMAN: Well, it just occurred to me there may be a way I
19 can do it sooner and if I can I'll certainly do it. I want to do it.
20 JUDGE AGIUS: If you could do it in part.
21 MR. ACKERMAN: I want to do it as quickly as I can, Your Honour,
22 please understand that
23 JUDGE AGIUS: Like we've done in the past. I think we could live
24 with that too and it would facilitate the burden of the Prosecution. Yes.
25 MS. RICHTEROVA: The last thing relates to the photographs,
1 Mr. Odobasic's photographs in question. And I was told it would be
2 advisable to discuss this not in his presence. I just want to inform the
3 Court that I spoke to the investigator who took the statement in -- on
4 15th of March, 1999. He didn't have a clear recollection of taking the
5 statement but because he put the words, "I am providing the investigator
6 with these photos," he believed that he got the photos. Then I checked
7 the so-called information index form, which is a form which always had to
8 be -- have to be filled in after a piece of evidence is brought to the
9 OTP, and I found out that really, on 15th of March, 1999, this
10 investigator received the photos. It says that they are photos of
11 injuries resulting from beatings in 1993. It was most probably the reason
12 why we didn't pay too much attention to them, because it was outside of
13 the period covered in our indictment. So there was absolutely nothing
14 behind the fact that we didn't disclose them. We weren't hiding any
15 evidence. And me personally, I saw these pictures on Sunday during the
16 proofing, and I returned these photos to the witness, informing him that I
17 do not intend to use them as evidence in this trial.
18 JUDGE AGIUS: Yes, Mr. Ackerman?
19 MR. ACKERMAN: Your Honour, I hope I didn't indicate in any way
20 that I had a concern about the Prosecutor's failure to disclose. Because
21 they were outside the indictment but my concern, I think that I expressed,
22 was that the witness told us under oath that he had never given these to
23 the Prosecutor and that concerns me and that's what I asked that we look
25 JUDGE AGIUS: Yes. I intend to take it up with the witness after
1 you finished with your cross-examination, in fact, Mr. Ackerman.
2 Are you ready?
3 MS. RICHTEROVA: Yes.
4 JUDGE AGIUS: Yes, Mr. Ackerman? Yes, but we haven't got the
6 MR. ACKERMAN: I'll just be here in case he comes in.
7 [The witness entered court]
8 [Trial Chamber and registrar confer]
9 JUDGE AGIUS: Good afternoon to you, Mr. Odobasic.
10 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Good afternoon.
11 JUDGE AGIUS: And welcome back. I hope we will be able to
12 terminate, to finish your testimony today but before you continue, may I
13 ask you to repeat your solemn declaration, please?
14 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] I solemnly declare that I will speak
15 the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.
16 WITNESS: JASMIN ODOBASIC [Resumed]
17 [Witness answered through interpreter]
18 JUDGE AGIUS: I thank you. Mr. Ackerman?
19 Cross-examination by Mr. Ackerman: [Continued]
20 Q. Good afternoon, sir.
21 A. Good afternoon.
22 Q. Did you rest well and are you ready for another day in court?
23 A. Yes, I am ready.
24 Q. All right. When we broke yesterday we were talking about your
25 departure from Prnjavor and I had asked you if you were actually expelled
1 from Prnjavor and that's when you told us that you had some photographs
2 you'd like us to look at. And that's where I want to take up today. The
3 person who signed that authorisation, who you gave the authorisation to,
4 the lawyer Branislav Malic, he's a friend of yours, is he not?
5 A. Yes.
6 Q. With regard to those photographs you showed us yesterday, I want
7 you to understand that I think all of us who saw them were shocked by them
8 and we believe that no human being should be allowed to do that to any
9 other human being and I want to express at least the sympathy of the
10 Defence to you for what happened to you. Do you understand that?
11 A. That's very noble from you, and I should like to express my
12 gratitude to you for that. I wouldn't wish any of that to happen to any
13 human being in this world.
14 Q. Well, I would hope that whoever is responsible for that, if they
15 have not yet been punished, will be.
16 A. I don't think that anyone was ever punished. These individuals
17 are still working in the town of Prnjavor. They haven't had to face any
18 consequences whatsoever.
19 Q. Tell us their names. I think the world should know their names.
20 Who are they? They are a couple of reserve police officers, aren't they?
21 A. I was beaten up on two occasions in the police station and on the
22 basis of that, I concluded they were not members of the reserve force. I
23 was beaten up two times in the premises of regular police and two times in
24 my own home. The individuals in question were the following, Vlado Budak,
25 Pero Jankovic, Darko Savic, Milan Jelic, a man by the surname of Pancic, a
1 certain Sestic Pokrac [phoen]. I was beaten by six police officers and I
2 was taken to the police station pursuant to an order of a then inspector
3 of the police station, Milan Jelic, who had sent two policemen to fetch me
4 on one of these occasions when I was beaten up. They took me to the
5 police station and on the other occasion I was taken at 3.00 a.m. to the
6 police station and again was beaten up.
7 Q. When you and I think other members of your family were beaten at
8 your home by two policemen, you called Mr. Malic to come to your house
9 following that, didn't you?
10 A. Not two policemen. I said six policemen, sir. And Mr. Malic is a
11 friend of mine, was one of the very few Serbs who dared to come to see me
12 two days later and it was on that occasion that we talked about this power
13 of attorney that I had to give to him.
14 Q. You asked him to assist you in your efforts to get away from
15 Prnjavor, didn't you?
16 A. No, no. He didn't take part in my departure. I only asked him to
17 take this power of attorney so that he could take care of my property, my
18 father's property and my brother's property, and three such powers of
19 attorney were made for that purpose.
20 Q. All right. I need to have the Prosecutor give you back your
21 statement of 30 January, 1999, please. If you look at the very last page,
22 it's the third paragraph up from the bottom. What you told the Prosecutor
23 at that time was that you had actually tried to leave Prnjavor on two
24 occasions before you finally succeeded in doing so; is that correct?
25 A. Correct.
1 Q. You had the documents prepared allowing you to go to Sarajevo but
2 both times you tried to leave you were taken off the bus and they would
3 not let you leave; true?
4 A. I think this is a mistake. I did not have documents to go to
5 Sarajevo. I only had documents allowing me to go to the west, to Serbia,
6 Hungary and further on to Sweden. It was my wish to go to Sarajevo,
7 Mr. Ackerman, after Hungary.
8 Q. So where the statement says, "I had already had documents prepared
9 in Ljubljana so I could go to Sarajevo," that you tell us was a mistake?
10 A. No. It's not a mistake. I obtained documents from Prnjavor
11 authorities and I needed to have a visa for Sweden so we had to buy visas
12 or sometimes we got them from Sweden, and through a set of circumstances,
13 a Serb from Sarajevo visited me at my house and he offered that we swap
14 three of our houses for his house in Sarajevo, and we made a contract to
15 that effect with him, and my plan was that a part of the family should go
16 further on to Sweden and that I should go to Sarajevo to check on the
17 condition of that house before taking it over, because we didn't have
18 accommodation in Sarajevo and I wanted to check what the condition of the
19 house was so that my family could eventually be accommodated there. As
20 for the documents, we are talking here about passports, in Ljubljana, we
21 had the closest embassy that we could get to.
22 JUDGE AGIUS: Mr. Odobasic, please slow down as much as you can
23 because the interpreters really have to work hard to catch up with you
24 with the speed with which you're talking.
25 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] I understand.
1 JUDGE AGIUS: Thank you.
2 MR. ACKERMAN:
3 Q. Can you remember about when these two times were that you had
4 tried to leave and were taken off the bus and were not permitted to?
5 A. Between the 3rd of June until the 27th of July, when I left.
6 During that period of time, we were always ready to leave, and on the eve
7 of our departure, the night before, Braco Milijasevic would come to our
8 house. He was some sort of leader at the Prnjavor police station, whether
9 he was a deputy commander, I don't know.
10 Q. We are going to be here tomorrow if you cannot just listen to my
11 question and answer it. The only question I really wanted to have you
12 answer was about when were the two times that you tried to leave and were
13 not permitted to. That's all I want to know. I don't need the other
14 answers. Can you just tell us that? I think you said between 3 June and
15 27 July, is that --
16 JUDGE AGIUS: That's what he said, Mr. Ackerman, and I think that
17 should suffice.
18 MR. ACKERMAN:
19 Q. Is that your position, that it was sometime between those dates
20 but you don't know precisely?
21 A. Yes, just that one sentence.
22 Q. All right. Thank you.
23 A. Yes, that is my position. It happened during that period of time.
24 And full allow me just one more sentence, the gentleman in question came
25 to my house on two occasions and he said, "Gentlemen, you are not able to
1 leave. You will not be able to leave tomorrow." And I think that he once
2 added one more sentence. He said something to the effect, "Until your
3 wounds are healed."
4 Q. So you weren't actually on the bus and taken off the bus, you were
5 taken off the list of people who were allowed to get on the bus? Is that
6 a more accurate statement?
7 A. No, no. He didn't allow us to go. He said that my family could
8 not leave the town in any manner.
9 Q. Sir, I really do understand that. And what I'm trying to clear
10 up, your statement on page 11 was that you had tried twice to leave town,
11 to go to Hungary. "Both times they took me off the bus and wouldn't let
12 me leave." Now, I concluded from that that you were on the bus and they
13 had taken you off the bus before it left. Am I wrong in making that
15 A. You're quite right about the bus. It is true that we were ready,
16 we had our bags packed and we were ready to leave, and on two occasions we
17 were not allowed to leave.
18 Q. You're not answering my question. My question is: Were you on
19 the bus --
20 A. I am.
21 Q. Were you actually on the bus and then taken off the bus?
22 A. No, sir, because I was not allowed to get to the bus.
23 Q. And then after you say both times they took me off the bus and
24 wouldn't let me leave, you then say this: "The rest of my family also
25 voluntarily got off the bus." Now, do you understand that I could have
12 Blank page inserted to ensure pagination corresponds between the French and
13 English transcripts.
1 mistaken that to mean that you and your family were on a bus and you were
2 taken off and they voluntarily got off of that bus?
3 A. No. You're right. You made your conclusion on the basis of what
4 it says here but I think that this was not properly formulated. Getting
5 to the bus meant going away into the freedom.
6 Q. That's fine. I'm satisfied with your answer, sir. I want to talk
7 to you now about your property in Prnjavor. Prosecution Exhibit P1766,
8 that's the authorisation that you gave to Branislav Malic, lists property
9 as a plot of land cadastre number 373/3, arable land called Kuciste
10 housing 551 square metres, registered in the land registry as street
11 number 214, Prnjavor, and an office building located on that property.
12 Now, I know that in your mind you have a picture now of that
13 property that's described in that authorisation and what I want to ask you
14 is: Is that the same property that was later known as the property at
15 Avdo Tesnjak number 1 or is it a different property?
16 A. Avdo Tesnjak is the name of a street, and before the war, the name
17 was later changed. This is reference to the property located in the Avdo
18 Tesnjak Street which later changed its name into Milos Todic or something
19 to that effect.
20 Q. This is a different piece of property than that contained in this
21 authorisation, isn't it?
22 A. No. I don't have any other property except for this one.
23 Q. So this authorisation refers to property that's called Kuciste and
24 it's at street number 214, and you're telling us that's the same property
25 that was located at Avdo Tesnjak number 1? Is that true?
1 A. Yes.
2 Q. You remained in possession of this property until February of
3 1994, didn't you?
4 A. Yes.
5 Q. And then --
6 A. It was in my possession. It remained in my possession in the land
7 survey records but practically speaking, it was confiscated on that day.
8 Q. But you -- it was confiscated in February of 1994 and not before
9 that; correct?
10 A. Yes. It was confiscated in February of 1994.
11 Q. And then this property was later returned to you, wasn't it?
12 A. It was not returned, but the UN human rights chamber in Sarajevo
13 ordered that the property should be returned, and I think it was returned
14 in the year of 2000.
15 Q. And in addition, Republika Srpska was ordered to pay you 20.720
16 convertible marks as pecuniary and non-pecuniary damages for the illegal
17 taking of your property; isn't that true?
18 A. Yes, that is true.
19 Q. Was the money ever paid?
20 A. For a year and a half, it was not paid, and pursuant to an order
21 of the OHR, it was finally paid in November last year.
22 Q. The order of the Court ordered that you also receive 10 per cent
23 interest for any unpaid portion of that amount. So did they also pay you
24 the 10 per cent interest during that period of time when they hadn't paid
1 A. Within one month, they paid out both the principal and the
3 Q. All right. I want to ask you I want to go through this just as
4 briefly as I can, a couple of questions about your work with the -- I
5 think the commission for missing persons, that's the name of it?
6 A. State commission for tracing the missing persons, and the federal
8 Q. There was also a Republika Srpska commission for missing persons
9 in operation too; correct?
10 A. There was, and it exists to this day. There used to be a
11 commission of the HVO also in the past but it ceased to exist.
12 Q. And have you on occasion been involved in excavations that were
13 being conducted by the Republika Srpska commission for missing persons?
14 Exhumations involving Muslims or -- excavations involving Serbs?
15 A. Your question is unclear. Could you please clarify? These are
16 two different notions.
17 Q. I'll try to make it clearer. Let me just ask you this: Have you
18 ever been in a location where an excavation was being carried out when
19 IFOR was present and when the Republika Srpska Commission for Missing
20 Persons was present?
21 A. Any exhumation taking place in the other entity is always attended
22 by both commissions as well as representatives of IPTF and other
23 international institutions. So far I have attended a number of
24 exhumations both taking place in one entity and in the other one.
25 Q. All right. That's exactly what I was looking for. Have you
1 always proceeded correctly in the -- in these matters regardless when of
2 whether the exhumations were of Serbs or Muslims or Croats?
3 A. You have to explain what do you mean when you say proceeded
4 correctly? Or shall I explain it to you?
5 Q. I'll go directly to the point. Do you recall being involved in an
6 exhumation that was taking place in 1977 at I think a couple of locations?
7 JUDGE AGIUS: 1977?
8 MR. ACKERMAN: Yes, 1997, I'm sorry.
9 Q. At Stog and at Mount Poljenik?
10 A. I don't know whether that was at the time that you mentioned but I
11 was present with the commission of Republika Srpska at Stog, Poljenik, and
12 some other locations. Naturally, you should be aware of duties and tasks
13 of each commission during such exhumations in order to understand the
15 MR. ACKERMAN: Your Honour, may I have just a moment? I should
16 have given documents to the Prosecutor and yourselves before I started and
17 could I get that done before I go any further?
18 JUDGE AGIUS: Yes, go ahead, Mr. Ackerman. Thank you.
19 MR. ACKERMAN: All right. Your Honour, I don't intend to use
20 these as exhibits but I've distributed them just for the purpose of
21 demonstrating a good faith basis for the questions that I'll ask next.
22 Q. Sir, I want to read you a portion of a report starting -- it's
23 starting on page 5 of a document from the Slobodna Bosna of September the
24 13th, 2001. I'm just going to read this to you, sir, and simply ask you
25 if it is true or not and that's all I'm really interested in with regard
1 to it.
2 The report reads, "At the Mount Poljenik location, 12 corpses of
3 former soldiers of the Srbac Brigade were discovered. During the forensic
4 examination, IFOR informed the Serbian team that all approaches to the
5 location have been blocked by women from Srebrenica who live in the area.
6 They were really women from Srebrenica and it was obvious that Jasmin
7 Odobasic, the deputy of Amor Masovic incited them to do that, one of the
8 eye witnesses of this event said." Is that true?
9 JUDGE AGIUS: What page are you reading from, Mr. Ackerman?
10 MR. ACKERMAN: It's the bottom of page 5, Your Honour, very bottom
11 of page 5 and carrying over on to page 6.
12 JUDGE AGIUS: Oh, yes, okay.
13 MR. ACKERMAN:
14 Q. Is that true, sir?
15 JUDGE AGIUS: What is true, Mr. Ackerman? Because you've got more
16 than one statement in the part that you read. Are you referring to the
17 last part or to the previous part?
18 MR. ACKERMAN:
19 Q. Is it true that he incited these women from Srebrenica to block
20 access to those bodies that had been discovered?
21 A. This is a blatant lie. They heard that there had been some
22 problems there but I was not present at the location at all, nor did I
23 talk anybody into doing anything.
24 Q. Okay. I need to read you the next part and simply ask you if this
25 part is true. "At the recommendation of IFOR, the commission withdrew,
1 leaving its equipment and the exhumed corpses. When they came back after
2 a few days, the exhumed bodies were found collected on a pile and
3 incinerated and one corpse was left on a stretcher. We found it very odd
4 that one body was placed separately like that so we walked up to it very
5 carefully. As it turned out the stretcher was mined and connected to an
6 antitank mine with some explosives. Odobasic, who continuously observed
7 the work of the Serbian forensic team commented the site of the
8 complicated explosives mechanisms by saying the women were Srebrenica
9 prepared that for you."
10 Were you there and did you say that?
11 A. This is yet another blatant lie. I was present there and I was
12 the one who escorted and provided security for the commission of Republika
13 Srpska on the second occasion and this confirms that on the first occasion
14 they came without announcement, without observing the procedures and
15 rules. Now, Mr. Ackerman, had somebody known that there was a mine there,
16 would they have approached the area and exposed themselves to the risk?
17 They would not.
18 Q. Would you agree with me that it's a risky business to rely upon
19 things that are printed in newspapers? One probably should not do so?
20 JUDGE AGIUS: Don't answer that question, Mr. Odobasic. Next
21 question, Mr. Ackerman.
22 MR. ACKERMAN: Thank you, Your Honour.
23 JUDGE AGIUS: Don't mention it.
24 MR. ACKERMAN:
25 Q. I want to go back to your statement now, sir, of 30 January, 1999.
1 You talked on -- it's page 8 of the English version, there is a paragraph
2 that begins with, "In that period," and I think you're talking about
3 basically the summer of 1992. The paragraph deals with the shooting of
4 some civilians. There was an Asim Kvasic, a car mechanic, who you think
5 was named Nazir, and that person you think was killed by Gojko Kusic;
7 A. Yes, that's right. These persons were killed.
8 Q. And who was Gojko Kusic?
9 A. He was one of the members of the paramilitary formation, Wolves
10 from Vucjak. He was also from the village of Kremna, which is very close
11 to the place where their commander resided.
12 Q. All right. You said that Mile Beus was killed because the Serbs
13 wanted money from him. Do you know who killed him?
14 A. I don't know, sir.
15 Q. How do you know that he was killed because the Serbs wanted money
16 from him?
17 A. Mr. Dedic told me that he had talked to the family of Mr. Beus and
18 that the family had told him that money was sought from Mr. Beus.
19 Q. So did the family see the people who killed him?
20 A. I don't know that. You have to ask them that. Perhaps the people
21 who did it wore masks.
22 Q. What -- I assume that it's your -- what you're telling us is that
23 whoever those Serbs were that killed him were the Serbs that wanted money
24 from him. It wasn't that all the Serbs in Prnjavor were after his money,
25 was it?
1 A. Don't even entertain such ideas, sir. There are many wonderful,
2 noble, honest Serbs everywhere, including Prnjavor.
3 Q. You don't have any idea then who it was who killed this person,
4 who, what organisation they might have represented, whether they were
5 under orders to do that or any such thing, do you?
6 A. No.
7 Q. As far as you know, it was a bunch of criminals conducting a
9 A. That's your assessment, sir. I don't know who might be behind it.
10 Q. You talked both in your statements and in your testimony about
11 persons being dismissed from their positions, and when I say dismissed
12 from their positions I'm talking about their positions within various
13 enterprises in Prnjavor. First of all, do you know what it is I'm getting
14 ready to ask you about?
15 A. Yesterday we spoke about the persons dismissed, if we are talking
16 about the same issue, then, yes, I do know.
17 Q. Same issue. Who is it that you contend ordered these dismissals?
18 A. It is my opinion that the authorities ordered for them to be
19 dismissed. This is supported by the fact that one of the main
20 representatives of those authorities toured various enterprises, insisting
21 on dismissals. People who were dismissed were in all walks of life. Those
22 who sweep streets and those who held highest offices in town.
23 Q. And when you say the authorities, you mean those people who had
24 gotten posts of authority as a result of the victory of the SDS in the
25 multi-party elections? That's who you mean when you say authorities;
2 A. I think that the order came from political authorities, and it was
3 implemented by those who held leading positions in enterprises.
4 Q. And had the war broken out yet before these dismissals occurred?
5 It had, hadn't it? That war was actually going on, wasn't it?
6 A. No.
7 Q. The persons who were dismissed were all persons who were not - I
8 think we discussed this a little bit yesterday - not sympathetic with the
9 concept of Republika Srpska, and therefore, not permitted to continue to
10 oversee these socially owned enterprises; correct?
11 A. No, sir, no. The largest number of those people were apolitical.
12 They had nothing to do with politics. Nor did they assess whether they
13 liked Republika Srpska or not. They were ordinary people who in most
14 cases did not want to go and take part in the war, that they didn't
15 consider their own. Those were ordinary people who were in somebody's way
16 because they had apartments in downtown area. Then those were people who
17 held offices which were very important for implementing the SDS policies,
18 people who had an insight into the weaponry that was stored and existed in
19 Prnjavor in various locations, and several other similar positions which
20 they considered important, even ordinary shoe makers who worked in the
21 factory had been dismissed and they had nothing to do with politics.
22 Q. We will come to that. You told us yesterday that back before the
23 multi-party elections, before the multi-party system, that you yourself
24 were also apolitical, that you were not involved in politics, but you were
25 told that to keep a position that you had, it was necessary that you be a
12 Blank page inserted to ensure pagination corresponds between the French and
13 English transcripts.
1 member of the League of Communists. That's true, isn't it?
2 A. That pertained to the period when I was head of the city
4 Q. Doesn't make much difference to me when it had to do with. It had
5 to do with an apolitical person being told that they must be a member of a
6 certain party to maintain their position. That's the case, isn't it?
7 That's what happened with you. An ordinary, apolitical person was told
8 they had to be a member of a certain party to maintain their position.
9 Not that they had to be political, that they just had to be a member the
10 party. Right?
11 A. At that time, the only party was the League of Communists, in the
12 period of time that I'm referring to.
13 Q. That's not what I'm asking you. The question I asked you was
14 simple. You were told that you had to be a member of the communist party,
15 League of Communists. You didn't have to be an active member. You didn't
16 have to go out and do all kinds of communist things, but you did have to
17 be a member of the party, didn't you? That's an easy question to answer.
18 You can either answer it yes or no.
19 A. I told you that's how it was during that period of time, when I
20 held the office that I described to you.
21 Q. That's exactly that period of time that I was asking you about, so
22 thank you.
23 A. Yes.
24 Q. I want to talk to you a bit about the economy of Prnjavor. It's
25 the case, isn't it, that most factories stopped production completely or
1 only worked at 10 to 20 per cent of their pre-war capacity?
2 JUDGE AGIUS: When?
3 MR. ACKERMAN:
4 Q. Beginning in 1992, Your Honour. And progressively thereafter.
5 A. I wouldn't like to go into numbers when we are speaking about the
6 production, but any war will leave an impact on the manufacturing process.
7 I don't know how it compared to the pre-war period of time because
8 information of that nature is not accessible to me. I heard that the
9 majority of those factories continued working.
10 Q. I'd like you to now be able to look at your statement of 30
11 September, 1994, given to the security services centre of the state
12 security services sector in Sarajevo. Do you remember giving a statement
13 to them, sir?
14 A. Yes.
15 Q. And this is a statement that you gave just almost immediately
16 after having gotten out of Prnjavor. Same year that you left Prnjavor;
18 A. Yes.
19 Q. I'm looking at page 5 in the English version. It's a paragraph
20 beginning with the language, "Characteristics of the Prnjavor economy."
21 It reads, "Characteristics of the Prnjavor economy can be seen from the
22 fact that most of the factories either stopped production completely or
23 worked at 10 to 20 per cent of their pre-war capacity." Now, that's what
24 you said in 1994, isn't it?
25 A. That's right.
1 Q. Would you look at the last page of that document and tell me if
2 your signature appears there?
3 A. Yes.
4 Q. The other thing you said was this: That as of 30 September, 1994,
5 when you made this statement at least, Sloga footwear, that you worked
6 for, went from 1.370 down to 200 employees; correct? It's the next
7 sentence after the one I just read to you from that statement, sir.
8 A. Yes, sir. That is what I stated.
9 Q. Standard furniture, formerly employed 200, now completely stopped.
10 Your words were halted production completely. Same page, sir, just a
11 little further down.
12 A. Page what?
13 Q. Same page you were just looking at, just below the information
14 about Sloga footwear, right under the name Milorad Kovacevic. It's the
15 next sentence after the one saying Milorad Kovacevic. It says the
16 "standard furniture factory," find it?
17 A. Yes, I found it.
18 Q. We are going to stay on this same page, it's the next sentence,
19 pioneer clothing formerly 300 workers, now closed. Yes?
20 A. Yes.
21 Q. The Metalka chain factory, formerly 260, reduced to 130. Yes?
22 A. Yes.
23 Q. And it was able to keep its 130 employees because it was marketing
24 its products in Russia and Serbia and therefore at least had part of its
25 pre-war market intact. Is that a fair statement?
1 A. Yes.
2 Q. The Jelsingrad crane factory, formerly 180 employees, now closed.
3 A. Yes.
4 Q. The Gradip GIK, a building construction industrial combine. Used
5 to employ 350 workers, not working now. Yes?
6 A. Yes.
7 Q. How close did the war, the actual fighting, that was going on in
8 the war, how close did that get to Prnjavor, during the time that you were
10 A. Which year do you have in mind?
11 Q. You pick a year. I want the year that it got closest to Prnjavor
12 while you were there, how close did the fighting get to Prnjavor?
13 A. In 1992, the closest combat went on in Derventa which is 30 some
14 kilometres and when the Serbian army took Derventa and Brod, those were
15 the borders of Bosnia-Herzegovina. Later on the closest front line was in
16 Bihac area, some 150 to 200 kilometres and on the other side, around
17 Tesanj which is over 50 kilometres.
18 Q. All right. This same statement now, I'm now going to page 8,
19 there is an extremely long paragraph, General Momir Talic's name is
20 contained in the second line of that paragraph, which may be something
21 that will help you find it. And quite a ways down in that paragraph, you
22 say, "So far," and I assume that means up until around September of 1994,
23 when you made this statement, you say, "So far, more than 300 Chetniks
24 have been killed in clashes with soldiers of the BH Army on the territory
25 of the Prnjavor municipality. And the number of wounded exceeds this
1 figure several times over." Those are your words, aren't they, sir?
2 A. Yes.
3 Q. That would speak of fighting much closer than Derventa wouldn't
4 it? You say it took place on the territory of the Prnjavor municipality.
5 A. No. As far as I know, there was never any fighting in the
6 territory of the Prnjavor municipality. Deep into the territory of the
7 municipality of Derventa.
8 Q. When you say that they were killed in clashes with soldiers of the
9 BH Army on the territory of the Prnjavor municipality, is that not true?
10 Did you sign a statement that was not true?
11 A. The wording is not accurate. In the Prijedor [As interpreted]
12 municipality, there was never any fighting. Except for the fighting that
13 -- no, I mean there was no fighting whatsoever in that area. You cannot
14 call fighting an attack on the village of Lisnja.
15 Q. Well, saying the wording is not accurate is another way of saying
16 that it's not true, and what you're saying is what this statement says
17 that you signed is not true. So you signed an untrue statement. Isn't
18 that a fair conclusion for me to make?
19 A. No, sir. Here it is considered that about 30 members of the VRS
20 from the Prnjavor municipality were killed, and I'm sure that this is what
21 I stated as to what -- as to your interpretation, that's different. One
22 can interpret this in the territory of the Prnjavor municipality, both in
23 terms of territory and --
24 MR. ACKERMAN: Your Honour page 23, line 13 says Prijedor when it
25 should say Prnjavor.
1 JUDGE AGIUS: Yes. I suppose you're correct, Mr. Ackerman, so
2 that goes down for the record. Thank you.
3 MR. ACKERMAN:
4 Q. Sir, have you found the part of your statement that I'm referring
6 A. Yes.
7 Q. You see the part that I'm referring to?
8 A. Yes, I do.
9 Q. It starts with, "So far," and it says -- it ends with "the number
10 of wounded exceeds this figure several times over." What I'd like you to
11 do is read that sentence and I'd like the interpreters to interpret from
12 what he reads rather than the document so we can see if the interpretation
13 here is correct. So would you just read it in your language and we will
14 have the interpreters tell us what it says.
15 A. "In the current fighting with the members of the BH Army, in the
16 territory of Prijedor [As interpreted] municipality, more than -- in the
17 territory of the Prnjavor municipality, more than 300 Chetniks were
18 killed, whereas the number --"
19 THE INTERPRETER: We didn't hear the end of the sentence.
20 MR. ACKERMAN:
21 Q. Read it again more slowly, sir, they are having trouble keeping up
22 with you. Try to read it slowly because this is hard for them.
23 A. "In the fighting so far with the members of the BH army, in the
24 Prnjavor municipality, more than 300 Chetniks were killed, whereas the
25 number of wounded exceeds several times this figure."
1 Q. So the translation is correct. What you said was 300 Chetniks
2 were killed in fighting in the Prnjavor municipality and the number of
3 wounded exceeded that by several times. That's what you said in 1994,
4 isn't it?
5 A. No, sir. When I say 300 Chetniks in the Prnjavor municipality,
6 I'm referring to the people from the municipality of Prnjavor, and it is
7 implied that since there was no fighting in the Prnjavor municipality,
8 that I was referring to the people who were killed elsewhere but were by
9 origin from the Prnjavor municipality. Everyone knew that there was no
10 fighting in the Prnjavor municipality.
11 Q. Well, sir, I think we could all accept that if you didn't use the
12 words that "this happened on the territory of the Prnjavor municipality."
13 Those are your words. "On the territory of the Prnjavor municipality."
14 Not 300 Chetniks from the Prnjavor municipality but on the territory of
15 the Prnjavor municipality. Now, if you signed a statement that was not
16 true, you can tell us that and that will clear this up. It could have
17 been a mistake but it's clearly what this says you said.
18 A. No. Sir, it is clear there was no fighting whatsoever in the
19 territory of Prnjavor municipality. In this sentence, I was referring to
20 the people who were residents of the Prnjavor municipality and who got
21 killed. That was the meaning of the sentence that I said.
22 JUDGE AGIUS: Let's stop this. It is -- what is being put to you
23 is a very simple matter, Mr. Odobasic. What you are explaining now is not
24 reflected in what appears in your statement. So Mr. Ackerman is telling
25 you first of all is observing that still even though this does not reflect
1 what you had in mind of saying, to say, you still signed it as it is. And
2 you are being asked to explain. This is all that it is about. He is not
3 accusing you of deliberately lying or telling an untruth at any point in
4 time in the course of this statement. So what is your explanation for the
5 discrepancy that there is between what you signed for here and what you
6 are explaining now? There must be an explanation. I mean usually it's a
7 very simple explanation.
8 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] The explanation is very simple. Me
9 and other people at that time knew that there was no fighting in the
10 Prijedor -- Prnjavor municipality and I was referring to the residents of
11 the Prnjavor municipality who got killed elsewhere. I was not referring
12 to any fighting in the Prnjavor municipality because there was no such
13 fighting. Maybe the commas or not correct after this first part of my
14 sentence when I say in the fighting with the members of the BH army or
15 maybe it's a typo. I don't know. But at any rate, territorially speaking
16 I was referring to the people who lived there who were residents of that
17 area but who got killed elsewhere because there was no fighting in our
19 JUDGE AGIUS: All right. Let's move ahead, Mr. Ackerman.
20 MR. ACKERMAN:
21 Q. Sir, when you say that more than 300 Chetniks had been killed,
22 would that be in addition to the number of Serbian soldiers who were
24 A. Could you clarify the question, please?
25 Q. Yes. I'm wondering if you make any distinction between Chetniks
1 and regular Serbian soldiers or if there are additionally Serbian soldiers
2 who were killed in the fighting and you're just referring to Chetniks.
3 A. I'm afraid I don't understand your question. When you say regular
4 soldiers, what regular soldiers do you have in mind?
5 JUDGE AGIUS: It's a very simple question. Again I'm going to
6 intervene because I'm getting fed up now. What do you mean by Chetniks?
7 Do you include under that term all the Serb soldiers or just one category
8 of Serb soldiers?
9 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] I was referring to all Serb
10 soldiers, the total number is 300, those who got killed.
11 JUDGE AGIUS: Next question, Mr. Ackerman.
12 MR. ACKERMAN:
13 Q. About three pages further, sir, on page 11 of this statement, in
14 the English version it's a paragraph that begins with the words, "After
15 breaking through the famous corridor and capturing Derventa."
16 A. Yes.
17 Q. What you say there is, "The number of Chetniks killed rapidly
18 increased with the number of new fronts." Now, again, are you using that
19 term to include all Serbian soldiers? Or just those who styled themselves
21 A. It's the term that was used for Serb soldiers generally speaking.
22 Q. A derogatory term, wasn't it, in some ways?
23 A. Depending for whom.
24 Q. Page 13 of that same statement, you speak of the destruction of a
25 Muslim mausoleum at Turbe. You said it was destroyed by Vlado Vasic from
12 Blank page inserted to ensure pagination corresponds between the French and
13 English transcripts.
1 Gornja Mravica, who was between 35 and 40 years old; correct?
2 A. Let me find it, please.
3 Q. I'll see if I can help you. It might be easy for you to find the
4 name Gajanin, Mehinovic, Karadjordje cafe. It's just under those.
5 A. I've found it.
6 Q. Do you need me to repeat the question now?
7 A. Yes.
8 Q. In that sentence you talk about the destruction of a Turbe by
9 Vlado Vasic, and a person between 35 and 40 years old; correct?
10 A. Yes, yes.
11 Q. And do you know what ethnicity Vlado Vasic was?
12 A. No, I don't.
13 Q. How do you know that he was the one who destroyed this place?
14 A. People who live in a nearby village told me this, a village close
15 to this facility, and also by a person who lives in this village where
16 this facility was destroyed.
17 Q. And soon after it happened, this Vlado Vasic was found with his
18 throat slashed; correct?
19 A. I was told this by the same people.
20 Q. Now, apparently from what you said about how you came by the
21 information, it was rather generally known around that village that Vlado
22 Vasic had been the one that had done this destruction?
23 A. I remember attending a funeral in this village, and being told
24 this immediately after the destruction.
25 Q. Do you have any idea who it was that killed Vlado Vasic, slit his
2 A. How can I have any idea on who it was?
3 Q. Well, I thought maybe you had heard later that someone had been
4 found out for having done it but if you haven't, that's fine.
5 A. It was probably the same local police that was in charge of the
6 case. You should check with them, whether they have any information to
7 that effect or not.
8 Q. You're not saying the local police were the ones that slit his
9 throat, are you, or probably the ones who did it?
10 A. God forbid. I said that they were probably in charge of the
11 investigation, probably.
12 JUDGE AGIUS: Mr. Ackerman, next question.
13 MR. ACKERMAN: I'm going.
14 Q. In your testimony yesterday, page 24, line 16, you were asked by
15 Ms. Richterova about the departure of people from Prnjavor, non-Serbs,
16 your answer in part was, "As early as 1992, in the second half of it, the
17 so-called organised departures from Prnjavor started," and I'd just like
18 you to tell us, if you can remember, when it was that the first of these,
19 as you say, so-called organised departures occurred from the Prnjavor
21 A. I cannot remember the date, of course, but I can easily find out
22 because two of my cousins were beaten up and expelled in that year. They
23 went by one of those buses to Sweden. One has remained in Sweden and one
24 has returned to Bosnia.
25 Q. Well, you told us yesterday that it was in the second half of
1 1992. I assume that could be July or August or somewhere in that
3 A. I think it was much later, towards the end of the year.
4 Q. Oh, okay. Would you agree that the largest number of departures
5 from Prnjavor occurred in 1993?
6 A. No, I would not.
7 Q. The statement that you gave in Sarajevo, page 13, the one we were
8 just looking at, you said this, and it's right under the -- just right
9 under the one about the Turbe: "Throughout 1993, the pressure on the
10 non-Serb population increased and in this period, the largest number of
11 Muslims and Croats were expelled. I know that every Saturday in March,
12 April, May and June, about a dozen buses left Banja Luka for Sweden
13 carrying the largest number of Prnjavor inhabitants." Now, I read that to
14 say that the largest number of non-Serbian departures from Prnjavor
15 occurred in 1993, because that's what it says, doesn't it?
16 A. Sir, you didn't give me -- give the time frame work. The largest
17 number of people left in the last wave in 1995. As for the years that I
18 was still in Prijedor, it was at that time that the most -- that most of
19 the people were expelled, but it was in 1995 that the largest exodus of
20 Croats and Muslims took place. Between the 27th or rather after the 27th
21 of July, I don't know. After I left. I know that a lot of people were
22 coming to Zenica but I don't know the exact number so as far as the period
23 of time that I was referring to, this is correct. This is when the
24 largest exodus occurred, and I learned about 1995 only once that I arrived
25 in the area of Sarajevo.
1 Q. You told us that people were not permitted to leave Prnjavor until
2 they had done a number of things, including having paid their water bills
3 and their power bills and their other debts. Do you think it's somehow
4 was oppressive to make sure that people had paid their debts to keep them
5 from leaving without having paid their debts? Was that oppressive in some
7 A. If you are imposing that on a four- or five-year-old child, then
8 it's more than an oppressive measure. If you need to prove that the child
9 is not a military-age man -- I mean it's common knowledge at what age
10 people become liable for military service in any country in the world. If
11 my 70-year-old father must have such a certificate, he who was released
12 from that duty a long time ago, then it was really an oppressive measure.
13 Well, that was an interesting answer. Now, let me repeat my question and
14 see if you can answer it. You told us that people were not permitted to
15 leave Prnjavor until they had done a number of things including having
16 paid their water bills, their power bills and their other debts. Do you
17 think it's oppressive to make sure that people had paid their debts to
18 keep them from leaving without having paid their debts? Was that
19 oppressive in some way? Now, answer that question.
20 JUDGE AGIUS: The question is limited only to the requirement that
21 before one left Prnjavor, one had to settle all outstanding bills related
22 to electricity, water and so on. This is what it is -- the question is
23 being limited to.
24 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Well, it's only logical. Bosniaks
25 are famous in Bosnia-Herzegovina for fulfilling their obligations but it
1 would have been normal to bring a certificate from your work organisation
2 or just a copy of the last bill that you paid. That should have been
3 enough for them to let you go, but most of these certificates, when the
4 last one -- as far as the last one is concerned, it was the one that was
5 issued from the Secretariat for National Defence and it was the most
6 difficult certificate to obtain. The main one, however, was the one on
7 abandoning of property, and it was only once you have collected all these
8 certificates that you were given the certificate from the Secretariat for
9 National Defence. Nobody ever tried to avoid any of these obligations.
10 [Trial Chamber confers]
11 MR. ACKERMAN:
12 Q. In your testimony yesterday, at page 28, line 16, Ms. Richterova
13 asked this question: "And I would like to ask you one more question about
14 these departures. Can you just briefly tell us, if you know, what made
15 these people leave? Leave the municipality of Prijedor." And your answer
16 was this: "It was the pressure that these people were subjected to on a
17 daily basis and it was it was economically non-viable for them to remain
18 there. All of the people who had been dismissed from work lost their
19 income, medical insurance, health insurance." Now we are talking about
20 people who had lost jobs because, among other things, all of these
21 factories, all of these enterprises in Prnjavor, either stopped working at
22 all or dramatically reduced their workforce; right?
23 MS. RICHTEROVA: And I said to leave the municipality of Prnjavor.
24 JUDGE AGIUS: Yes. Please answer that question, Mr. Odobasic.
25 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] The economic situation was only one
1 reason for these departures. There were many other reasons, such as
2 unbearable pressure to leave. I can enumerate them.
3 MR. ACKERMAN:
4 Q. Well, again that's not the question I asked you, sir. It's an
5 interesting answer. I must admit your answers are all interesting but it
6 would be nice if they had something to do with my questions. The question
7 I asked you was a very simple question: When you talked about people who
8 lost their -- who were dismissed from work, and therefore, lost their
9 income, medical insurance and health insurance, you're including people
10 who no longer had work because all of these enterprises either stopped
11 working completely or dramatically reduced their workforces, aren't you?
12 JUDGE AGIUS: Now you changed your question, Mr. Ackerman. Before
13 you didn't say included. Before you said now we are talking about people
14 who had lost their jobs. So which one --
15 MR. ACKERMAN: I'll ask the latter one, Your Honour.
16 JUDGE AGIUS: The latter one.
17 MR. ACKERMAN: It's probably more precise.
18 JUDGE AGIUS: Exactly. I think so too. We are waiting for your
19 answer and the question very simply put if I would rephrase it for you, is
20 when you said -- when you referred to all these persons who left Prnjavor
21 inter alia because they had been dismissed from their employment, and
22 therefore, they had lost their income, medical insurance, were you
23 referring only to those Muslims and other non-Serbs that had been
24 dismissed from their employment because of their ethnic -- ethnicity?
25 Because of their ethnicity? Or were you also including others who had
1 lost their job because of the economic situation then prevailing in
2 Prnjavor? In other words, were you grouping them all together or were you
3 referring only to one of these two groups?
4 A. I was referring to a part of those people, because regardless of
5 the fact that the capacities were decreased as far as the production is
6 concerned, Serbs remained in most of the cases. They had retained their
7 status. I was referring to the people who had been thrown out from these
8 companies and whose employment had been terminated.
9 JUDGE AGIUS: What you're saying is that the end result of the
10 economic crisis and the predicament that these companies or factories or
11 whatever they are, business concerns, business enterprises, found
12 themselves in, the ones who lost the jobs were the Muslims and not the
13 Serbs? Or were the non-Serbs and not the Serbs? Is that what you're
15 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] When I spoke about the people who
16 had lost their jobs, I was referring to non-Serbs, Muslims and Croats.
17 JUDGE AGIUS: All right. Yes, Mr. Ackerman? I think that should
18 satisfy you.
19 MR. ACKERMAN:
20 Q. So it's your position, then, I guess, that before the war, 90 per
21 cent of the people employed in these enterprise that is we discussed were
22 Muslims and Croats? And that those were the one who is lost their jobs
23 and the 10 per cent who remained were all Serbs?
24 A. Big mistake. It is not true that 90 per cent of them were Muslims
25 and Croats. I was referring to the number of the employed, that is the 90
1 per cent of the workforce, of course the ethnic structure was such that
2 there were many more Serbs that were employed.
3 Q. Well, 90 per cent of the jobs were lost because of the closures of
4 these factories, only 10 per cent of the jobs remained after all these
5 closures; isn't that true?
6 JUDGE AGIUS: Let's --
7 A. That's your comment.
8 JUDGE AGIUS: No. You must clarify this because we can't stay
9 lost in the clouds.
10 I will put to you some questions myself. Do you -- is it your
11 belief, is it your contention, that there were non-Serbs who lost their
12 jobs because they were dismissed for no other reason but their ethnicity?
13 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] I stated clearly that the largest
14 number of those who were dismissed were those who refused to respond to
15 mobilisation. I said clearly yesterday that there was a minimal number of
16 Serbs who had been dismissed for the same reason.
17 JUDGE AGIUS: Were there others, both Muslim, both non-Serbs and
18 Serbs who were dismissed from their employment, from their jobs, not
19 because of their ethnicity or because they had failed to respond to the
20 mobilisation call, but because of the economic rundown that there was?
21 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] I don't know such people. I can't
22 answer that question because I don't know in each individual case who was
23 dismissed because of what reason. What I stated was in general terms. It
24 is logical that there were such who had been dismissed because of the
25 economic situation, and this is perhaps why they had to leave the
2 JUDGE AGIUS: And the last -- my last question is this: Amongst
3 this latter category of individuals, those, in other words, who were
4 dismissed because of the degenerating economic situation at the time, was
5 it only the non-Serbs that found themselves having to leave, opting to
6 leave, Prnjavor, or was it also the Serbs? Were these Serbs and the
7 non-Serbs who lost their jobs for this reason only for the economic
8 situation in the same position? Or would you say that they were in a
9 different position?
10 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] The position of non-Serbs was worse.
11 The Serbs who left town much more frequently left it due to ideological
12 rather than economic reasons. I have to tell you that before the war,
13 that municipality had several thousand of its residents working abroad and
14 many Serbs decided that it was better for them to go and live in other
15 countries, and that was the most frequent reason for their departure.
16 JUDGE AGIUS: All right. Okay. Let's stop here for the time
17 being, Mr. Ackerman. And we will resume in 15 minutes. 15 minutes.
18 Ms. Korner, would you prefer to discuss the motion soon after we finish
19 with this witness or towards the end of the sitting? I don't know.
20 MS. KORNER: Your Honour, I don't think it matters much. It
21 depends how long, Your Honours, and Mr. Ackerman think the discussion will
23 JUDGE AGIUS: It does matter because if the discussion takes a
24 long time, it means that we might have to -- a witness here waiting and
25 with no guarantee that he would be heard.
12 Blank page inserted to ensure pagination corresponds between the French and
13 English transcripts.
1 MS. KORNER: Your Honour, the witness has already been brought to
2 the court. He's not actually in the waiting room yet but he's at the
3 court, I believe. Your Honours, I simply -- if the -- Mr. Ackerman, I
4 don't know how much longer with this witness.
5 JUDGE AGIUS: How much longer do you have?
6 MR. ACKERMAN: Your Honour it looks like I may have 45 minutes --
7 30 to 45 minutes left and with regard to the issue that we need to discuss
8 in open court, we -- it seems to me we've covered --
9 JUDGE AGIUS: I don't think it should take us much time.
10 MS. KORNER: No.
11 MR. ACKERMAN: I don't either.
12 JUDGE AGIUS: I don't anticipate any way and it's not my intention
13 to allow either of you to take much time in discussing it. I want to make
14 sure that we don't keep the gentleman who will be testifying after
15 Mr. Odobasic here and then find ourselves in the situation where we have
16 to tell him you've come here for nothing.
17 MR. ACKERMAN: 6.00 then.
18 MS. KORNER: I think Mr. Ackerman has got another 35 minutes to
19 which I'd add on another --
20 JUDGE AGIUS: Forty-five he said probably.
21 MS. KORNER: Then it perhaps -- I'd rather not keep the witness
22 hanging around the Court unless we will then maybe lose sometime but --
23 JUDGE AGIUS: So if we start at 5 past 4.00, then I reckon we have
24 until quarter to 5.00 before we finish with Mr. Odobasic. I suppose we
25 can thrash the motion, what needs to be said about it, not more than 20
2 MS. KORNER: Yes.
3 MR. ACKERMAN: That's my view.
4 JUDGE AGIUS: In no more than 20 minutes. Which would bring us to
5 five past 5.00.
6 MS. KORNER: Then, Your Honour, I think the been could probably
7 start, yes.
8 JUDGE AGIUS: Then if we break for a quarter of an hour then, he
9 can start at 5.25 and we finish at 6.30. He will testify for an hour.
10 MS. KORNER: Yes. It's at least worth getting him settled in.
11 JUDGE AGIUS: Is that okay with you, Mr. Ackerman?
12 MR. ACKERMAN: Yes.
13 JUDGE AGIUS: I thank you both. We will break for 15 minutes.
14 --- Recess taken at 3.53 p.m.
15 --- On resuming at 4.15 p.m.
16 JUDGE AGIUS: Yes, I see Ms. Korner.
17 MS. KORNER: Yes, Your Honour, may I just mention this?
18 Unfortunately what I wasn't aware of, VWS brought the next witness here
19 somewhat earlier and he was put into the waiting room. Your Honour,
20 Mr. Nicholls has spoken to him and his preference to be it start tomorrow
22 JUDGE AGIUS: Tomorrow afternoon.
23 MS. KORNER: Sorry, tomorrow afternoon.
24 JUDGE AGIUS: If he prefers to start in the morning and you can
25 find us a courtroom, he would start in the morning, Ms. Korner.
1 MS. KORNER: If, Your Honours, are -- if that's acceptable to Your
3 JUDGE AGIUS: It is definitely acceptable to us.
4 MS. KORNER: Thank you.
5 JUDGE AGIUS: Mr. Ackerman, I suppose, hasn't got any problems
6 with that. So Ms. Korner you can communicate to Mr. Nicholls our
7 decision. Thank you.
8 Yes, Mr. Ackerman, please proceed.
9 MR. ACKERMAN: Thank you, Your Honour.
10 Q. Sir, I want to go to your Sarajevo statement, which -- do you
11 still have it or is it gone now? Okay. I want to talk to you some more
12 about dismissals. It's page 4 of the English statement. I think a little
13 later in your version. It begins with the language, "Head doctor, Velibor
14 Milic." Can you find that "Head doctor, Velibor Milic?" Let me know.
15 A. I found it.
16 Q. What you said was, "Head doctor, Velibor Milic, one of the most
17 prominent citizens of Serbian nationality was removed from his position as
18 director of the Prnjavor health centre" and then it goes on to give the
19 reason why. True?
20 A. Yes.
21 Q. [Previous translation continues] ... removed from his position;
23 A. I didn't say he was dismissed. It says here that he was removed
24 from his position of director.
25 Q. That was the word I used both times. Maybe it was translated
1 incorrectly to you. I read the word removed just like it says there.
2 Let's move forward, please.
3 We talked a little earlier about the Sloga footwear factory. If
4 you go over to characteristics of the Prnjavor economy, you'll see that
5 again. Previously employed 1.370 workers, now 200. So 1.170 people were
6 no longer employed there; right?
7 A. I don't know whether they lost their jobs fully or whether they
8 were simply put on waiting lists. You have to check that with the legal
9 department in Sloga.
10 Q. Well, all we have to rely on, sir, is the language of your
11 statement in which you said it employed 1.370 and now employs 200.
12 Certainly, it's the case that out of 1.370 people, only 200 were working
13 at the Sloga footwear factory as of September of 1994, when you made this
14 statement; correct?
15 A. Sir, I will repeat: There could have been 200 in the plant
16 itself, whereas the rest would have maintained their status of employees,
17 they could have still been employed but not working. They could have been
18 put on waiting lists whereas there was certainly a number of them who had
19 been dismissed. The term here used was "employs only 200." That means
20 200 is involved in the manufacturing process. So we have to specify what
21 number of people was dismissed and what number of people was put on
22 waiting lists, meaning they were temporarily laid off for about a month or
23 so while they were still in the status of an employed person, even
24 maintaining their benefits.
25 Q. Well, yes, and I guess we can accept that. The fact is that that
1 Sloga footwear factory was dependent upon sales to acquire the funds to
2 pay its employees, wasn't it?
3 A. Yes. That's correct. Sloga was a footwear factory and the
4 salaries were dependent on the footwear produced and sold. That's how it
5 was while I was still employed there.
6 Q. Now, while you were employed there, there were about 1370 people
7 working there. What percentage of those people would you say were of Serb
9 A. There were definitely a convincing majority. I can't tell you the
10 exact percentage but perhaps we could look at the ethnic composition in
11 the town of Prnjavor at the time and presume that that composition was
12 reflected in the ethnic composition of employees at Sloga. We never made
13 such ethnic analysis of the composition, the one that you are suggesting.
14 Q. It's the case that people instead of being completely dismissed
15 were, what did you say, furloughed or something like that, if they were
16 not completely dismissed but had no work, what would they do?
17 A. It depended on their ethnic background. The majority of workers
18 who were Serbs were given a wartime assignment. They went to military
19 units and were probably paid something for that. I know that in the past,
20 when people were called to attend military training and exercises, we used
21 to get a compensation from that from the Secretariat of National Defence.
22 I don't know if this procedure was maintained during wartime. I assume
23 that it was. And I don't know what the status was of those who were
24 temporarily laid off or furloughed, I don't know whether they were paid
25 while they had their status but this is something that could be easily
2 Q. So with Sloga we've got 1170 people who are no longer going to
3 work, whatever their status might be. With the Standard furniture
4 factory, it completely halted production so we have 200 people that are no
5 longer going to work; correct?
6 A. The wife of my brother didn't go to work because she was given a
7 decision on terminating her status. After that, they discontinued the
8 production process. I don't know whether the people continued going to
9 the plant facility itself. I don't know.
10 Q. Sir, we could get through there a lot faster if you and I would
11 get on the same page. I am talking only about the number of people who
12 were employed in these enterprises before the war and the number who were
13 employed there apparently around September of 1994, when you gave this
14 statement. What you said was that there were 200 workers there before the
15 war, and now production halted completely. The only question I'm asking
16 you, that's 200 people who are no longer working; right? At least at
18 A. I've said that the production in the Standard factory was
19 discontinued. Now, whether they did something else instead of that, I
20 don't know. The figures I have given you are based on my assessments,
21 whereas the precise figures can be obtained in enterprises.
22 Q. The Pionir ready made clothes factory had employed 300 and you
23 said it was now closed so that's another 300 people who are no longer
24 going to work, the majority of whom are Serbs?
25 A. Yes.
1 Q. And the director of Pionir, Novak Bozic was removed and Novak
2 Bozic is a Serb?
3 A. Yes.
4 Q. The Metalka chain factory used to employ 260, then it employed
5 130, so 130 people were no longer going to work.
6 A. You didn't formulate this properly. Let's see what it says here.
7 No, no. I'm sorry, you're correct. 130 is the right number. You're
8 right. I think that the total figure -- I thought that the total figure
9 was 200.
10 Q. Jelsingrad crane factory employed 180 before the war and is not
11 working now so 180 people are not going to work?
12 A. Yes.
13 Q. And the director Milorad Savkovic was dismissed, who is a Serb?
14 A. No. He was promoted, in fact. He went to a better job.
15 Q. Well, if you look at your statement, it says, its director Milorad
16 Savkovic, about 40 years old, born in the village of Rizevci, Prnjavor
17 municipality, was dismissed. And then it does say he was appointed to
18 replace Milan Plancic at another place. You're correct.
19 The Gradip GIK building construction industrial combine used to
20 employ 350, not working now, another 350 workers not going to work?
21 A. Yes.
22 Q. And in the Promet trading company, its director, Mladjan, I think
23 it's Debeljak, a Serb, was dismissed?
24 A. Yes.
25 Q. If you go to page 8, it's the English version page 8, it's that
1 page where we were talking about the 300 Chetniks killed in clashes with
2 soldiers of the BH Army, that might help you find it, it's on page 11,?
3 JUDGE AGIUS: Page 8 or page 11?
4 MR. ACKERMAN:
5 Q. Of your version.
6 A. Yes.
7 Q. Right under that sentence about the 300 Chetniks, you said this to
8 the investigators: "In late September and early October of 1992, work
9 obligations were introduced in Prnjavor. All the Muslim men laid off by
10 the various firms were formed into work platoons as well as all other
11 Muslims aged 15 to 60 who were fit for work." Correct? I'm only asking
12 you if that's true?
13 A. Yes.
14 Q. Okay. I want to go back to page 28 of your testimony yesterday,
15 on the LiveNote, but the last thing you said about people who were
16 departing Prnjavor was that they could only go via Serbia and Hungary to
17 the western countries. Do you remember saying that?
18 A. Yes.
19 Q. They could also go to central Bosnia, couldn't they?
20 A. The first exchange involving central Bosnia was the one in which I
21 was exchanged on the 27th of July, 1994. Prior to that, nobody else went
22 to the liberated territory in central Bosnia.
23 Q. Was that because they couldn't go there or because they did not
24 want to go there because they knew they would be conscripted into the
25 Bosnian army and they didn't want to fight?
1 A. Sir, my assessment was that 150 to 200.000 people were exchanged
2 in that location where I was exchanged, going to central Bosnia. The rest
3 went to western Europe because there was no other option except going
4 there, through Hungary and Serbia. As soon as it was possible to leave,
5 and most of the people went through Travnik, people came to Zenica en
6 masse, and I personally took over them, hundreds of them.
7 Q. My question was this: Was that because they couldn't go there or
8 because they did not want to go there because they knew they would be
9 conscripted into the Bosnian army and they didn't want to fight? Can you
10 just kind of give me a simple answer to my question?
11 A. It wasn't permitted to go to the free territory because they would
12 probably take part and fight for the Army of Bosnia and Herzegovina.
13 Q. Thank you. This corridor to Serbia, how was that corridor cut off
14 in the first place?
15 A. How was it cut off? I can give you my opinion, sir, but I'm no
16 military expert. I'm not a strategist. If you wish my opinion, I will
17 gladly give it to you.
18 Q. Give it to me.
19 A. It is well known that the corridor went from Belgrade to the SAO
20 Krajina and the Serbs did everything they could to ensure that it would
21 pass through the territory that had a majority Serb population, and if we
22 look at the territory going through Prnjavor municipality, from Banja Luka
23 to Prnjavor and Doboj, as I've said yesterday, that road went through the
24 territory that had majority of Serb population except for four villages.
25 The problem arose when that road came between Doboj and Modrica because it
12 Blank page inserted to ensure pagination corresponds between the French and
13 English transcripts.
1 had to go through three municipalities which are predominantly populated
2 by Croats. Part of Derventa municipality, Modrica, Odzak, Samac. Since
3 in 1992, a conflict broke out in that territory, that was probably the
4 reason for cutting off the corridor, starting in 1992 until after the war,
5 I never visited the area of Derventa, Modrica, Odzak, municipalities as
6 well as Orasje, so I don't know what the situation was like where and who
7 cut off the corridor and where or why. However, I know that Serbs did not
8 have a majority in those municipalities, and that was probably the reason
9 why that corridor was cut off.
10 Q. When you speak of the SAO Krajina, you're speaking of a part of
11 Croatia, aren't you?
12 A. Naturally, I mean the Knin Krajina and then the road goes through
14 Q. Yes. Now, with regard to this corridor, in your 30 January, 1999
15 statement, on page 6, you talked about that, and here is what you said in
16 your statement. "In May, we couldn't communicate with any other Bosniak
17 municipality. All communications were cut off. I can't remember the
18 exact date but this area was cut off physically because the corridor
19 didn't yet exist." That's true, isn't it?
20 A. Let me just find it, please. Let me find the page.
21 Q. Let me see if I can help you a little bit. I probably can't.
22 There is a really short paragraph talking about Goran Nikolic, who was
23 beaten at a polling station. It's just below that beginning with, "In May
24 we couldn't communicate with any other Bosniak municipality."
25 A. I think it's page 5, Goran Nikolic.
1 Q. Next paragraph, I think you got there. It would be the next
2 paragraph, "In May we couldn't communicate with any other Bosniak
3 municipality." You see that?
4 A. No.
5 MS. RICHTEROVA: I think the witness still has his AID -- his
6 Sarajevo statement.
7 MR. ACKERMAN:
8 Q. Sir, you're looking at the wrong statement. You're looking at the
9 Sarajevo statement instead of the --
10 JUDGE AGIUS: We are talking about the one given on the 30th of
11 January, 1999.
12 MR. ACKERMAN: He has it now, Your Honour.
13 JUDGE AGIUS: Yeah.
14 MR. ACKERMAN: In English it's page 6 so it should be --
15 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Yes, yes.
16 MR. ACKERMAN:
17 Q. And it says that the area was cut off physically because the
18 corridor didn't yet exist. Correct?
19 A. Yes.
20 Q. And because that corridor didn't exist, it wasn't just
21 communications that were cut off. There was a -- began to be a lack of
22 all kinds of essential supplies, didn't there?
23 A. It probably wasn't possible to get the supplies.
24 Q. All right. I want to talk to you now about the Wolves of Vucjak.
25 In the statement you have in front of you, and if you want to find it,
1 I'll help you, but I think you probably don't need to, in that statement,
2 speaking of the Wolves of Vucjak you commented that Veljko Milankovic was
3 well known in the area even before the war as a criminal. That's true,
4 right? It's on page 3, if you want to find it, page 3 of the English
6 A. Yes, I found it. It was just the way you put it.
7 Q. And tell me what you mean by him being well known in the area as a
8 criminal. Had he been convicted of crimes?
9 A. Had he been convicted? I can't claim with certainty but I believe
10 that he was, for many perpetrated crimes. Yesterday I clarified. My city
11 inspectorate filed two criminal reports against that gentleman due to
12 unlawful cutting of timber. I didn't verify this information here but I
13 heard that there were at least 30 various charges filed against the
14 gentleman. I learned from a policeman before the war that this policeman
15 filed criminal complaint against him for a rape attempt perpetrated by
16 Veljko Milankovic. He also broke law and order, participated in bar
17 brawls, that was quite a frequent occurrence.
18 Q. So his reputation around town was as a criminal character,
19 dangerous, would engage in violence, things of that nature? He had that
21 A. Precisely so.
22 Q. And this criminal character created a paramilitary organisation
23 called the wolves and I assume that he recruited other people of like
24 character and like mind to join him in that organisation. Is that true?
25 A. Sir, he didn't establish that organisation. I said it quite
1 clearly on the first day of my testimony. The leaders of the SDS
2 established that paramilitary formation. They simply used Veljko
3 Milankovic was a weapon in their hands. They gave him arms to establish
4 that paramilitary formation, and you saw a document to that effect
5 yesterday or the day before.
6 Q. And this group began once they were formed harassing the local
7 population, including Serbs at times; correct?
8 A. Let me think for a minute. I know that the Serbs had been
9 harassed by the other paramilitary formation. Yes, I remember that there
10 was talk that they had harassed Serbs who failed to respond to
11 mobilisation. However, I cannot corroborate this. I have no specific
13 Q. It's the case, is it not, that by this time, with this group
14 operating in Prnjavor, that law and order in Prnjavor had basically broken
15 down and was non-existent?
16 A. There were frequent incidents. We can't say that we managed to
17 maintain the same law and order we had before.
18 Q. The police made an effort, didn't they? They arrested several of
19 these paramilitaries of Milankovic's and even arrested him at one point,
20 didn't they?
21 A. I specified the time when that took place. The police did try and
22 managed to arrest these people.
23 Q. And then what they did in response to that was attack the police
24 station, didn't they?
25 A. First they attacked the police station, and then perhaps a day
1 later, after the attack, Milankovic and some of his men were arrested.
2 The police in a way managed to establish relations that were a bit normal
3 after that conflict. However, it didn't last long.
4 Q. Did you ever hear that Mr. Brdjanin made serious efforts to have
5 Mr. Milankovic arrested, to stop his activities?
6 A. No. I never heard Mr. Brdjanin. I knew Mr. Brdjanin only from
7 the media.
8 Q. Did you hear in the media about Mr. Brdjanin's speech at the
9 Assembly of the Autonomous Region of Krajina on 15 November, 1991, when he
10 started firing at Grahovac by asking him what it was that he was doing
11 establishing some paramilitary unit, spending money on it, buying uniforms
12 and other things with Sendic and Mladjenovic, without anyone's orders
13 sending them across the Sava and what they did there? Do you remember him
14 making that speech and hearing about that speech in the media?
15 A. No. I never heard nor saw, nor could I hear or see any such
16 thing. From the -- after the address of Mr. Brdjanin in the Assembly of
17 Bosnia and Herzegovina, I stopped following all the sessions of these
18 political organs because it really irritated me, and as a normal person, I
19 didn't wish to listen to such political speeches.
20 Q. And then you said that in -- a little later, this group called the
21 White Eagles, another paramilitary group, came to town and started causing
22 troubles, and they were also attacking people, including on occasion some
23 Serbs, and that this Milankovic Wolves group basically arrested them and
24 threw them out of town; correct?
25 A. I spoke about the first incursion when we were mistreated and the
1 second one when they arrested them and took them in the direction of
3 Q. And finally, in January or February of 1993, Veljko Milankovic was
4 wounded in battle and died in a hospital in Belgrade, didn't he?
5 A. Yes. I heard that it was at the military medical academy in
7 Q. They were just a bunch of hoodlums, weren't they, this Wolves of
8 Vucjak group?
9 A. No. They were --
10 Q. I don't know if you know what I mean by hoodlums, a bunch of
11 criminals running around committing crimes?
12 A. Yes, but the -- those were people who were acting within the
13 system, a group of criminals who were part of the military system.
14 Q. Well, they weren't always part of the military system. They
15 became part of the 1st Krajina Corps at some point, though, didn't they?
16 Do you know when that was?
17 A. Yes. That's correct. I think that it was at that time in the
18 fighting for Derventa, when battles were fought for piercing the corridor.
19 It was then that they committed crimes. As part of my regular duties, I
20 exhumed seven such victims in Prnjavor.
21 Q. The day before yesterday, at the time signature is 17.57.10 in the
22 LiveNote, you were asked this question: "Before we will talk about the
23 events which occurred after the elections, I would like to ask you whether
24 there were any paramilitary formations in Prnjavor before the elections."
25 Your answer was this: Before the elections I used to see some people
1 bearing arms which under normal circumstances was banned. Most often I
2 would see them in the villages of Kremna and in that area, something, it's
3 not readable. However they claimed that those people were the so-called
4 reservists of the Yugoslav People's Army which wasn't the case.
5 You remember telling the judges that, don't you?
6 A. Yes, I do.
7 Q. Before the election that is would have been a time when the
8 government was still under the authority of the League of Communists;
10 A. More precisely, in 1989, at the time the famous rally was held at
11 Gazimestan, there were very frequent military exercises going on at the
12 time. People were being armed. There were, however, a lot of honourable
13 people who did not abuse this arming, but there were also others who often
14 opened fire. It was at the time when the so-called communist government
15 was in power, and in that period, the police tried as best as they could,
16 to ensure that everyday life was still normal. I don't remember any
17 murders or attacks at that time but there were -- there was a lot of
18 intimidation by way of shooting and the like.
19 Q. Isn't it the case that that government would not have put up with
20 anything like the open carrying of arms that you described?
21 A. You're forgetting, sir, that at the time there were a lot of
22 people in this government who followed the platform of Mr. Milosevic, and
23 who were trying, doing their best to break up Bosnia and Herzegovina.
24 Q. [Previous translation continues] ... answer it.
25 A. I gave you a clear answer. There was a split
1 Q. [Previous translation continues] ... Yes or no. Isn't it the case
2 that the government would not have put up with anything like the open
3 carrying of arms that you described? You can either say yes or no.
4 JUDGE AGIUS: He is telling you that he can't give you a straight
5 answer of yes or no, Mr. Ackerman, so please go ahead and give him the
6 answer that you think is precise, according to your knowledge of the
7 events. He's telling you straight and plain that there was no uniformity
8 in the government. There were different currents.
9 MR. ACKERMAN: That's a no answer, Your Honour.
10 JUDGE AGIUS: Of course it is an answer.
11 MR. ACKERMAN: I accept a no answer.
12 JUDGE AGIUS: Of course it is an answer. So please go ahead and
13 answer his question.
14 MR. ACKERMAN: I've finished with my question. He said no.
15 A. If you will allow me just one more sentence to add something.
16 Q. Go ahead?
17 A. Mr. Ackerman, in respect of the persons who at the time wore
18 uniforms, it was very difficult for the regular police to intervene
19 because it was the military police that was in charge of such individuals.
20 Q. You said the Wolves were involved in fighting in September of
21 1992. What battles were going on in September of 1992?
22 A. Sir, I cannot tell you where they were involved exactly but the
23 fighting went on not only in September but until the end of the war in
24 Bosnia and Herzegovina and they participated in the large -- in a large
25 number of theatres.
1 Q. So I guess when they were away fighting in these large number of
2 theatres, they were not bothering the citizens of Prnjavor.
3 A. Depending on whether all of them were deployed in the battlefield
4 or not.
5 Q. You spoke about them engaged in looting. You don't contend, do
6 you, that they were looting under orders from General Talic and the 1st
7 Krajina Corps, do you?
8 A. No. I do not claim that.
9 Q. On page 3 of your September 1994 statement, that's the one in
10 Sarajevo, you speak of a Ljuban Milosevic. You say, "Ljuban Milosevic,
11 the SDS spokesman also worked for radio. Very often visited and sent
12 reports from the battlefield." What battlefield was it you're referring
13 to when you talk about him reporting from the battlefield? Would that
14 have been in the corridor or over in Croatia?
15 A. He reported from the battlefields in Croatia even before that,
16 when these formations from Prnjavor participated in the war over there.
17 Q. If you go down just a little ways, sir, you begin a paragraph with
18 this language, "After the assumption of political power, personnel changes
19 in the SUP" and you go on and have a discussion there. What you're
20 referring to as "the assumption of political power" was a result of a
21 democratic election where the SDS won the most of the seats, wasn't it?
22 A. It was not the result of a democratic election but the result of
23 the behaviour of the people who had been elected at this election. The
24 election itself was -- had been a democratic election but I was speaking
25 of the results of the behaviour of certain people after that.
12 Blank page inserted to ensure pagination corresponds between the French and
13 English transcripts.
1 Q. But they didn't assume political power. They were elected there
2 by the voters of Prnjavor in a fair election, weren't they?
3 A. We are talking about political functions here but you asked me
4 about police functions. These are not political functions.
5 Q. You say at that time that the SJB commander was a person named
6 Boro Tramosljanin; right? A Serb. Same paragraph, sir.
7 A. I think you may have misspoken. Not the commander but a
8 commanding officer. That was the name of the office within the police
10 Q. Okay. I want you to look at that paragraph. It's the same one
11 that begins with "after the assumption of political power," and you will
12 see a sentence beginning with, "At that time, the SJB commander was Boro
13 Tramosljanin son of Milan."
14 A. Yes, that's precisely what he was.
15 Q. And he was a --
16 A. A commanding officer, komandir.
17 Q. And he was a Serb?
18 A. Yes, of course. Yes, he was a Serb.
19 Q. And they made efforts to replace him, didn't they? They didn't
20 want him in that position, the people who had taken power.
21 A. Yes.
22 Q. But they didn't have the ability to dismiss him without the
23 approval of the Minister of the Interior in Sarajevo, Alija Delimustafic;
25 A. Yes.
1 Q. And Alija Delimustafic is a Bosniak and was at the time a Bosniak?
2 A. Yes.
3 Q. And --
4 A. Yes, he's a Bosniak.
5 Q. It took five months before they could get the approval of Alija
6 Delimustafic to dismiss Boro Tramosljanin and replace him with Nenad
7 Krajisnik; correct?
8 A. Yes.
9 Q. If you'll go over the next page, you talk about the creation of
10 what you refer to as the Serbian MUP, and you say that all members of
11 Muslim nationality were given the opportunity to sign the oath of loyalty
12 which they refused to do and after which their employment was terminated.
13 Are you saying there that not even one non-Serb signed that oath of
14 loyalty and remained with the police?
15 A. No. I cannot say that, but I don't know whether there were any
16 such cases.
17 Q. What you do know is that some people who were Serbs disagreed with
18 what was happening, and they were also dismissed, and you even named them,
19 Miroslav Petrovic, Dragan Vrhovac, Rodoljub Jugovic, Zika Milijasevic;
21 A. Yes, correct.
22 Q. So the issue regarding whether or not one would be dismissed from
23 the police was not their ethnicity but whether or not they were willing to
24 express their loyalty to the new government?
25 A. Yes.
1 Q. You know that there were Muslims who were part of the Army of
2 Republika Srpska, don't you?
3 A. I do. There were.
4 Q. Yesterday in your testimony, you were asked about whether -- and
5 this is at page 16, line 17, line 14, you were asked about whether during
6 this period of time, 1991 or 1992, civilians of Serb ethnicity would be
7 armed, and in part, your answer was this, starting at line 20: "My best
8 friend, a Serb, he fled Prnjavor when they tried to give him a machine-gun
9 by force." I'm curious, how do you try to give one a machine-gun by
10 force? How do you force one to take a machine-gun?
11 A. Sir, you will have to find out how that was possible. As I
12 indicated, during that period of time weapons were being distributed
13 before the hunting lodge in Prnjavor from a trailer truck so those who
14 wanted to get weapons. This friend of mine, a professor, is a pacifist
15 and he simply didn't want to go to war against anyone.
16 Q. But my question is --
17 A. He confirmed this. He's now living in Belgrade, and at the time
18 when the war was going on in Kosovo, he didn't want to go there. He
19 managed to avoid being sent there.
20 Q. My question, sir, is not that I was asked to take a machine-gun
21 but your language that they tried to give him one by force and I'm curious
22 as to how you force someone to take a gun. Do you threaten to shoot them
23 if they don't take this gun with bullets? How do you make them take a gun
24 that they don't want? How do you force them to do that? And what kind
25 after fool would do that in the first place?
1 A. Sir, I didn't ask him whether they threatened that they would
2 shoot but apparently he was told that they needed a couple of
3 intellectuals within their military units and that he had to take this
4 machine-gun and to join his battle for a sacred cause. He was a
5 well-known person in this village. He had been a teacher to a number of
6 generations there, and it was necessary to have this weapon placed in his
7 hands in order to convince those who were still hesitant.
8 Q. So what this really was was -- he was being mobilised and he was
9 refusing to be mobilised and fled the territory to avoid that? That's
10 what really happened, huh?
11 A. No. Mobilisation is carried out pursuant to a specific procedure,
12 pursuant to call-up papers. The gentleman happened to be there with his
13 wife and children, wearing civilian clothes, on his way to the village of
14 Sarici and he came across three vehicles, horse drawn carts actually, from
15 which weapons were being distributed. It's not a regular way to mobilise
16 people. I would rather call it an anarchy.
17 JUDGE AGIUS: I suggest you move to something else, Mr. Ackerman.
18 MR. ACKERMAN: I'm doing that, Your Honour.
19 Q. Page 17, line 21 of yesterday's transcript, you were asked if you
20 ever heard of any reasons why the Serbs armed themselves, and your answer
21 was, "Yes, Serbs claimed that attack on Prijedor --" and that would be
22 Prnjavor, I'm sure -- Your Honour, it's getting to the point where even
23 I'm starting to say Prijedor when it should be Prnjavor it's getting
24 difficult, but the transcript does say Prijedor and I think it should be
1 JUDGE AGIUS: Yes, again it should be Prnjavor.
2 MR. ACKERMAN:
3 Q. "Serbs claimed that an attack on Prnjavor from a direction of
4 Derventa is imminent. They were saying they were arming themselves in
5 order to defend themselves from the Ustashas, referring to the population
6 of Derventa."
7 Now, one thing that was going on in this battle for the corridor
8 was that there was very heavy fighting at and around Derventa, wasn't
10 A. They had armed themselves long time before the battle for corridor
11 took place. In a neighbouring village, in Derventa, at the border line
12 with the Prnjavor municipality, Dragan Djuric, a deputy lived, and he made
13 sure that people were armed --
14 Q. Okay. Thank you for that answer?
15 A. -- with respect to Derventa.
16 Q. Thank you for that answer, I appreciate that, now let me have you
17 answer the question I asked you. One thing that was going on in this
18 battle for the corridor was that there was very fighting at and around
19 Derventa, wasn't there?
20 A. Before the corridor was pierced, there had been fighting in and
21 around Derventa, yes.
22 Q. And Derventa was a community that was majority Croat, wasn't it?
23 A. I think it was but I'm not sure. Compared to Serbs -- maybe it
24 was. Yes, you should check the figures.
25 Q. It was located around 30 kilometres from Prnjavor, wasn't it?
1 A. 33 kilometres, at least that's what the sign said on the road.
2 Q. And it was actually captured by Croatian forces and the corridor
3 was closed, wasn't it?
4 A. I don't know. I don't know whether they were Croatian forces or
5 some other forces. I never went there.
6 Q. You know that it was captured from the Serbs, from the Serb
7 forces, you certainly know that, don't you?
8 A. I don't know that it was initially held by Serbs. I'm not aware
9 of that fact.
10 Q. Did you hear the sounds of the battles from Derventa in Prnjavor?
11 A. Very often, the so-called lunas, at least that's what the military
12 experts called them, would fly over the town of Prnjavor, having been
13 fired from the village Strbac. We could see the traces, and they must
14 have ended up somewhere above Slavonski Brod. People who were later sent
15 to Derventa, to plunder abandoned apartments told us this, who were sent
16 there as a work obligation to plunder on behalf of the authorities, and I
17 often saw them flying over our town, having been fired from Serb
19 Q. If I had asked you if you had ever seen things flying over your
20 town regarding these battles, that would have been the appropriate answer.
21 Now let me ask you the question I -- again that I wanted the answer to.
22 Did you hear the sounds of battles from Derventa?
23 A. This is all I heard.
24 Q. Okay. Were you aware in Prnjavor --
25 A. Again, nothing else. This is all I ever heard.
1 Q. That's all I asked you. What you heard. Were you aware of any
2 visits to Prnjavor at any time between 1992 and the time you left by the
3 international committee of the Red Cross, the ICRC?
4 A. After I'd been beaten up, they came to me and they conducted an
5 interview in Prnjavor. Whether they came before that, I don't know.
6 Q. And about when would that? You were beaten up more than once.
7 About when was it that they interviewed you?
8 A. I was referring to the fourth beating, the last one.
9 Q. Did you learn from that what it was the ICRC was trying to
10 accomplish in Prnjavor?
11 A. They talked to me in order to relocate me and my brother because
12 we were in the worst condition, to take us outside Prnjavor and they asked
13 me whether I wanted to be moved. I think that they mentioned Zagreb, and
14 when I wanted -- when I told them that I wanted my entire family to be
15 relocated, they said, "Sir, we will do our best, we will try to arrange
16 this with Serb authorities." But after that, they never visited me again.
17 Q. Okay. The last thing I want to talk to you about and I think we
18 can do this rather briefly, is this: At page 33 of your testimony
19 yesterday, you were asked about the events that happened in Lisnja. You
20 said that were you not there when Lisnja was attacked by but a few days
21 later you passed through the village and you saw that 54 houses had been
22 burned down. Did you actually count the houses to get to that number, 54?
23 A. Sir, the -- one of the victims in Lisnja, whose house is close to
24 torched houses was a certain Halilovic. I was a close friend of his for a
25 number of years and I went to look for him and since after I found him we
1 started analysing how many houses had been burned.
2 JUDGE AGIUS: Stop, please. It is a very simple question: You
3 have been asked whether you counted -- you counted the houses or you
4 didn't. Did you count them, physically count the houses? Or were you
6 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] I didn't count. We made a list.
7 JUDGE AGIUS: All right. Whatever that means.
8 MR. ACKERMAN:
9 Q. So you made a list that included 54 houses?
10 A. Yes.
11 Q. When was the last time you'd been to Lisnja before this visit?
12 A. I've already said that I was there at the rally representing the
13 SDP. I was the guest invited.
14 Q. And that was when?
15 A. Before the first multi-party elections.
16 MR. ACKERMAN: Thank you, sir. That's all I have.
17 JUDGE AGIUS: I thank you, Mr. Ackerman. Madam Richterova, is
18 there re-examination?
19 MS. RICHTEROVA: No, thank you. I do not have any additional
21 JUDGE AGIUS: I thank you, Madam. I do not really have any
22 particular questions except that before you leave this courtroom, I
23 request a clarification from you, and that's regarding the photos that you
24 produced yesterday.
25 Questioned by the Court:
1 JUDGE AGIUS: Yesterday, I asked you a very simple question,
2 namely whether you had shown any of those photos to any of the
3 investigators of the Prosecution, either prior, previous to your coming
4 here to The Hague to give evidence, or since your arrival here in The
5 Hague, and your answer to me was -- your reply was in a sense that you
6 recall having given those photos to the representatives of Bosnia and
7 Herzegovina on some previous occasion but that you didn't recall having
8 handed those photos to the Office of the Prosecutor at any time. Then it
9 was pointed out to you by Mr. Ackerman that this did not correspond with
10 what was included in one of the statements that you had released to the
11 Office of the Prosecutor. And a part from that statement was even read
12 out to you. And it is my feeling that you did not come up with a proper
13 explanation. I'm giving you the opportunity once more to go back to the
14 same question that I asked you yesterday. Do you confirm that your
15 statement of yesterday, that you never gave any of those photos to any of
16 the officers of the Prosecution or any of the investigators of the
17 Prosecution, or do you want to correct your statement or make some other
18 kind of declaration?
19 A. I would like to clarify that statement.
20 JUDGE AGIUS: Yes. So please go ahead.
21 A. When I came to Sarajevo in 1994, I brought a large number of
22 photographs with me, various photographs, including these ones, and I
23 turned over the negatives to our investigative organs, they gave me one
24 copy which is the first copy I showed to you yesterday. They asked me
25 several times whether I would permit them to turn over these photographs
12 Blank page inserted to ensure pagination corresponds between the French and
13 English transcripts.
1 to The Hague Tribunal and other investigative organs and I agreed to that.
2 Yesterday, I thought for quite a long time, and I could not remember. It
3 is possible that at the time when I gave the statement, those photographs
4 were turned over to The Hague investigators. Every interview we had with
5 The Hague Tribunal was organised by investigators. They would come in if
6 requested so by the investigators, and so on. I was told that some 16
7 photographs could be turned over, and I signed a written consent to that.
8 What I'm claiming with full certainty is that the only copy is the one I
9 have here on me, and out of those photographs, I did not surrender any to
10 anybody else except for you yesterday. This statement is quite long, and
11 it is now difficult for me to remember every detail contained in it.
12 JUDGE AGIUS: And do you recall having been shown these photos
13 after you arrived here in The Hague and before you started giving
14 evidence? Were you ever shown these photos?
15 A. Prior to my arrival in The Hague?
16 JUDGE AGIUS: No, after your arrival here in the Hague.
17 A. I took them out and I attempted to show them to the OTP, the
18 copies I showed to you yesterday. However, I was told that there was no
19 need to show them because they were not related to 1992.
20 JUDGE AGIUS: All right. Mr. Ackerman, since I brought up this
21 matter again, I give you the opportunity to put one or two further
22 questions to the witness related only to this matter of the photos and
23 nothing else.
24 MR. ACKERMAN: Your Honour, I do have just one question.
25 JUDGE AGIUS: Yes, please go ahead.
1 Further cross-examined by Mr. Ackerman:
2 Q. Sir, you'll recall yesterday that I quoted from --
3 JUDGE AGIUS: The statement of 15th March, 1999.
4 MR. ACKERMAN:
5 Q. Your statement of 15 March, 1999 to the Prosecutor and I have in
6 front of me a -- I don't know. Do you have that? Do you have the 15
7 March, 1999 statement?
8 JUDGE AGIUS: Usher, please.
9 MR. ACKERMAN:
10 Q. I'd like you also to have the English version of it, please. Now,
11 the very last--
12 JUDGE AGIUS: Sentence.
13 MR. ACKERMAN:
14 Q. -- sentence is what I'm interested in but I'd like you to look at
15 the English version of that statement and tell us if that is your
16 signature that appears directly under that last sentence.
17 A. Yes, that is my signature.
18 Q. And the English version, it says this: "As well, I am providing
19 copies of 17 photographs which I and my brother took of injuries, myself,
20 my brother, my father, and my brother's wife received as a result of
21 beatings by Serb police and authorities in Prnjavor."
22 Now, that's what this indicates you told the investigators of the
23 Tribunal and what you did, that you surrendered 17 photographs to them.
24 Now, my question is this: In view of that, at page 63, line 5 of your
25 testimony yesterday, with regard to that statement, you said that that
1 statement referred to the photos that were shown here in court yesterday
2 but I personally didn't hand them over at that time.
3 Now, that's what you told us yesterday, and how on earth can you
4 reconcile those two things? By saying at one time on a document you
5 signed you did turn them over and then by telling these judges yesterday
6 that you didn't.
7 A. I've just clarified, all of these documents were turned by me in
8 1994 to our investigative organs, and in 1999, they were brought here, and
9 this is the first time that I see that these other documents are mentioned
10 here as well. Now I just can't remember whether photographs were among
11 those documents turned over. I didn't really go over that to see what our
12 investigative organs turned over to the investigators of The Hague at the
14 Q. All right. If I understand what you're saying, you're saying that
15 it wasn't you that turned them over but they may have been turned over by
16 your investigators who came with you to The Hague?
17 A. No.
18 Q. Then I don't understand your explanation at all. Are you
19 contending that you turned them over or you didn't turn them over? Which
20 of those are you contending is the case?
21 JUDGE AGIUS: He told you he doesn't remember.
22 MR. ACKERMAN:
23 Q. Or you just don't remember?
24 JUDGE AGIUS: Let's leave it there, Mr. Ackerman, please.
25 MR. ACKERMAN: All right.
1 JUDGE AGIUS: So Mr. Odobasic, that brings us to the end of your
2 testimony. On behalf of the Tribunal, on my own behalf and on behalf of
3 the two judges sitting with me in this trial, Judge Janu from the Czech
4 Republic and Judge Taya from Japan, I should like to thank you for having
5 come over to give evidence in our endeavours in search of the truth. Yes,
6 Mr. Ackerman?
7 MR. ACKERMAN: I'm very sorry, Your Honour. I'm told that the
8 only way to get this clarified is to deal with this now. At the end of
9 his testimony before you started asking him about these photographs, he
10 had said he'd gone to a rally in Lisnja, and the transcript says that he
11 went there representing SDP.
12 JUDGE AGIUS: I -- that's what I heard, yeah.
13 MR. ACKERMAN: I'm told that he said he went there representing
15 MS. JEVTOVIC: Your Honour, if I may, what the witness said: He
16 went to the SDA rally representing SDP, the only thing that didn't make it
17 into the transcript is SDA rally and it's on page 62, line 16. Thank you.
18 JUDGE AGIUS: Is that correct, Mr. Odobasic? Was the rally an SDA
19 rally that you attended in Lisnja?
20 A. Yes, naturally, I said yesterday that we were invited to attend as
21 guests, and there were five of us guests at the SDA rally, representing
22 the SDP.
23 JUDGE AGIUS: Okay. So let me take up from where I left. On
24 behalf of this Trial Chamber, I should like to thank you for having come
25 over to give evidence. You will be escorted out of this courtroom by the
1 usher and you will receive all the attention that you require in order to
2 enable you to return to your country of residence. Once more, I thank
3 you, and I wish you -- we wish you a safe journey back home.
4 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Thank you all for this experience,
5 which is a new one for me as a lawyer. Thank you all.
6 [The witness withdrew]
7 JUDGE AGIUS: So now, yes, I recognise Mr. Ackerman.
8 MR. ACKERMAN: I'm wondering if we could have just a very brief
9 recess and so I could have some additional consultation with my client? I
10 hadn't quite finished before we came back from the last one.
11 JUDGE AGIUS: When you say a brief recess, how long do you have in
13 MR. ACKERMAN: Fifteen, 20 minutes at the most.
14 MS. KORNER: May I suggest it's 15 rather than 20.
15 MR. ACKERMAN: Fifteen should be enough.
16 JUDGE AGIUS: Fifteen, perfect. We will resume in 15 minutes from
17 now. It's now 5.32.
18 --- Recess taken at 5.32 p.m.
19 --- On resuming at 5.51 p.m.
20 JUDGE AGIUS: Yes, we'll remain in open session until and unless
21 there is a request to go into private session for a part or the whole of
22 the rest of the debate on this motion for adjournment of trial. Yes,
23 Mr. Ackerman?
24 MR. ACKERMAN: Your Honour, since this is the first time the
25 matter has been dealt with in any detail in open court, and on the record,
1 I just want to give just a very brief background. On 24 February, 2003,
2 which I think was Tuesday of that week, by memorandum I advised Your
3 Honours and the Prosecutor that I have a serious medical condition that is
4 going to require that I return to Texas and undergo some surgery which
5 will require a seven- or eight-day hospital stay following the surgery and
6 then a fairly significant recuperation period thereafter which is set out
7 in great detail in the memo Your Honours have I won't go into any more
8 detail because you know about that.
9 JUDGE AGIUS: Yes.
10 MR. ACKERMAN: In that letter I also set out for Your Honours a
11 plan which I believe would work for the continuation of this case and some
12 of that plan has been accepted and implemented already, and that is my
13 bringing another member on to the Defence team in this case, who hopefully
14 in the future will be able to provide significant assistance to me and to
15 the Trial Chamber with regard to continuing this case.
16 Basically, then, we had multiple meetings, I think two, in
17 chambers and then one formal Rule 65 ter conference yesterday where this
18 matter was discussed further, and at greater length. In the meantime, I
19 have had a number of meetings with Mr. Brdjanin regarding his wishes
20 regarding what would happen as a result of this situation, which none of
21 us wanted, of course, but it came upon us and now it has to be faced.
22 Mr. Brdjanin expressed his wishes regarding this matter. I then
23 filed yesterday a motion for adjournment of the trial. It was filed
24 confidentially, Your Honours, because attached to is a memorandum which
25 contains some information which I consider rather personal and would like
1 to have kept within our small community.
2 JUDGE AGIUS: Yes. And it will remain within our small community,
3 Mr. Ackerman, because it's not food for public consumption.
4 MR. ACKERMAN: After hearing Mr. Brdjanin's wishes, I drafted a
5 statement setting out those wishes in language which I believed contained
6 what it was he wished to say to the Trial Chamber as concisely as I
7 possibly could. What he said to you and says to you is this: "John
8 Ackerman was and is my choice to serve as lead counsel in my case. I
9 understand that under the Rules of this Tribunal, accused have the right
10 to choose their counsel and Mr. Ackerman is my choice. I object to any
11 proceedings going forward in this case unless my chosen counsel is present
12 in The Hague or unless his presence is specifically waived by me. I
13 understand Mr. Ackerman's medical condition and I object to going forward
14 with this case after the sitting on 14 March, 2003, until Mr. Ackerman is
15 able to return to The Hague and assist with my defence either in or out of
17 And that was signed by Mr. Brdjanin and then attached to the
18 motion for adjournment, which I filed yesterday, Your Honours.
19 Mr. Brdjanin understands and I understand that paragraph 2 of that
20 document is an objection to any and all proceedings going forward in this
21 case unless his lead counsel is present in The Hague, and that would
22 include the cross-examination of witnesses, hearings on motions, or any
23 other matters that would be dealt with ordinarily in court.
24 And then finally, and I want this to be brief, Your Honour, there
25 is no sense going at great length on this because we have all looked at
1 this in many different ways, the request that I make, and that
2 Mr. Brdjanin makes in conjunction with me, is contained in the wherefore
3 clause of the motion that I filed yesterday, and that is: "That the
4 accused, Radoslav Brdjanin, by and through his lead counsel, John Ackerman
5 hereby respectfully requests that this case be adjourned following the
6 sitting on 14 March, 2003, until a time that his lead counsel is able to
7 return to The Hague and assist with his case as is outlined in the
8 memorandum which was attached as Exhibit A," and that's the memorandum I
9 spoke of that was shared with the judges, and I should only, I suppose,
10 add that that memorandum projects that the case can resume in about one
11 month, which means that we could resume around the 15th of April, and that
12 looks at first glance like a one month delay, but immediately following
13 the 15th of April we have scheduled a one week delay which I have
14 suggested should be abandoned so actually the delay would only be a three
15 week hiatus in the trial.
16 JUDGE AGIUS: I thank you, Mr. Ackerman. Ms. Korner? Would you
17 like to --
18 MS. KORNER: First of all, of course, as Mr. Ackerman has pointed
19 out, we dealt with this at considerable length yesterday in a Rule 65 ter
20 conference which of course is a matter of record in the future.
21 For the purpose of this hearing, first of all on behalf of the
22 Prosecution we wish to express our sincere regrets that Mr. Ackerman is in
23 this position and we trust that medical treatment that he requires will be
24 successful and completed. That leads me on to the second point. It's not
25 for the defendant, the accused, to object and to have his objection
1 automatically upheld. It's a matter for the Trial Chamber to decide
2 whether there would be an injustice in continuing with co-counsel, and I
3 emphasise those words, co-counsel, carrying on in Mr. Ackerman's absence.
4 The situation is complicated because of the number of occasions on
5 which Your Honours have raised with the Defence whether or not if there
6 were to be an absence of Mr. Ackerman, his co-counsel would be unable to
7 take over because of what happened on earlier occasions when there was a
8 different co-counsel, and the assurance was really effectively from the
9 18th of April onwards, that that would be the case.
10 Now, Your Honours, the Prosecution does not object to this
11 adjournment if there is an amplification of Mr. Brdjanin's reason for
12 objecting to the continuation of this case in Mr. Ackerman's absence.
13 It's not enough in our submission simply to say I do not want it to
14 proceed in the absence of lead counsel. There must be a reason. And
15 putting it as neutrally as I can, Your Honour, if that reason is because,
16 however experienced co-counsel may be in his own jurisdiction, he is
17 inexperienced in these type of proceedings, and because of his lack of
18 ability to speak English, he is unable to deal with any motions or any
19 documents that are in English, well, then, Your Honour, that is in our
20 submission a good reason. But that has to be stated, in our submission,
21 clearly and squarely by Mr. Brdjanin, because there are consequences that
22 follow from that, which I think it's only right that the Court should have
23 fairly and squarely in front of it at this stage, and I'm going to put
24 them very shortly but Your Honour I think that is the first thing. It's
25 our submission, it's not enough simply to say I object to going ahead.
12 Blank page inserted to ensure pagination corresponds between the French and
13 English transcripts.
1 There has to be a reason. So I don't know whether Your Honours want to
2 hear it from Mr. Ackerman or from Mr. Brdjanin direct.
3 JUDGE AGIUS: Let's stop there for the time being. Mr. Ackerman,
4 I address you of course and not your client directly. Are you in a
5 position to tell us whether your client would like to respond to what has
6 been pointed out by Ms. Korner?
7 MR. ACKERMAN: To answer your question directly, Your Honour, my
8 client would make a statement to the Court if you think that would be
9 helpful to you. He's prepared to do that.
10 JUDGE AGIUS: Have you been following, Mr. Brdjanin?
11 THE ACCUSED: [Interpretation] Yes, I have, Your Honour.
12 JUDGE AGIUS: Do I take it that you are prepared or you would like
13 to make a statement?
14 THE ACCUSED: [Interpretation] Yes, I am prepared to make a
15 statement and I will be very brief.
16 JUDGE AGIUS: Yes. So let's proceed with your statement. Thank
18 THE ACCUSED: [Interpretation] First of all, let me express my
19 gratitude to you and Ms. Korner for having enabled me -- well, it's all
20 the same to me, Your Honour.
21 JUDGE AGIUS: All right.
22 THE ACCUSED: [Interpretation] It is my opinion, Your Honour, that
23 if it had been anyone else here, as Defence counsel, and I want to be
24 perfectly clear, if it were the best possible Defence lawyer on the world,
25 I would request for an adjournment until the return of Mr. Ackerman, and
1 if you will allow me, please, two or three sentences to explain this, I am
2 aware of the fact that I am the one who chooses the lead counsel and I
3 have done that. We have been together for 14 months, Mr. Ackerman and
4 myself. I did have a lawyer who was suspended, and then another one
5 arrived and I think that he has been carrying out his duty also with
6 respect to the laws in the former Yugoslavia and I have no problem with
7 that. I have nothing against Mr. Ackerman designating a different lawyer
8 when he comes back for continuing interviewing and examining witnesses, but
9 I would be the happiest if the team sitting at this table should remain
10 complete. I did not want to express any doubts in respect of anyone but I
11 think that it is a very important moment in the trial. This is the end of
12 the Prosecution case, and I think it's very important for the lead counsel
13 to remain on the team. For my personal safety and also because of the
14 trust that I have and the authority that they have, and because of the
15 procedure of submitting requests and applications and because of how we
16 have been proceeding so far. I am not doubting anyone's qualities but I
17 think you too can have a very realistic assessment of the situation. If
18 this was the beginning of the case, I think that the situation would be
19 different, but I am the person who is in a hurry here. I would wish --
20 would like the proceedings to be expeditious as possible. I don't know
21 whether I can influence your decision but I would like to express my wish
22 for that adjournment until Mr. Ackerman returns and I would also like this
23 team to remain in its current composition because any further changes
24 would really cause anxiety in myself. I think I would be afraid of any
25 new changes. The material is considerable and I have been studying this
1 material for the past four years. Therefore, I have agreed with
2 Mr. Ackerman, I am not going to meddle in his affairs when he comes back,
3 and I don't think that it would be forbidden to anyone else, any other
4 lawyer, to examine witnesses, but that will be the decision of
5 Mr. Ackerman. I am a lay person, as far as law is concerned. I'm a civil
6 engineer. I am aware also of the costs involved and I'm aware of the fact
7 that this trial has been going on for quite sometime, but at any rate, I
8 should like to appeal to you once again to grant my request and then --
9 and that we proceed as suggested by Mr. Ackerman. If there is anything
10 else you want to help me with, I'm at your disposal.
11 JUDGE AGIUS: I thank you, Mr. Brdjanin. Yes, Ms. Korner.
12 MS. KORNER: May I ask through Your Honour to perhaps put a
13 question to Mr. Brdjanin in the light of what he said? If we were to
14 undertake that we were -- would only call -- he's right, in a sense we are
15 heading towards major witnesses but if we were to undertake that during
16 the absence of Mr. Ackerman, we would call only crime-base witnesses, none
17 of whom directly implicated him, would he be content for Mr. Trbojevic to
18 cross-examine or is he, and it's not quite clear, leaving the decision to
19 Mr. Ackerman to make?
20 JUDGE AGIUS: Yes, Mr. Ackerman?
21 MR. ACKERMAN: Your Honour, I respectfully request that you not
22 ask that question. First of all, I want to say two or three things. What
23 Mr. Brdjanin says about he and I being together for 40 months has to me
24 just huge weight. That 40 months has been 40 months in which I have
25 learned an enormous amount about this case. I have an enormous data base
1 about this case inside my head so that when someone who is new to this
2 team has a question about how to proceed with regard to any particular
3 matter, I can answer that question only because I have this 40 months
4 experience with this team.
5 You know that in the course of what's about to happen to me, there
6 will be at least a period of two weeks when I will not be in any kind of a
7 condition to advise anyone in this case in any respect whatsoever. So
8 that if the case is going forward, it's going forward with someone who has
9 absolutely no grounding regarding all of the issues in this case. A
10 co-counsel who joined this case in April, even if they could read English,
11 with all the other responsibilities, couldn't have read all the
12 transcripts and couldn't be as grounded in this case as I am. Second of
13 all, the proposition that we should do a whole series of crime-base
14 witnesses in my absence and then I would take over all these other
15 witnesses when I came back, has an accordion effect which is devastating
16 to the Defence. What Ms. Korner is suggesting that we take all of the
17 extraordinarily difficult witnesses that require the most exhausting
18 preparation and work and collapse them all to the end of the case so that
19 when I come back, not yet fully recovered, it will be my job to
20 cross-examine one after another after another of the most important
21 witnesses in the case. Now, that's great advantage for the Prosecutor to
22 be able to do that. It's a huge advantage. And a great disservice and
23 injustice to Mr. Brdjanin. So I'd ask that you not ask him that question
24 and that you simply grant the motion.
25 JUDGE AGIUS: Yes, Ms. Korner?
1 MS. KORNER: I leave it in Your Honour's hands as to whether that
2 question is put. In fact, there is sufficient crime-base evidence plus to
3 take us even further than the four weeks. It's not that we would be going
4 straight into expert evidence or anything like that. But, Your Honour, I
5 do think it's important, I think it's important that it's made absolutely
6 clear now what is going to happen in the future. As far as the month's
7 adjournment is concerned, let me put it this way: I certainly wouldn't
8 object if there is nobody who can take over for any reasons expressed by
9 Mr. Brdjanin or by Mr. Ackerman but we have to look at the future. And at
10 the moment, the future looks exceedingly bleak. This trial has now run
11 for some just over a year, 15 months effectively. We had anticipated that
12 we would finish the Prosecution case, I originally estimated Easter, that
13 was wrong but certainly hopefully by the end of May so that would give
14 time for the Rule 98 motions such as they may be. What is going to happen
15 is plain as a pike staff in the light of the fact that Mr. Trbojevic, with
16 the greatest of respect, is not the counsel that Mr. Ackerman needed
17 before and needs now, for two reasons. And as I say this is meant with no
18 disrespect to him, it's just a fact of life. He has not got the
19 experience of practice before this Tribunal and he cannot read the
20 language or speak the language, as a result of which of course any
21 communication between Mr. Trbojevic and Mr. Ackerman has to be done
22 through an interpreter, apart from anything else.
23 Your Honour, this is a document-heavy case. There are undoubtedly
24 outstanding motions still to come. There are a number of expert witnesses
25 to come. There are then the half-time submissions that have to be written
1 and following that, if Your Honours decide that there is a case to answer
2 on all or any of these charges, there will be the Defence case. It is
3 quite impossible for Mr. Ackerman to do all of this with a co-counsel who
4 cannot assist. The net effect is this: There will be undoubtedly, and
5 Your Honour will have to grant them, applications, as there have been in
6 the past, for further time so that Mr. Ackerman can deal with the paper
7 work or the experts or whatever. That in itself will cause a further
8 delay. There would, I anticipate, be applications of time for a man in
9 the best of health, let alone a man who is perhaps not in the best of
10 health. That has the effect of delaying this trial even further, keeping
11 Mr. Brdjanin in the detention unit for a longer period of time, as an
12 unconvicted man, and equally, as other Trial Chambers have pointed out, it
13 delays the trials of other people who have been awaiting trial for even
15 Your Honours made it quite clear, and it has been done by other
16 courts as well, that whoever was appointed co-counsel had to have the
17 ability to at least stand in for a limited period of time, if lead counsel
18 had to be absent, and it's quite apparent that this is not the case. So,
19 Your Honour, I'm drawing Your Honours' attention to those matters and also
20 the attention of the Registry and those responsible for the allocation of
21 counsel because I think unless this matter is sorted out in the very, very
22 near future, this case is going to go completely off the rails.
23 I hear what Mr. Brdjanin says that he wants his team kept
24 together. I sympathise with that. He's had two changes -- he's had a
25 change already of counsel but it does seem to me that there must be an
1 opportunity for Mr. Trbojevic to work, as it were, in the background and
2 for someone to be in court possibly with the connections in Banja Luka,
3 there are counsel who are available, who speak the language and who can
4 really assist. So Your Honours, I make that point at this stage because I
5 think it's important that somehow or other some clarification is reached
6 of what is to happen.
7 Your Honour, with the instant matter, Your Honour has heard what I
8 have to say. Your Honours may or may not choose to ask Mr. Brdjanin the
9 question but in the event that it is Mr. Brdjanin's wish that the trial
10 not proceed with co-counsel only and Mr. Ackerman -- then we don't object.
11 [Trial Chamber confers]
12 JUDGE AGIUS: Mr. Ackerman, would you like to wind up? Do you
13 think it is necessary?
14 MR. ACKERMAN: Your Honour, I really don't think it's necessary.
15 I think a lot of what Ms. Korner is telling you is really very, very
16 speculative. I think I have set out a plan for you that allows this case
17 to go forward and I think I even suggested to you that I believe we can
18 conclude this case at the same time we would have had I not had this
19 problem because I'm willing to make some commitments to you regarding time
20 in the future.
21 JUDGE AGIUS: Yes, thank you, Mr. Ackerman.
22 MR. ACKERMAN: I think speculation gets us no where.
23 JUDGE AGIUS: I thank you, Mr. Ackerman. Our position is as
24 follows: First, having heard both Ms. Korner and you, Mr. Ackerman, we
25 don't think it is appropriate for us at this moment to address the
1 question that Ms. Korner mentioned to Mr. Brdjanin. We do take into
2 account, however, the substance of your objection to that question being
4 Second thing we wanted to point out is the past events in this
5 trial, where the circumstances were pretty much similar, referring first
6 of all back to around about April of last year when the first -- the
7 problem first arose as to what happens if the lead counsel is sick, is
8 ill, for sometime. It was our belief at the time that both -- that all
9 the instruments of -- relative instruments of this Tribunal, and in
10 particular the directives and the policy of the Registrar, the office of
11 the Registrar, pointed in no unclear terms that should the lead counsel be
12 unable to attend to his duties, then even at short notice, the co-counsel
13 ought to be in a position to take over. Not on a permanent basis because
14 that would bring to nothing the whole role of the lead counsel.
15 We had made this clear, and the point was reiterated and confirmed
16 in due course by the office of the Registrar to us and to both of you,
17 pointing out in particular that the appointment of any future co-counsel
18 in this case had to be accompanied, and had to be predicated first to the
19 assurance forthcoming from the lead counsel, who puts forward the name of
20 a co-counsel, that that co-counsel would be in a position to take over
21 even at short notice.
22 I have the word of the Registrar that -- when I say the Registrar,
23 it's his office which deals with these problems -- that before
24 Mr. Trbojevic was appointed, he was given to understand that given time,
25 Mr. Trbojevic would be in a position to take over. I've also gone through
1 the transcripts, one in particular, which goes back to May of last year,
2 where more or less Mr. Ackerman, you told us that Mr. Trbojevic was
3 getting familiarised with the case. But obviously some problems because
4 he didn't speak the English language and therefore he had problems with
5 transcripts, but that in due course, all these problems would be solved
6 and he would be in a position to take over. In fact, when earlier on this
7 year, roughly a month ago, you needed to go to the States for some
8 personal -- to have some personal matters related to your health attended
9 to, following the assurance of the Prosecution that there would be a
10 rescheduling of witnesses to be brought forward, it was agreed and it was
11 suggested by yourself that Mr. Trbojevic would, for that particular week
12 when you would be absent, take over the cross-examination. The situation
13 seems to have changed since then, and we haven't been told why it has
14 changed but it has obviously changed, because now the contention is that
15 the accused has the right to interpret his right to have a counsel,
16 whether it's of his own choosing or not or absolutely so is a matter which
17 we don't need to go into, means also that he can force a situation where,
18 if his lead counsel is absent, even for one day, then he can have the case
19 stopped. Also, that if his lead counsel, as is in this case, would be
20 absent for a whole month, then he also expects that his right to have a
21 counsel of his own choosing translates also in a right to have the case
23 We reiterate what we maintained earlier on in this case, that
24 should there be a situation where the lead counsel is unable to attend to
25 his duties, then it is the co-counsel who takes over, and it will be the
12 Blank page inserted to ensure pagination corresponds between the French and
13 English transcripts.
1 responsibility of the Tribunal to see to it that there is no prejudice in
2 proceeding in this manner to the accused. In this particular case, this
3 is not being offered. What is being offered to this Tribunal is a
4 situation whereby it has been decided by the Defence that, as a result of
5 Mr. Ackerman's need to travel to the United States and be absent from
6 attending to his duties for this month, there is no other solution but for
7 this Trial Chamber to stop this case. This is not what we think should be
8 the position, knowing that there is a co-counsel in this case that has, in
9 the past, attended to duties of cross-examining witnesses. So our
10 decision for the time being is to stop here, order that a copy of the
11 transcript of today's debate, together with a copy of the transcript of
12 the 65 ter meeting that we had yesterday, be communicated to the
13 Registrar, who is expected to decide whether it is compatible for the role
14 of the co-counsel to be directed not to indulge, to involve in -- not to
15 exercise any cross-examining -- cross-examination of witnesses, and to
16 report back to the Trial Chamber on this and on any action that the same
17 office may deem appropriate. Following such report, the Trial Chamber
18 will decide on the motion. That's our decision. Yes, Mr. Ackerman?
19 MR. ACKERMAN: Your Honour, may I simply make one comment? You
20 said in what you just said that you know that Mr. Trbojevic cross-examined
21 witnesses during an earlier week while I was gone, and that apparently the
22 situation has changed and you've not been told why it has changed, and I
23 thought I had done that and I want to make it clear why it has changed.
24 It has changed because during that week I was in daily contact with my
25 team here in The Hague. I was able to advise them on a daily basis. I
1 was in instant e-mail contact, except for very brief times when I was
2 undergoing testing, with the people here in The Hague. The difference
3 this time is that there will be a two week period when I will not be able
4 to be in contact. I thought I had made that clear. Apparently I had not.
5 So I want it to make sure that that is clear both to you and for the
6 record, Your Honour.
7 JUDGE AGIUS: But there is --
8 MR. ACKERMAN: That is a very different matter.
9 JUDGE AGIUS: That is different, indeed, Mr. Ackerman, but there
10 is Ms. Baruch who you can instruct now and if problems are encountered
11 then we find a solution but your client needs to understand that he cannot
12 have the cake and eat it too.
13 MR. ACKERMAN: Well, Your Honour, the Rules of this say that in a
14 case of this nature, an accused is entitled to have two counsel. Now
15 you're sighing he can go forward with one counsel. He can't go forward
16 with one counsel.
17 JUDGE AGIUS: He has three at the moment, Mr. Ackerman, not two.
18 So that is our decision. The sitting stands adjourned, we will
19 reconvene tomorrow, and Madam Registrar, please make sure that the
20 transcripts are handed to the Registrar with the utmost urgency because
21 this is a matter that --
22 THE REGISTRAR: It has been taken care of. Yesterday's transcript
23 has been forwarded.
24 JUDGE AGIUS: I take your word for it. Thank you.
25 --- Whereupon the hearing adjourned at 6.28 p.m.,
1 to be reconvened on Thursday, the 6th day of
2 March, 2003, at 2.15 p.m.