1 Friday, 17 July 2009
2 [Open session]
3 [The accused entered court]
4 [The witness takes the stand]
5 --- Upon commencing at 9.10 a.m.
6 JUDGE ORIE: Good morning to everyone.
7 Madam Registrar, would you please call the case.
8 THE REGISTRAR: Good morning, Your Honours. Good morning to
9 everyone in and around the courtroom. This is case number IT-06-90-T,
10 the Prosecutor versus Ante Gotovina, et al.
11 JUDGE ORIE: Thank you, Madam Registrar.
12 Good morning, Mr. Sterc. I would like to remind you that you are
13 still bound by the solemn declaration you have given at the beginning of
14 your testimony. That is that you will speak the truth, whole truth and
15 nothing but the truth.
16 Ms. Gustafson, are you ready to continue your cross-examination.
17 MS. GUSTAFSON: Yes, Your Honour. Thank you.
18 WITNESS: STJEPAN STERC [Resumed]
19 [Witness answered through interpreter]
20 Cross-examination by Ms. Gustafson: [Continued]
21 Q. Good morning, Mr. Sterc.
22 I'd like to refer to your evidence on Wednesday, where you gave
23 evidence that your view that the extent of the devastation and lack of
24 infrastructure after Operation Storm made it impossible for anyone to
25 return to the area in August and September, that that was based on your
1 conclusions as an outside observer, and I believe you referred
2 specifically to newspaper articles.
3 And I'd like to direct you to another portion of your statement,
4 which is in paragraph 9.1 where you stated that the unorganized and
5 unplanned moving in after Operation Storm by a large number of displaced
6 person who had lost their homes practically couldn't have been
8 And, first, by "displaced persons," you're referring there to
9 Croats; is that correct?
10 A. If I understood your question completely, I did not say
11 explicitly that all -- any movement was impossible and that people did
12 not return. However, they did not return in an organised manner.
13 As to your question, my answer would be yes.
14 Q. Thank you. And your statement that this unorganized and
15 unplanned moving in of these displaced persons practically couldn't have
16 been prevented, in relation to the time-period before you became
17 assistant minister in October, is that also based on your observations as
18 an outside observer to the events?
19 A. I would say the following. This was not exclusively about the
20 returnees. This is about all the people who had to leave Bosnia
22 at Davor and entered Croatia
23 Q. And if could you just answer my question. Is this observation
24 based on what you perceived as an outside observer in relation to the
25 time-period before you became assistant minister?
1 JUDGE ORIE: Mr. Misetic.
2 MR. MISETIC: I don't object to the question; however, it was
3 part of her question that these were displaced persons, and I believe the
4 witness was answering that portion.
5 JUDGE ORIE: Yes. And the witness is now invited to complete his
6 answer so that he fully answers the question of Ms. Gustafson.
7 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Yes. A newspaper wrote about that
8 and you could see it daily on TV. You could see columns of people from
9 Bosnia-Herzegovina headed for Croatia
10 from -- for -- of Serbs from Croatia
12 MS. GUSTAFSON:
13 Q. And, again, you're referring here -- the columns of people from
16 A. Yes.
17 Q. Thank you.
18 MS. GUSTAFSON: If we could please turn Exhibit P463, and in
19 particular, page 9 in English and page 14 in the B/C/S.
20 Q. Now, Mr. Sterc, this is a record of a meeting between
21 Minister Radic and President Tudjman on the 22nd of August, 1995, so
22 before you joined the ministry. And I'd like to just read you a passage
23 and ask you a couple of questions.
24 And if we go to the bottom of the English of that page, Mr. Radic
25 says: "Now, look, have I been looking around this area a bit, the
1 biggest centres where we should focus on return, regarding the national
2 interest, I have tried to make a chronological order or some kind of
3 hierarchy, and in my opinion, I would like to discuss this with you a
5 "The map of the whole area is of a strategic importance for
7 been critical for us in the history, not Knin, we'll manage to do that
9 MS. GUSTAFSON: And if we turn the page in English.
10 Q. "If you ask me the first -- I define five priorities according to
11 the urgency of colonising these places with Croats. If you ask me, this
12 thing right here is the first and the second priority. We should bring
13 Croats back here urgently and this area should be urgently colonized with
14 Croats, and we should by no means let no more than 10 per cent of Serbs
15 be here again because that's where we got cut off."
16 And the president says: "Not even 10 per cent?"
17 And Mr. Radic says: "Okay. I'm talking about 10 per cent, so
18 the first priority of colonising is this right here in my opinion,
19 Petrova and Zrinska Gora. That's where we have to establish some kind of
20 a city sooner or later. We also have Vojnic and Veljun, a somewhat
21 smaller place, but Vojnic is a bigger place.
22 "However, by our companies, opening factories, just as the Serbs
23 did in Licki Osijek, I visited that factory. That looks marvellous.
24 They built apartments for 4.000 people, where we can bring people right
25 away. It's just that we don't have anybody, somewhere in this area we
1 must build ..."
2 And the president says: "That has been preserved too?"
3 And Radic says: "Everything has been preserved, completely
4 wonderfully preserved."
5 My first question to you is, were you aware that Mr. Radic had
6 defined five priorities according to the urgency of colonising these
7 places with Croats?
8 A. No.
9 Q. And these areas that Radic refers to as the first priority,
10 Petrova Gora and Zrinska Gora. These areas in general included the
11 municipalities of Vojnic, Vrgin Most, Glina, Petrinja, Kostajnica, and
12 Davor; is that right?
13 A. Yes.
14 Q. And before the war in 1991, these -- this was an area that was
15 largely populated by ethnic Serbs; is that right?
16 A. It depends on the municipality. The Serbs did not prevail in all
17 of the municipalities that you have mentioned.
18 Q. Well, in Vojnic, they were about 90 per cent; is that right?
19 Vrgin Most about 70?
20 A. Yes.
21 Q. Glina about 60?
22 A. Yes.
23 Q. Petrinja about 45 per cent?
24 A. I suppose so, but I don't know for sure.
25 Q. Kostajnica about 62 per cent. Does that sound right to you?
1 A. Yes.
2 Q. Sorry have I been asked to repeat my question.
3 Kostajnica was about 62 per cent Serb; is that right?
4 A. Are you referring to the town of Kostajnica or the municipality?
5 Q. The municipality.
6 A. Yes.
7 Q. And Davor was about 85 per cent Serb, that municipality?
8 A. Yes.
9 Q. Again, I'll remind you that on Wednesday you said you were --
10 your observations on the extent of devastation and lack of infrastructure
11 at this time in August and September, that was based on your views as an
12 outside observer. And you can see here that Mr. Radic points to an area
13 where he says they can bring people in right away and says it has been
14 wonderfully preserved.
15 If the minister of reconstruction and development took the view
16 at this time that the situation in an area was such that people could be
17 brought in right away, you wouldn't have any reason to doubt that, would
19 A. I watched TV, and I did not see that those areas were that well
21 Q. But here Mr. Radic says that he was visited that factory that
22 looks marvellous. Do you have any reason to doubt his conclusion as to
23 the state of this factory in Licki Osijek?
24 A. Well, I suppose that he did visit Licki Osijek and that he did
25 observe what he did.
1 Q. Thank you. And just to confirm something you said on Wednesday.
2 You -- you testified that you didn't know Mr. Radic before you were
3 appointed, and I just want to make sure I understand exactly that you
4 went by that.
5 Before you joined the Ministry of Reconstruction on the 11th
6 October 1995, have you ever spoken with Mr. Radic?
7 A. Yes. We were members of the Council for Demographic Development
8 and Reconstructions, and as a member of that council, I came to the
9 meetings but we never actually talked. We did not know each other.
10 Q. So you never had a one-on-one conversation with Mr. Radic before
11 the 11th of October, 1995
12 A. No. The meetings encompassed all scientists dealing with similar
13 issues, primarily demographic issues. We had several meetings, several
14 general discussions, but we did not have any particular conversations
15 about anything.
16 Q. Thank you.
17 MS. GUSTAFSON: Could we turn now to 65 ter 4628, in particular
18 page 11 of the English and page 20 of the B/C/S.
19 Q. Mr. Sterc, this is a record of another meeting between Mr. Radic
20 and President Tudjman, and this one was on the 12th of September, 1995
21 And if you see about three sentences into Mr. Radic's statement there, he
23 "We have to tactical this problem. We also have a problem with
24 the expelled people, all of them, after Operation Oluja, and have the
25 data from the 1991 census. There were 123.000 residential units in the
1 liberated area, 123.000 flats and houses, and there are 120.000 Croats
2 that we want to return to the area, which means one house to each Croat
3 (yes). This means that this business of return, which we started before
4 the reconstruction, must be accelerated, either through legislation or by
5 employing other measures, because there is not a single family that we
6 cannot provide accommodation for. We have enough houses.
7 "Now, since we do not have damage estimates, it's a bottleneck,
8 because my experts need to go out in the field with engineers,
9 et cetera ... between 30 per cent and 35 per cent of the 123.000 is
10 either completely destroyed or heavily damaged, so it won't do. But
11 there are still some 80.000 houses and flats, which again, I think, is
12 terrible. Of that number, 16.000 are state-owned or socially-owned, or
13 owned by the railway company, which virtually means state-owned. It is
14 it a huge potential for highly-skilled people and returnees from abroad,
15 and that is my principal motive for raising this question. I believe
16 that the time is ripe for you to issue a declaration ... the emigres ..."
17 If we could turn the page in the B/C/S?
18 "Therefore, I could perhaps furnish you with some background
19 information. But I think we have to, this would be a crucial invitation.
20 What can we offer them? The current number of returnees is way too
21 small, way too small for populating the area. The latest information I
22 is that along with those moving from Banja Luka, some 10.000 will soon
23 come from Vojvodina. They are even headed for Subotica and even for ...
24 however, half of those who arrive either run away or simply disappear.
25 They are afraid or, I don't know, to accept, tentatively speaking, a
1 Serbian house, and they prefer to stay with ... relatives or some other
2 persons, or they disappear among the tenants living in rented flats in
4 invitations a week to highly skilled people willing to come and live in
5 these new areas, to come forward, and the response was fantastic, really
6 fantastic. We have received approximately 12.000 applications for
7 settling in the area."
8 Now, Mr. Sterc, were you aware that Radic had taken these steps
9 to accelerate the population of the area with Croats by, for example,
10 sending out these invitations to people to settle these areas.
11 A. I didn't know about the conversation, and I did not know about
12 any of those actions that were undertaken.
13 Q. Thank you.
14 MS. GUSTAFSON: And if we could now turn to page 17 of the
15 English and page 25 of the B/C/S.
16 Q. Mr. Sterc, I'd like to direct your attention to the top of this
17 page, about halfway through Mr. Radic's statement, he says:
18 "We have to reinforce this department in the ministry because I
19 have no one in charge of the settlement. I have talked to two persons.
20 I need an assistant in that ministry of that level, for the spatial
21 strategy. I don't know if you know Sterc. He used to work in the
22 institute for applied social research. He was the youngest at the
23 institute, and he agreed. I asked him if he would like to be an
24 assistant and he agreed. He is efficient, rather temperamental, a
25 youngish man, perhaps two to three years my junior."
1 Now, Mr. Radic is talking about you here, isn't he, when he says
2 Sterc; that's you?
3 A. Yes, he is thinking about me but he didn't even know I was
4 working. I wasn't working in the institute for applied social
5 investigations -- applied social research.
6 Q. And here he says that he had asked you if you would like to be an
7 assistant, and you agreed. Do you remember Mr. Radic asking if you
8 wanted to be assistant minister around this time?
9 A. Yes.
10 Q. So when I asked you earlier if you'd ever had a one-on-one
11 conversation with Mr. Radic, and you said no, you did have a
12 conversation, didn't you? You had a conversation with him about your
13 appointment; is that right?
14 MR. MISETIC: Your Honour, I'd ask for some foundation --
15 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] No. But this wasn't a
17 MR. MISETIC: I -- I don't think the impeachment is complete. I
18 don't think she has laid the foundation for the -- I mean, I don't want
19 to say it in front of the witness, but ... the question posed was was it
20 one-on-one. The second question is was he offered an assistant minister
21 post. She hasn't establish that the second took place under the
22 conditions as in the first question.
23 JUDGE ORIE: I'm just re-reading the previous answers.
24 MS. GUSTAFSON: I can rephrase, Your Honour.
25 JUDGE ORIE: Please do so.
1 MS. GUSTAFSON:
2 Q. Mr. Sterc, in answer to my earlier question about having a
3 one-on-one conversation with Mr. Radic before the 11th of October, 1995
4 you said no. And then you said -- you went on to say "we did not have
5 any particular conversations about anything."
6 Did you in fact have a particular conversation with Mr. Radic
7 about your appointment as assistant minister?
8 A. I'll answer this question. It wasn't an tete-a-tete
9 conversation, and we didn't specifically discuss the kind of work that
10 was to be performed.
11 Q. When I asked you if it was right that Mr. Radic had asked you if
12 you wanted to be assistant minister around this time, you said yes. What
13 exactly were the circumstances in which Mr. Radic --
14 A. Yes.
15 Q. -- asked you to become assistant minister and you said yes. Tell
16 me about that conversation.
17 A. Some members of the ministry for development and reconstruction
18 were present at the conversation, the secretary and I don't know who
19 else, and it was very brief. It wasn't possible during that period of
20 time to speak at length with the ministers who were supposedly big fish.
21 MR. GUSTAFSON: If we could just finally turn to page 4 of this
22 second English translation of this document, and page 30 in the B/C/S.
23 And it's at the bottom of the page in the B/C/S.
24 Q. And Dr. Radic here is talking again about you. And he says:
25 "Yes, Klemencic accepted it immediately. They are also from the
1 council of demography. He worked all the time there, both he and Sterc,
2 and Klemencic is a bit meticulous and Sterc is more operational. So I've
3 thought of Sterc. The two of them were assigned as follows; Sterc as
4 assistant and the other one as counsellor precisely to study a strategy
5 of that, and of operational programme and let them be there until the
6 time for that come."
7 And if we move down to the -- skip the next paragraph and move
8 down to the following one. He says:
9 "Secondly, the Law on Strategy of Croatian Space - that is a
10 working title. So, which areas are to be stimulated, especially in term
11 of settlement, which to be exempt from taxes, which were not, everything
12 equal, simply define, and Sterc, Klemencic, and those over there, and we
13 are almost finished. I think that is something representing a strategic
15 And here Mr. Radic refers to you in connection with a proposed
16 Law on Strategy of Croatian Space dealing with the areas to be
17 stimulated, especially in terms of settlement.
18 Is this something that you had worked on before you joined the
20 MR. MISETIC: Mr. President, I'm going to object now.
21 Prosecution objected to paragraph 5 of the statement. It was excluded
22 based on her objection. Now she's going into the area on cross when I
23 was precluded from going into it on direct. So I'm going to object to
24 this line of questioning because it's unfair that we were precluded on
25 the basis of her claim that she was prejudiced by paragraph 5 and now
1 she's going into that topic.
2 MS. GUSTAFSON: First of all, Your Honour --
3 JUDGE ORIE: Ms. Gustafson.
4 MS. GUSTAFSON: -- it's not clear to me, at least, that this is
5 the same topic, and, secondly, it's a purely factual question.
6 MR. MISETIC: I too thought it was a purely factual question
7 which the basis why I asked that paragraph 5 be admitted and I be allowed
8 to explore paragraph 5 and it was excluded.
9 JUDGE ORIE: Not entirely, Mr. Misetic. Those portions that were
10 purely factual, the Chamber said you can make up your mind. It's 5.5,
11 5.6, 5.7 that is where the statement talks about not an analysis of -- of
12 the publications, et cetera, but where it is about the programmes that
13 were developed and what they contained, what chapters would be in those
15 [Trial Chamber confers]
16 MR. MISETIC: Well I may go into it then in redirect,
17 Mr. President, if I'm allowed, but if the -- given the connotation that's
18 being ascribed to the programme in cross, then I may wish to explore
19 paragraphs 5.1 -- at least the factual basis for paragraphs 5.1 through
20 5.4, because it's now been --
21 JUDGE ORIE: I think I said at the time that those paragraphs are
22 not fit for being admitted under Rule 92 ter. If you want to explore
23 purely factual matters in which the issues are dealt with on a factual
24 basis, there seems to be no problem, and I think the Chamber has never
25 kept you off from putting factual questions. I think the reasoning
1 was -- at least I thought our ruling was clear on the matter.
2 MR. MISETIC: Thank you, Mr. President.
3 JUDGE ORIE: Please proceed.
4 MS. GUSTAFSON: Thank you, Your Honour.
5 Q. Mr. Sterc, I'll just repeat my question because it was a few
6 minutes ago.
7 Mr. Radic here refers to you in connection with the proposed Law
8 on Strategy of Croatian Space dealing with the areas to be stimulated,
9 especially in terms of settlement. Is this something that you had worked
10 on before you joined the ministry?
11 A. No.
12 Q. Do you have any idea why Mr. Radic might have referred to you in
13 connection -- in mentioning this law?
14 A. I don't know why he referred to me.
15 Q. Thank you.
16 I'd like to move now to another topic, and this is the property
17 law measures that are discussed at some length in your statement. This
18 is paragraph 9 and 9.1 and 9.2. And in paragraph 9.1, you refer to the
19 Law on the Temporary Takeover and Administration of Property. And you
20 state that this was not confiscation of property as it was perceived,
21 rather, at the time it was felt that this property need to be protected
22 from destruction or secured if it was occupied by tenants.
23 And my first question is you weren't involved in drafting or in
24 any way in the creation of this law, were you?
25 A. No.
1 Q. And as you point out in your statement it was passed in
2 September 1995 before you were appointed assistant minister.
3 Do you know anything at all about how this law came to be drafted
4 or enacted?
5 A. No. But I assume that lawyers drafted this law, worked on this
7 Q. The Chamber has received evidence of a meeting held on 11th
8 August 1995 with President Tudjman and other senior members of the
9 Croatian leadership, including Dr. Radic, Mr. Susak, Mr. Granic, and
10 Mr. Valentic, among other, at which they discussed the purpose and the
11 terms of this law which was then in the parliamentary process, and I'm
12 referring here to P462.
13 Do you know anything about that meeting or what was said at that
15 A. No, I don't.
16 Q. And do you know anything about the views of any of those
17 individuals I just mentioned, about the purpose of this property law?
18 A. No.
19 Q. So when you talk in your statement about this law being -- about
20 protecting property from destruction, would it be fair to say that that's
21 more or less your personal view, that you can't speak for the top
22 Croatian leadership as to the purpose of this law; is that right?
23 A. I can speak about the meaning of the law in the field on site.
24 After we had formed the assembly -- the council when we saw what the law
25 meant for the actions that we subsequently planned. So these are matters
1 that I can address.
2 Q. So you know, then, that the law -- put the property of the Serbs
3 who had left the Krajina into the temporary possession of the state and
4 only gave those Serbs 90 days to return and reclaim their property. Do
5 you know that?
6 A. I asked about this. I asked lawyers about this before I came
7 here because I believed that would be a question put to me, and all the
8 lawyers said that that 30-day-time limit isn't something that can be
9 found in the law, isn't stipulated in the law.
10 Q. In fact, this law is in evidence, and it does provide for a
11 90-day period. Did you know that?
12 A. No. Everyone who worked on that told me that this 30-day limit
13 isn't in the law. But this is just hearsay information, so I can't
14 saying anything about that. I can just talk about the consequences of
15 the law and what it meant for us when we started dealing with the entire
16 concept of returning.
17 Q. So it --
18 JUDGE ORIE: Is there any confusion about the 90 days and the 30
19 days. It's my -- is my recollection right that there was a draft which
20 mentioned 30 days and that then 90 days were adopted, and this went back
21 to discussion in late August 1995, if I remember well.
22 If that is the case, perhaps we should perhaps put it to the
23 witness, because he is talking about the 30 days and you're talking about
24 the 90 days, so that upon apparent agreement between the parties - and
25 I'm just now referring to Mr. Misetic nodding - yes, I don't remember the
1 details under what circumstances the 30 days became 90 days. I know that
2 there was a discussion.
3 MS. GUSTAFSON: Your Honour --
4 JUDGE ORIE: Yes.
5 MS. GUSTAFSON: If I may, I believe -- I don't have the exhibit
6 number at my fingertips, but I believe there was a government decree that
7 provided for 30 days passed on the 31st of August and then there was a
8 later law that changed that to 90 days.
9 JUDGE ORIE: Could the parties assist in --
10 Mr. Misetic do you have...
11 MR. MISETIC: It was an initial government decree that didn't
12 have the power of a parliamentary law, that is correct. That was then
13 passed as a law at 90 days and then amended again in January of 1996 to
14 have no limitation.
15 JUDGE ORIE: Yes.
16 Mr. Sterc, were you able to follow the exchange of views between
17 Chamber, Prosecution, and Defence, in this respect that initially there
18 was a presidential decree which stated that the time-limit would be 30
19 days, that then a law was adopted, which, at least from what I understand
20 was valid during 1995, once it was adopted, and that it was later
22 So when we're talking about 30 days, there apparently was a
23 presidential decree which stated that the time-limit for return was 30
24 days, in order not -- in order to avoid the consequences described in
25 that law, to apply, whereas that was later changed or -- was not changed
1 but a law was adopted which mentioned 90 days.
2 Ms. Gustafson, any questions in this respect, then please
4 MS. GUSTAFSON:
5 Q. Mr. Sterc, did you ever read this law that was passed in
6 September 1997 on the temporary takeover of property about which you have
7 given evidence in your statement?
8 MR. MISETIC: I believe it's 1995, Mr. President.
9 JUDGE ORIE: Ms. Gustafson.
10 MS. GUSTAFSON: My apologies.
11 JUDGE ORIE: I take it that that --
12 MS. GUSTAFSON: 1995.
13 JUDGE ORIE: Yes.
14 Did you read that law, Mr. Sterc?
15 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] I had the opportunity to read it,
16 but I didn't. And to clarify this misunderstanding that has arisen,
17 lawyers tell me, or told me before I came here, that all the time-limits
18 with regard to the law had to do with the Law on Selling Flats for which
19 tenants had right. But there was no time-limit for regaining one's
20 property. That's all I can say. Unfortunately, I'm not informed of all
21 the detail.
22 JUDGE ORIE: Yes, perhaps you answer the question on the basis of
23 your own knowledge and not on what others told you, unless you clearly
24 indicate that, and that law is in evidence. We have discussed it and the
25 time-limits - and the parties will correct me if I'm wrong - time-limits
1 do appear also in legislation which was not exclusively dealing with
2 tenants' rights of apartments.
3 Please proceed, Ms. Gustafson.
4 MS. GUSTAFSON: Thank you, Your Honour.
5 Q. And perhaps then we could turn to that topic, which is tenants'
6 rights. And you discuss this in paragraph 9 and 9.2 of your statement.
7 MS. GUSTAFSON: Oh, Your Honours, I apologise, I neglected to
8 tender the transcript we looked at which was 65 ter 4628. Could that
9 please be admitted.
10 JUDGE ORIE: I see that there are no objections.
11 Madam Registrar.
12 THE REGISTRAR: Exhibit P2590, Your Honours.
13 JUDGE ORIE: Is admitted into evidence.
14 MS. GUSTAFSON: Thank you.
15 If we could turn to 65 ter 3496, please.
16 Q. Mr. Sterc, I'd like to direct your attention to the title, the
17 Law on the Lease of Flats in the Liberated Territory
18 bottom of the first column.
19 Are you familiar with this law?
20 A. Yes.
21 MS. GUSTAFSON: And if we could look at Article 1 of this law.
22 Q. "This law regulates the leasing of flats for which, in accordance
23 with provisions of this law, the tenants' right terminates over publicly
24 owned property, state-owned property, i.e., property owned by legal
25 entities who acquired this ownership on the grounds of special
1 regulations and are located on the formerly occupied, now liberated
2 territories of the Republic of Croatia
3 Now, this law, Mr. Sterc, that was enacted on the 27th
4 September 1995, this law dealt exclusively with tenants' rights in
5 regards to flats that were located in the territories taken over after
6 Operations Storm and flash; is that right?
7 A. Yes.
8 MS. GUSTAFSON: And if we could look at Article 2.
9 Q. "The tenants' rights over flats defined in Article 1 of this Law
10 terminates by lawful force --" I think it reads, "if the bearer of the
11 tenants' right has abandoned the flat and has not used it for a period
12 longer than 90 days since the day this Law came into force."
13 And if we go down to Article 3, it says that: "The flats ...
14 under this law which are leased by" your minister, "the Ministry of
15 Development and Reconstruction."
16 And if we go to Article 4, which is on the next page in the
17 English, sets out the categories of people to whom the ministry can lease
18 these flats.
19 And if we go to Article 8, which, again, is on the next page in
20 English, and the next page in the B/C/S as well. And this states that
21 the person who is -- leased this flat by the ministry has the right to
22 buy the flat under certain circumstances.
23 Now, basically, Mr. Sterc, this law extinguished the tenancy
24 rights of the Krajina Serbs to socially owned property if they failed to
25 return to those flats within 90 days of the date this law was enacted,
1 the 27th of September, 1995; is that right?
2 A. As far as I understand this, it applies to everybody who resided
3 in the areas that had been occupied.
4 Q. And those people lost their tenancy rights if they failed to
5 return within 90 days; is that right?
6 A. Yes. All those who had resided in that area, according to the
7 1991 census, and I'm talking about the area that had previously been
9 Q. Now, in your statement, you discussed property laws relevant to
10 tenants' rights in connection with the departure of Serbs during and
11 after Operation Storm. And, again, that's paragraph 9 and paragraph 9.2.
12 And the law that you specifically referred to was the Law on Sale
13 of Flats in Tenancy, a 1992 law that was amended several times. When you
14 discussed the rights of tenants in connection with the departure of Serbs
15 during and after Operation Storm, why didn't you mention this law here?
16 A. I don't know. I don't have any reason. I thought that we're
17 talking about a law --
18 THE INTERPRETER: Could the witness please be instructed to slow
20 JUDGE ORIE: Mr. Sterc, could you slow down your speed of speech,
21 because the interpreters have difficulties in following you.
22 MS. GUSTAFSON:
23 Q. Go ahead, Mr. Sterc. Can finish your answer?
24 THE INTERPRETER: Could the witness be instructed to repeat the
25 answer, please.
1 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] I said that, according to my
2 assumption, that was one of the modifications of the law and the
3 dead-lines were moved because these people were provided time to ask for
4 the right to purchase their apartments. The apartment that they had
5 tenancy rights to. But I'm talking about all the people from the area,
6 not only the Serbs.
7 MS. GUSTAFSON:
8 Q. You said according to your assumption there was one of the
9 modifications of the law. But this is a different law, right? This Law
10 on Lease of Flats in the Liberated Territories
11 the Law on Sale of Flats in Tenancy; right?
12 I see you nodding yes.
13 A. This -- I apologise. This was one of the derivations of that
15 Q. You say it's a derivation of that law --
16 A. It's my assumption. I don't know that for a fact. Because I'm
17 not a lawyer. I am not able to use the same terms equally well.
18 Q. Okay. In paragraph 9.2, you refer to tenants' rights and
19 negotiations. You state: "Negotiations regarding tenants' rights were
20 long and intensive."
21 Now, here are you talking about negotiations with the
22 international community; is that right?
23 A. Yes.
24 Q. And these were negotiations about the mechanisms as to whether
25 and, if so, how, Serbs would be allowed back to Croatia?
1 A. Not only Serbs, but everybody to their original homes, in
3 Q. And this law here, the Law on the Lease of Flats in the Liberated
4 Territory, that was a law that was a particular concern to
5 representatives of international organisations; is that right?
6 A. Not only that one. We discussed all the laws. Even the previous
7 one, we discussed it, and I never provided my final position as to why I
8 provided the statement I did.
9 Q. I'm sorry, I didn't understand your last answer. Your final
10 position as to what -- what statement?
11 A. Yes. I said that all the laws were discussed, all the laws that
12 were passed by the Republic of Croatia
13 parliament. There were also discussions at our meetings of the Working
14 Group, not about the return of the Serbs but everybody to their homes,
15 and we discussed all the laws that needed to be amended, changed, or
16 improved, not only in Croatia
18 Q. Thank you.
19 MS. GUSTAFSON: If we could go to Exhibit D419, please.
20 Q. Mr. Sterc, this --
21 MS. GUSTAFSON: I apologise, if I could tender the property law
22 -- the Law on the Sale of Lease of Flats in Tenancy, 65 ter 3496.
23 JUDGE ORIE: Madam Registrar.
24 THE REGISTRAR: Exhibit P2591, Your Honours.
25 JUDGE ORIE: Is admitted into evidence.
1 MR. MISETIC: No objection.
2 MS. GUSTAFSON:
3 Q. And the document that's coming up now, Mr. Sterc, is an OSCE
4 report from the 8th of September, 1998, and you were referred to it, I
5 believe, in your direct examination.
6 MR. GUSTAFSON: And I'd like to go to paragraph 26. Thank you.
7 Q. It says: "The resolution of property issues remains crucial to
8 the advancement of the return process, the establishment of trust and
9 postwar normalisation. As called for in our May Progress Report, Croatia
10 has taken some positive steps in this regard. Parliament has rescinded
11 the 1995 Law on Temporary takeover of Specified Property ... and the 1995
12 Law on Lease of Apartments in the Liberated Areas, both of which had
13 discriminatory effects and contravened international commitments. The
14 mission had repeatedly called for the recision of these laws."
15 Mr. Sterc does that more or less accurately describe the concerns
16 that representatives of the international institutions expressed about
17 these laws to you?
18 A. Everything was discussed, but this is it not a realistic
19 presentation of the situation, atmosphere, procedures, and results of the
20 work undertaken by the Working Group.
21 Q. I'm not quite sure I understood your answer in connection with my
22 question, which was whether this accurately represented the concerns that
23 representatives of international organisation expressed to you about
24 these laws.
25 A. Yes, there was concern, but this does not reflect the real
1 situation that we discussed and were -- were able to finally agree upon
2 at the Working Group.
3 Q. Thank you.
4 MS. GUSTAFSON: If we could go to 65 ter 7343 please.
5 Q. Now, Mr. Sterc, these are minutes of a Croatian government
6 session from the 14th of September, 1995, a closed session.
7 MS. GUSTAFSON: If we could go to page 11 in the English, and
8 page 9 in the B/C/S.
9 Q. And you see the comments of the president of the government,
10 Mr. Valentic. He says:
11 "Item 1 is a very important issue, draft Bill on the lease of
12 flats in the liberated area, along with the final draft Bill [sic]."
13 And then he asks the deputy prime minister, Bosiljko Misetic to
14 give an explanation, and you see --
15 MS. GUSTAFSON: I apologise, I think we're on the wrong page in
16 the B/C/S. If we could go to the next page in the B/C/S, at the bottom
17 of that page.
18 Oh, I apologise, that was the correct page, it was just at the
20 Q. So here we are. This is right now, the comments of
21 Mr. Bosiljko Misetic, and he says:
22 "After the military and police reintegration of the occupied
23 areas, with the aim of the most rapid possible reconstruction, return and
24 the Croatian people populating the liberated areas, there is, among
25 other, a great number of flats in these now liberated areas which have,
1 until recently, been occupied."
2 And if we could go to page 12 in the English and the next page --
3 or at the bottom of the current page in B/C/S.
4 It says:
5 "What is important is there have been proposals of handling those
6 flats in such a way whereby they would be given directly into ownership,
7 but out of the reasons why we had and the manner in which we have
8 regulated in the bill on the sequester, it would not be purposeful for
9 them to be given immediately into ownership, this also due to abuses.
10 "In addition --" and I think if question go to the next page in
11 the B/C/S.
12 "In addition we believe that we are additionally encouraging
13 people with the solutions offered who will come, use the flats as
14 lessees, stay on in these areas, which would be a long-term demographic
15 and economic and every other Croatian objective. The lease would amount
16 to the same as the rent. After a certain period of time leasing the flat
17 the lessee would be entitled, I stress again, under privileged
18 conditions, in accordance with the law in force, to buy this flat from
19 the state and gain ownership of it."
20 MS. GUSTAFSON: And if we could go now to page 14 in the English
21 and page 15 in the B/C/S.
22 Q. And you see Mr. Radic speaks. He says:
23 "I think that we should quite certainly take this law as an
24 integral whole with the decree, that is, the Law on the Allocation of
25 Houses, which had been in private ownership to date, because with both
1 one and the other we intend to and must resolve the shortages, people in
2 the liberated area, in particular, so that of the skilled personnel, and
3 that is why I propose that the possibility of those same commissions
4 doing the allocation of both those houses and these flats be looked into.
5 They have been similarly, almost identically formed ..."
6 MS. GUSTAFSON: And, finally, if we go to page 17 in the English
7 and page 20 in the B/C/S.
8 Q. These are further comments of Mr. Bosiljko Misetic. And at the
9 second paragraph he says:
10 "The purpose of this law is primarily the reconstruction and
11 return to those areas. That is why Mr. Petrovic's proposal, the
12 immigration minister, should both be supported and recognition should be
13 lent to it; this, moreover in a way that all those institution, all
14 institutions and all ministries, when adopting their programmes of
15 return, primarily take into account, both in view of employment and
16 return, that this is for the immigrants, that is to say, Croatian
17 immigration or the Croatian diaspora, however one labels it."
18 And in the next page in both the English and B/C/S he says:
19 "The purpose of the law is therein, primarily the return,
20 economic, and demographic recovery."
21 Now, Mr. Sterc, I take it you were not aware of this government
22 session at which this law was discussed?
23 A. No, I wasn't aware.
24 Q. Thank you.
25 MS. GUSTAFSON: Your Honours, if could I tender that exhibit,
2 JUDGE ORIE: No objections.
3 Madam Registrar.
4 THE REGISTRAR: Exhibit P2592, Your Honours.
5 JUDGE ORIE: And is admitted into evidence.
6 MS. GUSTAFSON:
7 Q. I'd like to turn to another topic, Mr. Sterc, which is the
8 agreement of the Joint Working Group that you discussed in paragraph 13
9 of your statement. And you gave evidence about this as well on
11 And in your testimony you said that: "It was just one of the
12 steps we made to deal with the whole situation in order to implement our
13 design of the return of everyone to their homes."
14 That was at transcript page 20316.
15 And I'd just like to clarify one point on this agreement with
16 you, which is with respect to mechanisms for return. And this agreement
17 only set out procedures for a two-way return into and out of Sector East.
18 In other words, it set out mechanisms for displaced Croats to return to
19 Sector East; and for displaced Serbs who were living in Sector East to
20 return to other parts of Croatia
21 that right.
22 A. Yes. But this is not about displaced Croats.
23 Q. Well, didn't this agreement provide mechanisms for Croats from
24 Eastern Slavonia
25 A. That was the intention of the agreement.
1 Q. And at the time this agreement was made, in April of 1997, there
2 were no corresponding procedures for return for the much larger number of
3 Serbs from the Krajina who were living outside Croatia; is that right?
4 A. There was no former document, but there were talks and there were
5 procedures aimed at return, until the moment a document could be
7 Q. And that formal document that provided mechanisms for Serbs
8 outside of Croatia
9 1998; is that right?
10 A. That was the final document following all the other preceding
11 documents that we had done in drafting much before they were actually
12 signed and dated.
13 Q. Okay. Now, on Wednesday, Mr. Misetic asked you about the reasons
14 why Serbs left Eastern Slavonia between August 1996 and July 1998, and
15 you testified that you thought the main reasons were political and
16 economic uncertainty there.
17 Now, regardless of those reasons, the Croatian leadership was
18 encouraging the departure of Serbs from Eastern Slavonia and viewed their
19 departure as positive.
20 Isn't that right?
21 A. The Croatian government was not in control of Eastern Slavonia
22 Everybody knows that. 18.000 Serbs who had left, the rest of the
23 occupied territory of Croatia
24 our estimate.
25 In order for Croats to come back to the UNTAES territory, we had
1 to implement the concept of return of everybody to their homes. I really
2 don't know, nor was I ever complained -- or heard complaints about
3 international -- from the international community that Croatian state
4 encouraged the departure of Serbs from Eastern Slavonia to some other
6 JUDGE ORIE: Mr. Sterc, the question was not whether anyone
7 complained about what the Croatian state encouraged or did not encourage.
8 It was one step back; that is, quite simple, whether the Croatian
9 leadership was encouraging the departure of Serbs; and, second part of
10 the question, whether they viewed their departure as positive.
11 Could you please answer that question, not on whether it was
12 criticised or not. Perhaps that may be the next question.
13 Mr. Misetic.
14 MR. MISETIC: I would have a Rule 90(H) objection on this
15 question. Ms. Gustafson cross-examined Ms. Skare Ozbolt and these
16 questions were not put to her, who would have had personal knowledge.
17 JUDGE ORIE: Ms. Gustafson.
18 THE INTERPRETER: Could the witness be asked to slow down. It's
19 virtually impossible to interpret simultaneously.
20 JUDGE ORIE: Before Ms. Gustafson responds, Mr. Sterc there is a
21 repeated request that you slow down your speed of speech if you want us
22 to here your testimony, but I do understand that you're missing the
23 guidance of Mr. Misetic.
24 THE WITNESS: I'm sorry.
25 JUDGE ORIE: I will try to take over now and then with my hand
2 THE WITNESS: I'm sorry.
3 JUDGE ORIE: Ms. Gustafson.
4 MS. GUSTAFSON: Your Honour, I -- I don't think there is any
5 reason I shouldn't be able to put this to the witness he has given
6 evidence about reasons for the departure of Serbs. I'd like to test
7 foundations of that evidence.
8 MR. MISETIC: Mr. President, my -- she can test it but to the
9 extent we're going develop the issue further, the reason we bring persons
10 with personal knowledge is to have these issues addressed directly with
11 people with personal knowledge and not that -- then a subsequent witness
12 comes who doesn't have personal knowledge and then we start trying to
13 admit documents on a particular topic.
14 So I would have a 90(H) objection to that.
15 JUDGE ORIE: The objection is on the record. Ms. Gustafson may
16 proceed and we'll see at the end whether we enter into the Rule 90(H)
17 areas, yes or no.
18 Please proceed, Ms. Gustafson.
19 MS. GUSTAFSON: Your Honour, I'd like to go a document next that
20 would take a few minutes, so perhaps the Chamber would be prefer to take
21 a break now.
22 JUDGE ORIE: Then perhaps it's better to first have a break.
23 We'll have a break and resume at five minutes to 11.00.
24 But not until I've asked you, Ms. Gustafson, how much further
25 time would you need?
1 MS. GUSTAFSON: Approximately half an hour to 45 minutes Your
3 JUDGE ORIE: Yes. May I then take it that we'll certainly be
4 able to conclude the evidence of this witness this morning. And, for the
5 record, Mr. Misetic is nodding yes.
6 We have a break.
7 --- Recess taken at 10.30 a.m.
8 --- On resuming at 11.03 a.m.
9 JUDGE ORIE: Ms. Gustafson, you may proceed.
10 MS. GUSTAFSON:
11 Q. Mr. Sterc, I'm going to repeat my last question because I don't
12 think we ever got an answer to it, which was that the Croatian -- that
13 the Croatian leadership encouraged the departure of Serbs from Eastern
15 A. No.
16 MS. GUSTAFSON: Could we please go to 65 ter 7252.
17 Q. Now, Mr. Sterc, this is a transcript of a meeting of the VONS
18 held on 17th December at -- 1996.
19 And are you familiar with the VONS, the Defence and National
20 Security Council of Croatia
21 A. Yes.
22 MS. GUSTAFSON: And if we could stay on this page in the English
23 and move in the B/C/S to page 2.
24 Q. You see President Tudjman asks the meeting to go on to the next
25 item in the agenda, which is report in the course of the reintegration in
2 And Podunavlje, that's another term for Eastern Slavonia; is that
4 A. Yes. Although it's not quite identical, but I don't have time to
5 go into explanations that concern such geographical concepts now.
6 Q. Thank you. And you see, then, Dr. Ivica Kostovic speaks and part
7 way down that speech he says:
8 "The first issue is the treatment of Serbs by the Croatian
9 authorities, starting from the government all the way to the mayor who
10 comes into direct contact with them, while the second issue are the
11 elections. I will tell you what is to be done with regards to the issue
12 of the treatment of Serbs. First of all, --"
13 And if we go to the next page in the B/C/S, please.
14 "First of all, full protection should be given to the two or
15 three Serbs who we are going to encounter in Baranja, as was the case in
16 Nijemci and when we entered Srijem triangle. That kind of protection
17 cannot be undertaken. Instead, there ought to be a practical change in
18 the policy of the local authorities of all who are going to go there.
19 "Furthermore, in Baranja, UNTAES does not allow us..."
20 And then the President says --
21 MS. GUSTAFSON: If we can go to the next page in the English.
22 Q. "What does it mean, why, what?"
23 And Dr. Kostovic says:
24 "Here is an example: There were 47 Serbs in Nijemci. First, we
25 stalled issuing them documents and this and that. Then, we offered them
1 everything and all of them left, save Jovanka. Jovanka remained there
2 and Budby wrote to the Security Council about her, as initially she did
3 not get the documents on time and then people came to her and threatened
4 here. And so without Klein, now Budby speaks of the return of the
5 Jordanian battalion to those ... and that is the truth, I am not joking,
6 that is what is happening. So, because of a single Serb woman, I cannot
7 keep what I have won with great effort - Srijem triangle. It is because
8 of this that, for example, a meeting of county prefects should simply be
9 called and they should be told, You are state officials, and whenever any
10 of your people enter any of those settlements which Klein had given you,
11 and if you do not protection, you will be replaced. And that should, for
12 example, be told to the county prefects, they in turn will pass it on to
13 the mayors and that is it. I cannot risk the process of peaceful
14 reintegration on the account of a single Serb woman."
15 And President Tudjman says:
16 "Right, that's understood, someone even needs to be replaced.
17 However, let it be clear that this is not -- let it be, I did this ...
18 but as a part of this."
19 MS. GUSTAFSON: And if we go to the next page in the B/C/S.
20 Q. Dr. Kostovic responds:
21 "Yes, that's true. But that we point that out for ourselves as
22 well ... I do not want that. In Baranja, only four families are in the
23 chasm, and if I cannot pay them off, bribe them, to go away to who knows
24 where, and if that is the price of entering Baranja, then I am neither
25 the Croatian state nor the authority. There, that is approximately that
2 And then he goes on and says:
3 "The second thing that needs to be done - and the prime minister
4 has already given the green light for it - is the simple compensation,
5 meaning that we would pay off the Serbs, and that is somewhere between 30
6 and 50 per cent, those who live around Vukovar, that is more than 50 per
7 cent, Bilja, while those who live in Baranja are, let's say, 30 per cent.
8 That is some kind of statistical data which was obtained. That ought to
9 be the responsibility of the office for the refugees and the local
10 authorities. They need to find Croats who will buy those half-destroyed
11 houses of theirs."
12 MS. GUSTAFSON: If we go to the next page in English: "Our bank
13 would give a loan to a Croat, he would give that money to a Serb, and the
14 Serb would sign he would not return there anymore. The Americans are all
15 crazy about that. And so, if everyone is crazy about it, let us do so."
16 And if we can go to one further page which is at page 13 of the
17 English and page 18 in the B/C/S.
18 And this is Dr. Radic speaking. And if we go to the bottom of
19 the page in the B/C/S, he says:
20 "Third, the Serbs are the most corrupt people in the world.
21 There isn't a single more corrupt or purchasable nation. Starting from
22 this fact, I believe that we can achieve much more, as we just said, by
23 buying their property, for which we have created a good ... I believe
24 that the matter can proceed well through the weekend houses, around
25 there. But, I believe we shall be able to achieve what we need to do in
1 that space. Since recently I have spoken quite often to their
2 representatives, who occasionally visit Zagreb, et cetera. Stanimirovic
3 and the others, they are amazed at the fact that, I mean, in individual
4 meetings with them - but, you need to assign people to do the job, and
5 they will be able to do quite a lot."
6 Q. Now, Mr. Sterc, do you know about this meeting?
7 A. No, I don't.
8 Q. And you don't know anything about the comments made by members of
9 the leadership about bribing Serbs in Eastern Slavonia to go away or
10 buying their houses in order to -- as Radic said, "achieve what we need
11 to do in that space."
12 Is that right?
13 A. No, I don't know anything about that.
14 Q. So would it be fair to say that when I asked you about whether
15 the Croatian leadership was encouraging the departure of Serbs from
16 Eastern Slavonia
17 really speak about those views of the top Croatian leadership, about that
19 Is that fair?
20 A. Naturally I can speak about that, of course.
21 Q. Thank you.
22 MS. GUSTAFSON: I'd like to tender 65 ter 7252.
23 MR. MISETIC: Your Honour, I believe if we can check the
24 interpretation, I believe it was page 35, line 21, if we can check what
25 the witness's answer was.
1 THE INTERPRETER: The interpreter said: Naturally I can speak
2 about that, of course.
3 JUDGE ORIE: Well, if he can speak about it perhaps we should ask
4 him about it.
5 MS. GUSTAFSON:
6 Q. I'm sorry, Mr. Sterc, I misunderstood the answer. You said you
7 can speak about the views of the top Croatian leadership, but you said
8 you didn't know anything about the meeting or the comments made by the
9 leadership about bribing Serbs in --
10 A. I apologise.
11 Q. I'd just like you, if you could please explain how you reconcile
12 those two remarks?
13 A. Thank you. I would like to be allowed to be a little bit more
14 precise when answering questions, because my "yes" and "no" answer do not
15 reflect the situation and the information I had about this matter when we
16 discussed the matter with representatives of the international community.
17 Would the chamber allow me to give somewhat a lengthy answer because in
18 previous conversations, when discussing the issue of tenancy rights, I
19 didn't have the opportunity of explaining what we negotiated on, what
20 sort of agreements we reached with regard to tenancy -- the tenancy
21 agreement issue which was discussed with international community.
22 As far as this matter is concerned, and as far as I'm concerned,
23 the people who are referred to here can say whatever they like. You
24 mentioned Mr. Kostovic. For example, Mr. Kostovic was the -- was the
25 deputy prime minister, but he wasn't someone who could in any way issue
1 orders to me. To act as he saw fit in Podunavlje, that's what you call
2 it, I was present with UNTAES every week. I would see them every week
3 that, included President Klein, Deputy Srdarijan [phoen] and others,
4 Piper, Campbell and so on and so forth. We discussed various actions
5 that I mentioned the day before yesterday -- yes, thank you. And apart
6 from what they thought, well, I can also tell you what my opinion is,
7 this seems to me as if it's young children playing at war. Pressure
8 through the formal bodies and the agreements that we had wasn't at public
9 sessions -- I apologise.
10 JUDGE ORIE: You really have to speak more slowly, otherwise
11 we'll miss your testimony --
12 THE WITNESS: Okay [Interpretation] Very well.
13 JUDGE ORIE: That's not what this Chamber wishes to happen.
14 Please slowly proceed.
15 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Therefore, there were weekly
16 negotiations with UNTAES, and during those negotiations we tried to reach
17 agreements, according to which the Serbs who had left the previously
18 occupied territory and who had come to Podunavlje could remain in
19 Podunavlje, in Croatian buildings, while the process of returning wasn't
20 placed within a framework --
21 MS. GUSTAFSON:
22 Q. I'm go to interrupt you, because I don't believe you've addressed
23 my question.
24 MR. MISETIC: I'm going to object. She asked him if he knew the
25 views of the Croatian leadership.
1 JUDGE ORIE: Yes, and now he starts explaining what happened on
2 the ground which is --
3 MR. MISETIC: Well, I mean -- starting to get after two days some
4 facts about what the witness may now --
5 JUDGE ORIE: Yes.
6 MR. MISETIC: -- to explain what the position of the Croatian
7 leadership was.
8 JUDGE ORIE: Well, first of all, Mr. Sterc, at the end of your
9 testimony you can add anything which you consider not to have been dealt
10 with sufficiently; of course, within certain limits.
11 You've told us quite a bit about your dealings with the
12 international community. Ms. Gustafson, at this moment, is apparently
13 exploring to what extent you were aware of what -- or in what atmosphere
14 the matter was dealt with at meetings with the presidents -- with the
15 president, and that's what she refers to if you're talking about the
17 If you could give us a further insight, not primarily on what
18 happened on the ground, because I think you told us already that your
19 efforts were aiming at guaranteeing the right of everyone to return if
20 that person had left, it being a humanitarian issue. But Ms. Gustafson,
21 at this moment, is apparently exploring what you could tell us about
22 these view, as she read them to you, which were aired in these meetings
23 with the president.
24 If you say, Well, I consider this a schoolboys' meeting, then, of
25 course, that -- I wouldn't say so, but at least we have, at this moment,
1 no reason to believe that it was just schoolboys' conversation. If you
2 would like to give us a better insight on what happened there, which
3 seems to be not fully consistent with your own views on the matter, then
4 please do so.
5 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] A direct answer with regard to what
6 they discussed, there is nothing I can say -- I can't provide any details
7 about what they discussed.
8 MS. GUSTAFSON:
9 Q. Thank you.
10 MS. GUSTAFSON: Your Honour, I would like to tender 65 ter 7252.
11 JUDGE ORIE: Mr. Misetic.
12 MR. MISETIC: We object. We object to the admission of this
13 document, Ms. Skare Ozbolt is listed as having been present for the
14 meeting, under Rule 90(H) it should have been put to her. I note that
15 the final question was, You weren't present so you don't know anything
16 about the views of the views of the Croatian leadership. We had
17 Ms. Skare Ozbolt here who could have, perhaps, provided some answers to
18 that. So to that extent I would object and say that it's improper to not
19 put it to Ms. Skare Ozbolt and then wait for a witness who doesn't know
20 anything about the meeting and then tender the document into evidence.
21 JUDGE ORIE: Ms. Gustafson.
22 MS. GUSTAFSON: Thank you, Your Honour.
23 First of all, Rule 90(H) doesn't require us put any particular
24 document to a witness. It requires us to put the general nature of our
25 case. We certainly put the general nature of our case on --
1 JUDGE ORIE: Let me just check.
2 90(H) and 98 are easily confused. I see on the transcript that
3 Mr. Misetic was understood to refer to 90(H), although from what I
4 thought and also in view of his earlier observation, that it would be 98
5 or is it --
6 MR. MISETIC: 90(H).
7 JUDGE ORIE: 90(H) okay.
8 MR. MISETIC: Yes.
9 JUDGE ORIE: Okay. So that has been, at least any confusion in
10 my mind, is there.
11 MR. MISETIC: If I may respond to that.
12 MS. GUSTAFSON: Oh I'm not finished, Your Honour.
13 JUDGE ORIE: Yes, then we first ask Ms. Gustafson to finish.
14 MS. GUSTAFSON: We certainly put our case to Ms. Skare Ozbolt on
15 the views of the leadership with respect to the -- the presence or
16 absence of Serbs in Eastern Slavonia. Furthermore, the fact that we
17 didn't put that to her shouldn't be a bar to putting to this witness to
18 test his knowledge of those views.
19 And, lastly, Your Honour, if we had unlimited time to put
20 documents to witnesses, might have put this document to Ms. Skare Ozbolt.
21 We have to make discussions as to what to focus on. With regard to that
22 witness, we focussed on the focus of her testimony on this issue which
23 was the negotiations that led up to the Erdut Agreement. And we put
24 those documents to her. So I don't think the objection is warranted for
25 that reason. And the fact that no one who was present at this meeting
1 has testified in this case should -- is a matter that should go to the
2 weight that the Chamber assigns to it, not its admission.
3 Thank you.
4 JUDGE ORIE: Mr. Misetic.
5 MR. MISETIC: Mr. President, I would remind the Chamber that when
6 this issue came up with Mr. Rajcic, we had to go through an entire
7 procedure of calling Mr. Rajcic back because a document was put to a
8 different witness and he had to be re-called for that purpose.
9 Now, the difference being that the document that we tendered
10 through that -- a different witness later wasn't Mr. Rajcic's own
11 document. He didn't participate in any meeting. He had no firsthand
12 knowledge of that document. Nevertheless, he was required to be
13 re-called to address that document.
14 This is a situation that's even more -- I think, clear, in that
15 Ms. Skare Ozbolt is actually present at the meeting. I would also note
16 that in her statement, which is now in evidence -- I believe it is
17 paragraph 7 of her statement. If I can find the D number.
18 D1471 at page 7 she said:
19 "During the peaceful integration of Eastern Slavonia when I would
20 receive information that the Serbs wanted to leave a certain area, I
21 would personally go into -- go to the area in order to negotiate with
22 them in order for them to remain in the area."
23 Now, it was put in issue, it was clearly flagged for the
24 Prosecution that that was an issue with respect to her testimony. If we
25 use the Rajcic example where he had to be re-called about a document that
1 he wasn't the author of and had no firsthand knowledge of, then here in
2 this case I think -- certainly in the worse case scenario, the same
3 procedure should be applied, and I think it should be excluded because
4 clearly this should have been put to her.
5 Whether it's top -- or this particular document or more
6 importantly the general topic of what Ms. Skare Ozbolt said in her
7 statement, even that wasn't addressed with her regardless of the specific
9 Thank you.
10 JUDGE ORIE: Ms. Gustafson, the last 30 seconds for you.
11 MS. GUSTAFSON: It's just that the comparison with the Rajcic
12 document isn't an apposite one, Your Honour. These matters depend on the
13 nature of the document. Most of the presidential transcripts have been
14 admitted from the bar table by both parties. They're documents that are
15 suitable to admission from the bar table. It's not necessary to have a
16 witness who has personal knowledge of the document for them to be
18 Thank you.
19 JUDGE ORIE: Thank you, Ms. Gustafson.
20 I'm just trying to get a better impression on the presence and
21 the participation of Ms. Skare Ozbolt in this meeting, which I find on
22 page 11.
23 The document will be -- will be marked for identification. Both
24 parties will have an opportunity to make further submissions on this
25 issue, not later than Monday, close of business. And the parties are
1 then invited to give exact references on what was dealt with, where, and
2 what pages, et cetera. Parties are also invited to consider whether it
3 is a matter which goes to admissibility only or whether a re-call of
4 Ms. Skare Ozbolt would be a remedy under the circumstances. Not to say
5 that the Chamber has formed any opinion about whether there's anything to
6 be remedied, but, nevertheless, the Chamber would invite the parties,
7 that in case there would be, then to see to what extent this would be a
9 Mr. Misetic.
10 MR. MISETIC: Just to ask is it, do we have 3.000 words or is it
12 JUDGE ORIE: Well, no. I would say if would you start with two
13 pages or two and a half pages, and if there's a clear matter you say,
14 This issue needs another ten page, indicate there, and then the Chamber
15 will consider whether those other ten pages will be allowed, yes or no.
16 If we have not received anything by Monday, close of business,
17 then, of course, the Chamber will proceed to consider the matter on the
18 basis of the oral submissions.
19 Madam Registrar.
20 THE REGISTRAR: Your Honours, exhibit number is P2593, marked for
22 JUDGE ORIE: And it will keep that status for the time being.
23 Please proceed, Ms. Gustafson.
24 MS. GUSTAFSON: Thank you, Your Honour.
25 Q. Now, Mr. Sterc, I'd like to move on now to the Programme for
1 Return that you discussed in your statement that was passed in -- or
2 enacted in June of 1998.
3 And my question is this. There was a great deal of pressure
4 placed on Croatia
5 allow the return of Serbs to Croatia
6 implementation; isn't that right?
7 And I mean -- by "pressure," I mean pressure from the
8 international community.
9 A. Correct. There were pressures from the international community
10 from the very outset for all of our moves, the moves of the Croatian
11 government, and, of course, there was a lengthy discussion about that.
12 The programme of return was preceded by several documents that were
13 signed with the international community, and the return was the Crown of
14 a concept of everybody's return to their homes.
15 Since I did not have the opportunity to say the following, and I
16 believe that this is important, let me say this. When it comes to the
17 programme of return which was coordinated with all the representatives of
18 the international community or the leading people thereof in Croatia
19 that programme defines the right of tenancy over the apartments, and this
20 is defined very clearly, unambiguously with the conclusions and
21 co-signatures by everybody. The tenancy rights was on the agenda and was
22 the subject of a lengthy discussion, and this was the key document of the
23 entire procedure.
24 Q. Thank you.
25 MR. GUSTAFSON: I'd like to go to 65 ter 7344 and page 59 of the
1 English and the third attached translation in B/C/S.
2 Q. Now, Mr. Sterc, this is a report of the non-governmental
3 organisation, Human Rights Watch, from March of 1999, and I'd like to
4 direct your attention to the passage under the title, "The European
6 Where it says:
7 "Closer integration into so-called Euro-Atlantic structures,
8 including European Union and NATO, are key elements of Croatian foreign
9 policy. The European Union, therefore, plays an influential role in
11 approach to countries of South East Europe which conditions granting of
12 trade concessions, reconstruction assistance, and other relations with
13 all countries in the region on a comprehensive set of human rights
14 criteria, including the creation of conditions for the return of refugees
15 and displaced persons and respect for the rights of minorities."
16 And then it goes on to refer to a six-month review done by the EU
17 council of ministers. And in the next paragraph it says:
18 "At the last review in October 1998, the council decided that
19 relations should remain unchanged, citing a discrepancy between
20 statements of intent and their practical implementation, as well as
21 problems with respect to the treatment of minorities and a very slow
22 return process. Croatia
23 the EU but was suspended from the fair reconstruction assistance
24 programme soon after it originally became eligible in 1995 due to the
25 military actions Storm and Flash."
1 And if we skip to the following sentences:
2 "The threat by the EU to suspend ATMs is widely regarded as
3 instrumental in the decision of the Croatian government to adopt the
4 mandatory instructions for the procedure on individual return in May and
5 the return programme in July."
6 And if we go to the next page in the English, and the next page
7 in the B/C/S, I believe, as well, under the United States: "The United
8 States maintains a close relationship with Croatia."
9 And then if we go down, a few lines down it says:
10 "The US has indicated a willingness to support Croatia
11 admission to the NATO partnership for peace programme, provided that
12 progress can be made on refugee returns, Dayton implementation, and
13 internal democracy."
14 Is that passage consistent with your understanding of the types
15 of pressures placed on Croatia
16 implement a programme to return Serb refugees to Croatia?
17 A. This doesn't look like pressure to me.
18 Q. Well, it says here: "The threat by the EU to suspend ATMs is
19 widely regarded as instrumental in the decision of the Croatian
20 government to adopt the mandatory instructions in May and the return
21 programme in July?"
22 Are you saying that that doesn't seem like pressure to you?
23 A. No. I can explain.
24 On the previous page, you see a threat that the reconstruction
25 conference on Croatia
1 Westin hotel in Zagreb
2 international community attended. I personally attended the conference
3 and delivered a speech there. Similar threats which included the
4 introduction of functions for Croatia
5 when the programme was being adopted. And one more sentence, please,
6 this will allow to understand the whole situation.
7 At one point after all such pressure, I spoke to the
8 representatives of the international community and told them, Okay, as of
9 tomorrow, please impose sanctions on Croatia, although I did not even
10 know how the Croatian government would react to that, although I was a
11 member of that same government. After half an hour break, we reached
12 agreement on all points as if there hadn't been any threats prior to
14 What I'm saying is this is my experience. I'm talking from
16 Q. So just to go back to one part of your answer. You talked about
17 the threat of sanctions.
18 There were threats of sanctions on Croatia in relation to the
19 return of Serbs; is that right?
20 A. Again, your question is not very precise. It applied to
21 everybody's return to their homes and the adoption of the programme. The
22 position was that we didn't wanted the Croats from Bosnia to return to
24 of everybody to their own homes, because that was the only solution to
25 the complicated situation in the whole area.
1 Q. And these threats of sanctions by the EU and pressure by the
2 United States, that created a dilemma for the leadership, didn't it,
3 because while the leadership wanted to integrate into these structures
4 and benefit from that integration, they did not want to allow for the
5 return of Serbs to Croatia
6 integration, right?
7 A. I apologise, I didn't understand your question. I apologise. I
8 really did not understand your question.
9 Q. I apologise. The question was that these international pressures
10 created a dilemma for the Croatian leadership, because on the one hand
11 they wanted to integrate into EU and into NATO, and, on the other hand
12 they did not want to allow for the return of Serbs to Croatia, which was
13 one of the conditions of integration; isn't that right?
14 A. There was no dilemma present at the Croatian government. At that
15 moment, fortunately -- or unfortunately, as you will, I was the one who
16 represented the Croatian authorities as the president of the Working
17 Group. And, of course, we all knew that the threats were only
19 Q. There were discussions by representatives of EU and EU
20 institutions and the United States and the leadership in Croatia that
21 took place at a much higher level than you, right, on this issue?
22 A. I must admit that I was not interested in that higher level, and
23 I don't know what was discussed at that higher level. I only know what
24 our interest was, what the interest of the international community was,
25 and we wanted to bring that matter to an end.
1 MS. GUSTAFSON: If we could go to 65 ter 7345, please.
2 And if I could tender 65 ter 7344.
3 JUDGE ORIE: In the absence of any objections, Madam Registrar.
4 THE REGISTRAR: Exhibit P2594, Your Honours.
5 JUDGE ORIE: Is admitted into evidence.
6 MS. GUSTAFSON:
7 Q. Mr. Sterc, this document is the record of a meeting between
8 Mr. Sarinic and President Tudjman on the 4th of May, 1998.
9 And did you know that Mr. Sarinic was the chief negotiator of the
10 Republic of Croatia
11 internationals. Did you know that he had that role.
12 MR. MISETIC: [Overlapping speakers] ... some foundation on time
13 and ...
14 MS. GUSTAFSON: That's fine. I can rephrase.
15 Q. Do you know who Mr. Sarinic was? I see you nodding yes.
16 Did you know he was an advisor to President Tudjman?
17 A. Yes.
18 MR. GUSTAFSON: If we could go to page 8 of the English and page
19 14 of the B/C/S.
20 Q. And I believe near the bottom of the page in the B/C/S it's the
21 president speaking. There we go.
22 And he says: "By what logic Budisa or the HSS, instead of
23 accepting collaboration, and we do invite them to collaborate with us, I
24 personally invite them, and they don't want to, they don't want to ...
25 with the party. I'm telling you at the next elections the HDZ will not
1 receive less. I guarantee you that."
2 And if we go to the next page in the B/C/S to where Mr. Sarinic
3 speaks. He says:
4 "I'm not sure about Budisa. Budisa's Croatian national awareness
5 is not questionable."
6 And President Tudjman responds:
7 "It is not the issue to what extent the Croatian national
8 awareness -- an individual Croatian national awareness should be
9 restored. He said that all Serbs should be returned."
10 And Mr. Sarinic says:
11 "That's what Susak co-signed with Talbot, dear president. Don't
12 tell me or in that case I am being foolish, and I do not understand a
14 And President Tudjman says:
15 "But if Susak signed it, being ill as he was, however, we have
16 never said that we'll return all Serbs."
17 Sarinic says:
18 "Mr. President, read that text and you will see. There was one
19 thing here that tied our hands. We did say that."
20 And President Tudjman responds:
21 "We have never said that we'll return all Serbs."
23 "Mr. President, read Talbot --"
24 And President Tudjman says:
25 "We have never said that. Don't you tell me Susak-Talbot. What
1 did they say? Christopher told me what America can do for us. And then
2 he listed Fare, partnership for peace, et cetera, and they didn't do a
3 thing. Let us be reasonable yes, open-minded, but it is not our goal to
4 go to Europe
5 et cetera."
6 Sarinic says:
7 "I am in favour of the civic option?"
8 The president:
9 "I am also in favour of the civic option, and we have too much of
10 it. No other country has as much liberty as we have in Croatia. That
11 Albright woman said so, herself. That's disgusting, et cetera."
12 I take it you don't know about this conversation; is that right?
13 A. Not only do I not know of what conversation, but I also don't
14 know Mr. Sarinic. I only knew his position, I never spoke to him
15 personally. There was no need for me to do so. I know what he was from
16 reading newspapers.
17 Q. So would it be fair to say, then, that you don't really know to
18 what extent President Tudjman viewed agreements to return Serbs to
20 institutions; is that fair?
21 A. I don't know anything about those things. I was personally not
22 interested in that. All of us who worked hard on this matter, we knew
23 what the interests of Croatia
24 what was happening with the migrations, what was happening then, what was
25 happening -- what would be happening in the future, and what's happening
2 Q. Thank you.
3 MS. GUSTAFSON: Could I tender 65 ter 7345, please, Your Honours.
4 JUDGE ORIE: In the absence of any objections, as I can
5 establish, Madam Registrar.
6 THE REGISTRAR: Exhibit P2595, Your Honours.
7 JUDGE ORIE: Is admitted into evidence.
8 MS. GUSTAFSON:
9 Q. We just have one very brief topic left, Mr. Sterc, which is the
10 topic of the UNHCR poll that you mentioned on Wednesday in your evidence.
11 And you stated that there was an UNHCR poll that concluded that
12 two thirds of Serbs did not wish to return to Croatia, at least in the
13 short-term, and that a little over 50 per cent did not want to return to
15 conditions for return. They were unequivocal. They did not wish to
16 return to Croatia
17 And that was at transcript 20358 to 59.
18 When was that UNHCR poll conducted.
19 A. I can't remember. I only know that this was discussed at our
20 meetings and that they informed us about their opinion polls that they
22 Q. So did you ever see the written results of this poll, or was it
23 just something that you heard about.
24 A. I can't remember whether I ever saw the written results.
25 Unfortunately, I can't answer your question because I don't remember
1 whether I saw them or not.
2 Q. Do you remember whether it was a poll of all Serbs, Croatian
3 Serbs outside --
4 JUDGE ORIE: The -- Ms. Gustafson.
5 One second, please. Could you -- no, there is a -- your answer
6 has not been recorded to the previous question, and again I'm not as
7 effective as Mr. Misetic was in slowing you down. But could you please
8 repeat your answer, not to add anything, but so that is on the record.
9 When Ms. Gustafson asked:
10 "So did you ever see the written results of this poll or was it
11 just something you heard about?"
12 I think you said that you couldn't remember whether you had seen
13 it or had not seen it. Is that -- is that fairly reflective of your
15 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Yes, you understood me very well.
16 I don't remember whether I ever saw them or not.
17 JUDGE ORIE: Please proceed, Ms. Gustafson.
18 MS. GUSTAFSON:
19 Q. And do you remember whether it was just a poll of the group of
20 Croatian Serbs who had left Croatia
21 following Operation Storm or whether it was a poll of Croatian Serbs
22 outside Croatia
23 A. I can't remember. However, there's no single poll that can
24 embrace the entire population. When an entire population is comprised,
25 then you're talking about a census. This was a poll. The sample was
1 stratified and based on that stratified sample and results of the poll,
2 conclusions were reached. That's what a poll is.
3 Q. But you don't remember which, if any, specific categories of
4 Croatian Serbs outside of Croatia
5 A. Yes, according to them, they had tried to take a representative
6 sample that would cover all the different categories.
7 Q. Do you remember if this poll asked the respondents -- sorry. So
8 I understand that the poll asked the respondents about their current
9 intentions regarding return at the time the poll was taken; is that
11 A. Yes.
12 Q. And do you remember, or were you ever shown, to your
13 recollection, any of the questions that were asked in the poll or the
14 options that were given to the respondents in answering?
15 A. I can't remember. I can only assume. And since one of my
16 scientific tasks was also polling, I would like to say that when we
17 discussed the issues that should be subject of the -- that particular
18 poll, that was one of our discussions with UNHCR. I remember that our
19 proposal was for one of the questions, in addition to all the other
20 customary questions in the poll, should be whether they wanted to return.
21 Another one should have been this. In case their house was occupied, did
22 they wish to accept an alternative accommodation in Croatia, what
23 conditions would they accept with regard to the return, and those were
24 mainly the questions that we were interested in.
25 However --
1 JUDGE ORIE: Let me stop you at this point.
2 It seems that there may be confusion. Ms. Gustafson is asking
3 you questions about the poll that was held by the UNHCR and the outcome
4 of that. Now, you are talking about, apparently, negotiations that took
5 place before that poll was held, because you explained to us what
6 questions should be included or not.
7 Could we clearly distinguish between your discussions about what
8 should or should not be in the poll, and what questions were in the poll,
9 and what the results actually were.
10 Could we clearly distinguish the two in both question and answer.
11 Please proceed, Ms. Gustafson.
12 MS. GUSTAFSON: Thank you.
13 Q. Mr. Sterc, I believe you answered my question at the beginning of
14 your answer when you said, "I can't remember, I can only assume." And
15 then you went on to talk about questions that you thought should have
16 been included, and you referred to: "In case their house was occupied,
17 did they wish to accept an alternative accommodation in Croatia."
18 Was that a concern as far as you were aware of --
19 JUDGE ORIE: Ms. Gustafson, before we continue on that.
20 Could I ask you, Mr. Sterc, you, in the Working Group, discussed
21 the results of the poll. You did that without having read the results,
22 you, as someone, as you told us, have some special expertise.
23 Nevertheless, you went to the Working Group, discussed the outcome of the
24 poll without having seen the results on paper?
25 Is that your testimony.
1 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Yes.
2 JUDGE ORIE: Please proceed, Ms. Gustafson.
3 MS. GUSTAFSON: Thank you.
4 Q. Again, you talked about questions that you thought should have
5 been asked, and you said: "In case their house was occupied, did they
6 wish to accept an alternative accommodation in Croatia?"
7 And my question is, based on your understanding of the situation
8 at the time, was that a concern of some of the Croatian Serbs outside
10 the concerns that was expressed in relation to their return?
11 A. It could have been. It could have been occupied or damaged, and
12 our task was therefore - but I'm providing additional explanations now,
13 so I think I should stop there. Thank you.
14 Q. My question is whether you were aware of the occupation or damage
15 of a house belonging to a Croatian Serb, being of concern to such a
16 Croatian Serb, in relation to their return.
17 Are you aware of that?
18 A. Yes.
19 Q. So I take it your answer is yes, you were aware that that was a
20 concern of some Croatian Serbs, the fact that their house was occupied by
21 someone else?
22 A. Yes.
23 Q. Thank you.
24 MS. GUSTAFSON: Your Honour, I have no further questions for the
1 JUDGE ORIE: Thank you, Ms. Gustafson.
2 Mr. Misetic.
3 MR. MISETIC: Yes, thank you, Mr. President.
4 Re-examination by Mr. Misetic:
5 Q. Mr. Sterc, I'm going to ask you a few questions on the basis of
6 the cross-examination by the Prosecution.
7 You were asked and shown a series of transcripts and documents
8 for which you indicated that had you no personal knowledge, particularly
9 transcripts from a time that you -- that preceded your arrival as
10 assistant minister for reconstruction.
11 Discussions ranging from whether people would be allowed across
12 the border, what the terms would be for them coming across the border,
13 colonisation, other types of discussions that were discussed.
14 When you came to the ministry on the 11th October, did any of the
15 plans or discussions about plans that were shown to you by the
16 Prosecution, were they ever put into operation as far as you know, from
17 your position as assistant minister?
18 A. No. I wasn't aware of those discussions. I wasn't informed of
19 them. And no one assigned me the task of acting in accordance with the
20 discussions held.
21 Q. Now, if there had been a -- an executed plan to colonise - and
22 I'm using the word "colonise" - parts of, let's say Sector North, would
23 you -- or do you believe that you would have had to know something about
24 that, given your position in the ministry?
25 A. I assume that the relevant information would have been conveyed
1 to me.
2 Q. Well, given your role concerning the return of both Croat and
3 Serb refugees and displaced persons, would there have been another
4 section of the Croatian government outside of your portfolio that would
5 have been moving in Croat refugees into Serb homes for the purpose of
6 colonisation and that you wouldn't know about it?
7 A. Well, I think we had know about it.
8 Q. Now, you were asked some questions about the agreement in 1997 of
9 the Joint Working Group which dealt with Croats and Serbs going in and
10 out of Eastern Slavonia, and you were also asked questions about MUP and
11 border control. I'd like to show you a document which you may know
13 MR. MISETIC: This is Exhibit D690, Madam Registrar.
14 Q. Mr. Sterc, you've already testified that -- that one of the
15 organisations that was part of the Joint Working Group was the UNHCR.
16 And did you ever have an occasion to meet with Ms. Sadako Ogata.
17 MR. MISETIC: Madam Registrar, if we could about to page -- well,
18 let's stay here for a minute.
19 A. Yes. But I was only a member who did not have the right to take
20 the floor at that meeting, given the level I was at.
21 Q. As you can see, this is a statement given by Ms. Ogata on the
22 10th of October, so this was a day before you arrived in the ministry for
24 MR. MISETIC: And Madam Registrar, if we could go to page 4 of
25 this document, please.
1 Q. Ms. Ogata is talking about - and I will briefly summarise for
2 you - what will transpire once there is a conclusion of hostilities
3 throughout the former Yugoslavia
5 And if we start at the paragraph that begins, "Secondly."
6 She says on the 10th of October: "Repatriation must take place
7 in an organised phased manner."
8 The penultimate sentence of that paragraph starts:
9 "Returning large numbers of refugees to areas which are not ready
10 to receive them can have very serious consequences not only for the
11 refugees themselves but for the stability in the area concerned. I am
12 thinking particularly of the still fragile situation in the area of the
14 And then she says:
15 "I envisage the repatriation process broadly taking place there
16 three phases. The first should be return of displaced persons within
17 Bosnia and Herzegovina and Croatia
18 If we go to the last sentence in that paragraph:
19 "The second phase would involve repatriation from other republics
20 within the former Yugoslavia
21 have granted temporary protection or resettlement."
22 Mr. Sterc, in terms of what ultimately transpired through your
23 work in the Joint Working Group, et cetera, over the course of several
24 year, did this three-step process Ms. Ogata describes, is that in effect
25 how the repatriation and return of refugees process transpired; in other
1 words, in three phases?
2 A. Yes. But what Ms. Ogata stated, well, it took us a very long
3 time to adopt what she stated as a principle.
4 Q. Okay. But is the answer, if I understood you correctly, yes, it
5 took place in three phases?
6 A. Yes.
7 Q. So the issue of the return of refugees in Eastern Slavonia, would
8 that have been part of phase 1, phase 2, or phase 3 in this process?
9 A. Podunavlje? I can't be 100 per cent certain, but I think so.
10 Q. Was it the first phase, because it's refugees moving internally
11 within Croatia
12 A. Yes. That was always the first phase.
13 Q. Okay. There was some questions put to you about plans to return
14 emigres or Croats from South America and other parts of the world. Were
15 you ever familiar with any plan that was actually put together and
16 implemented to return Croats from outside of Croatia and settle them into
17 the liberated areas?
18 A. It was in fact a rhetorical discussion about the matter, academic
19 discussion, but I believed that, among other things, all those who
20 intended to return to Croatia
21 way and that includes, naturally, the diaspora.
22 Q. Mr. Sterc, on this topic, you were asked or shown some statements
23 on presidential transcripts regarding bringing people into the area,
24 et cetera, after Operation Storm, including Croats, and in paragraph 5 of
25 your statement is the reference to the National Program for Demographic
1 Development of the Republic of Croatia
2 Can you explain to the Trial Chamber, from the perspective of the
3 Croatian government at least as of the 11th of October when you took your
4 post, what issues or difficulties arose as a result of having this
5 approximately 10.000 square kilometres of territory being virtually
7 MS. GUSTAFSON: Your Honour, I think this matter was addressed in
8 direct examination. I don't think it has anything to do with the
9 programme, and it's not the proper subject for a redirect. Thank you.
10 JUDGE ORIE: Mr. Misetic.
11 MR. MISETIC: Mr. President, if I may, he was shown a lot of
12 transcripts, including discussions about the need to settle people in the
13 area. While he wasn't present for the meetings, he also wasn't offered
14 an opportunity, based on his knowledge of what transpired next, of why
15 there have been discussions about the need to settle people in the area
16 quickly, to the extent he has information for the Chamber, it flows out
17 of the cross, and I believe it's relevant for the Chamber to hear this
19 JUDGE ORIE: You may start questions in this direction, and we'll
20 closely follow how it develops.
21 MR. MISETIC:
22 Q. Mr. Sterc, as assistant minister for reconstruction and
23 development as of the 11th October 1995, were there any problems posed
24 for the Republic of Croatia
25 square kilometres being virtually uninhabited?
1 A. It was always a problem.
2 Q. What specific problems do you know of concerning this 10.000
3 square kilometres being uninhabited?
4 A. That area wasn't functioning economically in any sense, and with
5 regard to the regional development of any country, and that includes
7 they can't remain without a function. To make such areas functional, as
8 a rule, it is necessary to have young, educated, and capable people
9 living there, creative people, whose activity might be of benefit to the
10 area and to all those living there. Might benefit the organisational
11 structure, transport structure of the area, and so on and so forth.
12 Q. Now when you took up your post on 11th October, 1995, had you
13 been told what foreign diplomats such as Mr. Galbraith had predicted
14 about how many Serbs ultimately would return?
15 A. No.
16 Q. Okay. Mr. Sterc you were asked about the Law on The takeover of
17 Flats and that on the 27th September a law was passed which made it a
18 three-month period within the liberated areas that if someone didn't come
19 back to return to their flat for three uninterrupted months, they would
20 lose their tenancy rights.
21 Are you familiar with what the law stated up to that point, as to
22 what would happen if a tenant left for some uninterrupted period of
23 time -- let me rephrase my question.
24 Prior to that law, what was the law, if any, as to the issue of
25 how -- how long a tenant had to come back into the apartment before the
1 tenant would lose tenancy rights?
2 A. Unfortunately, I can't really answer that question precisely.
3 MR. MISETIC: I would like to show the witness a document via
4 Sanction. This is the 1985 law from the Socialist Federal Republic
6 Socialist Federal Republic
7 JUDGE ORIE: Ms. Gustafson.
8 MS. GUSTAFSON: The witness has said he can't answer any
9 questions on this topic. It's leading now to show him a law.
10 JUDGE ORIE: That's not what he said. He said that -- he said
11 that he can't answer that question precisely. And the question was
12 specifically on how long a tenant had to come back into the apartment
13 before the tenant would lose tenancy rights.
14 Now, may I be quite simple. If that law is available to the
15 party, I take it that the time-period could be agreed upon, isn't it,
16 before we have another 40 pages of 1985 legislation in evidence which at
17 least the witness did not refer to. I think he referred to legislation
18 adopted in the early 1990s.
19 But do we have to look at that law, unless there is any other
20 reason that you would like him to look at it. Just for him to read what
21 the time limit is, give it to us and perhaps we can read it as well.
22 MR. MISETIC: If he has any comment or if it refreshes his
23 recollection, we would bar table that as well as the amended law, which I
24 can tell you is 1986, 1992, and 1993. So there is four laws, actually,
25 on this the topic. This is the original and there are three subsequent
1 amendments to prior to the 1990 --
2 JUDGE ORIE: If you have any questions, I take it, Ms. Gustafson,
3 that if Mr. Misetic would tell the witness, Take it from me that in 1985
4 the term was two months or six months or a year or three months or -- and
5 then to ask him whatever question the witness could answer in relation to
7 MS. GUSTAFSON: First of all, Your Honour, we haven't seen the
8 law and we haven't been able to look at -- whether it was, for example,
9 in place in 1995 [sic].
10 Secondly, if there is a further question Mr. Misetic wants to
11 ask --
12 MR. MISETIC: There is.
13 MS. GUSTAFSON: -- then perhaps I wouldn't have an objection. But
14 to just show the witness the law is --
15 JUDGE ORIE: Okay. Let's -- would you agree with me that it is
16 worth taking the risk that Mr. Misetic would not correctly state the
17 time-limit. Just talking about the time-limit, because I take it that he
18 would be embarrassed by wrongly stating such a time-limit.
19 So let's be very practical. Mr. Misetic puts to the witness what
20 the time-limit was, and if he has any question to this witness who has
21 shown not to be -- well, not to -- to be the one who is very fond of
22 reading long legal texts, if I may say so.
23 MR. MISETIC: I do have --
24 JUDGE ORIE: Mr. Misetic, if we do proceed in that way.
25 MR. MISETIC: I do have some questions to follow up after I show
2 JUDGE ORIE: Yes. And without any need to read the text of the
4 MR. MISETIC: That's fine.
5 JUDGE ORIE: Yes. Please proceed.
6 MR. MISETIC:
7 Q. Mr. Sterc, I can tell you that the law in the Republic of Croatia
8 from 1985, through the passage of the law in September of 1995 was six
9 months. In other words, if a tenant continuously was absent from his
10 apartment for a period of up to six months, they could -- or would lose
11 the tenancy rights, except in certain situation such as military service,
12 hospitalisation, or other valid grounds.
13 My question to you is, can you explain to the Trial Chamber - and
14 we see in the law, portions of the law were shown to you regarding that
15 these flats after three months could be used by police, et cetera - what
16 was the purpose, or what purpose would be served, in terms of freeing up
17 socially owned housing in the liberated areas?
18 A. Well, the purpose in my opinion, the purpose of such time-limits,
19 and I believe that these are limits -- these time-limits were even
20 extended. As far as I can remember, the purpose was that those who had
21 tenancy rights should return and request to buy out the flat.
22 Q. I'm asking about a different --
23 JUDGE ORIE: Mr. Misetic.
24 THE INTERPRETER: Interpreter's correction: To lease the flats.
25 JUDGE ORIE: Yes. What interest could be served is for a little
1 [phoen] to be easily invented. Let's ask the witness whether he knows
2 anything specifically, because he started -- his answer is "The purpose
3 in my opinion," and then he gave that answer. Let's ask him whether he
4 knows anything from what was considered in the legislative history or
5 whatever way. I mean what service it could -- and I could answer that
7 MR. MISETIC: I'm asking -- I'm asking a different question so --
8 JUDGE ORIE: Yes. Please do so.
9 MR. MISETIC: And I apologise because it's my inartfully phrased
11 Q. Mr. Sterc, with respect to services like policemen,
12 fire-fighters, hospital workers, administrators, things of that nature
13 that had to come into the liberated areas after Operation Storm due to
14 the departure of so many people from that area, do you know how such
15 administrative, police, governmental staff that was coming into the area,
16 where they would be housed?
17 A. They could only be provided with accommodation in such flats and
18 no where else.
19 Q. So let me give you a hypothetical situation. But Martic's police
20 officers in Knin would have had the right to the socially owned
21 apartments in Knin for police officers until the 4th of August, 1995
23 A. That's correct.
24 Q. Now if the Croatian police came into Knin after that, how would
25 they get to use the apartments that Martic's police officers had used
1 prior to that? Do you know?
2 MS. GUSTAFSON: Your Honour, that's -- that's a very leading
3 question and it also presumes that --
4 JUDGE ORIE: It certainly is. Hypothetical questions in this
5 respect. I could put five hypothetical questions, one clearly going in
6 one direction and five other ones clearly in another direction.
7 As I said before, let's ask the witness not what could be the
8 reasons because that's not difficult to imagine. I could imagine simply
9 four or five, but what he knows about it, whether he has any statistics
10 on how it happened, whether he has any knowledge of the parliamentary
11 documentation on the matter, so that -- and the start of his answer: "In
12 my opinion," I think tells us enough.
13 I do not prevent you from entering into the area Mr. Misetic but
14 I would rather stay out of the area of hypothesis and opinions.
15 Please proceed.
16 MR. MISETIC: Yes.
17 Q. Mr. Sterc, if there had been -- let me ask a different question.
18 Were you aware of any decisions to create administrative hurdles
19 to the return of Serbs to Croatia
20 A. No.
21 Q. In your time as assistant minister working on issues of refugee
22 returns, did anyone, whether Minister Radic, President Tudjman,
23 Mr. Kostovic, anyone else, send you the message that you should take
24 steps to slow down the return of Serbs to Croatia?
25 A. No.
1 Q. In terms of the steps that you were taking to facilitate the
2 return of all persons to their own homes, did you ever receive any
3 criticism for the efforts and steps that you were taking? And I'm
4 talking about from members within the Croatian government.
5 A. No.
6 Q. Mr. Sterc, thank you very much.
7 MR. MISETIC: I have no further questions, Mr. President.
8 JUDGE ORIE: Thank you, Mr. Misetic.
9 The position as far as the other Defence teams are concerned
10 remains the same.
11 [Trial Chamber confers]
12 JUDGE ORIE: Judge Kinis has one or more questions for you.
13 Questioned by the Court:
14 JUDGE KINIS: Mr. Sterc, I would like focus your attention to
15 your statement in paragraph 9.1 and -- actually paragraph 9, but
16 subparagraph 9.1 as well, and particularly about Law of Temporary
17 Takeover and Administration of Specific Property.
18 I wanted to ask you which legal procedure was applied for
19 registration of abandoned property, and further sequestration,
20 compensation of this property. Did you check also previous legal status
21 of property; for instance, whether that was state owned or publicly owned
22 property or private, and legal status of applicants which submit the
23 claims for returning back or asking back some compensation?
24 A. I am sorry, I'm not in a position to give you a direct answer
25 because the law was passed because -- before I came. I wrote this
1 because we subsequently discussed the law, and subsequently we saw what
2 the consequences of its passing were during the very procedure. So I
3 can't tell you how the property was registered, whether it was segregated
4 into private and social.
5 JUDGE KINIS: Sorry, Mr. Sterc, I'm not asking about preparation
6 of this law. I'm asking about real implementation process of this law.
7 A. Unfortunately, I can't even answer that one, because the law was
8 already in force. And it also produced its effects. When we joined the
9 ministry and when we started talking to the international community, then
10 we also discussed the effect of the law and its significance for our own
12 JUDGE KINIS: Could you -- maybe you could explain procedure
13 or -- regarding criteria which was used for evaluation of real condition
14 of abandoned property. At that time, when you were working at ministry,
15 on practical level.
16 A. We had the list of the property that was compiled in the field.
17 The ownership status of some of the property could not be checked because
18 the Registry books and land books had been banned so the title deeds were
19 not available. We could only check the title deeds based on the
20 statements obtained from the locals. The land books that could have
21 confirmed the title deeds simply did not exist.
22 JUDGE KINIS: Let's presume that person A submit an application
23 to -- for asking compensation to returning -- or returning back property,
24 which institution was dealing with this issue and which criteria was
25 applied for estimation of this issue of compensation?
1 A. When the agency was set up, it took over all the compensations.
2 However, since the property in those areas did not have any real market
3 value, it still doesn't have any. If you look at the entire territory,
4 you will see that the property over there does not have real market
6 Therefore, we had to negotiate and we had to go back and forth
7 between looking for the owner pretending that the building was completely
8 functional, that was on the one hand, and the agency on the other hand.
9 We entered in a direct conversations and negotiations about that.
10 JUDGE KINIS: And last question is, you -- you also mentioned the
11 state did not confiscate property but only are you mentioning this in
12 your statement, term "sequestration" actually, actually sequestration
13 means seizing properties belonging to someone else and holding it until
14 profits paid the demand for which it was seised.
15 Are you aware about this legal status or content of this
16 procedure? What does it mean, sequestration, under Croatian law, in
18 A. This means that the Republic of Croatia
19 of the property but, rather, that it managed the property and protected
20 the property.
21 In practice, what it means, or what it meant was the following.
22 At the beginning, it seemed to us when we started the proceedings that
23 that was a huge problem. However, it turned out later that the
24 management of the property gave rise to two rights which, in practice,
25 proved to be very important. The first right was the right to
1 reconstruction, since the Republic of Croatia had taken over the property
2 irrespective of the fact of who had actually damaged the house. That was
3 very important, especially in cases involving two physical persons, which
4 means that the perpetrator was a physical person, so the responsibility
5 was taken over by the Republic of Croatia
6 The second right that was very important was the right for
7 compensation for the value of the property, irrespective of their
8 condition. The compensation applied as if the property had been fully
10 That was very important for our work in the Working Group,
11 because it meant that we did not have to travel to the field to do the
12 exercise of evaluating each and every object.
13 JUDGE KINIS: Thank you for those answers.
14 JUDGE ORIE: Mr. Sterc, I have a few questions for you.
15 I earlier asked you whether you remembered the name of the
16 village where you went, where Serbs had returned, and where there was a
17 disturbance of public order by protestors. You said you didn't remember.
18 Could I ask you again whether it came into your mind?
19 A. No. The only thing I can provide you with is a written statement
20 to that effect. I really can't remember the micro location or, rather, I
21 can like for the TV clip which would then help me remember the micro
22 location, the names of the people, and the event.
23 JUDGE ORIE: Yes. Could it have been by any chance a place which
24 was referred to as Nijemci?
25 A. No. I'm sure that it wasn't.
1 JUDGE ORIE: Could you tell us where Nijemci was?
2 A. Nijemci is in Eastern Slavonia, in the close proximity of the
3 current Republic of Serbia
4 JUDGE ORIE: Yes. Could you tell us as far as protection of
5 Serbs is concerned, whether you have any recollection of event or events
6 which took place in Nijemci.
7 A. Unfortunately, not.
8 JUDGE ORIE: Because in the portion that was read to you from the
9 - I think it's the VONS meeting - in December 1996, reference was made to
10 the what happened in Nijemci in relation to ineffective -- or at least
11 considered on the long-term ineffective protection of Serbs. And in
12 that -- it seems that people understood what had happened there. At
13 least, I do not see any further explanation. But you are unaware of what
14 may have happened before December 1997 in Nijemci?
15 A. I believe that Nijemci was part of the UNTAES zone.
16 JUDGE ORIE: Yes. But that was not my question. My question was
17 whether you remember any specific event, in relation to protection of
18 Serbs --
19 A. No, not in Nijemci, no.
20 MR. MISETIC: Your Honour.
21 JUDGE ORIE: Yes.
22 MR. MISETIC: I did forget to ask for a -- an interpretation or
23 translation check in that passage now that you're referring to, because
24 Ms. Gustafson read many more details of the document, and then I never
25 got back to checking the translation.
1 But the translation of that presidential transcript, at page 33
2 in the courtroom transcript today, line 3, a sentence has been translated
3 as "First we stalled issuing them documents," and if we could get a -- a
4 translation check on that, I would be grateful.
5 JUDGE ORIE: Yes. Since the witness -- I fully agree that there
6 should be a translation check, if there's any doubt about that. But the
7 responses of the witness did not -- if there's any suggestion of
8 another --
9 MR. MISETIC: [Overlapping speakers] ...
10 JUDGE ORIE: -- translation on which you would think the witness
11 could testify about, then, of course, we would have to have it now, but
12 otherwise we leave it to a later stage.
13 MR. MISETIC: I believe the witness said he was unfamiliar with
14 the discussion, so ...
15 JUDGE ORIE: Yes. Mr. -- let me just check in the ...
16 Mr. Sterc, in the beginning of your testimony, you said something
17 about whether or not -- that people sometimes were registered as having
18 returned, although they did not actually return and would only come to
19 the area now and then for maintenance of their property.
20 You remember that?
21 A. Yes.
22 JUDGE ORIE: And then you said, you assumed that they were
23 employed elsewhere and that was the reason why they -- although, having
24 been registered as returned, were only occasionally present in the place
25 of their property.
1 Now, that was an assumption. If I would ask you whether that
2 assumption is any better than an assumption -- as, for example, that they
3 returned, although did not stay in order to safeguard their property
4 rights within the time-limits set by the legislation, what would be your
6 A. Once they returned, and once they were registered, their property
7 was theirs, and no further influence could be possible on the part of the
8 state, on their property. That was the practice that was implemented in
9 the field.
10 JUDGE ORIE: Yes. Last question. The agency that could buy the
11 property -- I think you called it a land bank, or that was how it was
12 often known. How many transactions, that is, buying the property,
13 actually took place? If you know.
14 A. I can't say, unfortunately, because the agency because outside of
15 our own system. Its director was a different person. They did provide
16 reports to that effect. However, as I sit here today I can't tell you
17 anything about those transactions.
18 I only know that the agency's budget was about 120 million kuna.
19 JUDGE ORIE: Which, at the time was approximately how many
20 Deutschemarks so that we better have an understanding of the [Overlapping
21 speakers] ...
22 A. It was approximately 30 million Deutschemarks at the time, and
23 currently it would around 16 million euro.
24 JUDGE ORIE: And that would be a budget for how long?
25 A. For a year.
1 JUDGE ORIE: Thank you for those answers.
2 I have no further questions for you.
3 Have the questions by the Bench triggered any need to put further
4 questions to the witness?
5 MS. GUSTAFSON: Yes, Your Honour.
6 JUDGE ORIE: Now, I'm looking at you and at the clock,
7 Ms. Gustafson, because we have ten minutes of tape left. If we could
8 avoid having another session, then it might be worthwhile with the
9 assistance of interpreters and transcribers to see whether we can finish
10 in ten minutes, if not, we'd need to take a break.
11 MS. GUSTAFSON: It was only one answer of the question--
12 JUDGE ORIE: Yes.
13 MS. GUSTAFSON: -- of [indiscernible] that I --
14 JUDGE ORIE: Please.
15 MS. GUSTAFSON: -- so.
16 Further Cross-examination by Ms. Gustafson:
17 Q. And Mr. Sterc, in relation to a question that His Honour Judge
18 Orie just asked you about people returning in order to safeguard their
19 property rights, you said:
20 "Once they returned and once they were registered, their property
21 was theres and no further influence of the state could be possible on
22 their property."
23 Now, if someone's property had been taken over pursuant to the
24 Law on Temporary Takeover of Property and had been assigned to a Croat
25 for their use, if a Serb returned outside the 90- day-time limit, they
1 could not repossess that property, is that right, if a Croat was living
3 MR. MISETIC: Objection. If we could have foundation as to when
4 this person returned. It's not in dispute that that requirement was
5 waived in January of 1996, so.
6 JUDGE ORIE: Well, but as a matter of fact, the witness didn't
7 answer my question. He gave an answer, but it was not an answer to my
8 question. So, therefore, I -- at that moment I decided not to further
9 pursue the matter and I would not expect the matter to be further
11 If, nevertheless, if you think of it as specific importance, then
12 I'll not stop you, but ...
13 MS. GUSTAFSON: Well, Your Honour, I was concerned of the
14 statement that the witness made. If Your Honours don't consider that to
15 be --
16 JUDGE ORIE: Well, the witness said that once someone had
17 regained their property that that would not change anymore which, of
18 course, leaves 100 questions open on how difficult that would be and how
19 often you would have to return for that.
20 MS. GUSTAFSON: That's fine, Your Honour, then I won't --
21 JUDGE ORIE: It was just to find out how solid the assumption was
22 that the witness gave, that is, employment abroad, not to further explore
23 the details of the legislation.
24 MS. GUSTAFSON: That's fine, Your Honour. I'll take your
25 guidance. I have no questions.
1 JUDGE ORIE: Mr. Sterc, this concludes your evidence. I would
2 like to thank you very much for coming to The Hague, a long distance, and
3 for having answered the questions that were put to you by the parties and
4 by the Bench.
5 Madam Usher, could you please escort the Mr. Sterc, to whom I
6 wish a safe return home, out of the courtroom.
7 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Thank you, Your Honour.
8 [The witness withdrew]
9 JUDGE ORIE: We have only a couple of minutes left.
10 Ms. Gustafson, in the beginning you reserved your right to ask
11 for further time for preparation of cross-examination. Does that request
12 still stand?
13 MS. GUSTAFSON: No, Your Honour.
14 JUDGE ORIE: Thank you. Any agreement on the Pokaz issue between
15 the parties?
16 Mr. Waespi.
17 MR. WAESPI: Yes, I think we have found a workable solution.
18 JUDGE ORIE: That's appreciated, then. Do we have to know the
19 details about the solution at this moment --
20 MR. WAESPI: No.
21 JUDGE ORIE: -- or could we just happily go and --
22 MR. WAESPI: I think we would report back on Tuesday if we didn't
23 find -- if we find problems we can't address ourselves, but I just would
24 like to state on the record, before we leave, in relation to
25 Witness Cross, that the Prosecution would like to cross-examine him,
1 obviously that's AG-12.
2 JUDGE ORIE: Yes.
3 MR. WAESPI: -- and that we haven't received the exhibits yet for
4 this witness, and he is testifying next week.
5 JUDGE ORIE: Yes. Despite these problems there is a workable
6 situation to be expected, which is appreciated, and you intend to
7 cross-examine the expert witness.
8 Mr. Misetic.
9 MR. MISETIC: Just for the record, I'm under the assumption,
10 which I will verify, that there will be no documents used that aren't
11 specifically referenced in the report, but we will check that.
12 JUDGE ORIE: Yes. That's on the record. Then there was an issue
13 about a missing page 5 in D1599.
14 Mr. Russo, you found it?
15 MR. RUSSO: Yes, Mr. President. That was actually a document
16 that our office had provided and we did check in the evidence unit, and
17 the page is missing notice original, so it was our mistake.
18 JUDGE ORIE: Thank you for that information.
19 Finally, has the Prosecution filed already its notice on the
20 testimony of Witness Cross?
21 Mr. Waespi.
22 MR. WAESPI: I think you might have misunderstood me. I first
23 addressed Witness Pokaz --
24 JUDGE ORIE: Yes.
25 MR. WAESPI: -- and we haven't formally decided yet on whether we
1 need to cross-examine Mr. Pokaz. In relation to Mr. Cross, we would like
2 to cross-examine Mr. Cross, who is testifying next week.
3 JUDGE ORIE: Yes, yes. You would not expect anyone not to
4 cross-examine Mr. Cross. That would be the last thing we could expect in
5 this world.
6 I thank you very much for the efficient way you dealt with these
7 procedural matters.
8 We will adjourn and we resume on Tuesday, 21st day of July, 9.00,
9 Courtroom III
10 --- Whereupon the hearing adjourned at 12.57 a.m.
11 to be reconvened on Tuesday, the 21st day of July,
12 2009, at 9.00 a.m.