1 Wednesday, 9 July 2008
2 [Open session]
3 [Prosecution Opening Statement]
4 [The accused entered court]
5 --- Upon commencing at 11.36 a.m.
6 JUDGE ROBINSON: We are resumed, and we are resumed to hear the
7 opening statements, first of Mr. Groome. Mr. Groome, how long do you
8 think you'll be?
9 MR. GROOME: I estimate no more than an hour and a half, Your
11 JUDGE ROBINSON: Yes. And somewhat surprisingly, also
12 Mr. Alarid, who apparently is insisting on his two bites at the cherry.
13 MR. ALARID: Two bites at the cherry?
14 JUDGE ROBINSON: Now and also at the beginning of the Defence
16 MR. ALARID: Judge, I guess normally I would always give an
17 opening. I think it's important for the Defence to have a reference that
18 is not just the story of the Prosecutor at the beginning of the case, and
19 it's difficult for me because I think the state of my preparedness makes
20 me inadequate to cover all of them, all the situations, but I'm going to
21 do my best; and I hope to beg the Court's indulgence nor an opportunities
22 as we further our investigation as this case proceeds to do possibly an
23 opening at the beginning of the Defence case but other than that, Your
24 Honour, I would like some opening today.
25 JUDGE ROBINSON: Well, you don't have to beg. It's your right.
1 MR. ALARID: Thank you, Judge.
2 JUDGE ROBINSON: How long do you think you'll be?
3 MR. ALARID: I don't think I'll be much later than the time left
4 on the clock in today's session with Mr. Groome starting in the morning.
5 JUDGE ROBINSON: Yes, Mr. Groome.
6 MR. GROOME: Your Honour, during the course of the opening, I
7 will be using -- displaying some evidence and some photographs on the
8 terminal so I'd ask the Chamber as well as other participants in the
9 courtroom to adjust their terminals. I've also provided you with a hard
10 copy of the slides that I will be showing in the event that I move past
11 them quicker, more quickly than you're able to read the entire contents.
12 JUDGE ROBINSON: Yes, please proceed.
13 MR. GROOME: Your Honours, at this stage of the Tribunal's
14 history, these courts have heard many accounts of the atrocities
15 perpetrated during the conflicts in the former Yugoslavia, atrocities
16 perpetrated against innocent Serbs, Muslims, Croats and Albanians. We
17 have all become accustomed to hearing tales of the tremendous suffering
18 inflicted on victims for no other reason than their ethnicity; but even
19 the most seasoned judges, prosecutors and practitioners pause at the
20 mention of the crimes perpetrated in Visegrad, crimes which reach an
21 unprecedented peek of capricious cruelty not seen anywhere else. Today
22 with the start of this trial, we commence an exploration of these crimes.
23 And you begin your task of adjudicating whether or not the two men here
24 in the Chamber are responsible for some of these crimes.
25 This case unlike many of the other cases currently before the
1 Tribunal deals with the responsibility of men who with their own hands
2 perpetrated the crimes in the indictment, spilling the victims' blood
3 before their own feet. I expect that this trial will be a careful and
4 detailed inquiry into the minds and the deeds of the people who directly
5 perpetrated some of the gravest crimes committed during the conflict.
6 Prior to the break-up of Yugoslavia, Visegrad was a small town in
7 southeastern Bosnia and Herzegovina. It is one of several towns along
8 the Drina River
9 number 3, is a closer view of a map showing the relationship between
10 Srebrenica and Visegrad. While the Drina forms much of the border with
11 the Republic of Serbia
12 greater municipality of Visegrad on both sides of the Drina.
13 In 1991, approximately 21.000 people of mixed ethnicity lived in
14 the municipality of Visegrad
15 the conflict, approximately 63 per cent of the population was of Muslim
16 ethnicity while most of the remaining citizens were Serb. Still within
17 the town, the Drina River
18 silt-laden river. Here on slide number 4 you can see the town's two
19 rivers and its several bridges.
20 The aqua coloured Drina
21 can see the Rzav join it on the right-hand side. Crossing the Drina
22 the Stari Most or old bridge in the bottom of the slide and what locals
23 refer to as the new bridge above it. The Rzav has several smaller spans
24 connecting those parts of the town that lie along its banks. The town
25 was brought to international attention when a native, Ivo Andric, won the
1 Nobel Prize for literature in 1961 for his book, "The Bridge over the
3 by the Grand Vizier Mehmed Pasa Sokolovic, built along the fault line
4 where Christian and Islamic culture braced up against each other.
5 At times, spilling over to extreme acts of violence.
6 In June of last year, the bridge was added to UNESCO's list of
7 world heritage sites. The town is known regionally for its large dam
8 across the Drina
9 a few moments this dam featured prominently in the events that occurred
10 in the spring and summer of 1992.
11 In early 1992, several months after ethnic tensions had burst
12 into terrible conflicts in Croatia
13 point in Visegrad. Muslims in Visegrad began to systematically -- to be
14 systematically disarmed of hunting weapons. Serbs began to receive
15 military-grade arms from several sources. Others, both Serbs and Muslims
16 alike, whose children played together, who worked alongside each other in
17 Visegrad's several large companies, dismissed the possibility that these
18 tensions could ever become violent.
19 Local Serb units began a mortar bombardment of the town and its
20 surrounding villages on the 6th of April 1992. In retaliation a small
21 group of Bosnian Muslim men seized control of the dam that I just
22 referred to and they threatened to blow it up. On the 13th of April, one
23 of the men, Murat Sabanovic, in an attempt to show his resolve, opened
24 the sluice gates of the dam and sent a torrent of water through the town.
25 Some Muslims saw this as an act of desperation, Serbs generally saw it as
1 the gravest of threats to their lives and their property.
2 This event attracted considerable media attention and leaders on
3 both sides entered into intense negotiations. Many residents, both Serb
4 and Muslim, fled the town to await the outcome of the crisis. The crisis
5 at the dam was defused when Yugoslav army or commandos seized the dam.
6 They were followed the next day by a large contingent from the Uzice
7 Corps from the Yugoslav army which had crossed the border from Serbia
8 The Uzice Corp had little difficulty in asserting control over
9 the town. After securing absolute control of the town, JNA officers and
10 Muslim leaders persuaded by assurances from the Yugoslav army jointly led
11 a media campaign to encourage Muslims to come out from hiding and to
12 return to their homes, to return to their jobs.
13 Many did return, believing in the assurances that they were given
14 and naively hoping that life in Visegrad could once again return to
16 But soon after their return, they learned that this Visegrad was
17 worse, even more threatening, than before. Lieutenant-Colonel Jovanvic,
18 the commander of the JNA troops there forcibly assembled non-Serbs into
19 the football stadium in the town. It dispersed among the JNA and in
20 obvious cooperation with them were paramilitary formations, untrained,
21 indisciplined, and dangerous criminals who capriciously took Muslims
22 away, people who were never seen again.
23 At the stadium, the non-Serbs were searched for weapons.
24 Jovanovic told the Muslims assembled there that the White Eagles were
25 under his command. He told those who lived on the left bank or western
1 shore of the Drina
2 cleansed of Muslim militants. He told those on the right bank, or
3 eastern shore, that they could not return, that the JNA was still in the
4 process of tracking down Muslims they believed were a potential threat.
5 Many of the Muslims took this as a sign to flee the town.
6 This situation only became worse when the Uzice Corp left the
7 town around the 9th of May in 1992. Upon their departure, local Serb
8 leaders established the Serbian Municipality
9 of the municipal offices. Soon thereafter, local Serbs, police and
10 paramilitary units began one of the most brutal campaigns of ethnic
11 cleansing in the Bosnian conflict. This was designed to permanently rid
12 the town of its over 3.000 Bosnian Muslim residents.
13 During the period that followed, Serb and Bosnian Serb forces
14 attacked and destroyed a number of Bosnian Muslim villages. Hundreds of
15 Muslims were killed, those who were not killed were detained at various
16 locations in the town. Both of the town's two mosques were completely
18 During the spring of 1992, a former inhabitant of Visegrad,
19 Milan Lukic, returned to Visegrad and took control of a paramilitary unit
20 which worked with the police and military units in exacting a reign of
21 terror upon the local Muslim civilian population. This paramilitary
22 organisation was often referred to by locals as the White Eagles, the
23 Chetnik Avengers or the group from Obrenovac and included Milan Lukic's
24 cousin, Sredoje Lukic, a member of the Visegrad police force.
25 From April 1992 until October of 1994, Milan Lukic and his group
1 committed hundreds of crimes in the municipality of Visegrad
2 non-Serb population. Sadly, the story of Visegrad is one of the most
3 successful stories of ethnic cleansing during the Balkan crisis. Over
4 13.000 people were forcibly removed from their homes or killed during the
5 spring and summer of 1992. Viewing this eradication of the Muslim
6 population of Visegrad in statistical terms, in percentage of Muslims
7 removed, it has the sad distinction of being second only to Srebrenica in
8 the largest proportional population shift.
9 Your Honours, I would like to spend a few minutes orienting the
10 Chamber to the town of Visegrad
11 mentioned frequently in the testimony of the witnesses. Here on slide 8
12 you can see a map of Visegrad and the Drina River
13 its precipitous mountains. The Drina
14 which lies on both sides.
15 On slide number 9 we have marked some of the key locations
16 related to this case, starting at the top, the northern most point is the
17 Vilina Vlas hotel, a spa resort that during the spring and summer of 1992
18 was used by the Lukic group as a headquarters. A place where they met,
19 frequently slept and kept Muslim detainees and young Muslim women. The
20 road from Vilina Vlas to Visegrad intersects at a T-junction in Sase.
21 Turning left at this junction would place you on one of the main roads
22 into town. This particular junction features prominently in the killing
23 of the men by the Drina River
24 Slide number 10 is an aerial photograph of Visegrad superimposed
25 on the map. The Prosecution will be introducing a series of aerial
1 photographs to assist the Chamber in understanding the movements of both
2 the accused and the victims of these crimes.
3 The next location marked on the legend is Pionirska Street, the
4 street in the Mahala section of Visegrad just north of the town's centre.
5 It is here that on the 14th of June, approximately 70 people were burned
6 alive in a house.
7 Moving towards the centre of town on slide 11, you can see where
8 the police station was. Witnesses will describe being brought here for
9 interrogation and abuse. This is the police station in which
10 Sredoje Lukic worked and the one which Milan Lukic mentions in some of
11 his statements relating to alibi as the place where he brought Muslims
12 from the Varda factory.
13 Not far from the police station is the stadium where
14 General Jovanovic gathered approximately 4.000 Muslims after the JNA
15 entered the town.
16 Not far from the police station is the Stari Most bridge or the
17 old Turkish bridge. This picture of the bridge shows what is called the
18 sofa, described by Ivo Andric as a place for neighbours to sit and chat.
19 The marked location is the Bikavac area of Visegrad. It lies south of
20 the town's centre on a hill overlooking the bridge and the town.
21 It is here that the men who were killed along the Drina River
22 near Sase were captured.
23 It is also here where on the 27th of June, Milan and
24 Sredoje Lukic barricaded Muslims into a house and set it on fire.
25 Just south of Bikavac along the bank of the Drina River
1 Varda factory, a furniture factory and sawmill and the site of some of
2 the crimes charged in the indictment.
3 The last two locations marked on the aerial photograph on slide
4 12 are the hydroelectric dam and the Uzamnica military camp, the place
5 where the Prosecution alleges Muslims were kept for months at a time and
6 subjected to cruel and inhumane treatment.
7 I would like to describe in greater detail the crimes for which
8 the accused are about to stand trial. Credible and reliable eye witness
9 testimony will be adduced that on the 7th of June 1992, Milan Lukic,
10 Mitar Vasiljevic, and other members of the Lukic group detained seven
11 Muslim men, all civilians, drove them to the bank of the river in Sase
12 and shot them. Five of those victims died as a result of the shooting.
13 The two which escaped will testify before this Chamber.
14 The events leading to the shooting began at approximately 5.30 in
15 the evening of the 7th when Milan Lukic and his men were conducting
16 house-to-house searches for Bosnian Muslim civilians who had remained in
17 the Bikavac area of town.
18 One of the first men to be taken prisoner was forcibly taken from
19 his own house. As he was being led away, he meekly requested permission
20 to give his daughter, his three year old daughter, a goodbye kiss.
21 Milan Lukic said no. When Lukic turned his back, he went back and he
22 kissed his little girl. The first two men they took prisoner were placed
23 in the rear seat of a dark red Volkswagen Passat that Milan Lukic was
24 known to drive. It was the only one like it in the town. It had been
25 stolen from a prosperous Muslim business woman, Behija Zukic, one of the
1 first people he was reported to have killed. At approximately the same
2 time other men in the Lukic group were at other Muslim homes close to the
3 Bikavac hotel. Two of the men who were captured had lived for several
4 weeks in the basement of a home hiding behind a cupboard, every time they
5 heard a car drive down the street.
6 When one of these men stepped outside for a few minutes, he did
7 not see several of Milan Lukic's men were making their way up the hill
8 behind him. Apprehended they were held until Milan Lukic arrived. When
9 Milan Lukic arrived at this area, the Bosnian prisoners were searched and
10 their valuables and identification papers were taken. Perhaps the first
11 indication of Lukic's intentions that day was when he took their
12 identification papers and threw them away. The men were then forced into
13 two cars, the Passat and a Yugo belonging to one of the detained men.
14 The two cars drove off down through the town in the direction of
15 the Vilina Vlas hotel, north-east of the town. On the way, Milan Lukic
16 stopped his people as he passed people on the street, he stopped next to
17 men in the street and he called out to them from the car, and demanded to
18 know their names, to see if they were Muslim names. When they arrived at
19 the check-point in front of the Vilina Vlas hotel, Milan Lukic remarked
20 to the police officer there I have hunted myself several balijas, balija
21 being a derogatory word used to describe Muslims.
22 Here on slide number 13 you can see marked in yellow the path
23 that they took, from the bottom of the photo where Bikavac is marked
24 north through the town, right at the T junction in Sase, and on to the
25 Vilina Vlas hotel. When the two cars filled with the Bosnian Muslim
1 prisoners arrived at the Vilina Vlas hotel, they were met by
2 Mitar Vasiljevic and other members of the Lukic group. Vasiljevic was
3 standing by the counter in the lobby as they entered. One of the
4 victims, Meho Dzafic had been Mitar Vasiljevic's supervisor in a
5 restaurant in town.
6 Here on slide 14 you can see an aerial photo of the Vilina Vlas
7 hotel. The entrance to the hotel is located at the middle of the
8 building, across from the grass lawn on which you can see in the
9 photograph several cars were parked. While the men were lined up with
10 their backs to the reception desk, Mitar Vasiljevic stood on their right
11 while another Serb guard stood on their left. Milan Lukic rummaged
12 through the reception desk in a futile attempt to look for a certain set
13 of keys. When he couldn't find the keys he was looking for, he angrily
14 exclaimed, "Let's go back." At that time it was clear to all present
15 that the men would now be taken to be killed.
16 The seven men were once again forced into the two cars, the two
17 vehicles drove back on the same road they cook to Vilina Vlas, towards
18 Sase. Here on slide number 15 you can see the junction at Sase. When
19 the vehicles reached this T junction, they turned right, away from the
20 town centre and towards Prelovo. A short distance from the junction,
21 Milan Lukic pulled the car over to the side of the road. The path the
22 car took is marked in yellow on the photograph and where the line ends is
23 the approximate place where the cars parked by the side of the road.
24 After Milan
25 group got out of the car, they assumed positions around the car and
1 ordered the Bosnian Muslims out. When the captives were out of the car
2 they were forced to with walk towards the Drina which was approximately
3 100 metres away. On the way to the river, Milan Lukic and
4 Mitar Vasiljevic guarded the men on one side and the remaining
5 paramilitaries guarded them from the other. It was clear to the men what
6 fate awaited them.
7 The path the men took -- the men were taken is marked with the
8 red arrows on slide number 15. This is of course an approximation, and I
9 will leave it to the witnesses to indicate for you exactly where they
11 One of them attempted to move towards his brother-in-law as they
12 walked to say a last goodbye. When they arrived at the river, the seven
13 men were ordered to line up along its bank. The men walked the ten paces
14 slowly towards the river knowing that when they reached it, they would be
16 As the seven stood at the river's edge, Vasiljevic, Milan Lukic
17 and the other paramilitaries took positions approximately ten metres
18 behind them. After a brief discussion regarding whether to use the guns
19 in automatic or semi-automatic mode, the sound of the three guns could be
20 heard as they were clicked into semi-automatic mode. The paramilitaries
21 beginning with Milan Lukic fired repeatedly into the men's backs and into
22 their heads until they believed that they had killed all of them. Two of
23 the victims threw themselves into the river when the firing began and
24 desperately pretended to be dead. They remained still in the shallow
25 water as additional shots were fired into the bodies around and on top of
1 them to ensure that all of the victims had been killed.
2 They could hear the sound of bullets thud into the bodies of
3 their friends. They could feel life quickly leave the men lying on top
4 of them as their movements stilled.
5 When the paramilitaries were satisfied they had killed the seven
6 men, Vasiljevic, Milan Lukic and the others returned to the two cars and
7 drove away. The two survivors of the shooting remained motionless until
8 they heard the cars leave and together they found their way to safety.
9 For these crimes, Milan Lukic has been charged with murder as a
10 crime against humanity and an as a violations of the laws or customs of
11 war. With respect to the crimes perpetrated against the two survivors,
12 VG-014 and VG-032, in an attempt to murder them, he is charged with the
13 crime of inhumane acts as a crime against humanity and the crime of cruel
14 treatment as a violation of the laws or customs of war.
15 Milan Lukic is also charged with persecutions in count 1 of the
16 indictment with this incident being one of the persecutory acts upon
17 which that charge is based.
18 It is the Prosecution's case that Milan Lukic acting in concert
19 with Mitar Vasiljevic and other members of the Lukic group held these
20 seven men against their will, marched them down to the Drina River
21 shot them.
22 One of the largest employers in Visegrad was the Varda factory a
23 producer of furniture and wood products. It is a complex of several
24 large and small buildings along the west -- the western bank of the Drina
25 River where it employed approximately 200 employees of all ethnicities.
1 Around this time it became a frequent occurrence for Milan Lukic
2 and men from the Lukic group to go to the factories like Varda, like
3 Terpentine, identify Muslim workers and then drag them away to their
4 deaths. The indictment alleges that Milan Lukic visited the Varda
5 factory on several occasions in the spring of 1992. He does not dispute
6 this. If you look at one of his Rule 67 filings, setting forth his
7 alibi, he clearly states that he was there on several occasions to take
8 Muslims from their workplace. He says he took them to the police
10 The Prosecution case will focus on one particular day in June of
11 1992. Just before lunchtime on the 10th, Milan Lukic and an accomplice
12 entered the factory grounds. He and his accomplice entered the factory
13 and approached two Muslim employees of the Varda factory. Another Muslim
14 man was apprehended by Lukic's accomplice. Lukic found two other Muslims
15 in another department and brought them back and gathered the captives
16 together. Together, they had seven Muslim employees from the factory.
17 In two groups, Lukic walked them down to the bank of the Drina and
18 summarily executed them. The first group of three were shot as they
19 stood by the river. Lukic returned to the bank with the remaining four
20 and killed them on the same spot. Seven lives ended in a matter of
21 minutes with automatic gunfire of Lukic's weapon.
22 Relatives and friends of the victims recovered the bodies from
23 the river later in the day. At the spot where they were killed, they
24 found the identity cards of the victims lying on the dirt of the river
25 bank. An indication that their only crime was their Muslim name. Their
1 only trial a quick glance at their identity card. For these crimes the
2 Prosecutor charges Milan Lukic with murder in counts 6 as a crime against
3 humanity and murder in count 7 as a violation of the laws or customs of
4 war. His perpetration of these murders forms one of the persecutory acts
5 upon which the persecution count, the first count in the indictment, is
7 Pionirska Street. Credible and reliable eye witness testimony
8 will establish beyond a reasonable doubt that on the 14th of June 1992,
9 approximately 70 people of Bosnian Muslim ethnicity, mostly women and
10 children, were imprisoned in a house on Pionirska Street by Milan
11 Sredoje Lukic and other members of their group and then burned alive.
12 The events leading up to the fire began as a group of people, mostly
13 women and their children from a small settlement called Koritnik, about
14 six kilometres north of Visegrad, they had gathered in the town centre of
15 Visegrad seeking the protection of the Red Cross, seeking a way to leave
16 the town.
17 Earlier in the day, one of their Serb neighbours told them very
18 plainly that the village was to be ethnically cleansed.
19 Here on slide number 19, you can see once again the aerial
20 photograph of Visegrad. At the top of the photo is the road from
21 Koritnik which is marked in yellow. You can see it comes down along the
22 bank of the Drina River
24 Here on slide number 20, you can see an aerial photograph of the
25 centre of town. Again, the path that the Muslims from Koritnik took is
1 marked in yellow. They arrived in the town centre in the square. The
2 picture in the top left corner of slide number 20 is of the hotel
3 Visegrad. The group remained in front of this hotel for some time that
5 Finding the Red Cross office closed the group made its way to a
6 Muslim neighbourhood at the edge of town called Mahala where they hoped
7 to find shelter for the nights. You can see on slide number 20 the path,
8 again marked in yellow, with a group left the town centre for the Mahala
9 section of town. The direction they walked is marked with red arrows.
10 As they approached the area, they were met by someone who
11 introduced himself by name, Mitar Vasiljevic. Vasiljevic instructed the
12 women to stay in the ransacked house of Jusuf Memic on Pionirska Street
13 He spoke with Mujo Halilovic, a member of the group, and a person he knew
14 from before. Vasiljevic gave them a piece of paper and assured them that
15 they would be safe in the Memic house.
16 On slide number 21, you can see an aerial photograph of the
17 Mahala section of town. Here the yellow line shows the path the group
18 took as they entered. You will notice at the upper right-hand corner of
19 the photograph a school with a large play ground in front of it. The two
20 Memic houses were in front of the school and you can see them marked on
21 the slide. It was in front of these houses that the group encountered
22 Mitar Vasiljevic and he persuaded them to remain in the Memic homes. As
23 the trial judgement in the Vasiljevic case states in paragraph 187:
24 "The Trial Chamber is satisfied from all the evidence that the
25 accused, Mitar Vasiljevic, did seek to ensure that the group stayed
1 together. He did this by his insistence that they do so and also by his
2 assurances that they would be safe if they stayed together because the
3 guarantee he had given Mujo Halilovic would ensure they would not be
4 harmed. The Trial Chamber is also satisfied that the accused did so
5 because he knew that some evil was befall them."
6 Sometime later in the day, Milan and Sredoje Lukic, as well as
7 another from that group, arrived. They stole valuables from the group,
8 questioned them about their husbands, made the women strip naked nor a
9 final humiliating search, and when they finished, they again instructed
10 them, as Vasiljevic had done earlier in the day, that they were to remain
11 in the house and they would be safe until morning.
12 Some point later, Milan
13 shoeless victims to move to another house at the rear of the property, a
14 house owned by Adem Omeragic. This house was only 40 to 50 metres away.
15 You can see here again on slide number 21, marked in yellow, the path the
16 victims took from the Memic house to the Omeragic house at the back of
17 the property. The Omeragic house was not built on a road but at the back
18 of other houses on a piece of unused property abutting a drainage gulley
19 that filled during heavy rains.
20 There were already a number of persons detained in this house and
21 the group from the Memic house had to be physically squeezed into the
22 bottom room of the Omeragic house. It was clear to one of the witnesses
23 when she entered that the carpet had been soaked with some volatile
24 chemical, that the windows they had been barricaded, the chemical smelled
25 like glue. It made it difficult to breathe while in the room. You can
1 see here on slide number 23 a close-up of the Omeragic home. There were
2 three floors in the home. The lowest floor was built into the side of
3 the embankment of the gulley. This floor consisted of a single room, the
4 door to which you can see in the photo in front of you. On the side of
5 the house, the side of the house facing the gulley, there were two
7 After approximately 30 minutes, Milan and Sredoje Lukic, as well
8 as other members of the group, came back to the house and opened the
9 front door. As Sredoje Lukic stood at Milan Lukic's side, preventing
10 anyone from escaping, Milan Lukic placed an explosive device on the
11 carpet and lit its fuse. As the device exploded it ignited the flammable
12 substance on the floor. The flames quickly engulfed the solvent-soaked
13 socks of the victims and the house itself. The Lukics remained outside
14 the house shooting at any of the people who desperately tried to escape
15 through the two windows in the room.
16 One woman beat and struck the glass with her hands until the
17 glass shattered and she and her son climbed out of the window and fled
18 along the creek bed. Another young boy showed his mother to that very
19 same window and jumped out first and ran as quickly as he could down the
20 creek bed and up to a small hill across the gulley. He did not see his
21 mother climb out after him. He did not see when she was shot by
23 wounds, and as she lay there for hour upon hour, she listened to the
24 horrifying screams of the victims as they burnt to death.
25 Her young son on the crest of that hill could not see her and
1 cried as he watched the house burn. Listening to the screams of his many
2 burning relatives believing that his mother was among them. It would not
3 be until three years later, in 1995, when the mother, that mother, and
4 that son, would learn that each had survived this Holocaust.
5 Here on slide number 25 you can see photos of just some of the
6 victims. Your Honours, approximately 66 defenceless people perished in
7 the fire that night. The oldest, about 75. The youngest had yet to see
8 her third day in this world. This young infant of only two days was one
9 of 51 members of the Kurspahic family that was burnt alive that night.
10 51 members of a single family.
11 In a final act of desecration to the Muslims murdered there, the
12 room where these people died was turned into a pig sty.
13 For the crimes perpetrated against the people who were burnt
14 alive on the 14th of June 1992, Milan
15 extermination as a crime against humanity as well as murder, a -- and
16 murder a violation of the laws or customs of war.
17 With respect to those that survived, and the Lukics' attempt to
18 kill these people they are charged with inhumane acts as a crime against
19 humanity and cruel treatment as a violation of the laws or customs of
21 The crimes they perpetrated on the night of the 14th of June also
22 constitute one of the persecutory acts underlying the persecution count
23 charged in the first count of the indictment.
25 with other members of the Lukic group present that night, gathered those
1 victims into the Omeragic house with the intent to kill them. They
2 worked together to barricade them into the house and then set it on fire.
3 The unprecedented suffering Milan and Sredoje Lukic occasioned on
4 the 14th of June when they burned approximately 70 people alive would be
5 repeated in another part of town, a week and a half later.
6 The Bikavac area of town lay south of the town's centre on a
7 picturesque hill overlooking the town and the old bridge. As their sweep
8 over the Muslim population of Visegrad continued, they worked with their
9 men during the day to visit Muslim households, identifying them and
10 robbing them of their remaining money and valuables.
11 Their work would culminate on the night of the 27th when again a
12 large number of Bosnian Muslims mostly women and children and elderly men
13 were forced into a house belonging to Meho Aljic and burned alive.
14 The events of that night will be described to you by the only
15 survivor of that fire, VG-114. Milan Lukic came to the house where she
16 had gathered with other Muslim women and as they searched the house
17 VG-114 hid on a balcony wrapping a curtain around her and her nine year
18 old sister. Milan
19 When he found her, he directed her to the Aljic house. Once all of the
20 Muslims in that area were gathered into the house, at approximately 9.00
21 in the evening, it was boarded from the outside. But before the house
22 was boarded shut, Milan Lukic selected approximately a half dozen young
23 girls and placed them in a van. The window closest to the VG-114 was
24 shuttered with a garage door. As the mayhem started with the first
25 incendiary device thrown in, her young sister clutched to her clothes.
1 Unable to understand what was now taking place. Unable to understand why
2 someone they knew would do these things to her and the people who cared
3 for her.
4 Shrapnel from grenades thrown into the house pierced their
5 bodies. The flames quickly spread engulfing first the clothes of the
6 victims and then their very skin. As VG-114's efforts to keep the flames
7 off her nine year old sister proved futile, she considered that her last
8 act alive should be to try to climb out of the window now fully inflamed
9 house and warn the Muslims in the adjoining streets to flee for their
10 lives. So in an act that still haunts her to this day and will for the
11 rest of her life, she loosened her sister's grip on her clothes,
12 abandoned her to the flames and started to bang on the garage door
13 blocking the window in front of her. She did escape the fire that night
14 but not before her flesh caught fire, her long brown hair singed from her
15 head now bald and burnt, she did walk up and down the streets of the
16 Muslim neighbourhood amid the smoking cloud of burning flesh that covered
17 Bikavac, warning people to flee. Her body smouldering, swelling from her
18 serious injuries.
19 When she completed her task, she walked directly to the
20 headquarters of the Territorial Defence where she believed the men who
21 did this were, the place where the Serb paramilitaries gathered. By this
22 time, dawn was breaking. She walked right up to two Serb paramilitaries
23 standing in front with guns over their shoulders and asked them to shoot
25 One overwhelmed by the sight took her to the home of an elderly
1 couple where she was hidden in the attic for several days while the
2 elderly couple tried to tend her grievous injuries. Dr. Vasiljevic from
3 the hospital in Visegrad would be called to the house. He looked at her
4 briefly, gave her a few pills for pain and told her three things: One,
5 because she was a Muslim, he would not bring her to the hospital; two,
6 she would be dead in a day or two; three, he would not be coming back.
7 Milan Lukic, upon learning that she had survived that night
8 placed a bounty on her life. He would pay money to anyone who tracked
9 her down and killed her.
10 This extraordinary person will tell you how she then made the
11 decision to leave Visegrad, she will tell you how she walked out of that
12 town through the hills of Eastern Bosnia, through the mine-infested
13 forest, through the confrontation line and into Bosnian-held territory.
14 She will come before there Chamber, abandon any protective measures she
15 might appropriately request and testify about what was done to her, her
16 family, her community, her people, that night, to show the world and tell
17 the world what it is like to be burnt alive. With the same integrity and
18 uncommon character, she will tell you that Milan Lukic, the boy she knew
19 throughout her school days, was the man who did these things to her.
20 Unafraid, I expect she will look that man in the eye and identify him to
22 For the crimes perpetrated against the people who were burned
23 alive on the 27th of June, Milan
24 extermination as a crime against humanity as well as murder, a crime
25 against humanity, and murder a violation of the laws or customs of war.
1 With respect to those that survived and their attempt to kill these
2 people they are charged with inhumane acts as a crime against humanity
3 and cruel treatment as a violation of the laws or customs of war.
4 The crimes they perpetrated on the night of the 27th of June also
5 constitute one of the persecutory acts charged.
6 As the Court will hear from many of the witnesses it was believed
7 that Milan
8 great many killings that occurred in the town. One of the individual
9 killings for which the Prosecution will produce evidence is the killing
10 of Hajrija Koric, a Muslim woman. Shortly after Bikavac, certainly
11 within a week of that fire, a group of women and children were hiding in
12 a house in the Potok area of Visegrad, an area close to the bus station
13 in the centre of town.
14 Among the group was a woman by the name of Hajrija Koric. The
15 women had been told that there might be buses, part of a refugee cop
16 convoy travelling through the town the next day. They had hoped to flee
17 Visegrad on that convoy.
18 Late on the afternoon of her murder, Milan Lukic arrived with
19 other members of the Lukic group and fanned out through Potok
20 neighbourhood looking for Muslims. A witness will describe how it
21 appeared to her that the members of the group were operating at
22 Milan Lukic's direction. The eight or so men scoured the houses and when
23 they entered the house where Hajrija Koric was hiding with other women,
24 she climbed under a table. She was quickly discovered and she, as well
25 as the other women and children in the house, were forced to the street
1 outside. Mrs. Koric was at the end of the line of women and children now
2 before the fronts of the house.
3 Lukic made his way down the line looking at each person, trying
4 to find a particular woman he had in mind. When he reached the end of
5 the line he took Mrs. Koric out of the line and inches from his face he
6 told her, "You, Hajrija, I told you that I would find you and that I
7 would kill you."
8 He then questioned her about the whereabouts of her husband and
9 son before a few moments before shooting her at point-blank range in the
10 chest. She fell fast and lay face down on the street. Milan Lukic used
11 his boot to turn her over and fired once again into her body. He then
12 burst out in laughter and asked the group, "What is the matter with her?"
13 He ordered the rest of the women and children back into the house
14 and ordered them to remain there until he returned that evening. Fearing
15 for their lives, many of them fled when Milan Lukic and his group had
17 For the murder of Hajrija Koric, Milan Lukic is charged with
18 murder as a crime against humanity and murder as a violation of the laws
19 or customs of war. It too is charged also as a persecutory act.
20 The final counts in the indictment concern the detention facility
21 established in the military barracks at Uzamnica.
22 This Yugoslav army facility lies adjacent to the Drina, south of
23 the town near the dam and the hydroelectric plant. Here on slide number
24 30 you can see the map I have been using as well as an aerial photograph
25 of the camp and its relationship to the dam. The picture at the upper
1 right of the slide is a picture of one of the buildings on the compound
2 that was used to detain Muslims. Most of the Visegrad Muslims who were
3 not killed and did not flee were kept here in the Uzamnica camp. In some
4 cases for a year or more.
5 The deplorable conditions of the camp included a single pale for
6 use as a toilet and another pail to be used as a wash basin. On a number
7 of occasions between August of 1992 and October of 1994, Milan and
8 Sredoje Lukic made regular trips to the detention camp where they engaged
9 in the sporadic and senseless beating of detainees. The beatings would
10 be inflicted with punches, with slaps, kicks, sticks and rifle butts.
11 One detainee who will testify before this Chamber was held for 26 months
12 and will report his observations about the regular beatings and abuse
13 that took place there.
14 In a pattern that would be repeated, Milan Lukic, Sredoje Lukic
15 and other members of their group would arrive in the camp and beat the
16 prisoners, sometimes in the name of interrogating them. Milan Lukic in
17 some cases tortured the detainees with electric shocks. VG-008 will
18 describe his beatings by Sredoje Lukic. He will describe one occasion
19 when Milan Lukic beat him with a tree root, beat him so hard that his
20 left arm was broken in three places, his right arm in two places. For 42
21 days he lay in Uzamnica, unable to move. VG-016 will describe how on a
22 number of occasions between June and September of 1992 he was repeatedly
23 beaten by Milan Lukic, Sredoje Lukic, and Milos Lukic.
24 On one occasion, he was made to stand in front of a post with his
25 arms wrapped around it he as he was severely beaten by Milan and
1 Sredoje Lukic.
2 Aside from the predictable beatings at the hands of the two
3 accused, you will hear witnesses describe one day when Sredoje Lukic,
4 drunk, held a knife up to a detainee's throat, threatening to slaughter
5 him. He demanded that one detainee decide which other detainee should be
6 killed that day. Later on, on the same day, Sredoje Lukic shot his rifle
7 at VG-003 but missed him. On one occasion, Milan Lukic removed several
8 detainees out of the camp, he told them that they would not need their
9 shoes where they were going. These men, as well as others, were never
10 seen again.
11 For the crimes perpetrated by Milan and Sredoje Lukic in Uzamnica
12 detention camp they are charged as acting in concert with each other and
13 other unknown individuals with the crimes of inhumane acts as a crime
14 against humanity and cruel treatment as a violation of the laws or
15 customs of war.
16 Part of my legal burden is to prove that what Sredoje and
17 Milan Lukic did wasn't simply the work of a rogue band of criminals but
18 was connected to the takeover and ethnic cleansing, the widespread and
19 systematic attack on the civilian population. The Prosecution will
20 introduce several pieces of evidence on this issue. There is one in
21 particular I would like to bring to your attention now.
22 You will hear from a man who was a prominent member of the
23 Visegrad community. He was a Muslim. He will describe a chilling event
24 in which he was brought into the command post of the Yugoslav People's
25 Army for a meeting with an army colonel, and as he sat waiting at the
1 table, three officers, unknown to him, came in and sat at the table
2 across from him. Not realising he was a Muslim, they I go in order him.
3 One of them unrolled a map of the town and pointed out to the other the
4 areas along the right bank that had been successfully cleansed.
5 A paralysis overcame this man as the officer pointed to the
6 village in which his entire family lived on the left bank of the river
7 and declared it was scheduled for cleaning the very next day. The
8 Prosecution has in other cases before this Tribunal those involving
9 senior political, military and police officials, has alleged and in some
10 cases obtained convictions on the basis that what happened in Bosnia
12 criminal enterprise in which certain core members shared the intent to
13 remove large populations of non-Serbs, mostly Muslims and Croats from
14 their homes and land by force by perpetrating the crimes of murder and
16 It is not alleged in this indictment that Milan and Sredoje Lukic
17 are part of that joint criminal enterprise. There is no allegation that
18 they ever met with the people we allege in other cases were members of a
19 core group of architects of the overall crimes that were perpetrated. It
20 is the Prosecution's case in this trial that Milan and Sredoje Lukic,
21 with their small group of perpetrators, intentionally committed the
22 crimes of murder and persecution against Muslims in Visegrad and that
23 such crimes were connected to the overall attack upon the civilian
25 Some of the senior political leaders will be mentioned
1 tangentially in the evidence of witnesses, I would like to make brief
2 mention of who they were and the roles they held. Here on slide number
3 32 we see four of the senior politicians who worked at a strategic level
4 to perpetrate the crimes in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Slobodan Milosevic,
5 at the time of the crimes in this indictment, was the president of
7 government which would eventually be called the Republika Srpska.
8 Momcilo Krajisnik was a member of the Bosnian Serb leadership during the
9 war. He was convicted of persecutions as a crime against humanity and is
10 currently appealing his trial judgement. Biljana Plavsic was a leading
11 Bosnian Serb politician known for her extreme nationalist ideology. She
12 was a member of the collective Presidency of Bosnia and a member of the
13 three-member Presidency of the Serbian Republic
14 to the crime of persecution, she was sentenced to 11 years of
15 imprisonment. The attack on the civilian Muslim population of Visegrad
16 was part of a much larger attack on the non-Serb civilian population of
18 objectives were officially introduced at the 16th session of the assembly
19 of the Serb Republic of Bosnia-Herzegovina on the 12th of May 1992. The
20 first objective shown here on slide 33 is the separation of the Serbian
21 people from the other two national communities.
22 This objective was realised in Visegrad in large part due to the
23 crimes perpetrated by Milan
24 The second strategic objective was the establishments of a
25 corridor between Semberija and the Krajina. There corridor would join
1 Serb-held lands in the eastern and western sections of Bosnia
2 not relevant for this case.
3 Three, shown here on slide number 34, the establishment of a
4 corridor in the Drina
5 between Serbs. This corridor was in reality a very large swath of
6 territory comprising most of eastern half of Bosnia. Visegrad fell
7 squarely within this objective. The fourth through sixth objectives have
8 no direct bearing on this case. Slide number 35 shows these goals stated
9 most simply as, 4, establishing a border on the Una and Neretva rivers,
10 5, the division of Sarajevo
12 This plan was rapidly and brutally implemented in the spring and
13 summer of 1992. The overall criminal plan was a success and many
14 municipalities were placed under Serb control in the spring of 1992. To
15 give the Chamber a sense of the overall plan, I would like to show you a
16 series of slides, from 36 to 42, that show in chronological order the
17 takeover of territory. The takeover process begins with Arkan enters
18 Bijeljina on the night between the 31st of March and the 1st of April.
19 In that first week, over a dozen municipalities would be taken over and
20 placed under Serb control.
21 During the second week, the focus of the takeovers would remain
22 on the Drina
23 places like Visegrad, Foca, Sekovici. Visegrad had a number of features
24 which ensured that it was of strategic importance in this plan. First is
25 the municipality's hydraulic plants which I brought your attention to
1 already. Second the town was an important transportation hub. It is
2 situated on the main road between Belgrade
3 39 we see that in the third week of the takeovers, they continue along
4 the Drina River
6 northwestern part of Bosnia
7 be forcibly imposed in Bosanski Novi and Sanski Most. Serb gains would
8 continue in the Bosnian Krajina into the last days of April when
9 Prijedor, where some of the most grievous crimes of the takeovers were
10 committed. The campaign in the Drina
11 takeover of Vlasenica.
12 By the end of April, in this 30 day period, 35 municipalities
13 would be taken over, an average of over 1 municipality per day.
14 While the pace of the takeovers would slow a bit during the
15 following months, the pace of crimes only accelerated. The encirclement
16 around Sarajevo
17 Ilidza in May. With the fall of Rogatica and Rudo the takeover of the
18 municipalities along the eastern border of Bosnia would be complete with
19 the exception of Srebrenica. The Bosnian Krajina would be completely
20 secured with the end of June with the takeover of Prnjavor and
21 Kotor Varos. You can see the bulk of the crimes perpetrated by the two
22 accused as charged in this indictment were perpetrated throughout the
23 month of June.
24 By the end of the summer, with the takeover of Derventa and
25 Odzak, over 50 municipalities would be placed under Serb control to
1 secure the functioning of the Posavina Corridor.
2 The two maps you see on the screen in slide 43 are demographic
3 maps, one from 1991, before the ethnic cleansing campaign of 1992, and
4 one from 1997. You may observe the success of the overall plan as
5 measured statistically in dramatic demographic changes. If you look
6 along the Posavina Corridor, that is the horizontal oval at the top of
7 the map, the target of the second strategic goal you will see a dramatic
8 shift in the populations as marked by the change of colour to red. The
9 vertical oval on the right-hand side of the map is the Drina
10 again you can see the dramatic shift in colour which represents the
11 restructuring of the demographic landscape from mixed or Muslim majority
12 municipalities into red or Serb municipalities.
13 As you will note, Visegrad dramatically turns from being a
14 municipality with a decidedly Muslim majority to one with few, if any,
15 able-bodied Muslims remaining.
16 These takeovers and subsequent crimes resulted in the population
17 shift of hundreds of thousands of people, nearly 400.000 people forcibly
18 removed from their homes.
19 Both accused in this case have informed the Chamber and the
20 Office of the Prosecutor that they intend to assert during their case
21 that they were not present in Visegrad at the times the crimes were
22 perpetrated. Milan Lukic says he was not present along the Drina
23 on the 7th of June 1992
24 He says he was in Belgrade
25 friends have agreed to testify and tell the Chamber such. Sredoje Lukic
1 is not charged with these killings.
2 With respect to the killing of the seven Varda factory employees,
3 another crime for which Milan Lukic alone is charged, he admits that he
4 forcibly removed workers but denies being the person who took them down
5 to the bank of the river and shot them.
6 Both men are charged with setting on fire the 70 people in
7 Pionirska Street
8 actions outside the town from the 13th of June until the 15th of June and
9 therefore could not have been present. Sredoje Lukic asserts that he was
10 in Obrenovac, Serbia
11 time of the Bikavac fire, Sredoje Lukic claims again that he was in
12 Obrenovac preparing to celebrate the Serb holiday of Vivodan on the 28th
13 of June, the next day.
14 Milan Lukic claims to have been with his family in Rujiste just
15 outside Visegrad and says that Muslim neighbours will come forward to
16 attest to this fact.
17 With respect to the killing of Hajrija Koric and the beatings at
18 Uzamnica at least until before this morning's session, no alibis had been
19 asserted by either of the accused. These alibis necessarily place in
20 focus the accuracy of the identification of these men by the victims and
21 the witnesses. Whether or not these identifications are sufficiently
22 reliable for the Chamber to rest a conviction on will be one of the
23 primary issues in the trial. The Prosecution's investigation of these
24 alibis is underway, and it is my hope that despite the long passage of
25 time that we are able to obtain all evidence germane to the issue of
1 where they were during these crimes and produce it during our rebuttal --
2 during our case.
3 There are a few things I can say about the alibi at this early
4 stage. I expect that the evidence relevant to the question of their
5 presence at these crime scenes to fall into three broad categories.
6 First, the evidence by the victims and witnesses. Evidence that
7 demonstrates not only that they had an ample opportunity to see the men
8 who perpetrated the crimes against them, but they -- that they in many
9 cases knew Milan
10 occasions chose victims that they knew, that they knew from the town.
11 They knew them from school, they knew them because they lived close to
12 each other.
13 The very first witness you will hear from today was born the same
14 year as Milan Lukic and attended the same secondary school in Visegrad
15 with him. It was a technical school, and he will tell you what trade
16 Milan Lukic was trained in as well as when he left Visegrad for
17 Obrenovac. You will hear him describe how he immediately recognised
18 Milan Lukic when Milan Lukic entered his apartment on the 7th of June.
19 He will describe the long trip that ended in Sase. He was
20 sitting very close to Lukic in the car. All of this in broad daylight.
21 Similarly you will hear witnesses describing Sredoje Lukic as one
22 of the police officers in town. For years people saw him regularly as he
23 patrolled the town, as they walked around the town doing their shopping
24 and doing their other errands.
25 While the witnesses will describe both accused as sometimes
1 appearing with black streaks painted on their faces, there was nothing to
2 obstruct their clear view of them. In the minds of the accused this was
3 unnecessary because it was their intention to kill all of these people.
4 When we began to learn of some of the details of alibi put forward by the
5 two accused we began to review some of our old files looking for
6 information from this period that would shed light on where the two
7 accused were.
8 We -- what we found was a troubling and persistent pattern of
9 serious crimes committed by these two men. Your Honours, the Prosecution
10 will establish that they were engaged in other criminal activity during
11 the period that they say they were not in Visegrad.
12 Several of these crimes were rapes, several of the victims have
13 agreed to come forward to tell you that these men could not have been in
14 Obrenovac on the days in question, could not have been on military
15 operations outside the town, they could not because at that time they
16 were raping them. Violating them. Their faces inches from theirs.
17 Witnesses will describe a distraught VG-127, describing how she
18 was raped by Milan Lukic at the very time he alleges he was home with his
19 mother and father in Rujiste. She showed them her beaten and bruised
20 breast, her swollen legs, unable to close, a result not only of the
21 violence Milan Lukic perpetrated against her but by the other men Lukic
22 insisted rape her as well.
23 You will hear from VG-063 at the very time Milan Lukic and
24 Sredoje Lukic claimed that it they were not in Visegrad she was being
25 raped in the gymnasium in the primary school in the centre of Visegrad, a
1 place they regularly used to detain Muslims. Milan bringing her upstairs
2 to forcibly penetrate her while Sredoje Lukic remained downstairs
3 ensuring the other detainees did not intervene.
4 One of the young women, Jasmina Vila endured being seriously
5 raped by Milan Lukic over a lengthy period of time. Although she was one
6 of the victims in the Pionirska Street fire you will hear witnesses
7 describe how she told them what Milan Lukic did to her, how they
8 attempted to give her first aid, her badly bruised body, her bleeding
9 vagina, the last time he raped her was on the very night of Pionirska
10 Street, the night he claims he was engaged in the military mission far
11 from the town.
12 Some of these women had refused to cooperate with the Tribunal
13 when they were first interviewed years ago, the pain of the attack so
14 acute, the trauma so severe they chose to bury it, they tried to pick up
15 their lives and move forward. Some had never told their families, their
16 husbands. It was only about a month ago that one woman when spoken to by
17 a Prosecution investigator an agreed to tell her story, how she saw both
19 Bikavac fire.
20 After raping her, Milan
22 Another witness who recently agreed to come forward will describe
23 being raped by both Sredoje and Milan Lukic. She will describe seeing
24 Milan Lukic in the early morning of the 28th of June the night of the
25 Bikavac fire smelling of smoke and appearing to have ash on his face.
1 In addition to these rapes, you will hear from other witnesses of
2 other crimes perpetrated during the time period it is now alleged Milan
3 and Sredoje Lukic were not in town, such as VG-011, who will describe
4 being taken on a bus with other Muslim men to a wooded area and then
5 mowed down with automatic fire.
6 He escaped by fleeing through the trees, arms tied behind his
7 back. As part of his ordeal, the bus was brought into the town and
8 stopped for a while in front of the Visegrad hotel in the main square.
9 There, Milan Lukic boarded the bus, walked up and down looking for a
10 particular Muslim men. The day Milan Lukic entered that bus was the 14th
11 of June 1992, the day of the Pionirska Street fire.
12 I will present to the Chamber statements from the perpetrators
13 themselves, statements that contradict what is now being put forward to
14 the Chamber. Mitar Vasiljevic was convicted for the murders of the
15 Muslim men along the Drina River
16 several days of sworn testimony about what happened in Visegrad. While
17 the Prosecution's position then and now is that much of what he testified
18 to was false, there are portions of it that the Chamber will see are
19 corroborated by accounts of eye witnesses. In this short clip, you will
20 hear Mitar Vasiljevic, the best man or Kum of Milan Lukic tell you that
21 Milan Lukic was present in Sase on the 7th of June 1992 and that he
22 murdered those five men.
23 [Videotape played]
24 " Q. So you left Vilina Vlas in a car?
25 A. Yes, that is correct.
1 Q. Which car was the first one in line in column?
2 A. Lukic's car, a Passat.
3 Q. At one point in time, you reached the junction at Sase. What
4 happened next?
5 A. Some 500 metres from the junction to the right in the direction
6 towards Prelovo, he stopped the car.
7 Q. Did he leave the car, did he get out of the car?
8 A. Yes, he did.
9 Q. What about other passengers in his car?
10 A. Yes. We all got out of the car. Also, the people who were in
11 Yugo, they also got out of the car, pursuant to his orders.
12 Q. And what happened next?
13 A. He told us to continue town towards the Drina. Then at that
14 point, people started panicking, the situation was not normal, and I
15 said, Milan
16 you to go down to the Drina
17 towards the Drina
19 he would have pity on him, and he said, "Mitar, would you please help
20 me?" And I said, "Milan
21 they done to you? Nothing." And those other Muslims were started to beg
22 but Milan
23 meadow, continue towards the Drina
24 him, there were people who couldn't swim, but he just wouldn't budge.
25 Q. Who said, who can swim?
1 A. Milan
2 Q. From what you have just told us, one can conclude that you too
3 realised what the danger was, that you too concluded that those people
4 would be killed by Milan
5 A. Yes. That is indeed what happened. They were killed sometime
6 later, except for the two individuals who managed to save themselves.
7 Yes, that's correct.
8 Q. Do you think that you were in a position to prevent that?
9 A. I was trying. I begged him, but it was impossible to order him
10 to do anything or to ask him anything. He was -- he was cruel. He
11 wouldn't listen.
12 Q. So you went down towards the Drina with those people; is that
14 A. Yes.
15 Q. How far did you go with them? How far did you accompany them?
16 All the way down or did you stop at one point?
17 A. I stopped some 10 or 15 metres before the river, because I
18 realised that there was nothing that can be done, that it was all over.
19 Q. Did Milan
21 A. Well, they went all the way down to the river. I remained where
22 I was some 10 or 15 metres away from the bank, near some bushes. I could
23 hear the noise, I could hear people cry and beg, but it was to no avail,
24 and then shooting started and I heard those shots, and I heard those
25 terrible moans, screams, of people being drowned.
1 Q. How many of them opened fire? How many of them actually shot?
2 A. Three of them, three of them actually went down to the river.
3 Q. Are you also counting Milan Lukic amongst those three
5 A. Yes."
6 Your Honours you will also hear a statement made by Milan Lukic
7 himself, at the apex of his unbridled brutality he was believed to even
8 have killed Serbs he thought were sympathetic to the plight of Muslims.
9 One of these murdered serves, Stanko Pecikoza was believed to have been
10 murdered on the territory of the Republic of Serbia
11 by officials of the Ministry of Interior there. During his lengthy
12 interview with the police there, he denied killing Mr. Pecikoza but in an
13 almost boastful tone he made the following statement:
14 "I personally liquidated many Muslims. Extremists in the
15 Visegrad area who were known to have maltreated the Serbian population.
16 I am uncompromising in opposing Muslim soldiers. And in contrast to the
17 Serbs from Visegrad, when he came there, I came ready to kill anyone who
18 was threatening Serbdom. I dispense with tolerance in advance and so did
19 the whole group which I led."
20 Last month the English translation of the first novel of
21 Sasha Stanisic was published in English Sasa was a 13-year-old boy living
22 in Visegrad when the conflict broke out. His story is set in the context
23 of the crimes which are the subject of this trial. I would like to read
24 a short passage from the book entitled, "How the Soldier Repairs the
25 Gramophone." It demonstrates that not all of the White Eagles victims
1 are so easily identified and suggests the importance of the work the
2 Chamber begins this morning:
3 "I hate the bridge. I hate the shots in the night and the
4 bodies in the river, and I hate the way you don't hear the water when the
5 body hits it. I hate being so far away from everything, from strength
6 and from courage. I hate what they are doing to the girls in the hotels,
7 the Vilina Vlas and Bikavac, I hate the fire station, I hate the police
8 station, I hate trucks full of girls and women driving to Vilina Vlas and
9 Bikavac. I hate burning buildings and burning windows with burning
10 people jumping out of them to face the guns. And I hate the way the
11 workers work, the teachers teach, pigeons fly up in the air and most of
12 all I hate the snow, the filthy hypocritical snow because it doesn't
13 cover up anything, anything, anything. But we are so good at covering
14 our eyes, it's as if we learned nothing else in all those years of
15 neighbourliness and fraternity and unity."
16 Today as the trial commences we begin the process of removing the
17 filthy hypocritical snow, to look carefully at the crimes and the
18 suffering underneath. Perhaps this trial will be a catalyst for some of
19 the good Serbs of Visegrad, the workers that worked, teachers that
20 taught, those that closed their eyes, remained silent as Milan and
21 Sredoje Lukic carried out their murderous quest to rid Visegrad of
22 Muslims, to begin speaking truthfully about what happened in Visegrad in
23 June of 1992.
24 Your Honours, when this trial is complete I expect the credible
25 and reliable evidence in this case will demonstrate beyond a reasonable
1 doubt the part that both Sredoje and Milan Lukic played in the
2 preparation of some of the most grievous crimes committed in Visegrad.
3 Your Honour this brings to a conclusion the Prosecution's summary
4 of the evidence and overview of why it alleges that Milan and
5 Sredoje Lukic are criminally responsible for the crimes charged in the
6 indictment. I thank you for your time and attention. As we commence the
7 calling of evidence, I give the Chamber, as well as Milan and
8 Sredoje Lukic, my assurance, and the assurance of Mr. Brammertz, that the
9 Prosecution will conduct its case according to the highest standards of
10 fairness and justice enabling this Chamber to reach a fair and just
11 adjudication of the charges against these accused. Your Honours with
12 that the Prosecution now stands ready to call our first witness, VG-014.
13 Thank you.
14 JUDGE ROBINSON: The Chamber will tolerate no less, Mr. Groome.
15 We'll now break for 20 minutes.
16 --- Break taken at 1.05 p.m.
17 --- On resuming at 1.28 p.m.
18 JUDGE ROBINSON: Yes, Mr. Alarid?
19 MR. ALARID: Good afternoon, Your Honours. Can you hear me,
20 court reporter?
21 THE INTERPRETER: The interpreters will not be able to hear if
22 counsel does not speak into the microphone.
23 JUDGE ROBINSON: Mr. Alarid, the interpreters are saying they
24 will not be able to hear you unless you speak into the microphone.
25 MR. ALARID: I always feel like I have to lean over.
1 JUDGE ROBINSON: I see. Well --
2 MR. ALARID: Can we turn on two?
3 JUDGE ROBINSON: Is there a detachable microphone to facilitate
4 Mr. Alarid? No? You might have to stoop.
5 MR. ALARID: I will do that, Your Honour. Can the court reporter
6 hear me now?
7 JUDGE ROBINSON: Please speak again. Let's try again.
8 THE INTERPRETER: It would be preferable if the lectern were
9 moved to be in the same direction as the microphone.
10 MR. ALARID: Is that better?
11 THE INTERPRETER: Most likely, yes.
12 JUDGE ROBINSON: Let's begin.
13 MR. ALARID: My name is Jason Alarid and I came to know
14 Milan Lukic only five months ago. I met him at first in February and
15 when you first meet someone, as opposed to what Mr. Groome says, you
16 don't necessarily go right into alibis. You have to meet your client and
17 discover who they are as a human being before you can even begin to
18 undertake this incredible journey with these most horrendous of charges.
19 I came out here with the set of ideals about what this Court stood for
20 because I respect the charge of the Court in so much that it is for the
21 victims as the standard says in our lobby, that this Court fights for,
22 but I don't think that at any point in time the sense of duty towards the
23 victims in any way takes away from what a court always protects, which is
24 the rights of the accused.
25 The rights of the accused to a fair trial, the rights of an
1 accused to not be prejudged and so that the evidence may be listened to
2 in its entirety and judged accordingly, and I must tell the Court that
3 I'm afraid. I'm afraid for Milan Lukic because in the way that this
4 Court is unfamiliar to me, in the way that old evidence comes in against
5 the accused, makes me feel like there is an undercurrent of pre-judgement
6 that I think is ordinary and natural in the human condition.
7 I fear because I know the Court has read over and over again, in
8 the submissions of the Prosecution, a recitation of the accusations
9 against my client and every time the Court hears and sees these horrible
10 accusations, it must send something into the pit of your stomach that
11 makes you want to do something, that makes you want to honour that
12 standard in the gallery about the rights of the victims.
13 But I'd like to tell you that there is more to this story than
14 one or two witnesses by the Prosecution that can ID Mr. Lukic supposedly
15 in each incident and this involves a big story and a totality of the
16 circumstances I feel that you will find Mr. Lukic is not guilty. Now I'm
17 not saying Mr. Lukic is innocent. Innocence is a word that I don't think
18 anyone that participated in a war can say for themselves. War, when we
19 talk about the customs and standards of war, is always an awful place
20 where awful things happen. But I would like to say that I believe
21 Mr. Lukic is not guilty of these crimes as charged. And I'd like to tell
22 you why. I think it first starts out with Milan Lukic the person. Who
23 is he and why could he come to a point at which he could be accused of
24 such horrendous crimes against his neighbours, in this little town of
1 Milan Lukic is about my age and so at the time of this incident
2 he was about 23 years old. Mr. Milan Lukic had not been in Visegrad
3 since he was in high school because he left after high school and moved
4 first to Belgrade
5 then to Switzerland
6 Milan Lukic, son of Milo
7 it's important to show where Milan Lukic grew up. He was the youngest
8 child, and he was two brothers and sisters; and his father was an orphan
9 since the age of three when his grandfather was taken away by the Nazis
10 so when it comes to the issues of fascism and the White Eagles and what
11 that means, Mr. Milan Lukic has something to say about that and that he
12 is not a fascist.
13 His parents were small farmers. He grew up as a shepherd tending
14 the field. He grew up with Muslims all around him. They were his
15 friends in elementary school. His first teacher was a Muslim. His first
16 friendships were Muslims. His first girlfriends were Muslims. So why
17 would he be accused of such a thing? Well, there's several explanations
18 for that. One of which is that Milan Lukic is about one of the most
19 common names in Serbia
20 being incredibly common, and both together being very common. Now, when
21 I got to this case and I thought about this for a moment I tried to think
22 in myself in my own experiences what would be like this that I could make
23 sense of this case? And I thought of back home, a little town called Las
24 Vegas, New Mexico. Las Vegas is a town of mixed ethnic origins, it's got
25 Latinos and Anglos and there is a university there that kind of brings
1 them all together. But within this town of about 30.000 people there are
2 ethnic tensions today, some Latinos don't like the Anglos, and there are
3 stores that if you go into you can experience prejudice but on the same
4 token there is many people that have cross friendships amongst each other
5 in my town and all in all I tried to think what if Las Vegas, New Mexico
6 blew up, exploded like Visegrad did in 1992?
7 And I think to myself, what role would Milan Lukic,
8 Mitar Vasiljevic or Sredoje Lukic play in this situation? Well, one of
9 the most damaging things I think and especially in the way that I can
10 tell you he has been falsely accused is that they were locals. Imagine,
11 people that you know or have known for your entire life, as you will hear
12 witnesses say about Milan Lukic, "I don't understand this. He was
13 friends to Muslims. He would say high to them on the streets. I don't
14 understand." But the problem is, once a humour starts and one of the
15 most horrible things and Nietzsche said it, Once you label me, you
16 destroy which is that once you are labelled especially with a common
17 name, when the ten drills of the rumours go out amongst the Muslim
18 community, how easy is it to hate Milan Lukic yet not know who he is?
19 There is going to be many instances in the Prosecution's case where they
20 bring no eye witnesses. This is based on hearsay alone.
21 THE INTERPRETER: Could the counsel please slow down for the
22 translation? Thank you.
23 JUDGE ROBINSON: You're being asked to slow down for the benefits
24 of the interpreters.
25 MR. ALARID: I am just conscious of the short time we have, I'm
1 sorry, Your Honour.
2 And when you think about how a rumour can convict someone, it
3 happens every day. It happens in high school when a young girl is
4 accused of not being chaste. Then it becomes reality amongst the minds
5 of many people that may not know her very well but only know of her and
6 yet the people that know her may defend her vigorously, and we will bring
7 Muslims into this courtroom who will testify that they cannot only not
8 believe that Milan Lukic did this but they know that he did not do this;
9 and I think that's powerful. In a land of such ethnic divisions.
10 So what will we do to prove this? Because it seems so
11 insurmountable, the case of Mitar Vasiljevic, his Kum, the godfather of
12 his children, the best man, how do we explain this? Well, I'll explain
13 it. One thing is really simple is Mitar Vasiljevic was pressured into
14 lying to this Court because he took a course of defence that involved the
15 defence of mitigation. He wanted and needed to, in order to get him out
16 of this insurmountable eye witness situation, in order for him to appear
17 recalcitrant before the Tribunal he needed to implicate Milan
18 no other way to save his life. Entertain the fact that maybe Mitar was
19 there, and maybe Milan
20 amongst the two witnesses that will be first called by the Prosecution,
21 there is a simple inconsistency between their statements that will be
22 fatal to the accusation that Mr. Milan Lukic was at the Drina River
23 executing anybody.
24 Then you will have to decide whether Mr. Mitar Vasiljevic had
25 undue motive to lie to this Tribunal in order to lessen his culpability.
1 He did this when Mr. Milan Lukic was not in custody, and as far
2 as he know, would never be taken into custody. So what did he have to
3 lose at that moment in time?
4 It's important to go to the next case, of which I think we will
5 be hearing which is the Pionirska street fire. Why is that important?
6 It's just an awful accusation. I can hear the cries of that victim in
7 that house if I think about it long enough. It is powerful and by the
8 accusation alone it seems horrible and insurmountable as a defence
9 lawyer. But what will acquit Mr. Milan Lukic? Two things, one of which
10 he's accused of being the leader of the White Eagles. This isn't a fact
11 that if you look at the Vasiljevic appeals judgements or the trial
12 judgement, I'm sorry, the findings by the Trial Chamber in relation to
13 other individuals named in the evidence have been based on the evidence
14 given in this trial. And they were made for the purposes of this trial.
15 And they have not been made for the purposes of entering criminal
16 convictions against those other individuals, in particular the two
17 co-accused, Milan Lukic and Sredoje Lukic, who have not been arrested,
18 have not been found guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in this trial of any
19 of the crimes charged against them in the indictment.
20 They are not in any way bound by the findings made in this trial
21 and they will be able to challenge fully in the evidence given in this
22 trial which implicates them if it is given against them in their own
23 trial before this Tribunal.
24 Now, that is a profound statement in and of itself but I believe
25 it's been ignored, it was ignored by the Vasiljevic Trial Chamber by a
1 simple finding in paragraph 46 this a particularly violent and feared
2 group of Serb paramilitaries was led by the co-accused, Milan Lukic.
3 This is from a single report filed in 1992-93, the final report of the
4 United Nations Commission of Experts established pursuant to the Security
5 Council resolution 780. Well I went to that, and I think that's
6 important because of such a document, there must be immense proof of this
7 in there; and I'm thinking well, I can't win since he's been proven to be
8 a leader of White Eagles, 124 pages and all of a paragraph and a table
9 are dedicated to Milan Lukic.
10 And the interesting thing is they really didn't even mention the
11 accusations that are before this Tribunal as possible crimes that he had
12 committed as supposed leader of the White Eagles.
13 Well, why is the White Eagles maybe not even a viable theory? Is
14 because of two factors, one of which is Milan Lukic was 23 years old at
15 the time. He was a stranger to the community for a few years. And who
16 here believes that someone coming in out of town is drafted to the
17 reserve police and then somehow instantaneously within 30 days achieves
18 leadership? Leadership is a huge thing. And leadership is generally
19 reserved to people with experience, and that often equates with age.
20 General Jovanovic, in the stadium to 4.000 Muslims announced that he
21 was -- that the White Eagles were under his command, that came from
22 Mr. Groome's mouth in opening today.
23 If you think of VG-032, who will testify, and his testimony has
24 already been given under oath in Vasiljevic, he said to the Muslims,
25 everyone was considered a White Eagle, all paramilitaries were considered
1 White Eagles.
2 He later found out that some were Seselj's men. He later found
3 out that some were Arkan's men. But to Muslims, they were all White
4 Eagles. Why? Because to Muslims the White Eagle, the symbol of Serbian
5 nationality, their flag, the White Eagles facing each other, to the
6 Muslims is tantamount to a swastika to a Jew. That is in the words of
7 VG-032. That is a powerful analogy because it means revenge always can
8 be implied as a motive to lie, especially if the rumour was that
9 Mr. Lukic was, in fact, a criminal. Just in the community. Because if I
10 knew a waiter or if I knew a local in Las Vegas, New Mexico
11 would know him there, they might not know the commander of the corps
12 outside of town, they might not know the brigades that are marching in
13 and out, they might not know the patriots or criminals depending on who
14 you are that have come from around the country side to join what at the
15 time was a noble fight amongst both sides. Why? Because both sides
16 played the victim. Both sides suffered atrocities. Both sides then
17 published those atrocities to their own people and whipped them into a
18 fervour of anti-ethnic, of which depending on where you were in this
19 country, Serbs were victims, Croats were victims, Bosnians were victims.
20 So how easy is it to come back and imply that the only three
21 locals you knew, Mitar Vasiljevic, Sredoje Lukic and Milan Lukic, were
22 the ones responsible for all the crimes? Well, if you're a local, those
23 are the only people you know. They are the only names you can remember.
24 But if the rumour came around about, why not assume it's the one you
25 knew? Why not assume it's the Milan
1 Pionirska Street is very important. Why? Because the eye
2 witness account in that case was absolutely discredited. The only reason
3 Mitar Vasiljevic suffered any reference to that was because someone say
4 they saw him drunk in the morning before he fell and his horse fell and
5 broke his leg which that alibi was held by the Court to be absolutely
6 reliable to the point of acquittal for involvement in that fire or the
7 later fire, why? Because he can't be running and as the victims or
8 witnesses say you were if you had a cast on your leg. That's important
9 because that shows the lie of innuendo which happens here which is if a
10 witness says, "I saw two friends together that I've known since I was
11 younger because I lived in the town or I went to school with them or the
12 waiter waited on me," and one of them is found not to be there, by
13 competent evidence before the Court, that, I think, brings serious
14 problems with the credibility of that witness. We must examine --
15 JUDGE ROBINSON: I'm sorry, Mr. Alarid, we have passed time when
16 we have to break.
17 MR. ALARID: Yes, sir.
18 JUDGE ROBINSON: If you wish to continue, then it will have to be
19 tomorrow afternoon at 2.15 p.m.
20 MR. ALARID: Understood, Your Honour.
21 JUDGE ROBINSON: And how much longer will you be?
22 MR. ALARID: 10 or 15 minutes.
23 JUDGE ROBINSON: In that case, we will adjourn until tomorrow at
24 2.15 p.m.
25 --- Whereupon the hearing adjourned at 1.47 p.m.
1 to be reconvened on Thursday, the 10th day of July,
2 2008, at 2.15 p.m.