1 Thursday, 23 April 1998.
2 (8.30 a.m.).
3 JUDGE CASSESE: Good morning. I ask the
4 Registrar to call out the case number, please.
5 THE REGISTRAR: Case number IT-95-13a-T,
6 Prosecutor versus Slavko Dokmanovic.
7 MR. NIEMANN: My name is Niemann. I appear
8 with my colleagues, Mr. Williamson, Mr. Waespi and Mr. Vos
9 for the Prosecution.
10 MR. FILA: My name is Mr. Toma Fila, I appear
11 with Ms. Lopicic and Mr. Petrovic in the Defence of my
12 client, Mr. Slavko Dokmanovic.
13 JUDGE CASSESE: Can you hear me? Before we
14 start, let me tell Mr. Fila that I have put in place all
15 the necessary measures for the granting of safe
16 conduct. I read your request which was filed
17 yesterday. The order also covers the last witness --
18 there are four. I was wondering what sort of
19 protective measures you were asking for, for those four
20 witnesses. I understand you were asking for voice and
21 face distortion, but I assume you are not asking for a
22 pseudonym because you have already mentioned in court
23 their names.
24 MR. FILA: Your Honours, the day before
25 yesterday I was informed that they are asking for safe
1 conduct. I do not know what they shall be asking by
2 Monday. If they asked for pseudonyms, then I hope the
3 Prosecutor will agree, because this is a joint
4 problem. People hear something today, then they tell
5 somebody else something, and had I not asked for safe
6 conduct for (redacted), I would not have had to ask for
7 anybody else, but they hear that one person has safe
8 conduct status and so they ask for it themselves, so
9 I do apologise for complicating your life in this way.
10 JUDGE CASSESE: Do you have any objection to
11 the granting of these protective measures?
12 MR. NIEMANN: No, we do not have any
13 objection. I just make an observation and that is; it
14 is not only in this case but a number of cases, there
15 is a danger -- we do not take objection because we want
16 the Defence to be able to present their evidence and we
17 do not want to see any obstruction to that and we want
18 to see that happen as effectively as possible. It is a
19 concern, though, that this is becoming very prevalent
20 in a lot of cases. It does eventually impact on the
21 public nature of the trials. I do not think it is a
22 matter we can do anything about now, but it is a
24 Certainly, if Mr. Fila says it is necessary in
25 order to have the evidence, then we do not object to
2 JUDGE CASSESE: Thank you. We will see,
3 depending on what Mr. Fila tells us, whether in addition
4 to the distortion of voice and face, we also need to
5 give them pseudonyms -- you will let us know, maybe
6 even on Monday.
7 MR. FILA: Yes, I will, quite definitely and
8 I once again apologise to both you and Mr. Niemann. It
9 is not up to me, believe me.
10 JUDGE CASSESE: We may now proceed with the
12 IVAN CUKALOVIC:
13 MR. NIEMANN: Overnight we have considered
14 the evidence of Dr. Cukalovic and we consider his
15 evidence is more in the type of an amicus type
16 statement. We will deal with it by way of submission
17 at the end of the day, so we have no cross-examination.
18 JUDGE CASSESE: Any re-examination by
19 Mr. Fila?
20 MR. FILA: I do not have any additional
21 questions. I would just like to ask you to show the
22 evidence to the witness that the Prosecutor submitted
23 at the request of the court. They are documents which
24 are allegedly of an international character signed by
25 Croatia, and I would like you to tell the witness of
1 these documents so that he knows what they are about.
2 JUDGE CASSESE: Which documents?
3 MR. FILA: I do not know the number of the
4 exhibit -- 190-something. It was given yesterday. It
5 is the agreement between the republics. They were
6 submitted as evidence for a Memorandum of
8 JUDGE CASSESE: We received from the
9 Prosecutor two sets of documents, to the best of my
10 recollection. One set of documents embraced documents
11 relating to agreements sponsored by the ICRC, and then
12 a document from the UN stating the date of secession of
14 MR. FILA: That is it.
15 MR. NIEMANN: I am a little puzzled by all
16 this. If Mr. Fila wants to show the witness something,
17 he is quite welcome to do so, but he does not need to
18 do so in the course of the proceedings. I do not
19 follow what this is all about.
20 JUDGE CASSESE: Mr. Fila, are you keen to
21 have some sort of assessment by the witness of these
23 MR. FILA: Yes, so that the witness can say
24 whether he has come across these documents working in
25 international law so he knows what the documents are
1 about, yes, that is what it is all about, thank you.
2 THE REGISTRAR: Prosecution exhibit 192.
3 MR. NIEMANN: Might I ask, Mr. Fila, if this
4 is re-examination or a continuation of
6 JUDGE CASSESE: We thought we should be
7 rather flexible.
8 MR. FILA: I expected the Prosecutor to ask
9 something. I could not have envisaged the fact that
10 Mr. Niemann would not be asking anything. I just
11 thought that the Prosecution would have some questions
12 to ask, that is my explanation.
13 JUDGE CASSESE: You were taken by surprise.
14 MR. FILA: Yes.
15 THE REGISTRAR: Prosecution exhibit 176.
16 MR. FILA: Would you tell us what it is that
17 you are holding there, what document you have before
19 A. It is a convention which the Republic of
20 Croatia signed in May 1992, and it states that it will
21 be valid as of 8 October 1991. It is not an ordinary
22 document. We are not talking about giving recognition
23 to the Republic of Croatia here, but it is a
24 retroactive effect of international agreements, so
25 these are two notions which are quite different.
1 What the document states and the date that it
2 comes into force is 8 October 1991, therefore, it is a
3 retroactive document. From the viewpoint of
4 international law, when we come to the question of
5 Croat recognition, this, in fact, does not mean
6 anything at all. In all these Acts, the only thing is
7 that that the date 8 October is mentioned on the basis
8 of the report by the Badinter Commission, which is not
9 binding, which is contradictory, and, after one month,
10 he, in fact, overruled himself -- negated himself.
11 I think that this kind of situation was best explained
12 was best explained by Professor Baladero Pagleri. In
13 cases of this kind, we are not dealing with legal
14 recognition. Therefore, if an agreement stipulates
15 that it will have a retroactive effect, and if by this
16 you wish to demonstrate that Croatia was a State on
17 that particular 8 October, Professor Baladero Pagleri
18 distinguishes between recognition, which has only a
19 political importance, and recognition which has a legal
20 effect. Therefore, for the recognition of a State to
21 be legally valid, the State must fulfil certain
22 criteria which we enumerated yesterday, that it have a
23 territory, a population, and sovereign Government.
24 Croatia, on 8 October, did not have any one
25 of these three elements. Where are the key criteria --
1 active and passive diplomatic offices. With whom did
2 Croatia have diplomatic relations at that time?
3 MR. NIEMANN: I object to this evidence as
5 JUDGE CASSESE: The objection is sustained.
6 We apply the principle Euro novat curiae. We are
7 expected to know international law in particular, and
8 then what you are saying is repetitive, so you already
9 stated your position yesterday. Mr. Fila, do you have
10 other questions, or can we move on to our next
12 MR. FILA: The next witness will be here at
13 9 o'clock. We did not know that there would be no
14 further cross-examination.
15 Would you please just assess each of these
16 exhibits without repeating what you said yesterday,
17 because the Prosecutor is quite right, you cannot
18 repeat what you have already said?
19 A. Yes, I was just explaining what I failed,
20 perhaps, to mention yesterday.
21 The second document relates to the respect of
22 humanitarian principles and it is an agreement between
23 six signatories. This document as an act of
24 recognition once again does not mean a thing. There
25 are hundreds of Acts of this kind. It was signed by
1 Russia with Chechnya and (INAUDIBLE) and none of these
2 three became a State in its own right. They are just
3 agreements which are reached in critical moments to
4 regulate a given situation.
5 Q. Was that the case in the Philippines, for
6 example, as well?
7 A. In the Philippines, the situation was
8 somewhat different. An agreement there was signed
9 between the legal Government of Corazon Aquino and the
10 rebels similar to this one, once again in order to
11 regulate a concrete situation. Furthermore, the
12 Memorandum on Agreement in Geneva on 27 November 1991,
13 once again, a contradiction here, if you please. If
14 Croatia existed as a State on 8 October, how come then
15 that, on 27 November, a Memorandum of Agreement is
16 signed and it was signed by the representative of the
17 Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, that is to
18 say, the Federal Minister?
19 Therefore, Yugoslavia at that point was the
20 subject of international law, Yugoslavia's subjectivity
21 is not proved, it is understood -- the subjectivity of
22 Croatia was to be proved. The fact that the signatory
23 on this document was the representative of Yugoslavia
24 demonstrates that Yugoslavia existed more than one
25 month after that alleged recognition of Croatia.
1 Q. Would you please take a look at the following
2 document -- it is notification of Switzerland--
3 A. Here we are, once again, the convention, the
4 agreement, which was signed on 16 December 1991. As
5 the first signatory, we have the representative of the
6 Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. Therefore,
7 if Croatia existed, then Yugoslavia no longer existed.
8 On one territory you cannot have the existence of two
9 independent and sovereign States. Let us go on.
10 Finally, an agreement on the establishment of a
11 protected zone around Osijek. That is quite normal,
12 documents of this kind are signed to protect a given
13 zone -- it does not mean international recognition.
14 Then we come to 27 December 1991, once again
15 the signatory is a representative of the Ministry for
16 Health, Labour and Social Welfare, Ljiljana Stojanovic
17 at the first signatory. Those are my comments.
18 I think the situation is quite clear there from the
19 aspects of international law .
20 Q. Briefly, Mr. Cukalovic, do any of these
21 documents which you have seen before you, can any of
22 them be considered agreements concluded between two or
23 more sovereign countries?
24 A. In order to prove this, you would have to
25 prove previously the fact that Croatia existed as a
1 State at that particular moment. None of the arguments
2 which we have put forward indicate a conclusion of this
3 kind except Badinter's report, who negated itself one
4 month later.
5 MR. FILA: Thank you. I should now like to
6 thank your Honours.
7 JUDGE CASSESE: Since we have 10 minutes, if
8 the Prosecutor has no questions, I may ask a question.
9 I was not intending to ask any questions, but we can
10 spend the next 10 minutes discussing this
11 particular --
12 MR. FILA: I apologise, once again, but
13 I would like to ask Mr. Niemann to tell me in advance
14 when he has no further questions so I can bring the
15 witnesses in earlier.
16 JUDGE CASSESE: Yesterday, we discussed the
17 question of the legal status of the so-called Serb
18 District of Slavonia, Baranja and Srem under
19 constitutional law. May I ask you: how would you
20 characterise the Government of the Serb District of
21 Slavonia, Baranja and Srem from the viewpoint of
22 international law? First of all, is it correct that
23 the area covered by the Serb district is in Croatia
24 only, or does it also embrace some parts of the Serb
25 territory? I looked up the map yesterday and I saw
1 that the word "Srem" is across the border. So two
2 questions -- the geographical extension of this
3 particular district and its status under public
4 international law?
5 A. Well, as far as geography is concerned, there
6 is Eastern and Western Srem. One is in the territory
7 of Yugoslavia, and the second part is on Croat
8 territory, so this district does not encompass the
9 territory of the Federal Republic of Serbia, it does
10 not. This area, which has remained the last oasis
11 where there are still some Serbs living in the
12 territory, does not encompass the territory of the
13 Republic of Serbia. The status of the Government,
14 which was set up on this territory, should be
15 determined in keeping with the war operations which
16 were waged at the time.
17 Its status depends on whether or not they
18 control part of the territory, whether or not they had
19 any means of recognition and identification and whether
20 or not they adhered to the provisions of war law.
21 As on that particular territory, organs were
22 set up of the so-called Republic of Serbia and Krajina,
23 they had all the prerogatives of being recognised as a
24 warring party, that is to say, they had -- they were
25 led by a responsible Government, responsible
1 individuals; they had a certain identification and it
2 was the emblem of the Republic of Serbia and Krajina
3 and they had certain military rules and regulations,
4 which showed that they recognised and respected the
5 divisions in that particular area.
6 JUDGE CASSESE: But I think I read somewhere
7 that the so-called Republic of Serbia and Krajina, as
8 you called it, succeeded the establishment of the
9 Serb district of Slavonia, Baranja and Srem.
10 I understand that, when the Republic of Serbia and
11 Krajina was set up, for instance, Mr. Dokmanovic was no
12 longer a Minister of Agriculture of the so-called
13 Serb district of Slavonia. So I thought, but I may
14 be wrong, that the Serb district of Slavonia,
15 Baranja and Srem and the relevant Government was set up
16 probably around September 1991. Then, towards the end
17 of 1991, when the Serb Republic of Krajina was set
18 up, the district of Slavonia and Baranja was
19 dismantled, so, therefore, I thought it was this
20 so-called district and the corresponding Government was
21 a sort of short-lived entity on Croat territory, so
22 my question was therefore, how would you
23 characterise -- if it is correct what I am saying, but
24 I may be wrong -- this particular Government on the
25 territory of Croatia, which lasted only a few months?
1 A. What is quite certain is that that territory
2 had nothing to do with Yugoslav territory and, as far
3 as how we would define that Government, I have already
4 said it was established only as a Defence on the part
5 of the Serb people of a possible Croat terror,
6 namely, what happened in 1941 remained deeply imbedded
7 in the consciousness of the Serb people, and the people
8 there just organised themselves, and according to
9 international war law it is permissible for the
10 population of a particular area to organise itself in
11 the case of a possible massacre, terror and the like.
12 So, this is a region which organised itself
13 with the basic aim of protecting itself.
14 JUDGE CASSESE: But if we proceed on the
15 assumption -- which has been advocated by Mr. Fila as
16 Defence counsel -- that the armed conflict which took
17 place in the area we are referring to between, say,
18 September, October and December 1991, was an internal
19 conflict between Croats, who were rebelling, trying to
20 secede from the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia and the
21 Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, why was it necessary
22 for the Government to be set up for a few months in an
23 area which was under the jurisdiction, if we stick to
24 the thesis of Mr. Fila, of the Federal authorities?
25 A. Yes, it was under the jurisdiction of the
1 Federal authorities, but a lot of crimes can be
2 committed in the space of one month, and they could be
3 unavoidable and, therefore, the population, having the
4 experience that it had, because of the same population
5 in 1941 in only several months were massacred greatly,
6 and it was necessary to organise -- for the population
7 to organise itself in any way they could to try and
8 prevent any possible crimes which I am quite sure would
9 have followed. They did follow, in fact, but thanks to
10 the fact that the people themselves had organised
11 themselves, the Yugoslav People's Army had problems
12 with its commanding officers, and a Croat was at the
13 head of the Yugoslav army, and therefore the people had
14 to organise itself, together with the help of the
15 Yugoslav People's Army, to try and save its integrity
16 and to save their lives.
17 JUDGE CASSESE: You mean not only was it
18 needed for those people to organise themselves not only
19 militarily, from the viewpoint of military structure,
20 but also a Government, with the Minister of
21 Agriculture? Anyway -- thank you. Are there any
22 questions? Is there any objection to the witness being
23 released? No objection. Thank you, Professor Cukalovic
24 for giving testimony, you may now be released.
25 (The witness withdrew).
1 MR. FILA: The next witness has arrived a
2 little earlier, luckily.
3 SLAVKO GAVRILOVIC.
4 MR. FILA: I will just have to explain
5 something both to you and to Mr. Niemann.
6 Mr. Milan Bulajic, the next expert after Mr. Gavrilovic,
7 he will be coming only on Monday. So, after
8 Gavrilovic, we are going to hear the witness
9 Mr. Milinkovic, who is also there. If we finish
10 Mr. Gavrilovic, we will hear Mr. Milinkovic, so it is
11 just a change in the order -- nothing else.
12 JUDGE CASSESE: While we are waiting for the
13 witness, may I call up on both parties to try to avoid
14 lengthy questions, and I will also ask the witness not
15 to be too lengthy, because we have received the
16 document and he is going to address questions of the
17 Serbs in Croatia, Slavonia, Dalmatia from the 14th to
18 the 20th century. So it is an historical background.
19 We have already heard a lot of information and evidence
20 about the historical background. I think we should
21 focus, as much as possible, on the legal issues and the
22 factual issues relating to the accused. So, let us
23 avoid entering into domains which, in a way, are
24 extraneous to our matter. I would like, therefore, to
25 call upon, in particular, Mr. Fila to try to confine
1 himself to a few questions and relevant questions. We
2 are not interested in the historical background, the
3 sociological or psychological background. As a court
4 of law, we have to pass judgement on the facts and the
6 MR. FILA: Your Honour, I fully agree with
7 you. Everything that I am doing now is what Mr. Wheeler
8 wrote about, and then he was questioned on it. Had the
9 Prosecutor not questioned Mr. Wheeler about the 14th and
10 15th, and 16th century, et cetera, none of this would
11 have been necessary. That is why we have to have such
12 evidence, based on the knowledge of true experts, not
13 what Mr. Wheeler learned within five years.
14 JUDGE CASSESE: Could you please make the
15 solemn declaration, Mr. Gavrilovic?
16 THE WITNESS: I solemnly declare that I will
17 speak the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the
19 JUDGE CASSESE: Thank you, you may be
21 Examination-in-chief by MR. FILA:
22 Q. Good morning, Professor, do you feel
23 comfortable? Can we begin?
24 A. Yes, fine.
25 Q. Could you please tell us briefly about your
1 education and what schools you have completed?
2 A. My education took place in Vinkovci, Sremski
3 Karlovci and Novi Sad. I attended university in
4 Belgrade. I did research in archives, especially in
5 Zagreb, Osijek, Karlovci, Budapest, Vienna and Moscow
6 and local archives throughout the former Yugoslavia.
7 Q. Could you tell us where you were employed
8 until now?
9 A. First, I was employed at the teachers'
10 college in Prizren in Kosmet; then, as the custodian of
11 the military museum in Novi Sad and, after that, I went
12 to teach at the Faculty of Philosophy in Novi Sad,
13 first as an Assistant Professor, and at the end of my
14 career I was a full Professor and, finally, I went to
15 work at the Historical Institute of the Serb Academy
16 of Sciences and Arts, and I was retired there a few
17 years ago.
18 Q. Since when have you been a member of the
19 Serb Academy of Sciences and Arts?
20 A. From 1979.
21 Q. So you are still a member?
22 A. Yes.
23 Q. Are you the author of many papers and books
24 on the history of the Yugoslav peoples until the
25 20th century?
1 A. Yes. I wrote many studies, reviews, over 450
2 altogether, and I am the author of some 20 monographs
3 and also of 20 publications dealing with original
4 papers on Serbs in the Austro-Hungarian empire, in the
5 Balkans, especially in Croatia, and also, in
6 particular, for some 20 years, I studied the political
7 and social history of Croatia in the 16th, 17th and
8 18th and first half of the 19th century.
9 Q. Could you please be so kind as to have a look
10 at what you will be shown now by the usher? Is that
11 your CV, and is it part of your bibliography?
13 THE REGISTRAR: Marked D28.
14 THE WITNESS: Yes. All of this is correct,
16 MR. FILA: Could you now please have a look
17 at the next document, which is in the Serb and
18 English languages and could you tell me whether this is
19 your expert opinion? (Handed).
20 A. Yes, yes.
21 Q. The Defence wishes to have both documents
22 admitted into evidence as Defence exhibits.
23 JUDGE CASSESE: Any objection, Mr. Niemann?
24 MR. WILLIAMSON: No objection, your Honour.
25 JUDGE CASSESE: That will be D.
1 THE REGISTRAR: D28 and D29 and D29A, the
2 English translation.
3 MR. FILA: You have given a detailed
4 expertise and the custom before this court of law is to
5 give brief answers once you have provided detailed
6 expert opinions. I understand that. So I am only
7 going to put a few questions to you so I ask you to
8 give as succinct as possible answers, because this is
9 background material, because the matters dealt with in
10 this trial are far more specific than that.
11 Could you please tell me when the Serbs came
12 to the territory, which is the territory of present day
13 Croatia; how did all this start; et cetera, et cetera?
14 A. The Serbs started moving in very early --
15 already in the 6th and 7th century, a group of Slavs
16 came from the Carpathian mountains to the Danube area
17 -- they were not ethnically or nationally
18 differentiated yet. These Slavs came under the rule of
19 the Hungarian State at the end of the 10th and
20 beginning of the 11th century. They were intensive,
21 although the relations changed between the medieval
22 Hungarian State and medieval Serbia, so this
23 relationship was sometimes hostile and sometimes
24 friendly, but, as far as Serbs in Croatia are concerned
25 -- I am referring to what is today Croatia -- I think
1 that the Serbs have a distinct profile as of the 13th
2 century, when the Serb king, Dragutin as the ally
3 and vassal of the Hungarian king, received Srem,
4 Belgrade and Macva to be under his rule. This was the
5 Srem of this side and that side as it was called then,
6 because it was the area north and south of the Sava
8 Since this was a feudal ruler and a feudal
9 court, it is quite clear that he did not need clerks,
10 and it was not the Hungarians who were members of the
11 ruling nation and who were very few in this area --
12 they were not tilling his land, so it was only the
13 local people who were tilling the land, that is to say,
14 belonging to his own nation, his own people and to the
15 same religion as he did. Later, when another Serb
16 ruler, Stevan Lazarevic, who had the title of the
17 despot of Serbia, when he became an ally of the
18 Hungarians and a vassal of the Hungarian king, at the
19 very beginning of the 15th century, he received
20 Belgrade and Northern Serbia, which then fell under his
21 rule. So this population, which was first proto
22 Serb and then Serbia, received strong support from
23 Belgrade, which stood near Srem and then the tragic
24 battle of Kosovo took place and finally, in 1459,
25 Serbia finally fell under the Turks.
1 Then, this great migration movement continued
2 from the south to the north, so the Serbs came to this
3 Penonian Carpathian area, Banat more specifically and
4 then gradually other regions as well, and at the
5 beginning of the 16th century, they moved in to
6 Slavonia in larger numbers as they were fleeing from
7 the Turks, or they were brought in by force by the
8 Turks, who one could say started with the ethnic
9 cleansing in the Balkans, because they used to move
10 entire populations from one area to another -- even
11 areas that were very distant, for example, Serbs from
12 Snrdrevo and all the way to Istanbul and Serbs from
13 Herzegovina from the old Raska State to the western
14 part of Bosnia and to central Slavonia. This was done
16 The first Serb traces in Northern Dalmatia
17 date back to a period which even preceded that. This
18 is related to very important monasteries, if they still
19 exist today -- Serb monasteries, Krupa and -- I am
20 sorry, I just to recall the name exactly -- two
21 important Serb monasteries, at any rate that were
22 founded at the time when the sister of the Serb
23 emperor, Dusan, Serbia's most important medieval ruler,
24 who was married to Mladen Subic III, there, in that
25 central Dalmatian area, because she got married there,
1 and she moved there, and from a religious point of
2 view, the court of the Subices was tolerant, so she was
3 allowed to bring in Orthodox monks, and to establish
4 the first Orthodox churches.
5 That is when these two most important Serb
6 monasteries in north Dalmatia were founded, that is to
7 say, that all of this took place in the mid
8 14th century.
9 Later, more and more Serbs came to Dalmatia
10 during the Turkish invasion, because the population
11 fled. Part of them went to the Adriatic coast and the
12 islands and other parts of the population went into the
13 mountains towards west Bosnia, to the Una River, and
14 for a certain period of time, while the Croat and
15 Austro-Hungarian borders were the Kupa River and then
16 they went all the way up to the Kupa River, so the
17 Serbs came to this area as Turkish rayah, the subjects
18 of Turkish Lords. They belonged to the Turkish feudal
20 Before that, the Turks had totally plundered
21 and devastated the areas that they had conquered before
22 that, so the Turks needed to have an organised area,
23 and so, in addition to the army, they needed a people
24 who would be working for them -- the so-called rayah,
25 they were Christian Serbs predominantly.
1 Q. Now, let us move briefly to the military
2 Krajina -- we are going to skip over two or three
4 A. When the Serbs first came to western Bosnia,
5 and then to Hungary to Urad and Komokah, they came into
6 contact with other Christian peoples, with Croat
7 feudal lords, who were at the frontier, that is, on the
8 remains of the Croat kingdom, so their forces were
9 very weak, so it is the court in Vienna that took over
10 the defence line against the Turks -- one would call it
11 the Ministry of Defence today, first in Graz and then
12 in Vienna -- and the royal captains and the royal
13 generals asked the Serbs, who were under Turkish rule,
14 to come over to the Christian side, because they were
15 Christians themselves, because it was their wish, too,
16 to defend the borders of the Austrian empire and partly
17 Croatia, vis-à-vis the Turkish empire, so there was an
18 agreement, either in writing or an oral agreement with
19 smaller or larger groups, and, finally, real agreements
20 were signed between the Serb community and the
21 Austrian royal authorities and, ultimately, the court
22 in Vienna itself, which gave certain benefits to the
23 Serbs, so that, as soldier peasants, they would defend
24 the frontiers.
25 The Croat lords wanted them to be peasants
1 first and then soldiers, and soldiers only if
2 necessary, so they would till their lands, but the
3 royal authorities insisted that they should be soldiers
4 first and foremost, and only then peasants, as much as
5 necessary, that is to say, so they could feed
7 Practically all the Serbs accepted this
8 position of the court in Vienna and of the Emperor's
9 generals, because this meant they could exist as free
10 men. They would be free of paying taxes, and their
11 only obligation would be to do their army service, and,
12 of course, to be faithful throughout their lives to
13 their ruler and at that time and in the centuries that
14 followed, they never betrayed them -- never.
15 Q. What were the Krajina benefits?
16 A. The Krajina benefits were the following:
17 first of all, they were free men, free peasants. They
18 did not have to pay any kind of taxes -- none
19 whatsoever -- and, at that time, that was an
20 exceptional privilege -- an exceptional privilege,
21 indeed. And, also, there was tacit recognition of
22 their right to profess their own religion, the Orthodox
23 religion. Also, they had all elements of local
24 self-government and even beyond that, primarily through
25 the so-called Vlach or Serb statutes that the Vienna
1 gave the Serbs in 1630 and, three years before that, it
2 recognised the right to ownership, the right to
3 property, to all that land where the Krajina borders
4 moved into in the 16th and 17th centuries, and this
5 meant that, from a territorial point of view, the
6 military Krajina, the Vojna Krajina, was a distinct
7 part of that area as opposed to Dalmatia, Srem,
8 et cetera. Later on, in 1690, when the patriarch
9 Carnojevic led the Serbs and their great migration from
10 the south to the north, the Serbs received a different
11 status, even stronger than this. They got very broad
12 privileges especially for that time, with the following
13 key point -- the freedom of religion and religious and
14 secular power of the Serb patriarch over the Serb
15 Orthodox people and, also, not only over the Serbs but
16 also the Vlachs, the Cincar -- all of those who were
17 Orthodox. This was later the metropolitan of Karlovski
18 and at the insistence of patriarch Carnojevic and
19 according to the wishes of the entire Serb population
20 in the kingdom, the court in Vienna recognised the
21 Serbs as Pascianica, or Serbica-Pascianica-Illyrica and
22 these privileges were extended to partes adnexae, also
23 to Croatia, Slavonia and Dalmatia.
24 In that way, if we look at this first stratum
25 of privileges, that is of the Krajina (INAUDIBLE) and
1 then this went further on.
2 Q. As an academician, you now moved on to the
3 Illyrian movement, too?
4 A. Yes, that is true. It came into being of the
5 first half of the 19th century, as a resistance
6 movement of the younger generation of Croat
7 intellectuals and part of the Croat citizenry and
8 also some of the lower Catholic clergy against
9 Hungarian domination, supremacy, and their persistent
10 efforts to assimilate all non Hungarians as they
11 extended the use of the Hungarian language into
12 schools, the administration and overall life in the
13 area. First, the Croat nobility resisted this, but
14 inconsistently and weakly and without a proper
15 organisation. Then it is the citizenry who took this
16 over. The bourgeoisie was mostly educated in Graz,
17 Vienna and Northern Italy and they already had the seed
18 of European liberalism imbued in them.
19 The Illyrian movement, from a religious point
20 of view, was very tolerant and actually they opened the
21 door for the Serbs to Croat political life. Before
22 that, the Serbs were very important from an economic
23 and military point of view, that is to say, the defence
24 of the remains of Croatia, the defence of the
25 Austro-Hungarian empire, because they were merchants,
1 together with the Cincars in this entire
2 Croat/Slavonian/Hungarian area all the way up to
3 Karlovac, Trieste, Rijeka, Karlobag, Srem.
4 Another thing is important, because they were
5 Orthodox, and especially because they did not have a
6 strong nobility, they were excluded from political
7 life. After all, political life at that time was
8 restricted only to the populous, to the nobility -- not
9 all the people -- so everybody else was excluded from
10 politics but now the Illyrian movement opened the door
11 to Serbs to get into political life, to public life and
12 the Serbs understood this and through their
13 intelligentsia and through there merchants --
14 Q. Please slow down, sir.
15 A. I am sorry, and this way they came into
16 Croat political and social life and gave an
17 important contribution to it. I am only going to
18 mention one thing. For example, money affairs in the
19 Slavic south -- the first savings bank in Zagreb was
20 opened by the Serb, Anastas Popovic -- this was a
21 Croat savings bank -- in 1847 and he introduced the
22 Serbo-Croat or Croat-Serb, or as they even then called
23 it, the Yugoslav language, into commerce, which was so
24 important for the psychological situation in Croatia.
25 The Serbs were very agile in the press of the
1 Illyrian movement, especially with Utjesenovic,
2 Ostrozinski and Makso Prica. The Serbs helped the
3 inception of all institutions in Croatia, like the
4 Matica. I have to refer to the fact that the major
5 contributor for the founding of Matica Hrvatska was an
6 ex prince of Serbia, Milos Obrenovic, or rather, his
7 son, Mihajlo. He contributed 2,000 foreign silver
8 coins, whereas the well-known Draskovic family and
9 others only gave 200 or 500 Florins altogether, so this
10 is a figure that can be found in the first history of
11 the Matica, but it is no longer there in the second
12 edition of the history of the Matica, although it was
13 published in Tito's time, et cetera.
14 Q. Professor, can we now move on to another
15 important thing? When did the SABOR decision come on
16 the equality of the Serbo Croat language?
17 A. In 1840, in the SABOR, there were 52 Serbs,
18 that is, the Croat Parliament. There were never as
19 many Serbs in the Croat SABOR after that, which
20 testifies to the fact that they were important citizens
21 and that they were elected not only by the Serbs but
22 that they were also elected by the Catholics.
23 Slavonians -- Croats, in general.
24 As the Croat SABOR or Assembly accepted
25 and sanctioned the alliance between Vojvodina Srpska
1 proclaimed at the May assembly of the 13th of May
2 b1848, with Srem as a component part -- and I underline
3 this -- a component part, the SABOR accepted this and
4 thereby sanctioned at the most lofty place the alliance
5 and their political unity.
6 In terminology, the language was referred to
7 as "our language". It was rarely referred to as the
8 "Croat language" and even less the "Serb
9 language". It was referred to as "our language"
10 because the integration of the South Slavs was the goal
11 to be achieved. After the breakdown of the revolution
12 and the absolutist period in 1861, there was a renewal
13 of the political and Party life and parliamentarism in
14 the country, and after a lot of trials and
15 tribulations, in 1867 the Croat Parliament met and
16 it was already confronted with the Austro-Hungarian
17 agreement in 1867, according to which there was a dual
18 organisation of the Habsburg monarchy. The Croat
19 politicians were afraid of what was happening and,
20 therefore, they sought an ally, and they had an ally
21 previously in the Serb people -- the Serbs in
22 Croatia and the Serbs in Vojvodina and the Serbs in
23 Hungary and, at the time, the Croat Parliament
24 brought in a clear-cut declaration on the equality of
25 the Serbs and Croats. They accepted the Serb people
1 as a separate people -- a separate nation. Today we
2 would call this a constitutional nation, titular
3 nation, and the language that was used, instead of
4 saying "our language" or the "Yugoslav language" was
5 declared as the "Croat language" or the "Serb
6 language", or the "Serb and Croat language".
7 Q. Would you now move on to the question of
8 Pravastvo; what do we mean by "Pravastvo"?
9 A. Pravastvo was an ideology, a movement, which
10 was born in Croatia with the rebirth of constitutional
11 life but which came to full expression with the father
12 of the homeland Ante Starcevic. Without entering into
13 the controversy surrounding the personality of Ante
14 Starcevic, I would like to emphasise the following --
15 together with Elgen Kvaternik and before them with
16 General (INAUDIBLE) was the creator of a genocidal
17 racist theory, which was later to be put into practice
18 in Croatia. The basic thesis is in the following --
19 Croatia is a unified country, should be in its
20 historical frontiers, somewhere from the Alps,
21 stretching from the Alps to the Black Sea; the Serbs as
22 a peoples do not exist; those who call themselves
23 "Serbs" are in fact -- their roots are Croats -- are
24 Croat. They are just part of the Croat nation,
25 which, their religion tried, as Starcevic said and the
1 people who thought like him, to separate them from the
2 uniform corps of the Croat people. Starcevic went
3 even further and even said that Serb medieval rulers
4 were Croat rulers. This was complete nonsense and
5 the leading individual of Croatia's political life at
6 the time found this ludicrous -- Josip (INAUDIBLE) was
7 among them, and leading historians, Kukuljivic and
8 Franjo Racki. However, this was something that was
9 insisted upon. The Serbs were proclaimed to be
10 (INAUDIBLE) Cincars, Byzantines non brothers, non
11 brothers, and somebody to be destroyed with an axe --
12 as a mass without any physiognomy, as a people according
13 to Starcevic -- they only merit the axe.
14 This ideology was echoed in the petty
15 bourgeois community of Croatia, first and foremost in
16 the towns, particularly in Zagreb as well in the
17 provinces. This ideology because an instrument of the
18 political Party, the Croat Party of Rights, which
19 was set up to be differentiated from the Croat
20 National Party, People's Party, and the Independent
21 Party later on and the Unionist Party later on and this
22 Party was headed by Ante Starcevic himself and Elgen
23 Kvaternik until the Rakovic rebellion against the
24 Habsburg authorities, and it is interesting to note
25 that the protagonists of that rebellion were the Serbs,
1 because they were in the region, with (INAUDIBLE) at
2 the head as the perpetrator of Kvaternik's rebellion.
3 At the end of the century, this Pravastvo
4 ideology after Starcevic's death was a weapon for Josip
5 Frank, an exponent of the imperialist section of the
6 Austrian court, considered the Vienna court, that after
7 the glorious liberation struggle of the Italian peoples
8 ousted and after the defeats with Prussia, that it
9 needed to be directed towards Bosnia-Herzegovina, the
10 Balkans and, ultimately, in order to dominate the
11 Balkans which, at the same time, meant when speaking
12 about the Kingdom of Serbia, its strategic encirclement
13 and to absorb it within the monarchy or to destroy it
14 as a State.
15 Everything that Starcevic and Kvaternik
16 proclaimed became his programme in one of the most
17 brutal forms. This was implemented, translated into
18 practice and this resulted in a series of pogroms over
19 the Serb population in 1892, 1895, 1899 and especially
20 in 1909, when a mass under the slogans of the Party
21 when they said "Death to the Serbs" attacked Serb
22 institutions in Zagreb, attacked the banks, the church,
23 the private houses -- there was bestial conduct for
24 three days and everything was destroyed. Although the
25 Serbs at the time showed full loyalty to the State
1 embodied not in the Croat Parliament but in the
2 Habsburg dynasty and in the court at Vienna.
3 Q. May we now pass on to the First World War and
4 the London Agreement of 1915; what was offered Serbia?
5 A. Serbia, as is common knowledge, after the
6 assassination in Sarajevo, for which the Government was
7 not responsible, was involved in a war, a terrible war,
8 for which it was not prepared, either militarily or
9 psychologically, ideologically. The country was
10 completely exhausted after the two Balkan wars and it
11 was considered that the greatest part of the national
12 goals had been achieved, because, according to the
13 basic document of the Serb national policy, Ilija
14 Garasanin in 1844, the Serb policy was to have been
15 devoted and was, in fact, devoted to the Balkans -- it
16 was a Balkan policy, and if you study Garasanin, who
17 was attacked so much, you can see that, in fact, the
18 kingdom of Croatia and Dalmatia and the Habsburg empire
19 was hardly mentioned. The basic idea of Garasanin and
20 Serb policy was to liberate the Serb people in
21 the Balkans and to create an alliance of the Balkan
22 people in order for the eastern question to be solved
23 on the basis of nationality with the Balkan peoples as
25 This could only be done by a Balkan alliance
1 which was created on two counts during (INAUDIBLE) and
2 once again in 1912, when it became effective and was
3 realised through the Balkan wars and the liberation of
4 the greatest portion of the Balkans from Turkish
5 domination, including the Serbs, including the Greeks
6 and including the Bulgarians.
7 Q. Let us now move on to the 1915 London Treaty;
8 what is offered to Serbia?
9 A. Well, Serbia entered the war and, first of
10 all, its war goal was to defend its own territory and
11 to retain what it had gained by 1914. However, a
12 portion of the Croat intellectuals from Serbia,
13 Bosnia, some Serbs from Vojvodina and Bosnia, left the
14 Habsburg monarchy, they emigrated, and led by
15 Ante Trumbic and Franjo Supilo, the representatives of
16 the Dalmatian stream in the political life of Croatia
17 created a so-called Yugoslav board. This board or
18 committee was supported by the Serb Government and
19 it was to be a sort of agent of the Government, to
20 propagate its political goals, war goals, with the
21 western countries.
22 At that time, there were negotiations between
23 Italy and the forces of the Entente and these Entente
24 forces, with the London pact in 1915, promised part of
25 the Adriatic coast on the South Slav side and to
1 Serbia, very favourable frontiers, in which the
2 greatest portion of the Serb people would be
3 incorporated. Part of the people who would not be
4 included in this extended Serbia, would remain under
5 the power and authority of the Italians in Northern
6 Dalmatia and Lika, whereas the other portion would
7 remain in the trinomial kingdom of Austria and they did
8 not know what their fate would be, whether this would
9 be Croatia or would it be part of the Habsburg monarchy
10 or the Hungarian monarchy -- this was still a debatable
12 The Serb Government, under pressure from
13 the Yugoslav board, a council, and led by its
14 intellectuals, refused this, and thus lost a wonderful
15 chance of being an ally to the great Italian people --
16 very close to the Serb people who were linked by the
17 liberation struggle through Garibaldi, Mussolini and so
18 on and so forth, and the policy of alliance between
19 Italy and Serbia that existed, the Italian and Serb
20 people that existed and to overthrow Habsburg power and
22 When Italy became free, it had every interest
23 in maintaining good and friendly relations with the
24 peoples in the Balkans, especially with the Serb
25 people. This renouncing of the London Treaty cost
1 the Serbs a great deal. The Serb Government
2 accepted an all-embracing programme of unification
3 within a country of all the South Slav peoples, of
4 course, except the Bulgarians whose historical road was
5 quite separate, and in the linguistic sense was not
6 linked to this other portion.
7 Q. Excuse me, Professor, this offer made on the
8 basis of the London Treaty, was the term "Greater
9 Serbia" used?
10 A. No, "Greater Serbia" is an interpretation in
11 historiography, and as we would say, it is a phrase in
12 Austrian propaganda to stand up against Greater Serbia.
13 Was not Austria a great State? Every State is great
14 in one way or another. Serbia had 4 million, Austria
15 had 56 million and it is nonsense to speak about great
16 Serbism. This concept, this notion, comes from Austria
17 and from Vienna.
18 What we were dealing with was a certain
19 expansion for Serbia, which would encompass, under one
20 roof, within the frameworks of one State, one nation --
21 an Orthodox nation, of course, in relation and with
22 links to other nations and Ilija Garasanin and Prince
23 Mihajlo showed exceptional tolerance towards the
24 Catholics in Bosnia and even towards the Muslims and
25 they knew that there were no ethnically clean States,
1 that you can only have States with peoples who are
2 mixed, because that is what history did, history mixed
3 all these people up and together and the only road was
4 the road to cooperation or a road to self destruction.
5 Q. Now, how did the end of the First World War
6 come about, and how is the joint State set up, what is
7 its name, why did the people join this State?
8 A. During the war, there was a more intensive
9 relationship between the Yugoslav board and the Serb
10 Government. They did not always see eye to eye as to
11 the Government and organisation of a future State, but
12 the essential point is that, in 1917, a meeting in
13 Corfu was held and the Corfu Declaration was proclaimed
14 between the Serb Government and the Yugoslav Council
15 and on this occasion both sides accepted the following:
16 That is to say, the creation of a uniform State of
17 Serbs, Croats and Slovenes, and that this State should
18 be a monarchy under the dynasty of the Karadordevices;
19 furthermore, that the State be founded upon the
20 principles which would, in greater detail, be
21 elaborated by a constitutional assembly after the
22 constitution of the State itself. In the final stages
23 of the war, there was a renovation of political and
24 party life, after the death of Emperor Franz Josef and
25 in 1917 and 1918 there was a renewal of political life
1 in the trinomial kingdom and in the SABOR of Croatia --
2 the Croat Parliament -- and the Croat and Serb or
3 Croat Serb coalition which was set up in 1905,
4 which, at all elections up to 1914, always gained a
5 majority vote and which was therefore legally elected
6 after a period of absence, because the Serb members of
7 the coalition were arrested and interned and the
8 Croats, members of the coalition, were pacified
9 partially and became part of the council.
10 But what happened now was that, with the
11 coalition's return to the Croat Parliament, a
12 particular role was played by its presidency, with
13 Mr. Pribicevic at its head, and now, when the complete
14 disintegration of Austro-Hungary took place, the
15 situation was as follows: the Yugoslav board was a
16 little suppressed from the stage and the Croat
17 Parliament came into the foreground dominated by the
18 Croat Serb coalition headed by Svetozar Pribicevic.
19 This was a concept according to which, within the
20 frameworks of the Habsburg monarchy, first of all, to
21 unify the Slovene peoples -- the Slovenes, the Croats
22 and the Serbs from Vojvodina and the Serbs and Croats,
23 of course, and Muslims in Bosnia, as Bosnia was part
24 and parcel of the Habsburg monarchy and to create a
25 Habsburg Yugoslavia, so to speak, which would negotiate
1 on a footing of equality with the Serb Government in
2 Belgrade. However, the Serbs in Vojvodina, on the
3 basis of a plebiscite, on the basis of a voluntary
4 vote, joined the Kingdom of Serbia -- a decision of
5 25 November 1918, the representatives of the Serbs in
6 Vojvodina -- the Sokci, the Bunjevci people, the
7 Slovaks and the Germans -- I underline the Germans --
8 came out in favour of joining Serbia.
9 At the same time, the Bosnian Serbs
10 considered that Serbia was the closest State. In
11 Montenegro we had the conjoining of the people with the
12 Kingdom of Serbia. So, the position of this so-called
13 Government in Zagreb was weakened considerably and a
14 very significant moment came about, that is to say, the
15 Italian army began to take over the regions -- and we
16 must say this is an historical truth -- which belonged
17 to them according to the London Treaty -- part of
18 Slovenia and Dalmatia. At that time from Slovenia and
19 from Dalmatia pressure was brought to bear in two
20 directions -- on the one hand, the presidency of the
21 Parliament in Zagreb and, on the other hand, the
22 Government in Serbia, urgently, without any conditions,
23 without any negotiations on the future form that the
24 State would take, to unify, to unite, and the Serb
25 army to take up its positions in areas which were
1 jeopardised by the Italians and, once again, Serbia
2 responded to this demand and, once again, pushed Italy
3 back, although it was a military alliance, a war
4 alliance previously, and accepted these offers -- these
5 urgent offers, not to say pressures -- made for
6 unification and then it was merely a technical
7 question, that is to say, a delegation from Zagreb, led
8 by Ante Pavelic, but not the same Ante Pavelic who
9 slaughtered during World War II, but he was a Croat
10 politician of the first half of the 20th century. This
11 delegation was sent to Belgrade and, through a
12 declaration, proposed unification, which the regent at
13 the time and later King Alexander Karadordevic and
14 that was how a trinomial State was set up. It was the
15 kingdom of the Serbs, Croats and Slovenes.
16 Q. Thank you, Professor. Would you just tell us
17 before the break, briefly, the genesis of the Ustasha
18 movement, when was it incepted, who its leaders were?
19 JUDGE CASSESE: May I ask you to be
20 succinct? In 10 minutes we will have a coffee break --
21 can you conclude, Mr. Fila, your examination-in-chief in
22 10 minutes, or do you need some time after the recess?
23 MR. FILA: After the break, perhaps I will
24 have one additional question. I think that will do.
25 At any rate, I will take less than an hour and a half
1 and that is what I gave as my envisaged time of
2 questioning. Please bear this in mind, that I did not
3 go beyond any of the hour limits I set for myself.
4 Q. Please, could you tell us briefly, because in
5 10 minutes we will be taking a break.
6 A. The ideological and theoretical routes of the
7 Ustasha movement lie in the ideology of the Croat
8 Party of Rights of Kvaternik and Starcevic. There were
9 certain reasons for the Croats to express a certain
10 degree of dissatisfaction with the unitarian policies
11 of the Kingdom of Yugoslavia, although I underline, in
12 all governments of the Kingdom of Yugoslavia, in
13 addition to Serbs, Slovenes, who were exceptionally
14 well represented, and Muslims from Bosnia-Herzegovina,
15 who were also fairly represented in the Parliament and
16 in the Government, there were also Croats -- the first
17 Minister of Foreign Affairs, that is to say, one of the
18 most important ministries in a country, was a Croat --
19 Ante Trumbic. He was the one who led the Serb
20 delegation, or, rather, who negotiated during the peace
21 negotiations in Versailles and before that and, of
22 course, he particularly bore in mind the western
23 boundaries of the new State -- that was of special
24 importance to him. So, due to the weakness of Serb
25 policies and their lack of caution, especially in terms
1 of the north-eastern border of the State and, even
2 during the dictatorship of king Alexander imposed on
3 6 January 1929, there were Croats in that same
4 Government, too, even three key ministries were held by
6 Q. Sorry, but you mentioned Mr. Trumbic, did he
7 represent Yugoslavia at the Conference of Versailles?
8 A. Yes.
9 Q. Were there any problems in connection with
11 A. Oh, there were always problems, because the
12 Italians, who were on the side of the Allies during the
13 war, they defended the Treaty of London and the
14 Italians were not happy to see Croats on the Yugoslavia
15 delegation, because they knew they would be fighting
16 primarily for the western borders for Austria, the
17 Adriatic, et cetera.
18 Q. So, please continue about the Ustasha
19 movement, and bear in mind that we have seven minutes
20 only be?
21 A. So, this ideology of the Croat Party of
22 Rights and that meant that there would be no
23 reconciliation with the Serbs. In 1929 after the
24 assassination against Radic in the Parliament and there
25 was undoubtedly growing dissatisfaction, because of
1 this tragic event, Pavelic emigrated and he started
2 rallying together unsatisfied individuals from the
3 ranks of the Croat émigrés in Austria and other
4 countries, those who would follow him. So, relatively
5 quickly, he established a firm foundation for his
6 Ustasha movement. This movement was connected to the
7 European Irredenta, with Hungarian, Bulgarian and other
8 irredentisms -- then they adopted their Statute, their
9 rules, for this nationalist organisation of theirs
10 based on conspiracy with clear objectives -- to
11 struggle against Yugoslavia; to struggle against the
12 Serb people; by resorting to all means; and with the
13 assistance of all possible Allies.
14 Q. What was his idea regarding the future of the
15 Serbs, if he were to come to power?
16 A. He did not conceal this idea, because if we
17 look at the Paroshi period, Serbs were to be expelled
18 from Croatia, they were to be destroyed, or, as they
19 said, they should be reconverted to their original
20 faith, Catholicism, and the Serbs were supposed to be
21 "un-Serbed", as we say today -- they were supposed to
22 become part and parcel of the Croat people, because
23 this entire theory and ideology of the Croat Party
24 of Rights was based on this unfortunate theory.
25 Q. Was there this idea of three-thirds?
1 A. No, it was not formulated at that early
2 stage. It was contained in the spirit of the Ustasha
3 principles and practice -- the assassination of King
4 Alexander and also the attempt to have an uprising in
5 Lika in 1932, et cetera, but this policy of
6 three-thirds was clearly formulated during the
7 independent State of Croatia, a German Quisling State,
8 and the Doglavonic, the first deputy of Ante Starcevic,
9 was Mile Budak, an important writer. He said that
10 one-third of the Serbs should be converted to
11 Catholicism, another third should be moved out, and a
12 third should be exterminated.
13 Q. So, may we conclude by saying that this
14 principle was applied during this independent State of
16 A. Oh, yes, absolutely, in a way which is
17 unrivalled in world history, and it superseded, by far,
18 the methods of Ghengis Khan and Tamurlaine by their
19 cruelty. In this text, in this expert opinion that
20 I have submitted, I think that I tellingly demonstrated
21 what these methods were and what the degree of
22 bestiality was -- not cruelty -- bestiality that was
23 applied towards a people who had no leaders, who were
24 peasants. What would a Serb from Kozara be blamed for,
25 an illiterate person, or a Serb from the hills of
1 Slavonia who had hardly seen a town, who hardly knew
2 how to cross himself, but he knew that he was a Serb
3 and he was an Orthodox.
4 Q. And the consequences were?
5 A. And the consequences were Jazenovac,
6 Jadovno, Tenje, Koprivnica, Mitrovica -- practically
7 every town had a concentration camp in its vicinity.
8 At that time, I was a pupil in the Vinkovci secondary
9 school -- I had completed sixth grade then. Under the
10 Ustasha state, I was a secondary school pupil. I knew
11 about this; I heard about this; I had seen for myself
12 Ustasha ideology in the Vinkovci secondary school, that
13 is to say, in Slavonia, and then during the occupation
14 I suffered a lot of what my people had suffered. In a
15 small village near Vinkovski, it was either 20 or 24
16 October 1944, I am sorry that I did not remember the
17 exact date, but 64 persons, including my kinsmen, were
18 slaughtered in the most terrible fashion -- their
19 throats were slit, et cetera, they were only half dead
20 when they were buried. A tombstone is still there.
21 Perhaps they are going to destroy it tomorrow, but that
22 is what it was like.
23 MR. FILA: Thank you. I will have another
24 question after the break and you will all be interested
25 in this, because it relates to the memorandum and
1 Mr. Gavrilovic is a member of that Academy of Sciences
2 and Arts involving this memorandum, and Mr. Wheeler
3 talked about this memorandum.
4 JUDGE CASSESE: We stand in recess until
6 (10.00 a.m.).
7 (A short break).
8 (10.25 a.m.).
9 MR. FILA: Your Honours, I should like to ask
10 my final question about the famous memorandum. In the
11 meantime, since Mr. Wheeler's testimony to the present
12 day, I have supplied the library with the so-called
13 memorandum of the Serb Academy of Science in English
14 and you can acquaint yourself with the text whenever
15 you like.
16 I should now like to ask the Professor to
17 tell me, briefly, what the memorandum is, how it came
18 into being, is it a text or a draft, how it was
19 published, and so on and so forth, and what the
20 consequences are, who drew it up and so on?
21 A. The memorandum was to have been a critical
22 programme design document, which would indicate to the
23 Serb people the situation in which they find
24 themselves and would propose ways and means of getting
25 out of a situation of that kind. However, events took
1 a different direction -- a dramatic direction. Let me
2 say at the outset, however, that the time in which the
3 decision was made to draw up a document of this kind,
4 programme oriented, was the time after Tito's death
5 when the Communist Party of Yugoslavia, which still
6 existed at the time, pledged to follow Tito's road,
7 even after his death and the slogan was "With Tito,
8 after Tito" -- that was the official slogan of the day.
9 However, the Serb people, during Tito's
10 era and in the post-Tito era, were not neglected and
11 their position was tragic and the position of the
12 Republic of Serbia within a Federal State of
14 Via two provinces, the province of Kosovo and
15 the province of Vojvodina, the Serb political and
16 therefore Party peaks continuously was disempowered to
17 implement the economic, political and other goals which
18 stood before the country, both before Serbia and the
19 Serb people in that State.
20 We had a strange phenomenon of
21 anti-Serbism where we would expect, at least on the
22 territory of Macedonia, there was the Macedonianisation
23 of everything. None of the Serbs denied the
24 Macedonian Federal State, but, within that State, the
25 Serbs were treated worse than a national minority.
1 What particularly gained expression was the fact that
2 Serb cultural and historical monuments were
3 desecrated and the appropriation of all medieval
4 monasteries built by Serb rulers or the Serb
5 dynasty and Serb military cemeteries during the
6 First World War were violated. Macedonia was once
7 under Turkish power and authority.
8 Slovenia went its own way. It used the mask
9 of Yugoslavia -- the Yugoslav mask, but implementing
10 its profoundly nationalistic policy, particularly in
11 economic policy, but, as I am not an expert in this
12 realm, I do not want to enter into detail, and I do not
13 think that it is necessary at the present moment.
14 In the case of Vojvodina, we had a very
15 strange type of separatism, which had its roots
16 partially in the former Austro-Hungarian monarchy, in
17 which a very insignificant portion of the people, but
18 they were not without influence, they were sorry that
19 the old monarchy had disappeared, and these individuals
20 said that Serbia was waging a unification policy in
21 relation to Vojvodina. In fact, it was a question of a
22 dogmatic stream within the Party -- the Party
23 hard-liners and dogmatists and the vestiges of
24 Stalinism in the political ranks of Vojvodina, both
25 with the Serbs in Vojvodina and the non-Serbs --
1 Q. Professor, briefly, please --
2 A. Let me say what happened in Bosnia and
3 Croatia, in two or three sentences. In Bosnia, we have
4 the expression of Islamisation, which was masked
5 beforehand, and this was reflected in the cultural and
6 economic life of Bosnia. As I am better acquainted
7 with the cultural life, let me say the following. The
8 thesis was put forward that the Turkish administration
9 and the Turkish State was not an imperialistic State in
10 which genocide was tolerated and implemented, but that
11 it was almost an ideal community for the peoples of the
12 Balkans. The pressure exerted on Serb
13 intelligentsia was that, one by one, they began to
14 leave, like Vojislav Lubarda, the poet, Gojko Nogo,
15 Palevestra, historian of literature, Slavko Leovac and
16 a whole host of leading Serb intellectuals were
17 forced to leave Sarajevo, because, on the one hand,
18 they were under the direct pressure of the Party organs
19 in which the Serbs as well -- Serbs having no backbone
20 -- people like Todo Kurtovic, Mijatovic and others --
21 in fact waged a satellite policy, they became
22 satellites and appendages to the Bosnian Islamisation.
23 Let me now say a few words about Croatia. A
24 similar tendency was seen in Croatia. As an historian,
25 let me say the following: In Croat histiography,
1 the books written, Serbs were minimalised or were
2 passed over altogether. In the excellent "History of
3 the Croats" written by Professor Sidak Karaman,
4 Dragovan Sepic and Mirjana Gross, it is stated in the
5 introduction that "the Serbs have been left out".
6 Well, they showed enough consciousness to say that the
7 Serbs have been left out and that a separate history of
8 the Serbs would be written, and so on and so forth.
9 So, everything which in the past was positive
10 was ascribed to only one nation, that is to say, the
11 Croat nation, whereas most of what was negative and
12 which could compromise Croatia in the eyes of Europe
13 was ascribed to the local Serbs, the Serbs living in
15 Therefore, endeavours were made to exclude
16 the Serbs; there was silence about the Serbs and they
17 were eliminated and, in this case, part of the Party
18 leadership, which was composed also by Serbs in
19 Croatia, with the well-known Srecko Bijelic and Dusan
20 Dragosavac and others, a policy was waged in complete
21 agreement with the Croatising tendencies, which caused
22 a great discontent among the Serb people and the
23 Serb intelligentsia. Let me mention just one
24 detail. When the leading Slavist and linguist, today's
25 world renowned linguist, academic Pavle Ivic, wrote his
1 brilliant book, "The Serb People and its Language",
2 nobody else -- it was Dragosavac who stood up and
3 attacked Ivic and Serb science as a whole, not only
4 for the linguistic consequences of his book, but what
5 left the realm of linguistics and entered the realm of
6 politics. Therefore, the memorandum was to emerge in a
7 very difficult situation for the Serb people, at
8 least as we, the intellectuals, not to say the leading
9 intellectuals, saw and felt the situation to be.
10 In an atmosphere of this kind, when the
11 Academy of Science was wholly dissatisfied with the
12 policy of the central committee of Serbia and the
13 Government of Serbia and the politics of Serbia within
14 the federation, a decision was taken to create -- let
15 me call it -- a drafting editing group which would draw
16 up a critical review -- a comprehensive critical view
17 of the existing state of affairs, and it proposed the
18 roads towards the future and directions which could
19 serve as a groundwork for the creation of a national
20 Serb programme, as it was the conviction of the
21 Serb intelligentsia that Serbia did not have a
22 national programme and that, as it lacked a true,
23 genuine, national programme, it could not wage a
24 national policy, of course, respecting the fact that we
25 were within the composition of a Federal State, which
1 we did not want to destroy.
2 But, the desire and wish was not excluded to
3 restructure it, to cultivate it and as it had severed
4 links with the Soviet Union and the Eastern Bloc, to
5 find itself in Europe, the position which it merited
6 and from which it was born and to which it had given so
7 much in the past.
8 The idea was that individual experts, or
9 groups of experts, two or three individuals from the
10 realm of economics, politics, political historiography,
11 art and so on and so forth, should get together and
12 write texts which would be united, and which would be
13 subject to the editing by this editorial group which
14 was set up.
15 It was envisaged -- there were to be six or
16 seven chapters. I followed developments along these
17 lines, although I was not directly involved because
18 I was not living in Belgrade, but was living in
19 Novi Sad in the Vojvodina province, but I attended
20 meetings of the Assembly of the Academy of Science
21 regularly, and, at the time, had this document been
22 completed, once it was presented before the editorial
23 board, it would be sent on to the executive board of
24 the Academy of Science and it was this board --
25 JUDGE CASSESE: I am sorry to interrupt
1 you. I wonder if you would be so kind to set out, in a
2 few sentences, the gist of this memorandum so we can
3 come to the end of this examination-in-chief.
4 MR. FILA: Professor, it was not brought to
5 the editorial council?
6 A. The essential point to note is that it would
7 have the value of an official document and an official
8 attitude of the Academy of Science, had it been adopted
9 by the Assembly of the Academy of Science, and this
10 never took place.
11 Q. Can we say as our first conclusion that it is
12 not an official document of the Academy of Serb
14 A. Absolutely. First of all, because it was
15 never completed and, second, because it never went
16 through all the bodies of the Academy of Science.
17 Therefore, it is just in an uncompleted portion -- an
18 incomplete document, drafted by individuals and groups
19 of citizens within the Academy, members of the Academy.
20 Q. Professor, could you tell us, please, how
21 this uncompleted document went public and the reactions
22 of official Serb policy to this?
23 A. How the memorandum -- that is to say, this
24 document which was conditionally called "the
25 memorandum" -- how it became public remains unclear to
1 the present day -- opinions differ. It seems that what
2 happened, and I as a member of the Academy heard this
3 -- and this is the most probable explanation -- that
4 the late professor, the Professor of the Faculty of
5 Law, Jovan Dordevic, received the first part of this
6 memorandum which was drafted, and it was sent to him to
7 review it from a legal aspect, in the meantime, waiting
8 for other texts.
9 But, allegedly, his son-in-law -- I do not
10 remember if his name was Jovan Jovanovic, took the text
11 from his writing table, had it copied and sent it to
12 the papers and, behind this act, it is considered that
13 it was the head of internal security, the Slovene,
14 Stane Dolanc, who was responsible for this act, with
15 the clear goal of coming by material which could
16 compromise the Serb Government and the Serb
17 central committee, which had started this struggle for
18 a constitutional revision.
19 Q. Professor, can we say, therefore, that the
20 document saw the light of day without authorisation
21 from the Academy?
22 A. Absolutely so.
23 Q. Now, the last question: they do not know,
24 professors, names like Dolanc and so on. They mean
25 nothing to the members of the Tribunal, so let us have
1 a look at the attitude of official Serb policy
2 towards the memorandum -- the President was Milosevic;
3 is that correct? What did the Government have to say?
4 A. Ivan Stambolic was President at the time.
5 Q. What was the official attitude of Serb
7 A. Milosevic was at the head of the Party forum.
8 Q. How was this memorandum received?
9 A. The Government of Serbia and Central
10 Committee of Serbia received the memorandum, as they
11 said, as a "knife in the back". They could not come to
12 terms with it. They could not come to terms with the
13 fact that somebody outside their ranks, particularly
14 outside the ranks of the Party, and most of the
15 academics were not Party members, how could they think
16 with their own heads and take a step which would be
17 contrary to the Government -- opposed to the Government
18 -- showing the Government and the central committee as
19 incapable individuals, disoriented leadership, which
20 was losing its footing amongst its own people and the
21 Academy reacted drastically.
22 First of all, there was a witch hunt, a
23 campaign, in the press against the Academy of Science,
24 against individuals, and against the Academy as an
1 Q. Were your financial resources withheld?
2 A. Yes, they went as far as saying that there
3 was the danger that the Academy be dissolved, and that
4 new elections in the Academy be held, because the
5 regime thought that it would frighten the academics and
6 that a small group of academics, 17 members in all,
7 I do not know whether or not this is true but I do
8 know, and it was difficult for me to say this -- my
9 Professor, where I did my Ph.D., whose assistant I was,
10 he was a one time Minister (INAUDIBLE) was one of these
11 individuals, who together with Pavlesavic and others
12 was to have undermined the assembly of the Academy, and
13 was to bring about a vote of no confidence to the
14 executive board of the time and, quite simply, to turn
15 the clock back, and then to have re-elections take
16 place in the spirit and intentions of the Government
17 and the Central Committee of Serbia, to select the
18 people they wanted to have in the Academy.
19 Furthermore, the Academy, for several months,
20 all financial resources were withheld -- financial
21 resources which belonged to the Academy by law -- the
22 Academy is a not a chorus or a choir -- only two or
23 three institutions were guaranteed their position by
24 law -- first of all, the Serb Academy of Science and
25 Arts and the Matica Hrvatska organisation. The
1 Government and Central Committee overruled this view
2 and they refused to finance the Academy. They said
3 that the academics would not be receiving part of their
4 salaries and we just laughed, because we were not in
5 the Academy for a measly supplement of less than 100
7 Furthermore, systematically, they wanted to
8 separate the administration of the Academy from its
9 members and for several months nobody received their
10 salary in the Academy, but from the cleaning women
11 right up to the Secretary-General, everybody stood
12 behind the academics themselves, and then, from some
13 reserve funds, which were set aside for scientific
14 research, we managed to guarantee the administrators
15 their salaries and we went to the Assembly, which was
16 tied up with the centenary celebrations of the
17 Academy. The Academy had already sent out invitations
18 to 150 addresses throughout the world -- kindred
19 Academies throughout this world, and this was to have
20 been a general assembly, a great manifestation to
21 celebrate the centenary.
22 However, as the Academy lacked funds, our
23 colleagues and delegations from all over the world were
24 not able to come, because we were not able to finance
25 them, but, instead of them, we had the representatives
1 of practically all the embassies ranging from the
2 Japanese straight through to all the others, and they
3 attended the Assembly, which was a very lively one.
4 JUDGE CASSESE: Sorry to stop you, but
5 I wonder whether you could refrain from going into so
6 many details. Mr. Fila, are you through?
7 MR. FILA: I am not through -- yes, I have
8 finished. I am not drawing to an end, I have reached
9 the end. Thank you.
10 JUDGE CASSESE: Thank you. I wonder whether
11 the Prosecutor has any questions.
12 Cross-examination by MR. WILLIAMSON.
13 MR. WILLIAMSON: Yes, we have a number of
14 questions. These relate mainly to the written
15 submission. It deals primarily with the more recent
17 Q. Professor, you have indicated that you were a
18 member of this Serb Academy of Arts and Science.
19 Would it be fair to say the Academy has had some degree
20 of influence in Serbia and among Serbs outside of
22 A. The Academy did not have a major influence by
23 virtue of the fact that it could hardly exist
24 financially, and it was on the margins of all events
25 generally speaking -- you know what communist rule
1 means -- they thought that all wisdom was in the heads
2 of the members of the Central Committee and we were,
3 what, a necessary evil? They tried to tolerate us and
4 nothing more than that, but the very fact that we were
5 a Serb Academy of Sciences and Arts meant that we
6 had some kind of authority -- I would not say influence
7 -- but, you know, in the thinking of the Serbs in
8 Croatia, in Canada and elsewhere, so it is impossible
9 to deny it and why deny it?
10 Q. You have testified today and you have
11 indicated in your curriculum vitae that you suffered
12 quite a bit during the Ustasha period. I do not in any
13 way want to minimise your loss and suffering that you
14 went through, but, with all respect, does this not make
15 it difficult for you to provide a detached, objective
16 analysis of events during that period?
17 A. Not in the least. I did suffer during the
18 war, as a pupil who had not even completed secondary
19 school yet, I had only finished 11th grade. I was a
20 pupil in Croatia, in Vinkovski, and I did a lot of my
21 research in Zagreb, in Croatia, and I had wonderful
22 colleagues and friends among Croats, particularly among
23 historians, especially the late Professor Jaroslav
24 Sidak, Igor Karaman,, Mirjana Gross, Ivan Erceg --
25 well, he is still alive. In my research in Zagreb,
1 I never encountered any impediments of any kind, but
2 I did get into situations which were rather
3 unpleasant. You know, people trusted me, and they knew
4 that I was not a spy of the authorities, that I was not
5 a stool pigeon, that I was a free-thinking
6 intellectual, so they would say things in front of me
7 which they would not say elsewhere. They would express
8 their attitude towards the Serbs in Croatia, towards
9 the authorities and towards the situation in the
10 country as a whole. By profession, by vocation, so to
11 speak, I am a scholar, I am an historian, I apply
12 critical methods sine ira et studio -- this is my life
14 During my scholarly activities, whenever
15 I encounter documents that did not really speak well of
16 the Serb people, I presented them quite freely. I did
17 it even about the leading people during the life of
18 Tito, and I was subjected to critical views, regardless
19 of whether I expressed views about Serbia and Serb
20 hierarchy or Croats, Catholicism, et cetera, so I wish
21 to state that any kind of Party affiliation,
22 nationalist chauvinist association is something that is
23 foreign to the very essence of my being, although
24 I did, indeed in my youth, see Vukovar and Paucje and
25 Virovitica and Pokupoje and Prigorje and Zagorje, where
1 my very own brother was killed, and, regardless of this
2 major tragedy of inconceivable proportions --
3 inconceivable especially in view of its bestiality, all
4 of this that I witnessed, that I saw -- my best friend,
5 you know, after I was arrested in November 1942, was
6 taken to Jasenovac and he was built into a wall while
7 he was still alive -- alive!
8 But my conscience always prevailed as a
9 scholar -- a Serb scholar who wrote more historical
10 writings about the Croats, the Ruthenians, the Slovaks,
11 the Hungarians, the Cincars, so it is I who did this,
12 Dr. Slavko Gavrilovic, I wrote about all of them more
13 than anyone else.
14 Q. In your written statement, during your
15 discussion of history from the 1300s through to the end
16 of World War II, it is extensively footnoted. In fact,
17 you have 39 footnotes during that period. In the final
18 three pages in which you offer opinions about events of
19 the last 50 years, there appears only one footnote.
20 Does this indicate that there is a lack of scholarly
21 corroboration for the views you are expressing?
22 A. Sorry, scholastic views are not close to my
23 heart -- it is critical views that are close to my
24 heart. Scholastic views are left to the medieval
25 times. What you are saying is true -- Academic
1 Gavrilovic is an expert in history from the 16th until
2 the mid 19th century -- that is what I said, and that
3 is what my CV and bibliography speak of. However,
4 I wrote this expert opinion as a whole, so it is quite
5 understandable that the scientific apparatus is dense
6 in the first part, and it is quite the opposite in the
7 second part.
8 The second part does often contain my own
9 personal knowledge, my personal experience, and my
10 knowledge on the basis of literature, which I read from
11 the days when I was a student. Of course, I cannot say
12 that I can meritoriously speak about the most recent
13 period as I can for the period for which I am a true
14 expert, which I already mentioned.
15 Q. But you have included this period in your
16 expert opinion, which has been submitted to the court?
17 A. Yes and, in addition to these most recent
18 times and these dates, which I had been registering as
19 a citizen, I am prepared to testify on that period,
20 too, yes.
21 Q. Did you feel that it was important to educate
22 Serbs about what happened under the Ustasha Government?
23 A. Certainly. If anything is important about
24 man, it is his memory, it is his history. No matter
25 how much we may minimise the past or suppress the past,
1 it is in us -- it is within our very human beings. How
2 can I not tell my son, "Son, your father went through a
3 Golgotha during the Ustasha Independent State of
4 Croatia, your father was a person who confronted the
5 Ustasha? Very little, the Germans." As you know,
6 history blamed Germans and Italians for the entire war
7 in order to relieve Croats of all responsibility and
8 they should have been held accountable in the first and
9 Second World Wars, so it is impossible to exclude this
10 component of our lives in the education of young people
11 and, also, at the department where I used to teach --
12 I did not teach recent history I taught a different
13 kind of history -- but this is part of our everyday
15 Q. In fact, starting in the late 1980s and into
16 the early 1990s, there were a number of television
17 programmes and documentaries that were shown on Serb
18 television about Jasenovac and the Ustasha period. Do
19 you think this, in any way, contributed to increasing
20 tension among Serbs and further destabilising the
21 situation in Croatia?
22 A. What could we have achieved with the
23 opposite? What did we achieve by having denied our
24 people that for four decades? They did not have a real
25 conception of the immediate past. They did not know
1 how monstrous these crimes were, and these attempts at
2 exterminating an entire people during the Second World
3 War -- this should not be overlooked. We should not
4 live with lies. A background is very important;
5 history is the background of the present day and the
6 present day is the background of the future. The Serbs
7 certainly had some idea of Jasenovac. There was not a
8 single person who did not know about Jasenovac. How
9 could a son and grandson not know about what his
10 father, mother, grandmother and grandfather had gone
11 through? We cannot exclude the family as such. Every
12 Serb in Croatia and elsewhere had heard of Jasenovac
13 and all the suffering. After all, historiography and
14 history text books for secondary schools tried to
15 overlook this, but they could not overlook it
17 It was said, nevertheless that, during the
18 occupation, the Ustasha behaved in a bestial manner in
19 Jasenovac, Jadovno, in the (INAUDIBLE), in Herzegovina,
20 et cetera. It was not really inciting, because these
21 facts were not new for the Serb people; they simply
22 became obvious or rather more obvious to the younger
23 generation now -- not more than that.
24 Q. In your written statement, you say that the
25 Serbs in Croatia had no alternative, but at the last
1 moment, in the places in which they were a majority, to
2 prepare to defend themselves, not to allow themselves
3 to be disarmed and exterminated and even to create
4 their own State, Srpska Krajina. If this was a
5 defensive action by the Serbs, why was it necessary to
6 expel the Croat population from the areas that came
7 under their control?
8 A. I did not go into that, first and foremost.
9 I am informed about this to the extent that any average
10 citizen is, with the following distinction -- the man
11 in the street reads five different newspapers, for
12 example, and I read only one daily newspaper because
13 I have so many things I want to do as a scholar.
14 I could not really remember your entire question.
15 Could you please repeat the second part of your
17 Q. Very well. In your written submission, you
18 say, to paraphrase, that the Serbs, in order to defend
19 themselves in places in which they were a majority,
20 created their own State, Srpska Krajina. I am asking
21 you if this was a defensive action by the Serbs, why
22 was it necessary to expel the Croat populations from
23 those areas?
24 A. I really do not know everything that was
25 happening on the ground, but, as far as I know, there
1 was no systematic expulsion of the Croat population
2 when the Serb Krajina was being established on the
3 basis of the tradition of Serb political life and
4 ethnic development in the former Habsburg monarchy.
5 MR. FILA: I am sorry, your Honour, but I did
6 not find anywhere in the written expert opinion that
7 this witness said it was necessary to expel the
8 Croat population. Could the Prosecutor please read
9 this out? Where it was necessary, what was done to
10 the Croat population, where were they expelled? Please
11 do not put your conclusions or your misconceptions into
12 the mouth of this witness. Where does he say so?
13 Could you please read this out to us?
14 MR. WILLIAMSON: My question was very clear.
15 I read the statement that he made where he said it was
16 a defensive action and then I asked him, if this was a
17 defensive action, why was it necessary to expel the
18 Croat population. At no point did I say that he
19 had --
20 MR. FILA: Who told you it was necessary --
21 whoever said this? How can you claim that this was
22 done? The question was whether it was necessary.
24 JUDGE CASSESE: Your quote is from the
25 written statement, which --
1 MR. WILLIAMSON: That is correct.
2 JUDGE CASSESE: Could you tell us where?
3 MR. WILLIAMSON: Yes, I apologise, it is the
4 next to last paragraph in the English translation, on
5 page 6996, which begins with the statement:
6 "In such a situation, the Serbs in Croatia
7 had no alternative --"
8 Again, I quoted that directly; the second
9 time around I did paraphrase it because he said the
10 question was too long. I think that there is ample
11 evidence that the Croat population was expelled from
12 Ilok, from Lovas, from Tovarnik, from (INAUDIBLE), from
13 Vukovar -- from all these areas. I am asking him about
14 facts that are in evidence and asking him to comment,
15 that if this was a defensive action, why was it
16 necessary to expel the Croat population?
17 JUDGE CASSESE: Sorry, your objection is
18 overruled. Please, you may proceed. Could you please
19 answer the question put by the Prosecutor, Professor?
20 THE WITNESS: First of all, may I say that
21 nowhere in my text, not in a single word do I mention
22 expulsions of Croats. I wrote my text as a general
23 essay, and I did not go into all the events that
24 occurred from the moment when the Serb resistance
25 movement came into being and from the moment when the
1 Serb Krajina was created. I have always believed, and
2 I believe now, that people and experts who are directly
3 involved, or who were directly involved, should speak
4 about this, and I am not one of them, and I state
5 responsibly to you, Sir, that I know how to read, and
6 that nowhere is there a single word or a single
7 formulation of that kind. After all, I said in such a
8 situation the Serbs in Croatia had no alternative but
9 at the last moment, et cetera, et cetera, not to allow
10 themselves to be disarmed and exterminated and even to
11 create their own State, Srpska Krajina -- that is what
12 I said, no more, no less. Perhaps you do have
13 different data, because you have done research of your
14 own and perhaps you have come across various things
15 during this trial, but I cannot speak about it.
16 It was not the objective of this historical
17 analysis of mine to talk about such things. I was
18 supposed to show how this last conflict broke out and
19 what happened during this conflict, I have very little
20 information on that, just like an average citizen --
21 I know that various things happened and that people
22 lost their lives, like in any war, and this is to
23 no-one's honour, really.
24 JUDGE CASSESE: Sorry, may I point out to
25 you before you start with your next question that, as
1 it was very clear from the outset, this court is not
2 really interested in the historical background of the
3 armed conflict, and we are only interested in the facts
4 of the case and the law which must be applied, so
5 therefore let us start from the assumption that this
6 general background is not material. So, if you could
7 be so kind as to confine your questions to the relevant
8 point. I would also call on the witness to be as
9 concise as possible in his replies.
10 MR. WILLIAMSON: If I may address that for
11 the moment. The Defence has maintained that the Serbs
12 in Croatia were defending themselves and that the
13 Yugoslav army became involved only in an effort to
14 protect them and to maintain Yugoslavia. The
15 Prosecution's position has been that the Serbs embarked
16 on an effort to create a Greater Serbia and that, in
17 fact, the Yugoslav army had become a Serb army and
18 this turned into a conflict between the Serbs and the
19 Croats. This witness has made claims to this effect in
20 his written statement, and this is the position that
21 has been put forth by the Defence.
22 We feel that it is necessary to some extent
23 to go into these issues about the creation of this
24 State and what was the intent of the Serbs at the time,
25 so this is where these questions are directed, but
1 I will try to keep it as close to the point as
2 possible. Perhaps, based on the Professor's
3 statements, I can just put a question and maybe we can
4 get around this altogether.
5 Q. Is what you are saying that, in the period
6 after World War II, the statements that you have
7 included in here are made not as an expert, but as a
8 citizen who observed events and read the newspaper and,
9 if that is the case, perhaps this part of the statement
10 can be withdrawn from evidence and then I would have no
11 further questions on these issues?
12 A. Frankly speaking, that would be the gist of
13 it, because I cannot proclaim myself to be an expert in
14 the history of the peoples of the former Yugoslavia, or
15 even present day Yugoslavia in the most recent period,
16 but I was invited to speak here as a witness and
17 I wrote most of this text, especially the first part,
18 on the basis of my own knowledge and research, and on
19 the basis of Serbia, Hungary, Germany and other history
20 and other histiography. In order to speak about this
21 most recent period as an historian, meritoriously,
22 I need documents. I am a scholar. I need a time
23 distance. Even if I were an expert in this period of
24 time in history, I would not have enough facts or
25 sources, so, indeed, as a citizen, and I am not ashamed
1 to say this, as a patriot, too, I knew this. So, that
2 is how, more or less, the milieu that I live in feels
3 and thinks, but, as far as individual facts are
4 concerned, you will have an opportunity to ascertain
5 that during your questioning and hearing of different
7 I have seen from the transcript that you have
8 talked to people who can specifically say in such and
9 such a time and such and such a date, but I really
10 cannot do that, and that would be unfair, and it would
11 not do me honour and it would not honour this
12 honourable court if I were to say otherwise.
13 MR. WILLIAMSON: Your Honour, if the portion
14 after World War II is being withdrawn as part of the
15 expert submission, I would have no further questions.
16 If, however, it is to be maintained, I think I am
17 obligated to go into the issues as to the issues he
18 raises and the claims he makes.
19 JUDGE CASSESE: It could still be tendered
20 in evidence, however, with the sort of caveat, namely,
21 that the part after World War II does not reflect the
22 position of a distinguished historian, but simply the
23 views of --
24 MR. FILA: That is right.
25 JUDGE CASSESE: -- a citizen. Would you
1 agree, Mr. Fila?
2 MR. FILA: Absolutely, your Honour. You have
3 probably noted that I did not put a single question
4 from that period in my line of questioning. There is a
5 different expert in that field, that is
6 Professor Bulajic, who you will hear on Monday. I had
7 confined myself to the beginning of the
8 Second World War. I did not mention Jasenovac. I only
9 mentioned the memorandum. I fully accepted this. That
10 is why I did not go into that part of his expertise,
11 otherwise I would have been putting questions along
12 those lines, too, and you did not hear me put a single
13 question on that?
14 A. As a man, I spoke about a humane dimension,
15 the suffering of my people, and I am never going to
16 overlook this. I was a participant in all of that,
18 JUDGE CASSESE: Thank you.
19 MR. WILLIAMSON: I would have no further
21 JUDGE CASSESE: No questions? I assume
22 there is no objection to the witness being released.
23 MR. WILLIAMSON: No objection.
24 JUDGE CASSESE: Thank you, Professor, for
25 coming and you may be released.
1 MR. FILA: We will call upon the next
2 witness. Would you like me to call the next witness
3 now, or are we going to have a break?
4 JUDGE CASSESE: No, now.
5 (The witness withdrew).
6 MILENKO MILINKOVIC:
7 JUDGE CASSESE: Good morning, may I ask you
8 to make the solemn declaration, please?
9 THE WITNESS: I solemnly declare that I will
10 speak the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the
12 JUDGE CASSESE: Thank you. You may be
14 Examination-in-chief by MR. PETROVIC:
15 Q. Mr. Milinkovic, would you please tell us
16 whether, on 24 February 1998, you talked to lawyer
17 Miroslav Vasic and did you give Miroslav Vasic a
18 statement. Did you make a statement. Would the usher
19 please show this witness a statement, the English and
20 the Serb original, so that the witness can identify
21 the signature on the document? (Handed).
22 JUDGE CASSESE: I hope you will not speak so
23 fast as Mr. Fila, so the interpreters --
24 MR. PETROVIC: I shall do my best, but it
25 seems to be our school.
1 THE REGISTRAR: Document is marked D30, the
2 English translation is D30A.
3 MR. PETROVIC: Is that your statement and
4 your signature?
5 A. Yes, it is.
6 Q. Would this statement be admitted as D30 or
7 D30A, the English version?
8 Mr. Milinkovic, would you please tell us
9 something about yourself? You are an electronic
10 engineer and an engineer in atomic physics. In the
11 period between 1983 and 1990, you were the Director of
12 the post in Vukovar?
13 A. I was director of the PTT in Vukovar.
14 Q. Can you tell us something about your work as
15 Director of the Post Telegraph and Telephone company?
16 A. I was in Vukovar when there were 4,500
17 telephone lines and over four and a half years there
18 were 28,000 in the municipality of Vukovar. The
19 municipality of Vukovar at the time had about 26,000
20 households, which means that it had a high degree of
21 development in the telephone service area and I was
22 granted the greatest recognition by the PTT of Croatia
23 and hold an order for labour for my efforts.
24 Q. Were you a member of any political
25 organisation at the time?
1 A. Yes, I was, I was a member of the League of
2 Communists of Croatia, and after it changed its name
3 into the SDP, I was also a member of that Party.
4 Q. Were you a representative in the first
5 parliamentary assembly after the multi-Party elections
6 in 1990?
7 A. Yes, I was elected as a representative of the
8 Council of Municipalities.
9 Q. Would you please tell us something about your
10 political work in that period, that is to say, at the
11 end of the 1980s and the beginning of the 1990s? First
12 of all, I have in mind the beginnings of the
13 transformation of the League of Communists of Croatia
14 into a different political organisation and the overall
15 beginnings of political transformation in Croatia and
16 social transformation as well and I have in mind the
17 11th congress of Croatia, the Croat Party?
18 THE INTERPRETER: A little slower please.
19 MR. PETROVIC: Therefore the 11th congress of
20 the League of Communists of Croatia, when was that
21 meeting held and what happened at that particular
23 A. I was elected as delegate at the 11th
24 congress of the League of Communists of Croatia. It
25 took place, as far as I recall, in 1989. I was in the
1 commission for reform -- there were three commissions
2 -- one was a reform of the economic system. After my
3 presentation within that commission, I took part in the
4 work of the commission for a reform of the political
5 system, but without any intention of presenting a paper
6 before that commission.
7 When, at one particular point, the Chairman
8 concluded the discussion, and proposed that one of the
9 conclusions of the discussion be that the transition to
10 a multi-Party system should take place immediately,
11 I asked for the right to reply, and presented the view
12 that pluralism, which world practice has shown is the
13 most effective way of establishing competitiveness in
14 politics, and the most effective way, but I raised the
15 question of whether we, as a society, were ready for
16 that transformation -- were ready to enter this new
17 form of organisation, especially in view of the fact
18 that there were still national tensions to clear up
19 and, therefore, I proposed that, by using the
20 experience of western Europe in the field, which, after
21 the conclusion that a longer period of time would be
22 necessary for unification and for the dovetailing and
23 harmonisation of all legal and other acts and overcome
24 the barriers in people's minds, that we should do this
25 as well following that model, because we did not have a
1 lot of time -- perhaps only half a year.
2 But that this was the way in which we should
3 proceed. The chairman took note of this and he
4 accepted my reply, but my conclusion was not adopted
5 and although it was not voted on in favour, the
6 conclusion to move to a multi-Party system immediately
7 was made.
8 Q. Could you please tell us something about the
9 pre-election campaign? The elections took place in the
10 spring of 1990. Could you tell us a little about the
11 pre-election campaign, please?
12 A. Within the frameworks of the SDP, certain
13 changes had taken place and for the multi-Party
14 elections we were called the SDP and we organised
15 ourselves for the pre-election campaign. We went to
16 all the local communities in the municipality -- there
17 were about 40 of them, rural and urban ones alike --
18 and we held our meetings, presenting our Party
19 programme, so that we could win over the electorate.
20 On one occasion, in the village of Lovas,
21 there was a pre-electoral meeting that we organised and
22 I was surprised to see very few people turn up,
23 although practically everybody knew me in that
24 particular village, because I solved the telephone
25 connection problem in that particular village and
1 I held a lot of meetings while we solved this problem
2 of the telephone linking and telephone lines.
3 When the meeting ended, I noticed that the
4 HDZ was having a meeting afterwards. As I did not know
5 who the members of the HDZ were, I decided to stay in
6 the hall, and see. The other members of my Party left
7 for the next meeting but I waited in the hall, waited
8 for the people from the HDZ to turn up, and I saw who
9 the members were -- they were Mercep and the others,
10 because I did not know them beforehand -- I had just
11 seen them, perhaps. I asked to be allowed to stay as a
12 guest, an observer at the meeting, and they accepted
13 this. I sat in the first row -- it was, in fact, a
14 cinema in which we held our meeting which was
15 pack-jammed, there were not enough seats for everybody
16 but nobody sat either to the left or right of me
17 although many people knew me -- nobody dared sit next
18 to me.
19 I accepted this as fear on the part of these
20 people, that they would be labelled as consorting with
21 me. The programme was presented, during the meeting in
22 the usual way. At the end I asked for the floor, and
23 Mercep said that this was not the right time for a
24 discussion. I said that I had no intention of taking
25 part in the discussion, but just to address the meeting
1 as a guest. I went up to the rostrum and I said
2 that I come from another political Party, that I had
3 held other political views, but as a man of goodwill
4 I wanted to address the meeting, and the public before
5 me and all men of goodwill.
6 This led to a round of spontaneous applause
7 and Mercep was very angry, and he did not wait for me
8 to return to my seat, but asked me some questions, so
9 I had to go back up to the rostrum to answer those
10 questions. There were many other questions that were
11 asked on the occasion by people up in the chair,
12 candidates for the HDZ membership and from the
13 audience, so, for practically half the time the meeting
14 lasted, I was at the microphone answering the different
16 I recall one particular individual, and one
17 particular question. They asked me how this new Party
18 of ours, the SDP -- it is an abbreviation for the Party
19 of Democratic Change -- how it wished to settle
20 accounts with its members, that is to say, with the
21 members who were not like-minded. I said that it was a
22 truly democratic Party which did not settle accounts
23 with people -- even if they did not feel as they did
24 and particularly not with their own members, and that,
25 as apart from other parties, it was truly a democratic
2 On that occasion I got to know people from
3 the HDZ for the first time, and, in my desire at the
4 beginnings of political pluralism, I proposed to pool
5 our efforts to the Director of the Agricultural
6 Community, that after the meeting, on their own
7 premises, to organise an improvised round-table
8 discussion. They accepted this idea, and we did have a
9 discussion of this kind. There were some 20 people.
10 I was alone representing the SDP. I had to answer many
11 questions, some of them provocative ones, and at one
12 particular point, a young man -- later he was a deputy
13 in the Municipal Assembly -- when he heard that
14 according to my national affiliation I was always
15 declared -- I always declared myself as a Yugoslav, he
16 asked me, "How is this possible? How can you declare
17 yourself as a Yugoslav?" Because he knows that he is a
18 Croat and therefore he cannot be a Yugoslav by the same
19 token. This was a provocative question. He asked
20 whether I had declared myself as a Yugoslav in my time
21 out function, until I find my identity.
22 I answered, and calmed the others present,
23 that if we were going to discuss a particular issue,
24 then we must know the substance, the background, and
25 that an individual seeks his identity first within the
1 frameworks of his inner self and then from the
2 particular towards the general, he goes via his family,
3 via his environment, via the town he lives in, via the
4 region, the State and Europe, and that I was very sorry
5 to see that he had embarked upon this road only
6 yesterday, that he had left his village yesterday,
7 whereas I had found my identity long ago within the
8 State and that I was now looking for my identity within
9 Europe, to be a citizen of the world in times to come
10 and I must say that I gained the impression that many
11 of them did not understand what I was, in fact, saying.
12 But, at all events, I endeavoured to bridge
13 the gap in our different opinions so that we could
14 avoid what, unfortunately, was to take place later on.
15 I also recall that I intimated that, at the meeting on
16 the following day, in Bogdanovci, that I would like to
17 come to the meeting on the following day, if they
18 agreed to this. They did agree to it and I asked
19 Mr. Mate, who is a Croat by nationality, an ethnic Croat
20 -- he was at one time President of the Executive
21 Council of the Municipal Assembly and he was a member
22 of the SDP as well -- I asked him to go to the meeting
23 with me. He agreed, although I saw that he was not
24 very enthusiastic -- he had probably been told that it
25 would not be a very pleasant meeting.
1 And I suppose that they came to realise that,
2 if I was a guest, they had to treat me as such, and
3 they invited Mr. Glavas to the meeting and I saw him
4 there for the first time, and that there was a euphoric
6 Q. Can you tell us who Mr. Glavas was?
7 A. As I heard from the information media, he was
8 a member of the HDZ , whether he was the HDZ leader in
9 Osijek or not, I am not quite sure, but I heard about
10 him from the media.
11 Q. Please continue.
12 A. Well, unfortunately, all my attempts to
13 prevail through force of argument and to have a
14 dialogue by political means was absolutely impossible,
15 because of the euphoria that remained amongst the
16 audience and, because Glavas grabbed the microphone,
17 and he started shouting, "This is Croatia. Vote for
18 the HDZ". There were some very provocative questions
19 and insulting questions and I must admit that I had
20 absolutely no chance of setting up a dialogue.
21 After the meeting in Bogdanovci, I never went
22 to any pre-electoral HDZ campaign meetings but went to
23 our own SDP meetings.
24 Q. Could you just clarify something for us --
25 the reason you wanted to attend these meetings of what
1 was a competitive political organisation at that time
2 -- a rival political organisation?
3 A. I said a moment ago that the reason I went to
4 this meeting was because I wanted, and my Party wanted,
5 to establish a political dialogue between parties
6 within the frameworks of a democratic atmosphere, so
7 that this process of democratic elections could be held
8 in a democratic atmosphere and that the different
9 political opinions be resolved parliamentary, that is
10 through political means.
11 Q. Could you please tell us when the first
12 multi-Party elections were held in Croatia, what
13 deputies were elected at these elections?
14 A. The elections were held at the beginning of
15 May 1990 and at those elections, apart from the
16 SDP Party, we had the participation of the HDZ, another
17 Party was formed to represent the socialists, but less
18 important ones -- the largest parties were in the SDP
19 areas, the HDZ. As I say, up to that point I did not
20 know the HDZ representative sufficiently well, but as
21 I say, the elections were held, and members elected --
22 members to the Municipal Assembly, the deputies
23 themselves. About 115 deputy posts were up for
24 election and the representatives for the Croat
25 Parliament -- the SABOR -- were elected and for the
1 socio-political Chamber, one representative for the
2 Chamber of Municipalities, and for these two
3 representatives, the entire voting corps of the
4 municipality -- there were two other Chambers for
5 Associated Labour where the electorate was divided into
6 three parts and each part was to elect its own
8 The elections for the most part, according to
9 the facts that I have at my disposal, regardless of the
10 fact that, at the HDZ meetings, there was this feeling
11 of euphoria, but nonetheless the elections were --
12 evolved correctly.
13 Q. What were the results of the elections, both
14 locally and at the Croat Republican level?
15 A. At the local level, the overall results were
16 such that the vast majority of votes, some were around
17 two-thirds, went to the candidates of the SDP Party.
18 They were not all members of the SDP Party actually,
19 but were on the SDP list as prominent individuals in
20 the municipality -- well-known for their efforts in the
21 area -- and, if I am correct, I think only 23 deputy
22 posts were won by the HDZ.
23 As I say, about 115 seats in all. On the
24 other hand, as far as the election of members of the
25 Parliament of Croatia were concerned, in addition to
1 myself, a member of the SDP was also elected from the
2 socio-political Chamber as well as two members from the
3 Associated Labour Chamber and the fifth deputy did not
4 enter the elections as the member of any political
5 Party, so he was an independent candidate, so the HDZ
6 officially did not have a single MP in the Parliament
7 of Croatia from the area of Vukovar.
8 I remember that particular figure. My
9 opposing candidate was a candidate of the HDZ and in
10 the second round of votes I got almost 63 per cent of
11 the vote, which showed that people voted for me then as
12 people and they voted for me as a person -- not as a
13 member of a national or ethnic community, but I had won
14 their confidence as a person.
15 In the Croat Parliament, the voting was as
16 follows: I think there were some 323 seats altogether
17 -- a two-thirds majority almost was won by the members
18 of the HDZ, but the true outcome of the vote in terms
19 of percentage was that about 40 per cent of the vote
20 was won by the HDZ and about 30 per cent of the vote
21 was won by the SDP and I looked at the official reports
22 on the voting in the elections and I made an analysis
23 when I looked at the overall electoral body and I saw
24 that the HDZ actually won 32 per cent approximately of
25 the electoral body as a whole -- I mean the electoral
1 body of Croatia -- and the HDZ approximately
2 24 per cent of the total number of voters in Croatia.
3 I think Smiljko Sokol had prepared all of
4 this and, on one occasion, he even said that this law
5 of his was revenge on communism. So, in the final
6 outcome, the HDZ had almost an absolute majority in the
7 Croat Parliament.
8 Q. Please, could you tell us something about the
9 reorganisation of the secretariat for the interior on
10 the territory of the city and municipality of Vukovar?
11 A. The Secretariat of Internal Affairs in
12 Croatia is organised according to municipalities, that
13 is to say, that there was a Republican Secretariat and
14 there were Municipal Secretariats of Internal Affairs
15 in all the municipalities in Croatia. Some time before
16 the elections, I think that this was during 1989, there
17 was a reorganisation of this secretariat. It went
18 along the following lines: instead of being organised
19 according to municipalities, it was organised in a
20 smaller number of secretariats at the level of the
21 entire republic and this resulted in the following --
22 in the municipality of Vukovar, the Secretariat for the
23 Interior was abolished and there was one for the entire
24 territory of Vinkovci, Zupanja and Vukovar. Until
25 then, there was this kind of secretariat in Vukovar, so
1 that Secretary for Internal Affairs -- at that time it
2 was Mr. Lodinovic, who was directly responsible to the
3 Republican Secretariat for Internal Affairs, but also,
4 horizontally, he was responsible to the Assembly of the
5 Municipality of Vukovar and he had to submit his
6 reports to him and that is what the Assembly did, as a
7 rule, every year.
8 When this new secretariat was constituted for
9 the territory of all three municipalities, the Assembly
10 of the Municipality of Vukovar lost all jurisdiction,
11 so to speak, over this Secretariat for Internal
12 Affairs. As I said, this happened even before the
13 elections and it caused quite a bit of
14 dissatisfaction. It stirred up quite a tempest,
15 because the people felt equal before, but when the
16 Municipality of Vukovar was supposed to melt into
17 Vinkovski and Zupanja that had a Croat majority
18 population, they thought that they were losing ground.
19 Mr. Lodinovic was secretary at the time, although
20 I remember that Mr. Dokmanovic was held responsible by
21 some people for having let this happen, but at that
22 time he was not President of the municipality at all.
23 At any rate, this reorganisation was carried
24 out by the Secretariat for Internal Affairs, and the
25 result was that some 40 professionals -- perhaps
1 I should mention before that that the Secretariat of
2 Internal Affairs of Vukovar is part of the overall
3 Republican Secretariat and was often recognised as a
4 very well professionally organised department and they
5 had some very good professionals on their staff, and
6 about 40 professionals from the secretariat received
7 orders that they would no longer be employed in Vukovar
8 but in Vinkovski -- most of these people were Serbs and
9 of course this was not met with enthusiasm. On the
10 contrary, it was taken as punishment and even worse
11 than that.
12 When the possibility was provided for their
13 premature retirement, about 25 of these professionals
14 from that secretariat retired prematurely. Among them
15 was my cousin, Bogdan Krnajac, who was, for many years,
16 head of the Department for General Affairs, so I know
17 this from the horse's mouth, and I was also a good
18 friend of Mr. Lodinovic's, and I would come to the
19 secretariat quite often while he was there and often
20 afterwards when Mr. Sredoselac came to head the
21 secretariat, too. At any rate, this reorganisation
22 which started before the elections continued after the
23 elections, too.
24 After the elections, the Municipal Assembly
25 did not have any jurisdiction whatsoever over this
1 secretariat, because there was now a single secretariat
2 for all three municipalities and at the level of
3 Vukovar itself there was only a police station, and
4 this police station was headed by a Croat,
5 Mr. Sredoselac. Until then, there were about 200 people
6 who were employed there -- I do not know if Serbs or
7 Croats were a majority, but an effort was made to have
8 more or less equal representation.
9 So, after the reorganisation, there was a
10 drastic change. I said already that, due to the fact
11 that they were transferred to Vinkovski, many of these
12 professionals retired prematurely, so new people were
13 taken according to the information that I received
14 I would come to see them quite often and these
15 individuals were ethnic Croats exclusively. In the
16 meantime, the Secretariat for Internal Affairs was
17 transformed into a Ministry of the Interior -- it was
18 called the MUP and, by May, it had 700 people, and
19 already then, as the Serbs left the police, it became
20 an uni-ethnic force.
21 JUDGE CASSESE: I wonder whether we could
22 take a break now, but I suggest, and I hope the
23 interpreters will not be angry at me, that we have only
24 a 15 minute recess, so at 12 o'clock sharp we should
1 (11.45 a.m.).
2 (A short break).
3 (12 noon).
4 JUDGE CASSESE: Yes, you may proceed.
5 MR. PETROVIC:
6 Q. Please, could you tell us, briefly, about how
7 the Croat Parliament was constituted?
8 A. After the elections, the Parliament was
9 constituted, the mandates of the elected members were
10 verified, I remember that there was quite a bit of pomp
11 involved when the Parliament was constituted.
12 I remember the euphoria in front of the Parliament
13 building itself and this first day of Parliament was
14 quite euphoric altogether -- the atmosphere was
15 euphoric. It was a very formal occasion, so we did not
16 actually start with our work -- it was ceremonial --
17 but, at the very outset, I got this impression that
18 there was such a lot of euphoria and intolerance
19 involved, and when I saw the expressions on all the
20 faces of these people who were representatives, who
21 were Members of Parliament, I realised that this did no
22 really auger well for the future. I crossed the street
23 from the Parliament building -- I walked across the
24 square to the former head of the Croat parliamentary
25 delegation to the Assembly of Yugoslavia, to
1 Mr. Skakic. He is a relative of mine, he is my uncle.
2 I told him about my fears, that all of this did not
3 auger well. He was quite upset, too, but he assured me
4 that all would be well after all.
5 However, at the very outset of our work, it
6 became obvious that he was not right -- at the first
7 working session already, there was a discussion about
8 replacing three directors -- Serbs -- who were
9 directors of major public enterprises, public companies
10 -- I remember that the Director of Television was
11 amongst them. The representatives of the SDP,
12 especially were very dissatisfied by this.
13 One of the members asked for this item to be
14 removed from the agenda, because this would cause even
15 more ethnic intolerance, but Mr. Dokmanovic, the
16 presiding person in the Parliament, said that this
17 could not be so because the HDZ was a democratic Party
18 and they had the legitimate right of representing
19 exclusively the interests of all the people of Croatia,
20 all the citizens of Croatia and that this was their
21 right only because they had won an absolute majority.
22 I asked for the floor.
23 I had prepared an analysis of the results of
24 the elections, and I wanted to refute the statement
25 that had just been made by the President of the
1 Parliament by resorting to facts, because official
2 analysis showed that only 32 per cent of the electorate
3 had voted for the HDZ and that they, by no means, had
4 the exclusive right to represent the interests of the
5 people of Croatia. When Mr. Domljan realised what I was
6 about to say, he said that he would take the floor away
7 from me. After that, he actually did take the floor
8 away from me. He would not let me speak, because
9 obviously he did not want the results of the elections
10 to be heard from that point of view.
11 The work of the Parliament continued,
12 because, in fact, since the HDZ had an absolute
13 majority, the atmosphere was very bad, very intolerant,
14 very unpleasant, because whenever anybody said
15 something from the rostrum that was not in line with
16 what the HDZ members thought, they would boo this
17 person, and, also, I remember that the son of
18 General Bobetko, who was an MP then, I remember he
19 threw his bag at the rostrum, when another member of
20 Parliament was speaking, and he did not like the views
21 that were presented by this person .
22 Q. I think it would be interesting for us to
23 hear about the constitutional changes that took place
24 in Croatia then?
25 A. In this kind of atmosphere, as the work of
1 the Parliament progressed, there was a debate on
2 changing the constitution of Croatia and a public
3 debate was initiated on the adoption of a new
4 constitution. This created havoc throughout Croatia,
5 because Serbs were no longer to be a constituent
6 element of the Croat State; they were to be turned
7 into a national minority. This caused major
8 dissatisfaction, and a lack of confidence in this same
9 Government, especially amongst the Serbs, but
10 regardless of this proposal, we tried within the SDP
11 Party itself and, when we realised that they defended
12 this position with not very many arguments, that is,
13 this position that Croatia should not be organised as a
14 national State but as a State of citizens, then the
15 four of us, members of Parliament from Vukovar, took
16 our distance from the SDP of Mr. Racan and a debate was
17 conducted not only by us as members of Parliament, but
18 also from the Municipal Assembly itself. We gave
19 certain proposals which were aimed at reaching a
20 compromise, so that the State could be constituted as a
21 State of citizens, not a national State, and also we
22 had another series of amendments, which were again
23 aimed at compromise.
24 On the one hand, there was the view of the
25 Government of the HDZ and, on the other hand, it was
1 that which was acceptable to the Serbs: there were
2 quite a few discussions and meeting devoted to this
3 particular subject matter, and little by little there
4 was increasing polarisation -- many Croats did not
5 agree with the positions of the HDZ but they would not
6 present their own views. The Serbs who presented their
7 views had no way of presenting their views, except
8 through us -- their MPs -- and, gradually, we had --
9 enjoyed less and less confidence among the citizens,
10 because they were increasingly unsatisfied.
11 After the debate in Parliament where
12 amendments were discussed, not a single one of these
13 amendments was accepted. In the Parliament there was a
14 voting machinery, and it was in favour of the
15 Government proposal, which was adopted in its
16 entirety. I believe that this was a key breaking point
17 in this effort to create a greater understanding and
18 confidence between the different ethnic groups. I was
19 convinced that Croatia could have had Serbs as loyal
20 citizens within their State, had they only shown more
21 tolerance and more patience.
22 After this constitution was adopted, it
23 became clear to me that this chance was gambled away.
24 Q. You also have some interesting information as
25 regards the composition of the Parliament and
1 Government in terms of the sentences that were
2 pronounced on these people beforehand?
3 A. Yes. The intention of the Parliament was to
4 publish a book -- an expensive glossy publication and
5 all of us members of Parliament were supposed to write
6 our CVs. It was virtually impossible to have a
7 democratic discussion at the meetings of Parliament
8 themselves, because the atmosphere was not really
9 conducive to that. So, sometimes we would go into
10 other rooms in the Parliament and I had a look at all
11 the CVs and I realised that most of the MPs, instead of
12 starting their CVs by saying, "I was born in such and
13 such a place at such and such a date," they started out
14 by saying, "I had spent such and such a number of years
15 in prison" et cetera and I realised that there were
16 quite a few of them who did that, and that is why I --
17 it is only then that I realised why there was such a
18 degree of intolerance at that particular meeting and at
19 other meetings.
20 Q. I suggest we now go back to the town of
21 Vukovar itself and the municipality of Vukovar. The
22 election of the new authorities in Vukovar after the
23 first multi-Party elections --
24 A. I told you of the results of the election --
25 the SDP, from its list, won more than a two-third
1 majority amongst the delegates for the
2 Municipal Assembly, and, when they were constituted,
3 the discussion held within the Party as to how to
4 distribute the functions in the Municipal Assembly,
5 I was convinced that we should show goodwill to the HDZ
6 and to offer more posts than they would have got by
7 virtue of the votes won. My proposal was accepted and
8 the HDZ was asked to provide candidates for the
9 Vice-President of the Municipal Assembly and for the
10 President of one Chamber and the Vice-President of two
12 Although these were a greater number of posts
13 than the HDZ should have been allotted as the Vukovar
14 municipality was a multi-nationality community where
15 the dominant nations were the Serb and Croat, it was
16 standard practice that if, for the President of the
17 Municipal Assembly, a Serb is elected, then the
18 President of the Executive Council, which is the
19 location of executive power, be a Croat and vice
20 versa. That was the principle applied. So, although
21 there was a large measure of goodwill shown on our
22 part, the HDZ showed a high degree of intolerance and
23 it was not satisfied with the results of the elections;
24 it was dissatisfied because, as a Party, they did not
25 come into power in the municipality and from the start
1 they began to obstruct the work of the
2 Municipal Assembly and made it difficult to elect the
3 President and the President of the council and, when
4 discussing the Rules of Procedure, they asked that the
5 Rules of Procedure be amended and it was, according to
6 the rules, only if the general interest came into play
7 that decision-making was done by a two-thirds
8 majority. They insisted that all questions be decided
9 upon by a two-thirds majority, so as to make the work
10 of the Municipal Assembly more difficult.
11 It is my personal impression that this was a
12 systematic obstruction and that everything was done to
13 make life very difficult and that the delegate and the
14 President of the Municipal Assembly, a high degree of
15 tolerance was shown, so that a democratic atmosphere
16 may prevail and that decisions be in keeping with the
17 Rules of Procedure.
18 Q. I should now like to ask you -- we are going
19 to discuss the elections of the President of the
20 Municipal Assembly -- to tell us what list was
21 Mr. Slavko Dokmanovic elected as President of the
22 Municipal Assembly -- what list was he on?
23 A. He was a candidate of the SDP Party -- the
24 Party of Democratic Change. We put forward two
25 candidates on behalf of our Party and then the Assembly
1 was to decide. The second candidate was Mrs. Peter --
2 the election was done by secret ballot and, as far as
3 I recall, Mr. Dokmanovic won two-thirds of the vote and
4 Mrs. Peter won one-third of the vote. The elections
5 took place in keeping with the Rules of Procedure. We
6 provided two candidates, and the deputies elected
7 Mr. Dokmanovic, who was appointed President of the
8 Municipal Assembly.
9 Q. Could you tell us about the work of the
10 Municipal Assembly itself, particularly at this time of
11 national tension in the Vukovar region?
12 A. The Municipal Assembly did not have executive
13 powers, but, rather, it had the task of coordinating
14 matters, of solving problems of common interest to the
15 municipality and the President of the municipality had
16 the task of chairing the meetings. Executive power lay
17 in the Executive Council led by the President of the
18 Executive Council.
19 As I say, from the very start, work was made
20 very difficult, because of the obstructions made by the
21 SDP and Mr. Mercep was very intolerant, he was insulting
22 on many occasions, and made life very difficult. He
23 called various individuals thieves, all those who had
24 held power and authority positions earlier on -- he
25 called them -- abused them and so on -- insulted them.
1 This contributed to the creation of tension.
2 On the other hand, the Party for Democratic
3 Change asked that problems be solved through political
4 dialogue. Mr. Dokmanovic, as President, showed a lot of
5 goodwill in this regard. He tried to ensure a
6 democratic atmosphere for the work of the Assembly. I
7 am not quite sure whether Mr. Dokmanovic was a member of
8 the SDP at the time, but he was on the SDP's list, as
9 was the other candidate, as we had gained a two-thirds
10 majority, and therefore it was up to the Party to
11 nominate two candidates.
12 As I say, life was made fairly difficult, but
13 we did manage to function more or less according to the
14 Rules of Procedure.
15 Q. Could you tell us something about the
16 endeavours of the President of the Municipal Assembly,
17 Slavko Dokmanovic, to deal with the problems that were
18 burgeoning from one day to the next?
19 A. I recall one particular detail where seven or
20 eight villages from the municipality of Vinkovski--
21 where there was a majority Serb population -- they
22 brought in a decision and tabled a demand to the
23 Municipal Assembly of Vukovar requesting that they come
24 under the competence of the Municipal Assembly of
25 Vukovar, that is, to be incorporated into the Vukovar
1 municipality. Mr. Dokmanovic explained the position and
2 said that, under the prevailing conditions, this would
3 not be a good idea, and did not accept this initiative
4 on the part of the villages and so this was not placed
5 on the agenda of the Assembly's discussions.
6 There were several other cases where a
7 compromise solution was sought, which would be
8 acceptable to one and all, including the HDZ.
9 Unfortunately, this did not meet with understanding
10 from the other side, and there were frequent attempts
11 at seizing power in the municipality and, at one point,
12 I think that this was deputy Fekete, proposed that a
13 vote of confidence be voted for Mr. Dokmanovic. This
14 initiative was accepted, and they became aware of the
15 fact that, democratically, they would not be able to
16 assume power and that the Municipal Assembly was, in
17 fact, functioning according to the Rules of Procedure
18 and that, therefore, it would be very difficult to
19 change the power structure in their favour.
20 Q. What was the effect in some circles -- what
21 effect did these endeavours of the President of the
22 assembly have?
23 A. Unfortunately, when the Serbs in Croatia
24 gradually became to lose their confidence in the newly
25 elected authorities, all those who tried democratically
1 and in a tolerant manner through dialogue to seek
2 compromise solutions with the representatives of the
3 Croat authorities, for the most part they began
4 losing their authority. Mr. Dokmanovic's attempts to
5 find democratic and compromise solutions and to arrive
6 at generally acceptable ones led, as a consequence, to
7 the fact that he lost his authority with the Serbs.
8 That happened with me as well, and all those who
9 attempted, precisely because there was a lot of reason
10 for dissatisfaction among the Serbs, sought peaceful
11 democratic solutions in negotiations with the Municipal
13 What happened was that certain Serbs and some
14 deputies would criticise Mr. Dokmanovic during
15 meetings. They said that he was not radical enough and
16 that they found his efforts unacceptable -- his efforts
17 at solving matters democratically unacceptable because
18 they were not proving fruitful.
19 Q. The contacts that the President Dokmanovic
20 had with the Prime Minister also had negative
22 A. Yes, not only with him. We had talked very
23 frequently. We took part together in solving
24 problems. Mr. Dokmanovic and myself spent a lot of time
25 in my own home trying to find compromise solutions to
1 the newly arisen situation -- at least peaceful
2 solutions -- but these come upon dissatisfaction among
3 the Serbs, because their own dissatisfaction was
4 mounting and so were their own fears, and they were of
5 the opinion that it was our fault for not taking a
6 sharp enough stand in defending Serb interests in
7 Croatia, because we had agreed to discuss matters with
8 all representatives of the Republican authorities, and
9 on many occasions Mr. Dokmanovic and myself discussed
10 matters with Mr. Degoricija and other representatives of
11 the Republican authorities -- Mr. Dokmanovic also had
12 talks with Mr. Mesic when he came to open a road around
14 Q. At the time, he was the Prime Minister of
15 Croatia, was he not?
16 A. Yes, I think that was the case but, at all
17 events, these contacts were very frequent, but
18 precisely because the Republican authorities gave too
19 many arguments to nurture Serb dissatisfaction,
20 Mr. Dokmanovic and myself lost the confidence that the
21 Serbs had placed in us.
22 Q. In going about your daily duties, that is to
23 say, when you went to work, when Mr. Dokmanovic went to
24 work in the Municipal Assembly building, did he have
25 any problems?
1 A. Well, tensions grew gradually. In the course
2 of 1990, they were not at their peak yet, but they
3 could be felt. The crux came with the adoption of the
4 constitution on the proposal of the Government of
5 Croatia and the next breakdown came after the word
6 Plitvice excesses, when there was very marked fear on
7 the part of the Serbs and especially when barricades
8 were set up in the villages populated by the Serbs. Up
9 until then, Mr. Dokmanovic was able to go to work
10 normally, but, before 1 May, at some point before 1
11 May, he was not able to go to work normally. He did
12 not dare. Afterwards, he would go to his office in the
13 Municipal Assembly building only by official car. When
14 I went to Trpinja when I went to fetch him by car,
15 because he thought he could count on me and that the
16 people would not shoot at me, because there were
17 threats to liquidate him, and that is how he went to
18 work. I went to fetch him in an official car.
19 I recall one occasion when Mr. Josko Moric came --
20 Q. Who was Mr. Josko Moric please?
21 A. Mr. Josko Moric was a high functionary in the
22 Ministry of Internal Affairs.
23 Q. Please continue.
24 A. We sat down for talks together in
25 Mr. Dokmanovic's office. He had had threats that, on
1 the road from Trpinja to Vukovar, he would be ambushed
2 and liquidated. He himself told me that he had very
3 frequent -- his official car was frequently searched,
4 although he was commonly known as "mayor" and I myself
5 know that on many occasions he was met by police
6 officers and asked to leave the car. He said he was
7 the mayor, the President of the Municipal Assembly, but
8 this did not help.
9 Q. These were representatives of the Croat
11 A. Yes, they would make him leave the car and
12 they would search him for weapons, for example. He
13 would have to place his hands up on the car and he
14 would be searched. All this was highly degrading and
15 was conceived to create this psychosis of fear and
16 these threats contributed to that fear. I think, on
17 several occasions, he had to reach his office in a
19 I recall that, on one occasion, he called me
20 at my office in the PTT building where I was at work --
21 he called me from Mr. Gorsic's house -- and he asked me
22 to come quickly because he had been told that an ambush
23 had been set up and that we should organise his flee
24 from Vukovar and we called out a garrison vehicle to
25 transport him.
1 So that, after 2 May, when the well-known
2 events took place in Borovo Selo, he did not dare to go
3 to work except when we could provide all the necessary
4 security arrangements whereby he could go to work.
5 Q. When was the last session of the Assembly and
6 was it held, or was it only scheduled?
7 A. As members of the Assembly, we were supposed
8 to coordinate the work of the Municipal Assembly. We
9 were not full members in terms of decision-making, but
10 we were supposed to coordinate their work with the
11 Croat Parliament. So, regularly, whenever I was not
12 attending sessions of the Croat Parliament, I would
13 take part in the work of the Municipal Assembly.
14 I think that the last session was some time before May,
15 and it was scheduled for mid May. However, that
16 particular session was not held, because armed persons
17 and individuals from the HDZ did not allow this session
18 to be held.
19 Q. Do you know how this particular
20 Municipal Assembly, in which Slavko Dokmanovic was a
21 deputy and whose President he was, ended?
22 A. Mr. Slavko Dokmanovic could not work normally
23 as President of the Assembly after the incident in
24 Borovo Selo and the work of the Municipal Assembly
25 itself practically stopped because this session was
1 prevented from taking place by these armed members of
2 the HDZ and other armed individuals, so this was not
3 held and it seems to me that at the end of that month,
4 that by a decree --
5 Q. Sorry, what month, when was that?
6 A. I think that it was the end of June, if I am
7 not mistaken -- no, no, sorry -- some time in June -- I
8 am not sure any more, because in May the session was
9 not held, so it might have been the beginning of June
10 -- I am not really too sure any more.
11 Well, a decree was passed by the Government
12 of Croatia, the Minister of the Judiciary had signed it
13 -- and thus the Municipal Assembly was dissolved and a
14 representative of the Government of Croatia was thus
15 appointed and, in fact, in the authorities of the
16 municipality --
17 Q. Sorry, that was not translated, according to
18 the transcript, what exact month this was in?
19 A. I am not sure whether I said it was the end
20 of June -- I am not sure, but I think it was the end of
22 Q. Very briefly, could you give us an assessment
23 of the work of Slavko Dokmanovic as President of the
24 Municipal Assembly of Vukovar while he held that
1 A. As a Party, when we were to decide who our
2 candidates for the post of President of the
3 Municipal Assembly would be, we sought to find people
4 who enjoyed the confidence of the people in the
5 municipality, and who were moderate, and it is
6 according to these criteria that Mrs. Peter and
7 Mr. Dokmanovic were proposed, so he was proposed by the
8 Party as a person who enjoyed a reputation within the
9 municipality and whose ideas and behaviour were
10 moderate. So these traits of his, while he was a
11 candidate of ours, were retained throughout his tenure
12 of office. He always tried to find a solution by
13 peaceful political means.
14 Q. Now I would like to move on to a different
15 subject. If you agree, this should be a bit more
16 concise, that is to say, we would like to see how an
17 armed conflict broke out later -- the incident in
18 Plitvice, the spring of 1991 -- March, I believe. Tell
19 us briefly who the protagonists were and what were the
20 consequences of that incident?
21 A. This happened some time in the spring --
22 I think it was end of March or beginning of April, or
23 some time around that period. I do not know exactly
24 why Mr. Hadzic and Mr. Savic were at Plitvice then,
25 whether they were coming or going to or from a meeting
1 of the Serb National Council, I am not sure about that,
2 but, at any rate, there was an armed intervention by
3 the forces of the Ministry of the Interior of Croatia;
4 the two of them were arrested; they were taken to
5 prison in Zagreb, and this piece of news resounded
6 throughout the municipality of Vukovar and it only
7 contributed to this climate of distrust and people
8 became even more fearful, and since they lost all
9 confidence in the republican authorities, they sought
10 ways and means of continuing their existence.
11 I remember that I thought at the time that
12 this would cause major trouble, and I insisted, with
13 Racan and others, particularly Mr. Degoricija, that the
14 two arrested persons be released as soon as possible,
15 and, if necessary, that they be tried before a court of
16 law, but that they should be released, because this
17 would lead to unforeseeable consequences and that this
18 could even create a situation which would be conducive
19 to civil war. At our major insistence this was done
20 after a few days, but just to give you a detail,
21 showing the extent of distrust this kind of behaviour
22 of the Republican Government created among the people
23 and also we were losing confidence among the Serbs in
24 the municipality, all of us who were advocating
25 peaceful solutions -- and I include both Mr. Dokmanovic
1 and myself among these people -- I tried to assure
2 Mr. Hadzic's sister that they would be released and
3 I was told in insulting terms that I was an traitor and
4 that Mr. Dokmanovic and I did not sufficiently represent
5 the interests of the Serbs and that we were not needed
6 by the Serbs of the municipality as such.
7 At any rate, this truly had unforeseeable
8 consequences, particularly at first. Road blocks were
9 set up in Borovo Selo, mostly consisting of
10 agricultural machinery and other obstacles and people
11 stayed primarily in those villages where there was a
12 predominantly Serb population, and, as I said, this, in
13 my opinion, was one of the major turning points -- I am
14 not saying that Borovo Selo was already civil war but
15 it certainly contributed to it. As far as
16 Mr. Dokmanovic is concerned, I tried to pacify the
17 situation -- already, at that stage, I asked people who
18 had held posts of responsibility in the
19 Croat Government and in the Parliament to come to
20 the municipality of Vukovar and if they did not trust
21 me and Mr. Dokmanovic, that they should address the
22 deputies in the Municipal Assembly themselves.
23 Mr. Degoricija accepted this and he came. Mr. Bogdanic
24 also came, another Member of Parliament and we tried to
25 explain to the deputies in the Municipal Assembly that
1 the Government of the Republic of Croatia would behave
2 according to the law and that it would not create a
3 climate of distrust, but they did not believe us or
4 Mr. Degoricija because of everything that had happened.
5 All in all, this created a feeling, a
6 climate, of exceptional mistrust and, when we tried to
7 pacify the situation through our own activities,
8 usually some kind of action taken by the police beyond
9 our control jeopardised all of that. I tried to
10 convince Mr. Soskocanin from Borovo Selo, for example,
11 that he should meet with Mr. Sredoselac, chief of the
12 police station in Vukovar, and we came to Borovo Selo,
13 and we talked to Mr. Soskocanin, and we sought a
14 solution as to how the road blocks could be removed and
15 how traffic could be re-established and this was indeed
17 It was late in the evening and already the
18 next day a police car that was moving through
19 Borovo Selo was shot at, so, after all the painstaking
20 efforts we took, this one single action put all this
21 down the drain. I told Mr. Soskocanin about it -- I
22 objected and he said they were not his people, although
23 they were wearing police uniforms and he was officially
24 head of the police station, and he was supposed to have
25 all the policemen in that area under his control.
1 There were also other cases where we tried and
2 succeeded in the short run to find a compromising
3 solution and we calmed the situation down, but soon
4 similar action would follow and then everything went
5 down the drain.
6 Q. You are referring to the action in Plitvice?
7 A. Yes, to the action in Plitvice, too, but what
8 was particularly obvious was almost on a regular basis,
9 before sessions of Parliament, there would be some
10 excessive situations and this certainly could not be by
11 accident altogether. In Krajina, when road blocks were
12 put, this was yet another provocation before the
13 session of the Assembly, so this action was provoked by
14 other behaviour, as was the situation in Plitvice and
15 also in Borovo Selo. My personal impression is that
16 these situations were provoked, so the Serbs could be
17 accused as the culprits, and that this was a
18 premeditated effort to have a homogenised national
19 feeling and there was an organised effort involved.
20 Q. Was there organised arming in your area?
21 A. I personally did not see weapons distributed,
22 but, on several occasions, I heard such information in
23 the Municipal Assembly and, on a few occasions, in
24 passing, I received such information, that arms were
25 being distributed to HDZ members, even by HDZ deputies
1 from the Assembly, but in the Croat Parliament
2 itself, people discussed this rather openly, and
3 certain individuals from the HDZ boasted about it
4 saying that the HDZ members were being armed.
5 All of this was at the end of 1990 and
6 beginning of 1991 and nothing was concealed by May --
7 in May people spoke of it quite openly. I remember
8 that a member of the Municipal Assembly put a question
9 at the session of the Municipal Assembly itself --
10 could somebody please explain to him why weapons were
11 being distributed, because in broad daylight, he said
12 that he witnessed the distribution of weapons to
13 civilians from a truck and he did not want to comment
14 on this and no-one wanted to comment on this.
15 Q. Who is Tomislav Mercep?
16 A. Tomislav Mercep was head of the HDZ in the
17 municipality of Vukovar and in fact he led the
18 activities of that Party.
19 Q. Could you tell us about his activities in the
20 territory of Vukovar?
21 A. I actually met Mercep at the pre-election
22 meeting in Lovas. I did not know about him before
23 that, although for many years I was Director of the
24 PTT, and I knew more or less all prominent citizens in
25 the municipality, but I did not know him, and I did not
1 know all others who were in that Party, either. From
2 the very moment I met him at this pre-election meeting,
3 he showed a high degree of intolerance and, very often
4 at sessions of the Assembly itself he spoke very
5 insultingly of others, calling them thieves, liars, and
6 the like, and I remember, once, Mr. Degoricija was
7 present, too -- this meeting was being held in the
8 castle of Count --
9 Q. Could you clarify who Mr. Degoricija was?
10 A. Mr. Degoricija was Deputy Minister of the
11 Interior of the Republic of Croatia, and it was his job
12 to coordinate the work with the Municipal Assembly of
13 Vukovar and he was President of the Municipal -- the
14 Chamber in which I worked, too. We tried and
15 Mr. Degoricija came for this purpose, to calm the
16 situation down, and to make matters a little easier,
17 but at that meeting as well, Mr. Mercep was very
18 arrogant and aggressive, he called everybody else a
19 thief. I asked for the floor and said that to say
20 somebody was a thief without arguments was not only
21 uncivilised, but that it spoke more about the person
22 who had uttered these insults than the person whom they
23 were directed at. Mr. Degoricija said that he had gone
24 too far and he calmed him down.
25 But he was exceptionally dissatisfied with
1 the fact that they had not won over power and authority
2 in the municipality in Vukovar and, through his
3 activities, tried to gain power, or sabotage the work
4 of others. When they were not given a vote of
5 confidence in having Mr. Dokmanovic step down, he said
6 that he would gain power forcibly.
7 I shall later tell you of the events that
8 took place afterwards when they stepped far out of the
9 realm of politics and entered a completely different
11 Q. Can you tell us, please, of how power was
12 taken over -- how Radio Vukovar was taken over or
13 control of the local police was assumed?
14 A. When they did not succeed legally through
15 legal means in replacing the authorities in the
16 municipality, they tried and succeeded in using force
17 and Radio Vukovar, which was held by people working
18 professionally in the Radio, when they were forcibly
19 replaced, and made to leave the building. Mr. Mercep
20 did this and his associates, and they appointed other
21 individuals -- a similar thing happened in the National
22 Defence and the secretary was forcibly thrown out of
23 his offices and Mr. Mercep and his associates took
24 over. I do not know whether he had any documents
25 allowing him to do so, but he did assume this function,
1 and the Municipal Assembly made no decision in that
3 Q. From your statement, we see a rather bizarre
4 detail. When you went to Mr. Mercep, to his house for a
5 meeting, something rather bizarre happened. Could you
6 tell us about it?
7 A. This event took place when, after many
8 organised meetings outside the work of the
9 Municipal Assembly, when the political parties met, we
10 would hold discussions until late at night -- we
11 discussed the problems that had occurred and we had
12 found compromise solutions and we were then to write
13 the minutes of that meeting. It was very late on that
14 particular occasion and we decided that we would come
15 early tomorrow morning to Mrs. Peter, Mr. Mercep and
16 myself and to write down the minutes of the meeting.
17 Mrs. Peter said that she could not come early, because
18 she had already had some work with her chickens, she
19 was going to slaughter some of her chickens that day.
20 Mr. Modalek -- he was also deputy in the Parliament --
21 said we would come and help. Mercep's comment was that
22 he would not be able to be present because he could not
23 stand the sight of chickens being slaughtered. He
24 always liked a good joke. Mr. Modalek said, "Never
25 mind, I will put the sajkaca cap on their heads."
1 Mercep said, "then There is no problem, I will
2 slaughter them myself." That was a very bizarre joke
3 -- unpalatable -- but all this demonstrated the great
4 difficulties -- we had to have democratic and
5 constructive dialogue.
6 Q. Would you explain what this "sajkaca" cap
7 means; what does the sajkaca symbolise?
8 A. The sajkaca is the national cap worn by
10 Q. Was the head of the hospital in Vukovar also
11 replaced on that occasion -- he was a Serb by
13 A. In Croatia, I said that there were many Serb
14 directors of large enterprises, and their replacements
15 started hand-in-hand with a legal regulation from the
16 Assembly, which moved towards the centralisation of all
17 public enterprises -- in order to be able to manage
18 them better from one centre, so this was done with the
19 PTT, post, telegraph and telephone service and by
20 decree of the SABOR or Parliament, a public enterprise
21 for the PTT was set up, and the post activities were
22 separated from the telecommunication activities and all
23 the present directors were relieved of their duties,
24 and at all levels, so in the post section and in the
25 telecommunications section, new people were appointed
1 to these posts. As director of the PTT of Vukovar,
2 I was relieved of my duties. Later on, the manager,
3 that is to say, of a lower rank for the units, without
4 any actual authorisation or competencies in my work,
5 which meant that full centralisation for public
6 enterprises had taken place, and all the directors had
7 been replaced -- all the Serb directors of the public
8 enterprises were replaced in the municipality itself --
9 and this happened from May onwards, when Mercep in fact
10 took over the complete command of the town. It is my
11 impression at the time that neither the police -- that
12 the commander of the police station of Vukovar, Mr.
13 Sredoselac and later on his replacement, somebody else
14 was appointed, but they had no power and authority over
15 the police.
16 Q. Who replaced the Serbs?
17 A. Well, Croats were placed in the positions
18 that were held by the Serbs -- the director of the
19 hospital was a Serb, he was replaced. I do not know
20 whether Mr. Gavro came first and then Mr. Bosanac, but he
21 was replaced as the director of the hospital.
22 Q. I should now like to go on to the events
23 which represent a turning point for Vukovar --
24 1 and 2 May. What happened on 1 May?
25 A. 1 May was always traditionally celebrated by
1 the fact that citizens went to the environs of Vukovar
2 near Borovo Selo and Sumadica, which was closer to the
3 town centre. It was my intention that, despite the
4 very difficult situation, to take my family out for an
5 outing in celebration of 1 May, but there were certain
6 excessive situations, and a senior citizen, a Serb by
7 nationality, was killed by another elderly gentleman of
8 the Croat nationality -- I think he was part Croat
9 and part Hungarian. I called the crisis headquarters
10 in the village to ask what had happened, what was going
11 on, and went by car, as I did previously -- whenever
12 there was a situation -- an excessive situation of this
13 kind, I would personally go on the spot in the locality
14 to try and calm the citizens -- the people, to reduce
15 tensions. That is what I did on this particular
16 occasion as well.
17 The villagers, who were very angry at this
18 murder, this killing, had surrounded the house of the
19 individual who had done the shooting and killed the
20 man. I talked to the people in the local community and
21 in the crisis headquarters as it was referred to, and
22 asked that calm prevail. I know that Savo Davidovic
23 who was from that particular village and is also a
24 deputy and myself, I think that Mr. Bosnjakovic was with
25 me and he was also a deputy, a representative -- we
1 tried to calm the situation, and finally I did succeed
2 in allowing the police to take Mr. Gelencin away,
3 because the police maintained that it would have an
4 on-the-site investigation, and that this would come up
5 before the courts in due course. Unfortunately, as
6 happened on many previous occasions this was not done
7 because Mr. Gelencin was never taken to court.
8 So, all in all, this resulted in a further
9 loss of authority, both my own authority and everything
10 else -- everybody else, including Mr. Dokmanovic,
11 because we all tried to deal with the problem
12 peaceably. I went back to the police station that same
13 day, where I came across Mr. Sredoselac and Mr. Markovic
14 was there -- he was a member of the special MUP
15 Croat forces, and for some 10 days he was in the
16 police station at Vukovar, and as I was at the police
17 station practically every day, whenever some excessive
18 events took place where Serbs were involved, they would
19 inform me and I would go there and see what was going
20 on and try to calm the situation and, when the Serb
21 population came to me to intervene, then I would do the
23 So, I met these two individuals, and, once
24 again, for the umpteenth time, I tried to explain that
25 we should refrain from the use of force, because with a
1 people who, from the first day, were peaceable -- and
2 I can say this with my full conviction -- they were
3 already to solve things peaceably and always ready for
4 dialogue, but the people began to use patience and
5 confidence and fear started to set in. The development
6 of events led to an escalation of fear and led to a
7 readiness to protect one's own existence and one's
8 family by using other means. I always warned them and
9 cautioned them not to take up arms. I remember that
10 Mr. Markovic said to me that I should agree that they
11 apply force. It was only up to me to agree and he said
12 that then they would clear matters up. I think I spent
13 some two hours late at night discussing this problem,
14 and I went home afterwards, and I asked an on-the-spot
15 investigation to be conducted, and for reports to be
16 submitted so we could show the Serbs that the police
17 were doing something in that particular situation.
18 But, they told us that it was late and that
19 an on-the-spot investigation could not be conducted,
20 but that it would be conducted the following day.
21 On the following day, which was 2 May, I went
22 to the PTT building -- I think it was around 10 o'clock
23 -- they called me from the police station and said
24 that an investigating judge from the court in Osijek
25 arrived. I think this was then under the competence of
1 the court in Osijek, but that he did not dare go on the
2 spot to make his investigation, because people from the
3 local community had said that they would not admit any
4 policeman into the village, because they had some very
5 bad experiences, and that there was rifle fire on the
6 part of the uniformed individuals. I intervened,
7 I asked them -- I told them that I would be responsible
8 and then they agreed, and so, with a group of
9 journalists, who asked to go with me, went together
10 with a police car and two policemen and the
11 investigating judge -- we went to the village and held
12 initial talks in the local community and then, an
13 on-the-spot investigation was conducted by the judge.
14 I remember that one of the sons of the gentleman who
15 was killed was there. The atmosphere was a correct one
16 and they made their statements and said how this event
17 came about. The judge finished his investigation
18 quickly and he said that he would be leaving with the
19 policemen. This was already at the very outskirts of
20 the village towards Vukovar -- 500 or 600 metres away
21 from this forest (INAUDIBLE) left and I remained to
22 talk to the people in the village and the journalists
23 remained, too.
24 At one point, we heard shots from the
25 direction of the forest. I came with my own private
1 car, so I got into the car and I went to the forest
2 straight away to see what was going on. The forest was
3 on the right-hand side and on the left-hand side were
4 silos, with wheat, and there were snipers of the
5 Croat MUP on the silos and on the road in front of
6 the forest there were three vehicles -- a Renault
7 traffic and two Land Rovers. In each vehicle there
8 were 8 fully armed policemen respectively, but I still
9 did not link this with that which would happen
10 afterwards. I asked what all of what was about. They
11 said that somebody had shot from the direction of the
12 forest and I said that they could pass freely, because
13 I was there, and I went back to collect the journalist
14 and, as I passed the forest and as I was approaching
15 the outskirts of Vukovar, I met a large group of
17 I stopped and I asked what all of that was
18 about and they said that it was nothing special, that
19 everything was fine, and I went on to the police
20 station. I entered the building immediately, and, as
21 I often went to the police station those days, I did
22 not announce myself -- I walked into Mr. Sredoselac's
23 office, I found him, Mr. Dzaja, who was head of the
24 police for Vukovar, Vinkovski and Zupanja, that is to
25 say Mr. Sredoselac's superior and Mr. Bosnjak.
1 I think that he had some post in the police
2 -- I am not too sure, but somebody was killed in
3 Borovo Selo in those past few days. I was surprised
4 that he was wearing a bullet-proof vest and
5 I interrupted their conversation, but I told them what
6 happened and I told them that I managed to pacify the
7 situation there, but that there was shooting and that
8 this made the tensions shoot up again. They said that
9 was okay but they had a different problem altogether.
10 Mr. Dzaja told me that that morning, according to what
11 he said, two policemen were missing in Borovo Selo.
12 Since I was often in contact with Borovo Selo, too,
13 I took the telephone immediately and I tried to phone
14 them, and no-one answered.
15 At that moment, Mr. Bosnjak asked Mr. Dzaja to
16 go out with him so that they could have a private
17 conversation, because obviously they could not continue
18 their conversation in front of me -- the one they had
19 had before that -- and when they came back, I offered
20 to go to Borovo Selo myself -- although I was aware of
21 the fact that I, like all the other Serbs who advocated
22 a peaceable solution, had almost completely lost my
23 credibility with the Serbs, some individuals had
24 already labelled me a traitor. In spite of all of
25 that, I offered to go to this place and to see what was
1 going on, on the spot, and Mr. Dzaja said in response to
2 that, that there was no need to do it, because he had
3 already issued orders for an attack. I must say that I
4 was taken aback. In spite of all my previous
5 assurances offered to him, Sredeoselac, Matkovic and
6 Degoricija, that by no means should they resort to
7 force, that is exactly what happened.
8 I asked him to call Mr. Degoricija for me and
9 he said that he could not reach him. I replied to him
10 that he could tell other people that, but not me, and
11 I knew that he had a special telephone line with the
12 Ministry, but he did not call Mr. Degoricija for me, and
13 I asked him whether he was aware of the fact that, by
14 this very act, the civil war started. He muttered
15 something to himself, saying that he had to clear the
16 terrain and that he could not tolerate this any longer.
17 I looked at Mr. Sredoselac, whom I had
18 considered to be a rather reasonable man, and we spent
19 many hours together before that, discussing the ways
20 and means of overcoming this situation. He looked away
21 from me because he did not have the courage to look me
22 straight in the eye after that. As far as I know, the
23 very next day he no longer held that office -- somebody
24 else was appointed in the meantime.
25 I beseeched Mr. Dzaja, asking him to stop this
1 action -- he did not want to do that. I wanted to
2 leave. But then he said that I had to understand that
3 I could not leave now, that this was in the higher
4 interests and that I could not prevent this action from
5 taking place. I asked him whether he was arresting me
6 and he said no, but that I had to appreciate what he
7 was saying and, as we were involved in this debate, his
8 people walked in and said that all lines were cut from
9 Borovo Selo and he called Mr. Reichl-Kir, who was at the
10 same level, but for the territory of the municipality
11 of Osijek. I remember that there was a receiver in his
12 hand and I heard him shouting, "What are you waiting
13 for? Why do you not leave?" Obviously, quite by
14 accident, as I barged into their office, I managed to
15 allow them to have full synchronisation between both
16 sides. One set of police force set out from Vukovar
17 and the other police force commanded by Reichl-Kir
18 started from Osijek via Dalj. They took the country
19 roads leading to Borovo Selo but obviously they were
20 not synchronised because of what I did -- for about 10
21 or 15 minutes or so.
22 Since I realised this action was already
23 underway I said I was leaving and he kept silent and he
24 stopped me at the door and said -- he asked me whether
25 I could come some time after 5 o'clock and whether we
1 could analyse the outcome of the action together.
2 I remember at that moment something exploded in me and
3 I said all kinds of ugly things to him then, because
4 I was appalled at everything that was happening.
5 I raced out of the police station. In the corridors,
6 there was a large group of policemen in full gear and
7 I simply pushed them away and I raced out, and a group
8 of journalists who were standing in front of the police
9 station, they saw that something was happening but
10 nobody dared approached me because they realised I was
11 rushing into my car and I came to the PTT building and
12 I asked my secretary to call Mr. Degoricija for me,
13 because before that I used to talk to him on the phone
14 almost every day as we tried to reach agreement as to
15 how certain situations could be overcome, and when
16 I said, "Man, what have you done?", he said: "What is
17 going on?". I said: "Dzaja has just started an armed
18 conflict in Borovo Selo." He said that he did not know
19 anything about it and that I should tell Dzaja to call
20 him immediately and then I said angrily that he should
21 tell him, just as he gave his consent for this attack.
22 Immediately after that, I went to the
23 Municipal Assembly -- at that point in time, the
24 President, Slavko Dokmanovic, was not there, because
25 already then he did not dare go to the building,
1 because he had received several threats that he would
2 be ambushed and I told his secretary immediately to
3 call the general staff -- the officer on duty answered
4 the phone and I said that an armed attack against
5 Borovo Selo had just started and I insisted that the
6 army should intervene and stop this and he said that he
7 would check things out, that he did not know what was
8 going on, and, later, I received information that, from
9 the garrison Osijek, they sent tanks in the direction
10 of Borovo Selo to stop further conflict.
11 As we were receiving various information, in
12 the meantime, I tried to call those people whom I could
13 reach from the Municipal Assembly and from the
14 Executive Council, so that, together, we could seek
15 solutions as some what could be done. Mr. Modalek also
16 came, who was a representative, and since we were
17 receiving different information as to what was going
18 on, I asked him to come with me so that we could see
19 for ourselves at the entrance to Vukovar why the army
20 was not intervening and we were in the President's
21 official car and we went to the road leading to Trpinja
22 and Osijek. There was a large group there of a few
23 hundred persons -- some of them in uniform, some of
24 them in civilian clothes, men, women and even some
25 children, who were standing on the road in front of the
1 tanks and therefore the tanks had stopped, because the
2 soldiers did not want to continue because these people
3 were standing on the road. As I got out of the car,
4 somebody from this large group of assembled citizens
5 shouted, "Oh, you are the one who called the army."
6 Before that, I had spoken at many rallies of citizens,
7 so I had some experience as to how one should behave in
8 such a situation, so I did not permit myself to show
9 any fear for a split second and, of course, I did not
10 make any moves which would irritate these people.
11 I just stood there -- I kept silent -- I did not move.
12 I had no comment for a certain period of time.
13 When they saw that I was not reacting, this
14 first wave had subsided, I think that I would have been
15 lynched had I reacted in the wrong way. That is the
16 general feeling that prevailed.
17 So I went back slowly. At that time Modalek
18 and the driver were still in the car and I asked the
19 driver to take me to the other end -- in the direction
20 of Borovo Selo, and this is practically at the
21 outskirts, but there was a clearing without any houses
22 there, just before Borovo Selo. There was a large
23 group of policemen there, but, to my surprise -- and
24 I must admit to my disappointment, too -- a certain
25 number of civilians with arms -- ethnic Croats -- were
1 there and I did not expect them to be extreme
2 nationalists. I remember well a driver in the Borovo
3 Kombinat, when he saw me, we were good friends before
4 that, he actually hid so that I would not see him, too.
5 I also saw policeman Turudija there, who was
6 in charge of that police unit, and I met him on the way
7 out in Brsadin -- as I stopped when I left the police
8 station. He said a bullet hit him in the back, but he
9 had a bullet-proof vest so he just felt a great deal of
10 pain and not more than that. I asked him what was
11 going on. At that point, from the police, via radio,
12 they asked the people who were standing in front of the
13 tanks to move and to let the tanks go through, because
14 the policemen who were in Borovo Selo were surrounded
15 and that the tanks should be let through urgently so
16 that they could get these policemen out. Soon after
17 that, these tanks moved towards Borovo Selo and --
18 Q. Whose tanks are these?
19 A. These are the tanks of the Yugoslav army.
20 Q. The Yugoslav army or the Yugoslav People's
22 A. The Yugoslav People's Army -- at that time it
23 was the Yugoslav People's Army. The tanks --
24 Q. Sorry for interrupting. I think that now we
25 could adjourn, and I believe that the Defence would
1 need an additional half hour for questioning the
2 witness tomorrow, too?
3 JUDGE CASSESE: We stand adjourned.
4 (At 1.16 p.m. the matter adjourned until
5 Friday, 24 April 1998, at 8.30 a.m.)