1 Monday, 21 November 2005
2 [Open session]
3 [The accused entered court]
4 [The witness entered court]
5 --- Upon commencing at 2.27 p.m.
6 JUDGE PARKER: Good afternoon. General, if I could remind you of
7 the affirmation you made at the beginning of your evidence, which still
9 WITNESS: IMRA AGOTIC [Resumed]
10 [Witness answered through interpreter]
11 JUDGE PARKER: Mr. Agha.
12 MR. AGHA: Yes, Your Honours, last time when we closed, there was
13 the question of whether the evacuation agreement should be admitted as an
14 exhibit, and my learned friend Mr. Vasic had some objections to that. The
15 Prosecution has since been speaking to the Defence on this point, and
16 Mr. Vasic has kindly agreed to contact General Raseta to actually find out
17 from him whether or not he signed the document. And then once that is
18 known, we propose the matter can be taken from there.
19 JUDGE PARKER: Thank you for that. We will hold things as they
20 are for the moment.
21 MR. AGHA: Thank you, Your Honour.
22 Examined by Mr. Agha: [Continued]
23 Q. General, last time you were giving your evidence we had just
24 looked at the evacuation agreement and the question of signatures. We
25 would now like to move to another document which we would like you to
1 comment upon.
2 MR. AGHA: If I could kindly ask the court clerk to call up
3 document bearing 65 ter 209, ERN ZA004342, and that is only an English
4 translation. There is not a B/C/S translation.
5 Q. General, do you have a copy of this document?
6 A. [Microphone not activated].
7 THE INTERPRETER: Microphone for the witness, please.
8 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Yes. I see the document.
9 MR. AGHA:
10 Q. Now, this is a document in English which is being read to you in
11 the Croatian language which is essentially an order from General Tus to
12 the commands of the various ZNG units operating in Vinkovci and Osijek,
13 concerning there to be a cease-fire in that region on the 20th November to
14 allow the convoy to go through. Now, are you aware of that document,
15 since it was copied to you?
16 A. I'm aware of this document. This is the usual way to pass orders
17 down to the relevant units on the ground, cease-fire orders specifically.
18 If I may make one observation in this English translation, I think
19 there is a mistake. It says the 11th of November, whereas it should most
20 probably read, actually I'm quite certain, the 20th of November.
21 MR. AGHA: May I ask this document to be exhibited with the
22 permission of the Court.
23 JUDGE PARKER: It will be received.
24 THE REGISTRAR: This will be exhibit number 94, Your Honour.
25 MR. AGHA: Could I ask the court clerk to please call up document
1 bearing 65 ter 210, bearing ERN 00099955. And B/C/S, 03269948.
2 Q. Are you able to see this document, General?
3 A. Yes. I am now.
4 Q. And this is a document which I believe you have sent to General
5 Raseta concerning the evacuation of the hospital on the 20th of November
6 and that the evacuation route should be secured. Is that a correct
7 assessment of this document?
8 A. Correct. This is a proposal I made following a previous oral
9 agreement with General Raseta. You can see that this is not the same
10 route that had been agreed on the 18th of November. This is an
11 alternative route being proposed here, crossing JNA-controlled territory
12 and going on into Bosnia and to the lower or southern river-bank of the
14 MR. AGHA: May I ask that this document be exhibited, Your Honour?
15 JUDGE PARKER: It will be received.
16 MR. AGHA: Thank you, Your Honour.
17 THE REGISTRAR: This will be exhibit number 95, Your Honours.
18 MR. AGHA:
19 Q. Now, Witness, I'd like to turn to another document which is in
20 fact the reply to your proposal.
21 MR. AGHA: And if I may kindly ask the court clerk to call up
22 document 65 ter 209 bearing ERN ZA004343. Unfortunately, this document is
23 only in English. There is not a B/C/S translation.
24 Q. General, do you have a copy of this document?
25 A. I have it on my screen now.
1 Q. In essence, this document is dated 21st of November, 1991 and it's
2 actually from General Raseta agreeing to your proposal. To your
3 recollection would that be correct?
4 A. Can we please -- yes, yes. That's the one I mean. Yes. This is
5 indeed his reply, as far as I can remember. I saw it and acted
6 accordingly, in accordance with my letter dated the 20th of November 1991.
7 MR. AGHA: May I ask the Court that this document be exhibited?
8 JUDGE PARKER: It will be received.
9 Mr. Lukic.
10 MR. LUKIC: [Interpretation] On behalf of the Defence teams, I
11 would move that this document be marked for identification for the time
12 being, for the following reasons. On the face of the document we see
13 nothing but the English translation. We have never received a B/C/S copy
14 of this document. And based on all the documents that we have so far
15 seen, the documents based on letters written by Mr. Raseta that we have
16 not objected to, we realise that originals were used. I don't believe
17 this is an original document. If the OTP does indeed have a copy in
18 B/C/S, a signed one needless to say, in that case we would not challenge
19 the document.
20 However, as there appears to be an English translation of the
21 original bearing no signature, we would propose that this document be
22 marked for identification and then we can pursue this subject further with
23 Mr. Raseta and verify the authenticity of this document. We do not
24 believe that this can be considered an authentic document given that this
25 is only an English translation and there appears to be no original, at
1 least none that's been disclosed.
2 JUDGE PARKER: It will be marked for identification.
3 THE REGISTRAR: This will be number 96, Your Honour.
4 MR. AGHA: And, Your Honour, just to clarify on the point of
5 translation, it had been the policy of the OTP that where a document had
6 been submitted in a previous case, as was in this case, Milosevic, and
7 there was no translation, generally as a rule we did not pursue a
8 translation, but now if this is the case we will pursue such a document
9 and produce it for the Court.
10 JUDGE PARKER: Yes. The important issue for admission is the
11 original or a satisfactory best copy available of the original. This
12 clearly is not an original or a copy of it. It's an English translation
13 at best.
14 MR. AGHA: And this is what we are try and sort out, Your Honour.
15 JUDGE PARKER: Thank you.
16 MR. AGHA:
17 Q. Now, Witness, I'd like to turn to another document now, which was
18 actually written on the 26th of November, 1991, after the evacuation of
19 the hospital?
20 MR. AGHA: If I can ask the court clerk to kindly turn up on the
21 E-Court 65 ter 211, bearing translation in the English -- one moment while
22 I find the ERN. 00269903. And B/C/S, 03269903. I beg your pardon,
23 actually with the English, it's 03269903. The copy was blurred that I was
24 reading from.
25 JUDGE PARKER: We have that number but not in English, Mr. Agha.
1 MR. AGHA: If you would bear with me, the English is ET 03269903.
2 JUDGE PARKER: Same number, both languages.
3 MR. AGHA:
4 Q. General, do you have a copy of this document?
5 A. Yes.
6 Q. And this is a document by Dr. Mate Granic, written to the
7 honourable ambassador, Ambassador D.J. van Houten, the chief of the ECMM,
8 mentioning about the JNA occupational forces getting even with civilians
9 and prisoners and release of Mr. Bili Vidic.
10 Now, firstly, could you tell the Court who Dr. Mate Granic is?
11 A. Dr. Mate Granic was assistant prime minister in the Croatian
12 government, the government gave him the task of monitoring the
13 negotiations and quite generally relations with the ECMM.
14 Q. And are you aware of this correspondence?
15 A. I don't think I ever received this letter myself, but I do know
16 that Dr. Mate Granic wrote to Ambassador van Houten about this. We were
17 in touch almost permanently at the time. I do believe that this is an
18 authentic signature.
19 MR. AGHA: May I request the Chamber that this document be
21 JUDGE PARKER: It will be received.
22 THE REGISTRAR: It will be exhibit number 97, Your Honours.
23 MR. AGHA:
24 Q. Now, General, once again, after the evacuation of the hospital,
25 the question arose as to where some of the patients had gone.
1 So with the court clerk's assistance, I would like to call up
2 document marked 65 ter 212, with English translation 03269880, and B/C/S
3 translation 03269880. And I should make clear the B/C/S is actually the
4 original, and it's the English which is the translation.
5 General, do you have this document on your screen?
6 A. Yes.
7 Q. And this is a letter from Professor Andrija Hebrang to the
8 European mission concerning the destiny of the wounded from the hospital
9 staff, and it is essentially saying that according to the list only a
10 small number of the hospital staff was received contrary to the agreement
11 and contrary to the Geneva Conventions. So even at this date, 27th
12 November, it is apparent that there are missing patients from the hospital
13 staff. Are you aware that Professor Hebrang wrote such a letter?
14 A. I was aware of the fact that he had written this letter. He
15 interceded on several occasions. This is just one of many letters that
16 were sent to the European mission dealing with this or similar problems.
17 Professor Hebrang, Croatian health minister, was charged with dealing with
18 the hospital evacuation and negotiations.
19 Q. And do you know whether any satisfactory response was ever
20 received about the whereabouts of the patients pursuant to this letter by
21 Dr. Hebrang?
22 A. After we received this letter, the same day or the next day, it
23 was placed on the agenda of our bilateral meeting, the meeting between
24 General Raseta and myself. I remember that his answer at the time was as
25 follows: "You will be receiving a reply in due time. For the time being
1 we can provide no further details other than what you already know."
2 There was a worrying answer about the fate of the prisoners who did not
3 arrive in that convoy that was received in Sremska Mitrovica, and we never
4 received another response from Raseta.
5 MR. AGHA: Can I ask the Court, please, to exhibit this document?
6 JUDGE PARKER: It will be received.
7 THE REGISTRAR: It will be exhibit number 98, Your Honours.
8 MR. AGHA:
9 Q. Now, I'd like to turn to another letter which again is from
10 Professor Hebrang of the same date, 27th of November. This, however,
11 doesn't concern the hospital convoy and its evacuation. Rather, it
12 concerns the difficulties being faced by the Croatian community in Lovas?
13 MR. AGHA: I'd like to ask the court clerk to kindly call up the
14 this document. It's under the same 65 ter number as the last document and
15 has B/C/S number 03269881 and English translation 03269881.
16 Q. Now, do you have this document before you?
17 A. Yes.
18 Q. And in essence, this document concerns the need to evacuate
19 various people from Lovas. Can you comment on this document?
20 A. Lovas is a village that had been putting up resistance against the
21 aggression for quite a long time. It was surrounded by JNA units and what
22 were most probably paramilitary units too. Once it had been taken, there
23 was immediately information on the situation of these citizens who were
24 inside the half-occupied and surrounded village. I'm not sure how the
25 information reached us, by which route.
1 Professor Hebrang then appealed to the European mission to make a
2 plan for evacuating these people. We can see here that he's proposing
3 several evacuation routes. It was his belief at the time and my proposal
4 that Hungary might be one of the possible routes where the evacuation
5 would be quickest and easiest, and there is a proposal for evacuation by
6 helicopters and an alternative was to use the River Danube.
7 None of these proposed routes were accepted by the JNA. They had
8 the village under control and there was nothing the Croatian side could do
9 about it. We learned later on that the people captured at Lovas had been
10 forced to stray into minefields, as a result of which many were killed and
11 some were again captured.
12 Q. Thank you, General.
13 MR. AGHA: Can I ask that this document be tendered as an exhibit,
15 JUDGE PARKER: It will be received.
16 THE REGISTRAR: It will be exhibit number 99, Your Honours.
17 MR. AGHA:
18 Q. Now, General, as you can see from the last document, which we
19 addressed we are now moving away from the evacuation of the hospital and
20 the expulsions of Croatian citizens from other parts of Croatia by the JNA
21 in league with paramilitary forces. So the next document I would like to
22 call up bears 65 ter 213, and has translation of 00310190. And we only
23 have an English copy because actually it's an information that has been
24 received following a meeting with Prime Minister Granic on 15th of
25 January, 1992.
1 Now, you'll see at paragraph 1, this is actually a meeting which
2 you attended. And at paragraph 4, the two Croatian priorities were to
3 halt the process of intimidation of Croatians out of their homes in areas
4 under JNA control, as well as to halt their replacement by Serbian
5 settlers and to secure an early withdrawal from the JNA. You also see on
6 paragraph 5, which if I can ask the court clerk to turn the next page of
7 the document, is that minister Budisa claimed that Serbia was using the
8 truce to achieve its war aims primarily the forcible ejection of Croatians
9 from occupied territory and the systematic settlement of Serbians in their
11 Now, you also mention at paragraph 12 that in certain territory,
12 which was 98 per cent Croatian, no excuse could be advanced for the JNA to
13 enter to protect minorities. Now, do you recall this meeting?
14 A. Yes, I do. I remember that we had this meeting at the Hotel I, I
15 believe, Hotel I. That was about a fortnight before Spain took over
16 Presidency of the European mission. It was Ambassador Salgueiro who took
17 over in 1992.
18 I think this was one of the first meetings that were held. This
19 was also 12 days after the Sarajevo truce on the 2nd of January, 1992.
20 The UN occupation troops tried to reinforce and fortify the lines reached
21 that were already under their control. A large number of complaints were
22 received from those areas, caused by the actions of the occupying forces.
23 This faithfully reflects the situation in the occupied areas and the
24 general mood during this particular round of negotiations.
25 MR. AGHA: May I ask the Court that this document kindly be
1 tendered as an exhibit.
2 JUDGE PARKER: It will be received.
3 THE REGISTRAR: This will be exhibit number 100, Your Honour.
4 MR. AGHA:
5 Q. Now, again, General, on the point of Croatian populations being
6 expelled from villages in hand with the JNA and Serbian paramilitaries,
7 I'd like to call up another document, which is 65 ter 214, with English
8 translation, ZA002090, and B/C/S, ZA002091. Now essentially this is a fax
9 which you received about the expulsion of Croatians from a Croatian
10 village of Boksic by Chetniks right under the very noses of the JNA and
11 you requested the urgent sending of the ECMM team to look into the
12 situation. Now, can you tell us who Iljo Kobas is, the person who sent
13 the document?
14 A. I have the document in front of me. As for the gentleman, the
15 teacher who signed this document, Professor, as he signed it, I don't know
16 this person but it's quite obvious that this is the secretary for
17 Zuljpanja [phoen] municipality because that's what the stamp indicates.
18 It is quite obvious that information had reached him on the displaced
19 persons, displaced residents of the village of Boksic, which is obviously
20 again next to the village of Cakovci because that's where he states the
21 Chetniks had entered Boksic from.
22 You can see the handwritten comment at the bottom of the page,
23 this is something that I wrote, and addressed to Mr. Ramljak, the
24 vice-president of the Croatian government. I wanted this to be shown to
25 the Croatian news agency and the Croatian state TV. I also asked that the
1 ECMM from Belgrade be sent over in order to protect the citizens on their
2 way out.
3 Q. And did the ECMM monitors go there to that village and protect the
4 civilians, so far as you're aware?
5 A. No. I'm not aware of that. An ECMM group that was based in
6 Belgrade eventually went there, and I don't remember what sort of
7 information I received later.
8 Q. Now, you mentioned in your handwritten note that you believe there
9 will be an escalation in the displacement of persons. Did your prophecy
10 prove correct? Did it escalate the displacement of Croatian persons?
11 A. After the truce was established on the 2nd -- or rather, 3rd of
12 January, 1992 the occupation forces started cleansing the remaining parts
13 of the Croatian territory that they had taken. The scale was more massive
14 in some areas and the process was a little slower in other areas. Certain
15 people managed to linger on in the areas for quite a long time. I don't
16 know how they managed. The concern expressed in the last sentence proved
17 to be fully justified at a later stage.
18 Q. Now, General, who do you actually mean by the occupational forces?
19 A. I mean those who were in control of that particular territory.
20 I'm talking about Eastern Slavonia and all the way to the confrontation
21 line. In my submission, the JNA units were responsible. They were
22 supposed to have control or had effective control over all the units that
23 were controlling the area. A popular name for those where I come from
24 used to be Chetnik units, or alternatively TO units that got involved
25 right at the beginning when the whole thing started in the area.
1 MR. AGHA: May I ask the Court that this document be exhibited.
2 JUDGE PARKER: It will be received.
3 THE REGISTRAR: This will be exhibit number 101, Your Honours.
4 MR. AGHA:
5 Q. Now, we have been discussing the expulsion of the Croatian
6 population and I now come to a document dated 28th of March, 1992, which
7 is again on this subject.
8 MR. AGHA: If I could ask the court clerk to call up this
9 document, 65 ter 215, with ERN 00796553, and we only have an English of
10 it. There is no translation.
11 Q. Now, this document is from General Nambiar, the UNPROFOR in
12 Sarajevo, to Goulding of the United Nations in New York, and it concerns a
13 meeting attended by Mr. Ramljak and yourself as well as others, and it's
14 addressing the expulsion of the Croatian population, in particular in the
15 villages of Tovarnik and Nijemci.
16 Now, you also, on page 2 of this document -- and if I can ask the
17 court clerk to move to page 2, in the second paragraph, it says that
18 Mr. Ramljak spoke in strong terms about daily reports of plundering,
19 expulsions, coercions, especially in the three regions mentioned, and that
20 you, Agotic, in the fifth paragraph, stress the importance of the
21 technical coordination under joint auspices of UN and ECMM.
22 Now, do you recall such a meeting?
23 A. I remember that we did have a meeting. I think it was in -- on
24 the -- at the premises of the Croatian assembly and that was perhaps the
25 first meeting with General Satish Nambiar, the European -- the Croatian
1 parliament. It was attended by those people who are mentioned here, and
2 besides the Croatian side, members of the ECMM were also present.
3 Ambassador Salgueiro was mentioned here, the Chairman at the time. That
4 was when we talked about the tasks that needed to be carried out in
5 relation to the territories under occupation. The task was supposed to be
6 carried out by UNPROFOR. I don't know English well enough in order to be
7 able to follow the text and to confirm whether it's reported the way it
8 was. But I know that I was present at that meeting and that I did attend
9 subsequently a series of meetings of similar content.
10 MR. AGHA: May I ask the court that this document be exhibited?
11 JUDGE PARKER: It will be received.
12 THE REGISTRAR: This will be Exhibit 102, Your Honour.
13 MR. AGHA:
14 Q. Now, general I know that you're aware of General Anton Tus and
15 some of the activities of the ZNG due to opposition. And I'd like to turn
16 to a document which has already been marked for identification as
17 number 71, and it's 65 ter 184, with English ERN RO320966. And it's a
18 newspaper article entitled "the war was won by blockading the garrisons,"
19 and it's based on a lecture given by General Anton Tus, the chief military
20 adviser to the president of Croatia.
21 Now, in essence, General, in this document, General Tus, amongst
22 other matters, points out that one of the tactics of the ZNG was to
23 blockade the JNA barracks with a view to acquiring weapons because the
24 Croatian armed forces had hardly any weapons, having been disarmed. Would
25 that be a correct policy?
1 A. I know General Tus well. We worked together, and up until the end
2 of 1992, he was the chief of the Main Staff of the Croatian army. Then he
3 became military adviser to the president of the republic. I cannot really
4 guarantee because I don't know English well enough in order to be able to
5 read the document, so I don't know what its contents are exactly, but I
6 know that in his lectures he would always give an assessment such as this
7 one and that I actually agree with that. Whether he assessed the
8 development with the barracks situation in such a way that it was
9 necessary to obtain weapons for the ZNG or to be able to take weapons from
10 the JNA for the paramilitary, perhaps that was something that could have
11 been discussed, but this was true.
12 Q. Now, also during the same lecture and in the same document,
13 General Tus mentioned that the aggressor gave up on the occupation of all
14 of Croatia and attempted to at least achieve the goals set forth in the
15 memorandum and to capture parts of Croatia to the
16 Karlobag-Karlovac-Virovitica line and that is why the large battle was for
17 Eastern Slavonia and its cities, Vinkovci, Osijek and Vukovar.
18 Now, does General Tus's assessment in his lecture fall in line
19 with your evidence that there were three plans: Plan A, the taking over
20 of the whole of Croatia; Plan B, up to the Karlobag-Karlovac-Virovitica
21 line; and then finally the truncated Plan C which was largely the cities
22 in Eastern Slavonia?
23 A. That is correct. But Plan B was to reach the
24 Virovitica-Karlovac-Karlobag line and to capture the Croatia area there,
25 including Bosnia, all the way or all the areas that were east of that
1 line. When they realised that it was not realistically possible achieve
2 this plan, then they embarked on the implementation of the so-called Plan
3 C, achieving control over 30 per cent of the territory of the Republic of
4 Croatia, which was actually realised by the end of 1992, and it was
5 sanctioned with the cease-fire in Sarajevo on the 2nd of January, 1992.
6 MR. AGHA: May I ask the Chamber that this document previously
7 marked as number 71 be exhibited?
8 JUDGE PARKER: It will be received.
9 MR. AGHA:
10 Q. Now, General, as we have been running through various documents,
11 we've touched upon numerous areas and towns and cities in Croatia. And I
12 think it would be of assistance to the Chamber if perhaps we could look at
13 the location of some of these towns and cities on a map so that it's
14 easier for the Chamber to familiarise itself. So I'd ask the court clerk
15 to kindly call up map 4, which is 04626620.
16 Can you indicate when the map is appearing, General?
17 A. Yes.
18 Q. And if I might ask the Court for assistance in providing the
19 general with a marker, because, General, I'd like you to mark or circle
20 various of the locations which you've mentioned.
21 A. I can see the map now. We can continue.
22 Q. Before I ask the general to proceed with the marking, may I submit
23 to the Chamber that we exhibit this map as a blank document and then
24 thereafter give a new exhibit number to the document which he marks?
25 JUDGE PARKER: That will be done.
1 THE REGISTRAR: This will be Exhibit 103, Your Honours.
2 MR. AGHA:
3 Q. Now, general, this is a map which shows a part of Croatia and has
4 many of the towns and villages which you've mentioned in your evidence.
5 So could you kindly circle on the map Vukovar.
6 A. [Marks].
7 Q. Ilok.
8 A. [Marks].
9 Q. Lovas.
10 A. I'll find it in a minute. You can't really see all that well.
12 Q. Tovarnik.
13 A. [Marks].
14 Q. Nijemci.
15 A. [Marks].
16 Q. Roughly where the Bruska village is?
17 A. Bruska.
18 Q. Bruska.
19 A. Bruska, the village of Bruska is near Benkovac. It's on another
20 part of the map. It's in western Croatia, near the Adriatic coast, near
21 Ravni Kotari.
22 Q. We will look at a second map in a moment and perhaps we can do
23 those markings on those maps.
24 Now, in your evidence, you mentioned the
25 Virovitica-Karlobag-Karlovac line, the so-called Plan B line. Could you
1 kindly draw for us where that line is on this map, if it's possible?
2 A. It's not possible on this map. It's -- it shows only the eastern
3 part of the country, while this line is more to the west from -- in
4 relation to this part. All I can mark here is the eastern sector, which
5 was occupied. I can mark that line.
6 Q. Yes. If you could mark the eastern sector line, please, and then
7 we'll mark the other line on another map.
8 A. [Marks]. East of this line was the occupied territory of the
9 Republic of Croatia, later named sector east, once the UNPROFOR forces
11 Q. Okay. Thank you, General.
12 MR. AGHA: May I kindly ask that this map be exhibited, saved as,
13 with the markings?
14 JUDGE PARKER: It will be received.
15 THE REGISTRAR: This will be Exhibit 104, Your Honours.
16 MR. AGHA: Now, can I ask the court clerk to kindly call up
17 another map? And this is map number 3, bearing ERN 04626619.
18 Q. And you'll see, General, when this map appears that it is more of
19 a global map showing the whole of Croatia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Slovenia.
20 So hopefully we can mark the few remaining lines. If you can let me know
21 when you have the map.
22 A. I see it.
23 MR. AGHA: May I ask the Court again that this blank map be
24 tendered as an exhibit?
25 JUDGE PARKER: It will be received.
1 THE REGISTRAR: This will be exhibit number 105, Your Honour.
2 MR. AGHA:
3 Q. Now, General, as I've mentioned, this is more of a global map, so
4 once again, if I can ask you to mark on it so the Chamber can see the
5 global areas, the city of Vukovar.
6 A. [Marks].
7 Q. Ilok.
8 A. [Marks].
9 Q. Lovas.
10 A. [Marks].
11 Q. Nadin.
12 A. [Marks].
13 Q. Tovarnik.
14 A. [Marks].
15 Q. Nijemci.
16 A. [Marks].
17 Q. Skabrnja.
18 A. [Marks].
19 Q. Bruska village.
20 A. [Marks].
21 Q. Benkovac.
22 A. [Marks].
23 Q. Dubrovnik.
24 A. [Marks].
25 Q. Ratkovici.
1 A. Rakovica.
2 Q. Rakovica.
3 A. [Marks]. Not in Bosnia but on the Croatian side of the border.
4 It's more to the west on the territory of Croatia.
5 Q. Okay. And are you able to make a marking?
6 A. Yes, yes. This point is on the area -- in the area of Bosnia.
7 It's on the crossroads from Bihac towards Zagreb towards western Lika.
8 Q. And finally, Saborsko.
9 A. [Marks]. It's here, this last dot.
10 Q. Actually it's my fault, General, but I think perhaps for better
11 identification, it would be easier if, as I called out each village again,
12 you would put the relevant number 1, 2, 3 or 4 there.
13 So if we start with Vukovar, if you could put 1?
14 A. [Marks].
15 Q. Ilok, 2.
16 A. [Marks].
17 Q. Lovas, 3.
18 A. [Marks].
19 Q. Nadin, 4.
20 A. [Marks].
21 Q. Tovarnik, 5.
22 A. [Marks].
23 Q. Nijemci, 6.
24 A. [Marks].
25 Q. Skabrnja, 7.
1 A. [Marks].
2 Q. Bruska village, 8.
3 A. [Marks].
4 Q. Benkovac, 9.
5 A. [Marks].
6 Q. Dubrovnik, 10.
7 A. [Marks].
8 Q. Rakovica, 11.
9 A. [Marks].
10 Q. Boksic, 12.
11 A. [Marks].
12 Q. And Saborsko, 13.
13 A. [Marks].
14 Q. Now, General, you mentioned before on the other map it was
15 difficult for you to mark the line of Virovitica-Karlovac-Karlobag line.
16 Could you kindly mark it on this map, if it's possible?
17 A. Virovitica-Karlovac-Karlobag. [Marks].
18 Q. And could you mark that 1A.
19 A. [Marks].
20 Q. And if you could also kindly just draw a line showing sector east
22 A. [Marks].
23 Q. And mark that portion 1B.
24 A. [Marks].
25 Q. So looking at the map, General, according to your evidence, the
1 plan of the JNA was firstly Plan A to take over the whole of Croatia?
2 A. That's correct.
3 Q. Plan B, according to map would have been to take over areas marked
4 A and B?
5 A. Plan B was to take the areas up to the
6 Virovitica-Karlovac-Karlobag line. So that's 1A, everything to the east.
7 Q. That would also include the area marked 1B?
8 A. That is correct. What was actually implemented was Plan C, which
9 includes the 1B line and three more sectors in the area of Croatia which
10 are not marked here but they can be marked.
11 Q. Okay. Well, since we are primarily interested in Eastern
12 Slavonia, which is the area 1B, we will leave it at that.
13 MR. AGHA: And if I may ask the Court if this map could kindly be
15 JUDGE PARKER: It will be received.
16 THE REGISTRAR: This will be Exhibit 106, Your Honour.
17 MR. AGHA: So, that is all the exhibits which the Prosecution
18 would like to put through this witness, and has indeed been done. But it
19 may be helpful to the Court by way of clarification if the Prosecution was
20 able just to ask the general one particular question concerning his
21 knowledge of the security administration.
22 JUDGE PARKER: Yes.
23 MR. AGHA:
24 Q. Now, General, you were a member of the security services for about
25 20 years, and you've explained in your evidence in the Milosevic case,
1 which has also been admitted into evidence in this case how the chains of
2 command of the security organs and other ordinary reporting lines were in
3 the JNA.
4 So my question to you is: If a commander of a unit gave a
5 security officer a particular order, for example, the evacuation of a
6 hospital, would the security officer need to report on the progress of the
7 implementation of that order to the commander who gave him that order?
8 A. Correct, yes. He would have to do so. Each order by the
9 commander had to be carried out by any member of the unit. If the
10 security organ received an order from the commander, then he was obliged
11 to inform his line of management of the service, along -- according to his
12 competency, and then they would have to begin implementing it. Then all
13 the tasks that were implemented had to be reported on. If he received the
14 order from his commander, he would report to the commander, as well as to
15 his line of command of the service.
16 Q. Thank you.
17 MR. AGHA: That completes the 92 bis (B) procedure for this
19 JUDGE PARKER: Thank you very much, Mr. Agha.
20 Mr. Vasic?
21 MR. VASIC: [Interpretation] Thank you, Your Honour.
22 Cross-examined by Mr. Vasic:
23 Q. [Interpretation] Good afternoon, General. I would like to
24 introduce myself first. I am Mr. Vasic, and I am Defence counsel for Mr.
25 Mrksic. Because we both understand and we speak the same language, I
1 would like to ask you to pause after my questions so that the interpreters
2 would be able to interpret our dialogue into English so that others who
3 don't speak our language would know what we are saying. Hopefully there
4 won't be any problems because you have already testified before at this
6 For a moment I would like to go back to your military career so
7 that we would know what jobs you performed at certain time periods, which
8 would be relevant to the questions that I will be asking you.
9 Your career in the JNA began in 1966 in Pula, and then in 1968 you
10 already became the commander of the reconnaissance centre of an air force
11 unit; is that correct?
12 A. No. My military career started after I completed the military
13 academy on the 27th of September, 1965. The -- I became a commander of a
14 radar station or unit in Bihac in the course of 1968 or in early 1969.
15 Q. Three years after this, you became chief of security of the 117th
16 Combat Fighter Regiment?
17 A. Yes. It was a combat air force fighter regiment, and I have been
18 a chief of security or the chief of security since 1974.
19 Q. General, and when do you -- when did you become the deputy chief
20 of the military security department of the 5th Air Force Corps in Zagreb?
21 A. I became deputy -- it wasn't an official title, but I was the
22 assistant of the chief in 1974. This was in June of 1974.
23 Q. The 5th Corps was subordinated to the air force command in Zemun,
24 was it not?
25 A. Yes, that's correct.
1 Q. After you completed the war college in 1986 you became chief of
2 security of the 5th Air Force Corps?
3 A. That's correct. Several months after I graduated, I became chief
4 of the security services of the 5th Air Force Corps.
5 Q. You remained in that position until March 1991, when you were
6 removed from your post by your superior, Slobodan Rakocevic; is that
8 A. Yes.
9 Q. My apologies. In July 1991, you requested and received approval
10 to quit the military service?
11 A. Yes.
12 Q. As early as at the beginning of August, you became Chief of Staff
13 of the National Guards Corps?
14 A. Yes, that's true.
15 Q. When the Main Staff of the Croatian army was established in
16 September 1991, you became commander of the air force and anti-aircraft
18 A. Commander of the air force and anti-air force defence, I became
19 commander of the air force and anti-air force defence in early September
20 1991 -- in early December 1991.
21 THE INTERPRETER: Interpreter's correction.
22 MR. VASIC: [Interpretation]
23 Q. In 1996, did you receive a promotion to the rank of Lieutenant
24 Colonel and were you appointed deputy Chief of Staff of the Main Staff of
25 the Croatian army?
1 A. That's not true. In 1996, I was awarded the rank of Colonel
2 General, but I was named assistant Chief of Staff of the Main Staff of the
3 Croatian army for the air force and anti-aircraft defence.
4 Q. Thank you very much. It was in December 2002 that you retired and
5 your rank at the time was staff general, which would have been equivalent
6 to the rank of army general in the former JNA, would it not?
7 A. Yes. That's true. My rank was staff general. That is equivalent
8 to a four-star general. But there was another general level rank in
9 wartime in the Croatian army. It would be very difficult to translate
10 into a different system but it would have been the equivalent of an army
11 general in the JNA.
12 Q. Was that the top-most rank that could be achieved in your army?
13 A. Yes. That would have been the highest rank with the exception of
14 those who were in the position of chief of the Main Staff.
15 Q. After your retirement you became adviser to the president of the
16 republic, first for defence and military-related matters, and following
17 that, adviser for national security?
18 A. I became adviser to the president of the Republic of Croatia even
19 before I retired, when the Croatian president, Stipe Mesic, began his
20 first term of office. After I retired, I became adviser for national
21 security and remained in that position until the end of his first term of
23 Q. Thank you. When I look at your impressive military career, we
24 must agree that for over 20 years you were involved in security-related
25 tasks and matters. When you were a JNA officer, you were in a security
1 unit of the air force that covered the whole territory of the former JNA.
2 Isn't that a fact?
3 A. Yes, precisely. There is one thing that is debatable, whether it
4 covered the entire territory of the former Yugoslavia. From a
5 professional point of view, that can be debated but I believe more
6 questions will follow about that later, so let's not waste time on it now.
7 Q. In addition to all the military schools that you completed, in
8 addition to your practical experience in the army, you also obtained an MA
9 degree from Zagreb's political sciences faculty?
10 A. Yes, that was back in 1985.
11 Q. While you were an active officer, the air force structure broke
12 down into corps, did it not?
13 A. Yes. That was after the last reorganising scheme, and up to that
14 point, it had been different, and many different systems prevailed
15 throughout my career.
16 Q. After this new corps level organisation, the first was in Nis, the
17 third was in Zagreb, and the 5th was in Zagreb, and you were chief at the
18 time; right? In each and every one of these, there were security
19 departments that were subordinated to the chief of the war air force in
20 Zemun; is that correct?
21 A. Yes.
22 Q. And chief of security of the air force was subordinated to the
23 chief of the security administration of the secretariat for All People's
24 Defence; is that correct?
25 A. Yes.
1 Q. Which territory was covered by the 5th Corps of the -- 5th Air
2 Force Corps which you were part of at the time?
3 A. The 5th Air Force Corps covered the area to the east of the
4 following line: Virovitica-Banja Luka-Split, or rather to the west of the
5 line that I just described.
6 Q. So we can conclude that they covered the entire territory of
7 Slovenia and southwest Croatia?
8 A. The north, the northwest, and the west of Croatia.
9 Q. Thank you. You were talking about your tasks in your statement,
10 and in your testimony that has been tendered into evidence here, the
11 transcript, about the tasks that the security administration of the
12 federal secretariat for All People's Defence handed out to their
13 subordinated security organs. These tasks subdivided into roughly three
14 groups, neutralising the actions of foreign intelligence services,
15 neutralising the activities of extremists from the immigration circles,
16 and countering the domestic or internal enemy?
17 A. Yes, globally speaking. But another thing was protection of
18 confidentiality which was also essential to what we did.
19 Q. At the relevant period of time, just before the events of 1991,
20 unlike the air force, the land forces were subdivided into three military
21 districts; is that right?
22 A. Yes.
23 Q. Can you tell us which three those were and which territories they
25 A. The 1st Military District in Belgrade, the 3rd Military District
1 in Nis, and the 5th Military District in Zagreb. As for their respective
2 territories, I can't say with certainty, but they did not overlap with the
3 territory covered by the air force, although to a very high extent they
5 Q. Thank you, General. What about the 5th Military District based in
6 Zagreb? Was it not made up of 5th -- five corps?
7 A. I think there were five corps. I've listed them all in my
8 statement in a previous trial.
9 Q. Rijeka, Zagreb, Ljubljana, Maribor and Varazdin?
10 A. Yes, that's right.
11 Q. Each military district of the land forces had security departments
12 headed by chiefs, as well as counter-intelligence groups, did it not?
13 A. I think we had security sections not departments - it's a slightly
14 higher level - and counter-intelligence groups, yes.
15 Q. What was in the course in the air force was at the military
16 district level in the land forces; is that right?
17 A. No. In the air force, at the air force command level, there was
18 the central or rather counter-intelligence group which had three
19 detachments in the respective corps headquarters. But these were not
20 subordinated to the corps. They were subordinated directly to the central
21 intelligence group of the air force command.
22 MR. VASIC: [Interpretation] Your Honours --
23 JUDGE PARKER: Is this a convenient time, Mr. Vasic?
24 We will have the first break now and resume at five minutes
25 past 4.00.
1 --- Recess taken at 3.44 p.m.
2 --- On resuming at 4.08 p.m.
3 JUDGE PARKER: Mr. Vasic.
4 MR. VASIC: [Interpretation] Thank you, Your Honour.
5 Q. General, during the break the interpreters asked me to slow down a
6 little and to pause between our questions and answers.
7 On the 29th and 30th of May and until the 1st of July 2002, did
8 you give a statement to the OTP? Do you remember that?
9 A. Yes. I gave a statement but I don't remember the exact dates.
10 That must be indicated on the statement, I believe.
11 Q. When you spoke about the different units of the air force, and
12 specifically those of the 5th Air Force Corps, you said that the 5th Corps
13 had several air force bases and that each had a security organ?
14 A. Yes, that's right.
15 Q. You also said that each of the bases had a military police unit
16 subordinated to the security department?
17 A. Yes. But that was as far as professional matters were concerned.
18 Q. And the same applied to the land forces?
19 A. Yes, that's right.
20 Q. In your statement you described two parallel chains of command
21 that applied to security bodies. For military matters, the chain went all
22 the way up to the commander of the air force, and in the land forces, the
23 commander of the military district. The other chain, as far as
24 professional matters were concerned, went to the chief of security
25 administration of All People's Defence, and this applied to both the air
1 force and the land forces?
2 A. Yes, roughly speaking that's true, except that this part went up
3 only as far as the corps. Whichever command had a security body, this
4 security body was subordinated to the commander, first and foremost, as
5 far as military matters were concerned. As far as purely professional
6 matters were concerned, technical matters, we didn't call it a chain of
7 command. We called it a chain of control.
8 Q. What about the activities of security bodies? Was not most of
9 their work about technical aspects?
10 A. Yes.
11 Q. The -- these technical aspects mostly depended on the chief of the
12 security organ. Can you explain that, please?
13 A. The more the security organ dealt with technical and security
14 issues, the more successful it was because their superior for technical
15 issues always insisted that they deal, as much as possible, with technical
16 aspects, which did not imply that they would not have followed the orders
17 of their commanders where military matters were concerned. There had to
18 be some sort of a balance, however, between the two.
19 Q. What about the importance of security organs or bodies in the JNA?
20 It was great, wasn't it, in relation to those officers who were not part
21 of the security chain, as it were? Were security bodies consulted when
22 officers were appointed to command positions?
23 A. Yes, they were.
24 Q. If their opinion was negative, could it have resulted in someone
25 not being appointed?
1 A. Yes. There were cases like that, but there were cases where the
2 security organs opposed somebody's appointment and this person was still
3 appointed. Then there would be appeals to the superior command structure
4 at a higher level. These appeals sometimes failed. But in most cases,
5 where the security organ had some authority, in their work with the
6 commander, they would normally be successful in imposing their position
7 and their opinion.
8 Q. Let us now consider the period of late 1990 and early 1991. What
9 about the activities of the security administration in this period? You
10 said that it became a command structure and that security channels were
11 used to pass on the most important orders in the JNA in this period of
12 time. Would that be correct?
13 A. It's very difficult to say, to define the time line from when
14 until when, but yes it's important that -- it's true that important
15 information was passed down that chain, and most of the instructions that
16 were received from positions higher up were based on information collected
17 by the service, not necessarily all but the best part.
18 Q. In your statement to the investigators of the OTP, did you not say
19 that the federal secretary, Kadijevic himself, at the time, believed the
20 security channel to be the most reliable and the fastest way at the time
21 to pass information and orders up and down the command chain in the JNA?
22 A. Yes. That's true. But that statement was in reference to the
23 beginning of the war in Croatia. I'm not sure about Slovenia. That was
24 in reference to that time. I wasn't talking about 1990 and 1991 in their
1 Q. So this would be in reference to the second half of 1991, if I
2 understand you correctly?
3 A. Yes. I think that would be an accurate way of putting it.
4 Q. When you testified in a different case before this Tribunal, did
5 you not say about this that the then-chief of the security administration,
6 Aca Vasiljevic, could have passed information down the security channel
7 without informing the relevant commanders?
8 A. Yes, that's true. Whether he informed anyone about that or not is
9 not for me to say. Whether he informed his own superior, the federal
10 secretary for All People's Defence. However, within the service,
11 information was being passed on that I think the superiors in the chain of
12 command were not necessarily familiar with.
13 Q. What about the independence enjoyed by security officers when
14 dealing with technical issues pursuant to orders from their own superior
15 security officer and in relation to their own unit?
16 A. Where technical matters were concerned, they would have been
17 entirely independent. However, from the rank of army commander or
18 military district commander later on, and higher up the chain, those
19 officers would have known everything that their security organ was doing.
20 Down the chain there was selective information being passed around, such
21 information as concerned technical issues.
22 Q. Does that mean that the security organ would have been in a
23 position to use certain activities concerning these technical aspects
24 without informing their commander?
25 A. Yes, that's precisely what it means.
1 Q. Does this position of the security organ indicate the existence of
2 a separate chain or special chain of command in relation to orders and in
3 relation to higher or superior organs of structure?
4 A. Yes, it does indicate that.
5 Q. At the time that we are speaking about, was a security officer
6 authorised to hand over a JNA member or a civilian suspected of committing
7 a crime in relation to the JNA?
8 A. I think that security officer did not have that right. The only
9 right that he had was in an emergency situation was to detain a person if
10 there were grounds to suspect that person, and they could hold the person
11 until the investigative organs arrived on the scene.
12 Q. We talked about activities of the security administration and the
13 security organs in neutralising certain factors or certain destabilisation
14 factors of the social order. The third of those activities was to
15 neutralise internal enemies. At a certain period in time, did this third
16 activity become a priority activity, as far as the security organs were
18 A. Yes, that is correct. It did become a priority.
19 Q. Countering the activities of internal enemies, did that refer to
20 internal enemies of all the nations and nationalities that lived in the
21 SFRY at the time?
22 A. Yes, that is correct.
23 Q. After 1976 [as interpreted], this segment of activity of the
24 security organs was given a special form in uncovering members of the
25 so-called irredentist movement. These were internal enemies of Albanian
2 A. Well, I wouldn't say that it was from 1986. I would say that it
3 was from an even earlier time period.
4 Q. Was the culmination -- an event that occurred in a barracks of the
5 JNA at the time, did that event draw special attention of the organs of
6 security to this problem, if you know what I'm talking about?
7 A. Yes. That is correct. If you have the transcript, that is where
8 I already explained this.
9 Q. Considering all of these circumstances, was there a justified
10 concern because of this organising tendency by the irredentist forces?
11 A. Yes. There was a concern in that respect but I think that certain
12 individuals exaggerated it and occasionally abused it.
13 Q. You said that it was exaggerated and abused by certain
14 individuals. Could you please tell us who you mean when you say these
16 A. If we are talking about Albanian nationalism specifically and the
17 irredentist movement as we refer to it officially within the security
18 services at the time, some individuals that were heading the service
19 insisted that irredentist organisation had to be found in any unit of the
20 JNA. For example, if there were any three Albanians in any given unit,
21 they were an organised threesome. So there was a certain number of
22 individuals within the security service who managed to impose this view on
23 the service. So that is what I mean when I say that there was an abuse of
24 this occurrence in a way.
25 Q. Thank you. One of the people who created such an approach
1 regarding the irredentist movement was Mr. Aca Vasiljevic. Would you say
2 that was true?
3 A. I explained that and I think that at the time, he and his team
4 were one of those individuals in the 7th Military District. Excuse me, in
5 the 7th Army.
6 Q. And did this method of work spread throughout the service when
7 Mr. Vasiljevic became the chief of the SSNO security administration?
8 A. Yes. It spread throughout a considerable part of the service, and
9 those security organs that had not uncovered any irredentist activities
10 were considered to be unsuccessful in their work.
11 Q. Did you personally have a problem in regard to this matter, in
12 terms of your relations with your superiors from the security organs?
13 A. Yes, to a certain extent, I did. I managed to resist that. And
14 in the 5th Corps, there was not a large number of cases of irredentist,
15 nationalist organising. There were individual cases which were considered
16 as indicative, and my superior at the time considered that to be an
17 unsatisfactory assessment and -- a reflection of unsatisfactory work.
18 Q. A colleague of yours from the security service, Mr. Bogdan Vujic,
19 did he come to the -- to your corps in connection with this uncovering of
20 irredentist occurrences in your corps?
21 A. I remember Mr. Vujic from that time. He was a travelling
22 ambassador at the time throughout Yugoslavia. He travelled when these
23 irredentist movement events were topical. He did come to the 5th Corps as
24 well. I personally did not work together with him in his team, even
25 though in that period we did have frequent contacts.
1 Q. He was a specialist in uncovering irredentist cases?
2 A. Yes. He could have been considered a specialist in that area in
3 the service.
4 Q. And did your information lead you to believe that he was an
5 honourable officer?
6 A. He was a person who had quite an imagination, and he put in a lot
7 of effort in his work. He could work for days without a break, conducting
8 interviews and so on. But as far as I know, he was an honourable officer
9 and he did not set up or stage any organisations or cases in this respect
10 in particular.
11 Q. Did you have information as to how he identified irredentist
12 threesomes in the area of the 5th Corps?
13 A. I did say that we had a very insignificant number of such cases,
14 and I did not directly participate in these activities. This is something
15 that my deputy did at the time, Lieutenant Colonel at the time. I don't
16 know exactly what his role was, the role of Colonel Vujic in specific
17 cases, but I do know that he was considered to be a person who provided
18 considerable assistance in these matters.
19 Q. When you were testifying before this Tribunal, did you say that
20 Mr. Bogdan Vujic, in uncovering these irredentist threesomes, requested a
21 list of soldiers of Albanian ethnicity from a unit and would then proceed
22 to declare them as members of the irredentist movement?
23 A. A list of members of the unit would be a starting point in order
24 to make assessments aimed at future activities. So he probably did
25 request such lists. He couldn't begin without that. However, I do know
1 that he, as well as the other individuals who worked on uncovering these
2 threesomes, would make setups on paper of their organisation and then
3 would proceed to acknowledge or would proceed to gain confessions from
4 these individuals, that they were a member of these threesomes without
5 enough elements that would justify such a conclusion.
6 Q. Does that mean that they were practically forcing them to admit
7 that they were members of such cells?
8 A. Yes. As well as by having established some sort of cooperation
9 with them, and enter into certain arrangements. However, when such cases
10 would come to trial, they would not usually be successful.
11 Q. And was this work that was done by him valued within the framework
12 of the security administration?
13 A. I think so, yes. I wasn't at the security administration, but
14 there, at that level, it was a help to the people who were working on
15 these issues.
16 Q. Is it your opinion that Colonel Vujic did this because it was
17 particularly valued in the service or he did it because he had something
18 against soldiers of Albanian ethnicity?
19 A. I don't think that he had anything against any soldier of any
20 nationality, but that was a trend at the time. He agreed with such a
21 policy and such a trend, and he took part in it.
22 Q. And did he cooperate with Mr. Aleksandar Vasiljevic in this trend?
23 A. Well, he probably did report to him but I don't know what their
24 relationship was.
25 Q. Did you say that in this period, after these activities were
1 implemented against internal enemies, members of the irredentist movement,
2 that he actually surrounded himself with his own people who shared his
4 A. Yes, who shared his beliefs, but who also blindly followed him and
5 obeyed him. Yes, he did surround himself with such people.
6 Q. Was Bogdan Vujic a member of that team?
7 A. Bogdan Vujic, I think, was about to retire at that time. I don't
8 know whether he had an important post or not in the security
9 administration at the time, but he did enjoy the rank of colonel, the
10 reputation of a senior, experienced person. So this is something that he
11 brought with him. However, I really don't know what his relations were
12 with Aca Vasiljevic, but I assume that they were close.
13 Q. During the 1980s, during this phase of neutralising internal
14 enemies, and at the end of the 1980s, when different political parties
15 were created in the territory of the SFRY, did the focus of the security
16 organs shift from internal enemies so that now the service began to look
17 for associates among the ranks of these new political parties?
18 A. Yes, that is correct. This changed.
19 Q. The Communist Party or the League of Communists of Yugoslavia was
20 the ideological basis within the JNA, were there any attempts at the time
21 in order to create a new such basis through the League of Communists
22 Movement for Yugoslavia, and if such a thing did occur, who was the
23 architect of such an idea and such a policy?
24 A. Yes. That is correct. There were attempts to create the League
25 of Communists Movement for Yugoslavia. As far as I know, initiators were
1 certain retired generals and admirals of the JNA, specifically Mamula,
2 Mirkovic. They were generals. And they included in those activities
3 persons from other republican centres.
4 Q. Was this in fact an attempt to preserve cohesion in the army and
5 to prevent the break-up of the country?
6 A. Yes. I think that's what they believed. I think that was the
7 intention that mattered, since they eventually opted for this platform.
8 Objectively speaking, even now, and it has been 14 or 15 years since, we
9 see that their attempt or their effort was groundless. Personally, I did
10 not agree with their platform and I wished no part in it. That was one of
11 the reasons I clashed with my superiors in the service.
12 Q. Were Mr. Vasiljevic and Mr. Rakocevic, whom we mentioned today,
13 part of this endeavour?
14 A. Mr. Vasiljevic and Mr. Rakocevic were -- it's difficult to be
15 specific about the time, but I think it was back in 1988 and 1989, they
16 were a priori in favour of preserving Yugoslavia, and I can say that I was
17 too. It was in this sense that they opposed every form of nationalism.
18 As time went by, and the multi-party system was allowed and subsequently
19 introduced, they looked for a party throughout Yugoslavia that was strong
20 enough and powerful enough to be able to implement their ideas. They
21 found a candidate in the Socialist Party of Serbia, more specifically in
22 the person of their party president. It was at this point in time that
23 they left behind Serb nationalism, which, like any other nationalism,
24 would eventually have destroyed Yugoslavia.
25 Q. In the late 1980s and early 1990s, did we not have a situation
1 where certain high-ranking JNA officers were being monitored by the
2 security forces as suspected of being Serb nationalists?
3 A. Yes, that was the case. But, like I said, that was up until 1989,
4 perhaps even 1990. But back in 1988 or 1989, I'm convinced, because I
5 myself attended a number of such meetings and lectures, where the two of
6 them, on behalf of the security administration, branded or condemned all
7 forms of nationalism.
8 Q. After the multi-party elections that we briefly touched on, and
9 following the victories of national parties in some of the republics, did
10 the military leadership not at that point believe that there was a real
11 danger that the leaderships of Croatia and Slovenia would use force in
12 order to cause the breakdown of the SFRY?
13 A. Yes. Assessments like that were voiced among the JNA leaders at
14 the time.
15 Q. What about the result of these assessments and decisions that were
16 made by the chief of the General Staff? I mean his decision to disarm the
17 Territorial Defence units of all the republics and autonomous regions? I
18 mean his decision to place all the weapons thus requisitioned under the
19 control of the JNA?
20 A. From where he was standing, this assessment was real, and the
21 result of this fact was the decision that he gave. This was not only an
22 act of usurpation on his part but he was also usurping other people's
23 property because the TO's equipment was the property of the republics.
24 Without thinking twice, he requisitioned all of this and placed it under
25 his own control.
1 Q. But the decision was only about placing the weapons under control.
2 These weapons were not taken away from the republics and autonomous
3 regions. The weapons were still, technically speaking, property of these
5 A. That was on paper. In reality, it boiled down to who was in
6 possession of these weapons and who had access to them. It no longer
7 mattered who the weapons technically belonged to. The physical reality
8 was altogether different.
9 Q. Let's go back to Aleksandar Vasiljevic's appointment as chief of
10 the security administration. What is your opinion of Mr. Vasiljevic as
11 chief? What exactly was the extent of his power in that position?
12 A. I think Mr. Aleksandar Vasiljevic was a very able officer, very
13 intelligent, very versatile. He was very good at making assessments. He
14 was very good at following through with his assessments, and he was able
15 to impose himself on other people. I think he was very good at selecting
16 his associates and he was very good at organising the service in order to
17 carry out the tasks that he believed were crucial at the time, at least as
18 far as his aspect of activity was concerned.
19 Had he been successful, or rather had the JNA leadership managed
20 to remain neutral in what happened in the territory of the former
21 Yugoslavia, there would have been a monument built to honour them all
22 now. But they took sides, the leadership of the JNA took sides, and we
23 all know what happened as a result of that.
24 Q. Let's leave this topic for a moment.
25 In relation to your last answer, according to the constitution,
1 did the JNA not have a duty to protect the territorial integrity and
2 sovereignty of the entire SFRY?
3 A. Yes. That's true. That was one of its duties. However, what was
4 necessary at the time was to recognise the political realities. Once the
5 multi-party system had been allowed, there was no longer any way we could
6 influence which party would be victorious in the elections, which is
7 something that the JNA tried to do.
8 Q. So what's your conclusion? Was it a problem that the JNA didn't
9 act according to the constitution or because the system was not adapted to
10 the new realities that the country was facing after the multi-party
12 A. The constitutional system was not modified to fit the new
13 realities. For that, you needed to have a new consensus by the
14 leaderships of all the individual republics and not for the JNA to make
15 independent decisions as a political agent.
16 Q. Let us now, please, go back to the security chief. When you spoke
17 about Mr. Vasiljevic to the investigators of the OTP, did you say that his
18 associates in the security administration respected him and feared him in
19 equal measure?
20 A. That was the feeling I had. I had the impression that he was a
21 very authoritarian person in the way he treated those who were around him.
22 Q. Does that mean that they carried out his ideas and designs?
23 A. Yes. I believe that to have been the case.
24 Q. Was he at the time influential even with the federal secretary,
25 who made decisions based on Mr. Vasiljevic's opinions?
1 A. I think he was very influential. I can't be more specific, but I
2 know that I personally in 1989 and 1990 and in early 1991 repeatedly wrote
3 to the federal secretary in order to inform him about the situation as it
4 was at the time in Croatia and Slovenia. Some of the information that
5 came from that general direction was quite contrary or different from my
6 own assessments and information that I had obtained in the area.
7 Q. Did you suffer any consequences in your work on account of that,
8 on account of these erroneous assessments?
9 A. Yes. I suffered some consequences, and this climaxed on the
10 2nd of March, 1991. I was removed from my post because my assessments
11 were different from those of my superior.
12 Q. In relation to this topic, did you state to the investigators of
13 the OTP that the decisions of Admiral Brovet who was assistant federal
14 secretary and of Aleksandar Vasiljevic became in actual fact orders?
15 A. Yes. I said that based on certain decisions, I had that feeling.
16 The same applies to the information/order of the chief of the Main Staff
17 which we discussed yesterday, dated the 12th of October, 1991.
18 Q. Does that mean that any decision by Mr. Vasiljevic would have the
19 same effect with his subordinates as if it had been made by the military
20 leadership itself?
21 A. No. I don't think it carried quite the same clout, because it
22 would not have had the same consequences in case of failure to comply as
23 would have been the case if orders had been disobeyed by the Chief of the
24 Main Staff. However, his attitude caused a lot of respect and fear with
25 his inferiors or his subordinates. Not with all of them, mind you, but
1 that is certainly what most of them appear to have felt.
2 Q. Particularly, if we bear in mind the influence that Mr. Vasiljevic
3 had with the federal secretary?
4 A. Yes, of course.
5 Q. Does that mean that, at the time, Mr. Vasiljevic held under
6 control the entire security structure of the then-JNA? And that no action
7 or operation of any consequence within the security and
8 counter-intelligence sector could have been carried out without his
9 knowledge and explicit approval?
10 A. First of all, can you please be more specific about the time?
11 Q. 1990 and 1991.
12 A. All right. 1990 and 1991. From March onwards, I can't say. In
13 1991, up until March, I know that he enjoyed no absolute authority with
14 me. I was independent in making assessments, and I would act based on my
15 own assessments. There were other individuals, later on, who were anxious
16 about holding down their positions and thought the best idea was to obey
17 him, although they sometimes disagreed. Specifically, I know some
18 examples from the land forces at the time. From the air force, too, for
19 that matter, but as time went by, in 1991, his authority and his influence
20 grew and continued to grow.
21 Q. Following the arrival of Mr. Vasiljevic at the head of the
22 security administration, did the scope of activities of the security
23 organs start to include the civilian sector, which up to then had not been
24 within their remit?
25 A. Yes, that's correct.
1 Q. Were three new groups not created at the time in order to monitor
2 society outside the JNA?
3 A. If we are talking about the air force, that is correct. Three new
4 detachments were set up, one in Zagreb, one in Sarajevo, and one in Nis.
5 These detachments were supposed, as of sometime around 1988 or 1989, to
6 deal with the society, which up until then had not been the case and had
7 even been forbidden by the rules of service.
8 Q. What about the Zagreb-based detachment? Were they given the task
9 to deal with the Croatian political leadership and members of the MUP and
10 to set up a network of associates in those structures?
11 A. Yes. That's true.
12 Q. Did this happen after the multi-party elections in Croatia also?
13 A. It grew in intensity after the multi-party elections but also on
14 the eve of the elections, when the first political parties were created in
15 late 1989. That's when they set about doing this.
16 Q. What about this network of associates? Did they not try to
17 recruit people among the very leaders of Croatia's political life?
18 A. It's in the nature of the service to get as close to the top as
19 possible, to have the top-most source possible, as it were.
20 Q. Was there a plan for this network of associates to continue to
21 exist once the JNA left Croatian territory?
22 A. If you're talking about the 2nd Detachment, then I would say
23 that's true. That was the objective. That was the task. Leave
24 strongholds behind in the territory even once the JNA had withdrawn from
25 the territory.
1 Q. The next step was to expand this network of associates to the
2 media; is that correct?
3 A. Yes. I think that was the first step. That was the step that was
4 taken first. And then the move was made to the party political leadership
5 because at the time, and we all were witnesses of that, the media had a
6 very important role in creating public opinion.
7 Q. This operation that we are talking about conducted by the
8 2nd Detachment did it remain secret until the end of the war?
9 A. It remained secret until the barracks was captured where they had
10 their headquarters. Then the Croatian security services analysed the
11 seized materials quite soon after that, but I can't tell you exactly
12 how -- after how much time they analysed these materials. But this
13 operation did not remain a secret right until the end of the war.
14 Q. You talked about going into the barracks where these materials
15 were seized. When was this?
16 A. This was in 1991, in the Maksimirska barracks, where they had
17 their headquarters.
18 Q. For the transcript, the date actually was the 15th of September,
20 A. Yes, that is correct.
21 Q. We will come back to this a bit later. In the conversations you
22 mentioned here that you had with General Raseta, did the JNA make an offer
23 for Vukovar to be an open city, without access allowed to any army?
24 A. I don't recall Raseta ever offering such an option. There is a
25 very objective record of what Raseta offered and also what my response was
1 in the minutes made by the ECMM observers. I think that that is the most
2 objective record of what was offered, who offered what, and what the
3 response was.
4 Q. I'm asking you this because you said that you spent every day
5 sitting at the table and conducted negotiations conducive to resolving
6 problem situations.
7 A. Every day, from the 8th of October, almost until the end of 1991,
8 yes, that is true.
9 Q. Do you know that until November 1991 the road between Vukovar and
10 Vinkovci, via Luci [phoen], Bogdanovci, Marinci, Nustar, was open?
11 A. No. I don't know that it was open until that time. Specifically,
12 it was my task to visit Vukovar on the 30th of September, 1991, and I was
13 not able to enter. I came to Bogdanovci, to the defence command. I was
14 in contact with the commander of the Vukovar defence. And it was not
15 possible for me to get into Vukovar because it was besieged entirely, and
16 this access road from Bogdanovci was under the control of the JNA or the
17 TO. In any case, the first convoy that we organised to bring out the
18 wounded was at that time because already at that time it was not possible
19 freely to enter Vukovar. So that was that period, between the 8th and the
20 12th of October.
21 Q. When you mentioned the convoy, didn't the convoy actually enter in
22 that way to Vukovar, under the escort of the ZNG, and it happened without
23 the knowledge and escort of the JNA?
24 A. No. That was not the case at all. It arrived escorted by doctors
25 from Doctors Without Borders. The vehicles used were civilian vehicles
1 that went there. At no time did the ZNG members move beyond the line of
2 separation between the Croatian forces and the other side. It is true
3 that members of the ZNG were able to enter Vukovar at the time. Had that
4 been possible, then the wounded would have been brought out in a day or
5 two. A convoy is a complicated thing and you need four or five days in
6 order to do that. I have it written down somewhere. It was stopped, it
7 was searched by members of the JNA. Specifically I remember a Lieutenant
8 Colonel Milenkovic, this has stuck to my mind, who kept searching over and
9 over, each of the vehicles, the ambulances. He made threats and so on. I
10 remember that surname of that specific JNA member.
11 Q. You don't recall that this convoy went through the corn fields
12 under the escort of the ZNG members from Bogdanovci and that's how it
13 reached the Vukovar hospital? It did not actually follow the agreed-upon
14 route and what you are describing actually happened only on the way back.
15 A. Had these been members of the ZNG, it would not have gone to the
16 Vukovar barracks because once it entered the area of Vukovar, it spent the
17 first night at the Vukovar barracks, which was under the control of the
18 JNA. So it's not logical that ZNG members would have brought the convoy
19 to the Vukovar barracks where the JNA were.
20 Q. Then we are not talking about the same convoy. I realise that now
21 that you mention the Vukovar barracks.
22 However, when we are talking about this convoy that you are
23 talking about now that reached the Vukovar barracks, do you know the
24 reason why it didn't continue to the Vukovar Hospital? Was that because
25 the Vukovar defence command did not want to let the convoy through in
1 order not to disrupt the defence lines?
2 A. That is partially true, because specifically Branko Borkovic got
3 angry because this route was agreed upon, because it would have allegedly
4 disrupted their lines of defence. However, in the Vukovar events, that
5 was not the only reason, because the other parts were controlled by one
6 side or by the other side. It was very important to the Croatian side to
7 bring out the convoy with the wounded because the Croatian public was
8 convinced that these large number of wounded were in danger. So the
9 Vukovar defence was ordered to act even at its own harm in order to pull
10 out the wounded. So that's what was done. I cannot, however, tell you
11 how the JNA acted because I was not able to see that from the place where
12 I was. However, it did take the convoy five days to go and come back.
13 Q. A little bit earlier, I talked about a different convoy, the
14 convoy of the 18th of October, 1991, which was organised under the
15 auspices of Medecins Sans Frontieres and which was brought to the Vukovar
16 Hospital with the escort of members of the ZNG and on which occasion 111
17 sick and wounded persons -- 112 sick and wounded persons were evacuated.
18 This is the convoy that I was talking about. Perhaps it was a
20 A. No. That is the same convoy. The Medecins Sans Frontieres
21 organised only one convoy, and that was the first convoy to bring out the
22 sick and wounded from the Vukovar Hospital. I don't know when the second
23 convoy took place. It's written down somewhere. But that convoy, which
24 came out on the 18th of October, was actually that first convoy that we
25 are talking about, based on an agreement with the JNA on the 8th of
1 October. So it was immediately embarked on to organise this convoy.
2 Q. There is testimony about this convoy by people from the Doctors
3 Without Borders or who were with them. So I won't ask you any more about
4 that because it doesn't seem that you know so much about these two
6 A. These people who wanted to do that at the time, I think had they
7 been able to do that, they really deserve to be decorated, but I really
8 believe that at that time they were not able to do that.
9 Q. Do you know how long the road between Vukovar and Vinkovci was
10 open? How long did the traffic proceed normally?
11 A. The traffic did not proceed in a normal manner for a long time.
12 As far as I can remember, and according to the information that I have,
13 all exits and entrance points to Vukovar were closed on the 1st of October
14 up to Marinci. This corresponds to what I have, because on the 30th of
15 September, I spent all night in the defence command at Bogdanovci
16 attempting to get in. There was a lot of shelling. Marinci fell the next
17 day. And that's when all the access points to Vukovar were closed. At
18 least this applied to the Croat side. We were at Marinci and that's how
19 it was.
20 Q. I think that in responding to my question, you took out some kind
21 of note or document. Could you please tell us what that is?
22 A. On the sad occasion of the fall of Vukovar, on the 18th of October
23 [as interpreted], the Vecernji List, Croatian Daily, published an overview
24 of the events at Vukovar and that's where they described the day when
25 Marinci fell. I had forgotten that. So that is why I used this document
1 in order to see exactly the date whether Marinci fell.
2 Q. And when was this newspaper published?
3 A. It was published this year. It was published several years --
4 several days ago, just prior to the anniversary of the fall of Vukovar.
5 Q. Just one intervention for the transcript. In the transcript it
6 states that you said that Vukovar fell on the 18th of October, but you
7 actually meant the 18th of November?
8 A. Yes, yes. I meant the 18th of November.
9 Q. During the time shortly before the fall of Vukovar, were
10 negotiations conducted with the JNA for an exchange of prisoners and were
11 the prisoners from Vukovar mentioned on that occasion?
12 A. There were negotiations with the JNA about prisoner exchange, and
13 that -- those negotiations were conducted by Mr. Ivan Milas on the
14 Croatian side, by Andrija Raseta from the JNA. I don't remember whether
15 anybody was assisting him or not, but I think there were two colonels from
16 the security administration who were with him all the time and they were
17 assisting him. That agreement, as far as I can recall, was signed on the
18 6th of November, 1991 under the principle all-for-all.
19 Q. In the implementation of that agreement, was a group of KOG
20 members exchanged for Dr. Bosanac and Dr. Njavro, the ones who had been
21 arrested in Zagreb for creating the Labrador association, network?
22 A. That group was exchanged with a number of important detainees, in
23 the sense that the public was aware of them. I don't know whether
24 Drs. Bosanac and Njavro were a part of that group. I wasn't really
25 following the events.
1 Q. You told us that these were people who were important, as far as
2 Croatia was concerned. Was this decision then made at the highest
3 political level, to exchange these people?
4 A. Yes. It probably was.
5 Q. What about these persons who belonged to the Labrador group? Were
6 they important too?
7 A. No. Not to Croatia. Not even their names were known, unlike the
8 other group. However, obviously the negotiators had agreed on this being
9 a fair deal and that's why the agreement was eventually reached.
10 Q. Do you know what crimes these members of the Labrador group were
11 accused of?
12 A. Illegal enemy activity, something like that, but I don't remember
13 specifically, terrorism, sabotage, because certain specific particular
14 acts were attributed to them in the Croatian territory.
15 Q. What about Mr. Aleksandar Vasiljevic? Was he involved with this
17 A. I don't know.
18 Q. After the arrest of the Labrador members, was the entire network
19 in the police and general political environment in the Republic of Croatia
21 A. I was not a member of the security services of the Republic of
22 Croatia at the time. When I became adviser for national security, I
23 didn't ask any questions about this case. It was no longer interesting.
24 However, I did read the Belgrade newspaper, Duga, and I realised that some
25 individuals had been tried in Belgrade. It transpired that documents had
1 been left behind about a network of associates throughout the former
2 Yugoslavia. These documents were being held by that detachment.
3 Q. We are talking about the network of associates that we discussed a
4 while ago. They were the reason that the 2nd Detachment was given the
5 task of contacting members of the Croatian MUP and some members of the
6 Croatian media; is that correct?
7 A. Yes.
8 Q. Did this group have anything to do with the incident at the Jewish
9 cemetery in Zagreb?
10 A. The conviction prevails in Croatia, among the people, this has not
11 been proved at trial. I know that proceedings were at one point underway,
12 that it was this body that carried out the act of sabotage at the Jewish
13 cemetery, by laying explosives to a monument in the Jewish cemetery as
14 well as the Jewish community building in Palmoticeva Street in Zagreb.
15 Q. As a former security officer, can you tell us this: How important
16 is it for a security operation to keep its network of associates unknown?
17 A. It is absolutely material. Each and every member of the service
18 has a sacrosanct duty to keep it secret.
19 Q. Were a network to be blown, it would be very difficult to very
20 quickly organise another network in the same area, would it not?
21 A. Trust is lost, confidence is lost in the service, and these are
22 some of the guidelines here in their work.
23 JUDGE PARKER: Is this a convenient time, then, Mr. Vasic?
24 MR. VASIC: [Interpretation] Yes, thank you, Your Honour.
25 JUDGE PARKER: We will resume at 10 minutes to 6.00.
1 --- Recess taken at 5.25 p.m.
2 --- On resuming at 5.54 p.m.
3 JUDGE PARKER: Yes, Mr. Vasic.
4 MR. VASIC: [Interpretation] Thank you, Your Honour.
5 Q. General, did you know that during the talks between the Croatian
6 leaders and the representatives of the European Community regarding the
7 recognition of Croatia, there was talk of the crime committed by the
8 Croatian forces in Gospic back in 1991?
9 A. Which talks do you have in mind? Where and when were these talks
11 Q. What I meant was is this a problem in a very general sense? Are
12 you familiar with the crimes committed in Gospic?
13 A. I'm not sure if that point was raised. I was never party to any
14 of these talks. Although from time to time, in our talks, Raseta
15 mentioned the fact that there had been harassment and even murder.
16 However, I was not myself specifically aware of any such incidents at the
17 time. I knew nothing about Gospic at the time.
18 Q. What about now?
19 A. I know because the Croatian General Mirko Norac was tried and
20 Tihomir Oreskovic was tried. I know that crimes were committed in the
21 area and they were duly sentenced.
22 Q. Do you know anything about an organised group named Opera?
23 A. I learned about this group later on. I learned from the media,
24 from the printed media, and especially from articles published in the
25 Belgrade newspaper Duga. This was serialised.
1 Q. What was the objective of that group?
2 A. I believe I learned this from one of Vasiljevic's interviews. I
3 don't remember it all too clearly, though. However, based on my
4 understanding, what my understanding was at the time, as I was learning
5 about it, because I was familiar with certain people who were involved, I
6 understood the objective was to collect funds, and these funds were later
7 manipulated, which is what they were accused of. Supposedly they had been
8 collecting funds in order to pay for psychological warfare throughout the
9 different wars in the former Yugoslavia.
10 Q. Do you know if they issued announcements or leaked information and
11 thereby participated in psychological warfare in Croatia?
12 A. There was psychological warfare at work in Croatia at the time and
13 propaganda, up until the end of the war in 1995. It is still at work, as
14 a matter of fact. Who was involved and who payrolled the entire thing is
15 not something that I can say. I was not involved on the Croatian side and
16 certainly not on the other side.
17 Q. Let's go back now to an earlier period, when you first joined the
18 National Guards Corps and became Chief of Staff. Do you know anything
19 about the activities of Mr. Tomislav Mercep with regard to the setting up
20 of the National Guards Corps?
21 A. I'm aware of some of Tomislav Mercep's activities but nothing to
22 do with the setting up of the National Guards Corps. He was not involved
23 in that. The corps is a different organisation. Its leadership was in
24 Zagreb. As far as I know, and I think I'm right on this one, Tomislav
25 Mercep was not involved. Tomislav Mercep was Defence secretary for
1 Vukovar municipality and he was involved in organising Vukovar's defence
2 system and in the general area too.
3 Q. What about Vukovar's defence units organised by Mr. Mercep, as you
4 say? Were those a part of the ZNG too?
5 A. No. They were not part of the ZNG. At the time, before the fall
6 of Vukovar, ZNG had set up four brigades. Those were not fully manned,
7 nor did they have sufficient weapons. As for Vukovar's defence, on the
8 inside, there was a relatively small number of people involved who were
9 formally speaking members of the ZNG. All the other people that he
10 organised were volunteers bringing their own weapons which they obtained
11 in some way or purchased but they were not formally speaking members of
12 the ZNG, except for a very small number of them.
13 Q. So these units organised by Mr. Mercep were paramilitary units, if
14 I understand you correctly, made up of volunteers who just obtained
15 weapons in one way or another?
16 A. Formally speaking, I can't agree that these were paramilitary
17 units. Those were units, individuals, or groups, organised in part along
18 military and police lines, along territorial lines. They prepared to
19 defend Vukovar and they eventually defended Vukovar. The secretary for
20 All People's Defence was Tomislav Mercep. How he went about doing this is
21 a different matter altogether, but what I'm telling you is how it was in a
22 formal sense.
23 Q. Formally speaking, I don't think that the setting up of any such
24 units had any basis in the existing laws of the SFRY or Croatia for that
25 matter, or the constitution. I hope we can agree on this.
1 A. To a certain extent I can agree that, formally speaking, this was
2 the case. However, the situation on the ground showed a different
3 reality. Early in 1991, the Serbian League was established. In April
4 1991, the Serbian League or Serbian Association proclaimed its annexation
5 to Serbia. What was the All People's Defence secretary on the ground
6 doing? He was preventing things like these from happening. He was
7 helping to prevent some of these illegal activities.
8 Q. Do you know that Mr. Mercep organised units comprising more than
9 1.000 men? Do you know that he reviewed these units in March 1991 in
11 A. I don't believe that over 1.000 people were involved. It would
12 have been a very good thing for the defence once there was combat, once
13 there was fighting. I know that he hailed from Bogdanovci and that his
14 popularity was the greatest in Bogdanovci. He had a lot of his own men
15 there. If he reviewed any units or not is not something that I can say.
16 I simply don't know.
17 Q. You refer to the Serb National Council, a league, and its
18 decisions. Do you know that following the first multi-party elections in
19 Croatia, where the HDZ won, on the 22nd of December, 1991 the Croatian
20 constitution was changed and the Serbian people, who had up to that point
21 been a constituent people in the Republic of Croatia became a national
23 A. I know that the constitution was passed at that time. I know that
24 the Serbian people used to be a constituent people but were then reduced
25 to a lesser status. The republican leaders, however, were entitled to
1 pass a new constitution and this was an assessment that they made at the
2 time. Serb delegates who were ethnic Serbs, although many of them were
3 not elected as members of Serb parties but, rather, other parties, had the
4 duty to fight in the parliament to keep these changes from coming into
6 Q. Do you perhaps know that the Cyrillic script ceased to be used for
7 official documents in the Republic of Croatia and the Cyrillic script, as
8 we know, is used by most Serbs?
9 A. I don't know if there was an official ban, but I do know that in
10 the Republic of Croatia, among the Serbs residing in the Republic of
11 Croatia up to 1990, the Cyrillic script was not used very much. I knew
12 the script, although it's not one that I use in my mother tongue. Even
13 the Serbs in Belgrade didn't use it all that much. I have relatives
14 there, so I should know.
15 Q. We were both taught both these scripts, and we are familiar with
16 both. But if you look at the political aspect of this problem, well,
17 that's a different thing. If you introduce a ban on a script that a
18 certain group is using, justifying this with the fact that only a minority
19 appear to be using that script, well, that's a different thing, isn't it?
20 A. I agree that there should be no bans at all and everybody should
21 be allowed to use whatever script they prefer. However, if an official
22 decision was made and adopted by official bodies of the Croatian
23 government, I would consider that to be uncivilised.
24 Q. In this situation, on the eve of the multi-party elections, did
25 representatives of the Serbian people had a national party such as the HDZ
1 was for the Croats? Do you know that?
2 A. I believe they did have a party, because there were literally
3 dozens of parties in Croatia at the time. The HDZ was the most popular,
4 and it won. I do know, however, that there were a lot of Serb
5 representatives who were elected who were members of the SKH. I think
6 that was the name, the party for democratic change.
7 Q. This party was headed by Ivica Racan an ethnic Croat, wasn't it?
8 A. Yes.
9 Q. And this party continued to work along a communist line, modified
10 for the purposes of this new period in history, but it had its roots in
11 the communist era, didn't it?
12 A. I'm a soldier and I wouldn't go too far into these matters.
13 Q. Thank you. You said a while ago that you knew some things about
14 the activities of Tomislav Mercep. Do you know about his activities in
15 Vukovar itself in June or July 1991, August, all the way up until
16 September 1991?
17 A. I became the Chief of Staff of the ZNG on the 10th of August 1991,
18 and that's when I began to inform myself about the situation and the state
19 of the defence in the territory of Croatia. Vukovar was already topical
20 at that time. There were problems relating to the organisation. Many
21 delegates, quote/unquote, and many people from Vukovar originally who
22 actually lived in Zagreb would come to see me, asking for help. They also
23 suggested solutions. They asked for help in equipment or in
24 organisational matters.
25 On those occasions, I found out that Tomislav Mercep, somebody I
1 had only heard about at the time, whom I didn't know very well, was at the
2 head of the organisation as the secretary of defence and that essentially
3 is his duty to organise the defence. I heard that he was incompetent,
4 that he had made some quite intactful moves, that he was alienating and
5 picking fights amongst the people, not only amongst the Serbs but also
6 amongst his associates, and there were requests that he be replaced. This
7 is not something that I had only heard about. This had reached the top
8 leadership as well because he was one of the leading people within the
9 ruling party.
10 Sometime in late August, perhaps around the 20th of August, or
11 perhaps a bit later than that, he was replaced from that post by the
12 president of the republic, and after some time he was brought to Zagreb in
13 order to shed light on his activities in the area of Vukovar. There was
14 an investigation by the ministry for internal affairs, and this is
15 documented. At the time, I didn't actually have time for that. Later, I
16 wasn't really interested in finding out exactly what it was that he did
17 and what did the records indicate, what were his failings, what were his
18 good and bad qualities.
19 Q. You said that you received information about bad defence
20 organisation. Did any information about crimes committed by members of
21 Mercep's forces in the area of Vukovar reach you committed around July
23 A. I didn't know about reports that such-and-such a person was
24 abused, expelled and so on, but I did learn about him detaining certain
25 people. However, this did not refer only to Serbs, although it did refer
1 mostly to Serbs. It was mostly about those who did not share his views.
2 Exactly who these people were, I believe that there are records of that in
3 documents of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Croatia. I don't know if
4 there are records about it also in the security services of the Croatian
5 army because at the time I was not there at the head of the service.
6 Q. You said that when you were the head of the security service of
7 the ZNG, you said at the time that the ZNG had four brigades. This number
8 of brigades, part of which was -- which was part of the Croatian army, did
9 it grow to 21 in due course?
10 A. The ZNG had four brigades. Later, as years went by, the 7th and
11 the 9th were still formed. So two more. So the ZNG thus had six
12 brigades. However, brigades were formed as part of the Croatian army.
13 Because of tradition they continued to be known as the ZNG Brigades, the
14 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th, and then after that the 5th, 7th and the 9th.
15 Excuse me, there were actually seven, in fact. They bore that name. But
16 the rest which was mobilised by the army went to the -- to form brigades
17 of the Croatian army. I don't know exactly what the numbers are. That's
18 perhaps not so important. By the end of the war, or by the end of 1991,
19 about 60 such brigades were formed. I don't know whether it was 21 until
20 October. I'm not sure about that.
21 Q. In your statement, as well as in your evidence in another case
22 before this Tribunal, you said that 24 brigades were formed until the
23 1st of October 1991, half were armed and by the end there were 63 in all
24 and that they were all armed with weapons returned by the JNA.
25 A. Yes, that is correct.
1 Q. Could you please tell us which units of the Croatian army operated
2 in the area of Vinkovci, Vukovar, in 1991?
3 A. There was the defence of Vukovar within Vukovar, which did not
4 have any numerical insignia and it did not have any kind of military
5 status, in terms of being a platoon, a company, a battalion, brigade and
6 so on. This was later regulated through orders, and there are still
7 disputes about exactly which brigade it was and whether it was a brigade
8 at all.
9 So the defence of Vukovar formed one entity. On the eastern
10 front, there were units which had an effect on the defence of Vukovar or
11 were preventing the advances of the JNA from the eastern front, and these
12 were the 106th Brigade, 107th Brigade, then there was the 3rd ZNG Brigade,
13 the 105th Brigade was there, a part of the 108th Brigade, and the
14 123rd Brigade. I might have left one out, and if I have, then I don't
15 think it's all that important.
16 Q. Can you please tell me whether the units that you mentioned also
17 include the units that were in the area between Vukovar and Osijek? Are
18 those units included?
19 A. The area between Vukovar and Osijek had relatively few units. For
20 example, the 101st Brigade was there from Vukovar to Osijek, somewhere on
21 the Vuka River or in the village of Vuka. The 122nd Djakovo Brigade was
22 there. Specifically, the Djakovo Brigade. Osijek, Vukovar, was an area
23 that had been occupied a while back, and there was only this line that
24 remained which I drew, which went south of Vukovar, encircled some
25 villages and then there were these brigades that I mentioned.
1 Q. Could you please tell us approximately what the strength of all of
2 these brigades was? You don't have to give us a specific number.
3 A. The brigades were mobilised, equipped, if the equipment was
4 available, and were sent to the front. That was the situation. So in the
5 beginning, in October, in September, there were relatively few units
6 there. After the 10th, as the mobilisation proceeded, there were more.
7 When Vukovar was occupied and when the front stabilised in that area, I
8 believe that there were not more than 30.000 soldiers on the Croatian
9 side, but this is hard for me to say specifically. This is just an
10 estimate. A brigade numbered 2.000 soldiers.
11 Q. Excuse me, for the transcript, earlier you said in October. In
12 the transcript it states the 10th. So when you say -- said the 10th,
13 actually, did you mean the day the 10th, as a date, or did you mean the
14 tenth month, October?
15 Earlier we already spoke about the decision of the chief of the
16 General Staff, about the withdrawal of weapons belonging to the republics
17 and the autonomous provinces. Do you know how the ZNG armed itself? And
18 what was the time period in which the arms arrived? What did you know
19 about this when you were a JNA officer and then later when you joined the
21 A. Well, the ZNG was formed on the 28th of May, 1991. There was a
22 well-known review on the football grounds of the Zagreb football club.
23 That's where the units were reviewed. From 1991, it armed itself with
24 weapons obtained previously by the Ministry of Defence of the Republic of
25 Croatia and the Ministry of Internal Affairs of the Republic of Croatia.
1 And as far as I know, this is something that was written and talked about
2 in the JNA, throughout Yugoslavia and in Croatia. These were Kalashnikovs
3 which were purchased from what I know -- the numbers we are talking about
4 are approximately 40.000 Kalashnikovs and some pistols. These are all the
5 weapons that the ZNG were able to use or had at their disposal at the time
6 they were formed, not all of these 40.000 pieces, because units of the MUP
7 also received a certain quantity and a certain quantity had already been
8 distributed. So when the ZNG was formed, they were -- there was the
9 option to arm with the Kalashnikovs about 8.000 members.
10 Q. Does that mean that the priority in using these weapons was given
11 to the Ministry of Internal Affairs and then what was left over was given
12 to the ZNG?
13 A. Yes. That is correct. But the ZNG was also part of the Ministry
14 of Internal Affairs. All members of the ZNG signed their contracts with
15 the minister of the internal affairs and carried out their duties within
16 the ZNG as part of the MUP, because MUP was permitted to organise an armed
17 unit, whereas the Ministry of Defence was not authorised to do something
18 like that.
19 Q. Are you asserting that members of the ZNG were actually members of
20 regular police forces?
21 A. Members of the ZNG were essentially formed out of the so-called
22 reserve forces of the Ministry of Internal Affairs.
23 Q. This quantity of weapons that you mentioned, these 40.000
24 Kalashnikovs, long-barrelled weapons, is that the quantity of weapons
25 obtained by General Spegelj? This is something that was made public in
1 the former Yugoslavia, I think, in January 1991.
2 A. Yes. I think that that is probably the shipment of arms obtained
3 by General Spegelj. I don't know whether anyone else obtained these arms,
4 but this refers to that famous footage of the arms shipment organised
5 through General Spegelj.
6 Q. Was blocking the barracks also another source of weapons for the
8 A. Yes. That is correct. That was an additional source to obtain
9 weapons for the ZNG, which actually turned into the main source, and that
10 source made it possible to end the war in Croatia in the way that it
11 ended. Because on the 1st of September 1991, the international community
12 declared an embargo on arms shipments for the entire territory of the
13 former Yugoslavia. Croatia had no other sources. It was under threat.
14 And it had to organise itself and obtain weapons.
15 Q. Were 230 tanks taken in this way from the Varazdin barracks?
16 A. I think that it was not actually that number. I think it's about
17 130 tanks but you probably have the record with the numbers from the JNA.
18 But I believe that it's about 100-odd armoured vehicles, tanks, armed
19 personnel carriers and so on.
20 Q. One of the strongest armoured corps was located in Varazdin?
21 A. Well, we didn't call it an armoured corps. These were just corps
22 of the infantry corps, but they did have a lot of armoured equipment at
23 their disposal.
24 Q. And how many of these armoured vehicles were forwarded on to the
25 Vukovar front after they were taken from the Varazdin barracks?
1 A. I cannot tell you exactly what number, but a number was sent to
2 the Vukovar front, meaning the line of separation between the Croatian
3 army and the JNA, and it does not mean the area of -- the city of Vukovar
4 itself, because we did not have such equipment or type of weapons within
5 the city of Vukovar itself.
6 Q. General, are you familiar with the crimes that occurred in some of
7 the barracks after the blockade was lifted and the ZNG attacked some of
8 the barracks, such as the one in Bjelovar?
9 A. I know that when some of the barracks were taken, there was
10 resistance by the JNA. I also know that when the Bjelovar barracks was
11 taken, there was a powerful explosion in the warehouse, killing a major
12 and some privates or non-commissioned officers. A number of people were
13 killed. I know that when the barracks was taken, some individuals who
14 defended the barracks were also killed. I don't know how many, and I'm
15 not sure we can call it a crime. That's a different issue. They opened
16 fire on Bjelovar, causing damage to a number of buildings and killing
17 civilians, and that was days before the barracks was taken.
18 Q. Could we perhaps call it a crime we know that the barracks
19 commander was killed, once the ZNG had taken the barracks? Is this
20 something you're familiar with?
21 A. Once the barracks was taken, I know that the commander was a
22 colonel named Kovacic, if I remember correctly, and he was killed. How he
23 was killed, whether it was while the barracks were still in the process of
24 being taken or whether it was afterwards is not something that I can say.
25 Q. Were there other casualties like this one in other barracks in
2 A. I know about the Gospic barracks. When it was taken, a
3 high-ranking JNA officer was captured. Others were probably captured too,
4 but there was this one Macedonian, I believe, a high-ranking JNA officer.
5 I can't remember his name.
6 Some other barracks that were taken -- I can't remember right now
7 anything specific about any casualties. I know that when the one in
8 Delnice was taken, two days later planes bombed the warehouse there and a
9 lot of the weapons and ammunition were destroyed. Some civilians who were
10 nearby were killed too, but I'm not familiar with any details.
11 Q. Were there casualties when the ZNG entered the Samobor barracks?
12 A. I can't say. I do know that on that occasion -- well, one reason
13 I remember Samobor is because it was then that we found a document
14 containing a JNA directive for action in Croatia. That's the one reason I
15 remember Samobor. That's why I mentioned it.
16 As for casualties, there were probably casualties on both sides,
17 but it's hard for me now to specify.
18 Q. Do you know that during the war there was a camp at the Zagreb
19 fair, the grounds of the Zagreb fair, where people of Serb ethnicity were
20 being held?
21 A. I didn't know about it at the time, but I know that things were
22 being said in the media after the war, that there were individuals who had
23 their own private warehouses where they kept weapons and ammunition and
24 where they even kept certain people detained. Who those people were is
25 not something that I can say, but it was part of the Pakracka Poljana
1 case, which was a much-discussed trial -- case in Croatia, but I can't
2 specify who the people were on either of these sides.
3 Q. And who were the people who had those private warehouses who were
4 keeping those other people there? Is this perhaps something that you can
5 tell us a little about?
6 A. I think those people belonged to the Croatian Defence Ministry
7 because they dealt with our logistics, obtaining weapons, storing weapons
8 and equipment. If those were indeed warehouses or storage areas, then
9 those people must have been members of the defence ministry.
10 Q. Do you know anything about the activities of armed units set up by
11 the Croatian Party of Right, Mr. Paraga more specifically?
12 A. Mr. Paraga and the Croatian Party of Right set up a unit known as
13 H-O-S, HOS, sometime in mid-October. Croatia's liberation forces. I know
14 that in some areas there were incidents involving disobedience, or
15 insubordination to use the mildest possible term, by some of the members
16 of that unit as well as some other units. News of this spread quickly
17 through Croatia. Order had to be re-established, which it was by order of
18 the president, the Supreme Commander. Those units were disbanded. There
19 were no longer any HOS units. They were integrated into the Croatian army
20 and they had to abide by all the rules of discipline that applied. So
21 they existed for a brief while, but I do know that at one point in time
22 they did exist as a separate unit.
23 Q. Were they neo-Nazi? Were they not in fact a continuation of the
24 Ustasha tradition?
25 A. I'm sure there were people who saw themselves that way, who
1 thought it was their mission to do that. However, the general orientation
2 of the young men I knew who were HOS members was nothing like Ustasha and
3 nothing like neo-Nazi. I'm sure there were people like that, though, both
4 in terms of insignia that some people were wearing, both in terms of the
5 songs they sang, both in terms of their salute and other things, but it
6 was certainly not an official policy that was promoted by the Croatian
7 leadership or the Croatian government.
8 Q. You said that early in August - I think it was the 10th, you
9 said - you became Chief of Staff of the National Guards Corps. Did you
10 know that on the 1st of August, President Tudjman called on the Croatian
11 population to prepare themselves for an all-out war?
12 A. I'm not sure about that particular call, but there were calls
13 before this time and after, similar ones.
14 I'm not sure if this is the right time or place to say it, but I
15 think it was on or about the 20th of August that I reported to him
16 personally on the situation that prevailed in the ZNG, having been invited
17 by him to share my opinion. I complained about the lack of weapons and
18 ammunition, especially as the war was ablaze throughout Croatia. And he
19 said, "Don't be in a hurry, don't worry about ammunition, don't worry
20 about weapons. There will be no war." I was simply stunned by this
21 because I realised what the situation was. Areas, certain areas, were
22 sealed off, which amounted to more than 30 per cent, perhaps more, of the
23 Croatian territory, and he said there won't be a war, we'll reach an
24 agreement. And yet there was war already and everybody could see that.
25 So he did call on the Croatian people, probably then, maybe later, but in
1 a private conversation he told me what I'm telling you now. He said that
2 I shouldn't press ahead with weapons or ammunition.
3 Q. Given your position at the time, could you understand where he got
4 the conclusion from? Was it based on talks that he had had with President
5 Milosevic or something else?
6 A. That is what I believed to be the provenance of this position.
7 Another source might have been his contacts with the international
8 community, who assured him that they would place pressure on the JNA to
9 not start a war.
10 Q. Can we agree that early in December, rather on the 1st of
11 December, 1991 Croatia had its own representatives in the federal organs
12 or bodies of the SFRY, that at the time Stjepan Mesic was president of the
13 SFRY Presidency, that the SFRY prime minister was another Croat, Ante
14 Markovic that the foreign minister was Budimir Loncar, that the federal
15 secretary for All People's Defence was another person of Croatian origin,
16 Veljko Kadijevic, with the former three gentlemen being Croatian
17 nationalists. Can we agree on that?
18 A. Can you just repeat the date for me, please?
19 Q. Up until early December 1991. That's what I'm talking about. Let
20 me remind you, it was on the 5th of December, 1991 that Stjepan Mesic
21 stated in front of the parliament, "I have completed my task. There is no
22 more Yugoslavia."
23 A. I think that assertion is correct. But your assertion that up
24 until early December, those persons held the highest posts or positions in
25 those federal bodies, well, I can't say that it's entirely inaccurate,
1 because formally speaking, perhaps they were still there whether people
2 were filling out forms and one of the forms said, president of the
3 Presidency, and then next to that was the name of Stjepan Mesic.
4 But I know for a fact that this president of the Presidency, as
5 you call him, sometime in October or November, I'm sure there is a record
6 of this somewhere, namely that he wrote an order to the federal secretary
7 for All People's Defence for all units to withdraw to their barracks. Not
8 a letter of that order was complied with, if we consider the problem, the
9 situation with the barracks. So what does it mean, formally speaking
10 somebody is the president but the most important element, the army, is
11 disobeying him?
12 Secondly, if I may, the prime minister, as of the 7th of October,
13 1991 can no longer go to Belgrade. There was an assassination attempt in
14 Serbia. So what sort of leaders are these? What sort of presidents, if
15 the army, the JNA, is clearly trying to kill them?
16 Q. General, what would you say if I told you that Mr. Herbert Okun,
17 who was adviser to the personal envoy of the UN Secretary-General, stated
18 that on the 18th of November he met Mr. Ante Markovic in Belgrade.
19 Therefore, there seemed to be no danger? Quite the contrary, in fact. He
20 seems to have been meeting high representatives from all over the world
21 and Europe at the time.
22 A. The last time I saw Mr. Ante Markovic was on the 7th of October,
23 1991 after he left Banski Dvori, the presidential palace in Zagreb, which
24 had just been targeted by the JNA air force. In the building at the time
25 were president of the Presidency, Stjepan Mesic, Prime Minister Ante
1 Markovic and president of the Republic of Croatia, Franjo Tudjman. I know
2 that after that he left for Graz. I'm not sure if he returned to
3 Belgrade. I can't say. But I am fully convinced that he had no role to
4 play any longer, no matter where his office was. Might as well have been
5 in Washington. Neither of these two had any role to play.
6 Q. You agree, however, that if he'd had no role to play, I don't
7 think Mr. Cyrus Vance would have seen him and talked to him in trying to
8 reach a solution to the Yugoslav crisis?
9 A. I think his only role was in trying to reach some sort of a
10 solution for the Yugoslav crisis. But the only influence he had was on
11 the Croatian side. The Slovenes were long gone but he was still
12 influential with the Croatian side. He hails from Croatia and he talked
13 to them. As for the Yugoslav side, the Serb side, his influence was zero.
14 It's as simple as that. It's as if he had no longer held that post at the
16 Q. Be that as it may, we agree that until December, Croatia had not
17 formally withdrawn their representatives from the federal bodies. They
18 were still, formally speaking, there on Croatia's behalf?
19 A. I don't think that's true strictly speaking, but I can't guarantee
20 that, not being in expert in that area. What I'm saying is that on the
21 8th of October, 1991 Croatia adopted a decision to disregard federal laws,
22 regulations, and the constitution as far as secession from the SFRY was
23 concerned. So if it was still sending representatives to Belgrade, well,
24 then, they were lying to themselves, which I don't believe was the case.
25 MR. AGHA: Your Honours? If I may interrupt my learned friend and
1 object, if I may, to this line of questioning which seems to be very
2 political in nature and calls for a great deal of speculation on the part
3 of the witness and that perhaps the questions could be more focused on
4 military matters, which the witness is in a better position to deal. I
5 haven't mentioned this before, but it does seem that my learned friend is
6 going very broadly into areas of which the witness does not have
7 particular expertise.
8 JUDGE PARKER: There was one question in which that became an
9 issue. Until then, I think the questioning generally has been directed at
10 military matters, though unquestionably with a political flavour.
11 I would not think there is any basis at the moment for disturbing
12 Mr. Vasic's cross-examination.
13 MR. VASIC: [Interpretation] Thank you, Your Honours. Just a
14 minute, please. There is a problem with my headset. It's fine now, thank
16 JUDGE PARKER: I think I was the problem, Mr. Vasic. My -- there
17 are ear phones near my microphone and I'm causing a feedback.
18 MR. VASIC: [Interpretation] Well, that's taken care of now, Your
20 Q. You talked about negotiations with the JNA today. In your
21 testimony before this Tribunal, did you mention that during the combat
22 operations, you kept a personal diary?
23 A. Yes. I wrote down as much as I managed to jot down but not
24 everything. However, it would be very useful to me now.
25 Q. Do you still have that diary?
1 A. Yes, I do.
2 Q. Did my learned friends from the Prosecution ask to look at that
3 diary in order to check your assertions and to refresh your memory?
4 A. They didn't specifically ask for my diary or for copies of
5 excerpts from the diary. I did, however, give them some documents that I
6 had from the negotiations phase with the JNA.
7 Q. Can you please tell us the period during which you kept your
9 A. I kept the diary from the time I became the chief of the Main
10 Staff of the ZNG. I do, however, also have a lot of notes or entries from
11 1986 onwards.
12 Q. Are you still keeping a diary?
13 A. No. Not anymore. Retired persons don't really keep diaries.
14 However, when I was active at all my posts, I jotted down as much as I
15 could. Unfortunately, I did not jot down everything. I'm saying that
17 Q. You told my learned friend from the Prosecution today in response
18 to a question about the signing of the agreement on the 21st of October on
19 the change of the convoy route and that agreement was signed on the basis
20 of a prior oral agreement. Can you please tell us, under whose orders did
21 the ZNG members fire at the column of vehicles which was going in the
22 direction of Nustar on the 21st? Do you know that?
23 A. No. I don't know. But I know that Nustar's defence held up
24 throughout the whole period of the war. They did very well. I don't know
25 what they felt at the moment when the convoy passed by and came to that
1 side. I don't know that.
2 Q. Thank you very much, General.
3 MR. VASIC: [Interpretation] Your Honours, I have no further
4 questions for this witness.
5 JUDGE PARKER: Thank you, Mr. Vasic.
6 Mr. Borovic, the time would suggest you could have seven minutes.
7 Do you think you would be more efficiently organised if we started at 2.15
8 tomorrow or would you like the seven minutes now?
9 MR. BOROVIC: [Interpretation] Thank you, Your Honours. I think
10 that it would be better to start tomorrow, and I'm not going to need so
11 much time tomorrow. So these seven minutes now might not be the best
12 possible option that I'm being offered.
13 Thank you.
14 JUDGE PARKER: Very well.
15 We will adjourn now and we will resume at 2.15 tomorrow.
16 --- Whereupon the hearing adjourned at 6.54 p.m., to
17 be reconvened on Tuesday, the 22nd day of November,
18 2005, at 2.15 p.m.