1 Tuesday, 11 October 2005
2 [Prosecution Opening Statement]
3 [Open session]
4 [The accused entered court]
5 --- Upon commencing at 10.01 a.m.
6 JUDGE PARKER: Good morning. We come now to the opening statement
7 for the Prosecution in the case. Perhaps the registrar would be kind
8 enough to formally call it first.
9 THE REGISTRAR: Good morning, Your Honours. This is case number
10 IT-95-13/1-T, the Prosecutor versus Mile Mrksic, Miroslav Radic, and
11 Veselin Sljivancanin.
12 JUDGE PARKER: Mr. Moore.
13 MR. MOORE: My name is Moore, I'm a Senior Trial Attorney. I
14 appear today with Ms. Marie Tuma, Mr. Karim Khan Agha, Ms. Meritxell
15 Regue, and Mr. Alex Demirdjian, and last but not least our case manager,
16 Ms. Sandra D'Angelo.
17 THE INTERPRETER: Microphone, Your Honour, please.
18 MR. VASIC: [Interpretation] Good morning, Your Honours, good
19 morning to everyone in the courtroom. For the defence of Mile Mrksic,
20 Attorney Miroslav Vasic. Thank you.
21 MR. BOROVIC: [Interpretation] Good morning, Your Honours. The
22 defence of Miroslav Radic will be represented by Borivoje Borovic,
23 attorney from Belgrade, and Mira Tapuskovic, also an attorney from
24 Belgrade. Thank you.
25 JUDGE PARKER: Thank you. And the accused Mr. Sljivancanin.
1 MR. LUKIC: [Interpretation] Good morning, Your Honours. Good
2 morning to everybody here taking part in the proceedings. My name is
3 Novak Lukic, Defence counsel for Mr. Veselin Sljivancanin and with me is
4 co-counsel Momcilo Bulatovic.
5 JUDGE PARKER: Thank you very much, Mr. Lukic.
6 Mr. Moore, you're now on air.
7 THE INTERPRETER: Microphone, Your Honour, please.
8 JUDGE PARKER: If you would open.
9 MR. MOORE: Good morning. The city of Vukovar is an old and
10 ancient city. It can trace its roots to the 14th Century. It has been
11 described in a European guidebook from the 1950s as being located on the
12 banks of the River Danube. It's considered to be pleasant, charming,
13 picturesque, and attractive. A visit was recommended.
14 On the 19th of November of 1991, a television crew from Britain
15 made such a visit and this was what they found:
16 [Videotape played]
17 MR. MOORE: According to Ambassador Herbert Okun, who was the
18 special envoy to the United Nations Secretary-General when he visited
19 Vukovar on the 19th of November of that same year, he described it as
20 follows: "Vukovar was the most destroyed city during the entire fighting
21 in Croatia. Almost every building, every structure was destroyed or shot
22 by shell-fire. Destruction was everywhere."
23 We will hear from Ambassador Okun in due course.
24 To the Serbs, Vukovar represented, as they saw it, a reincarnation
25 of the Croatian tenancy towards duplicity and a drive towards
1 independence. That had manifested itself previously with the fascist and
2 Nazis in World War II. The pejorative word Ustasha was used by many to
3 give vent to their feelings. With each rebuff of the Yugoslav army,
4 repeated humiliation was heaped upon it, magnified undoubtedly by the
5 veracious coverage of world's media.
6 To the fledging Croat nation, the prolonged fighting in Vukovar by
7 its troops against, as they saw it, overwhelming odds was a heroic beacon
8 for Croats in their pursuit for freedom and independence. And
9 consequently it is into this cauldron that the acts and deeds of
10 individuals between the 18th and the 21st of November, 1991, specifically
11 in Vukovar must be viewed and not through, as some would say, the
12 rose-tinted spectacles of drawing-room reflections.
13 This case concerns war crimes and crimes against humanity that
14 were committed in the course of the attack on and shortly after the
15 surrender of the city of Vukovar in November. The crimes charged in this
16 indictment all relate to the detention, mistreatment and eventual killing
17 of more than 260 Croat and non-Serb civilians taken from the Vukovar
18 Hospital on the 19th and 20th of November. Many of those removed had been
19 undergoing medical treatment prior to the removal and subsequent murder.
20 And so consequently the events for which these accused stand trial
21 were part after widespread and systematic attack against Croats and
22 non-Serbs in the municipality of Vukovar. All the sequence of events
23 which led to the mass grave at Ovcara form part of a well-organised and
24 continuous line of action by those involved.
25 The accused in this case, Mrksic, Radic, and Sljivancanin, during
1 the period of the indictment were serving officers in Belgrade or the
2 Belgrade-based Guards Motorised Brigade, and hereafter I will call them
3 the Guards.
4 The criminal conduct of each of the accused by itself and with
5 acts committed by others with whom they shared a common criminal purpose
6 in our submission makes them criminally liable for the charges contained
7 in the indictment under Article 7(1). Additionally, the failure of the
8 accused to prevent or punish the criminal conduct of their subordinates
9 makes them each liable for the charges contained under Article 7(3) of the
11 May I just deal very briefly with the topic of military structure
12 that we say will hopefully clarify several aspects of this case.
13 The armed forces consisted of the Yugoslav People's Army, I'll
14 call it JNA from now on if I may, and the Territorial Defence, also TO.
15 The JNA was composed of a General Staff and three branches: Army,
16 air force, and air defence and navy. There were three military districts,
17 and the district which we are concerned with is the 1st Military District
18 covering Western Serbia, the largest part of Bosnia and Herzegovina, and
19 Eastern Croatia, including Eastern Slavonia, Baranja, and Western Srem
20 where the city of Vukovar is situated at that particular location.
21 In addition to the General Staff and the three branches, there is
22 also a separate body in the armed forces that dealt with security matters,
23 including counter-intelligence known as the security administration.
24 Sljivancanin himself was the security officer of the Guards
25 Motorised Brigade during the time and during the period relevant to this
1 indictment, but as such he had no de jure commander responsibility. But
2 due to the specific task or role consisting of the protection and security
3 of the SFRY political and military leadership, the Guards Motorised
4 Brigade was not part of the military district as such, rather - and
5 importantly - it was directly subordinated to the SSNO, the Federal
6 Secretariat for People's Defence. It was an elite unit within the JNA.
7 It received the most capable officers and the most capable other ranks.
8 They were, quite simply, the elite who guarded the elite.
9 The brigade itself, which was under the command of then Colonel
10 Mrksic, and during the period relevant for the indictment it consisted of
11 two guard motorised battalions, two military police battalions which in
12 our submission is important, one armoured battalion, a battalion for the
13 protection of facilities and support elements. And the fact that it had
14 not one but two military battalions, military police battalions, we say is
15 important because it gave them a capacity. It gave them a capacity to
16 protect and control situations more than most other brigades. This can,
17 by comparison, be looked at or compared with a regular motorised JNA
18 brigade which generally only had one company of military police.
19 Let us move on to the Territorial Defence or the TO. Prior to the
20 start of the armed conflict in Croatia, the police and the TO of the
21 Republic of Croatia had split into Croatian and local Serb structures. In
22 areas where local Serbs had a majority or significant minority, they took
23 over the existing structures or set up their own police and TO units, and
24 often staffs that did not answer to the republican authorities as they
25 were perceived to be in Croatia. They stayed loyal to what remained of
1 SFRY and Serbia. And so therefore, the process of creating a local Serb
2 TO in Croatia started around about January 1991.
3 Finally, may I deal with what are called volunteers. In 1982, the
4 All People's Defence law was allowed. It was under well-defined legal
5 circumstances. The purpose was to replenish the SFRY armed forces, the
6 JNA and TO, with those same volunteers. They were people who were not
7 subject to military service but who had been accepted in the armed forces.
8 In view of their rights and responsibilities, volunteers were perceived as
9 being on an equal footing with the military personnel or military
11 May I deal briefly now with what could be called, I suppose,
12 command and control, and the Court will hear evidence principally from
13 General Pringle in relation to that topic.
14 With regard to the SFRY Presidency, that was the most senior
15 command and control body in respect of the armed forces. However, unity
16 of command, single authority were considered essential principles for the
17 successful execution of military operations as indeed one finds in many
18 armies throughout the world.
19 A commander was typically assisted by a command staff who had to
20 be able to provide him at any time during operations with detailed
21 information about the situation. It was considered essential that a
22 commander at all times should know the situation of his subordinate units
23 two levels down. Orders were given quite clearly to maintain this system
24 during the conflict in Croatia.
25 Again, it is important to note that each SFRY armed forces officer
1 was obliged to report violations of the laws of war. Officers bore
2 liability for their actions, for the actions of their subordinates, and
3 could be held personally responsible for a failure to prevent or punish
4 crimes that occurred under their command. And we will see in due course
5 an order that was sent to Mrksic, amongst others, from the superior,
6 namely General Panic, that this principle had specific application,
7 especially after the fall of Vukovar on the 18th of November.
8 May I ask the Court, please, to just turn momentarily to what I
9 will call a map folio. There are six maps which the Court can peruse in
10 its own time. I have little doubt that that the Court is well aware of
11 the various parts and locations. To assist, perhaps map 3 is the clearest
12 where it delineates Croatia quite specifically, and we can see the
13 River Danube flowing on the right-hand side, principally north/south, and
14 we can see Vukovar on the Danube itself. Map 4 perhaps is an extension.
15 And then if we go to map 6, there is a composite map created which shows
16 Vukovar itself, and we have attempted to demonstrate and show where the
17 important locations are, the hospital. A video will be shown of that in a
18 moment; Velepromet was really a staging post to move on; Ovcara where the
19 atrocities occurred; the barracks; and one of the headquarter areas,
20 especially for the TO.
21 So by the early 1990s the Republic of Croatia was clearly heading
22 for independence. After a 19th of May referendum regarding its future in
23 the Yugoslav federation, Croatia declared its independence on the 25th of
24 June of 1991. The consequence was perfectly straightforward. Most Serbs
25 living in Croatia did not participate in this referendum because they
1 anticipated Croatia's independence. They had already held a referendum in
2 late August and early September the previous year, and in that referendum,
3 via the Serbian National Council, Serbs living in Croatia pronounced
4 themselves in favour of a Serbian autonomy as a federal unit of the SFRY.
5 And so consequently, regrettably ethnic identification became more
6 apparent than had hitherto been the case. And in this context Croatian
7 Serbs were being armed since 1990, attacks or we would submit that attacks
8 on Croatian villages by JNA and Serb TO started in late spring, early
9 summer 1991, for example, shelling of various towns. There was escalating
10 tension between the two communities which clearly resulted in a general
11 armed conflict approximately in August of 1991.
12 Prior and during the armed conflict, villages were devastated.
13 Croat civilians were abducted. They were tortured. They were raped.
14 They were obliged to perform forced labour, and some of them were brutally
15 killed by the JNA and Serb TOs. That was done on a systematic and
16 sometimes indiscriminate basis. In addition, a large number of Croat
17 civilians were forced to flee as Serb forces were taking control of their
19 Clearly the position of the JNA was paramount, and it was within
20 that increasingly violent and the political context that the JNA was
21 ostensibly, we would suggest, sent to Croatia to separate the conflicting
22 parties and restore order between the Croatian authorities and as it was
23 perceived to be the insurgent Croatian Serbs. However, it soon became
24 clear that in reality at the latest from around the summer of 1991 onwards
25 large parts of the JNA command and units in Croatia were supporting the
1 insurgent Croatian Serbs in their armed struggle against the Croatian
2 authorities. We submit that was done in order to consolidate Serb
3 territorial gains, and by around September 1991, two months prior to the
4 matters at Vukovar, units of the JNA 1st Motorised Division, acting in
5 conjunction with the Serb TO units from SBWS and TO units from the
6 Republic of Serbia and Serbian volunteers, had taken over most of the
7 villages in Baranja, Eastern Slavonija, Western Srem, with the exception
8 of Vukovar, and it is for that reason that Vukovar was so important,
9 because Vukovar, as we know, is located on the Croatian side of the River
10 Danube. That divided Croatia from Serbia, and Vukovar was then perceived
11 to be the last Croatian stronghold in Eastern Slavonija. It was clearly
12 of strategic importance for both parties, but it was of enormous symbolic
13 importance for both Serb and Croat.
14 So consequently, from around about July 1991, the Serb forces
15 launched military attacks against the city of Vukovar and without any
16 immediate effect.
17 And so on the 29th of September, which we submit is an important
18 date, an extremely important order was implemented. It was the Guards
19 Motorised Brigade, or it related to the Guards Motorised Brigade prior to
20 its redeployment to SBWS, being resubordinated to the 1st Military
21 District. By so ordering, Lieutenant General Panic, who was commander of
22 that military district, subsequently created two operational groups. One
23 was Operational Group North, and the other was Operational Group South,
24 OG North covered Baranja and the part of Eastern Slavonija north of the
25 Vuka River. This case, however, deals principally with the activities and
1 command structure of OG South. And it's important to note from this date
2 until the 24th of November, OG South was responsible for the largest part
3 of Eastern Slavonija located south of the Vuka River and, therefore, was
4 heavily involved in the siege of Vukovar. It was also exclusively and we
5 would say significantly responsible for the evacuation of the Vukovar
7 At all times relevant to this indictment, Mrksic was commander of
8 the Guards and he commanded OG South. And OG South, as I say, consisted
9 of the Guards together with the detachment of the local Serb TO and other
10 units of the TO of the Republic of Serbia and some smaller JNA units.
11 OG South was responsible for the largest part of Eastern Slavonija located
12 south of the Vuka River and, as I say, was heavily involved in the
13 fighting around Vukovar. There was a functioning chain of command and a
14 functioning reporting system between OG South command and its Commander
15 Colonel Mrksic and its subordinate units.
16 May we now turn, please, to Major Sljivancanin. He was chief of
17 the security organs of the Guards, and he was clearly subordinate to
18 Mrksic, and indeed it was Mrksic who later ordered Sljivancanin to
19 organise and lead the evacuation of the hospital. Sljivancanin was the
20 security officer of OG South, and as I've already said he consequently had
21 no actual command responsibility according to JNA regulations. However,
22 we submit that Sljivancanin's duties during the operations of OG South
23 against Vukovar went beyond those of a regular security officer, and I
24 will attempt to deal with those duties and subsequent actions or perhaps
25 more appropriately inactions later on in this opening.
1 And then finally, I want to deal with the third defendant, Captain
2 Miroslav Radic.
3 In the course of 1991, in October, Mrksic introduced what were
4 called assault detachments. They were within OG South, and they were
5 directly subordinated to him. Major Tesic was the commander of the
6 1st Assault Detachment and that played a major role in the siege of
7 Vukovar. This particular detachment consisted of three assault groups
8 with the accused, Captain Radic, as the commander of the 3rd Assault
9 Group. And as I say, it's important to note that the component parts of
10 this assault group and the individuals concerned.
11 Radic's assault group was comprised of regular JNA, reservists,
12 and Serb TO Vukovar detachments of which I will describe in due course.
13 The Petrova Gora Detachment was commanded by a gentleman called Stanko
14 Vujovic, and he is currently on trial in Belgrade for war crimes committed
15 in Vukovar, with a man called Stanko Vujanovic, who also is currently on
16 trial in Belgrade for war crimes committed in Vukovar, and he was believed
17 to be his deputy. The Leva Supoderica TO Detachment was commanded by a
18 person who was known as Kameni, and he was currently, as I say, on trial
19 for war crimes committed at Vukovar.
20 The command post for Radic's assault group was based at 81 Nova
21 Ulica. And Your Honours may remember on map 6 that that is located on the
22 diagram itself. And that was in the house of Vujanovic.
23 During the siege of Vukovar, regular meetings were held at this
24 command post to plan the military operations that were to be undertaken by
25 Radic's assault group. These meetings were regularly attended by Vujovic,
1 Vujanovic, and Kameni, as well as Major Sljivancanin, who curiously was
2 considered by many of the Serb forces to be the commander of the whole
3 Vukovar operation. But Radic was a close, or should I say that Radic had
4 a close relationship with the Vukovar Serb TO detachments under his
5 command as well as with Sljivancanin. According to one witness,
6 Sljivancanin considered Radic as his right-hand man. And if I may put it
7 in simplistic language, what I would submit and what we submit is that
8 Radic basically was a conduit pipe between Sljivancanin and the local TO.
9 On or about the 12th of November, 1991, the Serbian nationalist
10 leader and head of the SRS and well known moderate Seselj, who is
11 currently indicted and appearing at this particular Tribunal, visited
12 Vukovar and held a meeting at Radic's command post. That was at the
13 address at 81 Nova Ulica. In addition to Seselj, other persons, including
14 the Guards Officers, were there, Sljivancanin, Radic, a man called
15 Bojkovski, the Vukovar and local Serb TO commanders Vujovic, Vujanovic and
16 Kameni who was also known to be politically affiliated with the SRS.
17 Seselj was heard by a witness to be called to state to the participants
18 who were at the meeting that, and I quote: "We are all one army. This
19 war is a great test for Serbs. Those who pass the test will become
20 winners. Deserters cannot go unpunished. Not a single Ustasha must leave
21 Vukovar alive."
22 It is interesting to note that five years after the horrors of
23 Vukovar that Sljivancanin stated in an interview with a newspaper that he
24 agreed with Seselj's politics and also stated that he believed that Arkan
25 was a brave man.
1 Radic was clearly the most junior of the three defendants.
2 Nevertheless, as I've already submitted, he played a crucial role. He
3 was, as I say, the conduit pipe. He was in regular contact with the TO.
4 Additionally, he was seen to be Sljivancanin's right-hand man and
5 therefore carried the authority of Sljivancanin. Not only did he perform
6 this important function of liaising with the local Serb TO but also by the
7 use of the lists of people of which we will hear who were at the hospital
8 at the fall of Vukovar, he was one of those who decided who went where.
9 The meeting with Seselj and the observations made are important to
10 the extent that it demonstrates a political partiality of those who
11 attended, and it was only a mere six days before these atrocities
13 The Prosecution submit that at this meeting a goal or intention to
14 persecute all non-Serb opponents and Croats in Vukovar by members of what
15 I will call the JCE may have started to take shape.
16 During September and October of 1991, the forces of OG South,
17 under the command of Mrksic, had almost completely surrounded and cut off
18 the city of Vukovar. Throughout the approximately three-month period and
19 the siege by the Serb forces the city, including the hospital, was
20 subjected to a repeated, continuous, and often indiscriminate intense
21 artillery and air bombardment campaign forcing many of its inhabitants to
22 live in underground shelters or basements. As a part its operations to
23 seize the city, the Serb forces also launched several infantry and
24 armoured attacks, and so on the 18th of November, the Croatian forces
25 defending Vukovar had finally surrendered. And during the course of that
1 three-month siege, we have already seen from the introductory video that
2 there was significant damage to the area and many people were killed and
3 large numbers displaced.
4 On or around the 18th of November, approximately 170 members of
5 the Croatian forces who had been defending Vukovar surrendered in Mitnica.
6 That was several kilometres from the city centre. During the negotiations
7 for the surrender, the commanders of the Croatian forces surrendered to
8 regular JNA units. However, these Croatian forces insisted that the
9 surrender should be under the auspices of the Red Cross. This surrender
10 also occurred in the full glare of the media, and two of those people
11 involved were a gentleman called Colonel Pavkovic, again awaiting trial at
12 ICTY but not in relation to this matter, but he was a liaison officer for
13 OG South headquarters; and a gentleman called Nicolas Borsinger, who was
14 from the International Committee of the Red Cross.
15 Could I ask you, please, to turn to tab 4 and tab 5. May I deal
16 with tab 5 first of all. So tab 5, please, and then we'll go back to
17 tab 4 in a moment.
18 Tab 5, I hope, will show for everybody individuals around a table.
19 The gentleman on the left with the Red Cross badge is Nicolas Borsinger.
20 We will see him in two days' time on the bridge in Vukovar. But we have
21 Borsinger. The next gentleman to him is Pavkovic. We also will see him
22 on the bridge. And the gentleman on the right is a person who is
23 surrendering on behalf of the Croatian forces.
24 Could I ask you now, please, to go to tab -- tab 4. I'm not going
25 to play the video, that will come in due course, but I have a copy of a
1 transcript, and I would like to deal with it in the following way, and I
2 have highlighted for all parties what we would say are the salient parts.
3 If we go to page 1, we can see that Pavkovic is saying,
4 "Surrender, surrender." From if we then go to page 5, we see Pavkovic
5 talking to a gentleman called Karaula who is a Croatian Defender.
6 Pavkovic said, "You are the gentleman from Mitnica."
7 And the answer is, "Yes."
8 Six, Nicolas Borsinger comes in and what he says is important. He
9 said, "I need to explain to both representatives the presence of the
10 International Committee of the Red Cross here is only in relations with
11 questions of humanitarian nature."
12 And then on page 7, the part that I would ask the Court perhaps to
13 underline, although it's already done, we can see Pavkovic giving the
14 reason why the International Red Cross is actively involved. He
15 says, "Members of the armed Croatian forces asked for a member of the
16 International Red Cross or the monitoring mission to participate."
17 He carries on, "Because that is, according to them, a guarantee
18 that our agreement will be respected."
19 We submit that this particular negotiation at Mitnica, which
20 carried on and to be properly dealt with highlights quite specifically the
21 concern of Croatian forces and the nature of the surrender. It is also
22 important in relation to Pavkovic's state of knowledge and Borsinger's
23 participation on the bridge at Vukovar. And so as a consequence, the
24 Croatian forces who had surrendered on this occasion were escorted by the
25 Guards military police without any interference from the local Serb TO.
1 They were taken to the border with Serbia and after which they were
2 transported to the detention camp in Serbia.
3 It may well be that the involvement of the Red Cross itself, and
4 in particular the presence, initially, that that may well have saved the
5 lives of those surrendering. If the presence of the International
6 Red Cross and the media was a miscalculation, it was not a miscalculation
7 that was to be repeated on the 20th of November and the evacuation from
8 the hospital.
9 During the last days of the siege at Vukovar, several hundred
10 people converged, not surprisingly, on the hospital. They believed that
11 it would be a safe place and a place to take refuge. By the 18th of
12 November, those on the hospital premises, including medical staff,
13 relatives of staff, patients, including people who had been injured during
14 the fighting of other civilians were located. Many at the hospital stayed
15 in the basement on account of the JNA shelling of the hospital, which had
16 already caused extensive damage to the upper floors of the hospital
18 It is estimated by the 18th of November there were approximately
19 between 1 and 2.000 people taking -- people taking refuge in the hospital
20 in addition to the sick and injured. And I would like to play, if I may,
21 please, a short video that was taken at the time of the hospital.
22 [Videotape played]
23 MR. MOORE: Around the time of the surrender of the forces
24 defending Vukovar, an evacuation agreement was signed in Zagreb. It was
25 signed by the representatives of the Republic of Croatia, the JNA, the
1 International Committee of the Red Cross, Medicins Sans Frontieres, and
2 the Malteser Kreuz. The evacuation agreement was clearly an important
3 document and was designed to regulate the evacuation of the sick and the
4 wounded from the hospital under the auspices of the monitors themselves.
5 Would the Court please refer to the binder and go to tab 1, and we
6 will activate it on Sanction.
7 May we deal with the first paragraph which I hope is highlighted.
8 One can see that there is a meeting on the 18th of November.
9 If we move to paragraph 5, "The evacuation will include all those
10 wounded or sick undergoing medical treatment in the Vukovar Hospital ..."
11 Paragraph 6: "The hospital will be put under the protection of
12 the International Red Cross who will advise both parties of the period for
13 neutrality which they require."
14 And then 7: "The Republic of Croatia and the YPA agree that the
15 European Commission Monitor Mission should monitor the whole of the
16 operation having full access to all elements of the evacuation." And then
17 there's reference to facilitation.
18 And we submit that the reference to "all the wounded and sick,"
19 that quite simply it was to be under the protection of the International
20 Red Cross literally from beginning to end, and the monitoring was more
21 honoured in the breach than anything else. No mention was made whatsoever
22 in the evacuation agreement of the JNA handing over the evacuees to any
23 other body. Indeed, there was no mention made in the agreement about the
24 role to be played by the self-declared local SBWS authorities in the
25 evacuation of the hospital. The evacuation agreement was known to all
1 parties. It was known by these three defendants and others, and there
2 were many other elements that came into play that to some extent actually
3 strengthened the agreement rather than weakened it.
4 The fighting between the Serb forces and the Croatian forces had
5 been very intense. There clearly had been high losses for both sides, in
6 particular the Serb forces. The Guards itself had suffered particularly
7 heavy losses, especially amongst officers. Colonel Mrksic apparently
8 observed that they, namely the Guards, had more than 600 men put out of
9 action, including many officers, and this would probably be recorded in
10 the history of war as a military operation in which more officers were
11 killed than soldiers.
12 It puts really in mind the word "decimate," which means one in
13 ten, in Latin and here. There was approximately 600 men who were either
14 killed or injured out of a total of approximately 3.000.
15 Anticipating the strong possibility of reprisals against the
16 civilian population of Vukovar after its fall, General Panic issued an
17 order to Colonel Mrksic to seize the Vukovar Hospital on the 18th of
18 November. This order, we submit, is an extremely important document in
19 the case. It unambiguously put Mrksic on notice concerning the threat of
20 retribution and other sorts of revenge for which some local Serb TO units
21 had been responsible.
22 May I just ask you, please, to turn to tab 2. If we go to
23 Sanction for that. If we deal with the first page, we can see in the top
24 left-hand corner, which is one -- or the 1st Military District, which
25 clearly is here. The 18th of November is the date. We can see that it is
1 highlighted as being very urgent. It relates to Operations Group South
2 under the control and command of Mrksic.
3 If I then turn the page, we can see in paragraph 3: "While
4 carrying out these assignments, and in all other operations in the area,
5 which the 1st Military District are engaged on smashing Ustasha forces,
6 observe all aspects of the Geneva Convention on the prisoners of war."
7 May we go on, please, to paragraph 8: "Every unit must fully
8 control the situation on the territory of its area of responsibility."
9 And again: "Commanders at all levels will be responsible for
10 this. Wartime laws have not entered into force and therefore - as
11 always - nobody has the right to retribution and other kinds of revenge,
12 which some local TO /Territorial Defence/ units carried out. In future,
13 arrest those who commit any such acts and undertake appropriate legal
15 At the very bottom we can see where it is originating from. It's
16 in Mrksic's superior, Panic. And then finally, if we go to the last page,
17 we can see it is the 18th of November at 0045 hours when it was received.
18 And we would submit that, if I may use the English phrase, it is
19 as plain as a pikestaff to anyone receiving that order exactly what Panic
20 was concerned about. Over and above just a question of common sense of
21 what had been occurring for two months previously.
22 Dr. Bosanac, who will be our first witness, was the director of
23 the hospital. She had been informed that the evacuation of the sick and
24 wounded from the hospital would start on the 18th of November under, as
25 has been arranged, the auspices of the Red Cross and the European
1 Monitors. The evacuation, however, could not take place on that day
2 because both groups were involved in monitoring the surrender and
3 evacuation of civilians in other parts of the city, almost certainly
4 Mitnica as I have already referred.
5 Therefore, it is agreed that the monitors would instead go to the
6 hospital to monitor its evacuation the next day, namely the 19th of
7 November. During the evening of the 18th of November, because Mrksic
8 seems to have had a command briefing each day, but on the evening of the
9 18th of November, Mrksic held, as I would submit, his customary daily
10 command briefing at the headquarters at Negoslavci. There he announced
11 that Sljivancanin would be in command of the operation to evacuate the
12 hospital. And so on the morning of the 19th of November, Major Tesic and
13 his forces of the 1st Assault Detachment reached the hospital and secured
14 it. There was no resistance from anybody in the hospital. And at
15 approximately the same time Radic also reached the hospital. You will
16 remember, of course, that Radic was directly subordinated to Tesic but
17 curiously had not been ordered by Tesic to go to the hospital or to take
18 any part in the evacuation.
19 It would appear that Radic himself attended the hospital of his
20 own volition, and it is correct to say that Sljivancanin then joined
22 Shortly after Tesic's arrival at the hospital, Vujic -- I beg your
23 pardon, Vujovic, Vujanovic and other members of the local Serb Vukovar TO,
24 including Serb volunteers and paramilitaries, started gathering outside
25 the hospital. Bearing in mind that the order had been given by Panic the
1 day before, these individuals were allowed entry despite, we would submit,
2 the obvious dangers in such a potentially highly charged environment.
3 Some of these people identified themselves as Chetniks, and as I say, they
4 were allowed to enter by the JNA. And there they started abusing, they
5 started beating and otherwise mistreating some of the patients. While
6 feelings were clearly running high within the local Serb TO, this was the
7 real first manifestation of actual incidents occurring within the JNA, and
8 we submit there was complicity here in respect of that, bearing in mind
9 that it was perfectly foreseeable trouble would occur when the battles had
10 occurred sometime previously
11 Not surprisingly, Bosanac insisted that the monitors themselves
12 should be present when the evacuation occurred, perfectly in line with the
13 evacuation agreement, and she endeavoured to contact the monitor to this
14 effect. When she was talking to Major Sljivancanin concerning access to
15 the hospital, the -- regarding Dr. Bosanac's prudent request, the European
16 Monitor Schou received a rely from Sljivancanin that the European Monitors
17 should have no further contact with her because Sljivancanin considered
18 her to be a criminal and that they should not be allowed to go to the
19 hospital while there were criminals present
20 Tesic then took Bosanac back to the OG South headquarters to meet
21 with Mrksic, and at that meeting Mrksic informed Bosanac that he was
22 changing the evacuation route that had been agreed upon. Apparently there
23 was a concern expressed about mines.
24 Mrksic also informed Bosanac that the Red Cross was busy at the
25 Velepromet facility in Vukovar dealing with the since that were gathered
1 there and Mrksic also added that Bosanac should return to the hospital and
2 await the International Red Cross monitors there. Curiously, he refused
3 to allow Bosanac to speak to one of the monitors at the headquarters using
4 the phrase, "Well, there was no reason for her to see them now." So
5 Bosanac was quite simply taken back to the hospital, and it was quite
6 clear that the military police were in complete control at that time.
7 Around that day, it was the 19th of November, Ambassador Okun and
8 Cyrus Vance were there. They were the international peace envoys in
9 relation to a mission in respect of the International Conference for the
10 former Yugoslavia. They also attempted to visit the hospital in order to
11 assess the situation there, but we will hear evidence from Okun in this
12 trial about what occurred.
13 After her return to the hospital, Dr. Bosanac discovered that the
14 JNA, under Sljivancanin, had actually already started separating the men
15 from the women and transporting them to the collection facility at
16 Velepromet, and this was done clearly in breach of the agreement and
17 clearly with no adherence whatsoever of what had been intended.
18 Despite her protests to Sljivancanin that this should not be done
19 without the monitors being present, Sljivancanin completely disregarded
20 her and continued separating and selecting the evacuees from the hospital
21 complex. As I say, this was men and women being separated. And so
22 consequently by the late afternoon or early evening on the 19th of
23 November, under Sljivancanin's order, a large number of the people who had
24 previously sought refuge at the hospital had been transported to the
25 collection centre at Velepromet, which was clearly under the JNA control
1 Many of these people were subsequently mistreated. Some were
2 killed at the facility, and some of that facility was being used as a
3 detention centre.
4 Sometime after the earlier evacuation of the civilians to
5 Velepromet, a representative of the Red Cross arrived at the hospital and
6 met with Bosanac and Sljivancanin. What then occurred, we submit, was
7 highly significant, because in actual fact Bosanac gave a list of sick and
8 wounded to the international representative. The reason is perfectly
9 obvious. The evacuation agreement specified about all those injured being
10 under the control of the International Red Cross and other considerations
11 as well. Sljivancanin, however, requested copies of the list of the sick
12 and wounded, and bearing in mind the pressure that was being applied and
13 the situation, Bosanac reluctantly gave copies to him. Again, on his
14 insistence and despite her reluctance, Bosanac arranged for other lists to
15 be made of the hospital staff, family members, and other persons in the
16 hospital to be given to Sljivancanin.
17 We suggest, or we submit, that Sljivancanin himself was clearly
18 taking control of the lists to serve his own end. Those same lists, we
19 submit, were later used for selection purposes in the evacuation of the
21 And so when we come to the evening of the 19th of November,
22 Mrksic held a meeting at his head quarter quarters and he informed a
23 number officers who had been sent to assist in the evacuation of Vukovar
24 Mrksic uttered the following words: "Many criminals are hiding amongst
25 the wounded who have been killing and slaughtering the JNA soldiers and
1 Serb civilians."
2 Later that same evening, Bosanac again was taken back to Mrksic's
3 headquarters. However, Sljivancanin was there, and he started questioning
4 her about the whereabouts of, as he said, various members of the Croatian
5 forces defending Vukovar.
6 And so as I have already said, you have Bosanac at the
7 headquarters and a number of people at Velepromet. The facility itself
8 held a large number of individuals who had sought refuge previously or
9 that they had been bused in the orders of Sljivancanin. The facility
10 itself is located close to the JNA barracks in Vukovar and again was under
11 the control of the OG South.
12 A retired JNA security officer, a man called Colonel Vujic, was
13 ordered to go to Velepromet and to separate, as was called, the prisoners
14 of war from the civilians. Vujic was also to arrange for the prisoners of
15 war to be bused to the detention facility at Sremska Mitrovica in Serbia.
16 But when he arrived at Velepromet, he was introduced to a security officer
17 in the Guards. That officer was in charge of the facility at Velepromet,
18 and informed Vujic that the separation of prisoners of war and civilians
19 again had already been completed, and more importantly, indicated that
20 members of the local Serb TO were also assisting in the security of the
22 While inspecting the premises, Vujic was denied entry to one
23 particular room. That was guarded by both members of the local Serb TO
24 and the military police of the Guards Motorised Brigade. This room became
25 known by those who either were held in it or aware of its function as
1 the "Room of death."
2 Two men, one of whom was referred as Topola and a gentleman called
3 Marko Crevar were present. Both were known locally as Chetniks. Crevar,
4 who was head of the secretariat of internal affairs in Vukovar and a part
5 of the security detail at the facility was under the command -- under the
6 command of the Guards Motorised Brigade, told Vujic the following: "They
7 will not allow the POWs in the room to be taken out of it, but instead
8 they will keep them in order to punish them, that is, deal with them the
9 way they dealt with Serbs ... These are all criminals. We know they were
10 personally. We are already dealing with them, and nobody will be able to
11 take them away from us, even if we have to settle our accounts with
13 However, Vujic, to his credit, noticed that people were being
14 removed from the room. They were being taken away and after that shots
15 were being heard. And as was later discovered, dead bodies were seen at
16 the Velepromet facilities. At this point, Vujic himself ordered the crew
17 of a Guards Motorised Brigade armoured personnel carrier to move their
18 vehicle as close to the room as possible and to open fire on those
19 guarding the room, including himself, if the prisoners held in that room
20 were not released. On this threat of force, the members of the local
21 Serb TO backed down and released the prisoners.
22 It really begs the question, does it not, if Vujic was able to
23 protect people, does it not beg the question how others were not able to
24 do so later on?
25 According to Vujic himself, he said that around 45 prisoners of
1 war were taken out of that room. He described them as all being in a bad
2 state, described them as bloody, beaten up, and generally looked bad. It
3 was obvious that they had been tortured.
4 There are other descriptions from that room. If I just give one
5 by a man called Josip Covic, he said that: "Drunken Chetniks would arrive
6 at night and pick out the young, stronger male prisoners. They would take
7 them to the corner where they would be beaten to death in front of us.
8 They would beat them with electric cables until they fell down, and when
9 they were on the floor they would jump on them with their boots and kick
10 them in the heads. While doing this, the Chetniks shouted, Squash them,
11 kill the Ustasha, the motherfucker is still alive."
12 Returning to the headquarters of OG South in the early hours of
13 the 20th of November - and the day is significant - Vujic informed Mrksic
14 in clear and unequivocal language and also Major Sljivancanin about the
15 troubles that he had encountered with members of the local Serb TO,
16 including the volunteers identifying themselves as Chetniks, what had
17 occurred at Velepromet and that they were also killing certain non-Serb
19 It appears that despite the warning from Panic, despite the
20 warning from Vujic, that nothing was done by officers to protect those
22 If Vujic is to be believed, he gives a clear and unequivocal
23 account to both Mrksic and Sljivancanin of a clear course of conduct of
24 extreme violence, killing of persons in their charge, and it is important
25 obviously for two reasons: The account given by him is directly to both
1 Mrksic and Sljivancanin and from a highly credible and reliable source;
2 and secondly, it reconfirms the fears expressed to Mrksic and Sljivancanin
3 from their commander Panic in the order of the 18th of November, some
4 36 hours earlier. And the fears that Panic had expressed clearly were now
5 coming to fruition.
6 Indeed, despite this information, Sljivancanin's attitude was
7 somewhat interesting because he subsequently briefed Vujic and others that
8 he had outsmarted Bosanac, that he had been able to acquire the lists of
9 those who were at the hospital and, as I say, these lists, according to
10 Sljivancanin, had revealed disguised war criminals in the hospital who
11 were known to have committed crimes against the local Serb population. It
12 is clear from the language used of "war criminals," that both he and
13 Mrksic were ad idem with regard to their perception of many of the
15 We submit that the plan of Mrksic, Sljivancanin, Radic, and others
16 involved in the evacuation of this hospital was to identify and to isolate
17 the individuals whom they believed had committed crimes against the local
18 Serb population and Serb forces, namely, they were war criminals or they
19 were Ustashas.
20 May I respectfully ask the Court if there could be a short
21 adjournment at this time, and I will then continue with what I will call
22 the second part of my submission.
23 JUDGE PARKER: Mr. Moore, when you say second part, in length of
24 time what should we anticipate roughly?
25 MR. MOORE: Roughly about one hour.
1 JUDGE PARKER: 1.00 p.m.
2 MR. MOORE: Oh, no. I would like to think that if we have a --
3 JUDGE PARKER: One hour.
4 MR. MOORE: Yes, just one hour.
5 JUDGE PARKER: That will conclude your opening statement.
6 MR. MOORE: It will, yes.
7 JUDGE PARKER: Very well. Well, in that event we will now break
8 for half an hour.
9 MR. MOORE: Certainly.
10 --- Recess taken at 11.11 a.m.
11 --- On resuming at 11.44 a.m.
12 JUDGE PARKER: Mr. Moore.
13 MR. MOORE: Thank you, My Lord.
14 May I just move on, please, to the evacuation of further
15 individuals from the hospital itself.
16 As I already indicated, Dr. Bosanac was taken back and forward to
17 the hospital on several occasions. At approximately 6.00 in the morning
18 on the 20th, Major Sljivancanin gave a briefing to Colonel Vujic and other
19 officers before he travelled to -- travelled from the Velepromet
20 facilities to the hospital itself. He stated that he himself would be
21 personally in charge of evacuating the hospital, that his officers had
22 already received their assignments, and that the people in the hospital
23 would be gathered in the hospital yard where it would be decided who would
24 be taken where.
25 Clearly, we submit, the lists play an important function with
1 regard to that.
2 On account of the problems at Velepromet the night before, the
3 selected individuals who would be taken from the hospital were to be
4 evacuated to the JNA barracks, that was in Vukovar, and they clearly --
5 and was clearly before -- beside the Velepromet facility. This apparently
6 was for the protection of those individuals. If it was for their own
7 protection and it was a genuine explanation, then, we submit, it would
8 clearly beg a question or questions: Protection from whom? And how did
9 so many souls die in such dreadful circumstances approximately 12 hours
10 later if indeed it was Sljivancanin's intention to protect them?
11 On arrival at the hospital itself, the Guards personnel and the
12 local Serb TO were all under Sljivancanin's command, as we submit, and
13 they were still in control of the security at that time.
14 Radic himself had also arrived at the hospital in the early
15 morning. He met with Sljivancanin again, and Sljivancanin had been
16 walking around and continued to walk around the hospital with members of
17 the local Serb TO who identified and were identified as Chetniks, and what
18 they were doing was they were pointing out Croats in the hospital and
19 indicating ones that had slaughtered Serbs. All of this was being done in
20 Sljivancanin's presence and with his collusion.
21 With regard to that selection procedure and the involvement of the
22 TO, bearing in mind what Vujic had seen and reported the night before, one
23 can draw, we would submit, a perfectly reasonable and proper inference
24 that what was being done here and the selection of these individuals was
25 approved of by Sljivancanin.
1 At around about 7.00, one hour later, Sljivancanin then informed
2 Dr. Bosanac that she was no longer in charge of the hospital, and he told
3 her that he was calling a meeting of the staff. She asked for a delay in
4 the evacuation, clearly in adherence of the evacuation agreement she
5 wanted the monitors to be there, and they were to be there at
6 approximately 8.00. No delay was permitted. No delay was granted by
7 Sljivancanin, and reluctantly Bosanac agreed for the meeting to be called.
8 The reason, we submit, why there was no international monitors was
9 perfectly straightforward. They were being deliberately delayed in
10 getting to the hospital by the JNA, and we will hear evidence, I trust,
11 that they were held for approximately two hours during which the
12 evacuation of the hospital continued. The evacuation, but perhaps more
13 importantly the selection of individuals which continued unfettered by the
14 restriction that would be placed on it by the international eye and the
15 media in particular. As I say, Mitnica was not going to be repeated.
16 While the hospital staff meeting was in progress, a JNA officer
17 read out from the lists of names those in the hospital who should go to
18 the hospital yard. A selection procedure was clearly under way. And
19 while this separation was taking place, some of the local Serb TOs and
20 other paramilitaries had actually entered the hospital, again past the
21 OG South security personnel and were continuing, as they had done the day
22 before, threatening patients.
23 It's also important to bear in mind what had happened the night
24 before at Velepromet Sljivancanin was told about. And again it begs the
25 question: How is it that the very category of individual who had been
1 partially responsible for the cruelties and killings the night before were
2 being allowed in the hospital that morning, because the personnel in the
3 area did not intervene to protect these patients.
4 One witness remembers the following: "I saw Chetniks hitting a
5 man on the part of his leg that had been amputated." That was after he
6 had been identified as a Croat.
7 And when the separation was taking place, Sljivancanin himself was
8 announcing to the hospital staff that the JNA had won the day and that the
9 hospital was now under JNA control. No ICRC, no Red Cross representative
10 or European Monitor was present in the hospital while this separation and
11 removal was taking place, despite it being perfectly obvious that it was
12 agreed that they should participate in that particular capacity.
13 As I say, that was because they were being deliberately denied to
14 the hospital by Sljivancanin and others.
15 Furthermore, we suggest that the meeting was a ruse to distract
16 into one place the only other group of people who could cause difficulties
17 or delays in this targeted selection.
18 Once the evacuees were in the yard of the hospital they were then
19 put on buses. Sljivancanin again was directly responsible or in charge,
20 should I say, of the operation. But it's important to note that his
21 right-hand man Radic was fully involved at this time in the selection
22 procedure and despite not being a military policeman or a member of the
23 security personnel, and apparently in the absence of any order from his
24 superior Tesic.
25 The people who were being isolated, the people who were being
1 targeted were principally military opponents, politicians from the
2 Croatian Democratic Union, or perceived Croatian sympathisers. They were
3 separated from the other evacuees, and as I say, loaded onto buses.
4 Radic himself ordered some of the selected hospital evacuees onto
5 the buses, and what was said, if I may give a small example of what was
6 occurring, prior to the boarding of the buses evacuees were being
7 searched. Perhaps that is understandable in its own way, but I quote: "I
8 saw them take out Martin Dosen, who was one of those wounded from the
9 hospital. Although he was on a stretcher, he was nevertheless pushed and
10 just dumped in the courtyard to die." He is among those listed as missing
11 and, indeed, in due course you will see that to be the case.
12 "I saw many local Chetniks with the JNA, and they were beating the
13 men," all in the courtyard, or in the forecourt, all clearly under the
14 control of OG South.
15 Sljivancanin was, according to one witness, well aware of the fate
16 of the selected persons on the buses. According to one woman, when she
17 spoke to Sljivancanin about the people on the buses, he replied to her
18 that the detainees would not be going far because, and I quote: "They
19 would be swallowed by the dark in the middle of the day."
20 On an earlier visit to the hospital while looking at the wounded
21 civilians being carried out to the hospital and in the presence of a
22 journalist, Radic state that: "They (the wounded civilians) are all dead
24 And when in actual fact the journalist queried that, the reply
25 was: "You are not seeing clearly, these are dead men."
1 Another OG South soldier assisted in the loading of the buses took
2 money off evacuees. One in particular, a woman called Markobasic, was a
3 well-known member -- or the wife of a well-known member of the Croatian
4 forces who had defended Vukovar. She was told that she would have no use
5 for any of the money. She was visibly pregnant at the time. She is one
6 of the victims murdered in the most appalling of ways at Ovcara. A
7 high-velocity weapon was inserted into her vagina and then fired, killing
8 her as well as the unborn baby.
9 The buses then proceeded from the hospital to the JNA barracks,
10 and that was clearly at Vukovar, and each bus was accompanied by two
11 military police and a Guards officer.
12 All the buses bound for the barracks had departed from the
13 hospital before Sljivancanin allowed the monitors from the European
14 Commission and the International Red Cross to have access, and it is the
15 significance of the timing and the release into the area that perhaps is
16 indicative of the state of mind existing at that time.
17 Simultaneously, while the selective separation of the evacuees and
18 the loading of the buses were taking place at the hospital, the monitors,
19 who had earlier left the headquarters of the JNA, were prevented, as I
20 say, from entering or proceeding to the hospital. The place that they
21 were delayed was at a bridge over the Vuka River, and that they seem to
22 think was around about 8.45 in the morning.
23 The reason given by Sljivancanin to them at that time was that
24 they were being prevented from proceed together hospital for their own
25 safety. You may hear Bosanac actually say that as she thought it was
1 rather surprising some of the JNA soldiers were actually discharging
2 weapons at that time, and we would submit it was almost certainly a ploy
3 to give that impression.
4 We submit that the stopping of the monitors from reaching the
5 hospital and attempting to prevent Mr. -- or should I say Sljivancanin
6 from removing the selected individuals was clearly in breach of the
7 evacuation agreement, and it was only after the selected evacuees had been
8 removed from the hospital that that was done.
9 The monitors themselves estimated that they had been delayed for a
10 period of approximately two years -- two hours. My apologies. Two hours.
11 So equally, we would submit, if one thinks back to the 18th of November
12 and the man called Pavkovic and Borsinger being present of the -- or at
13 the evacuation and surrender at Mitnica, and with regard to that here we
14 can see quite simply that there was a deliberate ploy to delay.
15 One representative of the European Commission says: "I saw that
16 there was an armoured personnel carrier blocking the bridge. We were kept
17 there for two hours. It struck me as nonsense because there was no longer
18 any fighting. We were arguing with Sljivancanin in the strongest possible
19 way, so that we would be allowed into the hospital. During that time, a
20 Red Cross representative arrived and got into a strong argument with
21 Sljivancanin in front of the bridge. Sljivancanin turned to me and told
22 me that he did not trust the Red Cross ..."
23 As I say, at the same time that the monitors were being
24 deliberately delayed, there was traffic moving freely on a parallel bridge
25 over the Vuka River, which had been, as it were, released for traffic.
1 The purpose, however, was perfectly clear. One had to get across the
2 river and across the bridge with those evacuees, and it had been recently
3 open, we submit, to permit the transfer of the detainees from the hospital
4 to the barracks.
5 Could I now, please, would the Court's leave show two things.
6 One, I wish to show the video of what occurred on the bridge with
7 Borsinger. That could be shown, and the transcript is at tab 6. However,
8 what is being done also, if it helps, is that there are subtitles
9 underneath in relation to the translation, and then draw attention to the
10 photograph itself.
11 So this is the confrontation with Borsinger who had been at
12 Mitnica on the 18th, and here he is with Sljivancanin and Pavkovic that
14 Yes, please.
15 Your Honours, I think, need to put on headsets.
16 [Videotape played]
17 MR. MOORE: May I just deal with the transcript for one moment, at
18 tab 6. You may have heard Sljivancanin said, "I gave you everything you
19 asked for." That's at the bottom of page 3 of 3.
20 In actual fact, Sljivancanin gave him absolutely nothing. The
21 whole point was they didn't let the representative, Borsinger, go across
22 the bridge at all.
23 May I ask you, please, to turn to tab 10. This is a -- clearly
24 what I will call a split photograph. We have just seen the confrontation
25 on the bridge with Borsinger who had come after the earlier disagreements.
1 One can see Borsinger on the right, Sljivancanin, on the left, and the
2 gentleman in the middle is Pavkovic, and we can see, if we look at the
3 photograph of two days earlier, that you have Borsinger on the left, and
4 you've got Pavkovic in the middle.
5 The other matter which you might wish to consider, entirely a
6 matter for the Court, is there is an APC in behind, and one can see
7 actually Pavkovic walk from the general direction of it. When we look at
8 the video in due course, I will be highlighting that fact. And then we
9 would submit that it's not without significant with the press there that
10 suddenly that APC is started up and removed out of the way.
11 And so in conclusion, here we have a gentleman, Pavkovic, who knew
12 perfectly well what had gone on. He could authenticate what Borsinger was
13 saying, and quite simply we would submit that these individuals were
14 really deliberately delaying the arrival of the monitors in clear breach
15 of that agreement.
16 At the JNA barracks themselves, the buses with the evacuees there
17 remained at the barracks for several hours still under the control of JNA
18 OG South control, and throughout that time they were prevented from
19 actually leaving the buses. It was almost as if they were a prison in
21 However, despite the problems the night before, the warnings given
22 by the colonel, by the commanding officer, and just common sense, the
23 local Serb TO members, including the paramilitaries and the volunteers,
24 they were allowed to enter the barracks and also to threaten the evacuees
25 in the buses. They stated quite openly they were going to settle scores
1 with the evacuees. One was told that in actual fact that he would not be
2 saved and he would face a bad end.
3 At the barracks, the selection procedure continued. Some of the
4 occupants on the buses were released. Those who were released were
5 released because they were identified as relatives of hospital staff or
6 listed as being erroneously placed on the bus. It is the purpose of the
7 list that we submit is important. Some evacuees were saved by neighbours
8 and friends. Many of those released were beaten actually in front of JNA
9 OG South soldiers, and then they were returned to the hospital.
10 One witness remembers: "Twenty-five people being taken off the
11 buss in total ... As we were taken off, we had to go through a line of
12 Chetniks. They were all kicked and beaten with sticks and metal bars.
13 The beating continued on the bus where there were three men, two were
14 Chetniks and one was a young JNA regular."
15 At one point Radic again became involved. He enter at least one
16 of the buses at the JNA barracks and he read from a list of names of some
17 of the occupants who were subsequently allowed off the bus.
18 Quaere: Why are people being kept on the bus and what was
19 intended for them?
20 Because while at the barracks, both Vujovic and Vujanovic, who
21 were the leaders of the local TO, were present, and they also had
22 discussions was Sljivancanin. In the early hours of the afternoon, those
23 buses carrying the evacuees from the hospital left the JNA barracks under
24 the JNA OG South escort, and they were bound for Ovcara and, we submit, on
25 the orders of Mrksic through Sljivancanin.
1 Simultaneously, a large pit or grave requiring the use of a
2 mechanical digger, the pit was being dug nearby at Ovcara. It was under
3 the control of a JNA soldier. At the same time, the detainees were being
4 held at the barracks. A local man was used to start the digging. The
5 ground had to be selected, and it was clearly so large it had to hold a
6 number of bodies. Two hundred bodies were found in that grave. And the
7 significance is obvious. It was clearly and does clearly demonstrate that
8 there was an intention to kill, to bury, and to hide. And the size of the
9 grave is significant, because it suggests a premeditation with regard to
11 In actual fact, some 60 people are still unaccounted for, such has
12 been the ability to hide.
13 The whole procedure, we submit, suggests organisation of military
14 precision, both with regard to transportation and timing where the
15 evacuees are under the control of OG South and under the control of
17 Can I ask the Court, please, to just bear in mind the statements
18 of Sljivancanin and Radic the previous day. Radic: "They are all dead
19 men." And Sljivancanin: "They would be swallowed by the dark in the
20 middle of the day."
21 We submit that the threatening and aggressive conduct of the local
22 Serb TO towards the evacuees on the buses prior to their removal to
23 Ovcara, it was open, it was visible to the officers of the Guards, it was
24 visible and obviously known to Sljivancanin who additionally had been
25 aware of the fate of the Velepromet detainees the night before, yet
1 nothing was done to rectify the situation. Why not, if the actual and
2 genuine intention was to protect as had been declared?
3 Around this same time there was additionally a meeting of the
4 self-declared SBWS government under Hadzic, currently indicted here. At
5 this meeting was discussed that although the evacuees removed from the
6 hospital should be tried for any war crimes which they had committed, they
7 should remain under the control of the JNA since civilian authority had
8 not been properly established in Vukovar, and indeed why would it, bearing
9 in mind that there had been war raging for something like three months.
10 Sljivancanin allegedly informed the meeting that military
11 authority remained and that civil authority would not be established until
12 further notice. Additionally, he informed the meeting that he would tell
13 them when it would be possible to establish civil authority.
14 Dealing with Ovcara for a moment. At least two scheduled and
15 successful evacuations had taken place through Ovcara prior to the
16 hospital evacuees' arrival via the JNA barracks. Those previous
17 evacuations had taken place with the assistance of the 80th Motorised
18 Brigade and that was under the orders of OG South.
19 The 80th Brigade was a reserve brigade that had arrived in the
20 area approximately the 7th of November of that year, but it was
21 subordinated to OG South until the departure of the Guards from Vukovar on
22 the 24th of November. The 80th was commanded by a gentleman called
23 Lieutenant Colonel Milorad Vojnovic. They had their own security organ,
24 but they had one military police company, and they had assisted in the
25 earlier evacuations from Ovcara between the 19th and the 20th of November.
1 Surprisingly, unlike on previous occasions, the 80th did not
2 receive any notification or orders to assist in any further evacuation
3 from Ovcara on the 20th. Vojnovic actually only became aware of the buses
4 carrying the evacuees from the hospital when he passed by the hangar in
5 order to inspect one of his detachments or units. So it was entirely
6 coincidental that he became aware of it.
7 We submit that the failure of OG South to notify the 80th of the
8 arrival of the evacuees as it had been done on previous occasions is
9 another indication that the evacuees sent here to Ovcara was for clearly
10 another purpose as opposed to the transfer to Sremska Mitrovica in Serbia.
11 The buses containing those hospital evacuees reached Ovcara
12 sometime in the afternoon. They were escorted by military police. At
13 this time, armed members of the local Serb TO also arrived at Ovcara.
14 They quite literally had been following these individuals like a pack
15 after a wounded animal.
16 While the evacuees made their way from the buses to the hangar at
17 Ovcara they were made to run through a gauntlet, as I would describe it,
18 they were forced to run between two lines of soldiers. That included JNA,
19 local Serb TO, and Serbian volunteers/paramilitaries. They were verbally
20 abused, and they were severely beaten with rifle butts, metal bars and
21 other objects. Sljivancanin was present when the evacuees were made to
22 run the gauntlet.
23 One witness described it as follows: "We had to run through a
24 cordon of approximately 100 local Serbs, Chetniks and Serbian police who
25 beat us with sticks, clubs, and canes. Whoever fell down never stood up
1 again as they were beaten to death. All these men were holding weapons of
2 some sort, like rifles, iron bars, large pieces of wood. They used these
3 weapons to beat the bus passengers as they made their way towards the
5 And after the buses were unloaded there were approximately 300
6 people in the hangar, some of whom were isolated behind a rope, and again
7 here another list was made. Once inside the hanger, some of the evacuees
8 were subject to further abuse and further beatings by the local Serb TO,
9 paramilitaries, volunteers, and JNA OG South soldiers.
10 And there is much description about what occurred. Again: "A
11 little later four Chetniks came in with iron bars and gave us the most
12 beating of all. That was followed by an elderly reservist coming in and
13 blowing a whistle, which caused those Chetniks to go out and another four
14 or five to come in and continue the beatings. The whistle was blown about
15 every 20 minutes, and this lasted for about two hours."
16 Those beatings were so severe that at least two of the evacuees
17 were literally beaten to death. Many of the evacuees had been taken from
18 the hospital in an injured state. Many others sustained serious injuries
19 as a result of the beating in the hangar. Nevertheless, no medical
20 treatment was offered to any of the detainees actually from the time of
21 their transfer from the hospital throughout their stay at the JNA barracks
22 and the hangar at Ovcara until their ultimate execution.
23 Another description was: "I saw (Bulic) beat a man," and then
24 gave the name "... with a baseball bat, and afterwards I could see no sign
25 of life. I think he literally beat him to death.
1 "The beating of Ekrem was so bad that I am convinced he died from
2 his injuries. I saw them kicking him, beating him with weapons and
3 stamping on his head and his body. They made him sing Chetniks songs.
4 They beat and totally humiliated him until the time was that he looked
6 And as I've already said, one woman was shot through her vagina,
7 killing herself and the child.
8 During this mistreatment of the evacuees in the hangar attempts
9 were made by some recently arrived members of the 80th Motorised Brigade
10 to investigate the situation and attempt to restore order and stop the
11 beatings. Officers from the Guards Motorised Brigade were present and in
12 the hangar. Unfortunately, the officers of the 80th, assuming that the
13 Guards were in charge of the evacuees at the hangar because they had not
14 been notified of the procedure, did nothing at that time. And they
15 assumed that in actual fact the guards were responsible for the prisoners.
16 After order, however, was restored in the hangar, that was
17 approximately the afternoon and early evening of the 20th, the military
18 police of the 80th headed by a man called Vezmarovic apparently tried to
19 protect the evacuees from the local Serbs. This again is another example
20 of people trying to protect. Several evacuees were released and allowed
21 to return to Vukovar at the time. They were released because they were
22 either -- Serb friends or neighbours intervened or due to the fact that
23 the detainee claimed to be a member of the JNA.
24 Later in the evening, the commander of the military police company
25 of the 80th Motorised Brigade, however, was ordered by a security officer
1 of the Guards and a direct subordinate of Major Sljivancanin to withdraw
2 from his unit from Ovcara and hand over the evacuees to the members of the
3 local TO and the Serbian paramilitaries and volunteers. These were the
4 same local TO that I've already mentioned on many occasions,
5 paramilitaries that had congregated at Velepromet and at the hangar and
6 were the same men who were responsible for the earlier threats and the
7 beatings of the evacuees.
8 And we submit that as planned, by the accused and other members,
9 the JCE named in the indictment, some known and some not known, the
10 evacuees were now to be executed by the local TO, including volunteers and
11 paramilitaries. And throughout this whole time there was the command and
12 control exercised by Mrksic, Sljivancanin, and Radic and others.
13 Shortly after the JNA OG South officers handed over the evacuees
14 to the local TO, the evacuees were then subdivided into groups of 10
15 and 20. They were then loaded group by group onto a truck/trailer, and
16 because of the number involved that was obliged to make several return
17 trips so that the evacuees could all be transported to a ravine close to
18 the hangar at Ovcara.
19 At the ravine, the detainees were all executed, truckload by
20 truckload, by the local Serb TO as well as volunteers and by members of
21 the JNA who formed part of OG South.
22 The period of execution lasted from the late afternoon and
23 throughout the night. Shots were heard during the night by some members
24 of the 80th, despite the apparent efforts by the executioners, because
25 that is what they are, to drown out the noise of the gun-fire by running
1 loud machinery.
2 When they ran out of ammunition for the executions they obtained
3 more ammunition to kill the rest of the evacuees from the supply element
4 of OG South. And so JNA OG South provided not only the executioners but
5 also the ammunition, logically and sensibly, to the executioners knowing
6 that it would be used and for what purpose it would be used.
7 Throughout the massacre local Serb TO, including the volunteers,
8 remained subordinated to OG South. All units remained so until at 21st of
9 November. Eventually, the order for resubordination of the TO occurred
10 but only after the killing.
11 Would you be kind enough, please, to turn to tab 3, and this is
12 what I will call the resubordination on the 21st.
13 Would you be kind enough, please, now to turn to tab 3, and this
14 is what I will call the resubordination on the 21st.
15 We can see that it is top left-hand corner, OG South command. The
16 time is important. It's 6.00 a.m. in my language, and most others,
17 21st of November, 1991, after the killings had occurred.
18 "Regulating the issue of resubordination and the return to home
19 units ..."
20 We can see the other highlighted area. In the course of the
21 21st of November, there is a suggestion about withdrawing the
22 Leva Supoderica volunteers, the detachment and dispatch them,
23 resubordinate them to another unit.
24 If we look at paragraph 4: "The Vukovar TO units to be
25 resubordinated to the 80th Motorised Brigade, and continue with the
1 carrying out the assign tasks ..." and we can see what the assigned tasks
2 are, those related to Vojnovic and Vujanovic.
3 If we turn the page, please, and we can see, it's not really
4 highlighted but it's actually signed by Mrksic, although I think it's
5 correct to say it was signed by Lieutenant Colonel Panic, his assistant,
6 but the important point is clearly the time when the resubordination
8 So we submit that the relevance is that it makes it clear that the
9 resubordination takes effect at the earliest at 6.00 in the morning. It's
10 submitted that the various units named all took part in the massacre at
11 Ovcara and they were subordinated to OG South at all the relevant times.
12 At least 200 non-Serbs from the Vukovar Hospital were executed at
13 Ovcara. The bodies, as I say, of an additional 64 individuals who were
14 removed still have not been found, and it's our submission that these
15 missing individuals were also killed at Ovcara on the same night by the
16 same Serb forces.
17 Those 200 bodies were exhumed from a mass grave, and may I just
18 deal, please, in summary, with what the findings were.
19 Because there were 198 men and two women, we submit that is
20 significant. The ages were from 17 years to 66. 55 per cent, which is
21 over a hundred of them, of those examined had evidence of having received
22 medical attention in the form of apparel or evidence of recent medical
23 therapeutics. Gun-shot wounds caused the death in 195 of the individuals,
24 and then there's reference to about sharp force. The manner of death of
25 all the violent cases is homicide.
1 And we submit the fact that they were male, their age, the
2 percentage of people who were undergoing medical treatment and showed that
3 they had been undergoing medical treatment demonstrates quite clearly that
4 this evacuation agreement was a worthless piece of paper as far as the JNA
5 and these three defendants were concerned.
6 Early in the morning after the massacre, Captain Radic, Vujanovic
7 and others were present at Radic's command post at Vujanovic's house in
8 Vukovar where the massacre at Ovcara was actually discussed. One witness
9 overheard that Major Sljivancanin had participated in the executions.
10 The following day, there were rumours and discussions amongst the
11 local population of Vukovar that something bad had happened at Ovcara.
12 And as I say, a number of the executioners are members of the local TO.
13 We submit that these defendants used Serb forces under their
14 command to perform essential functions in the commission of the crimes.
15 They acted in coordination amongst themselves and with other
16 co-perpetrators, including Vujovic and Vujanovic. Mrksic, Sljivancanin,
17 commanded or directed the Serb force under their command in various ways
18 to evacuate the Croats and other non-Serbs, to guard and contain the
19 detainees at the JNA barracks, to transfer the detainees to Ovcara farm
20 and earlier, and clearly to mistreat and kill the detainees at Ovcara.
21 Radic, we submit, personally and through the Serb forces under his
22 command participated in the removal and the selection of Croats and other
23 non-Serbs from Vukovar Hospital early in the hours of the 20th of
24 November. Radic was the commander of the Serb forces who mistreated and
25 killed the detainees at Ovcara.
1 In addition, a number of people comprised of these defendants and
2 other known and unknown individuals, those of which I have already
3 nominated, had a common plan to persecute and kill the Croats and other
4 non-Serbs taken from Vukovar Hospital by OG South and other Serb forces
5 under the command of Colonel Mrksic to the Ovcara farm on the 20th. The
6 common plan included all the crimes charged in the indictment. At
7 minimum, the command plan included the crime of persecution, the rest of
8 the crimes being foreseeable in the sense that they were likely
9 consequences of the implementation of that common plan.
10 These three accused did not physically commit any of the crimes
11 charged in the indictment, but nonetheless contributed to the
12 implementation of the common plan.
13 With regard to 7(3), liability, clearly we must establish there
14 existed a superior/subordinate relationship between the accused and the
15 perpetrators of the offence, that the accused knew or had reason to know
16 that the perpetrators were about to commit the offence or indeed had done
17 so or that the accused failed to take the necessary and reasonable
18 measures to prevent the offence or to punish the perpetrators.
19 The applicable test for whether the accused had superior
20 responsibility for acts of the perpetrator clearly and on a common-sense
21 basis has to be one of effective control. A superior had and has
22 effective control over the perpetrator if at the time of the crimes
23 charged in the indictment occurred he had the power to prevent their
24 commission or to punish the perpetrators.
25 We submit at all times relevant Mrksic, Radic, and Sljivancanin
1 had effective control over their subordinates.
2 And finally, we submit at all times relevant to the indictment
3 there existed a formal and well-organised system of military discipline
4 and justice within the armed forces, JNA and TO. Mrksic, Radic and
5 Sljivancanin availed themselves of none of the measures that were within
6 their power at that time to prevent their subordinates from committing
7 crimes or punishing them after learning of the crimes that had been
8 committed, including an obligation to report such crimes as is stipulated
9 by the armed force doctrine.
10 We submit that these three men are guilty of these offences, and
11 with the Court's leave we would seek to call evidence in due course in
12 support of that.
13 JUDGE PARKER: Thank you, Mr. Moore.
14 Could I ask Mr. Vasic whether it is your intention to make an
15 opening statement at this time.
16 MR. VASIC: [Interpretation] Thank you, Your Honour. I would like
17 to inform you that the Defence of Mr. Mrksic does not intend to give an
18 opening statement at this time, but we will do it at the start of our
19 case. Thank you.
20 JUDGE PARKER: Thank you very much.
21 Mr. Borovic.
22 MR. BOROVIC: [Interpretation] Your Honours, the Defence of
23 Miroslav Radic shares the position of Mr. Vasic, or the Defence of
24 Mr. Mrksic.
25 JUDGE PARKER: Thank you.
1 Mr. Lukic.
2 MR. LUKIC: [Interpretation] Your Honours, Mr. Sljivancanin's
3 Defence will give its opening statement before the opening of its case.
4 But Mr. Sljivancanin informed me that he would like to use his right in
5 accordance with Article -- Rule 84 bis and give a statement. He informed
6 me that this would take about 20 minutes to half an hour.
7 JUDGE PARKER: Thank you. Could I be sure that neither your
8 client, Mr. Vasic, nor your client, Mr. Borovic, wish to make a personal
9 statement at this time?
10 MR. VASIC: [Interpretation] Your Honours, my client does not wish
11 to address the Court at this time under the Rule mentioned by my learned
13 JUDGE PARKER: Mr. Borovic.
14 MR. BOROVIC: [Interpretation] Your Honours, Miroslav Radic decided
15 to give a very brief statement that will not take more than two or three
16 minutes. Thank you.
17 JUDGE PARKER: Thank you very much.
18 [Trial Chamber confers]
19 JUDGE PARKER: In those circumstances, Mr. Borovic, we would call
20 now upon Mr. Radic to make the brief statement that he indicates he would
21 like to make at this time.
22 Mr. Radic, you can stay seated or stand as you wish and speak from
23 where you are. Thank you.
24 THE ACCUSED RADIC: [Interpretation] Your Honours, thank you for
25 giving meet opportunity to speak. I will speak briefly, and I would like
1 to state the following: First of all, would I like to say that it is very
2 difficult to bear the burden of being accused for war crimes for which I
3 personally believe that I'm innocent.
4 I would also like to ask the Honourable Court at this time that
5 during the proceedings they should establish the actual factual state of
6 affairs and make it possible for the truth to be found and to be
7 discovered. I hope that this institution will be a forum of truth and
9 I also hope that at the end of this trial justice will be
10 satisfied and that all those guilty for the ill deeds that happened in the
11 area of Vukovar would be punished for their deeds, the deeds which took
12 place in 1992.
13 This is all I wish to say. Thank you very much.
14 JUDGE PARKER: Thank you, Mr. Radic.
15 Now, Mr. Lukic, we would call upon your client, Mr. Sljivancanin,
16 who wishes to speak for a little longer time, we believe.
17 Yes, Mr. Sljivancanin.
18 THE ACCUSED SLJIVANCANIN: [Interpretation] Thank you, Your Honour.
19 Your Honour, my decision to address you in person through this
20 statement is motivated by the desire to inform you of the frameworks of my
21 truth in the firm belief that the truth, at the end of this trial, as I
22 see it will be the truth that you -- as you will see it.
23 This framework started when I took the solemn declaration when I
24 joined the military academy. I have to read out the following: I,
25 Veselin Sljivancanin, do solemnly declare to faithfully serve my people,
1 to defend my homeland, the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, and
2 to safeguard and defend the brotherhood and unity of our nations and the
3 reputation of the Yugoslav People's Army, and that I will conscientiously
4 obey the orders of my superiors. I will always be ready to fight for
5 freedom and the honour of my homeland, and if need be, to lay down my life
6 for it."
7 I joined the army when I was 15 years old. I took the pledge to
8 do my soldier's duty honourably and to defend my country which stretched
9 as the lyrics of the song had it do, from Vagda River [phoen] to Mount
10 Viglav [phoen], from Macedonia to Slovenija. That was my pledge, and I
11 was always ready to lay down my life for it.
12 Treachery, cowardice and dishonourable acts are concepts which
13 neither I nor my ancestors ever experienced. They are a fate worse than
14 death because in the land from which I come from, shame is inherited and
15 passed down to future generations that are not responsible for what was
16 done before them.
17 In the Serb language, the word "moral" is derived from the
18 word "must" in the sense of the internal obligation to behave honourably
19 and decently, and in the part of the country that I come from this has a
20 very literal meaning. That kind of attitude towards life is one that I
21 passed down to the soldiers who were under my command, and they were
22 soldiers of different ethnicities and religions.
23 This is the second time that I have appeared in court. I appeared
24 in court for the first time in 1998 in Belgrade and once again here and
25 now. For a full 14 years, I was exposed to ugly lies and untruths, brutal
1 propaganda, the loss of freedom and deprivation of many human rights.
2 This propaganda appeared in the public information media depending on
3 which political party or which politician needed to disseminate such
4 propaganda on the territory of the former Yugoslavia.
5 They ascribed much to me in that propaganda. They called me many
6 things. I have been called a Chetnik, a dirty communist, a criminal, and
7 a hero.
8 The army in which I was a member was proclaimed an aggressor army,
9 a Serbo-Chetnik army. The worst and most blatant untruth that was bandied
10 about was that I hated the Croatian people. I and the soldiers of my army
11 in Vukovar were those who helped the Croatian people most. Through
12 military school and serving in the army, I was constantly there together
13 with other members of other different ethnic groups living in Yugoslavia,
14 and I never had any problems with any of them, least of all with the
15 Croats. They are a Christian people, and I never felt any difference
16 between us.
17 In military schools, we -- they did not teach us to hate our own
18 people, nor did we think that our army would ever have to fight against
19 secessionists from within our own ranks. We were not taught to conquer
20 other people's territory either or to jeopardise human freedoms. At the
21 time, I was not aware of any republican borders. For me, all that existed
22 was a single state, and that state's name was Yugoslavia, the most
23 beautiful, most humane and freest country in the world at the time. Had
24 Croatia been independent, neither I myself nor the soldiers within my unit
25 would never have gone to Vukovar in the first place.
1 I performed very responsible tasks always with the same
2 objectivity, devotion, and self-sacrifice. When I completed the military
3 academy, I was among the five best officers and selected to work in Tito's
4 Guards. Until the end of Tito's life, I worked as a security detail for
5 him and later as a security detail for other top ranking officials of
6 Yugoslavia, including Franjo Tudjman when he came to attend meetings with
7 the minister of the army, Kadijevic. I also provided security for many
8 statesmen who visited my country. Amongst them I shall mention just a
9 few: Jimmy Carter, Margaret Thatcher, Brezhnev, Mitterrand, Willy Brandt,
10 Fidel Castro, Patini [phoen], Bush, Sr., Umadjen [phoen] and many others.
11 And do I really look like a criminal to those who wrote the
12 indictment, or perhaps they don't like the fact that I told Mr. Borsinger
13 in 1991 in Vukovar in front of TV cameras the following, and I quote: "If
14 you're not interested in the fact that my young soldiers are dying,
15 soldiers who are 18 years old, 19 and 20 years old, then you are not a
16 welcome man here."
17 Mr. Borsinger, with a delegation of the International Red Cross,
18 arrived on the 21st of November in the afternoon. He came to see me in
19 the village of Negoslavci and apologised for the misunderstanding which
20 took place one day before on the bridge on the Vuka River. I invite him
21 to come to this Honourable Court and to tell the truth here.
22 All of us officers and soldiers took the official declaration, the
23 oath under the flag of the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia
24 pledging to safeguard that same country. When we were given the
25 assignment to liberate the military garrison of the official country which
1 was the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia in Vukovar from the
2 blockade and destruction which had been taken over by the secessionists
3 who had already committed many crimes, the Yugoslav People's Army, which
4 was the sole constitutional army arrived to perform its duty.
5 You will judge, Your Honours, whether I should have indeed was
6 obliged to act according to the law and the constitution and the pledge I
7 had taken or whether I was supposed to trample on my obligations to
8 trample on the constitution and the declaration I had made. If the
9 situation were to repeat itself again, I would act in the same way as I
10 did then. I am a soldier. I am not a politician, nor am I a lawyer.
11 At school I was taught to respect the law and to carry out the
12 orders of my superiors. Had I acted in any other way at that time that
13 would have meant that I would have committed a crime against the armed
14 forces and that I would have been a traitor and an immoral man.
15 I have never violated the law or moral dictates. The irony of it
16 is that there were people who had also taken the solemn declaration, just
17 like me, under the same flag and under the same constitution. However,
18 they went to join the other side, and they led a secessionist army, kill
19 the people and the soldiers of the official army.
20 I am very sorry about the families of all of the innocent people
21 killed in Vukovar as well as in the territories of the former Yugoslavia.
22 No one, not even this Court, can make up to a mother for the loss of her
23 son, to a sister the loss of her brother, the wife the loss of her
24 husband. All the victims have to be remembered, though. Each victim had
25 their first and last name. I would like to and I must mention the names
1 of some from whose fate everyone is turning their head, and they had their
2 own truth and their own fate, and that truth must help you, Your Honours,
3 to establish the complete truth. There can only be one truth.
4 The first victims from the Guards Brigade in Vukovar were soldiers
5 Damir Pinter, born in Zagreb; Ante Mrkonjic, from Tuzla; Darko Haluzan,
6 from Celje; and Slobodan Paunovic from Surcin. They were killed while
7 they were setting up tents where food was supposed to be prepared for
8 their comrades.
9 Nebojsa Zivancevic, an only child, Zoran Feldezdi, Zoran Elez,
10 Goran Krstic, and Zeljko Popovic set off to the barracks on the 2nd of
11 October. They missed the entrance, were captured by the secessionists and
12 killed. Unfortunately, their bodies were found in the street of Sremskih
13 Boraca on November 16th, 1991. They were burned. Lieutenant Vostic was
14 running across the street in order to go and see his soldiers who were
15 securing the barracks and he was killed. Second Lieutenant Borko
16 Nikitovic went to visit his soldiers who were securing the barracks. He
17 was hit by a sniper. Captain Sasa Milanovic tried to help him. He was
18 killed in the back by a sniper. Major Velja Stojkovic and Lieutenant
19 Vasilic were de-mining the mines laid down by terrorists, and they were
20 hit by a mortar shell. Slobodan Popovic, an only child, my driver, was
21 killed only because he happened to be driving a military vehicle. And
22 there were many other such innocent victims. They all had a first and
23 last name. They belonged to all ethnic groups but they were all members
24 of one army.
25 I mention these people because I knew them personally, because
1 they were honourable and decent people, and I know that they never did
2 anything bad to anyone. My driver just had a pistol and he never even
3 tried to use it.
4 Your Honours, I do not want to use these facts to draw attention
5 away from the innocent who were killed, the people from the Vukovar
6 Hospital. Those who did commit that crime should meet their just
7 punishment. However, if this Court would like to establish the full truth
8 about the Vukovar tragedy, they must learn all of the facts, each tragic
9 human fate regardless of the name of the victim.
10 Will this Court wish to know what Mile Dedakovic, called Jastreb,
11 former JNA lieutenant colonel, was doing, a person who trampled the
12 constitution, the laws, the flag, and the oath? His men put out a white
13 flag on their vehicle, and then from that same vehicle bearing a white
14 flag killed members of the regular army from automatic weapons. Many
15 times I called him over the radio station in Vukovar in order to cease
16 hostilities, to stop innocent people from getting killed and to stop the
17 destruction of such a beautiful city. He refused all of that, and there
18 is footage of that.
19 When defeat was certain, Jastreb promised me, quote/unquote, that
20 his Ustasha will find me wherever I happen to be, that I could not escape
21 and that they would kill me. But he actually deserted from Vukovar just
22 as he deserted from the JNA. Nobody of the Prosecutors, including the
23 ones here, never even thought whether he and those like him should
24 actually find themselves where I am now. Although I am not a lawyer, I
25 believe that law and justice cannot find themselves on the wrong side of
1 common sense.
2 I believe that you will be convinced through documents which will
3 be submitted by my Defence and through testimony of honourable witnesses
4 that I have nothing to do with the crimes committed at Ovcara. I believe
5 that this Trial Chamber will reject the statements of those Prosecution
6 witnesses that are based on untruth, who only saw me in the public
7 information media as well as of those witnesses who are using untruths in
8 order to conceal their own irresponsible actions or who have gained
9 something for themselves in return for agreeing to testify. I expect that
10 honourable witnesses will appear here who will testify truthfully and tell
11 you and the public what happened on the 20th of November, 1991.
12 There is a great deal of irresponsibility in condemning an
13 innocent person, and it is an even greater injustice when one who has
14 contributed to the crime testifies in order to condemn an innocent person.
15 Your Honours, I believe that it will be proved ultimately that the
16 crimes at Ovcara were planned and committed by those who hated the JNA in
17 order to sully its reputation and thwart its attempts to preserve
18 Yugoslavia, and with the specific aim of discrediting and belittling us
19 officers who loved our country.
20 I am convinced that after all these years of persecution, all
21 kinds of untruths and agony, I will finally receive justice. I want to
22 believe that all the lies will finally be revealed and that truth will
23 finally be heard. I hope that this Trial Chamber will accept only the law
24 and reject non-law and acquit me of the charges ascribed to me without any
25 valid proof. However, I already feel condemned after all this time in
1 prison and after all the injustices and suffering my family, my friends,
2 and I have been through.
3 One thing sometimes that justice and righteousness unfortunately
4 have not made any real gains in life since their foundations were laid two
5 and a half millenia ago. Today, just like then, there is very little
6 justice. It seems unattainable. However, honourable people do not give
7 up on the path to justice.
8 I am not asking for mercy, Your Honours. I expect to receive the
9 truth and justice. Regardless of everything, I expect Your Honours to be
10 just because when I am concerned, justice and the truth have the same
11 weight, and I have faith that there is justice and that I will finally see
12 it. This faith is based on the fact that in the conduct of my military
13 duties and in life I never did anything dishonourable and that I always
14 behaved properly towards all people, and that is why at the end I would
15 like to quote the words of our literature Nobel laureate Ivo Andric. I
16 quote: "There was not much justice in the world but the less there is of
17 it the more it is worth. And yes, it is slow and want to come late but it
18 does come sooner or later. That is why I always say rely on justice and
19 do not be afraid."
20 Gentlemen, I am not afraid. Those who committed injustice should
21 be afraid as well as many others, because many are in danger if even one
22 person is exposed to even a single injustice.
23 Your Honours, I believe that at the end of this trial you will
24 reach a decision that must be based on the full truth. In a just trial,
25 which I expect, I am sure that my truth will ultimately become yours.
1 Thank you.
2 JUDGE PARKER: Thank you, Mr. Sljivancanin.
3 The proceedings today have proceeded --
4 THE INTERPRETER: Microphone, please.
5 JUDGE PARKER: The proceedings today have proceeded more quickly
6 than had been anticipated, so that it will not be necessary for the
7 Chamber to sit this afternoon or tomorrow as had been planned. A date has
8 been set for the commencement of the hearing of the evidence, and that is
9 on -- in two weeks' time, Tuesday the 25th of October.
10 The hearing will now adjourn until then when the hearing of the
11 evidence will continue.
12 The Chamber will now adjourn until the 25th of October.
13 --- Whereupon the hearing adjourned at 12.57 p.m.,
14 to be reconvened on Tuesday, the 25th day
15 of October, 2005