1 Thursday, 16 February 2006
2 [Closed session]
11 Pages 4440-4476 redacted. Closed session.
7 [Open session]
8 JUDGE PARKER: Good morning, sir.
9 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Good morning.
10 JUDGE PARKER: Could you please take the card and read aloud the
12 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] I solemnly swear that I will speak
13 the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.
14 JUDGE PARKER: Thank you. Please sit down.
15 WITNESS: BOGDAN VUJIC
16 [Witness answered through interpreter]
17 JUDGE PARKER: Mr. Smith will now be asking you some questions.
18 Mr. Moore. You keep changing on me. Yes.
19 MR. MOORE: Thank you very much, Your Honour. My headset was
21 Examination by Mr. Moore:
22 Q. Would you be kind enough, please, to tell us your full name?
23 A. Bogdan Vujic. I was born on the 27th of June, 1933 in the village
24 of Trnakovac, Nova Gradiska municipality, Croatia. I'm an ethnic Serb.
25 Q. Thank you very much. And I think that actually where you were
1 born was in Croatia; is that right?
2 A. Yes.
3 Q. Prior to your retirement, what was your principal occupation?
4 A. I worked with the security bodies of the JNA. I was in charge of
5 unit protection and I also had to protect all the JNA institutions. For
6 the most part, our activity was against terrorism. I worked with these
7 bodies for a number of years, and at the end of my career I was chief of
8 security. I was chief of the security department at the graduate military
9 school centre in Belgrade. When I retired, my rank at retirement was
11 Q. I would just like to in very general terms go through, please,
12 your career. I say in very general terms.
13 I think it's right to say that in 1956/1957 that you were an
14 officer, you were ranked lieutenant, I think at that time, and you were
15 part of what is called the Yugoslav contingent of forces in Egypt's Suez
16 Canal area; is that right?
17 A. Yes, that's right. Once I had completed my secondary education, I
18 applied to the school for active armoured units, after which I served with
19 the armoured units as tank commander and tank platoon commander. In 1956,
20 I was with the guards division, their armoured units, and I was
21 transferred to the Yugoslav forces within the UNEF, U-N-E-F, and I was
22 posted to the Suez Canal the in Sinai Desert and in the Gaza strip. I was
23 commander of a reconnaissance platoon, and I was the first to report to
24 the commander of the forces, General Burns. I was commander of the
25 honourary platoon, and I reported pursuant to orders from the platoon
1 commander, Lieutenant-Colonel Erakovic.
2 Q. Thank you. Can I deal principally with the fact that you stated
3 that you were chief of security or of the security department at the
4 graduate military school centre in Belgrade. What exactly did that
6 A. My job was to protect the institution. This institution trained
7 officers who were to become generals later on. But they got their
8 training to become majors and other basic ranks in the KOV, land forces
9 academy. This centre also had a military academy training men for the
10 military academy.
11 Q. Thank you very much. I want to -- I may come back to your
12 military training in due course, but I want to move on in time, if I may.
13 I'd like to deal, please, with the autumn of 1991, and I think it's right
14 to say that you received a telephone call from Colonel Radovan
15 Radivojevic. Is that right or not?
16 A. After the state of emergency was declared by the Yugoslav
17 presidency as our Supreme Command, I was summoned by Colonel Radivojevic
18 Radovan, who was the chief of one organisational unit within the security
19 administration, and a member of the board of the security administration,
20 Aleksander Vasiljevic. General Aleksander Vasiljevic.
21 Q. Thank you very much. Can we just try to keep our answers as short
22 as possible, and then I will deal with the topic and expand it. Can we
23 deal with it that way, Colonel?
24 A. Fine.
25 Q. What was the -- what was the purpose of his telephone call to you?
1 What did he want you to do?
2 A. He called me and he wanted me to agree to join an operations group
3 or a team that was set up by the security administration. It was
4 envisaged that this team would comprise a retired officer of the Security
5 Services, those without a wartime assignment, as well as active duty
6 security officers from units subordinated to Colonel Radivojevic.
7 Q. You have mentioned about a team. I think you were assigned to the
8 group. Who else, or what senior officers were assigned to that team? Can
9 you tell the Court the names, please?
10 A. This group or team was headed by Colonel Slavko Tomic, a retired
11 colonel, Colonel Boguljub Kijanovic, Colonel Radivojevic second in
12 command, a deputy, Captain First Class Slobodan Stosic, and several other
13 officers from the security administration later joined the group.
14 Q. Was an officer called Kijanovic in this group or not?
15 A. Yes, Colonel Kijanovic was part of the group. As I have already
16 said, he was the deputy or second in command to Colonel Radivojevic. As
17 far as I know he retired in 1993.
18 Q. Thank you. What was the purpose of this group of senior officers?
19 A. Our task, the way it was relayed to us by Colonel Radivojevic was to
20 work in the first collection centre for prisoners of war. It was
21 precisely at this time that this collection centre was established in a
22 village called Begejci on a farm near Zrenjanin. This was in Zitiste
23 municipal territory.
24 Q. Thank you. But what were you actually to do. You've told us the
25 location, but what was the purpose of the group?
1 A. In keeping with the provisions of the international law of war,
2 and provisions based on federal laws, the purpose of our group was to work
3 with prisoners of war. We would interview them, screen them for possible
5 Q. And when we talk about crimes, are we talking about war crimes or
7 A. We're talking about war crimes, yes. My impression on arrival
8 there was that those were prisoners of war from war-torn areas, areas
9 affected by armed conflict. They hailed from villages in the area between
10 Ilok and Vukovar. Paramilitary units had been organised, Croatian
11 paramilitary units in those areas, and these units were armed by the HDZ.
12 Crisis Staffs were set up.
13 Q. Thank you.
14 A. My apologies.
15 Q. When we talk about war crimes -- I'll just stop if I may, as there
16 may be a problem.
17 JUDGE PARKER: Sorry, Mr. Moore.
18 MR. MOORE:
19 Q. Witness, again, if you could just occasionally look at me to see
20 if we can shorten the questions down, I would be -- the answers down, I
21 would be very grateful.
22 When we talk about war crimes, war crimes by whom upon whom?
23 A. The prisoners were members of paramilitary units of Croatia. The
24 crimes being screened were crimes that had been committed by paramilitary
25 units or by individuals in the war-torn area. Likewise, we conducted
1 interviews with these people in order to screen them for possible crimes.
2 Also those possibly committed by JNA units.
3 Q. What expertise did you have, as far as you are aware, that made
4 you selected for this task?
5 A. In my previous answer when I talked about my career, maybe I
6 should have provided more detail in order for you to understand that I had
7 spent over 30 years working with various security bodies protecting units
8 and institutions. Over the last couple of years of my career, I acquired
9 such experience that my superiors enlisted my assistance for such tasks as
10 the research on terrorism against the units and institutions of the JNA.
11 I achieved certain results in my work by uncovering illegal groups and
12 individuals who promoted terrorism as part of their programme or
14 Q. Can we deal with the war crimes that you say you were
15 investigating? What rules or laws were you to use when considering
16 whether war crimes were being committed or not?
17 A. We based our work on provisions governing the work of security
18 bodies in the JNA we had rules on the application of the international law
19 of war. If I remember correctly, it was published back in 1988. It was
20 signed by the army General Veljko Kadijevic, federal secretary for All
21 People's Defence. Further, our work was in keeping with the relevant
22 federal laws, the federal Law on Criminal Procedure, for example. It was
23 within this general framework that we applied a number of other positions
24 and regulations governing the treatment of prisoners of war.
25 Q. Just to assist the Court, in due course the Prosecution will be
1 calling a witness called Theunens who will deal with these regulations in
2 relation to other matters. It may well be that with this witness I will
3 deal with small parts, but that matter will be dealt with in due course.
4 I really don't want to go into the investigation at the collection
5 centre. I'm quite sure my learned friends will have lots of questions
6 about that. But I'd like to move on, if I may, about a time when you were
7 reassigned, if I may use that phrase. I want to deal with approximately
8 the 18th of November of 1991. Now, can I just deal, please, with what I
9 will call your reassignment in respect of inquiries in the Vukovar area.
10 Do you follow?
11 A. Yes, very much so. And I believe that there is something else I
12 should have said. I should have told you about how the work in the first
13 collection centre at Begejci was organised. Colonel Tomic headed the
14 operations team number one. I was there, too; Colonel Kijanovic was
15 there; Slobodan Stosic was also one of the people there. This was
16 coordinated on behalf of the security administration by Major Miroslav
17 Zivanovic. Further, there was another team belonging to the security body
18 of the 1st Military District. This team was headed by Major Dzukic. The
19 camp commander or the collection centre commander, if you like, was
20 Lieutenant-Colonel Petkovic. He was from the logistics units.
21 Q. Thank you very much. Can I just explain that I want to deal
22 really with questions in and around the Vukovar area. It in no way stops
23 you in giving evidence perhaps in due course about this camp, but I want
24 to focus about your reassignment to Vukovar. That is why you are here to
25 give evidence, principally. Do you follow?
1 Now, can I just ask you, please, when did you receive notification
2 that you may have to go to the Vukovar area?
3 A. It was Sunday evening, as far as I remember. The 17th of
4 November, 1991. When we came back to Belgrade over the weekend to see our
5 families. It was on the 18th of November that we were supposed to all
6 meet up in Belgrade, because Colonel Kijanovic was to check the vehicles,
7 do the regular maintenance, write up receipts for the fuel. Colonel
8 Kijanovic [as interpreted] went to get our assignments. After that we
9 returned to Zitiste which was our base before we were off to Begejci, and
10 that was also where Major Miroslav Zivanovic was called over the telephone
11 by someone from the security administration instructing him for us to
12 cease work in Begejci, to stop all activity, and that we should expect to
13 be transferred to Sremska Mitrovica that same day because a POW camp was
14 being set up there, the reason being that everybody was expecting Vukovar
15 to fall. It was on that same day that we were transferred to
16 Sremska Mitrovica. My apologies.
17 MR. VASIC: [Interpretation] Your Honours.
18 JUDGE PARKER: Mr. Vasic.
19 MR. VASIC: [Interpretation] An intervention in relation to the
20 transcript. Page 45, line 9. It says: "Colonel Kijanovic went to get
21 our assignment." I think that this involved Colonel Tomic.
22 Let me just also say that we have many problems with the way the
23 names are transcribed in the transcript. I'm afraid that this might
24 become even a greater problem later on. Perhaps this witness is going too
25 fast and the interpreters are not able to catch up all the names.
1 JUDGE PARKER: Thank you, Mr. Vasic.
2 MR. MOORE:
3 Q. Colonel, I don't know if you heard that or not. I know it's
4 difficult sometimes to be -- slow down one's natural speed, but if you
5 could try and keep your answers a little shorter and just slow down so
6 that it doesn't completely disorientate you, I'm sure the interpreters
7 would be very grateful.
8 Now, can I just deal, then, please, with -- you said that you were
9 going to be transferred to Sremska Mitrovica. Can we just move then,
10 please, to what your understanding was when you -- when you got there.
11 Why were you going to Sremska Mitrovica?
12 A. We were told that we would continue the assignment in the newly
13 established POW camp. To which people would be brought from the combat
14 area. We were told that it was our task to take these people in. There
15 was already a major there from the security administration preparing the
16 premises for our stay here. The camp, which was situated in
17 Sremska Mitrovica in the KP Dom, which is a penitentiary institution, was
18 under the jurisdiction of the ministry of justice of the SFRY, which means
19 that it was a federal institution. It was our understanding that an
20 agreement had been reached between relevant ministries or, as they were
21 called at the time, federal secretariats, about the camp.
22 Q. You've told us about Vukovar and you were expecting a large number
23 of people coming to that camp from Vukovar. Can you remember in very
24 general terms how many people were expected?
25 A. We were not told the figure of people. On the job we learned
1 about this through our activities. Upon our arrival there, once the
2 preparations for our stay were conducted, Colonel Tomic received an
3 assignment or, rather, he was called to the telephone and told, as he
4 later related to us, by Colonel Ljubisa Petkovic, chief of security organ
5 in Sid, in the Sid garrison, that we were requested to come to Sid as soon
6 as possible, where we would be given our further tasks related to the
7 evacuation of prisoners of war.
8 Q. Who was in the group that went to Sid, please? Can you tell us
9 the names of the people who went to Sid with you?
10 A. The senior officer, the chief of that group, was Colonel Slavko
11 Tomic. We had a military vehicle with the JNA plates; Colonel Kijanovic
12 was in charge of the vehicle. He was also Colonel Tomic's deputy. The
13 next person was myself, Slobodan Stosic, and a warrant officer who was
14 retired was from the Osijek garrison and was quite familiar with Vukovar.
15 As far as I can remember, we came to Sid at around 1800 hours on the 19th
16 of November, 1991.
17 Q. For completeness sake, can you remember the name of the warrant
18 officer, or would you wish to refresh your memory from your statement,
19 with the Court's leave.
20 A. First class warrant officer was called Stevan Mirkovic.
21 Q. Thank you. Can we deal, then, please, when you got to Sid.
22 You've told us that you were going to be given your instructions. Who
23 gave those new instructions to you?
24 A. We stopped somewhere in the centre of Sid, near the main post
25 office building. We were told that the headquarters of Colonel Petkovic
1 was located there. Colonel Tomic said that he would go on his own to
2 report to Colonel Petkovic and to receive further instructions. We stayed
3 there waiting for about 10 minutes in the car or next to the car.
4 Colonel Tomic, upon his return, said that we would receive a
5 combat -- or rather, we would receive an armoured vehicle to escort us,
6 and that we would -- we were supposed to head out straight to Negoslavci
7 where we were to report to Colonel Mrksic, commander of the Operations
8 Group South and that we would receive our assignments from him. This is
9 what Slavko Tomic said that he had heard from Colonel Petkovic.
10 Q. Thank you very much. Did you then follow those instructions and
11 go to Negoslavci and report to Colonel Mrksic?
12 A. Yes. We followed the armoured vehicle, combat armoured vehicle,
13 and reached Negoslavci at around 2000 hours, as far as I can remember.
14 Once there we reported to Colonel Mrksic, who met with us.
15 Q. You say you reported to Colonel Mrksic. Did you see any other
16 officers present when you reported to Mrksic?
17 A. Yes. Colonel Tomic took us in, we introduced ourselves. Colonel
18 Mrksic met with us. In addition to him, we also greeted Colonel Nebojsa
19 Pavkovic, who, at that time held the command post with Colonel Mrksic. In
20 addition to him there was Chief of Staff of Colonel Mrksic,
21 Lieutenant-Colonel Panic, and Major Sljivancanin, Veselin, assistant of
22 Colonel Mrksic for security matters.
23 Q. Did Colonel Mrksic brief you on this occasion?
24 A. I understand your question to mean whether we had been informed.
25 Yes. Colonel Mrksic informed us of the basic operation situation and, in
1 principal, with the security situation, and the tasks that we were to be
2 given. As far as I can remember, and based on what I stated in my
3 statements, Colonel Mrksic first said something about the main elements
4 concerning the guards brigade. He was the commander of that brigade. And
5 he told us in brief terms what was generally known, that the brigade -- or
6 rather, the brigade subordinated to him was engaged in the operations area
7 in Vukovar and that its mission was to carry out the deblocking of the
8 barracks to establish law and order in the area engulfed by combat
9 operations, which could be seen as an ethnic conflict.
10 Further, as far as I can remember, he said that from the inception
11 of combat operations the brigade had suffered great losses through combat
12 with paramilitary formations of Croatia, which he referred to as Ustashas.
13 He also said that the brigade had accomplished its mission after drawn-out
14 fighting. And that Vukovar was finally liberated. He said that all
15 resistance had been crushed in the area of combat operations, that
16 paramilitary units of Croatian army had surrendered in an organised
17 fashion, that Marin Vidic, Bili, the plenipotentiary of the Croatian
18 government and President Tudjman had asked to meet him and accepted the
19 truce as well as accepted the surrender of Croatian forces.
20 Q. Just before we go any further, may I ask a question? Was there
21 any mention about prisoners of war under the control of JNA forces at that
23 A. Yes. We were told that all resistance had been crushed, that
24 Ustashas had surrendered, that there were cases of mass surrender, that
25 fierce resistance had been put up in the defence area known as Mitnica,
1 and that an agreement on surrender had been reached there as well, with
2 certain conditions, which were put by the defence commander of that area.
3 He said that people were leaving Vukovar en masse, women,
4 children, the elderly, that they were being evacuated, and that they were
5 given accommodation in the holding centre or collection centre in
6 Velepromet. That there was no further resistance, except that the
7 situation at the hospital was somewhat unclear.
8 The hospital had not yet been evacuated because, based on the
9 available information, there were numerous war criminals hiding there and
10 that they were mingling with the wounded, the sick, and other civilians
11 who were at the hospital. He said that Major Sljivancanin would brief us
12 about that in detail within the implementation of the tasks, including our
14 I apologise, in addition to that, Colonel Mrksic also said that
15 the brigade had accomplished its mission but that it had a lot of losses.
16 As far as I can remember, and this is what I also said in my statements,
17 over 600 persons were put out of action. I apologise.
18 Q. You told us about Velepromet, women, children and elderly. Was
19 there any reference to prisoners of war being held or being present at the
20 Velepromet facility?
21 A. Yes. There was mention of them. I can tell you in greater detail
22 what Major Veselin Sljivancanin said about that, because Colonel Mrksic
23 said that the major would brief us separately about that situation
24 concerning the prisoners of war and that he would give us our tasks.
25 Q. Thank you. Now, how long did that briefing take, approximately?
1 A. As far as I can remember, the colonel briefed us all the way up to
2 a certain point in time when a younger officer came in and reported to him
3 that a motor vehicle belonging to the brigade had hit a mine and that four
4 or six persons or soldiers were killed.
5 Q. Thank you. But the question that I asked, if you are able to
6 assist us, is how long it actually took for that briefing from Colonel
7 Mrksic to your group. If you can't say, do say.
8 A. I can't be accurate. I think that it was between 10 and 15
10 Q. And from what you could hear from him and the situation that you
11 were aware of, did he appear well-informed about the situation in the
12 Vukovar area?
13 A. Yes. All of us realised that the colonel was in charge of the
14 situation and that throughout the implementation of the task he was in
15 control, that he had units under his control, as well as the commanders of
16 units within his area of responsibility. Perhaps I failed to mention that
17 the colonel said that within the Operations Group South there were some
18 other units there subordinated to him.
19 Q. Did he indicate if the Velepromet facility was within his area of
21 A. Yes. He said that the facility was not far from the JNA barracks,
22 where the brigade units were located. Also, that this Velepromet facility
23 of which I heard for the first time right then and there, I had no idea
24 what kind of a facility it was, but we were told that it was within the
25 area of responsibility of Colonel Mrksic.
1 Q. May we now move on, please. You have told us that Colonel Mrksic
2 indicated to you that Major Sljivancanin would continue the briefing in
3 relation to the task that he was going to set, "he" being Mrksic. Do you
4 remember saying that in your evidence?
5 MR. VASIC: [Interpretation] Your Honours.
6 JUDGE PARKER: Mr. Vasic.
7 MR. VASIC: [Interpretation] My objection centres around the fact
8 that I think that the witness didn't say that Mr. Sljivancanin would
9 inform them about the tasks set out by Colonel Mrksic. I don't think that
10 this is what the witness said. I think that my learned friend can
11 rephrase this, otherwise it's a leading question.
12 JUDGE PARKER: Perhaps a misleading question.
13 MR. MOORE: In my submission, it's not a misleading question.
14 JUDGE PARKER: My recollection is that the -- Major Sljivancanin
15 was to brief them in greater detail about one aspect, that is POWs.
16 MR. MOORE: Can I just read what I have on the transcript and
17 just, if I may. "Question: You told us about Velepromet, women,
18 children ... elderly. Was there any reference to prisoners of war being
19 held or being present at the Velepromet facility?
20 "Answer: Yes, there was mention of them. I can tell you in
21 greater detail what Major Sljivancanin said about that, because Colonel
22 Mrksic said that the major would brief us separately concerning the
23 prisoners of war and that he would give us our tasks."
24 JUDGE PARKER: Yes.
25 MR. MOORE: And that is at page 50, line 21.
1 JUDGE PARKER: Well, I think it's perhaps splitting hairs a
2 little. But I understand that to be, in effect, what I said. You
3 understand it differently, Mr. Moore.
4 MR. MOORE: Can I rephrase it and see exactly what the purpose is?
5 JUDGE PARKER: Thank you.
6 MR. MOORE: Thank you very much.
7 Q. When you said that in actual fact Colonel Mrksic had said that
8 Major Sljivancanin would brief you about the tasks, were those tasks that,
9 as far as you're aware, Colonel Mrksic was aware, or was it just tasks
10 that Major Sljivancanin was going to give you?
11 A. My understanding was that Colonel Mrksic knew what the tasks were
12 concerning the evacuation of the prisoners of war, but that certain
13 details concerning the plan about which Major Sljivancanin said that it
14 existed, the evacuation plan; namely, that he would be the one who would
15 inform us about the contents of the plan.
16 Q. Can we then deal, please, with whether in actual fact Major
17 Sljivancanin did give you a briefing about that? And when I say "you," I
18 mean collectively, not just you individually.
19 A. I apologise, I have omitted to say that in addition to our group
20 there was also a group of members of security organ from the 1st Military
21 District. At its head was Major Muncan Dragan. My understanding was that
22 they were subordinated to Colonel Petkovic -- or rather, to General Mile
23 Babic. They were present there as well.
24 When Major Sljivancanin convened the meeting in order to brief us,
25 the meeting was held in front of the command headquarters in an area next
1 to a road. In the meantime, Major Sljivancanin left the room of the
2 command headquarters to do some other things, and then once he returned he
3 convened the meeting in order to brief us.
4 Q. Would you be kind enough then, please, slowly, to inform the Court
5 of what Major Sljivancanin said in that briefing?
6 A. Major Sljivancanin, at the outset, gave us certain information
7 about combat activities, enough to give us an introduction and explain how
8 it came that Vukovar was liberated and how the surrender came about, the
9 surrender of prisoners of war or units of Ustashas, as he called them.
10 These are the units that they had been engaged in heavy combat with. He
11 also said that they surrendered en masse and that the problem that
12 remained was the evacuation of the hospital.
13 According to his reliable sources, there were many war criminals
14 hiding in the hospital, Ustashas who had been killing people. They were
15 afraid to surrender and were hiding in the hospital, passing themselves
16 off as the wounded, some of them even inflicted wounds on themselves. He
17 said that he had taken measures to investigate the matters at the
18 hospital, to shed light on them and that he did so by talking to the
19 hospital director, Dr. Vesna Bosanac, to Dr. Njavro, and said that Colonel
20 Mrksic had talked to Marin Vidic, who asked to meet with the commander,
21 that is to say, Colonel Mrksic.
22 Q. Did Major Sljivancanin, in that briefing, make reference to the
23 Velepromet collection centre?
24 A. Yes, he did. I think that it was Colonel Tomic who asked
25 Sljivancanin where Ustashas were located and how many of them there were.
1 Major Sljivancanin replied that the -- their accurate numbers of these
2 Ustashas who were in hiding were not known, that they were mixed up with
3 the other people and that at Velepromet that there were women with
4 children, that there were elderly people. And that together with them
5 in -- on the same premises, there were prisoners of war, as well as
6 members of the Territorial Defence. That all of them were there together,
7 and practically one could not tell how many prisoners of war there were.
8 Q. Was it indicated at that time who was controlling the Velepromet
9 facility, or which units were controlling the Velepromet facility?
10 A. Yes. Major Sljivancanin may have said that the civilians, the
11 refugees first tried to enter the compound of the barracks, but that they
12 were, however, prevented from doing that and that they were then put up at
13 Velepromet, across from the barracks. He then said that the provisional
14 collection centre at Velepromet was secured by the police forces which
15 were under his command, that the unit was headed by Captain First Class
16 Srecko Borisavljevic, and that there was a group of senior officers
17 subordinated to him, Second Lieutenant Zvonko Cekic, and other junior
18 officers subordinated to him, forensic officers and members of the
19 military police who were securing the area.
20 Q. You may have answered my question at the very end. When you
21 referred to police subordinated to Major Sljivancanin, are you referring
22 to civil police or military police?
23 A. No, I said units of the military police. I didn't know the
24 strength of the unit; I didn't know how many men there were. I was told
25 that this was a unit of the military police, which was commanded over by
1 Captain First Class Srecko Borisavljevic, who was subordinated to Major
3 Q. In very simple terms, if you could do that, what was your task at
4 Velepromet, please?
5 A. Major Sljivancanin said that once the buses arrive, our task was
6 to conduct screening of the people and separate the able-bodied men,
7 aged 16 to 60 or 65, from women and children and that they were to be
8 evacuated to Sremska Mitrovica. My understanding was that our task was
9 indeed to consist of these activities. Major Sljivancanin then said that
10 this had already been done. He said that in response to Tomic's question.
11 He said that the screening had already been done, that the women and
12 children and the elderly were already on the buses and were waiting to be
13 transported to the territory of the Republic of Croatia. We were supposed
14 to report to Captain Borisavljevic who would meet with us and brief us and
15 that he already knew that we were to arrive there.
16 Somebody then asked whether that same evening the hospital itself
17 would be evacuated, and Major Sljivancanin said, as I have already
18 indicated, that the situation was quite complex and that he was doing his
19 best to check the identities of the persons in the hospital who was there
20 and so on and so forth and that Dr. Vesna Bosanac had agreed to draw up a
21 list of all those present in the hospital, the wounded, the sick, the
22 civilians, and the hospital staff. Part of the task was also given to
23 Dr. Njavro, as far as the hospital staff was concerned, and Marin Vidic,
24 Bili, had to take care of the people from his -- from under his command,
25 because Dr. Njavro had said that in the last couple of days the Crisis
1 Staff had operated from the hospital.
2 Q. Thank you very much. That's a very long answer. But may I just
3 deal with perhaps that meeting with -- at Velepromet -- that meeting a
4 Negoslavci. When the meeting was coming to an end, was there anything
5 that Major Sljivancanin said that surprised you or caught your attention?
6 A. Yes. Toward the end of the meeting when we were --
7 JUDGE PARKER: Mr. Lukic.
8 MR. LUKIC: [Interpretation] I believe that the question as it is
9 phrased is leading. If the witness heard this on this meeting with
10 Sljivancanin, then he should have been allowed to proceed and finish what
11 he had to say instead of being interrupted and then asked a leading
12 question. He was trying to describe the entire conversation.
13 JUDGE PARKER: I thank you, Mr. Lukic, but I believe the last
14 question not to be leading. It was directing to one particular subject
15 matter, which in the context of the generality of the answer is
17 So, yes, Mr. Moore.
18 MR. MOORE:
19 Q. Witness, can you remember what you were going to say? Would you
20 continue, please.
21 A. I will follow the events as they unfolded at the time. I know
22 that Major told us that we were to be taken to Velepromet by a
23 lance-corporal from under his command of the military police, and that he
24 was not going to accompany us there because he had our tasks to attend to.
1 As we were preparing to leave, he told us the following: Don't be
2 surprised if you find Chetniks there slaughtering Ustashas. I was
3 surprised by that, as were the others, I could tell that. But nobody
4 asked what Chetniks he was talking about, because Major Sljivancanin had
5 told us only -- had told us that members of the Territorial Defence were
6 there, and I recall that Branko Korica who was next to me made the
7 following comment while looking me in the eyes, "How come it was going to
8 be the Chetniks lecturing us on slaughtering people?"
9 We then set out toward the Velepromet building. As far as I
10 remember, the distance is some four to five kilometres. We went on foot
11 and moved quite quickly, we were met there by Captain First Class Srecko
12 Borisavljevic, who reported to us.
13 I haven't highlighted the fact, however, that Colonel Tomic,
14 before our departure, said that he suggested that I be the one in charge
15 of our task at Velepromet. In his words the reason being that he was a
16 man of an advanced age, I was his junior, and I was more familiar with
17 these matters, both based on my knowledge, and my experience from the JNA.
18 Q. Thank you very much. I want to deal with your meeting with
19 Borisavljevic. Where did you meet him, please?
20 A. It was during the briefing that I met Captain First Class Srecko
21 Borisavljevic for the first time. He said that --
22 Q. The question I asked you was, I think, where. Where did you meet
24 A. I apologise. My first meeting with him was at the gate when he
25 reported to us there. Then --
1 Q. The gate of where? The gate of where?
2 A. I don't understand, I haven't understood the interpretation. It
3 was at the gate of Velepromet.
4 I apologise, I have trouble hearing the interpretation. That's
5 why I'm perhaps failing to answer your question.
6 Before I met Srecko Borisavljevic for the first time, at the gate
7 at the entrance to Velepromet.
8 Q. Can we deal, please, with the briefing -- you seem to have
9 difficulty hearing. Are you still having difficulty hearing?
10 A. I can hear you well now. After a couple of days, after we had
11 managed to get accustomed to Velepromet, I first had to make myself
12 familiar with the buildings, the hangar and all the rest that we saw
13 there. There were no prisoners of war, I didn't see any. There were
14 several women there though.
15 Q. I want to try and deal with this in sequence. I suspect there's
16 been a hearing problem and an interpretation problem.
17 MR. MOORE: Your Honour this is an extremely important area.
18 Might I ask to have a slightly earlier break than normal. I know that the
19 Colonel has asked if he could have short breaks, and I have not done that
20 quite deliberately because of the nature of the evidence. But on the last
21 occasion the answer did not even remotely meet the question, and I'm
22 concerned that there will be a mix-up and then there is the suggestion
23 that his credibility is called into issue.
24 JUDGE PARKER: We will adjourn now and resume at 20 minutes
25 to 1.00.
1 We're going to have one of our regular breaks now and that will
2 give you a chance to refresh yourself, and we will resume at 20 minutes
3 to 1.00 for about another hour.
4 --- Recess taken at 12.18 p.m.
5 --- On resuming at 12.44 p.m.
6 JUDGE PARKER: Yes, Mr. Moore.
7 MR. MOORE: Your Honour, I believe that there was some technical
8 problem. Could I perhaps ask the witness if he is having difficulty in
9 hearing, because I say we have investigated it and there were problems.
10 Would he be kind enough to indicate to myself or to the Court.
11 THE INTERPRETER: Microphone for the witness, please.
12 MR. MOORE:
13 Q. Colonel, I'd like to ask you some questions, please, about the
14 area of evidence that we had approached before the break. Do you follow?
15 We're talking about the Velepromet facility, and we're talking about the
16 briefing that you had at the Velepromet facility. Do you remember that
17 piece of evidence? Just yes or no, please.
18 A. Yes.
19 Q. Thank you very much. Can we just deal, please, focus on the
20 briefing itself. Who was present at that briefing?
21 A. I told Captain Borisavljevic to gather all the commanding officers
22 subordinated to him in the meeting room. I recall that the meeting was
23 attended by, in addition to Colonel Tomic's group, that I led a group led
24 by Major Muncan and commanding officers of Captain Borisavljevic. I
25 believe some 10 to 15 senior officers were present.
1 Q. Can I take it so that there is an explanation for the transcript,
2 when we talk about commanding officers of Captain Borisavljevic, you're
3 talking about, what in the British army would be called non-commissioned
4 officers, or officers below the Captain himself. Is that right or not?
5 A. Under the system arrangement in the JNA, non-commissioned officers
6 are called junior officers. These are ranks from the basic rank of
7 sergeant up to warrant officer first class. That's the range covering
8 junior officers. They were subordinated to Captain First Class
9 Borisavljevic or to Second Lieutenant Zvonimir Cekic, if he was the
10 commander of the department of forensic officers.
11 Q. The reason I asked the question is so that you understand, is your
12 reply is as follows: "I told the captain to gather together all the
13 commanding officers subordinated to him in the meeting room." Who -- how
14 do we rank this phrase of commanding officers? In the British army,
15 commanding officer are usually senior officers. What do you mean by this?
16 A. Under the system in the Yugoslav People's Army, senior officers
17 were those from the rank of major up, whereas junior officers were those
18 starting from second lieutenant up to captain first class. That is why
19 all the officers who were members of the unit led by commander who was
20 commander of a company, Captain First Class Srecko Borisavljevic, he was
21 their commander. I considered him their commander and they were
22 subordinated to him.
23 Q. Thank you very much, that's very --
24 JUDGE PARKER: Mr. Moore, does the term subordinate commander
1 MR. MOORE: Well, I would hope it assists, but ...
2 JUDGE PARKER: That is, as we have understood, what is being said
3 by the witness.
4 MR. MOORE: Yes, it's the phrase of command --
5 JUDGE PARKER: Commanding officer is ambiguous. In English, at
7 MR. MOORE: I believe that is clear now.
8 JUDGE PARKER: We have a commanding officer of the police unit
9 there and his subordinate commander.
10 MR. MOORE: Yes.
11 JUDGE PARKER: Commanders. Of whom some 10 to 15 attending a
13 MR. MOORE: Yes, and it's military police.
14 JUDGE PARKER: Yes, that's been made clear.
15 MR. MOORE: That's absolutely right. Thank you very much for
17 Q. Can we then just deal, please, with what was said at this
18 particular meeting then?
19 A. I am ready to proceed telling you about the contents of the
20 meeting, the subjects discussed. I told you that the group, which
21 included myself, was a group of officers from the security administration.
22 The task of which was, together with the military police, to board
23 prisoners of war on to buses as soon as they arrive, and they were to be
24 evacuated to the Sremska Mitrovica camp. I also indicated that we were
25 supposed to accomplish this mission on behalf of the chief of -- of the
1 security administration and on behalf of the Supreme Command staff.
2 Q. Were you told how many people were actually at that facility, in
3 approximate numbers?
4 A. I asked Captain Borisavljevic how many prisoners of war were to be
5 found there and he told me that they didn't know. When I told him that we
6 were tasked with separating them, singling them out from the civilians who
7 were there, Major Sljivancanin had told us that there were civilians
8 there. In response to my question, Borisavljevic told me that it had
9 already been done and that the prisoners of war had been already taken to
10 a separate area designated for the POWs and that the military police was
11 guarding them.
12 Furthermore, I emphasised that our task was that we do so as soon
13 as the buses arrive. The reason I said that was that while I was telling
14 them what our task was, the door to the room where we had the meeting
15 opened, it was -- rather, it was ajar, and you could see heads, bearded
16 heads wearing cockades, as they call them, or the patch worn by the unit
17 that I later heard styled themselves as Chetniks started appearing.
18 In addition to them, another person wearing a MUP uniform was
19 poking his head through the door, and I can't -- asked Captain
20 Borisavljevic and those present there who those people were.
21 Borisavljevic told me that they were members of the Territorial Defence
22 and that they were there guarding prisoners of war as well. I was
23 surprised by -- to hear that because they did not really enter the meeting
24 room; rather, they were simply leaning into the room through the door and
25 heckling at us, We are not going to let any buses arrive here or for them
1 to go to Sremska Mitrovica, so on and so forth. I could hear their
2 comments through the door.
3 This was deliberately done by them because they wanted to show
4 that they objected to the evacuation of the POWs and that they were not
5 going to allow that to happen. I repeated what our task was, and I said
6 that on behalf of the Supreme Command and the top military leadership and
7 on behalf of the chief of the security administration, our task was that
8 as soon as the buses arrive, we board POWs on them as soon as possible and
9 evacuate them.
10 Q. Thank you for that. So who did you repeat your -- the aims of
11 your task? To whom did you repeat that phrase to?
12 A. I repeated those words to the commanding officers present at the
13 meeting and to those who were heckling from outside the room and saying
14 that they disagreed with what we were preparing to do. This was therefore
15 meant for those members of the TO and the Chetniks.
16 I apologise. Moreover, I said that -- or rather, I asked Captain
17 Borisavljevic whether there were any lists and whether they knew how many
18 prisoners of war there were. He told me that there were none and that
19 they don't know how many there were. Whereupon I said that one or two
20 commanders should be placed in charge of every bus and that they should
21 have two members of the military police each and that they should be
22 responsible for the POWs and that they are boarded on the buses.
23 I also said that, where possible, they should take note of the
24 registration plates of every bus and to draw up lists of POWs who had --
25 who boarded the buses, including their names. I had a book -- a notebook
1 with me where I noted down the names of the commanding officers who were
2 responsible for reporting to me back after they had accomplished their
4 Q. I know it's a long time ago, can you remember any of the names of
5 the people that -- or the commanders that you believed should be reporting
6 back to you? If you can't remember, do say so.
7 A. I do remember. It was Colonel Tomic who took responsibility, as
8 well as Colonel Kijanovic, and Captain Borisavljevic. Responsibility was
9 also taken for this by Lieutenant-Colonel -- Second Lieutenant Cekic, as
10 well as junior officers subordinated to both Cekic and Borisavljevic.
11 Some other people who took charge of this included warrant officer first
12 class Branko Korica.
13 Q. Why did you keep lists of names or were you aware of the names of
14 people who were to report back to you? Why did you do that?
15 A. I did that because in a way I felt that the mission might be
16 obstructed. I felt that based on those people appearing in the corridor,
17 whose intentions were pretty much clear, they kept saying things
18 like, "What sort of camp are you talking about? What sort of Mitrovica
19 are you talking about? These people aren't going anywhere." I wanted to
20 act in a soldierly fashion. I wanted to make sure that the mission was
21 accomplished, and that is why I did it.
22 Q. Did the time come that you eventually left that meeting?
23 A. Once the meeting ended, there was a proposal by Captain
24 Borisavljevic. He said that we should go and visit the rooms where the
25 POWs were being held. That was how the meeting ended. And we were off to
1 visit those rooms. Within the Velepromet compound there was not a single
2 woman left, because all the women had already been taken away on buses.
3 We first went to an area, or a room, when we came there, I was surprised
4 to notice that just outside the room there were twice as many guards as we
5 would have expected. When I say "twice as many guards," I should perhaps
6 first say that I noticed three bearded persons outside the room wearing
7 chapka caps with Chetnik insignia, tall, fur caps. They were carrying
8 machine-guns. They were very tall, as compared to me, tall and
9 well-built. And they were facing -- excuse me.
10 Q. Do continue. Do continue, Colonel, but I want to return to a
11 piece of your evidence.
12 A. There were two stout-looking military police officers standing
13 next to them, and those were also armed with machine-guns. They were
14 quarreling and hassling each other. The Chetniks there refused to allow
15 me to go into the room and have a look. The room had a tin door and a
16 grid over it. The grid had some blinds. I tried to get nearer the room,
17 together with Second Lieutenant Cekic, and his military police escort, but
18 the Chetniks stood in my way and kept me from having a look. At this
19 point I ordered Cekic to create conditions for me to go in and have a look
20 to see who was there in the room.
21 Once he pulled the blinds apart, the heads of the POWs who were
22 inside emerged. I realised that they were injured, that they had head
23 injuries. Their faces were bleeding, and some of the injuries appeared to
24 be severe ones. I was wondering who those people were, as Marko Crevar
25 appeared, accompanied by Count Topola. That was at least how those two
1 persons introduced themselves. Captain Borisavljevic said that these
2 people were TO, that these people were members of the TO staff. That they
3 had set up their own guards in front of that room.
4 Q. Just before we go any further, you said that you were surprised
5 initially to see twice as many guards on the door as you would normally
6 expect. Who or what units were guarding that door, please?
7 A. As I have indicated, those people were Chetniks. I was to find
8 out later that they were subordinated to the officer who introduced
9 himself as Vojvoda Topola. He didn't say, "I command these people" or
10 anything like that. "These are my soldiers," anything at all to that
11 effect. The military police officers belonged to the military police unit
12 under Captain Borisavljevic, and Second Lieutenant Cekic. I saw three
13 Chetniks outside the room and two military police officers.
14 Q. Thank you. That, I hope, clears that issue up.
15 Can we then just deal, please, with -- you've told us that you saw
16 prisoners of war inside, POWs inside. They had bleeding faces, and you
17 have told us that they were being guarded. Can you please now tell us
18 what happened next in relation to those POWs?
19 A. I apologise for forgetting something. I asked Captain
20 Borisavljevic, "Who shut these people up in here?" And he said that this
21 had been done by Marko Crevar, a member of the TO staff who later
22 introduced himself as chief of the wartime S-U-P, SUP, of Vukovar, the
23 Serb faction. I never asked how long those people had been detained there
24 for, but I later found out that Marko Crevar was proceeding against those
25 people. At least that was my understanding at the time and I am about to
1 explain this in my further testimony.
2 After that, I continued to visit the remaining areas where the
3 prisoners of war were being held. And in some of the rooms, and this is
4 what had been reported to me, I found that there were between 30 and 40
5 persons. While in a hangar that I entered, I was deeply affected by what
6 I saw. Why? Because there was a large number of POWs there in that
7 hangar. There were benches, or rather chairs with candles burning on top
8 of them. Makeshift candles. Makeshift candles made of rope. Those
9 prisoners of war were in the middle of their evening prayer. And they
10 were praying out loud, "Hail, Mary," and so on and so forth.
11 I was trying to be patient. I was trying to give them a chance to
12 end their prayer, but they just went on regardless. And at one point I
13 spoke up, "Who is the most senior person here? I expect the senior person
14 to report to me right now." It was dark inside, and you could only see
15 the outlines of human bodies in the candlelight.
16 Q. Before we go to that particular area, I want to go back to the
17 room that was guarded, double guards and a door and you said you were able
18 to see inside. Now, can you please focus on that piece of evidence? Were
19 you able, or did you ever attempt to go inside that room?
20 A. I didn't go inside that room eventually. What happened was Second
21 Lieutenant Cekic opened that blind for me, which was part of the tin door.
22 And I peered inside and saw people inside who were gasping for air as soon
23 as the hatch opened and trying to pop their heads out of the room.
24 Q. Did you speak to anyone about trying to get into that room?
25 A. No. I didn't try to get in. Even my chances would have been very
1 uncertain. And I didn't know exactly how many POWs were inside, but I saw
2 that the room was packed. And they were packed like sardines. It would
3 have been dangerous for me to go in.
4 Q. Thank you for that. Let us then move back to where you were in
5 relation to going into the hangar and seeing people in prayer and who was
6 the most senior person there. Can we just deal with that area? Was there
7 any reply when you asked about who was the most senior?
8 A. Yes. After the second time I called out for the most senior
9 person to respond, or for the commander to respond, a man walked past the
10 chairs inside and approached me. He was a tall fighter. He must have
11 been about 190 centimetres tall, walking in a soldierly fashion, doing the
12 military step all the way up to me, and then he reported. He said he was
13 the commander of that particular unit. He said his last name. He said
14 his name was Commander Maric. He said he was the chaplain. That was when
15 I asked him about his rank. That was all he said. He said, "I am a
16 commander. I am Commander Maric, and I am the chaplain." I asked him how
17 many of his soldiers were there, and he said that there were about 100 of
18 them there.
19 Q. Did you see the buses at any time?
20 A. The buses were not there at this point. They had not yet arrived,
21 so I continued to tour some of the other rooms. I reached a room, or
22 rather was brought to this room by Captain Borisavljevic and by Cekic.
23 The rest of the people followed -- the rest of my people followed. There
24 was a long table inside that room with a white table-cloth on top. There
25 were medical instruments placed along that table, surgical instruments.
1 There was a person who reported to me. This person said he was a
2 medical doctor, and he said that he led or headed the first aid unit
3 there. He said what his name was, but I didn't memorise it. I did have
4 to understand, as I have indicated in all of my statements, that he was an
5 ethnic Croat. I asked him about his mission and what he was doing there,
6 and he said that he was told to be there by someone, Crevar or perhaps
7 someone else. He said he was aiding the wounded. My apologies.
8 Q. Thank you very much. I'm just trying to break it up in pieces, if
9 I can, so it is easier to follow. You've told us that the buses hadn't
10 arrived by that time, but do you remember the buses arriving?
11 A. Yes, the buses arrived. Captain Borisavljevic and his officers
12 told us, "The buses are here. Colonel, sir, the buses have arrived."
13 What they meant is that the buses had arrived outside the compound. They
14 were waiting outside in the streets, outside the Velepromet compound.
15 Q. And when you were aware of the buses, did you see anything
16 happening with regard to those prisoners of war that caught your
18 A. Not at this time. I hadn't made any special observations that
19 would have caught my attention or led me to think that anything in
20 particular had occurred or that particular words had been spoken. I said
21 that the buses should enter the barracks, or rather the Velepromet
22 compound, and that they should prepare for the POWs to start boarding the
24 Back at the meeting, I had given a clear order to the effect that
25 military discipline and order were to be strictly observed, as well as
1 safety measures. I said that during the boarding special attention was to
2 be paid to both the officers and the JNA officers, but also to the
3 prisoners of war. There were several of those buses there, perhaps four
4 or five, that managed to get inside the compound.
5 Q. Can you please -- can we please now focus on the boarding of the
6 buses? So how did that start? Can you tell us, please, and then what
8 A. Each of the commanding officers who were told to take a group of
9 POWs each on to the buses did as ordered, did as I had ordered them to do,
10 and Captain Borisavljevic, too. However, at this time as the boarding was
11 still underway, I was first approached by Warrant Officer Second Class
12 Branko Korica. He warned me that he had heard the aforementioned Marko
13 Crevar and Vojvoda Topola saying that they might perhaps allow for part of
14 the POWs to be boarded on the buses and for the POWs and the buses to be
15 evacuated. But those prisoners of war who were inside the room that I
16 described as having twice as many guards as normal outside would not be
17 allowed to leave. They -- he told me that they had made threats against
18 my life, saying things like, "That colonel should be killed along with the
19 Ustashas." This same threat was also relayed to me by Colonel Kijanovic
20 and by Slobodan Stosic, Captain First Class Slobodan Stosic.
21 We agreed that the buses should be allowed to leave the compound
22 as soon as possible in order to join the column outside that had been
23 formed. The last step to be taken was to vacate the room holding the
24 prisoners of war, the room that I have described.
25 I am about to explain this in the continuation of my testimony. I
1 am about to describe this event as I experienced it.
2 Q. Well, do so, then, Colonel, thank you.
3 A. The number of TO people in the area, meaning the Chetniks, had
4 increased, those who were outside the room. I don't know where Marko
5 Crevar and Vojvoda Topola had brought them from, and at this point in
6 time, once threats had been made by Crevar, who said, "Colonel, all of
7 these people are Ustashas and criminals. They are thugs who were killing
8 Serbs and slitting the throats of Serbs. I am already in the process of
9 taking steps against these people, and they must be called to account for
10 their actions. We shall not allow you to take these people away."
11 I spoke up in order to reiterate the following: "On behalf of the
12 Supreme Command staff, on behalf of the topmost military leadership, on
13 behalf of the chief of the security administration, I must tell you that
14 these are prisoners of war and they must be evacuated and taken to the
15 Sremska Mitrovica camp."
16 Crevar again said that these people were Ustashas, that they were
17 criminals, and that he would not allow for these people to be taken away,
18 even that meant having to use force or, rather, weapons, against my person
19 or the other JNA officers present. At this point, I yet again repeated
20 what I told him before. It was a highly unpleasant situation.
21 This is what I said at first, "These people may have been Ustashas
22 while they were still firing at you. But as soon as they had surrendered
23 their weapons, as soon as they came out with their hands up, they ceased
24 being Ustashas and became prisoners of war, from that very moment on."
25 There was a harsh verbal clash that ensued between us. And at
1 this point in time I was approached by Colonel Slavko Tomic and Colonel
2 Janovic [as interpreted]. They said that they would have no part in this
3 anymore, that they wanted no part in this mission. They also said
4 something else. They said they were on their way to see Colonel Mrksic to
5 inform him about what was going on.
6 This was another thing that surprised me, because there was a bus
7 there already for the POWs from that room to board. And I came very close
8 to not accomplishing my mission and not carrying out my assignment. The
9 first thing I said, I swore at one of those people. I'm really sorry, I
10 apologise. I don't think I can use the word here, the word that I used
11 when I swore at one of my colleagues there. In short, I asked them if
12 they knew what they were doing, and I yelled at them. I said, "You just
13 go and do what you must, but I will carry out my task even if it costs me
14 my life."
15 Q. Can we deal, please, with the prisoners of war themselves? We
16 will come back and deal with your disagreement with Tomic, and I thought
17 it was Kijanovic. But can we deal with the prisoners of war that you have
18 informed us were not going to be released to you. Did you do anything to
19 ensure that they would be released and placed on the buses?
20 A. There were military police commanding officers present there,
21 Second Lieutenant Cekic and some junior officers subordinated to him, as
22 well as Captain Borisavljevic. I yelled out loud, "Captain Borisavljevic,
23 report to me immediately, Captain Borisavljevic." I repeated that twice
24 very loudly, and my words were heard throughout the compound.
25 One of the Second Lieutenant Cekic's juniors responded, "He is not
1 around, Borisavljevic is not around."
2 I asked, "Where is he?" And they didn't know his whereabouts.
3 And then I ordered loudly to Second Lieutenant Cekic that one of
4 the officers should immediately be sent to Colonel Mrksic to tell him
5 briefly about the situation that had occurred at Velepromet and to tell
6 him that I was requesting a reinforcement from the military police. One
7 of the officers, it was either Cekic or one of his junior officers
8 said, "Colonel, sir, there's a BOV here. It's an APC belonging to the
9 military police, an armoured personnel carrier. This is in case force is
10 ever used against you, you should use it to overcome any resistance. And
11 it's in order to re-establish military law and order," or public law and
12 order as civilians say.
13 I then ordered for that APC to be brought inside the compound to
14 drive up as close as possible to that room with POWs inside, those who had
15 been described as Ustashas and criminals. Once I had that vehicle in an
16 appropriate position, a position allowing me to carry out my task, I
17 ordered an officer or a junior officer who was the crew commander, he was
18 up in the turret, to introduce himself, which he did. I said right there
19 in front of everybody that I was taking over command and that the room was
20 to be emptied and that the people from the room were to be taken on to
21 those buses -- or rather, on to that bus.
22 I issued an order that he should charge the machine-gun on his
23 turret and to train it on me, Second Lieutenant Cekic and others who were
24 in charge of evacuating the room. I also issued a loud command which
25 meant that I was prepared to lay down my life in order to accomplish my
1 mission. I said to the junior officer on the turret that he should train
2 the machine-gun on me, my movements and that of Second Lieutenant Cekic.
3 And that if I were to issue a command he should start firing in the
4 direction in which I ordered, and if needed, fire at me as well.
5 After issuing this command, I ordered Second Lieutenant Cekic to
6 empty the room, to evacuate it, and to board the prisoners of war on to
7 buses. This is what we did. We literally - I mean by this Cekic, two or
8 three soldiers and policemen and some other junior officers and I -
9 evacuated this room, sometimes taking out one prisoner of war at a time or
10 two, in cases where they were tied to each other, and taking them to the
11 buses. As far as I was able to see, Marko Crevar, Topola, and the
12 Chetniks were in the vicinity, following everything that was going on.
13 However, after the order that I issued, after the threat uttered by me,
14 they decided not to obstruct the taking out of the prisoners of war. I
16 Q. That's all right. Thank you very much. Again, there is a lot of
17 material there. I would just like to deal with the prisoners of war that
18 you took out of the room and put into the bus. What was their physical
19 condition when you brought them out?
20 A. These people had serious injuries on their faces and bodies. They
21 were bloody. Some of them were missing some parts of their bodies. They
22 were missing ears or they had cuts on their noses. This is what I
23 remember; this is the picture that I have. When I entered a bus, because
24 I personally wanted to establish the figures and write down into the
25 notebook that I had at least some names of these people, I started calling
1 them out, asking them about their names, asking them to give me their full
2 names. And then after a certain period of time Vojvoda Topola came inside
3 a bus with a knife at the ready, a curved knife. And since he was quite
4 taller than I was, I came maybe up to his beard or up to his chin, he
5 lifted me up with both hands up in the air and then put this knife right
6 below my neck and started yelling, "Hey, old man, you won't manage to take
7 these Ustashas and criminals out. They have to pay for what they did to
8 the Serbian people."
9 Q. When he did that to you, how did you react to him? Did you do
10 anything to protect yourself?
11 A. Yes. I used the terms that he was familiar with. I told
12 him, "Come to your senses, Vojvoda," which means that I urged him to think
13 about his acts, because his acts would have certain consequences.
14 Then we started a scuffle, and he was trying to reach out with his
15 arms and hurt some prisoners. He was waving around with his knife or his
16 dagger towards them. I told him several times, "Come to your senses,
17 Vojvoda. What you're doing is detrimental to the Serb people." I took
18 out my pistol and I held it up against his stomach. This shoving of ours
19 on the bus lasted for quite a while until Second Lieutenant Cekic issued a
20 stern warning, came with two policemen and dragged Vojvoda Topola out of
21 the bus.
22 Throughout that time, while this was unfolding on the bus, the
23 driver of the bus who wore a JNA uniform would occasionally turn back or
24 sort of half turn, and it was obvious that he felt quite uncomfortable.
25 He didn't know how to help in that situation. And as he was turning
1 around, I recognised him, but I didn't ask him to help me.
2 At any rate, I am prepared to invite -- or rather, I was prepared
3 to invite Lieutenant Cekic and other policemen to tell them that we should
4 all go in that bus with Vojvoda Topola to the command headquarters of
5 Colonel Mrksic.
6 Q. The people, the prisoners of war that were taken from that room
7 and placed into the bus, did you take any of the names or can you remember
8 any of the names of the people who were removed from the room and then
9 placed on the bus?
10 A. Perhaps I managed to jot down some names in my notebook. I
11 remember some of the names that were known to me then and that I gave in
12 my statements given before the military court or to The Hague
13 investigators, or to the court in Belgrade. I can now remember only that
14 there were sometimes two persons with the same last name. This is how I
15 still remember the last name Molnar. I remember the last name Dosen,
16 Hodak. Perhaps some others as well, but I'm not fully certain, so I think
17 that this is sufficient.
18 Q. Thank you. What then happened to the -- the bus itself?
19 A. The bus escorted by the armoured combat vehicle, Lieutenant Cekic
20 and his policemen or soldiers made it possible for the bus to leave the
21 compound, but it was only then that the armoured combat vehicle made a
22 turn and started following the bus.
23 Q. You have told us about certain names that you remembered. One was
24 Molnar and another one Dosen.
25 A. Yes. Yes, these are the last names that I remembered.
1 Q. Do you know what happened to the people who were in that bus or
3 A. It wasn't until many years later, that is to say 1998, at a
4 funeral of a colleague of mine, a colonel, where a number of officers
5 assembled, either retired ones or active-duty ones, that my former
6 superior commander, Colonel Bane Modosan came up to me. He was also
7 superior commander to Slavko Tomic and Bogoljub Kijanovic.
8 As the coffin left to the chapel, he came up to me, took me by my
9 arm and started talking to me. He said, "Was it possible for a bus to be
10 kidnapped?" He knew that I was there on a mission. He probably heard
11 this from Colonel Tomic as well. And he said that the driver of that bus,
12 Mihajlo Vukic, or, as we used to call him, Maestro Mile, told him in
13 confidence that he had experienced a very unpleasant situation when he was
14 met by a group of armed persons who boarded his bus and ordered him to
15 take the bus to Ovcara.
16 Q. Thank you very much. In relation to the bus itself, did you
17 actually follow the bus that evening, the bus with the prisoner of war?
18 A. No. It wasn't my task, actually. Major Sljivancanin told me that
19 there was there was an evacuation plan, there was a unit which was
20 supposed to escort the buses, which is to say that all measures had been
21 envisioned within the plan aimed at completing the mission.
22 MR. MOORE: Your Honour, I notice the time. It's actually
23 probably evidentially an appropriate moment, and unless the Court wishes
24 me to continue, I would respectfully submit that might be a good time to
25 adjourn today.
1 JUDGE PARKER: Thank you, Mr. Moore. We have gone a minute over.
2 We must adjourn now for the day, as another trial carries on here.
3 We will resume tomorrow morning at 9.00, if you would be good enough to
4 return then. Thank you.
5 We will now adjourn.
6 --- Whereupon the hearing adjourned at 1.47 p.m.,
7 to be reconvened on Friday, the 17th day of
8 February, 2006, at 9.00 a.m.