1 Monday, 9 October 2006
2 [Open session]
3 [The accused entered court]
4 --- Upon commencing at 2.18 p.m.
5 JUDGE MOLOTO: Good afternoon, everybody. Sorry, I've got a
6 problem with my chair. I'm not beginning to run mad.
7 I believe that the Prosecution has got some housekeeping to
8 discuss before we call the witness.
9 MR. WHITING: Yes, thank you. Very briefly, Your Honour.
10 The first thing is that according to the Trial Chamber's decision
11 of the 30th of September, 2006, we are -- the Prosecution is supposed to
12 file by Wednesday its response to the Defence submissions regarding the
13 testimony of Milan Babic. And I would just like to request a few extra
14 days to file our response and ask that we be allowed to file it on Monday,
15 the 16th of October. I've checked with the Defence, and the Defence
16 assents to this request.
17 The reason for the request is simply the press of business. I
18 just have a lot to do, and it falls on me to do this particular response,
19 because I was the one who handled Milan Babic's testimony, and I'm just --
20 just preparing for witnesses and other matters, it just would be
21 convenient for me to have until Monday, the 16th of October, to respond.
22 I would also note that we had at some point asked to have an --
23 and have been granted a period of 10 days to respond to the Defence
24 submission. When the original -- at some point when the schedule was set
25 up, we had been given 10 days to respond, and then in the last decision,
1 we asked again for that 10 days and it was interpreted by the Trial
2 Chamber to be a request for an extension, when in fact we had just
3 intended it to maintain the 10 days that had been originally granted to us
4 and then we were granted only seven days. So what we're asking for is
5 what we at some point had, but in any event I'm just asking, because it
6 would be more convenient.
7 Thank you. I have two other matters, if you want -- I don't know
8 if the Trial Chamber wants to decide on that, or --
9 JUDGE MOLOTO: Can the Trial Chamber deal with this one first
10 while it still remembers the damage done to your argument by the last
11 couple of sentences on that first point.
12 Mr. Milovancevic, do you confirm the Defence's agreement to this
13 request? Good afternoon to you, Mr. Milovancevic.
14 MR. MILOVANCEVIC: [Interpretation] Good afternoon, Your Honours.
15 We agree, fully.
16 JUDGE MOLOTO: Thank you very much.
17 [Trial Chamber confers]
18 JUDGE MOLOTO: We confirm that the last couple of sentences of
19 your argument undermined your application, but nonetheless, it persuades
20 me to agree. So that the extension is granted.
21 MR. WHITING: I'm grateful. Thank you, Your Honour.
22 The only other two issues are the Defence has filed a motion for
23 protective measures for the next witness, MM-117. It was filed, I
24 believe, today. I don't know if the Trial Chamber has received it but we
25 just received it. But in any event, we have no opposition to the motion,
1 just so the Trial Chamber is aware of our position. We do not oppose
2 the ...
3 JUDGE MOLOTO: When you say "the next witness," the witness we are
4 about to call?
5 MR. WHITING: No, I'm sorry, the witness after that, the witness
6 that will start either tomorrow or the next day. Probably the next day, I
7 would think. MM-117.
8 JUDGE MOLOTO: Mr. Milovancevic? You have filed -- I haven't seen
9 the motion. I don't know, maybe my brother and sister may have.
10 MR. MILOVANCEVIC: [Interpretation] Your Honour, I received
11 information from the Defence team that this has been submitted in the
12 course of this morning. Yesterday, in our contacts with the witness, we
13 established the need for these measures, which is why we only did this
14 today, and my learned friend Mr. Whiting is right in saying that this is
15 the witness who will be called after the next witness.
16 Thank you.
17 JUDGE MOLOTO: Mr. Milovancevic, I hear what you say, but I would
18 imagine that at some stage in the past when the Trial Chamber asked if you
19 could make this application -- encompass an application for all witnesses
20 you intend calling so that it could be dealt with in one application, I
21 don't know whether it's for protective measures or it was for safe
22 conduct, but some kind of request had been made to that effect and I think
23 it would be appropriate for both types of witnesses.
24 MR. MILOVANCEVIC: [Interpretation] Your Honour, in principle, I
25 fully agree with Your Honour's position. However, with each particular
1 witness, specific circumstances sometimes arise. The first application or
2 the first motion was for safe conduct. This witness, however, is now
3 asking for protective measures, and I only learned that yesterday evening.
4 That is why the motion was submitted so late. There is no other reason.
5 JUDGE MOLOTO: Thank you very much. But you say you have no
6 objections? Okay. The Chamber will deal with the motion when it becomes
7 aware of it.
8 Next point, Mr. Whiting.
9 MR. WHITING: Thank you, Your Honour. And actually, on that last
10 point, I would fully agree with Mr. Milovancevic, and it happened to us,
11 that witnesses often say at the last minute reasons for protective
13 On the -- the third point I wanted to raise is, had to do with
14 92 bis or 92 quater, formally 89(F) witnesses. We had -- we had
15 understood that we were going to receive a motion last week on the 2nd of
16 October with respect to the first batch. I've had communications with the
17 Defence, not with Mr. Milovancevic himself but with Mr. Sekulic, and
18 apparently on the Defence side, there was a mis -- I don't want to speak
19 for them, but apparently there was a misunderstanding and they thought it
20 was today that it was supposed to be filed, even though they agreed that
21 on the record it's clear that it was supposed to be -- that it was
22 October 2nd.
23 In any event, it hasn't been filed and it's become a little
24 pressing, because we've just received the list of the next group of
25 witnesses that will testify after the four that we knew about already, and
1 this group of six will probably start sometime next week. Of the six that
2 are listed, four of them are supposed to testify via 89(F), 92 quater, and
3 we have not received a motion or the statement or anything. And if
4 they're going to testify next week, it makes -- it makes it extremely hard
5 to prepare and also for us to respond to the motion for the Trial Chamber
6 to consider it for all this to get done, so it's now very late for this
7 all to happen. So I just wanted to raise that.
8 JUDGE MOLOTO: Mr. Milovancevic.
9 MR. MILOVANCEVIC: [Interpretation] Your Honours, I don't know
10 whether my learned friend, Mr. Whiting, has properly understood our
11 submission and I will check this during the first break.
12 It would be completely unacceptable for us to bring the Prosecutor
13 into a position where four witnesses are to be called and he has not yet
14 received the 92 bis materials. We are working on these materials, and we
15 will do our very best to adopt a rhythm which is completely acceptable to
16 the OTP, because of course they cannot receive a statement today for a
17 witness to appear tomorrow. The witnesses will be viva voce witnesses but
18 please allow me to check this after the first break, or during the first
19 break, and then after the first break I will be in a situation to give you
20 the right information.
21 And if I may add, we have been working on this intensively. We
22 have had a problem that had to do with the on-site visit. Our
23 investigator was in The Hague from the 21st to the 29th of September,
24 which means he was not in Belgrade and was not able to be in contact with
25 the witnesses who will testify under these Rules. It was only after the
1 on-site visit that we were able to begin organising this part of our
2 activities. So we would not wish Your Honours or our learned friends to
3 think we had neglected to do so.
4 Thank you.
5 JUDGE MOLOTO: Do you have a response to that, Mr. Whiting?
6 MR. WHITING: Well, I'm happy to take it up again after the first
7 break, when Mr. Milovancevic has had a chance to look at it. But I would
8 like to take it up, because I don't believe I've misunderstood, and I
9 think we're already in a difficult position from the point of view of the
11 JUDGE MOLOTO: Thank you, Mr. Whiting.
12 We will take it up after the first break, Mr. Milovancevic. Make
13 sure you double-check and if indeed there are four witnesses who are
14 92 bis or 92 quater -- how do you pronounce that word?
15 MR. WHITING: I have no idea. I think it is -- I'm not even going
16 to try. I'm not even going to try.
17 JUDGE MOLOTO: Okay. Please make sure that then if we have those
18 92 bis or something, something, witnesses, let's get the statements.
19 Okay. Is that all? Thank you very much, Mr. Whiting.
20 Mr. Milovancevic, any housekeeping? Any housekeeping matter on
21 your side?
22 MR. MILOVANCEVIC: [Interpretation] Not at present, Your Honours,
23 thank you.
24 JUDGE MOLOTO: Thank you very much. Next witness, Mr. Whiting --
25 Mr. Milovancevic, I beg your pardon.
1 MR. MILOVANCEVIC: [Interpretation] Thank you, Your Honour.
2 [The witness entered court]
3 JUDGE MOLOTO: Will the witness please make the declaration.
4 WITNESS: NIKOLA MEDAKOVIC
5 [Witness answered through interpreter]
6 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] I solemnly declare that I will
7 speak the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.
8 JUDGE MOLOTO: Thank you very much. You may be seated, sir. Yes,
9 Mr. Milovancevic.
10 MR. MILOVANCEVIC: [Interpretation] Thank you, Your Honour.
11 Examination by Mr. Milovancevic:
12 Q. [Interpretation] Good afternoon, Witness.
13 A. Good afternoon.
14 Q. You have made the solemn declaration, and as of this moment the
15 Defence will begin your examination-in-chief. The rules of these
16 proceedings prescribe that during your testimony you cannot use any
17 materials. I assume that you had -- you have these materials with you
18 while preparing but please put them away now. Thank you very much.
19 Before I ask you for personal details, I wish to make a request.
20 I would like both of us to speak slowly and make pauses between question
21 and answer, so that the interpreters can do their job.
22 Would you please tell us your first and last name?
23 A. My name is Nikola Medakovic.
24 Q. When and where were you born, and what education do you have?
25 A. I was born on the 1st of January, 1967, in Plaski, where I
1 completed primary and the first two grades of secondary school, and then
2 the third and fourth grade I completed in Ogulin. That was the
3 mathematical secondary school.
4 I then enrolled in the faculty of agriculture where I studied from
5 1986 to 1990, but I did not graduate.
6 Q. Thank you. While we are discussing personal details, could you
7 tell us what your ethnicity and religion is.
8 A. I am a Serb and my religion is Orthodox, Christian.
9 Q. Thank you. Where did you reside after completing your education?
10 I heard that you completed the secondary -- your secondary schooling in
12 A. A correction. I completed it in 1985, and then under the then
13 legislation, I did my military service in Zadar. Then I went to study in
14 Zagreb and I visited my parents near Plaski, and this is where I was
15 residing between 1990 and 1991.
16 THE INTERPRETER: The interpreters note they did not hear the name
17 of the village near Plaski where the witness's parents lived.
18 JUDGE MOLOTO: Did you hear that, Mr. Milovancevic. The
19 interpreters did not hear the name of the village near Plaski, where the
20 witness's parents lived, and I did not also hear the witness answer your
21 question where he resides now.
22 MR. MILOVANCEVIC: [Interpretation] Your Honours, we will get these
24 Q. Mr. Medakovic, you mentioned a village near Plaski where you were
25 born. Would you repeat the name of that village once more.
1 A. It's called Medakovici, and Janja Gora 32 is the address.
2 Q. In respect of the question of His Honour Judge Moloto, I asked you
3 where you resided in 1990 and 1991. Did you answer that question?
4 A. Yes.
5 Q. Am I right in saying that at that time you resided in Plaski?
6 A. Yes. My house is about two and a half or three kilometres from
7 the centre of Plaski.
8 Q. When we are talking about your address, can you tell us where you
9 reside today, and since when. I don't mean your address, but simply the
11 A. I've been living in Serbia since 1995. I'm currently in
12 Sremski Karlovci; it's a small town near Novisad. I've been living there
13 for the last three years.
14 Q. You say you resided in Plaski. What was the situation in
15 Plaski up to 1990?
16 A. Plaski is a place with five or six -- or was a place with five or
17 6.000 inhabitants. It was a cluster of villages: Latin, Vojinovac,
18 Plavca Draga, Licka Jesenica. And Saborsko was some 20 kilometres away in
19 the direction of the Plitvice lakes. The seat of the municipality was in
20 Ogulin. Ogulin municipality had about 30.000 inhabitants. The secondary
21 schools were there.
22 In Plaski most people were employed in the cellulose and paper
23 factory, which employed about a thousand people. There were quite a few
24 retired people there, too, and people who were farmers. I don't know what
25 situation you meant.
1 Q. Thank you. I will put more questions to you about this. When you
2 told us the number of people who lived in Plaski, can you tell us what
3 their ethnic composition was?
4 A. In Plaski itself and the surrounding villages, apart from
5 Saborsko, 97 to 98 per cent perhaps were Serbs. There were a few mixed
6 marriages, and during the war I happened to learn from the European Union
7 mission, there were about 70 people who were not Serbs, in that area, in
9 We never made these distinctions or counted people as to their
10 ethnic affiliation. My sister-in-law is a Croat, for example, and that
11 was never a problem.
12 Q. Thank you. I don't draw these distinctions either, but I have to
13 put questions that are relevant to this case.
14 You say you lived in Plaski. You described the ethnic makeup of
15 the population. What were inter-ethnic relations like up to 1990?
16 A. Up to 1990, when the HDZ won at the first multi-party elections,
17 the situation was normal. Everybody went about their business. There
18 were no inter-ethnic incidents, at least not any I know of, but I'm -- I
19 don't think there were any.
20 Q. You said that in 1990 the HDZ won the elections and that the
21 situation was peaceful up to that point. What changes occurred then and
22 what caused these changes? How did the way of life change?
23 A. Well, first of all, I said that the people from Plaski - except
24 for those who were employed in Plaski itself and that's about a thousand
25 people working in the factory in Plaski - mostly went to work in the
1 larger towns in Croatia, such as Rijeka, Zagreb, Ogulin.
2 When the HDZ won the elections, people lost their jobs and came
3 back to their family houses where their parents lived. Many of them lost
4 their flats. So the number of residents in Plaski increased, whereas the
5 number of people who had a job decreased.
6 And then the factory stopped working, and every day we had
7 problems with Croatian television, the media, provocations by Croats
8 passing through Plaski. I'm referring primarily to the inhabitants of
9 Saborsko. They held rallies in Ogulin, and in order for them to reach
10 Ogulin, they had to travel through Plaski. While travelling through
11 Plaski they displayed symbols which we found unacceptable because they
12 reminded us of terrible events from our history, from World War II. I'm
13 primarily referring to the chequer-board, as we called it, or the open
14 display of the U symbol.
15 Plaski itself and the surrounding area, when I say Plaski I mean
16 to the -- I'm referring to the entire Plaski valley, two and a half to
17 3.000 people were killed by Ustasha in World War II. Not in any kind of
18 fighting or offensive, but they were simply killed by the Ustasha, and the
19 symbols used by the new Croatian authorities in 1990 were identical to the
20 ones used during that pogrom.
21 Q. In your more extensive answer now, you just described the change
22 in the situation. What was the reaction of the inhabitants in that area,
23 in Plaski, and what was your personal reaction to those events, if there
24 was any reaction at all?
25 A. As we say, birds of feather flock together. When Croats started
1 rallying around their national programme, the Serbs tried to organise
2 themselves as well. That is to say, we in Plaski accepted the required
3 idea of SAO Krajina. We organised a referendum, and the vast majority
4 responded to the referendum. Over 99 per cent came out to vote, and they
5 voted in this first Krajina referendum.
6 Following that, we organised a referendum for local communes to
7 step out of the Ogulin municipality, which had a majority of Croatian
8 inhabitants, and the HDZ was the dominant party.
9 Q. Thank you, Mr. Medakovic. If I can interrupt you. In that period
10 of time, that is to say 1990, during the first multi-party elections, was
11 there a political party that was founded in Plaski to which you perhaps
13 A. Yes. In Plaski, in April, which is to say on the eve of
14 multi-party elections, the SDS or democratic party was established. I
15 think that it was in the eleventh hour that they managed to submit the
16 paperwork for one candidate, which was Dimitrijev Kosanovic, and he was an
17 assemblyman representing the SDS in Ogulin municipality.
18 There were several other SDS -- I'm sorry, there were several
19 other Serbs as assemblymen but they were representatives of other
20 political parties, such as SDP and so on.
21 But to answer your question, yes, the SDS was established in April
22 of 1990.
23 Q. Can you tell us were you a member of that party?
24 A. Yes, yes, I was. I was a member of the SDS from its inception and
25 my first duty was that of a secretary of a local board.
1 Q. You just mentioned a referendum of sorts in Plaski. Can you tell
2 us something in greater detail about it, why was there a referendum and
3 why was it on this break -- breaking apart?
4 A. Yes. We were dissatisfied with this new HDZ rule. Rudolf Spehar
5 became president of municipality and he was a hawk of the HDZ, which
6 reminded us of the spectres of the past, and it was back in 1990 that he
7 spoke of the independent state of Croatia, back then. The situation in
8 Plaski itself was such that it mandated that we self-organise. There was
9 an increase in the number of inhabitants, and we wanted to make sure that
10 our economic organisation was feasible and that we protect ourselves from
11 the fate suffered by our ancestors in Second World War.
12 Q. You mentioned the inhabitants of Plaski. You said there were five
13 to 6.000 people, and you said that the numbers of inhabitants increased,
14 especially in late 1990. Increased to which extent, please?
15 A. If I could give an estimate, I would say it increased by 20
16 per cent, which is to say that about 1.000 of people came back to their
17 parent's homes, people who previously resided in the Rijeka, Karlovac,
18 Zadar and so on, and they returned home because life became unbearable for
19 them in these big cities because they were jobless. There was persecution
20 and so on. They felt safer in Plaski, both for their own lives and for
21 their families.
22 A fact just occurred to me. We had a small health clinic, health
23 station during peacetime. And then all of a sudden -- and there were
24 eight physicians, specialists in Plaski. 17 forestry engineers, a large
25 number of forestry technicians, which were traditional occupations in our
1 region. So these were people fully fit for work, and they had to return
2 home to their parents, with their families, because they were jobless.
3 Q. Thank you, thank you. You mentioned that about 1.000 people came
4 back because they lost their jobs. Do you know why they lost their jobs?
5 A. Based on conversations with these people. Based on talks I had
6 with my own brother, who used to work in Brinje as a forestry expert, and
7 this is a town with -- predominantly inhabited by Croats. So based on
8 these conversations, I learned that they lost their jobs only because they
9 were Serbs.
10 Q. Thank you. So you said that back in 1990 you reacted by
11 organising a referendum. What was the purpose of this referendum and who
12 organised it?
13 A. At that time I was president of local commune in Plaski. There
14 was a set procedure as to how to elect boards and so on, and I was
15 supposed to head a board as president of a local commune.
16 Q. If I may interrupt you. You say that at that time you were
17 president of the local commune. Can you tell us what period of time it
18 was, a month, a year?
19 A. I'm referring to 1990, summertime. Summer months. But I can't be
20 more specific.
21 Q. Thank you, that's quite sufficient. You as president of the local
22 commune, you and others, what did you do about the referendum? What was
23 the purpose of that referendum?
24 A. In addition to the Plaski local commune, there were other local
25 communes, Latin, Komanovac [phoen], Plavca Draga and Licka Jesenica. All
1 of us together, presidents of these local communes plus the board, we
2 decided to schedule a referendum where we wanted our citizens to state
3 their will as to the possibility of our local communes seceding from
4 Ogulin municipality and annexing themselves to Titova Korenica
6 At the time that municipality was still known as Tito's Korenica,
7 or Titova Korenica, and at that time the decision was made to join the
8 SAO Krajina.
9 Q. Thank you, thank you. In accordance with the constitution and the
10 law, was it possible to organise such a referendum and to initiate such an
11 action in view of the Croatian legislation and constitution?
12 A. Yes, yes. There were several lawyers on the team preparing the
13 referendum. I believe that at the time there was a law on civil
14 initiatives, and I think that it was perfectly legal. It was perfectly in
15 keeping with the then existing legislation.
16 Q. Thank you very much. Can you tell us in which year that
17 referendum was held and what was the result of that referendum.
18 A. This is how it was: Late that year, late in 1990, we held a
19 public forum, and we spoke about the reasons for scheduling the
20 referendum. We asked for citizens' support. This public discussion was
21 called -- was held in Plaski, in the so-called ZAVNOH centre. We held a
22 meeting there, attended by 200, 250 people, and we abided by a set
23 procedure. The initiative was accepted to organise a referendum. And
24 then on 22nd or 23rd of December it was organised. I know this because
25 the day following that I was arrested and taken to the police station in
2 Q. Thank you. So on the 22nd of December, or on the 23rd of
3 December, as you said, you organised this political meeting where you
4 decided to hold a referendum. Did I understand you well?
5 A. Yes, yes, that's precisely how it was.
6 Q. Thank you. And then you said that a day following that you were
7 arrested and taken to Ogulin. Who arrested you and what happened after
9 A. Sometime early in the morning, at around 8.00, a police patrol
10 came. I knew one of the policemen on the team, and they told me that I
11 had to follow them, to go to Ogulin for an interview there. I got ready,
12 I got into my car -- or, rather, I got into the car, and then some of my
13 neighbours saw that. I joined them and then we travelled for half an hour
14 to 45 minutes before we reached Ogulin, and then I was taken to the police
15 station in Ogulin.
16 Q. Can you tell us briefly what happened at the police station. Who
17 questioned you and what took place?
18 A. There I was met by a man with the last name of Grozovic; I don't
19 remember his first name. He was deputy chief. And Ante Vujovic was the
20 chief. And across the table was Rudolf Spehar, president of municipality.
21 Rudolph Spehar was the one who spoke the most. He threatened me. I don't
22 think I need to mention the threats, but what it all boiled down to was
23 what right I had to talk against Croatia, and what right I had to speak of
24 seceding from Croatia. And I said that I was representing the people,
25 that I was the president of the local commune, and I said that this was my
1 political orientation.
2 And as we talked, which lasted for about an hour and half or two
3 hours, I could see they were anxious and that they kept leaving the room.
4 And then all of a sudden they said, "We're all going to Plaski."
5 In the meantime, in Plaski, near the branch police office, and in
6 that branch police office there were about 10 to 12 policemen, all of a
7 sudden a large number of people assembled there, people from Plaski and
8 from neighbouring areas, all of them assembled in front of the branch
9 police station asking that I be released, or else they would -- they would
10 block the police station.
11 I drove in the car with Grozovic to that place, and as we came
12 down there was a bit of a slope, and as we were going down I could see
13 that there were about 2.000 people assembled there. It was cold. It was
14 December. And all of them were awaiting my arrival.
15 Q. When you arrived in Plaski, was the situation resolved and was the
16 referendum ultimately held?
17 A. Yes, that's correct. I asked the citizens to disperse peacefully.
18 I told them that I wasn't abused, at least not physically. I told them
19 that we would negotiate, that our referendum would be held, and this is
20 how it was ultimately. There were no incidents. Not a single window-pane
21 was broken, there were no problems whatsoever.
22 Q. When was the referendum held and what was its result?
23 A. I don't remember the exact date. I know that the vast majority,
24 that is to say we abided by the voters' list which existed with the
25 political parties, and over 90 per cent voted in favour, in favour of the
1 question put at the referendum. That was in early 1991.
2 Q. You said that in the referendum, in early 1991, the answer was:
3 Yes, or they were in favour of it. But you have to tell us what the
4 question was?
5 A. For each local commune, there was a special ballot and on it the
6 question was: Do you support the secession of local commune of Plaski
7 from Ogulin municipality and its annexation to Tito's Korenica
8 municipality? And the vast majority voted in favour of it, the vast
9 majority meaning 99 per cent.
10 Q. Following the referendum, what happened to Plaski? Were there any
11 changes, political changes, in view of the results of the referendum?
12 A. Following this decision taken at the referendum, we became part of
13 Korenica municipality, but since it was quite far away from Plaski, some
14 60 kilometres, we decided to establish a conference of local communes, an
15 association of local communes in keeping with the then existing
16 legislation in order to resolve various day-to-day problems that the
17 inhabitants had.
18 So as a local commune we started negotiations with the Croatian
19 side, especially concerning the work of the branch police office in
21 JUDGE MOLOTO: Can we just check if everything is okay with
22 Mr. Martic; whether he is warm.
23 MR. MILOVANCEVIC: [Interpretation] Thank you, Your Honours.
24 Mr. Martic says that everything is fine and he thanks you for your
25 concern. He just started coughing, but then he had some water and now he
1 is feeling fine.
2 Thank you, Your Honours.
3 Q. [Interpretation] The conference of local communes, can you tell us
4 when it was founded, just give us roughly the period of time.
5 A. This conference functioned even prior to that. It started
6 functioning in late 1990, but it was officially proclaimed after the
7 referendum in early 1991, either January or February. I think it was
8 already in January that it was proclaimed.
9 Q. You explained that as the conference of local communes, in that
10 capacity you talked to the Croatian side. Who did you talk to and when?
11 A. Following that event in Plaski, when these people assembled,
12 because I had been arrested -- I had been taken into custody and taken to
13 Ogulin, the Croatian side perceived me as a serious negotiator, because
14 they could see that I had support of the people.
15 I talked to Josip Boljkovac, among other people. At the time he
16 was minister of the interior. Then there was Slavko Degoricija there who
17 acted as a negotiator with the Serbs. And then of course with the chief
18 in Ogulin, Ante Vujovic, and chief of police administration in Karlovac
19 who was called Ivan Stajduhar. We talked on several occasions.
20 At the time I and my team advocated that all disputes be resolved
21 peacefully. We agreed that the police branch office in Plaski ought to
22 continue functioning with 12 policemen in total, out of which eight were
23 Serbs and four were Croats from Saborsko.
24 If we take into account the ethnic makeup of Saborsko and local
25 communes around that area, they represented some 10 to 12 per cent, but we
1 even agreed for them to be represented in twice as large numbers, because
2 we wanted to show goodwill.
3 At the time they used the old insignia, which was the five-pointed
4 red star. They were still not using any Croatian symbols at the time.
5 Q. Can you tell us when these political negotiations were held and
6 when the agreement was reached. Can you tell us what season it was,
7 summer -- rather, spring or summer of 1991?
8 A. All of this took place in early 1991, and it functioned until the
9 31st of March. I remember that date quite well. This was functioning
10 until the 31st of March.
11 As for negotiations, they started immediately following my arrest,
12 which is to say in January.
13 Q. Thank you. In relation to what you told us about the police
14 branch office, the municipal seat was in Ogulin. Was there a police
15 station in Ogulin?
16 A. Yes. It was called the "policijska stanica [phoen]," the police
17 station in Ogulin, according to the new terminology.
18 Q. In Plaski, however, there was an office. That's the lowest
19 organisational unit or a branch office of the police. Is that correct?
20 A. Yes. It had not existed for some 10 years previously. Everything
21 was in Ogulin. Only patrols would come by.
22 Q. As the persons you spoke to who were representatives of the
23 Croatian government, you mentioned Mr. Boljkovac. What office did he hold
24 at the time?
25 A. He was the minister of the interior of the Republic of Croatia at
1 the time.
2 Q. You mentioned Mr. Degoricija. What office did he hold?
3 A. I went to negotiate with him on one occasion in the Croatian
4 parliament in Zagreb. He was some sort of envoy of theirs for
5 negotiations with local Serb communities. I think that's what they called
6 it. But he was a man trusted by the Croatian government.
7 Q. Thank you. You said that you negotiated with those persons about
8 solving the political situation and the problems of everyday life, and
9 that you also discussed the establishing of the local police branch of
10 office. These problems that you discussed in early 1991 with the Croatian
11 side, the minister of the interior and Mr. Degoricija, did you reach
12 agreements and were they implemented?
13 A. Well, we implemented everything, the Serb policemen wore the old
14 insignia, as did the Croats who were employed in the police station. They
15 dealt only with public security. We had problems with crime, problems
16 like those that exist everywhere, and there had to be policemen dealing
17 with those problems. They dealt with those problems well, in a proper
18 manner, and all this functioned well until the 30th of March.
19 Q. Thank you. Mr. Medakovic, you are mentioning the 31st of March,
20 1991, yet again. What happened on that day that changed the situation in
22 A. On the 31st of March, the Orthodox church was celebrating Palm
23 Sunday, while the Catholic church was celebrating Easter. In Plaski
24 people traditionally assembled on that day, and Jovan Raskovic was due to
25 arrive and the delegation from Knin, as well as the bishop from Gornji
1 Karlovac, Vladika Nikanor. This was the night before. But a strong
2 police unit under the command of Josip Turkovic passed through in a bus.
3 They cut off the communications. They set up a check-point, and we later
4 learned they were supposed to secure the flank for the MUP attack on
5 Plitvice. That was the day of the first serious armed conflict at
7 Q. So what do you know about that conflict? Who came into conflict
8 with whom and what was the outcome?
9 A. On the one hand, there were special MUP forces of Croatia; on the
10 other side were members of their reserve and active duty police force of
11 the Krajina police from Korenica and some volunteers who were preventing
12 the passage of those policemen.
13 The outcome was that the special purpose policemen and the hotels
14 in Plitvice and the JNA set up a buffer zone, to describe it very
15 briefly. But throughout that day there were serious fighting and the man,
16 I think he was called Rajko Vukadinovic from Korenica was killed.
17 Q. Did you hear that someone on the Croatian side was killed?
18 A. I think there must be a mistake here. I said Vukadinovic. Rajko,
19 Rajko Vukadinovic. I see it says "Kadijevic" on the transcript.
20 Q. Thank you, sir, that will be corrected.
21 You said one man was killed on the Serbian side in that conflict.
22 Were there any victims on the Croatian side?
23 A. Yes. I think Josip Jovic has frequently been mentioned as the
24 first victim of the war.
25 Q. To what extent were the Plitvice lakes as the site of the conflict
1 distant from Plaski and Saborsko, and how did this influence the situation
2 in Saborsko, because you made this link, so how did the conflict in
3 Plitvice affect the situation in Plaski?
4 A. Well, while this was going on in Plitvice, in Plaski some four or
5 5.000 people gathered. Not only from Plaski, there were Serbs from Kordun
6 and Gorski Kotar who had come for the church celebration. And then news
7 began to arrive from Plitvice about the conflict.
8 We had our own internal security apart from the police. Those
9 four from Saborsko didn't turn up for work that day, so we had our own
10 security, and we heard that a Golf was approaching which refused to stop,
11 and that it was on its way to the police station in Plaski.
12 I arrived in the police station. Dusan Latas was there; he was
13 the commander of that office, branch office, and there were four men
14 inside. Three of them introduced themselves as employees of the state
15 security from Karlovac. Another, the fourth one had a semi-automatic
16 rifle. He was wearing civilian clothes, but he was carrying a camouflage
17 uniform and a cap with a chequer-board emblem in a plastic bag.
18 He arrived late. He was part of that special purpose unit and he
19 was late. So they were taking him to Saborsko.
20 And then our internal security men arrived, and I was there, and
21 for their own security we disarmed that group. And because the crowd was
22 threatening and there was a possibility of incidents, because rumours were
23 arriving of hundreds of dead at Plitvice. You know how these rumours
24 spread. We detained them for a day and then we let them go on the
25 following day.
1 Q. Thank you. And you said that everything was as had been agreed
2 until the 31st of March, 1991, and then the situation change.
3 Did anything else change apart from the arrest of these four?
4 A. Yes. The branch office of the police station from Plaski did not
5 cover Saborsko, in operative terms. A strong unit appeared there under
6 the command of Josip Turkovic. They numbered some 60 men, and they
7 established a police station or a point or whatever you want to call it in
8 Saborsko. And this was not what had been agreed upon. They cut us off
9 from Korenica, and that's how it was until November 1991.
10 Q. Sir, you said on the eve of the event in Plitvice on the 30th of
11 March a bus passed through Saborsko and Turkovic was inside. Did you say
12 that? Is he the man who established the police station in Saborsko or was
13 it someone else?
14 A. I have to clarify this. In Ogulin there was a police station.
15 And within that police station there was some kind of platoon or squad,
16 some 50 or 60 men who are called the special purpose MUP unit. And their
17 commander was Josip Turkovic. They passed through Plaski because on your
18 way from Ogulin to Saborsko you have to pass through Plaski, if you take
19 that road. They passed through between 2.00 and 3.00 a.m., so they did it
20 in secret and they cut off the road on that day. After the 31st, no one
21 could pass through.
22 Q. Thank you. I have a question in connection with what you said.
23 You said that they set up some kind of police station or unit in Saborsko
24 and they wouldn't let anyone pass through.
25 What do you mean by "anyone"? And what did it mean for Plaski
1 and for you personally?
2 A. Well, for Plaski, it meant being completely cut off. As we had
3 voted at our referendum and made a political decision that our local
4 commune was part of Korenica municipality, we relied on them for all
5 issues that we previously had to go to Ogulin for. We started getting
6 supplies from there, foodstuffs, staples. In Plaski we didn't even have a
7 bakery to make bread.
8 Q. When one looks at the map, to the west of Plaski is Ogulin. Is
9 that correct? To the north-west? Or maybe even to the north.
10 A. More to the north.
11 Q. And Saborsko is on the other side of the road. So was there any
12 other way leading from Plaski to Korenica, apart from the one running
13 through Saborsko? Can you explain that?
14 A. Well, it was an uncertain road. It went through the forest, from
15 Licka Jesenica via Javornik towards Rudopolje and then on to Korenica.
16 Q. And was that road or track in normal use?
17 A. No. It was used only by the forestry management people. It was
18 unsafe. It was in poor condition. It was just a forest track.
19 Q. Up to the time when the police station in Saborsko was
20 established, was road did you take to go to Korenica?
21 A. From Plaski when you go to Korenica, you pass through Plavca Draga
22 Licka Jesenica, Saborsko, Poljanak, Plitvice, and then you reach Korenica.
23 It's an asphalt road. In certain parts it's very narrow, but still it can
24 be used by trucks and cars for normal transport.
25 Q. And what happened after the 31st of March in respect of this road
1 and you were travelling along that road? Was it possible to pass through
2 or not?
3 A. When the situation at Plitvice calmed down, after the JNA had
4 arrived and established that buffer zone, that police station in Saborsko
5 remained, at the entrance towards Kuselj they had a check-point, and they
6 searched and maltreated anyone who wanted to pass through. So for many
7 people from Plaski it was impossible to travel along that road. I
8 couldn't because I would have been arrested, as would have all those
9 participating in local government or the police in Plaski. Anyone who was
10 a public figure could not travel through Saborsko. They let through only
11 those people they needed because we had the same electricity supply lines,
12 same telephone lines. They would let them through, to make repairs.
13 Nobody else.
14 Q. You said that in Plaski, where there was several thousand people,
15 there was no bakery. So how did you solve the problem of supplies?
16 A. Well, these were enormous problems. People had to bake bread at
17 home. Women baked the bread on their own, and we brought in flour through
18 that forest road. And there were lots of problems. Trucks would get
19 stuck in the mud, they would topple over. It was a very difficult
21 We had a little health station which we had transformed into a
22 health centre, and the doctors were very -- permitted very enthusiastic,
23 but it was very difficult to transport people to hospital if they needed
24 to be transported there urgently; for example, for an appendix operation.
25 It would take about three hours to get them to hospital.
1 Q. Would it have been faster if it had been possible to pass through
3 A. Yes, of course.
4 Q. Did you try to solve this situation by talking to your neighbours
5 from Saborsko? Did you have any political talks or negotiations? That's
6 what I mean.
7 A. Yes, we did, on our side. On our side we authorised Mihajlo
8 Knezevic. At that time he was either the secretary of the Licka Jesenica
9 local commune, which is the closest one to Saborsko, or maybe he was even
10 employed in the administration. But anyway, he was a very respectable,
11 prominent person locally. Everybody knew him. And he was authorised to
13 We asked simply that the road be open and that the -- those armed
14 men be removed, and we offered the children of Saborsko to come to school
15 in Plaski, because Plaski had a very nice school with central heating, and
16 we said that teachers from Plaski could go and work over there, so we
17 tried to settle things to have all the local services functioning properly
18 until agreement could be reached.
19 However, whenever we were on the point of reaching an agreement,
20 the Croatian authorities would do something to prevent it.
21 Q. Can you give us an example of what happened on the Croatian side?
22 A. Well, in the summer, first the check-point was set up. Then that
23 first Josip Turkovic group went back by another route through Slunj,
24 Primislje, and Trzic. They went back to Ogulin. And the unit arrived
25 from Duga Resa. That's a large village near Karlovac in Croatia. And
1 they continued holding that check-point and preventing normal
2 communication between Plaski and Korenica, because the local population in
3 Saborsko, at least that was my feeling, was willing to reach an agreement
4 with Plaski.
5 But later on, on two occasions, they called these reinforcements;
6 I don't think they were reinforcements, I think it was pouring oil on the
7 flames, some 200 armed men arrived from Zagreb, commanded by Luka Hodak,
8 bringing weapons and arming the entire population of Saborsko.
9 Q. Thank you. You described the situation. So please tell us now,
10 were there any armed conflicts at that time in that area?
11 A. On the same day, when there was a conflict at Plitvice, there was
12 also an incident in Vojinovac. That's at the edge of the Serb majority
13 territory when you come from the direction of Ogulin. And unfortunately a
14 Serb who was not a member of the MUP killed another Serb who was in one of
15 the local village patrols at a railway barrier. This was an enormous
16 problem, and we were deeply concerned about it.
17 After that, a special purpose unit of the MUP of the Krajina in
18 Plaski was established. After we had separated from Ogulin and after the
19 check-point in Saborsko had been set up, there were only eight policemen
20 left in Plaski. These were the only eight armed people. And on the other
21 side they were already establishing the ZNG, the National Guard Corps,
22 Croatia was jingling its weapons. There were threats in Pakrac, in
23 Dvor Na Uni. We saw terrible images on television. And I went to Knin
24 and asked Mr. Martic to help and to arm the reserve force so that we could
25 enlarge that police station in Plaski to increase our security and respond
1 to any possible incursions by Croatian forces from the direction of
3 Q. Thank you. When did you go to see Mr. Martic in Knin to ask him
4 to reinforce the police force in Plaski?
5 A. Yes. It was in May of 1991.
6 Q. Can you tell us what was your position at the time? Did you hold
7 an office in Plaski at the time?
8 A. Yes. I was the president of the conference of local communes.
9 Being the president of the largest local commune, I became president of
10 the conference of local communes. We called it either the conference or
11 the association of local communes, but it's the same thing.
12 Q. When in May of 1991 you went to see Mr. Martic, I suppose you went
13 to Knin. Can you tell us: What did you agree on with him, if anything?
14 A. I explained the situation to him as it was. I asked him to help
15 us with weapons. I told him that we had some people who had gone through
16 police training in the army. You know, at the time we had people who had
17 served in the regular JNA within the military police units, and upon
18 completing their military service they became reserve members of police
19 force, military police. So I asked for additional manpower to expand that
20 force. We were afraid of the Plaski MUP; that was our greatest fear.
21 Mr. Martic then said that the weapons could be given only to the
22 people who had gone through the training, who had some authorities,
23 because he didn't want some kind of a cowboy police suddenly to emerge in
24 Plaski. And then I asked him what was the procedure. And he told me that
25 people who wished to do so could go to Golubic, to Knin, where they would
1 attend a brief period of training and they would be issued with
2 long-barrelled weapons there and that following that they would become
3 members of the special purpose unit in Plaski.
4 He told me personally that it wouldn't hurt me if I went through a
5 similar training because I was overweight at the time.
6 Q. Mr. Medakovic, did you accept this suggestion and what happened
8 A. Yes. I took a group of 25 men. In late May, in early June, we
9 went to Golubic to the camp site for training.
10 MR. WHITING: If I may.
11 Your Honour, I'm not going to -- I'm not exactly objecting to this
12 evidence, but I do have an inquiry, which is why none of this information
13 was contained on the 65 ter summary.
14 And in fact it surprised us so much that it wasn't because of
15 course we know all about this and I have questions I'm going to ask the
16 witness about these matters, because we have information about this. But
17 we inquired of the Defence specifically if there was additional
18 information to add to the 65 ter summary. They provided a few extra
19 pieces but nothing about any of this.
20 And I'm just -- I just wonder why -- this is obviously relevant
21 and pertinent information. This is directly about the accused. I just
22 wonder why this wasn't contained on the Rule 65 ter summary.
23 JUDGE MOLOTO: Mr. Whiting, if you are not exactly objecting, is
24 this an appropriate time to ask the question?
25 MR. WHITING: Well, perhaps not, but I'm happy to raise it at
1 another time. But I'm really what I'm thinking, I'm thinking ahead. I'm
2 thinking first of all about the cross-examination.
3 JUDGE MOLOTO: You're thinking aloud?
4 MR. WHITING: No, Your Honour, I'm not thinking aloud. I'm
5 thinking ahead about future witnesses, and I wanted to make the point now,
6 when it's fresh, when the situation has arisen, we have other witnesses
7 where we anticipate this situation arising. We have pressed this matter
8 again and again and again and again about the 65 ter summaries, and it
9 never gets resolved. And so I -- perhaps it wasn't the right time to
10 raise it and for that I apologise, but I raise it with respect to future
12 And also, I think that perhaps there could be an answer about why
13 it wasn't provided for this witness.
14 JUDGE MOLOTO: Do you want an answer now or can we get the answer
15 just at the end of the witness's testimony in-chief?
16 MR. WHITING: I'm in your hands, Your Honour, on that.
17 JUDGE MOLOTO: Can we keep it until then?
18 MR. WHITING: Of course.
19 JUDGE MOLOTO: Thank you very much.
20 You may proceed, Mr. Milovancevic.
21 MR. MILOVANCEVIC: [Interpretation] Thank you, Your Honour.
22 Q. You said that you had gone for training in late May with 25 men.
23 What kind of a training was it? How long did it last and what happened
25 A. I apologise. I skipped over an important detail.
1 Prior to all of these contacts I had with Mr. Martic, members of
2 police branch office signed an obligation to transfer to the Krajina MUP,
3 they pledged loyalty to that, and that was supported by the conference of
4 local communes. At the time Mr. Martic was man number one within the
5 Krajina police. Naturally I addressed him asking for assistance that was
6 quite legal.
7 Now to go back to my earlier story. We went via that forest road
8 there. We were wearing civilian clothes and we were unarmed. We went to
10 We came to Golubic, to the camp site there. We received
11 camouflage uniforms there. I remember that in our pockets we found
12 messages written in a female hand, such as "may God protect you, brother"
13 and similar type messages. These were just ordinary uniforms made out of
14 a plain type of material.
15 We started with our training. And it was a bit unusual for me,
16 because they taught us how to load and unload a weapon, and for me, who
17 had served in the army, that was quite an easy task, but there were some
18 people there who had never been in the army.
19 At the camp itself there was a wooden type of wall, and we
20 practiced climbing it with a rope, and on that wall there was a slogan
21 saying: This is where terrorism ends.
22 Q. How long did this training last for?
23 A. 21 days.
24 Q. What were you taught there?
25 A. We spent the longest time on establishment, movement, sweeping of
1 terrain. Simple military training. Getting to know your weapons. How to
2 handle them and so on.
3 Q. So after 21 days of training, what happened then? Where did you
5 A. We went back to Plaski in a bus. We travelled to a place called
6 Javornik -- or, rather, to Rudopolje, and then from there we walked to the
7 train station in Javornik. There were still some train service, and I
8 think we took train to Plaski.
9 Q. Did you have uniforms, weapons?
10 A. Yes. We had uniforms, weapons, and we established at the
11 secondary school in Plaski, which was shut down at the time, a
12 headquarters of sorts. The 25 of us lived there, slept there for several
13 months, because the police station wasn't functioning.
14 Q. Well where did you get your weapons and uniforms, because you said
15 that you had gone to Golubic without them. How did you obtain this?
16 A. At the camp site in Golubic, there was several makeshift houses,
17 because this used to be some kind of a youth camp before these events,
18 and there was some kind of a warehouse there. I didn't know those people,
19 but you know how it is. Under similar circumstances, they just give you
20 these things. You take them over. I had no time to really meet these
21 people, to get to know them and their names.
22 We were issued with combat sets on our way home. Each of us
23 received some 150 bullets or something like that.
24 MR. MILOVANCEVIC: [Interpretation] Your Honours, think it is time
25 for the break.
1 JUDGE MOLOTO: It is indeed. We will take a break.
2 THE INTERPRETER: Microphone please, Your Honour.
3 JUDGE MOLOTO: I'm sorry the Chamber will take a break and come
4 back at 4.00.
5 Court adjourned.
6 --- Recess taken at 3.30 p.m.
7 --- On resuming at 4.01 p.m.
8 JUDGE MOLOTO: Mr. Milovancevic.
9 MR. MILOVANCEVIC: [Interpretation] Thank you, Your Honour.
10 Q. Mr. Medakovic, at the break I was kindly requested by the
11 interpreters to pause after putting my question to you and hearing your
12 answer, and the same request was put to you. So we have to bear that in
14 You said that after the 21 days of training you returned to Plaski
15 with the people you attended training and that you were put up at school
16 there. Is that correct?
17 A. Yes.
18 Q. Can you tell us what the total head count of the police force was
19 at the time you returned from training.
20 A. There were eight members from before, and there were 25 of us.
21 Another group of 16 or 18 people went to Golubic, but they returned a bit
22 sooner than we did.
23 Counting all the members of the active and reserve forces, there
24 were about 50 people in all.
25 Q. What were the people who underwent the training, including
1 yourself and the members of the active police force, tasked with? What
2 sort of difficulties did you face?
3 A. We faced the same kind of difficulties as were faced by others
4 elsewhere. We had many criminals who seized every opportunity they had
5 for private gain. We had several instances of robbery, burglaries, even
7 We tried to combat crime. We arrested people. In addition to
8 that, we also carried out traffic control. I personally took part in
9 mopping up the area, which was part of our training.
10 All in all, we were trying to secure the area, both from within
11 and from without. But I have to tell you that I was not involved in the
12 classic type of policing, as was Mr. Latas because Mr. Latas had several
13 police professionals, including forensic officers there. Therefore, I was
14 not involved in that sort of work at all.
15 Q. You mentioned Dusan Latas. What position did he hold at the time?
16 A. He was the commander of the police substation, which later on
17 became the public security station. He was its chief.
18 Dusan Latas had secondary education and specialised in
19 administrative law matters.
20 Q. His last name is Latas. Am I correct?
21 A. Yes.
22 Q. You stated that you helped in securing the area of Plaski. Who
23 were you securing the area against at the time?
24 A. At the time, Croatia already had the National Guard Corps, which
25 had as its members HDZ members, who were known to attack Serbian
1 institutions, specifically in the area of Ogulin. On several occasions
2 coffee shops frequented by Serbs were blown up.
3 One such shop was owned by Rade Milanovic. This was at the
4 entrance to Ogulin. It was blown up on several occasions until it was
5 fully destroyed. These were mostly coffee shops and restaurant
7 There was another such instance --
8 Q. Thank you. That is enough. This took place in Ogulin, which is
9 near to Plaski. But you in Plaski, who did you protect yourself from?
10 A. We chose to live in the SAO Krajina and we opted for the Krajina
11 police to do the policing. Our duty was to materialise the will of the
13 Q. Was there any military installation of the JNA in Plaski?
14 A. When speaking of Plaski, again I have to refer to the entire area
15 from Vojinovac to Licka Jesenica, and we referred to it as the Plaski
17 In the centre of Plaski, there was a barracks with the medical
18 supplies depot and a warehouse which was owned by the federal direction
19 for commodities which were secured by JNA unit in Plaski. This unit was
20 less than 20 men strong. It was led by Sergeant Ivica Gace, who was a
21 Croat by ethnicity.
22 Some 10 to 12 kilometres away from Plaski, there was barracks in
23 Licka Jesenica on the railway track leading from Plaski to Knin. There
24 was a depot of fuel there, the capacity was 7.000 tonnes, and it was
25 secured by a platoon of 30 soldiers. The commander of the barracks was
1 called Bruno Pecirep, Captain First Class, Croat by ethnicity.
2 Q. Thank you. That's enough.
3 Did there come a time when armed conflicts arose in Plaski in the
4 course of 1991?
5 A. A serious armed conflict took place on the 22nd of June, when the
6 Croatian forces set out from the direction of Josipdol toward Plaski. In
7 the area of Vojnovci, just outside Vojnovci, an armed conflict occurred.
8 We foiled this attempt at a breakthrough, and it was then that a full
9 communications blockade was imposed in the Ogulin area. Dane Bunjevac,
10 who was the commander of the first platoon was killed, and Bogdan Letica
11 was wounded, and I'm speaking on the Serb side. On the Croatian side
12 there were also some casualties that they reported on over the radio.
13 Q. You said that the Croatian forces set out from the direction of
14 Josipdol and that you managed to prevent the attack. Who were you
15 referring to when you said "we," and how was it that you managed to crush
16 the attack?
17 A. At the time in addition to the unit I commanded over and in
18 addition to the police unit, the regular police force commanded by Dusan
19 Latas, we had already set up a detachment of the Territorial Defence, so
20 it had been in existence since July of 1991.
21 I know that in the logistics base in Karlovac, I believe it was
22 Skondric there, who -- they had signed up for 650 semi-automatic rifles,
23 the detachment had already been set up, the TO staff was established, and
24 it was commanded over by the Captain First Class Nikola Dokmanovic, who
25 was part of the reserve force. They were already carrying out their
1 duties as the TO within the armed forces of Yugoslavia.
2 The fighting broke out between my unit and the Croatian MUP units
3 and paramilitary units. I know there were paramilitary units as well
4 because I could see them. Some of them were in civilian clothes. And
5 this was in the area of Sabljacke Drage, between Josipdol and Plaski.
6 Infantry fire was opened.
7 Q. Did you have any positions in the area, any check-points or any
8 sort of organised positions?
9 A. I apologise. I spoke in haste. We had a check-point along the
10 boundary, the ethnic boundary, because Vojinovac was the settlement on the
11 very edge along the ethnic lines. It was a Serb village. And we carried
12 out patrols from the village of Vajin Vrh, all the way down to Vojinovac.
13 And that's the area halfway between Josipdol and Plaski.
14 We controlled the road own our side, and they had already
15 established their check-point and controlled their side.
16 Q. How did the conflict come about?
17 A. Well, in the course of the night --
18 Q. Please pause before answering.
19 JUDGE MOLOTO: Please pause.
20 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] I apologise.
21 The night before the 22nd, there were squirmishes. Infantry fire
22 could be heard, because their MUP unit, which was manning the check-point,
23 did not allow anyone to pass into Plaski, not even a funeral equipment.
24 And I remember that, because we didn't have any in Plaski.
25 So it was thus that first gunfire could be heard and then a
1 full-fledged attack broke out, which took part during the night and then
2 continued on for the entire 22nd.
3 MR. MILOVANCEVIC: [Interpretation]
4 Q. Thank you. We will not dwell on this topic, but just tell us,
5 what do you mean by a serious, a fierce attack? What weapons were
6 involved, and how far or how much of the terrain was involved?
7 A. We found out at a later date that on their side all the available
8 MUP forces were involved in the attack, namely 200 to 300 men, whereas we,
9 on our part, engaged the forces we had.
10 I have to say that the Territorial Defence occupied the positions
11 that we managed to keep until 1995, and I'm speaking about the 22nd of
12 July. The attack on their part involved infantry and artillery weapons
14 Q. Thank you. You're talking about the 22nd of July, 1991; is that
16 A. Yes.
17 Q. What was the situation like in Plaski in the aftermath of these
19 A. After the 22nd of July, Plaski was fully surrounded. The scarce
20 supplies that were trickling in by that time were completely discontinued.
21 We were surrounded on all sides, on the one hand we had Slunj, then the
22 military grounds there, all the way to Ogulin. And then from Ogulin,
23 beside the mount Mala Kapevla [phoen], you had the Croatian population
24 there, Stajnica, Lipice, Saborsko, and all the way down to the Plitvice
25 lakes. We were completely surrounded and had to set up circular defence.
1 We had to deploy to the lines whatever weapons and manpower we had in all
2 the directions.
3 Q. Thank you. When you say that Plaski was fully isolated, can you
4 tell us what of the food and medical supplies, what of the electricity
5 supplies, how did you tackle these problems?
6 A. From that date on, we no longer had electricity. We tried to
7 manage the best we could with the medications we had. We tried to pull
8 out the wounded, through -- along a forest road.
9 It's a bit difficult to explain it here, but the area is a vast
10 woodland area of very dense pine wood, very tall, some 800 to 900 metres.
11 The area was not easily trafficable. Besides, we had problems with the
12 power supplies. We had no telephone lines. The children who were
13 attending schools outside the Plaski area found it hard to return back.
14 The post office was unable to function and the people who were
15 retired could not receive their pension. There were around 7.000 of us,
16 and we were fully surrounded.
17 Q. When it came to Plaski and under those circumstances, can you tell
18 us what sort of position the JNA found itself in, and I mean the JNA
19 garrisons in the area.
20 A. The fate that befell the Serbs in the area also befell the JNA.
21 Croatia at the time had declared the JNA an aggressor and did not allow
22 them to move about. We have to note that the first barracks that fell
23 into the hands of the Croats was the one in Ogulin.
24 The JNA units were also under a full blockade, but they were able
25 to communicate with the Slunj training grounds where the relocated command
1 of the 5th Army was. They were also blocked, but it was possible for them
2 to leave the Plaski barracks and to reach the Slunj training grounds.
3 However, along the way there were also places under Croatian control.
4 Q. Were there any military actions undertaken by the Croats against
5 the JNA barracks?
6 A. I said that the first barracks that fell into the hands of the
7 Croats was the one in Ogulin, which took place in September of 1991.
8 In addition to the Ogulin barracks, in the vicinity of both Ogulin
9 and Josipdol, there were several barracks at Ostarije and Skradnik. At
10 Skradnik there was a weapons depot. I know for a fact that more than 100
11 pieces of infantry weapons were stored there. Over 700 mortars were
12 stored there. And large numbers of guns of smaller calibres, namely ZIS,
13 the field gun. I know this because Lieutenant-Colonel Radakovic - I don't
14 know what his position was at the time - he mobilised, he recruited a
15 group of persons into the JNA to secure the facility at Skradnik, because
16 the manpower present at the time in those facilities was leaving the area,
17 not only Serbs, and they wanted to prevent these facilities from falling
18 into the hands of the Croats.
19 Q. If I were to say that this depot in Skradnik was a large JNA
20 depot, would I be correct?
21 A. Correct.
22 Q. You also said that in Licka Jesenica there was a large storage
23 containing fuel, about 7.000 tonnes, was that the JNA warehouse?
24 A. Yes, it was.
25 Q. Was there any warehouses there in addition to these two?
1 A. Ostarije 1 and 2. Ostarije is a settlement near Ogulin and
2 Josipdol and there was an ammunition warehouse there, a depot containing
3 artillery and rocket ordinance. It was blown up. It didn't fall into
4 anyone's hands. It was blown up.
5 Q. Do you know why the JNA blew it up?
6 A. The JNA blew it up because it was impossible for them to evacuate
7 the supplies. They were able to evacuate the people. And as for
8 supplies, the ammunition, it was blown up.
9 Q. Thank you. We have to make our break. Or, rather, we have to
11 You described the situation in Plaski as one of complete
12 isolation. Did you try to resolve the situation by talking to the people
13 from Saborsko, to your neighbours from Saborsko, even under those
14 circumstances? Did you attempt this?
15 A. It was precisely the most active negotiations time. We even asked
16 the JNA, which at the time was still a multi-ethnic force, to mediate and
17 to give certain guarantees that the people living there would be
18 completely safe, that nobody would be sent away from Plaski. We simply
19 asked them to liberate that road.
20 However, as I told you, when we came close to some kind of a
21 settlement - and this was in September - the reinforcement came to
22 Saborsko from Zagreb. They passed through Lipice, Stajnica and en route
23 they captured our guards, members of the TO. They also captured two
24 active policemen on their way back from Korenica. And they captured
25 civilians who were minors, the children of a man who lived in a forest.
1 It sounds strange, but there was this man living alone with his six
2 children in the forest, 10 kilometres away from any civilisation. So
3 these children came and told us that they had been released but other
4 people had been captured and taken to Saborsko by these people.
5 This ruined all of our plans to achieve a peaceful settlement via
7 Q. Thank you. But we know nothing about these negotiations. Who
8 negotiated with whom from Saborsko? Do you remember any of those facts,
9 and please describe, very briefly, if you do. What kind of a settlement
10 were you close to reaching when this armed group came from Zagreb?
11 A. As I've already mentioned, on our side the negotiations team was
12 led by Mihajlo Knezevic, as he used to be a teacher in Saborsko before the
13 war and he was a prominent citizen, a well known person in that area. He
14 led the delegation.
15 I don't remember the exact names of people participating on their
16 side. I think that this man had some problems with breathing. He had
17 some machine that helped him breathe, so he was a man from Saborsko who
18 was participating on their side. His name might have been Mataj, or
19 something like that.
20 Q. What were your requests and what did they accept, and what was in
21 fact ruined when this group arrived?
22 A. We requested that the road be freed from Licka Jesenica to the
23 Plitvice lakes, that it be freed for civilian transportation and for
24 supplies. We asked that the people who were there withdraw, that they
25 surrender weapons to the JNA.
1 In addition to the four policemen who used to be policemen in
2 Plaski -- we wanted, rather, those four to remain there, and all other
3 armed forces we wanted them to surrender their weapons to the Plaski
4 police and to the Territorial Defence, and we wanted the JNA to guarantee
5 that the road would be freed. And so that the JNA itself could use it,
6 and so that the civilians from Plaski could use it too.
7 We had no electricity. We had no water. We needed generators.
8 We needed fuel. We were unable to procure any of those supplies, as long
9 as that road was blocked.
10 Q. Did there come a time in Plaski, Saborsko and surrounding areas,
11 when an armed conflict broke out and, if so, when?
12 A. Even before the month of September, that is to say in August,
13 since Saborsko is higher above the sea level than Licka Jesenica, there
14 was a dominant feature, a hill called Borik that was under their control,
15 which enabled them to see Licka Jesenica as though it lay on their palm.
16 So they kept firing and thus preventing people from working the land.
17 So back in August I transferred a platoon to the school in
18 Licka Jesenica --
19 JUDGE MOLOTO: I'm sorry. You're talking about August. August of
20 which year?
21 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] 1991.
22 JUDGE MOLOTO: Thank you.
23 You may continue, Mr. Milovancevic.
24 MR. MILOVANCEVIC: [Interpretation]
25 Q. So you said you deployed a platoon. With what mission?
1 A. The platoon was tasked with securing, providing safety to the
2 people working in the fields. The winter comes early there, so people
3 have to finish all of the field work in a timely manner, before the winter
4 comes, and that's exactly what they were doing. They only responded to
5 the fire if they were attacked. And as soon as they responded seriously,
6 all provocations ceased.
7 Q. You mentioned that an armed group of people came from Zagreb. Do
8 you know how many people were in that group who were armed? And what kind
9 of weapons did they have?
10 A. We established that following the exchange. But I have to tell
11 you the entire event. I apologise, but it will take some time.
12 I told you that this group arrived from Zagreb under command of
13 Luka Hodak. They travelled on the road from Stajnica, Lipice, and then to
14 Kriz via a forest road to Saborsko. Since there were over 200 of them,
15 they of course were more powerful, and they captured four of our men,
16 securing that road.
17 They captured these four from Licka Jesenica, then they captured
18 two policemen on their way back. I happened to pass by. I was on my way
19 to Licka Korenica, the late Major Latas was with me, and they captured him
20 and I managed to escape.
21 JUDGE MOLOTO: Sorry, can I interrupt you. I think you're taking
22 rather too long.
23 The question to you was: You mentioned that an armed group of
24 people came from Zagreb. Do you know how many people were in that group
25 who were armed and what kind of weapons did they have?
1 You have just told us, after a very long story, that there were
2 over 200. You still haven't told us the weapons they had. Try to listen
3 to the questions, Witness, and try to answer as directly as you possibly
4 can to the questions.
5 That they came via the forest will be established. If counsel
6 wants to know that, he will ask you that. Don't -- listen to the question
7 and answer the question.
8 Mr. Milovancevic, please try to control the witness.
9 MR. MILOVANCEVIC: [Interpretation] Thank you, Your Honour, I will.
10 Q. Witness, I put a question to you which you heard, and you said you
11 would give an extensive explanation. You have given us the context on the
12 basis of which we can understand how you got this information. So some
13 people were imprisoned and then exchanged?
14 A. Yes. I apologised to His Honour. Precisely so.
15 What I wanted to say was that I had first-hand information,
16 because Vlado Vukovic was taken prisoner and fell into our hands. He was
17 then --
18 JUDGE MOLOTO: I'm sorry. You're still not answering the
19 question, sir.
20 Mr. Milovancevic, you are still not pursuing the question that you
21 had asked. The question that you asked was: How many were these people,
22 what kind of weapons did they have. We have been told there were over
23 200. We don't know what weapons they had. We are now being told other
24 stories and you are allowing this to go on. Try to bring the witness to
25 the point.
1 MR. MILOVANCEVIC: [Interpretation] Thank you, Your Honour.
2 Q. Witness, we must be very precise. I will put a question to you.
3 Please answer it directly, and, if need be, I will put additional
4 questions. This is what is proposed by Their Honours, and this is the
5 usual procedure in these proceedings.
6 Please tell us what these people had, what kind of weapons they
7 had. If anything else needs to be established, I will ask you.
8 A. There were about 12 trucks, 200 people, and they brought infantry
9 weapons for all the remaining population in Saborsko. They all arrived
10 bearing weapons. They brought at least 82-millimetre mortars, an
11 anti-aircraft gun of 20 millimetres, at least one, one Browning. A
12 12.7-millimetre machine-gun, and a recoilless gun.
13 Q. Thank you. You said all of this happened in September 1991; is
14 that correct?
15 A. Yes.
16 Q. You said that the arrival of this group ruined your negotiation
17 with the inhabitants of Saborsko about a peaceful settlement; is that
19 A. Yes, it is.
20 Q. What happened in Saborsko after the arrival of this group? How
21 did the situation develop further? I'm referring to the group that
22 arrived in Saborsko.
23 A. There was a shooting into the air. People were celebrating. The
24 people who were imprisoned were beaten. They had to pass through the
25 gauntlet and they were beaten.
1 Q. What was the relative strength of these forces in Saborsko as
2 compared to those in Plaski and the JNA?
3 A. Saborsko then became a stronghold with about 400 men under arms.
4 They had all the weapons I have listed, artillery weapons. They deployed
5 themselves along the road and all the points leading towards
6 Licka Jesenica.
7 Q. When you say that they deployed themselves along the road and that
8 all the points, what points are you referring to? Do these points have
9 names or labels of any kind?
10 A. I'm referring to the dominant elevations, Borik and Sivnik in this
11 case. Those are the two dominant elevations between Saborsko and
12 Licka Jesenica. They took these elevations and fortified them. And in
13 depth, and I know this first-hand, too, because I carried out
14 reconnaissance, Saborsko is a long village. From Saborsko to Kuselj,
15 there's about six kilometres. Along the road they made dugouts and dug
16 trenches covered with logs, which means that they were preparing seriously
17 for defence.
18 Q. Were there any conflicts between the JNA and the forces in
19 Saborsko before November 1991?
20 A. JNA facilities were targeted when they targeted Plaski. And this
21 was -- this happened for the first time in September 1991. Whereas a
22 serious attack occurred in November when there was an attack launched on
23 the barracks in Licka Jesenica.
24 Q. You say that the conflict arose because the forces in Saborsko
25 were targeting Licka Jesenica and Plaski? Did I understand you correctly?
1 A. They were not able to hit Plaski from Saborsko, because the
2 distance between Saborsko and Plaski exceeds the range of the weapons they
3 had. But they did shoot a test from Kapela and Modrasa [phoen] from the
4 direction of Josipdol and Ogulin.
5 From Saborsko, you can see exceptionally well, because it's higher
6 up than Licka Jesenica in terms of height of elevation, and the people
7 shooting at us were not able to see. So they were guided by the people
8 from Saborsko. They were able to hit without missing their targets. They
9 hit the clinic in Licka Jesenica which was clearly designated with the
10 Red Cross, and a nurse was killed of that occasion; her name was Javorka
11 Vukelic. And another one, Dusanka Grba, was seriously injured.
12 Q. Mr. Medakovic, you are an inhabitant of Plaski. You reside there.
13 And you are talking about an attack on the barracks in Licka Jesenica and
14 the transference of fire. You say that they were guiding the fire from
15 Saborsko. How do you know this, where did you get this information?
16 A. At that time I was there on the spot. Around the 4th of November,
17 or in early November, this very sensitive point -- called
18 Glibodolski Kriz -- it's a crossing. When you come from Licka Jesenica
19 you reach this crossing and we had a guard there. This was attacked. Two
20 men were injured and they withdrew. So I led a group, which had to take
21 that crossing again.
22 We came -- fell into the fire targeting Licka Jesenica and came
23 into conflict with the forces which were on the way, on their way to
24 undertake an infantry assault or take the barracks. I was in command of
25 the group that was on its way to retake Glibodolski Kriz, the crossing.
1 Q. You say this was on the 24th of November, 1991 --
2 THE INTERPRETER: Interpreter's correction, 4th of November.
3 Q. -- and that their forces were attacking the JNA barracks in
4 Licka Jesenica. Which forces were these?
5 A. These were the forces of the Croatian MUP and ZNG.
6 Q. Thank you. On that occasion was the barracks in Licka Jesenica
8 A. The fighting went on for several days and the attack was beaten
9 back, thanks to assistance from Plaski. A soldier was killed. I think
10 his name was Zeljko Gajsak or some such Croatian last name. He was an
11 ethnic Croat. He was an active-duty soldier and he was killed. A few
12 others were killed too.
13 On the Croatian side, another soldier was killed, whom I saw
14 personally. He was wearing a camouflage uniform. He was killed by some
15 sort of large calibre weapon. We couldn't identify him. He was buried
16 next to the Licka Jesenica railway line.
17 Q. You said that you participated in that conflict on the 4th of
18 November, 1991, near the barracks in Licka Jesenica.
19 How did you establish that the fire on the barracks, the artillery
20 fire on the barracks was guided by the Croatian forces in Saborsko?
21 A. The forces in Saborsko, not only guided the fire but also attacked
22 the barracks on the other side of the railway line. They arrived and the
23 attack was repulsed.
24 When withdrawing toward Saborsko, they passed by Vukelic Poljana,
25 it's a little hamlet in Licka Jesenica and Branko Vukalic, Sapina, was
1 killed on the threshold of his own house. And they boasted about this.
2 They said, well, they haven't managed to take the barracks, but at least
3 they had killed a Chetnik. This so-called Chetnik was about 50 years old
4 and was on his way to see to his cattle in the barn. So he wasn't engaged
5 in any military activity. He was on his own threshold. And I heard about
6 this from imprisoned Croatian soldiers.
7 Q. Thank you. Do you know whether in November 1991 the JNA took any
8 action to defend its facilities and lift the blockade of the roads in the
10 A. The JNA was in a difficult situation. In the area it was
11 completely blocked.
12 MR. WHITING: I'm just going to object to the leading nature of
13 that last question.
14 JUDGE MOLOTO: Mr. Milovancevic, the objection is that you are
15 asking a leading question.
16 MR. MILOVANCEVIC: [Interpretation] Your Honour, I don't have that
17 impression, but to avoid any problems, I will reformulate the question, I
18 will rephrase it. I think that would be the best thing to do, because I
19 don't wish to put leading questions. If you agree?
20 JUDGE MOLOTO: I agree, but I also warn you that the answer to the
21 question is already known to the witness based on the leading question
22 that you asked. Carry on. Rephrase that question.
23 MR. MILOVANCEVIC: [Interpretation]
24 Q. Does the mention of Mr. Cedomir Bulat, a JNA colonel, mean
25 anything to you, Witness?
1 A. Yes. I knew him personally.
2 Q. How did you meet him? How did you get to know him? On what
4 A. Well, the first time I met him was when the former commander of
5 that barracks, Bruno Pecirep and Ivica Gace, the commander of the barracks
6 in Plaski, who were both Croats, were taken by me to the military training
7 ground because their safety was under threat because of some public
8 statements they had made, and I took them to the army command and handed
9 them over to Colonel Cedo Bulat for their own safety. That's when I got
10 to know him. He was a colonel. I think he was the chief of the
11 operations department, but I'm not sure.
12 Q. And where was he then?
13 A. He was at the military training grounds in Slunj.
14 Q. Does Tactical Group 2 of the JNA mean something to you?
15 A. Yes, it does. I know that Cedo Bulat was in command of TG 2, and
16 I know that it was the oldest command on the ground, so to say, and we
17 were all subordinate to it.
18 Q. Can you tell us when that tactical group appeared. You said you
19 were all subordinate to it, so where did it appear?
20 A. This was when serious cooperation began between the Territorial
21 Defence in Plaski and the JNA units to defend the barracks in
22 Licka Jesenica. That was in early November 1991. I'm sure it was then,
23 and maybe before.
24 MR. MILOVANCEVIC: [Interpretation] Could we please see on the
25 monitor a document from the 65 ter list of the OTP, and it's marked 1246.
1 Q. Before it turns up on the monitor, can you tell us:
2 Tactical Group 2, what army did it belong to? What army was it part of?
3 A. The Yugoslav People's Army, the 5th Army District or the so-called
4 5th Army, the Zagreb army as it was called.
5 Q. Thank you. You have before you on the monitor a document now.
6 Please take a look at it. Could we look at the upper left-hand corner.
7 Thank you. Can you read out to us what it says in the upper left-hand
9 A. "Command of the 5th Military District, strictly confidential,
10 number, 23rd October 1991."
11 Q. Underneath that there is a brief heading. Can you tell us what it
13 A. "The formation of TG 2 order."
14 Q. Mr. Medakovic, you read that as formation of TG 2. Can you tell
15 us what this means to you in whole words, the expansion.
16 A. Tactical Group 2.
17 Q. Thank you. Underneath this text, towards the bottom of the page,
18 could we look at points two and three of this order. Could you please
19 read out the text of these two points.
20 A. "The command of TG 2 is to be formed, comprising senior officers
21 from the composition of the command and the units of the 5th Military
22 District according to the appended list. Colonel Cedomir Bulat is hereby
23 appointed commander of TG 1. He's the head of the department for
24 operative affairs."
25 I apologise to the interpreters.
1 Item 3: "The task of the command of Tactical Group 2 is to unite
2 or unify the operations of the units of the JNA at the training ground in
3 Slunj and the units of TO Veljun and Plaski in the area of responsibility.
4 Slunj, Veljun, Plaski, in the area of responsibility Slunj, Veljun,
5 Perjasica, Primislje, Plaski, Grabovac, Koranski Leskovac, Cetingrad,
6 Tactical Group 2..."
7 Q. That's quite enough.
8 MR. MILOVANCEVIC: [Interpretation] Can we please see page 2 of
9 this document, and there are a total of two pages in this document so that
10 we can see who signed it. In B/C/S it is 7806. Yes, that's right.
11 Q. Can you read the seal and the signature?
12 A. It says: "Command of the military district." I don't see the
13 number of the military district. And then -- that's what it says on this
14 stamp. Then it says: General -- "Colonel General Zivota Avaramovic."
15 Q. Thank you. You said that all of you were subordinated to the
16 Tactical Group 2. You meant the TG 2 of the JNA; correct?
17 A. Yes, correct. Already at that time the unit which was under my
18 command was within the brigade of TO of Plaski, that is to say, that unit
19 was disbanded. It no longer existed as the special purpose unit. Rather,
20 members of that unit were transferred to the active police force and then
21 the rest of them became members of the TO based on their place of
23 I told you that our unit was established on the 1st of July, and
24 in early September it became a brigade with 3 Battalion. It was a brigade
25 of the Territorial Defence of Plaski.
1 Q. Do you know what was the attitude of the JNA towards that, Plaski
2 TO unit and other TO units?
3 A. I know that according to the then valid legislation, the TO forces
4 were armed forces, but the JNA had the direct command, that is to say, the
5 most senior commanders also had the TO under their command as well as
6 police. That was a well known principle.
7 Q. Thank you. Thank you.
8 MR. MILOVANCEVIC: [Interpretation] Your Honours, I tender this
9 document into evidence as a Defence exhibit.
10 JUDGE MOLOTO: The document is admitted as an Defence exhibit.
11 May it please be given an exhibit number.
12 THE REGISTRAR: Your Honours, this becomes Exhibit number 960.
13 JUDGE MOLOTO: Thank you very much.
14 MR. MILOVANCEVIC: [Interpretation] Just a second, Your Honours, I
16 JUDGE MOLOTO: You may take the time.
17 MR. MILOVANCEVIC: [Interpretation]
18 Q. Can you tell me, please, sir, we saw the order to establish
19 Tactical Group 2, it came from the 5th Military District of the JNA. Do
20 you know whether this order was implemented, was carried out, and which
21 forces comprised TG 2, in case it was implemented?
22 A. I know that it was implemented. I know that Colonel Bulat became
23 commander of the tactical group, and I know that our brigade became part
24 of it and that we were directly subordinated to Colonel Bulat.
25 Q. Thank you. You said: "Our brigade became part of it and was
1 directly subordinated." Which was your brigade, just so that we avoid any
3 A. The brigade of the Plaski Territorial Defence.
4 Q. Do you know whether Tactical Group 2 carried out any operations in
5 that area, in November, in late 1991?
6 A. Yes. I know that an order came to lift the siege of Plaski, of
7 our entire municipality, and military facilities by breaking down Ustasha
8 stronghold in Saborsko.
9 Q. Can you tell us who conveyed the order to you? Can you explain to
10 us what you mean by saying the Ustasha stronghold in Saborsko? Why don't
11 you address that first, please.
12 A. That's how I have to call that stronghold because just before the
13 order was issued a terrible incident took place at Gribodolski Kriz, or
14 crossing, where three men were savagely killed, people from Plaski. And
15 this was part of the operation attacking the Licka Jesenica barracks.
16 JUDGE MOLOTO: Sorry, Witness. You were asked a question: Do
17 you know whether Tactical Group 2 carried out any operations in that area,
18 in November, in late 1991. You told us how an order came.
19 Can you tell us just by yes or no, did Tactical Group 2 carry out
20 any operations in that area in November 1991? I want one word from you,
21 either yes, or no, or I don't know." It's the only time I will allow two
23 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Yes, Your Honour. Yes.
24 JUDGE MOLOTO: Listen to the questions and try to answer the
1 MR. MILOVANCEVIC: [Interpretation]
2 Q. You said that, yes, operations were carried out, and then you
3 explained that the purpose of those operations was to destroy the Ustasha
4 forces in Saborsko; I'm paraphrasing your words. And my question was:
5 Why are you using that term, "Ustasha forces"? Just briefly. You
6 mentioned this crossing, Glibodolski Kriz?
7 A. That was the first time I used that term. I think that it was a
8 watershed in the line of thinking of all of us in Plaski, because we were
9 able to see just what kind of forces those were after that massacre which
10 took place at Glibodolski Kriz, or crossing.
11 Q. Does this mean that because of this massacre which took place at
12 Glibodolski Kriz, you referred to these forces in Saborsko as Ustasha
14 A. So far I have spoken of Croatian forces of ZNG and Croatian MUP
15 forces. However, after seeing with my own eyes how ZNG and MUP operated
16 in the field, I can tell you that the term "Ustasha" is too mild for them.
17 Q. Thank you. Can you please briefly describe what happened at
18 Glibodolski Kriz which prompted you to use this language?
19 A. When this road was liberated, the road leading to
20 Glibodolski Kriz.
21 Q. From which point, please? Or rather, when?
22 A. I think it was on the 7th or 8th of November, within that attack
23 on the barracks in Licka Jesenica. That attack took three days. When
24 that crossing was taken once again, we saw a fresh mold of earth that was
25 created with a loader. Since we didn't have any equipment with us, we
1 just took the soil away with our hands, and we saw that there were two
2 corpses and a horse carcass. And then next to it, we saw the remains of a
3 Fico car, which is the smallest automobile produced in the former
4 Yugoslavia. And next to it we found a human ear cut off, which indicated
5 that most likely people who had been in that car were killed. Next to
6 Fico was a tractor with a small trailer, also destroyed.
7 In that mold of soil, under the carcasses of horses, we excavated
8 the corpses of three people, and their names were Susnjar Milan, Bogdan --
9 THE INTERPRETER: And the interpreters didn't hear the third
11 MR. MILOVANCEVIC: [Interpretation]
12 Q. Thank you. You mentioned three men. What was their ethnicity?
13 A. All of them were Serbs. Petrovic Bogdan used to be a member of
14 the unit which I commanded. That day he had civilian trousers on and a
15 shirt with the Krajina police symbol on it. The other two were wearing
16 civilian clothes.
17 Q. Thank you. What was the state of these people when you found
18 them? You said that they were dead, and you found them under carcasses of
20 A. The ear that we found in the car belonged to Petrovic Bogdan. On
21 his leg he had a leather belt tied, leather belt used for horses, and it
22 was that belt that they used to hang him from a tree. He had over 40
23 stabs, knife stabs, mostly in the area of genitals, which means that he
24 was castrated alive practically. This is what the doctor told me. He
25 obviously knew why he made that conclusion. That was the corpse of Bogdan
2 The next one was Susnjar Milan, nicknamed Mijak. He had a large
3 ring. I knew the man personally. He had a large signet ring, and it was
4 cut off and his hand was cut off. And he had been mistreated while alive
6 And the last person, the last Susnjar, apparently died due to
7 mortar fire, near the tractor.
8 Q. You said, sir, that you found the corpses of these people under
9 the carcasses of horses. How did you establish the cause of their death?
10 A. We pushed aside the soil. There were about 30 of us. Mostly
11 members of police. Dusan Latas was there. We removed the soil with our
12 hands and then we pulled away the horses, their carcasses, and then we
13 transported human corpses to a place called Janja, which is the area where
14 they were from. We put them in wooden crates, and we called in a surgeon.
15 We cut off their clothes to see what kind of injuries they had. I
16 made three Polaroid photographs as we were doing that, and they exist in
17 the centre for investigation of war crimes. I hope that we will be able
18 to locate them and send them to this Tribunal.
19 Q. Thank you.
20 JUDGE HOEPFEL: Excuse me, Mr. Milovancevic. Can we make sure
21 that we have the names of these three victims on our transcript. One name
22 has not been understood before, I think.
23 So it was Petrovic Bogdan. And the next one was Milan -- what was
24 the name again?
25 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Susnjar.
1 JUDGE HOEPFEL: And the third one? Can you give us the name of
2 the third victim?
3 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Also Susnjar, but the first name is
5 JUDGE HOEPFEL: Thank you very much. Just to conclude that.
6 JUDGE MOLOTO: Just for us, Mr. Milovancevic. Does it mean we
7 have two Susnjars and we have two Bogdans? The one was Petrovic Bogdan
8 and now there is Bogdan Susnjar?
9 MR. MILOVANCEVIC: [Interpretation] That's correct. Two first
10 names are identical, Bogdan. There is Bogdan Petrovic and Bogdan
11 Susnjar. And the first name of the other Susnjar is Milan. These are the
12 three victims.
13 JUDGE NOSWORTHY: Yes. Before you go on there is also a question
14 that I wish to ask.
15 On what basis was it concluded that the ear that was found
16 belonged to Bogdan, the first Bogdan, Bogdan Petrovic?
17 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] That crossing in that area was under
18 the control of Croatian forces for two days. The car that I described,
19 Fico, was a car produced in Serbia, and it was a car owned by many people
20 there. It belonged to Petrovic and that was the first indication.
21 Next to this seat, as he was sitting somebody through the window
22 cut off his ear, because that's where the ear was found. It was found
23 between the door and the seat, and later on, as we pulled his body out, we
24 saw that an ear was missing on his body.
25 JUDGE NOSWORTHY: Thank you very much, sir.
1 JUDGE HOEPFEL: While we are asking questions about that, may I
2 ask you two things. First, who was the forensic doctor you were referring
4 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] He can hardly be described as a
5 forensic expert. No, he was a surgeon, Zivko Vrcelj, who used to work as
6 a doctor in our health station. We had no conditions to carry out a
7 proper investigation.
8 JUDGE HOEPFEL: Thank you. And the other thing --
9 JUDGE MOLOTO: What was the name again?
10 JUDGE HOEPFEL: The name again, please, of this surgeon?
11 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Zivko Vrcelj, V-r-c-e-l-j. Now he
12 works as a doctor in Sremska Mitrovica in Serbia.
13 JUDGE HOEPFEL: Thank you. And the other thing is, you made an
14 observation before this was the first time you used the word "Ustasha."
15 Do you remember? You said that five minutes ago. What do you mean by
16 this was the first time that you used this word? Not now, but you mean at
17 that time when you -- after you found this scene? Do I understand
19 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] I said that it was the first time
20 during my testimony here that, when describing that event, I used the
21 word "Ustasha." I said that this event reminded us very strongly about
22 the events of the past.
23 JUDGE MOLOTO: Thank you.
24 Mr. Milovancevic. You may proceed.
25 MR. MILOVANCEVIC: [Interpretation] Thank you, Your Honour.
1 Q. You said "yes" when I asked you whether Tactical Group 2 was
2 active in that area. When was it? When were they active? And did you
3 have anything to do with their operations?
4 A. After the barracks in Licka Jesenica was defended, I was told by
5 the battalion commander in whose area of responsibility Licka Jesenica,
6 and that was Grba Bogdan, that an order had been issued to lift the siege
7 to deblock the road in order to get to the fuel. I told you that there
8 was 7.000 tonnes of fuel. The JNA needed fuel. They had none, because
9 the other warehouse that they had down the railroad had already been
10 captured by Croats.
11 So this remaining supply was the only supply remaining to the
12 5th Army. So they issued an urgent order to liberate the road passing
13 through Saborsko.
14 Q. Thank you.
15 MR. MILOVANCEVIC: [Interpretation] Could we now please see
16 Exhibit 108 on our screens. This is on 65 ter list of OTP, 1248. This is
17 the operations diary of Tactical Group 2.
18 JUDGE MOLOTO: While we are waiting for the exhibit to come on,
19 could the witness just answer whether, indeed, he did take part in the
20 operations with TG 2. That was part of your question. I don't think it
21 was answered.
22 MR. MILOVANCEVIC: [Interpretation] Of course, Your Honour.
23 Q. I asked you whether you took part in the Tactical Group 2 action?
24 A. Yes, I did. I personally commanded over one company.
25 Q. Who commanded over the entire action at Saborsko?
1 A. Colonel Cedomir Bulat commanded over the entire operation.
2 Q. You explained that you had one company under your command. Who
3 made up the company?
4 A. It was the active and reserve police forces, several volunteers
5 from units which were not deployed in that area but rather from
6 Battalions 1 and 2, and some volunteers who were members of the special
7 purpose unit and were then transferred to the TO brigade.
8 There were a total of 60 of us, and it wasn't a proper company,
9 not to speak of.
10 Q. Before we move on to the document, another question.
11 MR. MILOVANCEVIC: [Interpretation] Yes, Your Honour?
12 JUDGE MOLOTO: What was the special purpose unit?
13 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] In the first part of my evidence, I
14 said that out of the group of people who underwent training in Knin, a
15 special purpose unit was made. These were people from Plaski only, and I
16 commanded over that unit until the 1st of September, 1991. They should
17 not be mixed up or confused with the other special purpose unit.
18 JUDGE MOLOTO: So you mean that, when you talk of the special
19 purpose unit in this context, you meant the people you were trained were
20 in Knin, in Golubic?
21 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] That's correct.
22 JUDGE MOLOTO: Thank you. You may proceed, Mr. Milovancevic.
23 MR. MILOVANCEVIC: [Interpretation] Your Honour, perhaps I should
24 put two more brief questions to the witness before the break, just to
25 finish the topic.
1 Q. You said that Colonel Bulat was the commander of the
2 Tactical Group 2 and that you commanded over your unit. Did you have an
3 immediate superior officer?
4 A. Within these operation, I had the battalion commander,
5 Bogdan Grba, who was my superior.
6 Q. Thank you.
7 MR. MILOVANCEVIC: [Interpretation] Your Honour, if I'm not
8 mistaken, we normally take the break at 5.15. If I'm correct, then
9 perhaps this would be a convenient time for a break?
10 JUDGE MOLOTO: It is, indeed. We shall take the break and come
11 back at quarter to 6.00.
12 --- Recess taken at 5.15 p.m.
13 --- On resuming at 5.45 p.m.
14 JUDGE MOLOTO: Mr. Milovancevic.
15 MR. MILOVANCEVIC: [Interpretation] I can continue, Your Honour?
16 JUDGE MOLOTO: Indeed, Mr. Milovancevic. I had already said so.
17 I may have said it softly, but I thought these microphones are so strong
18 that everybody hears me without me shouting.
19 MR. MILOVANCEVIC: [Interpretation] Thank you, Your Honour. It was
20 a mistake on my part. I didn't put my headphones on.
21 Q. Mr. Medakovic, we have a document on our screens. I want you to
22 look at the various entries. This is the operations log book of the
23 Tactical Group 2; that's the title of the document.
24 Please, I wish to re-direct your attention to item 3, next to
25 number 3, the column next to that first one, says: Slunj. This is the
1 column at the top of which says: Place, time, and date. And in this
2 particular column, in this particular entry it reads: Slunj, 5 November
3 1991, 2200 hours.
4 I will read out the entry and you will confirm whether that's
5 correct. It reads as follows: "On the 5th of November, 1991, at around
6 2200 hours, the following was recorded. Around 1800 hours from the area
7 of Glibodolski Kriz the forces of the ZNG and MUP commenced their
8 operation against SKLG, Licka Jesenica. The combat operations lasted
9 until 2200 hours. The enemy forces were active from the area of Alan and
10 Veliki Sivnik. Artillery returned fire by firing 26 shells."
11 Do you see that text before you, Mr. Medakovic?
12 A. Yes, I do.
13 Q. Thank you. The activities referred to here were leveled against
14 SKLG Licka Jesenica. Can you tell us what this acronym stands for, SKLG?
15 A. It stands for the engine fuel depot. The JNA normally used such
17 THE INTERPRETER: Interpreter's correction, the acronym is SKPG.
18 JUDGE HOEPFEL: Yes, I was going to say that. It is SKPG, but
19 then it says in translation "sic," so there is an apparent mistake in the
20 original, already. Can we clarify that? Thank you.
21 Please, Mr. Milovancevic.
22 THE INTERPRETER: Microphone, please.
23 JUDGE MOLOTO: Microphone, Mr. Milovancevic.
24 MR. MILOVANCEVIC: [Interpretation]
25 Q. Mr. Medakovic, the acronym SKPG, that is the acronym, the way I
1 just read it out now?
2 A. Yes. And the acronym stands for the warehouse of engine fuel.
3 Q. And therefore in the B/C/S these are the first letters of the
4 three words; is that correct?
5 A. Yes.
6 Q. Can we look at item 4 of the operations log book. It is located
7 at the very bottom of the page. I am not sure what the page number is in
8 English, but perhaps I should refer you to item 4 and the date, 7 November
10 I believe, Your Honours, you will be able to locate the entry.
11 It says here: "Against the barracks (SKPG, Licka Jesenica) and
12 upon the forces of the TO Plaski, fire was opened from MB, mortars and
13 Brownings, from -- or by the armed forces of the ZNG from the direction of
15 I believe it says Zuzni Vrh, Bozin Vrh, and other directions.
16 A. I would not agree with you in that this reads Zuzni Vrh really.
17 Q. I may have misread it.
18 Let us look at the next entry, which is on page 7798 in the
19 B/C/S. The entry number is 5 and the date again is the 7th of November,
20 1991. It says Licka Jesenica as the place and the hour is 0250, early in
21 the morning. Next to the date, 7 November, it reads: "Heavy fire from
22 Saborsko and Glibodol is being experienced."
23 Is that correct?
24 A. Yes.
25 Q. In entry number 6, again it says Licka Jesenica, 7 November 1991,
1 and then several hours, 1630, 1645 and 1700. Then let us read. It says:
2 "A very strong attack on the Licka Jesenica barracks by the ZNG."
3 Below that: Open fire -- "Fire was opened from artillery pieces,
4 130-millimetre artillery pieces, upon the areas of Mala Kapela
5 Glibodolski Kriz, Vrletna Draga."
6 A. Yes. I see that, in that it says Vrletna Draga.
7 Q. Thank you. In the entry number 8, it says 2000 hours, the text
8 reads: "One soldier was killed."
9 Do you see that?
10 A. Yes.
11 Q. In the next entry, entry number 9 it reads: "Slunj, 8 November,
12 10.45 hours."
13 I apologise to the interpreters for rushing. I am doing my best
14 to take it slowly, but I am speeding.
15 The text reads: "The remains of soldier Zeljko Gajsak were
16 transported by helicopter."
17 Do you see that, sir?
18 A. Yes.
19 Q. The data here refers to the Licka Jesenica barracks and the attack
20 by the Croatian forces against the barracks. Was this the incident you
21 were referring to as the attack on the barracks that you yourself defended
22 and the attack took place between the 4th and 7th of November?
23 A. Yes, that's correct.
24 Q. You also stated that a JNA soldier was killed; you even mentioned
25 his name. Is that the soldier whose name is written here?
1 A. Yes. I saw his body personally. I believe that I was in the
2 helicopter as he was transported.
3 MR. MILOVANCEVIC: [Interpretation] Thank you. As far as I know,
4 this document from the Prosecution 65 ter list was already admitted into
5 evidence. I will not seek to tender it. I believe we can remove it now
6 from our screens.
7 Q. In connection with your answers that had to do with the operation
8 around Saborsko involving the Tactical Group 2, I will show you a document
9 marked Exhibit 52 with -- this is the 65 ter document 1251, Exhibit 52.
10 Before we look at the document closely, you told us,
11 Mr. Medakovic, that in Saborsko and the surrounding area there were a lot
12 of men under arms. You called them the Croatian forces under arms. Do
13 you recall that?
14 A. Yes.
15 Q. In the top left-hand corner of the document you have before you,
16 the command is stated from where the document originated. Can you read
18 A. "The command of the 13th K," which probably stands for "corps."
19 "IKM," I know stands for forward command post, "7 November 1991. Hours."
20 Q. Who was this document addressed to? Can you infer that from the
22 A. Yes. It says to the command of Tactical Group 2.
23 Q. What does it say below that? What sort of an order is that?
24 A. An order for attack.
25 Q. In paragraph 1 of the document, the following text reads: "The
1 forces of MUP and ZNG Croatia have, for some time now, been fortifying
2 their positions in the areas Borik, Saborsko village, Funtana village,
3 Panjici village and Kuselj.
4 "It is estimated that the strength of the forces in the area
5 stands at around 400 members of paramilitary formations."
6 Do you see that, sir?
7 A. Yes.
8 Q. Paragraph 1 goes on to specify the locations at which these forces
9 were deployed. I will not go into that. I'm interested in page 2 of the
10 document, that's page 2 in the B/C/S, Matsa [phoen] 774, and that's the
11 text that starts after paragraph 3, I don't know the exact page number in
12 the English version, but it is paragraph 4 which starts with the following
13 words: "I have decided."
14 When you find that portion of the text, I would like to put a
15 question to the witness.
16 So the person, the author of the document says: "I have decided
17 as follows: From the present areas, units should be set in motion to
18 reach Licka Jesenica and the village of Kuselj and carry out an attack
19 along the following axes: Kuselj village, Funtana, and Licka Jesenica,
20 Saborsko, with a view to, with support of the air force and artillery
21 simultaneously with a tank attack from the above-mentioned directions,
22 crush and route the enemy formation in the area of Saborsko. Prevent the
23 enemy from pulling out to the north and thus definitely crush the enemy's
24 resistance in the area."
25 Do you see the text, Witness?
1 A. Yes, yes. It's quite clear to me.
2 Q. Thank you. In item 5 of the order, there is an order which
3 relates to the 5th Partisan Brigade which should, together with the
4 weapons listed in the order, leave the area where it was currently
5 deployed and move along the axes of Plitvice village, Cerpic, Poljana,
6 Kuselj village, and to attack along the following axes: Kuselj village,
7 Funtana village, with the following mission," and then there is a column
8 there. "To engage in forceful action involving tanks and infantry forces
9 in order to crush the enemy along the said axis, join up with the forces
10 of Tactical Group 2 and in coordinated action with the latter, fully crush
11 the enemy's resistance and prevent them from pulling out to the north."
12 This is the order issued by the command of the 13th Corps to the
13 command of Tactical Group 2. You said that you participated in operations
14 with Tactical Group 2 in order to crush Ustasha forces in Saborsko. Do
15 you remember that?
16 A. Yes, correct.
17 Q. Did the Tactical Group 2 carry out this order?
18 A. Tactical Group 2 did it fully.
19 Q. Thank you. We will now look at another document, which is
20 Exhibit 51. It's a document from the OTP 65 ter list, numbered 1257. The
21 heading on this document is a bit unclear, but we will now look at page 2,
22 items 5 -- no, I apologise. Items 3 and 4 on page 2 of the B/C/S version,
23 which is 9991.
24 Since this is the order containing items 3 and 4, I apologise to
25 the Trial Chamber. I would like them to look for items 3 and 4 in this
2 If you are able to follow what I'm telling you, I will show you
3 page 9991, the very top of that page, beginning with two paragraphs.
4 That's all we will be needing from this document. It says here: "The
5 5th Partisans Brigade" --
6 A. I apologise. There is a text in English in front of me, which I
7 don't understand.
8 Q. Yes, that's correct. Earlier there was a text in B/C/S.
9 A. It's fine now.
10 Q. All right. You have it in B/C/S now. It says as follows: "The
11 5th Partisans Brigade is carrying out combat operations along the axis" --
12 JUDGE MOLOTO: What paragraph are you reading now?
13 MR. MILOVANCEVIC: [Interpretation] Your Honours, this is
14 paragraph 2 of item 3 of this order. On page 1, you see paragraph 1, 2
15 and 3, which are unclear in B/C/S, or illegible, and then the third item
16 has two paragraphs, and I'm reading the second paragraph of item 3, just
17 before item 4 begins.
18 So the second paragraph of item 3 of this order. It should begin
19 with the following words: "The 5th Partisans Brigade."
20 JUDGE MOLOTO: I don't see it on mine. I'm probably looking at
21 the wrong place. If anybody sees it in the English, I would appreciate
22 any assistance.
23 MR. MILOVANCEVIC: [Interpretation] I will try to assist, Your
25 JUDGE MOLOTO: Thank you, Mr. Milovancevic. I'm advised it is the
1 last sentence on the page starting at item 3. I just didn't see 5th
2 Brigade there, but anyway, I'm told that's the sentence.
3 I see sentence illegible. "... anti-artillery brigade will
4 perform the combat actions in the direction of Kuselj-Funtana-Saborsko in
5 order to develop the forces in the area of..." and then it goes to the
6 next page. Is that it?
7 MR. MILOVANCEVIC: [Interpretation] Yes, Your Honour, that's
8 correct. I found it on page 1 of the English translation. There are two
9 documents on 65 ter list.
10 JUDGE MOLOTO: Thank you.
11 MR. MILOVANCEVIC: [Interpretation]
12 Q. So item 3 reads as follows: "The 5th Partisan Brigade is
13 conducting military operations along the axis Kuselj-Funtana-Saborsko,
14 with a mission to crush the forces along the axis of action and in this
15 sector of the village of Saborsko in coordination with the forces of
16 Tactical Group 2, in order to deblock the Licka Jesenica barracks."
17 Do you see that?
18 A. I do.
19 Q. Item 4 reads: "I have decided to do the following with the
20 support of air force and coordination of TO forces of Plaski and
21 Licka Jesenica, namely to carry out an attack along the axis
22 Begovic-Licka Jesenica-Saborsko in order to -- or, rather, with the
23 security support from the axis, the village of Glibodol-Korac, with a goal
24 to crush the enemy forces along the axis of operation and to lift the
25 siege of the barracks in the village of Licka Jesenica and then to proceed
1 and in coordination with the forces of the 5th Partisan Brigade to crush
2 the forces in the village of Saborsko."
3 Do you see the text?
4 A. Yes, yes, I do.
5 Q. The last page of this document, which has a total of sixth pages
6 in B/C/S, marked 7783, is marked "commander." So I would like to look at
7 the last page. Do you see who issued this order, who was the commander?
8 A. Commander Colonel Cedomir Bulat.
9 Q. Was this colonel a colonel of the JNA in command of
10 Tactical Group 2?
11 A. Yes. He was both.
12 Q. Thank you. I think that this document is already an exhibit. It
13 was already admitted into evidence, so I won't move to have it admitted.
14 You and your unit were involved in the JNA operation in order to
15 crush these forces that were mentioned here.
16 Can you tell us briefly whether there was any firing there,
17 whether there was any combat?
18 A. I led the attack along the right flank, that is to say, I was on
19 the furthest point on the right. I started out from the village of
20 Momcilovic to Vukelic Poljana, looking from Licka Jesenica I was on the
21 right of the Borik hill, and I went through the canyon in order to link up
22 with these forces from Korenica, the forces of the 5th Partisan Brigade in
23 the sector of Alan.
24 Q. Thank you. What kind of weaponry did you have, you and you your
25 people. There were a total of 60 people under your command?
1 A. We had infantry weapons --
2 JUDGE MOLOTO: Can I just find out how do you know there was a
3 total of 60, Mr. Milovancevic? We haven't had this evidence before, or
4 have we?
5 MR. MILOVANCEVIC: [Interpretation] Your Honours, in order not to
6 answer myself, let me put a question to the witness. The witness spoke
7 earlier that he was a commander of one of the units within the battalion
8 under the command of Bogdan Grba. And he mentioned a figure of people
9 under his command.
10 Q. So we can ask the witness exactly how many people he had under his
12 A. I said that pursuant to the order, I was in command of one
13 company, and then I said that it wasn't a fully manned company, because
14 the full strength of a company should be 160 people, whereas I had about
15 60 men under my command, and I told you which units they had come from.
16 If Your Honour insists, I can repeat.
17 JUDGE MOLOTO: No, you don't have to. Thank you so much.
18 MR. MILOVANCEVIC: [Interpretation] Thank you, Your Honours.
19 Q. You said that you had small arms or infantry weapons. How did
20 combat operations begin? What time of the day and in which manner? Can
21 you describe it briefly?
22 A. It's hard to describe it briefly. There was an attack from the
23 air with two planes. I saw one of them open fire in the sector of Brdina
24 where there was a bunker, and these planes flew over the area, and then
25 this was followed by artillery attack. Light rockets were launched from
1 the sector of Vidakovici village. I think that 130-millimetre guns also
2 provided support. We were unable to see them. They were quite a ways
3 since they have a longer range. I think that a platoon of mortars of 120
4 millimetres also opened fire, and then all of us went into action
5 following our orders.
6 Q. Thank you. Can you tell us, did you come -- did you find any
7 resistance? Did you meet with any resistance?
8 A. The unit under my command progressed along very unfriendly
9 terrain. It was very a steep slope, and we went through this terrain in
10 order to surprise our enemy. We were not in the middle of our attack yet.
11 We were still walking in a column when we encountered enemy, and we
12 engaged in hand-to-hand combat, and we killed three enemy soldiers.
13 Following that, we took our positions as marksmen and then we
14 started firing -- or, rather, they started firing at us, and then we
15 responded from our positions, and we were in a pine forest.
16 Q. You said that they opened fire on you from their fortified
17 positions. Can you tell us where their fortified positions were, from
18 which they opened fire on you?
19 A. Looking from their side, that is to say from the side of Saborsko,
20 it was the left flank, going from the Borik Brd -- Borik hill, Brdina and
21 Alan. This was a fortified position that we came across.
22 Q. When you say that their positions were fortified, can you explain
24 A. This means that there were trenches and that there were trenches
25 with a cover. It wasn't a typical concrete bunker, no. It was an
1 improvised type of bunker that had a cover on top and they opened fire
2 from it.
3 Q. Thank you. Were you able to take their positions? What happened
5 A. Following that initial contact, following the first close contact
6 and combat with the enemy during which three enemy soldiers died and we
7 had one lightly wounded soldier, wounded by a hand-grenade, we set up a
8 front line, we were able to cover some 600 to 700 metres with our 60
9 people. So we could already hear the tanks that was the centre of our
10 attack, and the tank produced -- the noise produced by a tank is a very
11 typical one. The period from when the shell is fired until it detonates
12 is a very brief one. Our task was to link up with the forces of the 5th
13 Partisan Brigade, and we were to raise Yugoslav flag once we linked up
14 with them.
15 However, we didn't link up with them, and we came under friendly
16 fire, because from the barracks in Licka Jesenica, which was behind our
17 backs at an elevation, they opened fire on Brdina area. We didn't have
18 proper radio communication with them, and I ordered our unit to withdraw
19 in the -- through the area of Vukelic Poljana, so that we wouldn't suffer
20 losses from friendly fire.
21 Q. Thank you. In order to illustrate this combat, you said that the
22 5th Partisan Brigade was supposed to leave from the direction of Kuselj.
23 Looking at the asphalt road leading to Titova Korenica, as one leaves that
24 road, can you tell us what settlements there are?
25 A. Going from Korenica, one has to cross the Korenica bridge first
1 and then one turns left. The first village one comes across is Poljanak,
2 and then Sertic Poljana, and then there is a forest, and then one comes
3 out to a clearing where Kuselj begins. Following Kuselj, there is the
4 area we called Saborsko, and then Funtana, and then Saborsko itself. And
5 then one comes to a slope going down Borik, and this is where
6 Licka Jesenica begins.
7 Q. Thank you. So according to this JNA plan, the 5th Partisan
8 Brigade was to start out from Kuselj and meet up with you, going in the
9 direction of Licka Jesenica. Did I portray it properly?
10 A. Yes, you did. However, they had this forest, this narrow road
11 which was completely blocked by trees, tall trees, and it was not a
12 passable road. Those trees needed to be removed.
13 Q. Mr. -- sir, you just said that they had a forest. Who had that
14 forest and who had that blocked road?
15 A. The direction from which the 5th Partisan Brigade was supposed to
16 advance we called them the unit from Korenica. They were coming from
17 Korenica, and they were supposed to link up with us approximately halfway
18 between Brdina and Jelen.
19 Q. So this 5th Partisan Brigade came across a blocked road. It was
20 blocked with tree-trunks and they were unable to proceed?
21 A. Yes, that's correct, they did not carry out their mission.
22 Q. You said that you went from the opposite direction, from
23 Licka Jesenica towards Saborsko, and when you came across fortified
24 positions you withdrew because you came under friendly fire, the fire of
25 the JNA; correct?
1 A. Yes, correct. During the attack, the tank unit was in the centre
2 progressing along the asphalt road. One tank went to attack the barracks
3 in Licka Jesenica, together with Commander Bulat in order to provide
4 support to us, because, from there, they would have better visibility.
5 They were some 45 kilometres away as the crow flies, which is the range of
6 attack, and it was precisely that tank that opened friendly fire against
7 us. They were unable to see us. We didn't have radio communication with
8 them, and this is how this came to pass.
9 Q. Do you know Saborsko well? Are you familiar with Saborsko as a
10 village? Can one say you know where the major buildings are, the school,
11 the churches and so on?
12 A. Yes. Yes, one might say that.
13 Q. How many churches were there in Saborsko at the time of that
15 A. In Saborsko itself, there was one large church in the middle of
16 the village. It was a Catholic church and it stood on a small elevation.
17 Looking from the direction of Licka Jesenica to the right of the road,
18 next to the cemetery, there was a small church. I think it was a stone
20 Q. When you described this little church, the stone church, which as
21 you say could be seen from the Licka Jesenica barracks, where were these
22 fortified positions you came across, in relation to that church?
23 A. They were in its immediate vicinity, and I also saw the air force
24 active in that area. I think that area was bombed.
25 Q. Mr. Medakovic, when you say "immediate vicinity," that's very
1 relative. Can you be more precise? Can you tell us in hundreds or dozens
2 of metres, because this is very vague.
3 A. Well, a good commander will never put a firing position near a
4 church, because its position is clearly marked in all topographic maps and
5 it is easy to target with that artillery.
6 JUDGE MOLOTO: That's not the question you are being asked. You
7 are being asked: Give us the distance in metres, please, just listen to
8 the questions and answer the questions. Don't tell us about a good or a
9 bad commander. Tell us the distance.
10 What do you mean by "immediate vicinity?" How many metres?
11 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Not more than 50 metres.
12 JUDGE MOLOTO: Thank you very much. That's enough. Thank you.
13 Stop there.
14 MR. MILOVANCEVIC: [Interpretation]
15 Q. Do you know whether this little stone church was damaged in these
16 military operations?
17 A. Yes, I know that it was damaged.
18 Q. Do you know the reason why this happened and the circumstances,
19 who did this, was responsible?
20 A. Well, I spoke about artillery preparation. I spoke about air
21 bombings, and this was not just one trench. It was a line of defence at a
22 distance of some 50 metres from the church.
23 If one is shooting from the military training ground, which is
24 more than 10 kilometres away, the whole area was targeted by artillery
25 fire. It could very likely have been hit by 130-millimetre guns and by
2 JUDGE MOLOTO: Please answer the question that was put to you now.
3 The question that was put to you is: Do you know the reason why
4 this happened and the circumstances, who did this? Yes or no, the reason,
5 the circumstances were the following, this is the person who did it.
6 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Your Honour I am testifying under
7 oath here, and I cannot say that I am certain that it was the
8 130-millimetre gun that damaged the church as I didn't see that. But this
9 little church was a military position we were all firing at because they
10 were using it as an observation post.
11 JUDGE MOLOTO: That's why the question says: Do you know? And
12 if you don't know, you just say "I don't know."
13 Please answer the question directly. Don't go around the
15 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] I know it was hit by artillery.
16 That's what I know.
17 JUDGE MOLOTO: That's the simplest answer to give. There were
18 several questions there. The question was: Do you know the reason why
19 it was hit and the circumstances under which it was hit?
20 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] The reason was that this area was
21 used as an observation point, because there was an excellent view of the
22 barracks from that position, precisely from that little church.
23 JUDGE MOLOTO: Do you know who did it? Who hit it?
24 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] I can't be certain. I don't know
25 what the -- who were the crews.
1 JUDGE MOLOTO: Mr. Milovancevic, those three questions you put in
2 one sentence. If you take them one by one, you are likely to get a more
3 direct answer to the question and you will finish quicker.
4 MR. MILOVANCEVIC: [Interpretation] Yes, I see, Your Honour. Thank
6 Q. You said that at one point you ordered your unit to withdraw in
7 order to avoid friendly fire. Did you enter Saborsko with your unit on
8 that day, when there was fighting in and around Saborsko?
9 A. No.
10 Q. Thank you. Do you know whether any other units entered Saborsko?
11 A. On our return to our starting positions, on securing the line in
12 the hamlet of Vukelic Poljana, which is a Serbian hamlet and it is the
13 closest one to Saborsko, I came to the asphalt road underneath Borik
14 where the junction is for Vukelic Poljana, and that was when the action
15 was practically over.
16 At that point a group of civilians came up, led by one of our
17 territorials who had a semi-automatic rifle slung over his shoulder. He
18 was a man of low stature, and I think his name was Sveto or Sreto. He
19 originates from Licka Jesenica.
20 Q. What you told us, what does this mean? Does this mean that the
21 action in Saborsko, the fighting around Saborsko was already over or was
22 the fighting still going on?
23 A. The fighting was over by then.
24 Q. Another question. When you and your unit entered fighting, how
25 long did you spend in action before your withdrawing?
1 A. If we calculate that we started out at around 9.00 a.m. and needed
2 about two hours to get there, the fighting went on from 11.00 until
3 2.00 p.m. at the most. After that, we withdrew. It was not a route. It
4 was a proper withdrawal, and it lasted two hours again. And I know
5 because I reached that junction just as it was getting dark. It was
6 winter and it was slowly getting dark.
7 Q. What time might have been? It was twilight in winter.
8 A. Between 4.00 and 5.00.
9 If I may be allowed to say so, I never carried a watch when I went
10 into combat because it would bother me, so I can't tell you exactly what
11 time it was.
12 Q. Do you know what units entered Saborsko and when they returned and
13 what happened subsequently?
14 A. I know that when we received orders to attack, we were divided
15 into three companies, and three axes of attack. Rade Jaksic [phoen] was
16 in command of one company, Djuro Ogrizovic [phoen] was in the centre, and
17 I was to the right. There was also an armoured company in the centre. I
18 think it had more than 10 tanks and some personnel carriers.
19 The left-hand side went in front of Sivnik, which is an elevation,
20 and the centre went along the asphalt road, and I went next to Borik
21 hill. That was my axes.
22 Q. Did you receive any orders to end the attack? How did all this
23 end? You received an order to start on such and such a day at such and
24 such a time. What about the end? Can you describe that briefly?
25 A. In the order to attack, there was a time when the action was
1 supposed to end, but no one can predict the end of the operation exactly.
2 But I saw the tanks going back before nightfall, and night falls at around
3 6.00 p.m. at that time of year.
4 I didn't have good communications or any communications, in fact,
5 because my hand-held radio set broke down.
6 Q. Can you tell us what happened to the civilian population in
7 Saborsko? You told us a little while ago that you saw a man with a group
8 of civilians from Saborsko. Where did they go?
9 A. The group I saw and talked to went to the school in
10 Licka Jesenica, which is about one kilometre, or two at the most, from the
11 spot where we met. The same man who was leading them escorted them there.
12 I didn't know all the people from Saborsko, but in that group I recognised
13 a Serb, because there were two or three Serb houses in Saborsko. Their
14 last name was Salaja [phoen].
15 In the meantime he had grown a moustache, so I didn't recognise
16 him right away. I only recognised him when I approached him. They left
17 and they were received by the TO from Licka Jesenica. I know that well.
18 They were put up in the school, provided with a cooked meal. There was no
19 electricity, but they were given some kind of lamp, and they were told
20 they need not be afraid and that they were completely safe there.
21 On the following day, I visited that group in civilian clothes. I
22 went to that school and I spoke to them. They said they wanted to go to
23 the Croatian side, and they were taken in buses from Licka Jesenica to the
24 Croatian side. I told them to wait one day just in case there were other
25 people in the woods, because they couldn't live in Saborsko any longer
1 because the conditions there were not right, so we should wait. If any
2 more people turned up, they could all be taken to the Croatian side
4 Q. So did they go to the Croatian side?
5 A. Yes. There were some 20 men and women; mostly elderly men in that
6 group. Afterwards, I heard from Dusan Latas, who was the police
7 commander. I heard from him first-hand that there was a group which was
8 late, and he took them in the official police car, three or four people
9 who missed the bus. I don't know what the total number of civilians is
10 that was taken to the area between Josipdol and Vojinovac, but I think at
11 least 30.
12 Q. Mr. Medakovic, do you know how inhabitants lived in Saborsko, for
13 example in early 1990, approximately?
14 A. I think about a thousand.
15 Q. Thank you. You mentioned some 30 people who expressed a wish
16 after the fighting to go over to the Croatian side. Do you know what
17 happened to the remaining population of Saborsko?
18 A. During the attack, probably intentionally, but I never discussed
19 it with the late Mr. Bulat, an axis was left open from Saborsko towards
20 Slunj. Nobody covered it and it was not used for attack. Most likely it
21 was meant to be a route for civilians to withdraw. I don't know because I
22 didn't discuss it, but I assume that's what it was, and I assume that most
23 of the population of Saborsko used that axis to go towards Slunj.
24 Q. Thank you. Do you know whether there were any victims in
25 Saborsko? When I say "victims," I mean on the Croatian side as it was a
1 Croatian village, and you said that only a few people in the hamlet of
2 Salaja were Serbs.
3 A. Yes. I know about those three. They were soldiers, and I know
4 because later on I passed through Saborsko, after the lifting of the
5 blockade, and I know that there were civilian casualties.
6 I even issued an order, as it was within my area of
7 responsibility, to sanitize the terrain. It wasn't just that there were
8 human corpses; there were carcasses of cattle. So the terrain had to be
9 sanitized, cattle and livestock.
10 JUDGE MOLOTO: Are you able to guesstimate the number of civilian
12 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] There's no need to guess, because I
13 received a report of the sanitization of the terrain. The civilian
14 protection staff delivered a report to me. It was on my desk in the
15 municipality. I can't remember the exact number, though. But I think it
16 was more than 20. They were buried.
17 JUDGE MOLOTO: Thank you.
18 MR. MILOVANCEVIC: [Interpretation]
19 Q. We'll go back to the issue of sanitization a bit later.
20 There's one thing I'm interested in. The JNA was in command of
21 the operation and the fighting around Saborsko. And when the units
22 withdrew from the village, was a unit left to secure the village?
23 A. Yes. A platoon commanded by Savator Bojavic [phoen] was left
24 there. We refer to him as Sava Crni, or Sava The Black. They remained
25 there to secure the terrain around the village of Dumancici [phoen], which
1 is below Borik.
2 Q. And did they carry out this order? Have you any knowledge of
4 A. Well, my knowledge is precisely the opposite. I think they had
5 clear orders as to what they were supposed to do and what they were
6 supposed to prevent, but I'm afraid they did quite the opposite. I wasn't
7 there that evening, or the following day, so I can't speak at first hand.
8 Q. Excuse me, let me interrupt you. You said you knew what the
9 orders were and what they were supposed to prevent. So tell us what were
10 the orders and what was it that they were supposed to prevent?
11 A. Well, they were supposed to prevent people who had not
12 participated in the action, because I have to say that every army,
13 including ours, had a component which did not participate in combat, but
14 rather engaged in looting and burning, and when those who were fighting
15 and risking their lives had done their job, they would be followed by such
16 people, such petty thieves who would perpetrate bad things.
17 So the orders were to secure the area, to prevent such people from
18 entering it. However, unfortunately, such things did happen after the
19 operation was over.
20 Q. You said that as president of the municipality, if I understand
21 you correctly, you gave the order for the terrain to be sanitized. To
22 whom did you give this order? Who carried this out, and when?
23 A. Following the conclusion of that operation, we first had to clear
24 the road of the tree-trunks that were an obstacle to the 5th Partisan
25 Brigade that I already described in order to make the road passable.
1 In the meantime, an order had come from Belgrade to establish a
2 JNA brigade in Plaski, for the TO brigade to be transformed into the JNA
3 brigade, and the new commander had arrived, Petar Trbovic.
4 Q. I'm sorry, let us clarify this first. You said that an order
5 had arrived from Belgrade. What do you mean? Who issued that order to
6 establish a JNA brigade with Petar Trbovic? Which organ issued that
8 A. At the time it was only in the jurisdiction of the federal
9 secretariat for national defence, because at the time this was still
10 within the SFRY.
11 Q. All right. Continue.
12 A. So Colonel Trbovic came, bringing with him a command of active
13 officers, over 20 of them, all issued with tasks, and in keeping with
14 their military specialty they were given special assignments. And there
15 was a company in Jesenica comprising people who resided there, and then
16 there was a company in Janja Gora and other places.
17 Q. All right. I understand that. You are now speaking of the TO
18 brigade in Plaski.
19 A. I'm just trying to draw a distinction between that brigade and the
20 JNA brigade which was later established.
21 So the JNA brigade was established bearing in mind military
22 occupational specialty. Within the SFRY, every male who had served in the
23 army had his military occupational specialty and, as such, he performed
24 certain roles and special -- or, rather, in certain units. People had
25 their military booklets, and units were established in accordance with
1 military occupational specialties, and this brigade that was established
2 was called 145th Light Infantry Brigade.
3 Q. If I may interrupt you. When was it established in relation to
4 the Saborsko events?
5 A. 10 days after that, at the most.
6 Why am I saying this? Because in the meantime there was also an
7 operation in Slunj carried out, after the fall of Saborsko. The events
8 progressed very fast. There were basically daily operations from Josipdol
9 and other areas. Most likely they had their units remaining in the woods,
10 and they engaged our forces. This is just my assumption.
11 So some of the units were engaged in the attack on Slunj, and out
12 of the remaining ones we had no one to leave in Saborsko and to begin this
13 task that remained to be done, which was to collect the war booty and to
14 carry out the sanitization of the terrain.
15 Q. So you said this operation Saborsko was concluded on the same day
16 it began?
17 A. Yes.
18 Q. Then you said the operation towards Slunj continued. Who led it,
19 and what do you mean "towards Slunj." Who was in charge of that
21 A. Tactical Group 2 once again received an order; I think that the
22 order was for one company from our brigade to participate in it. It was
23 either on the 16th or on the 17th, just five days after Saborsko. And
24 when you pull out a company from a brigade, that is to say you pull out
25 100 men out of 1.000 men, you can feel this loss. You can feel that these
1 people are missing.
2 MR. MILOVANCEVIC: [Interpretation] Thank you.
3 JUDGE MOLOTO: There was a reference to "collection of war booty."
4 What actually was collected by way of booty?
5 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] I said that the unit which had come
6 from Zagreb brought with them mortars, recoilless, a recoilless gun,
7 anti-aircraft guns, so whatever they were unable to take with them, that
8 is to say heavy weapons, in order to prevent the weapons from falling into
9 the enemy hands. So that was one goal.
10 And then the other goal was to collect the cattle that had gone
11 wandering, in order for the cattle to be used to feed the army.
12 JUDGE MOLOTO: Do you know how many cattle were collected to feed
13 the army?
14 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] I know that the cattle was brought
15 to Plaski and that there were more than 50 cattle head. Mostly cows.
16 JUDGE MOLOTO: While we're on the question of cattle, you referred
17 earlier to carcasses of cattle that were also killed during the combat.
18 Are you able to tell us how many were killed during the combat?
19 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Saborsko was a village, and every
20 household had cattle or at least they had pigs and poultry, and most
21 people had cows and some sheep. That is to say, that the cattle was used
22 to being fed by people. Pigs especially can carry on without human
23 presence only for a brief period of time. Some were killed by artillery
24 fire, and some just died on their own, because they were shut in the
25 barns. So I didn't go myself into the barns, but just passing on the road
1 I could see that, and I wanted to find who was responsible for that. And
2 we found a manual for civilian protection, and we saw that this was
3 something that the civilian protection staff should do. So I issued an
4 order to them to do that. And there was a danger that there would be an
5 epidemic, that there would be an infection breaking out. So I carried
6 out -- so I issued an order for this to be done.
7 JUDGE MOLOTO: Will you please, now, answer my question.
8 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] You asked me how many head of cattle
9 died? It's hard for me to say how many, but all I can tell you is that
10 there were many. Not less than 100, including pigs and bovine, cattle.
11 JUDGE MOLOTO: Thank you very much.
12 You may proceed, Mr. Milovancevic.
13 MR. MILOVANCEVIC: [Interpretation]
14 Q. Now that we have opened up this topic, you said that you issued an
15 order to the civilian protection team to carry out the sanitization of the
16 terrain. Did this civilian protection team have any obligation in regard
17 to any human victims?
18 A. A change occurred at the time. I remember that this involved
19 mostly the elderly who were not active in the brigade.
20 I remember the name of Nikola Kordic. Previously I had appointed
21 him chief of civilian protection staff, and since he was of poor health he
22 was soon replaced by Milan Susnjar, who was also over 60. They
23 established an ad hoc unit comprising people who were not members of the
24 brigade. I remember that my neighbour, Ozran Popovic, who was a male
25 nurse, was one of the members. And then I also remember Djura, who was a
1 forester. Mostly elderly from Plaski were members.
2 Q. Thank you. Did they have any equipment they needed to carry out
3 this task, and what about human victims?
4 A. We had no equipment whatsoever. But we spoke to Commander Trbovic
5 and arranged that a loader be provided to them, so that they can dig
6 graves, and this was implemented.
7 Later on I received a report, and I remember this report well.
8 Based on it, this was done on several occasions, two or three times,
9 because one needs quite a lot of time to travel from Saborsko to Plaski,
10 and it was winter-time. And an order was issued for a human corpses to be
11 buried as close as possible to the place where they fell victim and also
12 not -- to bury them with everything found on them, including any ID, so
13 that later on, the exchange of corpses can be carried out. And later on
14 we did precisely that. We exchanged all the corpses and all of the
15 prisoners who had been taken prisoner during the war.
16 So the order was not to bury corpses and carcasses together under
17 any circumstances. All sites containing human remains were to be marked
18 by a cross and, as I said, they were supposed to be buried as close as
19 possible to the place where they died, so that this information could be
20 used in the process of identification.
21 I read the report, and I was able to see that the order was
22 closely followed. There was something I didn't like in that report. For
23 example, they said that there were three members of MUP buried, and I
24 didn't like the fact how they described these people. They assured me,
25 however, that everything was done in accordance with international law,
1 and that I was able to see that for myself. When passing on the road, I
2 was able to see wooden crosses, and there would be as many crosses as
3 people buried. Naturally these were not proper crosses. These were
4 improvised ones, created on the spot.
5 Q. Thank you. When it comes to the burial of these victims, did you
6 have any body-bags, did you have any coffins, or anything else to put the
7 bodies in?
8 A. I already spoke about this problem. As I told you, we had no
9 funeral equipment whatsoever, not even for our people. Our soldiers were
10 buried without that. We had no funeral equipment and no carpenters who
11 could make coffins. We had no body-bags. There was nobody to supply them
12 for us. That is to say, that these people were buried as they were found.
13 They were simply placed in the ground.
14 Naturally I believed this to be a temporary measure and I
15 expected, because we were constantly in contact with the negotiating team
16 that negotiated with the Croatian side. The Croatian side, however, never
17 sought these corpses that were buried around Saborsko.
18 Q. Do you know whether the main church in Saborsko was damaged? You
19 mentioned this large church in the centre of the village; this is how you
20 described it.
21 A. Yes, it was damaged. When passing on the road, I could see that
22 it was damaged.
23 However, I also know that the person who had brought in the
24 reinforcement, the infamous Luka Hodak, deployed forces there, and turned
25 this church into observation point and machine-gun mess, since it was
1 quite firmly built, they stored ammunition there, the artillery
3 It is a bit odd for Croatia, which is a mostly Catholic country,
4 that such a man, who is not a Catholic, was appointed commander. He's a
5 member of some sect, and I have nothing against sects, but he is a member
6 of Hare Krishna sect, and they found a man like that in Zagreb and
7 appointed him the commander in Saborsko. The real residents of Saborsko
8 were proper Croats, Catholics. They had respect for their church, and I
9 don't believe that any of the residents of Saborsko would turn their own
10 church into an ammunition depot.
11 Q. Thank you. In relation what was confiscated in Plaski, do you
12 know what happened to agricultural equipment, to tractors and trailers?
13 A. I think you made a mistake. You said Plaski.
14 Q. Oh, yes, yes, I meant Saborsko.
15 A. Commander Trbovic issued an order for the military police,
16 together with civilian police, to confiscate any equipment stolen by these
17 people, and to bring it to the factory compound in the town. A commission
18 was established which was supposed to do this and to monitor this. We had
19 problems with criminals. However, I think that this task was done well.
20 There was some property that was stolen. However, I know that the
21 order of Colonel Trbovic was strictly complied with.
22 Q. I apologise, does this mean what you just told us, does this mean
23 that these items which had been stolen from Saborsko, were taken away,
24 were confiscated from the people who had stolen them, and that this was
25 done pursuant to the order of Colonel Trbovic?
1 A. Yes, precisely. That's what they did. Naturally they couldn't
2 restore every single item that was stolen but the majority of it.
3 I have to say that since the majority of the population left that
4 area, left Saborsko, and the road leading to Slunj was open, was passable,
5 a lot of the equipment left with the population.
6 Q. Thank you. And finally, in relation to the church that you
7 mentioned, was there a Catholic church in Plaski?
8 A. In the very centre of Plaski there was a Catholic church of
9 Saint Ann. It was not damaged at all. Maybe something was stolen from
10 the church, but I don't think so, because there wasn't much to steal. And
11 all of the residents in that street -- and there were Croats residing
12 there and all of those Croats who lived there in 1991 were still there in
13 1995. They lived and worked with us. Some of them even worked together
14 with me at the municipality. That church was left intact.
15 JUDGE NOSWORTHY: Before you go on, the agricultural equipment and
16 tractors and trailers that you referred to that were stolen by these
17 people, which people were you referring to?
18 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] I mentioned that after the end of
19 the operation, everybody who was involved in the operation withdrew,
20 including the tanks, tanks went to the training grounds. My unit went
21 back to its tasks and as did other people.
22 However, those people who were not involved in the operations, who
23 were thieves - and I never concealed the fact that we had such people
24 among us - those were people without conscience. And when we had power
25 outages and everything was covered by darkness, this was a fertile ground
1 for them to operate in, and I regret not having any mechanisms to prevent
2 them from doing that.
3 JUDGE NOSWORTHY: So were they part of your unit? Or did they
4 belong to any unit? Or were they civilians? I'm not understanding
5 completely. What and who were they? Granted that they were acting
6 against your wishes.
7 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] It's hard for me to speculate, but
8 based on the people from whom such equipment was confiscated, I know that
9 they came from everywhere, from Licka Jesenica, and from other places, and
10 even from Vojinovac, which is some 20 or 30 kilometres away.
11 So this wasn't a limited group that went around stealing, no. It
12 was the people who stole in peacetime, and they continued doing that in
13 wartime. Perhaps the circumstances contributed to the increase in their
15 JUDGE MOLOTO: But you also said: I never concealed the fact that
16 we had such people among us.
17 Did you have them among you? I think this is the question that
18 the Judge is trying to establish.
19 JUDGE NOSWORTHY: Yes, thank you very much, Judge.
20 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] When I say "among us," I'm referring
21 to the entire population. In Plaski at the time there was six to 7.000
22 residents, and there were between 1.000 and 1.200 soldiers. So there were
23 women, there were minors, there were the elderly that were not part of
25 I can't tell you that there were only saints in the Plaski
1 brigade. You have to put things into perspective. You have to understand
2 the circumstances when this happened, and looking back, it seems that this
3 was planned in advance, but I'm telling you that these were sporadic
4 incidents, and it is my personal desire to find all such culprits and
5 punish them.
6 JUDGE NOSWORTHY: Thank you for the time being.
7 Yes, Mr. Milovancevic.
8 MR. MILOVANCEVIC: [Interpretation] Your Honours, perhaps I'm going
9 to have one more question or two, but I'm very near the end of my
10 examination-in-chief. Since it's the end of business for today, I'm not
11 going to proceed tonight. I think I should leave it for tomorrow, since
12 my learned friend will have cross-examination to do too.
13 JUDGE MOLOTO: Thank you very much, Mr. Milovancevic. Can we hold
14 you down to a maximum of two questions tomorrow?
15 MR. MILOVANCEVIC: [Interpretation] Certainly, Your Honour. Thank
17 JUDGE MOLOTO: Thank you very much. This brings us to the end of
18 the day. We will adjourn until tomorrow. Now to this month's -- we start
19 at 9.00 tomorrow, in Courtroom I.
20 Court adjourned.
21 --- Whereupon the hearing adjourned at 7.05 p.m.,
22 to be reconvened on the 10th day of October, 2006,
23 at 9.00 a.m.