1 Thursday, 4 May 2006
2 [Open session]
3 [The accused entered court]
4 [The witness entered court]
5 --- Upon commencing at 9.34 a.m.
6 JUDGE PARKER: Good morning. Colonel, may I remind you of the
7 affirmation you made at the commencement of your evidence, which still
9 Mr. Smith.
10 MR. SMITH: Good morning, Your Honours.
11 WITNESS: RADOJE TRIFUNOVIC [Resumed]
12 [Witness answered through interpreter]
13 Examination by Mr. Smith: [Continued]
14 Q. Yesterday we were talking about an order or a combat report that
15 was sent by Colonel Mrksic to the 1st Military District on the 20th of
16 November at 6.00 in the evening, and that was at tab number 30. Do you
17 have that document in front of you?
18 A. Yes.
19 Q. And before we finished you mentioned or you read out what Colonel
20 Mrksic said to the 1st Military District about the taking over of the
21 hospital on the 19th of November. Do you remember reading that out, that
22 first paragraph? Sorry, it's paragraph 2.
23 A. I do. Paragraph 2, yes.
24 Q. On the 19th of November, it states that the hospital was taken
25 over at 1000 hours. Do you know which -- which unit took over the
1 hospital, which formation? On the 19th.
2 A. The report indicates that this task had been completed by 1100
3 hours on the 19th. As far as I remember, the hospital was taken by the
4 2nd Battalion of the military police, or at least some of its elements.
5 Q. And were any of the assault detachments that you had mentioned
6 earlier, were any of those assault detachments involved in the taking over
7 of the hospital on the 19th as well, or not?
8 MR. BOROVIC: [Interpretation] Your Honours.
9 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] I'm not certain --
10 JUDGE PARKER: Would you please pause a moment?
11 Mr. Borovic.
12 MR. BOROVIC: [Interpretation] I apologise for interrupting my
13 learned friend.
14 There's something that needs clarifying. Were there any assault
15 detachments on the 19th of November; I think that is a crucial issue.
16 Given that the question is leading, and I think it requires a little more
17 caution or perhaps some preliminary questions preceding this potentially
18 leading question.
19 JUDGE PARKER: Mr. Borovic, I don't see it as you do. Clearly the
20 witness has spoken earlier of assault detachments in various parts of the
21 town of Vukovar or -- and here he is simply asked, you've mentioned those
22 detachments earlier, were any of those involved in the taking over of the
23 hospital on the 19th. It would be wasting time to go around and try and
24 get him to think about assault detachments.
25 Please carry on, Mr. Smith.
1 MR. SMITH: Thank you.
2 Q. Witness, did you hear that question about assault detachments?
3 A. Yes, I did. I think it was elements of the 2nd Battalion of the
4 military police that actually entered the hospital. I think a security
5 system for the hospital was set up by that same unit. Immediate contact
6 with the hospital was also established by some or all of
7 Assault Detachment 1. They were in the -- in and around the hospital.
8 They were certainly positioned around the hospital. I think that the unit
9 that actually entered the hospital was the 2nd [realtime transcript read
10 in error "1st"] Battalion of the military police, and I think that men
11 from Assault Detachment 1 actually stayed just outside the hospital.
12 That's what I believe to have been the case.
13 Q. Thank you. And if you --
14 MR. VASIC: [Interpretation] Your Honours. Your Honours.
15 JUDGE PARKER: Mr. Vasic.
16 MR. VASIC: [Interpretation] My apologies for interrupting. I
17 think there is a mistake on page 3. We're talking about the 2nd Battalion
18 of the military police, not the 1st.
19 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] If I can be of assistance, just in
20 case I misspoke, I'm talking about units of the 2nd Battalion of the
21 military police. I hope I did say that.
22 JUDGE PARKER: Thank you. It appears twice, once as the
23 2nd Battalion and then some lines later as the 1st Battalion. So you
24 meant the 2nd Battalion.
25 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Yes. Yes, the 2nd Battalion.
1 JUDGE PARKER: Thank you very much.
2 Yes, Mr. Smith.
3 MR. SMITH:
4 Q. And just to remind us, Colonel, who was the commander of the
5 2nd Battalion of the military police?
6 A. At this point in time it was Major Radoje Paunovic.
7 Q. And who was the commander of the 1st Assault Detachment?
8 A. Major Borivoje Tesic.
9 Q. In paragraph 1, after Colonel Mrksic reports about the task of
10 taking over the hospital, he further discusses some problems in relation
11 to the evacuation and transport of the civilian population on the 19th.
12 If I can ask you to read, read out the section in relation to those
13 problems, please.
14 A. "On the 19th of November, 1991 measures were taken for the pulling
15 out, evacuation and transport of the civilian population and those members
16 of the Ustasha forces who were captured. This was done in an organised
17 manner. We encountered great difficulty with the handover of civilians
18 that were sent back to the Republic of Croatia at one of the barricades
19 along the main road. The Croatian authorities refused to have them, so
20 they were eventually returned to our zone in the evening hours. This
21 created additional difficulty as far as the evacuation on the 20th of
22 November, 1991 was concerned. During the selection, transport and
23 handover of the prisoners of war, everything was done in keeping with the
24 Geneva Conventions on POWs. Measures were taken to strengthen the command
25 and control system to reinforce order and to increase discipline in the
1 units. Activities were started to clear the mines, clear the terrain, as
2 well as to clear the battlefield and pull out any damaged equipment and
3 material and send it to be repaired."
4 Q. And in relation to the 20th of November, if we look at the second
5 paragraph, further problems are discussed by Colonel Mrksic or reported in
6 relation to the evacuation of the civilians, wounded and sick. Can you
7 read that section out, please?
8 A. "On the 20th of November, activities previously begun to clear the
9 liberated territory and buildings from Vukovar from the remaining Ustasha
10 forces continued and measures were resumed in order to establish full
11 control of the town. The focus in terms of the clearing was on the
12 settlement of Mitnica. During the clearing itself we came across large
13 mined areas and booby-traps which made clearing the mines additionally
14 difficult. We also encountered great difficulties while carrying out our
15 tasks of evacuation and transport of civilians as well as the wounded and
16 sick. Those civilians who were returned from the main road yesterday were
17 returned several times again today from an agreed place of handover in the
18 area of Nustar. The same thing happened with the civilians from the
19 Velepromet area who were also returned several times. When another
20 handover was finally agreed for 1500 hours the same problems occurred
21 again. We agreed for the entire transport to be sent to Sid, since there
22 was no other choice. The transport carrying the wounded that was supposed
23 to be sent back to the Republic of Croatia" --
24 Q. Thank you, if I can stop you there.
25 MR. SMITH: Your Honour, I would seek to tender this document.
1 It's tab 30, 65 ter number 67.
2 JUDGE PARKER: It will be received.
3 THE REGISTRAR: As Exhibit 421, Your Honour.
4 MR. SMITH:
5 Q. Witness, if we can now turn to tab 31, please. It's 65 ter
6 number 192. And this is a report and order from Operational Group South
7 command which the name Colonel Mrksic appears at the base of the report,
8 and the time is 21st -- 21st of November at 6.00 in the morning. And it's
9 an order relating to the issue of resubordination and the return of home
10 units. Do you see that order?
11 A. Yes.
12 Q. The signature at the base of the order, is that the signature of
13 Colonel Mrksic or not?
14 A. I'm not sure that it is.
15 Q. On the -- on the 21st of November, 1991, do you know where Colonel
16 Mrksic was, what his activities were?
17 A. On the 21st. Is that the date you mean?
18 Q. That's correct.
19 A. Based on my recollection, and my recollection in turn is based on
20 what I entered into the war diary, it should be as follows: At 0815 hours
21 on the 21st, Colonel Mrksic is on his way to Belgrade to brief the federal
23 Q. Thank you.
24 MR. SMITH: And that entry, Your Honours, is at page 41 of the war
25 diary. And that's Exhibit 401.
1 Q. Witness, how long was Colonel Mrksic away from Vukovar? Did he
2 return that day or not?
3 A. No, he didn't.
4 Q. And when did he return?
5 A. I think on the afternoon of the 22nd. You can see his original
6 signature on one of these orders, the 22nd, 1800 hours.
7 Q. Thank you. And we'll have a look at that in a moment. But in
8 relation to this order signed under the name of Colonel Mrksic, if we look
9 at the first paragraph it states that in the course of the 21st of
10 November, 1991, withdraw the Leva Supoderica volunteers detachment and
11 place them, resubordinate them to the 12th -- and perhaps if you can state
12 the unit that it was placed or resubordinated to, please?
13 A. The 20 -- the 12th Mechanised Brigade of the 12th Corps.
14 Q. And this resubordination occurred during the course of the 21st of
15 November, is that correct, from what the order states?
16 A. Whether this was actually carried out is not something that I can
17 say. That's what the commander's order says. It was supposed to be
18 completed by 2400 hours on the 20th.
19 Q. You said it's supposed to be completed by 2400 hours on the 20th
20 or the 21st?
21 A. In the course of the 21st of November, withdraw the detachment and
22 dispatch them to the 12th PMBR. So that means it was supposed to be done
23 in the course of the day, the 21st of November.
24 The commander of the Leva Supoderica detachment had to do as
25 ordered. Perhaps he reported at sometime that he had not been able to; I
1 don't know. I don't know whether he actually implemented this order by
2 the dead-line. From a purely military point of view, he would have been
3 expected to. Had he not been able to, he would have been expected to
4 report so.
5 Q. Thank you. So as of the 21st of November was the Leva Supoderica
6 still under the subordination of Operational Group South? Under the
7 command, I mean.
8 A. In actual fact, it could have been by 2400 hours on the 21st, or
9 0000 hours, no more, on the 22nd. But the paragraph itself seems quite
11 Q. So is your answer yes or no, that it was still under the command
12 of Operational Group South, as of the 21st?
13 A. Yes, on the 21st, yes. The answer is yes. Preparations were
14 carried out to send them to the 12th Corps. It reads: "In the course of
15 the 21st, dispatch" -- which means prepare. Until it is dispatched. So
16 the answer is yes, on the 21st. Yes.
17 Q. Also in the order it's ordered that the Vukovar TO units be
18 resubordinated to the 80th Motorised Brigade. Do you see that at
19 paragraph 4?
20 A. Yes.
21 Q. And similarly, based on this document, as of the 21st of November,
22 1991, is the Vukovar TO still under the command of Operational Group South
23 or not?
24 A. Yes, they were under the command of Operational Group South.
25 Q. And this order was sent to the commander of the Seseljevci
1 volunteers unit. Is that correct? Do you see that at base of the order?
2 A. Yes.
3 Q. And are you able to say which unit that referred to? Does that
4 unit have another name?
5 A. This is the Leva Supoderica unit. Since members of Seselj's party
6 were members of the Leva Supoderica unit. So it was often the case that
7 this alternative name was used in documents. Seseljevci. The volunteer
8 detachment, that's consistent. Volunteer is consistent, and detachment is
9 consistent. The only thing that is not consistent is Leva Supoderica, but
10 rather it says Seselj. And since I was the one who wrote this, maybe I
11 was at the time led by the fact that this other name was often used, and
12 maybe I told the recording clerk to use this name in writing the actual
13 document. It may as well have been a typo. I really can't say. What I
14 can say is that this must be in reference to the Leva Supoderica unit.
15 Q. Thank you. And the commander of that unit was?
16 A. As I have said before, Lancuzanin. Lancuzanin. Nicknamed Kameni.
17 THE INTERPRETER: Interpreter's note, Kameni translates as stone
19 MR. SMITH:
20 Q. Thank you. And this was sent also to the commander of the
21 1st Motorised Battalion; is that correct?
22 A. The 1st Motorised Battalion, yes. Yes, it was sent to the
24 THE INTERPRETER: Interpreter's note, the interpreter could not
25 hear the last part of what the witness said.
1 MR. SMITH:
2 Q. Thank you. And the commander of the 1st Motorised Battalion was
3 Tesic; is that correct?
4 A. Yes.
5 Q. Why was this order sent to Commander Tesic, as well as Kameni? Do
6 you know?
7 A. Well, of course, given the fact that the Leva Supoderica
8 detachment was part of the 1st Assault Detachment, this had to be also
9 sent to the commander of the 1st Assault Detachment. The fact that it was
10 sent to the commander of the 1st Motorised Battalion doesn't say
11 specifically the commander of the 1st Assault Detachment, because this
12 detachment is now leaving and this in itself may be an indication that
13 once these units have left, the assault detachment itself may be disbanded
14 altogether. At least it will cease to exist as a combat unit, which was
15 originally set up to carry out a very specific task.
16 I'm not sure if you get my meaning. So if this detachment leaves
17 and based on the order they were supposed to leave by the 21st. In point
18 of fact from the 22nd, at 0000 hours, the assault detachment ceases to
19 exist and all that is left is the motorised battalion, which actually
20 constituted the mainstay of the assault detachment.
21 Q. Thank you.
22 MR. SMITH: Your Honour, I seek to tender that document, 65 ter
23 number 192.
24 JUDGE PARKER: It will be received.
25 THE REGISTRAR: Your Honours, this document will become
1 Exhibit 422.
2 MR. SMITH:
3 Q. Witness, if we can now turn to tab 32, which, in fact is 65 ter 68
4 but it's now previously become an exhibit, Your Honour, and the exhibit
5 number is 368.
6 Witness, if we look at this document, it's a report to the
7 1st Military District command, and again at the base of the report the
8 name of Colonel Mrksic appears as commander of Operational Group South,
9 and it's dated the 21st of November at 6.00. If you can look at the
10 signature at the base of that report, and are you able to say whether or
11 not that is or is not the signature of Colonel Mrksic?
12 A. I'm not sure if it's Colonel Mrksic's signature.
13 Q. You stated earlier that on the 21st of November Colonel Mrksic
14 went to Belgrade. On that day who was left in command in Vukovar?
15 A. The Chief of Staff, Lieutenant-Colonel Miodrag Panic.
16 Q. Are you able to say whether, in fact, he signed those -- this
17 report and the previous order?
18 A. It would be logical that he signed it. I can't remember. But I
19 was the one to process the documents and as such it was my duty to take it
20 to him for signature, if he was there. I could not have taken it to
21 anyone else, and no one else would have signed this document other than
22 him, because they were not authorised to do so. I cannot definitely say
23 whether it is his signature or not, I can't remember, but it would be
24 logical that that is his signature.
25 Q. Thank you. And if we look at this report at paragraph 2 it
1 discusses the transportation of civilians to Sid and Sremska Mitrovica,
2 and also discusses the wounded being transported to Sremska Mitrovica
3 during the 20th and the 21st of November, 1991.
4 A. Yes, I see that.
5 Q. Is it your understanding that this report relates to the
6 evacuation of the Vukovar Hospital, or to other evacuations?
7 A. The wounded who were transferred to Mitrovica in the night between
8 the 20th and the 21st, they could have been from the hospital, but they
9 could also have been from other parts of town. The question is, why go to
10 Mitrovica. I assume, and in some previous reports it stated that there
11 were many problems about an agreement for surrender, probably everyone was
12 being sent to Sremska Mitrovica until the exact place of surrender was
13 determined. After that, it says that they were sent to Bosanska Raca.
14 They could have been from the hospital but also from other parts of town
15 because wounded later were also found in other sectors of Vukovar, in
16 buildings and in certain other buildings.
17 Q. And would it be fair to --
18 A. Individuals, not a large number of them.
19 Q. Would it be fair to say that it's very unclear, in relation to
20 which evacuations this report is referring to?
21 A. Sir, evacuation is not mentioned here. What is mentioned here is
22 transport. Transport would be the logical continuation of a previous
23 action, which could have been an evacuation, separation, and preparation
24 of people for transport, as well as preparation of the means to be used in
25 the transport. People who were brought out from the hospital, from other
1 parts, were subject to this matter of transport. Transport where?
2 Transport to -- as to how the authorities agree to do it.
3 Operations Group South had a lot of problems because the superior
4 command and the organs of authority could not agree on these questions
5 with the Croatian side. That's why they were all kept. So I think that
6 when we're talking about this report on the 21st, I think that the bulk of
7 the problems was resolved concerning the captured people who had weapons
8 who were transported to Mitrovica, and then when we're talking about this
9 probably last transport of the wounded to Mitrovica and then to
10 Bosanska Raca, and then also when we're talking about the transfer of
11 civilians, women and children to Sid. I think that that's when it was all
12 completed, in the night of the 20th and the 21st, and also in the course
13 of the 21st, as it is stated here.
14 Q. And in terms of command responsibility in the military rules and
15 regulations that existed, when a commander leaves his zone of
16 responsibility, does his duty, does his -- do his responsibilities cease
17 in relation to the activities occurring in the area, or do they continue
18 if he chooses to leave for any short period of time?
19 A. As we concluded in relation to the rules that were in force at
20 that time, the responsibility of the commander cannot be distilled. If he
21 is absent, then there is a person who is allocated to stand in for him.
22 In this case it would be the Chief of Staff. He is responsible for all
23 that goes on, even when he is absent as commander. So this is this
24 objective responsibility of each commander. For his unit, for his zone
25 and for his operation. Subjective responsibility would be the
1 responsibility of the person who carries out or does not carry out tasks
2 assigned to him in the absence of the commander.
3 Q. So the responsibility continues from -- for the commander that has
4 left to ensure that the military rules and regulations and the combat
5 duties are being adhered to appropriately in his zone of responsibility;
6 is that right?
7 A. That is correct. He has the right to take all the measures in his
8 capacity as commander if duties are not being carried out.
9 Q. Thank you.
10 MR. SMITH: Your Honour, that is an exhibit already, so that
11 doesn't need to be tendered.
12 Q. Colonel, if we could turn to tab 33, please. That's 65 ter
13 number 591. And it's a combat -- this is a combat report from the
14 1st Military District command dated the 21st of November, 1991, military
15 number 1614-178. And it's signed by Major General Vujovic. If you can
16 look at the conclusion, please, and in relation to the paragraph that
17 directly precedes it, if you could read that paragraph out, please.
18 A. Yes, but this combat report is sent to the first administration of
19 the General Staff.
20 "Conclusion: Enemy activities on the line of contact and in the
21 depth lead to the conclusion that" --
22 Q. Witness, Colonel, if I could stop you there. Perhaps if I could
23 ask you to read out the paragraph above where the major general reports
24 that prisoners were strictly -- the conduct was strictly in accordance
25 with the Geneva Convention, so if you could read that paragraph, please.
1 A. "Captured enemy forces are being processed, selected and sent to
2 processed as printed, points, according to plan. Work with and conduct
3 towards the prisoners are strictly in conformity with the Geneva
4 Conventions on prisoners of war.
5 "As part of the assignment on the set-up of commands in liberated
6 areas, units are encountering several problems: Certain groups of
7 locals, 'volunteers' and others independently undertake activities which
8 are not in line with the situation or the decisions of the military
10 Q. If I can stop you there, thank you.
11 Now, the 1st Military District covers the area of Operational
12 Group South; is that correct?
13 A. The zone of responsibility of Operations Group South is part of
14 the area of responsibility of the 1st Military District. It's in their
16 Q. And with the problems that Major General Vujovic was mentioning,
17 were you aware of those problems occurring in Operational Group South?
18 A. While treating the prisoners in accordance with the Geneva
19 Conventions, in that matter I was informed that there were no problems
20 except for small incidents which occurred in the areas of the Assault
21 Detachment 1 during the evacuation in the places where they were billeted.
22 This is my personal information, and it's based on what I heard in
23 the operations room, that there were considerable difficulties, that
24 members of local TO forces were trying to mistreat these people. There
25 were also cases of physical assault, but there were no serious
1 consequences. Other than that, I don't know anything else about
2 violations of the Geneva Conventions in relation to the prisoners. I
3 didn't hear anything else.
4 JUDGE PARKER: Mr. Vasic.
5 Sorry to interrupt, Colonel.
6 MR. VASIC: [Interpretation] Thank you, Your Honour.
7 As usual, it's an intervention for the transcript. It's page 15,
8 line 17, I think that the witness said that there were problems during
9 evacuation until they arrived at the places where they were billeted, but
10 in the translation it says that there were problems during evacuation in
11 the places they were accommodated or billeted.
12 JUDGE PARKER: Mr. Smith, perhaps you can clear that up.
13 Thanks, Mr. Vasic.
14 MR. SMITH:
15 Q. Colonel, if we can discuss some more about these problems and
16 incidents that you heard occurring, and it's unclear at this stage whether
17 you stated whether you -- you heard those incidents occurring in the
18 places where they were billeted or from the place where they were
20 A. Well, if you think that I'm not clear, at certain intervals I
21 heard some of these things, and I heard that there were problems to secure
22 them by members of the JNA during the evacuation or I can call it
23 transfer. Because we're talking about the relocation of the sick, but we
24 had wounded here, women, children. So in the actual transfer along the
25 roads from the hospital sector and from the other parts of town where they
1 were being taken from, in that period when this was practically going on,
2 there were problems in the problems where they were billeted in the same
3 way. Attempts by people to enter into the buildings where these people
4 were placed, there were curses, this kind of verbal type of assault as
5 well as minor physical assaults. I meant both the one and the other.
6 Q. Thank you. Colonel, I'll just -- will read an entry that was
7 placed in the war diary by you on the 20th of November at 7.00 in the
8 morning. And the English is at page 41. Perhaps if you can look at the
9 war diary for the 20th of November at 7.00 in the morning, please. Sorry,
10 that's in tab 10, that's Exhibit 401.
11 A. 20th of November, 0700. I've found it.
12 Q. If you can read that entry out, and then I'll ask you some
13 questions about it, please.
14 A. "Commander of Operations Group South regulated and ordered the
15 implementation of activities regarding the mopping up and control of the
17 Then: "Evacuation and the transport of civilians from Ovcara and
18 Velepromet and the Vukovar Hospital (order strictly confidential number
19 439-1 of 20th of November, 1991)."
20 Q. And to your knowledge at that time, at 7.00 in the morning on
21 the 20th, were there civilians or people held at Ovcara, based on your
23 A. I don't remember. I wasn't there. But I stand by what is written
24 here because the commander was quite precise. Evacuation and transport of
25 civilians from Ovcara and Velepromet, yes, they were there on the 20th.
1 And the Vukovar Hospital probably. Yes, on the 20th.
2 On the 19th in the evening it was agreed with Dr. Vesna Bosanac to
3 carry out the evacuation of the hospital. And it was carried out on
4 the 20th.
5 Q. Thank you. Now, just to be clear, the date that you -- the day
6 that you said that you heard -- you had heard problems with the way people
7 were being treated, in relation to the evacuation and the places where
8 they were billeted, what date was that? What date are you referring to
9 when these problems occurred? Is that the 20th or some other date?
10 A. I heard that there were problems on all three days. On the 18th
11 in Mitnica, but these were minor problems which are quite realistically
12 possible in such a situation. I heard about the 19th too, that there were
13 problems regarding the transport or the transfer of people from the
14 captured parts of town, primarily from the central part of town to
15 Velepromet, the barracks and Ovcara. That there were problems with the
16 local population as well as members of the Territorial Defence who are
17 from that area.
18 Q. Thank you.
19 A. But I had already explained the mistreatment. All that time this
20 abuse was of the same intensity. There was verbal abuse as well as
21 physical assaults, but they were not of a serious nature and did not
22 result in major consequences.
23 Q. Thank you. And so for those three days, the 18th, the 19th and
24 the 20th of November, where were you largely based? Were you at the
25 headquarters or were you out in the field?
1 A. I was at the command post all three days. In the operations room
2 when I was working, and at the time when I had my planned rest I was in
3 the building that we used for rest. I wasn't there continually, but
4 during those three days I was most often at the place where I was carrying
5 out my regular tasks and duties.
6 Q. If you can take your mind back to the 19th of November at the
7 headquarters, you mentioned that you heard problems of verbal abuse and
8 physical abuse at places such as the Vukovar barracks and Ovcara, and you
9 stated that the local population and the Territorial Defence were causing
10 the problems. Is that correct?
11 A. Yes, that is correct.
12 JUDGE PARKER: Mr. Vasic.
13 MR. VASIC: [Interpretation] Your Honour, I think that this
14 question by my learned friend is leading because the witness said that
15 there were problems in the transport of people from the captured parts of
16 town to Velepromet, Ovcara and the barracks, while my learned friend is
17 asking whether there were such problems at Ovcara, at the barracks, and
18 this is considerable difference, whether that's on the way to those places
19 or in those locations.
20 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] May I answer?
21 MR. VASIC: [Interpretation] He also said that there was physical
22 abuse and the witness did describe the forms of that abuse.
23 JUDGE PARKER: Colonel, you were about to answer.
24 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Yes. I cannot mention the
25 term "transport" that Mr. Vasic mentioned now in any context, other than
1 when we're talking about an organised activity to transfer people from one
2 building, from one area, by means of transport, to another location. Here
3 I mentioned the terms "evacuation" and "relocation" or "transfer" and I
4 think that I was clear. I did not mention transport.
5 JUDGE PARKER: Mr. Smith, is there anything further you would like
6 to follow up?
7 MR. SMITH: Not on that particular point, Your Honour. I think
8 he's clarified it. However, the topic in general, there are some further
9 questions about the nature of the abuse, et cetera. And perhaps, because
10 it's very short, close to the break, perhaps I could start after the
12 Sorry, Your Honour, I am -- I came to court at 9.00 this morning,
13 no one was here, and so I'm on that time-frame. So I'll continue. I
14 suppose better half an hour early than half an hour late.
15 Q. Witness, in relation to that, the problems that you talked about
16 with the local population and the Territorial Defence, what types of
17 reports were you receiving on the 19th? How were those reports coming in?
18 And I'm talking about the 19th now, not the 20th.
19 A. Reports by the commanders were something that I didn't really
20 follow up in that sense. To be specific, I did hear reports by senior
21 officers in the organs of command who, at that time, on the 19th, were at
22 the units of operation -- the operations group in those places where these
23 things were happening.
24 Amongst other things, I think that on the 19th, and also on
25 the 20th, the Chief of Staff was at the scene and he was busy with matters
1 relating to the transfer. I think -- the evacuation, and I heard that
2 from him. So the situation was that the commanders would go, then they
3 would come back in the middle of the day, eat something, and then go back
4 again. So each one of them would say something, but it wasn't really that
5 much that they said.
6 Q. So in relation to the 19th, is your evidence that you were hearing
7 problems of this nature at each of the three places you mentioned at
8 Ovcara, at Velepromet and at the hospital?
9 A. Although I was then the head of the operations, I didn't know the
10 time precisely, and I can't be any more precise now, how people were
11 separated and who were sent to Velepromet, who was sent to the barracks or
12 to Ovcara. I simply know that they were sent to all three locations, but
13 according to what criteria, I can't say.
14 Q. Are you able to say whether on the 19th other of the command staff
15 at the headquarters were familiar with these problems as well?
16 A. Yes, all those who were there, who stayed there for short or
17 extended periods of time in the operations room.
18 Q. Was Colonel Mrksic aware of these problems on the 19th?
19 A. I believe so. And that he knew more about the problems. He was
20 told about the problems by the commanders of his subordinate units and by
21 the Chief of Staff, I would presume, as well as the head of security and
22 other officers within the command who were sent to Vukovar where all this
23 was taking place.
24 Q. And who was the head of security in the command?
25 A. The head of security was Major Sljivancanin.
1 Q. On the 19th, was any action taken to try and prevent this verbal
2 abuse and physical abuse from occurring at these locations? Are you aware
3 of it?
4 A. All I know is that on the 19th at 2000 hours a group came to the
5 command at Negoslavci. They were from the security organs of the
6 1st Military District and the General Staff. They were received by the
7 commander. And, as far as I can remember, they were tasked with dealing
8 with evacuation and transfer, as well as some other issues that may occur
9 at a later stage in the transport of those people. I believe they
10 remained at the command for a brief period of time, and having told
11 Mr. Mrksic why they were there, he sent them to the area of Vukovar to
12 complete their tasks.
13 And during the night, between the 19th and the 20th, around
14 midnight, another group came from the rear, from the logistics. They were
15 from the 1st Military District. Most of them were there concerning the
16 traffic in order to regulate that matter in the area. And they were to
17 carry out their tasks together with the rear services of the
18 Operations Group South.
19 Q. Can we talk about the first meeting when a group came from the
20 1st Military District and the General Staff to the headquarters of
21 Negoslavci. And this is the meeting that you stated occurred at 8.00 on
22 the 19th, in the evening. Were you present at that meeting, or were you
23 just aware of it occurring in the -- in the headquarters?
24 A. I'll try to be specific. I was present, the commander was
25 present. I don't know whether there was someone else from any other
1 organs of the command, perhaps another person or a couple of them. And
2 the meeting was held, those people came in, they introduced themselves,
3 and they described their tasks. The commander understood why they were
4 there. They only wanted to know where exactly was the area. He provided
5 them with some escort, and he sent them out in the field to deal with
6 those issues. There wasn't much discussion.
7 Q. Approximately how long did that first meeting last? Sorry.
8 JUDGE PARKER: Mr. Vasic.
9 MR. VASIC: [Interpretation] Your Honour, I wanted to object to
10 this question by my learned friend. I believe the witness said that there
11 was no meeting, but on page 22, line 18, it states that there was a
12 meeting, but I believe the witness said something to the contrary.
13 JUDGE PARKER: Well, in the English translation the witness is
14 describing a meeting in that part of the transcript.
15 Perhaps instead of you going over it again the witness might just
17 Can you see in the transcript at 22 an answer commencing around
18 line 19 and extending much further down. Colonel?
19 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Well, a meeting. Depending -- that
20 depends on the point of view. In the true sense of the term, a meeting
21 deals with issues, it has an agenda, it is chaired by someone, it lasts
22 longer. This was a brief encounter. Perhaps I may have said a meeting,
23 but in Serbian we don't make the distinction. Temporal duration is not
24 specified either. A meeting is attended by several people. But this was
25 basically the meeting of the commander with people from the security
1 organ. I happened to be there, and perhaps another couple of people. We
2 didn't participate in any discussion, we didn't put forward any
3 suggestions or anything of that sort. I didn't really think this
4 definition of "meeting" through. I may have used the word "meeting," but
5 this was an encounter, as I've described.
6 MR. SMITH:
7 Q. Perhaps -- just to clarify: How long did this meeting or
8 encounter, how long did it last for? Are we talking minutes?
9 A. It was very brief. It lasted 10 to 15 minutes at the most.
10 Q. And did it occur inside the headquarters or outside?
11 A. In the command building. At least the meeting that I was present
12 at, that took place in the operations room. Whether they met in front of
13 the building or later on in some other place, that I can't remember.
14 Q. And you said that some individuals from the 1st Military District
15 had come to the headquarters. Do you know any of their names?
16 A. No. I didn't know anyone from the group that came from the
17 security organs.
18 Q. And about how many came from the security organs?
19 A. I can't be specific. More than three, in any case.
20 Q. And in relation to command staff that were present, you mentioned
21 yourself and Colonel Mrksic. Was there anyone else from the command staff
22 there, and particularly the security organs present from Operational Group
23 South command?
24 A. There was Colonel Mrksic there and myself. Apart from the two of
25 us, I don't remember whether anyone else was there. I presume there was
1 someone from the security organ, it is something to be expected, since our
2 counterparts came from the security organ, but I am uncertain as to that.
3 Q. When this -- when meeting was taking place, do you know where
4 Major Sljivancanin was?
5 A. I didn't know at the time. I can't be specific. I know he used
6 to spend his time with the units, most of his time.
7 Q. Thank you. The duties of the security organ, the individuals from
8 the security organ from the 1st Military District, what were they? Did
9 they say why they were there and what they were going to do?
10 A. As far as I can remember concerning security, they said that they
11 were to see what the situation was, how POWs were being treated, as well
12 as what the situation was with the wounded and civilians, and to take the
13 measures necessary to help carry out the process in a planned and
14 organised manner.
15 Q. And did Colonel Mrksic give them any instructions or, if not, how
16 did he respond to this? Especially in relation to how prisoners of war
17 were being treated?
18 A. I don't remember Colonel Mrksic's response; I didn't note that
19 down in my notebook. Since they left for Vukovar quite soon, I believe he
20 explained them how to get there and that they would be escorted by someone
21 and that they could see the situation in the field for themselves. And I
22 believe that on the 19th he told them there were no problems, and that
23 Mrs. Vesna Bosanac had been there before they came and that things were
24 arranged. I don't know what their tasks were. I don't know or I don't
25 remember having them stated, those tasks, precisely to Colonel Mrksic.
1 Q. Thank you. However, were the problems in relation to the minor
2 physical assaults or abuse at Ovcara, Velepromet and the hospital, and the
3 verbal abuse, were they raised with these men?
4 MR. LUKIC: Objection.
5 JUDGE PARKER: Mr. Lukic.
6 THE INTERPRETER: Microphone for Mr. Lukic, please.
7 JUDGE PARKER: Microphone, please.
8 MR. LUKIC: [Interpretation] For the second time, our learned
9 friend is trying to suggest asking whether the problems occurred at all
10 three locations, and the witness only spoke of those problems the way to
11 Ovcara and the barracks and at Velepromet. He never mentioned the
13 MR. VASIC: [Interpretation] Your Honour, I have another objection.
14 JUDGE PARKER: [Previous translation continues] ... Mr. Lukic. I
15 think you are more accurate. My note about the hospital is dealing with a
16 slightly different subject. Yes.
17 MR. SMITH: If that's the case, I apologise, Your Honour, for
19 Q. Witness, with the problems at Ovcara -- sorry. Another objection.
20 JUDGE PARKER: Let this be clarified first, Mr. Vasic.
21 MR. SMITH:
22 Q. Colonel, were the problems that you heard about were occurring at
23 Ovcara and Velepromet on the 19th, were they raised with these men from
24 the security organs?
25 A. I don't remember.
1 Q. Thank you.
2 JUDGE PARKER: Mr. Vasic, is there now something?
3 MR. VASIC: [Interpretation] No, not anymore, Your Honour. Thank
5 JUDGE PARKER: Thank you.
6 MR. SMITH:
7 Q. Colonel, you mentioned that there was another meeting or encounter
8 later that evening, quite late. Was it with -- at the headquarters, was
9 it with the same men from the security organs, or others?
10 MR. VASIC: [Interpretation] Your Honour. I believe this is a
11 leading question. I believe the witness mentioned the meeting with the
12 rear units from the 1st Military District rather than security organs.
13 The witness stated that they came to the barracks in the evening and he
14 never mentioned any meeting.
15 MR. SMITH: I may have made a mistake there, Your Honour. Perhaps
16 if I can ask the witness just to clarify what that second meeting was
18 JUDGE PARKER: What the second group were there for.
19 MR. SMITH: Yes.
20 JUDGE PARKER: We haven't got to a meeting yet.
21 MR. SMITH: I hope we do, but we'll see.
22 JUDGE PARKER: Well, a little more care, perhaps, Mr. Smith, with
23 your questions. There have been a series of objections, and they're all
24 because of loosely framed questions by you.
25 MR. SMITH: I understand. Thank you, Your Honour.
1 Q. Witness, did anyone else come to the headquarters after that --
2 after that first meeting with individuals from the security organs? And
3 if so, who were they?
4 A. Around 1.00 on the 20th, and that is no longer the 19th, a team
5 from the logistics organ of the 1st Military District came. Their task
6 was to deal with the rear -- issues of the rear transport primarily. They
7 came there upon request of the command of OG South to assist, since they
8 had the means which the Operations Group South didn't have. They had
9 their tasks to carry out, and as far as I can remember they were linked up
10 with the responsible officer of the rear services of OG South. And there
11 was no meeting at the command; they came separately. I presume they had a
12 meeting with the rear services, and they were briefed there on the
13 situation and on how to deal with the issues they were supposed to
15 So there was a meeting or an encounter. They arrived there,
16 but I don't know whether they were seen by Colonel Mrksic or
17 Lieutenant-Colonel Panic. Since they were from the logistics, they were
18 sent to see the people from the logistics of OG South. So I would call
19 that an encounter rather than a meeting, as you did.
20 Q. Thank you. You stated that they came on the request of the
21 command to assist. In particular, in practical terms, what types of
22 things were they requested to assist with?
23 A. As far as I can remember, the command of OG South did not ask
24 specifically for certain things, but based on the documents of the
25 superior command, which instructed that in case of problems they should
1 seek assistance, they did so. I believe the OG South, in a document,
2 requested assistance from the rear services of its superior command.
3 There were several reasons for that. One of them being the supply
4 of food for all the people who were in the area during those two or three
5 days. The other reason being to regulate transport as well as to secure
6 that transport. Those were the main issues that had to be dealt with by
7 Operations Group South. And later on they were dealt with by the rear
8 services of the operations group, together with the rear services of the
9 military district. As to the degree of their success in doing so, well,
10 that's another thing.
11 Q. At that encounter, was there any discussion about the evacuation
12 of civilians or people from the hospital?
13 A. As far as I remember, they came with someone from the village of
14 Berak, from the rear organ. Or maybe someone from the rear organ was
15 there waiting for them and then they started discussing the specific
16 issues. I don't think the commander was familiar with their tasks in
17 detail. He had the competent organs, and he forwarded them to --
18 forwarded them to the rear services, so as not to waste his time.
19 I mentioned that another group came from the security organ in the
20 evening. Therefore, the 1st Military District was trying to assist in
21 dealing with the problems that existed.
22 Q. Thank you. Did those individuals from the security organs that
23 arrived at the headquarters earlier in the evening, did they return later
24 that night or not?
25 A. I really can't say. I don't know for how long they stayed or when
1 they returned.
2 Q. And now, perhaps, if we can move to the 20th of November, I'd like
3 you to explain when you first heard about these problems of physical and
4 verbal abuse at Ovcara and Velepromet. You mentioned that you heard of
5 these problems over the three-day period, on the 18th, 19th and 20th, but
6 now I would just like to draw your mind to when you first heard about
7 these problems on the 20th.
8 A. On the 20th, around noon, and during the afternoon, I heard there
9 were some problems.
10 Q. Who did you hear these problems from?
11 A. From the officers there who came and then returned to the combat
12 area. And by that time that was the liberated area in Vukovar. As
13 someone from the command, I never received an official report by any
14 commander. I don't know whether such a report was received by the Chief
15 of Staff or the brigade commander, but we could hear from all the officers
16 who were there that there were problems, that the conscripts and the JNA
17 officers had great difficulty to deal with the members of the TO and
18 civilians from Vukovar to prevent them from maltreating people.
19 Q. About how many officers were informing you and others of that, of
20 these problems?
21 A. I'm trying to remember all that. It was on the 19th, or to be
22 more specific, on the 20th, during which time most of the brigade command
23 officers had to have been there at a certain point. In the operations
24 room, there were only people who were there according to their routine
25 tasks. That is, the duty officer, someone from the operations organ and
1 someone from the staff. For example, heads of branches. Everyone else
2 was in the field. And they occasionally came to the command for various
3 reasons, and they all stated a similar thing, that it was very difficult
4 to keep at bay members of the TO and civilians from Vukovar, so as not to
5 maltreat people the way I've already explained.
6 Q. Thank you.
7 MR. SMITH: Your Honour, I believe it's now 11.00, so it may be
8 time for a break now.
9 JUDGE PARKER: We will adjourn now and resume at 20 past 11.00.
10 --- Recess taken at 11.00 a.m.
11 --- On resuming at 11.23 a.m.
12 JUDGE PARKER: Mr. Smith.
13 MR. SMITH: Thank you, Your Honour.
14 Q. Colonel, before we had the break you were talking about the
15 problems that you heard from other officers at the command headquarters in
16 relation to abuse of evacuees. You stated that the problems -- you first
17 started to hear of these problems around noon, and in relation to
18 the 20th, around noon on the 20th. For what period of time were these
19 reports coming in, in relation to the day of the 20th, these reports of
20 abuse of evacuees?
21 MR. VASIC: [Interpretation] Your Honours. I'm not sure if -- I'm
22 sorry. I'm not sure if my learned friend is using the right
23 word, "report." I think perhaps it would be better to have the witness
24 explain himself whether these were actually reports or something else.
25 JUDGE PARKER: You are wanting to read "reports" in one particular
1 context. It has a much more general meaning where this is a reliable
2 usage. You might be sitting in the front foyer of this building as lots
3 of people walk by and you heard reports of what was happening outside the
4 building as they talked, as they went by. So I think we will allow it in
5 Mr. Smith's favour on this occasion that he's using "reports" in that
6 sense. Clearly the evidence so far does not support the notion that
7 officers walked in the door and made a formal report.
8 You heard enough there, Mr. Smith.
9 MR. SMITH: Thank you, Your Honour.
10 JUDGE PARKER: I had to work hard for you there.
11 MR. SMITH: I much appreciate it. I think a 50/50 success rate on
12 objection is not bad.
13 Q. Witness, how was this information conveyed by the other officers
14 in the headquarters?
15 A. No official reports on these problems arrived, not to my
16 knowledge. If they were official and if they did arrive, it is possible
17 that they came straight to the commander, possibly to the Chief of Staff,
18 if he was there, and indeed he was there, and he was also on the ground.
19 I personally received no report from any of these subordinate
20 commanders. There was a degree of information flow, if I may call it
21 that, in that room. Sometimes there were more people present, sometimes
22 not so many people. This was information coming from the officers who
23 were there and whose assignment was to go, see what the problem was about
24 and tackle it. Not all at once. And the scope itself wasn't too broad
25 really, but it was about this, the Territorial Defence units, the local
1 population were obstructing work, were making things difficult, were
2 aggravating this large-scale problem with a large amount of people being
3 transferred from Vukovar to these other areas that we have mentioned.
4 What this means is the information flow was regular and anybody
5 should have taken note. If problems had been more serious, if anybody had
6 been murdered, each commander would have been duty-bound to draft a final
7 report and forward it to their command. And then the commander would have
8 known. I would have known. Any of the officers there would have known,
9 had this been the case.
10 Q. Thank you. But in particular, in relation to the information you
11 received regarding the abuse of evacuees on the 20th, was that brought to
12 the attention of Colonel Mrksic, to your knowledge?
13 A. I'm not saying that he was aware of that or indeed that he wasn't.
14 In his capacity as commander he would have had to know more than I did,
15 for example, concerning the information that I was receiving. If you want
16 me to explain that from a military perspective, whenever there is a
17 serious problem in a unit this needs to be reported straight to the
18 superior officer. If there were any serious problems, the subordinate
19 officers were duty-bound to report on those and tell the superior officer.
20 If they didn't, then there was no reporting. It's as simple as that.
21 Q. Was Colonel Mrksic at the headquarters on the 20th of November?
22 A. Yes, he was.
23 Q. The -- the reports in relation to the -- these informal reports in
24 relation to the treatment of evacuees, can you say whether that was well
25 known amongst the command staff on the 20th, and additionally on those
1 other days, the 18th and 19th, from your observations?
2 A. Yes. Almost everybody.
3 Q. And when you say, "Almost everybody," is there any person that you
4 know didn't know this information?
5 A. When I was explaining about who exactly was going on -- was going
6 about their own assignments in that operations room, you must have
7 realised that the entire staff was there. As to when each of them were or
8 were not there at which precise point in time, well, that varied. Who
9 might not have been familiar, the logistics people, the security people
10 who weren't really spending that much time in the operations room there,
11 they were spending much more time out there in the field. But if they
12 were spending so much time out in the field, then I suppose the inference
13 would be that they must have known a lot more than we knew back in the
14 operations room.
15 Q. And in relation to Colonel Mrksic, on the 20th was he -- do you
16 know where he was? Was he mainly in the field or mainly at headquarters?
17 A. What I remember about Colonel Mrksic's whereabouts on the 20th at
18 the headquarters leads me to believe, at least based on what the war diary
19 seems to indicate on the 21st at 8.15, he was on his way to see the
20 federal secretary about the assignments that he had been given. He gave
21 me the assignment to draw up a chart of how the Vukovar operation was
22 carried out. And this was to include a number of accompanying documents,
23 calculations, casualties and problems in general. I was supposed to
24 prepare this chart for him so that he would be able to bring it to the
25 briefing, and that was the assignment that he gave me.
1 This assignment was tackled by certain officers from the
2 operations organ. It was going out into the field, and there were one or
3 two of them helping me with this assignment that I got. I did this that
4 afternoon and the first half of the following night, between the 20th and
5 the 21st. I was greatly aided in this by Colonel Pavkovic, who is an
6 expert in this sort of thing. He's very good at drawing maps and
7 producing maps.
8 On that day Colonel Mrksic, if what I remember is correct, and if
9 what is noted in the war diary is correct, in relation to the 21st, was at
10 the headquarters. Late in the afternoon or early in the evening, at one
11 point he left the headquarters.
12 Q. Witness, if I could stop there.
13 A. And he went --
14 Q. Witness, if I can just stop you there.
15 You state that on that day Colonel Mrksic, if what I remember is
16 correct, in relation to the 21st, he was at the headquarters. Do you mean
17 the 21st or do you mean the 20th? Because in the war diary the entry is
18 that Colonel Mrksic left at 8.15 on the 21st.
19 A. I'm trying to be accurate. I'm talking about the 20th. I
20 mentioned the 21st in the context of what I remember, and what the war
21 diary indicates, that he left on the 21st.
22 And this brings me back to the 20th when, objectively speaking,
23 there was little time for me to do all these things. So the situation I
24 was facing was that I had to work quickly, I had to seek assistance,
25 specifically from Colonel Pavkovic. There was a need to deal with this
1 quickly, get the documents ready for the briefing, and this was done on
2 the afternoon of the 20th and the first half of the following night.
3 Colonel Mrksic was not around as those documents were being
4 drafted. He was present at the headquarters during that day while there
5 was still natural light. I just didn't see it fit that I should go to him
6 and ask him for help about this. I was just drafting all those auxiliary
7 maps that were necessary for Operation Vukovar. When he left eventually,
8 late in the afternoon or early in the evening, Colonel Pavkovic turned up
9 and he helped me finish the map and all the other auxiliary documents.
10 I later heard that Colonel Mrksic returned just before midnight.
11 I informed him that I had completed my task and that I had finished the
12 map. As far as I remember, he said, "It's all right. We'll not be
13 looking at that now, we'll do that tomorrow morning." And then he went to
14 get some rest. I later learned that he had either been in the medical
15 room or with the logistics people that evening.
16 Q. Thank you. And in relation to Colonel Panic, where was he on
17 the 20th? Are you able to say?
18 A. Colonel Panic was my superior, that's true. But he did not issue
19 my assignments, nor did he tell me where to go. I did make a note in the
20 war diary, and I see that he was there on the 18th and the 19th where the
21 problems were occurring.
22 Q. And what about the 20th. Even if you didn't make a note about it,
23 do you know where he was on the 20th? Can you say or not?
24 A. I can't. I don't know.
25 Q. Thank you. And just briefly, you stated that the first
1 information came in about these problems, came in on the 20th at noon.
2 For about what period of time did these -- did this information come in?
3 Was it over minutes, hours? Can you give us an idea of how frequent this
4 information was?
5 A. It's difficult to answer that question. Whenever an officer
6 turned up they would normally say something. "I'm tired." "We're facing
7 a lot of problems over there." Some said, "I'm tired. There were some
8 problems but we dealt with those." "Officers and soldiers are holding up
9 just fine. The locals, the TO people, were stopped from doing anything
10 bad, and were stopped from mistreating people." Those were the sort of
11 comments made by most officers entering the room.
12 Q. Thank you. And in relation to Ovcara, the reports or problems
13 from Ovcara, do you remember the names of the officers that provided that
14 information or not?
15 A. Let me tell you: Velepromet, the barracks and Ovcara were all the
16 same to me. I did not have any information concerning the distinction
17 criteria between those, which bodies were at Ovcara, which bodies were at
18 the barracks and which were at Velepromet. Whenever I was told that
19 something was going on in those respective areas, well, that was it, there
20 something was going on. I wasn't necessarily asking myself whether that
21 was at Velepromet, the barracks, or Ovcara. There was no need for me at
22 the time to look into those matters. There was something going on all
23 over the place all the time.
24 Q. Thank you. Previously you referred us to an order placing
25 Lieutenant Vojnovic, the town commander in Ovcara. Lieutenant-colonel,
1 sorry. Did you see him on the 20th of November?
2 A. No. No, no, no. On the 20th of November I don't think I did. I
3 saw Vujovic [as interpreted] at the brigade command three or four times.
4 He would come there, I was present when -- well, for the most part he
5 talked about problems, he made proposals, he was always unhappy about
6 something or other. I realised he was an officer. He was not a -- a
7 lieutenant-colonel or something like that, I don't remember the rank, but
8 he wanted to prove his worth. He sometimes even ignored his superior. He
9 was part of the Assault Detachment 1, and he would go straight to the
10 command post. That was the sort of officer he was, and I wasn't prone to
11 respect anyone who was of that ilk and I wasn't much listening to what he
12 had to say either.
13 Q. Thank you, but now I'm just referring you back to
14 Lieutenant-Colonel Vojnovic. Did you hear any information --
15 A. I'm sorry. I'm sorry. I wasn't sufficiently focused on your
16 question, perhaps. I apologise.
17 Q. It could have quite easily been my pronunciation.
18 But in relation to Lieutenant-Colonel Vojnovic, did you -- even if
19 you didn't see him on the 20th, did you hear anything about him on
20 the 20th, about what he was doing?
21 A. I didn't see him on the 20th. I did not see Lieutenant-Colonel
22 Vojnovic at all during my time in Vukovar. All the information that I
23 have, all the information that I'm aware of, is in relation to orders from
24 the superior command about the resubordination of units, orders from our
25 commander, the various assignments given to that unit in writing. I
1 assume that there were oral orders being issued to him by the commander.
2 But all I know is that he was the commander of the 80th Motorised
3 Brigade. I didn't see him on that day, I didn't see him on that evening.
4 As for that evening, I think there was a meeting, or a briefing, you might
5 say. He wasn't there. I do remember clearly, however, that later on, at
6 about 2000 hours, possibly 2100 hours, I did hear that he had been to the
7 brigade command; one of the officers told me. And he wanted to speak to
8 Colonel Mrksic. I didn't investigate the matter, not then and not later.
9 I never learned whether he had, in fact, met Colonel Mrksic and whether
10 they talked.
11 Q. Even though you didn't investigate the matter, did you hear what
12 the subject of the discussion was?
13 A. Likewise, I heard things off the record from officers. I heard
14 that he had mentioned in their presence, in the presence of whichever
15 officers those were who actually heard what he said, whether that's
16 official, whether he actually met Colonel Mrksic and whether he told him
17 is not something that I can talk about. But they said that he had been
18 talking about problems, about mistreatment, about how the prisoners at
19 Ovcara had been treated, specifically. By the same token -- as those
20 prisoners who had been mistreated on one of the previous days, but he did
21 mention that specifically and that's what I remember. There were some
22 officers who apparently met him, saw him and talked to him, and apparently
23 this is what he shared with them. I'm not sure if he told Colonel Mrksic
24 about this or not.
25 Q. Did you hear this information on the 20th or at a later date?
1 A. On the 20th, on the 20th, the information, I got the information
2 on the evening of the 20th, at about 2000 hours or 2100 hours,
3 thereabouts. We were at the headquarters at the command and someone
4 dropped a hint. I think it was Milorad Vojnovic. He wanted to see the
5 commander. I'm not sure if he had met him previously or not, nor did
6 people tell me. He said there are problems at Ovcara, problems with
7 prisoners, and these problems have to do with the TO units there. And
8 that's all I know.
9 Q. Are you aware as to whether Colonel Mrksic issued any orders to
10 subordinates to protect prisoners at either Ovcara, Velepromet, or any
11 other place on the 20th of November?
12 A. As far as I remember, he didn't. He didn't -- he didn't at that
13 regular briefing actually raise the issue. There was no focus on that
14 issue, nor were any assignments actually handed out. But command can be
15 exercised by means of direct contact between people, and tasks may have
16 been handed out in personal contact in the sense of punishing any acts
17 that may have been committed.
18 But at that particular meeting, which was actually a short
19 briefing session, this problem was not mentioned specifically. As far as
20 I remember, what was discussed is the fact that people were worn out and
21 that the equipment was worn out. People were tired. What to do, how to
22 get more things, how to get some rest, how to allow people to have some
23 rest, and how to mend our equipment.
24 MR. VASIC: [Interpretation] Your Honours.
25 JUDGE PARKER: Mr. Vasic.
1 MR. VASIC: [Interpretation] Thank you very much, Your Honours.
2 Page 40, lines 11 and 12, it says there was a short briefing and
3 this problem was not mentioned specifically. And the witness said this
4 problem was not mentioned specifically in a drastic form. And this was
5 not reflected in the transcript.
6 JUDGE PARKER: Thank you.
7 MR. SMITH: Thank you.
8 Q. Colonel, when you say that the problem wasn't mentioned
9 specifically in a drastic form, how was it mentioned? In what type of
11 A. In the same form as information was received which I obtained from
12 the officers I mentioned. There are problems, there is mistreatment, but
13 everything is still under control and nothing extreme has yet happened.
14 If that is so, then warnings might have followed, and calls for measures
15 to be taken to keep anything extreme from happening. And these warnings
16 probably did come from the commander or the Chief of Staff. I may have
17 said a thing or two myself about that. Just in order to have this
18 monitored, because this had been going on for three days. An assessment
19 of the tendency of this thing to escalate could not have been made at the
20 time unless there were reports, specific reports that I was not aware of.
21 Q. Thank you. And to your knowledge, between the 20th of November
22 and the 24th of November, when the Guards Motorised Brigade returned to
23 Belgrade, were there any investigations or disciplinary measures taken
24 against any soldiers involved in the abuse of evacuees or detainees on
25 the 18th, 19th and 20th, to your knowledge?
1 A. No. I don't remember that any disciplinary steps were taken
2 against anyone.
3 Q. Colonel, can we now just briefly turn our mind to the evacuation
4 of Vukovar Hospital? You have talked about it, and you have discussed
5 aspects of it through the orders that were issued, and there was one order
6 that you referred to that Colonel Mrksic drafted, or you drafted and he
7 signed, which was very general, and that order was issued at 6.00 in the
8 morning on the 20th. And that order didn't direct who was to organise or
9 supervise the evacuation of people from the Vukovar Hospital. Do you
10 remember discussing that order?
11 A. I remember that.
12 Q. Do you know who was in charge of the evacuation of the Vukovar
13 Hospital? Not the takeover of the hospital, but who was placed in charge
14 to evacuate the people there? And especially the prisoners of war or
15 the -- especially the combatants that were alleged to have been at the
17 A. As you have inferred yourself, the order to evacuate was not
18 specific. This means the implementing agent is not defined in the order,
19 nor are there any criteria given in the order in terms of the place and
20 time and the purely organisational aspects, and I mean the physical room
21 in which the whole thing was taking place. So this was a pretty general
23 If you want me to say why the order has this general nature, I can
24 tell you that this is my opinion. First of all, it was my belief that the
25 security organs that we've mentioned, those from the 1st Military
1 District, from the General Staff on the evening of the 19th, had this
2 assignment: They were supposed to regulate, monitor and help. Part of
3 this assignment was to be carried out by the logistics organs from the
4 1st Military District, including these same organs from Operations Group
6 This issue should have been taken up by the moral-guidance
7 organs. And by some kind of logic that was inherent in these things, the
8 Chief of Staff should have dealt with these things. Why wasn't that
9 written down, why wasn't that specified in detail, much in the same manner
10 as I'm telling you now? Well, these are the reasons. And there is also
11 the possibility that the commander ordered someone orally to implement
12 this. And this person in charge of implementing this was an experienced
13 officer. In that case, that officer would have got the whole thing
14 organised pretty quickly, I think. So that, roughly speaking, is my
15 answer to your question.
16 Q. Do you know whether Colonel Mrksic, in fact, did order someone to
17 implement this? And if he did, who did he order to implement the
19 A. No, I don't remember. All I said was that it was logical that he
20 should have ordered someone. I commented on the order. It was written
21 after the meeting with Dr. Vesna Bosanac. Some questions were discussed
22 there. I wasn't present at that meeting, and Colonel Mrksic did not tell
23 me exactly how to regulate that question. He didn't tell me anything
24 specific, point this person as the responsible person, work out the
25 organisation in the way you think fit, and then I will look at it. I
1 didn't get anything like that from him.
2 Q. Thank you. You said that it was your belief that the security
3 organs of the 1st Military District and some general staff were supposed
4 to regulate, monitor and help the evacuation; is that correct?
5 A. Yes, that's correct.
6 Q. You also stated --
7 A. And I think that this was regulated by some order that I haven't
8 seen. However, I think that sending a group of high-ranking officers to
9 an assignment in the Vukovar zone of operations must have been regulated
10 by an order, and that order must have contained specific tasks. This
11 order has to be somewhere, and I guess that would clarify a lot of things;
12 what was the assignment, did they have an assignment at all, and how were
13 they supposed to implement it.
14 Q. And you -- you also said that the evacuation also included the
15 same organs from the -- the Operational Group South. Are you referring to
16 the security organs in operation -- the security organ in Operational
17 Group South command?
18 A. Yes, he had to be included also. To what extent this was so, I
19 really don't have the information about that.
20 Q. You said that, "He had to be included also." When you say "he,"
21 who do you refer to?
22 A. You asked me about the security organ. So I said "he"; actually,
23 it was supposed to be "it." So the officers from the security organs
24 should have been included. Included in the problem of resolving the
25 relocation and the transport.
1 Q. And in the command staff, who were the officers of the security
2 organ in relation to OG South, Operational Group South?
3 A. I apologise if I cannot remember everyone. I probably won't be
4 able to remember them all.
5 The chief was Major Veselin Sljivancanin. I don't know if it was
6 the first senior officer or his deputy, but that was Major Vukasinovic. A
7 captain was also there, a captain or a lieutenant, Borce Karanfilov.
8 There were a number of non-commissioned officers, also a captain by the
9 name of Mladen Karan. There was another officer whom I cannot remember,
10 he was probably ranking immediately after the Chief, the number two man
11 was Vukasinovic, perhaps number three person in that security organ, he
12 was in Vukovar. This is what I remember.
13 I mentioned that when I arrived at the guards brigade I really had
14 to master the organisation and structure very quickly, I had to get to
15 know the personnel quickly, and in those combat conditions, this is what I
16 did. But I didn't find out about all the organs. The security organ in
17 particular was not something that I really focused on. But the names that
18 I mentioned, I think, were most of the people who were there.
19 Q. Thank you. You mentioned a name of Mladen Karan, and
20 unfortunately the last part of the name wasn't recorded in the transcript.
21 Can you state that person's name again?
22 A. Mladen Karan, as far as I can recall. The first name is Mladen;
23 the last name is Karan.
24 Q. Are you aware of a Captain Karanfilov as part of the
25 organisational [sic] group south command staff?
1 A. Yes, Borce Karanfilov. Yes, I mentioned him, I know him. He was
3 Q. And what was his function again?
4 A. Organisation of work in the security organ was something that I
5 was not familiar. When I arrived, the principle was in peacetime that
6 each of the officers in the security organ covers one or two units in the
7 operations and security sense at the rank of battalion and light artillery
8 battalion. Who of the officers was responsible for which unit is
9 something that I really don't know.
10 Q. Thank you. You mentioned Major Vukasinovic, and I think you also
11 referred to him previously in your testimony in relation to an order by
12 Colonel Mrksic assigning him to be a village commander, a village or town
13 commander. Is that correct?
14 A. Yes, that's correct.
15 Q. Is it -- is it a usual practice or a normal practice to place a
16 security officer as commander of a -- of a particular region or zone?
17 A. In this specific case, this was the local commander of the place
18 where the command was located. The security organ is by organisation, a
19 part of the command. Major Vukasinovic is in the security organ;
20 therefore, he is a member of the command. So it is logical that he would
21 appointed for that. It could have been any of the lower-ranking officers
22 in the security organ too, but he was the one who was appointed and this
23 seems quite all right to me. It would be wrong, but the commander could
24 have made that decision to appoint Major Vukasinovic as the commander of
25 Jakubovac, for example, but he appointed him as commander of Negoslavci.
1 So it's logical.
2 Q. Thank you. But before the appointment of Major Vukasinovic to
3 this village or town command, did he have any authority to command people
4 underneath him or subordinates underneath him, prior to his appointment as
5 the town or village commander?
6 A. The question, well, the security organs do not carry out functions
7 of command. They are in charge of operations and security tasks, in the
8 expert sense. Only in the expert sense they are superiors to the military
9 police units. So Major Vukasinovic did not have the authority to have
10 command of anything other than according to an order of the command in
11 relation to Negoslavci when he was appointed as local commander, in terms
12 of the questions indicated by the commander in the order and that we
13 discussed. Therefore, he could not have been in command in any area, and
14 if he did, that was something that was outside of his competence. Perhaps
15 he just did this on the basis of his authority.
16 Q. However, you say that he was appointed as a local commander by
17 Colonel Mrksic. Does that mean he could exercise command powers as a
18 result of that appointment or not? Command powers over subordinates?
19 A. Yes. In the domain of what is defined in the order, local
20 commander and the duties of a local commander are laid down. So he is
21 responsible for this and this and this, and he is the indisputable
22 commander who is, in turn, responsible to his superior commander.
23 Q. So that I understand it clearly, is it the case that normally
24 Major Vukasinovic wouldn't have command powers, but Colonel Mrksic had the
25 ability to vest command powers into Major Vukasinovic as a result of that
2 A. Yes. The brigade commander wanted and was obliged to regulate the
3 setting up of military authority in certain sectors of the area of
4 responsibility, and that is what he did. He covered the entire area of
5 the zone of operations, assigning commanders to certain locations.
6 Amongst them he appointed Major Vukasinovic commander of the settlement of
7 Negoslavci and included him in the command functions in that sector, the
8 sector of Negoslavci, in questions that are amongst the duties of local
9 commander. Major Vukasinovic could not have commanded or interfered in
10 the command duties of the local commander at Berak, for example, in these
11 questions. But as far as this other aspect that I talked about, the
12 operational and security aspect, these are some other duties in the ambit
13 of the security organs that I'm not really very familiar with, and right
14 now I couldn't say all that much about them.
15 Q. And is it your understanding that the individuals from the
16 1st Military District, the security organs and others, that their role in
17 relation to the evacuation was to assist Colonel Mrksic in it, or to
18 organise it? Can you give us an understanding how that -- their role from
19 the 1st Military District?
20 A. If subordination was respected and the manner of command, then
21 that group had to come with an order from the authorised commander and
22 that order would define the time, the area, and the tasks. That order, I
23 don't know whether they brought and showed that order to Mrksic. I know
24 that that order did not arrive at the command in the regular channels, if
25 it did not come, perhaps, through the command -- security organs of the
1 command of Operations Group South. So in the order it would exactly state
2 whether they had come to monitor it or to carry out the evacuation itself,
3 to be mainly responsible for that or just to assist.
4 But I don't know about this order. They could have had any number
5 of assignments, one of the three that I mentioned. I cannot specify which
6 one they actually did have, but I assume that they came to deal with the
7 problems of the wounded, the captured, women, civilians, and women and
8 children in particular, because that was in their jurisdiction, and then
9 from the security aspect to evaluate the problems and to plan for any
10 eventual positive or negative developments.
11 Q. Thank you.
12 MR. VASIC: [Interpretation] Your Honours.
13 JUDGE PARKER: Mr. Vasic.
14 MR. VASIC: [Interpretation] Page 48, line 22 states that they were
15 dealing with the problems of the captured women, but I think that the
16 witness only said problems of the captured. So I don't think that the --
17 what I see from the transcript exactly reflects what the witness said.
18 JUDGE PARKER: Thank you.
19 MR. SMITH:
20 Q. Witness, in relation to Major Sljivancanin, what was his role in
21 the evacuation of people from the Vukovar Hospital; do you know?
22 A. I don't know what his role was in the evacuation of the Vukovar
23 Hospital, and I don't know what his assignment was. I wasn't present at
24 any time when he was being tasked by his commander. I did not write the
25 order as an operations officer for the security organs to carry out any
1 assignments in the zone of operations.
2 Q. In relation to Major Sljivancanin's role generally, I think you've
3 testified that you said that he was the chief, the chief officer of the
4 security organ in the command staff of Operational Group South. Is that
6 A. Yes.
7 Q. And you've also stated that the command staff or the security --
8 the command staff in the security organ have expert control -- not
9 control, but expert responsibility for some units below. Is that correct?
10 And I'm going to ask you to make it clearer. Thanks.
11 MR. LUKIC: Your Honour.
12 JUDGE PARKER: Mr. Lukic.
13 MR. LUKIC: [Interpretation] Your Honour, unfortunately we have a
14 classic problem here with the interpretation that we're constantly
15 encountering and that I have discussed with the interpreters. The witness
16 quite clearly said the word "expert control." This is what he said. I
17 notice that in the English they are constantly using our word
18 "rukovodjenje," as "control," so in that sense this interpretation by the
19 Prosecutor as "control" which we also use in our language as "control" is
20 not identical.
21 I'm probably not being clear enough, but the witness is using a
22 different word which is expertly used in the regulations as the term
23 "rukovodjenje." I don't know how the interpreters are going to deal with
24 this comment, mine.
25 JUDGE PARKER: What do you say it should be?
1 MR. LUKIC: [Interpretation] Yesterday, when -- or the first day
2 when documents were analysed with the witness, the word that was
3 officially interpreted by the interpreters as the word "command" and the
4 word used in -- was used in one of the translations was translated
5 as "supervision" or "supervising." I'm not sure whether that is the right
6 word. But the word "control" in our language and in English has a
7 difference sense than the word "rukovodjenje." Perhaps some other experts
8 in the courtroom will be able to differentiate and explain the essential
9 difference in those two terms.
10 JUDGE PARKER: At the moment it remains unresolved, Mr. Lukic.
11 And we, as a Chamber, are in the hands of the interpreters. But you say,
12 as you would understand it, that it is nearer the sense of supervision, if
13 I understand you correctly?
14 THE INTERPRETER: Interpreters note the official translation of
15 the term "komandovanje i rukovodjenje" is command and control. This is
16 the official term.
17 MR. LUKIC: [Interpretation] When I consulted the interpreters,
18 they told me that the word "command and control" in the military sense
19 from the aspect of Anglo-Saxon law is used as a term that is then
20 incorporated in the translation of our terms, "komandovanje"
21 and -- "i rukovodjenje." Perhaps we could officially address the
22 translation service so that they can explain in the grammatical or the
23 terminological sense that the word "rukovodjenje" is not the same as the
24 word "kontrola" in our language.
25 JUDGE PARKER: In military sense, command and control makes a lot
1 of logic. It makes sense. It involves supervision.
2 MR. LUKIC: [Interpretation] Probably it's quite clear to you why I
3 am looking at this term a little bit differently from the aspect of the
4 security organs who are exerting expert control.
5 All I wanted -- well, I don't really want to make things
6 complicated, Your Honours, but the -- the term that the witness got in
7 English was the term "control," but he was using the term "rukovodjenje."
8 So we will probably continue to clarify these terms in the course of the
9 proceedings in their proper, strict meaning.
10 JUDGE PARKER: It's a concept rather than a matter of strict
11 meaning, and it's a concept that has to work in a military structure. You
12 will -- it's been pointed out to me that the document which is before us
13 in tab 3, which is the guidelines that became an approved text-book for
14 command and control is using exactly the Serbian word that you are
15 concerned about. And it's translated as command and control.
16 I'm not sure that this case will turn on that issue. But,
17 Mr. Lukic, if you can throw greater light on to it, please do so at some
18 future time.
19 MR. SMITH: Thank you, Your Honour.
20 Q. Witness, which units did the security organ or command staff of
21 the security organ, which units did they have a responsibility for?
22 A. In the security sense or from that aspect they had a
23 responsibility for all the units of the guards brigade, all the groups
24 belonging to the operations group.
25 Q. And what about the military police. Did they have any specific
1 responsibility for the military police or not?
2 A. I am not really that well-versed with -- in that area, but what I
3 do know is probably correct. Units of the military police had an expert
4 function, and these organs did have the authority as regards the manner of
5 use of units of the military police in the conduct of tasks of an
6 operational or a security nature. The use of units of the military police
7 in combat operations was not something that was in their jurisdiction.
8 They did not regulate or have the right to order them. All they had to do
9 was to suggest this use to the commander, make suggestions to the
10 commander. The use of military police units in combat is something that
11 is regulated by a decision of the commander of the brigade or the
12 commander of the operations group.
13 Some specific tasks and assignments that I mentioned, such as
14 expert supervision, the actual way in which activities were regulated in
15 accordance with the authority of the police and the planning of these
16 assignments was something that was in the domain of the security organs.
17 However, use in combat was not in their domain.
18 This is what I know. Perhaps this is not a competent answer in
19 the expert sense, because I was never actually -- I never did anything in
20 this -- this manner, this was not part of my regular duty.
21 Q. Thank you. And as was exemplified in the example you gave of
22 Lieutenant Vojnovic who was placed as the village or town commander of an
23 area, is it also possible for, say -- would it have been possible for
24 Colonel Mrksic as a brigade commander or the commander of Operational
25 Group South to place a -- an officer of the security organ in charge of a
1 particular operation, whether it be a combat operation or an evacuation
3 A. Yes, that is always possible. It's always possible. Everyone is
4 subordinated to the commander, so the commander could order the chief of
5 the security organ to regulate, to prepare a proposal, and to submit it
6 for his adoption, in terms of who would be the one amongst the officers to
7 supervise this practically. So where we had the local or sector
8 commander, such as Lieutenant-Colonel Vojnovic, in that case an officer
9 from the security organs could have and should have been sent there. And
10 the particular time that we're talking about, and in any other time, when
11 we're talking about the life, the work and the -- the implementation of
12 combat operations, this would apply.
13 Q. If you can help us understand the role that Major Sljivancanin had
14 and function he had when he was in Vukovar, what type of work did he do,
15 from your observation?
16 A. What happened in practice, are you asking me that?
17 Q. Yes.
18 A. As chief of the security organ, his functions were clear, as well
19 as his duties and tasks. He, I assume, carried out those functions,
20 duties and tasks. As to how he carried them out, this is a matter of the
21 assessment of the commander. He was always, practically every day, at the
22 front lines of contact with the enemy as a senior officer and security
23 organ senior officer, that was not his duty, but I think that this is
24 something that is extremely positive and that had a positive motivational
25 value, both on the officers and soldiers. Not only his presence, but the
1 presence of other officers that the commander and the Chief of Staff sent
2 there. His commitment to be there constantly was something that was up to
3 him personally, but as a staff officer at the function that you know I was
4 performing, I believe that this was something positive, and it's always a
5 positive practice when you see something like this happening in the
7 Secondly, not only from the motivational aspect, but he also
8 advised and helped the commanders to resolve certain problems, and in the
9 expert sense he probably resolved matters that had to do with security and
10 operations matters that were in his domain. He was quite exposed in the
11 media; he appeared in the media more than was objectively necessary. We
12 watched that on television every evening. Whether this is something that
13 he wanted or whether this was something that should have been like that,
14 that is also something that concerns him personally. It's his thing, so
15 it's up to him to judge that.
16 As I said, Major Sljivancanin was present at meetings and the
17 regular briefings at the OG South command. I viewed that again from the
18 point of view that security organs always have something to tell the
19 commander that not all the command organs should know. I don't know if he
20 did have such contacts with the commander, Colonel Mrksic, and I don't
21 know what their communication was in this aspect.
22 Q. Thank you.
23 A. Also, the previous question, I answered that I don't know whether
24 he received any kind of duties or assignments in relation to the
25 evacuation. I think that it is clear that those organs and -- are
1 actually supposed to be used in this manner. That is all.
2 He did not have the right, as I said, to command units of the
3 military police. If there was any command and carrying out of orders,
4 this was probably with the approval or agreement of the commander, and it
5 was probably a result of the authority that he enjoyed.
6 Q. Thank you. And in relation to Major Sljivancanin's active role in
7 the field, in the operation in Vukovar, that would have had to have been
8 with the approval of Colonel Mrksic. Is that correct or not?
9 A. Correct.
10 Q. Colonel, if I can now ask you to look at --
11 JUDGE PARKER: Mr. Smith. We've run six minutes overtime. I
12 think we should now break if you're now moving to something different.
13 MR. SMITH: Thank you.
14 JUDGE PARKER: We will resume at a little after 25 minutes
15 to 2.00.
16 --- Luncheon recess taken at 12.39 p.m.
17 --- On resuming at 1.40 p.m.
18 JUDGE PARKER: Mr. Smith.
19 MR. SMITH: Thank you, Your Honour.
20 Q. Colonel, before the break you were discussing the active role that
21 Major Sljivancanin had in the combat operations in Vukovar. I would like
22 you to turn to the war diary, please; that's Exhibit 401. It's tab 10 in
23 your folder, Colonel. And I would like you to turn to the entry on
24 the 21st of October, at 4.30 p.m. It's page 30 in the English.
25 Have you found the 21st of October at 4.30?
1 A. I apologise. I was looking at November.
2 Q. Colonel, it's easier for the English speakers, because we have --
3 A. I've found it.
4 Q. If you could read that entry in the journal, please, read that
6 A. "Major Veselin Sljivancanin has informed General Panic that he
7 corrected artillery fire in the Mitnica sector at about 1300 hours."
8 Q. And what is your understanding of how a person corrects artillery
9 fire? Could you explain?
10 A. Corrections are made by artillery officers in keeping with the
11 decision issued as well as according to the defined tasks. To be
12 specific, we can talk about certain types of correction, depending on the
13 type of artillery unit involved. That particular unit's commander
14 corrects the fire, depending on the targets.
15 Q. Thank you. So in that sense, for a person, a military soldier or
16 officer to be able to correct artillery fire, does that person need to
17 instruct other people to do it? Is that, by implication, what that means,
18 he's instructing other people?
19 A. In keeping with the commander's decision and the targets, or
20 objectives, the Chief of Staff puts together the list of objectives in
21 keeping with the commander's decision. Before opening fire it has to be
22 corrected, depending on the target, and the correction is made to confirm
23 the actual outcome of opening fire. Provided this is the type of
24 corrections they had in mind in the diary, then it is as I've described.
25 Q. Usually for an officer to be able to correct artillery fire, is it
1 usual that that person has to have -- hold some sort of position of
2 authority over the people firing the weapon, or not?
3 A. Any unit deployed at a firing position of any level, in order to
4 open fire, has to be commanded by a commander. In B/C/S "komandir" or
5 "komandant," up to the level of company or above. He corrects fire and
6 no one else can do that. Based on the commander's decision, the list of
7 targets exists, they are then being entered in the plan log of the
8 artillery chief, and for that chief, in order to carry out the tasks
9 issued by the commander, needs to do that in a precise manner. Before
10 doing that, he needs to do the corrections. They fire a few shells to
11 test the accuracy, and an artillery unit can comprise one weapon or
12 several weapons trained on a target.
13 Q. Thank you.
14 A. As concerns who can do that, only the commander of the artillery
15 unit. He has the plan given by the head of artillery, and then he makes
16 the corrections. On occasions, some targets can be targeted without
17 corrections, given the situation.
18 Q. Thank you. But is it normal that a security officer has the
19 ability to correct artillery fire in the context of the Vukovar operation?
20 Was that normal?
21 A. Most officers are able to do that; in particular, up to the level
22 of lieutenant-colonel or colonel. But that concerns the issue of powers
23 bestowed on any given commander, and I've already dealt with that issue
25 Q. Thank you. And why is that information recorded in the war diary?
1 A. As you can see for yourself, any important information or event is
2 entered. I believe Mitnica presented a problem at the time. That means
3 that the Croatian forces were more active in that area, and that artillery
4 fire was needed to deal with the situation. Provided I am correct, they
5 needed to open up fire and it was done with the corrections or adjustments
6 made by Major Sljivancanin. It wasn't one of his powers, though.
7 Q. Are you able to say how often Major Sljivancanin would be involved
8 in this type of activity, correcting artillery fire, et cetera?
9 A. I entered this in the log, I may have entered some others, I don't
10 know. As regards this issue. But I can't say how often. Perhaps this
11 was the only occasion, perhaps there were several. But not everything
12 needed necessarily be entered into the log.
13 Q. You mentioned that Major Sljivancanin was in the media in relation
14 to the combat operations in Vukovar. About how often was he in the media?
15 A. Very often. Whenever there was mention of Vukovar in the media,
16 he was there. That is, I have in mind the television as it was then, the
17 TV of Serbia or Yugoslavia, I don't know which one.
18 Q. Is this normal for security officers to be in the media speaking
19 about combat operations?
20 A. Journalists will be journalists. An operations organ or security
21 organ officer, such as I was, if asked something by any journalist, before
22 I can answer I need to have a permission by my commander. Provided I have
23 that permission, I will provide information. Therefore, one could do
24 that, provided that person had the commander's approval. And I don't know
25 whether he had one.
1 Q. Thank you. I would now like to talk briefly about the type of
2 authority that Colonel Mrksic exercised in the Vukovar operation as
3 commander of Operational Group South. Was he actively in the field, or
4 was he more at headquarters? Can you give us an understanding of how he
5 exercised his command?
6 A. Any commander that has reliable information on the situation and
7 the development of combat activities in the area of operation commands
8 from his command post. In order to have such reliable information, as
9 we've discussed, we've also mentioned how to attain such information.
10 That includes precise reporting, controlling the officers he sent, as well
11 as going out in the field personally on the ground inside the zone. As
12 regards that, he wasn't there quite often, so he didn't have this personal
13 insight at all times. I believe the reports of subordinate commands and
14 the reports of officers from the brigade command sufficed for him to
15 manage the operation. And he was at his command post.
16 Q. Thank you. And when, say, problems arose in combat operations,
17 any problems, would he -- would he delegate that to subordinates to deal
18 with, or would he have an inclination to be involved in -- in those
19 problems himself in resolving them? And perhaps we're talking about large
20 problems here.
21 A. He always reacted to significant problems, and he always set up
22 his own mode of activity or type of reaction. A report by subordinate
23 commander would usually be concluded with a question, being, "Could you
24 deal with the problem based on the instructions I gave you. If not, I
25 will send someone or I will appear there personally. If you can do that,
1 then deal with the problem." In principle, that was the way used.
2 Q. Thank you. I would now like to talk about Vojislav Seselj. Did
3 he ever visit Vukovar whilst you were there?
4 A. I heard of him visiting Vukovar, and all officers knew about that.
5 He was in Vukovar, indeed.
6 Q. Are you able to say whether he visited the Vukovar combat zone, or
7 the Operational Group South zone on one occasion or more than one
9 A. I know of one such occasion. And I know he was in that part of
10 the zone of operations that was close to the Assault Detachment No. 1
11 where the Leva Supoderica was. He wasn't at the command.
12 Q. And approximately what date that was, or what month at least?
13 A. I can't be specific. It was at the very end of October or in
14 early November. Perhaps the end of October.
15 Q. Do you know what the purpose of his visit was?
16 A. His volunteers were there. I suppose he wanted to see them and to
17 see for himself the way they behaved and what sort of treatment they
18 received there.
19 Q. Could he enter into the area of Operational Group South zone of
20 responsibility without the authorisation of the operational group command?
21 A. He couldn't.
22 Q. And what was the effect of Seselj's visit to Vukovar? Were you
23 able to monitor that?
24 A. No, not specifically. I didn't see anything. I suppose the
25 presence of such an important leader of a party could improve the morale
1 or provide additional information for the volunteers he sent there. It
2 seemed to me that as regards their discipline his visit had a positive
3 impact rather than a negative one.
4 Q. In relation to Major Tesic, who you've testified was the commander
5 of Assault Detachment 1, did he attend the daily meetings at the
6 Negoslavci headquarters, the command headquarters of Operational Group
8 A. Yes.
9 Q. Did he ever discuss the behaviour of the men that were assigned to
10 his assault detachment, the behaviour of his subordinates in terms of
11 discipline or lack of discipline?
12 A. He frequently phoned in reports, reports talking about the
13 problems he encountered while exercising command over his men. For the
14 most part, these problems related to the Territorial Defence men.
15 Q. Did you -- or can you explain what type of problems he was
16 referring to?
17 A. Most of all it was about the dynamism of the realisation of the
18 assignment that was set in relation to such orders and decisions based on
19 orders that he may have received. There was little impact. He always
20 wanted support. He always talked about the volunteers not listening to
21 him. He always talked about the TO men not listening to him. There were
22 always problems for him. I received these reports from him myself. He
23 would phone me, and I would immediately inform the Chief of Staff and the
24 commander. They would then take measures.
25 Q. And when -- when you say that he talked about the volunteers not
1 listening to him, are you thinking of any volunteer individual or groups
2 in particular?
3 A. Well, his report, and then you ask him what's the problem. Well,
4 the volunteers, well, the TO men, they're not carrying out the assignments
5 I give them in full, and that is why the dynamic implementation of the
6 tasks in my area is what it is.
7 Q. And what about lack of discipline in relation to protection of
8 property, protection of civilians, protection of prisoners? Did you hear
9 of those types of complaints from Major Tesic or not?
10 A. He did mention that too, although less frequently. For the most
11 part, it was about everything that he was responsible for in terms of
12 carrying out assignments. That was the most important thing for him to
13 report on, if it had to do with taking up a certain area that was
14 specified in an assignment, but he often talked about breaches of
15 discipline in his own unit. I'm saying most of all he talked about that.
16 But he talked about the TO men and the volunteers in this context, nobody
18 Q. And you said that he frequently phoned in reports talking about
19 the problems. In addition to phoning in reports, were any of those
20 problems raised at the meeting, the command meetings or not?
21 A. Yes. Always at command meetings. They weren't always problems.
22 The operation itself took a long time. His task was a complex one.
23 Sometimes for one or two days at a time things would go smoothly, and he
24 would inform the commander accordingly, not that the situation was going
25 according to plan in other parts of the front, and that's why the
1 commander took the decisions that we have previously considered.
2 Q. In relation to the commanders of other assault detachments that
3 you've referred to, did those commanders have similar complaints about
4 lack of discipline and motivation in their detachments or not?
5 A. As far as I know, the commander of Assault Detachment 2 did not
6 refer to that kind of problem. He had a different one. His problem was
7 the strength of the Croatian units in that area, along that axis. There
8 was strong resistance from the fortified positions, and he couldn't cope
9 with the dynamism that had been imposed on him.
10 The same thing applies to the commander of Assault Detachment 3,
11 at the outset, but later the same thing applied to other commanders too.
12 Q. In terms of problems of motivation and discipline, which assault
13 detachment commander would have expressed the most problems?
14 A. The commander of Assault Detachment No. 1.
15 Q. And from your observations and from hearing these complaints, are
16 you able to say why Assault Detachment 1 had more problems than the
17 others? Was there a distinguishing feature about Assault Detachment 1
18 relative to the others or not?
19 A. From the word go, this assault detachment comprised the
20 Petrova Gora TO unit, not from the moment they arrived, but from the time
21 the brigade command took over command of the operations group. So that
22 was literally from the word go. And those were TO men from the area,
23 from the area of Petrova Gora, and this area coincides with the area
24 covered by Assault Detachment 1 and then further down the lines.
25 From the word go, I suppose, the TO men expected or had their own
1 ideas about how the operation would unfold. They probably had other
2 expectations too. Be that as it may, that may have been one of the
3 reasons why they were losing momentum and why there was a lack of
4 motivation, which led them to cause all these problems.
5 As for the other assault detachments, those were TO units that
6 arrived at later stages of the operation from a variety of different
7 sources. When they came for the first couple of days, there would be no
8 trouble at all, as a rule. My opinion is that all these TO units, and
9 especially when talking about Assault Detachment 1, were formally
10 subordinated to someone, but what wasn't there, regrettably, was any kind
11 of effective command over them.
12 Q. And in relation to the evacuations of civilians and combatants
13 that you have referred to over the 18th, 19th and 20th of November, what
14 was your view -- did you hold any view about the possibility of revenge
15 attacks on people that were being escorted or evacuated?
16 A. This amounts to being able to predict something. Being able to
17 predict something is up to the command and everybody there. It was
18 possible to foresee that the TO men and after the liberation, maybe even
19 some of the locals who were not directly involved in the fighting, might
20 try to commit acts of revenge in some way, or mistreat some of those
22 Q. Thank you. Now, Witness, I would like you to turn back to one of
23 the documents referred to earlier. And this is tab number 33, please.
24 65 ter number 591. And this is a combat report dated the 21st of
25 November, 1991 signed by Major General Vujovic. Do you have that report
1 in front of you?
2 A. Yes.
3 Q. And in that report, which commenced our discussion of
4 undisciplined behaviour, et cetera, the major had informed that there was
5 some problems with volunteers, et cetera, in the 1st Military District in
6 terms of discipline.
7 And at the end of that report there was a conclusion, and if I can
8 read it to you. It states that: "Command will take the necessary steps
9 to protect the civilian population from possible reprisals and misconduct
10 by individual armed groups in their zones of responsibility."
11 Is that correct?
12 A. The conclusion. It's not my place to pass judgement on a document
13 drafted by my superior command. If this is a conclusion, then it
14 shouldn't say the commands "will" or "shall" take the necessary steps,
15 because at this point it becomes an order. The commands should take
16 appropriate steps maybe with some reinforcements, with some more
17 equipment, something could have been done to take protective measures.
18 But regardless of that, although this appears to be an order, it is
19 nothing, if not logical, measures must be taken, protective measures, and
20 willful acts must be prevented.
21 Q. Thank you.
22 MR. SMITH: Your Honour, I seek to tender document 591.
23 JUDGE PARKER: It will be received.
24 THE REGISTRAR: Your Honours, this document will become
25 Exhibit 423.
1 MR. SMITH:
2 Q. Witness, if we can now turn to tab number 34, please. This is a
3 new document, not on the 65 ter list. The ERN numbers are 0463-8416 to
4 0463-8416, and the B/C/S is the same number.
5 Witness, this is an order from Colonel Mrksic, Operational Group
6 South zone commander, and it's dated the 22nd of November, 1991, and it's
7 an order regulating the issue of the clearing up of the battle-ground.
8 A. Indeed. I see that.
9 Q. Who is the order addressed to?
10 A. To the commander of the 80th Motorised Brigade and the staff
11 commander of the Vukovar TO staff.
12 Q. And what does it -- in brief terms, what does it order the
13 80th Motorised Brigade and the Vukovar TO staff to do? If you can just
14 briefly summarise.
15 A. My apologies, should I read it out? Or perhaps I should just go
16 through it in order to better understand what the substance of the
17 document is.
18 Q. Perhaps if you could do the latter and then perhaps just briefly
19 summarise what the order is.
20 A. Thank you.
21 Clearing up the battle-ground. What this means is the removal of
22 dead bodies, bodies belonging to both people and animals. It means you
23 have to locate these bodies in a certain area. This is a task given by
24 the commander to the 80th Motorised Brigade. And he tells them to do this
25 in coordination with Vukovar's Territorial Defence, also in terms of
1 accommodation, heating, logistics and reinforcements. There is mention
2 here of 100 people to help carry the bodies. There is mention of people
3 supposed to provide security for the teams out in the field.
4 Q. And Colonel, if I can stop you there, please. At paragraph 4, or
5 paragraph 4, subparagraph 1, it states that a group of 100 men to carry
6 out the bodily remains and the group of 10 men to provide security for the
7 area with a team for the clearing up of battle-ground and the
8 investigative organs will work. The investigative organs that are
9 referred to in that order, what was their purpose, are you aware? Why
10 were they in the area investigating and what were they investigating?
11 A. Yes, investigative organs. Their assignment was to investigate
12 just how and if any crimes were committed that led to murder, or to death.
13 And to establish who was responsible. They had with them forensic
14 specialists who were helping them with this. They did what forensic
15 specialists usually do. They were there to make sure there was no abuse
16 of dead bodies. And to establish responsibility. I think that's what
17 this is about.
18 Q. Thank you. And by virtue of this order, the fact that Colonel
19 Mrksic as Operational Group South commander is issuing it to the command
20 of the 80th Motorised Brigade and the Territorial Defence, does that mean
21 that the 80th Motorised Brigade were subordinate to Operational Group
22 South command at that point in time, on the 22nd of November, by virtue of
23 this document?
24 A. Yes, that's what it means. Taken over the area covered by
25 Operations Group South had to be regulated, and maybe it was for all I
1 know, by their superior command, meaning the command of Operations Group
2 South could by no means just cease all activity of their own free will, or
3 leave the area without having obtained approval. There is probably a
4 document to show that they did obtain approval, and this approval probably
5 included such information as which unit was to take over responsibility
6 over what used to be the area covered by Operations Group South and when,
7 but this document is probably not available, since -- well, for the time
8 being at least.
9 Q. Okay. And in relation to the Territorial Defence, is it your
10 evidence that in relation to this document, the 22nd of November, that the
11 Vukovar Territorial Defence is still subordinated to Colonel Mrksic, the
12 commander of Operational Group South?
13 MR. VASIC: [Interpretation] Your Honour.
14 JUDGE PARKER: Mr. Vasic.
15 MR. VASIC: [Interpretation] I have an objection. This is a
16 leading question. There is nothing in this order to suggest that this was
17 committed or if this was a matter of coordination, but the witness never
18 said that himself.
19 MR. SMITH: Yes, Your Honour, the purpose of the question was to
20 clarify whether it related to the Vukovar Territorial Defence. But the
21 basis of the question, I believe, is the answer which he previously gave.
22 JUDGE PARKER: Yes. In the previous answer in our version,
23 Mr. Vasic, it's at line 25 of 68. Yes. It extends to both 80th Motorised
24 Brigade and the Territorial Defence.
25 MR. VASIC: [Interpretation] Your Honour, based on the wording of
1 this order, it seems that the command of the 80th Brigade will regulate
2 some issues through the staff. So this is not a matter of subordination.
3 I believe my learned friend should have asked the colleague -- the witness
4 as follows: Whether the TO was subordinate and not to draw conclusions
5 based on --
6 JUDGE PARKER: [Previous translation continues] ... objection, but
7 there is a danger that what you're doing, and it's happened on previous
8 occasions, could reach the point of coaching the witness. Your
9 cross-examination can deal with these issues, if necessary.
10 Mr. Smith.
11 MR. SMITH: Thank you, Your Honour.
12 Q. So, Witness, the question is: By virtue of this document, is it
13 your evidence that the Vukovar Territorial Defence was still subordinated
14 to Operational Group South as of the 22nd of November?
15 A. In paragraph 1, the commander gives an assignment to the command
16 of the 80th Motorised Brigade.
17 In paragraph 4, he orders them to regulate the follows issues
18 through the Vukovar TO staff. Territorial Defence staffs were never
19 subordinated to any JNA units. Only TO units were, in the operations
20 area. Therefore, what this means is that the commander is told to go to
21 the TO staff in order to coordinate action with them.
22 Secondly, another thing altogether is the TO units of any level.
23 One can give orders to the TO staff, as far as command within the area of
24 responsibility was concerned, but the commander in charge of all the
25 activities within a certain area had under his power, command all the TO
2 Q. Thank you. And if you can just clarify: Is a commander able to
3 give an order to someone that is not his or -- his or her subordinate?
4 Just in terms of military principle.
5 A. The function of command defines this very clearly. A commander
6 issues orders to subordinate units. This principle is based on -- on the
7 principle of the function that it performs. The function of command.
8 Some orders may be issued to officers who are not members of his unit, but
9 only in terms of rank, function and authority, and these orders are not
11 Q. And if we look at this order on the 22nd of November, is this a
12 mandatory order?
13 A. This is mandatory for the 80th Motorised Brigade.
14 Q. Thank you.
15 MR. SMITH: Your Honour, I seek to tender this document. It's tab
16 number 34, and the ERN number is 0463-8416 to 0463-8416, both English and
18 JUDGE PARKER: It will be received.
19 THE REGISTRAR: Your Honours, this document will become
20 Exhibit 424.
21 MR. SMITH:
22 Q. Witness, if we can now turn to tab number 35, please. And this is
23 a combat report by Colonel Mrksic, the commander of Operational Group
24 South zone of responsibility, to the 1st Military District command, and
25 it's dated the 22nd of November, 1991, at 1800 hours. And in this
1 document it states at the end of the document, if I can read out: "During
2 the day all measures have been taken -- undertaken related to the
3 80th Motorised Brigade taking over the organisational and commanding
4 functions in the area of the responsibility of operation group south.
5 "Command of the 80th Motorised Brigade received the instructions
6 and documents regarding the organisation of command and control in the
7 area of responsibility of Operational Group South."
8 Do you see that?
9 A. Yes, I see it.
10 Q. And, based on this document, on the 21st of November, 1991, was
11 the 80th Motorised Brigade still under the command of Operational Group
13 A. Yes.
14 MR. SMITH: Your Honour, I seek to tender that document. It's
15 65 ter number 69.
16 JUDGE PARKER: It will be received.
17 THE REGISTRAR: As Exhibit 425, Your Honours.
18 MR. SMITH:
19 Q. Witness, if we could now turn to tab 36, please. And this is a
20 combat report from the Operational Group South commander, Colonel Mrksic.
21 It's addressed to the 1st Military District and the cabinet of the Federal
22 Secretariat for National Defence, and it provides a report on the
23 situation in the area. And, again, if we look at the conclusion in the
24 report, or the -- not the conclusion but the paragraph just above
25 paragraph 3, it states: "All expert and organisational and material
1 support was given to the command of the 80th Motorised Brigade in
2 resolving all issues with regards to taking over the responsibility in the
3 area of responsibility of Operational Group South."
4 A. Yes, I see that.
5 Q. Are you able to say whether, in fact, just on this document and
6 this information in front of you, whether, in fact, the 80th Motorised
7 Brigade had taken over the area of responsibility of Operational Group
8 South as of the 23rd from the guards brigade?
9 A. I will repeat again what I said earlier. This question was
10 supposed to be resolved by the superior command, and in this document it
11 should state exactly when the responsibility for the zone stopped for the
12 OG and when the zone was taken over by the 80th Motorised Brigade. If --
13 if it is stated in this report that on the 23rd all expert organisational
14 and material support was given with regards to taking over the
15 responsibility, it could mean that this was then the dead-line by which
16 the command of the 80th Motorised Brigade was supposed to take over
17 responsibility for that zone. But then again, that depends on the order
18 that I mentioned, as to when the superior command ordered this to be so.
19 Q. So would it be fair to say that, based on this document, you are
20 unable to say whether, in fact, responsibility had passed over to the
21 80th Motorised Brigade? Would that be fair?
22 A. Assistance was provided on the 23rd, and all of those questions
23 were resolved or were supposed to have been resolved. All the questions
24 of interest for the continued functioning in the zone of the operations
25 group. And from that point on it could have then proceeded to function.
1 Whether that day was the day it was supposed to take over, or whether that
2 was to be the next day, the 24th, is something that I really couldn't tell
4 Q. And, in principle, Colonel, if -- whenever the date was that if
5 the Operational Group South was taken over by the 80th Motorised Brigade,
6 in principle would Colonel Mrksic still be signing as Operational Group
7 South commander if authority had been handed over for that zone of
9 A. No.
10 Q. And why is that?
11 A. As long as he is signing an order to a unit and reporting on its
12 activities, that unit then is under his command.
13 Q. Thank you. Does this relate to that principle of unity of command
14 that you referred to very early in your evidence?
15 A. Yes.
16 MR. SMITH: Your Honour, I seek to tender that document. It has
17 no 65 ter number, but it's 0463-8417 to 0463-8417. Both English and
19 JUDGE PARKER: It will be received.
20 THE REGISTRAR: Your Honour, this document will be Exhibit 426.
21 MR. SMITH: Your Honour, we won't be seeking to tender the
22 document behind paragraph [sic] 37, but there is one that has been missed
23 by myself.
24 Q. And, Witness, I would ask you to turn to tab number 13, please.
25 This is 65 ter number 931. It's a document dated the 14th of October,
1 1991, at 2000 hours. And it's a combat report to the 1st Military
2 District, and it's signed buy Operational Group South commander, Colonel
4 And, Witness, if I can take you to paragraph 2, it states: "In
5 line with our order on welcoming and directing a convoy with medicine and
6 food to Vukovar, even besides certain disapprovals and opposition by,
7 before all others, the units of the TO, the convoy arrived safely to the
8 Vukovar barracks."
9 Are you familiar with this document?
10 A. Yes.
11 Q. Are you able to say from your time in Vukovar whether this
12 convoy -- or what the destination of this convoy was? It states it
13 arrived safely at Vukovar barracks, but was it to go somewhere after that?
14 A. Yes. As far as I can recall, this is a convoy of food and
15 medicines sent to the population of Vukovar by the international
16 community. Doctors Without Borders and some other international
17 humanitarian organisations.
18 The convoy was intended for the Croatian population. It was
19 received and put up at the Vukovar barracks. I cannot remember what the
20 problems were exactly that the assistance was not distributed to the
21 population and what it was that led to the convoy being turned back.
22 Probably it's the way it's indicated in this report, and there is a
23 description also provided, because we could not guarantee its safety in
24 the sections of town controlled by Ustashas. So it's probably the way
25 that it is described here. That's probably the reason.
1 Q. And how do you know that the convoy was intended for the Croatian
3 A. It was intended for the Croatian population because there's an
4 order from the 1st Military District command obliging the OG South command
5 to regulate this matter without any obstruction. From the commander of
6 the 1st Military District and to implement it.
7 Q. And do you know why --
8 A. I think that I described this in the war diary too.
9 Q. And do you know why the units of the TO objected and opposed to
11 A. I don't know. Maybe I can make some assumptions. But I cannot
12 really give you that answer.
13 MR. SMITH: Your Honour, I seek to tender that document. It's
14 Rule 65 ter number 931.
15 JUDGE PARKER: It will be received.
16 THE REGISTRAR: As Exhibit 427, Your Honours.
17 MR. SMITH:
18 Q. Witness, the day that you left Vukovar was the 24th of November;
19 is that correct?
20 A. Yes. The Guards Motorised Brigade returned to Belgrade on the
21 24th of November.
22 Q. And then what was your next assignment after the Vukovar
24 A. After the combat operations of the 19th and 20th finished, I
25 explained to you what I did. On the 21st and the 22nd the operations and
1 training organ, at whose head I was, was planning the return of the units
2 from Vukovar drafting the marching plan and regulating the question of
3 collecting or assembling the personnel and equipment in certain sectors
4 from which we would leave. That was the task of the operations organ, and
5 my own task.
6 Q. Thank you. And you gave your testimony yesterday that -- or maybe
7 two days ago now, that you retired from the guards brigade as the Deputy
8 Commander, only about a month ago, in April this year.
9 A. Yes.
10 Q. Are you able to say how long Colonel Mrksic stayed in the Guards
11 Motorised Brigade after returning from Vukovar? Approximately.
12 A. Okay, that was November 1991. Sometime in the autumn of 1992 he
13 was to have formed a corps of special forces, so I think until autumn
15 Q. And Major Sljivancanin, how long did he stay in the guards brigade
16 after the Vukovar operation, approximately?
17 A. We're going to lose time or waste time if I start linking things
18 up. I can perhaps connect this, but slowly. How long he stayed in the
19 guards brigade. He assumed the duties of Chief of Staff of the guards
20 brigade when Panic assumed the duty of commander. So when Colonel Mrksic
21 left, and he was a general then, to become a corps commander, the duty of
22 Chief of Staff was assumed by Sljivancanin, also in the autumn of 1992,
23 where he stayed for about a year, until 1993, as Chief of Staff.
24 Q. Thank you.
25 A. That's it, more or less.
1 Q. Thank you. And Captain Radic, are you able to say how long he
2 stayed in the guards brigade after Vukovar, if possible?
3 A. It will be hard for me to answer that question too. I know that
4 after returning from Vukovar Radic thought of leaving the army. I think
5 that the two of us talked about that at one time. He didn't stay long, he
6 left soon afterwards, I think. Within a year, but I really cannot be
8 Q. In relation to the killings at Ovcara that occurred on the 20th to
9 the 21st of November, 1991, were there ever any investigations conducted
10 within the guards brigade in relation to those killings, to your
12 A. No. As far as I know, no. Not just an investigation, but the
13 whole matter was not even mentioned at all.
14 Q. In relation to Miroljub Vujovic, a person you mentioned as being
15 in the Vukovar TO in 1991, was he ever appointed to being the commander of
16 the Vukovar TO, Territorial Defence? And, if he was, when was that done?
17 A. I don't want to go into the powers of the commander of the
18 OG South. I remember that Colonel Mrksic ordered me to write a document
19 whereby Miroljub Vujovic was appointed as commander of the Vukovar
20 Territorial Defence. I think that this was on the 20th at noon or in the
21 afternoon. And I did draft that document. I don't know if it went into
22 effect. I don't know when Colonel Mrksic signed it. I don't know if it
23 went into effect or not. I really -- I can't remember.
24 Q. Thank you.
25 MR. SMITH: Would you just excuse me for one moment, Your Honour.
1 [Prosecution counsel confer]
2 MR. SMITH: Your Honour, I have no further questions.
3 Thank you, Colonel.
4 JUDGE PARKER: Thank you.
5 Mr. Vasic.
6 MR. VASIC: [Interpretation] Your Honour, in view of the time, I
7 would like your instructions. Should we take a break now and continue?
8 Because in that case we would have an hour and 15 minutes left, so that
9 would be a whole session.
10 JUDGE PARKER: We will resume at a quarter past 3.00, Mr. Vasic.
11 --- Recess taken at 2.55 p.m.
12 --- On resuming at 3.21 p.m.
13 JUDGE PARKER: Mr. Vasic.
14 MR. VASIC: [Interpretation] Thank you, Your Honour.
15 Cross-examination by Mr. Vasic:
16 Q. Good afternoon, sir. First of all, I must ask you something. We
17 speak the same language; therefore, can you please make a short break
18 after each of my questions and just before you answer so that the
19 interpreters may be given sufficient time to interpret everything, and I
20 will myself do the same. Thank you.
21 You testified in chief about the Law on All People's Defence. You
22 talked about who the Supreme Commander was under the law in 1991. You
23 said this was the president of the SFRY Presidency. What about the time
24 of the Vukovar operation? Who was the president of the SFRY Presidency at
25 the time?
1 A. I don't know.
2 Q. If I told you that it was Stipe Mesic, would that ring a bell?
3 A. Yes, yes, fair enough. That does indeed ring a bell.
4 Q. You testified that the president of the Presidency as the Supreme
5 Commander could delegate some of its powers to the federal secretary for
6 national defence, and in 1991 the federal secretary was Veljko Kadijevic,
7 right? My question: Do you know that he came to that position from the
8 Republic of Croatia?
9 A. I didn't know that.
10 Q. Thank you. There is something else I want to ask you about the
11 Law on All People's Defence. You mentioned the role and the place of
12 Territorial Defence within the framework of All People's Defence as
13 enshrined in the law and applying to all of the former SFRY. Do you know
14 that based on this Law on All People's Defence there were two different
15 kinds of structure for the TO, mobile and immobile. Unit staffs that were
16 tied to a certain territory, and units that with the appropriate approval
17 could have been used to carry out combat operations even outside their own
19 A. Yes, they're called, technically speaking, stationary units and
20 manoeuvring units of the TO.
21 Q. Thank you. What I'd like to ask you now is to go to one of the
22 tabs that you have in front of you. If you could please look at tab 1 in
23 this binder; I'm talking about Exhibit 392. This is the Law on All
24 People's Defence. If you could please go to Article 111. In the B/C/S
25 this is page 21. In the English text, page 70.
1 A. 111, you said, right?
2 Q. Yes. Could you please be so kind as to read it out loud, but
3 slowly, please, for the benefit of the interpreters.
4 A. "Commanders of the Territorial Defence and officers in charge of
5 units and institutions of the Territorial Defence shall carry out command
6 and control duties of the Territorial Defence in accordance with the law.
7 "Committees for All People's Defence shall also carry out command
8 duties in the Territorial Defence in accordance with the provisions in
9 Article 109 of this law."
10 Q. Thank you very much. A question about what you've just read out.
11 In carrying out their duties, did the TO commanders also -- in exercising
12 command and control, did they also act in keeping with the instructions
13 governing the work of the commands and staffs, what you testified about in
14 chief, in answer to one of the questions asked by my learned friend? So,
15 in other words, the same rules applied, right?
16 A. Yes, the same rules applied.
17 Q. Thank you. The TO commands and staffs, did they work in keeping
18 the rules of the instructions set out in the instructions governing the
19 work of staffs and commands, what you testified about in chief?
20 A. Yes, as far as command and control were concerned.
21 Q. Thank you. As far as I understand, you testified in chief about
22 the procedure of command and control and about the role of the command
23 composition in these matters. My understanding is that under the rules
24 the command staffs and the assistant commanders have a key role to play in
25 terms of control. Without their role in terms of planning, organising and
1 exercising control, the commander would never have timely information, nor
2 would he be able to make timely decisions. Is that right?
3 A. Yes, that's right.
4 Q. Thank you. Can you now please go to the brigade rules? This is
5 tab 4; the exhibit number is 395. Please go to item 145 of this document.
6 This is page 75 in the B/C/S and the English reference is page 44. Would
7 you please be so kind as to read that out, item 145?
8 A. "After a decision has been taken, the process of planning combat
9 operations continues. The staff and other command organs work out in
10 detail the use of units and produce combat documents ensuring that the
11 decision is conveyed in full to all subordinates."
12 Q. Thank you very much. If my reading of this provision is correct,
13 the commander first makes a decision, and this is how this decision is
14 handed down to his subordinates. Thus ensuring, in detail, how the units
15 mentioned in the order are used, right?
16 A. Yes, first you have to do the planning bit from item 145.
17 Conveying the order is something different. That is enshrined in
18 item 146, but what you say is accurate. The planning bit is done by
19 organs of the command.
20 Q. Thank you. Can we now please go back to the Law on All People's
21 Defence at tab 1. The exhibit number is 392. Please go to Article 116.
22 A. 116?
23 Q. Indeed. This is page 21 in the B/C/S, page 72 in the English.
24 Please be so kind as to read that out for us.
25 A. "Units and institutions of the Yugoslav People's Army and units
1 and institutions of the Territorial Defence involved in a joint combat
2 operation shall be subordinated to the officer in charge of carrying out
3 the operation.
4 "In temporarily occupied territory, when required by the combat
5 situations, commanders of the Territorial Defence shall also assume
6 command and control over units and institutions of the Yugoslav People's
7 Army, unless otherwise stipulated by plans or special orders.
8 "Territorial Defence staffs shall coordinate any plans and combat
9 activities of the Territorial Defence with the plans and combat activities
10 of the Yugoslav People's Army, as well as with any plans and activities of
11 the Territorial Defence of the neighbouring socio-political community."
12 Q. Thank you very much. Could you now please go to the provisions
13 under Article 114 of the Law on All People's Defence. It's the same page.
14 A. "Territorial Defence commanders shall also be responsible for
15 their work, combat readiness and command of the Territorial Defence to the
16 competent organs in socio-political communities.
17 Territorial Defence commanders shall also be responsible for their
18 work, combat readiness and use and command of the Territorial Defence in
19 temporarily occupied territories to the organ in charge of all people's
20 resistance in those territories. Officers in charge of use of units
21 and/or institutions shall also be responsible for their work, combat
22 readiness and command of Territorial Defence units and institutions within
23 organisations of associated labour and local communes to the governing
24 bodies of such organisations and/or the relevant bodies in local
1 Q. Thank you very much. All these provisions were in force back in
2 1991 when the combat operations in Vukovar were taking place, right?
3 A. Yes.
4 Q. Thank you. You testified in chief about the fact that operative
5 and tactical groups could be created within a corps as well as tactical
6 groups. Can we then agree that these units are units established within
7 the composition of a corps? What about their composition? Is that
8 inferior or superior to a corps, because I think that's what the rule
9 states, right?
10 A. Yes, that is indeed what it states.
11 Q. Is there not a rule that when an operative or tactical group is
12 set up, which may have several different brigades and other brigade-level
13 units within its composition, that a special command is set up, or that
14 the command of a unit is strengthened up to the required level, so that
15 this temporary or provisional military unit may be able to effectively
16 perform its duty, or, rather, in order to ensure that command and control
17 are exercised in a satisfactory manner. In view of the fact that an
18 operative tactical group, as a unit, has a much wider scope than the
19 original unit, for example, a brigade. Is that right?
20 A. Yes, that's right. If you take into account that establishment
21 command does not have the required capacity to exercise command in terms
22 of its manpower, or anything else, well, then, what is usually done is it
23 is reinforced by the superior command or from a different source.
24 Q. If an operative tactical group comprises several brigades, is it
25 then the case that the command of one brigade has sufficient manpower in
1 its command as to be able to exercise command over such a large unit as an
2 operative tactical group?
3 A. Sometimes that is the case, and sometimes that is not the case.
4 It depends. In this specific case, the command of the guards brigade
5 was -- had the capacity in terms of its manpower to take over command.
6 And the superior commander probably bore that in mind when making his
8 Q. As far as the command of the guards brigade is concerned, and that
9 is what you have just mentioned, this became part of Operations Group
10 South, right? You said you believed them to be -- to have the required
11 capacity in terms of manpower. What about the guards brigade before it
12 became a part of Operations Group South? Did it have a separate command?
13 A. What I think -- I think they did, but its capacity or ability was
14 rather poor.
15 Q. Would it be correct to say that Colonel Bajo Bojat, as commander
16 of Operations Group South, when giving the order to establish this group,
17 actually obtained a special command, the command of Operations Group
18 South. It wasn't the fact that the Mitrovica [as interpreted] brigade
19 command was turned into the command of the Operations Group South?
20 A. I don't know about that, but the situation on the ground when I
21 came was such that my impression was that the command had next to no
22 capacity at all.
23 Q. Thank you very much for that answer. You will agree with me that
24 when the commander of the guards brigade was transformed into the
25 commander of Operations Group South received no reinforcements whatsoever.
1 In actual fact, the commander of one brigade at this point in time became
2 the command of a unit which comprised several brigades, right?
3 A. Yes, that's right.
4 Q. Thank you very much. Can you tell me this, please: My learned
5 friend asked you about your arrival in the guards brigade.
6 My apologies, there is intervention for the transcript, page 85,
7 line 3. I was talking about the command of the Sremska Mitrovica brigade,
8 whereas the transcript only says the Mitrovica command.
9 Thank you. Now, to go back to my question. Can you tell us what
10 was the ethnic make-up of the guards brigade before its being sent to the
11 Vukovar war zone as regards both rank and file?
12 A. There were people there of various ethnicities. In my assessment,
13 as regards the soldiers, some 20 per cent of them were Croatian. As
14 regards the officers, a quota was used. Irrespective of the criteria,
15 based on which officers were assigned to the guards brigade, those
16 criteria were quite harsh and the quota used was the percentage of the
17 representation of various ethnic groups within the SFRY.
18 Q. Therefore, the quotas needed to be respected at the time, as
19 prescribed by law, and all organs had to abide by that, not only the
20 socio-political communities, but some control was also exercised by the
21 Federal Secretariat for National Defence; am I correct?
22 A. As regards the quota, they were defined by the General Staff, that
23 is the Federal Secretariat, based on the ethnic make-up in the country.
24 And the criteria prescribed had to be met. When it refers to the soldiers
25 the criteria was very harsh. It depended on some security checks, on the
1 physical prowess, as well as some other characteristics.
2 Q. Since we are a discussing the criteria on the composition of the
3 unit, am I right in saying that the officer cadre in the guards brigade
4 during the relevant period, that is when they were deployed in Vukovar,
5 was of different ethnic make-up, and the -- their aim was to preserve the
6 all-Yugoslav nature of the JNA?
7 A. Yes, that is correct.
8 Q. I would again reiterate that you should pause before you answer,
9 because interpreters have difficulty catching up; hence, we could omit a
10 part of your answer.
11 A. I will do my best.
12 Q. We talked about the principle abided by the officers of the guards
13 brigade to try and preserve the unity of the SFRY. Did they base that on
14 the then constitution and the Law on All People's Defence, which
15 encompassed the obligation of the JNA to preserve the integrity of the
17 A. Yes.
18 Q. Could you confirm this for me: When you were sent to the Vukovar
19 front, was your primary task to deblock the barracks of the JNA in Vukovar
20 and then to put into practice the decision by the Supreme Command and the
21 Presidency of the SFRY to disarm the paramilitary Croatian formations?
22 A. I can't be quite precise as regards that, but the first decision,
23 I believe, concerned the deblocking.
24 Q. Thank you. Before your arrival at the area of Vukovar, were you
25 familiar with the fact that there was an attempt to deblock the barracks
1 in the centre of town, which failed, as well as the first action
2 undertaken by the guards brigade at the beginning of October?
3 A. I was familiar with that.
4 Q. Thank you. You testified in chief what was the role and position
5 of the guards brigade. You said it was directly subordinated to the
6 chef de cabinet of the Federal Secretariat for National defence, Mr. Vuk
7 Obradovic. Does that mean that the tasks, prior to the brigade being sent
8 to Vukovar, were given by the chef de cabinet on behalf of the federal
9 secretary, and at that time was the brigade reporting on a daily basis to
10 the Federal Secretariat for National Defence?
11 A. Yes, up until the moment when the order regulated its
12 subordination to the 1st Military District.
13 Q. Thank you. As far as we could see from the reports shown to you
14 by my learned friend, even after the resubordination to the 1st Military
15 District, the reports were being sent both to the military district and to
16 the Federal Secretariat as regards the actions the guards brigade
17 undertook within OG South?
18 A. Yes. It was reported to two various organs, one of them being the
19 chef de cabinet of the federal secretary. We were told to report to them
20 as well; therefore, we sent reports to two various addresses.
21 Q. In your testimony in chief you mentioned that decision by the
22 Federal Secretariat of National Defence by which the guards brigade was
23 resubordinated to the 1st Military District before being sent to the
24 Vukovar front. Once there, you told us that by decision of the
25 1st Military District commander it was then resubordinated to Operations
1 Group South.
2 Could we please have an order on the screen, and then I will ask
3 for your clarification. It is number 0D00-0426 in the B/C/S. In the
4 English it is 0D00-0427. I would kindly ask the usher to give this to the
5 witness. Perhaps it would be easier for the witness to have that in the
6 hard copy. I have a copy here.
7 A. It is all the same to me when I put my glasses on.
8 Q. While we are waiting for the document, the -- I just wanted to say
9 that this is a guards command -- guards brigade command order.
10 THE INTERPRETER: The interpreters didn't catch the date and the
11 number of the document.
12 MR. VASIC: [Interpretation]
13 Q. You can see the report. It states there that the Guards Motorised
14 Brigade, based on the orders of the 1st Military District, was being
15 resubordinated to the 12th Corps in order to carry out a task.
16 A. Yes, I can see that.
17 Q. Does that mean that the guards brigade was first resubordinated to
18 the 12th Corps and then to Operations Group South, which fell under the
19 12th Corps?
20 A. That's how we should read what it states here, yes. As to why, I
21 presume the 12th Corps coordinated the entire operation of liberation of
22 Vukovar before splitting into two operation zones, that of the north and
23 the south.
24 Q. Do you know who was the 12th Corps commander at the time?
25 A. I don't remember what his name was, but I believe that he was
1 killed on Trpinjska Road.
2 MR. VASIC: [Interpretation] Your Honours, I would like to tender
3 this document as an exhibit.
4 JUDGE PARKER: Do you have the number in English?
5 MR. VASIC: [Interpretation] Yes, Your Honour. It is 0D00-0427.
6 JUDGE PARKER: Thank you very much. It will be received.
7 THE REGISTRAR: Your Honour, this document will become
8 Exhibit 428.
9 MR. VASIC: [Interpretation] Thank you.
10 Q. In your testimony in chief you explained how the command of the
11 Guards Motorised Brigade came to the area of Vukovar on the 30th of
12 September, 1991. And in the war diary for the 18th of October, 1991 --
13 THE INTERPRETER: Interpreter's correction, for the 8th of
15 MR. VASIC: [Interpretation]
16 Q. It was then renamed the command of the Operations Group South
17 within which the guards brigade fell. You also stated that the command
18 post of Operations Group South was at Negoslavci. Could you confirm for
19 me whether at Negoslavci at the time there was the command post as well as
20 the assistance or replacement command post in the village of Berak?
21 A. Are you talking about the 8th of October?
22 Q. Yes. After the guards brigade became part of Operations Group
23 South and after the command of the brigade became the command of the
24 operations group.
25 A. Yes, the command post was at Negoslavci, but it wasn't an
1 auxiliary command post, but rather the forward command post in one part of
2 Negoslavci, and there was the rear command post in the village of Berak
3 that was transferred there from the area of Vibarac [phoen].
4 Q. Do you know which command organs were at the respective command
5 post, at which command post?
6 A. The staff was at the command post without its morale organ, which
7 was at the rear command post. Also, without a part of the personnel
8 organ, which was also at the rear command post. A few people from the
9 security organ, one or two men, were also at the rear command post. And
10 the service units and the communications units were at the command post,
11 as well as the entire staff, including the operatives, the heads, the
12 personnel assistants and so on and so forth.
13 Q. Who was then at the forward command post at Negoslavci? At the
14 time of the tasks being carried out, were there security organs there, as
15 well as the assistant for morale and the detention for soldiers, as well
16 as the team for criminal investigations?
17 A. The forward command post operated as of our arrival to Vukovar,
18 Colonel Bajo Bojat was there, and the post was in the northern part of
19 Negoslavci. The brigade command was in the centre of Negoslavci in the
20 house I mentioned.
21 As for the forward command post, depending on the situation and
22 the actions, people went there, various people. The commander was there
23 often, as well as the Chief of Staff, then some people from the operations
24 organs, as well as from various branches of the armed forces. It was used
25 depending on the dynamics of the operation. That's precisely why it was
1 called forward, in order to provide better management ability to the
2 command. But the basic command post was in the centre of the village.
3 Q. During your testimony in chief you've described the operations
4 room where you worked. Was it at the main command post, or at the forward
5 command post?
6 A. At the main command post. Or to be precise, once command was
7 taken over of OG South, the following two days the command moved to the
8 main command post while the forward command post ceased to function.
9 Q. Thank you. And was there a place in Negoslavci where the
10 assistant for morale, security, criminal investigations, were located?
11 Was that part of the command post?
12 A. The command post is a broader term. I concluded that it was
13 unconditional in order to set up all the elements of the command post, as
14 is provided under regulations. Thus, the operations group at the command
15 post was in the operations room. The auxiliary group you're mentioning,
16 the morale and personnel organs, were in another house also in the village
17 of Negoslavci.
18 Q. What about the security organs, military prison, and the morale
20 A. I said well, some of them were in the same house where the main
21 group was. This was just a part, maybe one or two of the officers, not
22 all of them. Some of them were at the rear command post, and some were at
23 the auxiliary main or auxiliary basic command post.
24 Q. Thank you very much. Now I would like to ask you, with the help
25 of the usher, if you recall, and I assume that you recall because you
1 answered a question by my learned friend about that, to sketch the
2 premises of this main command post, where the commander was and where the
3 operations room was.
4 Thank you. We're talking about the command post where the
5 operations room was, where the commander slept, and also the place where
6 you carried out your duties.
7 A. [Marks]. As far as I remember, it looked like this. I cannot
8 sketch the building itself.
9 Q. Well, all I'm interested in is the layout of the rooms, not the
10 actual building.
11 What I would like to ask you is to mark the operations room.
12 Actually, let's start from the entrance. Could you please mark
13 the entrance with the number 1?
14 A. [Marks].
15 Q. Thank you. Please mark the operations room with number 2.
16 A. [Marks].
17 Q. This part in the operations room that is marked with CV, if I
18 understand you correctly, that is the communications centre. Could you
19 mark that with the number 3, please.
20 A. [Marks].
21 Q. The room that is marked the room for the commander's rest, could
22 you please mark that with the number 4.
23 A. [Marks].
24 Q. The next room is the room for the Chief of Staff?
25 A. Yes.
1 Q. Could you please mark that with number 5.
2 A. [Marks].
3 Q. Then we have the work room. Could you please mark that with
4 number 6.
5 A. [Marks].
6 Q. And then the office for general affairs, could you please mark
7 that with number 7.
8 A. [Marks].
9 Q. Thank you. And since we are looking at the sketch now, could you
10 please tell us where the desk or table was where meetings were being held
11 and where the operational part of the command was functioning?
12 A. It was a large desk in the middle of the room, and then there were
13 two or three smaller desks arranged next to the wall. [Marks].
14 Q. So these small rectangles, you could mark them all with the
15 number 8, and that's one large desk in the centre and smaller desks
16 arranged around the room.
17 A. [Marks]. Yes, there were several desks, I'm marking them with the
18 number 8.
19 Q. Could you mark with number 9 the place where the commander sat in
20 the operations room when he was there.
21 A. When he was holding meetings then he would sit at the head of the
22 large table.
23 Q. Could you please mark that with a 9.
24 A. [Marks]. And when he was just monitoring the situation, then he
25 was somewhere near the communications centre, perhaps to the side
1 somewhere. There was an exit there. I marked the main entrance with
2 number 1, and there was an auxiliary exit here.
3 Q. Could you please mark it with the number 10, the auxiliary exit.
4 A. [Marks].
5 Q. Could you please indicate where the commander sat when he was
6 monitoring the work?
7 A. When he was holding meetings and briefings.
8 Q. You marked that with the number 9, didn't you?
9 A. Yes. Right next to his room for rest, that's where it was. I
10 think opposite from the communications centre.
11 Q. Could you please mark that with number 11.
12 A. [Marks].
13 Q. And the duty operations officer, did he have a permanent place
14 somewhere in this room?
15 A. Yes. At one of these three desks. Two or three desks. Two or
16 three. Maybe there were not three; maybe there were two. But he did have
17 one of those desks.
18 Q. Could you mark with the number 12 the desk used by the duty
19 operations officer.
20 A. I'm not able to mark it. I cannot remember which of those desks
21 it was. It's been 15 years since then. I am managing to remember
22 documents but not able to remember the desks.
23 Q. It's not so important which one it was. I just wanted all of us
24 to have an idea of where everything was.
25 A. Then you can consider that I have not been able to answer this
2 Q. Thank you. Could you please tell me: When somebody entered the
3 command, were they obliged to announce themselves, somebody from outside
4 of the command?
5 A. Yes, they had to report to the duty operations officer. Also, in
6 the basement there was a restaurant and a kitchen. That's where you would
7 go to eat. So everybody would pass through the room in order to go
8 downstairs to eat.
9 Q. Could you remember where this entrance was that led to the
10 basement? Could you indicate this on this diagram?
11 A. Well, I -- I cannot. Somewhere near the exit, the auxiliary exit.
12 That's where you would go down -- down to the basement.
13 Q. Thank you. Could you please tell me whether this building had
14 more than one floor, and if it did, what was upstairs?
15 A. No, it did not. The man was in Novi Sad, he allowed us to use the
16 room -- the building. It had perhaps one or two rooms upstairs and a
17 balcony, but that was really small.
18 Q. Thank you. Could you please tell me where the commander slept
19 when he wasn't in the operations room or in that room in the command, when
20 he wasn't in the operations room?
21 A. Well, he was in the room for the rest of the commander, that's
22 where he would sleep.
23 Q. That's at the same level as the operations room?
24 A. Yes.
25 Q. Thank you very much. Could you just please draw the road or the
1 street, what side it was on, and could you please indicate the direction
2 that Vukovar is in so that we roughly get the idea of the position of
3 the -- of the house?
4 A. [Marks]. This is south, and this is north.
5 Q. Thank you very much.
6 MR. VASIC: [Interpretation] Your Honours, I would like to tender
7 this diagram --
8 JUDGE PARKER: It will be received.
9 MR. VASIC: [Interpretation] -- as an exhibit.
10 THE REGISTRAR: Your Honours, this diagram will become
11 Exhibit 429.
12 MR. VASIC: [Interpretation] Thank you.
13 Q. You replied earlier to a question by the Prosecutor about the
14 daily briefings in OG South and that they were held in the operations
15 room. And could you please tell us whether this was from between 1700
16 to 1800 hours, because we saw that regular combat reports were sent to the
17 superior command, the 1st Military District, and the Federal Secretariat
18 for National Defence?
19 A. It was most often held at 1700 hours. And there were cases
20 sometimes when there were briefings in the morning, sometime at 8.00.
21 Q. You told us who attended the briefings, so we will not repeat
23 What I would like to know is if you can tell us where the
24 important details from these briefings were noted, such as reports by
25 commanders of subordinate units or commander's orders or the report on the
1 situation of the field in the units, was this recorded anywhere in a
2 special briefings book?
3 A. Yes, there was such a book, briefings book. It was written by one
4 of the operations officers. I can't remember which one. Yes, these
5 briefings were recorded.
6 Q. So this was a separate log from the document that we've already
7 seen the -- the war diary and also the register of documents?
8 A. Yes, it was separate.
9 Q. Was this document also kept like other documents from the brigade
10 command, just like the register of documents, the war diary? Were they
11 also kept in the operations room, and when others were absent were they in
12 the care of the duty operations officer?
13 A. Perhaps the briefings book was in the keeping of the officer who
14 actually wrote down entries in the book. But it was on the desk. There
15 were no possibilities of specially securing the book or guarding it in any
16 special way.
17 Q. Thank you. Do you remember the names of the operations officers
18 in the OG command, OG South command, if you remember them?
19 A. Yes, I do remember them. Major Gojkovic, Major Skoric, Samo
20 Kokol. Samo Kokol, a Slovenian. And two others, but I'm tired now, and I
21 really cannot remember the names.
22 Q. Thank you. These officers, one of them was the operations duty
23 officer every day. They worked in shifts, didn't they?
24 A. Yes, they worked in shifts, but -- perhaps I should wait if you
25 want that question. The duty officers were taken from the list of those
1 on duties, so all the staff officers were included in this duty roster
2 from all the branches, from the personnel organ. All those who were at
3 the command post from the morale organ. There was a group of 14 of them
4 in shifts of seven days' duration. We would change on every seventh day,
5 that's when the shifts would be relieved.
6 Q. If you were working in shifts, does that mean that there were
7 three officers on duty per day working eight hours, or was this done in a
8 different way?
9 A. I cannot really tell you exactly. In the beginning it was
10 organised that there would be half and half within the shift, and the
11 shift leader would tell us when to rest. Later we worked out a roster of
12 duty so that you would have classic duties, the duty officer and his
13 assistant, and it would be from midnight until the morning. So both of
14 these options were used.
15 Q. And anyone who wanted to reach the commander or the Chief of Staff
16 or any other person from the command organ had to report to the duty
17 officer. Was that the rule?
18 A. Well, that rule was not respected. It was -- everything was at
19 such a pace that the senior officer would come, I mean they're not really
20 very high ranks, lieutenant-colonels and so on, and they would come and
21 say, lieutenant, sir, such-and-such a thing. So procedures had to be left
22 aside. Because everything was happening. So quickly it was all happening
23 in one place. Perhaps if there was a special room for the work of the
24 duty officer, then perhaps we could have respected these regulations.
25 Q. How was anyone to know whether any head of an organ or the
1 commander were free to see him?
2 A. There was another issue. The commander was there almost all the
3 time. Or he could be in his rest room. In his absence the officers,
4 based on the information that he was to be told, would decide whether to
5 invite him to come to the operations room or not. But since he was there
6 most of the time, it was quite simple. People reported to him directly.
7 Q. If I understood you well, the duty officer decided whether he
8 would have to inform the commander, whether he would disturb his rest?
9 A. That is correct.
10 Q. To go back to the briefing we discussed, upon completion of any
11 given briefing, regular combat reports were drafted and sent to the
12 superior commands reflecting the information explained at the briefing and
13 pertaining to the relevant period of time. That is, from 1800 hours on
14 the previous day until the 1800 hours on the day of the sending of the
16 A. Yes, the situation as may have changed since the last report, but
17 the briefings were not on a daily basis. Reports were compiled based on
18 information received by the operations duty officer, and the data you saw
19 in the war diary came via reports of the subordinates or various command
20 organs that were out in the field. When there was no briefing, that was
21 the way to draft the report. And the commander would then go through the
22 report in detail.
23 Q. And once he would go through it, he would sign it, right?
24 A. Yes. He would also ask for certain corrections to be made, if
25 necessary. But once he would sign it, that was it.
1 Q. And after having read and signed the report, how was it forwarded
2 to the superior command?
3 A. It was delivered to the general affairs office, and I don't know
4 what procedure they followed. They filed reports and then forwarded them.
5 Q. As regards the sketch you made of the command post, you marked the
6 communications centre there, how did it work, and whether there was any
7 communication with the superior units being the command of the
8 1st Military District and the cabinet of the federal secretary?
9 A. No. Communications centre is something that encompasses usually
10 more than what we had. We only had a portion of it. But to your answer,
11 I would reply with a yes. We communicated with both our subordinate and
12 superior units, as well as with the cabinet of the federal secretary and
13 the 1st Military District command.
14 Q. Could you clarify for us what were the tasks and the role of the
15 duty operations officer as regards his daily and night-time tasks, once he
16 would be left there alone?
17 A. When he was there by himself, his tasks were clear. He was
18 responsible for order and regular work in the operations room. He was
19 also responsible to receive information to assess their importance. Since
20 the commander was right there, if he thought them to be important, he
21 would notify the commander. If not, he would note them down and report
22 them to the commander the next morning.
23 He also was to inform the operations organ, and then those -- that
24 information was also entered into the war diary as well.
25 Q. During -- or at day-time, were his tasks any different while
1 everyone was at the command post?
2 A. Yes. His tasks were different. The commander is there, as well
3 as the Chief of Staff, and maybe the head of the operations organ. Orders
4 are being received via telephone, and at the communications centre there
5 was a radio man who had a form, although it wasn't an official document,
6 and he would receive reports, usually coded ones. He would decode them
7 and inform the duty officer or the operations officer or the commander,
8 if there was no one at hand to receive that information.
9 Q. I believe in your testimony in chief you stated that the war diary
10 that you kept, overnight was with the duty operations officer?
11 A. Yes. He was with him in the operations room at all times.
12 THE INTERPRETER: Interpreter's correction, it was with him.
13 MR. VASIC: [Interpretation]
14 Q. If we look at the documents it becomes clear that combat actions
15 took place at day-time, if I'm not mistaken. Could you tell me when the
16 command staff would go and rest? I believe that depended on a given day.
17 A. Around midnight. I usually left around midnight, provided I
18 wasn't the duty officer or if I wasn't ordered to do the contrary.
19 Q. Thank you. Since the war diary was kept in the operations room
20 with the duty officer, in the morning when you returned did you control
21 the entries, or was the duty officer there to inform you of that?
22 A. He noted down the information, and once I got there then the
23 entries were made into the war diary. He noted them down before that in
24 his notebook.
25 Q. Thank you.
1 MR. VASIC: [Interpretation] Your Honours, I believe it's
2 already 4.30. I don't know whether I can see the clock properly from
3 my -- from where I am standing.
4 JUDGE PARKER: With a little imagination, it's 4.30, Mr. Vasic.
5 We adjourn now and resume tomorrow at 9.00 in the morning.
6 --- Whereupon the hearing adjourned at 4.30 p.m.,
7 to be reconvened on Friday, the 5th day of May,
8 2006, at 9.00 a.m.