1 Friday, 22 September 2006
2 [Open session]
3 [The accused entered court]
4 [The witness entered court]
5 --- Upon commencing at 2.18 p.m.
6 JUDGE MOLOTO: Good afternoon. Just before I warn the witness,
7 Mr. Whiting, you're cross-examining. What are the chances of us finishing
8 with this witness today?
9 MR. WHITING: Extremely high.
10 JUDGE MOLOTO: Extremely high? I'm grateful to hear that. No
11 explanation, thank you very much. Okay.
12 Mr. Plejo, I warn you once again that you took -- you didn't take
13 but you made a declaration in the beginning of your testimony to tell the
14 truth, the whole truth and nothing else but the truth. You are still bound
15 by that declaration to tell the truth. Okay? Thank you very much.
16 WITNESS: STEVO PLEJO [Resumed]
17 [Witness answered through interpreter]
18 MR. WHITING: Thank you, Your Honour.
19 Cross-examination by Mr. Whiting: [Continued]
20 Q. Good afternoon, sir.
21 A. Good afternoon.
22 Q. On Wednesday, you testified that the two most common reasons for
23 discipline in the Knin prison were failing to report and excessive force.
24 Do you remember that testimony, sir?
25 A. I do.
1 Q. You also testified that when the ICRC visited the prison, that
2 almost all their comments had to do with the material side of things such
3 as hygiene, and Mr. Milovancevic asked you, then, if that meant that
4 hygiene was the greatest problem. You remember that testimony?
5 A. Yes, I do.
6 Q. So it's clear from your testimony that the ICRC did not learn
7 about these cases of excessive force, did it?
8 A. Sir, I said that they could directly talk with them, without any
9 prison staff being present.
10 Q. I'm going to interrupt you, please. If you could just listen to
11 my question and focus on the question and just answer my question. It's
12 clear that the ICRC did not learn about the cases of excessive force
13 because the only things they told -- the only complaints that they related
14 to you had to do with the material side of things, such as hygiene, so they
15 didn't learn about the cases of excessive force; right?
16 A. That is what they told me, and I don't know what they were told,
17 and I don't know whether they knew or didn't know. I presume that had
18 there been such excessive force they would have known.
19 Q. Well, you told us that there were cases of excessive force. And
20 wouldn't you expect, given what you saw and learned at the time, that had
21 the ICRC heard about these cases of excessive force, it would have related
22 that to you in their -- among their complaints, but that did not happen,
23 did it? So from that, you could conclude that they did not in fact learn
24 about the cases of excessive force; right?
25 A. Well, I don't know what to tell you now. I don't remember
1 whether there were any such complaints on their part, but they could have
2 known if the inmates had told them.
3 Q. That's not my question, sir. And on Wednesday, when you
4 addressed this topic, on this topic you didn't say you had any difficulty
5 remembering and you told us that the complaints had to do with the material
6 side of things such as hygiene. So aren't you able to conclude -- aren't
7 you able to conclude from what you observed and heard, that --
8 MR. MILOVANCEVIC: [Interpretation] Your Honours, I have an
9 objection to raise. This question can be put to representatives of the
10 International Red Cross, not the witness. The witness has explained what
11 was done and how it was done and how the International Committee of the Red
12 Cross visited the detainees. My colleague should bring him the ICRC
13 representatives and ask them this question rather than ask the witness what
14 it was that they had learned.
15 JUDGE MOLOTO: I accept 110 per cent, Mr. Milovancevic, that this
16 question can be but to the representatives of the ICRC. My -- what I can't
17 find in your objection is what's wrong with putting the question to this
18 witness. You haven't told us -- you're telling us the person it could be
19 put to. It doesn't mean that it can't be put to any other person. In fact
20 -- in fact, this person cannot -- this question cannot be put to the ICRC.
21 The ICRC will just be put -- you just ask them directly, were you told
22 about the excessive use of force? You wouldn't be asking them whether they
23 can conclude anything. I think this -- the question whether anything can
24 be concluded is appropriate for this witness. The objection is overruled.
25 MR. WHITING: Thank you, Your Honour. I would also note that the
1 ICRC has a policy of not testifying in cases. So in fact the question
2 cannot be put to the ICRC but --
3 JUDGE MOLOTO: That's not even the issue.
4 MR. WHITING: I understand that, Your Honour.
5 Q. Sir the objection has been overruled. So I'm going to put the
6 question to you just again and if you please answer my question. Aren't
7 you able to conclude from what you observed and what you learned from the
8 ICRC what they did tell you about, what they didn't tell you about, that in
9 fact they did not learn about these cases of excessive force?
10 A. I didn't say that they did or did not learn about it. What I
11 described was what were -- what their most frequent complaints. It is
12 quite possible that I might have instituted some disciplinary proceedings
13 at their initiative and they were able to talk directly to all the
14 detainees and to elicit whatever information they wanted. No one prevented
15 that. Also, the inmates wrote letters and sent them to their respective
16 homes via the ICRC and could tell them whatever they wanted.
17 Q. Sir, again, on Wednesday, when you were asked this question, it's
18 at transcript page 8738, you were asked on direct examination about the
19 ICRC and you were asked what the comments were about and your answer was:
20 "Almost all of them had to do with the material side of things. I had a
21 hard time explaining to them that whatever difficulties we had in the
22 prison concerning hygiene and some other things they were common to the
23 population outside the prison." There is no mention in that answer or in
24 any subsequent answers on this topic about complaints that the ICRC made
25 about excessive force. Now, are you telling us today for the first time
1 that in fact there may have been complaints about excessive force?
2 A. I said that almost all, not all of the complaints related to
3 hygienic conditions, more shampoo, more soap and such improvements. And I
4 told them please feel free to also bring such sanitation supplies yourself
5 to them and they did occasionally, and cigarettes as well. Even we, the
6 staff, were short of all such supplies but whether there were any such
7 cases, I don't remember right now.
8 Q. Sir, the truth is that the ICRC did not learn about cases of
9 excessive force because prisoners who had been beaten in that prison were
10 hidden from the ICRC, isn't that the truth, sir?
11 A. Mr. Prosecutor, they could not have been hidden because the Red
12 Cross people came at least once a week and once they registered a person,
13 the next week they would seek out that person and wanted to talk to him.
14 It was impossible to hide anyone from the Red Cross, in other words. They
15 actually would ask to see people according to a list which they had and
16 they had lists of all the detainees in the prison.
17 Q. Let's talk about Nikola Kukavica. On the first day of your
18 testimony, and this may, to be fair this may have been just simply an
19 interpretation issue or a misspeaking but I just want to clear it up.
20 On the first day of your testimony, at 8740 you said that he
21 stayed for only two days as warden and then yesterday, at 8824, you said it
22 was several months or two months. Now, in fact, it was several months that
23 he stayed, correct, not just two days, as warden?
24 A. I don't know why it says two days. I didn't say two days. I
25 thought I was clear.
1 Q. I'm just trying to clear it up. If you could just answer the
2 question, it was two to three months; correct?
3 A. I can't say off the cuff exactly, he was there for a while. I
4 don't know the exact dates and I don't know whether the man stayed there
5 for a month or two months. Now, after 15 years have passed, I cannot
6 remember for how long Nikola Kukavica was prison warden but it was a short
7 time. It couldn't have been a half year or a year. Whether it was 15 days
8 or a month, I cannot know that after 15 years.
9 Q. Okay. If -- I'm going to ask if you -- I predicted to the Trial
10 Chamber that we would finish with you today but if your answers are very
11 long, it's going to be hard to do that and I'm sure you want to finish
12 today. So I'm just going to ask if you could, please try to just answer
13 the question and answer it as briefly as possible.
14 Now, when Mr. Kukavica was the warden of the prison, he actually
15 tried to impose some order in that prison, didn't he?
16 A. The man was doing his job. I don't know. I didn't control the
17 prison warden.
18 Q. In fact, he dismissed two guards, Djuro Banjeglav and Miroslav
19 Orlovic because they had beaten some prisoners; isn't that right? Remember
20 that, that he did that?
21 A. As far as I can recall, I was also replaced. I had -- sorry, I
22 had replaced, I had sent them away from work, I remember that case.
23 Q. Your memory is that you're the one who replaced them, not Mr.
25 A. That's right.
1 Q. In fact, you reinstated them, didn't you? You let them have
2 their jobs back.
3 A. No. I first suspended them and I believe that Orlovic was later
4 dismissed altogether, that actually I wrote his dismissal decision myself.
5 Q. That's your memory?
6 A. That's right.
7 Q. Mr. Banjeglav was allowed to come back to the prison, wasn't he,
8 he was allowed to resume his work as a guard, wasn't he?
9 A. I think that he was given his job back but I'm not quite sure.
10 I'm not sure whether both were dismissed. There were several instances of
11 dismissals. I'm not sure. But I believe only Orlovic was laid off.
12 Q. Well, your testimony on Wednesday was that frequently these
13 guards would be suspended but then they would be reinstated because you
14 claimed that you had a shortage of guards and that you needed to reinstate
15 them. Isn't that in fact what happened to these two men? They were
17 A. I explained a minute ago. I believe that one of them was
18 reinstated and the other one was dismissed, and we were short of staff, it
19 was very difficult to work, and there were few people available in that
20 line of duty. Had we been able to recruit new staff, both would have been
21 dismissed immediately.
22 Q. And they were disciplined because they had beaten prisoners;
23 isn't that right?
24 A. As far as I remember, yes. Whether both of them, I don't know,
25 but I'm quite certain as far as Orlovic is concerned.
1 JUDGE NOSWORTHY: Sorry, Mr. Whiting, one moment before you
2 proceed. They would be reinstated after suspension or after dismissal?
3 Because my understanding that reinstatement is something that hams after a
4 person is dismissed but suspension is merely keeping them away from work
5 for a particular period, the work isn't lost. So I would like a
6 clarification there.
7 MR. WHITING: I'll seek to get the clarification from the
8 witness, Your Honour.
9 JUDGE NOSWORTHY: Thank you.
10 MR. WHITING:
11 Q. Mr. Plejo, what is your recollection about what happened with
12 these two men? Were they suspended, were they dismissed, and then what
14 A. They were suspended and I believe that only Orlovic was
15 dismissed. When you show me the document yesterday, you could see next to
16 his name it was indicated that he was suspended.
17 Q. So your testimony is that after that document was written, he was
18 later suspended? I mean dismissed. He had been suspended first and then
19 dismissed. Is that your testimony?
20 A. That is what I'm saying. The first measure is suspension and
21 that can be followed either by returning the person to work or by a total
22 termination of the person's employment, dismissal.
23 Q. Well, suspension -- a person is only suspended after a
24 disciplinary proceeding, isn't that right?
25 A. The warden can suspend him even before that, and then
1 disciplinary proceedings can be instituted afterwards, but also
2 disciplinary proceedings can be instituted beforehand. Both were possible.
3 Q. And do you have any memory of what happened in this case, with
4 these two men? Was there a disciplinary proceeding and then they were
5 suspended? Is that what happened?
6 A. I think that they were suspended immediately. I cannot remember
7 right now. And then the disciplinary proceedings were instituted. After
8 the disciplinary proceedings, I accepted the ruling of the disciplinary
9 commission regarding Banjeglav and as for Orlovic, I did not accept that he
10 only be find but I had him dismissed. I dismissed him.
11 Q. And what was the disciplinary ruling with respect to Banjeglav
12 that you accepted? What was the ruling?
13 A. I don't remember. I believe that the punishment was suspension
14 for a period of time and there were some subsequent deductions from his
15 salary for the following three or six months, I don't remember.
16 Q. And again, he had beaten prisoners, hadn't he? That's why he was
17 disciplined, for beating prisoners?
18 A. Mr. Prosecutor, I would have to consult the case file. I cannot
19 know from memory. Maybe he was an accomplice. Maybe he was the chief of
20 the guards' shift and allowed something to happen. I would really have to
21 consult the file to be able to tell you exactly what had happened but I
22 cannot from memory now.
23 Q. But is it fair to say that it had -- whatever his role was, it
24 involved the use of excessive force? Isn't that true?
25 A. That is possible.
1 Q. Well, that's true, isn't it? That is in fact what happened,
2 isn't it? Not just possible, that is in fact what happened?
3 A. Well, I'm telling you I don't know from memory. It was not
4 perhaps his excessive use of force. It may have been the chief of the
5 shift of guards. I don't know what his actual involvement was. Probably
6 it was something lesser than that of Orlovic because this other person was
7 dismissed and he wasn't.
8 Q. Please listen to my question. My question was, whatever his role
9 was, whether he was an accomplice or chief or bigger role or lesser role,
10 he was disciplined for an event involving excessive force; correct?
11 A. As far as I can recall, yes.
12 Q. Thank you. I want to move to another topic. You testified on
13 Wednesday that the Courts made the decisions on whether someone would be
14 placed in the premises of the Knin district prison. It's at 8749. Do you
15 remember that testimony?
16 A. Yes.
17 Q. But that's not true for prisoners of war or that was not -- that
18 was not true for prisoners of war, was it? That decision could be made by
19 the army or the police; right?
20 A. Well, it was mainly the Courts that adopted that, but if the
21 minister sent me a decision stating that I had to admit someone according
22 to a decision of the army or the police, I will have also to admit such
23 prisoners, but they all had some written decisions to that effect.
24 Q. Well, let's just be perfectly clear about your answer here. The
25 army and the police had the power, had the authority, to put somebody, a
1 prisoner of war, in the Knin district prison without any order from a
2 court; correct?
3 A. They would have to take the person involved before the district
4 court in Knin and the district court would then pass a decision on the
5 detention of such persons.
6 JUDGE MOLOTO: I'm sorry to do this to you but can we just get
7 clarity? The minister referred to at page 10, line 25, which minister is
8 this? Is this the Minister of Justice or the Minister of any other
10 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] The Minister of Justice, Your
11 Honour. That is the department concerned.
12 JUDGE MOLOTO: Thank you.
13 MR. WHITING: Thank you, Your Honour.
14 Q. Sir, the district court that you have referred to, the district
15 court in Knin, that was a civilian court; right?
16 A. Right.
17 Q. So what authority would a civilian court have to order a war
18 prisoner be held?
19 A. I don't know that.
20 Q. Well, in fact, in fact, the army and the police had that
21 authority, didn't they? And they are the one who would request that
22 prisoners be held in the Knin district prison, prisoners of war, that is?
23 A. Sir, I don't know who did the requesting or the deciding. I just
24 acted upon decisions by courts. I could not admit to you to prison if you
25 didn't have a relevant court's decision.
1 Q. Well, let's look at a document authored by you. It's Exhibit 908
2 and if we could look at page 3 of the English and page 3 of the B/C/S. Do
3 you remember looking at this report, sir, in your direct examination on
5 A. I do remember.
6 Q. Sir, this was a report that was written by you on the 31st of
7 December, 1994, and I draw your attention to that first paragraph there,
8 and it says, "In view of the fact that the past period was a period of the
9 state of war or imminent war threat, we were also admitting prisoners of
10 war at the district prison in Knin." And here is the important sentence:
11 "These persons were admitted on the basis of decisions issued by the
12 Serbian army of Krajina and members of public security stations."
13 Now, you wrote that sentence; right?
14 A. Right.
15 Q. And that was true, wasn't it?
16 A. Correct.
17 Q. So what you said a moment ago was incorrect, that the prisoners
18 of war were admitted on -- only on the basis of court decisions. It says
19 right here that they were admitted on the basis of decisions from the army
20 and from the police; right?
21 A. What I said a while ago was true. You asked me about the period
22 while I was warden. This here is two years later, when I was the keeper of
23 the central records. So I also said that the minister could issue approval
24 for prisoners of war to be admitted to the prison who were brought there by
25 the army or the police, but also, as stated here, they also had to have a
1 decision to that effect and I believe that I've said all this. Meaning, in
2 this case, that probably the Minister of Justice and administration had
3 approved that prisoners be admitted according to those decisions.
4 Q. Well, let's be clear. The practice that was being followed and
5 that is -- at this time, when you were the records keeper, is the same
6 practice that was being followed when you were the warden, wasn't it? The
7 practice didn't change. It was the same. With respect to prisoners of
9 A. Well, it was almost the same. It was almost the same but I said
10 that the minister perhaps rendered a decision and we were interested in
11 operating --
12 Q. Sir there is no mention of a decision of the Minister of Justice
13 in this report, is there? The only thing that's mentioned is decisions by
14 the army and the police?
15 A. Mr. Prosecutor, in the prison we couldn't take anyone in without
16 a decision. We took people in with a decision but a decision must have
17 been rendered by those who issued decisions. It was the Ministry of
18 Justice and Administration. It was the Courts who did such things and I
19 wasn't that interested in it. I was interested in being covered, in having
20 the appropriate papers for the action that is we took.
21 Q. But let's just try to be clear about this. The police and the
22 army could also -- you said you needed a decision in order to hold a
23 prisoner. You could get a decision from the police and the army. They
24 could give you a decision to hold a prisoner; right? As is reflected in
25 this report.
1 A. Well, the police would bring in Serbs and criminals too so I --
2 I'm not quite sure how to explain this to you in any other way.
3 Q. Well, you certainly won't be able to explain it if you talk about
4 something different than what I'm asking about. I'm not asking about
5 criminals. I'm asking about prisoners of war, and if you could focus your
6 attention on that topic. My question is: The police and the army could
7 give a decision to hold a prisoner of war and that would be a sufficient
8 basis to hold a prisoner of war in the prison; correct?
9 A. Yes. But then the Courts had to subsequently adopt a new
11 Q. So your testimony is that despite what's written in this report,
12 that the persons were admitted on the basis of decisions issued by the army
13 and the police, in fact, a subsequent decision was required by the Court?
14 That's now your testimony?
15 A. Well, yes, that was common practice.
16 Q. And when the civilian courts would issue a decision, as you now
17 claim, to hold these prisoners, on what basis would they do so, what
18 authority, what basis? What would the decision say?
19 A. I wouldn't know how to answer that.
20 Q. Well, you could answer it by telling me what the decision said.
21 What would the decision say? This person is being ordered to be held for
22 this reason. And what would the reason be?
23 A. Well, there was some article of law, now 15 years later you're
24 trying to get me to say which article, which law this was based on. You
25 should put this question to the president of that court or someone who
1 worked in the court. I can't know that. I couldn't tell you off the top
2 of my head.
3 Q. Well, let me ask you this question, then. You would agree that
4 prisoners of war that were held at the Knin district prison were still
5 under the authority of the police and the army in the sense that if the
6 police and the army decided to take out the prisoner of war from the prison
7 and exchange that person, for example, they could do that, right, under the
8 law, or do you not know the answer to that question?
9 A. If an exchange was involved, the Ministry of Justice and
10 Administration would provide us with a letter saying that such and such
11 people would be exchanged and that such and such a person would come to
12 collect them so we would receive all the relevant information from the
13 Ministry of Justice and Administration, information about those who were to
14 be involved in an exchange, such exchanges would have previously been
15 agreed on. I don't know who agreed on them but that was procedure. We
16 would be provided with a list of those individuals and we would be told who
17 was coming to collect those individuals. A bus would arrive of some kind,
18 the bus would take them away, and they would be exchanged.
19 Q. Sir, maybe you don't know the answer to this question but would
20 you agree that the army had the authority, whether it was done -- how it
21 was done -- I'm talking about the authority, not how it was done -- the
22 army and the police had the authority to take prisoners who were held in
23 the Knin district prison as prisoners of war and take them out and exchange
24 them or release them. They had that authority, didn't they?
25 A. No, Mr. Prosecutor. They didn't have the authority to enter the
1 prison and take individuals out of the prison without the appropriate
2 decision from the district court or from the Minister of Justice.
3 Q. So your testimony is that prisoners of war, once they were put
4 into the Knin district prison, were exclusively under the control of the
5 courts, the civilian courts, and the Minister of Justice, and the army and
6 the police no longer had any authority over them? That's now your --
7 that's your testimony?
8 A. Correct.
9 Q. Okay. I want to show you a document, it's an agreement from the
10 6th of November 1991, and it's ERN 04247576. There is a translation. You
11 know what? The translation -- the translation may follow the -- I think
12 the first two pages are the B/C/S and the translation are the last two
13 pages. So on the English screen, if you go to page 3. Thank you. Sorry
14 about the confusion.
15 Sir, do you see that this is an agreement that was concluded
16 between the government of Croatia and the JNA on the 6th of November, 1991,
17 and I'm going to draw your attention to point 1 of the agreement. Both
18 sides concur that they will exchange all prisoners or persons deprived of
19 their liberty on the principle of all for all. And point 2 is, the term
20 prisoners shall be held to include all persons deprived of their liberty
21 who are in prisons, detention facilities or prison camps regardless of
22 whether criminal or other any proceedings have been initiated against
23 them." Do you see that, sir?
24 A. I do.
25 Q. Now, if -- if you're -- well, let me put this a different way:
1 Doesn't this agreement show that the JNA retained, as the army, retained
2 control and authority over the prisoners of war who were being held in the
3 SAO Krajina?
4 A. This is an agreement. I don't know why you're showing it to me.
5 This is what they agreed on with the Croatian side. This is how things
6 were. That's quite possible.
7 Q. Well, how could -- if your testimony is correct, how could the
8 JNA reach this agreement, if it did not have control over the prisoners, if
9 it did not have the authority over the prisoners of war, how could it agree
10 to surrender them?
11 A. Well, Mr. Prosecutor, you're asking me something that concerns a
12 higher level. I'm telling you how it worked in our place. When they spoke
13 with the Ministry of Justice there would be an exchange. For example,
14 there was a decision from the Minister of Justice they would say there it
15 would be an exchange on such and such a date and then we would act on that.
16 Q. Is it fair to say that aside from -- you can tell us only what
17 you observed at the Knin district prison in terms of prison exchanges but
18 you're unable to tell us who had authority over the prisoners of war? Is
19 that fair to say?
20 A. It would be best to put it this way: Not a single officer at the
21 time could have entered the Knin district prison, nor could he have taken
22 anyone out of that prison. So he had authority of no kind.
23 Q. Sir, I know you want to answer that question and I know you want
24 to tell the Court that but that's not an answer to my question. My
25 question is about who had authority over those prisoners. And are you --
1 is that something you don't know? Simply don't know?
2 A. No. I do know. In the district prison of court, well it was the
3 president of the district court who had all authority over the prisoners in
4 that prison. He was the only person who had authority over those
5 prisoners, as well as the Minister of Justice and administration of course.
6 Q. Maybe we are getting hung up on the word "authority." You would
7 agree with me, would you not, and especially after seeing this document,
8 that the JNA could, on its own authority, its own decision, without asking
9 anybody else, it could exchange prisoners who were being held at the Knin
10 district prison; right?
11 A. I don't know how they carried out these exchanges. I don't know
12 how they reached agreements or what they agreed on.
13 Q. Fine. You don't know. Sir, I mean --
14 MR. WHITING: Your Honour, could this document be admitted into
15 evidence, please?
16 JUDGE MOLOTO: The document is admitted into evidence. May it
17 please be given an exhibit number.
18 THE REGISTRAR: Your Honours, this becomes Exhibit number 958.
19 JUDGE MOLOTO: Thank you so much.
20 Mr. Whiting?
21 MR. WHITING: Thank you, Your Honour.
22 Q. Sir, you know, don't you, that Milan Martic was involved in
23 proposing prisoner exchanges and talking -- and he spoke publicly about
24 that? You know that; right?
25 A. I don't know about that. I'm not aware of the fact that he
1 discussed anything of that kind in public or that he was involved in
2 something of that kind.
3 MR. WHITING:
4 Q. Could we look at Exhibit 921, please? This is an order dated the
5 29th of February, 1992. It's a JNA order. And it's entitled, "Stand
6 regarding prisoners" and it says, "In order to establish a more unified
7 manner of treatment of all captured members of paramilitary formations of
8 the Republic of Croatia and to implement a unified criteria on their
9 exchange, the following is ordered." And number 2, it says, "Transfer the
10 captured members of the paramilitary formations of the Republic of Croatia
11 from the collection centres of the Krajina SUP to the military collection
12 centres according to the following. From the Knin SUP to the military
13 collection centre in Knin."
14 Now, were you aware of this order in February of 1992?
15 A. Well, I'm not familiar with anything here. I don't see who this
16 was addressed to. I wasn't in the collection centres. I wasn't anywhere
17 else. I was in the district prison. I can see that this hasn't even been
18 addressed to the district prison. I don't know who drafted this. I don't
19 know who signed it.
20 Q. Sir, my question was very simple. Were you aware of this order?
21 It's yes or no. This long explanation is not required. It's just yes or
23 A. No, Mr. Prosecutor.
24 Q. Now, would you agree with me or are you unable to say that this
25 document shows that prisoners of war were being held under the authority of
1 the police, of the Knin SUP?
2 A. I'm not aware of that. I don't know the answer to that question.
3 Q. Aside from the old hospital, the Knin district prison and the JNA
4 barracks, was there any other place in Knin where prisoners of war were
6 A. As far as I know, well, I know about the district prison in Knin.
7 I know that there were prisoners there but I don't know about any other
9 Q. Okay. I'm done with that document.
10 I want to talk about how the prisoners were in fact treated. You
11 testified that the prisoners of war at the Knin district prison were kept
12 separate from other prisoners. You remember that testimony?
13 A. Yes.
14 Q. Can you tell me how many floors the prison had?
15 A. Only one floor was used as a prison. But if you're asking me
16 about the building itself, how many floors there were there.
17 Q. Yes, how many floors did the building have?
18 A. Three or four. I can't remember exactly. Three.
19 Q. And your testimony is that the prisoners were all kept on the
20 same floor?
21 A. Yes.
22 Q. Now --
23 JUDGE MOLOTO: Which floor was this of the three or four?
24 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] It was on the first floor, and
25 there was the ground floor below that floor. So they were on the first
2 JUDGE MOLOTO: Thank you. You may proceed.
3 MR. WHITING: Thank you, Your Honour.
4 Q. So no prisoners were kept on the ground floor?
5 A. We used the first floor. We didn't use the ground floor.
6 Q. And how did you divide up the prisoners of war from the other
7 prisoners? How did you do that? Was there one wing of the building that
8 was used for prisoners of war? Were there certain rooms? How did you
9 divide them up?
10 A. Well, there was a long corridor, and they were on one side. They
11 were all on one floor but not -- we didn't have one room next to another.
12 We had four or five rooms for POWs and four or five rooms for traditional
13 criminals and four or five for those who had been convicted of
14 misdemeanours and who had been sentenced to 30 or 60 days in prison. So
15 these people were Serbs who had carried out misdemeanours so there were
16 these three groups and they were kept separately.
17 Q. Were all of these rooms on the same hallway?
18 A. Well, it was the same corridor. It's not quite straight but it
19 was the same corridor, one corridor was concerned.
20 Q. In fact, the military part of the prison, the where the prisoners
21 of war were held, that was operated by Sinobad Bosko, wasn't it? He had
22 responsibility for that part, didn't he?
23 A. No. Sinobad Bosko never worked in the district prison, as far as
24 I can remember. He was a member of the military. I know that man. He
25 worked in the factory with me. He was in the military. They had nothing
1 to do with us.
2 Q. He was never present at the prison?
3 A. He was never present in the Knin district prison. He was a
4 member of the military.
5 Q. While you were warden, a number of prisoners died in the prison,
6 didn't they?
7 A. Well, as far as I can remember, there are two or three such
8 cases. I can't remember exactly. Two or three.
9 Q. They died as a result of beatings, didn't they?
10 A. No, no.
11 Q. Do you remember the names of any of the prisoners who died in the
13 A. No, I don't remember the names.
14 Q. Does the name Ivan Hodak ring a bell? Died on the 31st of
15 December, 1991 in the prison?
16 A. I can't remember the names.
17 Q. Do you remember a man dying on the 31st of December, 1991?
18 A. As I have already said, I know there were two or three
19 individuals who died but I don't know when. I don't know the dates by
20 heart. It's impossible.
21 JUDGE HOEPFEL: Mr. Plejo, can you please try to refresh your
22 recollection. It was a question concerning one incident, especially on the
23 last day of the year, 1991, and you heard one name. You answered, "I can't
24 remember the names, I can't remember the dates." That was too general, I
25 think. Try to think about that once more and answer that. What was that
1 incident, do you remember?
2 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Your Honours, I said that I know
3 that two or three individuals died but as to when this happened, on which
4 date, I can't remember.
5 JUDGE HOEPFEL: I didn't ask you once more about the two or three
6 but about one date, and I didn't want any explanation about maybe not
7 remembering about the cases in general, but to refresh your memory and
8 think about what might have happened at the end of -- on the last day of
9 the year 1991.
10 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] I can't remember what happened on
11 that day.
12 JUDGE HOEPFEL: Thank you. Thank you.
13 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] But I do know what I did in such
15 MR. WHITING: Thank you, Your Honour.
16 Q. Well, these -- how according to you, did these men die in the
17 prison while you were warden?
18 JUDGE MOLOTO: Which men?
19 MR. WHITING: He said he remembered two or three cases.
20 JUDGE MOLOTO: Be specific.
21 MR. WHITING: Sorry, Your Honour.
22 Q. You mentioned two or three cases of men dying in the prison while
23 you were warden. Do you remember how they died?
24 A. Well, according to the reports, they died of natural causes.
25 Q. Do you remember the name Mile Skorop? Does that name ring a
2 A. It doesn't ring a bell.
3 Q. Ante Markovic?
4 A. Ante Markovic, if my memory serves me well, was the Prime
5 Minister before the war, if that's the one. But as far as the prison is
6 concerned, that name means nothing to me.
7 Q. I was speaking about the prison. Ivica Radoc?
8 A. Mr. Prosecutor, you can mention all these names but I really
9 can't remember the names of the people who were in the prison. I wasn't
10 interested in names. I was interested in people as people. I didn't
11 attach much importance to the names of these people.
12 Q. I'll just ask -- unless Your Honour --
13 JUDGE HOEPFEL: Mr. Plejo, I really don't understand your kind of
14 reaction. You were asked about certain deaths and you don't remember
15 names, you say, so you are hearing names. That's a different thing
16 compared to being asked for names. And you cannot answer I think just
17 with, "I don't remember names. I was not interested in names. I was only
18 interested in people." People have names and you received reports which
19 contained names so you might remember these names. It is the case of dead
20 people in the prison of which you were the warden. So it's not very
21 impossible that you remember when being asked certain names. And so you
22 don't have to answer that quickly, just with a sentence, "I don't remember
23 names." That's a little irritating. So this is why I asked you before.
24 Maybe it comes back, the memory, and thinking a little bit, some seconds
25 maybe. Thank you.
1 Mr. Whiting, please.
2 MR. WHITING: Thank you, Your Honour.
3 Q. I'll try another name. Davor Tadic.
4 A. No.
5 Q. Sir, do you remember an inmate -- this is moving on from the
6 inmates who died in the prison. Do you remember an inmate by the name of
7 Ivan Atelj and I may be mispronouncing his name?
8 A. Ivan Atelj, no, the name means nothing to me, I don't know. I
9 can't -- Q. Well, I'm going to show you a statement that he made and
10 maybe some of his description will bring back -- maybe will refresh your
11 recollection. The statement is -- it's at -- in e-court as 03344210. And
12 if we could turn to page 4 of the English, and page 3 of the B/C/S, please.
13 I have hard copies of the English so...
14 With the assistance of the usher -- but the B/C/S, yes, if we
15 could have page 3 of the B/C/S.
16 You'll see, sir, that this was a statement that was taken on the
17 3rd of May 1992 at the Zadar police station.
18 The witness doesn't need the English.
19 Sorry, you can look at the screen. It's in your language on the
20 screen. And I draw the Court's attention again to page 4.
21 This individual was arrested in Benkovac on the 14th of October,
22 1991 and he was held there and then on the 2nd of November, 1991 -- and
23 could we zoom in on the lower half of the B/C/S document? Because it's
24 probably hard for the witness to read it.
25 He was brought to the Knin prison on the 2nd of November 1991,
1 and just -- I'll just go through this on -- it's primarily on page 5 of the
2 English. He -- and just -- I just want you to listen to this, sir, and
3 tell me if you remember this event. Okay? It says that he was brought to
4 the prison and that by 1900 hours he was taken out three times and beaten
5 by boots in his chest, ribs, spine and kidneys. He was told to scrub a 50-
6 metre long corridor. He was kicked while he was doing that. This
7 continued on a daily basis. There were interrogations during which he was
8 beaten severely. He was forced to unload coal from lorries and perform all
9 the worst and most difficult labour, forced to sing. After leaving the
10 prison in Knin, a medical doctor in Zadar established that he had three
11 broken ribs and two vertebrae.
12 Now, if we could turn to the next page in the B/C/S, please?
13 Page 4 of the B/C/S. And zoom in on the top half, please. And he says, he
14 says, "The persons whom Atelj recognised in prison in Knin and their
15 activities, chief prison warden, Kukavica from Karin [phoen], previously
16 employed at Lepoglava. He is trying to conduct his job professionally.
17 Officially prohibits beatings. His opponent is one Plejo, and Jovica
18 Novakovic was Plejo's deputy. While they were in charge of the prison,
19 three prisoners died as a result of beatings. They did not say a word
20 about torture, they allowed beatings of prisoners by civilians, Serbian
21 prisoners, Martic's special force members and all others who wanted to beat
23 Now, that's all true, isn't it, sir?
24 MR. MILOVANCEVIC: [Interpretation] I have an objection, Your
1 JUDGE MOLOTO: Yes, Mr. Milovancevic?
2 MR. MILOVANCEVIC: [Interpretation] What the Prosecutor is
3 presenting to the witness is not a statement of Ivan Atelj or whatever his
4 name is. This is an official memorandum which is not signed. I should
5 like to ask my learned colleague to tell the witness what the report is,
6 what the report actually is and who is it signed by rather than present it
7 as a statement by this person.
8 MR. WHITING: Counsel is absolutely right. I did say statement
9 and he's absolutely right. It is an official note of an interview with
10 this individual. And that's correct.
11 JUDGE MOLOTO: Who is the individual?
12 MR. WHITING: The individual is Ivan Atelj.
13 JUDGE MOLOTO: Okay. But it is signed by somebody, officially in
14 charge, Boro Gambiroza, so to the extent that it is not signed that's not
15 correct, it is signed.
16 MR. WHITING: But it's not signed by.
17 JUDGE MOLOTO: It's not signed by the interviewee.
18 MR. WHITING: That's right.
19 JUDGE MOLOTO: That's true.
20 MR. WHITING: Yes.
21 JUDGE MOLOTO: Thank you very much, Mr. Milovancevic. Your
22 learned colleague takes your point.
23 MR. WHITING: Yes, and I'm grateful. Thank you, Mr.
25 Q. Now, if we could go back to my question, sir, the things that are
1 written here that Mr. Atelj experienced at the Knin district prison and
2 your role, those things are all true, aren't they?
3 A. They are not true, Mr. Prosecutor. If I understood you well,
4 when Mr. Atelj was brought in, the warden was Mr. Nikola Kukavica. While
5 here, he describes what the situation was when I was warden. Namely he was
6 still in Croatia and he's saying that I didn't do anything to prevent this
7 kind of thing that is being described here. You must admit that that's a
8 bit far-fetched. It is indeed irresponsible on the part of the person who
9 compiled this note. How could he have known whether I was taking any steps
10 to prevent this, and he knew that before coming to the prison. What was
11 going on in the prison and in which way. That cannot be true.
12 Q. Well, sir --
13 A. And it isn't.
14 Q. Sir, to be clear just so you're not under any misimpression, the
15 information contained in the report purports to be derived from an
16 interview with this inmate. So that's where the information comes from and
17 it's taken after the inmate -- after the prisoner was released. Do you
18 understand that? So it's based on what the prisoner observed at the
20 A. Yes. But he says that he was detained when Mr. Kukavica was the
21 warden but he's talking about the period when I was warden and saying that
22 he knows how I acted. So, please, bear with me, understand what I'm
23 saying. How could he have known what the situation had been like when I
24 was warden and he still had not even been arrested?
25 Q. Well, sir, your -- you would agree with me, would you not, that
1 you have testified repeatedly over the course of the past three days, that
2 your memory of dates is not very good and that your memory about when Mr.
3 Kukavica came to the prison was not very certain, was it?
4 A. Yes.
5 Q. Okay. In any event, just so it's clear, you deny everything
6 that's written in this report; correct?
7 A. I don't deny it. The man may have experienced all this. What
8 I'm saying is he says that he came to the prison when Mr. Kukavica was the
9 warden, whereas he knows how things were earlier. He was not in the prison
10 when I was there but he knows how things unfolded in the prison at that
11 period when I was. That is just not possible. You can see --
12 Q. Sir, just to be clear, just so you know, so nothing is mysterious
13 here, he was held in the prison for four months. He was released on the
14 28th of February, 1992. So isn't it possible then that he was in the
15 prison while you were the warden and also while Mr. Kukavica was the
16 warden, since you testified that Mr. Kukavica was a warden for, you
17 thought, perhaps one or two months?
18 A. He here says that he recognises some persons in the prison. He
19 refers to the prison warden Kukavica, and he says his predecessor was
20 Plejo, so he refers to the persons that he saw and recognised in the
21 prison, and then he says that I had not undertaken any steps, as if he were
22 some sort of a manager. He has come there to assess whether I took some
23 steps or not. Please.
24 JUDGE MOLOTO: Sorry, Mr. Plejo. Where does he say that you were
25 Kukavica's predecessor? It may very well be, he says in the B/C/S. We
1 don't have it in the English.
2 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] It says here, "The persons whom
3 Atelj recognised in Knin prison," meaning that he recognised, and it says,
4 "Kukavica from Karin was the warden. He used to work in Lepoglava before
5 that." After that, it says, "A certain Plejo is his predecessor." He says
6 a certain Plejo. He doesn't even know me and Plejo's deputy was Jovica
7 Novakovic. "While they were at the helm of the prison, were beaten to
8 death," and so on and so on. So he doesn't know me. I was working in the
9 central register.
10 JUDGE MOLOTO: Thank you very much. I just wanted to be clear
11 because then the English is not exactly the same as the B/C/S. I'm looking
12 at the portion that the Prosecutor had read to you.
13 MR. WHITING: Yes. And, Your Honour --
14 [Trial Chamber confers]
15 THE INTERPRETER: If the interpreter can be of assistance, it
16 says "predecessor" in the Serbian original.
17 JUDGE MOLOTO: Thank you very much. We don't doubt that. It's
18 just that the English doesn't say predecessor.
19 Mr. Milovancevic, you were on your feet, I'm sorry, I was still
20 talking to Judge Hoepfel. Would you like to say something?
21 MR. MILOVANCEVIC: [Interpretation] I apologise, Your Honours, for
22 interrupting you. Can we establish what portion of the English text
23 corresponds to this portion of the B/C/S text? Can my learned colleague
24 the Prosecutor identify that portion so that we can compare?
25 JUDGE MOLOTO: Mr. Whiting?
1 MR. WHITING: Yes. It's at the bottom -- it's the last paragraph
2 of page 5, and what appears to have happened is the word -- instead of it
3 saying "predecessor" it says opponent. I think that was a
4 misinterpretation in the English.
5 JUDGE NOSWORTHY: I must confess I wondered what the word meant,
7 MR. WHITING: Fortunately now it's been cleared up.
8 MR. MILOVANCEVIC: [Interpretation] Your Honours, how does the
9 learned -- my learned colleague know that this is a mistranslation? How
10 can he know that it is a mistranslation?
11 MR. WHITING: Precisely because we were just told that because
12 the interpreter just told us that the word and the witness --
13 MR. MILOVANCEVIC: [Interpretation] I apologise, Mr. Prosecutor.
14 It's the witness who told you that.
15 JUDGE MOLOTO: Yes. We are in a court of law. When the one
16 counsel stands up, the other one must sit down. And that will avoid you
17 addressing each other directly. You talk to each other via the Court and
18 that way you're not going to talk at the same time. I'm not saying anybody
19 specifically. I'm saying both of you.
20 Ask your question, Mr. Milovancevic.
21 MR. MILOVANCEVIC: [Interpretation] My colleague, the Prosecutor,
22 said that it was a mistranslation and I should like to ask my learned
23 colleague how does my learned colleague the Prosecutor, who speaks English
24 and does not speak B/C/S, how can he know? How does he know that something
25 is written differently, that something is different in the B/C/S? He can
1 only establish that the English and the Serbian or the B/C/S version are
2 not identical and whether the translation is wrong, he can ask the witness.
3 That is the least that we can do.
4 MR. WHITING: Your Honour, if I may respond.
5 JUDGE MOLOTO: Yes, please. I'm lost on the proceedings here.
6 I'm not quite sure where we are now.
7 MR. WHITING: I'm really perplexed because both the witness at
8 the interpreter told us that the word is predecessor. I know what sentence
9 was being talked about so I simply said that in the English, it says
10 "opponent" and that's obviously a mistranslation. So I simply inferred
11 that from the information that was provided by the witness and the
12 interpreter. I'm really at a little bit of a loss here.
13 MR. MILOVANCEVIC: [Interpretation] My objection, Your Honours is
14 to the conclusion of Mr. Whiting that that is obvious mistake or omission.
15 This, he cannot conclude. He can only conclude that things are not
16 identical because the predecessor can also be an opponent to Kukavica.
17 That translation can also be made and it really makes sense.
18 JUDGE MOLOTO: I understand, Mr. Milovancevic, but is it not so
19 that both the witness, when he was asked by the Bench, and the interpreter,
20 of her own volition, told us that the word predecessor does appear on the
21 B/C/S version and that, in fact --
22 MR. MILOVANCEVIC: [Interpretation] That is out of doubt. That is
24 JUDGE MOLOTO: Thank you very much. Okay. If we are over that,
25 can we proceed? I'm sorry about that.
1 MR. WHITING: That's fine, Your Honour. I'm done with this
2 document. Could it be admitted into evidence and given a number, please.
3 JUDGE MOLOTO: The document is admitted into evidence. May it
4 please be given an exhibit number.
5 THE REGISTRAR: Your Honours, this becomes Exhibit number 959.
6 JUDGE MOLOTO: Thank you so much.
7 JUDGE HOEPFEL: And I suppose we will get an English translation
8 on the e-court as well?
9 MR. WHITING: Yes, certainly, Your Honour.
10 JUDGE MOLOTO: On that note, wouldn't it be a convenient time?
11 MR. WHITING: Yes, it would be, Your Honour.
12 JUDGE MOLOTO: Thank you so much. Let's take a break and come
13 back at 4.00. Court adjourned.
14 --- Recess taken at 3.31 p.m.
15 --- On resuming at 4.01 p.m.
16 JUDGE MOLOTO: Yes, Mr. Whiting.
17 MR. WHITING: Thank you, Your Honour.
18 Q. Mr. Plejo, I actually have one more question about this report of
19 the interview of Mr. Atelj. According to this report, Mr. Atelj, was taken
20 to the Knin district prison on the 2nd of November, 1991. Now, you were
21 the warden according to your memory, on that date, correct, on the 2nd of
22 November, 1991?
23 A. I don't know whether I was on that date but what I do see is that
24 he doesn't recognise me.
25 Q. Well, sir, if you would focus on my questions. I'll remind you
1 of your prior testimony. Your prior testimony was that you were the warden
2 from August of 1991 and that Mr. Kukavica replaced you for some period of
3 time in 1992, your best memory was March or April of 1992 though you
4 couldn't be certain that he left after some period of time 15 days to two
5 months and then you continued in the position of warden until approximately
6 October or November of 1992. Is that correct? Is that right?
7 A. Yes. The sequence of events is correct, and I don't know about
8 the dates. I have said that I'm not sure. More or less, yes.
9 Q. Well, you would agree that Mr. Kukavica came in 1992; right?
10 Maybe you don't remember exactly what date but in 1992.
11 A. Yes. It had to be 1992.
12 Q. So going back to my question, on the 2nd of November, 1991, you
13 were in fact the warden; correct?
14 A. Yes.
15 MR. WHITING: Thank you. That was really my only question.
16 And now I am, in fact, done with this document. Thank you.
17 JUDGE MOLOTO: Thank you, Mr. Whiting.
18 MR. WHITING:
19 Q. I'm just going to ask you, sir, about a few other prisoners, see
20 if you remember them and what happened to them. Do you remember, sir, a
21 prisoner by the name of Ante Kamber, who was held in the Knin district
22 prison from the 27th of December, 1991 to the 6th of June, 1992? Do you
23 remember him, that name, that person?
24 A. I do not remember that person or that name.
25 Q. He was regularly beaten by the guards and the only time his
1 treatment improved was when Mr. Kukavica became the warden. Does that help
2 you remember him in any way?
3 A. No, it does not help me in any way is it.
4 Q. What about --
5 A. I cannot remember that name.
6 Q. What about Mr. Zivko Nikolic who was held from the 20th of
7 November, 1991 until the 6th of June, 1992? Do you remember that person,
8 that name?
9 A. No.
10 Q. He was also abused during the entire stay and was only treated
11 well when Mr. Kukavica was the warden. Does that that help you remember
13 A. No, it doesn't.
14 Q. I'm going to ask you about an earlier time, and an inmate named
15 Velibor Bracic who was arrested by Martic's Police on the 15th of June,
16 1991. He was taken to Golubic where he was detained for two days before
17 being taken to the Knin prison where he was held for a month and physically
18 ill-treated each day. Does that -- do you remember anything about that?
19 A. I know him personally, but how should I know who arrested him and
20 where they held him? How should I know about that? I don't know anything
21 about that. But I do know him personally because his house is some three
22 or four kilometres away from mine.
23 Q. So do I understand your testimony that you do not remember him
24 being held at the Knin district prison?
25 A. He was in the district prison but you asked me who had arrested
1 him and you said that he had been held in Golubic, I believe. How should I
2 know about whether he had been held in Golubic. As for the district
3 prison, he was there.
4 Q. And he was ill treated, wasn't he? He was abused at the prison,
5 wasn't he, at the Knin district prison?
6 A. I don't know that.
7 Q. In fact, sir, prisoners at the Knin district prison were
8 regularly beaten and some suffered broken bones, didn't they?
9 A. That is not true, Mr. Prosecutor.
10 Q. The SAO Krajina Police were allowed to come into the prison and
11 they beat prisoners there, didn't they?
12 A. That is not true either.
13 Q. There was no medical treatment for the injured prisoners, was
15 A. Medical treatment was extended to all who needed it.
16 Q. Even the prisoners who had been injured from beatings?
17 A. The doctor came to the prison and anyone who was ill had access
18 to that doctor and there was also a medical nurse, in addition to the
19 doctor, if people needed to be sent to hospital, they would be referred to
20 hospital by the doctor and people went to the hospital and would be
21 escorted there by the guards. Those were the rules.
22 Q. Did that include prisoners who had been beaten?
23 A. I said all the people in the prison were entitled to medical
24 care. Whether someone had been hit and injured or whoever, in whatever
25 condition, if they required medical assistance they were entitled to it.
1 Q. The prisoners were deprived of sleep, they were given inadequate
2 food; isn't that right, sir?
3 A. That is not right. No one was deprived of sleep, and they were
4 issued meals three times a day, breakfast, lunch and dinner.
5 Q. They were forced to perform labour while being held at the Knin
6 district prison, isn't that right, sir?
7 A. Only on several occasions they went out to work, but that was not
8 forced labour, and it was mainly Serbs convicted of misdemeanours who had
9 been in prison for two months and they could in fact hardly wait to go out
10 and work. They requested to go out and work rather than be inside the
12 Q. You said it was mainly Serbs. So do I take it from your answer
13 that it also -- prisoners of war also were taken out to work?
14 A. Only in several cases, I believe. Although they too could hardly
15 wait to get out and they also requested to go out and do some work if there
16 was any work to be had because they would rather go out than stay inside
17 but these were also mainly people but generally it was mostly people
18 convicted of petty offence who had been in prison for 50 or 60 days and
19 these were the people who liked to go out and work.
20 Q. And, sir, you were the warden of this prison where all of this
21 abuse and mistreatment occurred and you did nothing to stop it. Isn't that
23 A. That is not true, Mr. Prosecutor.
24 MR. WHITING: Your Honour, I have no further questions, thank
1 JUDGE MOLOTO: Thank you very much, Mr. Whiting.
2 Mr. Milovancevic?
3 MR. MILOVANCEVIC: [Interpretation] Thank you, Your Honours.
4 Re-examination by Mr. Milovancevic:
5 Q. Mr. Plejo, do you recall the document shown to you by my learned
6 colleague the Prosecutor, namely the official note referring to Ivan Atelj?
7 It was shown to you a minute ago.
8 A. Yes.
9 Q. In the English text of that official memo, it is stated that
10 Kukavica was the warden after you, that he respected the law and rules as
11 the warden, and that he was your opponent. In that connection, my question
12 is as follows: Did you violate the house rules in terms of how the
13 detainees or the people in the prison were to be treated? Did you violate
14 them or not?
15 A. No.
16 MR. WHITING: Okay. I have an objection. The -- obviously the
17 original -- the original is the B/C/S and we have an English translation.
18 And we have an indication at least that the word that opponent has been
19 incorrectly translated. So I'm curious -- so I would object to citing --
20 referring to that word when the indication is that that is an erroneous
21 translation. And just to press this further the word as I understand it is
22 -- it's [B/C/S/ spoken] in the B/C/S and the translation of that word, I
23 checked it over the break, is predecessor. Whereas "opponent," as I
24 understand it is a different word. So I'm -- I would object to that --
25 relying on that word.
1 MR. MILOVANCEVIC: [Interpretation] Your Honours, as my colleague
2 the Prosecutor founded his work on the official memo and on the statement
3 of Mr. Atelj proceeding precisely from this word opponent which is
4 completely different from the word predecessor or whatever the word is, but
5 this word can really make sense here. I just wanted to check. When we
6 talk about the English variant, can the witness tell us whether he was an
7 opponent to Mr. Kukavica? Namely, did he work differently from Mr.
8 Kukavica? Nothing more. And when my colleague the Prosecutor says that
9 this is a mistake, that it is erroneous, this is something quite different.
10 I want to clarify this from the legal, logical, linguistic aspects and wrap
11 up the subject of the meaning of opponent. I believe that that can be
12 quite logical in this place.
13 JUDGE MOLOTO: I hear what you say, Mr. Milovancevic, and you are
14 right to the extent that you say it could still be a word that could be
15 used there. However, we got a clarification both from the interpreter and
16 from the witness that the word opponent was never intended to be used. It
17 was intended to be predecessor. And I think if it has been corrected as
18 predecessor, then that settles the matter.
19 MR. MILOVANCEVIC: [Interpretation] I accept that.
20 JUDGE MOLOTO: And while we are on the subject, it was bought to
21 my notice during the break that now we have an official translation of --
22 is it official? You see this one is called unrevised.
23 MR. WHITING: Your Honour, I can clarify that. What's in e-court
24 is the same as what we have in the hard copy. It's the same version.
25 JUDGE MOLOTO: Okay. I hear that, Mr. Milovancevic, but if you
1 do want to clear up the question of opponent clearly, just so that maybe
2 nobody makes a mistake later, you can clear it up.
3 MR. MILOVANCEVIC: [Interpretation]
4 Q. I'm interested in one thing, Mr. Plejo. Did you or did you not
5 abide by the rules that governed how detainees in the district prison in
6 Knin should be treated, whatever the category of prisoners concerned?
7 A. Yes. We did respect those rules.
8 JUDGE HOEPFEL: Can we confer about that?
9 [Trial Chamber confers]
10 JUDGE MOLOTO: You may proceed, Mr. Milovancevic. Sorry about
11 the interruption.
12 MR. MILOVANCEVIC: [Interpretation] Thank you, Your Honours.
13 Q. Mr. Plejo, I want to ask you something about the official note in
14 B/C/S. It's the official note about Atelj. In the original text, it says
15 -- well, do you remember that the Prosecutor referred to part of the report
16 and where it says that when he was arrested in November 1991, and then when
17 you were the warden, he was beaten, his ribs were broken, he was forced to
18 do hard labour, he was taken to be interviewed and he was beaten, do you
19 remember that part?
20 A. Yes, I do.
21 Q. Mr. Plejo, can you tell us whether that's correct? Did this in
22 fact take place while you were the warden of the district prison?
23 A. No. Such things didn't happen. Apart from in exceptional cases
24 that I have already mentioned. If any excessive acts were committed the
25 perpetrators were punished.
1 JUDGE MOLOTO: Sorry, were you waiting for us, Mr. Milovancevic?
2 MR. MILOVANCEVIC: [Interpretation] Your Honours, it would be rude
3 of me to put questions if -- because the Chamber has the right to confer,
4 of course. I was just waiting for that.
5 JUDGE MOLOTO: Thank you.
6 MR. MILOVANCEVIC: [Interpretation] Please don't hold it against
8 JUDGE MOLOTO: We are not holding it -- we appreciate it and we
9 thank you for it. Thank you very much, Mr. Milovancevic. You may proceed.
10 MR. MILOVANCEVIC: [Interpretation] Thank you.
11 Q. As far as this official note is concerned, the one that concerns
12 Atelj, you saw that it was compiled in the police administration of Zadar,
13 at the beginning of May 1992. Which Ministry of the Interior does the
14 police administration of Zadar belong to?
15 A. To the Croatian MUP probably.
16 Q. Thank you. Can we exclude the possibility that official notes
17 might be drafted that don't actually reflect the situation in the police?
18 A. Well, on the basis of this report, I would say that this report
19 is not correct. It has been fabricated.
20 Q. Thank you. With regard to another question put to you by the
21 Prosecution, a question that related to whether any people died in the Knin
22 district prison, well, do you remember the Prosecution asking you a
23 question about that?
24 A. Yes, I do.
25 Q. Do you remember that he showed you some names or rather mentioned
1 some names?
2 A. Yes, I do.
3 Q. Do you remember that you said that perhaps there were two or
4 three individuals who died?
5 A. Yes.
6 Q. Do you remember that Judge Hoepfel even drew your attention to
7 the fact that one gains the impression that you are a little cavalier with
8 names, that you don't really pay much attention to them?
9 A. Yes, I remember that.
10 Q. Do you remember that in response it a question from the
11 Prosecution you said that you couldn't remember any of the names but you
12 did know how you acted in such cases, do you remember that?
13 A. Yes, I do very well.
14 Q. And Mr. Plejo, can you tell us what you as the warden of the Knin
15 district prison did when there it was a death?
16 A. Well, the warden of the prison would immediately inform the
17 president of the district court and the Prosecution. That's the first
18 thing he did. I think the president then informed a doctor, someone from
19 the MUP, an inspector, and they would all come to carry out an on-site
20 investigation. They would then draft a report and the final report would
21 be sent to the Ministry of Justice. In such cases, I wanted to know
22 whether the individual had been killed or whether there had been an
23 accident, whether a prison official had committed an error. If the
24 individual hadn't been killed or if a prison official hadn't commit an
25 error, that would mean that the matter had been closed.
1 Q. Thank you.
2 A. But that wasn't the case.
3 Q. You have partially answered the question that I was just going to
4 put to you. In those two or three cases, what did the investigation
5 establish, under what circumstances were these detainees -- or did these
6 detainees die?
7 A. Well, it was of natural causes, as far as I can remember, heart
8 attacks, all I was interested in was whether we, as prison officials, were
9 responsible for the deaths. If we weren't I wasn't interested in the
10 matter. If we were responsible in such a case, I would certainly have
11 resigned because if a person dies, well, it's not the same thing as if an
12 animal dies.
13 Q. What did you want to say when you said, means didn't mean
14 anything for me, what does that statement of yours mean, in fact?
15 A. Well, there are a lot of names. I can't remember the names. At
16 the time, perhaps I knew their names but 15 years have passed since then.
17 I was more interested in how to establish what had actually happened. If
18 they had died of natural causes, of a heart attack or something of that
19 kind, well, that was regrettable but I wasn't responsible, nor were any of
20 the prison officials responsible.
21 Q. Thank you. You no longer work in the district prison?
22 A. No.
23 Q. In other prisons, there are detainees who die, is that the case
24 in other countries, too?
25 A. Well, I have heard that there have been quite a few such cases
1 and that includes Scheveningen here.
2 Q. One more question that relates to a question put to you by the
3 Prosecution, would it be correct to say that you were the prison warden --
4 JUDGE MOLOTO: There is an objection.
5 MR. WHITING: Maybe I jumped the gun but the beginning of the
6 formulation looked like a leading question. I accept that maybe I jumped
7 the gun, maybe it was the preamble, but it looked like it was going to be
8 because it was: Would it be correct to say? So I thought it was going to
9 be a leading question.
10 JUDGE MOLOTO: Mr. Milovancevic?
11 MR. MILOVANCEVIC: [Interpretation] Your Honours, I'll put the
12 question in such a way that it certainly won't be leading.
13 Q. Mr. Plejo, were you the prison warden so that you could make it
14 possible for the police, the army, the citizens, the guards or anyone else
15 could come to the prison and beat and maltreat those people? Is that
17 A. No, that's not correct. I didn't work as warden to enable
18 someone to come and beat the detainees.
19 JUDGE HOEPFEL: That was not the question.
20 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] If I have understood you correctly
21 you asked me whether I was the prison warden in order to allow people to
22 beat the detainees.
23 MR. MILOVANCEVIC: [Interpretation]
24 Q. That's correct.
25 A. I wasn't there to allow anyone to beat the detainees. I was
1 against that.
2 MR. MILOVANCEVIC: [Interpretation] Thank you. Your Honours, I
3 have no further questions.
4 JUDGE MOLOTO: Thank you very much, Mr. Milovancevic. Judge?
5 Questioned by the Court:
6 JUDGE HOEPFEL: Well, before I have a couple of other questions
7 let me get back to these deaths you said you remember. Was it two or three
8 cases you remember?
9 A. I can't remember for sure but it wasn't more than three and it
10 wasn't less than two. I can't remember exactly whether there were two or
11 three cases.
12 JUDGE HOEPFEL: Then try to remember, please, when was that?
13 What do you remember?
14 A. I remember that people died. I acted in accordance with the law.
15 I would inform the president of the Court. He would arrive with an entire
16 team. I can't remember the names. Believe me. Nor do I know the dates
17 when this took place.
18 JUDGE HOEPFEL: You are saying now you remember how you called
19 someone in this single incident, do you?
20 A. In such cases, I know how I acted, but believe me I can't
21 remember the names. 15 years have passed since then.
22 JUDGE HOEPFEL: Thank you, Witness. You have to tell us what you
23 remember, not any reconstructions of your memory. In which year did that
24 happen, these two or three cases?
25 A. Well, I can't remember exactly. Perhaps in 1992. I assume that
1 it was in 1992. But I can't claim for certain.
2 JUDGE HOEPFEL: What age were these two or three persons?
3 A. Believe me, I don't know how old they were. You can't expect the
4 prison warden to know when a given detainee was born.
5 JUDGE HOEPFEL: Well, that is my problem, if I can't get an
6 answer, you know. So please allow me to have my own expectations. So
7 let's change that subject now. You are no prison warden any more today,
8 you said. What do you do at present?
9 A. I work as a private businessman. I'm in the transportation
10 business, in the haulier business.
11 JUDGE HOEPFEL: At the time you worked at the Knin prison, were
12 you still in the militia Krajina when you were a warden?
13 A. No, Your Honour. I was receiving my salary and I was an official
14 in the Ministry of Justice and Administration. So I received my salary
15 from them. And I had no connection with the militia at that point in time.
17 JUDGE HOEPFEL: What do you mean you had no connection with the
18 militia at that point in time. Full stop. Later.
19 A. Well, I was an employee of the district prison and the Ministry
20 of Justice. What did I have to do with the militia later? That's what I
21 wanted to say. There was a list of the employees and you can see my name
22 in that list and you can see the salaries of the various individuals
24 JUDGE HOEPFEL: And were you still an employee of the factory
25 Tvik [phoen] or when -- if not, when did you stop being an employee of the
2 A. I think it was in 1992. I had to take my work booklet, that was
3 in 1992.
4 JUDGE HOEPFEL: I don't really understand what this means. I had
5 to take my work booklet. And also was it in the beginning or in the end of
6 this or during the year 1992?
7 A. I don't know the exact date.
8 JUDGE HOEPFEL: I didn't ask for an exact date.
9 A. Well, in mid-1992, I think. But I'm not sure.
10 JUDGE HOEPFEL: What was in mid-1992?
11 A. I don't understand your question.
12 JUDGE HOEPFEL: You're saying, in mid-1992, I think. But I'm not
13 sure. To what does that refer?
14 A. Well, I worked in that factory but when I moved to the Ministry
15 of Justice, I received my salary from the Ministry of Justice. I no longer
16 received my salary from that factory but I still had the possibility of
17 returning there but I took my documents away and handed them over to the
18 archives of the Ministry of Justice and Administration, to the prison, to
19 the Knin district prison. I don't know if there is anything else I can
21 JUDGE HOEPFEL: Thank you. As a prison warden, did you wear any
22 particular uniform?
23 A. Well, usually I was in civilian clothes, in a suit of some kind,
24 something like that, but sometimes since everyone was in uniform, you know,
25 most people wore uniforms. Sometimes one would be in uniform, sometimes in
1 a suit.
2 JUDGE HOEPFEL: In what uniform were you when you wore a uniform
3 as a warden of the Knin prison?
4 A. Well it would be the same kind of uniform that the guards wore.
5 It would be a uniform in two parts, a two-piece uniform. It would be dark
6 blue, a two-piece, dark-blue uniform.
7 JUDGE HOEPFEL: Can you give more details?
8 A. Well, it resembled a suit, the uniform resembled a suit. It was
9 like a police uniform. But the police uniform was a light blue.
10 JUDGE HOEPFEL: There are certain insignia on a uniform usually
11 or other particulars.
12 A. There were insignia but I didn't have any insignia. There were
13 no insignia -- there were no insignias for me to wear. Usually a warden
14 should be in civilian clothes but since it was war, everyone wore a
15 uniform, so one felt a little awkward wearing civilian clothes.
16 JUDGE HOEPFEL: Thank you. Right now I have no further
18 JUDGE MOLOTO: Thank you, Judge. Judge?
19 JUDGE NOSWORTHY: Thank you.
20 Yes. Did Mr. Martic, Milan Martic ever visit the prison in 1991
21 or 1992?
22 A. Your Honours, Milan Martic never visited the prison.
23 JUDGE NOSWORTHY: Are you able to say whether all prisoners of
24 war who were captured by the SAO Krajina or the RSK forces were kept in
25 ordinary prison or, if not, how was a distinction made in which place to
1 put a prisoner of war?
2 A. Your Honours, they were kept in the Knin district prison, which
3 is where all the other prisoners were kept but they were in another
4 section. They were all on one floor, in the same premises, four or five
5 rooms would be used for one group of prisoners. Other rooms for others.
6 They were all there together but they weren't all in the same rooms.
7 JUDGE NOSWORTHY: Yes. And I'm also asking how did you make the
8 determination, on what bases, as to where to put them?
9 A. Well, Your Honours, naturally you can't put a POW together with a
10 Serbian who killed some other Serbian. You can't have them in the same
11 room so -- they had to be separated. You can't put someone who was guilty
12 of having committed a misdemeanour together with someone who had murdered
13 an individual. So there were these rules, the POWs were held together and
14 these others were in two groups.
15 JUDGE NOSWORTHY: Now, you -- my apologies are in order. Now,
16 there was a report on the district prison in Knin which was written by you,
17 and according to that report, those persons convicted for violation of
18 military discipline were also detained at the Knin district prison. What
19 sort of breaches of military discipline resulted in persons being detained
20 in that prison? Please tell me.
21 A. Well, I don't know. It's similar to a misdemeanour. There could
22 have been misdemeanours committed for which you have a sentence up to 30
23 days in prison but I don't know exactly what they were guilty of.
24 JUDGE NOSWORTHY: What type of misdemeanours?
25 A. I don't know what kind of misdemeanours. I really can't answer
1 that question.
2 JUDGE NOSWORTHY: Now, you spoke about the disciplinary measures
3 that would be taken against prison employees. You recall? What I want you
4 to tell me: What circumstances would determine whether a person would be
5 reinstated after dismissal or brought back to work? Are you understanding
6 me? When -- that person, you having taken the decision that he was guilty
7 of a breach of discipline and that it warranted in the circumstances a
8 dismissal, what would be the circumstances that would make you decide,
9 okay, we are going to take him back and put him back on the work that he
10 was doing or put him back within the prison? When?
11 A. Your Honours, I would very reluctantly return a such a person o
12 to work but if the warden is replaced or if there is insufficient staff
13 then perhaps the person would be returned because we didn't have sufficient
14 number of trained staff. So that could be a reason. But otherwise,
15 nothing else.
16 JUDGE NOSWORTHY: Now, was there an instance that you spoke of
17 where the person was dismissed and then returned to work? What were the
18 circumstances there that provoked you to allow that person to return?
19 A. Your Honours, I didn't allow that to happen. I think that some
20 other warden reinstated him and I assume he did so because we only had 19
21 employees who had been trained to work in prisons. So that was probably
22 the reason for which this other warden reinstated him, but there were
23 probably some conditions that had to be met. I assume that was the case.
24 JUDGE NOSWORTHY: So what you're saying is that sometimes you
25 would bend the rules because you were short staffed, but on reinstatement
1 you would apply conditions as a sort of safeguard hopefully for the future?
2 Is that what you're saying?
3 A. I'm saying that I dismissed that individual. I would never have
4 returned him to work. I would rather have taken in some younger man, even
5 if he hadn't been trained. He would have learned how to perform his
6 duties. But some other person might have thought differently. How am I to
7 know what was in his mind when he acted in such a way.
8 JUDGE NOSWORTHY: Very well, thank you. I'm going to ask you now
9 about women or female inmates, and during the time that you spoke about,
10 how many female inmates did you see?
11 A. Very few. They were mostly men.
12 JUDGE NOSWORTHY: When you say a few, under ten?
13 A. Yes. I'm quite sure it was under ten.
14 JUDGE NOSWORTHY: And where were they housed? Where were they
15 kept normally?
16 A. They were separated and there were a few cases of females staying
17 very -- for a very, very short period but generally speaking they were
18 separated. It would not be logical to have them together with the men.
19 JUDGE NOSWORTHY: And where in the prison would they be, which
20 floor, which room?
21 A. I don't remember. I think that they were in a separate room, one
22 room at the end of the corridor, but they stayed for a very brief time. I
23 don't know even whether a couple of women only stayed in the prison
24 overnight. I'm not quite sure. And there were no women POWs. There were
25 Serb women there for different reasons, but only a very few cases.
1 JUDGE NOSWORTHY: What would those Serb women have been there for
2 if not POWs?
3 A. They were probably -- they were involved in some petty offence or
4 something. Wasn't some grave crime.
5 JUDGE NOSWORTHY: In respect of the female prisoners, did you
6 have female prison officers?
7 A. No, we did not have female guards. We didn't have a single woman
8 who was trained as a guard at that time.
9 JUDGE NOSWORTHY: Thank you very much.
10 Now, I want to ask you this question: You remember in response
11 to Mr. Whiting, the learned counsel for the Prosecution, you said that two
12 or three prisoners died. How would the cause of death of a particular
13 prisoner who had died be determined by you at the time? You had spoken as
14 to natural causes.
15 A. Well, Your Honours, I have already explained. A physician would
16 come, a judge, a Prosecutor, an inspector from the SUP. They would all
17 come at the same time to establish the situation and then they would submit
18 a report to the Minister of Justice. And the Minister of Justice would
19 then report to me or, rather, I would seek information from him as to
20 whether it was a natural cause of death or an error on the part of the
21 prison staff, but in no instance it was a mistake on the part of the prison
23 JUDGE HOEPFEL: Let me ask: Did you first give the information
24 about such a death to the Prosecution or to the ministry, or to both, the
25 first information you gave, the first notice?
1 A. It was our obligation to immediately inform the president of the
2 district court in Knin.
3 JUDGE HOEPFEL: I didn't ask you about your obligations but about
4 what you did.
5 A. Well specifically, the president of the district court, and he
6 would then undertake the other necessary steps, the investigation, et
8 JUDGE HOEPFEL: When would the ministry, the minister, learn?
9 A. It was not my obligation to inform the minister. I may have also
10 informed --
11 JUDGE HOEPFEL: I did not ask you about your obligations but
12 about what you did just as before, and can you -- do you want to add
14 JUDGE MOLOTO: I just wanted to help. Just listen a little bit.
15 I think what the judge wants to know is how -- what made the physician, the
16 minister, the member of the SUP and the prosecutor come? Obviously they
17 don't know about the death. This person dies in your prison. So for them
18 to come, some report must be given to them. Now, that's -- it is that
19 first report to them, that reports the death, that the judge is asking you
20 about. Am I right?
21 JUDGE HOEPFEL: Yes. That report. And that was sent to whom?
22 Once more, please.
23 A. Once a person died in the prison, it was my duty to immediately
24 inform the president of the district court.
25 JUDGE HOEPFEL: Witness, please answer my question. What
1 happened on the ground? To whom did you make, send the first report?
2 A. Well, that is what I am saying. If I understand you well, whom
3 did I inform? I informed the president of the district court.
4 JUDGE HOEPFEL: That is not what you were saying. You were
5 telling me something about your duties but I was asking you what you then
6 said -- yeah, just --
7 A. Well, yes.
8 JUDGE HOEPFEL: Just wait, please. At what time did the minister
9 learn from you?
10 A. I would inform the ministry immediately, if not during working
11 hours, it would be on the next day but what I had to do immediately was to
12 inform the president of the district court.
13 JUDGE HOEPFEL: And you mean you would inform the minister also
14 immediately or first the Court?
15 A. First the Court. That being my obligation. And later, I could
16 also inform the minister, but first the Court had to be informed.
17 JUDGE HOEPFEL: What do you mean by "first" and "later"? What
18 time you -- did you inform the minister? Was that after the full
19 investigation had taken place, together with the results of this
20 investigation, or was it a preliminary report?
21 A. Your Honours, I have said that it wasn't my obligation to inform
22 the minister. But if I talk to him or had dealings with him I would inform
24 JUDGE HOEPFEL: Please, Witness, answer my questions. What do
25 you mean now when you talked with him, you mean at the occasion of a
1 contact you may have then mentioned also such an event? Do you mean that?
2 A. Well, you can put it that way.
3 JUDGE HOEPFEL: So it wasn't exactly the same when you mentioned
4 it earlier, not answering my question, that you informed immediately the
5 Court and the minister, was it?
6 A. No, no. Perhaps we didn't understand each other properly. I
7 repeat: It was my obligation --
8 JUDGE HOEPFEL: No, no, no, that's fine.
9 Now, you also were talking of nights. That made me then think I
10 would ask you something more. How about the nights? Did you or were you
11 ever on duty overnight?
12 A. No, Your Honours.
13 JUDGE HOEPFEL: You mean never?
14 A. I may have come. I would come in for tours, but to be on duty,
15 that would presuppose spending the entire night there. I didn't do that
16 but I would come on occasion, sometimes twice also.
17 JUDGE HOEPFEL: So tell me a little more or -- what kind of
18 occasions were that for you to come to the prisons during the night?
19 A. Well, you know, if I was in the vicinity of the prison, I would
20 go in and see, even if there was no particular reason. If I was passing by
21 the prison, I would certainly stop and go and see what was happening in the
22 prison. And that happened many times.
23 JUDGE HOEPFEL: Where was your home at this time? How far from
24 the prison was it, just --
25 A. Some eight to nine kilometres far from the prison.
1 JUDGE HOEPFEL: But it happened often that you were in the
2 vicinity during the night, I mean?
3 A. Yes.
4 JUDGE HOEPFEL: How come?
5 A. Well, you know that was the city, downtown. I lived on the
6 outskirts, in the village, and of course I would come downtown and that's
7 why I would be passing by. I was a young man, a lad.
8 JUDGE HOEPFEL: How old were you at that time? In your late 20s
9 or something? Is that right? In 1992?
10 A. In 1992, I was 28 years old.
11 JUDGE HOEPFEL: And the guards, did they also live some -- at
12 some places far away or did they have a house all together where they
13 lived? What was their accommodation like?
14 A. Some lived far, even farther away than me. Some lived nearer.
15 That depended on the particular guard. Some had rented flats in Knin.
16 Most of them.
17 JUDGE HOEPFEL: That was everything. Sorry to take so much of
18 your time. Please.
19 JUDGE NOSWORTHY: Not at all. Do you have any more questions?
20 JUDGE HOEPFEL: No, no more.
21 JUDGE NOSWORTHY: Thank you very much, Judge Hoepfel, for that
22 kind intervention.
23 Now, how would the prison be cleaned, kept clean? Was there a
24 system in place for cleaning and who would clean?
25 A. We didn't have a cleaning lady. The detainees did the cleaning.
1 There were some rules as to how a bed should be made, how a room should be
2 kept clean, and they would take turns cleaning the corridor or one room
3 would be cleaned one day and then the next day the second room. But
4 everyone had to keep their rooms tidy. If there were five of them in a
5 room, they would agree between them how to do it but the room had to be
6 kept in order and tidy.
7 JUDGE NOSWORTHY: Did they also have to clean the toilets which
8 they used?
9 A. Yes, they did.
10 JUDGE NOSWORTHY: Now, there were, were there not, officers with
11 dormitories on the premises or quarters on the premise, whilst you were
12 there? Were you aware of that?
13 A. Well, in these other section, there were some who lived far and
14 because of that, they could spend nights there, but there were -- there was
15 no one who was there all the time.
16 JUDGE NOSWORTHY: All right. They would spend nights there and
17 where specifically on the building would that be? On the ground floor? On
18 the first floor? Which wing? You could tell me, please.
19 A. I think that they were in the same wing, on the top floor of the
20 building, I believe, in a section of it.
21 JUDGE NOSWORTHY: Now, there again, would the prisoners also
22 clean there?
23 A. No, no, Your Honours. No, because that would mean that they
24 would have to go out of the prison, and that was not possible.
25 JUDGE NOSWORTHY: So are you saying that they would never go out
1 of the prison?
2 A. No. Only into the compound for walks. We had organised half-
3 hour walks during the day, in the compound.
4 JUDGE NOSWORTHY: Did you ever know Captain Dragan or his men
5 being in the prison compound or the dormitory or quarters there on the
7 A. No. They were not, Your Honours.
8 JUDGE NOSWORTHY: Now, was there a guard room on the premises? A
9 duty guard room?
10 A. Yes, Your Honours. There was a room. It was the shift leader's
12 JUDGE NOSWORTHY: And where was it?
13 A. It was some place in the middle of the prison, in the centre of
14 the prison, and one of the rooms was assigned to be the shift leader's
16 JUDGE NOSWORTHY: And would prisoners clean that room?
17 A. Well, I don't know, but I suppose that they would.
18 JUDGE NOSWORTHY: Could you tell me where room number 1 would
19 have been? And where it was located? And if you're able to say how many
20 beds would have been in there and how many prisoners it would have
21 accommodated? I'm sorry to ask you a compound question. My -- I'm sorry
22 to ask you a compound question. Let me just break it down for you. Let me
23 stick first of all to room number 1. And I start off with where it was
24 located so as not to confuse you.
25 A. I don't know from memory, Your Honours. I don't remember where
1 the numbers were, on which side. I really cannot remember now where the
2 serial numbers started, whether it was on the right or on the left side.
3 JUDGE NOSWORTHY: All right. Let me put it another way or ask
4 you slightly differently. Which was the smallest room for the housing of
5 prisoners, roughly what size it was and how many prisoners did it
7 A. I believe that the smallest room was about 15 or 20 square metres
8 in area. That was the smallest one.
9 JUDGE NOSWORTHY: I'm coming up to my last two questions now.
10 JUDGE HOEPFEL: The question also was and how many prisoners did
11 it accommodate?
12 JUDGE NOSWORTHY: Yes, thank you, Judge Hoepfel.
13 A. I think that I have replied to that earlier. Namely, eight cubic
14 metres were the required space per inmate. So if the room was smaller, we
15 would put a fewer inmates in it, in order to avoid overcrowding.
16 JUDGE MOLOTO: It's just a simple question. How many people were
17 accommodated in this 15 square room, smallest room. Just answer that. We
18 want you to go home this weekend. Don't you want to go home?
19 A. Well, perhaps four or five detainees would be in this smallest
21 JUDGE NOSWORTHY: I'm one of the old persons you spoke about so I
22 can't work out maths at this stage but let me go on. Where was the food
23 you ate yourself and you gave to the prisoners prepared? I think that was
24 your evidence, that the prison officers and the inmates ate the same food,
25 if I recall rightly. Isn't that your evidence? And I want to know where
1 it was --
2 A. That's correct. Initially, I went to the army and I requested
3 them to give us food. We had to give them the head count and we would eat
4 the same food, the prison staff, the guards, and the detainees. I
5 specifically ate at home because I would get my food from home. The shift
6 guards, they would eat their food, they have their meals in prison.
7 JUDGE NOSWORTHY: Do you know of any cases of food poisoning in
8 relation to inmates or anybody associated with the prison?
9 A. Your Honours, this officer on duty, the shift leader, had to
10 taste the food first, and we never had any cases of food poisoning.
11 JUDGE NOSWORTHY: And this now --
12 JUDGE HOEPFEL: Maybe the sense of your question is illnesses
13 coming from the food.
14 JUDGE NOSWORTHY: Indeed.
15 JUDGE HOEPFEL: Food poisoning may be a misunderstanding
16 expression. It sounded like the danger of someone putting poison to the
17 food. So someone had to taste first and so on. This is I think -- that
18 was not the question.
19 JUDGE NOSWORTHY: I don't know if there was something missing in
20 my communication to the translators, interpreters, but what I really meant
21 is the after-effect of taking the food because something is wrong with the
22 food instead, not interference with the food by third parties, to place
23 something in it that is poisonous. Would you like to answer that question
24 again, then? Were there any cases of inmates getting food poisoning from
25 bad food?
1 A. No. That never happened. It was the same food, and it would be
2 eaten by the guards and by the prisoners, and this never happened.
3 JUDGE NOSWORTHY: My last question to you now, sir: Was there a
4 locksmith shop there? Or any type of iron mongering? Was there a
5 locksmith shop at the prison, at any time whilst you were there? You know
6 what I mean by locksmith?
7 A. No, Your Honours. There was no -- nothing of the kind.
8 JUDGE NOSWORTHY: Or anywhere that was like an iron foundry or
9 iron work?
10 A. No, no, Your Honours, we didn't have any such workshops.
11 JUDGE NOSWORTHY: Thank you very much. No further questions, Mr.
13 JUDGE MOLOTO: Thank you, Judge.
14 Can I just ask you, Mr. Plejo, to please listen very carefully to
15 my questions and answer directly to my questions so that you can go home
16 this weekend. Otherwise you're going to stay here if we don't finish with
18 Let me just start with some of the questions that you were asked
19 by Judge Nosworthy. I just want to develop them a little bit before I go
20 to my questions. You said you gave the army a head count and they gave you
21 the food to eat. Remember that?
22 A. That's right, Your Honour.
23 JUDGE MOLOTO: Did the army also supply you with food for
24 civilian prisoners?
25 A. It supplied us with food for everybody. Actually we would go
1 fetch the food from them with our own vehicle, the food which they would
2 give us.
3 JUDGE MOLOTO: Before the SAO Krajina was established, before you
4 had prisoners of war, where did you get the food for your civilian
6 A. Your Honours, before that, the prison was not in existence. I
7 have told you that prior to the eruption of these conflicts, there had been
8 no prison in Knin and I described how this prison came into existence.
9 JUDGE MOLOTO: You also said that when somebody died in the
10 prison, you would mention it to the minister when you met him. You
11 remember that?
12 A. Yes.
13 JUDGE MOLOTO: Is that how you gave reports of deaths to the
14 minister? You would mention it when you met him? And if you didn't meet
15 him, you didn't mention it?
16 A. Your Honours, what I said was, it was my obligation to inform the
17 Court. After the on-site investigation, the Court would draw up a report
18 and submit it to the minister and the minister --
19 JUDGE MOLOTO: Now you're going to please listen to my question.
20 You are being asked about the first report, when you notified the minister
21 about the death so that the minister can come and do his investigation and
22 then give you a report and then you can do what you -- that is the first,
23 when you report the death. You said when you met the minister, you would
24 tell him. I'm asking you a very simple question. Is that how you reported
25 deaths to the minister, as and when you met him?
1 A. But the minister was not in charge of the investigation. The
2 Court was in charge of it. I didn't have to inform him. He would receive
3 the results.
4 JUDGE MOLOTO: Okay. Who did you report to when a person -- when
5 a person dies, what did you do? What happened?
6 A. Your Honours, I informed the president of the Court. The
7 president of the district court. And they would come and conduct an on-
8 site investigation. The Court representative, the prosecutor's office and
9 the doctor would come and establish the cause of death and they would be
10 the ones submitting a document to the minister to explain what had
12 JUDGE MOLOTO: Thank you very much, Mr. Plejo. We are going to
13 take a short break. We'll come back at quarter to 6.00. Court adjourned.
14 --- Recess taken at 5.14 p.m.
15 --- On resuming at 5.45 p.m.
16 JUDGE MOLOTO: Thanks for the answer you gave me before we went
17 out for the break.
18 Can I just ask: You mentioned at some stage that if it happened
19 that the person died at night or outside working hours, you would report
20 the death the following day. Did I understand you correctly?
21 A. No, Your Honour. The head of the guard shift would then inform
22 the duty judge, the investigative judge, and he would then act on the
23 information, but an on-site investigation would be carried out immediately.
24 JUDGE MOLOTO: Thank you. Now, you were also asked by -- okay,
25 before I come to that, in your testimony in chief you mentioned that there
1 were two lavatories in that building. You remember that?
2 A. I do.
3 JUDGE MOLOTO: And did they stay being two for the entire period
4 that the building was being used as a prison?
5 A. Your Honours, I think we moved into another part of the prison,
6 more room was taken. We had more room and there was a lavatory that was
7 made --
8 JUDGE MOLOTO: How many lavatories did you have when you were
9 using the building as a prison?
10 A. There was a large facility and there were three or four toilets
11 there. I don't know exactly how many. I think there were three of them.
12 JUDGE MOLOTO: What is the maximum number, if you can remember,
13 and I'm not asking to you give a specific number just an approximation,
14 what's the maximum number of prisoners you held at any one time?
15 A. I don't know the exact number, as far as the facilities are
16 concerned, there could have been up to 100 of them but there were never
17 that many. There were never more than 50 or 60. That was the maximum.
18 JUDGE MOLOTO: Now, which one is more nearer the correct number,
19 you said there could have been up to 100 of them but there were never more
20 than 50 or 60. Is it 100 or 50 or 60? What are you telling me?
21 A. I say that the maximum number was between 50 and 60 but as far as
22 the facility is concerned, the facility was large enough to provide
23 accommodation for 100 individuals. But we never had that many detainees.
24 JUDGE MOLOTO: Okay. And the lavatory facilities, what capacity
25 did they have? I don't know how to put this question. How many individual
1 facilities were there inside each lavatory, more or less?
2 A. Well, I think four to five people could have used the toilet at
3 the same time.
4 JUDGE MOLOTO: Okay. Now, four to five people, three to four
5 lavatories, that's about 20, and you had a maximum at any one time of about
6 60 people there.
7 A. Yes.
8 JUDGE MOLOTO: And these four to five lavatories included the
9 female facilities as well, isn't it?
10 A. There was one separate toilet so the women would go there, but
11 while I was the warden, I don't think there was a single woman there.
12 There were very few of them. But there was one toilet for women.
13 Naturally we had one toilet that was to be used by women.
14 JUDGE MOLOTO: Let me get your answer quite clear. When you say
15 there were about four or five lavatories, do you include the women's
16 facility or when you say there was a separate one for ladies, is that in
17 addition to the four or five?
18 A. There was a separate toilet for women.
19 JUDGE MOLOTO: I understand it was separate. All I want to know
20 is, is it part of the four or five or is it additional to the four or five?
21 A. That's correct, Your Honour.
22 JUDGE MOLOTO: What is correct?
23 A. What you have just said, there were four or five toilets for men
24 and there was one separate toilet for women.
25 JUDGE MOLOTO: Thank you. That makes it slightly clearer so in
1 total there would have been five or six toilets?
2 A. Yes, Your Honour.
3 JUDGE MOLOTO: Now, if I can just get to --
4 JUDGE HOEPFEL: May I ask for clarification as there is always
5 confusion about the vocabulary, washrooms, toilets, lavatories, bathroom,
6 was a question yesterday or the day before, as you -- if there were
7 washrooms, like for showers or for other washing facilities, did you
8 include that when you talked of lavatories or is that an extra institution?
9 A. There were some showers next to these facilities, but these
10 facilities were separate.
11 JUDGE HOEPFEL: Thank you.
12 JUDGE MOLOTO: Thank you, Judge.
13 A little earlier, when Judge Hoepfel was asking you questions and
14 he said -- you said, "Well, I worked in that factory but when I moved to
15 the Ministry of Justice I received my salary from the Ministry of Justice.
16 I no longer received my salary from that factory but I still had the
17 possibility of returning there but I took my documents away and handed them
18 over to the archives of the Ministry of Justice and Administration, to the
19 prison, to the Knin district prison. I don't know if there is anything
20 else I can say."
21 Remember that answer?
22 A. Yes, Your Honours.
23 JUDGE MOLOTO: That answer was I think in response to a question
24 that related to what you did when you left the factory. Now, when you
25 testified in chief, you indicated that while you were working at that
1 factory, at the invitation of Mr. Martic, you became a reserve policeman.
2 You remember that?
3 A. That's correct, Your Honour.
4 JUDGE MOLOTO: Now, and then you said while you were doing that
5 job of a police reserve policeman, you were called to Golubic.
6 A. That's correct, Your Honour.
7 JUDGE MOLOTO: Right. And then while you were at Golubic, you
8 then went to -- and you worked for the SAO Krajina SUP when you were in
9 Golubic, isn't it so?
10 A. I've already said that as part of the reserve force, I was in
11 Golubici. I was a member of the reserve force and then I received a
12 summons to go to Golubici. I think I have already explained that. I don't
13 think I could explain it better.
14 JUDGE MOLOTO: I would like you to explain it better because it
15 is not quite clear. To my mind it appeared as if when Mr. Martic invited
16 you to become a reserve policeman, that was one job that you did after-
17 hours when you knock off from the factory, okay? And then that while you
18 were doing that job, you then got summoned to Golubic and you were running
19 training programmes at Udbina which wouldn't allow to be on duty at the
20 factory. So I got the impression that you were employed now while you were
21 at Golubic by the institution at Golubic and no more by the factory. Was
22 that impression wrong?
23 A. Your Honours, when you're part of the reserve force, then you can
24 remain there and you are still employed by the factory but you don't go to
25 work in the factory. Those were the rules. So I didn't go to work in the
2 JUDGE MOLOTO: Okay. What I do -- maybe let me just ask you this
3 question. So when you were now called to Golubic, you were still called to
4 Golubic in your capacity as a reserve policeman?
5 A. Correct.
6 JUDGE MOLOTO: And yet you spent your entire day at Golubic this
7 time. You didn't do work after hours like you did when you were still a
8 traffic controller?
9 A. I didn't have to work in the factory while I was part of the
10 reserve force.
11 JUDGE MOLOTO: Okay. Let me get you clear again. Are you saying
12 from the time that Mr. Martic invited you to become a reserve policeman and
13 you controlled traffic, you didn't have to report to the factory at all?
14 You were now full-time traffic officer and full-time police reservist and
15 doing that but the factory was still paying you?
16 A. That's quite correct, Your Honour.
17 JUDGE MOLOTO: Okay. That clears the picture a little bit. So
18 that even when you left traffic control and you were now stationed at
19 Golubic, you were still being paid by the factory?
20 A. Yes, Your Honour. Those were the rules. Those had been the
21 rules since 1945 so I received my salary from the factory.
22 JUDGE MOLOTO: I understand. Just answer my question. I just
23 want to understand the picture. Okay. That clears -- in fact, it cuts
24 across a number of questions I was going to ask. That is very helpful.
25 You also mentioned in your evidence-in-chief that -- okay -- you
1 said you had ten or so captured men but you have told us today that the
2 maximum number you had at any one time was 50 or 60, but at the time you
3 mentioned having ten or so captured men, you said you had something like 15
4 to 20 men who secured the building. You remember that?
5 A. That's correct. I remember that.
6 JUDGE MOLOTO: Do I understand you to be saying that at that time
7 you had 15 or 20 men guarding 10 captured people?
8 A. Correct. But, Your Honours, some were at home. They didn't all
9 have to be working their shift.
10 JUDGE MOLOTO: Thank you. You also testified that at some stage,
11 plus/minus 15 or 20 days after these men had been got secure in the prison,
12 these men, these very 15 to 20 men, left the Territorial Defence force.
13 You remember that? And when they did, they also -- oh, yeah, they left the
14 Territorial Defence force. You remember saying that?
15 A. They left, I don't know where they went. I assume they didn't
16 leave the Territorial Defence force.
17 JUDGE MOLOTO: I beg your pardon. You said when the Territorial
18 Defence force left, plus minus 15 or 20 days later, when they left the
19 hospital, in other words, the impression I got was that these men who were
20 securing the prison were not at the hospital for a long time. They were
21 there for plus minus 15 to 20 days. Was I right to -- did I hear you well?
22 A. For about 15 days. They left when professional guards took up
23 their positions. So the men rotated. That's all.
24 JUDGE MOLOTO: Okay. Thank you so much.
25 Now, you also mentioned that the prison, the district prison, was
1 under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Justice and Administration and
2 that it was never under the Ministry of Interior. You remember that?
3 A. I remember that, Your Honour.
4 JUDGE MOLOTO: Okay. My question to you is: Do you know whether
5 the Ministry of Interior had any authority over any other prisons at all?
6 Not necessarily Knin. Any others.
7 A. Your Honours, I don't think so. I know about three prisons. The
8 Minister of Justice had authority over those prisons and I doubt he would
9 have allowed someone else to meddle with his work. I have Mr. Matkovic in
10 mind who was in that position at the time. As to whether the police had a
11 prison of their own in some other town, I really don't know.
12 JUDGE MOLOTO: I'm a little confused by your answer. This is the
13 problem with long answers. You said first, "Your Honours, I don't think
14 so. I know about three prisons. The Minister of Justice had authority
15 over those prisons and I doubt he would have allowed someone else to meddle
16 with his work." That's the one thing. Now you say, "As to whether the
17 police had a prison of their own in some other prison, I really don't
18 know." I'm not asking you whether the police had a prison of their own, I
19 want to know if, to your knowledge, the police had authority over any other
20 prison, other than the Knin prison?
21 A. As far as I know, no, they didn't.
22 JUDGE MOLOTO: Okay. Could we have Exhibit 919 on the screen,
23 please? The problem I'm going to have with that exhibit is that I may not
24 be able to give you the B/C/S reference. Oh, it is pages -- I'm going to
25 be looking at pages 11 and 12 in the B/C/S, okay? Now, in the English, I'm
1 looking at pages 29, 30 and 31. Are we on the same page? Metaphorically
2 speaking? Let's start with page 29. On page 29, if you can look at the
3 prisoner numbered 69.H, Vinko Milic, do you see that man?
4 A. I don't think I have it on the screen, Your Honour. Mirko? What
5 was the name?
6 JUDGE MOLOTO: No, Vinko.
7 MR. MILOVANCEVIC: [Interpretation] Your Honour, if I can be of
8 assistance. Here we have the first column with the numbers of the
9 detainees. We have detainees from number 200 -- no, perhaps it's appeared
10 now. No it's there now.
11 JUDGE MOLOTO: Page 11 in the B/C/S?
12 JUDGE HOEPFEL: Here, it is.
13 MR. MILOVANCEVIC: [Interpretation] It's on the screen now. I
14 apologise, Your Honours. I wanted to be of assistance. The number was 200
15 and something. I wanted to help you.
16 JUDGE MOLOTO: Thank you very much, Mr. Milovancevic.
17 JUDGE HOEPFEL: Witness, do you see number 69.H?
18 A. Yes, yes, Your Honours.
19 JUDGE MOLOTO: You see his name is Vinko Milic? I hope I'm
20 pronouncing it correctly. Witness, do you see his name?
21 A. I do, Your Honour.
22 JUDGE MOLOTO: Okay. Fine. Now, look at the penultimate column
23 to the right, where reasons for release are being given. They say there
24 that he was released following the verbal order by Nikola Amanovic. Now,
25 who was Nikola Amanovic? Do you know him.
1 A. I don't, Your Honour. I really don't know who he is and how this
2 could have been done on his verbal order. This was at the very beginning.
3 Perhaps it was from the Court. Perhaps he used the phone to inform us.
4 Sometimes the Court would say, "Release such and such a person, we have a
5 statement of reasons," but I don't know what the reason was.
6 JUDGE MOLOTO: I seem to remember that -- I may be wrong -- there
7 may be evidence to say that Nikola Amanovic was Mr. Martic's deputy. Does
8 that jog your memory?
9 A. No. I never heard that that man was his deputy. I don't know
10 the man. It was at the very beginning. It was the 10th of September,
11 1991. I can't remember how this could have been done on a verbal order,
12 unless someone said that a decision would subsequently be provided of the
13 perhaps someone phoned up and said, "We are drafting a decision." I assume
14 that's how things happened.
15 JUDGE MOLOTO: We will finish quickly if you can stick to the
16 questions. Maybe something was to follow but whether something was to
17 follow or not is immaterial. What is material here is that the person
18 giving the order is Nikola Amanovic. And if something follows it will
19 probably follow from him but he's the one giving the order and --
20 A. I assume so, if his name is written down here.
21 JUDGE MOLOTO: Okay. That's fine. Look at the prisoner -- I
22 don't know when I suppose it must be still on the same page, number 62.S,
23 Zeljko Milijas. Do you see him?
24 A. Milijas, just a minute, yes, I can see that.
25 JUDGE MOLOTO: Now look at the same column that gives the reason
1 for release, order by the Territorial Defence chief. You see that?
2 A. I do, Your Honour.
3 JUDGE MOLOTO: And do you see the next one below him, number
4 63.S, Jandrija Zezelj, also the same order, Territorial Defence force?
5 A. I can see that.
6 JUDGE MOLOTO: And the next one, 64.S, Djuro Kolundzic same
8 A. Yes, Your Honour.
9 JUDGE MOLOTO: And if you turn to page 12 of the B/C/S, which is
10 page 31 of the English version, look at prisoner number 76.H, Ante
11 Hercegovac, you see that?
12 A. I can't see it in this list.
13 JUDGE MOLOTO: Number 76.H. Ante Hercegovac.
14 A. Yes, I can see it now.
15 JUDGE MOLOTO: You can see that? That he was released as per the
16 order by Milan Martic. You see that order? And handed over to the JNA.
17 You see that?
18 A. Yes, Your Honour.
19 JUDGE MOLOTO: And if you look at the one above him, 75.H, Miro
20 Pavic, you see that he was exchanged -- okay. You say the exchanging was
21 done by the court. I beg your pardon I'm sorry. But look at number 73.H,
22 again another verbal order from Nikola Amanovic. You see that?
23 A. Yes, Your Honour.
24 JUDGE MOLOTO: Okay. Now, let's look at prisoner number 130.H.
25 I'm not quite sure what page it will be. It's on page 40 of the English
1 translation. I'm not quite sure what page it will be in the B/C/S. Have
2 we got the B/C/S? That's prisoner number 130.H.
3 JUDGE HOEPFEL: It's page 15 of the B/C/S version.
4 JUDGE MOLOTO: Page 15 of the B/C/S version.
5 A. Yes, Your Honour.
6 JUDGE MOLOTO: Now, you see there that the reason for his release
7 is as per the order of the Minister of the Interior, deputy, Amanovic.
8 A. I can see that.
9 JUDGE MOLOTO: You see that.
10 A. Yes.
11 JUDGE MOLOTO: And if you look at number 133.H, Igor Radosevic.
12 It's per the order by the minister, let's go to the next page in the
14 A. Yes, I can see that. I see that.
15 JUDGE MOLOTO: Minister of Interior, Amanovic.
16 A. I can see that, Your Honour.
17 JUDGE MOLOTO: I think we have shown quite a lot of examples now.
18 You see that these are people who are said to have been released by the
19 order of this ministry, which according to your testimony, did not have any
20 authority over the prison. This is rather surprising.
21 A. Your Honour, I can tell you what I think happened. This is when
22 the district prison was being established. It was in September when the
23 district prison was established, they didn't have any decisions on
24 detentions. We probably requested that people be placed in detention or
25 that they be released.
1 JUDGE MOLOTO: [Previous translation continues] ...
2 A. 1991. This was immediately after the establishment of the Knin
3 district prison. We probably requested from the MUP that either criminal
4 reports should be filed against these people or that they should be set
5 free. So that was the reason. Those were the first few days, that was
6 perhaps the first month, during which this prison exists. We had to wait
7 for the list to arrive from the Ministry of Justice to the Ministry of the
8 Interior. Two or three months later the situation changed. So it was a
9 period during which we wanted to have a decision for all of those who were
10 detained. We wanted criminal reports, criminal proceedings to be
11 instituted against individuals or we wanted them to be released but we
12 wanted to have decisions stating the reasons for which they were pr in
13 prison. Perhaps there was no reason to prosecute these individuals and the
14 deputy minister therefore ordered that they should be set free.
15 JUDGE MOLOTO: Mr. Plejo, we don't have much time and you are
16 again -- your elaborate answers just bring tonnes and tonnes of questions
17 that one could ask. For starters, why would you ask the MUP -- you say,
18 "We probably requested from the MUP that either criminal reports should be
19 filed against these people or that they should be set free." Why would you
20 ask them if they didn't have any authority? They are -- they are in your
21 custody, you charge them or you release them. Now, I don't want to go into
22 that. All I'm saying is -- all I want to find out from you is, are you now
23 conceding that at least at sometime, the Ministry of the Interior had
24 authority on the people who were detained in the Knin prison?
25 A. Your Honours --
1 JUDGE MOLOTO: Do you accept that as a concession -- or as an
2 admission, rather?
3 A. Your Honour, earlier on I tried to explain this. We said that in
4 Golubic there were some people who were detained they were transferred to
5 Knin and when this was done the Ministry of the Interior arrested them.
6 They to issue a decision or to file a criminal report and submit it to the
7 Court so that they would continue with the criminal proceedings or so that
8 they would release these people.
9 JUDGE MOLOTO: [Previous translation continues]... Mr. -- just
10 don't keep repeating the same answer. We are sufficiently --
11 A. Let me explain this.
12 JUDGE MOLOTO: [Previous translation continues] ... now, listen
13 to my question. If word will to come from the Minister of the Interior on
14 whether or not people must be charged or released, then they had authority
15 over those people, didn't they?
16 A. Before the district prison was established, yes.
17 JUDGE MOLOTO: Not saying before. I'm saying when that happened,
18 whenever it happened, then it means they had authority, didn't they?
19 A. Yes, Your Honour, but --
20 JUDGE MOLOTO: Thank you, thank you, you don't need any
22 Just hold it there. Please let's not waste time. Let's answers the
23 questions as they are put and just the questions as they are put. This,
24 therefore, is not in accordance with what you told us, that the Minister of
25 the Interior never had any authority over the people.
1 A. Your Honours, you haven't understood me.
2 JUDGE MOLOTO: Well if I misunderstood you that's fine just say
3 no, then, but if I'm correct, say yes.
4 A. The police arrested individuals and had the right to detain them
5 for 72 hours and then a criminal report would be submitted to the Ministry
6 of Justice. I have to explain this so there is no way for me to explain
7 this, Your Honours.
8 JUDGE MOLOTO: Thank you very much. I abandon that question and
9 I a abandon that question. Don't worry. I think I've got enough on that
11 JUDGE HOEPFEL: May I ask who was that inspector Milivoj Bjelja,
12 who is that?
13 A. If he was an inspector, he was probably someone from the MUP.
14 JUDGE HOEPFEL: Okay. Can we go to English page 44? It is
15 prisoner number 161.H, and in B/C/S, I don't know which page. The
16 penultimate column says, "Released as per verbal order by inspector Milivoj
17 Bjelja." This is what I was referring to. And that was in October, wasn't
18 it, of 1991? Is that true? Is that correct? Do I understand correctly?
19 A. That's probably correct, since that's what it says here.
20 JUDGE HOEPFEL: Thank you. I'm done.
21 JUDGE MOLOTO: I just want to go to the first page of this
22 document. Okay. Fine.
23 Now, you said a little earlier, sir, that this may have happened
24 at the time when you were still beginning and you didn't have your systems
25 in place. When did you have everything in place so as to exclude the
1 authority of the Ministry of the Interior? Now, when you said now from
2 today onwards the prisons are strictly under the Department of Justice,
3 Department of Justice only, when was that?
4 A. I can't provide you with a precise date but two or three months
5 later, everything had been set up.
6 JUDGE MOLOTO: Give me an estimate, sir.
7 A. Well, perhaps two, two and a half months later, everything fell
8 in place. Then it was only the district court that issued decisions.
9 JUDGE MOLOTO: Two and a half months later than what? Give me an
10 approximate date, please.
11 A. Two and a half months after mid-August, when the district prison
12 was actually established. So two and a half months later. You can't
13 establish everything or put everything into place on the very first day.
14 JUDGE MOLOTO: August or September -- August of -- August of
15 1991, rather, sorry.
16 A. As of mid-August, when the district prison was formed, so two and
17 a half months after its establishment, we needed time to establish
19 JUDGE MOLOTO: This is August 1991, right. Fine. Thank you so
21 A. Yes.
22 JUDGE MOLOTO: Now that will take us to August, September,
23 October, somewhere in the middle of November. Okay. Where are those pages
24 of mine? We'll leave that topic.
25 Now, in November of 1991, were there bars installed on the
1 windows of the old hospital?
2 A. I remember that we installed bars but, you know, we didn't have
3 any money so as the money came in, we would install the bars. We didn't
4 install bars on all the windows at the same time but we did install bars.
5 JUDGE MOLOTO: Will you please answer my question now? In
6 November of 1991, had you installed bars on the windows of the old
8 A. Yes, but perhaps there were several windows that didn't have any
9 bars at the time.
10 JUDGE MOLOTO: But you had installed some.
11 A. Correct.
12 JUDGE MOLOTO: Who installed these bars?
13 A. Well, there was a factory that produced the bars. I think it was
14 called Tehno Metal. They did such work so they installed the bars. It was
15 a factory from Knin.
16 JUDGE MOLOTO: And why were these bars installed?
17 A. To prevent people from escaping. That's what prisons were like.
18 That's how we operated.
19 JUDGE MOLOTO: Okay. Did at any stage -- did the left wing of
20 the old hospital ever be used as part of the prison at any stage?
21 A. Yes, Your Honour.
22 JUDGE MOLOTO: And also the right wing?
23 A. The right wing was used only initially because we only had a
24 small number of rooms, three or four rooms, but when we started using the
25 left wing we no longer used the right wing.
1 JUDGE MOLOTO: And did we hear you correctly to say -- let me ask
2 you this question very clearly: Who brought prisoners -- I'm thinking here
3 only of prisoners of war -- to the prison?
4 A. Mainly the army.
5 JUDGE MOLOTO: And I think also you've also indicated that the
6 institution at Golubic also did bring some.
7 A. But that was the first group. They arrested them somewhere, they
8 had no place where to keep them, so they brought just this first group that
9 we discussed a couple of days ago. So the very first people who came
11 JUDGE MOLOTO: The first ten who were guarded by the 15 to 20
13 A. That is correct.
14 JUDGE MOLOTO: Are you saying that after that, no other prisoner
15 came there from Golubic?
16 A. I don't know, Your Honours, but I suppose not. After the prison
17 was formed there, they were kept in Golubic because there was no other
18 place where they could be kept but once the prison was in place they would
19 be brought to prison.
20 JUDGE MOLOTO: You confuse me. When you say you don't know,
21 after you've just said to me Golubic brought only the first ten, I don't
22 know what to accept as the correct story now. Is it the ten only or is
23 there a possibility that others were brought after the ten?
24 A. Your Honours, my office was in the prison compound. From where
25 people were brought later, I don't know. They may have been brought from
1 there or not. I had no way of knowing. What was important for me when
2 they were brought to the gate was that they had a relevant decision for
4 JUDGE MOLOTO: Now, listen. I think it's obvious to all of us
5 that anybody who gets brought to a prison is brought for a good reason, and
6 if a person is brought by -- you got to know which police station arrested
7 him. If it's a civil police, why they arrested him and there must be some
8 documentation. You just don't accept people in the prison, they don't just
9 give you a human being and go away, don't I?
10 A. That is exactly what I have been saying, Your Honour. I was
11 interested in the document. Who arrested him, what the person's name was,
12 but where they were arrested, was it in the north or in the south or west,
13 what I wanted to know --
14 JUDGE MOLOTO: You know what? You have testified today that some
15 people have been brought -- were brought there from Golubic. How did you
16 know they came from Golubic? You have told of people being transferred
17 from Golubic. You know, I have this clear recollection. I just can't get
18 the page now. Didn't you say so today?
19 A. Yes, I did say. Your Honours, I was in Golubic and I said that.
20 JUDGE MOLOTO: I'm not saying you said you were in Golubic. I'm
21 saying you have told us today that prisoners were transferred from Golubic
22 while you were the warden there at the prison. Anyway --
23 A. That is not correct.
24 JUDGE MOLOTO: Okay. Fine. I'm sorry if it is not correct.
25 Now, did the JNA have detention facilities at their barracks? Do
1 you know.
2 A. I don't know, Your Honours. I don't.
3 JUDGE MOLOTO: Now, you testified today that the International
4 Committee of the Red Cross had lists of prisoners and therefore no prisoner
5 could be hidden away from them. Remember that?
6 A. Yes, that's correct.
7 JUDGE MOLOTO: [Previous translation continues] ...
8 A. Your Honour, they would come to the prison and they wanted to see
9 the POWs' number and they would be immediately submitted lists, and later
10 they would come and visit those people all the time. We had no reason to
11 hide the lists of POWs from them.
12 JUDGE MOLOTO: Will you please answer my question? Where did
13 they get the lists from? Just give me where they got the lists from,
14 without any explanation.
15 A. I gave them the lists.
16 JUDGE MOLOTO: Thank you. So if indeed there was an intention to
17 hide some prisoners, those who were intended to be hidden would not be
18 mentioned on the list. I'm saying "if." It's a hypothetical question.
19 A. Your Honours, but this was just this one single prison and if one
20 were to hide somebody, then the other detainee would tell the ICRC people
21 that that was the case. It was impossible in a word to hide anyone.
22 JUDGE MOLOTO: [Previous translation continues] ... my question.
23 It's a hypothetical question. I'm asking you a question. If there is an
24 intention to hide, just any person who is to be hidden would not be put on
25 the list, because the ICRC gets the list from the very people whom they are
1 coming to inspect. That's -- that could happen.
2 A. Well, everything is possible, but there was no reason for that.
3 JUDGE MOLOTO: The two or three prisoners that you remembered
4 dying of natural causes in prison, are you able to remember their names?
5 A. No, I'm not.
6 JUDGE MOLOTO: Thank you very much. That concludes my questions.
7 Any questions, Mr. Milovancevic?
8 MR. MILOVANCEVIC: [Interpretation] Yes, Your Honour.
9 Further re-examination by Mr. Milovancevic:
10 Q. In connection with the questions asked by Their Honours in
11 relation to the hygienic and sanitary conditions, the times of baths and
12 the dispensing of meals, were there any rules that regulated such issues?
13 A. Yes.
14 Q. What was the name of the rules?
15 A. It was the house rules, the house regulations.
16 Q. Did you implement those rules?
17 A. Yes, we did.
18 Q. Thank you. Did the rules regulate the obligation of the warden
19 of the district prison to be on duty at night? Did it stipulate that?
20 A. No, it did not.
21 Q. His Honour Judge Hoepfel asked you what you were currently
22 pursuing, what job you were currently doing. Do you remember that?
23 A. Yes.
24 Q. You said that you were a haulier?
25 A. Yes.
1 Q. And where are you a haulier?
2 A. In Belgrade.
3 Q. Why aren't you a haulier in Croatia?
4 A. Because I've been banished from Croatia.
5 Q. When was that?
6 A. On the 4th of August, 1995.
7 Q. Can you tell us why you -- why don't you go back there?
8 A. Because I would go hungry. I wouldn't have a place where I could
10 MR. MILOVANCEVIC: [Interpretation] Thank you. And that concludes
11 my questions, Your Honours.
12 JUDGE MOLOTO: Thank you, Mr. Milovancevic? Mr. Whiting?
13 MR. WHITING: Yes, Your Honour, just a few.
14 Further cross-examination by Mr. Whiting:
15 Q. Mr. Plejo, Judge Nosworthy asked you at page 49 whether all of
16 the prisoners of war were kept in an ordinary prison and then you answered
17 that they were kept in the Knin district prison. I have two questions
18 about that. The first is: Are you aware that prisoners of war were also
19 kept in other prisons in the Krajina, such as the Glina prison?
20 A. In Glina, too, as part of the prison, yes, they were kept there
21 also, I believe, but I never went to that prison so that --
22 Q. That's sufficient. I just -- my second question is: In respect
23 of Knin district prison being an ordinary prison, while you were warden,
24 was there ever any time where the military had authority over a part of the
25 Knin district prison?
1 A. No, never.
2 Q. Okay. Now, you answered at page 80 to a question that -- in
3 response to a question about -- well, let me just follow up on that last
4 question because I think I put it unclearly. I said where the military had
5 authority over a part of the Knin district prison. Let me put it a little
6 more broadly. Did the military ever, when you were warden have authority
7 over a part of the building, that is the old hospital building?
8 A. Over this part where we were, this one floor which we had
9 occupied, the army could not go in there, nor use it in any way. I believe
10 they did use a room in the basement in one part of the building. I believe
11 that the name was supplementary battalion or something like that but they
12 had no connection with us whatsoever.
13 Q. Isn't it a fact that the -- they actually kept prisoners in one
14 part of the building, over which you had no authority, but they kept
15 prisoners of war in a part of the building? Isn't that in fact the case?
16 A. I never went into their section and I never allowed them to enter
17 our part.
18 Q. So is the answer that you don't know what they were doing in that
19 part of the building?
20 A. I don't know what the army was doing.
21 Q. Okay. Now, going -- at page 80, you were asked who brought
22 prisoners of war to the prison and your answer was "Mainly the army." It's
23 true, isn't it, that the police also brought prisoners of war to the
24 prison; correct? The police of the SAO Krajina and the RSK.
25 A. Well, you know, the army would sometimes surrender them to the
1 police. The police would take them to the investigating magistrate, and
2 then they would then take them -- bring them to us so there was no rule
3 actually. They could have been brought by both the police or the army.
4 Q. So the answer is yes, there were times when the police brought
5 prisoners of war to the prison?
6 A. Yes, there were some instances of that.
7 Q. Thank you. If we could look just one last time at Exhibit 919,
8 please, and if we could look at page 7 of the B/C/S and page 18 of the
9 English, and I'm looking -- I want to look specifically at number 197,
10 Milan Dukic. It's the next-to-last one there. Is the English up yet?
11 Milan Dukic there, 197. He was according to this document, arrested on the
12 18th of October, 1991 and released on the 22nd of November, 1991, released
13 as per decision by the Knin SJS which is a reference to the Knin police;
15 A. I don't think that is an abbreviation which indicates the Knin
17 Q. You don't think that SJS refers to public security station or the
19 A. I don't know what it refers to. I'm not familiar with that
21 Q. If it does, let's just assume for a moment that it does refer to
22 that, would you accept that this indicates that even by the 22nd of
23 November, 1991, things were not fully set up, as you were saying, that it
24 was still not fully set up and that the police still had some authority as
25 of that date in the prison; correct?
1 A. The police could not have had any authority. This is specific
2 case, according to a specific decision, and I have no way of knowing what
3 the specific case is.
4 Q. Well, what I'm referring to is that you gave an estimate of how
5 long it took to set up the prison and you said two and a half months after
6 August, and in a long discussion with His Honour Judge Moloto you finally
7 concluded that it was probably by November. Would this indicate to you
8 that by -- that by November 22nd, 1991, still not fully set up; correct?
9 A. Sir, the police could remand someone in custody for a maximum of
10 72 hours. Possibly this was the decision which is in question here.
11 Q. Sir --
12 A. But I don't know in the specific instance. If I had a case file
13 in front of me I would know.
14 Q. I won't pursue it. Finally, you were asked about inmates, about
15 food poisoning or I'll say more broadly, inmates, detainees getting sick
16 from food as a result of eating food. And you testified -- it's at page 61
17 -- your answer about whether that ever happened was no, that never
18 happened. Now, my question is this: Over these past it two and a half
19 days there has been -- there have been so many things that you're unable to
20 remember from that time period, how is it that you're able to say with
21 certainty, no, that never happened, with respect to food poisoning?
22 A. Because the same meals were eaten by the guards and the people
23 deprived of liberty, and that is one incident that I would certainly have
24 remembered because I would have problems with the staff also. It is
25 impossible for me not no remember a thing like that, in fact.
1 Q. But if it happened, let's suppose that it happened that only a
2 detainee got sick from the food, then you wouldn't necessarily know about
3 that or remember that, would you, if it was just the detainee and not the
5 A. Well, if it was just one case, I wouldn't perhaps remember
6 whether it was a detainee or a prison staff member, but if there was a
7 poisoning, it would probably have involved more people and the prison
8 staff, including the prison staff and the detainees. It is next to
9 impossible for just one person to have food poisoning and the rest not.
10 MR. WHITING: I have no further questions, thank you, Your
12 JUDGE MOLOTO: Thank you very much, Mr. Whiting. This brings us
13 to the end of your testimony, Mr. Plejo. Thank you very much for taking
14 the time off to come and testify at the Tribunal. You are now excused.
15 You may stand down. Thank you so much, once again.
16 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Thank you.
17 [The witness withdrew]
18 JUDGE MOLOTO: I'd like us to deal with one or two housekeeping
19 matters. I hope they will not take us beyond 7.00. Judge Hoepfel suggests
20 we go into private session. I don't know. I was going to deal with
21 something that happened in public session any way, open session any way.
22 Anyway, can we go into private session, if that helps?
23 [Private session]
6 [Open session]
7 JUDGE MOLOTO: I was saying yesterday, the Chamber indicated that
8 it was going to ask the supervisor of the interpreters to file a report,
9 and a report has been duly filed. May it please be brought up on the
10 screen? I must apologise, Mr. Milovancevic, we don't have it in B/C/S.
11 May I ask the usher to please stand by the ELMO so that as people read it,
12 it can -- you can scroll up? You can go up to show the very last sentence
13 as well. Thank you.
14 Are you done, Mr. Milovancevic? Thank you.
15 Mr. Milovancevic, that is the report we have got. Do you have
16 any comment to make?
17 MR. MILOVANCEVIC: [Interpretation] Your Honour, I have seen the
18 report. I have no specific comment. Thank you. I believe we cleared up
19 this question yesterday.
20 JUDGE MOLOTO: I understand that we cleared it up yesterday, Mr.
21 Milovancevic, but the Chamber did say that it was going to ask for this
22 report. Obviously you don't just get the report and do nothing about it.
23 What I do want to find out from you is, do you have any reaction to this
24 report or not? And if you do have, what is the reaction?
25 MR. MILOVANCEVIC: [Interpretation] Your Honours, I see that the
1 translator here acknowledges that there was a mistranslation, and I also
2 accept that.
3 JUDGE MOLOTO: Thank you. If you do accept that -- thank you
4 very much, Mr. Milovancevic, that you do say you accept that. Let me just
5 get clear. You do accept indeed that it was a mistake?
6 MR. MILOVANCEVIC: [Interpretation] Certainly, Your Honour.
7 JUDGE MOLOTO: Okay. Okay. Thank you.
8 I don't know whether anybody needs -- wants to say anything.
9 MR. WHITING: Not from us, no, thank you, Your Honour.
10 JUDGE MOLOTO: Judge?
11 JUDGE NOSWORTHY: No, nothing I wish to say.
12 JUDGE MOLOTO: Yes, Mr. Milovancevic?
13 MR. MILOVANCEVIC: [Interpretation] Your Honour, we are about to
14 call it a day. We are no longer dealing with this topic and I have no
15 comment on that but I should just like to say this. We had estimated five
16 hours as the time required for this witness, whom we have just finished.
17 The examination lasted much longer than that. We envisaged three witnesses
18 for this week, and we are concerned and should like to ask the Trial
19 Chamber to bear this in mind when allotting the time to them, namely
20 whether we have exceeded our previously allotted time or not, namely to
21 take the situation into account.
22 JUDGE MOLOTO: Not quite sure I understand how you want to us
23 take the situation into account. I just wasn't completely done with this
24 report, Mr. Milovancevic. I just wanted to say about this report, as a
25 final word, that if you do say you accept this, this report and its
1 explanation, I am grateful to you for that. But I just want to note then
2 that this therefore means that it brings this matter to closure. And I
3 just wanted to say to you that I hope that it doesn't happen then again in
4 the future that we make these allegations which can be very serious. And
5 this was a very serious allegation when we are not absolutely sure of our
7 That's all I just wanted to say. And I don't think I want to
8 elaborate on that, but if you want to say something?
9 MR. MILOVANCEVIC: [Interpretation] Your Honour, I accept what you
10 have said but I should like to voice my own hope that we won't be hearing
11 any rooting comments from the interpreters booth which actually accounted
12 for our reaction. I'm not only referring to this mistranslation now.
13 Actually I should like to say that until last Friday we would not have
14 reacted to such a mistranslation mistake, but after the incident, attention
15 to which was drawn to us by Mr. Martic, we started to think about it in a
16 different way. I wish to stress that we set great store by the integrity
17 of this Tribunal and our own integrity and we do nothing in order to
18 violate the rules or the order or to call in question the reputation of the
19 Court. It was never on our mind. Thank you.
20 JUDGE MOLOTO: Mr. Milovancevic, you are opening a can of worms
21 now. Last Friday, after you spoke to Mr. Martic, I specifically asked you
22 what Mr. Martic had to say. And you said you would rather not talk about
23 it. Now, it is known to you, you never put it on record, we don't know
24 what it is, and you want us to accept that that is a reason for you
25 behaving the way you behaved yesterday when we don't know what that is.
1 You know, had you told us on Friday -- if you will listen to me
2 it will be very helpful. Had you told us on Friday what Mr. Martic had
3 said to you we would have attended to it immediately. Now you keep telling
4 us, even yesterday you referred to this, that somebody said something, and
5 we don't know what that thing is because you never reported it to us. And
6 it makes it very difficult. Obviously, it is not as insignificant as you
7 made it to appear on Friday. You made it appear very insignificant by
8 saying no, don't worry, I don't want to talk about it. Now, suddenly it is
9 becoming so significant that a week later, it still has an impact on how
10 you behave. And even now, when we say we are closing this matter, you
11 still put this as an explanation how, why you behaved the way you did.
12 Obviously this is something that must have been very major and I can only
13 regret that you didn't put it on the table. We are not able to address it
14 because we don't know what it is. But enough said. I think people want to
15 go home. It's a weekend now. Thank you so much.
16 Just one last thing which I hope can be answered in one sentence.
17 Do we know who is going to be testifying after the break? After the two-
18 week break?
19 MR. MILOVANCEVIC: [Interpretation] Your Honour, this is the
20 witness a witness who has been waiting here for two days now. He will
21 return in two weeks. He will go back and return in two weeks. The
22 colleagues from the Prosecution know who that is. Do you want me to tell
23 you his name now?
24 JUDGE MOLOTO: I don't know. Is it a protected witness? Is he a
25 protected witness?
1 MR. MILOVANCEVIC: [Interpretation] No, no, he's not. It is
2 Nikola Medakovic.
3 JUDGE MOLOTO: Thank you so much. I'm sorry to everybody for
4 keeping you so long but this brings us to the end of the day today. We are
5 going to take an adjournment and we are going to reconvene on the 9th of
7 Now, I have not yet seen the scheduling for October so I am not
8 able to see whether it's 9.00 in the morning or quarter past 2.00 in the
9 afternoon and I'm not able to say in which court but it will be on the 9th
10 of October.
11 MR. WHITING: Mr. Black, who is never wrong, says it's in the
12 afternoon in this courtroom.
13 JUDGE MOLOTO: Thank you, Mr. Black. What could this Chamber do
14 without you, Mr. Black? Absolutely nothing. Thank you. There it goes.
15 It's going to be in the afternoon at quarter past 2.00 in this courtroom.
16 May the Court adjourn. See you on the 9th.
17 --- Whereupon the hearing adjourned at 7.07 p.m.,
18 to be reconvened on Monday, the 9th day of October,
19 2006, at 2.15 p.m.