1 Wednesday, 1 February 2006
2 [Open session]
3 [The accused entered court]
4 [The witness entered court]
5 --- Upon commencing at 2.19 p.m.
6 JUDGE PARKER: Good afternoon, sir. If I could remind you of the
7 affirmation you made when you commenced your evidence, it still applies.
8 Mr. Domazet.
9 MR. DOMAZET: Yes. Yes, Your Honour. Thank you.
10 WITNESS: JOSIP COVIC [Resumed]
11 [Witness answered through interpreter]
12 Cross-examination by Mr. Domazet: [Continued]
13 Q. Good afternoon, Mr. Covic. I am about to pick up where I left off
14 last night. I will be asking you a number of questions about Vukovar just
15 before the clashes broke out.
16 In answer to one of my questions yesterday, I believe you said
17 that there had been an incident at Bogdanovci where the local population
18 had stopped a JNA convoy from passing through the village. Was anything
19 like this happening in Vukovar itself at the time?
20 A. There was one such incident in Vukovar itself. After the crime
21 that had occurred in Borovo Selo the tanks were on their way to
22 Borovo Selo and they said that they would try to protect peace. However,
23 what they eventually did was quite the opposite. They positioned
24 themselves between Borovo Selo and Borovo Naselje as some sort of a
25 barricade. I'm not sure if I should put this in a different way, perhaps.
1 Q. My question was about any incidents that were similar to the one
2 at Bogdanovci that you described yesterday.
3 A. No, there weren't.
4 Q. You described that the JNA positioned itself between Borovo Selo
5 and Borovo Naselje. Is that right?
6 A. Yes.
7 Q. Was this not a way to prevent clashes from breaking out? If I'm
8 not mistaken, Borovo Selo was predominantly Serb and Borovo Naselje was
9 predominantly Croat.
10 A. No, that was not what they were doing because there was still
11 sporadic firing from Borovo Selo, and they did not react to that at all.
12 Q. What you are now telling us is your own personal knowledge, or is
13 this something based on hearsay?
14 A. I learned from our electricians who had gone to Borovo and some of
15 them had gone to the technology centre near the airfield at
16 Borovo Naselje. They said they had been forced to take cover quickly
17 because shooting was constant from Borovo Selo. They were firing at
18 Borovo Naselje.
19 Q. For the benefit of the Chamber and for the benefit of everyone
20 else, I'm talking now about this place between Borovo Selo and
21 Borovo Naselje. In order to get there, you would have had to pass through
22 Borovo Naselje first, wouldn't you?
23 A. Yes, you had to take a round about route through Luzac. If you're
24 familiar with the Vukovar area, then you should understand which route I'm
25 talking about.
1 Q. I'm sure that you know where the JNA barracks was. At this point
2 in time were you aware of the fact that the electricity and water supplies
3 to the barracks had been cut off?
4 A. There had been no power cuts until the 24th of August anywhere in
5 town, when following some massive shelling of the entire town there was a
6 large-scale power cut and electricity was not restored until Vukovar
7 eventually fell.
8 Q. Are you trying to say that there were no power cuts, that the
9 electricity and water supplies of the barracks were never cut at any point
10 in time?
11 A. No, not the barracks or any other part of town for that matter.
12 I'm certain about this.
13 Q. You testified yesterday about the fact that you were a reserve JNA
14 captain first class. That was your rank. Several questions I would like
15 to ask you about that. As a reserve officer, did you keep a uniform at
17 A. No, I didn't. We did not have reserve officers' uniforms. It was
18 only whenever we were called up to serve with the reserve forces. These
19 would usually be 10-day stints. The recruitment office would provide
20 those for us.
21 Q. Do you know that at least some of the reserve officers did keep
22 their own uniforms at home at the time?
23 A. I don't think they did, but I can't be certain about this. I
24 can't answer this question. I can't answer this question. I didn't go to
25 their homes to see for myself.
1 Q. Your son was mobilised, or perhaps he joined of his own free will,
2 the National Guards Corps in July 1991. Is that a fair assessment of what
3 you said or not?
4 A. My son was indeed a defender of Vukovar. The manner in which he
5 joined is less important. I do not wish to go into that now. It was
6 about his feelings and this applied to everybody else in Vukovar. They
7 stood up to defend their city.
8 Q. You say "they stood up to defend their city." From whom?
9 A. From the JNA, from Seselj's men, from the Chetniks. Near
10 Borovo Naselje, there was a group of Arkan's men, and some TO people,
11 local Serbs, who joined forces with the JNA in a bid to occupy Vukovar.
12 Q. Now that you mention this, can you please tell me how exactly did
13 the JNA intend to go about occupying Vukovar?
14 A. By force. Again, I have to go back to the 24th. The entire town
15 was heavily shelled on that day. There was firing from all sorts of
16 weapons, howitzers, mortars, guns, tanks of all sorts and kinds. The
17 heavy shelling was actually done by planes right at the beginning.
18 Q. We'll get to that, but there's something I need to ask you first.
19 I'm not sure if I understand you correctly. You said you did not wish to
20 answer my question about your son being mobilised or joining the national
21 guards forces of his own free will. Was that what you were trying to say?
22 A. I'm not entirely clear about the purpose of your question or what
23 it has to do with my testimony at all.
24 Q. Do you know if all able-bodied men, all men fit for military
25 service who were in Vukovar at the time were mobilised?
1 A. No one was mobilised in Vukovar at the time. They all
2 volunteered. They all volunteered to become Vukovar's defenders. It was
3 all done on a voluntary basis, and there was no mandatory mobilisation.
4 Q. What if someone refused to become a volunteer, as you say? Would
5 such a person have been likely to encounter any problems on account of
7 A. No, I don't think there would have been any problems with that.
8 There were some people who were indirectly involved, but this was probably
9 due to their age or poor health. These people did their best to try to
10 help the defenders by providing any food that was available. It was a
11 difficult time for us and both food and water were in short supply.
12 That's a well-known fact.
13 Q. What about your son? I'm not sure what age he was at the time.
14 Had he already served his military term with the JNA?
15 A. Yes, he had. At this time he was a student. He was attending
16 university, and unfortunately, because of what started happening in
17 Vukovar, he could no longer continue his studies in Osijek. He had to
18 continue in Zagreb later on and so on and so forth. I don't think it's
19 very important for us to dwell on this topic now.
20 Q. You testified yesterday that Croatian defence forces, as you
21 called them, shot down two planes over Vukovar. Are you certain about
23 A. Yes, I'm certain about this. But I didn't say two, I said about
24 20 in all likelihood. Throughout the entire time of Vukovar's defence and
25 we're looking at three months.
1 Q. This is decidedly not what you said yesterday. You did not
2 specify that 20 plane where is shot down. I am certain, however, that you
3 said that two planes were shot down in a single day. I assume that must
4 have been the first day of Vukovar's defence?
5 A. Yes, but that is an entirely different issue. And what you are
6 putting to me is quite correct, it was the very first day of the shelling
7 of Vukovar, and on that day two planes were shot down, and this is
8 something that I witnessed.
9 Q. That precisely is my question. How do you know this? Did you
10 personally witness these planes being shot down?
11 A. Yes. I saw them when they were hit and I saw them fall down.
12 Q. Can you tell me where this happened, where were they hit and where
13 did they eventually land or crash?
14 A. This was in a neighbourhood that was near Brsadin. There is with
15 a grain silo there, and one of our defence units were was stationed in the
16 silo and that's where the planes were shot at from.
17 Q. Can you tell me about the sequence. Were these two planes shot
18 down at the same time, or was there a time-lag between the two planes
19 being shot down?
20 A. There was a very short interval between the two planes being shot
21 down. These planes were shelling Borovo Naselje for the most part, and
22 that was the reason that fire was returned from that area.
23 Q. Are you certain about those two planes shelling Vukovar on that
24 day or were they merely flying over Vukovar?
25 A. No, they were shelling, that's for sure, especially
1 Borovo Naselje. And that's why fire was returned from that silo just
2 outside the town near Brsadin. The area is called Borovo Naselje. Those
3 people were trying to defend themselves to protect themselves from the
4 planes and that's why they fired at them and eventually shot them down.
5 Q. I believe you said yesterday that the planes were shot down by
6 hand-held rocket launchers. Did I hear you correctly or do you have a
7 different explanation now?
8 A. This is not something I personally witnessed. I made an
9 assumption that this was the case. I knew a thing or two about the
10 weapons those people had. But it's possible that before the attack on
11 Vukovar and the aggression against Croatia at the Borovo factory they kept
12 a number of anti-aircraft guns. I'm not sure if they were using those or
13 not. I simply don't know, but it's possible.
14 Q. Since you were an eye-witness, perhaps you could tell us about the
15 altitude those planes were flying at at the time they were shot down,
16 roughly speaking, of course?
17 A. It's really difficult to say. I suppose the altitude might have
18 been about 1.000 metres. Probably not more. Perhaps lower. I just saw
19 them being shot down and they were falling somewhere near the Danube area.
20 I'm not sure where they eventually crashed. Maybe that was over in Backa,
21 but I think you would be better placed to answer that than I.
22 Q. You were a reserve officer and you completed your military
23 training in Zadar. There is military airfield there, I think. Can you
24 perhaps tell us about the type of plane that was shot down?
25 A. No. For as long as I was in Zadar, I never went to the airfield.
1 When we had target practice, it was usually carried out somewhere between
2 Zadar and the oldest Croatian city, the city of Knin.
3 Q. May I therefore conclude that you do not know anything about the
4 type of plane in question?
5 A. That's right. I couldn't say.
6 Q. You talked about the 24th of August as the day when this
7 occurred. So this was perhaps on the 23rd?
8 A. Yes, you're quite right. This was on the 23rd. It was on
9 the 23rd that Borovo Naselje suffered the heaviest shelling. The next
10 day, the 24th [realtime transcript read in error "14th"], the entire town
11 was shelled. There wasn't much difference really from there on. Shells
12 continued to rain down on us every day.
13 Q. There is something in the transcript on page 8, line 9. The date
14 reflected there is the 14th, whereas it should be the 24th, because that's
15 what the witness said, that the shelling began on the 24th, one day after
16 the planes had been shot down. Isn't that what you said?
17 A. Well, Borovo Naselje is part of Vukovar, and that is crystal
18 clear. What I'm saying is that on the 24th all the other parts of town
19 came under attack and suffered heavy shelling. Very heavy shelling.
20 There is something important that I need to point out about
21 the 23rd. Many of the children who had been vacationing somewhere along
22 the coast returned to Vukovar. And we see what happened to them the next
23 day upon their return. I'm not sure how many of them survived. That is
24 why I remember the 24th with particular clarity. It was --
25 Q. But I'm asking you about the planes.
1 A. Yes, but I would like to say something about the children.
2 Q. So we agree that this was on the 23rd. What time of day, and what
3 was your vantage point as you were watching this going on?
4 A. It was probably late afternoon, and I'm not sure why you wish to
5 know about my vantage point or where I was physically located as I was
6 watching this going on. I don't think that matters at all.
7 Q. Could I please ask you to try to answer all my questions to the
8 best of your ability and recollection.
9 A. By all means. But if one of your questions is an unpleasant one,
10 then I regret to say that I should inform everyone here in the courtroom
11 I'm likely to refuse to answer such a question.
12 Q. Why would that be an unpleasant question, sir? I'm asking you
13 about where you were standing as this was going on. I'm just trying to
14 assess the credibility of your testimony here as well the truthfulness of
15 what you're telling us.
16 A. All I know is that I'm telling the truth, and I'll always be
17 telling the truth. I'm not in least ashamed of anything that I have said
18 because I know that I have been telling the truth throughout.
19 Q. I'll give this question another go. Will you please tell us where
20 were you at the time the two planes were shot down? Where were you
21 watching from?
22 A. Why would you want to know that? Let me ask you a question.
23 Q. Mr. Covic, I am no position to answer your questions.
24 JUDGE PARKER: Mr. Domazet. It would greatly assist the Chamber
25 if you would just answer the questions that are put to you because we were
1 not there, you were. And we've got to try and see what happened through
2 your eyes, you see. The three Judges here don't have the advantage of
3 your knowledge of these events. But we've got to try and understand in
4 the end what happened. And it certainly will help us to know how it was
5 you were able to see these things. If there are questions that come up
6 that are particularly personally distressing, do let us know and we'll try
7 and find a way around them. But if you wouldn't mind telling us where you
8 were on this occasion. Thank you.
9 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] On this occasion I was in our
10 neighbourhood, which is on an elevation, a small hill, you might say, a
11 hillock. Where the planes were shot down the distance would have been no
12 further than two kilometres as the crow flies, and everybody saw this. We
13 were talking about it, and we were in actual fact quite happy that our
14 defenders had managed to ward off those first two planes that were
15 shelling Borovo Naselje quite heavily.
16 MR. DOMAZET: [Interpretation]
17 Q. If I understand you correctly, Mr. Covic, you and a number of
18 other people were watching this. You were in an open area at a time when
19 these planes were shelling Vukovar. Is that what you're saying?
20 A. Yes.
21 Q. Just another question about this, since today you brought this up
22 for the first time. You said that in your estimate a total of about 20
23 planes were shot down throughout the duration of the clashes in Vukovar.
24 You have provided a very detailed explanation. What about the remaining
25 planes in addition to those first two planes? What do you know about
2 A. What I know is that when attacking they were usually arriving from
3 the opposite direction, and flying across the Danube. When the planes
4 were shot down probably those who were carrying out the shelling to begin
5 with, they were reckoned that if they were hit and if they were to crash
6 they would probably prefer to crash somewhere across the Danube, and
7 probably they did. My own neighbourhood was probably shelled twice.
8 There were a number of houses that were hit and razed to the ground by the
9 shells. Thank God, however, we ourselves and the defenders were hiding
10 elsewhere at the time in cellars, away from that neighbourhood and nobody
11 was really hit. Some people were slightly injured at worst.
12 Q. Mr. Covic, can I ask you to please try not to stray too far from
13 my question? In answer to my previous question you said you saw those
14 planes being shot down for the most part. I took that to mean that you
15 saw other planes being shot down. Is my understanding correct?
16 A. Yes.
17 Q. Was it in the same way as the first time when you observed it,
18 were you at more or less the same location or were you in the street or
20 A. Well, roughly speaking, not -- not exactly the same place. This
21 is the same neighbourhood in an area of about two, 300 metres, a perimeter
22 like that, and I was in the same neighbourhood. I can't exactly remember
23 what part of it, whether I was five houses down the road or whatever. It
24 doesn't really matter.
25 Q. That wasn't my question, but my question was something else, and
1 you answered it. Thank you. This shooting down of planes and the first
2 two that you mentioned in particular, was it a widely known fact in
3 Vukovar, or was it a kind of secret information that was not forwarded to
5 A. It wasn't secret. Many people witnessed it. And those who didn't
6 who were hiding in cellars underground to save their lives were certainly
7 told about it, so everybody knew and everybody was pleased that our
8 defenders were managing to defend the city, even from war planes.
9 Q. We're still talking about the same day, the 23rd of August. Was
10 there a front line at the fair where your son was and you were involved
11 with that fair as well, were you at that front line at the time?
12 A. Yes, there was, of course. But the defenders were closer to the
13 barracks and closer to the Petrova Gora neighbourhood and in that part of
14 town it's called the Radnicka Street, and it was in that part of town that
15 the defenders were facing the attackers.
16 Q. Just one point about the shelling, I don't seem to recall you
17 mentioning that, but it is referred to in your statement. Apart from
18 planes, where else did the shelling come from? We're talking about
19 the 24th, and you mentioned significant shelling on that day?
20 A. Most of the shelling on the 24th came from the barracks, from the
21 Petrova Gora neighbourhood, where quite a few local Serbs used to live,
22 and from Borovo Naselje, from Borovo Selo, and from the direction of
23 Trpinja. From those directions, that's where most of the shelling came
24 from in the beginning, in the first few days. As to anything else, in
25 case you want to ask any other questions, I will be glad to answer.
1 Q. This is why I'm asking you this, because in your statement -- or,
2 rather, let me ask you this first: Is it correct that you made a
3 statement to the Prosecution in 2003? Did you make a statement to the
5 A. Yes, I did.
6 Q. Because what it says here, and I'm going to read this part out to
7 you, the subtitle is the shelling of Vukovar, and you can tell me whether
8 this is indeed your statement of not. You most certainly have it in front
9 of you. In case you do, could you look at page 4 where it reads after the
10 bombing of JNA planes you said that Vukovar was being shelled from across
11 the Danube and the vessels on the Danube. And you never mentioned what
12 you've mentioned now, but you said that the shelling had come from across
13 the Danube and the vessels on the Danube. Is that correct?
14 A. I did say this. We were talking about the shelling throughout
15 this three-month period, and so I mentioned all the various directions
16 from where the shelling came from. And now you're asking me about the
17 first few days. So that's the difference.
18 Q. First of all, your statement refers to the shelling on the first
20 MR. MOORE: If the witness is going to be referred to parts of the
21 statement, in my submission, it's only fair he should see the statement.
22 JUDGE PARKER: It is, Mr. Moore.
23 You want it on the screen, Mr. Domazet, or in paper form?
24 MR. DOMAZET: [Interpretation] Your Honour, my understanding was
25 that the witness did have the statement in front of him, and that he could
1 take a look at page 4 of the B/C/S version of the document, the paragraph
2 that refers to the shelling of Vukovar. If the usher would like to give
3 the document to the witness, we could give it to him, or help him out in
4 case he is unable to find it.
5 Q. It is in the first line on page 4. It says JNA shelled Vukovar
6 from the area across the Danube as well as the JNA vessels along the
7 Danube behind the Vukovar ada.
8 A. That's correct.
9 Q. This is what it says in your statement.
10 A. Yes, it does say so in my statement, that's correct, because I'm a
11 reserve officer in the artillery. Since I was often invited to
12 participate in reserve officer's training exercises for 10 days at a time,
13 I did learn quite a few things, and amongst other things I was able to
14 recognise the type of shell, whether it was a mortar, a howitzer, or
15 whatever. And I could explain it to the defenders as well.
16 MR. MOORE: Your Honour, I don't know if it assists the Court, the
17 witness has the copy of his statement in of course a file that has been
18 closed. Now I'm quite happy for it to be shown on the computer screen. I
19 don't whether my learned friends are happy for the hard copy to be shown
20 to him. There is always a danger he will see other parts. I'm quite
21 flexible in relation to the way it's done.
22 JUDGE PARKER: It would be helpful first if the document could
23 come on to the screens in the available languages; and secondly it would
24 be helpful to be sure that the witness has the statement and not some
25 other document.
1 MR. DOMAZET: [Interpretation] Thank you. I'm not going to keep
2 dwelling on this, Your Honour. I believe that the answer has been given.
3 Precisely, Your Honour.
4 JUDGE PARKER: Thank you, indeed.
5 MR. DOMAZET: [Interpretation]
6 Q. When you talked about the participation of the defenders of
7 Vukovar yesterday, you mentioned a group of police officers from Zadar who
8 reinforced ranks of the defenders.
9 A. Yes. And I'm still grateful to them, even now. There were the
10 true defenders of our city.
11 Q. It seems to me that you had also mentioned a group of police
12 officers from Varazdin. Were there any police officers from Varazdin as
14 A. Yes, correct. Yes, there were.
15 Q. At that line, front line at the fair, were there any members of
16 the HOS? You know what I have in mind, the Paragas [phoen] forces?
17 A. There were members of the HOS in Vukovar only for a few days. And
18 then they went to Bogdanovci, and that's where they acted as defenders and
19 that's where they did most of their work up until the fall of that town on
20 the 11th of November.
21 Q. When you say a few days, what few days do you have in mind?
22 A. I can't recall the exact dates, but I believe it was about 10
23 days, roughly speaking, after the 24th of August. And then they moved to
24 Bogdanovci to defend Bogdanovci, since they were very few defenders there,
25 and their needs were greater. So that's why they went to Bogdanovci.
1 Q. Are you familiar with Alenka Mirkovic? Who was she; do you know?
2 A. No. It rings a bell, but I can't recall who it was. And also
3 considering my cerebral lesions, it is a bit difficult for me to remember
4 people if I simply hear their names. If I see people, I tend to recognise
6 Q. If I reminded you that she was a journalist from Radio Vukovar?
7 A. That's correct, you've reminded now. Now I remember, yes. She
8 used to work for Radio Vukovar. She was the journalist. That's correct.
9 Q. Do you know that she was writing about HOS and the participation
10 of their forces in the defence of Sajmiste? She described them as the
11 heros of Sajmiste.
12 A. She wrote a book, actually, and I read the book and we are very
13 grateful to her because she gave a very fine description of everything and
14 everything was very accurate. And I would really like the book to be
15 submitted here as well.
16 Q. Mr. Covic, do you know what the term "osa 1," "osa 2," "osa 3"
18 A. "Osa" meant nothing to us. Maybe within the JNA? No, I don't
20 May I ask a question, actually? I would like Your Honours to
21 allow me to have a short break now. Because I'm getting a bit tired.
22 JUDGE PARKER: Very well. Given your situation, we will adjourn
23 now, but it will be for 20 minutes. We will resume at 20 minutes
24 past 3.00.
25 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Thank you very much indeed.
1 MR. MOORE: Your Honour, may I seek the Court's leave to clarify
2 through the witness service if there are any problems in relation to this
3 witness? I meant health-wise in relation.
4 JUDGE PARKER: You mean at this moment?
5 MR. MOORE: Yes, during the adjournment.
6 JUDGE PARKER: Oh. During the adjournment, I think that might be
7 something the Defence would be happy with. It will be for our own
8 convenience and everybody's.
9 MR. MOORE: Thank you very much.
10 --- Break taken at 3.02 p.m.
11 --- On resuming at 3.29 p.m.
12 JUDGE PARKER: Mr. Moore.
13 MR. MOORE: Your Honour, may we go into private session to clarify
14 certain matters? And the Defence have indeed suggested we go into private
15 session to talk about the topic.
16 JUDGE PARKER: Private.
17 [Private session]
11 Pages 3497-3500 redacted. Private session.
12 [Open session]
13 THE REGISTRAR: We are in open session, Your Honours.
14 MR. DOMAZET: [Interpretation]
15 Q. Mr. Covic, are you familiar with the Stjepan Sapanc school in
17 A. Yes, I know the Stjepan Sapanc school. Do you want me to tell
18 you where it is?
19 Q. Yes.
20 A. It is next to the park near the medical centre, opposite the
21 medical centre, in fact.
22 Q. In the course of this war, and for the most time that these
23 battles were taking place, was this on the front line as well?
24 A. It was close to the front line, and that school was terribly
25 damaged. It was destroyed. But now, thank God, it's been restored.
1 Q. In the course of the war, did you visit the school?
2 A. No. I had never been there. I was in my neighbourhood
3 throughout, and I was close to our boys from the neighbourhood and the
4 surrounding areas, the boys that I knew better, and that we assisted a
6 Q. And according to what you have just said, may I conclude that this
7 front line where your son was and where you spent most of your time was
8 slightly further away from that school?
9 A. Yes, it was a couple of kilometres away.
10 Q. When you talked about the weapons held by the defenders of
11 Vukovar, you talked about various things, but you also mentioned some
12 implements which were manufactured at the Borovo plant, and most of those
13 who had the opportunity to use those tools praised them a great deal.
14 Considering that you were an artillery officer, you might know a little
15 bit more about that and you could perhaps tell us what implements we're
16 talking about?
17 A. I myself cannot tell you what weapons those were. I only found
18 out about that after the camp. And when we were in Zagreb as refugees,
19 certain individuals who were involved in the manufacturing of all that
20 told me about how they helped the defenders in that way. But I had never
21 seen those weapons, and I was rather surprised, and I was very pleased to
22 hear that they found a way of helping the defenders.
23 Q. Thank you. In the course of the examination-in-chief yesterday
24 you reiterated something which you had mentioned before. Following a
25 question from my learned colleague, you said that you often heard
1 megaphones or loud-speakers and there were speeches by Vojislav Seselj
2 himself. Is that true?
3 A. Yes, that's correct.
4 Q. If I have understood you correctly, you said that he himself was
5 the speaker. He was probably delivering those speeches from the other
6 side of the front line where he could do that?
7 A. I don't know whether you want me to try and tell you what route he
8 used to take. And the defenders and the people who were closer to the
9 front line explained to me that he would move from the barracks to the
10 Petrova Gora neighbourhood, and that street is certainly at least a
11 kilometre long, and he was driving in a tank along that road, and he was
12 calling for all of us, as he called us Ustashas, to give ourselves up,
13 otherwise we would be killed, and he was addressing the entire city of
14 Vukovar, and obviously at Borovo Naselje they knew it before, but on that
15 occasion we heard for the first time that our famous fighter and defender
16 Blago Zadar had been killed. We heard it from him, and he was threatening
17 that the same fate would befall all of us unless we gave ourselves up.
18 Q. Have frequently did this happen? You did say a thing or two about
19 that in your statement, so I would like you to tell us now. How often was
20 this the case? I mean Vojislav Seselj speaking over the PA system.
21 A. Not too often, but probably four or five times, at least. We
22 recognised the voice, because we had heard him previously before the war
23 on both TV and the radio. We immediately identified Seselj's voice.
24 Later on we found out who he had been staying with, where he had been
25 sleeping at the Tehnostan director's and manager's place. That was before
1 the war.
2 Q. Based on your answer, can we agree that you are absolutely certain
3 that this person speaking was Vojislav Seselj and no one else and that it
4 wasn't less than four or five times that he spoke in this way, on four or
5 five occasions?
6 A. I am positive myself. And whenever I talk to other people they
7 all confirmed identifying Seselj's voice. I'm not sure if I should add
8 this, but my wife too was very explicit about recognising Seselj's voice,
9 as well as all the other civilians there. No one ever thought about any
10 other person.
11 Q. You said that this was how you found out that Blago Zadar had been
12 killed, right?
13 A. Yes.
14 Q. Can you tell me more specifically who he was and how he was
15 killed? Was it outside of Vukovar or in Vukovar itself?
16 A. It was in Vukovar itself. First of all, we learned about this
17 while we were listening to Seselj speaking, intimidating and threatening
18 us over the PA system. He talked about how they'd killed Blago Zadar. We
19 only found out how he had been killed when we talked to people from his
20 own unit in Borovo Naselje as well as later on in the camp. And once we
21 had been released from the camp, we learned about the details of what
22 exactly had occurred.
23 Q. Just another question about this. You mentioned the name of a
24 person who you say had hosted Seselj at the time. Where was this person's
25 house located inside Vukovar?
1 A. On Svetozar Markovic Street which is just off Radnicka Street.
2 That was the street -- that was the name of street before the war.
3 Q. Is that the north of Vukovar, or the south of Vukovar, the east of
5 A. This is a district known from before World War II as the German
6 hill. That's where you can find both Svetozar Markovic and Radnicka
7 streets, because up to World War II most of the people living there were
9 Q. I assume that during the war this district of Vukovar was not
10 under the control of the Croatian forces. Would I be right?
11 A. Yes, you are quite right. It wasn't. The barracks was nearby.
12 And given all the weapons that our defenders had, they had to move further
13 away. The front line ran along Sajmiste and then the street known as Duga
14 Street, its name used to be Otokara Kersovanija Street.
15 Q. You told us about the front line that ran along Sajmiste. Was
16 this line established already in the first days of the conflict, and did
17 this line not remain as a front line and a confrontation line for quite a
18 long time?
19 A. It started somewhere around Radnicka Street, and if you bear in
20 mind what sort of weapons our defenders had at the time, they were
21 compelled to withdraw to Otokara Kersovanija Street. Unfortunately, as
22 the defenders were leaving this area, those civilians who stayed behind in
23 their houses were, as a rule, killed. Great crimes were committed in this
24 area, because people were killed indiscriminately regardless of their age.
25 Q. Yesterday you testified that the only time this line was moved was
1 on the 3rd or 4th of November; do you remember that? And was this the
2 first time that the front line was moved or shifted from the start of the
3 clashes onwards?
4 A. Well, it's been 15 years since, and it's very difficult for me to
5 say anything specific about the exact date. But as far as Otokara
6 Kersovanija Street is concerned, it was about 10 days later that our
7 defenders had to retreat.
8 Q. When the withdrawal took place, what was the next front line to be
9 established? Was it somewhere near the Eltz palace?
10 A. This defence line remained for quite a long time. All the way up
11 until the 1st of November, roughly speaking. Many attempts were made to
12 break through this line by tanks and various routes were used down
13 Sajmiste, the JNA was pushed back several times. And then there is
14 another street which used to be called Three Roses and now it's called
15 Green Street. There was several attacks there, tank attacks, from the
16 Vuteks direction. That street is called Proleterska Street. It was
17 during one of these attempts to penetrate closer towards the centre of
18 town that the JNA sustained huge losses because our defenders managed to
19 destroy a great deal of tanks. They never tried using that route again in
20 order to reach the town centre. The next street is Svetozar Markovic
21 Street. They tried several times down that street, but our defenders held
22 out until the 1st of November and they were successful in pushing back any
23 attacks that came their way. However, it wasn't because of any lack of
24 goodwill on the part of the defenders, but they couldn't hold out any
25 longer. They simply ran out of hand-held rocket launchers at one point,
1 which is what they used against the tanks, in order to defend against the
3 Q. Speaking of this, do you perhaps know if the defenders took any
4 prisoners, any prisoners from the ranks of the JNA?
5 A. All I heard from the defenders is that they had captured a very
6 small number of people. Most of those captured were not really captured,
7 but were persons who had been injured or wounded. Regardless of the fact
8 these people were the aggressors, our defenders took these people to the
9 hospital to be treated. It is with pride that I can thank our defenders
10 for being so humane. They found some wounded persons and they took them
11 to the hospital. I think anyone who worked at the hospital at the time
12 can confirm this, that there were a great deal of attackers there who were
13 receiving treatment, despite everything.
14 Q. Did you hear of any cases where prisoners were killed?
15 A. No, never. I have not heard of a single such case. If I knew
16 anything about this, I certainly wouldn't hesitate to say so. My
17 objective is to tell the truth and nothing but the truth. If I fail to
18 tell the truth about something that I'm aware of, I feel that that would
19 be a great sin.
20 Q. You spoke about this other line following that withdrawal. How
21 long did that remain? Did it not remain until the very last days when you
22 say you withdrew yourself and spent that last night in the premises of
23 your company, Elektradistribucija?
24 A. That's right. The last night between the 18th and the 19th I
25 spent in the cellar of my -- of my company.
1 Q. The line had been abandoned in its entirety by this time?
2 A. Yes. The 18th is usually taken to be the day that Vukovar fell.
3 The entire city, with the exception of Borovo Naselje, was no longer being
4 defended. That was why we spent the last night in the company building,
5 which is about 50 metres away from the hospital. The next morning, the
6 morning of the 19th, we tried to all reach the hospital compound because
7 we expected that some sort of a humane exchange would take place, and that
8 we would be allowed to go back to Croatian free territory.
9 Q. When you talk about exchange -- you spoke about that yesterday.
10 You said you were expecting an exchange to take place. What sort of an
11 exchange did you have in mind? Who was being exchanged for whom?
12 A. I can give you a personal answer about who I had in mind. The
13 last day that I spent at the hospital and for several days before that
14 when I visited some of the wounded whom I had helped ferry to the
15 hospital, our defenders, I saw one of Seselj's men. This person had been
16 seriously wounded, and he was staying in the same cellar with the wounded
17 defenders of Vukovar. I reckon that because this man was there they would
18 decide to let all the civilians go.
19 Q. You say you spent that night before you went to the hospital, and
20 then you say the next day "we" went. Who exactly do you mean? Was your
21 son with you too, or did he head off in a different direction?
22 A. No, my son and a rather large group of people over those last days
23 they were running out of weapons and ammunition and they had nothing to
24 defend with. The defenders attempted a break-through. I personally tried
25 to talk both my son and the rest of the defenders into attempting a
1 break-through, because I had had a premonition of what would befall them.
2 Those who made the attempt for the most part survived. Those who opted to
3 stay behind, regrettably, are still missing. Most of them at least. The
4 fate of at least 500 defenders remains unknown to this very day.
5 Q. Your son was one of those who attempted a break-through and he
6 made it. He must have told you whether there was any combat along the
7 way? I'm referring to him and the group that he was with, how they
8 eventually reached Croatian territory. Did they have to fight their way
9 through or not?
10 A. In this break-through attempt they passed near the aggressors and
11 near tanks several times. They were attacked several times. And as they
12 were taking their escape they had to swim across the Vuka three times, and
13 this was a cold winter month already. They had to swim across, back and
14 forth several times. I imagine it must have been very difficult for them.
15 There was this group with my son, and they strayed into a minefield. He
16 was wounded. It wasn't a large wound, thank God, so they succeeded in
17 breaking through, this group that he was with.
18 Q. Did you perhaps see or hear that certain defenders would come to
19 the hospital, leave their uniforms there, or any weapons they had, in
20 order to change into civilians clothes?
21 A. Yes, I did see that, but not in or near the hospital. It was
22 further off, near Kiviceva [phoen] Street. The defenders were left
23 without weapons or any means of defending. They all left a bomb or
24 several bullets for the last, and whenever I talked to them, they said,
25 This is just in case I'm captured. I will not allow them to kill me and
1 torture me. This was an area where most of them discarded whatever
2 uniforms they had, and whatever weapons they had. Leaving a single
3 hand-grenade for the very last in the event they were captured.
4 Q. After the war did you perhaps hear that after this the JNA even
5 found storages where weapons were being stored in Vukovar, that there were
6 such things around town?
7 A. I've never heard about anything like that at all. But caches of
8 weapons, I don't know. Perhaps there were weapons, but there was
9 certainly no ammunition and what use would the weapons have been then?
10 Maybe they found that sort of a cache or something.
11 Q. You said a while ago that you personally saw people discarding
12 whatever weapons they still carried. You mentioned hand-grenades too.
13 Where were they discarding these things?
14 A. For the most part, it was on Kiviceva Street, behind those houses
15 facing the Vuka. There is a sandy area there, no buildings, it's an open
16 area, and that's where they discarded most of the things that they were
17 still carrying.
18 Q. Did you see where they went from there, wearing civilian clothes?
19 A. The best part of them attempted this break-through and very few of
20 them reached the hospital. Unfortunately, those who stayed came to grief
21 for the most part. They were killed. I can tell you specifically about
22 two young men.
23 Q. Can you please stick to my question and what I'm asking you, just
24 in order to be as brief as possible? Your answer seems to imply that most
25 of those who were discarding their weapons later joined the break-through
1 attempt. Did they go just like that, without any weapons? Don't you
2 think you might be slightly off the mark by claiming this?
3 A. Those who stayed, yes. Those people were discarding their
4 weapons. And those who joined the break-through, each brought a
5 hand-grenade, perhaps a rifle with several bullets level in it. They were
6 all saying the same thing: Should we be captured, we would rather just
7 end our own lives.
8 Q. Yes. But my previous question was about those who stayed, who
9 changed into civilian clothes and discarded their weapons. Did you see
10 where those people went? More specifically, did they also go to the
12 A. Yes, there were some at the hospital, but that was a minority, I
13 believe. Because the defenders too had their families, their parents,
14 their grandparents. They would go to see them for the most part, to look
15 after them, to try to save them. Most of the civilians, as you know, were
16 staying in cellars all over town.
17 Q. You testified yesterday about the night you spent at
18 Elektradistribucija. You talked to your work-mates and you tried to
19 persuade them to go to the hospital with you. Do you remember that?
20 A. Yes, I do.
21 Q. You also went on to say that you were exceptionally pleased that
22 you had succeeded in persuading them to join you on your way to the
23 hospital. Can you explain this? Can you tell us why you were pleased?
24 A. Yes, I remember. And I am still pleased about this. I was
25 expecting that everybody who was inside the hospital compound would
1 receive better treatment, in a way. For the most part the people
2 assembled there were women, children, not babies but primarily school-aged
3 children. And I was assuming that the aggressors would allow all the
4 people assembled there to leave and go back to free Croatian territory.
5 That is why I went several times back and forth between the hospital and
6 my company. I tried to persuade people, this took some time, but
7 eventually I managed to talk everyone into going to the hospital, which
8 they all did, finally. By this time there were a great many people inside
9 the hospital compound from a variety of different buildings in the
10 neighbourhood, civilians who had taken shelter in these cellars. As I
11 said yesterday, there were at least 2.000 civilians in the hospital.
12 Q. What you have just described, if I understood you correctly, on
13 the morning of the 19th you reached the hospital and then you went back
14 and forth several times between the hospital and Elektradistribucija
15 trying to talk your work-mate, your colleagues into joining you at the
17 Did you talk to any of the hospital management at any time? You
18 did say that you had met Vesna Bosanac on one occasion. Was that later on
19 or on that same day?
20 A. I didn't personally meet Vesna Bosanac. You probably
21 misunderstood something I said. Our own manager, the company manager, met
22 with Vesna Bosanac and talked to her. So I spoke to him to ask him
23 whether Dr. Bosanac had told him anything, given the fact that she had
24 been involved in negotiations with the attackers, anything about our
25 chances of being allowed to go back to Croatia. But I never spoke to
1 Vesna Bosanac personally.
2 Q. Thank you for this clarification. I probably misunderstood
3 something you said yesterday. You were probably told something by this
4 person that you mentioned and what did this person tell you, exactly? Who
5 did he meet and what was he told?
6 A. He said that what the doctor had told him was not very good news.
7 He was still hopeful, however, that she would manage to broker some sort
8 of agreement for all those inside the hospital compound to be allowed to
9 leave and go to Vinkovski and onwards from there. I regret to say that
10 this was not the case.
11 Q. I assume you know who Marin Vidic, Bili, was. Did you see him at
12 the hospital, or did you hear perhaps that he was at the hospital at this
14 A. No. Marin Vidic, Bili, I didn't see him. Look, it's been 15
15 years since and it's difficult for me to remember. That's one thing. The
16 other thing is, there was a huge crowd of civilians there. Most of them
17 were elderly, and women. It was dark, and it's really difficult to say.
18 You could only see those who were standing close to you. As I explained
19 yesterday, I saw the son of my wife's uncle, Stjepan Petrovic, and he
20 ended up at Ovcara.
21 Q. When you spoke about leaving the hospital on trucks that were
22 lined up there for you, can you describe these trucks, please? Did it
23 have the tarp, tarpaulin, did it have any seats inside? You said that in
24 your estimate it was big enough to hold as many as 25 people, and you said
25 that there were twice as many of you there?
1 A. This is a military truck and since I was a reserve officer, I was
2 familiar with the looks of such a military truck. And I knew that there
3 would be benches for sitting on along the sides under normal conditions,
4 but these trucks had no benches, whatsoever. Younger people who could
5 climb on to it, and I myself was basically letting the lorry drag me along
6 and managed to clamber in. But something that stuck in my memory and
7 something that I still feel very sorry about, elderly women who couldn't
8 move easily were being thrown onto these trucks like sacks of potatoes.
9 Q. You said this yesterday, so let's not repeat things here. We need
10 to speed things up. So may I appeal to you once again to simply keep your
11 answers as brief as possible and answer my questions.
12 You said there with were no benches. Was there a tarpaulin?
13 A. Yes, there was, but there were no benches.
14 Q. Was that a tarpaulin which was covering that part of the truck?
15 A. Yes, it covered the truck on top and along the sides. As usual,
16 only the back was open.
17 Q. When you say the back was open, does it mean that the tarpaulin
18 could have been moved or there was no tarpaulin at all at the back of the
20 A. I hadn't noticed it, but at any rate it was not closed. And
21 precisely because of that, as we were being driven to Vupik and
22 Velepromet, we could see dead bodies in the streets. That's what I said
23 yesterday as well.
24 Q. Where exactly were you in that truck?
25 A. I wanted to be in the back, in fact. And I had the opportunity to
1 see and when we crossed Vuka I saw a colleague of mine, somebody who used
2 to work with me, Zvonimir Vilner was his name, he was lying dead in the
3 street. I could realise -- I could tell that he was one of us because of
4 his jacket, because we had those jackets at the company. Everybody -- all
5 the employees had those jackets, so that's how I recognised him from afar.
6 And then I took a closer look and I recognised Zvonimir Vilner.
7 Q. So you recognised the person lying in the street, or rather the
8 dead body lying in the street. As you drove by, you were looking out from
9 the truck and that's how you could recognise Zvonimir Vilner's dead body,
11 A. Correct.
12 Q. You told us that either at that time or before there was no
13 street -- there was no electricity in the streets, there were no lights in
15 A. Yes.
16 Q. Is it possible that you could see and not just see, but even
17 recognise somebody lying in the street peering out from the back of a
18 truck? Do you think that's possible?
19 A. It is certainly possible, plus there was moonlight, and since we
20 had spent many years working together as colleagues, it didn't take much
21 for me to recognise him. I saw his face. My attention was drawn to this
22 jacket I mentioned before. I knew it must have been one of our staff.
23 And then I -- we came closer and I could see the shape of his head and we
24 had spent ages working together. I was certain it was him. And
25 unfortunately when I came back from the camp, I heard the news that it had
1 indeed been him, and unfortunately his brother got killed as well, and
2 their mother died soon afterwards.
3 Q. There is a mistake maybe in the transcript. I think you said "I
4 didn't have to look at his face." Was that what you said?
5 A. Well, I didn't have to, because he spent many years working with
6 me, and I believe that it is very easy for me to have recognised his face.
7 Q. I'm asking you because there seems to be a mistake in the
8 transcript according to which you have said "I saw his face." And I think
9 you said "I didn't need to look at his face in order to recognise him."
10 Is the conclusion now that you could assume that was this person
11 on the basis of his jacket, or did you reach that conclusion later on when
12 you heard that he had actually been killed on that spot?
13 A. As we were passing by on the basis of the jacket, I knew it was a
14 member of our staff. And I said that I thought it was Zvonimir Vilner,
15 but I can say that at that moment I wasn't 100 per cent sure. But when I
16 came back from the camp and when I talked to other people about our staff,
17 it was confirmed, and then I said I myself saw him as well, but at that
18 first instant I wasn't 100 per cent certain, because it was at night, even
19 though there was moonlight, and obviously one could not make such claims
20 100 per cent. But 90 per cent I was sure. I was sure it was him. And
21 then I received confirmation, and it turned out I was right when I came
23 Q. Thank you. Let's leave that topic now. You first got to Vupik on
24 that truck. Is that so? Could you tell us roughly how long did you spend
25 there before you went on?
1 A. We stayed there for a very short time, not more than half an hour,
2 I believe. Because we were separated straight away, men were separated
3 from women, children and the very old, and it took a very short time, and
4 then a group of us, about 50 of us were separated from the rest, and on
5 the basis of an order from an officer, we were taken to Velepromet. It
6 could have taken 30 minutes at most, according to my assessment, perhaps
7 even less.
8 Q. So if my understanding is correct, it was there at Vupik that you,
9 50 men, were separated in a group and placed in another truck. Perhaps
10 you had all gotten off the other trucks that you were on before?
11 A. I believe that you must have misunderstood. I'm not talking about
12 a truck here, we were just separated from the other people. And we were
13 in a group, in a column, two by two.
14 Q. So 50-something of you were taken to Velepromet?
15 A. Yes. We were all ordered to go there. There was just a
16 difference between that separate group of us and the others, because the
17 others were shut into hangars straight away, and about 50 of us were lined
18 up in front of the hangars, and throughout the time until we left for the
19 camp, we were there about two metres away from the hangars.
20 Q. Now, we're talking only about this group of 50 men. Did you know
21 anyone of them in person? Could you tell us who else was with you or were
22 the other people totally unknown to you?
23 A. There were people I knew by sight, and it was at night, and out of
24 fear we didn't actually look that hard. There was Mr. Terek who was a
25 neighbour of mine, and he was standing pretty close to me, so he was the
1 only person I actually knew. And there were many other people I knew by
2 sight, but I wasn't really interested in their names at the time.
3 Q. So apart from this gentleman called Terek, you didn't know anyone
4 else's name, and you can't say anything much about them.
5 Now, I would like to show you a photo. Could you tell me whether
6 you can recognise Velepromet on this photo?
7 A. I'll be glad to do so.
8 Q. Could we show the picture that we received from the Prosecution,
9 RN 0467-2115.
10 A. Yes. That's the Velepromet company. And you can see clearly
11 where the hangars were, where most people were locked up. And this is
12 where we were, right in front of this building in the middle, and about 50
13 of us were standing in front of those hangars. And that's when events
14 that I talked about yesterday took place.
15 Q. Could we blow up this picture a little bit? And the usher can
16 help you out, and he'll give you a pencil. Can you mark the place where
17 you were with this group of 50 people? Could you place an A there, a
18 capital A? And encircle that letter A.
19 A. [Marks].
20 Q. So this is where you were. This group of 50-something people?
21 A. Yeah, I drew a line along where we were. I remember that clearly,
22 and since every year we honour the memory of that day, and we visit the
23 site, it sticks in my memory. I can remember it very well, indeed.
24 If I may just add, on the other side, in the middle of this
25 picture, and on the other side there was also a large number of civilians
1 who had been brought there, but whom we could not see at the time, but we
2 found out later that there was a large group of civilians on the other
4 Q. So you drew a line, what does it mean? Is it a column or were you
5 standing in a column about 50 of you, and that's why you drew a line?
6 A. Yes, your understanding is correct. This why I drew a straight
7 line, because about 50 of us were standing, we were lined up in front of
8 those hangars.
9 Q. Could you please mark with a letter A the spot where you
10 personally were standing?
11 A. I myself was standing here.
12 Q. You marked a circle there. Could you just put a letter A
13 somewhere next to it?
14 A. Yes.
15 Q. You mentioned in the course of examination-in-chief that the
16 others were in the hangars. Could you mark the hangars -- is it the
17 hangars that are just behind?
18 A. Yes. These are the hangars which are behind us in a row, and
19 they're huge. And very many civilians were cramped there. You could
20 hardly stand inside. So that's how it was. And --
21 Q. Could you please mark it with a letter B?
22 A. [Marks].
23 Q. You also mentioned that you were an eye-witness to murder there, a
24 person called Kemo was killed. Is that correct? Could you mark the place
25 where this Kemo person and the two Chetniks that you mentioned as his
1 killers were standing?
2 A. Do you want another letter to indicate that?
3 Q. Yes, C.
4 A. Right here. In front of where I was standing. About two metres
5 in front of me. This boy who was slaughtered. I did not know him, and I
6 was surprised, because a civilian said this is Kemo, Ustasha, and -- well,
7 I don't need to go into all this. If you want to know anything more, you
8 can ask a question.
9 Q. You have also told us that occasionally you heard stifled shots
10 every now and then. Could you tell us from what direction? Could you
11 mark it with an arrow?
12 A. That shooting came from here. I can draw a line there. First of
13 all, I'll draw a circle. This is the brickworks here, and that's where
14 the shooting was. And it went from there -- I mean, people were taken to
15 that hole in the brickworks and they were shot there. Since it was a
16 little bit further away from the hangars, we could still hear the shots,
17 and they were being killed. But the shots we heard were not the normal
18 sound. They were stifled. And there were -- they had silencers.
19 Q. We're going to move on a little bit and then I'll come back to
20 this. Could you please mark this with a D?
21 A. [Marks]. If I need to explain a little bit more, since my
22 sister's son, my nephew --
23 Q. You did mention that yesterday. Perhaps I will ask about this,
24 but if I may, I would just like to finish up on this one. So you've
25 marked this now.
1 MR. DOMAZET: [Interpretation] And I would like to ask for this
2 picture and the relevant markings to be admitted into evidence.
3 JUDGE PARKER: It will be received, Mr. Domazet.
4 THE REGISTRAR: That will be exhibit number 148, Your Honours.
5 JUDGE PARKER: Mr. Domazet, we have been in session about an hour
6 and a quarter, and given the circumstances of the witness, I think we
7 might have a further break now, if that's a convenient time for you.
8 MR. DOMAZET: Yes, Your Honour.
9 JUDGE PARKER: Very well. We'll resume at five minutes to 5.00.
10 THE WITNESS: [No interpretation]
11 --- Break taken at 4.37 p.m.
12 --- On resuming at 5.01 p.m.
13 JUDGE PARKER: Mr. Domazet.
14 MR. DOMAZET: Thank you, Your Honour.
15 Q. [Interpretation] Mr. Covic, earlier on when we were looking at
16 that picture you marked several spots there. And you told us that you
17 visited that place several times; every year, in fact. And you must be in
18 a position to assess the length of one of these hangars. I believe
19 they're all the same size. So how long, how deep it would be?
20 A. I believe 15 to 20 metres.
21 Q. You don't think it's much more than that?
22 A. No, it's not. It isn't. I was there. Certainly 15 metres,
23 possibly 20.
24 Q. Thank you. As you said yesterday in reply to some of the
25 questions, the only killing that you were an actual eye-witness to was the
1 killing of that man called Kemo. Is that right?
2 A. Yes, that's correct.
3 Q. You said that after that his dead body was dragged away. Where
4 was it dragged to? Did you see?
5 A. It was dragged to the right of where we were standing in front of
6 the hangars that we saw on that picture. So on the inner side of the
7 Velepromet complex.
8 Q. You showed us on this picture today, you actually drew a straight
9 line where some 50 of you were standing in a column, one by one, and then
10 you also explained that you were taken there, you walked in twos from
11 Vupik, and apart from Mr. Parek [as interpreted], you did not know anyone
12 else and you didn't actually have time to think about it or see it.
13 The reason I'm asking is this: Yesterday in answer to a question
14 put to you by my learned colleague, about whether half of those people,
15 25 people who were separated from you on that occasion, whether you saw
16 any of them after the war and were you answer was no. And my question is
17 this: Would it be possible, according to what you've told us today, that
18 you would actually be in a position to identify these people since you
19 didn't know their names and their surnames and a long time has passed, so
20 could they really be etched in your memory? I'm wondering about that.
21 A. There was an inaccuracy in the beginning of your question. The
22 passage from Vupik to Velepromet, well, I didn't say we were walking in
23 twos holding hands or anything. I mean, I said that we were walking in
24 twos as we were marched to the buses and taken to the camps afterwards,
25 and here we just moved as a group following orders. So you misunderstood
1 me on that one. And those 50 of us who were there, well, more than half,
2 certainly, according to my assessment, I mean, when we were ordered to
3 move to the buses to be taken to the camps, I believe that about 20 people
4 were left, and those people who were standing in a column were being taken
5 behind the hangars, and we could see shots being -- we could hear, sorry,
6 shots being fired. So on that basis I can conclude that all of them had
7 been killed.
8 Q. But you will agree that it's just an assumption on your part,
9 because you were not an eye-witness to those killings and you wouldn't be
10 able to identify those people?
11 A. I wouldn't be able to identify them, no.
12 Q. As to this Kemo, you said --
13 MR. MOORE: I'm sorry, the question that was asked specifically
14 was whether in actual fact, because of the passage of time, whether the
15 witness would be able to identify them. And that was -- that was the
16 nature of the question. The answer actually wasn't specifically dealt
17 with. I don't know whether the witness actually understood what the
18 question was, or partially understood it, but in fairness to him, surely
19 he should have the question put again to him.
20 MR. DOMAZET: [Interpretation] If I may say so, this wasn't my
21 question about the passage of time and all that.
22 JUDGE PARKER: I think that goes back to the earlier question,
23 Mr. Domazet. The question rather grew along. But your precise question
24 is at -- "it's just an assumption on your part, because you were not an
25 eye-witness to those killings, and you wouldn't be able to identify those
2 The answer is: "I wouldn't be able to identify them."
3 MR. MOORE: Yes, but with the utmost respect, that is capable of
4 two constructions. One, I would not be able to identify them vis-a-vis at
5 the time; or the ones who had been killed, I would be in a position either
6 not to identify or to identify the people who had been killed. And it's
7 capable of a double construction.
8 JUDGE PARKER: Mr. Domazet, I was about to go on to say that the
9 question has two very distinct limbs. Just your last question. And
10 you've got an answer dealing with one of them. As Mr. Moore has just
11 pointed out, that answer, what is meant by it, is unclear. But you
12 haven't got any answer at all to the first limb of it. So at the moment,
13 if you want to clarify it, do so. If you're happy with the answer you've
14 got, you can leave it. Just be aware that it may be something that you
15 see as very important, and I think the answer you've got is not terribly
17 MR. DOMAZET: [Interpretation] Thank you, Your Honour. I'll try so
18 as to avoid any misunderstandings.
19 Now, my question was about the passage of time. Mr. Covic, in
20 spite of this passage of time, seems to have a fairly good recollection of
21 have a fairly good recollection of events if we look at the testimony and
22 we think back of his testimony in the course of yesterday and today.
23 But the question put by my learned colleague Moore was put in a
24 different way, that is to say, those people who were taken away, whether
25 he of encountered them or met them after the war. And my question is,
1 would he have been able to identify these people, would he have had the
2 opportunity to remember their faces in order for him to be able to
3 recognise them in any given situation afterwards, so I am going to repeat
4 this once again.
5 Q. Could you, Mr. Covic, clarify that now? Apart from Mr. Terek, did
6 you know any of them, and would you be able to recognise them on the basis
7 of their names and surnames or recognise their faces?
8 A. Mr. Terek was standing next to me, and together with him, well, we
9 held hands when this JNA major issued the order to do so when we were sent
10 to these camps, and he's still alive. He is not missing or anything.
11 Because the ones who were taken away, I mean, it was at night, so it was a
12 bit difficult to recognise everything. I saw that they were being taken
13 to the brickworks, and obviously today I wouldn't be able to identify
14 their bodies if I were asked to do so.
15 Q. I'm not talking about dead bodies. What I want to know is whether
16 you would be able to identify these persons. Did you know their names, so
17 that several years later, or much later, you could identify these people?
18 A. No, I did say that I -- I didn't know their names. I knew many of
19 them by sight. Vukovar is not such a small place after all, and many
20 people were brought there from different parts of town. It was impossible
21 to know everyone there. You might have known some people, people who
22 worked with you, that sort of thing.
23 Q. Thank you. I will not dwell on this any longer. I do have to ask
24 you one thing: This man named Terek who you say survived, what is his
25 name exactly?
1 A. Terek is his last name, and I can't remember what his first name
2 was. We called him Terek. I knew his wife slightly better. She was a
3 saleswoman, but I don't think that is a very crucial matter, is it?
4 Q. A while ago when you marked that spot where you saw this person
5 you identified as Kemo, you heard this person's name was Kemo, I think you
6 said his body was identified by a young man, but yesterday you said it was
7 a lady who pointed him out and that was why he was taken to one side.
8 Now, which is true? Do you remember?
9 A. I do remember. But if I look at the way your question is phrased,
10 I believe you misunderstood my original answer to that question. What I
11 said yesterday is that among those civilians passing our group, I only
12 recognised three. I even know their names: Mile Macesic; another man,
13 nicknamed Kesega, the son of Miro Stankovic, the former manager or
14 director of the Vukovar newspapers and radio; and there was a young lady I
15 recognised too. I didn't know what her name was, and I still don't know.
16 I know she worked with the Committee of the League of Communists. As for
17 those three, I didn't say that they pointed out this young man who was
18 killed. But there were other local civilians passing by. Among them was
19 someone, I'm not sure who exactly who pointed the young man out. And Mile
20 Macesic was the man who pointed out me.
21 Q. Thank you. You have clarified the matter sufficiently. It
22 appears that my understanding was wrong, but it's fine now.
23 You did not know this person named Kemo. Do you perhaps know the
24 man's last name, and could it be Saiti?
25 A. I didn't know this young man at all. I expected Kemo to be some
1 sort of a nickname. There was this person who pointed their finger at
2 him, and I didn't know his name, not then, not now. I simply figured that
3 this was a nickname that they used.
4 Q. Do you remember when giving your statement to the OTP
5 investigators handing over a list of persons you defined as local Chetniks
6 or local Serbs who committed crimes and who you were able to identify or
7 someone who was helping you?
8 A. It wasn't a list that I submitted. I just enumerated a number of
9 persons I recognised back at the hospital and in the Velepromet area.
10 Those were the names that I gave during the interview. But it was not a
11 list, as such. No substantial list. It was probably provided by someone
12 else, another witness. And whoever drew up that particular list must have
13 known what they were doing.
14 Q. It might be an error there because we have received a list with 51
15 names on it that was attached to your statement. My assumption was that
16 you produced this list, but Mile Macesic is not on it, or the other man
17 named Fot?
18 A. No, no.
19 Q. So I was wondering why these two names missing and you keep
20 referring to them. But if you were not the person who produced this list,
21 then I can only offer my sincere apologies and move on in a different
22 direction with my questions.
23 I am about to complete my cross-examination, but I would like to
24 ask the Court to please briefly go into private session, if possible.
25 JUDGE PARKER: Private.
1 [Private session]
11 Page 3529 redacted. Private session.
4 [Open session]
5 MR. DOMAZET: [Interpretation] Thank you very much, Mr. Covic. I
6 have no further questions for you.
7 JUDGE PARKER: Mr. Borovic.
8 MR. BOROVIC: [Interpretation] Thank you.
9 Cross-examination by Mr. Borovic:
10 Q. [Interpretation] Mr. Covic, my name is Borivoje Borovic, Defence
11 counsel for Miroslav Radic.
12 My first question: You are a reserve captain of the JNA. Did you
13 sign for a uniform when you were called for military drills?
14 A. Yes. Whenever I was called for military drills, the recruitment
15 office would issue us with uniforms.
16 Q. Thank you very much. Were these uniforms any different from those
17 used by active duty JNA officers or not?
18 A. I don't think so.
19 Q. Thank you.
20 A. I can't really say.
21 Q. Back in Zadar you were trained as an artillery officer?
22 A. Yes.
23 Q. After that did you ever serve in Serbia?
24 A. The other part of my military school, you mean?
25 Q. Yes.
1 A. Yes, six months, as I said, after the first part of my training,
2 because I was part of that group that I told you about. It was like a
3 school. The building, I mean. It was a class. And we were told that the
4 two with the highest grade-point average would be rewarded by being sent
5 to serve with Tito's guard. I came in second, and the two of us, the top
6 students served the remaining two months in Valjevo.
7 Q. Thank you very much. Can you tell us more which grades you
8 received in Zadar, which marks?
9 A. You mean as an officer? I can't remember really. It was in 1961,
10 a very long time ago, as you see.
11 Q. Can you tell us the name of this other officer who was with you
12 who received the same reward as you?
13 A. I can't remember. He was from somewhere in Serbia, but I can't
14 remember where from exactly.
15 Q. Thank you. Valjevo is a town in Serbia, isn't it?
16 A. Yes. Serbia, Valjevo. Valjevo is the town.
17 Q. What exactly was your position or duty there?
18 A. I was a platoon commander.
19 Q. Which platoon?
20 A. An artillery platoon.
21 Q. Thank you.
22 A. My military specialty was scouting or reconnaissance for
24 Q. Back to Vukovar, do you know about the positions of the ZNG, the
25 positions that they held while they were targeting Petrova Gora and
1 Novolica [phoen]. First of all, do you know the location of this street,
2 and secondly, do you know which positions the ZNG people used to open
3 artillery fire on these streets?
4 A. If there was artillery fire against these areas, it certainly
5 wasn't from the town itself. It must have been from somewhere around
6 Bogdanovci, Vinkovci, that sort of thing, because I'm not aware that they
7 had any mortars in Vukovar itself or guns. They didn't have that sort of
8 thing. It certainly wasn't from there that the areas you mentioned were
10 Q. Do you know who commanded the artillery in Bogdanovci or Vinkovci?
11 A. Well, it must have been pretty obvious if you looked at the
12 explosions and what was going on on the ground where the shells were
13 coming from. It should have been pretty easy to ascertain, I imagine.
14 Q. Thank you. Do you know how the planes in low flight were
15 targeted, which weapons were being used to target them? I'm asking you
16 based on your experience as an officer.
17 A. I'm not sure I can say with certainty. I'm not very familiar with
18 that, but I suppose those doing the shelling should know.
19 Q. I'm asking you about what was used to target the planes.
20 A. The planes? Well, hand-held rocket launchers for the most part
21 that our lads had. They were using these to target tanks.
22 Q. Thank you. A while ago you told us that these were being targeted
23 with anti-aircraft guns positions inside the Borovo compound.
24 A. That was just an assumption that I made, because before the war,
25 up until 1987 or so, I was with the Territorial Defence staff of Vukovar.
1 And it was in this capacity that I was being called up to go and serve
2 with the reserve forces all the time. I knew that in the Borovo compound
3 there were several anti-aircraft guns.
4 Q. How many?
5 A. I think three. Whether those were the ones being used --
6 Q. But that's just an assumption that you are making.
7 A. Yes, it's an assumption. I imagine those were being used, but
8 you'll probably be hearing other witnesses from Borovo Naselje who will be
9 better able than I am to confirm this for you, those who were actually in
10 the area at the time.
11 Q. But would this imply that no hand-held rocket launchers were being
12 used but, rather, anti-aircraft guns to target these officers?
13 A. Probably. Yes, probably. I happen to be a reserve officer
14 myself, and I suppose that those were the weapons being used for the most
16 MR. MOORE: I object to the question. The witness has on several
17 occasions says he doesn't know, and the word assumption is being used,
18 which I suppose is a rather polite word for guess. The witness has
19 categorically said he doesn't know on several occasions, and my learned
20 friend is trying to force the question in a way to get an answer that
21 clearly he's not getting.
22 JUDGE PARKER: Mr. Borovic, I don't know that I agree with all
23 that Mr. Moore is putting, but I do accept that this witness has made
24 pretty clear that he does not know, and so there is going to be no value
25 really in whatever he might conjecture now. So I would suggest there may
1 not be much point in pursuing the question.
2 MR. BOROVIC: [Interpretation] Thank you, Your Honour. I wasn't
3 about to press on with this. I'm very happy with the answer. We look at
4 the transcript, we can judge for ourselves which is the more probable.
5 Q. What about the remaining 18 planes that you mentioned as being
6 shot down by ZNG units, Mr. Covic? Do you know how those planes were shot
7 down, using which weapons?
8 A. I did say this before, I assume that either hand-held rocket
9 launchers were used, the same ones that were used on tanks, or the guns in
10 Borovo Naselje, the anti-aircraft guns, but that's just an assumption of
11 mine. I was nowhere near to be able to see for myself.
12 Q. Thank you. Do you know if the Air Force ever targeted a spot
13 where anti-aircraft guns were positioned or did they not target this
14 facility at all?
15 A. The planes did not target anything at all. They were just
16 spilling ordnance, as it were, all over Vukovar.
17 Q. My question was specific. This spot where the anti-aircraft guns
18 were positioned throughout these months that the operations went on for
19 was this spot where these anti-aircraft guns were positioned ever hit or
21 A. I'm telling you again I have no idea. There must be witnesses
22 from that part of town, from Borovo Naselje, who were there, who were
23 nearer the spot. And they should be able to explain this for you. I
24 didn't see it for myself. I can only speculate. I don't think you should
25 go on asking this sort of question.
1 Q. I think I should, but I still accept your answer. Thank you.
2 Sir, can you explain to the Chamber, whenever you mention Chetniks
3 you always say that these were members of Seselj's units. You keep using
4 the expression Seselj's men. Why do you think it would be impossible to
5 describe these peoples for Milosevic's men, for all we know?
6 A. Because we know that they were Seselj's men. He was the one who
7 got them organised to begin with.
8 Q. How do you know this? Who told you? Can you perhaps give the
9 Chamber an idea about when you found about this, or is this another
10 assumption you're making there?
11 A. Milosevic had to do with the JNA but --
12 Q. Thank you. Thank you very much. Could you answer the following
13 question for me, please: Before all these war operations began on both
14 sides, what was the percentage of Croats living in Vukovar and what was
15 the percentage of Serbs? Was it 50/50 roughly speaking?
16 A. No. Serbs made up 32 per cent of Vukovar's population. I know
17 that precisely.
18 Q. What about the Croats?
19 A. About 60 per cent. And eight per cent other ethnicities.
20 Q. What if I tell you that there were 39 per cent Croats and
21 33 Serbs, would you deny that?
22 A. Yes, I know exactly what the respective percentages were.
23 Q. The Croatian Democratic Union or community, was that a national
24 party for Croats in Vukovar?
25 A. It was not an ethnic or national party as the name itself
1 implies. It was a Croatian Democratic Union. What those people wanted is
2 for all the former republics of Yugoslavia to become separate states or
3 countries. You know very well that at the very outset attempts were made
4 to negotiate, to reach some sort of solution.
5 Q. But that's not what I asked.
6 A. Yes, but I believe that my duty is to explain to the Chamber
7 exactly what happened.
8 Q. I would like to take one step at a time, since you're so willing
9 to answer all these questions.
10 My next question is: How did it -- how come it was a Serb who won
11 the elections for the president of Vukovar municipality, since the Serbs
12 were a minority, and the HDZ was the party that all Croats at the time in
13 Vukovar voted for?
14 A. Well, there you have a really clear example of the situation
15 before the war in Vukovar. There was no hatred between Serbs and Croats
16 there, or discord. Most members of the League of Communists -- well,
17 among them there were quite a number of Croats, and they continued to vote
18 the SDP, which was a party that took over from the League of Communists in
19 a way. They voted too, and they had a majority among the members of the
20 party. The people of Vukovar were by no means unhappy that the SDP won
21 the elections.
22 Q. Thank you. SDP, what does that mean, this abbreviation? What
23 does that stand for?
24 A. That is a democratic party party. It used to be the League of
25 Communists, didn't it?
1 Q. Do you know of this party as a party that took over from the
2 League of Communists was in fact in favour of preserving Yugoslavia as a
3 single state? Yes or no, please.
4 A. No, they did not advocate the preservation of Yugoslavia. They
5 also wanted Croatia to become an independent state. And the same thing
6 still applies today as they are led by Mr. Racan.
7 Q. Thank you. Before the JNA arrived, those two days that you
8 described, who did you fight in Vukovar?
9 A. We were fighting Seselj's men and certain locals.
10 Q. What does it mean, locals?
11 A. They used to call themselves the Territorial Defence, TO. And --
12 Q. Thank you. And did Serbs have the right to participate in the
13 Territorial Defence according to then rules and regulations in that area,
14 in the former Yugoslavia?
15 A. They didn't, because they had not been attacked.
16 Q. Who had the right to do that unless they did?
17 A. They joined the ranks of the TO voluntarily, so they were the
18 opponents, and the war had shown that and they still disagree with the
19 fact that Croatia is an independent state.
20 Q. I don't know if I have understood you correctly. You are telling
21 us that the TO members were against the independence of Croatia?
22 A. Yes, but they were not all Serbs. And there was a small number of
23 Serbs also who were in favour of Croatia being an independent state, and
24 there were Serbs in the ranks of the defenders of Vukovar as well.
25 Q. Thank you. You were -- you said that the city was being destroyed
1 and shelled. But my question is this: Were Croat and Serb houses hit in
2 the same way?
3 A. Yes, the entire town, and that's why it is so amazing. And in my
4 view it is an incredible crime, the fact that the entire city was being
5 destroyed. And the people and no distinctions were being made.
6 Q. Thank you. In May 1991, were you still reserve captain of
7 the JNA?
8 A. Yes.
9 Q. Were you still the reserve captain in July?
10 A. Yes, throughout. I still have that --
11 Q. Are you still a reserve officer of the JNA?
12 A. It exists today.
13 Q. Thank you.
14 A. Not the JNA, but I have a memory of that. It was back in 1991.
15 Why would I be a reserve officer of the JNA at the present moment?
16 Q. Well, excuse me for confusing you. I can see that you are
18 A. I am not confused, but I don't see why you should be asking me if
19 I am a reserve officer of the JNA today.
20 Q. Okay. Let's go back to square one. In May, June and July 1991
21 were you a reserve captain of the JNA?
22 A. Do you mean in relation to the defence of the city? I worked in
23 my job.
24 Q. I'm asking you whether you were a reserve officer of the JNA.
25 A. Yes, for as long as the former Yugoslavia existed, I was.
1 Q. At that stage, May, June and July, did Yugoslavia exist
3 A. Yes.
4 Q. Thank you. ZNGs, you said that they were set up in May 1991. You
5 also said before this Court that they had no uniforms but they had
6 weapons. Is that correct?
7 A. Yes.
8 Q. Does this mean since there was such an armed formation without
9 uniforms that this is an illegal army, yes or no?
10 A. It was not an illegal army. Unfortunately they couldn't do
11 anything else.
12 Q. Was it illegal or illegal [as interpreted]?
13 A. They were legal defenders. They were not an illegal army because
14 at that time in Croatia there wasn't an armed force as such.
15 Q. The next question: HOS, was it an illegal armed formation on the
16 territory of Croatia at that time?
17 A. It was outside -- yes, they were defenders of a political party,
18 and they were also defenders in much the same way as the others, but there
19 was a kind of dissatisfaction amongst our ranks for the fact that they
20 were not all together.
21 Q. Were they also an illegal army according to the then existing
22 rules and regulations?
23 A. It was a defence of a single party,.
24 THE INTERPRETER: And could, please, both speakers not speak at
25 the same time.
1 JUDGE PARKER: Mr. Moore.
2 MR. MOORE: I object to the -- the nature of the question. The
3 witness is being asked to assess legality or illegality. This is not a
4 question for the witness to answer. Those are matters of fact to be
5 determined presumably by the Court and perhaps by others.
6 JUDGE PARKER: Mr. Moore, the Court has allowed some questioning
7 of these issues so that the practical view-points of the Defence can be
8 advanced, and the Chamber does watch which witnesses are being asked
9 questions of this nature. Because the present witness says he's a reserve
10 or was a reserve officer of the military for some years, we have been
11 allowing it to go along. But Defence counsel, I'm sure, will realise that
12 the opinion of a witness about matters of complex constitutional and legal
13 import are not going to affect the judgement of this Chamber if it is
14 called upon to deal with it. So, really, while we don't stop you unless
15 you go on at enormous length, you are not going to get a great deal of
16 valuable answers on an issue like this from an ordinary lay witness. It's
17 really a matter that can be dealt with adequately, if it's relevant, in
18 your final submissions on the law. You will have the legal materials and
19 you can put them.
20 MR. BOROVIC: [Interpretation] Thank you, Your Honour.
21 Q. By the end of October in 1991, as you mentioned in your statement,
22 or, rather, you said yesterday that you received assistance from forces
23 from Zadar. Did you make a mistake? It says in the transcript that you
24 said, "We received assistance from Zadar."
25 A. Not from Zadar, from Varasdin.
1 Q. Right. I thought you might have been wrong there, because you
2 said to the Prosecution earlier that you receive assistance from
3 Varasdin. Is that so?
4 A. Yes, from Varasdin.
5 Q. Thank you. I'm not going to avail myself of this mistake of
7 A. No, no, from Varasdin.
8 Q. How far is Varasdin from Vukovar?
9 A. I don't know exactly. I suppose about 200 kilometres.
10 Q. Thank you. Do you know from what direction those forces from
11 Varasdin came to Vukovar by the end of October in 1991?
12 A. I don't know from what direction, but we were extremely grateful
13 that they came to help with the defence of the city.
14 Q. Do you know what weapons they had?
15 A. Mostly Kalashnikovs. Mostly Kalashnikovs or rifles of the former
17 Q. Thank you. Are you familiar with the fact that emerged from the
18 testimony of some witnesses that for a while the ZNG forces in Vukovar
19 were receiving artillery support from Varasdin? Do you know that?
20 A. It couldn't have been Varasdin but Vinkovci.
21 Q. Yes, I wanted you to say that. Can you tell us more about that?
22 A. From Vinkovci we were helped by artillery and we are grateful,
23 they did help us.
24 Q. What month was it?
25 A. October and November, mostly.
1 Q. Thank you. Do you know who was the commander of those artillery
2 forces from Vinkovci?
3 A. Our first commander Mile Dedakovic, we called him the Hawk.
4 Q. Thank you. And do you know who was called Sljuka?
5 A. No. No, I've never heard of it.
6 Q. If I told that that was Blago Zadar?
7 A. No. We only knew of Blago Zadar and I knew his brother myself and
8 so I knew about him and unfortunately --
9 Q. Thank you. You said that the staff of the ZNG was in the atomic
10 shelter, nuclear shelter and you said where it was?
11 A. It was at the former military district building, and it was across
12 the street from the former municipal building.
13 Q. How far is it from the hospital?
14 A. 300 metres away from the hospital.
15 Q. Thank you. And how far is it from the MUP in Vukovar?
16 A. Perhaps not quite so far, 20, 30 metres, because MUP and the
17 municipal court are next door to the hospital, basically.
18 Q. Thank you. And do you know how many people could fit into that
19 nuclear shelter?
20 A. I do know because I myself went there before the war, when we had
21 the reserve officers training, and it was built, it was purpose-built, and
22 perhaps 10 to 15 people, tops, could fit into that shelter, because it was
23 created for the needs of the military district.
24 Q. Thank you. In the course of the war of Vukovar, did you visit the
25 staff there?
1 A. Only once. I was invited personally by Branko Borkovic.
2 Q. Thank you. What month was it in?
3 A. It was in the month of October. And he invited me because he was
4 not familiar with the city, and he invited me to explain to him on a map
5 where all the various streets were and where everything was situated, the
6 barracks and all the various neighbourhoods and so on and so forth. And I
7 gave him these instructions as to the layout of Vukovar and the names of
8 different parts of town.
9 Q. Thank you. Was there another officer from the former armed forces
10 there at the time?
11 A. Yes. But I didn't know him. There were other two people there,
12 but I didn't know them.
13 Q. What were their names?
14 A. I didn't know their names.
15 Q. Thank you. Was there a nuclear shelter at Borovo Komerc?
16 A. I don't know. Probably the witnesses that come from Borovo will
17 be able to tell you. I have no idea.
18 Q. Do you know how many underground shelters were there at Vupik at
19 the time of the war?
20 A. Vupik had -- well, quite a few civilians sheltered there.
21 Q. How many shelters were there?
22 A. There was a shelter in one part of town in the main street. On
23 both sides they had wine cellars for Vupik there, and it is a museum
24 today, and it used to be a castle called Eltz. And that's where the wine
25 cellar was, below the castle, below the street, and on the other side of
1 the street below another building. So it was a wine cellar, it was huge.
2 Q. Thank you. How many people could fit into that big area that
3 you've just described from the Eltz castle and the other building?
4 A. In those wine cellars certainly two to 300 people, and there were.
5 Q. Could two to 3.000 people fit there?
6 A. I don't think so. But one bomb that was dropped from a plane
7 pierced the shelter there, and 12 civilians were killed on that occasion.
8 And I know one family in particular, unfortunately, mother and two
9 children were killed.
10 Q. Thank you. Can we go back to the shelter capacity once again.
11 You said not two to 3.000, but roughly speaking?
12 A. I don't think so.
13 Q. Thank you. And this Count Eltz's castle, was there some kind of
14 anti-aircraft unit from the ZNGs? Do you know anything about that?
15 A. No, there was nothing there. There were defenders who moved
16 around that area considering the fact that on the other hand the castle is
17 along the Danube, next to the Danube, so there was a smaller number of
18 defenders who would walk around and monitor the shooting that came from
19 the vessels.
20 Q. So you know that they were looking at the vessels where the shots
21 came from?
22 A. Yes. Afterwards they told us that they were looking at the
23 vessels and that they saw that.
24 Q. Thank you. You said that the ZNG forces destroyed quite a few
25 tanks. You mentioned that yesterday and today. Do you know roughly
1 speaking how many JNA tanks were destroyed in the course of those three
2 months, roughly speaking?
3 A. Several hundred, certainly. And I can't give you an exact figure,
4 because they were destroyed in different places.
5 Q. Thank you. As an artillery man, could you assist the Court and
6 the Defence in telling us about the easiest way for destroying a tank.
7 What kind of weapon do you use in order to be as efficient as possible?
8 A. Considering the situation at the time, the most efficient
9 available weapon was the hand-held rockets. But basically the best weapon
10 would be an anti-tank gun. That would be the easiest way.
11 Q. Thank you. Do you know how many such guns the ZNG had?
12 A. I heard, I was told that at Borovo Naselje at Trpinjska road there
13 was a single gun of that kind and that quite a few tanks were destroyed.
14 And even today the citizens of Vukovar call that area the tanks cemetery
15 because quite a few tanks were destroyed there.
16 Q. Thank you. You said yesterday on page 3427, lines 11 to 15, when
17 Seselj came to Vukovar he would stay with Bogdan Vojnovic. Who was this
19 A. I knew him myself. He was the director of a company called
21 Q. Was it in the month of November when you realised that he visited
23 A. I was told by people from his neighbourhood that they saw him when
24 he actually came to visit. And that they thought that they spent the
25 night there. And that presumably they were discussing things.
1 Q. Do you know if it could have been in November, or the 13th of
2 November in particular?
3 A. It was indeed in November, but he is used to come earlier as well.
4 Q. But in November as well?
5 A. Yes.
6 Q. Did he always stay with Bogdan Vojnovic at his house, as you said?
7 A. That's what I was told by people from his neighbourhood, that they
8 saw him come to the house.
9 Q. Just to avoid any problems, in relation to the statement that you
10 gave to the Prosecution, you said that -- do you have the statement in
11 front of you? The B/C/S version, you must have it. In Croatian language.
12 Do you have that?
13 A. What article?
14 Q. I'm going to tell you straight away. So in case you have it in
15 front of you when it says "other powers," point 8?
16 A. What number?
17 Q. Page 4, para 8. Let's try and find page 4, first of all. Can you
18 please find article 8 or item 8? Have you got that?
19 A. Yes.
20 Q. Four lines down, what does it say? From where it says, "I didn't
21 personally see"?
22 A. "I didn't personally see Arkan."
23 Q. I mean Seselj.
24 A. But that's not four lines down, that's six lines down, is it. I
25 did not personally see Seselj in Vukovar, but I heard that he came and
1 that he stayed at Bogdan Borkovic's house."
2 Q. So was it Bogdan Vojnovic or Bogdan Borkovic at whose house he
3 stayed as you said today?
4 A. I knew him as Bogdan. There was a bit of confusion that this
5 caused me. I didn't know if he was Borkovic or Bogdan, and then his wife
6 told me, since her parents lived nearby. So she told me.
7 Q. Thank you. But you probably had this person in mind, didn't you?
8 A. Yes, but I knew this man as Bogdan. I called him Bogdan. I
9 worked with Hep Elektroslavonija and he worked with Elektrostan. We used
10 to work together a lot, and we were on first name terms.
11 Q. Thank you. You testified today in answer to a question by my
12 learned friend, Mr. Domazet, when he asked you about uniforms being
13 discarded, and weapons too, and the question was whether this was done by
14 any ZNG members at the hospital. You said no. And then you told us about
15 a difference place. Is that right?
16 A. Yes.
17 Q. Would you be so kind, please, and go back to your statement, the
18 one you have in front of you and look for page 5. Do you see paragraph
19 number 10?
20 A. Yes.
21 Q. Can you please read from line 10 down. It starts with "I
23 A. "I noticed that some Croatian police officers and some locals who
24 were involved with the town's defence were arriving at the hospital.
25 I" --
1 Q. Please don't interrupt.
2 A. "They took off their uniforms, those who had them."
3 Q. Just a minute, please. Just a minute. Mr. Covic.
4 A. That's fine, that's fine.
5 Q. I'm sorry I'm interrupting the witness like this, Your Honours.
6 But would you be so kind, sir, with no explanations provided,
7 would you just read the two sentences with no explanations and no
8 interruption, please.
9 A. Yes, of course I can.
10 Q. Would you be so kind, please. Start from the beginning, right?
11 A. Yes, sure, I will.
12 Q. "I noticed or I observed."
13 A. Probably I should get my glasses first.
14 "I noticed that some Croatian police officers." For the most part
15 those were --
16 Q. There you go again.
17 A. Fine, fine. Okay. "And some locals were involved with the town's
18 defence were arriving at hospital. They were taking off their uniforms
19 and putting on civilians clothes, having previously discard their
21 Q. Thank you very much. Do you notice or do you allow for the
22 possibility that here you stated that it was at hospital that they were
23 taking off their uniforms and discarding their weapons. Would I be right
24 in saying that? Isn't that what you told investigators to begin with?
25 A. No. I told the investigators that they were discarding these
1 things in Borisa Kidrica Street. There was a building right behind in
2 Vukovar. We call it the pit.
3 Q. Thank you very much.
4 MR. MOORE: May I just deal with one matter in relation to that
6 JUDGE PARKER: Yes, Mr. Moore.
7 MR. MOORE: I am looking at the English translation of
8 paragraph 10, and I have got: "They had removed their uniforms and wore
9 civilian clothing." It does not say that they had removed their clothing
10 at the hospital. Now, it is capable, I understand that, of double
11 construction, but I do not know whether that applies to the B/C/S version
12 or not, but certainly in English it is, in my submission.
13 JUDGE PARKER: Thank you, Mr. Moore.
14 MR. BOROVIC: [Interpretation] Your Honour, if I may be of
15 assistance here.
16 JUDGE PARKER: Yes.
17 MR. BOROVIC: [Interpretation] Thank you. I expected Mr. Moore to
18 finish the sentence. It says they were wearing civilian clothes having
19 previously discarded their weapons. But I do not wish to confuse anyone
20 here. There is the previous sentence, too, which was clearly read out by
21 Mr. Covic. I believe this intervention by the OTP is not called for
22 during my cross-examination.
23 JUDGE PARKER: Carry on, Mr. Borovic. If Mr. Moore wants to
24 pursue it further, he can.
25 MR. BOROVIC: [Interpretation] Thank you.
1 Q. Also, Mr. Covic, I hope you are following me. You can drop the
2 text now. You testified yesterday that you were on your way to the
3 hospital in order to be among the first to be exchanged. That's what you
4 said yesterday, isn't it? My question is: How come you made this
5 assumption that you would be among the first to be exchanged, which is
6 what you stated yesterday on page 3429, lines 6 through 10.
7 A. Well, on my part this was a normal assumption to make. I expected
8 that those people would be honest people, and that all the civilians
9 assembled in the hospital compound would be sent away, released, and
10 allowed to go to free Croatian territory.
11 Q. Thank you. That's in your opinion, right? In your opinion, at
12 this point in time, who were the civilians? The ZNG members who were
13 mingling with the women and children in order to get themselves evacuated,
14 having previously discarded their uniforms and weapons?
15 A. Yes, but there were very few of those.
16 Q. How many?
17 A. Very, very few. I can hardly say how many in relation to the
18 entire population. 90 per cent was the minimum, in my estimate, of the
19 women, children and elderly people there at the hospital. There were very
20 few defenders there. A handful. A handful of them. I talked to myself.
21 I told them, Why are you here, why didn't you -- why didn't you join the
23 Q. Would you share this with the Court now. You've talked to us of a
24 few of those. What were their names, the ones that you knew?
25 A. I can't say. I don't remember. I know a lad from Bogdanovci --
1 Q. What's his name?
2 A. -- just because I was born there. But I have this cerebral lesion
3 and I find it very difficult to remember names. He was killed at Ovcara,
5 Q. I'm talking about those you talked to. Do you know their names or
6 not, a single name?
7 A. His mother's name is Mara Matic. That's her maiden name. Her
8 last name now is Marijanovic. We were schoolmates. And this was her son.
9 His last name was Marijanovic, but I don't know his first name.
10 Q. So we've got something at least, this last name, Marijanovic.
11 What about the other two men?
12 A. I don't know. I knew them by sight, merely. They walked up to me
13 to ask me about my son.
14 Q. Thank you, thank you. That's enough.
15 My next question, if you will. You described yesterday your
16 meeting with Darko Fot near Vupik?
17 A. Indeed I did.
18 Q. You said he was supposed to go to Ovcara. Why did you memorise
19 this? Why did it strike you as important in terms of memorising what he
20 said about Ovcara? He said, I'm off to Ovcara. Why did that strike you
21 as something to remember and still be able to recall 15 years later?
22 A. There had been an order for us to go from Vupik to Velepromet. It
23 was at this point in time that I heard him. I did realise that he had
24 some sort of a rank. He was probably some sort of a commander, and he was
25 calling to those people to assemble in one place because they had a job to
1 do at Ovcara. At the time it meant nothing to me. It was only after I
2 had left that I started thinking what sort of a job could they possibly
3 have at Ovcara. It was after I returned from the camp and later on once
4 I'd found out what happened at Ovcara that I remembered his words. It
5 struck me as simply unbelievable that he was one of the direct
6 perpetrators, that he went there and committed that crime.
7 Q. Mr. Covic, what if on behalf of the Defence I told you that Darko
8 Fot was not at Ovcara at all. What would you say about that?
9 A. I would be gladdened by this, if indeed he wasn't there.
10 Q. Thank you. In your statement to the OTP, to the investigators of
11 the Prosecutor, you said that you saw the JNA for the first time at the
12 hospital at about 2.00 or 3.00 a.m. After that the OTP served on the
13 Defence an addendum to your statement which was amended in this respect,
14 and you now said that it was at about 1300 hours that you first saw the
15 JNA at the hospital. Yesterday you said on page 3430, line 8, that the
16 first time you saw the JNA was in the evening, was getting dark already,
17 you said it was getting dark. Murky, you said, to quote you. This was
18 the only presence of the JNA that you registered in this area. So what
19 would be the time, if you were asked the same question today? When did
20 you first see them?
21 A. I stand by my previous statement. I'm not sure your understanding
22 of my statement is correct. I saw them both at 1300 hours, but at this
23 point in time they were not standing inside the hospital compound. They
24 were outside across the way outside the building across the way from the
25 main gate of the hospital. We saw a handful of soldiers standing there.
1 It was that same evening that we saw them inside the hospital compound,
2 outside the psychiatry ward, the building in which the psychiatry ward
3 was. The distance from the main building was perhaps 30 or 40 metres.
4 And we were still inside the main building in the hall, the corridor, and
5 the rooms on the lower floors, the ground floor and the cellar as well as
6 outside on the steps, just outside the hospital.
7 Q. Thank you. We'll be evaluating this piece of evidence later.
8 Can we now please show the witness Exhibit 59, which is a map of
10 Can you see that, Mr. Covic?
11 A. I don't have it yet.
12 Q. Mr. Covic, can you see it now?
13 A. No.
14 MR. BOROVIC: [Interpretation] If there is a problem with this
15 exhibit, perhaps I can offer the document that was served on us by the
16 OTP. We can show the witness the same thing. That was the intention
17 behind my question.
18 JUDGE PARKER: It just takes a little while to come up because of
19 the amount of detail on the print. I can see from screens in front of me
20 that it's starting to come up now. If you time it, it actually takes less
21 time than producing the document and taking it across the courtroom. But
22 it seems to take a long time because nothing happens. We time it at one
23 minute 15 to 20 seconds.
24 MR. BOROVIC: [Interpretation] This is one of the benefits of the
25 e-court system, I assume.
1 JUDGE PARKER: One minute 45 seconds this time, sorry.
2 MR. BOROVIC: [Interpretation]
3 Q. Mr. Covic, do you have it now?
4 A. Yes, there is an image here.
5 Q. Let's call this an image, as you say. Can you indicate Sajmiste
6 on this image by using the red electronic pen, if the usher can help you
7 with that?
8 Can you indicate the military line formed by the ZNG at Sajmiste
9 and mark it with a letter S? Could you mark the line, please? We can
10 blow this up a little, please. It might be easier for the witness.
11 A. I don't know exactly what you want me to do. Who was moving
13 Q. This is what I mean: The ZNG had their military positions. They
14 had these at Sajmiste, yes or no?
15 A. It was called Sajmiste. Just because of this street that was
16 called Sajmiste.
17 Q. Sajmiste as a military position occupied by the ZNG. Can you
18 please draw a line on this map and mark it with a letter S?
19 A. It begins right here and then stretches all the way across the
21 Q. Can you start drawing the line, please.
22 A. Here it is, roughly speaking.
23 Q. Fine. Could you please put a letter S at the beginning of the
25 A. [Marks].
1 Q. Thank you. Would you please be so kind as to mark the positions
2 of Mitnica and the military position of the ZNG at Mitnica, also using a
3 line, please.
4 A. That's further north. I didn't go there myself, and --
5 Q. As someone who is a native of Vukovar, could you give us a rough
6 idea of where that is?
7 A. It's more like this, the line continued between the JNA building
8 and Vucedol. It went like this.
9 Q. Thank you very much. Where you started drawing the line, could
10 you please put a letter M there to indicate Mitnica.
11 A. [Marks].
12 Q. Thank you. As soon as you find Luzac, can you define the ZNG
13 military line there and draw a line for us there.
14 A. Luzac.
15 Q. Take your time, please. The map would have to be zoomed out in
16 order for you to be able to find Luzac.
17 Can we have the usher's assistance, please, and zoom out a little
18 and lower the map too.
19 A. Luzac might be around here.
20 JUDGE PARKER: The map, having been marked in this position, we'd
21 lose these markings if we zoomed out.
22 MR. BOROVIC: [Interpretation] Thank you. I would like to tender
23 this into evidence now, and then we -- I mean Exhibit 59 and then we can
24 display it on the screen again.
25 JUDGE PARKER: It will be received.
1 THE REGISTRAR: That will be exhibit number 149, Your Honours.
2 MR. BOROVIC: [Interpretation] Can we have Exhibit 59 displayed
3 again now, normal size?
4 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] I find this much more difficult now
5 because the names are not --
6 MR. BOROVIC: [Interpretation]
7 Q. Just zoom in a little, please, so that we can see Luzac.
8 A. Here it is, I can see it now.
9 Q. So if you could be so kind --
10 A. Yes, there it is.
11 Q. Could you draw a line and mark it with the letter L.
12 A. [Marks].
13 Q. Would you be so kind as to put in the lines of Mitnica and
14 Sajmiste on to this map.
15 A. [Marks].
16 Q. Mitnica?
17 A. It's this part.
18 Q. Could you please put it in.
19 A. Yes, it's this entire area over here.
20 Q. Could you also mark Mitnica with an M and Sajmiste S.
21 A. [Marks].
22 Q. Thank you. And last but not least, could you also put in the ZNG
23 defence line in Borovo Naselje.
24 A. That's where they were. Along this road.
25 Q. Thank you. Could you mark that area as BN, Borovo Naselje.
1 A. [Marks.]
2 Q. Could you show on this map from what direction or in what
3 direction Vinkovci would be, just an arrow?
4 A. From Borovo Naselje, Vinkovci would be along this road.
5 Q. Could you mark it, please, Vinkovci.
6 A. [Marks].
7 Q. Thank you. And in the end could you show us where the
8 anti-aircraft guns were. Where would it have been in Vukovar?
9 A. It was at Borovo Naselje.
10 Q. Could you mark it with a cross?
11 A. Yes, it was in Borovo Naselje, and initially it was here, next to
12 this silo and afterwards somewhere else.
13 Q. Could you just mark it with a cross, just above that spot?
14 A. [Marks].
15 Q. Thank you. Could it also be admitted into evidence, please?
16 JUDGE PARKER: It will be received.
17 THE REGISTRAR: That will be exhibit number 150, Your Honours.
18 JUDGE PARKER: Thank you.
19 MR. BOROVIC: [Interpretation] Thank you.
20 Q. Could you now, without drawing anything at all, indicate on this
21 map whether the TO ranks had any defence lines or not, the Territorial
22 Defence of the Serbs as you called them, did they have any defence lines
23 or not?
24 A. They attacked together with the JNA and Seselj's men, and they
25 were armed. They had any arms they could wish for because they were armed
1 by the JNA.
2 Q. Before the JNA started participating in this armed conflict, my
3 question is this: Where was the Territorial Defence of Vukovar which was
4 made up of local Serbs?
5 A. We didn't even know where their base was, but afterwards we
6 discovered that it was in the neighbourhood which was called Petrova Gora.
7 Q. Thank you. And when you were attacked by those Territorial
8 Defence men, as you called them, and I don't suppose I've asked you this
9 question before. In case I have, would you please tell me. Why didn't
10 you ask for assistance from the JNA?
11 A. They had some run-ins with a couple of families that used to live
12 around that neighbourhood, and they even killed one young man, and another
13 one was seriously wounded.
14 Q. Did you not believe that there were such a serious threat that you
15 would have needed the help from the army?
16 A. At that stage the police would have had to stop them, because it
17 was a crime committed and perpetrated against the family.
18 Q. Have you asked -- listened to my question: Was there any reason
19 for you to ask for assistance from the JNA or not?
20 A. No. Because they were not there. For such cases, it was within
21 the remit of the police.
22 Q. Thank you. And at any stage would have needed the assistance from
23 the then legal armed force, that is to say, the JNA?
24 A. Had it been legal.
25 Q. Thank you. When you retired was your time as a fighter counted
2 A. In my case, yes. And especially because I spent time at the camp
3 and I went through all that suffering.
4 Q. Thank you. And what about the time that you were dispensing
5 advice to the fighters in Vukovar who were called the National Guard?
6 A. Yes. I worked at the company for as long as it was possible, for
7 as long as it was open for business, and so I continued to work
9 Q. Thank you. I asked you about your career as a fighter. Was that
10 as a fighter, not as an employee?
11 A. It counted as logistical support. Logistical support to fighters.
12 You know what that means. It means that a person had served the
13 defenders, and what we did was tried to provide food.
14 Q. I don't know what a logistical fighter is, but I'm not going to
15 start any sort of argumentation here with you and I'm not entitled to
16 that. Did you help the artillery that was part of the ZNG or not?
17 A. I didn't have any opportunity to have any dealings with them, and
18 they didn't ask for anything. And in my area there were -- there was no
19 artillery at all, so I had no opportunity to advise or counsel anyone.
20 Q. Thank you. You mentioned that mortars were manufactured in Borovo
21 before the war. Is that so?
22 A. Not before the war, but afterwards. I found out an acquaintance
23 of mine who used to work at one department of the plant which was called
24 machinery, they started manufacturing all sorts of things, and he told me
25 that they started to manufacture some kind of weapon.
1 Q. Mr. Covic, as a high-ranking reserve officer, can you tell this
2 Trial Chamber what kind of weapons were manufactured at Borovo for the
3 ZNGs? What was the name of that weapon?
4 A. I don't know what the name of the weapon was. All I'm saying is
5 that an acquaintance of mine told me that he worked on the manufacturing
6 of some kind of tubes or pipes which were used in these rifles or guns or
7 whatever. But I suppose it must have been guns that they were talking
9 Q. Thank you. And in the end you told the Trial Chamber that in the
10 beginning 90 per cent of your weapons were hunting rifles?
11 A. Yes.
12 Q. My question for you, as an officer, is this: Hunting rifles, are
13 they weapons that are used for hunting animals or people?
14 A. Hunting rifles are used for hunting animals.
15 Q. Thank you. Do you know that according to all laws on war, it is
16 not permitted, not allowed to use hunting weapons in fight -- in war?
17 A. I don't know that. I just know that those people who had hunting
18 rifles would give them away to defenders as a means for defending
20 Q. Have you ever seen wounds inflicted by such rifles?
21 A. I couldn't have had the opportunity to see that. No, I've never
22 seen that.
23 Q. Thank you, and this is my very last question now, since I feel we
24 probably need a break.
25 A. Yes, absolutely. We might have had a break sooner.
1 Q. Were you in favour of Croatia becoming an independent state?
2 A. Yes.
3 MR. BOROVIC: [Interpretation] Thank you. Your Honours, I have
4 completed my questioning.
5 JUDGE PARKER: Through for that. Thank you for the speed with
6 which you did things, although I'm sure the poor lady who was trying to
7 interpret might have a different view at times, and I thank her and those
9 It is well time for a break, as we would 20 minutes, there seems
10 no point in recommencing this evening. So we will adjourn now for the
11 evening and resume tomorrow at 2.15.
12 --- Whereupon the hearing adjourned at 6.31 p.m.,
13 to be reconvened on Thursday, the 2nd day of
14 February, 2006, at 2.15 p.m.