1 Monday, 20 February 2006
2 [Open session]
3 [The accused entered court]
4 [The witness entered court]
5 --- Upon commencing at 2.17 p.m.
6 JUDGE PARKER: Good afternoon. May I remind you of the
7 affirmation you made at the beginning of your evidence which still
9 Mr. Vasic.
10 MR. VASIC: [Interpretation] Thank you very much, Your Honour.
11 Good afternoon to all.
12 WITNESS: BOGDAN VUJIC [Resumed]
13 [Witness answered through interpreter]
14 Cross-examination by Mr. Vasic:
15 Q. Good afternoon, Witness.
16 A. Good afternoon.
17 Q. First of all, since we both used the same language, if I could
18 please ask you to pause after each of my questions to give the
19 interpreters sufficient time to interpret our words and for everybody in
20 the courtroom to understand what's going on.
21 First of all, I would like to go through a sequence of technical
22 questions in relation to your statements. You have given several
23 statements and I hope we can go through this quickly. First of all, can
24 you confirm that on the 28th of February of the year 2000 you testified
25 before the investigative court of the military court, investigative
2 A. Yes, indeed. I testified before Colonel Trifunovic.
3 Q. I would just like to ask you to answer yes or no wherever
4 possible. Please provide comprehensive answers only where absolutely
5 necessary so that we may have a chance to go through this as quickly as
7 The interview was long; it went on from 9.00 in the morning
8 until 2.00 in the afternoon, and you signed the minutes of that interview,
9 didn't you?
10 A. Yes.
11 Q. After this, between the 15th and the 25th of November, with
12 certain interruptions, that was in 2002, you gave a statement to one of
13 the OTP's investigators. Is that right?
14 A. Yes.
15 Q. You were interviewed and then a statement was drafted in Serbian;
16 it consists of 22 pages and in English it consists of 28 pages. Would
17 that seem to be right?
18 A. I don't know about the English version, but I believe you're right
19 about the Serbian, 22 pages.
20 Q. Thank you. Does that imply that you only read and signed the
21 Serbian version?
22 A. Indeed, sir.
23 Q. When you gave your statement to the OTP investigators you were
24 shown the statement you had previously given to the investigative
25 magistrate of the military court. Is that right?
1 A. Yes.
2 Q. While being interviewed by the OTP, at the end of your interview
3 the investigator gave you a chance to make any amendments that you saw fit
4 or perhaps to complement your statement. Isn't that right?
5 A. Yes, I would have had a chance to do that, but in a way I had no
6 chance to do that whatsoever because all my words were recorded already
7 and I just signed them.
8 Q. Thank you very much. Did you read the statement before you signed
9 it, the one you gave the OTP investigators?
10 A. Yes, I did read that one. As for the interview with Colonel
11 Trifunovic, the magistrate of the military court, I did not read that
13 Q. On the 6th of November, 2003, you were interviewed -- or rather,
14 were heard as a witness before the investigating magistrate of the
15 district court in Novi Sad?
16 A. Yes, but I was held in Belgrade. There was a request and I was
17 heard before that magistrate.
18 Q. You provided a brief statement or affidavit which is no more than
19 a clarification of the statement you gave on the 28th of February to the
20 investigating magistrate of the military court?
21 A. Yes, I did not read that statement. I said that I did have
22 certain observations to make about that one and the investigating
23 magistrate did not give me an opportunity to go through that statement. I
24 confirmed the authenticity of that statement in front of at least 10
1 Q. Do you remember if in that statement you gave to the investigating
2 magistrate of the district court in Novi Sad, the one that you gave in
3 Belgrade pursuant to a request that had been made, did you in fact correct
4 only one detail in that statement which concerned your thoughts upon
5 returning from Negoslavci to Sid?
6 A. No. I made certain observations about the time-line and events in
7 that statement which seem to have been reversed.
8 Q. Were these observations of yours recorded in that statement to the
9 investigating magistrate in Belgrade or not?
10 A. I can't be certain if they were or not.
11 Q. Did you read that statement? Was it read back to you?
12 A. No. I orally presented some of my impressions about the previous
13 statement, the one I'd given before Colonel Trifunovic, the investigating
14 magistrate of the military court. I stated clearly that some of the facts
15 were recorded wrong. I also said that certain questions were obviously
16 trick questions.
17 Q. I will ask you some questions about the statement you made to the
18 investigating magistrate from the district court in Novi Sad; it has to do
19 with what we're talking about. If you can remember these things, please
20 say so; if not, I can provide a copy of the statement for you to look at.
21 You said this: "I fully abide by the previous statement that I
22 gave before the investigating magistrate of the military court on the
23 28th of February, 2000. After I was presented with the substance of the
24 statement that I made, I would merely like to express a number of
25 reservations that I have relating to a particular sentence on page 12.
1 The last sentence in paragraph 2, which states that: 'More or less all of
2 us who were there knew about the fact that acts of vengeance were taking
3 place against prisoners of war. I must say that, all things considered,
4 this was my personal view and does not reflect the belief of all of those
5 who were there.'"
6 Did you state that to the investigating magistrate of the district
7 court in Novi Sad?
8 A. That's part of the answer to the question that he posed. What was
9 recorded here was recorded by the investigating magistrate. He had read
10 the statement I had given before the acting magistrate of the military
11 court. I said there and in my previous statement to the president of the
12 chamber of the special court that this was my opinion and my opinion
13 alone. I had no right to speak on behalf of anybody else or that group as
14 a whole.
15 Q. Could you tell me, sir, the statement we're talking about, did you
16 sign it eventually? And what about the last passage before your
17 signature, does it not state that this is all you have to say, you do not
18 wish to read the transcript because it has been read back to you and it
19 accurately reflects the oral statement that you made?
20 A. Yes, that's true. I said so while facing ten lawyers. And there
21 was another question that I answered, and if you could please hear me out
22 on this. I answered another question by the investigating magistrate of
23 the special court -- no, the prosecutor of the special court who was in
24 attendance. He asked me whether at the government session in Velepromet
25 the agenda also included item 2.
1 Q. Thank you very much, sir. You were asked something by my learned
2 friend from the OTP about this, and we are likely to go back to this at
3 some point later on. Can we just please stick to the chronology of your
4 statement. You were heard as a witness during the trial at the district
5 court in Belgrade at the special war crimes court in Belgrade on the 20 --
6 on the 17th of December, 2004, and there's a transcript where your
7 testimony was recorded. Isn't that right?
8 A. Yes. I've never had a chance to look at it, though.
9 Q. You're an experienced security officer, and you're familiar with
10 the provisions of the law on criminal procedure, particularly those
11 governing the involvement -- the involvement of witnesses, the rights and
12 duties of witnesses when testifying and so on and so forth. Is that
14 A. Yes, that's right.
15 Q. As someone dealing with investigations as part of the security
16 organisation and as someone who helped uncover certain war crimes and
17 crimes in general, you are familiar with the role of witness in a criminal
18 proceedings, aren't you?
19 A. Yes.
20 Q. When giving statements you paid a lot of attention to every single
21 word you uttered or every comment you made. You must have been aware of
22 the potential consequences of any statements that you made or implications
23 and ramifications for criminal proceedings?
24 A. Yes, ask away, please.
25 Q. Would it be fair to say that you were extra careful about every
1 single word you said, every single comment you uttered?
2 A. Yes, I would say that. I would say that I was.
3 Q. What about you talking with my learned friend from the OTP from
4 preparation of your testimony, did you go through all the statements and
5 transcripts that we've just described?
6 A. Yes.
7 Q. Can I take that to mean that together with my learned friends
8 you've gone through all these statements prior to your testimony?
9 A. That I went through the statements, you mean? My statement before
10 the war crimes chamber -- I did point out clearly in no uncertain terms
11 that this was the most authentic statement that I made.
12 Q. I'm done with this set of questions and I'd like to move on to
13 something else now. You were asked by my learned friend and you told him
14 about your career as an officer, that you served with the armoured units
15 and then you switched to security bodies. What I want to know about in
16 particular is your involvement in the anti-terrorist struggle as -- during
17 your time with the security organ. When exactly did you start fighting
18 terrorism and what did your work really comprise?
19 A. Mr. Vasic, sir, my work with the security bodies of over 30 years
20 was to protect the units, institutions, and command of the JNA from any
21 threats. But roughly speaking, one-third of my entire career was spent
22 fighting terrorism and the great results I achieved were in that area as a
23 professional officer. I did not deal with political crimes. I helped
24 uncover and prevent any acts of terrorism, acts of terror against the JNA
25 and the armed forces. Following the death of the supreme commander, Josip
1 Broz Tito, when this form of terrorism came to the fore, especially with
2 ethnic Albanians setting up their own armed units, my task on behalf of
3 the supreme leadership of the security administration was to tackle those
5 If I may just add one or two things, please. I achieved certain
6 results, and I was particularly pleased personally when back in 1984 I
7 tracked down Ernest Muriqi, a Turkish national, member of the JNA serving
8 in the Ilirska Bistrica and Rijeka garrison who fired a hand-held rocket
9 at the Chief of Staff of the Supreme Command of the Turkish staff of the
10 army. He fled back to Europe. He took refuge in Yugoslavia. He applied
11 for Yugoslav citizenship. He got it, and he reported for military
12 service. I uncovered his presence as a member of an illegal armed unit
13 which as part of its platform as terrorist strikes. I asked him what
14 weapons he had signed for, and he said the hand-held rocket launcher. I
15 brought him in to the relevant investigating magistrate and then took him
16 back to the court in Zagreb for -- in order for him to be investigating,
17 questioned, and prosecuted. He said he was a member of the Red Front and
18 Grey Wolves organisations back in Turkey.
19 I recently read that Ali Agca, a member of this same organisation,
20 was the man who attempted to assassinate Karol Wojtyla, the former pope.
21 I can also give you some other facts if you like.
22 Q. We have to move forward in time to events more relevant for these
23 proceedings. This is more to do with your career in the JNA, and I would
24 like to ask you something about your particular powers and authorities.
25 I would like to ask you something now. We're talking about terrorism and
1 fighting the internal enemy. Can you please tell me the following: What
2 about the security administration? When did fighting the internal enemy,
3 as you put it, become a priority? Was it not in the years preceding the
4 armed clashes in Slovenia, Croatia, and the break-up of Yugoslavia?
5 A. Those tasks were always there for me; I was always aware of them.
6 It was within this framework that I, for the most part, dealt with
7 anti-terrorist activities which meant uncovering groups that were planning
8 terrorist strikes. It's not my fault that the crime at the barracks in
9 Paracin was committed, but I will give you one example of my involvement
10 in uncovering that particular crime.
11 Q. Which year was that?
12 A. That was back in 1987, the 3rd of September, 1987. I'm talking
13 about the Paracin barracks. A crime occurred there and the public was
14 informed about this crime by the -- by a representative of the army
15 command in Nis. Aziz Kellmendi, a mad soldier had had a bad nightmare.
16 Following that he picked up an automatic rifle and it was loaded. He went
17 through three different rooms and killed a number of his fellow soldiers
18 from the JNA. The highest security body of the JNA, the Koledjian
19 [phoen], sent me, Colonel Vujic, to look into the matter.
20 You saw the results. There was a terrorist group that was found
21 out comprising a number of different people, and they were sentenced
22 eventually. They were tried and sentenced. I won't say more about that
24 Mr. Vasic, this sounds like a good thing, like a positive thing,
25 but sometimes it's not. Sometimes the leadership doesn't really like
1 these crimes being uncovered or criminals being tracked down. It all
2 depends on the situation.
3 Q. Did you suffer any consequences after you found out about the
4 existence of this considerable terror group within the army?
5 A. I was reprimanded by my secretary and my direct superior, the
6 general at the time, said: You don't really like your supreme commander,
7 do you?
8 And I replied: And you are lying to your supreme commander. You
9 are deceiving your supreme commander. This federal secretary soon
11 Q. While performing these tasks, fighting the irredentists and their
12 troika, did you cooperate with General Vasiljevic?
13 A. Yes, he was my superior.
14 Q. You must have enjoyed a relationship of professional trust because
15 for a while you worked together closely, didn't you?
16 A. I couldn't say that that was true. At the time I was in the
17 centre for graduate military schools. I retired on the 1st of -- the
18 1st of -- or rather, in 1991 I received my first retirement benefit.
19 I can tell you something else about my contribution in protecting
20 the armed forces and trying terrorists. The last trial in Belgrade was a
21 trial against terrorists involving a crime that I uncovered together with
22 my subordinates. I submitted evidence and prosecution was instituted
23 before the military court in Belgrade. Among the accused, there were
24 soldiers of Albanian ethnicity, Slovenes, Croats, and there was supposed
25 to be one Serb as well, however, he withdrew. They stood trial, and
1 Nikola Barovic, an attorney well known to you, Tanja Petovar, Aleksander
2 Lojpur, the late Branko Stanic are all attorneys-at-law who can testify
3 about my involvement and my professional contribution in this matter.
4 Q. You said that these soldiers were prosecuted. Were they taken
5 into custody and put in detention prior to that?
6 A. Yes. They were first put in detention by the organs of the
7 security and they were put in three-day detention and then that was
9 Q. All right. You said that in late 1980s there was active struggle
10 against terrorism and irredentism. In late 1980s as someone who was a
11 specialist in fighting terrorism and irredentism, did you travel
12 throughout Yugoslavia, did you take part in all activities of the security
13 organs, of the army, and later on military districts?
14 A. I wouldn't call myself a specialist. I certainly had a lot of
15 experience in this field, and this is where I achieved my greatest
16 professional success. Yes, I was sent out on various missions to assist
17 the security organs. I took part in investigations and proceedings before
18 military courts in the territory of Croatia, Macedonia, Serbia, and Bosnia
19 and Herzegovina as well. As for my work, presidents of various military
20 courts, such as Ivan Fumic, colonel and president of the court in Zagreb,
21 who later became a Croatian justice minister, he can testify about my
23 Q. All right. What would you say if I told you that one of your
24 former colleagues from the security organs, General Imra Agotic, when
25 testifying here in the Milosevic case said the following. Transcript
1 page 23332, line 20 to 23. I will read it out in English and it will be
2 translated to you.
3 [In English] "I'm not talking about Kosovo. I am talking about
4 the army. This was 1986, 1987, 1988 when people would come from the
5 security administration, especially Colonel Bogdan Vujic, as a specialist
6 under question mark" --
7 [Interpretation] I mean quotation marks. You heard Imra Agotic
8 claim you were anti-terrorist specialist, in inverted cameras, under
9 quotation marks.
10 A. Would you please put a question to me?
11 Q. Is this claim true, namely the claim that the job of uncovering
12 terrorists was conducted by you in such a manner that you would take a
13 list of soldiers containing names of Albanian soldiers, and then you would
14 accuse them of being members of irredentist troika groups and file
15 complaints against them?
16 A. As for General Agotic, he and I were colleagues, both of us,
17 colonels born in the same republic, holders of the same citizenship, both
18 Yugoslavia and Croatia. He was an ethnic Croat; I am a Serb. If this is
19 what Imra Agotic stated indeed, I didn't hear about this, but I heard that
20 Mr. Borovic asked Mr. Agotic here a number of times whether I was an
21 honourable answer officer, and I will try to provide a an answer to this
22 question whether I am an honourable officer or not.
23 It is not my fault that Rahim Ademi, general, who was in the
24 Detention Unit here in Scheveningen was a member of an illegal
25 organisation which had terrorism as one of its aims. It is not my fault
1 that I was involved on uncovering him. He was, in fact, given away by
2 Albanians, his fellow compatriots, who said that he was involved in these
3 activities. He was a security officer with a very high and responsible
4 post in the Skeveni [phoen] garrison, and as such he inflicted great
5 damage to the security organs. He posed a threat to the security organs
6 as a member of an illegal organisation. I will show you a photograph. I
7 personally was not involved in the prosecution of Ademi, Rahim. However,
8 I gave a great contribution to his conviction, which is to say that I
9 provided evidence, documentary evidence, about his illegal activity.
10 As for conversations with him concerning various issues, I can
11 show you that this was done by two Croatian officers who were designated
12 for that duty precisely because they were Croats. I cannot assist
13 Mr. Agotic in changing his opinion about me, but if necessary, I can give
14 my position on Imra Agotic here before this Honourable Trial Chamber.
15 Q. Thank you. You said that you had a code-name, which was Colonel
16 Branko. Since all of your associates, your colleagues whom you mentioned
17 here as persons who went to you -- who went with you to Sid and Negoslavci
18 and so on, none of these had these code-names. Would you tell us why you
19 alone were assigned one.
20 A. The witness unit here which takes care of witnesses, I asked two
21 ladies who work there about their last names, and they told me that their
22 last names were protected.
23 Now, let me continue. In the law on the work of security organs
24 it is set forth that in certain special cases, special instances and
25 matters, certain actions are assigned a code-name and persons working in
1 that operation can also be assigned a code-name. Why would I allow my
2 person and my family to be at a risk just because I am involved in a
3 certain operation? I do not want to allow this. Everybody was supposed
4 to know who I was based on my involvement and my identity, and I had no
5 way of protecting myself against them.
6 In the statement that I took from Mrs. Vesna Bosanac, you can see
7 clearly that my code-name is listed there as Colonel Branko. He insisted
8 on me revealing my name, but I declined to do that. And there are several
9 similar examples that I could give you.
10 Q. Thank you. It is beyond dispute that you had a code-name. What I
11 was interested in is this: You said that these code-names were generally
12 assigned to people involved in a special mission or a task. What was your
14 A. To investigate in the area of responsibility of Colonel Mrksic
15 various crimes and criminals.
16 Q. Was this name assigned to you specifically for this mission or did
17 you have this name previously?
18 A. No. I was assigned this name for this mission specifically.
19 Q. It's clear to me now. Thank you.
20 You said that you retired from the post of chief of security
21 within the graduate military schools. Tell me, please, is this the same
22 level as the army general or, rather, the chief of security within the
24 A. No. Not quite the same. I retired from the post of chief of
25 security in the graduate military schools.
1 Q. All right. You mentioned names of some of your colleagues saying
2 that they were chiefs of various departments and that you were given
3 various missions to go to Begejci and so on. Would you please describe
4 the organisational chart of the security organs at the time when you
5 worked there.
6 A. Mr. Vasic, I have already stated before this Trial Chamber, and I
7 will repeat once again that I have a warning here before me issued by the
8 military court which does not authorise me to reveal any state secrets. I
9 know that General Aleksandar Vesiljevic perhaps spoke about this. He was
10 here testifying, and he would be the best person to explain the
11 organisational chart. He can also explain to you how groups came to be
12 organised headed by Colonel Tomic Slavko, to which I belonged.
13 Q. Yes, it is quite likely that the chief of security administration
14 would be the best to explain this. However, we haven't had the honour of
15 meeting him yet; this is why I put this question to you. The JNA doesn't
16 exist any longer as an army. You were an officer of that army, so I don't
17 see a conflict of interest here. I don't see why you are not authorised
18 to reveal these things, and you are claiming that this is a state secret
19 when this army does not exist anymore and this organisational chart is not
20 current anymore.
21 A. I believe it would be improper of me to do so, and I would like to
22 ask you to spare me that question.
23 Let me tell you this, though, I was engaged by Colonel Radovan
24 Radivojevic, as I stated in my statement. He was the chief of one of
25 organisational units in the security administration. He was subordinated
1 to Vasiljevic, and he was also a member of the collegium of the security
3 Q. All right. Thank you. Would you please tell us what was the
4 chain of information from the military districts at the time towards the
5 security administration.
6 A. Mr. Vasic, this chain of submitting information was uniform within
7 the army. One chain of reporting or of submitting information existed
8 within the state and a very similar one existed within the army.
9 Everybody was supposed to report to their superiors, and then orders were
10 going in the opposite direction.
11 Q. Thank you. You told us that you retired in late December 1990,
12 that your first retirement benefit came on the 1st of January, 1991. Was
13 this the first mission you were assigned after you retired or you had some
14 previous tasks?
15 A. I did not have any other tasks except for my civic duty. In my
16 building, Colonel Kovacevic resided, commander of the armoured brigade in
17 the Bjelovar garrison who was killed when the barracks was attacked. We
18 waited for quite a long time for his corpse to be transported for the
19 funeral. Since he and I lived in the same building, I was asked to assist
20 with the preparations for his funeral.
21 Q. Thank you. In addition to this information that you learned
22 through private sources, do you also have any official information about
23 the attack of the ZNG against the Bjelovar barracks?
24 A. No, I don't have any official information. I only know what I
25 learned through the media.
1 Q. Thank you. You told us that in October 1991 when you were
2 assigned this mission to go to Begejci, Aleksandar Vasiljevic was chief of
3 security administration. His deputy was?
4 A. Simeon Tumanovic [as interpreted].
5 Q. Thank you. You said that you went to Begejci with a team
6 established by the security administration with the task to investigate
7 the commission of war crimes and other violations of the international law
8 also on the part of members of Croatian army as well as members of the
10 A. Yes.
11 THE INTERPRETER: Interpreter's correction. Members of Croatian
12 paramilitary forces.
13 MR. VASIC: [Interpretation]
14 Q. When you performed these tasks in Begejci, how did you send your
15 reports concerning the information you obtained by interviewing
16 individuals there. Please go ahead.
17 A. Shall I answer?
18 Q. Yes. Please go ahead.
19 A. The results of my work in Begejci consisted of the statements
20 provided by persons I interviewed. This was my method of work. I believe
21 it to be the most transparent way to proceed and to show that the person
22 drafting up the statement is fully transparent. This is why I always
23 asked the persons I interviewed to write down their statements as their
24 own statements and then we would write supplements and so on to the
25 statements. These statements were included in a file. We had an officer
1 there in charge of analytical work, and this officer later on processed
2 these statements.
3 Q. Thank you. I understand that. But you and your colleagues, did
4 you exchange information you acquired by interviewing these persons? Did
5 you try to ascertain what other colleagues of yours knew?
6 A. I did not follow the standard procedure because the investigation
7 itself and the results of the investigation need to be verified. In my
8 opinion, the data can be verified only if there is coordination. If there
9 are several members of the team, then the team leader should be the one to
10 coordinate them, whereas some other people who are not directly involved
11 need not be privy to that.
12 Q. The tasks that you carried out at Begejci in addition to the
13 duties from the security administration, there were also some
14 representatives from the -- from the military district itself. Is that
16 A. Yes.
17 Q. Did they work independently from your group or were they, in fact,
18 part of our [as interpreted] group?
19 A. No. They acted independently and were subordinated to General
20 Milan Babic, although in some instances they probably overlapped. For
21 instance, one person that was a suspect of a crime may have been, in fact,
22 approached and interviewed by both organs.
23 Q. You told us that the chief of the 1st Military District was
24 General Babic. What was Colonel Ljubisa Petkovic's role at that point in
1 A. I cannot give you a specific answer to that question. However,
2 evidently there were commands and headquarters at different levels. There
3 were strategic units, and there were commands of strategic units as well
4 as operational units, and these commands had senior officers running them
5 as well as security organs. Colonel Ljubisa Petkovic must have belonged
6 to one of these commands.
7 Q. In your statements you stated that he coordinated the work of
8 security organs in the war-affected areas. Is that right?
9 A. Yes. That's -- that was my impression and that's what I stated.
10 My team leader, Colonel Slavko Tomic, was given his assignment at the
11 headquarters where there was Colonel Ljubisa Petkovic. However, I cannot
12 tell you who else was there at the time and I do not wish to speculate.
13 Q. Did you say in your statements that Ljubisa Petkovic was in charge
14 of receiving and putting up prisoners of war on behalf of the district --
15 of the military district?
16 A. Yes. In fact, Colonel Ljubisa Petkovic did distribute these POWs,
17 and that was my impression. I also learned that one could not enter the
18 war-affected areas or the combat areas without Colonel Ljubisa Petkovic's
19 approval or permission.
20 Q. Thank you. Can you tell me who set up the centre at Begejci and
21 what the structure of the centre was, what its organisational structure
23 A. The regulations governing the work of the JNA security bodies
24 clearly indicate that the regulations applying international laws of war
25 provide that the treatment of POWs is something that is regulated by the
1 Federal Secretariat for National Defence, and it was on this basis that I
2 could conclude that there was an order on the setting up of POW camps and
3 that pursuant to the order the duties of different participants in the
4 process are provided in detail. I, myself, however, never saw any such
6 Q. Can you tell us whether Begejci, just as Vukovar, falls within the
7 area of responsibility of the 1st Military District?
8 A. Yes. Begejci was in the area of responsibility of the
9 1st Military District, and -- and it was some 100 kilometres away from the
10 combat area, and that was in accordance with the regulations. However,
11 the -- what the division of these different areas of responsibility
12 were -- was is something that only the commander in charge of an area
13 could know. Unofficially I learnt that the -- that Colonel Mrksic's unit
14 was resubordinated to the commander of the 1st Military District.
15 Q. That was not my question. My question was quite simple. Was
16 Begejci, just as Vukovar, within the area of responsibility of the
17 1st Military District? Did they both fall under the same district?
18 A. Yes, but I took this to be a trick question, and that's why I gave
19 you an answer that I deemed could protect me.
20 Q. Let me phrase it this way: Shortly before the breaking out of the
21 war operations, was Begejci, just as Vukovar, within the area of
22 responsibility of the 1st Military District?
23 A. Yes, but the guards brigade --
24 Q. Sir, my question had to do with the 1st Military District, not the
25 guards brigade.
1 A. The 1st Military District had a peace -- was a peacetime command.
2 Your question had to do with the strategic command, whether it was the --
3 you had to distinguish in your question between the strategic and the
4 operations commands. There were several units there which were operations
5 unit and command -- combined units, and as -- since there were several
6 corps and since there was the operations group under the command of
7 Colonel Mrksic --
8 Q. Can you tell me whether all the units you mentioned now were
9 subordinated to Commander Zivota Panic in the 1st Military District? Do
10 you have any knowledge of that?
11 A. I have no knowledge of that. I cannot really tell you anything
12 about the organisational matters as specific as I would like to.
13 Q. And how come you have knowledge of the corps and the existence of
14 the corps?
15 A. I -- for instance, I heard about the existence of the corps from
16 Arkan himself. I heard Arkan say -- I was with this commander and I -- do
17 you know this general, Mr. So-and-so, and I would say: Yes. And he told
18 me: Well, he's the commander of the corps.
19 Q. So this was the source of your information. Thank you.
20 Can you tell me in what way were the persons who were then
21 questioned by security organs received at the Begejci centre?
22 A. Whenever I cast my mind back to those events and the time I worked
23 there, I feel quite bad. Those were very hard times. I even have some
24 regrets about being there, but at least I have the satisfaction of having
25 given a contribution in terms of uncovering war crimes and perpetrators
2 Q. Did you try to do something to improve the conditions in the
3 centre at Begejci?
4 A. I reported to the commander of the camp who was a logistics
5 officer. He told me that the farm was designated as the venue for a camp
6 because it had been a camp during with World War II when German POWs were
7 held there.
8 Q. Did you submit your request to that effect in writing?
9 A. I tried to make sure that the electricity be introduced there.
10 Later on representatives of different political organisations and TOs came
11 over there, and I drew their attention to the low-living conditions and
12 standards over there. And I indicated the possible consequences of that.
13 Q. Did you ever observe violence being employed against the POWs
15 A. No, I would never have allowed that. I'm speaking frankly. I was
16 always very strict when it comes to the application of the laws and
17 regulations. I informed, for instance, Lieutenant-Colonel Zivanovic to
18 take care that the law is applied or else consequences would ensue. That
19 was something I told my superior, Colonel Tomic, as well.
20 In the course of our work, we would board a mini-bus and start
21 heading from the Zrenjanin barracks and then from the municipal building
22 in Zitiste, and we had a lot of stops on our way and that's how we would
23 come to Zitiste quite late. And we were able to deal with any tasks we
24 had only as long as we had -- it was daylight and that was until 4.00 at
25 the time. In the evening, we would go back to the barracks and that's why
1 I, having been away most of the day, was not really informed about what
2 was going on over there at the barracks -- at the camp.
3 THE INTERPRETER: Interpreter's correction.
4 MR. VASIC: [Interpretation]
5 Q. Were there any visible traces of violence on the faces of the
6 persons you interviewed? Was anyone beaten up or intimidated?
7 A. No. As I stated in my statement, Franjo Kracak was the person I
8 took a statement from. And after a while my impression was that members
9 of groups actually agreed on the versions, colluded in giving their
10 statements. I realised that they were indeed well organised, despite the
11 conditions there, and that this was the way they tried to protect
12 themselves, which goes to show that the conditions were not that bad after
13 all because they were able to choose which room -- which bed to go back to
14 once they are questioned, depending on who they wanted to talk to.
15 Q. Did you ask them whether they were indeed abused?
16 A. Yes. I always ask them about that, and I was known to ask such
18 Q. Who was taken to the collection centre at Begejci, to your
19 knowledge? Which people, from which territories?
20 A. I understood these people to be the ones who care -- who had
21 carried arms. There was civilians there. There were family members as
22 well. There would be a man with his wife and, in some cases, daughters.
23 I understood them to come from the area of Pretpolje, that was the Vukovar
24 defence area, from the villages situated between Ilok and Vukovar. They
25 had all been armed.
1 If, at a later point, you have any questions to put to me about
2 Franjo Kracak specifically, I will answer these questions.
3 Q. My next question has to do with the following: What sort of
4 information did you come by as far as the organisation of HDZ members is
5 concerned into different staffs and the level of their organisation in the
6 area of Ilok?
7 A. Through these interviews I learned that in all the different
8 villages there was HDZ Crisis Staffs in place.
9 Q. You told me that Crisis Staffs of the HDZ were organised
10 everywhere. What was the task of these staffs and how did they go about
11 arming themselves in these villages and which time of year was this
12 specifically in?
13 A. As far as I remember, the process of arming started in the spring
14 of 1991 and lasted until the start of combat operations or the outbreak of
15 the armed conflict. As far as I was able to understand, members of the
16 HDZ and of the HDZ Crisis Staffs first went out to sell automatic rifles
17 that they had been given by Tomislav Mercep and his Territorial Defence
18 staff of Vukovar, as it was initially called. They had to buy the weapons
19 with monies, and weapons originally arrived from Hungary, Romania, and
20 possibly from other countries as well. Some of them bore the insignia
21 pointing to their countries of origin; others didn't.
22 In the second phase with the start of the armed conflict and
23 clashes against JNA units, they were given weapons. These staffs went
24 about establishing units in charge of defending villages, making
25 fortifications, trenches, and so on and so forth. Some of those were
1 called up, were drafted into the units, and others were volunteers.
2 Q. Let us go back to a point in time prior to the period you spoke
4 Before the HDZ started the arming process, did it set up units
5 that were not armed in the local communes and villages and when was that?
6 A. This may have been so, but I wasn't interested in that aspect,
7 which is a political one. I was more interested in the arming process,
8 the crimes, and terrorism.
9 Q. What role did Tomislav Mercep have to play in this process? Do
10 you know anything about that?
11 A. Based on my conversations and my interview with Franjo Kracak, I
12 obtained information on his role. He said he was a member of Tomislav
13 Mercep's Crisis Staff, and he said that he had a number of assignments,
14 firstly, to arm the Crisis Staffs in villages such as Sotin, Tompojevci,
15 Cakovci, Mihalj. There is another village but I would have to use a map
16 to remember.
17 Q. Which period of time are we talking about?
18 A. That was until the summer or until August 1991. And afterwards he
19 was given a variety of assignments when the order came to fortify the
20 defence lines, to fortify Vukovar's defence lines, he had a special permit
21 allowing him to pass through minefields. He would bring with him a mine
22 technician or an obstacle expert from Vukovar. He would bring this expert
23 to the area in order to lay the mines and set up minefields in order to
24 create zones through which the JNA tanks would not be able to pass.
25 Q. What about the mine technician? Did Franjo Kracak use groups of
1 these even before the outbreak of clashes in the Vukovar area?
2 A. Yes. He was a member of the close circle surrounding the leader
3 of the Crisis Staff, Tomislav Mercep, and in this capacity was given
4 special assignments, such as the setting up of the sabotage and terror
5 groups whose tasks were to kidnap certain Serbs, bring them to the Crisis
6 Staff headquarters where there was a prison, and some of them were even
7 taken to the district prison in Osijek.
8 Q. If I understand you correctly, sir, all this happened before the
9 outbreak of armed clashes in the summer of 1991, August 1991, to be more
11 A. Yes. Franjo Kracak said that he used the secret route through the
12 cornfield and across Bogdanovci twice in order to reach the village of
13 Nijemci. He would then cross the JNA lines, the JNA combat lines in order
14 to reach Ilok and the broader Ilok area where a number of special forces
15 brought from Zagreb were stationed. Likewise, he was involved in
16 organising groups that would stay in the area even after the arrival of
17 the JNA. Eventually Franjo Kracak crossed the Danube and fled to Serbia
18 and Vojvodina where he was carrying out certain assignments. That was
19 where he was eventually caught along with the remaining members of his
20 group, the group that he led.
21 In addition to this, I can tell you that Tomislav Mercep had
22 already established a personal group unit, a personal guards unit by this
23 time which was stationed outside the town of Vukovar in Opatovac. They
24 were stationed in number of huts there. They called them the youth club
25 huts. He set up a command there, the guards command at the Nikola Subic
1 Zrinski barracks which was bombed by the JNA air force planes. However,
2 the guards unit had found out by this time that they would be attacked so
3 they fled. The JNA units came into the area and sustained a great deal of
4 casualties and losses.
5 Q. Where did the guards unit flee to, do you know that, Mercep's
6 guards unit, I mean?
7 A. They took shelter at the Eltz palace, the Count Eltz palace in
8 Vukovar. There was some special forces officers there, too, who had
9 arrived from Zagreb. These were, for the most part, instructors training
10 the guards units. There was the famous general, Ante Roso, still a major
11 at the time, who was also there. And that's what I know about what was
12 going on there at the time.
13 Q. I would just like to go back to one thing. During your
14 conversations and interviews with Franjo Kracak, did you perhaps learn
15 that houses belonging to Serbs had been blown up in Vukovar, Sotin, Ilok,
16 between -- in the course of June and July 1991? Were there any such
18 A. Yes, indeed. I learned something about that. This was described
19 in Franjo Kracak's statement. I explained a number of names to him and a
20 number of specific houses. I can't be very specific about this now unless
21 you allow me to go back to my statement, then I can be more accurate about
23 Q. If it's not too difficult, sir, please, would you care to just go
24 through it. I suppose you only need to remind yourself about the names.
1 A. Yes, that's all I'm looking for. I'm just looking for the right
2 page. Zvonko Horvatic, Leko Gojani, Radocaj Josip were all members of his
3 group at the time.
4 As for Serbs whose houses were burned at the time, Torbica, Ilija;
5 Kovacevic, Mirko; Draca, Dusko; Trkulja, Nikica. Another man called
6 Trkulja, his first name is Branko.
7 Q. Thank you very much. We will not be requiring this anymore.
8 What about when you questioned Franjo Kracak, did you learn
9 anything about how the arming process was organised for Ilok and Erdut?
10 Was he involved in those areas, too, in the setting up of military units
11 in those areas?
12 A. No. That was not the way I understood it. He was the commander
13 of Ilok and Vukovar until the JNA units cut across at Babska. They
14 reached the banks of the Danube, and Ilok's defence surrendered. I think
15 this was on the 17th of October, and after that it was gone.
16 Q. You said the defence surrendered. Did you know anything about
17 Franjo Kracak taking any weapons collected in order to be surrendered to
18 the JNA by Vukovar defenders and those in the surroundings and that he
19 took these weapons and gave them to the paramilitary units at Ilok?
20 A. Yes, I learned about that, too. This is another thing that was
21 recorded in the statements of persons that I spoke to.
22 Q. Did you ever come across a person known as Stjepan Radas in these
23 interviews with Franjo Kracak?
24 A. Stjepan Radas was a commander of Mercep's guards unit, prior to
25 which he had served as a JNA officer. I think he was a major in the JNA.
1 Q. What about the summer of 1991, did Franjo Kracak launch any
2 attacks against JNA units or barracks?
3 A. Yes. Franjo Kracak was a true specialist. He was a mortar
4 gunman; that was his military specialty. So he admitted that he had
5 targeted the JNA barracks. He described the whole thing for me. He did
6 not know if he had hit anything or not, but over a long period of time he
7 had a large amount of ammunition available to him which he used to target
8 military facilities, especially JNA barracks.
9 Q. Do you know where this JNA barracks was located, the one that was
10 targeted by Franjo Kracak?
11 A. Well, we're talking about the barracks, which barracks could it
12 be? It was the barracks in which I was on the 19th and 20th of November.
13 It's on the road leading to Vukovar.
14 Q. You're talking about the Vukovar barracks. Right? Okay. So now
15 I know. Can you tell me about the terror operations that Franjo Kracak
16 was planning to carry out in Vojvodina where he was eventually arrested.
17 A. He was not willing to share his assignments with me, but each
18 terrorist and sabotage unit has its objectives as well as places where it
19 is based. I think once they manage to break out, their objective must
20 have been to reach the state border and flee to Hungary. Some of the
21 members of this unit were found. They were hiding with members of
22 different church or organisations in Subotica and Sombor.
23 Q. While interviewing members of this group and Franjo Kracak, did
24 you learn anything about any Serbs who were detained in Vukovar during
25 combat operations, especially in the police building and the All People's
1 Defence building?
2 A. Yes. I learned a thing or two about that through our interviews,
3 but I did not speak to any of the Serbs who had been detained, although it
4 was my desire to get to speak to some of those, too. I do remember being
5 visited by one of the directors at the Borovo company. He wanted to know
6 if there was such and such a person among the POWs. He gave me a name,
7 alleging that this was a person who had in the past physically mistreated
8 him until he fainted on one particular occasion in a bunker in the
9 building holding the headquarters of Tomislav Mercep. He knew this person
10 because this person was a well known boxer from Vukovar.
11 Q. During these interviews, did you at any time learn if active and
12 reserve units of the MUP, the National Guards Corps, and the HOS were ever
13 mobilised and used to attack JNA units and institutions in the summer of
15 A. Yes, I obtained quite some information while carrying out my
16 second or third assignment which entailed an interview with Ivica Bicanic.
17 He worked as an administrator in Vukovar with Stipe Pole at the MUP. His
18 task was to see that all the check-points of Vukovar's defence had
19 sufficient supplies in terms of food, and he was also in charge of
20 supplying communications equipment such as Motorolas. He told me about
21 how the whole thing was organised. At one check-point you had MUP forces,
22 ZNG forces, as well as HOS. They were acting in concert and under a joint
23 command. They had different commanders. Some of the commanders were from
24 MUP and some of the commanders were from the ZNG.
25 Q. And what do you know about this, the HOS, the Croatian defence
1 forces, who were these people?
2 A. You mean the Croatian armed forces, the HOS. These were units
3 belonging to -- well, I can't remember his last name. At any rate, he was
4 killed in Zagreb. They had special assignments. They were a little like
5 special police forces and they had special rules in their own defence
7 Q. You mentioned a man who was a professional boxer and a well known
8 person around Vukovar a while ago. Do you know what this person's name
9 was, the person that that Borovo director was after?
10 A. His name was dropped on that occasion, but that was a long time
11 ago and I can no longer remember.
12 Q. Did you ever learn that Franjo Kracak remained in touch with
13 Vukovar's defence throughout the combat operations in Vukovar?
14 A. Yes, he remained in touch with Tomislav Mercep's Crisis Staff for
15 a long time. As far as I remember, he indicated in his statement that he
16 had been to Vukovar twice on a mission and that he would return through
17 the minefields in the defence area in order to reach the area in which he
18 was supposed to carry out his assignment. In early November, after the
19 village defences had fallen and after the units had been deployed between
20 Ilok and Vukovar, he fled across the Danube. First he went to the bases
21 that were already prepared along the Danube, and then he went on to
23 Q. Was he an expert who was in charge of destroying JNA tanks at
24 Vucedol and at Mitnica?
25 A. You can't give most of the credit to him personally, but he does
1 deserve some credit because he brought that person named Vlado who was an
2 explosive expert. He was from a village called Jabukovac or something
3 like that, somewhere near Ovcara. And Vlado was in charge of laying the
4 mines. I talked to some of the POWs, and they referred to this place as
5 the tank cemetery.
6 Q. Thank you very much. I believe we have enough time for one last
7 question before the break. Do you know that he set up groups that were
8 tasked with silently executing the remaining Serbs in Vukovar?
9 A. Yes. The last group that he led had this assignment. They would
10 storm Serb houses, houses belonging to Serbs who they claimed were members
11 of the SDS, and they would execute these people.
12 Q. Thank you very much. Was Franjo Kracak a member of Vukovar's
13 defence Crisis Staff?
14 A. Yes, he was a member of Vukovar's defence Crisis Staff at the
15 time, for as long as Tomislav Mercep was still around, Marin Pliso, and
16 other members of the Crisis Staff that he was close to.
17 Q. What about after that?
18 A. After that he lost touch with these people and he worked on his
20 Q. Did you file any criminal complaints against Franjo Kracak's group
21 with the district prosecutor?
22 A. My job was to conduct an interview to ascertain the facts, to make
23 sure that the facts were in his statement, and then to forward the case to
24 the military bodies for further investigation and prosecution. I do
25 believe that he was eventually prosecuted, but I'm not sure about what
1 went on later.
2 Q. Yes, certainly. You submitted this to the military investigator,
3 but that was accompanied by the criminal complaint, as is typical pursuant
4 to our law.
5 A. No, I didn't write a criminal complaint nor was I authorised to
6 write one. The criminal complaint was written by lawyers typically, and
7 the security administration had a lawyer working for it who was a colonel.
8 Q. Thank you. And my last question from this group. Do you know
9 whether the members of this group that we are now discussing were
10 exchanged for JNA officers, soldiers, and their families who had been
11 imprisoned in the Republic of Croatia?
12 A. I'm not aware of that, whether that group was exchanged or not. I
13 know from the press that an exchange was organised. I remember that
14 Colonel Starcevic at the time was a member or perhaps a chairman of the
15 exchange commission. And I took to him once a telephone book of the
16 husband of Dr. Vesna Bosanac, Mr. Lavoslav Bosanac. I believe that he
17 would have a use of this telephone book and that I could be accused of
18 keeping it for some obscure reasons.
19 Q. Thank you.
20 MR. VASIC: [Interpretation] Your Honours, if this would be a good
21 time for our break.
22 JUDGE PARKER: Thank you very much, Mr. Vasic.
23 We will have the first break now and resume at five past 4.00.
24 --- Recess taken at 3.42 p.m.
25 --- On resuming at 4.08 p.m.
1 JUDGE PARKER: Yes, Mr. Vasic.
2 MR. VASIC: [Interpretation] Thank you, Your Honour.
3 Q. I would like to go to some details that we touched upon during the
4 first parts of the cross-examination. Something remains unclear to me.
5 The post that you retired from, which was the post within the graduate
6 military schools, did you have a superior there within the security organ?
7 A. Yes, I did have a superior. Up until that time, my superior was
8 chief of security unit within the General Staff of the JNA.
9 Q. Thank you. And you yourself were?
10 A. I retired from the post of the chief of security organ. At the
11 time a re-organisation had been carried out within the JNA and that was
12 the then-organisational structure. I was chief of the security organ
13 within the graduate military school's centre.
14 Q. All right. So we clarified that. Another matter that I wanted to
15 clarify is this: You said that you never filed criminal complaints
16 against people you interviewed, but that rather that was done by a lawyer
17 within the security organ?
18 A. Yes, or a lawyer within the General Staff.
19 Q. Did they write criminal complaints based on reports committed by
21 A. Yes. A criminal complaint for prosecuting the group that we
22 discussed, the group that was tried for terrorism, was submitted as well
23 as draft indictment by the prosecutor who worked for the Federal
24 Secretariat for People's Defence.
25 Q. Yes, that's how it was pursuant to the then-laws.
1 A. Yes, this person worked closely with the military prosecutor.
2 Q. Well, we have to distinguish between a criminal complaint and a
3 request to institute or initiate investigative proceedings. These are two
4 different things. So we have now heard that was done based on the reports
5 that you submitted.
6 I have something else that I would like to clarify, and it has to
7 do with Mr. Lavoslav Bosanac. You said that you took his telephone book
8 in order for it to be given back to him before he was exchanged. Is that
10 A. No. He might have been already exchanged at that point in time.
11 I took this telephone book which was with Vesna Bosanac and then was
12 handed over to me. I in turn took it to Colonel Starcevic who was the
13 president of the military portion of the commission for exchange of
14 prisoners of war.
15 Q. Do you know Mr. Starcevic was a colonel at the time, wasn't he,
16 and who were the other members of this commission?
17 A. I'm not aware of that. I think that people on the commission for
18 exchange were officers of the legal department within the security
19 administration or perhaps people from the moral guidance department, and a
20 JNA prosecutor must have been involved in this, or the JNA prosecutor's
21 office had to be involved. This commission was established pursuant to
22 the order of Federal Secretary [as interpreted] for People's Defence. The
23 exchanges were conducted pursuant to lists and in accordance with the
24 position taken by the prime minister and defence minister at the time; Mr.
25 Panic was the prime minister. And the principle applied was all for all.
1 Q. Do you know that prior to the decision taken by the prime
2 minister, Mr. Panic, an operation was conducted by the security
3 administration in order to collect or gather persons who would be
4 exchanged for the JNA officers, soldiers, and their soldiers who had been
5 imprisoned in the territory of Croatia by Croatian forces and were unable
6 to leave the territory of Croatia. Are you aware of that?
7 A. All I'm aware of is that the first person who was exchanged and
8 had to do with my line of work in the Sremska Mitrovica camp was
9 Dr. Sadika Bilus. She was head of one of the wards in the Vukovar
10 Hospital, and she was among the first to be exchanged for the JNA pilots
11 imprisoned in Croatia.
12 Q. Was any of the other persons that you interviewed exchanged later
13 on? Do you know of any such cases?
14 A. At the time, I didn't know for which persons the group headed by
15 Dr. Bosanac was exchanged for. Later I heard that these were citizens of
16 Croatia who were in prison and had been prosecuted for espionage,
17 terrorist acts, and so on.
18 Q. We're trying to say that they were members of a group known as --
19 THE INTERPRETER: The interpreters didn't hear the name of the
21 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Yes.
22 MR. VASIC: [Interpretation]
23 Q. Thank you. Now we're going to turn to another topic.
24 Concerning the transcript, the group was known as the Labrador
1 A. Yes. I heard subsequently that these were members of the Labrador
2 group, that they were prosecuted and convicted. At the time I didn't know
3 whether a final judgement had been passed in relation to Dr. Bosanac as
4 well. I also didn't know whether these persons received a judgement or
5 were perhaps exchanged before the judgement was passed down.
6 Q. Did you know at the time what were the tasks and activities of the
7 Labrador group?
8 A. I had occasion to read some statements, some judgements. And
9 based on that I realised that explosives were found on many of them, and
10 that based on expert analysis it was established that these explosive --
11 that this explosive had belonged to the JNA.
12 Q. Thank you. Let us now go back to the 19th of November, 1991. You
13 told us that the security administration sent you to your new mission in
14 Sremska Mitrovica where a new centre for reception of prisoners of war --
15 A. A camp for prisoners of war.
16 Q. A camp for prisoners of war from the territory of Vukovar. What
17 was the goal in establishing this camp?
18 A. I don't know that. The goal and the task must be written down in
19 the order for establishing this camp. I didn't see this order. I
20 received my orders from my immediate superior. My personal task was to
21 interview prisoners of war in order to uncover crimes and those who
22 committed them.
23 Q. So the same task that you carried out in the camp in Begejci?
24 A. Yes, correct.
25 Q. Were you told that persons who are not prosecuted because it is
1 not established that they committed crimes would be exchanged for the JNA
3 A. Yes, and the exchange lists were drafted up immediately. I
4 remember that it was first the medical personnel who was exchanged; later
5 on it was some civilians. There was no reason to prosecute them. They
6 were exchanged for some Serbs from the territory of Croatia, or perhaps
7 for some soldiers who were in prisons or in camps in Croatia.
8 Q. When you arrived in Sremska Mitrovica you were told that your team
9 would receive some additional personnel from the security administration.
10 Is that right?
11 A. Yes.
12 Q. Can we then conclude that the tasks associated with interviewing
13 these persons were conducted by the officers of the security
14 administration and officers of the 1st Military District?
15 A. I would kindly ask you to put that question to General Aleksandar
16 Vasiljevic and to put questions to me which pertain solely to my tasks
17 within my scope of authorities.
18 Q. All right. When carrying out your tasks interviewing these
19 persons, did you see any members or representatives of civilian
20 authorities of Baranja, Slavonia, and Srem taking part in this kind of
22 A. Yes, I did see them. And I also had occasion to meet again the
23 minister of justice in the government of Eastern Slavonia, Baranja, and
24 Srem, Mr. Vojin Susa. He brought a group of lawyers with him. I believe
25 that there were four or five, maybe even six of them. They audited -- or
1 rather, supervised our work, as far as I'm concerned at least. I don't
2 know who else's work they supervised, but definitely mine.
3 Q. You said that when you were given this task you were told that a
4 new POW camp was being established, that a large number of POWs was
5 expected. Did they, when telling you this, use the term a large number of
6 Ustashas? Was this the term used by the Supreme Command and the officers
7 of the 1st Military District?
8 A. I'm not aware of that. The first time I heard this term used was
9 in the area of responsibility -- or rather, at the command headquarters of
10 Colonel Mrksic and also in the meetings with Major Sljivancanin. I also
11 heard this when Colonel Tomic asked Major Sljivancanin how many captured
12 Ustashas there were.
13 Q. Did you have occasion to see any order from this period of time or
14 any report of the command of the 1st Military District which dealt with
15 the captured persons?
16 A. No, I did not have occasion to see or hear of any such order.
17 Q. Very well. Thank you.
18 A. I can add that the head of the Sremska Mitrovica camp was
19 appointed by the head of the security administration. I stated so in my
20 statement. This was Colonel Jugoslav Maksimovic. He also signed his name
21 and his title as camp commander.
22 Q. And he was subordinated to the head of the security
24 A. Absolutely.
25 Q. Yesterday you described to us how you arrived in Sid. What would
1 you say if I told you that Colonel Kijanovic, whom you mentioned yesterday
2 as a member of your group, claims that back in Sid you were declared to be
3 the head of this group?
4 A. I would like to face him here before this Trial Chamber and before
5 you, face Colonel Kijanovic so that we can harmonise our statements.
6 Q. If I tell you that Colonel Tomic, whom you described as the head
7 of the group, was at that time a man of advanced age, unlike you, and that
8 he came to your group as a volunteer and not at the request of the
9 security administration as you, would you then accept my claim that it was
10 you who headed this group and not Colonel Tomic?
11 A. No, I would not accept that. And I can explain this and give you
12 some facts, if necessary.
13 Q. Were you not the most experienced individual in that group invited
14 by the security administration precisely because of your prior experience
15 in fighting the internal enemy. Unlike you, Colonel Tomic was a
16 participant of World War II.
17 A. No, I would not accept this position. Colonel Tomic had worked in
18 the security organs for many years. He fought in the war, yes. Both of
19 us were born in Western Slavonia. He was born a bit closer that Jasenovac
20 than I was; however, both of us were from that general area. He has
21 experience from World War II, perhaps greater than mine, when it comes to
22 Jasenovac, Ustashas, and the like.
23 Q. So you are claiming that the security administration appointed a
24 volunteer to head the group rather than an expert who was asked to come
25 from retirement in order to take part in this?
1 A. In accordance with the law on All People's Defence, if you
2 research this in some detail you will find that the head of the security
3 administration and the head of the security organ within an army and those
4 at his level, such as chief of navy and chief of air force, are authorised
5 to issue an order to establish operations groups with special tasks, that
6 these groups can comprise volunteers and active-duty members.
7 MR. MOORE: Could I just interrupt for one moment.
8 With the utmost respect, my recollection is that the question was
9 put that Colonel Tomic was a volunteer and whether this witness knew it.
10 The reply was that he did not know basically one way or other that Tomic
11 was the leader of the group. The situation is that my learned friend then
12 says in the question at 40.13: "So you're claiming that the security
13 administration appointed a volunteer to head the group rather than an
15 He is not claiming that; he is saying simply that he does not know
16 if Tomic is a volunteer or not. And it is a proposition that is being
17 placed before the Court by my learned friend.
18 JUDGE PARKER: Thank you, Mr. Moore.
19 Mr. Vasic?
20 MR. VASIC: [Interpretation] Your Honour, I believe the difficulty
21 lies in the linguistic aspect, in the interpretation. I don't think the
22 witness said that Mr. Tomic was a volunteer.
23 Q. Did you know that Mr. Tomic was a volunteer?
24 A. No. If I may, Colonel Tomic was also summoned to the meeting,
25 first at the security administration and that at Colonel Radojevic's
1 because Colonel Tomic was also working in the security administration
2 where Colonel Radojevic was serving, too.
3 Q. Do you wish to claim that Colonel Tomic never stated that he had
4 reported as a volunteer to the group?
5 A. Well, I was there on a voluntary basis as well because I was part
6 of the reserve force and was asked to state whether I agreed to join the
7 group. I was, therefore, asked to come of my own accord.
8 Q. The question put to you was: Did Colonel Tomic ever tell you that
9 he was a volunteer?
10 A. Not in those terms, no.
11 Q. Very well. What would you say if I told you that Colonel Tomic,
12 while he was alive, said that he received a phone call and that he was
13 supposed to go to Sremska Mitrovica and that you were, in fact, the head
14 of the group?
15 A. Well, it was his right to defend himself. If Colonel Tomic were
16 here now today, of course we would look each other in the eyes and compare
17 our statements.
18 I can also tell you that prior to his death, which was I believe
19 about one month before he died, Colonel Tomic invited me and another
20 colleague of ours to visit him after surgery. He told me at the time:
21 You have to apply to be a witness.
22 And my reply to him was: Perhaps you will live to be a witness,
24 In this conversation of ours, he told me -- or rather, he
25 indirectly indicated that he wasn't telling the truth. And I'm sorry to
1 have to tell you this now.
2 Q. Thank you. When you set out from Sremska Mitrovica to Sid, you
3 said that you were driven in a military vehicle that was signed for by
4 Colonel Kijanovic. What sort of a vehicle was it?
5 A. It was the vehicle of the Zastava make, and we popularly call it
6 in Serbia Kec. I can tell you that Colonel Kijanovic signed up for the
7 vehicle and that the vehicle belonged to Colonel Radojevic's unit, that he
8 was the one who had to account for the fuel use, that he was the one who
9 had the vehicle serviced. I can also tell you that Colonel Kijanovic was
10 retired only from the Yugoslav army and not from the JNA, as I had heard.
11 Q. In response to the question put by my learned friend, you said
12 that upon your arrive in Sid you pulled up the vehicle and that Colonel
13 Tomic went over to Colonel Petkovic's and you stayed behind in the car.
14 Is that right?
15 A. Yes, but I was not the only one left in the vehicle. There were
16 three other senior officers with me, and they will also have to state
17 their opinion and the truth. And that would be my appeal, that they
18 should be invited to state the truth here.
19 Q. Could you repeat the names of these -- could you tell the names of
20 these officers?
21 A. First of all, Kijanovic, Colonel Kijanovic; Slobodan Stosic,
22 captain first class; Stevan Mirkovic, warrant officer.
23 When Colonel Tomic returned and told us that we would be given our
24 assignment by Colonel Mrksic and that we were to go to the command post at
25 Negoslavci next, he also told us that to that end we would be escorted by
1 an armoured combat vehicle that would go ahead of us, as I stated in my
3 Q. What would you say if I were to tell you that Colonel Kijanovic
4 states that all -- together, all of you went to see -- with Colonel
5 Kijanovic, you went to see Colonel Radojevic. What would you say to that?
6 A. I would say it's not true.
7 Q. You told us that General Babic's and Colonel Petkovic's command
8 post was housed in the post office building?
9 A. That's not what I said. I said that the headquarters of Colonel
10 Petkovic were in the post office building in Sid. That's probably his
11 command post. We met with Colonel Babic during the night or in the early
12 morning hours as we were coming back from Negoslavci. That was between
13 the 20th and the 21st of November, 1991.
14 Q. Did you come across him in the post office building?
15 A. In the post office building on the floor where Colonel Petkovic
16 had his office, although he was not there. Only Slavko -- only Colonel
17 Slavko Tomic went into the office and stayed there for some time.
18 Q. Did General Babic have his office in this post office building
19 that you entered?
20 A. I don't think so, although it may have been the case. I did not
21 understand it to be his office, but rather as a room where General Babic
22 would sometimes be present, where we had our coffee, and some cognac.
23 Q. Was there a desk at which General Babic was seated?
24 A. He was sitting on the desk.
25 Q. Can you tell us then where General Babic's headquarters was?
1 A. I don't know.
2 Q. Did you expect to find General Babic there?
3 A. No, I didn't. When we entered the building, Colonel Tomic greeted
4 General Babic first. Shortly afterwards I went to Colonel Ljubisa
5 Petkovic's office. He came out of the office to greet us, and I don't
6 know who else was there in Colonel Petkovic's office.
7 Q. At the time, did you have any professional dealings with General
9 A. I was not General Babic's subordinate, except for the fact that I
10 was duty-bound to consult him, as in fact I did, and to say hello to him.
11 Q. My question was whether you had cooperated on some matters.
12 A. We may have cooperated at the time when we were officers holding
13 the ranks of lieutenant-colonel and colonel. He used to work for the
14 security administration once, just as I did.
15 Q. In late 1991, did you have any professional dealings with him at
16 the time?
17 A. I cannot say that I was ever given any assignments from him, nor
18 could he have given any to me without the knowledge of Aleksandar
20 Q. Do you know whether at the time in the post office building in Sid
21 the elements of the counter-intelligence service of the air force were to
22 be found there?
23 A. I'm not aware of that. I did not see any such members there,
24 except for the fact that I had heard of a colonel, and I can't remember
25 his name now. He must have been in that building as well, but he --
1 although he wore an air force uniform, he must have belonged or been a
2 member of Colonel Petkovic's staff.
3 Q. You said that after this brief stay in Sid you went over to
4 Negoslavci. Did you find out what your task was going to be as -- already
5 in Sid, or was it something that could be derived from the tasks that were
6 given to you while you were leaving Begejci to go to Sremska Mitrovica?
7 A. Well, in the statements I gave, including the one before this
8 Tribunal, I stated that Colonel Tomic stated in Mitrovica that he had
9 spoken to Colonel Ljubisa Petkovic, who told me that we were supposed to
10 go over to Sid immediately to see him, that the fall of Vukovar was
11 imminent, that there would be a large number of prisoners, and that we
12 would be charged with organising -- with organising the taking in of
13 prisoners and placing them in the camp. The only thing we were told by
14 Colonel Tomic was: Lads, we're moving ahead. We're supposed to report to
15 Colonel Mrksic in Negoslavci, where we would be given our mission.
16 Q. While Colonel Petkovic was telling you what your assignment would
17 be, as you put it just now, did you inform your superiors in the security
18 administration of the task given to you by Colonel Petkovic?
19 A. I did not receive my mission from Colonel Petkovic. I did not see
20 him on this occasion except when I was on my way back. It was then
21 that -- or rather, on this occasion, only Slavko Tomic went to see
22 Colonel Petkovic, and I can vouch for that.
23 Q. My question to you was whether your superiors in the security
24 administration were aware of the fact that your group was given a mission
25 from Colonel Petkovic and that you were relocated.
1 A. I was not aware of that. Colonel Tomic and Colonel Petkovic may
2 have been informed of that. Since both of them are dead, I stand by what
3 I said before. However, there are other eye-witnesses.
4 Q. Tell me, as an officer of the security administration of many
5 years and as part of a group that was sent by the security administration,
6 could you have been given an assignment by someone else without letting
7 the administration know?
8 A. No. Nobody could give us any such assignment because our group
9 was acting exclusively on the orders of the chief of the security
11 Q. The assignment you referred to that you say was given by Colonel
12 Petkovic through Colonel Tomic, which consisted of taking prisoners of war
13 in when you were called from Sid?
14 A. Yes, to take part in this.
15 Q. Was this assignment identical to the assignment you were given in
16 Negoslavci, the reception and evacuation of POWs?
17 A. I cannot give you 100 per cent -- an answer with 100 per cent
18 certainty. Under the rules of international laws of war, the task of the
19 military police is set forth, but the task of the security bodies in
20 relation to the POWs is not provided for. However, there is one item
21 wherein it is stated that the setting up of the first camp and of a POW
22 camp is something that is to be governed by the regulations issued by the
23 federal secretary. Indirectly this means that there are such regulations,
24 although we cannot see any here.
25 Q. My question had to do with one matter only. You told us that
1 Colonel Tomic had relayed to you the task given by Colonel Petkovic to the
2 effect that your group was to go to the Vukovar area to receive and
3 evacuate POWs. Is that right?
4 A. To take part in receiving the POWs and to assist.
5 Q. In terms of the substance of the task, is it not identical to the
6 task given to you in Negoslavci, to take the POWs in or to receive them
7 and evacuate them?
8 A. I will refer you back to my statement in that respect.
9 Q. Please answer with a yes or no.
10 A. Could you please repeat the question once more.
11 Q. I will. You told us that you were given an assignment by Colonel
12 Petkovic to go to the Vukovar area -- or rather, before that to go to
13 Sremska Mitrovica and then to Vukovar with the task of participating in
14 receiving and evacuating prisoners of war. Is that right?
15 A. To assist in that.
16 Q. Did you receive an identical task, essentially, to this one in
18 A. No.
19 Q. What sort of task were you given in Negoslavci?
20 A. As I've already stated before this Honourable Chamber and in my
21 statement, Colonel Mrksic was given the assignment . That was my
22 understanding. He relayed his task to Major Sljivancanin. Major
23 Sljivancanin, in turn, informed us of this task.
24 Q. Sir, my question to you was whether, in essence, these were
25 identical tasks, not -- I'm not asking you who or whether anybody relayed
1 that task to you, but rather whether these were essentially the same
3 A. I cannot give you a specific answer because I did not receive the
4 task from Colonel Petkovic. I had heard of the task from Colonel Tomic,
5 who had relayed it to me, and it had to do with assisting in that matter.
6 Q. Yes. But in terms of its substance, the task given to you by
7 Colonel Tomic, was it essentially the same to the task given by Colonel
9 A. I had heard of the task from Colonel Tomic.
10 MR. MOORE: I'm sorry, how is my learned friend [sic] to answer
11 that question if in actual fact he wasn't privy to what Petkovic said to
13 JUDGE PARKER: It's a valid point, Mr. Moore.
14 MR. VASIC: [Interpretation] Your Honours, I've just asked the
15 witness what Colonel Tomic had told him about what he had heard from
16 Colonel Petkovic what their assignment was, and was this assignment
17 essentially the same as the one they had received in Negoslavci. This is
18 the fifth time I'm asking the question, and I can't seem to receive a
19 proper answer.
20 JUDGE PARKER: I didn't receive the task myself, I've only heard.
21 MR. VASIC: [Interpretation] Indeed, Your Honour, thank you. But
22 I'm asking the witness whether what he heard on the mission was the same
23 as the assignment they had been given at Negoslavci. That's my question.
24 JUDGE PARKER: He answered that fairly specifically a little
25 earlier. The question was whether he was to assist or to do it or whether
1 the group was to merely assist or to do it is the difference.
2 MR. VASIC: [Interpretation] Yes. I don't think the witness was
3 sufficiently clear in answering my question, and that's why I'm trying
4 this hard. I'll try it like this. Which --
5 JUDGE PARKER: I understood it clearly. I think the difference,
6 in simple terms, is whether it was Colonel Mrksic's task or whether it was
7 this group's task. Is that not the point?
8 MR. VASIC: [Interpretation] No, not quite. Your Honour, I didn't
9 get to whether this was Colonel Mrksic's task or not. And once we've done
10 that, we can go back to this topic.
11 Q. You say that Colonel Mrksic got an assignment. Did you actually
12 see him receive an assignment or an order? Did you hear about him
13 receiving an assignment, or is that just an inference that you are making?
14 A. I heard that he had received an assignment.
15 Q. Heard from whom?
16 A. From Major Sljivancanin. He said: There is a plan, which meant
17 there are sufficient forces to carry out this mission. I took that to be
18 a reference to us as well. I took that to include us, because we were
19 also forces contributing to the completion of that task or assignment.
20 Q. Were you told whose plan this was, whose mission this was, and who
21 ordered this plan to be designed?
22 A. Major Sljivancanin didn't share that with me. I don't know if he
23 knew or not, but obviously there was some sort of plan, because otherwise
24 there would have been no plan to carry out, would there? It would have
25 required an enormous amount of resources and forces to carry out a task
1 like that. A camp needed to be organised at Sremska Mitrovica to receive
2 these people. This required coordination between at least two different
3 ministries: The justice ministry and the defence ministry. The task had
4 to be carried out, physically carried out, I mean.
5 Q. Did you see an order to that effect, or is that just an inference
6 that you're drawing?
7 A. I did not see a physical order, but I saw the way things were
8 organised and that had implications that I described, both in my statement
9 and my testimony before this Trial Chamber. There must have been a plan;
10 that much is obvious.
11 Q. How then do you know that Colonel Mrksic was the one who received
12 this assignment? You didn't see the order, you had no idea which
13 particular body had issued this order.
14 A. The POWs were within Colonel Mrksic's area of responsibility. The
15 building inside which the POWs were being kept was within Colonel Mrksic's
16 area of responsibility. It was being guarded by Colonel Mrksic's military
17 police officers.
18 Q. Thank you very much. We'll come to that. But wasn't this also
19 General Zivota Panic's area of responsibility? Wasn't this also Mile
20 Babic's and Ljubisa Petkovic's area of responsibility? Wasn't this also
21 Aleksandar Vasiljevic's area of responsibility?
22 A. Sir, as a professional soldier I know what "area of
23 responsibility" means. The whole of Yugoslavia was an area of
24 responsibility protected by its constitution. Everybody was responsible
25 for something, as you know. You have a brigade-level unit or an
1 operations group, and each of these would have their own areas of
2 responsibility. Colonel Mrksic I'm sure knows exactly what his own area
3 of responsibility comprised and which specific units. I'd be hard put to
5 Q. Tell me, sir, when you received your assignment from Colonel
6 Petkovic, which was relayed to you by Colonel Tomic, what exactly did he
7 do? What were you supposed to do now?
8 A. We were supposed to assist. To assist.
9 Q. What does that mean, "to assist"?
10 A. That means to go on doing what we had been doing. I did tell you
11 that some of the people worked in a way which was less than honourable. I
12 did what I took to be my task. That was what I did.
13 Q. I'm not sure I understand you. What exactly was your job there?
14 You didn't share that with us. What specific steps were you meant to
16 A. We were meant to assist, to give them a hand. You realise what my
17 task was about. Colonel Tomic spoke to everyone and transferred his
18 responsibility to me, saying that I would be in charge of the boarding or
19 separation of POWs at the Velepromet facility. I accepted that. I
20 accepted that to be my assignment, and I made sure that my assignment was
21 carried out in the way I have been described before this Trial Chamber,
22 including the additional explanations that you have requested and that I
23 have provided.
24 Q. What you've just told us you did, would that fall under the
25 definition of reception and evacuation of prisoners of war? Do you think
1 this would be encompassed by that definition?
2 A. With the exception of the part that relates to me and no one else,
3 when I said: I am taking over command, I personally am taking over
4 command. Because that's what I told Mr. Sljivancanin's subordinate
6 If I may, I would also like to tell you how Major Sljivancanin
7 relayed this assignment, if you want me to.
8 Q. I'm just asking you about the substance of your assignment. We'll
9 get to all these other things. Thank you, sir.
10 While you were at Sid, were you informed that members of the
11 National Guards Corps and other paramilitary formations of Croatia were
12 hiding in the hospital and elsewhere in Vukovar in a bid to avoid capture?
13 A. Nothing at Sid, nothing at Mitrovica. We heard nothing about
14 these things. I had no idea where Negoslavci was, to begin with,
15 geographically speaking, until I got there. I had no idea about what our
16 assignment would be after we had been told by Colonel Mrksic and after our
17 assignment was relayed by Major Sljivancanin.
18 Q. Colonel Tomic went to see Colonel Petkovic and then he was back,
19 at least that's what you claim. Upon his return, did Colonel Petkovic not
20 assign to you a group of officers from the security administration, the
21 1st Military District, to go with you --
22 THE INTERPRETER: The interpreter didn't hear where.
23 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] No, he did not give us a group of
24 officers. He gave us an armoured combat vehicle to drive us to Colonel
25 Mrksic's command post.
1 Excuse me, sir, if you could please try to pay attention, and then
2 perhaps you may grasp my answer. We found Colonel Petkovic's operations
3 group there once we arrived in Negoslavci.
4 MR. VASIC: [Interpretation]
5 Q. Thank you. What about when you gave a statement to the
6 investigating magistrate of the military court on the 28th of February,
7 2000. You said something else, didn't you, that you left Sid in two
8 vehicles, two cars, and in the other car there was a group of officers
9 assigned to you by Colonel Petkovic. That was what you said at the time.
10 Do you remember that?
11 A. I know what was taken down in that particular statement --
12 MR. MOORE: I'm sorry, I thought that we had established a
13 practice that if in actual fact there is going to be a challenge about
14 what has been said on a previous occasion that the document should be
15 shown on each and every occasion and the reference be given so both sides
16 know exactly to what we're referring. It's unfair on the witness if this
17 is done in this way.
18 I would merely ask that, as before, a document is produced and a
19 reference given.
20 MR. VASIC: [Interpretation] Thank you, Your Honour. I can do that
21 for my learned friend, no problem at all, but I just wanted to hurry
22 things along, especially since the witness does not seem to be challenging
23 the fact that he did say that. For my learned friend's reference, the
24 page number is 3 of the B/C/S of the transcript.
25 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Sir, Mr. Vasic, I know that this was
1 recorded, but that wasn't what I said at the time to the investigating
2 magistrate. I said that an armoured combat vehicle was driving ahead of
3 our vehicle. Please excuse me for what I'm about to say. Slavko Tomic
4 was sort of joking and was saying things like: I said that we drove all
5 the way to Negoslavci in an armoured combat vehicle. And what you should
6 do now is check his statement, not mine.
7 JUDGE PARKER: Mr. Vasic, I'm giving you as free a hand as
8 possible in this cross-examination, but if you want the Chamber to take
9 any accurate notice of any differences of account, you need to go through
10 the procedure of having the witness look at what was said before, agree
11 what is there, agree it's different, and then the witness add any
12 explanation. Now, that hasn't been done. You know what the witness's
13 present statement is about these events. Okay? So if you want us to
14 notice a difference, do it properly.
15 MR. VASIC: [Interpretation] Thank you for your guidance, Your
16 Honour. That is precisely what I'm about to do.
17 Can I have the usher's assistance, please, and I would like to
18 show the witness a copy of his own statement to the military court,
19 28th of February, 2000, page 3. I've highlighted the relevant portion for
21 For my learned friend's benefit, as well as that of the Trial
22 Chamber --
23 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Your Honours, I have read --
24 MR. VASIC: [Interpretation] For my learned friend and the Chamber,
25 this is page 3 also.
1 Q. Sir, could you please slowly read out loud the passage that I have
3 A. Mr. Vasic, I've read the passage.
4 Q. No, please, read it out loud so that we can have it on the
6 A. "Once in Sid we reported to Colonel Ljubisa Petkovic, who was
7 coordinating the work of the security body of the 1st Army. He was in
8 charge of the reception, selection, and distribution of prisoners of war.
9 The only person who talked to him was Slavko Tomic, while the rest of us
10 waited in the car. He assigned to us his own operations group, and we
11 drove off in two cars across Tovarnik to the village of Negoslavci. Once
12 we reached the command post of Operations Group Jug, we reported to the
13 commander, Colonel Mrksic."
14 Q. That appears to be quite a clear statement. Did you, in fact,
15 state this, sir?
16 A. No. I will tell you exactly what the catch is about this whole
17 thing. All of this is true, but the bit that says: "He assigned to
18 us," "he assigned," Colonel Petkovic, to us an armoured vehicle which
19 drove off ahead of us across Tovarnik all the way to Negoslavci, that's
20 what it should say. Once there, we found Colonel Petkovic's operations
21 group in the area; they joined us on this mission.
22 Q. So you're still claiming what you're saying now. You said the
23 very same thing to the investigating magistrate, and the way he recorded
24 these matters was fallacious or he simply got it wrong?
25 A. Yes, and I can tell you about this, too. When we spoke to Colonel
1 Tomic he was sort of joking, and he said: I was the one who told them
2 that we drove there in an armoured combat vehicle.
3 Then I asked him: Why did you say that?
4 And he said: Well, I just wanted to avoid having to mention
5 Colonel Kijanovic driving one of those vehicles belonging to the security
6 administration. I wanted to talk my way around the fact that he was the
7 one driving us there.
8 Q. And when you were interviewed by the investigating judge in
9 Novi Sad and when you gave the corrections which we have mentioned here,
10 you did not point this out, did you?
11 A. Well, this cannot be corrected, Mr. Vasic, and you know this fully
12 well. What is once written down cannot be corrected. This can just be
13 clarified later on. You will have occasion to see other witnesses here,
14 and you will hear from them, and then you'll be able to make your
15 conclusions as to whether I'm telling the truth or not. Mr. Vasic, I
16 wasn't alone there. There were very many people there.
17 Q. Thank you.
18 MR. VASIC: [Interpretation] We will not be needing the statement
19 any longer. Thank you.
20 Q. You told us that you arrived in Negoslavci and found there this
21 group belonging to the security organ -- or rather, the security organ of
22 the 1st Military District?
23 A. Yes, and the commander of this group was Muncan, Dragan. He might
24 have been a major already, I'm not sure.
25 Q. Did this group become a part of your group or not?
1 A. No, they were with our group, but they also carried out some
2 assignments of their own, as they told us they had been there already for
3 quite some time.
4 Q. You said that they had some assignments of their own. Does this
5 mean that they also carried out some assignments which they received from
6 your group?
7 A. No. They could not have received any assignments from our group
8 because they did not belong to our group, and this would violate the
9 subordination principle. I don't think that General Mile Babic would have
10 consented to this. In addition to that, I also think that Aleksandar
11 Vasiljevic would have objected to this, too. He was the most senior
12 officer within the security administration, and he was certainly
13 authorised to supervise and monitor the work of any of us.
14 Q. And he could have ordered for this group to be joined to your
15 group. Isn't that right?
16 A. Yes, he could have, but only in writing.
17 Q. Thank you. You said that you came to the headquarters of the
18 Operations Group South on the 19th of November at around 2000 hours. Can
19 you describe to us where this command post of the operations group was in
21 A. It was in the village of Negoslavci. The building, I would
22 describe it as a villa, was on the left of the road leading to Vukovar.
23 It had two storeys, if I remember correctly, and a well-built basement. I
24 only stayed on the ground floor, which is where our operation -- or
25 rather, which is where the operations room was. And this is where Colonel
1 Mrksic met with us.
2 Q. Thank you. Were there any other rooms there or did you see just
3 this one room that you called operations room?
4 A. There was another small room which was on that same level, perhaps
5 a few steps above, but on that floor. I didn't go into any other rooms,
6 nor do I know what the floor looked like.
7 Q. And what was there in that room?
8 A. An operations map and a desk -- or rather, a table and some
10 Q. Why did you go into that room?
11 A. We received a part of our briefing there, what Colonel Mrksic had
12 to say to us about the tasks of the brigade, about the combat.
13 Q. So he told you this in this small room?
14 A. Yes, yes.
15 Q. And when you were in the operations group, when was that?
16 A. When we greeted him and Colonel Pavkovic and Lieutenant-Colonel --
17 THE INTERPRETER: The interpreters didn't hear the name.
18 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] -- who was the Chief of Staff of
19 Colonel Mrksic.
20 MR. VASIC: [Interpretation]
21 Q. Since you mentioned Colonel Pavkovic, was he a representative of
22 the Supreme Command there?
23 A. Yes, that's what I said. And this is the capacity of his that I
24 was aware.
25 Q. The interpreter didn't hear the name. This had to do with Colonel
1 Pavkovic -- or rather, he was a colonel at that time.
2 A. Yes, I am only referring to the ranks as these persons held at the
3 time, at the relevant time.
4 Q. You said that you were also given some assignments in the small
5 room. And who was present there when this situation in Vukovar was
6 described to you?
7 A. Tomic, Kijanovic, myself, Stosic, also security officers from the
8 group of Major Muncan, or Captain First Class. Occasionally Major
9 Sljivancanin would be present as well.
10 JUDGE PARKER: Mr. Vasic, the name that wasn't picked up was the
11 name of the Chief of Staff of Colonel Mrksic. I don't think that has been
12 clarified in the transcript.
13 MR. VASIC: [Interpretation] Thank you, Your Honours. You are
14 quite right. I did not register that. I believed that another name was a
16 Q. Would you please repeat who was the Chief of Staff of Colonel
18 A. Lieutenant-Colonel Panic.
19 Q. Miodrag Panic?
20 A. Yes.
21 Q. You said that on the 19th you spent some time in Negoslavci and
22 then set out to Vukovar later on. On the 19th of November, did you see
23 anywhere in Negoslavci the chief of the security administration,
24 Mr. Vasiljevic?
25 A. No, I didn't see him anywhere, even though I expected to see him.
1 Q. What about his deputy, Mr. Tumanov?
2 A. I didn't see him either. I didn't expect to see him.
3 Q. Can you tell us then how come you expected to see Mr. Vasiljevic?
4 A. I believed this task to be so highly responsible that it had to
5 warrant the presence of the chief of security administration in terms of
6 its operative value. When it comes to prisoners of war, this was a
7 complex task, and the most senior officers, the most responsible officers
8 had certain tasks in relation to this plan.
9 Q. Did you ever hear that Mr. Vasiljevic was in Negoslavci that
10 evening? Did you hear that he stated so himself when testifying in the
11 Milosevic case?
12 A. No, I didn't hear that, and I would have liked to have seen him
14 Q. When asked by my learned friend, I believe that you said that
15 Colonel Mrksic, in describing the situation in Vukovar to you, also said
16 that he had met with Marin Vidic?
17 A. Yes.
18 Q. And that Marin Vidic signed a document on the surrender of
19 Croatian forces?
20 A. Yes.
21 Q. Are you sure that Mr. Mrksic said this to you? Because the
22 position of my client is that he had never with Mr. Vidic in Vukovar, that
23 Mr. Vidic never signed any document on general surrender of Croatian
24 forces, but that the surrender, rather, unfolded in agreement with local
25 commanders, such as the instance in Mitnica where Colonel Pavkovic
1 negotiated with Croatian commanders.
2 A. I do not believe that I did not hear this there, at the command
3 post. And I can further claim that I did hear this.
4 Q. Who did you hear this from?
5 A. I said that I had heard this from Colonel Mrksic. If Marin Vidic,
6 as a representative and as a plenipotentiary as an authorised person of
7 the Croatian government and President Tudjman at the time signed a
8 document on surrender, then he could have submitted it only to Colonel
9 Mrksic, who was the most senior commander in that area of responsibility.
10 This is how the international laws of war regulate this.
11 Q. Yes, but you have no information as to whether Marin Vidic signed
12 a capitulation document -- or rather, a document on surrender of Croatian
13 forces Do you know whether such a document was ever signed?
14 A. I never talked to Marin Vidic as a prisoner of war; this was done
15 by Colonel Slavko Tomic. Had I interviewed them, I would be in the
16 position to give you a very explicit answer now.
17 Q. Certainly. But tell me, please, what did Mrs. Bosanac tell you
18 about this? Was she aware of the activities of Marin Vidic in relation to
19 the surrender of Croatian forces?
20 A. As far as I remember, she said that Marin Vidic was what he was,
21 that he was a member of the main Crisis Staff, and that she didn't like it
22 when Marin Vidic moved the Crisis Staff into the hospital. I would have
23 to consult the statement written by Mrs. Bosanac. However, when they took
24 this statement away from me, I never saw it again.
25 Q. Perhaps we will get to this statement later on and the interview
1 held with Vesna Bosanac, but we're now dealing with the events in
3 When discussing the situation in Vukovar, was it ever mentioned
4 that there was an order to collect the prisoners of war in order to carry
5 out a triage and perhaps exchange them for the members of the JNA? Are
6 you aware that such a request ever came in from the security
8 A. No, no. Our first task was the evacuation from the combat area.
9 This is what the rules envision and only after that can a selection
10 process be conducted. If somebody said that a selection process was
11 conducted right there on the spot, then that person made a mistake and --
12 and abused the truth.
13 Q. Did you find out there at the command post that the main tasks of
14 the JNA were to lift the siege of the barracks and to establish law and
16 A. I heard this from the media. I heard this from Colonel Mrksic
17 when he told us what mission his brigade had. He told us that the brigade
18 had established its mission.
19 Q. When asked by my learned friend, you said that you had heard that
20 600 people had been put out of action. Is that the number of the members
21 of the Operations Group South who were wounded and killed?
22 A. No, I don't think so. I don't think that that's the right number.
23 I never learned of the right number. I only know what Colonel Mrksic
24 said. Now, whether he only referred to the brigade or to other units
25 within his area of responsibility, I don't know. He said that about 600
1 people had been put out of action, that there were many persons who were
2 killed, a lot of subordinate commanders had been killed. I said so in my
3 statement, but another sentence of his is missing from the statement. It
4 should not be taken literally. This was just a statistical fact, you
5 know, when one is talking about the number of people put out of action,
6 then what they have in mind is this general number of members and
7 subordinate commanders.
8 MR. VASIC: [Interpretation] Your Honour, I don't know if this
9 would be a good time for our break. I can't see the clock from where I'm
11 JUDGE PARKER: If it's a convenient time, we can break now,
12 Mr. Vasic, and we will resume at 10 to.
13 --- Recess taken at 5.27 p.m.
14 --- On resuming at 5.52 p.m.
15 JUDGE PARKER: Mr. Moore.
16 MR. MOORE: Yes. Thank you very much. I'm sorry for troubling
17 Your Honour.
18 Your Honour, there's just one matter; I'm sure it was
19 unintentional. But one of the questions that was put by my learned friend
20 was: "Did you ever hear that Mr. Vasiljevic was in Negoslavci that
21 evening? Did you hear that he stated so himself when testifying in the
22 Milosevic case?"
23 The answer was: "No, I didn't hear that, and I would have liked
24 to have seen him there."
25 Well, we have searched the record of the Milosevic transcripts,
1 obviously we've had to do it at speed, but there is nothing that we can
2 find to suggest that that was ever said in the Milosevic trial. Could my
3 learned friend refer me, please, to the transcript page where that is
5 MR. VASIC: [Interpretation] I wish to thank my learned friend.
6 That was my mistake. Witness Vasiljevic stated that in his evidence in --
7 before the war crimes chamber in Belgrade. At any rate, the witness did
8 not hear of this, and it is not relevant for my further cross-examination.
9 JUDGE PARKER: Well, thank you for that, Mr. Vasic. Well, if you
10 would like to carry on now. We take it you'll be finishing today, will
12 MR. VASIC: [Interpretation] Unfortunately, Your Honour, I will not
13 be finishing today. Although the Defence teams did their best to divide
14 different topics, we will not be able to finish today as much as we have
15 tried. I believe that this witness covers a number -- a vast number of
16 topics and we will need more time for our examination. The Defence will
17 do its best --
18 JUDGE PARKER: Mr. Vasic, that is an issue as to the total time in
19 respect of this witness. We certainly understand his importance, and
20 we've given -- been giving you a free hand, but we're not going to be able
21 to afford to allow you a day and a half or two days and then to find other
22 counsel wanting time as well. What is the anticipated total time for
24 MR. VASIC: [Interpretation] Your Honour, I believe I should be
25 able to finish my examination in one and a half sessions tomorrow.
1 Perhaps I would require only the first session tomorrow depending on the
2 witness's answers.
3 JUDGE PARKER: I will ask Mr. Borovic what is his anticipated
5 MR. BOROVIC: [Interpretation] Your Honour, everything depends on
6 the witness's answers that he will give today and tomorrow. It might even
7 be very brief.
8 JUDGE PARKER: What do you mean by "very brief"?
9 MR. BOROVIC: [Interpretation] That means that if the answers will
10 be adequate in terms of the questions put today by Mr. Vasic, then I will
11 not be covering these questions myself, and I will be able to finish
12 tomorrow. I suppose, at any rate, I would take an hour and a half,
13 because we did our best to honour judicial economy. And as far as this
14 Defence team is concerned, I don't think there will be any difficulty
16 JUDGE PARKER: Thank you.
17 Mr. Lukic.
18 MR. LUKIC: [Interpretation] Your Honours, I can tell you at this
19 stage that I need two sessions of one and a half hours each. This witness
20 has touched upon a number of interesting topics, and I cannot be -- give
21 you a definite answer because this witness is a very important witness for
22 us. But I believe that I would be able to finish in two sessions.
23 [Trial Chamber confers]
24 JUDGE PARKER: In the view of the Chamber, cross-examination
25 should finish at the end of the first session on Wednesday. That means
1 that you will need, I think in fairness to your colleagues, to speed up a
2 little, Mr. Vasic.
3 Mr. Borovic, who seems to have very little interest in the
4 evidence of this witness, if one thinks about it, I don't think your
5 client's been mentioned, I think you could become quite brief.
6 And Mr. Lukic will have whatever is left, so he will be looking
7 over your shoulder, Mr. Borovic. Thank you.
8 Yes, Mr. Vasic.
9 MR. VASIC: [Interpretation] Thank you, Your Honour.
10 Q. Sir, we were discussing the assignments you were given in Sid and
11 Negoslavci. If the task that Colonel Tomic received in Sid is, for the
12 present purposes, designated as task A and the other one task B, can you
13 tell me whether A equals B or, in fact, does not?
14 A. Mr. Vasic, I have repeatedly told you what my understanding of the
15 assignment given in Sid was. In my statement and before this Chamber, I
16 relayed the substance of the task received at Colonel Mrksic's command
17 post in Negoslavci. I stand by what I stated earlier; that was that the
18 task was given to Colonel Tomic. Now, whether he was given some other
19 assignment in addition to this one, I am not aware of that.
20 Q. My question was quite clear. If what was relayed to you by
21 Colonel Tomic is designated, for the present purposes, as A and the other
22 one in Negoslavci B, does A equal B or not? Because this is something you
23 were supposed to inform your superior at the security administration of.
24 MR. MOORE: [Previous translation continues] ... the answer has
25 been similar.
1 JUDGE PARKER: Mr. Vasic, Mr. Moore was on his feet. I was
2 waiting for the translation to finish. We have had repeatedly the
3 witness's precise description of the task given him. Really, that's it.
4 I don't think you can just keep going at that. You have asked him about
5 the other task; you got his answer on that. Now, later on we can work out
6 what the difference is, if there is one. Okay? So if you would move on.
7 Thank you.
8 MR. VASIC: [Interpretation] Thank you, Your Honour. I will move
9 on and ask the witness whether he informed his superior at the security
10 administration of the task of the assignment he was given at Negoslavci.
11 JUDGE PARKER: He's already answered that; he's told you "no."
12 MR. VASIC: [Interpretation] Is the witness aware of the obligation
13 to -- in case he receives a different assignment from --
14 JUDGE PARKER: [Previous translation continues] ... he's told you
15 he didn't.
16 MR. VASIC: [Interpretation] -- from someone else that he has to
17 inform his superior thereof.
18 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] I received the assignment from
19 Colonel Mrksic, and the assignment was relayed to me by Major
20 Sljivancanin. That's as far as I'm concerned. Colonel Tomic relayed his
21 assignment to me. Colonel Mrksic relayed his assignment to Colonel -- to
22 Major Sljivancanin. I, myself, was informed of the assignment by Major
24 MR. VASIC: [Interpretation]
25 Q. Mr. Vujic, were you duty-bound to inform your superior at the
1 security administration of the order relayed to you by Major Sljivancanin?
2 A. My superior, Colonel Slavko Tomic, was present at all the meetings
3 and was able to hear what our assignments were. Now, whether he knew
4 something more about the evacuation plan for the POWs and about the actual
5 operations situation in the area of responsibility of Colonel Mrksic, this
6 was not something that he made me privy to. He only authorised me to
7 implement the assignment as far as Velepromet was concerned.
8 Q. Thank you. You said that you set off for Velepromet. At what
9 time was that; do you remember?
10 A. I cannot remember precisely. I do remember, though, that we
11 walked on foot for quite a long time. And as I am -- usually say, that
12 according to the regulations, military regulations, a soldier makes 66
13 steps a minute, we must have walked on foot for about an hour, definitely
14 more than 40 minutes.
15 I apologise, Mr. Vasic, but I was somewhat surprised by the fact
16 that Major Sljivancanin said that a lance-corporal of the military police
17 was to take us to the gate of Velepromet, where we were to be met by a
18 superior officer, his subordinate, who was Captain First Class Srecko
19 Borisavljevic, which means that he did not accompany us to hand the
20 jurisdiction of the facility over to us, but, rather, he told us that we
21 were to be made by Captain First Class Srecko Borisavljevic, who was
22 informed of our imminent arrival.
23 Q. We seem to have trouble understanding each other, because you seem
24 to be answering a question I did not put to you.
25 A. I can tell you roughly when we arrived there, and then you can
1 work out for yourself when it was that we set out. We arrived after 2200
2 hours. It must have been around 2230. Now, if we work back from there,
3 we will arrive at the time of our departure.
4 Q. Can you tell us why you did not use the car that you had at your
5 disposal. Why did you go on foot?
6 A. We were told that we were to go on foot. We were told so by Major
7 Sljivancanin. Why was that? Well, probably because this was a rather
8 large group there. Major Muncan's group was also going with us, and that
9 was a group of some four to five people. We could not fit into a car; we
10 had to have at least a mini-bus or a regular bus.
11 Q. The group that set out for Velepromet, how many people were there
13 A. I told you that we were five of us in our group and there were
14 about five of them in their group, too.
15 Q. While you were on your way there, did you or the military police
16 have any contact with the commander of the company?
17 A. No. Major Sljivancanin must have been in touch with them because
18 he was their superior. He must have been in touch with them personally,
19 and he must have had a radio communications or a telephone line with them.
20 Q. Sir, please answer my questions. We want to save time. I asked
21 you about -- the question was about you, not about Major Sljivancanin.
22 A. We did not have any radio equipment, any communications equipment.
23 Q. On your way from Negoslavci to Velepromet, did you come across any
24 check-point manned by either the JNA, or did you come across a military
25 police patrol?
1 A. As we were approaching the Velepromet gate, we came across buses
2 holding women. There were several buses full of civilians, women, the
3 elderly, and perhaps even children.
4 Q. Mr. Vujic, you're deliberately answering in a way that does not
5 answer my question.
6 A. My answers are truthful.
7 Q. My question was whether you came across a JNA check-point or a
8 military police patrol, and you're telling me about buses holding women
9 and children.
10 A. What do you mean by a JNA check-point? I don't understand that.
11 Please clarify that and then I'll answer your question.
12 Q. Were you stopped by a JNA check-point at some point or by a
13 military police patrol?
14 A. No, we were accompanied by a military police patrol. There was a
15 lance-corporal who took us to the Velepromet gate together with his
16 soldiers. The lance-corporal was assigned to that task by Major
18 Q. Do you know that there was a curfew in Vukovar at the time?
19 A. Well, sir, in an area controlled by the military police, the
20 military police are in charge of the curfew and we were being taken there
21 by the military police.
22 Q. You told us that you arrived in Velepromet and you met Captain
23 First Class Borisavljevic there; is that right? You also said that you
24 held a meeting there with him and his officers, non-commissioned officers,
25 forensic technicians, members of your own group, and was there perhaps a
1 group of officers from the security administration of the 1st Military
2 District there at that meeting?
3 A. That's a whole lot of questions, isn't it? First of all, I
4 reported. I then gained a quick insight into the situation that
5 prevailed, and then I told Captain Borisavljevic to call all the officers
6 to the meeting so that we could share their assignments with them.
7 Q. Who attended this meeting?
8 A. Captain Borisavljevic's officers, officers from Colonel Slavko
9 Tomic's group, officers from Dragan Muncan's group, and it is now that
10 we're getting to the bone of contention, which is probably what you're
11 after, aren't you?
12 Q. Were forensic technicians present at this meeting, too, those who
13 were at Velepromet?
14 A. Yes.
15 Q. Were these forensic people from the security administration?
16 A. I don't know that. But there were those who were on duty from the
17 security administration and the military court in Belgrade.
18 Q. You say that this meeting took place immediately after your
19 arrival. Borisavljevic reported to you, and then you surveyed the
20 situation. How much time elapsed between your arrival and the meeting,
21 the time the meeting was called?
22 A. It could have been about 15 minutes, 10 perhaps.
23 Q. Did this meeting take place between 2300 hours and 2330 that
24 evening, as you told the OTP investigator?
25 A. Yes, that sounds very likely.
1 Q. When you held this meeting, did you issue orders and instructions
2 at the meeting on how the evacuation of the people from Velepromet should
4 A. Yes, I relayed the order. The order comprised the following.
5 First of all, we were to introduce ourselves, so we said: We are a group
6 of senior officers from the security administration. Our assignment is to
7 give you a hand with screening war criminals and separating them from
8 blameless civilians.
9 They immediately said: Colonel, this task has already been
10 completed. The prisoners of war have already been separated from the
12 My apologies. Should I continue?
13 Q. Let me just ask you this: You say that at this point in time you
14 were the leader of this group and you were in charge of carrying out this
15 assignment, weren't you?
16 A. Yes, and I accepted that.
17 Q. That means you took over command, didn't you?
18 A. No. I took over command from the moment that I told you about,
19 the moment when I clearly stated: Listen, I now have command over this.
20 Up to that point, I had been in control, but from this moment on I was in
22 Q. At this meeting, were you aware of how many people you had to help
23 you carry out this assignment?
24 A. I realised how many people were available to me for this
25 assignment, but what I didn't know was how many soldiers were available,
1 with the exception of those specified by Major Sljivancanin.
2 Q. Did you not ask Captain Borisavljevic how many soldiers were
3 available within the Velepromet compound?
4 A. No, it was not even my duty to ask him that. I heard this from
5 Major Sljivancanin. He said -- do you want me to repeat what he said?
6 Q. What I want to know is this: When planning and carrying out an
7 assignment, would not the first step be to establish how many men are
8 available to you and then you decide on how you go about carrying out a
9 certain assignment once you've established that?
10 A. Mr. Vasic, I do happen to know a thing or two about control and
11 command. I didn't just happen to be there, and I wasn't there merely to
12 check how things were going. I was there to give them a hand with
13 carrying out this assignment. I was there to make sure that the
14 assignment was carried out in keeping with the regulations and the plan,
15 as set out to us by Major Sljivancanin. I was not aware of the plan's
16 substance or objective, but I took Major Sljivancanin's word for it. I
17 took his word for it that his military police unit would ensure that
18 everything would be under control, as he said, and that everything would
19 proceed according to regulations. He said we needn't worry, there
20 wouldn't be any problems there, except ...
21 Q. Go on, please.
22 A. Except such problems as we had already experienced by this time.
23 Q. You testified about this before the war crimes district court in
25 A. Yes, indeed. First of all, I testified before the president of
1 the military court.
2 Q. Mr. Vujic, I'm asking you a very specific question here. You're
3 just wasting time, please.
4 A. Try to be more specific then, sir.
5 MR. VASIC: [Interpretation] Can I have the usher's assistance,
6 please. I would like to show you a portion of the transcript from this
7 trial. The page is 34 of the B/C/S. And for the benefit of my learned
8 friends and the Chamber, the relevant pages in English are 9 and 10.
9 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] What is it that you're not certain
10 about, Mr. Vasic?
11 MR. VASIC: [Interpretation]
12 Q. Can you please read out the passage that begins with your quote,
13 "the person in control of that group."
14 A. Yes. "The person in control of that group for the Velepromet
15 assignment." If you read from there, it should be clear enough.
16 Q. Please go ahead, Mr. Vujic.
17 A. "For the Velepromet assignment," which means I agreed to this. I
18 took over command responsibility.
19 Q. Very well. Thank you. Did you testify to this effect at the
20 Belgrade trial?
21 A. Well, this is the Belgrade trial transcript, isn't it?
22 Q. Thank you very much.
23 MR. VASIC: [Interpretation] We don't need the transcript anymore
24 now. If Mr. Usher could just take the transcript back, please.
25 Q. You say that you held a meeting. At this meeting, did you tell
1 those present what their respective assignments were?
2 A. Yes, I did.
3 Q. Did you give them individual assignments?
4 A. Yes.
5 Q. Did you tell them that once their assignments were completed, they
6 should report back to you?
7 A. Yes, I did.
8 Q. Did you know how many people were involved in each of these
9 assignments that you handed out to them?
10 A. The assignment was received by Colonel Tomic. The assignment was
11 received was Colonel Kijanovic. The assignment was received by Captain
12 First Class Borisavljevic. The assignment was received by two of his
13 junior officers. The assignment was received by Branko Korica. The
14 assignment was received by Slobodan Stosic to start boarding the POWs on
15 the buses with the escort of the military police. I also told the
16 commander when to begin boarding.
17 Q. Were assignments received by all the members of the 1st Military
18 District group?
19 A. Yes, Muncan and Korica, that's what I said.
20 Q. What about the rest of them?
21 A. They were involved. I even assigned two officers to some of the
22 buses, simply because I didn't know the exact number of the POWs there as
23 Major Sljivancanin had not told me. He was asked by Colonel Tomic at one
24 point about the number of captured Ustashas, to quote him, and there was
25 an additional question about the number of officers or leaders of these
1 Ustashas, as he expressed himself at the time.
2 Q. Before you handed out these assignments and started implementing
3 your assignment, did you check what sort of equipment was available to the
4 units stationed at Velepromet?
5 A. This was a military police company, and they would have had
6 sufficient automatic weapons to prevent them from being unpleasantly
8 Q. Did you check if there was any radio or telephone linked to the
9 command post in Negoslavci or to the barracks?
10 A. That wasn't part of my remit.
11 Q. Was it not within your remit before you actually got down to
12 handing out assignments to -- and issuing an order for the prisoners to
13 start boarding the buses to actually verify the situation in terms of the
14 security aspect?
15 A. No, that was not within my remit. All of this was done by Major
16 Sljivancanin, who was Colonel Mrksic's assistant for security. It was his
17 duty to report to his superiors on the situation and any problems faced
18 within the area of responsibility. I trusted the man.
19 Q. But you took responsibility for this assignment --
20 A. Within the area of responsibility of Colonel Mrksic.
21 Q. Let me finish, please. You took responsibility for this
22 assignment. Did you not have to make sure first that there was sufficient
23 forces available, that a security assessment was made, and wasn't it only
24 then that you would be in a situation to order an evacuation?
25 A. I was in a position to consider threats to our mission, to our
1 assignment, and potential sources for these threats. However, Major
2 Sljivancanin clearly told me: You needn't worry. There are no special
3 surprises in store for you. Everything is under control. There's a
4 military police unit there under the command of Captain Borisavljevic.
5 Q. So you didn't speak to Captain Borisavljevic about Velepromet's
6 security and how this was organised? I mean when he reported to you and
7 later at the meeting.
8 A. I inspected the compound together with Captain Borisavljevic. His
9 officers were there and officers from both groups were there. The group
10 under Captain Tomic and that under Major Muncan.
11 Q. Mr. Vujic, I'm asking you one thing; you're answering something
12 altogether different. Did you look into the security of Captain
13 Borisavljevic's unit? Did you look into the security situation throughout
14 the Velepromet compound before you actually gave an order for the
15 evacuation to commence?
16 A. No, I didn't, and there was no need.
17 Q. Did you know if there was a guards commander at Velepromet?
18 A. Of course there was one. Do you know what the commander of a
19 police company is, Mr. Vasic?
20 Q. I was asking you about the guards commander.
21 A. What guards commander are you talking about?
22 Q. So there was none, was there?
23 A. That's not what I said. There was security at the highest
24 possible level. This security was set up by Captain Borisavljevic.
25 Q. Did you notice perhaps whether there were any TO staff members at
1 Velepromet or any police members, police officers, belonging to the
2 government of Eastern Slavonia, Baranja, and Srem?
3 A. When Major Sljivancanin replied to Colonel Tomic about the number
4 of Ustashas and their whereabouts, he stated that the exact number was not
5 known. He said that they had been gradually surrendering in various
6 places, in various buildings, that they were mingling with the civilians
7 and that this was how they had reached Velepromet. He said there were
8 about 2.000 people there, civilians for the most part, women, children.
9 Q. My apologies, Mr. Vujic. I asked you about any TO staff members,
10 Vukovar TO staff members. I asked you about Vukovar's police members, not
11 about the Croatian forces or about the women or about the children.
12 A. And I'm answering your question, Mr. Vasic. He said: Everybody's
13 mingling in Velepromet. It's all mixed up. You have civilians there,
14 prisoners of war, as well as TO members.
15 He didn't distinguish between those. He just said "TO members."
16 He had it all mixed up.
17 Q. But did you see for yourself, perhaps later on, that there were
18 people from the TO staff and from the TO there?
19 A. Yes. But I was not aware of the existence of the TO staff to
20 begin with until I actually saw the people there.
21 Q. You also realised while there that the chief of police, Crevar,
22 was holding people there, people he had captured and people he was now
23 screening for war crimes or investigating?
24 A. Please hear me out. I'll try to repeat exactly what I said in my
25 statement; I'll try to repeat exactly what I said before this Chamber.
1 When I held a meeting, heads were popping in and out through the
2 door, bearded faces, wearing the kind of uniform that you have described.
3 I asked: Who are these people? Who are these people?
4 Borisavljevic and his junior officers, his subordinates said:
5 These people are here with us. These people are from the TO staff.
6 I was appalled by their behaviour, and naturally I asked: What
7 are these people doing here? If they're chiefs from the TO staff, they
8 should have attended the meeting in the first place, but they were not
9 attending the meeting. I only realised they were there when they started
10 muttering, as we say in the army, about what prisoners of war are these
11 people talking about? What buses? These people are not leaving. They
12 were mumbling on and on about this out in the corridor. And then when I
13 started inspecting the compound, the first room I came across had twice as
14 many guards outside as usual, the one I told you about.
15 Q. Let's leave these rooms alone for the time being. When you found
16 out that these people were not part of the meeting, the meeting that was
17 in progress, when you realised they were mumbling and complaining about
18 your decisions, why did you not have them removed from the room?
19 A. Why would I possibly have wanted to have them removed if
20 Borisavljevic was assuring me that these people were there with us.
21 Q. Can you please repeat exactly what these people were saying.
22 A. When I said our task was to separate the prisoners of war from the
23 civilians, to get them onto the buses once the buses were there, to do
24 this immediately, to do this as soon as possible, they said: All of this
25 has already been done. The POWs were separated from the civilians. Only
1 some women were left within the compound. I can describe it for you if
2 you like.
3 Q. Mr. Vujic --
4 A. Please go ahead.
5 Q. I didn't ask you about the triage. I didn't ask you about the
6 women. I asked you what the TO staff members were grumbling about as you
7 were when the meeting was in progress?
8 A. I told you already. You're not taking these people away. What
9 buses are you talking about, what prisoner of wars? Those were the words
10 they were using as they were grumbling out in the corridor.
11 Q. When you heard them grumbling about this, why did you not take
12 steps to have these people removed from the Velepromet compound?
13 A. Why would I have if this had never been ordered by Colonel Mrksic
14 or Major Sljivancanin? Was I there to arrest the Vukovar chief of police?
15 Wouldn't that strike you as slightly strange in the least.
16 Q. But you took over command, you took over responsibility for the
17 assignment, did you not?
18 A. Yes, and I completed my assignment.
19 Q. It was your duty to implement the assignment and to create
20 conditions that would not jeopardise your assignment?
21 A. No, it was not my duty. It was Colonel Mrksic's duty.
22 Q. Colonel Mrksic didn't hear any grumbling, you did.
23 A. Of course he did, too. All of these people were within --
24 Q. Sir, let me please conclude my question, and after that would you
25 please make a break so that the interpreters can catch up. In addition, I
1 would also ask you to answer my questions directly.
2 From whom could Mr. Mrksic at that time, at 11.00 p.m., hear that
3 members of the TO staff were grumbling in front of the meeting where you
4 were -- in front of the room where you were holding a meeting?
5 A. How come these people ended up in the area of responsibility of
6 Colonel Mrksic and Major Sljivancanin?
7 Q. So you're claiming that you had no duty whatsoever to take
8 preventive action in view of the threats issued by the TO staff members.
9 Didn't you have to remove them from Velepromet? Yes or no, please.
10 A. Both yes and no.
11 Q. Clarify, please.
12 A. If they specifically endangered the implementation of the combat
13 assignment, then yes, it would have been my duty to take the
14 responsibilities, as regulated by law and apply force. I will describe to
15 you how I applied force.
16 Q. Thank you. This will do for the time being.
17 MR. MOORE: With the utmost respect to my learned friend. He
18 asked the question. He may not wish to have the second part. But the
19 question was asked and half the answer is given. Surely the witness
20 should be entitled to give the reason why either yes or no applied. My
21 learned friend says: "Clarify, please." And if they specifically
22 endangered, then he said he would apply force. So I would submit that, in
23 actual fact, the reply: "This will do for the time being" is trying to
24 cut off the witness in giving a full explanation.
25 JUDGE PARKER: No, Mr. Moore.
1 MR. MOORE: Very well.
2 JUDGE PARKER: The witness was going on to say: How I applied
4 MR. MOORE: Very well.
5 JUDGE PARKER: Which is a different topic.
6 MR. MOORE: Thank you very much.
7 JUDGE PARKER: Carry on, please, Mr. Vasic.
8 MR. VASIC: [Interpretation] Thank you, Your Honour.
9 Q. At the meeting which you held at Velepromet, did you say that the
10 implementation of the task is something that you were taking over on
11 behalf of the security administration and the Supreme Command?
12 A. Yes.
13 Q. Given this fact, did you hear from Captain Borisavljevic what
14 forces -- what resources were available to you to conduct the evacuation,
15 how many people there were at your disposal?
16 A. I didn't hear how many prisoners of war there were, nor did I hear
17 how many buses would arrive or how many people he had under him. I knew
18 how many people there generally were in a military police company, and I
19 also knew what firing capabilities they had.
20 Q. You told us that at the meeting you assigned tasks on behalf of
21 the security administration and the Supreme Command. Did you create a
22 plan as to where the buses would line up once they arrived?
23 A. No. The plan was already in existence.
24 Q. Were you aware of this plan?
25 A. No.
1 Q. Who decided how the buses would be boarded, in which order, in
2 which way, and where the buses would be lined up once they arrived?
3 A. I ordered the buses to enter the Velepromet compound. I ordered
4 when the buses should leave the compound. I said that the facilities with
5 prisoners of war ought to be emptied gradually in accordance with the
6 regulation that the subordinate officers that I described who had taken
7 over the assignment were in charge of that, and that they were supposed to
8 write down, if possible, how many prisoners of war they boarded on to
9 which bus, to write down the name of the driver and the licence plate of
10 the bus and to report to me about that.
11 Q. Thank you. Therefore, you created the specific plan for this
13 A. No, I didn't. I simply assigned specific tasks.
14 Q. Thank you. When you saw these people from the TO staff popping up
15 and making comments, were you able to see how many there were and where
16 they were?
17 A. No. Later on I met them.
18 Q. When you started implementing the assignment of evacuation, when
19 you had toured the facilities at Velepromet, what was your security
20 assessment? Did you conclude that you had sufficient manpower to conduct
21 the evacuation?
22 A. I concluded that the situation was under control, that there would
23 be obstruction from the members of the TO staff and the Chetnik unit when
24 in front of the room where I found what they described as 45 Ustashas and
25 criminals of war, I found a double set of guards in front of that room
1 comprising three members of the Chetnik unit with sub-machine-guns and two
2 members of military police with sub-machine-guns who were shoving each
3 other in front of that room. The Chetniks did not allow me to look into
4 the room. This room had a tin door with -- with blinds.
5 Q. Thank you. You said that Chetniks and police members were shoving
6 each other. What do you mean?
7 A. They were pushing each other with their shoulders. All of them
8 were quite tall, about 190, and they had their backs turned to me. They
9 were facing the room, so they were pushing each other to place themselves
10 closer to the door.
11 Q. Could it be said that the JNA soldiers were actually trying to
12 take up the positions occupied by the Chetniks?
13 A. Yes, it could be described that way.
14 Q. When you saw that, did you order the Chetniks to step aside, to
15 move away from that area?
16 A. No, sir. I asked, prior to that, Captain Borisavljevic who these
17 people were. He said that they were there as well, that is to say, that
18 they had placed their security people there and that they had already
19 started some kind of proceedings there.
20 Q. So you disregarded this fact that the JNA members and the Chetniks
21 were shoving each other and that the Chetniks were not allowing you to --
22 allowing you to look into the room?
23 A. I did look into the room, and I did so by telling Zvonko Cekic,
24 the second lieutenant, that he should enable me to look into the room. I
25 told him that in front of Borisavljevic, and he did so.
1 Q. And so what did you see once you looked into the room?
2 A. There were heads popping up, the heads of prisoners of war, that
3 they described as Ustashas and war criminals. They needed air. These
4 people had injured faces.
5 Q. Thank you. Once you saw that they had facial injuries, why didn't
6 you remove the Chetnik security officers there and take these people out
7 in order to assist them?
8 A. I asked the doctor who reported to me at the infirmary -- I don't
9 know who set it up, whether it was the TO staff or the units of Colonel
10 Mrksic. So I asked this doctor whether he provided any first aid. He
11 said: Yes, I -- and he also said that he had helped some people more than
13 Q. So if I understood you well, you looked inside, took stock of what
14 was going on in the room and then you moved elsewhere, leaving the
15 Chetniks there in front of the room?
16 A. Not just the Chetniks. Also the JNA military police unit, the
17 unit under command of Captain Borisavljevic who was in charge of the
18 security at this facility. Captain Borisavljevic was constantly
19 accompanying me while I toured the rooms where the POWs were.
20 Q. All right. Let me ask you this way: Who stayed there to provide
21 security, to guard this room after you left?
22 A. The military police and the Chetniks.
23 Q. Didn't you suppose that the Chetniks would create additional
24 problems once you came again to inspect the room?
25 A. Yes, and I can describe exactly what problems.
1 Q. At that time, did you think that they would create further
3 A. No need for me to expect. I can describe to you, and let me just
4 describe to you what I experienced.
5 Q. I'm asking you about the measures you took prior to the incident
6 occurring. I'm asking you about your security assessment, and then I'm
7 asking you whether you should have supposed that these same Chetniks would
8 create new problems once you came once again to take the people out of
9 this room with tin door.
10 A. Yes, I could have supposed that there would be further problems,
11 but I also could have supposed that I wasn't going to come here and
12 testify, but that, rather, that I would be five feet under ground, just
13 like other people were.
14 Q. If you said that you could have supposed that something like this
15 could happen, did you, in your view, have sufficient manpower to thwart
16 their obstruction?
17 A. Yes. I had sufficient manpower. I had full trust in them, and I
18 accomplished my assignment with these people.
19 Q. When you say that you accomplished your task, does this mean that
20 all prisoners of war who were at Velepromet were evacuated pursuant to
21 your orders and left these facilities?
22 A. In the sense that I took stock of the situation and boarded people
23 on the buses, in that sense, yes, I did accomplish my task. As for those
24 people who were abducted and who died behind the compound of Velepromet,
25 then yes, I didn't manage to save these people.
1 Q. Given that fact, wouldn't you say that you didn't accomplish your?
2 A. I did accomplish the task. I could have ended my life there as
4 Q. If there were persons who were imprisoned there and if these
5 persons were taken out by somebody and killed, wasn't it because you did
6 not take control of the situation and create conditions necessary for
8 A. I do not accept your thesis, and I find it quite offensive.
9 Q. Tell me, in which order did you tour the facilities where
10 prisoners of war were held?
11 A. The first place to which Borisavljevic and Sekic took me was the
12 room where, according to Marko Crevar and Vojvoda Topola, people they
13 described as Ustashas and criminals, slaughtering Serbs were held. They
14 also said that they had already taken steps against these people and that
15 these people had to be held accountable for what they had done. That was
16 the first room that I toured, and this was the room in front of which
17 there was a double set of guards.
18 Q. I asked you about all rooms. After this room, where did you go
20 A. After that I remember going to a hangar. This is where they took
21 me. I didn't know the premises. I didn't know where prisoners of war
22 were held. In this hangar, there was a large number of POWs. They had
23 candles that they put on some chairs.
24 Q. All right. You described that to us. What was the next room?
25 A. The next room was one containing fewer number of prisoners of war,
1 30 to 40.
2 Q. How many rooms there were in total containing prisoners of war?
3 A. I wouldn't know because I only saw three rooms. Prisoners of war
4 were in the rooms to which the members of the military police took them.
5 Q. When you assigned tasks about the evacuation and boarding, I
6 suppose that you had to tell each officer which room he had to evacuate?
7 A. No. I didn't know exactly how many rooms there were. I didn't
8 know how many prisoners of war there were. All I know was how many
9 officers there were. I also knew that the military police was securing
10 each room with prisoners of war. Since I acted in the way I described to
11 you and assigned tasks to specific officers, if there had been any other
12 prisoners of war, Borisavljevic would have told me, Sekic would have told
13 me, that we needed more buses to evacuate these people.
14 Q. When you entered the Velepromet facility, did you see whether
15 there was anybody standing outside in the yard?
16 A. In the yard there was several women. I remember that there was a
17 woman with a child. I also remember a lady who -- whom I remembered quite
18 well. She held a big bag in her hands. I asked her whether she had a
19 husband there. She said: Yes. Later on she was in the KP Dom camp, and
20 I think this other woman with a child was also there in this correctional
21 penitentiary facility camp.
22 Q. In addition to these women, there was no one else in the yard?
23 Everyone else was locked inside these rooms?
24 A. Yes.
25 Q. Did these women remain in the yard when you started the
2 A. No. They were there just during those 10 to 15 minutes while we
3 were trying to assess the situation, either visually or by putting
4 questions. All other women were already on the buses travelling in the
5 column from Velepromet to Negoslavci.
6 Q. Can you tell us, where were you when you heard that the buses had
8 A. I can't tell you that -- I can't remember that moment clearly now,
9 but they informed me. Perhaps it was while I was touring the facility
10 that they informed me that the buses had arrived, meaning that they had
11 arrived in front of Velepromet or were somewhere in the vicinity.
12 Q. Who accompanied these buses?
13 A. I don't know that.
14 Q. Did they have any kind of escort, the buses?
15 A. They had to have.
16 Q. If you were the one issuing an order to evacuate people, if you
17 boarded people on buses, I suppose you had to ascertain who was going to
18 escort these buses?
19 A. Only within the compound. Outside of the compound was outside of
20 my scope of authorities.
21 Q. Does this mean that you were authorised to send them out
23 A. No.
24 Q. That's why I'm asking you whether you came to meet the unit which
25 was supposed to provide security to the buses while they travelled.
1 A. No.
2 Q. Would you please wait for me to finish my question.
3 Did you come to meet the unit which was supposed to provide
4 security to the prisoners you had evacuated?
5 A. No. If that had been my duty, then Major Sljivancanin would have
6 brought that officer and introduced him to me. At least that's how it
7 should have been in my view, had that been my task, but that wasn't my
9 Q. Did you see any military police members that arrived there?
10 A. No, except for the officer who was commander of the armoured
11 combat vehicle that I used in order to establish military law and order
12 within the Velepromet compound.
13 Q. The buses that you ordered should enter the compound of
14 Velepromet, were there any military policemen on them?
15 A. I didn't see that either.
16 Q. So you sent the buses outside of the Velepromet compound without
17 ascertaining whether they had any security?
18 A. No. That's not what I did.
19 Q. What did you do then?
20 A. The buses were taken over by the commander of the military police
21 company which created the necessary conditions for evacuation to
22 Mitrovica. As is well known, this person is now chief of the General
23 Staff of the Macedonian army. At the time, he was a member of the
24 battalion of the military police under the command of Colonel Mrksic -- or
25 perhaps he wasn't. Perhaps he wasn't.
1 Q. Are you saying that Colonel Mrksic had military police battalion
2 under his command?
3 A. Well, Colonel Mrksic did have a military police battalion, or
4 perhaps even two.
5 Q. I'm asking you about the unit which was supposed to take over.
6 A. I don't know to whom this unit belonged. I don't know to whom the
7 buses belonged, to which unit, to which logistics base.
8 Q. Isn't it a typical procedure for somebody conducting an evacuation
9 and handing over people to another unit which is supposed to secure them
10 to go and meet the commander of that unit and to ascertain that all the
11 necessary conditions are there?
12 A. When Major Sljivancanin sent me out to accomplish this mission, he
13 didn't take me to Velepromet himself. I arrived there in the way that I
14 described to you. Had this been his duty, he should have taken me to this
15 facility. Captain Borisavljevic was duty-bound to handover the buses to
16 the relevant commander in charge of the military police unit providing
17 security to the buses which were travelling to Sremska Mitrovica.
18 MR. VASIC: [Interpretation] Your Honours, I think that we have
19 used up all of our time.
20 JUDGE PARKER: Yes, Mr. Vasic.
21 We will adjourn now until tomorrow at 2.15. If counsel can be
22 very conscious of the time issue that the Chamber has mentioned in
23 preparing their cross-examination and in the course of tomorrow.
24 We will adjourn.
25 --- Whereupon the hearing adjourned at 7.00 p.m.,
1 to be reconvened on Tuesday, the 21st day of
2 February, 2006, at 2.15 p.m.