1 Monday, 28 November 2005
2 [Open session]
3 [The accused entered court]
4 [The witness entered court]
5 --- Upon commencing at 2.18 p.m.
6 JUDGE PARKER: Good afternoon, Madam. Could I ask you, please, to
7 read aloud the affirmation on the card that is offered to you.
8 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] I solemnly declare that I will speak
9 the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.
10 JUDGE PARKER: Thank you. Please sit down.
11 Mr. Agha.
12 MR. AGHA: Thank you, Your Honours.
13 WITNESS: SARLOTA FORO
14 [Witness answered through interpreter]
15 Examined by Mr. Agha:
16 Q. Witness, could you please tell your name to the Court.
17 A. My name is Sarlota Fora.
18 Q. And can you briefly outline your education.
19 A. I was born -- education, yes. I completed primary and secondary
20 school and started studying at university in Belgrade and I graduated.
21 Q. And where were you born and brought up?
22 A. I was born on the 4th of January, 1963, in Vukovar. And when I
23 was about 1 year old, I moved with my parents to Belgrade. I went to
24 primary school there and secondary school, and I studied there.
25 Q. And when did you return to Vukovar?
1 A. I married in 1986 and I returned to Vukovar then.
2 Q. And how old were you during the events in Vukovar in 1991?
3 A. 28 years old.
4 Q. And how well do you know the Vukovar area?
5 A. In view of the fact that I was born in Vukovar and that we had a
6 family house there, I went to Vukovar very frequently with my parents and
7 spent all my school holidays over there throughout my entire life. And
8 also when I married, I lived there for a full five years.
9 Q. When you used to visit Vukovar and returned in 1986, what was the
10 atmosphere like?
11 A. In Vukovar the atmosphere was quite normal. I didn't notice any
12 tensions or any inter-ethnic problems at that time.
13 Q. Did there come a time when tensions rose and was there a
14 particular event in 1991 which led to this?
15 A. Tensions began to rise in 1990, towards the end of the year, and
16 they culminated sometime in May 1991 when the well-known event occurred in
17 Borovo Selo where the Croatian policemen were killed.
18 Q. And what impact did this Borovo Selo incident have on the tensions
19 in the area?
20 A. The tensions rose quite significantly. The topic was discussed a
21 lot. The media had their part to play in the whole question of tensions.
22 In the meantime, there were other events that took place, incidents, which
23 contributed to raising the tension level. And I know of one particular
24 event when another Croatian policeman was killed. That was sometime in
25 June 1991, and so that's when tensions culminated.
1 Q. Now, in 1991 which area in Vukovar were you living?
2 A. My family house was at Mitnica and that's where I lived ever since
3 I returned to Vukovar in 1986.
4 Q. And at the start of 1991 where were you working?
5 A. I was working in the utilities company which was also situated at
6 Mitnica and that's where I worked as a secretary to all intents and
7 purposes. I had to take care of some of our -- or rather, I monitored the
8 work that was taking place at Novo Groblje, the new cemetery at Vukovar
9 where there was a flower shop, there was mortuaries, and there was an
10 office that the utility office had, its branch for funerals for those who
11 had died or were killed.
12 Q. Now, did your job entail you leaving the office or were you
13 remained in the office?
14 A. I would go to the new cemetery frequently on a regular basis. It
15 was located at Mitnica, as I said, at the exit to town as you go towards
17 Q. And did there come a time when you stopped going? If so, roughly
18 when was that?
19 A. The last time I was at the new cemetery was at the end of August
20 1991, and as tensions had reached a peak -- or rather, not a peak but it
21 was actually the start of the armed conflict, the conflict in that part of
22 town. And it was very -- the situation was very difficult. I had to flee
23 from the cemetery because a Yugoslav army tank passed through the wood
24 between Mitnica and the new cemetery and blocked off that whole area. It
25 shot at the cemetery, and at that point in time there about ten civilians
1 at the cemetery. So after spending two hours in a small house at the
2 cemetery taking refuge there and trying to hide, we decided to flee
3 towards town.
4 MR. AGHA: May I ask the court clerk to kindly display map
5 number 6 for the witness, which is ERN 04626622 with exhibit number 59.
6 Q. Now, Witness, shortly you'll see on the monitor in front of you a
7 map. If you could just indicate to me when that's there.
8 Witness, do you see the map? Has it come on the screen? Not yet.
9 A. Yes, I can see it now.
10 Q. Now, with the assistance of the court clerk, would you kindly make
11 some markings on that map with a pen.
12 Now, can you please -- or can we zoom in a little bit, please, for
13 the witness so -- onto the centre. A little bit more perhaps. Thank you.
14 Now, Witness, you mentioned that you were living and working in an
15 area known as Mitnica. Could you kindly circle the area on the map and
16 mark it with an "A."
17 A. [Marks].
18 Q. And you mentioned that you used to travel to a cemetery to work.
19 Could you kindly circle that area and mark it "B."
20 A. [Marks].
21 Q. And can you please draw a line showing the route where you used to
22 travel from your work in Mitnica to the cemetery and mark that "C."
23 A. [Marks].
24 Q. Now, you stated that you were unable to continue going to work due
25 to the intervention of the JNA. Can you please mark on that map a line
1 showing where these JNA tanks, I believe that you mentioned, came from,
2 the direction the JNA came from.
3 A. The tanks cut across this area. It took -- they took the road
4 through the woods. You can't see that here, so I'll draw it in roughly.
5 And they positioned themselves opposite the cemetery. I don't know where
6 they had come from, what direction, probably from Negoslavci or somewhere
7 there, I can't really say. But they cut across the road near the first
8 houses, and they reached the cemetery taking the road. And they
9 positioned themselves opposite the cemetery. So they -- and they shot
10 from there, targeting the cemetery and the suburbs of that area, Mitnica.
11 Q. Now, where you started to draw that line, could you just put a "D"
12 there at the start.
13 A. [Marks].
14 Q. Now, at this time where was your husband working?
15 A. My husband, when we got married, worked in the post office, the
16 head office, and he worked with the telephone installations and telephone
18 Q. Now, can you please mark on the map the post office with a circle,
19 if you can, roughly where it's located.
20 A. The post office was located at the mouth of the Vuka River into
21 the Danube, so right by the banks of the Danube River, somewhere here.
22 Q. And could you please mark that with an "E."
23 A. [Marks].
24 Q. Now, if we can keep the map on the screen with your markings, but
25 we'll move away from that for the time being, what was your husband's job
1 at the post office?
2 A. At the post office my husband worked with a team of colleagues on
3 the installation of telephone lines and installations and connections,
4 which were linked to the switchboard at the post office. So that's the
5 kind of work he did, telephone switchboard.
6 JUDGE PARKER: Mr. Agha, if you want this preserved, I suggest we
7 should do it.
8 MR. AGHA: Well, I was hoping we could get to a few more questions
9 for another marking and save it at that time.
10 JUDGE PARKER: Do you think you will manage it in time. Very
12 MR. AGHA: I hope so.
13 JUDGE PARKER: I just hoped you hadn't overlooked it. Carry on.
14 MR. AGHA: Thank you, Your Honour.
15 Q. Now, did there come a time when Vukovar itself and Mitnica came
16 under attack?
17 A. Mitnica was under attack from the beginning of the shelling of the
18 town, and those beginnings were sometime in July. There was sporadic
19 shootings which intensified, sporadic attacks, and towards the end of
20 August the town was rocketed from planes. In September, there was
21 intensive and ceaseless shelling of the town until Vukovar was occupied.
22 Q. And who was this attack by?
23 A. The town was attacked by the Yugoslav People's Army.
24 Q. Now, roughly how frequent was this shelling? Was it daily?
25 Weekly? Monthly?
1 A. During July it was sporadic; that is, shells would fall from time
2 to time. And I remember attack on the so-called Becarski Kriz in Vukovar
3 and the vinarija. That was in July. Then in August the situation was
4 more or less the same, but the end of August is the event at Mitnica that
5 took place, the one I talked about a moment ago. And towards the end of
6 August there was also a rocket attack from the air where the workers'
7 centre Vukovar was targeted. At the beginning of September, attacks
8 became frequent and in fact there was 24-hour shelling, around-the-clock
9 shelling of the town ultimately.
10 Q. And now you've mentioned the round-the-clock frequency of the
11 shelling. How intensive was it? Was it one bomb per day or -- roughly?
12 A. When I say 24 hours of shelling, I mean continuous shelling of the
13 town, that is to say, that the shells fell all the time and that the
14 movement -- movements around town were very limited. You weren't able to
15 leave the shelters at all.
16 Q. And from your knowledge of Vukovar, were any normal buildings hit?
17 A. I was in a cellar myself and I would leave the shelter of the
18 cellar whenever the shelling was less intense, whenever that was possible
19 or, rather, when there was no shelling close to where we were where the
20 explosion -- actually, explosions could be heard all over town all the
21 time, but I would leave the shelter perhaps once a week and go to my house
22 to see whether my parents were alive. And every time I ventured out of
23 the cellar, what I saw in Mitnica was that, first of all, the roofs of the
24 houses had been blown off, the roofs of the family houses. There were no
25 other types of buildings there, they were all family houses with civilians
1 living there. In the centre of town there were other more important
2 buildings, if I can put it that way. But after that, the walls were
3 destroyed, and at the beginning of November there was practically no house
4 left standing above the cellar, above ground level. Everything had been
5 razed to the ground.
6 Q. Now, coming back to the months between June and August when you
7 were working at the cemetery, did the number of people who were buried
8 increase, decrease, remain the same?
9 A. On several occasions, the number of people -- there were more
10 people buried, larger numbers. During these sporadic attacks that I
11 mentioned, they were very dangerous because this were sudden, unexpected,
12 and a lot of people were killed during those attacks. And I remember one
13 specific attack on the palace of Count Eltz, and to the best of my
14 recollections about 12 civilians were killed there, persons who were
15 living -- who were working in the palace, the employees of the palace.
16 And actually, the palace housed a museum. The museum of the town of
17 Vukovar was located in the palace building.
18 Q. And what was the status of those who were being buried at the
20 A. What I have just mentioned is the employees of the palace, people
21 who worked there, civilians.
22 Q. Now, what had caused their deaths, so far as you were aware?
23 A. Well, the rocketing -- I'm not quite sure whether the palace
24 was -- whether a rocket fell on the palace or a bomb that we called Krmaca
25 or sow. But anyway, the palace was completely destroyed as a result of
1 that attack -- or rather, part of the palace was razed to the ground. And
2 underneath the rubble and ruins, the civilians that I mentioned who were
3 killed were buried underneath the rubble.
4 Q. Now, you mentioned that this shelling was intensive and frequent.
5 So how were people able to carry out their everyday lives? Where did they
7 A. We lived in shelters, in the basements of buildings, in cellars.
8 And as we're dealing with Slavonija, I don't know how far you're
9 acquainted with this, but that's an area where there was always a
10 tradition of wine-making and there were lots of vineyards there. And all
11 the households, generally speaking, had cellars for the wine. And so you
12 could say that we had taken up residence in the cellars. We lived there
13 for more than three months, day and night.
14 Q. And how dangerous was it to move around outside on account of the
15 shelling during this period, August to November 1991?
16 A. It was very dangerous to move around. You could only move around
17 in a very restricted fashion, and any time you ventured outside of a
18 shelter was risky business and you could lose your life. And I
19 experienced that kind of situation on a number of occasions.
20 Q. And how precise was the shelling?
21 A. Well, I can say that the shelling was very precise in that at a
22 given point in time specific goals were targeted, were shelled, such as
23 wells for water, that is to say, people -- that people used for their
24 water supply. And I must say that Vukovar did not have any running water
25 or electricity at that period, so people would go to the wells for their
1 water. We had to make do as best we could. We went to the source. We
2 went to houses that had a water source, that had wells. And the houses
3 like that at Mitnica - and I saw three or four such houses - they were
4 razed to the ground first.
5 Q. Now, apart from the rockets which you mentioned, was there any
6 other kinds of weaponry that was used?
7 A. Yes. All sorts of weapons were used. I can tell you the names
8 for all those weapons. You learn fast. Even the small children who were
9 in shelters learned to distinguish. This was raining down on us all the
10 time. There were shells. There were projectiles from multi-barrel
11 weapons. There were plane bombs. There were tank shells and missiles,
12 which were the most dangerous kind of weapon being used, and these killed
13 people even in the shelters.
14 Q. Now, I want to move to a slightly different area, and this
15 concerns the hospital at Vukovar. Now, between September and November
16 1991, how often did you travel from Mitnica to the hospital?
17 A. Not often. As I've already said, movement was restricted about
18 town. I only went once or twice under heavy artillery fire, so that later
19 I gave it up altogether.
20 Q. And why did you go to the hospital on that occasion?
21 A. I remember that once I went because I hadn't seen my husband in a
22 long time, so we got in touch over telephone and agreed to meet up. I got
23 a chance to go with one of the town's defenders who were driving the
24 wounded to the Vukovar Hospital. I drove with him as far as the centre of
25 town, upon which I walked back.
1 Q. And did you reach the front of the hospital?
2 A. Yes. Yes. We reached the hospital, shells were falling all the
3 time. It's very difficult to drive around in a car under such conditions
4 since you can't hear a thing. Nobody much liked to drive around at the
5 time, so that's why I decided to walk on from there.
6 Q. Now, if we can just go back to the map so we can make one final
7 marking on this before we save it. And with the assistance of the court
8 clerk, could you please draw on the map, when the pen comes, the route
9 which you took roughly from Mitnica to the hospital.
10 A. I took the main road.
11 Q. And if you could mark that with an "F," please.
12 A. At the beginning, you mean?
13 Q. Yes, that will be fine.
14 Now, as you travelled to the hospital along this route, what was
15 the condition of the buildings like?
16 A. As early as mid-September, most of the buildings had been damaged,
17 roofless, walls torn down or damaged, pierced. You could no longer live
18 in those buildings. They were no longer fit for habitation. There were
19 no longer windows. The panes had been shattered, needless to say. But
20 the trees were gone too. Or the road for that matter. The roads were no
21 longer fit for travel. They were pot-holed. There were huge craters all
23 MR. AGHA: Now, can I kindly ask the Chamber that this map will
24 now be exhibited.
25 JUDGE PARKER: It will be received.
1 THE REGISTRAR: That will be Exhibit 119, Your Honours.
2 MR. AGHA: Thank you.
3 Q. Now, you mentioned that you reached the outside of the hospital.
4 What was the condition of the hospital building that you saw?
5 A. The hospital building had been badly damaged. The windows
6 shattered, the roof damaged. There were huge holes in the building,
7 obviously caused by projectiles, drilling craters in the side of the
8 building. I also noticed that the upper floors of the hospital were not
9 being used at all, with the exception of the ground floor. There were no
10 windows and there was no roof -- or rather, there was a roof, but it was
11 severely damaged.
12 Q. Now, when you reached the hospital, how much heavy weaponry did
13 you observe on the hospital which was capable of firing out?
14 A. I saw no weapons whatsoever inside the hospital.
15 Q. And what markings, if any, did you see on the hospital?
16 A. The international hospital sign, the red cross, was visibly
18 Q. And how big was the marking, roughly?
19 A. The signs were rather large and clearly visible.
20 Q. Now, you mentioned that after you were dropped off at the hospital
21 you went to visit your husband at the post office.
22 MR. AGHA: Now, if the court clerk could kindly show the last
23 exhibit, I believe 119, just so the Court can see where the hospital is
24 located in relation to the post office.
25 Q. Now, as you walked from the hospital to the post office, which I
1 believe is marked "E," what were the state of the buildings like?
2 A. All the buildings along the road were damaged, destroyed,
3 roofless. The road was so damaged that it was very difficult both to
4 drive and to walk. There was rubble strewn across the road, tree trunks
5 lying across it, or there were no trees at all to be seen. And there was
6 hardly anybody around. It was only natural that everyone was -- most of
7 the people were in their shelters during the shelling.
8 Q. And why didn't you drive? Would it have not been safer to drive
9 from the hospital to the post office rather than walk?
10 A. No, it would not have been safer. Quicker perhaps, but certainly
11 not safer. The shelling was incessant, so we learned to listen carefully
12 in order to know where a projectile was being fired from and how near it
13 would be falling so that we could take shelter in good time from
14 explosions. When you drive around in a car, you can't hear that sort of
15 thing. You can't hear anything at all from all the din and noise, and
16 that's why everybody preferred to walk instead.
17 Q. And what had caused all this destruction?
18 A. Ceaseless explosions, projectiles exploding all the time, all the
19 weapons that I've mentioned. Bombs dropped by planes, heavy artillery,
20 guns, tanks, multi-barrel rocket launchers. I was personally there when a
21 plane that flew over the Danube at Mitnica, where our company used to be,
22 it literally emerged from the river, flew low over Mitnica, gunning the
23 neighbourhood with a heavy weapon.
24 Q. And who was it who was firing these rockets and projectiles and
25 bombs, et cetera?
1 A. The Yugoslav People's Army.
2 Q. Now, you say that your husband was working in the post office I
3 believe up to October and November. With all this shelling going own, how
4 was he able to work in the post office?
5 A. All the institutions that were still open at the time could not
6 just proceed as usual. He did not work in the same place that he normally
7 used to work at; he worked in an improvised office down in the cellar,
8 much the same way that the hospital continued its work. The Vukovar
9 auditor's office, whoever was still doing anything, going about their
10 daily jobs in Vukovar, had to pursue whatever activities they had in
11 cellars, in shelters.
12 Q. And roughly when did your husband cease working at the post
14 A. My husband worked on until the 12th of November, which is when all
15 communication broke down, all the telephone lines, the wireless lines that
16 were still around. Everything was cut. The post office itself and the
17 shelter were so severely damaged by this point that they could no longer
18 be there, and most of the post office employees went back to their own
19 homes, those who had survived.
20 Q. Now, you mentioned your husband worked there until the 12th of
21 November. What did he do after that, until the fall of Vukovar?
22 A. He went back to Mitnica to our family home, and he was in the
23 shelter with my parents.
24 Q. Now, did he join the defence of Vukovar?
25 A. He joined the civil protection.
1 Q. Now, if I can just come back to the period when your husband was
2 working in the post office and you were living in Mitnica. How often did
3 he come home each night?
4 A. He didn't. He would only come back once a week or once a
5 fortnight, depending on the intensity of the shelling. Whenever he could,
6 in short. He would go to my company or, rather, our shelter and then we
7 would go home together to check if our families were still alive. There
8 were no communications, and after one whole day of shelling with so many
9 projectiles being fired, somehow you tend to have this idea that perhaps
10 no one but you made it.
11 Q. So why didn't he come home each day?
12 A. I told you that movement was restricted and dangerous. You
13 weren't free to just walk about town, and every time you ventured out,
14 walked in the open from one location to another, usually ended badly.
15 That was most usually the case.
16 When we walked from my company's shelter to our home, it was very
17 often the case that along the road we saw bodies of people who had been
18 torn to shreds by shells with nobody there to remove their bodies and then
19 give them a burial. Because nobody had noticed the bodies there, to begin
20 with, with so few people passing by. It was a very common sight along
21 that short trip from the centre of Mitnica to my home. I did see a great
22 deal of this kind of thing since I had to go there every week.
23 Q. Now, I'd like to turn to a different topic, and this relates to
24 the Vukovar barracks. Now, were you aware that there was a JNA barracks
25 in Vukovar?
1 A. Yes. It was in a neighbourhood known as Sajmiste.
2 Q. Now, when to your knowledge was this barracks blockaded?
3 A. I don't know that. I didn't follow that specifically very
4 closely. However, as we at Mitnica were being shelled ceaselessly, from
5 the barracks and those general positions of the JNA until the very end.
6 In addition to other positions that we were being shelled from, we were
7 also being shelled from the Vukovar barracks, which means that they had a
8 lot of ammunition and generally had a satisfactory level of supplies. It
9 really didn't look as if they had been blockaded.
10 Q. And this was throughout the period June until November?
11 A. Yes. Until Vukovar was occupied, Mitnica was being shelled
12 continually from the Vukovar barracks.
13 Q. And how precise was this shelling from the barracks into Mitnica?
14 A. It was very precise. When I told you about the precise shelling
15 of the water wells, then the Vukovar barracks is what I had in mind when I
16 was talking about that, because that's where all the projectiles and
17 missiles that were coming from that were hitting those specific targets.
18 Q. Now, again I want to move to a slightly different topic, and this
19 is concerning the company in whose cellars you were living during the
20 conflict in the months of August to November 1991. Now, was this basement
21 of the company also used as a ZNG headquarters?
22 A. The utilities company had very large cellars, old wine cellars dug
23 deep into the ground and quite spacious. For this reason, after a while
24 once all of their other facilities had been destroyed, the ZNG set up
25 headquarters in our cellars, our company cellars.
1 Q. Now, how often did you meet and mix with the ZNG officers in the
2 cellar of your company? Was it daily? Weekly?
3 A. Once they had moved into our building, we spent the whole time
4 with them. There were about 20 of us there at any point in time. We ate
5 together. We were all together throughout. Those are people I know,
6 people from Mitnica. The atmosphere was one of normal socialising and
7 just getting on with our lives.
8 Q. Now, while you were mixing with the Vukovar defenders in the
9 basement, did you learn how much ammunition, food, equipment, et cetera,
10 that they had?
11 A. No. We knew about this because we were all in touch with our
12 families back in our homes. Most of them were members of the civil
13 protection. They stood guard. They guarded their own houses from JNA
14 attacks and incursions. The ones that we were really scared of were the
15 Territorial Defence members, their Territorial Defence. It was clear that
16 our own defence, our soldiers, did not have sufficient ammunition,
17 artillery, missiles, or even small rifle ammunition which was a staple in
18 Vukovar at the time.
19 When they came to the Mitnica headquarters, I remember that one of
20 the town's defenders, a member of the ZNG, said that he had in his
21 possession a missile that he had been keeping for five days now, waiting
22 to receive more or other ammunition in addition to this.
23 Q. Now, when you say "their TO," who do you mean by "their TO"?
24 A. I mean the paramilitaries, those people who were not members of
25 the regular Yugoslav People's Army at the time.
1 Q. Now, you seemed to mention that there's a distinction between the
2 civil defence and the ZNG. What, if any, was that distinction? Can you
4 A. The people's defence, what we call the people's defence -- or
5 actually, this was in the early days of war, and Croatia had just come
6 into existence, as it were. The ZNG were regular units established by the
7 Croatian army, armed units. The civil protection or the people's
8 protection were civilians were joined the town's defence, for the most
9 part in their own areas where their family homes were. I would also
10 include special services such as the fire brigade, medical staff, our
11 utilities company. We all belonged to this thing called to the people's
12 protection and we were all involved in the town's defence.
13 Q. Now, you mention in your evidence that Vukovar seems to be being
14 frequently and extensively shelled. What expectations, if any, did you
15 have that the international community may intervene to stop this?
16 A. From the early days of the clashes -- well, our lives were at
17 stake, so of course we followed what was going on. We followed the media
18 and the television. We followed the requests made by the Croatian
19 government at the time that the international community should do
20 something to protect civilians in Vukovar. We were hoping that in late
21 20th century Europe an entire town inhabited by 15.000 civilians would not
22 be allowed to be destroyed like that.
23 Q. And how do you know the international community was even aware of
24 your situation in Vukovar?
25 A. There were comments being made by the UN, appeals were being sent
1 out. We had our radios, we had our TVs. We knew what was going on around
2 Vukovar, in Europe, or the world, for that matter.
3 Q. In our estimate, roughly, at this time in October, November, how
4 many shells were hitting Vukovar daily?
5 A. As for the number of shells and missiles falling on Vukovar, I
6 don't believe anyone ever really kept count. If anyone, the JNA should be
7 in a position to know more about that, since they probably know how many
8 missiles they fired on the town, how many missiles they used up. There
9 were speculations in the media about this, that the number was 1.000,
10 1.500 a day, and so on and so forth.
11 What I can tell you is this brief episode, where on one particular
12 day we tried to count the incoming projectiles. We counted up to 100.
13 This took about 15 or 20 minutes. The next time we did the same it took
14 us about half an hour. So the intensity varied, too.
15 Q. Now, I want to move on to the period in time when it was decided
16 that it wasn't really possible to hold out any longer against the JNA.
17 Now, roughly on what date did it become apparent that the defenders could
18 no longer hold out?
19 A. It was becoming more and more apparent as the month of November
20 was drawing to a close. The destruction had reached such proportions that
21 those projectiles who -- that did not explode against walls or roofs would
22 fall down through into our shelters, resulting in more and more civilian
23 casualties. There was no ammunition. There was no food. It was
24 difficult to move about; ever since September it had been difficult.
25 There was no help from outside; I mean the international community.
1 Nothing significant happening to bring about a change in our situation.
2 It had become clear that the town would have to surrender and that an
3 occupation of Vukovar would ensue.
4 Q. Now, when it was becoming apparent towards the end of November
5 that the town would fall, why didn't any of the defenders try and break
6 out and escape to Croatia in Mitnica?
7 A. Well, at Mitnica - and I can speak about the part of town that I
8 knew best - all the defenders there who were involved in the town's
9 defence lived and had their families in that same area. That's where
10 their family houses were, where their families lived, where their children
11 and parents lived. And at the time, mostly of those people were living in
12 shelters. So members of the Croatian National Guard and the armed members
13 of the Vukovar defence -- it wasn't a professional army of course that had
14 come in to fight against the JNA for the territory, they were all people
15 who lived in the area, that's where their homes were, their families were.
16 Of course they didn't want to flee and to breakthrough to another part and
17 leave their nearest and dearest in a town under siege.
18 Q. So if the Vukovar defenders stayed because of their families, what
19 options faced them? What choices did they have?
20 A. Well, a solution had to be found of some sort which would enable
21 the civilians, first and foremost, to be in a place of safety. So people
22 began to discuss what could be done and to discuss negotiations about the
23 town's surrender or that part of the town's surrender. And the basic
24 conditions laid down for that were that the civilians should be taken out
25 to -- or evacuated to another part of Croatia that hadn't been engulfed by
1 the war, and that the army hand over their weapons -- or rather, that the
2 army should be treated like prisoners of war, pursuant to the application
3 of the Geneva Conventions and war law.
4 Q. So once you decided amongst yourselves that you would contact the
5 JNA to negotiate a surrender, who on your side contacted the JNA to
6 arrange surrender negotiations?
7 A. The members of the staff in command of the Croatian National
8 Guards Corps and that part of town made a decision -- anyway, we had three
9 negotiators, and they had contacted the Yugoslav People's Army via radio
10 the day before and arranged to have negotiations held.
11 Q. And what were the names of your three negotiators, if you can
13 A. Matija Mandic, Zdravko Komsic, and Filip Karaula. All of them --
14 Q. And if you can -- please.
15 A. All of them were neighbours, my neighbours, so I knew them all
16 well. And we were there throughout those three months together.
17 Q. Now, who did they speak to on the JNA side to arrange to meet to
19 A. I understood it that they would be meeting with the commanders of
20 that part of the JNA, the commanding officers in Vukovar, stationed there
21 at the time. As I understood it, the negotiations were to be held with
22 high-ranking officers and I heard a name mentioned, Major Sljivancanin.
23 Q. Now, before it was agreed that the two parties would meet for
24 negotiations about the surrender, was there any particular condition that
25 was laid down before this face-to-face meeting could take place?
1 A. The conditions were the ones I mentioned early on, that is to say
2 that all the fighters who surrender with their weapons should be listed in
3 the presence of the International Red Cross and the observers, that they
4 should be photographed, and that the Geneva Conventions should be applied
5 to them, that they should be treated pursuant to them, and that they --
6 the people should be evacuated to a part of Croatia which had not been
7 taken over by the war.
8 Q. Now, why did the Vukovar defenders insist on a neutral party, such
9 as the Red Cross, being present to broker the surrender negotiations?
10 A. Well, because they didn't think they could trust the JNA. It was
11 clear at that time that they were cooperating with the Territorial Defence
12 and in command of the Territorial Defence. So that is why the presence of
13 a neutral party was sought to ensure that what was agreed was actually put
14 into practice.
15 Q. Now, your husband was working for the civil protection. What were
16 your feelings as to what may happen to your husband if the Red Cross were
17 not present when the surrender took place?
18 A. What I thought would happen at the time, while in four months of
19 the kind of life I had been living that I have described to you, is that
20 if there were no international observers, if there were no neutral party,
21 then not only my husband but nobody else, absolutely nobody else, would
22 survive either, in view of the fact it was quite clear what their
23 intentions were, that is to say, the shelling of town was so intense and
24 there was such a lot of destruction, that that was the only goal. There
25 could not have been any other goal but to destroy the town and everything
1 in it, the civilians, the army, and everything else.
2 Q. Now, with the leave of the court I would like to put up a picture
3 for you to look at, and it's a picture which has been taken from a video
4 with 65 ter 311, V0000686, but has actually been now produced to bear ERN
5 04652854. So if the court clerk could kindly put up that picture bearing
6 ERN 04652854.
7 Now, Witness, can you tell me when you're able to see this
9 A. Yes, I can see it.
10 Q. Now, with the assistance of the court clerk, if I may kindly ask
11 you to circle some people in that picture. Can you circle in that picture
12 the people who you recognise. Who, firstly, do you recognise?
13 A. I recognise one of the negotiators, the man I already mentioned,
14 Filip Karaula. Do you want me to put a circle around him now?
15 Q. Yes. If you could put a circle around his head and mark that "A"
16 just above, that would be fine.
17 A. [Marks].
18 Q. Anybody else?
19 A. I also recognise the other negotiator. He is turned -- he's got
20 his back turned towards us, Zdravko Komsic, and he's sitting right next to
21 Filip Karaula. But as I've seen a better photograph of these, I know that
22 those are the two men I saw, Major Sljivancanin on that other picture as
23 well, although you can't see him on this photograph.
24 Q. Well, keeping to this photograph, could you please circle and mark
25 with "B" the other negotiator you can see and name him.
1 A. That is Zdravko Komsic.
2 Q. And you mention that you've seen another photograph or a
3 continuation of this photograph with Major Sljivancanin in. Is there any
4 part of Major Sljivancanin which is visible with this photograph?
5 A. I assume, in view of the fact that I have seen that other
6 photograph, he was sitting at the head of the table. So I assume that the
7 hands we see there are his hands, although I can't be quite certain. Of
8 course, on the other photograph I saw, I saw Major Sljivancanin sitting at
9 the head of the table and all the three Croatian negotiators.
10 Q. Now, if you could just mark where those hands are which you
11 believe are Major Sljivancanin and mark them with a "C."
12 A. [Marks].
13 Q. And this gentleman to the left, which party is he from, do you
15 A. I think that that was Mr. Borsinger from the International
16 Red Cross, who also attended the negotiations, at the request, of course,
17 of the Croatian side.
18 Q. Can you please circle him and mark a "D."
19 A. [Marks].
20 Q. And is there anyone else in that picture you recognise from the
22 A. No, nobody else.
23 Q. And before I ask the Chamber to exhibit this picture, if need be,
24 would you be able to produce the other part of the picture which you say
25 you have, showing Major Sljivancanin at the surrender negotiations?
1 A. I saw the picture after the exchange when I went to Zagreb and
2 when I started working. Then I came into contact with one such paragraph,
3 and I remember it very well, since it was something that I felt close to.
4 I knew about the negotiations and I was, in a way, included. All of us
5 who were at Mitnica were, in one way or another, included. So I did see
6 the photograph. I think it is in the files of our office, but I can't
7 quite be certain about that. I can, of course, find it.
8 Q. Thank you.
9 MR. AGHA: Now, may I kindly request that this picture be
11 JUDGE PARKER: It had been received.
12 MR. AGHA: In its blank format, I believe.
13 THE REGISTRAR: The original will be Exhibit 120; and the one
14 that's annotated will be Exhibit 121.
15 MR. AGHA:
16 Q. Now, Witness, which date did the surrender negotiations take place
17 in which these parties have met on the photograph you have seen?
18 A. It was the 18th of November, 1991. The negotiations were agreed
19 upon the evening before, and the next day in the morning, our negotiators
20 went to attend the negotiations, as had been agreed previously.
21 MR. AGHA: Now, I'm wondering, Your Honours, whether this would be
22 a good time to break so that we can pick up what was agreed at
23 negotiations afterwards, or I can continue for the extra minute or two.
24 JUDGE PARKER: We judge from what you say, Mr. Agha, that this
25 would be a practical and convenient time.
1 MR. AGHA: It would be, Your Honour.
2 JUDGE PARKER: Because of a matter which must be dealt with by the
3 Chamber during the break, we will have to have a longer break than usual.
4 We will resume at a quarter past the hour.
5 --- Recess taken at 3.30 p.m.
6 --- On resuming at 4.17 p.m.
7 JUDGE PARKER: Unfortunately, Judge Van den Wyngaert is unable to
8 sit this afternoon. Pursuant to the Rule 15 bis, Judge Thelin and I
9 consider the interests of justice will be served by continuing of the
10 hearing. It will be necessary for Her Honour to view the tape and read
11 the transcript of the proceedings this afternoon. It is certainly
12 expected that she will be in a position to continue tomorrow.
13 Yes, Mr. Agha.
14 MR. AGHA: Thank you, Your Honours.
15 Q. Now, Witness, just to remind you before the break you mentioned in
16 your evidence that the surrender negotiations took place on 18th of
17 November and in the morning time. Now, what was decided in these
18 negotiations in respect to civilians?
19 A. Well, we all waited with anticipation for the negotiations to end,
20 and when our negotiators returned we were told that at the negotiations
21 they had agreed that all the civilians from Mitnica should be evacuated to
22 another part of Croatia which had not been engulfed by the war.
23 Q. And what did they tell you the negotiators had been agreed
24 regarding the fighters who had been defending Vukovar?
25 A. It was said that all the members of the Croatian National Guards
1 Corps would surrender their weapons, that they would surrender, lay down
2 their arms, and it was also agreed that they would be treated as prisoners
3 of war with all the Geneva Conventions being applied and that a list of
4 their names would be taken and that they would be photographed at the
5 place of surrender.
6 Q. And where did the civilians and the defenders gather?
7 A. About noon the negotiators returned and said that we had just one
8 hour to comply with the evacuation and to go to a collection point which
9 was a wide space on the way to the cemetery where the last houses were.
10 There was a veterinary station there, actually. And the army was to
11 arrive as well as the civilians for the evacuation to go ahead or the
12 surrender to go ahead.
13 Q. Roughly how many civilians were there?
14 A. It's difficult to say. I don't have any exact figures nor did
15 anybody know exactly at the time, but I would say there were around 2 and
17 Q. And roughly how many defenders were there who were to surrender to
18 the JNA?
19 A. There were about -- or rather, 150 to 200 defenders. I seem to
20 recall a figure of 180, 180. It's difficult for me to remember all those
21 facts and figures. I did my very best. I would say about 180, yes.
22 Q. And what was the physical appearance of those who gathered there?
23 A. After the intensity of the warfare and having lived in cellars for
24 three months without any water or electricity and with barely any food
25 towards the end, all the civilians looked in a sorry state. They looked
1 very poorly. They were in a terrible state. They were all sad because
2 after everything, they had to leave their own town.
3 Q. Now, when you gathered, I believe you mentioned, at the
4 veterinary clinic, where were you taken from there?
5 A. That area was still under the control of our forces. We were all
6 there, gathered there. The civilians formed a column and the army also
7 formed its own column, together with the civilian -- apart from the
8 civilians, that is to say the defenders of Vukovar, with their weapons.
9 Two columns were formed. And during all these events there was radio
10 communication between our negotiators and the JNA. Once everything was
11 ready and put in place, one of the negotiators went in the opposite
12 direction in a car, and when he returned he said that the evacuation could
13 go ahead.
14 Q. And how did you travel to the place where you were to be evacuated
16 A. The columns of civilians and, parallel to that, the army column
17 set out towards the demarcation line, separation line. And when the
18 column passed through on foot, the people were walking, they were on
19 foot. After them some 15 or 20 cars brought up the rear because some had
20 set off in the evacuation in cars. So -- and at the end of the column
21 there was a JNA armoured vehicle, and it accompanied the column to the new
22 cemetery. My own family set out in one of those cars, whereas my husband
23 and I walked to the cemetery in the column.
24 Q. So when you got to the cemetery, where everyone who was
25 surrendering had gathered for the evacuation, when was it that the
1 fighters laid down their arms? Had they laid them down already or later?
2 A. The column of civilians and the column of fighters were going on
3 foot side by side. The columns were stopped at the entrance to the new
4 cemetery, in front of it, and that is where the handing over of the
5 weapons took place. The Vukovar defenders handed over their weapons.
6 Q. Now, during the process of this surrender of weapons, were you
7 aware of any international observers being present?
8 A. I did see an international observer, and I saw the president of
9 the International Red Cross as well. I recognised the international
10 observer by the white clothes he was wearing and the president of the
11 International Red Cross because he had clear markings of the Red Cross on
12 his arm.
13 Q. And what were they doing?
14 A. They were present during the surrender of weapons when the armed
15 Croatian army laid down its arms, and they listed all the soldiers.
16 Q. Now, you've mentioned that at the cemetery the civilians are in
17 one column and the fighters in another column. How many JNA, roughly,
18 were gathered at the cemetery to take the surrender?
19 A. Well, there might have been about 50 of them, as far as I was able
20 to notice.
21 Q. And who was in command of the JNA at the surrender?
22 A. Major -- the major of the Yugoslav People's Army, Sljivancanin,
23 was in command. He was present there at the cemetery.
24 Q. How do you know that he was in command?
25 A. Well, he was issuing orders, and it was obvious that his soldiers
1 were obeying his orders. They collected up the weapons, they escorted the
2 soldiers into the buses and trucks, and they addressed him in connection
3 with the order given and the way in which it was to be carried out.
4 Q. Are you able to distinguish between regular JNA soldiers and
5 paramilitary soldiers?
6 A. In the former Yugoslavia, all young men aged 18 to 26 had a
7 military duty and they all had to go and do their military service. We
8 all knew about the rules that prevailed in the army at the time.
9 Members of the JNA all wore the same kind of uniform, olive-drab
10 or camouflage. They had a five-pointed star on their helmet, while
11 members of the Territorial Defence did not all wear the same kind of
12 uniform. And they weren't as orderly as the JNA had to be. Some of the
13 TO people sported beards and long hair, when it was a well-known fact that
14 a member of the JNA could not wear a beard or long hair. They had to be
15 clean-shaven with crew cuts.
16 Q. Now, based on this distinction, how many paramilitary fighters did
17 you see at the cemetery when the surrender was being taken?
18 A. I did not see any paramilitary fighters there. I only saw members
19 of the JNA.
20 Q. Now, you mention earlier in your evidence that you saw
21 international monitors and Red Cross being present. Was there also anyone
22 else of particular prominence from the international community who you
23 observed at the cemetery while the surrender was taking place?
24 A. At some distance from all these events, there was a black car --
25 or rather, a dark car and several people wearing suits. They did not fit
1 into the overall picture, so I had a closer look and I recognised
2 Mr. Cyrus Vance.
3 Q. And what was Mr. Vance and his entourage doing?
4 A. They were standing next to that long car watching the surrender of
5 weapons and the incipient evacuation of civilians.
6 Q. Now, according to your evidence it would seem that at the cemetery
7 when the surrender took place there were civilians, some of whom came on
8 foot, some of whom came on car, and also Vukovar defenders. Which group
9 left the cemetery first or did all groups leave together?
10 A. The soldiers who had surrendered their weapons were the first to
11 leave the cemetery. After that, the evacuation of civilians started,
12 those who had arrived on foot. My husband and I walked all the way back
13 to the rear of the column and joined my mother and father who were in a
15 Q. And what time roughly did you leave the cemetery, and did you go
16 with your parents in your car or by foot?
17 A. After I got into the car, we remained there for the next five
18 hours, roughly speaking. All this was happening at about 2.00, before it
19 got dark, which at that time of year is usually around 5.00. So I think
20 the handover of weapons and the evacuation of civilians began at about
21 3.00 p.m. We remained sitting in the car until 9.00 or 10.00 in the
22 evening with nothing much happening. It was quite obvious to us that the
23 evacuation of civilians - and there were many of those - was taking some
25 Q. And where had it been agreed that these civilians would be taken?
1 A. One thing that was agreed explicitly during negotiations was that
2 all civilians would be evacuated to Croatia, that is the part of Croatia
3 that was not engulfed by war.
4 Q. Now, when you left the cemetery, where were you initially taken?
5 A. At about 9.00 or 10.00 in the evening we were told that we were to
6 drive in a column and follow a military vehicle. We drove off in our cars
7 following a military vehicle, and behind us there was another military
8 vehicle. We were escorted all the way to Ovcara.
9 Q. Now, as you travelled to Ovcara, what, if any, JNA weaponry did
10 you observe?
11 A. When you leave the main road leading from Vukovar to Sotin and
12 turn into a local road to Ovcara, all along that road there were heavy
13 weapons, heavy artillery of the JNA positioned. We saw it because we took
14 that road and there were heavy weapons or artillery lining the road. The
15 intervals between weapons were as little as two or three metres.
16 Q. So how much weaponry was there, roughly?
17 A. It's difficult for me to say, but what I can say is that the road
18 is perhaps two kilometres long or thereabouts and there was a weapon every
19 two metres, virtually. Guns, multi-barrel rocket launchers, missiles. We
20 were astonished at the amount of weapons there. We talked and we felt
21 that it had been a miracle to even survive for that long inside Vukovar,
22 given the amount of weapons that was being used against us.
23 Q. Now, you mention that you left the cemetery at about 9.00
24 or 10.00, so I'm assuming it would have been dark by that time. So how
25 were you able to see all this weaponry on the roadside?
1 A. All the cars had the headlights on. The lights were on, otherwise
2 we would not have seen the road. There were about 20 cars with headlights
3 on travelling down that road, plus the military vehicles. The weapons and
4 the persons manning the weapons were standing by the roadside, just off
5 the road.
6 Q. And did you have a clear view of the weapons and those standing
8 A. Yes. We had a clear view. It was perhaps one metre off the road,
9 not further.
10 Q. And who were the soldiers who were operating the artillery, or at
11 least standing by it?
12 A. Since we drew a lot of attention from the soldiers who were
13 standing by the roadside near those weapons, they would walk up to the
14 road and shout threats and insults at us. That is when I realised that
15 there were both JNA soldiers and paramilitaries there.
16 Q. And what was the occupation of your father?
17 A. Up until 1999, more specifically May 1999 [as interpreted], my
18 father lived in Belgrade. He was a member of the JNA, working there. He
19 is a musician by profession, actually a music teacher. He is a violin
20 teacher, and he worked with the military orchestra of the JNA.
21 Q. What uniform did he wear, if any, while he was working in the JNA?
22 Or was he in civilian clothes?
23 A. When they had rehearsals, the orchestra, they would wear civilian
24 clothes. Whenever there was a celebration or ceremonies and concerts,
25 whenever there was something official, he would normally wear a uniform to
2 Q. And how many years was your father in the JNA?
3 A. As a child back in Rijeka he went to the military school of music.
4 He must have been 10 or 11 years old when he went sent to the army for
5 the first time. He took classes there. He was trained to become a music
6 teacher there, and he was later to become a music teacher at the military
7 school housed in the Eltz palace in Vukovar.
8 When I said that I'd moved when I was 11 years of age, that was
9 because the entire military music school was moved to Zemun with all its
10 pupils and teaching staff. My father had to move to Belgrade. He was
11 transferred to Belgrade, so the family had to follow suit.
12 Q. So how familiar are you with the JNA uniform would you say?
13 A. My father always had a regular uniform for the everyday purposes
14 and one for festive occasions, for more formal occasions, which he
15 sometimes needed.
16 Q. And how familiar are you with the appearance and tidiness and
17 turnout of JNA soldiers?
18 A. I was quite familiar with that. I had a very good idea what a
19 soldier was supposed to look like, a JNA soldier, clean-shaven, clean,
20 cropped hair, and neat uniform.
21 Q. My apologies. I think there's an error on the transcript. I
22 think at 15 -- 16.40.54 it should read May 1989 rather than 1999 -- if I
23 might clarify that with the witness.
24 I apologise. It's disappeared from my screen. But when was it
25 that your father left the JNA?
1 A. My father was supposed to retire in September 1991. There was an
2 unwritten rule in the army that three months before an officer retired,
3 the officer was no longer supposed to report to work. They had no
4 obligation to be physically present. So he stopped going to work three
5 months before the official date of his retirement. That was customary in
6 the JNA at the time. So as soon as he could afford to stop going to work,
7 he went back to Vukovar with my mother, moved back to our family home, and
8 this was in May 1991.
9 Q. Now, you clarified your ability to distinguish between JNA and
10 non-JNA, and I want to come back to the part where the surrender took
11 place at the cemetery. And with the leave of the Court, if we could
12 kindly show Exhibit 59 again, and I would request the witness to make some
13 markings on that so that the Court can be familiar with the area she's
14 talking about. If the court clerk could kindly help her with a pen or
15 Magic Marker.
16 Now, Witness, when the map appears on your screen you can let me
17 know, but it will be the same map we were looking at last time except this
18 time I would ask you to make different markings on it and mark them "A,"
19 "B," and "C" accordingly. So if you will let me know when the map has
20 reached you.
21 A. No map yet.
22 Q. Not for me either.
23 A. I have it now. The map has appeared.
24 MR. AGHA: Is it possible we could zoom in one time, please. Oh,
25 no, no, no, back, back, back. Once more forward. Thank you.
1 Q. Now, Witness, can you please, once again, on this map draw a
2 circle where Mitnica is and mark it "A."
3 A. [Marks].
4 Q. Can you then, please, mark, if you're able, the area roughly where
5 you gathered in the veterinary clinic before moving to the cemetery and
6 mark that "B."
7 A. [Marks].
8 Q. And could you then please mark the cemetery where the area was
9 where all the surrendering people had to gather and mark that "C."
10 A. [Marks].
11 Q. And can you please then draw a straight line, if you're able, or a
12 line showing the route from which you got from the veterinary clinic
13 marked "B" to the cemetery at "C."
14 A. [Marks].
15 Q. Okay. And if you could just put a "D" there somewhere or other
16 along the line.
17 A. [Marks].
18 Q. Thank you. And now can you please circle where Ovcara is and mark
19 that with a "D."
20 A. [Marks].
21 Q. And can you draw in red the route which you took from the cemetery
22 to Ovcara -- I'm sorry. It seems to be two Ds. Perhaps we could make
23 that an "E," that last one.
24 A. [Marks].
25 Q. And if you would kindly draw the route which you took from the
1 cemetery to Ovcara just by way of a line.
2 A. [Marks].
3 Q. And then maybe mark that line with an "F."
4 A. [Marks].
5 Q. And can you please now mark on that map the area where you say all
6 the artillery was placed which you observed en route to Ovcara with "Xs."
7 A. [Marks].
8 Q. Thank you.
9 MR. AGHA: May I ask that this map with the markings be exhibited,
10 Your Honour.
11 JUDGE PARKER: It will be received.
12 THE REGISTRAR: Your Honours, that will be Exhibit 122.
13 MR. AGHA: Thank you. That's all with the map.
14 Q. Now, Witness, what time roughly did you reach Ovcara?
15 A. It doesn't take long to get from the cemetery to Ovcara. It takes
16 about 20 minutes. I think we reached Ovcara at about 10.00, 10.00, half
17 past 10.00, depending on when exactly we'd set out. I can't be more
18 specific about the time. I can't remember.
19 Q. Now, how many civilians were there in your convoy, roughly?
20 A. There were about 20 cars. All the cars were full, which means
21 there were four or five persons in each one, which leads me to conclude
22 that there were about 100 or perhaps 120 people.
23 Q. And what were the composition of these people? Were they men,
24 women, children, or just women?
25 A. There were men, there were women, women with children, and
1 elderly, too.
2 Q. What arms did any of these people have with them?
3 A. No arms.
4 Q. And what happened when you reached Ovcara?
5 A. Once we were there we were instructed to park at the plateau, the
6 open area, near the hangar there. It was unlit. We were instructed to
7 leave our cars and leave the car keys on the front seat.
8 Q. Now, roughly how many JNA soldiers did you observe at Ovcara?
9 A. I observed both JNA soldiers and TO or paramilitary members, if
10 you like. That was on the way there. Once we reached our destination,
11 there was no lighting and I only saw those who were standing in that open
12 area. I did not see any of those who were standing nearby in the dark.
13 In terms of those whom I'd seen along the roadside, I reckon I'd probably
14 saw more than a hundred of those.
15 Q. When you say "those," are you referring to JNA or JNA and
16 paramilitaries or both?
17 A. Both. They were together.
18 Q. Now, coming to Ovcara itself, did you again see both JNA and
20 A. Yes. I saw JNA members. I saw Major Sljivancanin, who introduced
21 himself. He was accompanied by two paramilitaries. They were obviously
22 paramilitaries because they both sported long hair and a beard.
23 Q. And who was in charge of the JNA and paramilitaries at Ovcara?
24 A. It was quite clear that a JNA officer was in charge or, rather,
25 giving orders, specifically Major Sljivancanin. He was the one who
1 addressed us. He introduced himself, and he gave a speech.
2 Q. And what did he say, roughly?
3 A. I will try to re-interpret the essential part. At the outset he
4 said that we, the citizens of Vukovar, should know exactly why we were now
5 there in that place. He said that they had liberated Vukovar and that we
6 were those who had been killing his young boys.
7 Q. How did you feel? Did you feel liberated?
8 A. Not at any point in time did I feel a need to be liberated or set
9 free during the war in Vukovar. I was living in my own town, in my own
10 house. I had no need for anyone to come along and set me free.
11 Q. Now, the people who were with you at Ovcara were from Mitnica.
12 What, roughly, in percentage terms was the ethnic composition of Mitnica
13 during the battle?
14 A. Generally speaking, one thing that one must keep in mind is that
15 Mitnica was a part of Vukovar that had a 99 per cent Croat population.
16 That part of Vukovar was, for the most part, inhabited by ethnic Croats.
17 As a result, most of those evacuated from Mitnica were also Croats.
18 Q. And how heavy had the fighting been around Mitnica between the
19 Vukovar defenders and the JNA?
20 A. I still remember several cases when the JNA stopped shelling and
21 tried to breakthrough the lines using their infantry. I remember that our
22 soldiers displayed exemplary bravery on those occasions, managing to repel
23 a far superior enemy. I remember, based on the accounts of Vukovar
24 defenders, that the JNA suffered a significant number of casualties on
25 those occasions. So did the Croatian side.
1 Q. Now, coming to Mr. Sljivancanin's -- or sorry, Major
2 Sljivancanin's speech at Ovcara, returning to that, presumably it was
3 quite dark by now, so how were you able to see Major Sljivancanin?
4 A. It wasn't a large group of people. There were about a hundred of
5 us - I really don't know the exact number - and we were all standing on a
6 little plateau. And not far from us, just a few metres from us, was Major
7 Sljivancanin and the two members of the paramilitaries I mentioned.
8 Q. Now, you also mentioned that there were elderly women and children
9 within your group. What happened to this part of your group?
10 A. Major Sljivancanin at the end concluded, after a lengthy speech,
11 by saying that the evacuation would take place of all of us as had been
12 agreed at the negotiations, and that the people to start out first would
13 be the elderly and women with children. So they were set aside first and
14 boarded the buses first and were driven off.
15 Q. And where were they meant to be taken? Can you please remind the
16 Court, according to Mr. Sljivancanin and the surrender negotiations.
17 A. Both on the basis of the conclusions of the negotiations and on
18 the basis of the speech delivered by Major Sljivancanin, these people were
19 supposed to be taken to a part of Croatia which was not in the war.
20 Q. And where were they, in fact, taken?
21 A. A portion of them were obviously taken to Croatia, whereas another
22 part were taken to Sremska Mitrovica.
23 Q. How do you know that another part were taken to Sremska Mitrovica?
24 A. Because I saw them there. Since I myself, after the evacuation to
25 the free part of Croatia, ended up in the Sremska Mitrovica prison, and
1 Sremska Mitrovica is in Serbia.
2 Q. Now, after the elderly, women, and children had left, what was
3 said regarding the remainder of the people?
4 A. Major Sljivancanin said that the men had to be separated from the
5 women next and that we were all going in the same direction, but that it
6 was necessary for us to be separated. And the women refused and they
7 remained standing.
8 Q. So after the men and women refused to be separated, how did Major
9 Sljivancanin react? What happened next?
10 A. After that, there was a lot of discussion. They stood aside from
11 us, civilians, standing there, and quite obviously there was a heated
12 discussion between Major Sljivancanin and members of the paramilitary
13 formations. I think there was some members of the regular army there,
14 too, the JNA. They had this discussion and debate, and after that Major
15 Sljivancanin left the group, came back to our group, and said that we
16 should all board the buses.
17 Q. And where were you meant to be going?
18 A. According to what was said, we were supposed to go to Croatia.
19 Q. Now, as you were boarding the buses at Ovcara to leave, did a
20 paramilitary soldier say anything to your husband?
21 A. The members of the paramilitary units or the two members mentioned
22 that were standing together with Major Sljivancanin at Ovcara while he was
23 delivering his speech were standing at the entrance to the buses which we
24 were supposed to board. And while we were getting on and passing by them,
25 one of them, the one standing at the entrance where we were boarding, he
1 addressed -- he spoke to my husband.
2 Q. And what did he say to your husband?
3 A. Well, when we got into the bus I asked him what the soldier had
4 said to him, and he said that he had recognised him when he spoke and when
5 he saw him close up, because he went right past him, right next to him.
6 He recognised him as a man called Pero, his nickname was Limun, or Lemon,
7 who worked at in Mitnica in a shop there, and who said that they had to
8 release us now but that it was to have finished differently.
9 Q. In your view, what did you take this to mean?
10 A. Well, I think the comment can be understood in only one way. If
11 they were indeed releasing us and matters would have ended differently,
12 that means that they were not supposed to release us but that we were
13 supposed to remain at Ovcara. And if we were evacuated alive, if we
14 survived, then if things should have ended differently it would mean that
15 we should not have been left alive.
16 Q. Now, you mentioned earlier that there was heavy fighting in the
17 Mitnica area and the JNA suffered heavy casualties and indeed both sides.
18 So what was the attitude of the paramilitaries at Ovcara towards you?
19 A. Very hostile. While the column of cars was passing by, they
20 shouted out to us, they issued threats, they swore. And while we were
21 getting on the bus, they were quite obviously hostile in their behaviour;
22 they were extremely angry.
23 Q. Now, according to your evidence you were meant to be taken to part
24 of Croatia where there was no fighting. Where, in fact, were you taken to
25 from Ovcara?
1 A. At around 2.00 a.m. or, rather, early the next morning we reached
2 the prison in Sremska Mitrovica. That is a prison which is located in
4 Q. Now, who was escorting you there?
5 A. We were in the buses, and also in the buses were armed members of
6 the Yugoslav People's Army and the driver who was wearing civilian
8 Q. Now, as you travelled from Ovcara to Sremska Mitrovica, do you
9 remember any of the areas you passed through at all?
10 A. We went via Negoslavci and Oriolik, I remember that, and then we
11 reached the highway, where we stopped and where we were forcibly separated
12 into different buses, the men separated from the women.
13 Q. And where did the separate buses proceed? Did they proceed to the
14 same place or a different place?
15 A. The same place. So I wasn't quite clear about the logics of that
16 separation, why we were separated the men from the women, whereas they
17 actually sent us to the same place.
18 Q. Now, turning back to the villages you passed through like
19 Negoslavci, were these villages primarily of Serbian ethnicity or
20 Croatian? What was their majority make-up?
21 A. Negoslavci is a village inhabited predominantly by Serbs, and
22 along the way we would comment and say that those places were absolutely
23 left intact. They were not damaged in any way. The houses were standing
24 quite normally as if there was no war going on in those parts, whereas its
25 just a few kilometres away from Vukovar.
1 Q. Now, you say you ended up in Sremska Mitrovica, in Serbia. What
2 kind of place was this where you were taken to?
3 A. Sremska Mitrovica is a prison, which in the former Yugoslavia,
4 criminals, killers, served their sentences, all those convicted of crimes.
5 MR. AGHA: Now, with the assistance of the court clerk and the
6 leave of the Court, I'd like to show Exhibit 103, which is map bearing ERN
8 Q. When you see this map on the screen, Witness, if you could let me
9 know, and I will ask you again to make some markings on it for the benefit
10 of the Court.
11 A. Yes, I can see the map.
12 Q. Could you please circle on the map Vukovar and mark it "A" when
13 you have a pen.
14 MR. AGHA: Zoom one time, please.
15 THE WITNESS: [Marks].
16 MR. AGHA:
17 Q. And could you mark Negoslavci with a "B."
18 A. [Marks].
19 Q. And Sremska Mitrovica, where you were finally taken to, and mark
20 that with a "C."
21 A. [Marks].
22 Q. Thank you.
23 MR. AGHA: May I kindly ask the Court that this map with the
24 markings be exhibited.
25 JUDGE PARKER: It will be received.
1 THE REGISTRAR: That will be Exhibit 123, Your Honours.
2 MR. AGHA:
3 Q. Now, Witness, your understanding was, according to the surrender
4 agreement and what Major Sljivancanin told you, was that you will be going
5 to Croatia. What explanation did the JNA give you for taking you to
6 Sremska Mitrovica prison?
7 A. The JNA didn't give us any explanation. What Major Sljivancanin
8 said was contrary to what he did, so we cannot term that to be an
9 explanation. Now, as far as we were concerned en route and when we
10 arrived at Mitrovica, nobody talked to us.
11 Q. And roughly how many days did you remain in that prison?
12 A. I remained 18 days in the prison, and I was exchanged at the
13 beginning of December 1991, on the 5th of December to be exact.
14 Q. Now, very briefly could you explain to the Court what the
15 conditions were like in Sremska Mitre prison where you were kept.
16 A. About 90 of us women and two children were put up in one room. It
17 was locked. We were shut off in this one place. We slept on the floor,
18 and we had two toilets and two or three wash basins. The food was very
19 bad, and all in all it was a very difficult period. The eldest was 90, an
20 old woman of 90, and the youngest child was just 2 years old.
21 Q. Now, how many other family members were there with you in the
23 A. My husband was in the Sremska Mitrovica prison as well as my
24 father, he was in the prison Sremska Mitrovica first, and then he went to
25 Nis and was returned to Sremska Mitrovica. My mother and my mother-in-law
1 and his aunt were together with me in the same room in Sremska Mitrovica;
2 we were all there together.
3 Q. Now, you mention that your father was a musician in the JNA. What
4 role did he play in the defence of Mitnica?
5 A. My father joined the civil protection, that part of the town's
6 defence which belonged to the people's defence. And in principle their
7 members did not wear uniforms. They just stood watch, stood guard, at
8 their own houses or positions around their own homes.
9 Q. And how old was he roughly at that time?
10 A. My father was born in 1935. That would make him -- my maths isn't
11 too good. Let me just calculate that. He was 56, if I've calculated
12 that. I'm not focussed enough today.
13 Q. What charges, if any, were leveled against him whilst he was in
14 Sremska Mitrovica prison?
15 A. An indictment was raised against him for treason.
16 Q. And was he tried?
17 A. He received the indictment, but the trial didn't start because
18 before that he was exchanged, before it came to that.
19 Q. So he's never been tried?
20 A. No, he has never been tried.
21 Q. Now, whilst you were in this prison for 18 days, were you subject
22 to interrogation?
23 A. Yes. I was interrogated by an officer, a high-ranking officer of
24 the Yugoslav People's Army. I don't know which rank he held exactly.
25 Q. How many statements did you make?
1 A. I think three. I can't remember exactly, but we were called up
2 for an interview, not only myself but most of the prisoners. And I was
3 mostly interrogated about what was happening in Vukovar at the time
4 between the 5th -- between May and November the 11th -- the end of
5 November 1991.
6 Q. Now, were there any particular things which you omitted from your
7 statement regarding that period?
8 A. We were in prison. That's a place where you're locked up if
9 you're a criminal, if you're considered to be a criminal. And people
10 interrogate you there. That's the kind of place it is. And we were
11 forced to give statements of some kind. In the statements I mostly said
12 what was true, in view of the fact that the officer interrogated me about
13 the number of dead and facts and figures of that kind, the surrender at
14 Mitnica, and so on. So mostly I told the truth.
15 The only thing I did not state in those statements and where I led
16 them astray is that -- where I misled them is that during the war I was in
17 a cellar, in a shelter, belonging to my firm, my company, which was where
18 the Croatian National Guards had their headquarters for the area. I
19 didn't consider that to be in my best interests, to tell them that there.
20 Q. Now, turning to another part of your incarceration in the prison,
21 did you come across any staff members from Vukovar Hospital?
22 A. Dr. Vesna Bosanac was with me in the room. She was brought in a
23 little later on, two to three days after we had arrived. And throughout
24 the time, she was in the room with us until I was exchanged, until the day
25 when I left the prison.
1 Q. And did you see any other doctors from the hospital?
2 A. I saw Dr. Njavro and also some other medical staff, some nurses
3 working in the Vukovar Hospital.
4 Q. Now, did there come a time when Dr. Bosanac asked you to do
5 anything in particular for her?
6 A. A day before the exchange the representatives of the Yugoslav
7 People's Army came to the room or, rather, the officers who had organised
8 the exchange of prisoners, and they read out the names of persons who were
9 supposed to be exchanged the following day. On that list was my name, and
10 Dr. Bosanac asked me when I reached Croatia to contact the minister of
11 health, Professor Andrija Hebrang, and to tell him that the doctors and
12 the staff of the Vukovar Hospital were being kept prisoner in the Sremska
13 Mitrovica prison and that they did not know where the wounded had been
14 taken and the civilians from the civilian -- from the Vukovar Hospital.
15 Q. So when you were released, what did you do? Did you follow what
16 you were asked to do by Dr. Bosanac?
17 A. As soon as I reached Zagreb, I did get in touch with the
18 minister's office, and his secretary made an appointment for me to see the
19 minister on that same day.
20 Q. And what did you communicate to the minister?
21 A. Well, I told him everything I was asked to tell him by
22 Dr. Bosanac. I said that the doctors and medical staff of the Vukovar
23 Hospital were being incarcerated in Sremska Mitrovica prison, and I said
24 that Dr. Bosanac had sent him a message that she did not know where the
25 mobile wounded, or people who were able to walk, had been taken from the
1 hospital as well as the civilians. I also told him what the conditions in
2 prison were like and everything else that the minister was interested in
4 Q. And what was the minister's response?
5 A. The minister reacted by contacting everybody engaged in the
6 negotiations and in the prisoner exchange programme. And several days
7 afterwards, the doctors and the medical staff from the Vukovar Hospital
8 were released.
9 Q. Now, after you saw the Minister Hebrang, what work did you then
10 take up?
11 A. While I was talking to the secretary and arranging an appointment
12 with Minister Hebrang she gave me the name of Professor Kostovic, who was
13 the dean of the faculty of medicine at the time, and he was the man in
14 charge of collecting all the information linked to the fate of the
15 individuals from Vukovar. She put me in touch with him and he was
16 included in the negotiations. And I went to see Professor Kostovic first
17 and I told him what had happened, and in the afternoon I had a meeting
18 with the minister. After that Professor Kostovic asked me whether I
19 wished to work for his department, which was attached to the Ministry of
20 Health. It was the information department of the medical department under
21 the Ministry of Health.
22 Q. And did your boss later go on to hold a prominent position in
24 A. Yes. Later on, I don't know when that was exactly, but he was the
25 vice-premier. And his remit included humanitarian issues, since those
1 were the kinds of things he dealt with ever since the war started.
2 Q. Now, when roughly did you speak to Mr. Hebrang initially and make
3 this report and then start working for that particular office?
4 A. I talked to Professor Hebrang immediately after my arrival, I
5 think that was on the 6th. I think we were exchanged on the 5th. It was
6 late at night. We reached Zagreb in the course of the night, and the very
7 next day I did what I had promised Dr. Bosanac I would do.
8 Q. And thereafter did you take up a position in that office?
9 A. Yes, I did. I started working in that office. It was an office
10 which was attached to the medical department, the medical staff, and was
11 engaged in collecting information about all incarcerated persons and
12 missing persons, not only from Vukovar but from the whole of Croatia as
14 Q. And who did your boss negotiate with on the side of the JNA?
15 A. Well, there were a number of negotiators. I remember the most
16 prominent negotiator on the Yugoslav army's side, who was General Raseta.
17 Q. Now, are you aware that your boss, Professor Kostovic, ever raised
18 the question of the missing hospital patients at the meetings with General
19 Raseta and the JNA?
20 A. This question was raised at every meeting when there were
21 negotiations. That was always the first issue to be raised.
22 Q. And what was the response of the JNA?
23 A. Every time after negotiations, because we had always had our
24 documents prepared, files on missing persons and prisoners, Professor
25 Kostovic would always inform us on the outcome of each round of
1 negotiations. We wanted to know, of course. And every time the wounded
2 from the Vukovar Hospital were mentioned, negotiations were, to all
3 practical intents, be boycotted by the JNA. Their representatives refused
4 to discuss the issue or provide any sort of information whatsoever on
6 Q. Now, your office was looking into the missing persons. Roughly
7 how many patients did you learn were missing from the Vukovar Hospital,
8 pursuant to the evacuation on 20th November?
9 A. I must point out that at the time, given the general situation in
10 Vukovar, there was a bit of chaos in Croatia. The evacuation of some
11 civilians had lasted up to 36 hours, some eventually arrived with
12 considerable delays, and there were people all over the place looking for
13 someone. We had no description. I'm talking about the time when I was
14 working in that office. We did not have a list with names of all persons
15 who were led away from the Vukovar Hospital. Only the JNA people had
16 access to it, the same people who had taken them away and put their names
17 on a list. We put together a list of our own based on missing persons'
18 families coming to our office to report the fact that one of their own had
19 been taken from the Vukovar Hospital. This list comprised about 300
20 people. The list later shrunk, since the fate of some of these people
21 became known.
22 Q. And of the balance, where were they found?
23 A. [In English] Sorry?
24 Q. Where were the balance of the missing people found? Did you find
1 A. [Interpretation] There were about 200 bodies, people who had been
2 taken from the Vukovar Hospital, patients and civilians, that were found
3 in a mass grave at Ovcara back in 1993.
4 Q. And what was their fate?
5 A. Based on what I knew at the time, and given the fact that I was
6 working in an office that had a degree of cooperation with international
7 representatives in the area, there was a team of persons who went there
8 and found -- uncovered the mass grave to begin with. I'm talking about
9 Clyde Snow specifically. The persons whose bodies were found there had
10 been executed, or shot.
11 MR. AGHA: Thank you, Your Honours. I have no further questions
12 for this witness. This completes my examination-in-chief.
13 JUDGE PARKER: Thank you, Mr. Agha.
14 That clearly -- Mr. Lukic.
15 MR. LUKIC: [Interpretation] Thank you, Your Honour.
16 I suppose we were about to break, but just for the sake of the
17 transcript I have a strong objection about one particular line of
18 questioning by my friend from the OTP in relation to this witness's time
19 in Sremska Mitrovica. It is now during her testimony that we first hear
20 of the fact that she, as she submits, was imprisoned there, that she was
21 interrogated there, provided written statements, and spent time there
22 together with Dr. Vesna Bosanac.
23 It is quite obvious that the OTP have now for a long time been
24 familiar with this fact, based on how their questions were phrased. The
25 only statement we received, this witness's statement, was one that she
1 gave in 1995 where there is a passing reference to the fact that she was
2 in Sremska Mitrovica. Several days ago we received an additional
3 clarification about facts that we were familiar with that were there for
4 us to check, but this is entirely new to us, and we have not had
5 sufficient time to go back and check these facts.
6 This, for us, constitutes a violation of Article 21 of the Statute
7 because we have not been given a fair opportunity to go back and check
8 these facts concerning the witness's stay in Sremska Mitrovica. We should
9 have given -- we should have been given this information in good time,
10 well ahead of time so that we would have time to check the information.
11 Thank you.
12 JUDGE PARKER: Mr. Agha.
13 MR. AGHA: Your Honour, the statement which the witness gave in
14 1995 clearly says that she was on 19th November taken to Sremska Mitrovica
15 and she stayed there for 18 days and was exchanged on 5th of December.
16 Now, it was only when she came here for proofing that she told us that she
17 had in fact met Dr. Bosanac there, and we had no idea that she'd taken
18 any -- given any statement or been interrogated. And indeed, the OTP
19 haven't found any of her statements, which I believe presumably remain
20 with the custody of the JNA who interrogated her. But based on the
21 evidence which the witness has been given, we believe, since it makes up
22 not the substantial part of the evidence of the witness, my learned friend
23 has not been treated unfairly and is certainly clear to cross-examine the
24 witness on any of these issues.
25 It again boils down to the difficulty in how much information do
1 you provide in an addenda when you find out information during proofing.
2 We provided what the OTP felt was the most material aspects in the
4 JUDGE PARKER: The concern, Mr. Agha, is that it is not possible
5 for Mr. Lukic or any Defence counsel to know whether there is something
6 material in what was in any statement made by the witness to those who
7 interrogated her. Isn't that the issue?
8 MR. AGHA: Well, that would appear to be the issue, but, My
9 Honour, we don't have the statements. If we had the statements, we'd have
10 provided them. We only recently found out, a couple of days ago, that she
11 gave statements. We asked her: Did she have copies of those statements,
12 were they provided to her. She said no. We then checked our system, and
13 we don't have copies of those statements, so we were not in a position to
14 provide any such statements to the Defence. Indeed, we believe they
15 should be in the custody of the authorities who took them at
16 Sremska Mitrovica prison. Had we have had those statements, we would have
17 certainly disclosed them.
18 [Trial Chamber confers]
19 JUDGE PARKER: Mr. Lukic, it would appear in the circumstances
20 that there has been no failure to comply with the discovery obligations
21 because the statements that you are concerned about have not been in the
22 possession of the Prosecution. In those circumstances, it appears to the
23 Chamber that the correct course is that Defence counsel should
24 cross-examine. However, if during the trial you should find, by your own
25 inquiries, that you can locate statements and that there is something
1 material in them, application can be made for the re-call of the witness.
2 Is that position clear enough?
3 MR. LUKIC: [Interpretation] Very much so, Your Honour. That was
4 originally our intention. We did not mean to defer our cross-examination
5 over this.
6 But it's not only about the OTP disclosing this document to us if
7 they have it. It's about telling us that there is such a document so that
8 we may go back to our own investigators, who can then perhaps run a
9 search. That's how we understand the rule.
10 JUDGE PARKER: Well, that's a question of what is reasonably
11 considered material, and the answer to that is not absolute. It's a
12 question of judgement, and this is right on the border-line. As we -- as
13 you have heard from the Chamber, it's inclined, in the interests of
14 fairness, to treat it as on that side of the border-line which entitles
15 you to come again if you wish. If you want to debate further, we might
16 have to change our mind and rule against you. So it's probably best to
17 leave it where it is.
18 We must now adjourn, and we'll resume in 20 minutes' time.
19 --- Recess taken at 5.42 p.m.
20 --- On resuming at 6.06 p.m.
21 JUDGE PARKER: Mr. Domazet.
22 MR. DOMAZET: Yes, Your Honour.
23 JUDGE PARKER: There will be some questions by Mr. Domazet for
25 MR. DOMAZET: Thank you, Your Honour.
1 Cross-examined by Mr. Domazet:
2 Q. [Interpretation] Madam, please allow me to introduce myself. My
3 name is Vladimir Domazet. I am co-counsel for Mr. Mrksic. I will be the
4 one asking questions about your testimony in chief. Given the fact that
5 we both speak the same language and the interpreters are interpreting our
6 words into other languages, please let us try to make pauses between
7 questions and answers so that the interpretation can be more accurate.
8 Based on the facts that you gave to the OTP when you gave your
9 statement and to the facts you spoke about to my colleague during the
10 testimony in chief today, you said that you spent most of your childhood
11 in Belgrade. Is that correct?
12 A. Yes. I lived in Belgrade until I was 24 years old.
13 Q. You said today that you used to go to Vukovar quite often since
14 you had a family home there, your parents owned a house there, and that
15 was usually where you spent your holidays. If I understand your testimony
16 correctly, your husband, too, hails from Vukovar, or am I wrong?
17 A. He was born in Vukovar. He went to school and university in
18 Zagreb, after which he returned to Vukovar.
19 Q. You said today that sometime around 1986 you returned to Vukovar.
20 Does that mean that you got married that same year or was that earlier?
21 A. I got married in 1986, and that was also when I moved from
22 Belgrade back to Vukovar.
23 Q. Based on your testimony today, I understand that your husband's
24 parents also lived in Vukovar at this period, in 1991, and they also had a
25 house of their own, didn't they?
1 A. Yes, that's true. They also lived in Vukovar -- rather, his
2 mother because his father had died before the war.
3 Q. What's your husband's name? We don't have that information.
4 A. It's indicated clearly in my statement. His name is Josip Foro.
5 Q. You said he went to school and university in Zagreb. What was his
7 A. He went to a technical, secondary school. And after that he went
8 to the military academy in Zagreb, but he never completed his studies
10 Q. Technical school first and then the military academy which he
11 never completed. Did he ever work for the JNA or in the army, generally
13 A. No.
14 Q. Did he do his regular military service with the JNA?
15 A. Yes.
16 Q. You said today that in 1991 he worked in the post office in
17 Vukovar, that he was a maintenance technician for telephone lines. Was
18 that his job before 1991 as well?
19 A. Yes. He always did that since he first got a job with the post
20 office, and he got this job immediately after we were married.
21 Q. I understand that you lived together in your house, your parents'
22 house, not his parents' house. Am I right?
23 A. Yes, you're right.
24 Q. You also testified that you got a job in the utilities company in
25 Vukovar. Your statement indicates that it was exactly about this time in
1 1991. Can you please be more specific about when you first got a job with
2 the utilities company.
3 A. I started working there some time in mid-1990. I had already been
4 with them for about a year when the war broke out.
5 Q. Was this your first job ever?
6 A. Yes.
7 Q. You also said in your first statement, and also today when you
8 testified in chief, that after you completed secondary school in Belgrade
9 you started studying pharmacy in Belgrade and you only had five exams to
10 go when you left university. Is that correct?
11 A. Yes.
12 Q. We're talking up to 1986, or is that also in reference to the
13 later period after your departure from Belgrade?
14 A. I'm sorry. I don't understand your question.
15 Q. You had five exams to go in 1986 when you left Belgrade or was
16 that also later?
17 A. Yes.
18 Q. Can you tell me what precisely this means. You were in which year
19 of your studies with five exams to go?
20 A. I had completed my fourth regular year. I had completed all my
21 classes, all my lectures. I had successfully taken all of the exams from
22 my previous years, and I only had five exams to take before I obtained my
24 Q. Thank you. You also said that you continued studying pharmacy
25 once you moved to Zagreb. Is that correct? Have you completed your
2 A. When I arrived in Zagreb, I was very busy for the next two years.
3 I was doing humanitarian work, tracking down missing persons, doing work
4 related to the exchanges of prisoners. And then in late 1993 and early
5 1994, I requested to have my documents back from the pharmaceutical
6 faculty in Belgrade. Unfortunately, it took three years to obtain those
8 Q. But eventually you managed to retrieve your documents and you
9 continued your studies in Zagreb, did you not?
10 A. Yes. I obtained the necessary documents, and I continued studying
11 but I never completed my course.
12 Q. I believe you said today that you worked in a different field in
13 Vukovar, not the field that you studied academically. You explained that
14 you worked as a secretary, and at the time the clashes broke out in
15 Vukovar you were in charge of the cemetery. Was it the same job you had
16 ever since you first started working for them, or was it only at this
17 point in time that you were in charge of the cemetery?
18 A. No, that was right from the beginning I started working in that
20 Q. Something else to do with your job. You said that you often had
21 to leave the company's offices in order to go to the cemetery, and then
22 you described what happened sometime in August.
23 A. Late in August 1991.
24 Q. After that incident you no longer went to the cemetery to go about
25 your business there?
1 A. It was no longer possible to reach the cemetery after this
3 Q. Does that mean that no burials took place at that cemetery from
4 that time on? Did the burials cease?
5 A. No one was buried at the new cemetery after that incident. There
6 was several different locations that we used for burials after that.
7 Q. Can you please tell me, what was your job after that incident?
8 From late August until the 18th of November, what did you do?
9 A. My job was to do whatever my superior told me to do. The
10 utilities company is an important company in any town. We had an
11 obligation to respond to calls from our manager, to report to work, and to
12 be present while all of this was going on. Same as the fire brigade or
13 the other important services in town.
14 Q. I understand that, but I believe I heard today that at this period
15 of time, both day and night quite literally, you would maybe leave once a
16 week but the rest of the time you spent in the cellars of the utilities
17 company in Vukovar. Was that where your job was? Was it your duty to be
18 in that cellar?
19 A. This is a shelter that was in the utilities building, the cellar.
20 We were there until the National Guards Corps headquarters moved in. As
21 for leaving the cellar, I would have dearly loved to leave the cellar
22 every day after work. I would have dearly loved that I had been able to
23 go back home.
24 Q. But my question was whether your work post was there and what your
25 duties as an employee were during the time you spent in the cellar.
1 A. Specific work duties were for me to contact the hospital, if
2 possible; to make lists of persons killed; and our employees also worked
3 at burying those who had been killed in Vukovar at certain low sites once
4 the new cemetery was blocked.
5 Q. You said, Madam, that the headquarters of the Croatian National
6 Guards Corps was relocated from another place to the cellar and that up --
7 it was there until the 18th of November. Will you tell me when it was
8 that the headquarters the staff were relocated to your company, the
9 premise of your company?
10 A. I don't know the exact date, of course I can't remember, but it
11 was sometime around mid-September, I think, 1991.
12 Q. Can you tell us where the headquarters were until then?
13 A. I don't know.
14 Q. You also said that those of you who were employed there had very
15 good relations with the people who represented the staff and the
16 headquarters, and I assumed you had talked to them and that it was no big
17 secret where they had come from, relocated from. But if you don't know,
18 never mind.
19 Let me ask you this: You told us that there were a total of about
20 20 of you, including the members of the staff and also those of you who
21 were employed in the company. Can you be more specific. How many of you
22 were there, employees who found themselves there in the cellar, and how
23 many were there from the ZNG, representing the staff?
24 A. There were about 12 to 15 of us in the cellar, in the shelter, the
25 employees of the utility company. The rest were members of the ZNG
1 headquarters for Mitnica.
2 Q. I'd like now to ask you, Mrs. Foro, about something else: Vukovar
3 before the conflicts arose, that is to say, before the summer of 1991. In
4 response to a question of my learned colleague, Mr. Khan, if I understood
5 you correctly, you said that in your opinion up until 1990 the relations,
6 inter-ethnic relations, were quite good in Vukovar and Vukovar otherwise
7 is a multi-ethnic community, is it not, where there was Serbs? Looking at
8 the entire municipality, the percentage was close to the number of Croats,
9 and of course there were other ethnicities living in Croatia and the
10 then-Yugoslavia. Isn't that right?
11 A. Yes, I think that's quite right, what you've just said.
12 Q. Now, since you mentioned 1990 as the turning point, what would you
13 say was the trigger that upset relations in Vukovar and the surrounding
14 parts in 1990?
15 A. As far as I remember, when I came back from my holidays from the
16 seaside in 1990 and I returned on the 18th of August via Knin, when I came
17 home to Vukovar I heard that some barricades had been erected. That was
18 in 1990. From that time on, there were various incidents that broke out.
19 The Serb members of the area set up barricades right after we had passed
20 through, so I know that my family, for example, was very worried and
21 concerned because they had heard about these barricades and knew that we
22 were supposed to come back from the coast via Knin.
23 Q. Yes, I understand that. But my question was about Vukovar and the
24 surrounding parts, if that's what you meant when you said that
25 inter-ethnic relations up until 1990 were good. So the area you're
1 talking about now is in quite a different area, quite a different part.
2 But I'm asking you about Vukovar and the surrounding parts in that year
3 that you mention, 1990, and you said that relationships were normal. Is
4 that right? And then the relationships deteriorated later on. Right?
5 A. Well, it's like this: You can't look at Vukovar as an isolated
6 environment. We all lived in Croatia at the time, and we knew what was
7 going on, we saw what was going on in television, we heard about it over
8 the radio. So Vukovar wasn't under a glass bell. Everything that went on
9 in the former Yugoslavia were of course reflected on Vukovar itself.
10 Q. Yes, I understand what you're saying and the explanation you've
11 given, but my question again is this: When did tensions start in Vukovar?
12 You mentioned two events today. You mentioned the Borovo Selo event on
13 the 6th of May, 1991, and you also mentioned the death of a Croatian
14 policeman. Would you mark that as the beginning of the deterioration of
15 relations or was it something else?
16 A. Well, I can say that the tension increased and there was greater
17 disquiet when these events started happening on the territory of Croatia.
18 In Vukovar itself, I myself remember that 2nd of July -- May when there
19 was the incident in Borovo Selo and some of those other incidents,
20 although I must say that at that time I didn't deal in politics at all so
21 that all these details surrounding the events themselves and, generally
22 speaking, the inter-ethnic tensions weren't something I was interested in.
23 I wasn't interested in the details.
24 Q. Well, Madam, I wasn't asking you about the details. I asked you
25 about some matters that were very important for the lives of all those
1 living in Vukovar and the surrounding parts. All the more so, as I'm sure
2 you'll agree with me when I say certain that settled inhabited villages
3 around Vukovar had a mixed population and some of them had a
4 predominantly -- that the population was predominantly one ethnic group or
5 another. So I'm asking you about those settlements, those villages. Can
6 you tell me whether before these events there was any deterioration in
7 relationships there or not.
8 A. I didn't know of any incidents before the incident I mentioned,
9 the large-scale event that took place in Borovo Selo.
10 Q. Thank you. I'm sure you'll remember that in 1990 the first
11 multi-party elections were held in many Yugoslav republics, including the
12 Republic of Croatia. That's right, isn't it?
13 A. Yes, I remember that.
14 Q. Am I right in saying that at the elections in Croatia, the
15 majority of votes, people going to the polls, that the majority of votes
16 went to the Croatian community led by Franjo Tudjman, Croatian democratic
17 community, led by Franjo Tudjman?
18 A. Yes, you're quite right. The Croatian democratic community and
19 Dr. Franjo Tudjman secured the most votes.
20 Q. Can we also agree that the party was a very nationalistic party
21 with a nationalistic programme. Would that be right?
22 A. No, I don't think we can agree on that point.
23 Q. Well, what would you consider is not right in my assertion?
24 A. I've already said that I didn't delve in politics at that time and
25 that I didn't study the programmes of the different parties. However, I
1 think that the programme and what was presented as being the programme and
2 platform of the Croatian democratic community at that time was something
3 that was far less nationalistic than what I had been hearing about in
4 Belgrade several years prior to that, at the very least.
5 Q. Did the party advocate and strive for an independent state of
6 Croatia or the Republic of Croatia and a separation from Yugoslavia? And
7 what you're talking about in Belgrade, was that the same process of Serbia
8 seceding or was in favour of retaining and preserving Yugoslavia? If you
9 can answer that for me.
10 A. In Belgrade I heard speeches made by Mr. Slobodan Milosevic, which
11 would start out by referring to "brother Serbs." From that day on, I no
12 longer considered myself to be at home in Belgrade. I didn't consider
13 Belgrade to be my home from that day on. After that, I got married and
14 moved to -- or rather, those speeches I could say and characterise as
15 being nationalistic. I never heard speeches like that uttered by the
16 Croatian democratic community. I'm not a member of the HDZ, let me
17 stress, nor any party in Croatia.
18 Q. I wasn't asking you about your party affiliation, Madam. It's
19 your own right, and I wouldn't ask you about that or who you voted for.
20 That's up to you. But I asked you this because of the relationships we
21 were discussing, and I really cannot -- and I have to ask you again. Up
22 until 1986 while you were in Belgrade, did you really ever hear Slobodan
23 Milosevic beginning his speeches with "brother Serbs," because believe me
24 when I say I never heard him begin speeches like that, and let me say I am
25 not a fan of Mr. Milosevic at all nor was I ever.
1 A. Well, I did hear speeches like that, and they hit me hard because
2 I was a Croat myself living over there. He would begin his speeches by
3 addressing his Serb brethren or brother Serbs, and those speeches were
4 public. They were broadcast over television. I don't think we need to go
5 into polemics. Perhaps you didn't feel hard hit by those speeches because
6 you're not of the same ethnic group.
7 Q. Well, I don't think we need pursue the matter. There is evidence
8 about that, and it will be easily established. Just a few more questions
9 from that area, though. I'm sure you know that after the elections, local
10 elections were held in Vukovar as well. Do you know which party won the
11 local elections, the -- and secured a majority at the time?
12 A. No, I don't.
13 Q. Do you know who, after the local elections, was the mayor or
14 president of the local assembly of Vukovar, as we referred to it? Who
15 became mayor?
16 A. I'm not sure whether I'm right, but I think it was Dokmanovic.
17 Q. Yes, you're quite right, Slavko Dokmanovic. Probably from your
18 previous answer I assume you don't know what party he belonged to and
19 which party he went to the elections representing?
20 A. I know that he was there on behalf of the Serbian national party
21 or whatever its name was.
22 Q. If I were to tell you that at those elections any political --
23 there was no political party taking part with Serbian as a prefix. That
24 kind of party did not take part in the elections. If I were to tell you
25 that he was on the SDP ticket of President Ivica Racin, have I jogged your
1 memory perhaps? Do you happen to recall that?
2 A. No.
3 Q. And do you happen to know that Mr. Dokmanovic was president of the
4 Municipal Assembly during that time, that is to say May 1991?
5 A. I remember that at a given point in time the president of the
6 municipality or mayor of the town was Marin Bilic, Bili. I don't know
7 when that was, at what point in time, but I do know that during the war he
8 was an individual who was responsible for the town, or rather he was the
9 town mayor.
10 Q. Do you remember the elections at which he was elected mayor?
11 A. No.
12 Q. Would you agree with me - or perhaps I will be able to jog your
13 memory from what I'm going to say now - that the government of Croatia
14 replaced Mr. Dokmanovic from his post and appointed as commissioner the
15 gentleman you've just mentioned, Marin Bilic nicknames Bili, that he was
16 appointed from Zagreb as, you say, to be mayor of the town -- or rather,
17 commissioner for that part and president of the municipality and that the
18 legally elected assembly chosen at the local elections was disbanded?
19 A. No, I don't remember that. As I say, I didn't involve myself in
20 politics at the time, and all that is linked to the realm of politics.
21 Q. Thank you. You say you weren't following all those events, and
22 you say it was only after May and the incident in Borovo Selo that you
23 realised there was anything going on. May I ask then: Was there anything
24 that started happening just before this time? Houses being blown up in
25 Vukovar, threats being made to certain people, people, more specifically,
1 Serbs leaving certain areas of Vukovar. Do you remember anything of that?
2 A. I knew nothing of anything like that.
3 Q. Perhaps you heard that, among other things, a Borba newspaper
4 kiosk was blown up in Vukovar at the time, didn't you?
5 A. No, I didn't.
6 Q. Did you perhaps hear -- did you know that after the commissioner
7 took up his duties in Vukovar, many Serb managers of companies and
8 institutions in Vukovar were replaced or dismissed?
9 A. It was a generally known fact that all directors and all managers
10 of all important companies in Vukovar were Serbs. Whether they were in
11 fact dismissed, as you say, or not is not something that I can say.
12 Q. Can I take that to mean that you did not hear of a single
13 dismissal, but you do allow for the possibility that those Serbs were
14 removed from their positions?
15 A. No. You can't take it like that. What I mean is I don't know. I
16 heard nothing of the kind.
17 Q. Vukovar had its own radio station at the time, didn't it?
18 A. Yes. It had a radio station. It was called Radio Vukovar.
19 Q. Precisely. That's what it used to be called up until this time.
20 But do you know that its name was in fact changed, roughly speaking, at
21 the same time that its manager was replaced, a Serb manager being replaced
22 by an ethnic Croat, and that was, roughly speaking, in early May, wasn't
24 A. Are you asking me if I knew about that?
25 Q. Do you know that at the time not only the manager but also the
1 name was changed?
2 A. Yes. It now became Croatian Radio Vukovar.
3 Q. Quite true. Could we also agree, perhaps, that in a multi-ethnic
4 community like that a change of this nature was bound to cause disquiet
5 among the local Serbs?
6 A. There were misgivings already. We can agree about that, and the
7 misgivings first came about back in 1990.
8 Q. Based on the answer you gave me a while ago, I can highly expect
9 this, that there were misgivings, as you now suggest. You kept telling me
10 up until May 1991 there was no such thing, if I understood your testimony
12 A. I said there had been no incidents before that time, as far as I
13 was aware. I did mention the August of 1990 when barricades were set up
14 in Knin, and the road through the area was no longer open as a result.
15 Q. Speaking of barricades, did barricades start appearing also in
16 Vukovar and its surroundings? Are you aware of that?
17 A. I personally did not see any barricades up until the first
19 Q. To your mind, which date marks the beginning of clashes? This
20 would be a very useful reference point for me in my questions.
21 A. You mean my life in Vukovar? In that case, I would say that the
22 tank cutting off the road between Mitnica and the new cemetery and opening
23 fire on the surrounding houses and the cemetery and the people, civilians
24 who were there, marks the beginning of clashes in Vukovar.
25 Q. If I understand you correctly, you would say that the clashes
1 broke out in late August when that tank at the cemetery, as you have
2 described, started firing. Would that be right?
3 A. That was not the beginning of clashes. It was the beginning of
4 fighting. I must correct myself on that account.
5 Q. Thank you. I asked you about barricades. What about from this
6 point on? Were barricades erected or did you know nothing of any
7 barricades at all?
8 A. That day I went from the utilities company in the centre of
9 Mitnica to the new cemetery. I drove in a car, and there were no
10 barricades along that road.
11 Q. Do you know that there were barricades in Borovo Naselje, a
12 predominantly Croat neighbourhood or village?
13 A. Unfortunately, I wasn't familiar with the situation that prevailed
14 in Borovo Naselje. That's quite far from Mitnica, and it wasn't necessary
15 for me to go there at all.
16 Q. When you speak about the outbreak or the beginning of fighting, as
17 you've just described, there was an answer -- there was a question from my
18 learned friend. He asked you about whether the barracks in Vukovar had
19 been blockaded, and you provided an answer saying that, yes, it was, but
20 on the other hand you commented that, no, it wasn't, which you concluded
21 based on how much ammunition they had. Would I be right in stating that
22 or can you offer a different explanation?
23 A. No. I think I said it was their view and their suggestion that
24 they had been blockaded or under siege. But none of the civilians present
25 in Vukovar at the time believed that the barracks was actually under
1 siege. That's what I said. I didn't say yes at first and then recount it
2 by saying, no, they weren't.
3 Q. Am I to take that to mean that you don't know if they were
4 blockaded at all?
5 A. The media reported that there was a mighty Croatian army that laid
6 siege to the Vukovar barracks; that's what I heard. None of us believed
7 this, however. None of us bought the story because we knew what the might
8 of the Croatian army was and what the might of the JNA was, what their
9 respective powers were. So we didn't believe that, since we were in
10 Vukovar at the time and we knew what the situation was like.
11 Q. Did you perhaps hear that while Vukovar still had both electricity
12 and running water before the fighting broke out, that the water and
13 electricity supplies for the barracks had been cut off. Would you not
14 define that as laying siege?
15 A. No, I was not aware of that.
16 Q. Although, generally speaking, you said you were not aware of any
17 incidents, I still have to ask you about a very peculiar incident because
18 it occurred at the post office where your husband used to work. It
19 involved three soldiers doing their regular service. That was before the
20 fighting broke out. These three soldiers were attacked at the post
21 office. Does that ring a bell? Is this something that your husband or
22 anyone else might have mentioned?
23 A. Can you please specify the time for this, because I fail to
24 understand which period of time you're referring to.
25 Q. That was before the event involving the tank which you defined as
1 the outbreak of fighting in Vukovar.
2 A. No. I am not familiar with this. This is the very first I hear
3 of it.
4 Q. Do you know that roughly at this time when the incident occurred
5 in Borovo Selo, many Serbs stopped reporting to work in Vukovar,
6 specifically the hospital was the case in hand?
7 A. Yes, I am familiar with that sort of thing happening, and it makes
8 sense to me. I am not sure what the point is behind this question, if you
9 don't mind me saying so.
10 Q. Well, one thing is they couldn't reach Vukovar because of the
11 barricades, and another was the fear of something happening to them. Is
12 it just one of these two or both?
13 A. Normally speaking, you had to go to work. I have no idea why they
14 felt fear after this incident on the 2nd of May. If they no longer went
15 to work, well, that was up to them, wasn't it?
16 Q. Surely you must be aware of the fact of what work and a job meant
17 to everyone in the former Yugoslavia, and probably in Croatia, what it
18 meant to lose your job, what consequences, what potential implications it
19 had. Would anyone in their right state of mind renounce on something like
20 that without good reason?
21 A. Yes. But maybe they all had an alternative option in mind.
22 Q. Do you know who Tomislav Mercep was?
23 A. Heard of, but I'm not familiar with any details.
24 Q. I didn't ask about any details. I'm not sure what details you
25 mean. I'm just asking if you heard of Tomislav Mercep and if you know
1 what his role was at the time?
2 A. I'm familiar with the name, but I don't know what his position
3 was. The name rings a bell, but I know nothing else.
4 Q. When you spoke about the JNA a while ago and the Croatian
5 soldiers, when you spoke about military equipment, there's one thing I'd
6 like to ask you. What did the National Guards Corps represent?
7 A. The National Guards Corps was the Croatian army, the Croatian
8 armed forces, the beginning of the Croatian army, if you like.
9 Q. According to the Yugoslav constitution that was in force, was it
10 possible to organise and set up a different armed force that was not the
11 JNA, in addition to the JNA?
12 A. I'm no constitutional expert, therefore I don't think I can answer
13 your question.
14 Q. Do you know if the JNA tried to disarm these units that emerged,
15 the National Guards Corps and other such units that emerged in Croatia at
16 the time?
17 A. What seemed quite clear to me is that they tried to disarm the
18 Croatian units, but they certainly made no attempt to disarm the Serb
19 Territorial Defence units, and those too were armed.
20 Q. When you talk about the Serb units, which ones do you mean and
21 where? Could you please specify.
22 A. Yes, I can. I mean members of the Territorial Defence, precisely
23 those Serbs who, as you stated earlier, no longer went to work because
24 they were afraid. Instead they set up TO units, they were armed, and they
25 worked together with the JNA.
1 Q. Well, that's a lot of information out of the blue, whereas so far
2 you've been telling me that you knew next to nothing about what was going
3 on at the time, whereas now I have you telling me that the Serbs had armed
4 themselves and set up TO units. So you're suggesting that the JNA made no
5 attempts to disarm those units, but rather made attempts to disarm the
6 National Guards Corps?
7 A. That became obvious, very soon and very obvious, and I think my
8 testimony confirms that.
9 Q. When you spoke about your father, today you shared with us for the
10 very first time that he was a JNA officer. Even at this time he still was
11 one, wasn't he?
12 A. He had received a decision that as of the 1st of September, 1991,
13 he would be retired. So formally speaking, when the clashes broke out,
14 when the war broke out, he had not yet retired.
15 Q. What's his last name -- what's his first name? We know his last
16 name, Horvat, but what's his first name?
17 A. Vladimir.
18 Q. You said that criminal charges were brought against him, but this
19 came to an end when he was eventually exchanged. Is that right?
20 A. I only know what he told me. He told me that he had first been in
21 the Sremska Mitrovica prison and then sent to the Nis prison and then
22 returned to the prison in Sremska Mitrovica, where an indictment was
23 served him for treason.
24 Q. Did that mean that they were still treating him as a JNA officer
25 who had taken part in what was termed armed rebellion and people face
1 charges before the court for that?
2 A. Yes, that's how the JNA defined it, armed rebellion, and charges
3 were pressed against people for that.
4 Q. I have no other questions in relation to this topic, and I would
5 like to move on to something entirely different now.
6 MR. DOMAZET: But, Your Honour, I think this is a convenient time
7 to ...
8 JUDGE PARKER: Mr. Domazet -- thank you, yes. We've really
9 reached our time, so we must adjourn for the evening.
10 We will continue tomorrow at 9.00 in the morning, if you could
11 please be here before then.
12 We will now adjourn.
13 --- Whereupon the hearing adjourned at 7.00 p.m.,
14 to be reconvened on Tuesday, the 29th day of
15 November, 2005, at 9.00 a.m.