1 Friday, 1 September 2006
2 [Open session]
3 [The accused entered court]
4 [The witness entered court]
5 --- Upon commencing at 9.02 a.m.
6 JUDGE PARKER: Good morning to you. Good morning, sir. Would you
7 please take the card offered you and read allowed the affirmation.
8 THE WITNESS: Good morning to you, Your Honours. I solemnly
9 declare that I will speak the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the
11 JUDGE PARKER: Thank you. Please sit down.
12 THE WITNESS: Thank you.
13 WITNESS: STEVAN BISIC
14 [Witness answered through interpreter]
15 JUDGE PARKER: Yes, Mr. Domazet.
16 MR. DOMAZET: Good morning, Your Honours.
17 Examination by Mr. Domazet:
18 Q. [Interpretation] Good morning to all. Good morning, Mr. Bisic.
19 I'll be asking you questions today as counsel for Mr. Mrksic. Since we
20 both use the same language, could you make a short pause after my question
21 before you start answering so that everything may be accurately recorded.
22 Mr. Bisic, could you please share your personal details with us,
23 your year of birth, place of birth, and so on.
24 A. I'm Stevo Bicic. I was born on the 9th of January, 1953 in
25 Perenci, Slavonska municipality, Croatia. After finishing my elementary
1 school education I went on to secondary school after which I spent three
2 and a half years in service. I was then transferred to the Guards Brigade
3 in Belgrade. What used to be Comrade Tito's escorts units. This unit is
4 where I stayed until 1992. I was a low-level official.
5 Q. In order to be able to follow, what was your training exactly and
6 when did you first start serving with the army?
7 A. I finished a traffic junior officers' school in Podgorica,
8 Montenegro, in 1972. In 1972, I also started working professionally as a
9 soldier and an NCO. My first job as a soldier was to command a detachment
10 in Knin. I spent about three and a half to four years there. I then
11 completed a number of specialised courses, and then I joined the Guards
12 Unit, more specifically, Tito's escort unit. We also provided escort for
13 foreign dignitaries visiting Yugoslavia.
14 There was a total of 43 foreign presidents and Prime Ministers
15 visiting for as long as I was there. After Tito died, we continued to
16 provide escort for these high-ranking state and military delegations
17 arriving in the former Yugoslavia. That went on until 1986.
18 In 1986, I joined the anti-terrorist platoon within that same
19 brigade. My term with the unit expired six months before the beginning of
20 the war, but when the war broke out I rejoined that unit and stayed with
21 them until 1992.
22 In 1992, I was transferred from the Guards Brigade. Because I
23 hail from one of the war-torn areas, I returned in 1993 to Vukovar to
24 serve there and stayed there until 1996, which is when the Dayton Accords
25 were signed, upon which I returned to Belgrade whilst for a while serving
1 with a small unit attached to a hospital and was eventually sent into
2 retirement in 2003. So right now I'm a retired NCO of the Yugoslav army.
3 Q. Apart from the three or four years spent in Knin, the rest of your
4 military career was spent in Belgrade with the Guards Unit. Would that be
5 a fair assumption, sir?
6 Can you tell us about this unit which you belonged? Who did the
7 unit comprise, active duty soldiers as well or just new recruits?
8 A. These were the years when the first anti-terrorist units were
9 being established throughout the former JNA, as far as I know. It was in
10 the 1970s that the first units were set up. We were all in the same
11 compound, and we all knew each other. I was with the special unit in
12 charge of motorcycles and other escort vehicles. Those lads were in the
13 adjacent building. We would often meet. We didn't really talk that much
14 because that just wasn't the done thing in our job, but we knew how they
15 prepared for their tasks and how they worked in general.
16 This unit, as all other units throughout the former Yugoslavia,
17 was being set up, as was the SUP units with which we shared a number of
18 military drills. The programme expanded gradually to include elements
19 from our unit, some of our drivers to be more specific, so that late in
20 1986, the two of us from the special unit, the vehicle escort unit, joined
21 the organic composition of the anti-terrorist platoon.
22 Q. Thank you. You mentioned your background in traffic and vehicles.
23 Did you also serve as a driver in this unit or did you serve as a driver
24 in addition to something else? What precisely was your status in this
1 A. Which one do you mean, the Anti-Terrorist Unit or the other one?
2 Q. Yes, I mean the Anti-Terrorist Unit.
3 A. I served as an escort driver for the most part, although I had
4 gone through most of the training, as did my other fellow driver. You had
5 to go through all the training in order to become just a driver.
6 Q. I'm talking about 1991 now, which is the period that we focus on.
7 Your anti-terrorist platoon, how many people did it comprise altogether?
8 A. I was the second most senior officer in terms of age there, the
9 second oldest. The oldest was a Croat who, unfortunately, died a natural
10 death. I was a warrant officer. That's in terms of biological age.
11 The figure varied, but our strength varied, but by the time we set
12 off for Vukovar, I think there were 32 active-duty officers in that unit.
13 Q. All active duty; right?
14 A. Yes, that particular component. There was another component
15 comprising about 45 soldiers, anti-terrorist specialists who had gone
16 through the appropriate training and they made up the other half of the
18 Q. I will be focusing mostly on the active-duty component. I'll ask
19 you about the other component too.
20 Were these components multi-ethnic or did one ethnic group
22 A. It was a typically mixed unit. Not along party lines, I don't
23 mean that. It was mostly about training and background. That's how
24 people were selected based on their qualifications. I don't know what the
25 exact make-up was in terms of figures, but we were all kinds. Two
1 Macedonians. There were a handful of Croats too. Our commander was a
2 Muslim. There were other lads who were members of that unit upright,
3 honest lads, Muslims, as well. There were some people, even until after
4 the war I didn't even know what their ethnicity was, and people eventually
5 told me, and needless to say there were Serbs in the unit too.
6 MR. DOMAZET: [Interpretation] Your Honours, could we please
7 briefly go into private session.
8 JUDGE PARKER: Private.
9 [Private session]
13 [Open session]
14 THE REGISTRAR: We are in open session, Your Honours.
15 MR. DOMAZET: [Interpretation]
16 Q. You talked about your commander a while ago. Do you remember who
17 was the commander of the entire Guards Brigade at the time?
18 A. Of course I do. Of course I do. Which specific time do you mean?
19 Q. When all of this was going on in Vukovar, that's what I mean.
20 A. The commander was -- he's present here. I recognise him. The
21 commander of the Guards Brigade was Colonel Mile Mrksic.
22 Q. Do you remember how long he remained commander or, rather, for how
23 long did you remain under his command within the Guards Brigade?
24 A. I remember the first time he arrived. He used to be an officer
25 with the Guards Brigade earlier on. We heard it from our older
1 colleagues. And then he had a tour and stayed with various of our units.
2 I am not quite familiar with the details of that. And then when he
3 arrived again in the Guards Brigade that's an event that I remember well.
4 We all lived within Beli Dvor, which was an official residence of the
5 president, and I remember us playing table tennis when he arrived. I
6 don't remember the year, to tell you the truth.
7 Q. All right. But at any rate, you knew him for a long time as a
8 commander. Would you please briefly describe him as commander. What was
9 he like?
10 A. Mr. Mile Mrksic was an officer with an extremely serious attitude.
11 I met him in the afternoon hours. I didn't know his rank or the post that
12 he came to assume. We just started playing table tennis spontaneously and
13 then continued for a long time without me even knowing his rank. He would
14 come in a tracksuit, so I didn't know what his rank was. I knew that he
15 slept there on the premises, and later on my colleagues told me that he
16 was lieutenant colonel, I think, and then for a while he was Chief of
17 Staff. He was a man of firm principles, of a very responsible, serious
18 attitude. A bit spartan in his upbringing mostly in relationship to
19 himself and also in the way he treated us.
20 The escort unit of the late President Tito had a peculiar Code of
21 Conduct. We had very firm work ethics, but in the military sense we were
22 not super soldiers. We had very well developed work ethics and
23 discipline, though.
24 When Colonel Mrksic arrived, he raised the entire thing at a very
25 -- to a very high level, and we became an elite unit. We received
1 commendation from many international dignitaries who used to come at the
2 time. I perhaps participated less than others. I myself participated in
3 the escort service of 43 visiting heads of states, but I also received
4 some official commendation in the process.
5 Q. Thank you. Do you remember who served in the post of commander
6 prior to Colonel Mrksic assuming the post?
7 A. I think that it was Colonel Coric.
8 Q. Thank you. Now I would like to turn to a different topic, namely
9 your deployment and the deployment of your unit to the Vukovar area. Even
10 though we have information about that, can you tell us about the time when
11 this took place, and where did you go from Belgrade?
12 A. I will be speaking about the march of the anti-terrorist platoon,
13 45 soldiers and 23 officers of this anti-terrorist platoon.
14 We set out within the entire column. We were part of that column.
15 I'm not quite sure about the date, but it could have been the 29th of
16 August or at around that time.
17 When we came to Sid, our group separated itself and we stayed for
18 the night in a motel near a forest. After that, we joined the entire
19 column and continued moving towards Vukovar. En route to Vukovar, what
20 was quite unusual was that we had a baptism by fire, so to speak. It was
21 a minor armed clash near a place called Orolik.
22 MR. MOORE: Could I just stop my learned friend for one moment?
23 There may be a small problem on translation. It's coming up the second
24 time. Our understanding is that when the word in B/C/S is being
25 translated as a platoon, in actual fact it should be a company, where a
1 company has three platoons and clearly there is an important distinction.
2 I don't know if my learned friend could clarify that.
3 JUDGE PARKER: Thank you, Mr. Moore.
4 MR. DOMAZET: [Interpretation] Thank you, Mr. Moore. We'll try to
5 clarify that.
6 Q. Did you understand the question? Did understand what was not
7 clear to Mr. Moore? When we speak of the Anti-Terrorist Unit, would you
8 please explain whether it's a platoon or a company, or what was it?
9 A. The anti-terrorist platoon, when it comes to officers and also to
10 soldiers, I don't know quite the numbers, but our platoon had two -- had
11 32 officers, and it was called a platoon. As for the soldiers, there were
12 about 40-something soldiers, troops. I'm not sure what it was called,
13 whether it was a platoon. I think that it was also a platoon. So these
14 two components comprised one whole, which was known as a company.
15 Q. So if I understand you well, this company comprised professional
16 officers, 30-some of them. That was one platoon. And then there was
17 another platoon comprising soldiers, troops, soldiers who were there on
18 their military service, the mandatory military service. And these two
19 platoons together comprised anti-terrorist company; correct?
20 A. Yes, correct.
21 Q. Mr. Bicic, let us go back to this place you mentioned, Orolik.
22 You said that you had your first armed clash there, baptism by fire. What
23 kind of an attack was it? Was it an artillery attack or what?
24 A. Very briefly, the place is called Orolik and it is between
25 Tovarnik and Vukovar, on the road between Tovarnik and Vukovar. We were
1 exposed to a mortar attack apparently launched by a small group of
2 Croatian paramilitaries at the time, and they also started sniping. I
3 didn't even notice this, but a colleague sitting next to me or, rather,
4 there was a sniper bullet that just zoomed in front of me. It was a
5 dumdum bullet. I was driving and this bullet zoomed in front of me. And
6 then there was also an intense mortar fire.
7 We halted. A part of our unit organised itself, and they put up
8 resistance, and then we continued on to Negoslavci, which is a place seven
9 to eight kilometres before Vukovar.
10 Q. Thank you, Mr. Bisic. I will now turn to a different topic, to
11 something that the Defence is interested in, the Defence of Mr. Mrksic,
12 namely the day of the fall of Vukovar. Do you remember which day is
13 considered as the day that Vukovar fell, and do you remember that day?
14 And then I will continue with my questions.
15 A. As was my habit, I used to read various documents available to me,
16 mostly press releases. Some people mentioned the 19th, some people
17 mentioned the 18th. As was popularly called, we were at the top, at the
18 -- at the forefront of the events at the time, and as far as I'm aware,
19 the definite fall of Vukovar was on the 18th of November.
20 Q. The 18th. All right. Can you tell us what you remember about
21 that day? On the 18th in the morning, what did you do and what was taking
23 A. All right. The 32 officers within our unit were constantly, from
24 the 2nd of October when we enter the city, in attack operations, and even
25 though those people were top of the line professional soldiers with
1 excellent training, they naturally were also prone to human weaknesses, to
2 various psychological traumas, and this ultimately led to our unit being
3 weakened. We were quite weakened at the end. And the posts vacated by
4 officers were then filled by soldiers who, as I told you, were prepared to
5 come there on a voluntary basis.
6 One could tell even earlier that Vukovar was going to fall, but
7 that very morning -- I can't describe the situation with hundred per cent
8 accuracy. Most of us didn't expect that it was precisely that day that
9 Vukovar was going to fall.
10 Sometime in the morning hours we had a major action, and there
11 were other actions taking place around us, and this was all rumbling
12 altogether so to speak so at some points we didn't even know what was
13 going on. Then we heard that the surrender was about to take place, and
14 that then we heard that the surrender was actually taking place, that it
15 was in progress. Apparently their elite units, which served at the front
16 line and who on the radio were referred to as Paraga's Red Berets. It was
17 those units that were supposed to surrender.
18 If we go back a bit to the beginning, I have to tell you that they
19 nicknamed me Caruga. And then in the very beginning, since we used radio
20 communication with the Croatian unit, it was a simplex channel, that's
21 what it was called, a Croatian officer used to communicate with me, and it
22 progressed to that point -- to the point where we would normally chat two
23 or three times a day, and we would chat about basic, ordinary things, even
24 going into such details as, "What did you have for lunch?" and so on. It
25 was a respectful communication, and I talked to him the last time on the
1 15th or the 16th. And then we started telling each other semi-truths.
2 Between the night -- on the night between the 15th and 16th, we
3 talked for the last time, and then on the 17th I tried to radio him and
4 asked him how was the night. You know, "Did you have breakfast?" But he
5 didn't respond. And then on the 18th the same thing. And we heard that
6 the surrender was in progress, and we heard that there was an order to
7 seize all major attacks, because the surrender was in progress. The units
8 were ready to surrender.
9 Another confirmation of their readiness to surrender, the
10 readiness of the command staff, came from Colonel Panic, who had arrived.
11 Two of our members of special forces climbed up the water tower and raised
12 the Yugoslav flag there. It was quite difficult for us to locate that
13 flag, because that was in the territory held by Croatians. I know that it
14 took us a long time to locate the flag. Finally they did, and then these
15 young men took down the Croatian chequerboard flag and raised the Yugoslav
17 I know that Colonel Panic radioed that they were not allowed to
18 climb the water tower because it was quite risky. We had heard that there
19 was still active snipers in the area, so that's why he told him that. And
20 then all of a sudden at one point we could see the Yugoslav flag flying
21 above the water tower.
22 At that time, I found myself near the outskirts of Vukovar, near
23 the Danube Hotel. I remember that on the bridge there was a young man, a
24 soldier of ours who had wounded himself accidentally. His rifle was aimed
25 downwards, and he accidentally fired in his own foot. And then in the
1 afternoon hours at the hospital the surrender was confirmed.
2 Q. All right. To be quite sure, you are now referring to the 18th of
4 A. Correct.
5 Q. Do you remember any event in the morning or in the afternoon in
6 the centre of Vukovar where you yourself were?
7 A. When it comes to morning hours, my memory's a bit foggy. I don't
8 know the chronology quite well. But as for the afternoon when that
9 soldier wounded himself, what I remember from that time was that I was
10 radioed to come urgently to the Danube Hotel. When I came there, I found
11 a group of our soldiers and four imprisoned Croatian soldiers in front of
12 them. My colleagues said, "Here, you take them." I was a bit angry,
13 because they had made me interrupt a task that I was doing at the time.
14 (redacted) naturally ordered me and my conscience told me I should go
15 where the situation was the most difficult. So other soldiers and I were
16 transporting people from a basement, mostly the elderly, elderly ladies
17 and so on. It was very difficult to evacuate them and -- from that
18 basement. So this soldier was trying to lighten up the atmosphere, saying
19 that these old ladies had 90 years and 90 kilos. And we -- and we were
20 evacuating them.
21 And then they interrupted me in that task to go fetch these four
22 soldiers. So I was a bit angry, and I was saying, "Why did you call me
23 in? Couldn't you have solved it in another way?" However, I loaded them
24 onto Puch vehicle. One of them, it seemed as though his brain was
25 exposed. He had absolutely no hair, and then this part of the head was
1 all wrinkled up so I couldn't say whether that was some kind of an
2 infection or whether his brains were actually exposed.
3 At any rate, they entered the Puch vehicle. The soldier with
4 those wrinkles on his head was lying down, and then there was another man,
5 elderly, large, quite large, and I remember that he had a crooked nose, he
6 sat in front and then his son sat next to him. And then a guy who was
7 quite strongly built, with longish hair, sat next to me. I didn't make
8 them face down. We searched them, and then we made them hold -- hold a
9 part of the vehicle and keep their heads straight without moving it left
10 or right.
11 Our soldiers found quite a lot of items, among them, parts of
12 uniforms of Praga's soldiers who wore black shirts.
13 Q. Just a minute. First of all, I'd like to ask you to slow down for
14 the sake of interpretation, and then I'd like to remind you of what we
15 said in the beginning, to refrain from mentioning any names. I think that
16 you did mention a name.
17 Please continue, but please focus on what you did with the
18 captured soldiers.
19 A. All right. The chronology. People started celebrating in town.
20 Our units were joined by those who were not in immediate, direct combat,
21 and that near an intersection in town, near a chapel there, I saw our
22 soldiers, our soldiers from the anti-terrorist platoon had unusual
23 helmets, and then this soldier of ours saw the Puch vehicle and he ran to
24 me very enthusiastically to greet me.
25 In the meantime, I inquired of the guy who sat next to me. He
1 told me his name, but I forgot it. I told him my name. I told him what
2 my position was, and I asked him where he was from. He said literally
3 that he was born and lived in Vukovar for a year, and then he went silent.
4 And I asked him, "Then? What happened then?" He said, "Well, I went to
5 Germany, and then I came back to defend my homeland." I extended my hand
6 and congratulated him, and I told him that he was a good Ustasha. I
7 congratulated him in the vehicle there.
8 In the meantime, we came across this soldier I mentioned. He was
9 running towards us, and he got confused by the black uniform. He thought
10 that he was one of our guys and then just changed clothes. This soldier
11 was a Muslim. I don't remember his first name, but he was nicknamed
12 Zvaljo, which is quite a nasty nickname. I asked people not to call him
13 that but he didn't mind himself. He was a very brave, nice guy.
14 I told this Croat, greet this fighter. He came running towards
15 us, arms opened wide, and the two of them greeted each other and pecked
16 each other on the cheek, that sort of thing. So this other soldier
17 probably thought that I'd been trying to set him up, but then I took them
18 both to the command in Negoslavci and surrendered them there.
19 Q. So there were four of these captured soldiers. You took them to
20 Negoslavci and surrendered them to the command?
21 A. Yes. I surrendered them there and they weren't mistreated or
22 anything, not that I saw.
23 Q. Thank you very much. After that --
24 THE INTERPRETER: Could the speakers please be asked to speak one
25 at a time.
1 MR. DOMAZET: [Interpretation]
2 Q. What did you do later?
3 A. We continued evacuating the people who couldn't walk. I also got
4 some footage from someone. I have no idea who -- who filmed these
5 infirmed people being brought into the vehicle.
6 At dusk the commander called me and told me to come over to the
7 school building. There was another soldier with me in the Puch, and as we
8 reached the school building we realised there was some of our own boys
9 there. They had caught a pig, and they set it up for roasting on what
10 a -- what do you call that? You know. It was in the -- it was in the
11 concourse of the school building, and it had been destroyed.
12 There was a group of about 15 people there or thereabouts. I
13 can't be more specific.
14 The school building is a huge, enormous building, and we toured
15 the building and we found a room in it that was full of helmets, which we
16 were surprised to find. In another room we found rations. In yet another
17 room we found supplies of oil. And then the commander told me, Caruga,
18 "Let's go get the commander. Let's call Mrksic. Let's call him over.
19 We'll get him a diary. Rather, we'll get him a school register. He went
20 to school here. Let's find the register so we can see what kind of marks
21 he had back then." And he did call him. Do you believe that? But Mrksic
22 never did come. I don't know why he didn't come. He was probably busy
23 elsewhere. And we couldn't find the register.
24 This pig was being roasted for a total of three hours. Just
25 before the end, just before it was nearly done, the commander leapt to his
1 feet. He said, "Quick, let's go. Let's go to Ovcara." We said, "Why
2 Ovcara?" And he said, "Well, the word is spreading, there's something
3 going on there."
4 I was the first to get into the vehicle, and then he came with me,
5 and then all the other lads got into their vehicles. I -- I think there
6 were a total of four vehicles.
7 As fast as we could, we were off to Ovcara. It was dusk already.
8 It was on the 18th of November. The season was autumn, and it was getting
9 dark already.
10 We reached Ovcara. We literally dashed out of our vehicles and
11 there was some military policemen waiting for us there. All of us, not
12 for ethnic reasons or anything, weren't really shaving regularly in those
13 days. Not because we were making a point but because we hardly had time
14 for a place to wash, so we all had beards. All of us, Croats, Serbs, and
15 the few Muslims alike. No one shaved regularly in those days. It wasn't
16 an ideological thing. It wasn't something to strut. We just didn't
17 shave. I have mentioned this before. So it's nothing ideological. And
18 we didn't have our ranks displayed.
19 This police commander tried to take it out on me because my beard
20 was white. I was 38 at the time. I had quite a beard. He thought I was
21 the most senior officer there in terms of rank. He probably thought that.
22 He came up to me and I said, "Don't -- don't touch these people." I just
23 walked past him, and I said, "Get off my chest, Captain." He was a
24 captain by rank, obviously. He just kept repeating the same thing.
25 He followed me and he said, "There's been an order from Belgrade
1 that these people must not [realtime transcript read in error "the"] be
2 touched, so don't touch them." I turned to face him. I told him to get
3 lost, and I said, "I'll throw you among them." And then the captain
4 backed off. And all of us, the whole unit, walked into the hangar.
5 It's quite a long room. On the right-hand side of the hangar the
6 door was ajar. It's a sliding door, I think. And it wasn't quite open.
7 There was a Pinzgauer just outside with its headlights -- with its
8 headlights on, and these headlights were pointed at a group of captured
10 We exchanged a few comments in our own private language, and we
11 said, "Are these guys or ours?" That's what we meant. Our Ustashas, why
12 our Ustashas, because they were along our front line and they kept
13 withdrawing, withdrawing, withdrawing, and they just handed themselves
14 over to the regular units. But there was a very thin -- there was a
15 length of very thin rope running between where they were and the far end
16 of the hangar. The room was approximately this big, like this part of the
17 room over here.
18 We went in with no orders being issued. There was no one issuing
19 orders. We just dropped our rifles on the ground. And once inside they
20 started regrouping and running in a certain direction. We stood right
21 there in the middle of this hall, the hangar. They separated so a
22 funnel-like space was created. We came in from the left. There was
23 stacks of hay there, a lot of hay, and further down a couple of armed
25 We reach the middle of the room, and they had split up in two
1 groups. A tall, young man came forward, introduced himself as Big Dzo.
2 They were all wearing civilian clothes and all of them were clean shaven,
3 nearly all of them. I don't recall seeing one who had a beard, and most
4 of them had jeans on.
5 He said his name was Big Dzo. He walked up to one of our own
6 officers, Aziz Memic, the Muslim, and said in a strict voice, "Please make
7 sure you stick to the Geneva Conventions now." He was a tall man, and
8 Memic is very short. So this man bent down in order to speak to him
9 directly, to face him. Memic just kept silent for a while, and then he
10 told him to get lost. And then this man returned to his group and blended
11 with the mass of people there.
12 In the meantime, one of our own men had brought over a power
13 generator to be used for the lighting. He connected a capable through the
14 window, and the far part of the capable was finishing in the end of the
15 room where the Croats were. This man setting up the circuit was not
16 supposed to pass underneath the cable. He was trying to tie it up. And I
17 told him, "Just go over there and do the usual thing." And once he did I
18 realised there was some neon lights in the hall from before, so the whole
19 room was lit up. You could see everything that was going on there.
20 Most of our lads had left by this time. I was one of the few
21 people left. I was just looking around, not really believing that I would
22 recognise anybody. You could tell just by looking at those men that they
23 were fully trained. There was one among them who struck me as being there
24 by mistake. It seemed obvious to me at the time, so I told him to come
25 outside. But a different man would come forward every time, not the one
1 that I wanted. And I said, "You, fat one, come out." So I pulled the
2 rope up for him, and he came with me. I told him who I was. I shook his
3 hand, and he told me his name was Jura. I said, "Jure, where did you come
4 from?" He was paralysed by fear, rooted to the spot. He said, "Zagreb."
5 I patted him on the shoulder and said, "Why are you that scared? You
6 people from Zagreb are good fighters. Everybody knows that." I wasn't
7 being menacing or anything. It was in a friendly way that I patted him.
8 And then he said, "I wasn't involved in the fighting. That's what Croats
9 say. I'd driven my truck over here," and then he was captured there,
10 handed a rifle and said to him, "Jure, now you will have to fight," but he
11 said, "I didn't." I asked him not to lie. I asked him if there were any
12 problems that he had. He said, "None." I asked him again, "Any
13 problems?" He said, "Maybe I should go and urinate." I apologise to the
15 Without meaning to offend him, I asked if he wanted to do it right
16 there or outside. That was cornfield just outside. And he was just
17 petrified. He was probably afraid that I would shoot him. And I said,
18 "Feel free to say where you want to do it. You want to do it right here
19 or in the cornfield over there?" He was just dumb-struck. He didn't say
20 anything. I said, "Well, do it right here." So he urinated on those
21 stacks of hay over there.
22 At one point in time, it dawned on me that he might be trouble
23 just because he was so scared. And I myself was beginning to get scared
24 that he might be trouble for me, because I was certain at the time that
25 the soldiers hadn't searched them probably and frisked them properly.
1 For quite a while I couldn't see him so I didn't know what he was
2 doing, and then I realised that he was wearing black tights underneath the
3 jeans, the kind worn by all members of Paraga's unit. So I understood
4 that he was a nationalist. I felt a rage swell up inside me. I said,
5 "Stop," and I saluted him in a soldierly way, and then we came out of the
6 hangar and we talked. And that's the end of the story.
7 And I don't know. We ended up with that pig over there. Where I
8 slept, believe me, I don't know.
9 MR. LUKIC: Your Honour.
10 JUDGE PARKER: Mr. Lukic.
11 MR. LUKIC: [Interpretation] I didn't mean to interrupt the
12 witness. I believe there was a mistranslation on page 18, lines 4 and 5
14 JUDGE PARKER: [Previous translation continues] ... the word not
15 was omitted.
16 MR. LUKIC: That's right.
17 JUDGE PARKER: Yes. I was waiting for a time to mention it. On
18 line 5, he said that an order had come from Belgrade that these people
19 must not be touched. The word "not" was not in the transcript. Thank
20 you, Mr. Lukic.
21 MR. DOMAZET: [Interpretation] Thank you. Thank you.
22 Q. It's really impossible for me to follow the transcript even was I
23 examine the witness, so I would like to ask you, Witness, to answer very
24 slowly lest we should have some more interpretation errors.
25 I think that you gave us a very detailed account of these events,
1 and in the end you speeded things up a bit because you mentioned the pig,
2 so you were probably talking about the return to Vukovar, so I would like
3 to go back with you.
4 When you left the hanger, all of you who had gone in had gone out;
5 is that correct? Please wait. Or did somebody leave earlier? So you
6 went in as a group and you left as a group; is that correct?
7 A. Yes. Yes. As a group. As a unit that went in, so the entire
8 group went in and went out and came back.
9 Q. You mentioned the captain that you had a conversation with. Could
10 you describe the uniform he was wearing, whether there was anything
11 peculiar that you might remember?
12 A. Well, they had those striking white belts, the police markings.
13 They were obviously new. There was a Pinzgauer nearby, and in the shadow
14 of its headlights, it was not a very bright light and the darkness was not
15 really very dark. So this man was wearing a uniform. We had different
16 uniforms that we changed. This one was a flannel uniform. That was not
17 the old type of fabric that had been used before. So he was not wearing
18 the camouflage uniform as worn by the special units. He was not so tall,
19 a smallish guy.
20 Q. Very well. You mentioned that there were some armed soldiers
21 guarding this group, and my question to you is whether you noticed any
22 other people there, Territorial Defence member -- members or any other
23 groups of people armed or unarmed.
24 A. In the hangar and around the hangar we did not see anyone. En
25 route not to Ovcara, but we would encounter perhaps just a couple of
1 vehicles. I can not now say with any certainty that we did not encounter
2 any vehicle or anyone, but we did not see any people up there apart from
3 the military police that guarded the facility in a proper formation
4 deployed as they should be.
5 Q. My question to you was whether you saw any other people in front
6 of the hangar or perhaps in the hangar.
7 A. No, no.
8 Q. On that occasion, did you from the conversations of the people or
9 what people were saying, those in the hangar or the people who were
10 guarding them, did you perhaps hear where those prisoners had come from.
11 A. The figure that was bandied about was 86. I don't recall who
12 actually gave that figure, but this is something that I remember that
13 stuck in my memory, 86, and that these were Praga's special units.
14 Q. Was there any mention as to what part of Vukovar they had come
15 from, where they had been captured?
16 A. From what I was able to learn from the commander, they had been on
17 the axis of our attack. That's where they were deployed. They withdrew
18 across Mitnica, and they surrendered to the young soldiers. Hence what --
19 the rumour that spread. These are our people, our people.
20 Q. So that's what you heard on that occasion, and I believe that you
21 said that you had heard that from the commander. Was it your commander or
22 who, who it was?
23 A. Well, this is the man that I was in communication. I don't know
24 whether he was a squad leader, but I think that I heard it from him,
25 because I talked to him most, and we spent the most time together.
1 Q. You said that you came in in four Pinzgauer vehicles, that you
2 came in in an organised way, and you said that you had returned in the
3 same organised manner. On your way back, in other words, when you
4 departed from Ovcara, did you see anything peculiar or perhaps hear
5 anything of interest?
6 A. No, nothing special. When we got to the high school, the -- the
7 commander and myself, we saw an unexploded howitzer shell, and we actually
8 -- our vehicle came across that howitzer shell. This really shook us up.
9 But I don't recall anything that would be out of the ordinary. Well, when
10 I say "ordinary," in those days very few things were ordinary. The whole
11 town had fallen, had collapsed. There were dead and wounded all around.
12 But this was, in fact, ordinary at the time. This was our everyday life
13 at the time.
14 Q. So you remember that detail when you got back to Vukovar already,
15 but my question referred to an earlier period of time when you departed
16 from Ovcara. So did you hear at that time when you were still in the
17 Ovcara area, did you hear any gunfire?
18 A. No, nothing out of the ordinary. There was the rumble of gunfire
19 in the distance but nothing that would strike us as being very close.
20 Nothing remarkable really.
21 Q. Thank you. If I understand you correctly, you came -- you arrived
22 back to the same place where you had left from, the place where the pig
23 was being roasted. Did you stay there? Did you have dinner there? What
24 did you do?
25 A. We stayed there until the early hours of the morning. We stayed
1 there. We ate the meat. We swapped tales. We sat there. I insisted
2 that the tunnels, the maze of tunnels underneath should be checked. Most
3 people said there was nothing dangerous there. And in that evening, that
4 night, nothing special really happen. We were fully prepared to launch
5 any engagements if necessary, but there was nothing else.
6 Q. When you spoke at the beginning about the events in Vukovar and
7 wounding, I think, you mentioned the snipers. Did the opposite side, the
8 Croatian side, had some snipers and was that a big problem?
9 A. Yes, yes, yes. Yes. Their snipers, in fact, caused the most
10 trouble for us, especially in the end-game. The Zelena Ulice, the Green
11 Street, the reporters from SkyNews actually filmed that. I think he's
12 from Holland. His name is Lynden. Mr. Srdjan Kusavac, he was from Radio
13 Free Europe. The headquarters actually sent him to us. I think they
14 spent either two days and three nights or three nights -- or three days
15 and two nights with us. And they were allowed to film almost anything.
16 In fact, they were able to film everything. They were very brave. They
17 went with us to the very front line, and their cameraman, I personally
18 asked him -- I took off my bullet-proof vest. He went to the Ruthenian
19 church, and I asked him not to go there. I pleaded with him, because I
20 said that there was very intense gunfire there. I took off my
21 bullet-proof vest, and Mr. Van Lynden knew me well because he had spent
22 quite a lot of time with us, and the cameraman threw down the bullet-proof
23 vest. He didn't want to take it and then he went to do a thing in church
24 and he was shot with a sniper bullet. I think he had to have his kidney
25 removed because of the wounding. And one of our soldiers drove him to the
1 hospital in Negoslavci, and Mr. Lynden, who was the head of the team and
2 myself, and we got kind of friendly. Not friendly. I was simply amazed
3 by his bravery, because he, a tall man, went about without a bullet-proof
4 vest. And he used to cross the Green Street at a run, although it was
5 constantly exposed to the sniper fire.
6 And then I, although I was shorter than he was, I always
7 said, "Lynden, please allow me to give you some protection." And then the
8 two of us would cross the street ten times or so every day, and he refused
9 to wear a bullet-proof vest at all.
10 We had quite a few casualties on that street, and some of those
11 events were quite horrific.
12 Q. Thank you. This was my question about snipers. Obviously on the
13 18th there were no snipers any more on the 18th, but were you afraid of
14 all kinds of mines? Did you have problems with them?
15 A. Yes. There were very many mines there. There were those pockets
16 of mines that caused us a great deal of problems. You had large areas
17 where there were no mines and then there would be a house or two that were
18 mined heavily.
19 Q. You described in detail your departure and your stay at Ovcara.
20 After that day, you were talking about the 18th, so after that day until
21 the end of you stay in Vukovar, did you go back to Ovcara at any time?
22 A. No. No. I and the rest of the unit, what remained of the unit,
23 we did not go there.
24 Q. So you did not go there personally, but are you -- do you know
25 whether your commander or your unit went there?
1 A. No. I cannot say that with any certainty, but I'm inclined to
2 believe that they did not go. That seems more likely than that they did
4 Q. Do you remember the date until which you were in Vukovar?
5 A. Yes, I remember that on that day we asked -- or maybe that was the
6 next day. We asked for the situation to be clarified to us. The town had
7 fallen. We were physically, totally exhausted.
8 And I often drove the commander to consult with the people at the
9 headquarters and to receive orders, and then he told me that the commander
10 was probably going to receive the next orders, but he cannot make it more
11 specific as to -- until what time we have to stay here. He is going to
12 Belgrade to get his orders, and then when he comes back we'll know the
13 details. So we went back on the 24th of November.
14 Q. Please tell me, as far as you know, did Colonel Mrksic ever come
15 to Vukovar from Negoslavci until the end of your stay there?
16 A. I saw Colonel Mrksic there very rarely. I used to come to
17 Negoslavci because we had a lot of wounded there. But as far as I know,
18 he never ever entered the Vukovar. His chief of staff came a few times,
19 the staff officers came a few times, but I did not see Colonel Mrksic.
20 I was in the area from the barracks, that extended from the
21 barracks. I was there with the Croatian officer, junior lieutenant, and
22 we often wondered how it came that we had more casualties in the rear than
23 on the front lines, and there was this Croat, a junior officer, and we had
24 to provide him with assistance. We moved a lot in this area between
25 Negoslavci and Vukovar, and we knew almost every day how many people got
1 in and how many left, and I did not see Colonel Mrksic there.
2 Q. Yes. At that time he was a Colonel. But you said that other
3 officers, Chief of Staff, did you mean the Chief of Staff of the Guards
4 Brigade, Panic?
5 A. Yes.
6 Q. Or did you mean anyone else?
7 A. Just before the very end he came to the barracks. In fact, he
8 gave me his armoured fighting vehicle. We didn't have any vehicle to
9 transport the weapons and the ammunition, so he gave me his vehicle and
10 his driver. Our vehicles and our crew, our crews, we had two vehicles.
11 The soldiers had been wounded. One of them was a Croat from Bosnia. He
12 had been wounded by a sniper in the eye area, and he didn't want to go to
13 the hospital. A couple of us insisted, and we forced him to go to
14 hospital, and we didn't have a vehicle, and Panic gave us a vehicle and a
15 driver. We had some problems there. They got stuck. But that was just
16 before the very end. And he came to visit us on foot. He came to visit
17 those troops that were not in direct engagement, that were resting after
18 fighting -- after the fight. And I saw Mr. Sljivancanin a few times.
19 Q. You mentioned that there was a Croat soldier originally from
20 Bosnia that had been wounded. Was it your soldier or was it the soldier
21 from the Croatian side?
22 A. This soldier was a member of the crew of an armoured fighting
23 vehicle, and he was a gunner. And when they were transporting food to the
24 soldiers at the front line, I was on that vehicle, and he was hit by a
25 dumdum bullet from a sniper. I saw because he was above me, I saw that
1 there was blood streaming down his face from beneath his eyes, and I
2 pulled him into the vehicle. We threw all the food out, and I ordered the
3 driver of the vehicle to turn back and drive back immediately.
4 The barracks was quite close, and we put the soldier into the Puch
5 vehicle, and the soldier did not want to go to hospital, but we forced him
6 to go there. In the end, I learned that his injuries were quite severe
7 and that they really had to put in a lot of effort to save his eyesight.
8 Q. When you explained -- when you told us what you remembered about
9 the events of the 18th, you said that you had driven the four captured
10 soldiers to Negoslavci. My question is whether you actually drove to
11 Negoslavci on previous occasions and, if yes, when?
12 A. This love, this is something that brought me into this unit,
13 because with most of these lads, and especially with the commander, I was
14 on very, very good terms. We were not really friends, but we had those
15 really good -- we had this really good relationship, and my emotions made
16 me join them and go back to Vukovar with them, and they were also trying
17 to talk me into that. And that's how I went there.
18 I was not a brave fighter, but it would happen from time to
19 time -- it -- actually, it happened that we were complementary, that we
20 fit with each other well, even the commander. And anyone who tells you
21 that there is no fear is a liar unless they are using tranquilisers. We
22 all had our fears. We were plagued by those thoughts, our personal drama.
23 And then somebody would really fall under the spell of those emotions.
24 I continued socialising with the commander. He believed in me.
25 He would have never deserted him nor he me. And this is how we went for
1 briefing and for orders to Negoslavci.
2 The town was rather small and there was some really dangerous
3 locations, so any move represented a significant risk. We had full trust
4 in each other, and this is why he normally took me to go with him to get
6 Q. If I understood you well, you drove him from Vukovar to Negoslavci
7 to give reports; correct?
8 A. Yes.
9 Q. Based on what you know, was your commander in attendance? Did he
10 attend the meetings of all officers there?
11 A. Yes. It was the command of the Guards Brigade, operations group
12 south. Commander was Colonel Mrksic, and then there was the senior --
13 there were the senior officers there.
14 I didn't attend the meetings. Maybe I entered premises once or
15 twice. Normally, I would be outside.
16 Q. Since you took your commander there, you drove him, do you know
17 whether he went there every day or he would skip some days?
18 A. No, no, we didn't go every day. I don't remember the exact
19 schedule, but I think he went there when invited, when asked to attend, or
20 if he had something unresolved, he would go to see Colonel Mrksic or any
21 other senior officers. He had an unrestricted access to them.
22 Q. So your answer is he didn't go every day, but you don't know what
23 the exact intervals were, and you think that he went there when invited.
24 MR. DOMAZET: [Interpretation] Your Honours, I think that it's time
25 for our first break.
1 JUDGE PARKER: Mr. Domazet, are you at the end or near the end?
2 MR. DOMAZET: [Interpretation] Very close to the end, Your Honours.
3 JUDGE PARKER: Very well. Thank you. We will adjourn now.
4 There's been a redaction, so we will resume at 11.00.
5 --- Recess taken at 10.28 a.m.
6 --- On resuming at 11.01 a.m.
7 JUDGE PARKER: Yes, Mr. Domazet.
8 MR. DOMAZET: Thank you, Your Honour.
9 Q. [Interpretation] Mr. Bisic, in the course of your answers, at one
10 point you also mentioned the Geneva Convention. During your training or
11 during these events, were you given instruction on the application of
12 Geneva Conventions?
13 A. It is quite natural for every professional soldier to receive not
14 only information but also to be duty-bound to implement provisions of the
15 Geneva Conventions in their service. Naturally, that applied to us as
16 well, this duty. We received instruction on the provisions of the Geneva
17 Conventions back when we had our training and later on when we just
18 started working.
19 During the Vukovar events, we believed that a notebook, rather
20 small one, was circulated even too many times. I think that three times
21 altogether it reached us. Maybe once before we left for Vukovar and then
22 two times while we were in Vukovar. And I think that we even had to sign
23 a receipt indicating that we had received it.
24 Q. You made a gesture while describing this notebook. Was it a kind
25 of a brochure on the provisions of the Geneva Convention?
1 A. Yes. It was a type of a pamphlet or a brochure.
2 Q. Yes. And that was the brochure that you received not once but, as
3 you indicated, maybe as many as three times during your stay there.
5 A. Yes. Yes. Correct.
6 Q. Thank you, Mr. Bisic, for your answers.
7 MR. DOMAZET: [Interpretation] Your Honours, I don't have any
8 further questions for this witness.
9 JUDGE PARKER: Thank you, Mr. Domazet.
10 MR. BOROVIC: [Interpretation] Your Honour, I don't have questions
11 for this witness.
12 JUDGE PARKER: Thank you, Mr. Borovic. Mr. Lukic.
13 MR. LUKIC: [Interpretation] Likewise no questions, Your Honour.
14 JUDGE PARKER: Thank you. Mr. Moore.
15 Cross-examination by Mr. Moore:
16 Q. Mr. Bisic, I have one or two questions for you. You've told us
17 that you remember the number 86, the number of the people at Ovcara; is
18 that right?
19 A. Yes. Somebody, and my memory is a bit foggy on this, somebody
20 mentioned the figure of 86.
21 Q. And would it be right to say, having been in the hangar, that the
22 number of people that you saw in the hangar would have fitted that number?
23 A. Well, if we try to reconstruct the event, we could probably
24 establish that. That area was a bit wider than this area, and then the
25 depth was as the distance between me to this window, and that area was
1 full. So I would say that the number is approximately right.
2 Q. Of the people in the hangar.
3 A. Yes, of the people in the hangar.
4 Q. You've used the word "commander" for the gentleman whose name you
5 know you cannot give, and I want to ask you questions about him. He's
6 known as 001, all right? So we'll call him 001, or your commander. Do
7 you understand? So we don't mention his name.
8 A. I had a number of commanders at various levels. There was a group
9 commander who had eight people under him, and then there was -- yes, I
10 suppose you're right, yes.
11 Q. So we understand exactly who we're talking about, I'm going to ask
12 to go into closed session. We'll mention the name, and we'll refer to him
13 as the commander thereafter. Is that all right?
14 JUDGE PARKER: Private.
15 THE WITNESS: Yes.
16 [Private session]
7 [Open session]
8 THE REGISTRAR: We're back in open session, Your Honour.
9 MR. MOORE:
10 Q. You described your commander at the very outset as an
11 exceptionally able officer. Why did you describe him that way? What were
12 the characteristics that you considered made him exceptionally able?
13 A. First of all, he is a man of very high-level mental and physical
14 abilities, which are way above average. In addition to that, he's a man
15 of high moral principles at the time that he displayed in various
16 circumstances, in various missions. During peacetime, we went frequently
17 together on missions.
18 And this is not just my opinion. This is the opinion that
19 prevailed almost unanimously. In the entire unit. It wasn't a respect
20 borne out of fear, no. That's how it was.
21 Q. Would I be right in saying that he is an honest man?
22 A. Absolutely.
23 Q. That he is an intelligent man?
24 A. All of us are intelligent more or less. I don't know his IQ, but
25 definitely a smart guy.
1 Q. Well, thank you for the compliment for us all. And what about
2 careful? Would you suggest -- would you agree that he is a careful man?
3 He was a careful officer?
4 A. Yes.
5 Q. I think it's right to say that you and he got on well together; is
6 that correct?
7 A. Exceptionally.
8 Q. And I think it's also right to say that you accompanied him to
9 Bosnia, I think on two occasions, to collect members of either your or his
10 family; is that right?
11 A. I don't know the source of information, but you're right.
12 Q. And it's right to say that that was an extremely dangerous trip.
13 That is correct, isn't it?
14 A. Yes.
15 Q. And you both went together. Would it be right to say that in
16 actual fact he was a man who was prepared to risk his life for his fellow
17 soldiers and non-commissioned officers?
18 A. Well, yes. I'm the one -- I'm one of the people who responded
20 Q. And again, even though it may not seem terribly important to
21 others, I think he was excellent in sport and was well known for his
22 excellence in sport at that time.
23 A. Yes. When it comes to sport, we were top rate, and I think that
24 in the military decathlon his record still stands. He is known in the
25 circles of both older and younger athletes as the top-rate performer. I
1 think that for several years in a row he was the army champion on
3 Q. Thank you for that. I want to read a definition of what the
4 function is of the counter-terrorist platoon. It's transcript page 10076.
5 I'd like you to listen to this, please, and see if you agree with it. The
6 question was as follows: "What was the function, then, of the
7 counter-terrorist platoon?"
8 Answer: "The counter-terrorist platoon conducted training on a
9 daily basis for anti-terrorist struggle. It also provided security and
10 escort for top-ranking military as well as buildings of strategic
11 importance. This daily training was quite intense. Certain model
12 situations were played out, as it were, such as might occur in the course
13 of anti-terrorist struggle. This included drills such as freeing hostages
14 from stationary or mobile vehicles and other more specific types of
15 training, including target practice, training and using different kinds of
16 weapons, as well as other types of equipment including electronic
18 Now, that was a definition given. While it's a very long
19 definition, is there anything in it that you would disagree with?
20 A. Generally speaking, yes, within that framework.
21 Q. And the -- if I may use a rather vulgar phrase, the guts of your
22 evidence about the guards is they were quite simply the best of the best.
23 Do you agree?
24 A. Well, yes. That was the method of selection applied. Young men
25 who achieved below-average results were not selected. This was a process
1 of natural selection. So only the top ones who were at the top of the
2 pyramid were selected, and that included the unit which provided security.
3 And as for the Anti-Terrorist Unit, the name itself implied top-quality
5 Q. I accept that the counter-terrorist company or unit was actually
6 the elite of the guards. Now, do you agree with that? They were the best
7 soldiers selected?
8 A. Yes, yes.
9 Q. And your commander was one of the very best of them?
10 A. Yes. Not one of the best but the best. He was the best, not one
11 of the best. It was all governed by fair rules, and whenever he felt that
12 somebody else was better, he would defer to them. That was the spirit
13 that prevailed at the time, and this was the spirit of spartan attitude,
14 fair play, in addition to the military spirit.
15 Q. One of the topics, one of the duties that you would probably have
16 had to deal with was, as I've already mentioned to you, the freeing of
17 hostages. You were trained specifically for that, were you not?
18 A. Yes.
19 Q. And when one is dealing with a hostage situation, I would suggest
20 to you there are two principal requirements. The first would be what I
21 will call patience or preparation, and the second is decisive action.
22 Would you agree with those? I'm not saying it's absolute, but as two
23 general principles.
24 A. Yes.
25 Q. Can I deal with a situation that you had to deal with, I would
1 suggest, where there was a -- there was information that a group of TO
2 volunteers were refusing to fight and were on their way from Vukovar to
3 Negoslavci, and I would suggest that yourself, your commander, and some
4 others went to intercept them. Do you remember that situation?
5 A. There were several such situations. I'm not sure which one you
7 Q. Let me see if I can assist you. It's TO members between
8 Negoslavci and Vukovar. I think they were on their way to Serbia. You
9 were the driver. There were two jeeps. I think a gentleman called
10 Sinikovic was involved, and they wouldn't let their weapons go --
11 A. Sorry?
12 Q. That there were two jeeps. There was your commander, two jeeps.
13 You stopped these volunteers, and it was a situation where you were firm
14 but fair, and your commander took the weapons off the TOs and let them go.
15 A. If I may, Your Honours, the situation is a little more complex.
16 The commander was dealing with general questions of command, and we were
17 all dealing with things at ground level, as it were. There were several
18 Muslim soldiers among these. One of them was made Fazlic and another
19 Ibrahimovic. Ibrahimovic was a liberal fellow, and Fazlic was a bit of a
20 poet. It really amazed me that he had the courage to function under those
21 difficult circumstances, and I focused on that particular soldier
22 especially. His compulsory military term had expired already and he
23 should have been home by now. The commander was adamant that the soldier
24 be released but he refused. He said, "I don't want to go," and that was
25 that. A problem arose and I said (redacted), you deal with this because
1 you’re to blame for this situation.
2 I spoke to a couple of my fellow soldiers, and I found out that
3 they had not spoken to their families about this. I put them in a vehicle
4 and drove them to the headquarters to get on the phone to their parents,
5 Ibrahimovic was the first to speak. It was an emotional conversation and
6 that was that.
7 When Fazlic called it was pure drama. His mother was weeping. It
8 was all sadness, sorrow and grief. And he asked me can I tell my mum
9 where I am, and I said sure, go ahead, and he told her where he was. It
10 wasn't before now that she was really grief-stricken. And then she told
11 him could she send him a parcel and he told her what to include in the
12 parcel and that was that. And his mother was encouraged by this, and then
13 we drove back to Vukovar with these lads and it was then that we came
14 across -- or, rather, on the way back the commander joined us and this
15 fellow that you mentioned, and then we came across this group of fugitives
16 and I was adamant that the soldiers should introduce themselves, those
17 soldiers, those, those, and state their ethnicity. And then the solder
18 said what his ethnicity was. I asked the other one. I looked at their
19 papers to go with them. Here these people are off to Belgrade. You go
20 with them or up there at the front, and without any second thoughts the
21 soldiers just proceeded and walked in front. But some of them wanted to
22 get into our vehicle, which we refused to allow them to do, and then the
23 commander seized their weapons and sent them packing.
24 Q. You have the good fortune from coming from the Balkans. I have
25 the good fortune of coming from Ireland. We both talk a lot. Can we just
1 try and keep -- you keep your answers short and I'll keep my questions
2 short. Shall we try?
3 Would it right to say --
4 A. That's my duty.
5 Q. Thank you for that. Would it be right to say, however, that
6 the -- that your unit was used when there were urgent situations?
7 A. Yes.
8 Q. So if a situation suddenly I'll use the word brewed up or bubbled
9 up, your unit had the good fortune of trying to sort it out. Isn't that
11 A. Yes, yes.
12 Q. And so when your commander, when you were relaxing in Vukovar,
13 turning the pig on a spit, it was your commander then who said, "We have
14 got to go to Ovcara." Do you remember telling us about that?
15 A. Yes.
16 Q. I'd like to just deal with that if I may, because you said that he
17 leapt to his feet. Does that mean that you were trying to suggest it was
19 A. No. No. There was no questions off. When he said we're off,
20 that's the way it was. Urgent meant clapping his palm. If he did that
21 twice, that meant very urgent. He would clap his palm twice, and that
22 spelt urgency. The remaining situations you might define as half urgent.
23 Q. With the double clapping of the hand I'll try that with my
24 children and see if it works. All right? But let's just look then at
25 that situation. You said then in actual fact that word is spreading that
1 something is going on there at Ovcara. That's what you told us.
2 A. Sir, Mr. Prosecutor, excuse me. He didn't slap us with his palm
3 twice. He said, "I'll see if that works with my children," because that's
4 the interpretation I received. I was talking about the level of urgency.
5 Sometimes when we had to be off, no questions asked, he would sometimes do
7 Q. All right. Clearly my fault. My misunderstanding. But when he
8 referred to Ovcara, he also said that there was something going on there.
9 A. He said there was something going on there. Something along these
10 lines, roughly speaking.
11 Q. Along what lines? What was happening at Ovcara?
12 A. That something was going on. It wasn't very defined. Whether
13 someone had been attacked or what, he didn't say anything special.
14 Q. Did it suggest that there was something wrong going on?
15 A. Well, to be quite honest, I can't say now what the intentions were
16 behind what he said. He said it curtly, in a soldierly manner. There was
17 indications that there was something going on there. Whether that was
18 part of a withdraw by a military group or whatever because there were
19 random groups committing serious crimes, those who refused to surrender
20 and they were creating a lot of trouble for our soldiers. There was all
21 sorts of things going on. But specifically, we didn't have anything very
23 Q. Then what do you mean by the phrase that "word is
24 spreading"? "Word is spreading that something is going on."
25 A. (redacted) stood up. It was nothing special. He said, "Off we
1 go." "Where?" "To Ovcara." He said, "There's some indication that
2 something is going on over there." No questions asked. We just leapt to
3 our feet, we got into our vehicles, and we were off to Ovcara.
4 Q. No. I want to stick on the point. "Word is spreading." You said
5 it in your evidence, and I'm asking you, the phrase "word is spreading,"
6 does that mean that it was spreading around that something was happening?
7 A. By this time it was really nothing alarming. It was simply the
8 fact that we were given an order to go to Ovcara to see what was going on.
9 That's all it was.
10 Q. Well, then, let's move on in time. Here you have gone to Ovcara
11 and nothing's going on from what you say. Didn't you say to your
12 commander, "Why on earth have we been brought over to Ovcara and there's
13 nothing going on here at all? My dear commander, we have wasted our time.
14 What was this rumour all about?"
15 A. There was quite certainly something going on over there. Once the
16 combat was over, what happened was that we saw a rather large group in one
17 place of the enemy soldiers who had surrendered, or whatever they were.
18 So even that can be defined as something going on.
19 As I say, we spent some time there, and I've given you the
20 chronology of events.
21 Q. And I'm asking you, there you went across. There's absolutely
22 nothing happening, from what you say, and I'm asking you did you ask your
23 very good friend, "What was all the fuss about? Why have we come across?
24 There's absolutely nothing unusual here."
25 A. Truth to tell, our amazement and our analysis of the situation
1 boiled down to this: Why didn't they surrender to us? They were near us.
2 This was, after all, an unusual move on their part. They went the long
3 way around only to surrender to young recruits. That was the line of
4 reasoning that prevailed among us.
5 Q. Very well. Let me approach it another way. Did you fight in the
6 Mitnica area?
7 A. We didn't cover that area. Maybe towards the end. Some of it,
8 I'm not sure where it lies, I'm not sure about its geographical extent or
9 its street, but I would say, no, certainly not the middle part of Mitnica.
10 Q. But you knew of Mitnica at that time, didn't you, that it was a
11 strong area for the Croatians?
12 A. Yes.
13 Q. And are you saying that this group of 86 people were from Mitnica?
14 A. For a clever commander, dynamics is part of both victory and
15 defeat. Was this group from Mitnica? I don't know. The first day of the
16 incursion, I heard the Hawks's voice, Jastreb's voice, he was calling
17 Dedakovic asking him to send the Mungos unit in. So these groups were
18 converging from all sorts of areas into this area. The Mungos unit were
19 the paramilitaries, were the special soldiers belonging to paramilitary
21 Q. But are you saying this group was from Mitnica? Did you ask, for
23 A. I don't know where that group was from, where they were fighting.
24 They withdrew from our area. Supposedly they crossed Mitnica and they
25 surrendered to those soldiers and that's how they reached Ovcara.
1 Q. Let us deal with your knowledge. You did not ask where that group
2 came from. You're only assuming; is that right?
3 A. None of us asked. There were many groups in motion, moving about.
4 Q. Thank you. Did you know who the best-known officer in Mitnica
5 was? Did you know his name? Filip Karaula?
6 A. Not Karaula, Karaula. Yes, I have heard of him but that's as much
7 as I know.
8 Q. So you were aware of his name on the 18th of November; is that
10 A. I heard about that on the radio. I didn't meet him. I heard his
11 name over the radio equipment that we were using.
12 Q. So you were aware of the name of Filip Karaula on the 18th. Yes
13 or no, please.
14 A. No. Not particularly. Subconsciously, yes, I was aware of that
15 name, but on that day he wasn't a remarkable presence, no.
16 Q. So there was no one in that group who came across as the
17 commander, no one in that group of Croatian prisoners who was the
18 commander. There was no commander as such; is that right?
19 A. At least in the instances that I saw, none of them declared
20 themselves as such. As I told you, from this group, a man came out and
21 introduced himself as Big Dzo and then he gave that speech, and then there
22 was a man who was one of the fighters.
23 Q. I asked you a very simple question. When you were there, no one
24 came out indicating that he was the leader of the Croatian forces. That
25 is correct, is it not?
1 A. It's a small area. I suppose that had there been anything like
2 that I would have seen it, and I didn't see anything.
3 Q. Thank you for that. Can I deal, please, with the lights being
4 shone into the hangar. I presume the lights were being shone into the
5 hangar because it was dark; is that right? Dark outside.
6 A. Yes. It was early dusk.
7 Q. No, it was early dusk when you received the call. Isn't that
8 right? But when you got there, was it not dark?
9 A. Well, yes. One could say so. It was 10 to 15 minutes. That's
10 what it took us to arrive there.
11 Q. And they were all wearing civilian clothes.
12 A. I can't be positive about all of them, but I didn't see a single
13 person wearing a uniform.
14 Q. Of the prisoners.
15 A. Yes, yes.
16 Q. Thank you. But you saw JNA uniforms around and in the hangar; is
17 that correct?
18 A. Yes.
19 Q. Would it be right to say you didn't see anyone making lists of the
20 people at that time? That's correct, isn't it?
21 A. I wasn't really paying attention to the left side of the hangar.
22 I didn't notice anyone noting anything down.
23 Q. When you described "paralysed by fear", what do you mean by that?
24 You used the phrase "paralysed by fear" in relation to one of them. Tell
25 us his symptoms.
1 A. Yes. I called him out of the group, motivated by sincere motives.
2 I could tell that he was an odd man in there. And when he came out, I
3 felt really sorry for the man. Based on his face and body language, I
4 could see that he was paralysed, that he was gripped by fear. So what I
5 attempted to do was to restore his inner balance and to talk to him. So I
6 put these frank questions to him about the problems, and I waited until he
7 said what his problem was, and I said, "Is that the only problem?" And he
8 said, "Yes." And he probably was wondering why I singled him out. He was
9 afraid. He was afraid that something bad would happen to him and that I
10 would something bad to him. I guess that was that.
11 Q. It is said that you can smell fear. Do you agree with that
13 A. Certainly. Well --
14 Q. Thank you.
15 A. I wouldn't say that it's an actual smell, but one can sense
16 this -- this cramp that overcomes a person, the spasm.
17 Q. Would you agree that when you went into that hangar that that was
18 the feel that you had from the prisoners?
19 A. One could see that, yes.
20 Q. Thank you.
21 A. At one point in time, I saw that these were our people in a way.
22 Q. I'm not talking about our people. I'm talking that they were --
23 had that feel of fear. Do you agree with that?
24 A. Yes. They were aware of their situation. They had surrendered.
25 They were now wondering what was going to happen.
1 Q. Thank you.
2 A. They were uncertain about the future, awaiting it.
3 Q. I think it is right to say that you were based originally in
4 Negoslavci, and I think it is also correct to say that there were nine
5 jeeps kept at Negoslavci. Is that right or not? In approximate numbers.
6 A. Eight jeeps.
7 Q. Forgive me. What I would like to deal with is as follows: You
8 were a driver. That is correct, is it not?
9 A. Yes.
10 Q. And the function of your driving was often to drive senior
11 officers or staff officers around; is that correct?
12 A. You mean during the Vukovar events, during wartime, or what period
13 do you have in mind?
14 Q. Well, thank you for pointing out the imprecision of my question.
15 Let's deal with what I will call peacetime and then wartime. Shall we do
17 In peacetime when you were in Belgrade with the guards, is it
18 right that you would occasionally, perhaps more than occasionally, drive
19 officers around in your vehicle? Is that correct or not?
20 A. This unit had an escort role. It escorted heads of states,
21 foreign heads of states. It also was part of security detail of ministers
22 of defence from other countries visiting Yugoslavia and travelling
23 throughout its territory, and also it was part of security detail of
24 military dignitaries visiting Yugoslavia. Other than that, we seldom
25 drove officers, individual officers. There were such cases, but they were
1 not frequent during peacetime. We would escort the Federal Secretary of
2 Defence, who was actually minister of defence, and perhaps sometimes Chief
3 of Staff or some other high officials, but seldom.
4 Q. Would you agree with me that in a unit like a Guards Unit, one
5 tends to get to know who the officers are in that unit for very obvious
7 A. The nature of our work was quite covert, so visually, yes, we knew
8 the faces. But as for other details, we didn't really inquire about other
9 units, nor did other units stick their noses into our work.
10 Q. I just want to focus on the Guards Unit. Might I suggest that you
11 would know who the officers would be either in the Guards Unit or attached
12 to them and know usually their names? Would you agree with that?
13 A. Yes. At that level, yes.
14 Q. Let us move on, then, to wartime. And I will use that phrase.
15 Would it be right to say that when you got to Negoslavci and what I will
16 call the hinterland of Negoslavci, you saw those officers occasionally or
17 irregularly? Would that be right?
18 A. Yes. I would come across them, yes.
19 Q. Would you agree with me that you knew who an officer called
20 Vukasinovic was?
21 A. Yes. I knew Mr. Vukasinovic, Ljubisa.
22 Q. Tell us about Mr. Vukasinovic, please, what you knew about him
23 when you were in Vukovar.
24 A. I knew Vukasinovic even before Vukovar. I knew him as an officer
25 member of the Guards Brigade, one of the security officers. That's what
1 they used to be referred to. As for some greater details, personal
2 details regarding him, I didn't know that. He was quite an open man, very
3 sociable, well respected by many. That's what I knew about him.
4 Q. I suppose that would include -- your commander would know
5 Vukasinovic as well, I presume.
6 A. Logic would imply that, yes.
7 Q. Thank you. Do you know of a man called Karanfilov?
8 A. Yes.
9 Q. Because he was linked. What did you know of Karanfilov?
10 A. Yes, yes. He was also one of the members of the security
11 department as it was known, one of the security officers, and he was a
12 commander in Negoslavci. When I went to see those four people, my idea
13 was to take these four people to him so he would see living examples, live
14 examples of what they looked like and were dressed.
15 Q. Why would you take prisoners of war to the security organ? Can
16 you just explain to me? I don't -- I just need that clarified for me.
17 A. There was no other place where I could take them. That was my
18 command, my command headquarters. In my view, that was the only
19 appropriate place to take them, to hand them over to relevant officers.
20 That was quite a unique case. We had no such cases previously, at least
21 to my knowledge.
22 Q. Have you ever been a member of the military police?
23 A. Yes.
24 Q. And I think it's right to say the security organ or officers in
25 the security organ can order members of the military police. That's
1 right, I think, isn't it?
2 A. I'm not much of a soldier, but I was well aware of the chain of
3 command in that area. As far as I know, it follows the military
4 hierarchy, and a security organ can only issue a professional technical
6 For example, I was a commander of the smallest military police
7 units, and then a security organ comes along. As far as I'm aware, he
8 would give professional, technical type of advice or orders, but I would
9 normally receive orders from my immediate superior. It wasn't a practice
10 to skip over those lines.
11 Q. But it certainly happened occasionally; is that right?
12 A. I can maybe entrap myself now, but it could have been a suggestion
13 or some kind of advice on technical issues when it comes to escorting or
14 security. And if a commander wasn't there and a security organ was, then
15 in a way they were in charge of security issues and they could give some
16 suggestions in that sense, from that perspective, but not concerning other
18 Q. No, of course not. But when they did do that, you obeyed as a
19 dutiful soldier.
20 A. Naturally.
21 Q. Thank you. Can I just deal with one or two other small topics.
22 Your commander --
23 MR. MOORE: Would Your Honour forgive me for one moment? I just
24 want to check something in my notes.
25 Q. I'd like to deal with your commander, and you know who I'm talking
1 about. This can be dealt with, I hope, fairly briefly.
2 I think it's right to say that at one stage there was a refusal, I
3 think it was at Negoslavci, where 20 or 30 what I will call
4 non-commissioned officers and officers indicated their refusal or
5 reluctance to fight. That is correct, is it not?
6 A. In Serbian terminology the refusal and reluctance are two
7 different things. Reluctance is not that bad you might say. In refusal,
8 punishment would have been severe and there were no refusals.
9 Q. Shall we deal with the word "reluctance"?
10 A. Certainly.
11 Q. Can we tell, then, with the situation at Negoslavci where I
12 believe 20 -- or I would suggest 20 or 30 non-commissioned officers and
13 officers indicated their reluctance to fight? Now, can you tell us about
14 that, please? What happened?
15 A. What happened. Well, what happened is a relatively small number
16 of professional soldiers were deployed along the front line, whereas the
17 total numerical strength was quite considerable. Attacks were launched
18 several times, and these attacks were spearheaded by a group known as
19 Sareni. It was a special unit. Our support from the rear was getting
20 less and less, as well as less frequent. At one point in time, we
21 demanded that this entire thing be reorganised. That's one aspect of the
23 Secondly, I don't remember the exact date, but we hadn't had a
24 change of clothes in quite some time. Our headquarters didn't provide for
25 that. There was a natural reaction. People wanted to wash, wanted to
1 have a bath. The first demand, the first request, it wasn't just
2 reluctance. To be brutally frank, we just wanted to wash. And when we
3 came forward with that, they withdrew us from the combat. They brought in
4 a different unit and drove us back to Negoslavci.
5 So what really happened, it was a mental thing, I suppose. It's
6 difficult to understand. We then just eventually ended up not washing.
7 We just all lay down on the floor and meditated for a while. That's how
8 exhausted and stressed we were. And then the command people said, "You
9 wanted to wash. Now you wouldn't wash. What did you mean exactly?" So
10 the relations at this point were -- strained is going a bit too far, but
11 there was certainly a misunderstanding that was soon smoothed over and we
12 went back to our original position.
13 Q. I'm not criticising. There is no suggestion of cowardice here in
14 any way. I'm just trying to establish there was a meeting at Negoslavci
15 where officers and non-commissioned officers indicated a reluctance to
17 Now, can I make the following suggestion to you: Is it right that
18 you had some senior officers who came to persuade you to go back?
19 A. At Negoslavci?
20 Q. Yes.
21 A. Yes, yes. But they didn't make it.
22 Q. Did not Sljivancanin come to speak to you?
23 A. Despite my best efforts, to be honest, believe me right now I
24 can't remember if it was Sljivancanin or not, I know about a number of
25 others, but I don't know about him. I simply don't remember.
1 Q. What about Mrksic, did he come?
2 A. Yes.
3 Q. Did Vasiljevic come?
4 A. Yes, yes, General Vasiljevic. And in actual fact ...
5 Q. Sorry, you were saying, "In actual fact." I didn't interrupt you.
6 You were saying, "General Vasiljevic. And in actual fact." Did you want
7 to add something else?
8 A. Yes. I said General Vasiljevic, a high-ranking military officer,
9 I think he was a general at the time that enjoyed a high level of
10 authority with that unit, and Colonel Mile Mrksic as our commander were
11 two authoritative figures, and they certainly had the power to move us.
12 There had been requests to fill in some vacancies and have some of our
13 wounded soldiers replaced. There was a group of volunteers, seven or
14 eight soldiers, and we returned at our commander's initiative.
15 Q. Can we move forward in time? I think it is January, February,
16 1992. Do you accept from me that your commander was promoted at the start
17 of 1992?
18 A. 1992 is the year of our floundering, our failure.
19 Q. All I'm asking --
20 A. Unfortunately, things happened in terms of appointments and
21 removals, in terms of personnel, from that our military perspective made
22 no sense at all. Technically, yes, perhaps. Technically, perhaps, he was
24 Q. Was being a professional soldier important to you at the time?
25 A. To me personally, yes, yes.
1 Q. Were you aware of a gentleman known as Arkan at that time?
2 A. No. No.
3 Q. You had never heard of Arkan?
4 A. At the time, yes, I'd heard the name mentioned, but it wasn't a
5 resounding name at the time. It's not that people were in awe of him, at
6 least not among us, among my circle. I don't know about the general
7 environment, but this certainly applied to me. You see, I was in no
8 situation to follow the media or the TV, that we were isolated from media
9 reports to some extent, so probably that was one of reasons.
10 Q. Is it not right that Arkan at that time had a reputation for
12 A. Well, generally speaking we heard that Arkan's men about coming in
13 from the left, from Borovo and Luzac, and that's where the story ended as
14 far as we were concerned. Given what exactly was going on we didn't
15 really think there was fierce fighting over there but it's difficult to
16 say because these are two opposite ends of Vukovar. It's difficult for us
17 to say. We never met, and I don't think I have ever seen a single one of
18 these Arkan's men who were allegedly there.
19 Q. Did it ever or did it never come to your ears that he and his
20 soldiers committed atrocities or there were questionable acts by them?
21 You never heard that?
22 A. I'm trying to stick to our original time line. I can't say I
23 didn't hear about that, but if we focus on Vukovar, if we focus on 1991,
24 the answer is no. At the time, I heard no such thing. Later on, needless
25 to say, this became known. Stories became known and started spreading.
1 Q. What stories became known and started spreading about Arkan and
2 his troops? And can you please remember that you've sworn to tell the
4 A. I've sworn to tell the truth. That's what I'm here for. That is
5 my principal reason for being here.
6 Many members of our unit, myself included, did not have much
7 respect for units of that kind such as Arkan's men. We sometimes came
8 across each other, as was inevitable. And I do not wish to delve on
9 rumours or interpret rumours. There was a lot being said in the press
10 shown on TV.
11 Q. Very well. I will leave it. With regard to the TO, would it be
12 right to say that they fought bravely on many occasions? The
14 A. I did little together with paramilitary formations. We had
15 professional soldiers in our unit.
16 Q. You see, what I would suggest to you with regard to the
17 paramilitaries is as follows: There were many of them who fought bravely,
18 but they had a reputation where they lacked discipline. They needed
19 control. Do you accept that?
20 MR. LUKIC: Your Honour.
21 JUDGE PARKER: Mr. Lukic.
22 MR. LUKIC: [Interpretation] I'm not sure if I'm allowed to raise
23 an objection. This is the first we've said about this. But I think
24 counsel should define what he means by paramilitary units and what the
25 witness means when he says TO. I think there is slippery ground and there
1 may be some miscommunication between counsel and the witness. I think the
2 way counsel has chosen not to define paramilitary units the witness will
3 simply not know what he means. Maybe it's one thing for the OTP and
4 another for the witness. It's not really an objection, but I thought this
5 point needed raising.
6 MR. MOORE:
7 Q. Well, you have heard the issue. When we talk about irregular
8 troops, and we can expand it, they fought bravely, but they had a problem
9 with discipline. That was the problem at the time, wasn't it?
10 A. Sir, in our area of combat operations, paramilitary units had no
11 access. Anything that was outside the organic composition of the Guards
12 Brigade would not have been allowed there.
13 We did clash with them verbally several times, that sort of thing,
14 and we did have incursions into our own rank and file, people who came
15 there to loot, but in a matter of days such people would be expelled from
16 our area of responsibility, and none of these would last too long. In our
17 area, what now seems courage maybe meant no more than cowardice years ago,
18 if you see what I mean.
19 I'm a low-ranking soldier. I know about ground level. That's
20 what I can tell you, the nitty-gritty but not the global thing.
21 Q. It's the nitty-gritty that I want to find out about. So, can you
22 tell us, please, about the looting that was occurring?
23 A. Looting of property. I assume you mean that, don't you?
24 Q. I would like a picture, please, of the sort of problems that you
25 were having with -- whatever phrase you want to use, with TOs or
1 paramilitaries, and you mentioned looting. And I, just in very short
2 order, to tell us exactly what type of problems you were having at that
3 time. Now, you've told us they came into your area of responsibility.
4 They shouldn't have done that, should they?
5 A. What I said is if anyone came to the area with intentions of that
6 kind would not meet with much success in our area. Combat as raging at
7 the time. Severe fighting was going on all the time. So you try to focus
8 with all your military skill on surviving it, making it, and saving as
9 many lives as you could of your fellow soldiers. It would have been
10 preposterous to spend your time thinking about looting, to be quite frank.
11 Most of us only wanted to get out of that hell alive. So much for looting
12 as far as I'm concerned.
13 I can only speak about my part of the unit, and I can tell you
14 that this was certainly the case with us. That's how we worked. But if
15 by looting mean looting, there was looting, yes. I had no clothes, for
16 example, and I specifically did some looting. I would go into one of
17 these houses and we would see some lingerie arranged nicely on a
18 clothesline. Everything else around it had been ruined but there was all
19 this underwear there. I would take off my own which was dirty by this
20 time and put on some clean underwear. And then I would do the same thing
21 five days later. That sort of thing. That's how it worked.
22 Q. I think you know I'm not talking about your underwear or taking
23 some clothes from a line. I'm asking you about the irregular behaviour of
24 TOs or paramilitaries. Now, I'm simply suggesting to you that they had a
25 reputation at that time as being sometimes brave fighters but also they
1 were not well disciplined. That is correct, isn't it? That was the
2 general reputation that they had. Isn't that right?
3 A. Well, Mr. Prosecutor, I hold you in high esteem, don't get me
4 wrong, but you're making me be brutally honest for the sake of the trial.
5 I continued my career as a soldier after Vukovar, and I've had occasion to
6 meet all sorts of different levels in the army, and one thing I can say
7 before this Trial Chamber and before the general public, it's not only me,
8 I venture to say 99 per cent of my fellow soldiers in their own area of
9 responsibility such things could never have happened. You're quite right
10 to claim that some of them were that way inclined. I mean, inclined to
11 maybe grab something on the side, but these people were certainly not
12 among us. Where were they? A lot of the Guards Brigade officers, when we
13 returned later.
14 Q. I'm sorry that we've gone off track. I will return to Vukovar.
15 Did you see Vukasinovic in Vukovar?
16 A. Not in Vukovar. I saw him in Negoslavci. But as for Vukovar, in
17 town during combat operations, no, I didn't see him.
18 Q. Did you see Karanfilov in what I call the Vukovar area?
19 A. I saw Karanfilov the day he was leading out Dr. Bosanac.
20 Q. And was that before or after your trip to Ovcara?
21 A. I don't know. Chronologically -- I know he was excited. He was
22 saying that he had this very special task, and that's where the story
23 ended. Later on when we met in Belgrade, he told me, he reminded me of
24 that encounter and then said, "What happened afterwards?" At the time, I
25 didn't know anything about Dr. Vesna and the trouble involved.
1 Q. Can I put it this way: If we think of a time line, which is often
2 the best way, that you saw Karanfilov with Dr. Vesna Bosanac, it was after
3 that that you went to Ovcara?
4 A. No.
5 Q. Can I suggest one or two things to you? You say that you went to
6 Ovcara. Have you got any record of your visit to Ovcara, any documentary
8 A. Mr. Prosecutor, those who keep diaries, who keep logbooks, are
9 usually in the rear. That's where they're normally stationed. I wouldn't
10 say that I was always in the first line of combat, but I was exposed to
11 severe risks, yes. And under those circumstances, my only focus was to
12 survive and to ensure that I wouldn't make any omissions that would put at
13 risk my fellow soldiers. So to tell you the truth, some chronology is
14 completely mixed up in my mind. I think that some things happened later
15 than they actually happened, and when people remind me, I just realise how
16 wrong the chronology is in my mind.
17 Q. Can I ask you then when it was that you were first spoken to by
18 presumably Mr. Vasic or Mr. Domazet? When were you first asked to give
19 evidence in this Tribunal?
20 A. I saw this gentleman last night for the first time, Mr. Domazet.
21 Q. Thank you. We knew about that.
22 A. Mr. Vasic, I saw him some five to six days ago. We saw each other
23 twice. He took my passport so that he could get my visa, and then I saw
24 him when he needed my photographs for the visa. It was all quite hasty.
25 He just took the photographs. And to tell you the truth I was taken by
1 surprise. He, or rather, Mr. Lakcevic asked me somewhat informally
2 earlier, "Stevan, would you agree to go and testify about the Ovcara
3 events?" And I said, "Yes, of course."
4 I'm not testifying for anybody. I'm testifying in order to
5 establish the truth about the events in which I participated. And the
6 story at the time was I would provide a written statement about the
7 events, about how I went to the commander and so on. Later on, it
8 expanded and they said, "Maybe you'll testify via videolink." And in the
9 last four to five days they asked me whether I was prepared to come here
10 before this Honourable Chamber and to tell the story here, and I said
11 there's no reason for me to ignore the truth, to evade it, and no problem,
12 I'll go.
13 Q. You said that you were to provide a written statement. Did you
14 make a written statement or notes from your own memory before you spoke to
15 the lawyers?
16 A. No. No. It's not my custom to keep notes or to keep a diary.
17 And I regretted. Perhaps I should have noted things down on the paper.
18 There were many traumatic, difficult events there, and one tends to forget
19 it. Therefore, I am telling you that I regret that I didn't note anything
21 By some chance I went back to Vukovar in 1993. I told you that I
22 went back there as a member of the Guards Brigade. It was a moral
23 obligation that I had, because I was born there. So I went back. And
24 what was my idea then? My idea was to ensure that evil wouldn't be
25 repeated. And then I heard that -- and it was true. It was a true fact.
1 I don't know if it was recorded anywhere. I think that the commander is
2 aware of the details. I think that even -- that he even suggested it to
3 me, that a young man died in the vicinity --
4 Q. I'm sorry. I want to just go back to the topic I was on. I'm
5 sure Mr. Domazet will ask you about 1993. Would you mind if I kept on the
6 same topic?
7 You've told us that you were approached to give evidence. You
8 didn't make a written statement, but is there a written statement signed
9 by you that has been compiled? Really, your account of what happened.
10 A. Pardon, but during what time? During what time do you mean that I
11 signed it?
12 MR. DOMAZET: [Interpretation] Objection. Your Honours, now it is
13 suggested to the witness -- rather, the witness said that he gave no
14 statement and that there was no statement that he ever gave, and now it is
15 put to him whether he ever signed a statement. I don't see on the basis
16 of what the Prosecutor is suggesting that he signed some statement. No
17 statement exists, and I think that the witness is now all confused.
18 JUDGE PARKER: Mr. Domazet, I don't think there was any ground for
19 confusion there.
20 Mr. Moore, carry on, please.
21 MR. MOORE:
22 Q. What I'm trying to just work out in sequence is you hadn't
23 compiled a statement before going to the lawyers or investigator. When
24 you got there and you started giving your story, was it a case of you just
25 telling it straight out or -- I think you told us earlier on, about five
1 minutes ago, that sometimes you were quite naturally confused, and then,
2 as it were, it became realigned. Can you just tell us how it was it arose
3 or how it happened?
4 A. You mean my encounter with the lawyers?
5 Q. Yes, please.
6 A. I received a call from Mr. Lakcevic. He asked to meet with me to
7 talk about something, and I said what, and he said the events in Vukovar
8 and around Vukovar in 1991. And I said gladly. I didn't know who Mr.
9 Lakcevic was, whether he was Mr. Mrksic's lawyer or perhaps a counsel for
10 the Prosecution. I didn't know anything about it.
11 So we met, and he asked me about the unit in which I served. I
12 gave him my personal details, and I told him that I was there, that I was
13 in Vukovar, that there was nothing to conceal, that I was a soldier. He
14 didn't ask me much. He asked me in which unit I served, what I knew about
15 Ovcara, and I told him the story, the story about that event, that I knew
16 about fact. Then we parted, and he didn't really say anything concrete to
17 me as to what I would have to do later on. He said, "Would you confirm
18 this if necessary?" And I said, "Yes. Why not?" And that's where the
19 story ended.
20 Q. Thank you.
21 A. Later on, he said, "If needed --"
22 Q. I'm sorry, I didn't mean to interrupt you. If needed he would
23 contact you, I presume. Is that right? Thank you.
24 A. Precisely.
25 Q. Now, what I would like to know, what parts of your account or your
1 story were you confused about?
2 A. I didn't know technically the process, how the testimony would
3 transpire, whether I would be providing a written statement and that would
4 be the end of my evidence, or whether -- because that was the initial
5 idea. They said, "If in the view of the team," and I wasn't sure who was
6 the relevant team, I would testify via videolink. And then it turned out
7 that I would be a live witness. And I came here totally unprepared. I
8 met the gentleman yesterday and that's the end of the story.
9 Q. Can I just repeat to you what you've said to this Court. It's
10 what you said earlier on. "So to tell you the truth, some chronology is
11 completely mixed up in my mind. I think that some things happened later
12 than they actually happened, and when people remind me, I just realise how
13 wrong the chronology is in my mind."
14 I want to know about what people were reminding you about to
15 assist your memory.
16 A. No, sir, Mr. Prosecutor, not relating to this topic. These are
17 just marginal issues, issues that occasionally come up.
18 In Serbia, we do not have any services dealing with post-traumatic
19 stress disorders. The way we resolve this is we get together and we help
20 each other deal with the stress through talking.
21 Q. No. I'm going to repeat what you said. "So to tell you the
22 truth, some chronology is completely mixed up in my mind. When people
23 remind me, I just realise how wrong the chronology is in my mind."
24 I am simply asking you which -- which parts are mixed up. Why
25 should you make that statement?
1 A. Well, you put questions to me and this is how we came to that
2 particular topic. I was referring to some things which after the passage
3 of time became significant. I know of an event, but, for example, I
4 forgot the date or I forgot the name of a person, which is quite a natural
6 Q. So would it be fair to say, absolutely fair -- you see, your
7 commander gave evidence and thought that the Ovcara matter occurred on the
8 20th, not the 18th. Would you accept that as a possibility?
9 A. No. No. Not at all. It was definitely on the 18th, for a number
10 of reasons, and here's why -- I don't know what else you want me to say to
11 corroborate this. This pig or piglet, it wasn't really that we were
12 celebrating a major victory, no. It was a spontaneous reaction of a group
13 of people rejoicing that they survived. They wanted to mark the end of
14 this agony which lasted for as long as it lasted. This was, for example,
15 one of the details.
16 We went there as the meat was being roasted. After we finished
17 with Ovcara, we returned and then we ate that and spent time together.
18 Q. But you have nothing at all that you can rely on for the date,
19 apart from your memory 15 years later on. That's right, isn't it?
20 A. This is a watershed in what was going on, this and the 2nd of
21 October and a number of other dates that remain etched deep in my memory.
22 The 2nd of October is the date of incursion. On the 12th we had a great
23 number of casualties. On the 16th, just as well. Some of my fellow
24 soldiers were killed. So these are some of the dates that remain with me,
25 including the 18th for that very reason.
1 Q. Can I then ask you this question: You say that you know Major
2 Vukasinovic and you have accepted logically and sensibly so did your
3 manager. When you went to Ovcara, whatever date it was, forget whether
4 it's the 18th, forget whether it's the 20th, how long do you think you
5 remained at Ovcara?
6 A. I'm afraid I can't be very specific about that. It was an hour
7 altogether or thereabouts.
8 Q. Thank you. Did you see Major Vukasinovic when you were there?
9 A. I didn't. I didn't. I know him. He has very striking features,
10 and I didn't see him. As for officers, I saw our commander who I had
11 arrived there with. I saw this young lad the police officer who was
12 waiting for me there. There may have been others. I wasn't looking at
13 their ranks. But it was our unit and the people who were there.
14 Q. So you -- you never saw Vukasinovic, and you never saw your
15 commander speak to Vukasinovic. Is that what you're saying?
16 A. My commander, my commander, remained in the first half, just as we
17 entered, you know. We took that door, and he was in that first area. I
18 didn't see him further down. He was around there or at the door. I was
19 the last to leave the hangar. I was the last, literally the last, because
20 I was dealing with -- I was dealing with talking to that man at the far
21 end. I spent about 15 or 20 minutes talking to that man, the man whom I'd
22 taken outside.
23 Did anyone else come in the meantime while I was away is not
24 something I can say.
25 Q. Can I deal with it this way: I assume you didn't Karanfilov there
1 either. You didn't see Vukasinovic and you didn't see Karanfilov; is that
3 A. No, no.
4 Q. And you say this as an honest witness?
5 A. I didn't see him. I didn't.
6 Q. You've said, "I didn't." Does that mean that you've heard that
7 other people did?
8 A. Thank you for paying me that compliment. I am an honourable
9 witness, indeed, but I didn't see him, and I heard nobody say that he was
11 Q. You never heard your commander say that he had to speak to
12 Vukasinovic, this friend of yours, and was told to leave? Is that what
13 you're saying as an honest witness?
14 A. I don't know what decided the commander for us to be off. I
15 suppose it was the fact, as we had all seen, that the TO were there, the
16 people who had surrendered, and they were being secured by the military
17 police. We saw nothing irregular or unusual happening, and things were
18 going the way they were going, and there was no need for our presence
19 there, so we just turned around, got back into our vehicles. And I spent
20 the entire evening with him.
21 Q. Now, can you explain to me why it was if nothing was happening
22 that you spent, as you believe, about an hour there? Because there was no
23 need for you to remain, was there? And you had a pig on the roast. Isn't
24 that right?
25 A. It wasn't a party that we were leaving. I'll tell you what took
1 us so long. The power generator that had to be connected that took quite
2 some time. We didn't just get there and turn round -- only to turn round
3 and leave immediately.
4 Q. But --
5 A. I myself spent 20 minutes talking to that Croat that I told you
7 Q. The question I'm asking and others may ask is if there was nothing
8 going on, why is it a specialist unit remains, as you believe, for an
9 hour? The power generator's got nothing to do with you because the
10 military police are there. So what's a specialist unit staying there for
11 that length of time? No need for it, is there?
12 A. I'm telling you again. I wasn't being very specific when I said
13 an hour. Give or take ten minutes. I think that is an acceptable
14 aberration given how much time has elapsed.
15 MR. MOORE: Your Honour, I know we're at the break time. I have
16 literally 15 minutes cross-examination left, but I do want to take my time
17 on it, but we will finish easily today. Would this be an appropriate
18 moment for the break?
19 JUDGE PARKER: It is well and truly appropriate. I thought you
20 were near finished so I ran on.
21 MR. MOORE: I'm sorry.
22 JUDGE PARKER: We have redactions. We will resume at a quarter
23 past the hour.
24 MR. MOORE: Thank you very much.
25 --- Recess taken at 12.48 p.m.
1 --- On resuming at 1.20 p.m.
2 JUDGE PARKER: Yes, Mr. Moore.
3 MR. MOORE: Thank you very much.
4 Q. Witness, we haven't much longer to go you'll be pleased to hear.
5 One or two additional topics.
6 I want to ask you about Major Sljivancanin, who was head of the
7 security organ in the Vukovar area. You were aware of that fact at the
8 time, weren't you?
9 A. Yes.
10 Q. We probably can deal with this fairly quickly. Would it be right
11 to say that the English phrase that he was a security officer who moved
12 around a lot in and around the front line and general areas; is that
14 A. It's a matter of how you phrase it, yes, but I did see him a
15 couple of times. For an officer of that level, yes, you might put it that
17 Q. What do you mean by that, "For an officer of that level, yes, you
18 might put it that way"? Explain to us, please. What do you mean by that?
19 A. It is not usual to have officers along the front line among the
20 soldiers who are high-ranking officers. It's a rare occurrence. I think
21 it applies to every conflict. Major Sljivancanin is indisputably a brave
22 officer. He was fearless when it came to touring the front line soldiers.
23 That's what I mean.
24 Q. And would it be right to say that he was moving in a way that you
25 don't expect the security organ to -- to visit these areas? Would that be
1 a fair way of putting it?
2 A. I think that goes back some way. Just before everything started
3 in Vukovar, Major Sljivancanin had been appointed a security officer, but
4 he changed a lot of jobs in the Anti-Terrorist Unit, so maybe there was an
5 emotional side to the whole thing.
6 Q. Did you get the impression that Major Sljivancanin, you've said
7 about him being brave, that he was a good officer, he knew what was
8 happening on the ground?
9 A. Yes.
10 Q. Why do you come to that conclusion?
11 A. He had some virtues that distinguished him as any other officer,
12 and I knew him from before we went to Vukovar. We took our first military
13 steps together, as it were. He was an officer. I remained an NCO. We
14 met at various levels. At a lower level once he was even my commander. I
15 know that he was an equitable and well-respected officer.
16 Q. That's not what I asked you. I asked why did you come to the
17 conclusion that he knew what was happening on the ground in Vukovar? Was
18 it because he was an efficient officer who moved around? Is that why you
19 give the answer?
20 A. I can hardly be able to -- I can hardly be expected to say. I
21 myself and a lot of others were surprised to see him move around quite
22 freely in an area where there were daily casualties and quite many too.
23 That was my conclusion.
24 Q. Thank you. And would it be right to say that it's not from your
25 own personal knowledge but from the reputation that you heard from other
1 soldiers on the ground? Isn't that right?
2 A. Well, we were not a panel evaluating other officers. It wasn't
3 down to us to assess what their respective abilities were, but that was
4 the impression that prevailed. I suppose you could say that.
5 Q. Thank you. It's also right, I think, he even has a nickname in
6 relation to his participation in Vukovar. Isn't that right? Isn't he
7 known as either the Black Dog or the Black Knight of Vukovar? I can't
8 remember which one, to be honest.
9 A. I'm sorry, you're making me laugh. It's a sad story, but you've
10 just managed to make me laugh. The Black Dog, did you say? The Black
12 Q. All I'm suggesting is he was well known for his partition in
13 Vukovar. He was either called the Black Dog of Vukovar or the Black
14 Knight. Perhaps it's the Black Knight as opposed to the Dog. I'm not
16 A. Who? Who called him that, the Black Knight of Vukovar, the enemy?
17 We ourselves? No, not there. Not in Vukovar. I really didn't. While
18 everything was going on in Vukovar, I didn't. I truly didn't. Later,
19 perhaps, the press, they were trying to blow things out of proportion.
20 You know what they do. I'm not sure how it went, but it certainly wasn't
21 something I heard at the time.
22 Q. Let us deal with what you heard at the time. Would it be right
23 that you heard about the killings at Ovcara, or perhaps a better way of
24 putting it, when's the first time you heard about the killings at Ovcara?
25 A. If there was any blemish on my conscience, I would certainly be
1 looking for a way to conceal that. I would not be able to summon up the
2 courage that it takes to face this Tribunal. So the Chamber must believe
3 me. The crime that was committed at Ovcara was something that I first
4 read about in the press when this started being brought up in the press.
5 Q. And what was that, a year later, six months?
6 A. Much later. Many years later. I returned to Vukovar in 1993, and
7 no one I knew in Vukovar gave me even an inkling of anything like that
9 Q. You never heard from anyone about rumours of atrocities? Because
10 can I just suggest to you that I think it's right to say that other people
11 heard rumours about atrocities the following day. But you heard nothing?
12 A. I said that we members of that unit enjoyed utmost respect by
13 almost everyone. These people didn't start discussions with us about what
14 was going on on the other side of the law, if I may put it that way.
15 There were no hints even, knowing that every single one of our members was
16 extremely professional and would have taken steps. I assure you that I
17 heard nothing about it.
18 Q. Have you ever given a statement or spoken to anyone involving an
19 investigation of the Ovcara killings before the Defence actually spoke to
21 A. No, never. I never discussed it with anyone, and I'm really not
22 informed when it comes to these events. I know the persons who were
23 convicted by the court in Belgrade. Out of those persons I know several,
24 but there was not a single hint. There was nothing in anyone's conduct
25 that would indicate to me that something on that scale took place. In
1 fact, for a long time I didn't believe in this until there was a critical
2 mass of information in the papers, because, you know, stories can be
3 amplified, blown out of proportion, or to the contrary. The significance
4 can be reduced. You know how these things happen. And I knew only what
5 the press wrote about, and then when the trial started I was very
7 Q. Were you involved in the clean-up of bodies around Vukovar at any
9 A. No.
10 Q. Thank you. Do you know a soldier, I suggest served with you,
11 called Aziz Memic?
12 A. Yes.
13 Q. And is it right to say that Aziz Memic went with you to Ovcara on
14 that evening?
15 A. Mr. Prosecutor, I mentioned Memic as the person whom Big Dzo
16 approached when he told him --
17 Q. [Previous translation continues] ... so it was Memic who was
18 approached. Do you know where Memic is at this time?
19 A. No. No. Truly not.
20 Q. A guards regiment, perhaps in certain places, often has an
21 association for former soldiers or officers. Did the -- or does the
22 Guards Brigade or regiment have a former -- or a club for its former
24 A. We had dramatic political changes which affected the situation, so
25 the system of associations and clubs fell apart. In the old Yugoslavia,
1 we had an old tradition of assembling former members of units and so on.
2 In my unit, the tradition was to assemble on the day Tito died. We would
3 get together and then go our separate ways. And there was an idea to do
4 the same in this new unit, but officially it was never implemented,
5 because they didn't want us to cause any trouble or to -- to affect the
6 new trend. So as a result, there were no attempts to reinstate that.
7 Q. So is it right, then, that you have not met any former Guards
8 soldier, non-commissioned officer or officer recently?
9 A. Well, we couldn't put it that way. Occasionally, yes, but as for
10 Memic specifically, I can't even recall the last time I saw him. I can't
11 even remember seeing him after 1991. I heard from my friends that he left
12 the service and was quite poor, because as an honourable officer, he
13 didn't dare go back to Bosnia. He's a Muslim, and he would be exposed to
14 certain dangers there. In Serbia, how he lives nowadays in Serbia, I
15 really don't know, but I heard that his life wasn't easy.
16 Q. Did you -- did you find out or did you hear where it was he was
17 living? The area.
18 A. No, really not. I heard that he used to repair blinds or some
19 wooden objects, but this is really not reliable information.
20 Q. I'm just about finished, but I just want to deal with one personal
21 matter, and I'm sorry I have to put it but I will. It's right, is it not,
22 that you are a man who especially around 1991 and afterwards had a fairly
23 significant drinking problem? That's right, isn't it?
24 A. Which year? I apologise. Which year?
25 Q. Well, before we go to which year, which year do you say you had a
1 drinking problem?
2 A. Mr. Prosecutor, I would kindly ask you to rephrase your question.
3 Could you repeat your initial question?
4 Q. I will for you. I would suggest that you're a man who,
5 unfortunately, has had occasion to drink large amounts of alcohol, that
6 you're a heavy drinker. Do you accept that?
7 A. Everybody has occasions. Alcohol is available to all adults.
8 Everybody has occasions to drink, drink a lot. If somebody wants to do it
9 excessively, then, yes, they have occasions to do that. What you're doing
10 to me I consider to be dishonourable, but in view of this Trial Chamber, I
11 will tell the truth.
12 In 1993, when I returned back to Vukovar there was nothing going
13 on there, almost nothing. It was mostly restaurants and bars that were
14 open, nothing else, and due to poor food we were receiving, I did tend to
15 drop by a bar often, but I'm not sure that I would phrase it in those
16 terms as you did, because had I drunk all those quantities, I would have
17 been paralysed nowadays. I'm 52 years old, and I stopped drinking in
18 1997. I haven't had a drop to drink since then. And had I met you at the
19 time, I would have had a drink with you, as I did with all descent people.
20 Mr. Van Lynden, after we parted, gave me as a present a bottle of whisky
21 with inscriptions "SkyNews" on the bottle. Maybe it was him who put me on
22 that path.
23 Q. So would it be right to say, then, that Mr. Van Lynden gave you
24 alcohol because you were a man who was drinking quite a lot when you were
25 in Vukovar?
1 A. No. These are serious matters. I told you that when we parted,
2 he did that. He wasn't trying to turn that encounter into something
3 ironic. Mr. Lynden gave such a present to my commander, Muslim; to a
4 Croat; and to me, a Serb. Each of us got one, as well as a videotape of
6 Q. Well, can I suggest to you what actually happened? I'm suggesting
7 to you that you're almost correct in many of the things that you have
8 said, that in actual fact it was not the 18th that you went to Ovcara, it
9 was the 20th, that you went with your commander, you went with Memic as
10 well, and it was there that Vukasinovic and Karanfilov were in control of
11 those prisoners. Now, what do you say to that?
12 A. This is your view. You're entitled to one. I have full respect
13 for it, but these are the facts that I eyewitnessed, experienced
14 personally, and I support them with my whole being.
15 Q. And I would suggest that in actual fact that there were groups of
16 TO at that time who were both in and around that hangar. Now, what do you
17 say to that?
18 A. Not as far as I could see, although it was dark, but they were not
19 among the people that I saw, nowhere in our vicinity.
20 Q. Thank you very much.
21 JUDGE PARKER: Thank you, Mr. Moore.
22 Mr. Domazet.
23 MR. DOMAZET: [Interpretation] Your Honours, I think that I will
24 have to go beyond our usual sitting hours, quarter to 2.00 --
25 JUDGE PARKER: Mr. Domazet, we can fortunately sit on for a little
1 while now with the cooperation of the staff. I wouldn't worry about the
3 MR. DOMAZET: [Interpretation] Thank you. Thank you. It won't
4 take long. I think we'll go beyond just a little bit.
5 Re-examination by Mr. Domazet:
6 Q. Mr. Bisic, just a few questions about what Mr. Moore examined you.
7 First of all, I think it was suggested to you that the order that you
8 received from the commander when you were told to go to Ovcara, that it
9 was a result of a rumour. First of all, tell me, was it an order which
10 pertained to you as a group or was it really a rumour that was spread
12 A. No. There was nobody else. That group was there by itself. And
13 that particular period of time was a bit more relaxed. We weren't in a
14 spasm as earlier. And as they started roasting that piglet, we began
15 talking, joking, consoling each other, if I may call it that.
16 At one point, (redacted) said, "Let's go." We asked him, "Where,
17 commander? Go where?" He said -- I can't quote his words verbatim now,
18 but the essence of that was, "Let's go. It seems that something is
19 happening there."
20 Q. Thank you. In response to Mr. Moore's questions, you mentioned an
21 event involving Karanfilov and Dr. Bosanac. It wasn't quite clear to me
22 whether you saw that with your own eyes or whether you heard about it
23 later from Karanfilov. Briefly, please.
24 A. I knew Karanfilov as a junior officer from the Guards. Somehow it
25 happened that I didn't see him much during Vukovar events. At one point I
1 saw him. I greeted him, and I was surprised by the cold reception. He
2 just passed by me, and that surprised me. I was wondering how come my
3 fellow soldier, a friend, couldn't spare even a minute to greet me. And I
4 reminded him of that later, and he said that he was on a very important
5 mission at that point in time, and it was much later that I -- that I
6 heard that he had to do something with Mrs. Bosanac.
7 Q. All right. So you heard that from him. You didn't see it
9 A. No, no, no.
10 Q. Another question pertaining to your relations with Witness P001.
11 You confirmed, and we heard that before, that you helped this man a great
12 deal and that you went together with Bosnia under dangerous circumstances
13 to get some relatives of his. My question is this: You were obviously on
14 very good terms with him at the time. After his departure, did he ever
15 get in touch with you and, if no, why not?
16 A. My answer was in the affirmative to that question, and these were
17 the events that really shook me. This was a man who is very dear to me,
18 and I would say something briefly about his motives.
19 His wife felt deserted. She had a twin sister in that area, in
20 Jajce, and they were experiencing a lot of trouble. So the wife pressured
21 my commander, saying that he had done a lot for the country, for the
22 people, but nothing for her.
23 He and I would spend a lot of nights in informal chats, and on one
24 occasion - I wasn't drunk. I really wasn't drunk - I promised his sister
25 that I would bring back her -- I promise his wife that I would bring back
1 her sister and her family. And he didn't want to let me go by myself. He
2 was quite rational about it. He was saying that I was going to a
3 high-danger area and so on.
4 So we went there, and I brought the sister of his wife, her
5 husband and children, plus another child who was orphaned, a Serb child
6 who was orphaned. At that time it was tremendously risky to move in the
7 way that we travelled there. We travelled in a private vehicle. They
8 were in civilian clothes, and my commander and I were in military clothes,
9 and we had to go through many checkpoints, and there was a great danger
10 that Muslims would stop us. So it was quite miraculous that we passed
12 When we passed through the danger zone they asked me -- the
13 husband of the sister asked me, "Are we now on free territory?" I
14 said, "Yes." And then all five of them started singing. They started
15 singing a song called "One Day in Life."
16 And later I helped them get passports. I had some connections,
17 and back in 1991 it was still possible. Then they left. I don't know
18 where they went, but they left the country.
19 My address never changed. All my details are in the phone book.
20 They're public. They never got in touch with me, never called.
21 Q. Just tell me one thing. When you say -- which country were they
22 in that they were free?
23 A. We crossed a bridge to go into Serbia, and once we crossed that
24 bridge, the border, he assumed that we were in Serbia -- or, rather, in
25 Yugoslavia, Serbia and Montenegro at the time.
1 Q. Thank you. Just a couple of questions left.
2 In reply to one of Mr. Moore's questions, you told him what you
3 knew about what had occur at Ovcara during the night between the 20th and
4 21st. You said you first found out in the media. Is that your answer?
5 You did not have any personal information concerning that; is that right?
6 A. Absolutely.
7 Q. Just one last thing. The date has been questioned, not the fact
8 that you were there. You explained the chronology of that day. Do you
9 still stand by your previous statement that it only could have been the
10 18th, that is the day of Vukovar's fall?
11 A. Yes, I stand by my previous statement.
12 Q. Thank you very much, Witness.
13 MR. DOMAZET: [Interpretation] Your Honours, I have no further
15 JUDGE PARKER: Thank you very much, Mr. Domazet.
16 You'll be pleased to know, Mr. Bisic, that that completes the
17 questions for you, so that there will be no further need for you to attend
18 here, and when convenient arrangements are made, it will be possible for
19 you to return to your place of living. We would like to thank you very
20 much for your attendance here and the assistance that you've given to us.
21 We would also like to thank all those who have stayed on a little
22 late to enable us to finish the evidence of this witness.
23 We will now adjourn, and we resume on Monday at 2.15.
24 [The witness withdrew]
25 --- Whereupon the hearing adjourned at 1.54 p.m.,
1 to be reconvened on Monday, the 4th day
2 of September, 2006, at 2.15 p.m.