1 Wednesday, 13 April 2005
2 [Open session]
3 [The accused entered court]
4 --- Upon commencing at 9.07 a.m.
5 JUDGE ORIE: Good morning to everyone.
6 Madam Registrar, would you please call the case.
7 THE REGISTRAR: Good morning, Your Honours. This is case number
8 IT-00-39-T, the Prosecutor versus Momcilo Krajisnik.
9 JUDGE ORIE: Thank you, Madam Registrar.
10 Mr. Margetts, are you ready to continue the examination-in-chief
11 of Mr. Omeragic?
12 MR. MARGETTS: Yes, Your Honour.
13 JUDGE ORIE: Then I see Mr. Usher has left already.
14 [The witness entered court]
15 WITNESS: SEAD OMERAGIC [Resumed]
16 [Witness answered through interpreter]
17 JUDGE ORIE: Good morning, Mr. Omeragic.
18 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Your Honour.
19 JUDGE ORIE: I'd like you remind you of the solemn declaration
20 that you've given at the beginning of your testimony yesterday. Yes.
21 Please proceed, Mr. Margetts.
22 Examined by Mr. Margetts: [Continued]
23 Q. Mr. Omeragic, good morning. When we finished yesterday, we just
24 had just shown a video of your arrival at the municipal building. Now,
25 after you assembled at the municipal building, where did you go next?
1 A. As far as I can remember, I think -- yes, after that, somebody
2 said there would be no meeting so we went towards the barracks. Fikret
3 Abdic demanded that he meet the refugees that everybody kept talking about
4 and that were said to be in the big barracks of the JNA, so we went there
5 to reach some sort of agreement.
6 Some people were trying to organise our movements. Somebody said,
7 "Go this way," others said, "Go this way," I couldn't understand what was
8 going on. Anyway, we set off towards the barracks.
9 Q. Did your vehicle leave alone or did other vehicles from the convoy
10 travel with you?
11 A. Only Mr. Abdic's vehicle went there. The vehicle in which I
12 arrived. I couldn't understand what happened to the others. We drove for
13 about 10 or 12 minutes maybe, and then we reached the barracks. There, we
14 got out of the car alone ...
15 Q. Thank you, Mr. Omeragic.
16 JUDGE HANOTEAU: [Interpretation] Mr. Margetts, I would like to
17 understand in what framework the vehicle -- it wasn't said to us at the
18 beginning of the examination of the testimony, in which general framework
19 the cars moved, what was the purpose of this, who decided it?
20 Can our witness answer the question, please.
21 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Going to Bijeljina, sometimes
22 Mrs. Plavsic's car would be the first in the convoy, sometimes Mr. Abdic's
24 JUDGE HANOTEAU: [Interpretation] I would like you to go back in
25 time further and I would like to understand in what framework this was
1 organised. Was this an inspection mission? Was this meant to visit a
2 place? Who had decided it? Why did you go there? Who went along with
4 I would like to understand why you went there officially. Do you
5 understand my question?
6 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Yes. I can answer this. In
7 Bijeljina on the 1st of April, this conflict happened. There were rumours
8 about victims, casualties, rumours about war. So Mrs. Plavsic and Mr.
9 Abdic went there on some sort of a peace mission, as a delegation, to find
10 a way to preserve peace, on a peace mission of some sort. Fikret Abdic
11 was possibly going to go to Bijeljina to see what the situation was like
12 in order to inform the other members of the Presidency, there were six in
13 total. So they were going to Bijeljina and I believe the reason was some
14 sort of attempt to restore peace. There was some footage broadcast on
15 Serbian television where you could see fighting.
16 Mr. Abdic was a member of the six-member Presidency in Bosnia and
17 Herzegovina, he was an elected member, elected at the preceding
18 elections. He enjoyed some authority and I believe he was elected with an
19 overwhelming number of votes. So he enjoyed a lot of authority and a good
20 reputation and he had participated on quite a number of peace missions
21 together with Mrs. Plavsic. They had been to Brod previously and to
23 JUDGE HANOTEAU: [Interpretation] So Mr. Abdic asked your boss at
24 your newspaper to be accompanied by some kind of journalist?
25 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Sorry. You may have misunderstood
1 my explanation. I was a journalist of this newspaper, Slobodna Bosna. My
2 editor came to me and said, "We have an opportunity to send somebody to
3 Bijeljina and since the chef de cabinet of Mr. Abdic is our friend, I'm
4 just negotiating for somebody from the media to accompany them to
5 Bijeljina, and I volunteered to be the journalist going on that mission
6 representing my newspaper because the other employees of the newspaper
7 were girls and I didn't want them to go. Anyway I volunteered and
8 Mr. Abdic said, "Okay, you will go there as my spokesman," because the
9 situation was qualified as dangerous on all sides and everybody said that
10 Bijeljina was deep in trouble. And when he saw me he said, "You don't
11 really look like a spokesman you look more like a bodyguard." They had to
12 invent some sort of legend for me, some sort of false identity. So I went
13 there as his bodyguard posing as his bodyguard.
14 JUDGE HANOTEAU: [Interpretation] So you were introduced as a
15 bodyguard. Why were you not just introduced as a journalist?
16 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Perhaps because on the 2nd of April
17 he had an accident that he told me about. It was when the delegation of
18 Bosnia and Herzegovina were stopped at the entrance to Bijeljina and they
19 were told to lie down. As far as I remember Mr. Abdic's story and some
20 other stories, the then-Defence Minister, Jerko Doko, and I believe also
21 the Minister of Justice, Miodrag Simovic, who is today a member of the
22 constitutional court of Bosnia and Herzegovina. I forgot to saw that
23 Jerko Doko was a Croat and Mr. Simovic was a Serb. Some other people were
24 there including Mr. Abdic and just before nightfall they tried to go into
25 Bijeljina however, they were not allowed to. This delegation was stopped
1 at the checkpoint held by Arkan's men and they were told to lie down on
2 the road. The problem was there was mud on the road and they were told to
3 lie down. Nevertheless, Mr. Abdic was the only one who didn't want to lie
4 down, and the Arkan appeared from somewhere in the dark and resolved this
5 standoff. Anyway Abdic demonstrated some courage in this incident.
6 However, generally speaking it all testified to the danger that reigned in
7 Bijeljina, and they wanted to have somebody in the delegation who would
8 help find out the real truth and write about it.
9 JUDGE HANOTEAU: [Interpretation] Thank you, Witness.
10 MR. MARGETTS:
11 Q. Mr. Omeragic, yesterday you informed the court that the only
12 reason you thought that you were allowed to enter Bijeljina was that you
13 were represented as a bodyguard and not as a member of the Sarajevo press.
14 Following Mr. Abdic's experience that you have just described to the
15 Court, did Mr. Abdic indicate that he did not believe any Muslim
16 journalists would be able to enter Bijeljina?
17 MS. LOUKAS: Your Honours, this really suspect the sort of matter
18 that should be subject to a leading question.
19 JUDGE ORIE: I will put the question to the witness.
20 Mr. Omeragic, did Mr. Abdic indicate anything at all on how it
21 would be received by others if a journalist would be present during this
23 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] No. But, Your Honour, if you allow
24 me. This very fact that I should pose as somebody else was something that
25 Mr. Abdic suggested himself; why, I can only guess.
1 JUDGE ORIE: Yes. Did you form an opinion on the why, apart from
2 just guessing, of course?
3 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] I believe there was some danger
4 involved in going into this place where things were absolutely uncertain;
5 something never seen before had happened. But everywhere in Bosnia it was
6 quite obvious that we were living in a world about to be overwhelmed by
7 war. The streets were blocked. There was unrest in the air.
8 JUDGE ORIE: [Previous translation continues] ...
9 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] I don't think that journalists were
10 in any way protected in the Bosnian war; on the contrary, I believe they
11 were ultimately forced to take sides without any way of crossing their own
12 lines or going to some other side. I can even give you an example. There
13 was a correspondent of Slobodna Bosna, Trbic; he was very badly beaten and
14 sustained serious bodily injuries in -- and later he was killed. I know
15 of other journalists who kept their jobs, worked at their desks and were
17 Mr. Smajlovic, a journalist of Oslobodjenje newspaper was killed
18 right at the outset of the war; he was killed in Zvornik.
19 JUDGE ORIE: Just for the transcript, I was too quick with putting
20 my question to the witness. I asked him and he now answered that question
21 whether the danger for a journalist would be any other than for another
22 person, since this does not appear on the transcript. I apologise for
24 Please proceed, Mr. Margetts.
25 MR. MARGETTS:
1 Q. Mr. Omeragic, you've referred to the exclusion of the Sarajevo
2 press. The members of the Sarajevo press, predominantly which nationality
3 were they?
4 A. It is my firm conviction that all the ethnic groups were equally
5 represented, roughly speaking, in the press corps, and editors always took
6 care about this issue. For instance, the TV of Sarajevo sent Vlado Mrkic
7 to report from Bijeljina -- sorry, Vlado Mrkic was sent from Oslobodjenje,
8 a Serb, and another Serb was Velibor Golubovic was sent to report for TV
9 Sarajevo, and sometimes nationality was a decisive factor.
10 Q. Can you explain to the Court why it was that members of the
11 Belgrade press were in Bijeljina but members of the Sarajevo press were
13 A. I can give you a number of reasons why, for instance,
14 representatives of the Belgrade media could go in without any problems at
15 all and do their job, while members of the Sarajevo media were prohibited
16 from doing so. You could say that in Bijeljina -- I saw my colleagues
17 from Politika Express and Politika Belgrade newspapers I saw journalists
18 from Novi Sad, but people from the Sarajevo press were simply unable to
19 freely go into such places, into crisis areas, and report freely, at least
20 at the beginning of the war.
21 In those initial conflicts such as Brod, Derventa, Kupres,
22 journalists of all ethnicities could still go in and report; however,
23 after Sarajevo was blocked and after the rupture of communications, it
24 would never be the same again. The Belgrade press was allowed in probably
25 because the problem with the Belgrade media had been resolved. I believe
1 they had all been put into the service of the Serbian nationalist idea,
2 the Serbian nationalist drive in Bosnia and Herzegovina, and there was
3 nothing to hide from them, whereas from the Sarajevo media you had to take
4 an effort to hide certain things.
5 Q. Thank you, Mr. Omeragic. I'm just going to take you out of
6 chronological sequence. In your previous answer you mentioned Vlado
7 Mrkic. Would you be able to tell the Court whether you met Vlado Mrkic in
8 Bijeljina, and if so, could you describe that meeting to the Court.
9 A. I knew Vlado Mrkic from before, from working for the Oslobodjenje
10 newspaper. He was an elderly man by that time. He was around 58, 59
11 years old. He was a grey-haired man, very lean, and he was known as an
12 extremely objective journalist, a very honest man, very professional.
13 That was his reputation among journalists from Sarajevo.
14 At one point, as we were returning from visiting people in their
15 homes in Bijeljina, there was Mrs. Plavsic, Arkan with his men, and
16 Mr. Abdic and everybody else, to my side, a couple of metres away, I
17 noticed Mr. Vlado Mrkic. I hurried a little to join him, wishing to talk
18 to him, however he gave me a blank stare as if he couldn't remember where
19 he knew me from. So I told him I am from Slobodna Bosna newspaper, from
21 After that, we started talking. He confessed to me that he had
22 entered from southern side, from Zvornik, using byroads and going around
23 about in order to reach Bijeljina because he was not able to reach
24 Bijeljina using the main road which was dotted with checkpoints. Anyway,
25 we started talking, as I said, and we started discussing very rapidly. He
1 was talking under his breath, expressing his dissatisfaction. He was very
2 upset about the situation in Bijeljina. And suddenly, he raised his voice
3 too much condemning what had been done in Bijeljina. And at one point
4 while walking by Arkan he said almost aloud, everybody could hear him, He
5 said, "You will never be forgiven for what you have done to the Muslims in
6 Bijeljina. History will judge you."
7 At that moment, I was really afraid for him, for what might happen
8 to him. Arkan turned his way, and I think this is the first time I saw
9 him confused and at a loss. Everybody was looking at him at that point,
10 Arkan, Mrs. Plavsic, everybody, and Mr. Mrkic even raised his finger and
11 started saying the same thing again, "Nobody will ever forgive you," and
12 then Arkan said, "Give me your ID." In his ID, Arkan saw Vlado Mrkic,
13 Bijeljina. It was an old ID from the times when he was a correspondent
14 from Bijeljina. And seeing this ID, Arkan said, "So you are a Croat."
15 And then Mrs. Plavsic joined the conversation and said looking with
16 condescension at this honourable, wonderful man she said, "No, he is a
17 Serb, but what kind of Serb?" She may have even said "unfortunate" or
18 something like that. I can't remember exactly.
19 Anyway, Arkan pushed this ID back into Mrkic's hands and said,
20 "Now get lost. Take him away from here."
21 They took him away and I was really scared and worried, worried
22 for him, of course. However, a couple of hours later I saw him in
23 Bijeljina again. He had walked around and around and caught up with us
24 again. I was really happy to see him, to see that everything was all
25 right after all.
1 Q. Thank you, Mr. Omeragic.
2 MR. MARGETTS: Your Honour, I'd like to play the video excerpt
3 which is Exhibit P300.
4 JUDGE ORIE: Please do so.
5 MR. MARGETTS: The case manager will just distribute the
7 JUDGE ORIE: Mr. Margetts, just for my information, the CD
8 contains all the video clips we are going to look at?
9 MR. MARGETTS: As I understood it, Your Honour, we were going to
10 produce a separate CD for each of the video clips. I'll just confer with
11 my case manager to confirm that.
12 JUDGE ORIE: I do understand this is already in evidence as P300.
13 MR. MARGETTS: Yes, Your Honour. And in respect of the others, we
14 will produce a separate CD for each clip.
15 JUDGE ORIE: Yes. Thank you.
16 [Videotape played]
17 THE INTERPRETER: [Voiceover] "In front of the SDS seat,
18 Ms. Plavsic, former member of the Republic of the -- Presidency of the
19 Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina announced ..."
20 MR. MARGETTS:
21 Q. Mr. Omeragic, you've seen the clip, which is Exhibit P300, which
22 depicts Plavsic kissing Arkan. From viewing that clip, can you tell the
23 Court where that kiss took place?
24 A. I saw the kiss in front of the municipality building as we were
25 parting. I visited Bijeljina only on that one day, but I saw the kiss in
1 front of the building of the Bijeljina Municipal Assembly.
2 JUDGE ORIE: Mr. Margetts, I see that on the transcript, the text
3 does not appear. Is it a kiss or is it the text what -- and I'm also
4 looking at you, Ms. Loukas.
5 MR. MARGETTS: Your Honour, it's only the kiss that's important.
6 MS. LOUKAS: Yes, Your Honour, I would certainly be objecting to
7 the text.
8 JUDGE ORIE: Then, Mr. Margetts, of course the text is under the
10 MR. MARGETTS: Your Honour, in this instance it appears that this
11 text has already been admitted as P300, but for this purpose we're not
12 referring to it.
13 JUDGE ORIE: Well, it's just the reporter who says what happened,
14 and that's of course -- whether that's true or not. What we see is first
15 of all --
16 MS. LOUKAS: First of all, the substance of the evidence, Your
17 Honour, is the video clip, that's what it's sought for. And in terms of
18 what's -- the reporter's indicating as we all know, the first casualty of
19 war is truth.
20 JUDGE ORIE: Yes.
21 MS. LOUKAS: Thank you, Your Honour.
22 JUDGE ORIE: Mr. Margetts, to what extent would the OTP like us to
23 pay attention to the text spoken by the journalist?
24 MR. MARGETTS: Your Honour, with one reservation, and that is that
25 I wasn't the representative of the OTP that presented Exhibit P300, I
1 would indicate that I can't think of any reason why we would want the text
2 to be maintained as part of this exhibit.
3 JUDGE ORIE: Yes.
4 [Trial Chamber and registrar confer]
5 JUDGE ORIE: We'll have a look at what happened when P300 was
6 tendered during the examination of Mr. Kljuic and we'll then further see
7 what to do with the admission at this moment.
8 Apart from -- the text, of course, explains that it is
9 Mrs. Plavsic who kisses Arkan and the remainder of the text is mainly
10 about what the journalist says that happened, which is not shown on the
11 clip itself apart from the clip starting with a body which is -- seems to
12 be the victim of violence but all the rest of the text is not -- does not
13 become clear for the clip itself. So therefore, apart from that this was
14 said during the pictures were shown, apart from that it seems to have
15 no -- it seems not to have any further evidentiary value.
16 MR. MARGETTS: Your Honour, if it would be convenient, I may
17 confer with Mr. Harmon during the break and inform the Court of his
19 JUDGE ORIE: Yes, please do so. Let's proceed.
20 MR. MARGETTS:
21 Q. Mr. Omeragic, you just informed the Court that you saw Plavsic
22 kiss Arkan at the time that they were parting following your tour of the
23 municipality. Can you explain to the Court who was present when Plavsic
24 kissed Arkan and how they reacted or behaved in the presence of Arkan?
25 A. As far as I know, there was some local SDS officials there who
1 accompanied the kiss shouting in approval. This was a sound of
2 approbation and not really wonder, but it was accompanied by an
3 exclamation of approval, I would say. There were Generals Jankovic and
4 Prascevic there as well; I don't know what their reaction to this was as
5 well. Mr. Abdic was there as well and saw the kiss, but there was no
6 reaction whatsoever on his part. Only later a story started going around
7 about this, but I'm afraid I did not really manage to notice what the
8 reaction on the part of those people who were, let's say, prominent among
9 them was.
10 Q. How did the generals greet Arkan?
11 A. Throughout the visit, one could see that the generals,
12 Mr. Prascevic and Jankovic, were in a position that seemed to be inferior
13 to that of Mr. Arkan, and one could feel that throughout the visit. When
14 General Prascevic and Arkan greeted, general approached him a couple of
15 steps ahead and then stopped and was quite relaxed, or rather Arkan was --
16 his demeanour was quite relaxed for a person who held no rank at the time
17 and for a person who, as such, was being approached by a general.
18 Just before we were to depart, as far as I remember, I was some 3
19 or 4 metres behind, at the rear of the group, as a person who holds no
20 special position would be in such a group. At that point, General Savo
21 Jankovic was seated on a bench and next to the bench, Arkan was pacing to
22 and fro and there was Ms. Plavsic as well, as well as General Prascevic.
23 At one point, Mrs. Plavsic said that now that everything was over,
24 the town should be handed over to the control of the JNA. I don't recall
25 what the exact wording of this request was, but that was the gist of it.
1 In any case, Madam Plavsic was -- termed it as a kind request, but then
2 Arkan said, "No, we haven't quite finished our business yet. We would
3 then go on to Bosanski Brod." And he mentioned Armin Poharic, who was a
4 man number one of the defence of Bosanski Brod. At that point, Arkan
5 threatened that he was going to fuck his mother and deal with him. As he
6 said that he was going to attack Bosanski Brod, General Jankovic merely
7 went with his hands through his hair in dismay and said, "You shouldn't
8 really be talking this way."
9 At that point, I was unable to grasp what sort of a relationship
10 existed among them, as I was trying to analyse what had been said at that
11 time. I even made some inferences of mine - I'm not sure whether this is
12 the right place to really present them to you, but if you'd wish me to, I
13 would gladly do so.
14 Q. Yes, Mr. Omeragic, if you could continue and communicate to the
15 Court, based on your observations during the day, what those inferences
17 A. At that time --
18 MS. LOUKAS: In relation to the matter -- well, Your Honour,
19 inferences are something that the Trial Chamber draws from the evidence;
20 it's not a matter for the witness. The witness can give of what he saw,
21 heard, perceived, what have you, but inferences, I mean that's a very
22 poorly phrased question and it's not the sort of evidence that will assist
23 the Trial Chamber.
24 JUDGE ORIE: I would agree that we do not ask the witness to make
25 any inferences, but of course he could tell us what he thought at that
1 time and whether or not he did form any opinion about that. So --
2 MS. LOUKAS: Indeed, Your Honour, and what the opinions are based
3 on and shared fact and opinion and what have you.
4 JUDGE ORIE: So where Mr. Margetts asked to you tell about your
5 inferences, the Chamber would like to know what went through your mind at
6 that time and whether you formed any opinions about the situation. Please
7 proceed. You may answer, then, the question understood in this sense.
8 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] I came to certain conclusions, but
9 it was only at a later stage because at that time I felt in danger and did
10 not really have time enough to ponder about it. Upon my return, I gave
11 much more thought to it. The first that came to my mind was that approach
12 by the general which showed to me that the army's position was an absurd
13 one. For a general to approach a person who holds no rank whatsoever and
14 then report to him, that shows the absurdity of the position which the
15 army found itself.
16 I also made some later inferences to the -- to the facts that
17 Arkan had some political clout that had been given to him. I think that
18 he must have enjoyed political support on some very high levels. When you
19 look at also the fact that his army was not the only one to be present
20 there in Bijeljina, you had other paramilitary formations like the White
21 Eagles, Bijeli Orlovi, my line of thinking was as follows. It was as if
22 they wanted to have as their justification the fact that the
23 paramilitaries were there, and in the future they'd be able to blame
24 everything that happened on the paramilitaries rather than on the regular
25 army, and that that was why they allowed them to have their way. These
1 were the sort of conclusions I reached. I tried later on to find answers
2 for all the peculiarities that I noticed, but these are just some of them.
3 MS. LOUKAS: Just in relation to that last answer from line 18 to
4 the end of the answer really does not form anything of the nature of the
5 kind of evidence that the Trial Chamber should be receiving. This is --
6 that is just the musings of the witness.
7 MR. MARGETTS: Your Honour, this type of submission is something
8 that would be appropriate at another stage of this trial.
9 MS. LOUKAS: Well, Your Honour, I think it's appropriate as a
10 marker as the sort of evidence that the Trial Chamber should not be
11 receiving from the witness.
12 JUDGE ORIE: Ms. --
13 MS. LOUKAS: I think we're shading from this question of
14 inferences and conclusions and opinions and musings. It's really not
15 appropriate in the form of evidence --
16 MR. MARGETTS: Your Honour, I'd like to interrupt my learned
17 friend at this stage. I don't think it's appropriate for her to make this
18 type of commentary on the evidence in the course of the witness giving his
20 JUDGE ORIE: Ms. Loukas, the line between drawing inferences and
21 telling us what went through the witness's mind is of course rather thin.
22 We'll consider the matter during the next break to what extent and what
23 probative value could such parts of the testimony have and also whether it
24 should be struck from the record.
25 MS. LOUKAS: Thank you, Your Honour. That is what my submission
1 is based on, because I want to ensure from the perspective of the Defence
2 that -- and to be of assistance to the Trial Chamber, a line must be drawn
3 between the evidence that a witness can give in relation to --
4 MR. MARGETTS: Your Honour, please --
5 MS. LOUKAS: It's inappropriate for Mr. Margetts to interrupt
6 me --
7 MR. MARGETTS: Could the witness then be excluded from the court
8 whilst this --
9 MS. LOUKAS: Well, I agree with that. I'm happy for him to
10 interrupt me on that score.
11 [Trial Chamber confers]
12 JUDGE ORIE: Ms. Loukas, the Chamber will focus on the facts and
13 any inferences, whether that would be ours as well is of course a matter
14 to decide at a later stage, and the Chamber will focus on the facts and
15 Judge Hanoteau has one additional question for the witness.
16 Mr. Omeragic, would you please listen to a question that will be
17 put to you by Judge Hanoteau.
18 JUDGE HANOTEAU: [Interpretation] With regard to Mrs. Plavsic,
19 there were two generals and Mr. Arkan. What difference was there in terms
20 of attitude or was there a difference in attitude on the part of the
21 military personnel, the generals, and on the part of Mr. Arkan? Did
22 you -- you spoke in your testimony of a respectful attitude, could you be
23 more specific, please?
24 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] I believe that Arkan dominated the
25 whole situation, and this could be seen in his statements. He was saying
1 that once he will have dealt with all the matters he still had to deal
2 with in Bijeljina, he was going to go on to Bosanski Brod. One could also
3 infer this from General Jankovic's demeanour vis-a-vis Arkan who seemed to
4 approach him as a person who would be of lower rank to him because General
5 Jankovic was telling him when Arkan stated that he was going to go on to
6 Bosanski Brod and slaughter there everyone, he said, "You shouldn't be
7 talking this way."
8 JUDGE HANOTEAU: [Interpretation] Mrs. Plavsic, did the generals
9 have a more deferential, more respective attitude towards her?
10 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] I can't possibly remember that
11 detail now. But on our return to Tuzla, one could see officers, General
12 Jankovic and Prascevic, treating her as a lady in a very careful manner,
13 with politeness, thoughtfulness, and they showed respect for her as for a
14 person that held a highly -- high-ranking political position.
15 JUDGE HANOTEAU: [Interpretation] [Previous translation
16 continues]... that she had authority?
17 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Yes, she did, definitely.
18 JUDGE HANOTEAU: [Interpretation] Authority vis-a-vis the military
20 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] I believe so, yes.
21 JUDGE HANOTEAU: [Interpretation] Thank you, Witness.
22 MR. MARGETTS:
23 Q. Mr. Omeragic, following on from His Honour Judge Hanoteau's
24 questions, could you describe to the Court the nature of the relationship
25 between Arkan and Plavsic.
1 A. What I can tell you about this relationship is that Madam Plavsic
2 called Zeljko Raznjatovic, Arkan, "my dear," "my child," which showed of a
3 very close relationship or perhaps a wish for a very close relationship,
4 whereas Arkan on his part showed great respect for her. And one could not
5 fail to notice this.
6 Q. A further question, and I'm sorry to move you once again out of
7 chronological sequence and this time also to move you from Bijeljina to
8 Bosanski Brod; however, were you present when negotiations were taking
9 place in Bosanski Brod and Ms. Plavsic was present and there was shelling
10 of that city?
11 MS. LOUKAS: Just in relation to this again, I mean I think it's
12 quite obvious what areas should not be led on and what areas can be led on
13 and it's --
14 JUDGE ORIE: It's split up.
15 MS. LOUKAS: The questions have to be split up.
16 MR. MARGETTS: I would say this is a perfectly appropriate area to
17 lead. I do not know what is contentious about describing the situation
18 JUDGE ORIE: Let's try to find out.
19 Ms. Loukas, is it in dispute that any negotiations were taking
20 place in Bosanski Brod?
21 THE INTERPRETER: Microphone for Ms. Loukas, please.
22 JUDGE ORIE: Microphone please
23 MS. LOUKAS: Now what was the question?
24 JUDGE ORIE: The question was about negotiations in Bosanski Brod.
25 MS. LOUKAS: -- from Bijeljina to Bosanski Brod. Were you present
1 when negotiations were taking place in Bosanski Brod?
2 JUDGE ORIE: Yes, that's the first part. Is that in dispute? Is
3 that in dispute?
4 MS. LOUKAS: Well, Your Honour, it's -- as far as I'm concerned,
5 Your Honour, the question just shouldn't be asked in that fashion. Which
6 portion is Your Honour asking me whether or not --
7 JUDGE ORIE: First let's split up the question. First of all
8 Mr. Margetts takes the witness from Bijeljina to Bosanski Brod which is, I
9 think, perfectly --
10 MS. LOUKAS: I don't have a problem with that.
11 JUDGE ORIE: No problem with that. Negotiations taking place in
12 Bosanski Brod, is there any dispute about whether there were any
13 negotiations taking place in Bosanski Brod?
14 MS. LOUKAS: Well, Your Honour, I don't have a problem with that,
15 but as to the presence of Ms. Plavsic, I'm just simply not in a position
16 to know and I don't think it's a matter that should be led on because
17 she's a member of the Presidency.
18 JUDGE ORIE: Let's then ask the witness.
19 Are you aware of any negotiations that took place in Bosanski
21 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Yes.
22 JUDGE ORIE: Do you know who were present or who were involved in
23 these negotiations? Could you tell us who?
24 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Well, it was again Ms. Plavsic,
25 Franjo Boras, and Fikret Abdic who took part in these negotiations in the
12 Blank page inserted to ensure pagination corresponds between the French and
13 English transcripts.
1 capacity of mediators of some sort, and I remember that taking place in
2 Bosanski Brod. I believe I was present there once for some 45 minutes and
3 nothing really transpired. Nothing was really going on of any substance.
4 If this may interest you, it concerns JNA officers. I recall one
5 occasion when Ms. Plavsic, this was in Derventa close to Bosanski Brod,
6 when shelling started, and at that point I was not present in the
7 meeting. Mr. Abdic and Ms. Biljana Plavsic came out of the meeting room
8 and said, "Let's each call our own lot." I believe Mr. Abdic called Ivan
9 Krzic or some other officer there to have the shelling stop. Ms. Plavsic
10 called commanding officers at the barracks and they were talking to them
11 and saying, "We should each deal with our own side firing."
12 Ms. Plavsic said, "Stop the shelling because we are here
13 negotiating for peace whilst you are shelling citizens." Mr. Abdic, on
14 his part, almost stated the most -- the identical thing saying, "We
15 should make sure that firing stops."
16 Next, as if a miracle happened, there was a respite from shelling
17 and they resumed negotiations, but ten minutes later shelling was resumed
18 again and the same thing happened all over again. There must have been
19 someone on higher positions who was responsible for this.
20 So the same thing happened again, the shelling started, and it is
21 ridiculous for them and absurd for them to go through the same thing
22 again. Therefore , I saw them taking part in the negotiations, trying to
23 resume peace and I could see how powerful they were and what they could do
24 about bringing about peace.
25 JUDGE ORIE: Mr. Margetts, yesterday we were
1 [French interpretation on English channel]
2 JUDGE ORIE: Yes, we got French translation.
3 THE INTERPRETER: The interpreter is sorry, her mistake.
4 JUDGE ORIE: We identified yesterday direct observation and direct
5 involvement of high-level authorities in events happening on the ground to
6 be a sensitive issue. So therefore, I would agree with Ms. Loukas that
7 you could have asked who were present because on the basis of this
8 statement, you could expect that the answer would include a high-level
10 Please proceed.
11 MR. MARGETTS: Thank you, Your Honour.
12 If the witness could be present with the exhibit which is not
13 listed next in order, that is the fifth listed exhibit being a letter from
14 the Bijeljina SDS to the Main Board of the SDS. And I note in the exhibit
15 sheet that it's noted as being dated 8 April, in fact you'll see that the
16 date that appears on it is 3 April.
17 JUDGE ORIE: Madam Registrar.
18 THE REGISTRAR: This will be Prosecution Exhibit P586.
19 MR. MARGETTS: As that's being distributed, Your Honour, I'd just
20 like to read the content of this facsimile into the record. This is a
21 facsimile from the Municipal Board of the SDS to the SDS Main Board and it
22 reads as follows: "We are requesting that all organs of Serbian Assembly
23 should support the decision of the Crisis Staff of the SAO Semberija and
24 Majevica and of the commander of the Serb National Guard. The entire
25 Serbian people are organised in units at the Territorial Defence in the
1 territory of our region --" there is an illegible word following the word
2 "region" -- "and they expect that the JNA should restrain from the
3 conflict with Serbian people. We are prepared to give arguments for our
4 firm position."
5 JUDGE ORIE: Mr. Margetts are you reading from a different
6 translation, although it's approximately the same? The illegible part
7 does not appear in my translation. I've got a translation in front of me
8 last four digits being 6742.
9 MR. MARGETTS: Your Honour, I am reading from a different
11 JUDGE ORIE: Yes. Why don't you use the same as you provided to
12 us. I think the gist of the translation is certainly the same, but -- so
13 you may proceed, but if it comes to any detail of the text, then we'd have
14 to move to the same translation.
15 MR. MARGETTS: Yes, Your Honour, I apologise for that. The
16 correct translation which we present as part of Exhibit P586 is the one
17 marked at 6742.
18 JUDGE ORIE: Yes.
19 MR. MARGETTS:
20 Q. Mr. Omeragic, is the reference in this document --
21 MS. LOUKAS: Your Honours, before we proceed, Mr. Margetts has
22 given evidence from the bar table that this particular document, whilst
23 translated as 8th of April, is actually 3rd of April. I must say looking
24 at the photocopy of the document in question in the Cyrillic version, it
25 doesn't appear like a 3 to me and it certainly appears more like an 8. So
1 I don't know if Mr. Margetts proposes to give evidence that the dating of
2 documents, which is very significant --
3 MR. MARGETTS: Your Honour, I referred to the facsimile marker at
4 the top of the page.
5 JUDGE ORIE: Ms. Loukas, you see that it appears as 03/04/92,
6 16.54 at the top.
7 MS. LOUKAS: I appreciate that, Your Honour, but the document
8 itself says 8th of April, and seeing it's a photocopy it's very hard to
9 understand, without having seen the original, what the question of this
10 document -- I have real problems with this document, I must say, Your
11 Honour. It's something that appears on the face of it to say the 8th of
12 April. It's not a little fax header that says the 3rd of April. It's an
13 entirely significant document --
14 MR. MARGETTS: Your Honour, again my learned friend is making
15 submissions which are appropriate at a different stage of the trial. I
16 think there has now been ambiguity that she has been raised and that's
17 fine, but further submissions are inappropriate.
18 JUDGE ORIE: Mr. Margetts --
19 MS. LOUKAS: I also have a further objection, if I might be
20 permitted to.
21 JUDGE ORIE: Yes. If you have any further objection, please --
22 MS. LOUKAS: Thank you. What light could this witness cast on
23 this document?
24 JUDGE ORIE: Well, I'm afraid that if Mr. Margetts explains that,
25 that you might blame him for giving evidence --
1 MS. LOUKAS: Well, I look forward to hearing it --
2 JUDGE ORIE: Let's first wait for his first questions --
3 MS. LOUKAS: Thank you, Your Honour.
4 JUDGE ORIE: -- and then see whether the witness could tell us
5 anything about that.
6 Ms. Loukas, you've drawn our attention to the fact that you, on
7 the bottom of the page, that you -- I would say that you adhere to the
8 date as we find it in the translation, which is a different date from what
9 we find at the top of the text. And we have to see how important that is
10 and what consequences that might have.
11 MS. LOUKAS: Indeed, Your Honour.
12 JUDGE ORIE: Mr. Margetts, is the date of any specific importance
13 for the questions to be put to the witness?
14 MR. MARGETTS: No, Your Honour.
15 JUDGE ORIE: Then we'll first listen what questions you will put
16 to the witness.
17 MS. LOUKAS: Indeed, Your Honour, because it's not unknown for fax
18 machines to have the wrong dates on them.
19 JUDGE ORIE: Yes, at the same time, Ms. Loukas, since you are
20 commenting as well at this moment, and the 8 is not an undisputable 8.
21 Please proceed, Mr. Margetts.
22 MR. MARGETTS:
23 Q. Mr. Omeragic, when you were in Bijeljina on the 4th of April,
24 1992, what were your observations as to the activity or involvement of the
25 JNA in the events that were taking place in Bijeljina?
1 A. I can say that I saw the confirmation of the opinion that I had,
2 namely that the JNA was completely isolated in that situation, it was
3 completely set aside, somehow thrown to the sidelines although it was the
4 regular army. Of course they were expected to refrain from conflict with
5 the Serbian people, and the Serbian National Guard took over. Those
6 self-organised organisation were at the forefront and the JNA, the regular
7 army, who were supposed to preserve peace, was on the back burner. And my
8 opinion was confirmed that they were not doing their jobs, that they were
9 watching and waiting to see what will happen. They were completely, as I
10 said, thrown to the sidelines.
11 MR. MARGETTS: Your Honour, just to interrupt the examination for
12 one second, and that is to inform the Court that the Exhibit P300, which
13 is the video we saw prior to the last exhibit, it went into evidence
14 without the transcript.
15 JUDGE ORIE: And I now do understand that no transcript is added
16 to it.
17 MR. MARGETTS: Yes, Your Honour.
18 JUDGE ORIE: Yes.
19 MR. MARGETTS: Your Honour, if the witness could be shown the next
20 video clip which is the one that appears fourth on the exhibit list and
21 it's 30001462 from the timer marking 1.48.30.
22 THE REGISTRAR: This will be Prosecution Exhibit Number P587, and
23 the transcript will be P587A.
24 [Videotape played]
25 THE INTERPRETER: [Voiceover] "Mrs. Plavsic, you are a member of a
1 mixed delegation which has come to Bijeljina today to see for themselves
2 the alleged destruction of which the Sarajevo media have been reporting
3 extensively. Is that your impression, the first impression?"
4 Answer: "From what I could see travelling through town by car,
5 not only I but my escorts as well were looking carefully to see if we
6 would see shattered glass, shop windows, and so on, the things that we had
7 heard about from the media in Sarajevo. We saw none of that. And
8 somebody even said the shoe shop would be the first to be looted, if
9 anything; however, the shoes were intact in the shop window, we saw them.
10 Therefore, from what I could see when entering the town, I wasn't under
11 the impression that we were entering a plundered and enslaved town, and I
12 am particularly glad that the people received us cheerfully and I am under
13 the impression that the people had a feeling they were saved from a great
14 evil that had been threatening them."
15 Reporter: "I'll ask you one more question. You are a member of a
16 mixed delegation, however other members of the delegation, Fikret Abdic
17 and the army representatives, are not with you here. It's a little
18 strange they went to the barracks first instead of you all being together
19 in the same place so that light can be shed on the whole situation."
20 Mrs. Plavsic: "You see who was all directed by me. The first
21 barricades I had encountered, one of our MPs at the assembly was at the
22 barricade. He said that I should determine it and the column was much
23 longer. The representatives of the European Union were in this column.
24 Yesterday I said they should not come with us. However, they were waiting
25 for us in Tuzla. Yesterday, I told them that we didn't want them to come
1 with us. So this whole motorcade, very long, started together with us,
2 with the journalists, and I was the first in that motorcade. Of course
3 the general whom we took with us was the first and then the soldiers in
4 his escort, then Mr. Fikret Abdic and his escorts."
5 Reporter: "And why did they go to the barracks first?"
6 Mrs. Plavsic: "Well, I wanted to come here first to be in direct
7 contact with the Crisis Staff on my own first, and then we will all talk
8 together. And now we are expecting them in order to go to the barracks
10 Reporter: "Do you know what is going on in the barracks that they
11 had to go there first?"
12 Mrs. Plavsic: "No, no, I have no idea. Please let me say there
13 is no ulterior motive; you shouldn't think that. First of all, we came
14 here under military escort and it may have been normal for me to go to the
15 barracks first too. But since I can decide for myself, I decided to go to
16 the Crisis Staff of the Serb people first to meet with Mr. Arkan and his
17 associates, and we are very happy to have met him, including Mr. Goran
18 Adzic. I knew that this close encounter of ours would be better without
19 the rest of the group and then later we can talk with them too."
20 JUDGE ORIE: Mr. Margetts, I noted that in the translation, the
21 written translation, second page, second block, second line, it says,
22 "You shouldn't think that there are bad intentions there," which was
23 translated now as that an "ulterior motive," which is not exactly the
24 same. I'd like you to perhaps verify this issue.
25 You find the translation on page 28, line 1. I'd like you to
1 clarify but I take it that is not the core of the questions you will put
2 to the witness. Please proceed.
3 MR. MARGETTS: Yes, Your Honour, we will clarify that. And yes,
4 Your Honour, it isn't the core of the questions we'll put to the witness.
5 Q. Mr. Omeragic, Ms. Plavsic refers to Mr. Goran Hadzic. Is he the
6 gentleman sitting on Ms. Plavsic's right with the beard?
7 A. Yes. Yes, I saw him on that video clip.
8 Q. And just for certainty, Mr. Arkan is the man sitting on
9 Ms. Plavsic's left?
10 A. Yes.
11 Q. Can you tell the Court who Mr. Goran Hadzic is.
12 A. Goran Hadzic was man number one in eastern Slavonia, an area in
13 eastern Croatia, as far as I know. He was the political leader of the
14 Serbian Autonomous District of Slavonia, eastern Slavonia.
15 Q. Ms. Plavsic refers to what she observed when she was driving
16 through the town, in particular she refers to the fact she had not seen
17 any broken windows and so on. Can you describe to the Court what you saw
18 in terms of numbers of broken windows or any other evidence of a battle.
19 A. I didn't see any particular signs of battle. I saw some shattered
20 windows. They told me it was the post office. I have to remind the
21 Honourable Trial Chamber that it was my first visit to Bijeljina, but I
22 was told that the building on which I saw a lot of shattered windows was
23 the post office. And I saw broken windows on another building but I can't
24 remember which building it was.
25 So there was that, and there were some holes in the walls that we
1 passed by, some bullet holes in the walls, and also in -- on some trees.
2 Apart from that, I didn't see any particular signs of fighting.
3 Q. Ms. Plavsic states that she saw one of "our MPs" she says at the
4 barricade, did you see any civilian personnel at the Serb barricades?
5 A. I saw some civilians that had found shelter in the shrubbery.
6 They were actually hiding behind some shrubs training their guns at us. I
7 saw them when I looked to my side. They were hiding there in the
8 shrubbery and pointing their guns at our cars. There was also a person of
9 some authority who was talking to Mrs. Plavsic, but I wasn't aware that he
10 was an MP.
11 Q. There's also references from Mrs. Plavsic in relation to the
12 Crisis Staff. Whilst you were in Bijeljina, did anyone refer to the
13 Crisis Staff?
14 A. Most of the time, they talked about the municipal hall. Some
15 people referred to the Crisis Staff, however I can't remember who spoke
16 about the municipal hall and who spoke about the Crisis Staff.
17 Q. When you say that they referred to the municipal hall and some
18 people referred to the Crisis Staff, why do you bring together those two
19 descriptions, that is municipal hall and Crisis Staff?
20 A. Because it was the same building, as far as I know. It's just
21 that the municipal hall turned into the Crisis Staff once the Croats and
22 Muslims were excluded from it. It turned into the Crisis Staff. That's
23 probably the explanation.
24 Q. Mr. Omeragic, I'd now like to take you to the barracks, your
25 arrival at the barracks, and could you describe to the Court what happened
1 whilst you were -- after you arrived at the barracks and whilst you were
2 outside the buildings.
3 A. So when we arrived at the barracks, we stopped and officers,
4 soldiers, people in uniform were 10 metres away from us. On three big
5 piles on a big plateau with the big building of the barracks on the right,
6 there were people -- there were three huge groups of people, several
7 hundred, perhaps, some were standing, some were lying. And Fikret Abdic
8 was saying all the time that he wanted to see the refugees, to talk to the
9 refugees. He repeated constantly that he had to meet with the refugees.
10 And I believe we stopped there for a moment. Somebody was talking
11 on a hand-held radio saying that Fikret Abdic had arrived, that he wanted
12 to see the refugees. After a while, we were joined by General Jankovic
13 and we went into the crowd. And this is perhaps what left the greatest
14 impression on me, this crowd of wretched people. General Jankovic told me
15 it was a mixed group including Croats, Bosniaks, and as we went into the
16 crowd, I was close to Fikret Abdic.
17 Suddenly, a woman from this crowd uttered an oath. I turned, and
18 I saw some 40, maybe 50 metres away from me Mrs. Plavsic. She was
19 standing alone. I don't know where her escorts were at that time, and
20 since it was a very juicy oath, somebody was saying to her, "Why the hell
21 aren't you coming over here?" Using an F word. I turned and I felt very
22 embarrassed because of all that. And I looked her way again after a
23 while, but she wasn't standing in the same place anymore. That was the
24 last I saw of her at the barracks.
25 Later, as I was talking to the people from the crowd, I tried to
1 learn about their stories, what brought them there. I talked to one
2 particular woman. I tried to get her to tell me the real truth, but she
3 was very afraid. She was saying horrible, horrible things have happened,
4 but she wouldn't say exactly what. She just said that two of her brothers
5 were killed. I found out their names eventually, those were the first
6 names that I got and I noted them down.
7 Every 20 metres or so, people in olive-green/grey uniforms were
8 standing with their guns, but they were not doing anything. So they were
9 not violent, they were just holding their weapons with their barrels
10 pointed to the ground.
11 So after meeting these people, we went into the building of the
12 barracks, it was very close by, which was where Mr. Jankovic and Mr. Abdic
13 had a meeting while I sat in the room next door. The doors were opened
14 and I thought I could overhear their conversation, however they spoke in
15 very low voices and I couldn't make anything out.
16 From time to time, I would only hear Mr. Abdic saying, "I have to
17 meet with the refugees some more. I have to talk to the refugees some
18 more." And at some point, Abdic was told that Mrs. Biljana Plavsic was
19 waiting for him in the municipal hall, that everybody had already gathered
20 there and were waiting for him. I can't remember whether they talked
21 about the municipal hall or the Crisis Staff at that particular moment.
22 JUDGE ORIE: Mr. Margetts, I'm looking at the clock. We are close
23 to 10.30. If you could find a suitable moment within the next two or
24 three minutes.
25 MR. MARGETTS: Yes, Your Honour, now is a suitable moment.
1 JUDGE ORIE: Yes. Then I would first ask the usher to escort the
2 witness out of the courtroom. We'll have a break for 25 minutes.
3 [The witness stands down]
4 JUDGE ORIE: Yes. Mr. Margetts, first of all, the text under the
5 video clip of the interview of Mrs. Plavsic did not develop as the spoken
6 words. I checked in the B/C/S transcript -- the B/C/S audiotape, the
7 B/C/S text could be heard so therefore, we have the French and the English
8 translation complete in the transcript, we have the B/C/S in the audio.
9 So therefore there should be no problem, but perhaps you would pay
10 attention to it that this time, the text not -- is usually scrolled under
11 the video clip.
12 Then I think you should have been a bit more cautious about the
13 3rd and the 8th of April issue. Of course you could have drawn our
14 attention to it, but just to bluntly state that it was the 8th of April
15 was a bit too much, perhaps.
16 MR. MARGETTS: Your Honour, in that respect, Ms. Loukas is not a
17 handwriting expert nor am I. What we both can see is that the printed
18 text from the fax machine records the 3rd of April, which does resolve the
19 ambiguity in my submission without any shadow of a doubt.
20 JUDGE ORIE: Well of course Ms. Loukas made some comment on that,
21 and if you insist on such printed text, then perhaps you should consider
22 as well how a text which clearly in writing says that it's written at
23 17.50 could by sent by telefax at 16.54. That's one hour before it has
24 been written. That, of course, supports Ms. Loukas's --
25 MR. MARGETTS: Your Honour --
1 JUDGE ORIE: -- submission that these fax machines -- but of
2 course they are also -- of course we could say it's totally logic because
3 one hour difference, wintertime/summertime, so when -- if it's 17.50 would
4 have been 16.50, then 16.54 would be totally logical. The only thing I
5 say is that it's not that easy to draw conclusions and to present them as
7 MR. MARGETTS: Your Honour -- and thank you for that guidance, and
8 I had not engaged in a forensic analysis, not even one that matched Your
9 Honour's own analysis.
10 JUDGE ORIE: I just looked at the document, nothing more, nothing
11 less. And perhaps said to Ms. Loukas that the 8 as translated might not
12 be that clearly 8 so therefore, whether it's an 8 or not is still to be
13 considered; and as far as the title line is concerned, it needs some more
14 analysis as well.
15 We'll adjourn until five minutes to 11.00.
16 --- Recess taken at 10.32 a.m.
17 --- On resuming at 11.01 a.m.
18 JUDGE ORIE: Mr. Usher, could you escort the witness into the
20 [French interpretation on English channel]
21 JUDGE ORIE: [Previous translation continues] ... into English
23 [The witness entered court]
24 JUDGE ORIE: Mr. Margetts.
25 MR. MARGETTS:
1 Q. Mr. Omeragic, after you left the barracks, where did you go?
2 A. We set off in the direction of the Crisis Staff, that is the
3 municipality hall in Bijeljina. We entered the building. There were
4 journalists waiting outside while the others were inside. I remember that
5 as everyone was trying to enter the premises, that they denied access to
6 the TV Sarajevo -- to the Sarajevo TV crew, and I was also banned from
7 entering. There was Arkan there in the doorway saying who was allowed to
8 enter and who wasn't, so I remained in the corridor along with some other
9 people who were escorts of Mrs. Plavsic.
10 Q. Thank you, Mr. Omeragic.
11 MR. MARGETTS: Your Honour, I'd like to play the next video and
12 also display a still from that video after it's been played.
13 JUDGE ORIE: Madam Registrar.
14 THE REGISTRAR: This will be Prosecution Exhibit P588, and the
15 transcript will be P588.A.
16 [Videotape played]
17 THE INTERPRETER: [Voiceover] "They were caught by surprise. You
18 could sit here. This is my place. Bishop Kacevenda is also coming.
19 "Hello, how are you doing?"
20 MR. MARGETTS:
21 Q. Mr. Omeragic, you have just stated to the Court that you were
22 excluded from the room. Does this video depict that event?
23 A. This is me. I'm the tallest person here standing by the door. A
24 minute later I was going to be -- I was approached by Arkan, who told me
25 that I had to leave the room and could not attend the meeting.
1 Q. Was your colleague Nenad Zamfirovic present, and if so, was he
2 allowed to enter?
3 A. I think he was allowed to enter. The only ones left outside was
4 me, journalist Golubovic, and the Sarajevo TV crew.
5 Q. Which organisation was Mr. Zamfirovic associated with?
6 A. He periodically worked as a correspondent for Slobodna Bosna as a
7 Belgrade correspondent. He was a widely respected journalist and we
8 respected him as a colleague, of course.
9 Q. What ethnicity was Mr. Zamfirovic?
10 A. Nenad Zamfirovic is a Serb.
11 Q. You mentioned before that you waited outside in the corridor.
12 Could you describe to the Court for how long you were outside the
13 municipal hall, and could you just go through the events that took place
14 whilst you were waiting outside.
15 A. I apologise. I just wish to add that behind the door here, there
16 was a corridor where there were several of us -- this was an anteroom 2.5
17 metres by 2. There was Predrag Vladisavljevic, so I don't know what his
18 last name was, some other escorts, and colleague Golubovic. We were
19 waiting for the meeting to finish; it went on for some 35 minutes.
20 As we were waiting there, one of the Arkan's soldiers arrived; he
21 was wearing a black uniform and what they called an Arkan's cap, a black
22 cap. He asked Golubovic who he was. Golubovic said that he was a TV
23 Sarajevo journalist. This Arkan's man asked whether this was Alija's TV
24 and said some things to slight the journalist.
25 The two men who were with him wore olive-green uniforms, and the
1 Arkan's men told the two to take Golubovic away, which they did; however,
2 there was this one person who ran up to Arkan's -- to the Arkan's men
3 and -- or rather he started whispering something into his ear, and this
4 man I'm talking about was Ms. Plavsic's escort. I could only discern the
5 name Kukanjac.
6 Then this Arkan's man said, "Don't mention this name to me.
7 That's even worse than what you've mentioned before." Some two or three
8 people ran down the stairs, took the journalist out, and this Arkan's man
9 returned right away, approached me, and asked me to show him some ID and
10 inquired after my identity.
11 I was unaware of what was going on. He looked me in the eye and I
12 could -- I was -- I could see that his eyes were wide open. Somebody
13 later told me that he might have been under the influence of drugs because
14 the whites of his eyes were very prominent.
15 I told him that I did not have any ID on me, that I was
16 Mr. Abdic's escort and that I -- my papers were in the car. He said to
17 the other two to take me away. They took me under the arms and then one
18 nice-looking man who was Prascevic's escort, he was as tall as me but
19 seemed stronger than me, broad-shouldered, he told them, "Leave this man
20 alone. Why are you bothered by him here?" Then they asked him who he was
21 and what he wanted. I think he used a derogatory term, because this other
22 man was wearing a green coloured uniform, and then there was a row between
23 the two of them, a spat. The other two men, one of them named Peda Pedja
24 [phoen] held me firmly under my arms and then they started pushing each
25 other, inquiring of one another, Which army do you belong to? Which army
1 do you belong to? They were -- there was an altercation, and obviously
2 there was hostility in the air. Then one of them pulled out a pistol and
3 pointed it against my forehead and I told him, "Put this away. You might
4 accidentally trigger it."
5 At that moment, probably attracted by the noise that we were
6 making, Arkan appeared at the door and asked, "What's going on? What's
7 this noise all about?" Or something to that effect.
8 In doing so, he seemed to have saved me because the other two men
9 let go of me. They all relaxed. Arkan motioned with his hand, meaning to
10 tell us to go away, and the Arkan's men and the other two disappeared. I
11 turned towards Predrag and said, "What's wrong with this -- with these
12 men?" And I thanked him.
13 I was hardly aware of the seriousness of the situation at the
14 time. It was actually later on that I took fright by it all.
15 Q. Thank you, Mr. Omeragic.
16 MR. MARGETTS: Your Honour, I'd like to play the next video which
17 is next on the exhibit list, which is the segment of V0001462 commencing
18 at 1.55.11, and also there will be a still following that video.
19 JUDGE ORIE: Madam Registrar, that would be --
20 THE REGISTRAR: It will be Prosecution Exhibit P589, and the
21 transcript P589A.
22 JUDGE ORIE: Mr. Margetts, could you already prepare for all the
23 transcripts still to be seen to be provided to the registrar so that
24 distribution can be more efficient.
25 MR. MARGETTS: Your Honour, I apologise for that inefficiency.
1 That, in fact, will be the last transcript.
2 JUDGE ORIE: Oh, yes. I'm, as always, a bit late.
3 Please proceed.
4 [Videotape played]
5 THE INTERPRETER: [Voiceover] "How was your journey?"
6 Abdic: "It was good, excellent. Since 6.00 this morning I just
7 shaved and straight to work. First it was Mostar, from Mostar to
8 Derventa, and from Derventa ... and back to Tuzla."
9 Arkan: "And the other general, the commander of the second
10 military district didn't come?"
11 General: "No, he could not due to his commitment, business."
12 Arkan: "Business?"
13 Plavsic: "Since I've been put in charge of chairing this meeting,
14 I'll just a little -- shall we wait for the bishop?"
15 Probably Simic: "No need. The representative of our Crisis Staff
16 will explain how it was envisaged."
17 Plavsic: "No, no. I'm not going to explain the situation."
18 Simic: " ... about the protocol, about the way this meeting --"
19 Plavsic: "Good, good. Somebody said I should chair the meeting.
20 Rather somebody else did."
21 Probably Simic: "This meeting is of an informal nature. Right?
22 Let us get familiarised."
23 Arkan: "Those are Serbs."
24 The anchor: "Arkan is showing photographs of killed Serbs."
25 "Yes, those are photographs of killed Serbs but the TV Sarajevo
1 and Jutel presented it as if they were killed Muslims."
2 "You have nothing against the public?"
3 "No, nothing."
4 "Well, if the journalists are finished, we have the numbers, we
5 know everything. Serb Volunteers Guard is good information."
6 Abdic: "Taken into account the misinformation, there are lots of
7 misinformation, not in this one ... generally it would be good if we
8 checked every source of information thoroughly so that we have accurate
9 information. The way out from these difficulties is having accurate
11 Arkan: "I agree. But just one thing. This machine-gun was
12 manufactured for the Muslims. It is painted green. Normally the
13 machine-guns are made black. This one is especially made green for
14 Muslims, made in Croatia. So it's the same story again, the Ustashas have
15 come to Bosnia-Herzegovina to make these things with the help of your
16 extreme Muslims. That's the story. So this Ustasha's chequered
17 board evil."
18 Abdic: "The first information, yes, but let's not evaluate it."
19 Arkan: "No, no. I won't evaluate. I'm just telling you."
20 Abdic: "Information, yes; but the evaluation, no, not in
21 advance. We'll evaluate it after having thoroughly discussed it and
22 checked all the information that we have or will have."
23 Arkan: "Mr. Fikret, it's very clear, crystal clear, that Muslim
24 extremists, that is to say, the imported ethnic Albanians who worked in
25 bakeries and whatnot and who were all armed and ready to subjugate the
12 Blank page inserted to ensure pagination corresponds between the French and
13 English transcripts.
1 Serb people here once more. It's important to note that all of this, all
2 these events for the Serb cause..."
3 Male voice: "We agreed to visit Bosnia..."
4 MR. MARGETTS: Your Honour, whilst the still is being displayed,
5 which it now is, I would like to indicate that in fact Your Honour was
6 well ahead of the Prosecution in regard to the videos. Whilst that was
7 the last segment from video 1462, I've been informed by my case manager
8 that we do have a video to come, that will come at the end of this
9 witness's evidence, and so we will distribute that transcript.
10 Q. Mr. Omeragic, do you see this still displayed on the screen in
11 front of you? Do you recognise the man in the centre who is standing
12 wearing a black jacket with his hand outstretched?
13 A. That's the man I saw in Bijeljina with curly hair and the
14 outstretched arm. I believe it's written Simic here, but I think that's
15 Ljubisa Savic. At the time, in the news report that I wrote as a result
16 of the visit, I said that this was the man who placed the rifle barrel
17 against my forehead and somebody whispered to me that this might have been
18 Mauzer; however, it was only later that I did establish that this man is
19 Ljubisa Savic, Mauzer.
20 I would like to mention the context here where I met him. There
21 was a man, a member of the Territorial Defence, wearing a green uniform
22 who drops a rifle just as we were leaving the hospital. And the sound of
23 the rifle falling reverberated and then the -- and then Arkan approached
24 the man, slapped him and told him to get away from there because he
25 couldn't be called a soldier even. He said to the others that he should
1 immediately be stripped of his uniform, that he should be demobilised.
2 Just as we were about to leave, we were outside the municipality
3 building, this man, Ljubisa Savic, was playing with the rifle bayonet. He
4 was just in front of me and this bayonet fell to the ground; Arkan turned
5 in his direction. This man turned red in his cheeks and everybody
6 including myself expected Arkan to do something terrible, but he just said
7 to the man to pick the bayonet up. It was evident that this man, Ljubisa
8 Savic, Mauzer, had a position that was rather different from that of an
9 ordinary soldier.
10 Q. Thank you, Mr. Omeragic. Now, just referring to the video clip
11 that you've just seen, you will have seen that Arkan presents a
12 machine-gun painted green to Abdic and he informs Abdic that the Serb
13 volunteer guard has good information. Abdic responds and refers to
14 misinformation and that every source should be checked. Arkan then says
15 that the machine-gun is manufactured in Croatia for the Muslims. And
16 Arkan continues stating the following, he says, "It is very clear, crystal
17 clear that the Muslim extremists, that is to say, the imported Albanians
18 who worked in baker shops and whatnot and were all armed and ready to
19 subjugate the Serb people here once more."
20 Whilst you were in Bijeljina, did you see anything that supported
21 Arkan's claims that Muslim extremists were ready to subjugate the Serb
23 A. No, I didn't. I didn't see green submachine-guns or anything that
24 would show that Muslims were ready to do anything evil to their Serb
25 neighbours or to subjugate them.
1 MR. MARGETTS: Your Honour, I'd like to present the next exhibits
2 to the witness, and they're two photos which are Exhibits P294A and P294B.
3 JUDGE ORIE: Please do so, Mr. Margetts.
4 MR. MARGETTS:
5 Q. Mr. Omeragic, I can see that you have the photos before you and
6 the one that's furthest to your left, I believe, is the photo with a 08 in
7 the top right-hand corner.
8 Could you look at the soldiers in this picture and tell the Court
9 whether you saw men dressed in the uniforms that these soldiers are
10 wearing whilst you were in Bijeljina?
11 A. Some of them may have been wearing uniforms like these. But the
12 ones that I saw all had black uniforms and had the sign of a tiger with
13 his muzzle wide open, and it was written underneath "The Serbian
14 Volunteers Guard."
15 Q. The soldier that appears to be poised in a kicking action, do you
16 recognise the insignia that appears on his right arm?
17 A. I can see the insignia on his right arm and that -- that's the
18 sign belonging to the Arkan's Tigers, the emblem in three colours that I
19 believe reflect the then Yugoslav flag without the five-pointed star. And
20 I believe that there, there's also an image of a tiger with his jaws wide
22 Q. Mr. Omeragic, did you see men in camouflage uniforms whilst you
23 were in Bijeljina?
24 A. I can't remember seeing any difference in the colour of the
25 uniforms. I can't remember whether there were any but most of the
1 soldiers wore these black uniforms, including the insignia of the Serbian
2 Volunteers Guard.
3 Q. Whilst you were in Bijeljina, were you able to distinguish between
4 different military groups, or did you consider that all of the military
5 personnel were within one group?
6 A. There were three types of uniforms. There were the ones worn by
7 Arkan's men, which were black, and some of them may have had camouflage
8 uniforms as well, although I don't know what -- how many of them there
9 were in percentages. Therefore, there were Arkan's men wearing black
10 uniforms with the insignia including the tiger, and the Territorial
11 Defence who wore those old olive-drab uniforms. And there were those who
12 wore uniforms of darker green and they were members of the Yugoslav
13 Peoples' Army. These uniforms were slightly different in the shade of the
14 green that was a bit darker.
15 Q. Mr. Omeragic, the still from the meeting in the municipal hall is
16 still displayed on your screen. Can you look at the soldiers in that
17 still which is the still from Exhibit P589 and tell me whether you saw men
18 dressed in the uniforms depicted in that still?
19 A. I can't see this. Those are not the same uniforms. The uniforms
20 I saw were pure black. In fact, no, the only uniform of that kind that I
21 remember is one that I saw on the man who was standing at the entrance to
22 the building of Radio Bijeljina. That was the only camouflage uniform I
23 remember seeing. Maybe I have seen others, but I don't remember them.
24 Q. At the time that Arkan dismissed you from the municipal hall, do
25 you recall what type of uniform he was wearing? And obviously we can --
1 A. That's this camouflage uniform. Sorry, that's the uniform on the
2 man who turned me away. But I saw him later in a black uniform. I don't
3 know when he had time to change but I also saw him in a black uniform,
4 unlike this one, as we were returning from our visit to the hospital and
5 from our door-to-door visits. I don't know really when they had time to
7 Q. So Mr. Omeragic, just so that the Court is clear on this we've
8 seen the video which depicts Arkan and the uniform he was wearing, and I'm
9 asking you not to inform the Court what you saw in the video. But I'm
10 asking you just to tell the Court about these events that took place in
11 1992, what you remember as being the uniform that Arkan was wearing,
12 whether you remember it as being the uniform you've seen on the video or,
13 alternatively, whether you remember it in a different way.
14 A. What sticks in my mind is that he was in a black uniform as I was
15 following him two or three metres away. That's what I remember from that
16 day. Whether they changed in the meantime, when and where, I have no
18 Q. Referring again to this photo which I see is the one you have on
19 your left side and that has the number 08 in the top right-hand corner,
20 the persons that appear to be victims are dressed in civilian clothes. Is
21 this depiction consistent with information you received as to events that
22 had taken place in Bijeljina?
23 A. It is consistent. All the information I received was information
24 about people who had been killed, including some women.
25 Q. After the events outside -- and I've finished with that photograph
1 exhibit and I'll now move on to the tour of the town.
2 After the events outside the municipal hall, did you tour the town
3 of Bijeljina and who -- and if so, who did you tour the town in the
4 company of?
5 A. This delegation included Mrs. Plavsic, Mr. Fikret Abdic, and
6 Arkan. At the time, Arkan led the delegation. We went down a lane
7 passing by a mosque, and we were going to the hospital to see wounded
8 people, casualties, to visit them.
9 I know that after a while, passing by some trees, we entered the
10 hospital, and the delegation went into a ward. I couldn't see how large
11 this ward was but I stopped at the door because there was a crowd already
12 inside, then they moved to another ward, and in this way, they visited a
13 couple of wards. Everybody would rush in following them, so I always
14 somehow stayed behind. I wasn't able to come in.
15 There was a young girl lying on one bed with a bandaged chest. I
16 know where she was wounded, perhaps in the back. I said, "What happened
17 you?" She was trying to say something, and I was trying to get her to
18 relax, to talk to me. And she didn't seem able to say anything. I said,
19 "Are you all right?" And she just mumbled something like, "I was
21 I turned sideways just in time to see a uniformed man holding a
22 gun and he seemed to be in complete control, these Arkan -- these men were
23 in complete control of the situation. It was like the girl was looking at
24 him and didn't dare say anything.
25 Then we went into the building next to the hospital. Arkan asked,
1 "This old lady who was killed, is she here?" We went into this apartment
2 and I was told that some elderly woman, Mirjana Ilic, was killed there by
3 a stray bullet. So we saw that scene. Again, men in black uniforms moved
4 around. In this room, there was a huge coffin, the largest coffin I've
5 ever seen. There were these men --
6 THE INTERPRETER: Interpreter's correction: Not black uniforms
7 but black suits. Black suits that are usually worn when somebody dies.
8 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] There was a sign Gruhinic [phoen], a
9 name plate, on the next door. And as we were knocking on that Gruhinic
10 door, a young man ran out of the apartment next door, 27, 30 years old
11 maybe, carrying a baby in his arms. And he said, very upset, "Look what's
12 happening to us." He turned then to Fikret Abdic and said, "Just let it
13 be peace."
14 I asked the young man, "What's your name?" He said Mirza. And
15 then he turned again to Fikret Abdic and said, "Let there be Serbia. Let
16 there be anything. Just let there be peace so that my children can live."
17 After that, we turned back towards the municipal hall. And at one
18 point, Abdic asked to go into the mosque, the mosque that was in the
19 park. Arkan said, "No problem."
20 Q. We've previously dealt with the issue of the mosque. If you could
21 just continue on describing the events as you moved back towards the
22 municipal hall, and also I would just like to remind you that we've also
23 described the meeting with the journalist Vlado Mrkic. So if you could
24 describe to the Court what occurred on the way back to the municipal hall
25 and whether you spoke to any other people.
1 A. Between the hospital and the door-to-door visits, an elderly man,
2 grey-haired, I believe he was completely toothless, approached us. His
3 teeth were missing simply from old age. I don't think it was anything
4 else. Anyway, this old man started talking about massacres, executions,
5 people who were killed. He mentioned some specific people, I believe he
6 mentioned an Albanian butcher, Sabanovic, then he mentioned some Dzevad
7 Osmanovic who was also killed. The main thing he said was that they
8 didn't spare any wounded people. They took no prisoners.
9 And he seemed to trust me and started walking along with me for
10 another 20 or 30 metres. And in that short interval of time, he managed
11 to say a lot and to mention a lot of names that I tried to note down, the
12 names of people who were killed.
13 Sometime later, there was an exchange of fire, some shooting.
14 Mr. Abdic and Mrs. Plavsic hid behind some garages, found shelter
15 somewhere, and we were told that there was a sniper on top of the mosque.
16 A couple of minutes later, I heard somebody radioing to Arkan that the
17 sniper had been eliminated.
18 Q. Mr. Omeragic, can I take you back to the hospital. Apart from
19 your observation of the wounded girl, were you informed by Mr. Abdic or
20 anybody else of any other wounded people that were in the hospital?
21 A. I really can't remember that. I really can't remember talking to
22 Mr. Abdic about that.
23 Q. Were you informed by anyone else as to whether or not anyone had
24 been wounded either by gunshot or other means and whether they were in the
1 A. I don't remember. I really can't recall.
2 Q. Did you speak to any doctors whilst you were at the hospital?
3 A. This doctor was a plump man. He was yelling at people around,
4 trying to usher the delegation into wards and at one point, I asked him,
5 "Are there any wounded people to whom I could talk to, ask them how they
6 were wounded?" He just gave me a short look, didn't say anything, and
7 left. I really can't understand what it was all about, but I couldn't
8 find out anything from him.
9 Q. Did you, at any stage, visit Radio Bijeljina and, if so, what
10 occurred upon that visit?
11 A. Just after the visit to the hospital and the door-to-door visit
12 and the arguing, we called on the Radio Bijeljina office. It had been
13 announced that Fikret Abdic would be a guest in a live radio programme,
14 talking to citizens. So Abdic and the others went upstairs and I didn't
15 even try to go upstairs because I had learned my lesson by that time; I
16 knew they wouldn't let me in. There was a guard standing at the door, a
17 soldier. That soldier had a camouflage uniform on, for instance.
18 There was a small portable radio by the soldier. I took that
19 little radio and went upstairs to an empty room and sat down. There was a
20 very big window in the partition wall, through which you could see the
21 people inside the studio, and I could see that Mr. Fikret Abdic was
22 talking to people on the telephone, but on the radio next to me all I
23 could hear was music. I had worked in a radio station for a while in my
24 career and I know that this music was supposed to be a background to fill
25 in spaces between Mr. Abdic's talks with the citizenry, but instead of
1 being a background, this music was all we could hear.
2 Before that, Abdic, whenever I tried to tell him something, didn't
3 really trust me. So I used this occasion to take this radio and to show
4 it to Mr. Abdic's escort and to tell him, "Look, Mr. Abdic is talking to
5 somebody on the phone now in a live radio programme, and you can't hear it
6 on the radio." I returned the little portable radio to the owner after
7 that, and that's all there was at the radio station.
8 There was also a speech that Mr. Abdic was supposed to make which
9 never took place. Some people later told me that they heard Mr. Abdic
10 speak in the radio in Bijeljina, but I really can't understand what they
11 heard in a way.
12 MR. MARGETTS: Your Honour, I'd like to present the next exhibit
13 to the witness and just to orient the witness to the examination.
14 Q. I'd just like to remind you, Mr. Omeragic, that earlier in the
15 course of your evidence we dealt a little bit out of chronological order,
16 but we have dealt with the return to the municipal hall at the end of the
17 tour and the conversations that you overheard between the various members
18 of the delegation and also dealt with the farewell kiss between Arkan and
19 Plavsic. And you've made observations to the Court, in particular in
20 response to questions by His Honour Judge Hanoteau as to the relationship
21 between various members or various persons present.
22 In regard to this exhibit, I'd like to turn your attention to the
23 fourth paragraph, and that's the first few sentences of the fourth
24 paragraph. And just for certainty I'll read those into the record and
25 they read as follows. This document is a daily operative report which is
1 purportedly authored by General Savo Jankovic and dated 4 April 1992.
2 And the fourth paragraph reads as follows: "The situation in the
3 territory is extremely complex. The town of Bijeljina is controlled by
4 the SDS and Arkan's men who do not even allow our anti-tank unit to reach
5 certain positions in the town. There are about 3.000 refugees in the
6 barracks and the cooperative hall area in Patkovaca. A team from the BH
7 Presidency led by Fikret Abdic, Biljana Plavsic, the Chief of Staff of the
8 2nd Military District, and the commander of the 17th Corps has been in the
9 Bijeljina barracks since 1200 hours."
10 Mr. Omeragic, is this portion of the report consistent with your
11 observations of which groups were controlling Bijeljina?
12 MS. LOUKAS: Well, Your Honour, I'd object to that question in
13 terms of any inferences to be made from the evidence that the witness
14 gives about who is controlling or not controlling, that's actually a
15 matter for the Trial Chamber. To ask a question in relation to a document
16 that the witness has never seen is consistent with your observations may,
17 in some circumstances, be acceptable but not in circumstances where these
18 fundamental issues of control are being looked at and the Trial Chamber is
19 best served by forming its own conclusions from the available evidence
20 rather than consistency or otherwise from the witnesses.
21 JUDGE ORIE: Mr. Margetts. I had -- just to shortcut matters, I
22 had a few questions on it but I thought I'd wait in order not to interrupt
23 you. On -- but I had some questions especially on that part of the
24 testimony. I'll put it to the witness and then we'll see what's still
1 Mr. Omeragic, I'd like to put a few questions to you for further
2 clarifications in respect of the crowd you described as being at the
3 barracks. Could you tell us what was -- could you specify a sex of those
4 who were in this crowd?
5 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Your Honour, those were mainly
6 middle-aged or elderly women, children, and elderly men. There were no
7 grown men, at least not that I could see. There were younger and slightly
8 older women, children, and elderly men.
9 JUDGE ORIE: That answered my second question which was about age.
10 Third question: Did you observe anything that made it possible to
11 you to identify the -- their ethnicity?
12 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] No, I really couldn't.
13 JUDGE ORIE: So it could have been Serbs, Croats, Muslims,
15 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] They could have been.
16 JUDGE ORIE: Then did you gain an impression on whether they were
17 free in their movements? Could they leave? Could they ...
18 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Sorry, just one thing about
19 ethnicity. I heard General Jankovic say, "We have a mixed group here,"
20 whereas in another barracks in Patkovaca there were only Muslims,
21 Bosniaks, and here we have Muslims and Serbs together. So General
22 Jankovic explained at the time who the group consisted of. All I could
23 see with my own eyes were frightened people. After all their terror, they
24 fled to the barracks.
25 JUDGE ORIE: They fled there. So is this an answer to my question
1 whether they were free to go. They were not guarded in any way?
2 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Well, Your Honour, it's true there
3 were people around who were armed, but they were not hostile in any way.
4 Their barrels were pointed to the ground. They did not interfere in any
5 way with the people. There could have been a total of 10 or 15 men from
6 the JNA, soldiers, and I didn't think that they were keeping these people
7 prisoners, on the contrary, they seemed to be protecting them. General
8 Jankovic said also that they had given them shelter, fed them, and from
9 all I could see, these people had fled to the barracks to find protection.
10 JUDGE ORIE: Now, you testified that Fikret Abdic was saying that
11 he wanted to meet with the refugees. I did not fully understand your
12 testimony. I did understand that Fikret Abdic was with you. Did he
13 consider this crowd not to be refugees or would they expect refugees to be
14 somewhere else? It was not fully clear to me.
15 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Your Honour, those people fled their
16 homes and they went to the barracks, which was perhaps 8 or 10 kilometres
17 away. In my eyes, and I believe in Mr. Abdic's eyes, they were refugees
18 because they fled their homes. I hope I understood your question
19 correctly. If you were asking me about those refugees, in our language
20 that means only one thing.
21 JUDGE ORIE: So when Mr. Abdic said, "I want to see the refugees,"
22 he was then confronted with what you considered to be and what he might
23 have considered to be the refugees?
24 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Yes.
25 JUDGE ORIE: Yes.
1 Mr. Margetts, please proceed and let's see if there is any need
2 for your last question, which was opposed by Ms. Loukas.
3 MR. MARGETTS: Thank you, Your Honour. I don't see the need to
4 pursue that last question, so I withdraw it. That said, of course, we are
5 presenting that document as an exhibit, which is usefully considered in
6 the context of this witness's evidence.
7 Q. Mr. Omeragic, did you travel to Tuzla --
8 JUDGE ORIE: Before we continue, Madam Registrar, could you ...
9 THE REGISTRAR: This will be Prosecution Exhibit P590.
10 JUDGE ORIE: Please proceed, Mr. Margetts.
11 MR. MARGETTS: Thank you, Your Honour.
12 Q. Mr. Omeragic, following your visit to Bijeljina, did you travel --
13 actually I withdraw that question.
14 At the start of your description of the tour of the town, you
15 mentioned Fikret Abdic, Biljana Plavsic, and Arkan were in the group. Did
16 you remain in their company for the duration of the tour of the town,
17 including your visit to the hospital and the apartments?
18 A. I was with them at the time when they went to the hospital, when
19 they went on door-to-door visits. After that, Mr. Abdic went to Radio
20 Bijeljina -- Semberija Majevica is another name for that radio station --
21 and after that, we went to the municipal hall or the Crisis Staff. It's
22 the same building.
23 Several things happened during that time. Outside the municipal
24 hall, General Prascevic approached Arkan like a subordinate, Mrs. Plavsic
25 kissed Arkan, then she suggested that he sort of hand over the control to
1 the army because the town had been liberated.
2 Q. Yes, Mr. Omeragic, I believe we've dealt with those matters in
3 your evidence. I just have one very specific question to follow-up on
4 what you've previously informed the Trial Chamber, and it may already be
5 implicit in your evidence if not entirely expressed, and that is, you
6 referred to accompanying Abdic, Plavsic, and Arkan on the visits to
7 various sites. As you moved between those sites and the various people
8 spoke to you as you've described to the Court, were Abdic, Plavsic, and
9 Arkan in your company at that time?
10 A. As these several things were going on outside the municipal hall,
11 a lady showed up. She was just wearing trousers, track trousers, I
12 believe --
13 Q. My apologies, I'm not dealing with the appearance of the lady or
14 your presence outside the municipal hall. What I'm attempting to address
15 with you is when you walked with the delegation between the municipal
16 hall, the hospital, the apartment blocks and then back to the municipal
17 hall, were you in the company of the delegation at that time?
18 JUDGE ORIE: Before you answer the question; Ms. Loukas.
19 MS. LOUKAS: Yes, Thank you, Your Honour.
20 This is the sort of generalised question that can't be answered in
21 this way whilst the witness is in -- in my submission, whilst the witness
22 is being taken through his evidence, sequentially, it's appropriate to ask
23 who's there, who's not there, but to attempt to elicit a sort of cover-all
24 in relation to presence in this way, in this leading fashion is, in my
25 submission, not appropriate.
1 JUDGE ORIE: Yes, the objection is overruled. The witness may
2 answer the question.
3 Perhaps, Mr. Margetts, you get the witness on the right track
4 again, of course not even pushing any further, but ...
5 MR. MARGETTS: Yes, Your Honour, I might be able to repeat the
7 Q. Mr. Omeragic, His Honour has ruled that you may answer the
8 question I put to you, which was this, and that is that: As you moved
9 between the sites and the various people spoke to you, were Abdic,
10 Plavsic, and Arkan in your company at that time?
11 A. I was following them closely at a distance of about one metre, one
12 metre and a half, and I was within earshot. I heard them talk about all
13 manner of things. For instance -- or rather, I can't remember the details
14 now, but from time to time, Arkan would say something about how he went to
15 fight here and there and waged his battles, and then once Ms. Plavsic said
16 in front of Mr. Abdic that Arkan's men had saved Serbs from becoming
17 victims of crimes.
18 I expected Abdic to react to this because, to say the least, the
19 whole situation was very unclear and hazy. There was another peculiar
20 thing that Arkan said. He asked Abdic whether he had ever been to
21 Vukovar. Abdic replied that he hadn't. And then Arkan said, "This was
22 something unforgettable for me." And this statement of his told me plenty
23 about what his view of it all was. To him, wrecked and ruined houses were
24 an unforgettable sight.
25 Q. Mr. Omeragic, after you left Bijeljina, you went to Tuzla and you
1 had a meeting at the Tuzla JNA headquarters. Could you describe to the
2 Trial Chamber who was present at that meeting and the conversations that
3 took place at that meeting.
4 A. We entered the headquarters of the 2nd Military District, there
5 was General Jankovic and I believe General Prascevic. There was also
6 Colonel Dubajic was who was reportedly commander of the barracks there,
7 and a number of other lower-ranking officers up to the rank of majors.
8 As we entered the compound and the building there, there was
9 Ms. Plavsic and Mr. Abdic who sat in the first row, or rather, this was a
10 rectangular table and that's how the seats were placed. There were also
11 chairs placed along the walls. I sat in that back row to the right, and
12 next to me there were JNA officers seated. I couldn't see all those
13 seated at the table, but I could see General Jankovic and I believe at the
14 table across from me, General Jankovic was seated.
15 At one point, Ms. Plavsic started saying what she had previously
16 been saying before Abdic, that the -- that Arkan's men had saved Serbs
17 from their certain death because Muslims were preparing to commit a
18 massacre on the day of Bajram. I reacted and said that this was not true.
19 I told her, "Madam Plavsic, you should have gone there to see what was
20 really happening there." I was presenting my opinion and said that the
21 situation was the exact opposite of what she was saying.
22 An altercation ensued, an exchange of exclamations, some of the
23 officers there were saying something about the Second World War. I then
24 said that they keep talking about World War II. There was an official
25 report produced by Boguljub Kocevic for the UN immediately after World War
1 II, and I said that according to that report, Jews were the greatest
2 victim because 36 per cent of them perished, and they were followed by
3 Bosnian Muslims of whom some 12 per cent perished and only then others
5 As I stated this, Ms. Plavsic, who seemed to be upset and
6 disappointed, said, "Well, whose bones have we just been exhuming?" I
7 told her, "Your people were also victims but Mr. Boguljub Kocevic who
8 produced this official report for the United Nations which can still be
9 found in the files there, clearly indicates how many victims there were
10 among each of the ethnicities." Mr. Dubajic - I believe it was him
11 because I recognised his voice - pointed with his finger, he motioned a
12 small circle, and said, "Are you referring to a small area within
13 Yugoslavia?" And I said, "No, I'm referring to all of Yugoslav
15 At that point, Mr. Abdic turned livid in the face and told me to
16 shut up. I believe he was frightened by my remarks. Some other JNA
17 officer made a joke or something, the meeting then ended, and as we went
18 out, I looked over my shoulder and saw officers scurrying behind.
19 Q. Mr. Omeragic, can I stop you there. In terms of the meeting, did
20 General Jankovic make any comments during the course of the meeting?
21 A. That seems to me to be the most important point of the whole
22 meeting. I was perhaps too daring in my remarks, and I said, "You should
23 observe officers' honour and be sincere and say who it was that was the
24 victim of fighting in Bijeljina, because it was Muslims who suffered
25 most." I looked at General Jankovic and was shocked at hearing him say
1 the following: "Yes, yes, Muslims. Muslims." He repeated "Muslims"
2 twice. And I said, "Yes, Muslims."
3 I was amazed at the fact that he admitted to what was actually
4 true, that it was Muslims who were the victims of that situation, of that
5 incident. And as I was dumbfounded by his admission, I went out to light
6 a cigarette and then was joined by General Jankovic who approached me,
7 outstretched his hand and clasped it then, shook my hand, and I was
8 actually surprised at the strength of his fist. He told me, "You should
9 not be that blunt, young man. That's for your own sake. You should take
10 care of yourself because perhaps tonight you will have to enter into a war
11 and God knows where that will lead us."
12 My hand hurt from the firmness of his handshake. As the general
13 was telling me this, I turned to his right where there was Ms. Plavsic.
14 She was standing on the stairs, perhaps some 50 or 60 centimetres above
15 us, at a distance of perhaps 1 or 2 metres on my left and on the general's
16 right side, and she was looking straight at us. Her look showed an
17 incredible amazement at what she had just seen; me and the general shaking
19 When the general saw me looking at Ms. Plavsic, he yanked his hand
20 away and that's where we parted.
21 JUDGE ORIE: Mr. Omeragic, may I ask you, the question put to you
22 was what comments Mr. Jankovic gave. We are under some time restraint.
23 Although I do understand that you would like to tell us everything that
24 what happened, would you please focus especially on the question.
25 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] I apologise.
1 JUDGE ORIE: If we need further details, Mr. Margetts will
2 certainly ask them.
3 Please proceed, Mr. Margetts.
4 MR. MARGETTS: Thank you, Your Honour.
5 Q. Thank you, Mr. Omeragic, for that description.
6 MR. MARGETTS: Your Honour, I'd like to present the final video
7 clip to the witness.
8 JUDGE ORIE: Yes, please do so.
9 THE REGISTRAR: The video will be Prosecution Exhibit P591 and the
10 transcript will be P591A.
11 [Videotape played]
12 THE INTERPRETER: [Voiceover] "We asked for the former member of
13 the Presidency of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Dr. Biljana Plavsic, to comment
14 on the statement by Alija Izetbegovic. Our colleague established a
15 telephone link with Sarajevo just before the news bulletin started. This
16 is their conversation. Plavsic: He was not there. Voice of reporter:
17 Yes? Plavsic: Neither was I and I can't say anything but I must take
18 this opportunity to mention a similar statement of his in connection with
19 Bijeljina when on the eve of Bajram he spoke about the genocide against
20 the Muslim people being perpetrated in Bijeljina. Voice of reporter:
21 Yes? Plavsic: Mr. Fikret Abdic and I went to Bijeljina and saw that
22 there was no question of any genocide committed against the Muslim people.
23 In Bijeljina we saw snipers here and there. There were around 1.500
24 Kalashnikovs manufactured in Croatia which had been distributed there with
25 which extremist Muslims, and the majority were Albanian, were supposed to
12 Blank page inserted to ensure pagination corresponds between the French and
13 English transcripts.
1 carry out a pogrom of the Serbian population that night in Bijeljina.
2 Bijeljina saved itself with an excellent organisation and preparations,
3 and this is what Mr. Fikret Abdic and I had occasion to see. He focused
4 even more attention so that he could convey the state of affairs to the
5 Presidency and the republic as it was, and he had an opportunity to see
6 that there were no incidents in which residents were killed. Those who
7 died were killed by snipers who shot them. They were everywhere, at all
8 elevated places in Bijeljina. For example, I don't know how many mosques
9 Bijeljina has, but I tell you that they were in every mosque, on all
10 high-rise buildings, and so forth. They had surrounded Bijeljina and were
11 supposed to massacre the Serbian population.
12 When we returned to Sarajevo and described the situation and I
13 received a fax with a text on the entire situation, which was signed by
14 more than 80 Muslims, refuting Izetbegovic's assertion, Izetbegovic did
15 not say a thing. You know, he is a man who says something irresponsible
16 and does not refer to that back any more. It was very important to get
17 this across in order to raise the hatred of Serbs in Sarajevo to a boiling
18 point. There, that was the objective of Izetbegovic's claim, and when we
19 came, we were not given the chance to participate and speak in some
20 broadcasts. Mr. Abdic was outraged over the fact that some of
21 his statements were cut. He was not aware that Sarajevo television was
22 already in the hands of Alija Izetbegovic."
23 Q. Mr. Omeragic, is what you observed on your visit to Bijeljina
24 consistent with Plavsic's version of events as depicted in this video?
25 A. I did not notice any Kalashnikovs except for seeing now the green
1 Kalashnikov that was mentioned, but I hadn't seen any at the time. I did
2 not see any particular signs of fighting or 1.500 extremists. I really
3 saw no signs of fighting.
4 As for the presence of the snipers, there was this one incident
5 involving the mosque that I've already told you about. I was just told
6 that there was a sniper on top of the mosque, but that was all. I don't
7 know anything about the rest.
8 MR. MARGETTS: Thank you, Mr. Omeragic, and thank you, Your
9 Honour. That concludes the questions from the Prosecution.
10 JUDGE ORIE: Judge Hanoteau would like to put a question to you
11 before you will be cross-examined by Ms. Loukas.
12 JUDGE HANOTEAU: [Interpretation] I would like to come back to
13 something now, something you said regarding the visit to Bosanski Brod.
14 You said that while you were in the hall -- in the municipal hall, there
15 was some shelling and you heard shooting.
16 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Yes, there was shelling and this
17 involved Derventa. That was in Derventa.
18 JUDGE HANOTEAU: [Interpretation] Yes, in Derventa. You said that
19 Abdic and Mrs. Plavsic both used their phones to phone their friends in
20 order to put an end to this shelling. Is that true?
21 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Yes, that's what they did. In that
22 particular case, Ms. Plavsic called the officers at the barracks from
23 where shells were being fired upon the town that had already been almost
24 razed to the ground at the point.
25 Mr. Abdic, on his part, called someone from the Crisis Staff of
1 the HVO, Croatian Defence Council, that is to say, the Croat forces. The
2 purposes of their phone calls were to make sure that the shelling stopped.
3 In fact, it did stop, but then 10 minutes later, it was resumed as if
4 nothing had transpired in the meantime.
5 JUDGE HANOTEAU: [Interpretation] And then you said in your
6 testimony, [In English] "And I could see how powerful they were and what
7 they could do about bringing about peace."
8 [Interpretation] That's what you said before this Chamber. I'd
9 like you to comment on that sentence. Could you be a little bit more
11 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] It was meant ironically. They have
12 shown what their authority was. It lasted for 10 minutes and that was
14 JUDGE HANOTEAU: [Interpretation] Yes, that's how I had understood
15 it. Mrs. Plavsic and Mr. Abdic felt that they were there on some kind of
16 mediation mission. Then shelling began, and they were very surprised
17 because it's interfering with their mission. So they managed to get the
18 shelling to stop and yet the shelling begins again 10 minutes later.
19 So what you meant is that in truth, neither Mrs. Plavsic nor
20 Mr. Abdic had any real authority or power over the troops, those who had
21 begun the shelling. Is that what you meant?
22 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Yes.
23 JUDGE HANOTEAU: [Interpretation] Thank you, Witness.
24 JUDGE ORIE: We'll have a break now for 20 minutes.
25 Mr. Usher, could you perhaps first escort the witness out of the
1 courtroom because I've got one minor point.
2 [The witness stands down]
3 JUDGE ORIE: First of all in relation, Mr. Hannis, to
4 Mr. Bjelobrk, may I take it that an e-mail that was sent by the
5 Prosecution to the Defence of which the legal staff of this Chamber
6 received a copy indicates that you leave it in the hands of the Chamber
7 whether or not Mr. Bjelobrk will be ordered -- will be recalled for
8 further cross-examination although you made some comments.
9 MR. HANNIS: That's correct, Your Honour.
10 JUDGE ORIE: That's clear. Unless you would like to add anything.
11 MR. HANNIS: No, Your Honour. Nothing to add.
12 JUDGE ORIE: Then Mr. Margetts, I think that Madam Registrar is
13 desperately trying to get the right description for some of your exhibits
14 because not three of them, of course not all the three the same say that
15 this is a clip from an interview with Arkan. Neither of the three
16 contains an interview with Arkan, but I think Madam Registrar will find
17 her way through that to see what it really shows. It might be that the
18 overall omission was including a video of Arkan but at least a portion
19 shown do not.
20 MR. MARGETTS: Your Honour, would you like me to draft an
21 appropriate description?
22 JUDGE ORIE: I don't know how far Madam Registrar has got, but I
23 think she would highly appreciate that at least that you offer to do so.
24 We'll have a break until a quarter to 1.00.
25 --- Recess taken at 12.27 p.m.
1 --- On resuming at 12.54 p.m.
2 [The witness entered court]
3 JUDGE ORIE: Mr. Omeragic, you will now be cross-examined by
4 Ms. Loukas, counsel for the Defence.
5 MS. LOUKAS: Thank you, Your Honour.
6 Cross-examined by Ms. Loukas:
7 Q. Good afternoon, Mr. Omeragic.
8 Now, Mr. Omeragic, just in relation to the evidence that you've
9 given about the people in the barracks, the situation there is, of course,
10 that as far as you were aware, the people in the barracks there were a
11 mixed group; correct? And of course including Serbs, Croats, and Muslims;
13 Oh, I see. Your microphones are not on, Witness.
14 A. Yes.
15 Q. Now, just in relation to your last two answers, I think --
16 MS. LOUKAS: I'll just reconfirm them for the record, Your
17 Honours, in view of the fact that there was no transcription.
18 JUDGE ORIE: Yes, there was no transcription after the first. But
19 I think as a matter of fact that the answers given by the witness as it
20 appears on the transcript now covers what the witness said, that he two
21 times confirmed what you said, two times after you used the word
23 MS. LOUKAS: Yes, that's correct, Your Honour, yes. After the
24 first time I said correct, he said yes.
25 JUDGE ORIE: And he again said yes.
1 MS. LOUKAS: He again said yes, that's already recorded on the
2 transcript. For the sake of the accuracy of the transcript, I think
3 that's covered.
4 Q. Now, and these people had of course come to the JNA barracks to
5 seek shelter; correct?
6 A. Yes.
7 Q. And as far as you were concerned, Arkan and his units were
8 establishing their own order in Bijeljina and the people there were
9 seeking protection from the regular army; correct?
10 A. Yes.
11 Q. Now, just in relation to events in the municipality prior to your
12 arrival there on the 4th of April, and just going back to the evidence you
13 gave when you were giving the evidence in the case against Mr. Milosevic,
14 and that, the benefit for the Court and the Prosecution, is at
15 page 27.697.
16 You were asked some questions there about -- let's see: "Did you
17 know that previously the Muslims had captured the town and were
18 distributing weapons in the premises of the SDA and it was Alija Saracevic
19 who was distributing those weapons?"
20 And your answer was: "No, I know nothing about that."
21 The next question was: "And do you know that they had set up
22 sniper nests on the water tower and the Zitopromet Silo?"
23 And your answer was: "No, I know nothing about that."
24 You were then asked this question: "Didn't you inform yourself as
25 to how these events had taken place in Bijeljina?"
1 And your answer was: "You saw that I went to Bijeljina at the
2 last moment, and I agreed to go to Bijeljina because I heard that there
3 was a problem over there which I needed to explain, and I set off without
4 any prior knowledge about these things that you are referring to."
5 So I take it from your questions and answers there, Mr. Omeragic,
6 that you're not in a position to give the Court any insight as to what was
7 happening in Bijeljina prior to your arrival there; correct?
8 A. Correct.
9 JUDGE ORIE: Ms. Loukas, may I just ask for one point of
10 clarification, but it might by my incomplete understanding of the English
12 If you're seeking protection from, does that mean that you want to
13 be protected against or that you are seeking to be protected by?
14 MS. LOUKAS: Yes, Your Honour, I take that point. In fact, I was
15 using the words actually from the Milosevic transcript, and I can perhaps
16 clarify that. The words are, in fact, taken from 27700 and I can clarify
17 it with the witness quite --
18 JUDGE ORIE: I haven't got that. The only think I know is that
19 the witness seemed to be quite clear in this respect in
20 examination-in-chief, and I noticed that the first three questions, as a
21 matter of fact, didn't do anything else than to seek confirmation of what
22 the witness testified already in chief.
23 MS. LOUKAS: Indeed.
24 JUDGE ORIE: So therefore, it's -- that's in evidence. I mean, if
25 you want to mark things, we have discussed this before, after the third
1 question, of course we are asking ourselves whether we get a repetition of
2 what has been said in chief, and especially if you then move to another
3 subject without giving any follow-up to that, then it's -- well, you have
4 emphasised the importance of a certain portion. We don't need the witness
5 for that, you can find other ways, as I said before, to draw our attention
6 to -- I mean, it's quite clear there was a mixed group, and they are
7 seeking -- at least this is how I understood it but I don't know what your
8 question was about, but I understood the testimony of the witness in chief
9 to be quite clearly that regular forces were surrounding them and they
10 were protecting them.
11 MS. LOUKAS: Indeed, Your Honour.
12 JUDGE ORIE: Yes. So there's --
13 MS. LOUKAS: And it was a mixed group of Serbs, Muslims, and
14 Croats, and they were seeking protection with the regular army.
15 JUDGE ORIE: Yes. All perfectly clear. No need --
16 MS. LOUKAS: With and from the regular army.
17 JUDGE ORIE: I beg your pardon?
18 MS. LOUKAS: With and from in the sense of the regular army was
19 giving them protection.
20 JUDGE ORIE: Protecting against those who were establishing their
21 own order.
22 MS. LOUKAS: Indeed.
23 JUDGE ORIE: Yes. Well there's nothing new --
24 MS. LOUKAS: I don't think there's any question about those
25 matters. I think we're all in agreement in the courtroom.
1 JUDGE ORIE: Yes. The question then is what's the need to have
2 this all repeated.
3 Please proceed.
4 MR. MARGETTS: Your Honour, since there has been an interruption,
5 it's a matter which I didn't wish to interrupt on, but having an
6 opportunity to really look at the transcript properly, it probably is
7 something that I should have interrupted.
8 The quotations from the Milosevic transcript deal with very
9 specific events. The question that has been then posed to the witness is
10 a more general question as to whether he has any insight into what
11 happened in Bijeljina.
12 JUDGE ORIE: Yes, well, let's be very brief.
13 This Chamber has not received the Milosevic transcript, so we are
14 totally unaware of it. It makes no sense to refer to that where the
15 Chamber is not presented with it. This witness is produced as a viva voce
16 witness and we received his earlier statement, but not as far as I
17 remember any transcript in any other case.
18 So don't expect any possibility for us to refer or to understand
19 things better on the basis of the Milosevic transcript.
20 MR. MARGETTS: Yes, Your Honour. But what you I am seeking is if
21 Your Honour may be able to obtain clarification from Ms. Loukas as to when
22 she says that the witness doesn't have insight into events, she was only
23 referring to those events which she had quoted to the witness and not any
24 other events in Bijeljina. Because I would understand from the way the
25 question was put that was what was intended and that would have been what
1 the witness intended in his response.
2 MS. LOUKAS: Well, Your Honour, I don't think that Mr. Margetts
3 can speak for what the witness intended in his response. I made two
4 points. I referred the witness to his evidence in Milosevic and if I can
5 just go to the portion of the transcript where I ask the question.
6 MR. MARGETTS: That's page 65, lines 25, to page 66 line 2. And
7 my point is that that question, I would say from -- the preamble to that
8 question, should be constrained to the events which constitute the
10 MS. LOUKAS: Well, Your Honour, my question was very clear. I
11 took the witness through what he had said in Milosevic then -- Your
12 Honour, that was of course a preamble, appropriately so, and in
13 cross-examination, I am entitled to ask the broader question and the
14 witness has answered the broader question. That is my submission, Your
16 MR. MARGETTS: Well, Your Honour, then I would seek clarification,
17 either you may give me an opportunity to clarify it in re-examination, or
18 Your Honour may wish to clarify it at this moment because it's now --
19 JUDGE ORIE: You will get an opportunity to clarify in
21 Please proceed, Ms. Loukas.
22 MS. LOUKAS: Yes. Thank you, Your Honour.
23 Q. Now, we're at the point where prior to that interruption -- let me
24 just check the point in the transcript.
25 JUDGE ORIE: Your question was about the insight as to what was
1 happening in Bijeljina prior to your arrival there, and then the witness
2 said "correct." Page 66, line 5, and then I interrupted.
3 MS. LOUKAS: Yes, indeed. Thank you, Your Honour.
4 Q. So, Mr. Omeragic, I asked you this question: I take it from your
5 questions and answers there, Mr. Omeragic, that you're not in a position
6 to give the Court any insight to what was happening in Bijeljina prior to
7 your appearance there; correct? And your answer was "Correct." So we're
8 up to that point.
9 Now, just in relation to that, clearly, you cannot offer the Court
10 any direct knowledge of what occurred prior to your appearance there;
12 A. I don't know.
13 Q. And your evidence is -- in relation to events that might have
14 occurred prior to your arrival there is obviously something that you can
15 only glean from conversations with people in the nature of hearsay;
17 A. Of course, I wasn't there.
18 Q. Indeed.
19 MS. LOUKAS: I hope we've clarified the point sufficiently for
20 Mr. Margetts's purposes.
21 MR. MARGETTS: Your Honour, if I may respond to that proposition
22 from my learned friend. Insofar as --
23 JUDGE ORIE: If it's really necessary to go through it again -- or
24 I gave you an opportunity to further clarify. So for Ms. Loukas there was
25 no need to ask whether it was sufficiently clarified because if you would
1 consider it was not, then you have an opportunity to do so later. And I
2 took it that Ms. Loukas was moving to her next subject.
3 MS. LOUKAS: Indeed I am, Your Honour, but --
4 JUDGE ORIE: Yes. Let's then do that.
5 MS. LOUKAS: I'm just putting a marker there that it's
6 inappropriate for Mr. Margetts to object during cross-examination to
7 matters that are properly left to re-examination, and the
8 cross-examination is going to take a very long time if we're subject to
9 this sort of thing. That's why my marker was there.
10 JUDGE ORIE: Please proceed. Please proceed, Ms. Loukas.
11 MS. LOUKAS: Thank you, Your Honour.
12 Q. Mr. Omeragic, do you have any awareness of Muslim paramilitary
13 formations in Bijeljina in late March, early April?
14 A. No, I'm not aware of that.
15 Q. How about in late March, early April, a bus station being damaged,
16 any information on that?
17 A. No, I had no such information.
18 Q. Cafe Casina [phoen] belonging to Mirko Blagojevic, and a
19 restaurant Belame [phoen] belonging to Ferad Zekovic [phoen] being
21 A. No.
22 Q. Were you aware of, on the 1st of April, 1992, in Bijeljina for
23 approximately 24 hours an armed battle between armed Muslim groups and
24 members of the Territorial Defence -- the local Territorial Defence?
25 A. No, I'm not aware of that.
1 Q. Just in relation to the -- the name of the General Prascevic that
2 you've mentioned. Are you certain that that's his name? Could there
3 perhaps be a mistake in relation to his name? Could it be Brascevic
4 you're talking about rather than Prascevic? Any information in relation
5 to that?
6 A. He is Prascevic.
7 Q. Were you aware of -- on the 4th of April, people beginning to
8 return to their homes, the people who had been -- some of the people who
9 had been in the barracks, both Serbs and Muslims, beginning to return to
10 their homes?
11 A. No, I was not. I didn't hear anything about it.
12 Q. Now, just in relation to your article, Mr. Omeragic, the
13 information in your article in relation to Mauzer, that's of course wrong
14 in your article, is it not?
15 A. Yes, in my article, I identified a man, as I said before, whom I
16 mentioned earlier in my testimony, the one who threatened to drag me down
17 to the ground floor of the municipal hall when this young man Peda
18 interfered. And later, I identified on the photograph Ljubisa Savic,
19 nicknamed Mauzer, who was some sort of local sheriff of the SDS down
21 Q. Now, just in relation to that, when did you make that
22 identification. You've said "And later identified on the photograph,
23 Savic." When did you make that identification?
24 A. Maybe in 1997 in a copy of Slobodna Bosna newspaper which
25 published the first interview with Ljubisa Savic, Mauzer, I saw the
1 photographs in that article, and I remembered the young man with the
2 bayonet who was hanging about the municipal hall. And it didn't take me
3 long to remember him.
4 Q. Okay. So in that respect, in respect of the identification of
5 Mauzer, you concede that your article was wrong; correct?
6 A. Nothing is wrong with my article; it's just that I mistakenly
7 identified in the article the man whom I later learned to be Ljubisa
8 Savic, Mauzer.
9 Q. Yes. So your article is wrong in that respect, in respect of the
10 identification of the wrong man. You agree with that, don't you?
11 A. Yes, that part, the identification is incorrect; I agree.
12 Q. [Previous translation continues] ...
13 A. Yes.
14 Q. Okay. Now, the other aspect is this in relation to your article:
15 There's a reference in your article to -- this is at page 3 for the
16 benefit of the Prosecution and the Trial Chamber.
17 At page 3, the English version, under your -- that heading, "Get
18 Out!" what's contained there is that, "We sat there drinking raki for two
19 full hours." Now, this aspect of "We sat there drinking raki" you say is
20 not correct; is that right?
21 [French interpretation on English channel]
22 JUDGE ORIE: I now heard some switch. It seems that I do not
23 receive any more the French translation on the English channel.
24 Could you please repeat your question to the witness, Ms. Loukas.
25 MS. LOUKAS: Yes, certainly, Your Honour. I should indicate for
1 the record that I'm referring to the article that's as an Exhibit P584. I
2 will just find my question again.
3 JUDGE ORIE: If you look for it, I'll put the question to the
4 witness again.
5 Ms. Loukas asked you as follows: "Now, the other aspect is this
6 in relation to your article ... there's a reference in your article to --
7 that heading 'Get Out!' what's contained there is that, 'We sat there
8 drinking raki for two full hours.' Now, this aspect of, 'We sat there
9 drinking raki' you say is not correct; is that right?" That was the
11 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] No, that's not right, and if I may
12 be allowed to explain, Your Honour.
13 When I returned to Sarajevo, if I may first of all say that in the
14 corridor outside the room where talks were held from which I was barred, I
15 spent some 35 minutes there, not more. That much is true.
16 On my return to Sarajevo, there was already a war on. I had to
17 run to and fro under sniper fire, I was writing my article, and as I
18 interrupted my writing of the article for a moment, my editor sat down at
19 the desk and checked what I had written up to then, and then together with
20 the lady journalist who worked there in the editorial office there, he
21 said -- "And you were drinking raki for a full two hours." He liked those
22 kinds of jokes. He added these words because he perceived them as a joke.
23 He thought that as I was going to sit back at my desk, I was going
24 to find that funny. However, what happened was that I never even checked
25 whether anything had been added to my text, I just went on writing and
1 this bit remained in the text.
2 How could I have drunk anything for a full two hours when I was
3 only there for 35 minutes? I did not have occasion to review my article
4 after I had written it or else I would have corrected that bit.
5 MS. LOUKAS:
6 Q. The people you've indicated there, your editor, what's his name?
7 A. Senad Avdic.
8 Q. And the lady journalist you've referred to?
9 A. Susanna Jotanovic.
10 Q. So you say your editor inserted, "We were drinking raki for two
11 hours"; is that correct?
12 A. I could in the have written it myself in reference to a place
13 where I spent a mere 35 minutes, that's for sure.
14 Q. Were you drinking raki for 35 minutes?
15 A. I believe a bottle of raki was circulated round. I may have taken
16 a sip, but I do not really -- spirits don't really sit well with me. I
17 can't stand the drink.
18 Q. So your editor apropos of nothing, it's not in your article, says
19 you were sitting around drinking raki for two hours. Is that what you're
20 telling the Court?
21 A. Yes.
22 Q. You're telling the Court that the editor of your newspaper inserts
23 you drinking raki into your article. That's precisely what you're saying,
24 is it?
25 A. I hope I don't have to repeat this. He did this to others as
1 well. He regarded it as some sort of a joke because people would usually
2 notice it, but I did not. He did this to my colleague, Manuel Tomkovic.
3 He'd write a sentence, a line, and then would just leave it there or maybe
4 make a phone call to that effect. However, I was never aware of this joke
5 played on me.
6 Q. Did you read the article after it was printed?
7 A. Yes, I did.
8 Q. And of course your newspaper, like newspapers around the world has
9 provisions for corrections. Did you correct the article?
10 A. No, I didn't. If you wish me to provide an explanation for that,
11 I can. We did not have enough paper to print Slobodna Bosna, and in fact
12 no further issues were published. We were to print the paper only seven
13 or eight months later.
14 Q. Okay. And in relation to Slobodna Bosna, and in particular your
15 article, was there anything else your editor inserted into the article as
16 a joke?
17 A. I don't think so, no.
18 Q. Okay. How about subsequent copies of Slobodna Bosna after it
19 started being printed again? Any more jokes in Slobodna Bosna from your
21 A. I don't know because I no longer worked for Slobodna Bosna. After
22 its printing was resumed, only two or three more issues were published
23 because the conditions made it impossible. As for the selling of the
24 paper, I have to tell you that I myself went out in the streets of
25 Sarajevo to sell the paper because with the shelling and everything,
1 nobody dared to.
2 Q. Now, just in relation to your article again. Again, this is at
3 page 3 of your article, the exhibit number being P584, under the
4 heading "Arkan Takes No Wounded" this portion appears, "A person
5 approached me and whispered (desperate because I was not allowed to tape,
6 I tried to remember everything)..."
7 Now this, of course, is critical for journalists, is it not, to
8 take notes at the time when they are gathering material for an article;
10 A. Yes.
11 Q. And I take it when you left the hospital you took down notes of
12 what had occurred at the hospital?
13 A. I did manage to make notes of some things but I cannot tell you
14 precisely of what because more than ten years have elapsed since, but I
15 did manage to make a note or two, yes.
16 Q. Okay. And I take it you still have those notes today?
17 A. No. No, I don't. I do not have them as -- I don't have keepsakes
18 at all, not the ones dating from before the war. I have lost everything,
19 just as many other people have.
20 Q. And when you were asked by the Prosecution to give a statement in
21 relation to events surrounding your article - and this interview was taken
22 of course in August 2001 you will recall, and that of course is some nine,
23 almost ten years after the events in question - did you have any notes of
24 your own in relation to those events that had occurred almost ten years
1 A. No, I didn't have notes of any sort. I didn't even have the
2 article that I had written. I tried to remember everything I could at
3 that point.
4 Q. So you only had the article to go on in terms of notes when you
5 gave your statement to the Prosecution; correct?
6 A. I don't recall having the article, but yes, I might have been
7 given the article to refresh my memory. And as for notes, of course, I
8 didn't have any.
9 Q. Now, just in relation to your specific references to Mrs. --
10 Dr. Biljana Plavsic in the article --
11 MS. LOUKAS: If the witness might be shown the article, P584.
12 Q. Now, your specific references to Ms. Plavsic, firstly under the
13 headings, "The victims," and you've got, "Dr. Biljana Plavsic, who
14 recently said in public that far more Serbs than Muslims had lost their
15 lives." All right. That's one reference to Ms. Plavsic.
16 There's a second reference to Mrs. Plavsic under "Ring around the
17 refugees," in the second paragraph. There you are to go right away to the
18 municipality hall where Mrs. Plavsic is waiting. You are about to meet
19 with Arkan.
20 The next reference to Mrs. Plavsic is "Mrs. Plavsic appealing to
21 Arkan to allow the army to take over the town." And that is under the
22 heading, "Exit from hell." And the following reference just a little
23 further down, "Mrs. Plavsic is interviewed by Ekspres Politika thanking
24 Arkan for his intervention. She kisses Arkan good-bye."
25 And then under "Unforgettable Vukovar."
1 Now, I take it --
2 JUDGE ORIE: Ms. Loukas, did you intend to refer to all the
3 references to Dr. Plavsic, then you might have forgotten one on page 1 of
4 the English translation, fourth line from the bottom.
5 MS. LOUKAS: Oh indeed, Your Honour. Thank you for that.
6 Q. Now, with that correction from His Honour, they are basically all
7 your references to Mrs. Plavsic; correct? Anything else you say about her
8 in your article?
9 A. I suppose that's all.
10 Q. Now, firstly, apart from conceding that the article is wrong in
11 relation to Mauzer and the reference to you drinking raki for two hours, I
12 take it you stand by your article firstly as true and accurate; correct?
13 A. Yes.
14 Q. And of course you also stand by the statement you've given to the
15 Prosecution as true and accurate; is that right?
16 A. Yes, in addition to this text.
17 Q. Now, in relation to how you compile an article as a journalist,
18 obviously number one is to ensure accuracy; correct?
19 JUDGE ORIE: Ms. Loukas, could you come to your point, please?
20 There seems to be some inconsistency or something like that, and that's in
21 the air already for the last three minutes. Let's get to the point.
22 MS. LOUKAS: Well, Your Honour, I understand that, but classically
23 in cross-examination the advocate is allowed to -- and I shouldn't be
24 saying this in front of the witness.
25 JUDGE ORIE: Yes, yes. I know that the classical
1 cross-examination includes --
2 MS. LOUKAS: Includes closing the gates, Your Honour.
3 JUDGE ORIE: Yes, yes. I'm aware of that. The Chamber is in a
4 position that to assess whenever someone tries to find an escape route,
5 what the value of such an escape route would be.
6 Please proceed.
7 MS. LOUKAS: Thank you, Your Honour.
8 Q. Okay. Now, and you also, of course -- one fundamental issue in
9 relation to producing a story is of course newsworthiness; correct?
10 That's a priority, is it not?
11 A. Do you have the theory of journalism in mind?
12 Q. I'm asking you. Isn't one of your priorities in producing an
13 article, and you prioritise the matters that you put in that article,
15 A. Yes, what matters is the news, the information.
16 Q. Exactly. And what are your priorities for newsworthiness?
17 A. My priority is to write about what I saw, about what I was able to
18 observe and to fathom.
19 Q. Yes, but obviously you see a lot, so in terms of working out what
20 you're going to put in the article and what you leave out of the article,
21 what are your usual priorities?
22 A. I don't understand your question.
23 JUDGE ORIE: Ms. Loukas, the question is at such a level of
24 obstruction that it certainly would help the witness, I take it, that you
25 make it more concrete because a journalist, on average, could speak easily
1 for one hour on priorities in newsworthiness.
2 MS. LOUKAS: There's no doubt about that, Your Honour, but this
3 witness doesn't seem to be able to speak about it at all.
4 JUDGE ORIE: Please proceed, Ms. Loukas.
5 MS. LOUKAS: Okay.
6 Q. Is someone sticking a gun in your face newsworthy?
7 A. Yes. You're right.
8 Your Honours, I can also explain this: Why some of the things
9 that I testified to have not been published in my article. Whenever I
10 work on a piece of writing, I try to avoid placing myself at the forefront
11 of things. I didn't want to present myself as an important person, and
12 that's the reason why.
13 Later on, when I gave my testimony, I was the witness and that's
14 why I presented things differently, whereas in my article, I did not wish
15 to place myself in the forefront. It was Bijeljina, the town itself and
16 the events there, that were in the forefront. It is not that I was unable
17 to write things this way. It was just a matter of choice.
18 Q. How about you asking a Territorial Defence member, "Did you cut
19 down those balijas?" and his response being, "Yes, we have killed quite a
20 lot of them." Do you think that's newsworthy?
21 A. Yes.
22 Q. That's not in your article either, is it?
23 A. I think that there is one section where I write about it, in the
24 second paragraph.
25 Q. Okay.
1 A. "Later on, the same thing was told to me by a man wearing a band
2 around his arm about the 25 bodies. A fighter with a ribbon on his
3 shoulder repeated the information and appeared to be proud of it." And
4 I'm referring to the 25 corpses that I heard about on the radio.
5 Q. Mr. Omeragic, would you agree with me that's a pretty important
6 conversation. Would you agree with that?
7 A. Yes.
8 Q. That's pretty newsworthy to put in those quotes, isn't it? To put
9 it in precisely and accurately as a journalist. Do you agree with that?
10 A. Yes. But it was up to me to present things my way and I opted for
11 this way and I did it this way.
12 Q. So you didn't think --
13 A. It would have been qualified later on as some sort of an
14 exaggeration of what had actually transpired as extortion.
15 Q. As extortion, Mr. Omeragic? What do you mean by "extortion"?
16 A. For instance, just as you qualified the questions put by the
17 Prosecutor as "leading questions," I put a leading question and that was
18 how I came by that piece of information.
19 Q. Mr. Omeragic, you're a journalist. Journalists are entitled to do
20 that. You know that, don't you?
21 A. I haven't understood you. What is it that I'm entitled to?
22 JUDGE ORIE: Ms. Loukas, I understood the testimony of the witness
23 to be just that where he elicited the information from his source, that
24 that could be misunderstood as that he -- I mean, what's the problem with
25 leading questions is that you suggest something that might not be true.
1 If you understand it that way, then a journalist might find reasons to
2 just present the information and not the way it was asked to his source.
3 And it's really not a matter to be explored in full detail.
4 MS. LOUKAS: Well, Your Honour, there are obvious differences
5 between being in a courtroom and being a war correspondent, and the rule
6 of leading questions tends not to apply in war journalism, Your Honour.
7 JUDGE ORIE: No one, no one will ever argue that it would apply.
8 And therefore I invite you to listen to the witness and try to understand
9 what he says, which is that he explained why he did not put the way he
10 asked for the information but that he just put the essence of the
11 information in his article.
12 MS. LOUKAS: Understood, Your Honour.
13 JUDGE ORIE: Yes.
14 MS. LOUKAS: I will move on to another topic.
15 JUDGE ORIE: Well, Ms. Loukas, it's 17 minutes to 2.00, and I have
16 one decision still to read. So therefore, I'd rather stop, if this is the
17 suitable moment.
18 MS. LOUKAS: Certainly, Your Honour.
19 JUDGE ORIE: Mr. Usher, would you lead the witness out of the
20 courtroom after I have instructed him -- no, could you please -- I said
21 after I instructed you that you should speak to no one about your
22 testimony, the testimony you have given or you are still about to give,
23 and we would like to see you back tomorrow morning at 9.00 in this same
25 Yes. Thank you, Mr. Omeragic.
1 [The witness stands down]
2 JUDGE ORIE: The decision I'd like to deliver is a decision on
3 Prosecution's motion for protective measures for Witnesses 31 and 73.
4 The motion which is partly confidential was filed on the 11th of
5 March, 2005. The motion also refers to one other witness who has already
6 testified under protective measures. Pursuant to Rules 75 and 79, the
7 Prosecution requests the Chamber to order the use of pseudonyms when
8 referring to these witnesses as well as image and voice distortion during
9 their testimonies. The motion also requests private session but only for
10 those portions of their testimonies which are likely to reveal their
12 In its motion, the Prosecution relies, in part, on a recent UNHCR
13 report relating to the current security situation in Bosnia and
14 Herzegovina. The report also mentioned Bosnia and Herzegovina's inability
15 to ensure the safety of witnesses.
16 In the confidential annex to the motion, the Prosecution sets out
17 specific details relating to the protective measures sought for
18 Witnesses 31 and 73.
19 In its response dated the 8th of April, 2005, the Defence requests
20 that the Chamber decline to rule on the motion until the Prosecution has
21 produced all information relevant to an overall assessment of the
22 circumstances justifying protective measures. The Defence also states
23 that the current security situation in Bosnia and Herzegovina does not, of
24 itself, justify the granting of protective measures.
25 The law on protective measures has been stated by this Chamber in
1 recent decisions. The Chamber is mindful that a fair and a public hearing
2 is a right of the accused and is in the interests of justice. Measures
3 concealing the identity of a witness should be granted only in limited
4 circumstances. It must be shown that should it become publicly known that
5 the witness has testified, there is a real risk the existence of which is
6 supported by some objective evidence to the security of the witness or his
7 or her family.
8 The threat made to the witness is usually a sufficient basis to
9 grant protective measures but the existence of a threat is not necessary.
10 The Chamber considers that the requisite objective foundation for
11 the risk may also be demonstrated through such circumstances as a
12 combination of the following three factors:
13 1: The expected testimony of the witness may antagonise persons
14 who continue to reside in the territory in which the crimes were
15 committed. For example, by implicating those persons in crimes.
16 2: The protective witness or his or her family live in that
17 territory, have property in the territory, or have concrete plans to
18 return to live in the territory.
19 3: A general security situation which is unstable and is
20 particularly unfavourable to witnesses and the families of witnesses who
21 appear before the Tribunal.
22 Under such circumstances which are present for Witness 31 and 73,
23 the Chamber may order appropriate protective measures. It should be
24 emphasised this is only one way to establish the existence of an
25 objectively-granted risk to the security of a witness. When assessing the
1 likelihood of danger or risk to prospective witnesses, the Chamber will
2 take into consideration all relevant factors, including any threats made
3 against the witness and the position of the witness in the community.
4 The Chamber has considered these submissions of the parties in
5 relation to the present motion, evaluating them in the light of the
6 climate in Bosnia and Herzegovina which is set out in the UNHCR report
7 remains unfavourable to persons who are resident there or have family
8 resident there and who wish to fully discharge their duty to testify
9 before the Tribunal.
10 The Chamber considers that the testimonies of Witnesses 31 and 73
11 which will likely implicate local Serbs from the areas in which the
12 witnesses reside -- I was not very clear -- will likely implicate local
13 Serbs from the areas in which the witnesses reside in serious crimes may
14 antagonise persons living in those areas exposing the witnesses to a risk
15 of retaliation.
16 The Chamber therefore considers that the Prosecution has
17 established that these witnesses would be exposed to a real security risk
18 if it became known that they had testified.
19 The Chamber finds that the requested protective measures, that is,
20 pseudonym, image and voice distortion, as well as limited use of private
21 session, strike a balance between the need to protect Witnesses 31 and 73
22 and the accused's right to a public trial.
23 The motion, therefore, is granted.
24 Before I adjourn, Ms. Loukas, could you give us any indication as
25 to the time you would need for cross-examination, further
2 MS. LOUKAS: Well, Your Honour, I would have thought it would take
3 me up to the first break, I should imagine.
4 JUDGE ORIE: That is -- would be two and a half against --
5 MS. LOUKAS: Well, Your Honour, I don't think I've had an hour
6 this afternoon.
7 JUDGE ORIE: I think you started cross-examination close to 1.00.
8 We resumed at five minutes to 1.00, and I think that you went on
9 until 1.43. That would be 50 minutes. If you would take one more one
10 hour and a half, that would bring you to -- yes, approximately two hours
11 and 20 minutes where the -- I think that the Prosecution took
12 approximately three and a half hours, if I'm correct.
13 MS. LOUKAS: I think it was a little bit more than that, actually,
14 Your Honour.
15 JUDGE ORIE: We'll look --
16 MS. LOUKAS: Ms. Philpott is shaking her head. I'm sure we have
17 the exact calculation.
18 JUDGE ORIE: You can obtain them from the registry. Especially
19 looking at the start of your cross-examination, Ms. Loukas, where, as I
20 said before, the first of three questions, it really did not add any one
21 single scintilla to what was said in chief. The Chamber is inclined to
22 take the guidance of the 60 per cent rather strictly.
23 MS. LOUKAS: Well, Your Honour, I understand that. But to be
24 interrupted three minutes into one's cross-examination when an advocate is
25 entitled to put matters that are favourable to a particular analysis of a
1 situation --
2 JUDGE ORIE: Both parties have taken their time to interrupt, and
3 we'll -- during this afternoon and overnight, we'll consider whether there
4 was any significant difference in the way the other party was interrupted
5 and objections were put to the other party.
6 We'll adjourn until tomorrow morning at 9.00.
7 --- Whereupon the hearing adjourned at 1.54 p.m.,
8 to be reconvened on Thursday, the 14th day of
9 April, 2005, at 9.00 a.m.