1 Tuesday, 21 February 2006
2 [Open session]
3 [The witness entered court]
4 [The accused entered court]
5 --- Upon commencing at 9.03 a.m.
6 JUDGE MOLOTO: Mr. Whiting, you can have your last 13 minutes.
7 MR. WHITING: Your Honour, did you -- did the Court want to
8 caution the witness before we started?
9 JUDGE MOLOTO: Indeed. Thank you very much.
10 Mr. Babic, as always, once again you are being reminded you're
11 bound by the declaration you made to tell the truth and nothing else but
12 the truth. Thank you very much.
13 MR. WHITING: Thank you, Your Honour.
14 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Yes, Your Honour.
15 WITNESS: MILAN BABIC [Resumed]
16 [Witness answered through interpreter]
17 Examination by Mr. Whiting: [Continued]
18 Q. Good morning, Mr. Babic, can you understand me?
19 A. Yes. Good morning. I can.
20 Q. Mr. Babic, what was Operation Flash?
21 A. Operation Flash was a Croatian military police intervention on the
22 territory of Western Slavonia which was held by the Serbs, at the
23 beginning of May 1995.
24 Q. Do you know what if anything precipitated Operation Flash?
25 A. Well, what precipitated it was, and what was the reason for the
1 operation, were the events that took place along the motorway from Okucani
2 on the territory of the Republic of Srpska Krajina.
3 Q. Can you tell us what those events were?
4 A. Those events came about after a long period of negotiation between
5 the representatives of the government of Croatia and the government of the
6 Republic of Srpska Krajina which I took part in. The negotiations went on
7 for some months, about the normalisation of relations between the Republic
8 of Srpska Krajina and Croatia in the sense of linking up the electrical
9 power system and the water work system and opening up the motorway between
10 Zagreb and Belgrade, opening the railway lines and things like that.
11 After those talks, a portion of the agreement was realised and that was
12 the opening of the Belgrade-Zagreb motorway across the territory which was
13 controlled by the Republic of Srpska Krajina, and that was Western
14 Slavonia, that area there, and a small part of Eastern Slavonia. The
15 motorway functioned or was opened for a time until -- in 1995, until May
16 1995, and after the motorway was running normally, incidents took place
17 along the motorway and it was closed.
18 Q. Who closed it, if you know?
19 A. Well, as far as my information told me, from the Prime Minister,
20 Mikelic, Mr. Martic, with policemen and people from the area of Okucani
21 issued orders to close off the motorway.
22 Q. What happened after the motorway was closed?
23 A. Negotiations were conducted to discuss its reopening. However,
24 Croatia opened the motorway by force or rather there was a military police
25 operation, an onslaught by which it opened the motorway and took control
1 of the territory of Western Slavonia which had hitherto been under the
2 control of the Serbs. So those were the operations and they went on for
3 several days, the 1st, the 2nd, and the 3rd of May, in fact. Everything
4 was over by then.
5 Q. And is that what we referred to earlier as Operation Flash?
6 A. Yes. Yes. That is Operation Flash.
7 Q. Did Milan Martic, to your knowledge, do something after Operation
9 A. Well, he -- on the second day of the -- of Operation Flash, he
10 ordered the shelling of the town of Zagreb in retaliation for Croatia's
11 intervention in Western Slavonia.
12 Q. And how do you know that he ordered it?
13 A. He said himself, on television, that he had issued the order.
14 Q. Mr. Babic, I'd like to look at intercept 593, please.
15 And there is a beginning part there that I would like to ignore
16 and just start with Mikelic and Milosevic, and in your declaration, you
17 stated that you recognised the voices of Slobodan Milosevic and Borisav
18 Mikelic. You've referred in your testimony to Borisav Mikelic. Could you
19 remind us again who he was at that time, in 1995?
20 A. Borisav Mikelic was at the time the Prime Minister of the Republic
21 of Srpska Krajina.
22 Q. There was at the time that you yourself was in the government --
23 were in the government as the Minister of Foreign Affairs; is that
24 correct? You testified about that earlier.
25 A. Yes.
1 JUDGE MOLOTO: Sorry, in which government SAO Krajina or Srpska
3 MR. WHITING: At this time it's the RSK in 1995, the Republic of
4 Srpska Krajina.
5 JUDGE MOLOTO: Okay. Okay.
6 MR. WHITING:
7 Q. Can you tell me how many times you had occasion to speak with
8 Borisav Mikelic?
9 A. Well, frequently. I can't give you an exact number but over the
10 course of two years, I was a member of the government of which he was
11 Prime Minister, so fairly often. Sometimes daily. Every day.
12 Q. Could you tell us just in general terms what this conversation is
14 A. In this conversation, they are discussing topics linked to the
15 events which took place in Western Slavonia, and that was Martic's order
16 of the shelling of Zagreb and the consequences thereof, what came before
17 the event, then there is mention there about certain additional matters
18 such as the meeting of a joint council of the supreme defence between the
19 Republic of Srpska Krajina and Republika Srpska, mention is made of the
20 problems that the Minister of the Interior is encountering, and
21 preparations for an assembly meeting of the Republic of Srpska Krajina.
22 But for the most part it's all linked to this particular events in Western
23 Slavonia and Operation Flash and the shelling of Zagreb.
24 Q. I have to pause for a moment because I lost my transcript. I just
25 have to get it back up here.
1 I'd like to play a clip that starts at page 2 of the English and
2 page 2 of the B/C/S. It starts with Mr. Mikelic saying, "Boro speaking."
3 Do you see that? On page 2 of the transcript. Sorry, actually I think
4 it's on page 1 of the B/C/S. It starts on page 1, at the bottom of page 1
5 of the B/C/S transcript. Do you -- yeah.
6 MR. WHITING: And if we could turn the Sanction on from the AV
7 booth, please. It actually starts with, "Hello, Mr. President."
8 [Intercept played]
9 THE INTERPRETER: [Voiceover] "Hello, Mr. President, what's up?"
10 MR. WHITING: The procedure that we agreed to yesterday with
11 respect to this -- these transcripts and we may have to provide the B/C/S
12 to the French booth, is that in the -- is that the English -- the
13 interpreters do not need to read the English transcript and we'll just
14 listen to the original.
15 THE INTERPRETER: Yes, thank you.
16 MR. WHITING: And the French booth is now being provided with the
17 transcript in B/C/S which we should have done before we started today, and
18 my apologies. And as soon as they have it we can start playing it. And
19 again for the benefit of the French booth, it starts at the bottom of page
20 1 of the B/C/S or the top of page 2.
21 Okay. If we could play it now.
22 [Intercept played]
23 MR. WHITING:
24 Q. Mr. Babic, in that clip, Slobodan Milosevic says, "No one doubted
25 Tudjman's unscrupulousness even before, but if there had not been for
1 Martic's capriciousness the road would not have been opened for his
2 unscrupulousness. Martic's capriciousness has opened the road for the
3 unscrupulousness of Tudjman because if he had not done that thing with the
4 motorway, which he did and started the fires, this one would never have
5 dared due to the international situation, to put in question a decision
6 which has been set and sanctioned by UN regarding the regime in Western
7 Slavonia." What do you understand that to mean?
8 A. Well, this is provocation, in fact, on the part of Martic, which
9 took place when the motorway was closed, the violation of the agreement
10 reached between the government of Krajina and government of Croatia under
11 the auspices or leadership of the United Nations, who were the guarantor
12 of that agreement. So that is the provocation. It was a provocation to
13 close the motorway and violate the international agreement.
14 Q. And when Mr. Milosevic says, "If he had not done that thing with
15 the motorway, which he did and started the fires, this one never would
16 never have dared." Dared do what, as you understand it?
17 A. To militarily attack Western Slavonia.
18 Q. I'm going to play a second clip and this one begins on page 3 of
19 the English transcript, page 2 of the B/C/S. It begins with where Mikelic
20 says, "Martic was in Banja Luka yesterday."
21 Now, when we listen to this clip, Mr. Babic, I'm going to ask you
22 to listen very carefully to see if you can tell who says what in this
23 clip. It's a little hard to hear in the courtroom. It's actually -- I
24 can say it's easier whether we have listened to it outside the courtroom
25 but playing it through the system in the courtroom, a little hard but I
1 will ask you some questions about who says what in this clip, whether it's
2 Milosevic or Mikelic. So if you could listen carefully to that and see if
3 you are able to determine that.
4 MR. WHITING: If we could play the second clip now.
5 [Intercept played]
6 MR. WHITING:
7 Q. Mr. Babic, in that clip, one of the two men says, "He said that he
8 made a decision on shelling Zagreb, Karlovac, Sisak. He is a man "what a
9 smart man is ashamed of a crazy man is proud of. He pointed it out as his
10 achievement." Were you able to tell which of the two men said that in the
12 A. I was listening to the voice and not reading the text. It seems
13 that there has been a mix-up here. Because that was all Milosevic,
14 whereas here it says Mikelic. Perhaps if you want to play the clip again,
15 but I wrote this down as a note to myself because I was listening and I
16 realised this and made a note of what I heard. Milosevic says, well, we
17 heard the statement, we listened to the statement but he said that because
18 of your suffering or something and then he said he made the decision on
19 shelling Zagreb or whatever, Zagreb, Karlovac, Sisak and so on, so I think
20 that I heard that that was all Milosevic speaking, if you want to repeat,
21 then I can make sure.
22 Q. Let's play it again to see and it's that second part, that he said
23 he made a decision on shelling Zagreb, Karlovac. I want to you see if you
24 can tell who was saying that second part.
25 [Intercept played]
1 MR. WHITING:
2 Q. Were you able to tell who says that second part that he said he
3 made a decision on shelling Zagreb, Karlovac, Sisak, he is a man -- "what
4 a smart man is ashamed of a crazy man is part of, he pointed it out as his
5 achievement." Were you able to tell who said that in the clip?
6 A. Milosevic.
7 Q. Thank you. I'm going to play another clip which is on page 4 of
8 the English, it's on page 3 of the B/C/S. And this is a clip starts with
9 Milosevic saying, "At the assembly his resignation should be demanded."
10 Do you see where that is?
11 A. Yes.
12 [Intercept played].
13 MR. WHITING:
14 Q. Mr. Babic, in that clip, Mr. Milosevic says, "He is a criminal who
15 does not think, he reacts like an animal and not like a man. Yesterday he
16 ordered to shell Zagreb." Who do you understand him to be talking about?
17 A. Milan Martic.
18 Q. He then makes reference to 7.000 people in encirclement. What do
19 you understand that to be a reference to?
20 A. That was, yes, about 7.000 civilians and soldiers in an
21 encirclement which were located in the Pakrac area, because the Croatian
22 army and police cut across the escape route to the population and the
23 soldiers towards Banja Luka or the territory of Republika Srpska. They
24 were under siege. They were in an encirclement, the Serbs were encircled
25 by the Croatian police and military.
1 Q. And to your knowledge, did the shelling of Zagreb have any effect
2 on those people who were encircled, in any way?
3 A. Well, it could have led to Croatian retaliation and have the
4 people as victims of that.
5 Q. Finally I want to play a clip -- no, not finally. There are two
7 There is -- the fourth clip is on page 5 of the English and page 5
8 of the B/C/S. And it starts with Milosevic saying, "It should be said at
9 your assembly."
10 A. Yes. I've found it.
11 [Intercept played]
12 MR. WHITING:
13 Q. In that clip, Milosevic says, "When everything was ready for the
14 motorway to be open, Martic said it was out of question to open the
15 motorway. So after that, Croatia attacked and Tudjman said that he must
16 open the motorway" .
17 What is that a reference to, as you understand it?
18 A. I've already mentioned that once the motorway was closed off,
19 there were negotiations to reopen it, and it was already agreed that the
20 motorway would be reopened, and then Martic said it was out of the
21 question, and that he would not allow for the motorway to be opened, and
22 this is what it's all about.
23 Q. Finally the last clip, it's on page 6 of the English and it's at
24 the bottom of page 4, top of page 5 of the B/C/S. And it's about halfway
25 down the page on the English, and it starts with Milosevic saying, "He
1 cannot violate the constitution. He caused half of it by violating the
2 constitution." I think it's at the bottom of page 4. Okay.
3 MR. WHITING: If we could play that clip, please.
4 [Intercept played]
5 MR. WHITING:
6 Q. Mr. Babic, in that last clip, Mr. Milosevic says, "He behaves like
7 a mad dog. Even Hitler did not do that. He tore Krajina apart. He is a
8 dangerous troublemaker and a criminal. He is boasting about having
9 shelled Zagreb. The thing a smart man is ashamed of a lunatic is proud
10 of." Who do you understand him to be talking about in that clip?
11 A. Milan Martic.
12 MR. WHITING: Your Honour, could this intercept be marked for
13 identification, please?
14 JUDGE MOLOTO: The intercept 593 --
15 MR. MILOVANCEVIC: [Interpretation] Your Honour, I apologise. I
16 believe that I have not seen the date of this conversation, and I don't
17 know whether there is an indication to that effect. Could we do that
18 before we mark this document for identification? Otherwise we do not
19 object for this document to be identified, but we would like to have the
20 date in order to avoid any subsequent dispute with this regard.
21 MR. WHITING: Well, I think all I can do now is ask the witness if
22 he has any indication about what the date is based on the context of the
23 statement, and we can put further evidence in about when this intercept
24 was -- what the date of the intercept is.
25 JUDGE MOLOTO: Okay.
1 MR. WHITING:
2 Q. Mr. Babic, given the references in the discussion, are you able to
3 tell approximately what the date of the conversation is?
4 A. It may have been the 3rd or the 4th of May, after the 1st or the
5 2nd of May so it could have been the 3rd or the 4th of May. At that time,
6 after the shelling of Zagreb, which took place on the 2nd of May. It may
7 have been on the 2nd of May as well, because a mention is made of the
8 second shelling so it could have been on the 2nd but in any case between
9 the 2nd of May and the 4th of May.
10 JUDGE MOLOTO: Of what year?
11 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] 1995.
12 JUDGE MOLOTO: Thank you.
13 MR. WHITING:
14 Q. There are a number of references to an assembly that is going to
15 occur. Do you recall approximately when that assembly occurred?
16 A. This is a different date, before this conversation took place, and
17 the date is the 17 and 18 of May 1995. So this conversation did take
18 place between the 2nd of May and the 17 of May 1995, and that's for sure.
19 MR. WHITING: Thank you. Could it be marked for identification,
21 JUDGE MOLOTO: Thank you. Intercept 593 is marked for
22 identification. May it please be given an exhibit number.
23 THE REGISTRAR: That will be marked for identification number 233,
24 Your Honours.
25 JUDGE MOLOTO: Thank you.
1 MR. WHITING: I see the Bench perhaps has a question.
2 JUDGE NOSWORTHY: Yes. Mr. Whiting, I'm very sorry I'm not
3 comprehending. I thought the witness said when you asked him about the
4 date of this assembly that it was a different date before this
5 conversation took place and the date is the 17th and 18th of May 1995.
6 Could we get a clarification?
7 MR. WHITING: Yes, Your Honour. I think -- yes we can try and
8 clarify that.
9 Q. Mr. Babic, the assembly that's referred to, when did that occur,
10 if you know?
11 A. On the 17th and 18th of May 1995.
12 Q. And based on what you have -- what you see in this transcript, are
13 you able to tell whether this conversation occurred before or after the
14 assembly on the 17th and 18th of May 1995?
15 A. Before the assembly.
16 Q. Thank you?
17 MR. WHITING: I hope that clears it up.
18 Q. Mr. Babic, I asked you with respect to some of the transcripts but
19 I neglected this question with respect to others so I want to put this
20 question to you with respect to all of the intercepts that you've listened
21 to during your testimony and you've spoken about during your testimony
22 here in this trial. And the question is this: With respect to all of the
23 intercepts, are the statements that are made by the people in the
24 conversations consistent with what you understood, what you knew to be
25 their positions at the time?
1 A. Yes.
2 Q. Having listened to the intercepts and looked at the transcripts
3 and considered them, is there anything that causes you to doubt the
4 authenticity of any of the intercepts that you have spoken about in your
5 testimony here in this trial?
6 A. No.
7 Q. Mr. Babic, finally, I want to begin -- I want to end where we
8 began. And I want to ask you this. I want you, if you could, to tell the
9 Trial Chamber in your own words what you were responsible for in 1991.
10 What did you plead guilty to? What do you take responsibility for?
11 A. In 1991, I succumbed to the passions of politics and ethnical
12 egotism. I believed that it would be possible to achieve the goal that
13 Slobodan Milosevic set and that was to create a one-state for all Serbs.
14 I believe that this was doable by ethnic separation without any clashes,
15 starting from an approach within the then political system of Yugoslavia,
16 which said that the municipality is a basic unit and that there is room
17 for self-determination. I used my political authority. I invested it in
18 the organisation of the Serbian Autonomous Province of Krajina. I had my
19 personal fears and I had mistrust of the government of Croatia and I
20 shared those with the people of Krajina and I openly conveyed my fear to
21 these people, and that's how I instigated their mistrust of the government
22 and I also contributed to the hatred between the peoples and the Serbian
23 people towards the Croatian state. I became a popular politician in
24 Krajina. I occupied a highest position in Krajina. I won the trust and I
25 created the institutions of the Serbian Autonomous Province of Krajina. I
1 created its institutions.
2 When the war started and when I realised that the creation of the
3 Greater Serbian state is being carried out by force by the persecution of
4 Croats, I kept quiet and I continued performing my public duties. I did
5 have an opportunity to step back, to resign, to withdraw, but I remained
6 in my position and I became responsible or co-responsible for whatever
7 happened in Krajina.
8 MR. WHITING: Thank you.
9 JUDGE MOLOTO: I would like to ask just one question, Mr. Babic,
10 on the statement you've just a made. Are you saying that you,
11 Mr. Milan Babic are not responsible for any act of violence against
12 anybody other than for the position you held as Prime Minister of the SAO
14 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] No. What I'm saying is that I
15 contributed to the acts of violence by performing my duties, by creating
16 institutions, by setting up institutions, one of them being the
17 Territorial Defence, by speaking in public, by instigating people, by
18 persuading them that life in a Serbian state separated from Croats is a
19 guarantee of safety, and I am responsible for that.
20 JUDGE MOLOTO: Let me ask you the same question differently. Have
21 you, during your term as a leader in the SAO Krajina, given an order to
22 anybody to commit crime, to kill anybody, to loot, to destroy homes? You
23 never gave that order to anybody?
24 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] No, never.
25 JUDGE MOLOTO: Thank you.
1 MR. WHITING:
2 Q. Mr. Babic. Thank you.
3 MR. WHITING: I have no further questions, Your Honour.
4 JUDGE MOLOTO: Thank you, Mr. Whiting.
5 Cross-examination, Mr. Milovancevic?
6 MR. MILOVANCEVIC: [Interpretation] Thank you, Your Honour.
7 Cross-examination by Mr. Milovancevic:
8 Q. Good morning, Mr. Babic.
9 A. Good morning.
10 Q. I am Predrag Milovancevic Defence counsel for Mr. Milan Martic.
11 As for the procedure regulated by the Rules of Procedure and Evidence,
12 this is the stage of your cross-examination. Since we speak the same
13 language, I would kindly ask you to make a short pause between my question
14 and your answer so as to help the interpreters to translate our words
16 Do we understand each other?
17 A. Yes.
18 Q. Mr. Babic, when you spoke about yourself, you said that you were
19 born in the former Yugoslav Republic of Croatia; is that correct?
20 A. Yes.
21 Q. Can you please tell us where you attended primary school,
22 secondary school, when you graduated from the secondary school and when
23 you started studying in Belgrade?
24 A. I was born in the village of Kukar and I went to primary school in
25 Vrlika which is some three or four kilometres away from my native village
1 and I finished the 8th grade of primary school in Zemun. I graduated from
2 medical school in Belgrade and I graduated in 1974. And then I became a
3 student at the school of dentistry in Belgrade. I completed my studies in
4 1980 and I graduated one year later. Or actually two years later, to be
5 more precise.
6 During my career in 1988 and 1989, and 1990 as well, I attended
7 post-graduate studies in social medicine at the school of medicine in
8 Sarajevo. I did not obtain my masters degree. I got involved in
10 Q. Mr. Babic, did I understand you well when you said that in 1982,
11 you became a dentist, you graduated in dentistry?
12 A. Yes.
13 Q. Can you please tell us when you started working?
14 A. It was in 1982, when I became a resident and -- but I interrupted
15 my residency, and I served my compulsory military service and then I
16 started working as a dentist. This was a temporary position but it lasted
17 for a number of years. And then I got a permanent job as a dentist at the
18 medical centre of Knin.
19 Q. Can you please tell us about your residency after the compulsory
20 military service, where was that, in which place and what institution?
21 A. This was in the outpatient's clinic in Djevrske. Also at the
22 outpatient's clinic in Vrlika and the outpatient's clinic in Knin. I
23 passed my board exam at the medical centre of Split.
24 Q. When did you pass your board exam?
25 A. After the residency.
1 Q. Can you tell us the year, if you remember? This is what I meant.
2 A. In 1984.
3 Q. Can you please tell us when you took up your job in Knin at the
4 medical centre of Knin?
5 A. I started my residency there, and I was employed by the medical
6 centre of Knin from September 1982, with some interruptions for the
7 military service, and then I had a temporary position there, but I was
8 continuously at the medical centre of Knin.
9 Q. And when did you become the chief administrator of the medical
10 centre of Knin?
11 A. I became the acting chief administrator after the receivership in
12 19 --
13 THE INTERPRETER: Can the witness please repeat the year?
14 MR. MILOVANCEVIC: [Interpretation]
15 Q. Amongst your personal data, you also mentioned that you were a
16 member of the League of Communists of Croatia, which means that were you a
17 member of the League of Communists of Yugoslavia as well?
18 JUDGE MOLOTO: Excuse me, the interpreter asked that the witness
19 repeat the date. "I became the acting chief administrator after the
20 receivership in 19" --
21 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] I became the acting chief
22 administrator of the medical centre of Knin in 1989.
23 JUDGE MOLOTO: Thank you. You may proceed, Mr. Milovancevic.
24 MR. MILOVANCEVIC: [Interpretation] Thank you, Your Honour.
25 Q. I've already asked you, Mr. Babic. You said that you were a
1 member of the league of communists of Croatia. When did you become a
3 A. I was -- I did not become a member of the League of Communists of
4 Croatia. I became a member of the League of Communists of Serbia in 1974,
5 while I was still attending high school in Belgrade, and once I moved to
6 Croatia and started working I transferred my documents from the municipal
7 board in Zvezdana to the municipal board in Knin and that's actually how I
8 joined the League of Communists of Croatia and I got involved in its work.
9 Q. Am I right in saying that you became a member of the League of
10 Communists of Serbia?
11 JUDGE MOLOTO: Earlier, Mr. Babic said, "I did not become a member
12 of the League of Communists of Croatia. I became a member of the League
13 of Communists of Serbia." Now he says, actually, "how I joined the League
14 of Communists of Croatia and I got involved in its work."
15 Now, did you become a member of the League of Communists of
16 Croatia at some stage?
17 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Yes, Your Honour. I just meant to
18 say the following. This was not my new admission into the League of
19 Communists. The League of Communists of Croatia was part of the League of
20 Communists of Yugoslavia. There was just an administrative procedure of
21 transferring my documents from the League of Communists of Serbia to the
22 League of Communists of Croatia, and that's how I became a member of the
23 League of Communists of Croatia. It was not my first admission into the
24 League of Communists.
25 MR. MILOVANCEVIC: [Interpretation]
1 Q. Mr. Babic, you ever just mentioned the relationship between the
2 League of Communists of Serbia, the League of Communists of Croatia, and
3 the League of Communists of Yugoslavia. Can you please briefly tell us at
4 that time the Socialist Federative Republic of Yugoslavia was a socialist
5 state, wasn't it?
6 A. According to the constitution, the system was socialist and there
7 was the so-called self-management socialist system. The sociopolitical
8 system was social and self-managing system and I think this is the most
9 precise definition.
10 Q. Can one say that in Yugoslavia, up to 1990, the ruling party was
11 the League of Communists which was first known as the Communist Party and
12 that it was the only party, the only political organisation. There was
13 also the Socialist Alliance, there was a trade union and other
14 organisations, but this was the only political party. Can you tell us,
15 can you confirm for us that this was a mono-party system?
16 A. There was an integral League of Communists of Yugoslavia which
17 consisted of the League of Communists of the various republics. This was
18 a party organised based on the federal principle within the party itself.
19 The federal relationship between the republican parties within the League
20 of Communists of Yugoslavia.
21 Q. Thank you, Mr. Babic.
22 Such an organisation of the party, did it enable you to transfer
23 your membership from the League of Communists of Serbia to the League of
24 Communists of Croatia? Actually it was all one and only League of
25 Communists of Yugoslavia, is that what you were saying before?
1 A. Yes, this is precisely what I was saying.
2 Q. Do you remember when it was that you formally joined the League of
3 Communists of Croatia as part of the League of Communists of Yugoslavia?
4 Do you remember the year?
5 A. It was the same year when I started working. It was in 1982, in
6 the autumn of that year, actually.
7 Q. Can you please tell us what positions you held in the party
8 organisation in the League of Communists of Croatia?
9 A. I was a member of the basic organisation of the League of
10 Communists in the primary health care in Knin up to 1989. In the autumn
11 of that year, I became the secretary of the basic organisation of the
12 League of Communists of the primary health care system in Knin, and I
13 remained in that position until the 17th of February 1990, for a couple of
14 months, that is, during the time surrounding the congress.
15 Q. Am I right in saying that the League of Communists of Croatia, as
16 well as all the other organisations of communists in other republics, had
17 its organisations at the municipal level, in companies, that the network
18 of party organs was widely spread, and you belonged to the League of
19 Communists in Knin in your workplace?
20 A. Yes. There was an alternative for me to either belong to the
21 regional League of Communists or to the company League of Communists. It
22 was customary to belong to the basic organisation that was set up in one's
23 company, and that's how I was a member of the basic organisation in the
24 company that I worked for.
25 Q. Was there any limitation or difference or any way of
1 differentiating on an ethnic basis the members of the League of Communists
2 of Croatia? What I'm saying is this. In that kind of party organisation,
3 would all people be able to join regardless of a nation -- ethnicity,
4 religion, creed or anything like that?
5 A. Yes.
6 Q. You, who were a Serb yourself, your ethnicity was a Serb, and you
7 were employed in Knin, and secretary of the party organisation in your
8 work organisation, you received an invitation to take part at the congress
9 of the League of Communists much Croatia which took place at the end of
10 1989, am I right when I say that? Is that what happened?
11 A. Well, I have to be more specific in my answer. There were a
12 number of points raised there by you. First of all, I was elected as a
13 delegate to the congress. So that's what you meant by your question.
14 Before I was elected secretary of the basic organisation, which means that
15 in the pre-congress preparations that went on during that time. Now, I do
16 apologise but what was your question? What else did you wish to know?
17 Q. The explanation is sufficient, Mr. Babic. As a member of the
18 League of Communists of Croatia, under the procedure provided for by the
19 party rules, you were invited to go to the congress and take part in it
20 and you did do so, did you not?
21 A. Well, I wasn't invited to the congress. That's the first point.
22 When it came to that congress, the last congress of the League of
23 Communists of Croatia, in fact, a new procedure was introduced for people
24 going to the congress. Before, the proceedings were that the municipal
25 conference of the League of Communists of the commune would nominate
1 delegates from its community to attend the congress but for the first
2 time, during those elections, it was stated that the delegates to the
3 congress of the League of Communists of Croatia should be elected by a
4 general vote on the part of all the members of the party organisation on
5 the municipality's territory.
6 And for the Knin municipality, there are about 3.700 members of
7 the League of Communists of Croatia, and many in the basic organisations,
8 and I, my name was put forward by my basic organisation to this joint
9 list. My name was placed on the list and it went to all the basic
10 organisations. It was distributed to the general elections, the general
11 party elections that took place at the time and I was elected among the
12 six delegates and that was the way in which I was elected.
13 Q. So as one of six delegates, who represented those 3.700 members of
14 the League of Communists in Knin, you went to attend the party congress
15 and where was the venue?
16 A. It was in Zagreb, at the fair grounds, the Velesajam.
17 Q. Did anything happen at the congress that would be of specific
18 importance to you?
19 A. Well, two important things happened. The first was this: The
20 decision by the congress to introduce a multi-party system into the
21 political system of Croatia. The second decision was a decision which
22 delved into statutory measures of the organisation of the League of
23 Communists of Croatia and Yugoslavia and it was the following. It was
24 decided at the congress that the League of Communists of Yugoslavia was a
25 collection of the leagues of communists of the republics or rather it was
1 defined in this way, that the League of Communists of Croatia was not a
2 part of the League of Communists of Yugoslavia but that the League of
3 Communists of Yugoslavia was composed of the League of Communists
4 organizations in the republics and provinces.
5 Q. This decision immediate by the League of Communists of Croatia at
6 their congress, did it mean the break-up of the League of Communists of
7 Yugoslavia as a united organization and ensuring complete independence for
8 the League of Communists of Croatia? Is that what that meant?
9 A. In a way, yes. Not the break-up but new relationships within the
10 League of Communists of Yugoslavia which became a federation of the party
11 organisations of the republics, and the Serb members, the Serb delegates
12 to the congress also voted on that. I think that there were 25 per cent
13 Serbs taking part at the congress.
14 Q. Were you in favour of the decision?
15 A. No. I belonged to the minority who voted for a united league of
16 communists of Yugoslavia as one organisation and we were not in favour of
17 changing the Statute, the statutory decision.
18 Q. Did the congress of the League of Communists of Croatia, in view
19 of the fact that the League of Communists of Yugoslavia had its own
20 statute, did the congress of the League of Communists of Croatia, was it
21 in your opinion the right decision to adopt, viewed at from the aspects of
22 the statute of the party of the League of Communists of Yugoslavia and
23 from the party statute aspect?
24 A. Well, I'm not an expert in statutory matters but as I understood
25 it, the decision was statutory, although I didn't agree with it. But as I
1 say, I can't give you an exact answer to that question, and interpret the
2 statute. All I can tell you is how I saw it.
3 Q. Can you tell us the reasons for which you opposed the decision to
4 which the League of Communists much Croatia would become independent and
5 as such represent a part of the League of Communists of Yugoslavia?
6 A. Well, I saw in that step a sort of domination by the nationalist
7 element and a form of a nationalist approach, an ethnic approach, within
8 the League of Communists of Croatia. So how shall I put this, a sort of
9 ethno-philotism in the party organisation of Croatia, and in view of the
10 fact that the party was still in power, this certainly had to have its
11 consequences or repercussions on the functioning of the federation or
12 rather the socialist federal republic of Yugoslavia.
13 Q. And what could those repercussions have been on the federation.
14 How could this have influenced the functioning of the federation, in your
16 A. Well, in the sense that for a long time, among Croatian public
17 opinion but we are now talking about the League of Communists of Croatia,
18 from 1971 onwards, there was a dominant national or ethnic stream which
19 went towards a confederalisation of relations within the Socialist Federal
20 Republic of Yugoslavia, or rather, there was a stream which interpreted
21 the constitution of Yugoslavia in a special way because it said in the
22 constitution of Yugoslavia that the socialist Federal Republic of
23 Yugoslavia was composed of the republics, made up of six republics and the
24 people, the nations, and then these were stipulated, all the nations which
25 made up the Socialist Federative Republic of Yugoslavia, the Slovenes, the
1 Croats, the Muslims, the Serbs, the Montenegrins, the Macedonians. Have I
2 omitted someone?
3 Anyway, I'm talking about this stream or faction that existed in
4 the League of Communists of Croatia which interpreted this and explained
5 the constitution, interpreted it, as stating that this unification of the
6 republics and unity of the republics of the nations and nationalities into
7 a Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia had not been exhausted ones and
8 for all but that the republics or rather the people, the nations, had the
9 right to open up the question again at a certain point in time, which was
10 a different interpretation to the dominant, prevailing position, and the
11 politics waged at that time within the League of Communists of Yugoslavia
12 and generally in the other republics, that the right to create a
13 federation and to unite within a country called Yugoslavia had been
14 exhausted, that you can't reassess it, re-evaluate it.
15 I think I've made myself clear it enough. If not, I can go on to
17 Q. Thank you, Mr. Babic. You have explained that to us in great
19 Now, this kind of nationalist stream within the League of
20 Communists of Croatia and you said that it existed from 1971, tried to do
21 something on the political arena in Yugoslavia itself, in that in 1971,
22 the maspok, maspok which was the mass movement. What did that mean, mass
24 A. That stream was defeated in 1971 by the intervention made by Josip
25 Broz Tito at the time and in Croatia from 1971, to 1979, or rather until
1 the end of 1989 there was a more moderate stream which at that last
2 congress in 1989 started to open up the whole question and broach the
3 whole question of -- that was raised in 1971 but not in such an extremist,
4 nationalistic way that was done in what was known as the maspok in 1971,
5 the mass movement, and, of course, you know what the maspok referred to
6 and signified.
7 Q. Since we mentioned this mass movement or maspok, as it was called,
8 can you tell us very briefly what it actually means so as to clarify this
10 A. It was the politics waged by the then leadership of the League of
11 Communists of Croatia led by Savka Dabcevic Kucar, Miko Tripalo, and they
12 gained broad support by the different nationalist organisations of Croatia
13 for a confederalisation of Yugoslavia, and to all intents and purposes, it
14 called for Croatia's independence by the same token, and which this would
15 end up by having Croatia move for membership in the United Nations. So
16 that was the level it went up to and the level of changes in relationships
17 in Yugoslavia that it called for.
18 Q. Now, if I've understood you correctly in that year of 1971, the
19 leadership of Croatia called for an independent Croatia and its reception
20 into the United Nations as a member?
21 A. Yes.
22 Q. You said that this demand was overturned by Josip Broz Tito. Was
23 he the president of Yugoslavia and the president of the League of
24 Communists of Yugoslavia?
25 A. Yes.
1 Q. Can you tell me what ethnicity Josip Broz Tito was himself?
2 A. Well, everybody knew that he was a Croat, although in the Belgrade
3 press, lots of things were written about all this but we all believed that
4 he was a Croat.
5 Q. Tell us how it was that Josip Broz Tito vanquished that stream,
6 the 1971 stream, that called for Croatia's independence and its becoming a
7 member of the United Nations in that year of 1971?
8 A. He held a session in Karadjordjevo, a meeting in Karadjordjevo
9 with the political leadership of the day. I can't remember all the people
10 that were there. Well, he replaced the leadership, in fact, the political
11 leadership in Croatia, and while he was at it, a large-scale manoeuvres
12 were taking place by the army on the territory of Croatia.
13 Q. Now, those manoeuvres, were they entitled Freedom 71? Was that
14 the name given to the manoeuvres?
15 A. Yes.
16 Q. So this demand for breaking up Yugoslavia and Croatia's secession
17 in 1971 ended by the replacement of the Croatian leadership and in 1974
18 the new constitution of Yugoslavia was adopted; is that right, Mr. Babic?
19 A. Yes. With the proviso that in the meantime constitutional
20 amendments were adopted to the constitution of Yugoslavia between 1971 and
21 1974, I mean, so that the 1974 constitution just incorporated the
22 amendments that had already been adopted and gave definitive shape and
23 introduced new relationships between the republics of the Socialist
24 Federal Republic of Yugoslavia in such a way as that although the country
25 was a federation in name, it actually became a confederation in essence.
1 Q. Thank you, Mr. Babic.
2 MR. MILOVANCEVIC: [Interpretation] Your Honour, I think that this
3 would be a good opportunity to take our break, if that is agreeable.
4 JUDGE MOLOTO: Thank you, Mr. Milovancevic. We will take our
5 break and come back at quarter to 11.
6 Court adjourned.
7 --- Recess taken at 10.17 a.m.
8 --- On resuming at 10.52 a.m.
9 JUDGE MOLOTO: Sorry about that little delay.
10 Mr. Milovancevic.
11 MR. MILOVANCEVIC: [Interpretation] Thank you, Your Honour.
12 JUDGE MOLOTO: Thank you.
13 MR. MILOVANCEVIC: [Interpretation]
14 Q. Mr. Babic, we left off mentioning the new constitution of
15 Yugoslavia or rather the then constitution of Yugoslavia dating back to
16 1974, and you said of that constitution that, in fact, it turned
17 Yugoslavia into a confederation; is that correct?
18 A. [Microphone not activated]
19 THE INTERPRETER: Microphone, please. Microphone for the witness,
21 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] The Socialist Federal Republic of
22 Yugoslavia pursuant to the constitution was still a federation but the
23 structure relationship between republics and provinces by the new -- under
24 the new 1974 constitution was changed. Or rather we can say that the
25 Croatian movement in 1971 was defeated but that the demands of that
1 movement were incorporated into the constitution, and Yugoslavia did
2 indeed become a confederation, by virtue of its contents.
3 MR. MILOVANCEVIC: [Interpretation]
4 Q. You said that it was personally the Croatian leadership, the
5 political leadership of 1971, that the political leadership was defeated
6 because Josip Broz Tito replaced them as president of Yugoslavia, I mean
7 Josip Broz Tito. Now, can you give us some well known names from that
8 1971 year?
9 A. Well, I've already mentioned them. Two political leaders, one was
10 the secretary or rather the party head of the League of Communists of
11 Croatia Savka Dabcevic Kucar, and the second name was Miko Tripalo. There
12 were more but --
13 Q. Thank you, Mr. Babic. What about Pero Pirker, was he among them?
14 A. Yes.
15 Q. Ivan Zvonimir Cicak, although he wasn't in the party, Drazan
17 A. Cicak and Budisa were students at the time. They were not in the
18 party or rather one of them, whether he studied theology, I think, I'm not
19 quite sure, but I don't think they were members of the party. Budisa and
20 Cicak but I can't be sure.
21 Q. The movement for Croatia's independence in 1971, that you talked
22 about, did it include just the party functionaries or were there other
23 members as well? Do you know anything about the fate of Janko Bobetko,
24 Stjepan Mesic, Franjo Tudjman?
25 A. The maspok was in fact a concept for a broader social movement
1 going on in Croatia at the time. The League of Communists of Croatia --
2 well, I can't tell you specifically about the relationships within the
3 movement but the League of Communists of Yugoslavia was part of that
5 THE INTERPRETER: I'm sorry, League of Communists of Croatia,
6 interpreter's correction.
7 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] And I said that
8 different organisations such as the Matica Hrvatska, with Croatian
9 attributes was part of it and they were leaders of the maspok in the
10 society of Croatia, so Matica Hrvatska, was the most extreme or extremist
11 organisation within the frameworks of that movement and the movement
12 itself is linked to Matica Hrvatska. And now all the people, the names, I
13 can't remember them all from that time.
14 Q. Thank you, Mr. Babic. In the 1970s, and later on, the president
15 of Croatia, Franjo Tudjman, was he convicted for Croatian nationalism and
16 was he sentenced to a term in prison?
17 A. I heard about that when Tudjman was head of the HDZ and a
18 presidential candidate or rather when he had already become president of
19 Croatia. I heard information about that from a man who had taken part in
20 Tudjman's trial. But from that time, from 1971, I really don't know
22 Q. Do you know when the trial took place? Are you talking about the
23 1970s now?
24 A. Yes, I am talking about that time but as I say I heard about it in
25 the 1990s.
1 Q. Did you happen to hear that the present president of the Republic
2 of Croatia, Stjepan Mesic, as president of the Orahovac municipality was
3 given a prison term for Croatian nationalism during those 1970s?
4 A. Well, I don't know what his position was but I knew -- do know
5 that he spent time in prison in Stara Gradiska for that.
6 Q. Do you know that General Janko Bobetko, the Chief of the Main
7 Staff of the Croatian army, in the 91 to 95 events, was pensioned off in
8 1971 and he also had problems because of Croatian nationalism?
9 A. No.
10 Q. Since we have been using the term maspok, is that in fact an
11 abbreviation of two words, mass movement, and whether for that mass
12 movement, the other name was the Croatian Spring and we are talking about
14 A. Yes.
15 Q. Do you know, Mr. Babic, anything about an event on Mount Radusa
16 near Bugojno in Bosnia-Herzegovina that took place in 1972?
17 A. Yes.
18 Q. Can you tell us what happened there at the time?
19 A. Well, I can tell you what I heard from the mass media, from the
20 press, and what happened in my surrounding parts.
21 Q. Tell us, please.
22 A. Well, that year, as far as we were informed by the press, a group
23 of Croatian emigres, as they were referred to -- they were referred to as
24 Ustashas, they illegally crossed into some cistern or some kind of truck,
25 they managed to come in from abroad, on a vehicle, into Yugoslavia, and
1 they got out at mount Radusa in western Hercegovina which is between
2 Bosnia and Herzegovina. Their objective was to raise an armed uprising a
3 rebellion, and -- against Yugoslavia, and as I myself was in my native
4 village at that time, during that summer, I know that there was movement
5 on the part of the police, that the group was -- they went out to
6 apprehend the group. I think that many of them were taken prisoner and
7 liquidated and that was the event.
8 Q. Would I be wrong if I say that of the 19 members of that group in
9 that operation, 18 were liquidated and that the army and police forces in
10 Yugoslavia or rather that the police and army forces of Yugoslavia had a
11 number of casualties?
12 A. Yes, to the best of my knowledge, 18 to 19 casualties in fact.
13 Q. Do you remember the killing of Ambassador Rolovic in Stockholm,
14 the capital of Sweden. He was the ambassador of Yugoslavia to Sweden and
15 his killing in 1971 and who did the killing?
16 A. I remember. I was at school in Zvezdana and our school was tasked
17 with carrying flowers when Ambassador Rolovic was being buried in the new
18 cemetery in Belgrade. And this had been done by a member of the Sosi
19 [phoen] immigration as we were told. I forget his name. He was arrested
20 and he was arrested, he was imprisoned in Sweden, but the name may still
21 come to me. But I'll tell you later if it does.
22 Q. The two assassins, were they Miro Barisic and Ajdjelko Brajkovic?
23 A. Yes, I remember Barisic but I can't remember the other name,
24 doesn't ring a bell.
25 Q. On that occasion, did they storm into the embassy of Yugoslavia in
1 the capital of Sweden and they killed the ambassador by shooting in -- a
2 bullet in his mouth? Do you remember that?
3 A. Yes, I believe that the event was described in that way.
4 Q. Is it correct that this Ustasha terrorist, Miro Barisic, after his
5 escape, went to Paraguay and instructed special units in martial arts, and
6 then in 1991 he joined the Croatian police and he was killed by the
7 Serbian peasants at the barricades?
8 A. I know that he escaped from Sweden, I don't know where he found
9 himself. I know that he was killed in 1991, somewhere on the line
10 separating the Krajina Police and the Croatian police. I heard that, and
11 even here in this happening, imprisoned people asked me if I knew who was
12 it who had killed this Barisic. I don't know who it was and this would be
13 the answer to your question, actually to your statement.
14 Q. Who was it who asked you in the detention unit about the killers
15 of Barisic?
16 A. Mladen Naletilic, Tuta. Tuta asked me about that.
17 Q. Can you tell us who that person is and how come he's here?
18 A. I met him in the detention unit here. He is a Croat from
20 Q. He is accused by the Tribunal. Are you referring to that person?
21 That's what I meant.
22 A. Yes.
23 Q. The late Miro Barisic, the assassin, the killer of an ambassador
24 of Yugoslavia, did he die as a member of the Croatian police, the police
25 of Franjo Tudjman, in 1991?
1 A. I wouldn't be able to tell you. I don't know.
2 Q. Was he on the Serbian side or on the Croatian side?
3 A. I assume that he was on the Croatian side but I don't know
4 anything about the event itself.
5 JUDGE NOSWORTHY: Before you proceed, Mr. Milovancevic, was it in
6 that context that you used the term Ustasha terrorist of Miro before in
7 your previous question?
8 MR. MILOVANCEVIC: [Interpretation] Yes, Your Honour.
9 Q. After the reminiscing on 1991 I have another question, Mr. Babic.
10 Do you remember or do you know anything about a similar movement for
11 Slovenian independence in Slovenia before the year 1971? Do you know
12 anything about the road scandal? Did you hear anything about that?
13 A. No, no. I don't have enough information as to be able to say
14 anything about that. I don't know what happened before 1971 in Croatia --
15 in Slovenia.
16 Q. You said that the top leadership in Croatia that wanted Croatia to
17 be admitted into the United Nations in 1971, were eventually replaced by
18 Josip Broz Tito?
19 A. Yes. Savka Dabcevic Kucar and Miko Tripalo were removed from their
21 Q. You have also told us that despite the defeat of the top
22 leadership in Croatia, there were some changes to the constitution in 1974
23 which meant essential changes of the state of Yugoslavia, which was still
24 a federation but was gradually turning into a confederation?
25 A. Yes.
1 Q. Would I be wrong or let me put it in another way: The main
2 authors of the 1974 constitution, were they Slovenian Edvard Kardelj and a
3 Croat, Vladimir Bakaric, and together with them Josip Broz Tito, the Croat
4 who adopted all that as the president of Yugoslavia?
5 A. But also the political leaderships of Serbia, Bosnia-Herzegovina,
6 Montenegro, Macedonia, of all the republics, in other words. Otherwise,
7 there could not have been any amendments to the constitution, if there was
8 no consensus on the part of everybody.
9 Q. You've told us that after all of these events that we have just
10 talked about, towards the end of 1989, you participated in the party
11 congress of the League of Communists of Croatia and that one could hear
12 new theories about the position of that party. Were they similar to the
13 theories that were heard in 1971 or did you perceive them as such?
14 A. No. I felt a certain level of ethno-philotism, and that's putting
15 it mildly. Not in the League of Communists of Croatia and not in the way
16 as it was in 1971.
17 Q. At that moment, in 1989, when this congress of the League of
18 Communists of Croatia took place, already from February 1989, there was
19 the Croatian Democratic Union in place as a party?
20 A. I don't know when the Croatian democratic union was established.
21 I don't know exactly, but what I know is that after the congress and the
22 changes to the legislation of Croatia, at the beginning of 1990, it was
23 one of the first parties that had been set up as part of the pluralist
24 political system of Croatia that was set up after the congress of the
25 League of Communists of Croatia. I don't know when this happened, whether
1 it was in February or in some other time. I don't know when the HDZ was
3 Q. Mr. Tudjman participated in the meeting on the 24th and 25th of
4 February 1990, in the founding meeting of the HDZ, and he said that this
5 organisation had been active as of February 1989, and when this congress
6 took place, it became a political organisation and it was registered as
7 such. Was it registered even before?
8 A. It could not have been registered before the congress because it
9 took the changes to the legislation in order to register new parties. So
10 the parliament had to pass new laws in order for any new parties to be
11 registered. Is that the answer to your question?
12 Q. Thank you, Mr. Babic. Can you tell us when the law was passed
13 that allowed multi-party organisation of the political life in Croatia?
14 A. It was either in late 1989 or early 1990, the beginning of 1990 it
15 was already in force and the date for a multi-party election was set. I
16 believe that it happened already at the congress of the League of
17 Communists of Croatia before the procedure itself to adopt legal norms was
18 passed or the date and the time of the first multi-party elections in
19 Croatia was already set and I remember that there was a lot of debate
20 about that, whether this was premature or not, and I know that the --
21 either the president or the secretary of the party organization of Zagreb,
22 whatever his title was, opposed to such an early setup of the date of the
23 elections. He was of the opinion that this was premature. I remember
24 those details very well.
25 Q. At that time, a law was passed that provided the grounds for the
1 multi-party system in Croatia and a number of new parties appeared on the
2 political scene of Croatia. Do you remember any of them? Can you tell us
3 their names and who their leaders were?
4 A. After the congress and after the laws were passed, until the
5 elections which were held in April and May, the League of Communists of
6 Croatia was gradually transformed and it changed the name. It was changed
7 into SDP which was the party of democratic changes. Then the Croatian
8 Democratic Union was established or rather registered as such. Then there
9 was the Croatian Democratic Party, the Serbian Democratic Party, the
10 Yugoslav independent democratic party, I'm not sure whether the Socialist
11 Party of Croatia was established before or after the elections. Its head
12 was Boro Mikelic, and there was also the Socialist Party of Croats or the
13 Socialist Alliance of the working people of Croatia which was transformed
14 into a new party under the name of the Socialist Party of Croatia and this
15 also happened before the elections. I don't know whether there were any
16 other parties. There must have been but I can't remember.
17 Q. It's enough, Mr. Babic.
18 We mentioned some political figures from the political life of
19 Croatia that were active in 1971, Savka Dabcevic and Miko Tripalo namely,
20 and we also mentioned Mr. Tudjman. In 1990, did Savka Dabcevic took the
21 leadership of a new party?
22 A. Yes. But let me try and remember its name. I can't give you its
23 precise name. I don't know whether she was with the two Veselica brothers
24 in the Croatian people's party or whether she founded her own party.
25 Q. What about Mr. Tripalo, was he a member of a new party?
1 A. Yes, with Savka. He was a member of her party. They were members
2 of the same party.
3 Q. Mr. Budisa, did he establish a party or did he belong to a party,
4 Drazen Budisa?
5 A. Yes, but I can't remember the name of his party. I don't know
6 whether they immediately registered themselves as the Croatian Liberal
7 Party or something similar to that. I don't know. Maybe they were called
8 the Liberal Democratic Party. In any case, that was their name later.
9 Q. It is a notorious fact that Mr. Franjo Tudjman became the first
10 president of the Croatian Democratic Union and there is no dispute about
12 A. Yes, you're right.
13 Q. Mr. Stipan Mesic was also, a high-ranking policemen of that party?
14 A. Yes. He was a member of the HDZ. He was just a politician in
15 that party.
16 Q. Yes. In the HDZ, yes?
17 A. Yes.
18 Q. Can we say in very general terms that all the people who had
19 problems on account of the Croatian nationalism in 1971 and were removed
20 from politics, all of a sudden in 1990 appeared on the scene as the
21 leaders of the best-known new parties in Croatia?
22 A. Yes. What I knew about these people in 1971, they re-appeared in
23 1990, all of them save for Cicak who was probably a member of a non-party
24 organisation, of a non-governmental organisation.
25 Q. Mr. Babic, we were talking about this Croatian Spring as it was
1 known or the maspok that took place in 1971. In 1971, did that political
2 option have an impact on the Croatian population or the population of
3 Croatia? How did people perceive that? How did you perceive 1971?
4 A. The year 1971 caused a lot of ethnic tensions and some political
5 regrouping. I've already mentioned the fact that Croatian nationalists
6 and advocates of the independent state of Croatia rallied around Matica
7 Hrvatska and on the other hand, the Serbs rallied around Prosvjeta. Both
8 these institutions were, on the paper, cultural and arts societies but at
9 that time they became the fosterers of political ideas. As a consequence
10 there was a lot of mistrust, a raised level of fear among the Serbs,
11 especially after the year 1972 and the infiltration of the terrorist group
12 that we mentioned and also the idea of an independent state of Croatia
13 which started being prominent in the Croatian society and in the Croatian
14 general public also gave rise to fear and these are the consequences that
15 lingered on in society.
16 Q. You mentioned certain fear in 1971 and 1972. Who was afraid?
17 What were they afraid of?
18 A. I'm talking about the fear that existed amongst the Serbs because
19 I could notice that in the area where I was, in 1971, the Serbs were
20 afraid, they didn't know what the number of the -- and the strength of
21 that group of immigrants was, the group that was infiltrated. The Serbs
22 feared for their lives.
23 Q. Mr. Babic, that political option, the option of independence, and
24 leaving the Yugoslav federation and asking for membership in the United
25 Nations, did this also cause fear amongst the Serb population? Were there
1 any reactions to that?
2 A. I don't know. I wouldn't be able to define a fear but I can say
3 that there was a counter-political movement which had its origin in the
4 cultural, Serbian cultural society called Prosvjeta. This was a reaction
5 to -- and there was an escalation of political positions that were based
6 on ethnicity and I think that this would be the best description of the
7 relationship that existed at the time.
8 Q. At that congress of the League of Communists of Croatia in 1989,
9 where did you vote against the decision for the League of Communists of
10 Croatia to become independent and you were among a very few who voted
11 against that decision?
12 A. I said that there were two decisions on the table. I voted for
13 the multi-party system but I was against the second decision because I
14 believed the League of Communists had prevalence in society and that it
15 was still ruling -- the ruling party and that it will remain the ruling
16 party even after the multi-party elections, for -- at least for some time,
17 and that there was an imminent danger that a new political option would
18 lead to separation and break-up of republics in Yugoslavia. This was my
19 line of thought at the time, and this is the reason why I voted for the
20 former constitutional and statutory decision.
21 Q. You said that towards the end of 1989, the new law on multi-party
22 organisation of the state was passed and that the new multi-party -- and
23 that the first multi-party elections were called for the month of April
24 1990; is that correct?
25 A. Yes.
1 Q. Can you please tell us what were the political situation was at
2 the time? What was the political campaign in the run-up to the first
3 multi-party elections especially in view of the Croatian population -- of
4 the Serbian population of Croatia?
5 A. The campaign in Croatia started in 1989 and intensified. The main
6 issue on the agenda was something that was outside of Croatia, namely the
7 incidents in Kosovo and the celebration of the 600th anniversary of the
8 Kosovo battle, and this was used to polarise society in Croatia. The
9 first movement was among -- in the trade union of Croatia which supported
10 miners in Trepca whereas Serb members of the trade union in some companies
11 advocated the political option introduced by Serbia in Kosovo. Already in
12 1989, this became a topical issue and at the beginning of 1990 and in the
13 run-up to the multi-party elections, were still among the most topical
14 issues. And then, of course, the political parties that were set up in
15 early 1990 and appeared in the political campaign and on the political
16 scene in the run-up to the second round of elections in May 1990, they
17 advocated political changes; there was a competition of political ideas
18 amongst these parties.
19 Q. These events in Kosovo and as you said the support of the Croatian
20 trade unions to the Albanian claims in Kosovo, did that start in 1989 or
21 did it actually start earlier? Do you have any information about that?
22 A. Well, when was it that they started exactly? But things escalated
23 in 1980, I think, in February, when the trade union supported the miners
24 in the Trepca mines who were on strike. So it was the trade unions of
25 Croatia that supported them. Whereas the Serbs supported the intervention
1 or the political leadership of Serbia towards the miners and towards
2 Kosovo. That is when big rallies were held, rallies of support, to this
3 policy in Knin, Lapac, et cetera, whereas at the same time the federation
4 of the trade unions of Croatia and Slovenia, I think, were collecting aid
5 for the strikers in the Trepca mine. So I remember that, and I remember
6 that this polarisation actually came to the fore then, and these political
8 Q. These miners in Trepca, Mr. Babic, were they of Albanian
10 A. Yes.
11 Q. Were they on strike because they sought better working conditions
12 or did they have some other demands?
13 A. I think that it was in the context of political demands in Kosovo
14 that were there for many years, and at that time, they escalated. I
15 cannot give you the exact time but there were demonstrations by students,
16 the general population, workers, in favour of proclaiming Kosovo a
17 republic. There was an intervention by the federal authorities, a federal
18 detachment of the police was set up there. I know that because some
19 policemen from Croatia also went to this detachment which controlled the
20 situation there. I cannot give you the exact time-frame when all of this
21 happened. I simply heard about it from the media. I was following it
22 from a distance.
23 MR. WHITING: I'm sorry to interrupt, Your Honour, I just wonder
24 if we could get a clarification on the time, the year, here. Because in
25 answer to a previous question, it's at line 19, there may have been a
1 misinterpretation but it says 1980 whereas in previous answers it was I
2 believe 1990. So perhaps this could be clarified what year approximately
3 we are talking about.
4 JUDGE MOLOTO: Are you able to do that for us, Mr. Milovancevic?
5 MR. MILOVANCEVIC: [Interpretation] Yes, Your Honour.
6 Q. Mr. Babic --
7 JUDGE MOLOTO: While we are at it I was about to ask whether are
8 we likely to come to the relevant period to the case? We've been dealing
9 with history from 1971 and it looks like we are outside the period of the
10 indictment. I'm not quite sure when you hope to get there, if you can
11 give us an idea.
12 MR. MILOVANCEVIC: [Interpretation] Your Honour, I actually wanted
13 to get to this answer through the witness's answers.
14 Q. But let's clarify there particular matter, Mr. Babic. These
15 protests of Albanian miners in Trepca, when did they actually take place?
16 The transcript does not reflect the exact year, 88, 80, when was it?
17 A. I think it was during the course of 1988 until the beginning of
18 February 1989. I cannot say exactly. I just know that in February 1989,
19 there was an escalation of different reactions in society on account of
20 these events. That's what I know.
21 Q. I'm just going to put one more question to you in relation to this
22 particular topic, very briefly. You said that at that time, Albanians in
23 Kosovo were asking for a republic, the federal authorities intervened, and
24 you also said that Slovenia and Croatia support this demand for
25 independence. Is that what you said?
1 A. No. I said that the Croatian and Slovenian trade unions were
2 collecting aid contributions for the miners who were in the Trepca mines
3 on strike. This was a drive by the trade unions of Croatia and then the
4 trade union of a factory in Knin reacted and they condemned the Croatian
5 trade unions for supporting the miners. That's February 1989. And there
6 was a social confrontation in Croatia on account of these events.
7 Q. Since these are political events that do not have to do with this
8 case, really, but just a brief question. What about the demands of the
9 Trepca miners who were sitting in the mines? Were they -- were their
10 demands political or did they want to have better working conditions?
11 A. I cannot give you a precise answer to that.
12 Q. Thank you, Mr. Babic.
13 While answering the questions of the Prosecutor and also in your
14 statements, you said that after this congress of the League of Communists
15 of Croatia in 1989, that you participated in, at the beginning of 1990 you
16 heard of the Serb Democratic Party; is that correct?
17 A. Yes. On TV Belgrade, I think that it was on the day of St. Sava,
18 the 27th of January, I saw academician Raskovic making a statement, after
19 a rally in Donji Lapac; he announced that a Serb party would be
20 established. He didn't say what its actual name would be but he said that
21 it would be a party.
22 Q. Was the establishment of this kind of party announced by
23 Mr. Raskovic at a moment when there was already a law that made it
24 possible to establish different political parties?
25 A. Yes.
1 Q. This Serb Democratic Party that was established in the territory
2 of the then Yugoslav Republic of Croatia, was it registered according to
3 Croatian laws and the federal law?
4 A. Yes, first it was registered according to the Croatian law and a
5 few months later it was also registered at the federal Secretariat for
6 Justice that dealt with this, yes.
7 Q. Does that mean that a decision was passed by a relevant authority
8 of the Republic of Croatia, the ministry for justice and administration,
9 that's probably what it was called, and in this way, was the Serb
10 Democratic Party registered in accordance with the programme that
11 contained its political goals?
12 A. Yes, it was registered, this party was.
13 Q. According to this decision, could the Serb Democratic Party
14 operate in the territory of all of Croatia and could it operate in the
15 territory of Yugoslavia as such?
16 A. Yes.
17 Q. This possibility of political activity on the part of the Serb
18 Democratic Party stemmed on the one hand from the decision of the relevant
19 Croatian authorities that it could function in the territory of Croatia
20 and also at the same time it was registered at federal level by the
21 appropriate authorities in Belgrade?
22 A. Yes, it wasn't at the same time. It was a bit later, but yes.
23 Q. Well, I said at the same time in a figurative sense. I hope that
24 we understand each other.
25 A. Yes.
1 Q. Did you have occasion to see this document on the registration of
2 the Serb Democratic Party, this document of the Ministry of Justice and
3 Administration of the Republic of Croatia, and what does it say in it?
4 What are the objectives of the party?
5 A. Yes.
6 Q. Can you tell us in general terms what it says in this decision?
7 A. In that decision, there are two or three sentences in terms of
8 what the programme of the party is. Briefly, well, now, I would have to
9 repeat it, but perhaps I can just tell you about it in my own words.
10 After all, I handed in a document, and it exists there, and that is where
11 it is precisely specified what it says.
12 Q. Does it say in this document that --
13 MR. WHITING: Your Honour, excuse me, I'm wondering if the -- if
14 Mr. Milovancevic is going to put a document to the witness, whether it
15 could be shown to the witness, for him to comment on it, if that's what's
16 intended here.
17 JUDGE MOLOTO: Mr. Milovancevic? Will you show the witness the
18 document you want to talk about? And possibly also show it to your
19 learned friend on the opposite side and to the Chamber?
20 MR. MILOVANCEVIC: [Interpretation] Your Honour, that is possible.
21 I proceeded from the statement that the witness gave on the 31st of
22 January 2006, wherein the tabs on page 2 of that statement, in tab 2,
23 there is a brief account of the text of that decision, so I thought that
24 the presentation of the document in its entirety would just be
25 time-consuming. That's why I didn't want to produce the document itself.
1 I believe that there is nothing controversial about it. The witness
2 should know what he said in his statement and what the content of this
3 document is. I don't think it is necessary for us to dwell on it now, to
4 find the document. Of course, if you consider this to be necessary I
5 shall do so.
6 JUDGE MOLOTO: Mr. Milovancevic, you can do so without looking at
7 a document yourself. But once you start picking up the document and you
8 want the witness to comment on the content of the document, then we've got
9 to know whether you intend to tender that document into evidence, you've
10 got to show it to the witness, and show it to the rest of the people who
11 participate in the proceedings.
12 If, however, that's -- you don't intend tendering it into
13 evidence, you can ask the question and let's see whether the witness can
14 remember what he said.
15 MR. MILOVANCEVIC: [Interpretation]
16 Q. Do you remember, Mr. Babic, what it said in principle, this
17 decision about the objectives of the political party and why its
18 registration was allowed?
19 A. The Serb Democratic Party shall advocate the introduction of a
20 multi-party system, of a free market in society, also the freedom of
21 speech, of assembly, rule of law, then federal relations within
22 Yugoslavia, regionalisation. Now, what it says exactly in the decision is
23 probably a shorter form. Now, I don't know whether it was all enumerated
24 in the decision itself but these are the basic programme tenets of the
25 party, as was stated in the decision.
1 Q. Thank you for this explanation, Mr. Babic.
2 This is Exhibit 138, which is part of the evidence, so I believe
3 that there is no need to produce this yet again. As far as I can
4 remember, I think that you quoted it correctly. However, what I would
5 like to ask you is the following: You participated in the founding
6 meetings of that party.
7 A. Yes.
8 Q. You explained the reasons for your attendance at these meetings,
9 and your becoming a high official of that party. Can you tell us what
10 these questions were that were of such vital importance for the Serbs
11 living in Croatia? What did the party deal with?
12 A. I already mentioned three main questions and reasons. That is the
13 democratisation of the society itself recognition, that is to say
14 introducing a pluralist multi-party system, introducing a free market, the
15 rule of law, and legality, and so on and so forth. All of that is part of
16 the democratisation of society and doing away with the communist legacy.
17 Another question was the protection of Serb national interests in Croatia,
18 and thirdly the third question was regionalisation, that the party
19 advocated. Since I belonged to a region where Serbs were the predominant
20 population, the programme of the party met my political positions and my
21 assessment that the party would be successful with this kind of programme
22 in the region of Knin where I lived.
23 Q. Thank you, Mr. Babic.
24 For those reasons, you became a member of that party, and then,
25 due to various circumstances and developments, you became one of its
1 officials, too; is that right?
2 A. Yes.
3 Q. Before that you were a member of the League of Communists of
4 Croatia. Can you tell us whether, in the League of Communists of Croatia
5 and the moment when you enter this new political party, did you personally
6 ever display any nationalist positions or any kind of hatred? Did you
7 have any feelings of that kind?
8 A. No.
9 Q. This programme of the party that was verified by a republican
10 authority that registered the party, did it contain anything that seemed
11 extremist, nationalist, impermissible, non-democratic to you at the time?
12 A. No.
13 Q. You said that one of the questions that this party was supposed to
14 deal with was the question of the Serb people in Croatia. Can you tell us
15 briefly, the then Republic of Croatia as a member of the Yugoslav
16 federation, what was the population of Croatia then and what percentage
17 were Serbs, the Serb people in Croatia?
18 A. The last census dated back to 1981 so I'm going to give
19 approximate figures now. Croatia had about 4 and a half million
20 inhabitants, perhaps a bit more. Out of that, there were about 12 per
21 cent Serbs or a bit more than that. There were a few percentage points of
22 Yugoslavs and others, other nations and nationalities, as it was called at
23 the time, if you meant the ethnic composition of the population of
25 Q. That's precisely what I meant, Mr. Babic. So in the structure of
1 the population of the Yugoslav Republic of Croatia, Serbs comprised 12 per
2 cent or, can you remember the actual numbers, the actual figures? I'm not
3 insisting, I'm not insisting that you remember all figures in detail but
5 A. Well, I think there were about 530.000 of them, a bit over
7 Q. Can you tell us, and we've already spoken about this, where it was
8 that the Serbs of Croatia lived, in terms of territory and then we'll come
9 to the towns later?
10 JUDGE MOLOTO: Before he answers that question, can I clarify one
11 point? Earlier at line 13, the answer starting at line 13, Mr. Babic said
12 that Serbs constituted about 12 per cent or a little bit more than that,
13 of the population. And then there were a few percentage points of
14 Yugoslavs. Now, are Yugoslavs an ethnic group or is the term Yugoslav,
15 does it describe the entire population? Because you then say Yugoslavs
16 and others, other nations and nationalities, as it was called at the time.
17 If you meant the ethnic composition of the population of Croatia.
18 Can you clear that, please?
19 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Yes. According to the rules on
20 stating your ethnicity, and right to state your ethnicity during a
21 population census, there were categories as to how people could declare
22 themselves, ethnically speaking. So there were -- was a list of nations
23 and nationalities under certain numbers, for statistical processing, and
24 when the census was taken you could declare yourself in different ways.
25 You could declare yourself as being a Croat, a Serb, a Slovene, et cetera.
1 Those were the nations or the nationalities or ethnic groups which were
2 Italians, for example, Hungarians, Albanians, and so forth. So those are
3 the nations and nationalities. Then you could not declare yourself in any
4 one of those ways, and then there was a separate category. People who did
5 not declare themselves on an ethnic basis and then there was the category
6 of those who would -- could declare themselves on a regional basis as
7 being a Dalmatian, a Bosnian, and so on and so forth, without it being a
8 national category, a Slavonian or whatever. And then there was ha this
9 additional category of Yugoslav. You could declare yourself a Yugoslav.
10 And that was always the very interesting question of what this is. Was
11 this a national affiliation or was it a regional affiliation, or what was
12 it? So I couldn't give you a clear-cut definition but it is closer to the
13 national option rather than regional. So according to some assessments,
14 these were people from mixed marriages, for example, the children of a
15 mixed marriage or people who did not wish -- who were one nationality but
16 didn't want to stress their national or ethnic affiliation and perhaps
17 declared themselves in the political sense as being Yugoslavs. Either to
18 cover up their nationality or to highlight the Yugoslav nation as being a
19 nationality, your nationality. I apologise if I've taken up too much of
20 the Court's time.
21 JUDGE MOLOTO: Thank you, Mr. Babic. The other question that came
22 from Mr. Milovancevic was where did the Serbs of Croatia live in Croatia,
23 in terms of territory, in case you had forgotten that, Mr. Milovancevic,
24 that was your question, more or less.
25 MR. MILOVANCEVIC: [Interpretation] Thank you, Your Honour. Yes,
1 that was it.
2 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Do you wish me to comment, taking
3 the regions and the municipalities or broader regions? Or generally, do
4 you wish my answer to be a general one.
5 MR. MILOVANCEVIC: [Interpretation].
6 Q. Mr. Babic, let's just avoid interrupting each other or overlapping
7 for the benefit of the interpreters, otherwise they are going to have
8 problems, but just one question. The constitution of Yugoslavia according
9 to that constitution, the members of all the nationalities or ethnic
10 groups living on the territory of Yugoslavia were divided into nations and
11 national minorities. Now, the name for these national minorities that was
12 used -- or was the term national minority used in a different sense? You
13 mentioned, you touched upon that issue a moment ago.
14 A. Yes, the population was divided into members of nations and they
15 were the majority nations in Yugoslavia and the nationalities which in
16 fact represented the national minorities and the members of ethnic groups
17 that did not belong to either category, either to the nations or --
18 Q. Thank you, Mr. Babic. That will suffice.
19 I asked you the question so that the Trial Chamber could
20 understand a specific feature of the Yugoslav constitution, and that is
21 this: Who were the nations in Yugoslavia, Narodi?
22 A. Pursuant to the constitution the nations of Yugoslavia was the she
23 convenience, the Croats, the Muslims, the Serbs, the Montenegrins, and the
25 Q. All the others, all the rest, were called or referred to as
1 nationalities which was a synonym for a national minority, can we state it
2 in those terms?
3 A. No, not everybody came under the national minority category. They
4 were national minorities or ethnic groups that came under the term
5 nationality, narodnosti.
6 Q. Thank you, Mr. Babic.
7 A. There were two categories, in fact. The nationalities and the
8 ethnic groups.
9 Q. Pursuant to the constitution, did we have the Yugoslav nations,
10 thew Serb nation, the Croat nation, the Slovenian nation, were the
11 Yugoslavs a nation or not pursuant to the constitution?
12 A. Well, when Her Honour asked me, I tried to explain what the
13 concept of Yugoslav, a Yugoslav consisted of. Do you want me to repeat
14 what I said because that's what I know about that.
15 Q. That will be enough, Mr. Babic.
16 A. Thank you.
17 Q. We were discussing the issue of the areas in Croatia inhabited by
18 Serbs, what those were. But before we go into that, one more question.
19 Pursuant to the constitution, were the Serbs a nation until 1992?
20 A. Yes, in the sense of constitutional establishment that the state
21 was a state of the Croatian people or Croatian nation, and a state of the
22 Serb people in Croatia. That was the constitutional category.
23 MR. MILOVANCEVIC: [Interpretation] Your Honour, I have just one
24 slight intervention. In line 14, it says, were the Serbs a nation until
25 1992, it wasn't 1992. It was 1990. 1990 was the date when the Croatian
1 constitution underwent amendments. Thank you. I just wanted to take note
2 of that.
3 Q. So the Serbs lived in Croatia as they -- it being their own
4 republic and they had the position of a nation just as the Croats had, the
5 Croats were a nation and the Serbs were a nation under the Croatian
6 constitution; is that right, Mr. Babic?
7 A. Yes.
8 Q. Can you tell us what areas, not the municipalities, just the
9 general areas, regions, inhabited by Serbs within the Republic of Croatia,
10 where they lived as a nation?
11 A. The Serbs lived throughout the republic, the Socialist Republic of
12 Croatia as a nation but they were the majority population in Northern
13 Dalmatia, eastern Lika, Kordun, Banija, those areas, and part of Western
14 Slavonia, whereas in other areas, for example, they represented -- well,
15 they also represented a significant portion of the population.
16 Q. Now, the Serbs in Croatia in 1990, did they live in Croatian towns
17 as well, towns throughout Croatia, the urban population?
18 A. Well, in Zagreb there were 6 per cent, for example, in Rijeka,
19 Split, Dubrovnik. That sort of percentage, 5 or 6 per cent. Yes, they
20 lived in the big towns.
21 JUDGE NOSWORTHY: I'm sorry, please, Mr. Milovancevic, before you
22 proceed, I'd like to know this from the witness.
23 Did not the persons within the different republics, the six, for
24 example, the Croatians, Macedonians, Slovenians, et cetera, did they not
25 have a sense of identity based on the fact that they were Yugoslavian in a
1 federation that was Yugoslavia? There was not that concept at all?
2 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] That Yugoslav identity was not a
3 national or ethnic identity. It was a political identity, as the citizens
4 of a state.
5 JUDGE NOSWORTHY: It was not a reality in terms of how they
6 perceived themselves as part of their identity, you're saying?
7 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] It was not their national identity.
8 Yugoslav-hood was not a national identity.
9 JUDGE NOSWORTHY: But there was no separate group that would be
10 known as Yugoslavs, it was a composite description for persons not clearly
11 fit into the other groups?
12 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Your Honour --
13 JUDGE NOSWORTHY: I see you're having difficulty after the
14 description is in. I don't know if I'm the only one in the Chamber or in
15 the courtroom that is having a difficulty.
16 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] There are two categories in which
17 one could declare oneself as being a Yugoslav. A Yugoslav in the sense of
18 national affiliation or something similar to that, in Yugoslavia, based on
19 the census. This represented 4, 5, 6 per cent of the population, that
20 category. The category of people who declared themselves as Yugoslavs.
21 And that would be something similar to national affiliation. So in
22 Croatia, which is what I was talking about, 6 or -- roughly 6 or 7 per
23 cent of the population according to the population census declared
24 themselves as being Yugoslavs. That is to say something that could be
25 termed a national category. But it was not -- they were not recognised as
1 a nation or nationality on the basis of the constitution, either of
2 Yugoslavia or the republics.
3 If I might try and explain this a little better, there was a lack
4 of national declaration. If somebody declared themselves as being
5 Yugoslav, they did not wish to declare themselves as being a member of one
6 of the six nations. That would be closest to an explanation.
7 MR. MILOVANCEVIC: [Interpretation]
8 Q. Mr. Babic, we were discussing the 1974 constitution, and you said
9 that the confederal element came to expression there. Now, what the Trial
10 Chamber is in fact asking you now, it is even difficult for us who lived
11 in that country to understand something like that because in America, an
12 American is an American, whereas in Yugoslavia, you could be a Serb or a
13 Croat or a Macedonian or a Muslim or a Montenegrin but all you couldn't be
14 pursuant to the constitution was a Yugoslav because a Yugoslav was not a
15 nation. Would that help you?
16 A. Well, thank you. What I know from the scientific terms used or
17 scholarly terms used in the world, there are two types of nation. One is
18 the American type or perhaps the French type in Europe, where citizenship
19 is synonymous with nation and there is the European type of nation, for
20 instance in Europe, where you have Italians, Serbs, Croats and so on which
21 is somewhat different a somewhat different concept to the American concept
22 of nation. So that's the best I can do on that point.
23 Q. We have one more minute, Your Honour. Perhaps we could round off
24 that topic in that minute. My last question in that area, when it comes
25 to a population census, the inhabitants in each of the Yugoslav republics
1 and in the then Yugoslavia had the possibility of declaring themselves as
2 to what nation they belonged to, whether they were Serbs, Croats,
3 Slovenes, Macedonians, and all the rest, don't have to go into enumerating
4 them all, but they also had the option of not declaring themselves in that
5 way but stating that we are Yugoslavs. So are those the Yugoslavs you had
6 in mind when you spoke about that category of the population census at
7 that time?
8 A. Yes.
9 MR. MILOVANCEVIC: [Interpretation] I don't think it would be of
10 any use to go on discussing that topic and it's time for the break as
11 well, Your Honours, so if that is agreeable, perhaps we should take the
12 break now.
13 JUDGE MOLOTO: I couldn't agree more with you.
14 Court adjourned, to come back at half past 12.
15 --- Recess taken at 12.01 p.m.
16 --- On resuming at 12.31 p.m.
17 JUDGE MOLOTO: Yes, Mr. Milovancevic.
18 MR. MILOVANCEVIC: [Interpretation].
19 Q. Before the break, Mr. Babic, we looked at the national composition
20 of the Republic of Croatia, the Yugoslav Republic of Croatia, in that year
21 of 1990. And we heard from you that after the congress of the League of
22 Communists of Croatia that was held in 1989 or the end of 1989, that you
23 joined the Serbian Democratic Party. Can you tell us the political reason
24 you chose to take that step and leave the League of Communists of Croatia
25 to join the Serbian Democratic Party?
1 A. Well, I think I've already said something about that. First of
2 all, the party programme was in favour of the democratisation of society
3 which meant leaving behind the communist past and introducing a
4 multi-party pluralist system of free market relations and so on and so
5 forth, not to enumerate all the aspect. The second reason was because the
6 party in its programme envisaged the protection of the Serbs in Croatia,
7 who represented the majority in the area of Knin. And that was my third
8 reason, in fact, my desire to give my contribution to the region's
9 development. So in view of the fact that the party had that kind of
10 programme, political programme, and I thought that they would gain support
11 in my region I close to join it. So those were the three reasons for my
12 doing so.
13 Q. You also told us I think that the League of Communists of Croatia
14 and you attended its last congress in December 1989, made the decision to
15 introduce a multi-party system and to call multi-party elections and
16 schedule them, and could you not wage that struggle for democratisation
17 within the League of Communists of Croatia, for example?
18 A. Well, I've already stated my reasons for joining the Serbian
19 Democratic Party.
20 Q. The League of Communists of Croatia, which changed its name into
21 the Party of Democratic Change at the time, so that was the new name, the
22 League of Communists of Yugoslavia Party of Democratic Change, did that
23 party take into account Serb interests in Croatia, the interests of the
24 Serb people in Croatia?
25 A. Well, that party, or rather we had the party standing behind
1 everything, as it was called at the time, the previous year and in the
2 bygone period before the multi-party elections were conducted introduced
3 certain changes and in the name given to the language which shook the Serb
4 population. So that was one reason for which I called those tendencies
5 within that party ethno-philotism, ethno-phile or pro-Croatian orientation
6 of a bourgeois nature.
7 Q. You said that that party in that year, were you thinking of 1989,
8 decided to change, make linguistic changes? How can it do so and what was
9 the substance of those changes?
10 A. I've already said the party stood behind all this because it was
11 in power. It was in power in the Sabor or Croatian assembly. I've
12 already spoken about that. The Croatian assembly, parliament, passed
13 changes in the language, and in the terms, and the party was behind that.
14 Q. The Sabor of Croatia was the Croatian assembly, in other words; is
15 that right?
16 A. Yes. That would be the Serb equivalent or the eastern expression
17 of Serbo-Croatian or Croato-Serbian, as the language was once called.
18 Q. And what were the changes in language? What kind of changes were
19 these? Do you know that in greater detail?
20 A. Well, the name of the language itself recognition as I've already
21 said, the language used to be called Croato-Serbian in official use it was
22 Croato-Serbian in Croatia, that was the official name by which the
23 language went. Now, the change in name, the first change in name, took
24 place during the power of the League of Communists of Croatia in 1989,
25 because there were changes during the HDZ in the 1990s, in the 1990s. So
1 this first change was the change in the name of the language itself, and
2 we had a rather unusual construction for the language's name, and then it
3 was said that in official use in Croatia, the Croatian literary language,
4 which is called either the Croatian language or the Serb language, would
5 be in use. That was the formulation with respect to the name of the
6 language, and it represented a Croatisation or the concept of a common
7 language for both Serbs and Croats but it still somehow satisfied form
8 because they sort of said, well, it's the same thing, if somebody says the
9 Serb language, that would mean the Croatian language as well or if
10 somebody spoke about this Croatian language that would imply the Serb
11 language as well.
12 Now, Croatian literary language, that was a question that needed
13 to be debated, what did that mean in political terms and other terms, and
14 that was the situation before the multi-party elections took place.
15 Q. Now, this question of language, was it a linguistic issue, first
16 and foremost or a political issue, first and foremost?
17 A. Well, it was primarily a political issue and then a linguistic
18 issue because with the language having its name, you had subsequent
19 changes in lexicology and the introduction of dialects, for instance,
20 dialect concepts, from Croatian and archaic terms of the old Croatian
21 language. Well, I'm not a linguistics expert to be able to explain it all
22 very well but, as I say, it was a political step and a linguistic one,
23 too, subsequently.
24 Q. You said that before 1989, in the Yugoslav Republic of Croatia,
25 the official language was Croato-Serbian language. Does it have anything
1 to do with the fact that according to the constitution of Croatia in
2 Croatia in addition to the Croatian people, there were also the Serbs? In
3 other words, the Serbs were a people recognised in the constitution and
4 that's why they had to have their own language? Does it have anything to
5 do with it or not?
6 A. No. Well, there is something to it but not that much. The name
7 of the language was such because it was one language that was spoken by
8 the Croats, Serbs, Muslims, and Montenegrins. It was the technical term
9 for the language in the linguistic literature. This term was used for the
10 language, in Croatia, Serbia, Montenegro and Bosnia-Herzegovina. There
11 were various combinations. In Croatia it was called Croato-Serbian in
12 Serbia it was called Serbo-Croatian and in Bosnia-Herzegovina it was
13 called Serbo-Croatian/Croato-Serbian or alternatively
14 Croato-Serbian/Serbo-Croatian what it all boiled down to was that this was
15 the language of Croats, Serbs, Muslims, and Montenegrins, and it was the
16 one and only language and in that sense, the term was coined in order to
17 establish the relationship between the language and the peoples. And in
18 Croatia, as to the existence of Serbs and Croats as peoples in the
19 constitution, that does have some indirect link with the name of the
20 language but it's a separate issue.
21 Q. If before 1989 the official language in Croatia was Croato-Serbian
22 language and after the changes that took place in 1989, the official
23 language was the Croatian literary language, did that imply that the
24 Serbian language was rejected from the official use?
25 A. No. In 1989, as I've already explained, this very peculiar
1 wording was introduced.
2 Q. Okay. Let's not dwell upon that.
3 A. That was the first changing in the name and then in 1990 under the
4 HDZ, the term Serbian was completely erased from the name of the language
5 and I believe that this is what you want me to talk about.
6 Q. When did this second change in the name of the language take
7 place, the one that was carried out by the HDZ?
8 A. It was in June or rather the beginning of July 1990, and it was
9 incorporated into the -- into draft amendments to the constitution of
11 Q. Did this happen after the first multi-party elections in Croatia
12 in April 1990?
13 A. Yes.
14 Q. During the first multi-party elections in 1990, was it the HDZ
15 that won the first multi-party elections?
16 A. Yes.
17 Q. Is it correct that the HDZ had 41 per cent of the total number of
18 votes at the multi-party elections but owing to the majority system, it
19 got the majority of seats in the parliament of Croatia; is that correct?
20 A. Yes.
21 Q. Is it correct that the president of the HDZ, Mr. Franjo Tudjman,
22 became the president of the Republic of Croatia as well?
23 A. He became the president of the Presidency of the Republic of
24 Croatia, which meant the head of state, yes, in the sense that you're
25 asking me, that is correct.
1 Q. In addition to the introduction of the Croatian language as the
2 official language of Croatia, were there any other changes introduced in
3 terms of the status of the Serbian people in Croatia?
4 A. Yes.
5 Q. Can you tell us something about those changes that were
7 A. There were a few changes that had an indirect or direct impact on
8 the Serbian people in Croatia. One of those changes was the abolition of
9 the association of municipalities, which was interpreted as an attack on
10 the right of Serbs, although in direct terms this could not be implied.
11 However in the assembly this was the consequence of that change. You have
12 already mentioned the change in the name of the language, and then the
13 constituent nature of the Serbian people was also changed so the status of
14 the Serbian people who from then on were treated as a national minority.
15 The symbols of the state were introduced in terms of -- in order to
16 underline the ethnic symbols of Croatia, the change in the name of the
17 republic, which did not have any consequence or impact on the interethnic
18 relationship. The word socialist was erased from the name of the state
19 because this was in line with the reforms that were taking place in
20 society. Those were the draft amendments to the constitution which were
21 proposed towards the end of June and the beginning of July 1990. Finally
22 everything was implemented in the new constitution that was passed in
23 December 1990, the new constitution of Croatia, that is.
24 Q. You have spoken in great detail about these changes, Mr. Babic,
25 and you said amongst other things that a -- mono-ethnic symbols of the
1 state were introduced as ethnic symbols of the state. What did you mean
2 by that?
3 A. The chequerboard was introduced and the chequerboard is a
4 customary term for the Croatian historical coat of arms which until then
5 was only one part of the coat of arms of the Republic of Croatia, which
6 also featured the five-pointed star. However, after the changes, the
7 chequerboard was featured on its own, without any additions, and it
8 represented a historical symbol of the Croatian state and the Croatian
9 people. However, it provoked discussions, both amongst the Croats as well
10 as amongst the Serbs, as to the meaning of this chequerboard.
11 Q. Is this chequerboard in any way connected with the independent
12 state of Croatia which existed between the years 1941 and 1945 and what it
13 meant then?
14 A. As I've already said, it provoked discussions and it evoked the
15 Independent State of Croatia when a similar symbol was the symbol of the
16 independent state of Croatia. There was a lot of discussion among the
17 general public in Croatia as to what was the symbol of the independent
18 state of Croatia and what was the symbol of the Republic of Croatia, and
19 it all boiled down to the distribution of fields, the red field and the
20 white field, and the layout of the chequerboard.
21 Q. Can you tell us what was the main political goal of the party led
22 by Mr. Tudjman was?
23 A. It was the democratisation of society, the break-up with the
24 communist past, nationalist and expansionist political goal as well.
25 Q. What in your view was the nationalist goal and what did it mean?
1 A. In general terms, it meant the so-called Croatisation of this,
2 that and the other, all the public institutions started being called
3 Croatian, not in terms of the Republic of Croatia as such but it was
4 rather an ethnic determination. We have already spoken about the
5 structure, the changes in the names and the introduction of the so-called
6 "new-speak" into the political language, and the language in the society,
7 and also there was a new political programme that went for the creation of
8 a confederation or ultimately the creation of an Independent State of
9 Croatia. At least during the election campaign of the president of the
10 party, Mr. Tudjman, this state should have incorporated parts of
12 Q. Now that you've mentioned Bosnia and Herzegovina and the political
13 goal that relates to Bosnia and Herzegovina, I would like to tell you that
14 we will go back to that later on but now let me ask you this: In order to
15 sum up whatever happened during this very short period of time in the
16 first half of the year 1990, could you say that the constitutional changes
17 meant that the Serbs lost their status of a nation in Croatia, that they
18 lost their language, that they lost a possibility to organise their
19 association of municipalities that had existed in the constitution until
20 then, that they lost their own symbols and that they had to accept
21 Croatian symbols and that the main Croatian symbol was the same
22 chequerboard that was the symbol of the independent state of Croatia that
23 was the execution ground of many a Serb during the Second World War?
24 A. Yes. Everything save for the shape of the chequerboard. It did
25 remind of the chequerboard that was used during the Independent State of
1 Croatia. However, an explanation that was given was that the Ustasha
2 chequerboard started with a white field, whereas the real, the genuine,
3 historical one started with a red field. So my answer would be yes, with
4 this little reservation.
5 Q. Did all these changes that took place in the political life of
6 Croatia and that concerned the Serbian people in Croatia, were they all
7 announced and were they announced by the notorious sentence used by
8 Mr. Tudjman at the founding meeting of the Croatian Democratic Union, who
9 said, and I quote, "The independent state of Croatia, the fascist,
10 quisling creation of Croatia was not only a quisling Croatia and a fascist
11 crime but also an expression of historical strive of the Croatian people,"
12 do you remember that?
13 A. Yes, Tudjman did utter that sentence.
14 Q. The constitutional changes that were introduced through the
15 amendments to the constitution of Croatia, did they meet with the approval
16 of the Serbian people in Croatia or were -- was the Serbian people opposed
17 to that?
18 A. The political representatives of the Serbian people opposed those
19 amendments, and this opposition was supported by the Serbian people at
20 their plebiscite.
21 Q. Can you tell us what form did this opposition take, the opposition
22 of the representatives of the Serbian people in Croatia, that is?
23 A. First of all, there were political rallies at which there were
24 discussions on the constitutional amendments. There it was a public
25 debate amongst the representatives of those municipalities where the Serbs
1 constituted a majority, the representatives in the parliament and other
2 public figures discussed those amendments and rejected them. When the --
3 Q. That is enough, Mr. Babic. We will come to the topics that you
4 have just tackled. I wanted to ask you something else and I apologise for
5 interrupting you.
6 The fact that the constitution was being changed at the time, was
7 it done according to a procedure? Was it done by way of amendments? Were
8 the constitutional amendments introduced in keeping with the constitution
9 of the Republic of Croatia? I'm talking about the year 1990.
10 A. As far as the legality of those amendments is concerned, yes.
11 However, in general terms, in terms of the principles contained in the
12 constitution, my answer would be no.
13 Q. What of these amendments was not in keeping with the constitution
14 in terms of the principles contained in the constitution?
15 A. If I may provide you with the conclusion that the political
16 representatives of Serbs passed at the time, they believed that it was a
17 prevalence or the imposition of the will of one constituent people on
18 another constituent people which was a violation of the constitution.
19 Q. This predominance that you're talking about, was it done with very
20 clear symbols, with very clear reference to some symbols from the past,
21 for example, the chequerboard and the new words that were introduced?
22 A. Yes. I've already spoken about the chequerboard and I -- I've
23 told you about the discussions and the interpretations of that
24 chequerboard amongst the Serb the problem was emphasised especially in the
25 Serbian media, the chequerboard was considered the symbol of the Ustasha
1 state and the Serbs gradually adopted such an interpretation of the
2 chequerboard. On the other hand, I've told you what it represented. It
3 had been part of the coat of arms of the Socialist Republic of Croatia. On
4 its own it was the historical coat of arms of Croatia and the Croats said
5 that because of the distribution of fields, it was not an Ustasha symbol.
6 But what I am trying to tell you is what the reaction of the Serbs was.
7 The Serbs perceived this chequerboard as something that had a link with
8 the Independent State of Croatia. That's how the media interpreted it.
9 Q. We've already mentioned that Mr. Franjo Tudjman, at the founding
10 meeting of the Croatian Democratic Union in February 1990 spoke about the
11 independent Croatian state as a historical strife of the Croatian people.
12 Do you know whether the most prominent people from the Ustasha
13 immigration, who had come from abroad, and who had previously been banned
14 from returning to Yugoslavia, were they sitting at that meeting? Were
15 they there?
16 A. I believe that you're talking about the first generally of the HDZ
17 that took place at the time. This was not at the founding meeting of the
18 HDZ or at least not in formal terms. The party already existed and this
19 was the first rally of the HDZ. I don't know who attended that meeting.
20 However, the media, in the media there was news that a lot of political
21 immigrants who had previously not been able to return to Yugoslavia were
22 present at that rally. I don't know who these people were.
23 Q. Thank you, Mr. Babic. When these amendments were introduced,
24 those that concerned the status of the Serbs, the national status of the
25 Serbs in Croatia, the Serbs proposed their objections to the amendments,
1 introducing such changes to the Republic of Croatia. Is that correct?
2 A. Those amendments were rejected because they were perceived as the
3 amendments that violated the constitution and the rights of the Serbian
4 people to be a constituent people in Croatia.
5 Q. I don't know if we understood each other properly, Mr. Babic. I
6 just wanted to ask the following. There this kind of constitutional
7 amendment was proposed did the Serbs respond by their counter-amendments
8 and what happened to that?
9 A. There was a rejection of these amendments and there were proposals
10 that had not been accepted by the commission for preparing a new
11 constitution, the new constitution of Croatia. There were two types of
12 proposals. One had to do with the items on the agenda concerning changes
13 to the constitution, that was the autumn of 1990, and then there was the
14 proposal to establish an autonomous region or district of Krajina within
15 Croatia, but that was rejected by the Croatian parliament.
16 Q. In order to understand what we've just been discussing, can you
17 tell us what the basic tenet of the Yugoslav federal constitution is from
18 1990? Who led the federal state, the federation? There were the
19 republics and what organs were in the federation?
20 A. The assembly, the Presidency of the SFRY, the federal executive
22 Q. That's what I meant, Mr. Babic. Thank you.
23 What about the Presidency of the SFRY? To put it in very simple
24 terms, was that the collective head of state?
25 A. Yes.
1 Q. Can you tell us who the members of the Presidency of the
2 collective head of state were in 1990? I'm not asking you about the
3 actual names of the members but what structures did they come from?
4 A. First of all, it was one single representative from each republic
5 and autonomous province.
6 Q. How many republics did Yugoslavia have in 1990?
7 A. Six.
8 Q. How many members did the Presidency of Yugoslavia have?
9 A. Eight.
10 Q. Can you tell us how come six republics have eight members of the
12 A. I already said that each republic had a member respectively and
13 then also the two autonomous provinces, Kosovo and Vojvodina.
14 Q. These two provinces, Kosovo and Vojvodina, according to the
15 constitution of Yugoslavia from 1974 were where, whose provinces were
16 they, an integral part of what?
17 A. They were part of the territory of Serbia, but they had a dual
18 constitutional position. They were within Serbia and within the
20 Q. So according to the constitution of 1974, the Republic of Serbia
21 as one of the members of the Yugoslav federation had within it two
22 autonomous provinces that had a very high degree of authority; is that
24 A. Yes.
25 Q. Did any other Yugoslav republic have any autonomous provinces
1 within their composition?
2 A. No.
3 Q. In the evidence you've given to date, you've mentioned a great
4 deal, different areas in the former Yugoslav Republic of Croatia, you've
5 mentioned Dalmatia, Kordun, Lika, Banija, Slavonia, Baranja. You even
6 showed us the borders of these area; is that correct, Mr. Babic?
7 A. Yes.
8 Q. Did any of these areas have the status of an autonomous provinces
9 in the sense in which Vojvodina and Kosovo had that status?
10 A. No.
11 Q. As for Vojvodina and Kosovo as parts of Serbia, according to the
12 constitution of Yugoslavia, did they decide on the president of the
13 Presidency of Serbia so without the Kosovo and Vojvodina votes could the
14 president of Serbia be elected?
15 A. Now you've put a question to me that I'm not quite sure of but I
16 can tell you what I know. The election of the members of the Presidency
17 was carried out within the assembly until the new constitution of Serbia
18 was adopted in 1990. Now, I don't know exactly what you meant, which
19 period in mind -- which period of time you had in mind.
20 Q. You said the Kosovo and Vojvodina as parts of Serbia were members
21 of the Yugoslav federation, too. For example, they gave their own
22 president -- own members for the Presidency of Yugoslavia; is that
24 A. Yes, but that was in the Chamber of republics and provinces in the
25 federal assembly.
1 Q. Is it correct that the representative of Kosovo, otherwise an
2 ethnic Albanian, Fadil Hodza, was the president of the Presidency of
3 Yugoslavia in the 1980s?
4 A. Yes, during one term of office, yes.
5 Q. Can you tell us how this came about? Out of these eight members
6 of the Presidency, one would be the presiding member, the president. What
7 was the mechanism involved?
8 A. There were rules of procedure or a protocol regulating the shifts
9 involved among the presidents -- members of the Presidency who would be
10 president and who would be vice-president, a certain order was set. So
11 for one year, one of the members of the Presidency would carry out the
12 duties of the president of the Presidency, and, of course, another member,
13 one of the members of the Presidency, would be the vice-president of the
14 Presidency. So there was a system of rotation. One of the members of the
15 Presidency would come to this position of president of the Presidency.
16 Q. In order to make what you've told us just now clearer, in 1990,
17 and before that, did Slovenia have its own member of the Presidency and,
18 if so, who was it?
19 A. Yes. Slovenia had Drnovsek, Janez Drnovsek.
20 Q. That's right. What about Croatia? Did it have its representative
21 in the Presidency of Yugoslavia?
22 A. Yes.
23 Q. And that was?
24 A. When, in 1990?
25 Q. I think it was Mr. Mesic?
1 A. First it was Stipe Suvar, and Mesic was first Prime Minister and
2 then during the course of 1990, I don't know exactly when this happened,
3 but until the end of 1990, Croatia did change its member of the
4 Presidency, Suvar was recalled and Mesic came to the Presidency.
5 Q. What about the other republics and these two autonomous provinces,
6 did they all have their respective members of the Presidency of
7 Yugoslavia. So the Presidency consisted of eight members and these eight
8 members elected their president of the Presidency, the presiding member;
9 is that correct?
10 A. Yes, well.
11 MR. WHITING: Your Honour, I think this question has now been
12 asked several times and it's been answered.
13 JUDGE MOLOTO: Mr. Milovancevic? Do you have anything to say? I
14 think we have been going in circles around the same point for a long, long
16 MR. MILOVANCEVIC: [Interpretation] Your Honour, I'm just trying to
17 get an answer from the witness to my question, my question being whether
18 the constitutional provision from the federal constitution made it
19 possible for every republic, every member of the Yugoslav federation that
20 when its order -- its turn came, according to a certain order, a certain
21 protocol that had been agreed upon previously, that they would get their
22 own president of the Presidency. Did every Yugoslav republic and province
23 have that possibility and then the witness was talking about that.
24 JUDGE MOLOTO: That question can be put in a very small and short
25 sentence. You have actually put it before and the witness told you that
1 there was a rotation system in terms of which every republic got an
2 opportunity to be -- to get the president -- the Presidency of the
3 Presidency. You even asked him about Kosovo, which is -- which was then
4 an autonomous region and he said, yes, Kosovo did get an opportunity to
5 get -- to be president of the Presidency. I think you can ask that
6 question one simple sentence and get the answer. We are moving way out of
7 the area of the indictment. We are doing a history of former Yugoslavia,
8 and we haven't got much time. This witness has got only two more days
9 with us.
10 MR. MILOVANCEVIC: [Interpretation] Your Honour, with all due
11 respect, the defence is just trying to get an answer to the question in
12 terms of the thesis put forth by the Prosecution.
13 JUDGE MOLOTO: Just put your question to the witness. Let the
14 witness answer it.
15 MR. MILOVANCEVIC: [Interpretation] Your Honour, I'm not going to
16 comment the charges made by the Prosecution in terms of the political
17 situation in Yugoslavia, but I put these questions in order to get some
18 answers in this respect. However, now you started a question that
19 actually confused me, totally. So far, we have not had any information as
20 to how long the cross-examination of this witness would last. This
21 witness is the most important Prosecution witness that is to appear here
22 and he was examined for more than four days. I think that the remaining
23 two days that you refer to are absolutely inappropriate for the Defence
24 and that the Defence has to raise a great many other important issues.
25 This has just been an introduction to those questions.
1 MR. WHITING: Your Honour, if I might address that, this was
2 something I was going to raise with Defence counsel after today's session
3 and try to address it with the Chamber outside of Court so as not to use
4 up court time but now that it's come up, the Court is, of course,
5 referring to the fact that the witness is scheduled to finish at the end
6 of the week of -- on March 3rd, for other reasons, and that's how it's
7 been scheduled. However, that schedule was made contemplating that we
8 would be sitting additional days. And now that we have this gap of one
9 week, I do think that we should address whether the witness could be held
10 over a little bit longer so that the Defence has adequate time to
11 cross-examine the witness. And that was something I was going to ask the
12 Defence counsel how long he anticipated needing and then raise with the
13 Court whether the witness could be kept perhaps an additional day or two
14 so the cross-examination could be finished. Having said that, I do think
15 that the cross-examination so far has gone quite afield on some areas and
16 if there is some way that it could be moved a little more quickly. But
17 I'd leave that to the Chamber to deal with.
18 JUDGE MOLOTO: I would imagine on the first point, Mr. Whiting, if
19 what has happened before can be taken as precedent, if you do want the
20 witness to stay a little longer, you do that by motion, don't you?
21 MR. WHITING: That was my intention, and I'll take care of that,
22 Your Honour.
23 JUDGE MOLOTO: That's right. So there is no need to either
24 discuss it with the Chamber or with the Defence outside court. You can
25 just do that by motion. You can discuss it with the Defence to find out
1 how long they are going to be with him in order for you to determine how
2 long you would like him to be here for.
3 MR. WHITING: That was my intention, thank you, Your Honour.
4 JUDGE MOLOTO: That's right. On the second point, this is not the
5 first time the Court has indicated that, in fact, the cross-examination is
6 going afield, and we've been trying to get Mr. Milovancevic to at least
7 come back to the issues of this case. I once again say so to you,
8 Mr. Milovancevic. I do not want to restrict you in your cross-examination
9 of the witness, but I think it is important to stay relevant. We've been
10 irrelevant in terms of time, we've dealt with 1971, some 20 years prior to
11 the period relevant to this case. We are now talking about the
12 constitution of the Presidency of the SFRY. This witness has indicated in
13 one sentence that there was a rotational system in terms of which each of
14 the republics and the autonomous regions, the two autonomous regions got
15 an opportunity to become president of the Presidency. I'm not quite sure
16 what else we need. But if there is anything else you need, by all means,
17 get to it and let's get to it as fast as we possibly can. Thank you very
19 MR. MILOVANCEVIC: [Interpretation] I appreciate what you've said,
20 Your Honour, and I shall always go by your words, and honour them. I just
21 wanted to say that the Defence tried to indicate a highly relevant fact,
22 namely that the efforts to destroy Yugoslavia, which in 1990 was the only
23 internationally recognised entity, did not start in February, 1989, but a
24 lot before that, 20 years before that. So what happened in 1990 was just
25 a finale of a long process where one has to view the roles of all the
1 protagonists involved, their true and concealed objectives, in order to
2 draw a conclusion as to what actually happened on the scene, on the
3 political scene in Yugoslavia. I'm sorry to have burdened the Trial
4 Chamber with so many facts that have to do with the previous period, but
5 this is just a sketch of what happened beforehand and what finally
6 exploded in 1991.
7 Throughout these proceedings, we have been talking about Croatia,
8 about the JNA, about its role as an aggressor, the Defence is just trying
9 to point out one detail: The only international legal entity in 1990 was
10 the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, Yugoslavia as a subject of
11 international law. In order to understand what was going on and what the
12 true causes were and what were the consequences and effects only, I guess
13 I went into quite a bit of detail but I tried to give you a full picture.
14 May I proceed now?
15 JUDGE MOLOTO: You did go into quite a bit of detail and you
16 haven't told us one wit about what Mr. Martic did from 1971 to 1990. And
17 this court is here about Mr. Martic, and we haven't heard one word about
18 what he did from 1971.
19 Yes, please go ahead, Mr. Milovancevic. Let us get on with the
21 MR. MILOVANCEVIC: [Interpretation] Your Honour, since this is
22 cross-examination, as for the role of Mr. Martic in this period, the
23 Defence is going to talk about that when we reach a stage in these
24 proceedings when that is our objective. Now we are only responding to
25 what was put another by the Prosecution during examination in chief. I
1 shall move on to my question straight away.
2 Q. Mr. Babic, what was the factual consequence of the decision to get
3 rid of the Serbs as a people, as a nation, from the Croatian constitution,
4 indeed what was the legal effect of that?
5 A. Well, what is your question? You have two there, I think.
6 Q. Let me be more precise. You say that the Croatian parliament
7 adopted the amendments and threw out the Serbs from the constitution of
8 Croatia as a nation; is that correct?
9 A. I was very specific. I said that on the 25th of July 1991, the
10 Croatian parliament adopted the proposed amendments to the Croatian
11 constitution and in the month of December, perhaps I'm not going to get
12 the date exactly right, but I think it was the 23rd of December maybe,
13 when it adopted the new constitution of the Republic of Croatia, in which
14 the Serbs were no longer treated as a constituent peoples, nation, but
15 were reduced to the concept of a national minority, if that was what you
16 meant by your question.
17 Q. The right of political assertion and the position of Croatia as a
18 member of the Yugoslav federation, could the Serbs have that right when
19 they were reduced to a national minority, this right of expression,
20 political expression?
21 A. This question was opened up in April and May 1991, in the
22 following sense or rather in the sense that you mention.
23 Q. Thank you.
24 A. The status of a state, and this was pursuant to an agreement of
25 the presidents of the republic that met and the crisis that escalated at
1 that time. So could you tell me what period you mean? What period do you
2 have in mind?
3 Q. We'll come to that.
4 Mr. Babic, you said that the Serbian Democratic Party started
5 dealing with issues which were vital to the Serb population in Croatia,
6 and then you said that the amendments to the Croatian constitution were
7 rejected; is that right? When was that and who did that?
8 A. At the Croatian parliament or rather the assembly of the Serbian
9 people in Croatia held on the 25th of July 1991, the amendments were
10 rejected to the Croatian constitution which delved into the question of
11 constituent nationality of the Serbs in Croatia. Is that what you meant.
12 Q. Was that in the 25th of July and was it held in the town called
13 Srb and who attended that rally and was a decision passed or that assembly
14 meeting? When -- what were the decisions?
15 A. About 100.000 citizens of Serb ethnicity from the Republic of
16 Croatia territory took part in that assembly. What was your next
18 Q. Were any other political representatives of the Serb people who
20 A. Yes. There were representatives of the democratic party, the
21 Yugoslav independent democratic party, representatives of the Serbian
22 Orthodox Church, and individuals, of course.
23 Q. Was all that in 1990, the 25th of July 1990?
24 A. Yes.
25 Q. Because in the transcript, it says 1991. So there was an omission
1 there. It was 1990, right?
2 A. Yes.
3 Q. Can you tell us what the basic decisions of that declaration were,
4 the declaration that was adopted? What were the decisions?
5 A. The declaration was adopted rejecting the constitutional
6 amendments to the constitution of Croatia which denied the status of the
7 Serb nation as a nation on a footing of equality with the other nations in
8 Croatia, and the declaration also determined and ascertained that the
9 constitutional amendment relating to rescinding the communality of
10 municipalities be rejected. The declaration also speaks about strivings
11 towards a possible or rather the declaration assumes future relations in
12 Yugoslavia and the way in which the national rights of the Serbs in
13 Croatia would be realised and it was said and decided that if Yugoslavia
14 remains a federation, the Serb nation, the Serb people, are called for
15 territorial -- would call for territorial autonomy or self-government, and
16 if Yugoslavia was structured and organised as a confederation of states,
17 then the Serb people would ask for political territorial autonomy within
18 the frameworks of the Republic of Croatia. So that -- well, you have the
19 text of the declaration itself if you wish to discuss it further. You can
20 refer to the actual declaration.
21 Q. Yes, it would be a good idea to place on the overhead projector
22 and on our screens, the declaration of the sovereignty and autonomy of the
23 Serb people of the 25th of June 1990 and it is found in tab -- the number
24 is 02141952, 02141953. ERN number, that is. And I think it was Exhibit
1 JUDGE MOLOTO: Did you say that you want that on the ELMO?
2 MR. MILOVANCEVIC: [Interpretation] Yes, Your Honour.
3 JUDGE MOLOTO: May we please have it on the ELMO?
4 [Trial Chamber and registrar confer]
5 JUDGE MOLOTO: I'm told it can be put on e-court. May we please
6 have it on e-court?
7 MR. MILOVANCEVIC: [Interpretation] It is Exhibit 141 and I think
8 that we could see it on the e-court, yes. We have the declaration on our
10 Q. Can you read out what it says? It is in B/C/S or the Serb
11 language. And there is an English version as well. Can you read point 1
12 of the declaration, please?
13 A. "Within the borders of the socialist Republic of Croatia which is
14 the state of the Serb people as well, living in the socialist Republic of
15 Croatia, the Serb nation on the basis of its geographical, historical,
16 social and cultural characteristics is a sovereign nation with all the
17 rights contained in the sovereignty of nations." Do you want me to read
19 Q. Just dwell there for a moment. Let's stop there for a moment.
20 That first paragraph of Article 1, point 1, does it refer to the Serb
21 people within the borders of Croatia? Is that something that is not
22 challenged? We are talking about the Serb people living within the
23 borders of the Republic of Croatia, is that right?
24 A. Yes.
25 Q. Now, what does it say? Would you read on, read the next paragraph
1 for us, please?
2 A. "The Serb people in the socialist Republic of Croatia has the full
3 right of joining in communality with the Croatian people or independently
4 in establishing new relationships in Yugoslavia should -- may decide
5 either for a federative or confederal state organisation."
6 Q. Read the next paragraph, please.
7 A. "With no forms of Yugoslav communality can be elected without the
8 participation of the Serb people, and this is particularly true for -- in
9 situations of a legitimate secession. Nations are seceded, not states,
10 nations can secede, not states."
11 Q. Thank you, Mr. Babic.
12 These quotes from this declaration on the autonomy of the Serb
13 people, are they in conformity with the provisions of the Croatian
14 constitution and Yugoslav constitution? Is there anything there that
15 would be contrary to positive Yugoslav law, law positive, at that time?
16 A. I've already spoken about that. I said that the Serbs and Serb
17 political representatives of that time interpreted the principles of the
18 Croatian constitution. This was interpreting with those principles. Now
19 as far as the principles and concept of who had the right to secede,
20 whether it was the republics or the people, that was a debatable issue at
21 that time. The Serbs accepted this concept advocated by Milosevic and the
22 socialist party and the leadership of Serbia, which met in September and
23 was expounded by Abedisa Borojevic [phoen], that it was the nations that
24 had the right to self-determination regardless of republican borders, and
25 this related to that particular position and concept and its acceptance.
1 Q. Can you read out the next provision, point 2 of the declaration?
2 The entire point?
3 A. "On the basis of its sovereignty, the Serb people in Croatia have
4 the right to autonomy. The contents of that autonomy will depend on the
5 federal or confederal setup of Yugoslavia. Under conditions of a federal
6 state setup the Serb people have the right to unimpeded and limitless use
7 of the Serbian literary language in official and private use, the Cyrillic
8 script in schools and Serbian school programmes, and that's where my text
9 ends here. I see nothing further on my screen.
10 Q. Turn to the next page of that same document now, please.
11 A. It continues: "Cultural and political institutions, enterprises,
12 the press and Serb radio and television. An organisation of this type of
13 autonomy can be implemented only through full municipal self-government,
14 especially in the municipalities where the Serbs make up the majority and
15 by linking up those municipalities within a community under conditions of
16 a confederative state setup of Yugoslavia, the Serb people in Croatia have
17 the right to political, territorial autonomy."
18 Q. Thank you, Mr. Babic. Now, in that point 2 of the declaration,
19 according to that point by this political act, are the Serb people in
20 Croatia called upon to realise their constitutional rights which existed
21 up until then for them as a nation?
22 A. Yes.
23 Q. In paragraph 2 of point 2, do we see which rights the Serb people
24 have under a federal state setup? Is that what is stipulated?
25 A. Or the rights required or demanded, yes, for the realisation of
1 those rights, yes.
2 Q. Now, these right, the rights mentioned in paragraph 2, the right
3 to use the Serbian literary language, the right to use the Cyrillic
4 alphabet, the right to have schools and Serbian school programmes, the
5 right to their political and cultural institutions, the right to their own
6 enterprises, press and Serb radio, television, were those rights enjoyed
7 by the Serb people at that time in Croatia?
8 A. Yes.
9 Q. Could the Serb people realise those rights on the basis of
10 municipal self-government which is referred to in paragraph 3, especially
11 in those municipalities where the Serbs were the majority population and
12 by the linking up of those municipalities into a community?
13 A. Yes. That was the optimum way in which those right could be
14 realised and enjoyed.
15 Q. Requirements and demands of this kind, democratic -- basic human
16 rights, in fact, are being stressed by the Serb people at a point in time
17 where the amendments to the Croatian constitution are just about to be
18 adopted in which the Serb people are being eradicated from the
19 constitution, where the Serbian language is being thrown out of the
20 constitution, at which point in time they are -- local self-government is
21 being made impossible through the community of municipalities because they
22 too are being pushed out of the constitution?
23 A. Yes.
24 Q. Now, in point 2, does it mention autonomy and then provide for two
25 options, one variant would be within a federal state and the second option
1 would be within a confederal state?
2 A. Yes. These are the possibilities. These are the options. And
3 solutions under supposed conditions, assumed conditions, of that kind,
4 because solutions of that kind were already up for discussion within
5 Yugoslavia as a whole.
6 Q. You said that the then leadership of Croatia, led by Franjo
7 Tudjman, spoke about a future confederal setup for Yugoslavia or an
8 independent Croatia, is that true?
9 A. Yes.
10 Q. Now, in the last paragraph of this declaration on the sovereignty
11 and autonomy of the Serb people, does it say that or rather the last point
12 in point 2, that under a confederative state setup the Serb people in
13 Croatia would have the right to political territorial autonomy, is that
14 what it says?
15 A. Yes.
16 Q. This last paragraph, then, is that an answer or response to
17 possible political options to which the new leadership of Croatia was
18 aspiring, conducting the constitutional amendments that we have been
20 A. Yes.
21 Q. Now, in points 3, 4 and 5 of this declaration on the sovereignty
22 and autonomy of the Serb people, does it say who the political
23 representative the Serb people in Croatia is to be?
24 A. Yes.
25 Q. Now, those political representatives of the Serb people in Croatia
1 pursuant to this declaration, are they the Serb Sabor or assembly meeting
2 in Srb whose executive organ is the Serbian National Council?
3 A. Yes.
4 Q. In point 4 does it say the following, that the Serb National
5 Council has the right to organise plebiscite -- a plebiscite for the Serb
6 people to state their views on all questions of vital interest to their
7 position in Croatia and Yugoslavia, as well as other issues having to do
8 with the realisation of Serb sovereignty and autonomy?
9 A. Yes.
10 Q. Does point 6 of this declaration state that this Serb Sabor or
11 assembly at its session in Srb on the 25th of July 1990 proclaims null and
12 void for the Serb people in Croatia all constitutional and other legal
13 amendments denying its sovereignty as a nation and diminish their
14 autonomous rights?
15 A. Yes.
16 Q. [Microphone not activated]
17 THE INTERPRETER: Microphone, please, for counsel. Microphone.
18 MR. MILOVANCEVIC: [Interpretation] I apologise. Thank you.
19 Q. Up until that time, did the Croatian Sabor or assembly, had it
20 already rejected all the Serb amendments?
21 A. No. On that day, the assembly met in Zagreb, on that same day.
22 Q. On that same day, the assembly met in Zagreb, and what was the
24 A. It was the adoption of the constitutional amendments, that was on
25 the agenda. Now, what I want to say is this: That was a response to the
1 meeting of the Croatian parliament to pass the amendments to the
2 constitution that we are discussing here.
3 Q. Can we then say that by adopting this declaration, the
4 representatives of the Serb people in Croatia just tried to ward off the
5 negative consequences that would emerge from a change in the Croatian
7 A. Yes. Or rather let me be more precise. They wanted to protect
8 their rights under the principles of the constitution that was in force
9 until that time.
10 Q. Thank you, Mr. Babic. Now, point 7 of the declaration, does it
11 say the following that the Serb people in Croatia are seeking nothing more
12 than the right that is other modern nations in Europe have had for a long
13 time and are enjoying?
14 A. Yes.
15 Q. This assembly in Srb, in terms of its content and in terms of its
16 mode of operation, did it constitute any kind of extremist national
17 behaviour on the part of the people present or was this a struggle for
18 vital national rights?
19 A. It's two questions. It did not constitute extremist nationalist
20 behaviour. Rather, as interpreted in the public, as well, or rather as I
21 interpreted its function, it was the second half, the other half, of the
22 parliament of Croatia, because one half, not an exact laugh in terms of
23 numbers, was in session in Zagreb at that time. This was the other half,
24 consisting of the Serbs.
25 Q. What about the Serb National Council? It was the executive organ
1 of the Croatian Sabor. Did it act in accordance with paragraph 4 of this
2 declaration, namely organise a plebiscite of the Serb people in Croatia
3 with regard to all questions that are relevant to their status?
4 A. Yes.
5 Q. When was this done and how was this carried through?
6 A. The Serb National Council were elected by the assembly in Srb. It
7 was constituted on the 31st of July 1991. At this first session a
8 decision was reached to organise a referendum. The legal grounds for this
9 were not specified. It was just stated that a plebiscite or a referendum
10 of the Serb people would be organised until the legal grounds for carrying
11 out the plebiscite were established. At the second meeting of the Serb
12 National Council on the 16th of August, in Dvor Na Uni, a decision was
13 adopted for that announced referendum or plebiscite would be carried out
14 in accordance with the constitutions of Croatia and Yugoslavia and
15 relevant laws and that it would not be called a referendum but it would be
16 called an expression of views in accordance with the Croatian
18 Q. Could you say when the Serb people in Croatia expressed their
19 views in that way?
20 A. From the 17th of August 1990, until the 2nd of September 1990.
21 JUDGE HOEPFEL: Excuse me, may I ask, in the answer before, Mr.
22 Babic, you said 31st of July 1991. This also is 1990, I suppose.
23 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] I meant 1990, and in the other
24 answer, I said from the 19th of August until the 2nd of September, whereas
25 I see here a different date, the 17th of August.
1 MR. MILOVANCEVIC: [Interpretation]
2 Q. The plebiscite was held and what was the turnout like and what
3 were the views stated by the population?
4 A. The turnout was, if I can put it in descriptive terms, almost 100
5 per cent. That is to say that a large percentage of people voted. The
6 plebiscite or rather this expression of views was held in the territory of
7 Croatia throughout Yugoslavia and abroad. That is to say that Serbs from
8 Croatia who did not even live in Croatia at that time voted, and then
9 there were interpretations in terms of whether there was even a turnout
10 greater than 100 per cent. A large number of Serbs turned out, and 99 per
11 cent or whatever of those who voted in the referendum voted in favour of
13 Q. So the Serb people in Croatia who took part in this referendum,
14 did they state their views on their autonomy in Croatia?
15 A. Yes.
16 Q. In December 1990, did the Serb National Council and the temporary
17 Presidency of the municipalities of Dalmatia and Lika proclaim the Serb
18 Autonomous Region of Krajina and did they adopt the Statute of the
20 A. Yes.
21 Q. This Serb Autonomous Region of Krajina, according to this statute
22 and according to the decision establishing it, is it defined as a form of
23 territorial autonomy within the Republic of Croatia?
24 A. Yes.
25 Q. Can it be said that the Serbian National Council, as a temporary
1 executive organ of the Serb assembly and of the Serbs, observing the
2 results of the plebiscite, reached a decision on the establishment of a
3 Serb autonomous region, the Serb Autonomous Region of Krajina as an
4 integral part of the Republic of Croatia an autonomy within Croatia, so
5 did they respect the political will of the Serb people?
6 A. The Serb National Council only proclaimed the decisions that were
7 reached by the assemblies of the municipalities that constituted the
8 municipalities of western -- of Northern Dalmatia and Lika. So it was
9 renamed into the Serb Autonomous Region of Krajina. So it's not that the
10 Serb National Council reached the decision, they only proclaimed that the
11 municipalities confirmed the status and that the Serb Autonomous Region of
12 Krajina was established as an integral part of the Republic of Croatia.
13 Q. That's right, Mr. Babic. Thank you for your answer.
14 MR. MILOVANCEVIC: [Interpretation] I think that it is time for the
15 adjournment now. It is quarter to 2. We shall continue when the Trial
16 Chamber tells us that we will.
17 MR. WHITING: Your Honour, I -- just a small matter. It's
18 happened a couple of times. It's a minor point but nonetheless I raise
19 it. I would just ask if the Court could ask Defence counsel to refrain
20 from saying to the witness, "That's right," when he's given answers, after
21 he's given certain answers, he says, "that's right, Mr. Babic." It seems
22 to me that's a subjective argument.
23 JUDGE MOLOTO: Apart from it being the subject of argument are,
24 it's a kind of unacceptable echo in the recording of the proceedings, Mr.
25 Milovancevic. It's just something that is discouraged in these fora. I
1 don't know how you take that.
2 MR. MILOVANCEVIC: [Interpretation] Your Honour, I accept what
3 you've said to me with full respect, with a brief explanation. The
4 witness corrected me. My question was not fully in line with what he had
5 been saying so then I confirmed that he said what he said, not wishing to
6 influence the witness in any way. Of course, I shall bear in mine the
7 instructions of the Trial Chamber. Thank you.
8 JUDGE MOLOTO: Thank you, Mr. Milovancevic.
9 The matter stands adjourned to the 2nd of March at quarter past 2
10 in Courtroom I, this courtroom.
11 Court adjourned.
12 --- Whereupon the hearing adjourned at 1.49 p.m.,
13 to be reconvened on Thursday, the 2nd day of March,
14 2006, at 2.15 p.m.