1 Friday, 8 September 2006
2 [Open session]
3 [The accused entered court]
4 [The witness entered court]
5 --- Upon commencing at 9.03 a.m.
6 JUDGE PARKER: Good morning. Unfortunately, Judge Thelin is
7 unable to sit this morning, and we will continue as a Bench of two under
8 the Rule.
9 WITNESS: ZORAN BASIC
10 [Witness answered through interpreter]
11 JUDGE PARKER: Good morning, sir. Would you please stand and read
12 aloud the affirmation on the card.
13 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] I solemnly declare that I will speak
14 the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.
15 JUDGE PARKER: Thank you. Please sit down.
16 JUDGE PARKER: Mr. Vasic.
17 MR. VASIC: [Interpretation] Thank you, Your Honours.
18 Examination by Mr. Vasic:
19 Q. [Interpretation] Good morning. Good morning to all.
20 THE INTERPRETER: The interpreters note, we can barely hear Mr.
22 JUDGE PARKER: You're asked, Mr. Vasic, if you could keep your
23 voice up.
24 MR. VASIC: [Interpretation] I'm moving closer to the microphone.
25 I think that's what's causing the problem. Thank you very much. I think
1 this will be much better.
2 Before I start asking away, can I please have the usher's
3 assistance. If Ms. Usher could do something for me. I would like to
4 submit a set of documents to each of the parties that we shall be using
5 during the examination of this witness. Thank you very much.
6 Q. Good morning, sir. Would you please be so kind as to introduce
8 A. My name is Zoran Basic.
9 Q. Sir, we both speak the same language. We are being interpreted
10 for the benefit of the Chamber and all the parties. Therefore, could you
11 please make a short pause after each of my questions before you start your
12 answers, thereby enabling the interpreters to accurately interpret our
13 exchanges. I'll do the same after each of your answers. The best thing
14 perhaps would be for you to follow the cursor on the screen, on the
15 monitor in front of you. As soon as a sentence is over, then you can
16 start answering.
17 A. Very well.
18 Q. Sir, you are an officer of the JNA, a retired officer?
19 A. Yes.
20 Q. Can you please tell us about your military career, about your
21 educational background and your specific jobs over the entire span of your
22 career with the JNA?
23 A. I have completed the highest possible military schools, including
24 the All Peoples Defence school. I occupied all positions, platoon
25 commanders up to chief, including stints with engineering units. I was
1 always successful. Whenever there was a mission, I would complete it
2 successfully. So my rates, my success rates, throughout my military
3 career were as high as possible.
4 Q. Thank you very much. At the time you retired, which rank were you
6 A. At my retirement, I was a colonel, but I occupied the position
7 equivalent to that of a general.
8 Q. To understand you correctly, when you say that the post you
9 occupied would normally have required the rank of general, although you
10 were a mere colonel at the time.
11 A. No, not quite. I was the chief of my branch. However, based on
12 my exceptional merit, I was in pay-group 6, which is equivalent to the pay
13 of a general.
14 Q. Thank you very much. You mentioned that at one point in your
15 career you served with the military district headquarters. Can you tell
16 us which one and at which specific time?
17 A. Having completed the All Peoples Defence college, I was appointed
18 commander of a major unit in the 1st Military District. Three and a half
19 years later I was appointed to a higher-ranking position with the military
20 district. I was head of a branch. I could even say that I stayed there
21 for too long. I occupied this position between 1969 and 1973, and I was
22 again exceptionally successful in my work.
23 Q. You say 1969 to 1973 you were the chief of branch or head of
24 branch throughout that time. Which particular branch was that, and was it
25 during the time period specified?
1 A. I'm sorry. I have made an error. It was between 1976 and 1979.
2 I was a brigade commander. Between 1979 and 1993, I was chief of branch
3 in the Belgrade Military District, which is in terms of the area covered,
4 the largest military district in the former Yugoslavia. It covered some
5 of Serbia, some of Bosnia-Herzegovina and some of Croatia.
6 Q. You say the Belgrade Military District. You said the 1st Military
7 District. I assume that this is what you had in mind. In the time
8 relevant to this trial, 1990, 1991, based on what you've just told me, you
9 were searching as chief in the branch of the 1st Military District. Which
10 branch, can you tell us, sir.
11 A. Since 1979 and until 1993, I was the chief of engineers in the 1st
12 Military District.
13 Q. Thank you very much. As chief of engineers back in 1991, do you
14 remember receiving any special assignments after the riots started in what
15 used to be the Republic of Croatia?
16 A. Yes. At the time, those of us who were more experienced officers
17 were sent on certain missions. Just to give you one example, in 1991
18 there was a visit to Mrkovci and Vinkovci. I did go into Vinkovci,
19 actually. And we were monitoring the situation. It was a complex
20 assignment, a complex mission, but I was in charge of teams that went to
21 the Vukovar front and the Vinkovac front, that area.
22 Q. You say you were present in this area, and your mission was to
23 monitor the situation. Who were you assisted by on this mission, and who
24 were you cooperating with? Who were you working with at this time?
25 A. I'm not sure if you mean the situation when the breakaway, the
1 secession began. Is that what you're referring to, sir?
2 Q. By all means. I'll need to clarify this. You told us about
3 monitoring the situation. This monitoring, was that before armed clashes
4 broke out or after?
5 A. I think it was before armed clashes broke out. Since this part of
6 Croatia was under our jurisdiction, our units were deployed in Osijek, in
7 Donje Mikojac, Vukovar, and so on and so forth. I as chief received
8 certain assignments as an operative body to visit those garrisons and to
9 assist wherever necessary.
10 Q. Thank you. Sir, if you remember, did you continue to assist and
11 advise these garrisons once armed clashes had broken out and the fight for
12 secession had begun as you put it?
13 A. You're quite right. We had our own units under our jurisdiction
14 over which we exercised command, but we also had jurisdiction over some
15 other units within the military district. It was for this reason that
16 certain activities were pursued pursuant to orders from the military
17 district itself, and we worked with those units.
18 Q. Thank you. This role you played at the time, did that cover
19 Croatia in it's entirety or, rather, that area of Croatia which was under
20 the jurisdiction of the 1st Military District?
21 A. Yes.
22 Q. Thank you very much. Or, rather, how long did you stay in this
23 position? I mean in relation to units subordinate to the command of the
24 1st Military District. Is this something you remember, sir?
25 A. Of course I do. How wouldn't I? Back in 1992, more specifically
1 in August, I retired. Up until that point in time, until the very last
2 day, in fact, I was in charge over the operative units of the 1st Army as
3 well as the TO units coordinating with the JNA.
4 Q. Thank you. At this time, as a representative of the command of
5 the 1st Military District, did you relate in the same way to the units of
6 the guards motorised division that were deployed near Vukovar?
7 A. Let me tell you, perhaps you're misexpressing yourself. The 1st
8 guards division if that's the one you had in mind, or, rather, the brigade
9 of the Federal Secretariat, do you mean the one or the other?
10 Q. I'm waiting for the interpretation.
11 A. My apologies.
12 Q. I mean the guards division that was involved in the fighting in
13 Vukovar in September, 1991.
14 A. Yes. You're quite right. I had two many commitments, in fact,
15 towards that unit in terms of preparing the unit as well as carrying out
16 the actual assignments of the 1st Guards Division. I have to point out at
17 that I made several visits there in order to sort out a variety of
18 situations in Mrkovci, Pavlovci, Bogdanovci. Furthermore, I was myself in
19 Mrkovci where the TO units were holding the area. I was there myself.
20 Q. Thank you. Did you report to the command of the 1st Military
21 District about these activities and, if so, how?
22 A. Let me tell you -- I apologise. Let me tell you. To be the chief
23 of branch is a great commitment, and the link to the Chief of Staff and
24 the commander is direct, which means that one needs to report every single
25 move and every single action that one takes in writing. We had our own
1 codes. We regularly submitted these reports. It would be less than
2 serious for a person in that position not to keep reporting. The entire
3 command would be briefed about everything that had occurred, regularly.
4 Q. This system of reporting that you have mentioned, was this
5 established practice with the command of the 1st Military District, and
6 was the same thing done by other bodies with other commitments and duties,
7 other chiefs of branches?
8 A. Absolutely. I have to tell you this: In the evening decisions
9 were made for the following day. Mr. Mrksic and all the others know that,
10 because they were under our authority, and they pursued our orders, and
11 every evening we would be debriefed, and then we would correct our
12 previous orders and issue new orders. All the organs did absolutely the
14 Q. Thank you. Tell me, sometime in mid-November, did you receive a
15 very specific task relative to the completion of combat activities in the
16 Borovo-Vukovar sector in addition to the tasks that you had or any tasks
17 that were relative to Eastern Slavonia?
18 A. I monitored that task constantly, and that was the focus of our
19 monitoring. And I participated all the time in those efforts on the
20 Vinkovci-Osik access. So this was nothing new. When this activity ended,
21 we continued our supervision of those units, and we continued having
22 commitments towards those units.
23 I received an order from the Secretariat for National Defence to
24 take urgent measures for de-mining, return of population to the territory,
25 cleaning of the terrain, and this was a very complex task, and it was a
1 burning issue, one of the most difficult tasks in my career.
2 Q. Thank you very much, sir. Can we please be shown Exhibit number
3 1D6 from the 65 ter list, ERN is 0D0003. I apologise. 1D16 is the
4 document number, and the ERN now is 0D000350. The English version is
5 0D000351. The B/C/S version is 0D000348, and the last two digits of the
6 next document are 49. Thank you.
7 Sir, do you have the document before you on the screen? Do you
8 also have a hard copy?
9 A. Yes, I do.
10 Q. Since we all have the hard copy version in B/C/S, maybe we could
11 have the English version on the screen. Sir, I'm referring you to your
12 hard copy version. I'm sure it will be easier for you to follow that
13 rather than the copy on the screen.
14 Can you please tell us whose order is this? Who issued this
15 order? The number in the heading is 1614-176.
16 A. This order was issued by the command of the military district, and
17 this was something that preceded the order of the Federal Secretariat.
18 The order was necessary because the deployment was necessary because
19 certain orders had to be taken to clean up the area, to de-mine the area
20 and everything else that accompanied the situation. So the unit started
21 doing at that as soon as they received this order, and three days later a
22 new order arrived and this would be relevant to supplement the previous
23 order and to enlarge the scope of activities.
24 Q. Thank you very much. What preceded the issuance of this order on
25 clean-up? What problems preceded this order? What prompted the command
1 of the 1st Military District to set up a commission that would be engaged
2 in the issues of the clean-up of the terrain that this issue -- that this
3 order is relevant to?
4 A. Let me tell you this: All our rules, instructions that dealt with
5 the issue of clean-up were so minor that they only dealt with sporadic
6 problems. There were no wide-reaching rules. At the end of my task I
7 proposed that instructions should be drafted for the critical stages where
8 works had been undertaken in a larger territory that had been struck by
9 war or some ecological disasters. This did not exist. Everything that
10 happened with these units -- I must tell you that the biggest problem --
11 problems stemmed from the -- from the fact that dead bodies had not been
12 cleaned up, that carcasses had not been cleaned up, and this was all why
13 we had to do something urgently, and this is why this order was issued.
14 Q. Can you please speak a little slowly, because our interpreters are
15 having a rather difficult time if we speed up.
16 Can you -- you've mentioned some obstacles or barricades that had
17 been put up by somebody. Who was it who put up those barricades that
18 prompted the command of the 1st district to issue this order and to
19 undertake orders?
20 A. In this war, obstacles were placed in very different ways. No
21 record was kept of these obstacles, and no attention was paid to the
22 Geneva Conventions. We thought that members of the Croatian National
23 Guard were not very well-versed in placing obstacles, but they did it in a
24 very devious way. They destroyed bridges in the Mrkovci sector, in the
25 Nijemci sector, and all the while up to the placing gas tanks, activating
1 gas tanks. They would place mines in a four-storey building, and that was
2 terrible. I was astonished when I saw around Dudik, the memorial park in
3 Dudik that they placed mines in a very expert way, that those were very,
4 very sophisticated mines that inflicted a lot of damage.
5 Q. Thank you very much for this answer. Can you please slow down a
6 little when you're speaking for the benefit of the interpreters.
7 You were saying when giving your answer that there were certain
8 events that took place and that went beyond some rules that were in place
9 at that time. Who the perpetrators of those offences were? Who placed
10 those obstacles beyond the scope of any rules?
11 A. Of course the perpetrator is well known. My authority was well
12 pronounced when it came to the system of placing obstacles. This was done
13 in such an expert and sophisticated way. For example, the blowing up of
14 the bridge in Nijemci. This was a very sophisticated act. Minefields
15 were placed in the same way. But I have to tell you one more thing.
16 There were very professional officers in the Croatian National Guard who
17 all completed their education in Karlovac and engineers school. The chief
18 of engineers in the national guard of Croatia was Tolice who was in charge
19 of placing obstacles around the entire area of Vukovar.
20 Q. I'm still waiting for the interpretation to end. Tell me, who was
21 it who was in charge of the territory where these obstacles were placed
22 during the armed conflict. Do you have that information? Which side was
23 in charge of that territory? In whose hands was it?
24 A. Of course I know, because I was deployed in that territory before
25 the armed conflict and -- during the armed conflict up to the fall of the
1 Jovanovci-Bijelo Brdo line going all the way up to Tenjavera [phoen]. It
2 was the Croatian National Guard forces.
3 Q. Thank you. Let's go back to the order that you have before you.
4 In paragraph two of this order, the objective of setting up of this
5 commission is indicated. Can you please read this part very slowly. I'm
6 referring to the paragraph in the order number 1614-176 on the setting up
7 of this commission. Do you have that in front of you in hard copy?
8 A. Yes.
9 Q. The second paragraph speaks about the need to set up the
10 commission, and can you please read for us why the commission was set up?
11 A. You see, we had to comply with the order of the Federal
12 Secretariat. Our task, according to that order, was like the command of
13 the 1st District received information from the ground on the situation.
14 That was very difficult at the time. This reflected on the Federal
15 Secretariat that issued this order and said in the order urgently secure
16 the area, find the dead and the wounded, remove mines and explosives,
17 de-mine the fields, remove the explosives and mines on the ground. And
18 this was all necessary so as to enable people to go back to their homes as
19 soon as possible. Conditions had to be created for that.
20 I can tell you from experience, because this was in a certain way
21 my wish, to see how many citizens of Vukovar and Borovo would return. And
22 I must tell you that by the beginning of December, over 15.000 people
23 returned to Vukovar.
24 At the time, we did not count heads of Serbs, Croats, Ruthenians.
25 We were Yugoslav officers and people were equal to us. We created a
1 security and safety. I can tell you what the press wrote about our
2 successes in the territory at the time, but I can only tell you that we
3 have contributed to the well-being of these people to a very large extent.
4 And I believe that this order was a very valuable one and that it achieved
5 its goal.
6 Q. Thank you very much. A commission was set up pursuant to this
7 order, and in the order it says that a commission is set up in the
8 following composition: Colonel Zoran Basic, Colonel Bratislav Stasic,
9 Colonel Savo Djelasan, and Colonel Svetislav Kostic. Can you please tell
10 us if this was indeed the make-up of the commission and who the president
11 of the commission was?
12 A. This was the composition of the commission, save for the last
13 member, who for, I don't know what reason, did not attend the work of the
14 commission but the first through were there. They were all experts in the
15 area of security, engineering. In other words, we were very professional,
16 and we were well-equipped to perform that task. And I was appointed
17 president of that commission.
18 Q. Thank you very much. I would like to draw your attention as well
19 as the attention of my learned friends to the last paragraph of this order
20 by the command of the 1st District setting up the commission, and this is
21 immediately above the signature of Vladimir Stojanovic, the Chief of
22 Staff, and it says here that on the basis of the proposals and suggestions
23 as well as the collected data an organisational order should be drafted
24 for the implementation of this task.
25 I would like to know who should have been in charge of drafting
1 this organisational order for the implementation of this task. Do you
2 know that?
3 A. You saw my initials in the corner, ZB. That's one thing. And I
4 was the one who was best equipped to do that job, because I had spent most
5 time in the territory, and having been familiar with the situation, I
6 could have drafted such an order that would find its use in all units. I
7 was the one who could represent the reality of the situation in the best
8 possible way.
9 Q. As far as I understand, and please correct me if I'm wrong, you
10 drafted this organisational order for implementing this task adopted by
11 the command of the 1st Military District on the 23rd of November, 1991.
12 Is that true, sir?
13 A. Precisely.
14 MR. VASIC: [Interpretation] Your Honours, I move this order of the
15 1st Military District command, 1614-176, ID16, be admitted into evidence.
16 JUDGE PARKER: It will be received.
17 THE REGISTRAR: Exhibit number 758, Your Honours.
18 MR. VASIC: [Interpretation] Thank you very much.
19 Q. After the commission was established, sir, where did you go, you
20 and I expect members of your commission? Where did you go, and where were
21 you billeted?
22 A. Since I was monitoring the situation, whenever a need began to
23 bud, it wasn't difficult to get me there in order to organise everything.
24 Although an order was being drafted by the Federal Secretariat, orders
25 were still being issued, brief ones, succinct ones, so everything could be
1 prepared. The important thing was to get there as soon as possible.
2 Winter was encroaching gradually, and the difficulty faced by those on the
3 ground was considerable. Therefore, we had to roll up our socks and get
4 down to actually working on the ground.
5 We were told to go to Dalj and stay with the 12 Corps, the late
6 Bratic. That's where we were. On the 22nd and 23rd, we had completed
7 organising all of our forces, all of our units. These units, these forces
8 were exceptionally qualified, and this was important in view of the
9 complex tasks that we were facing. Our powers were exceptionally
10 extensive. No one would have been allowed to limit our movement or our
11 remit. It was down to us to show initiative in terms of organising work
12 and life in the area and to be expeditious too.
13 Q. Thank you very much. I was just about to ask, was it your work,
14 your task, of all things, that assumed a formal aspect because of the
15 order that was issued on the 23rd of November, 1991. And now, if we could
16 please have a 65 ter document, Defence document, on our screens. 1D10.
17 The ERN of the English being 0D000469. My apologies. It's my mistake.
18 The ERN 0D000373 through 0375. The B/C/S is 0D000371 through 72. Thank
19 you. I hope we all have a hard copy of this order.
20 Sir, so should you. You should have a hard copy in front of you.
21 This is strictly confidential. Number 1614-182. The 1st Military
22 District command, the 23rd of November, 1991.
23 Would you be so kind, sir, as to have a look at this order and
24 tell us what it says. Based on which other orders was this order
25 produced, and does it not amount to the same thing as the organisational
1 order for the implementation of your task that you talked about a while
3 A. Yes, certainly. This is certainly a basis for an order to be
5 You know something? It's pretty clear cut in the army who gives
6 directives and who hands them out and it is in line that that you have to
7 draft orders. The timing is important, and you have to know what forces
8 are available. You will probably be asking another question later about
9 the forces that were grouping there. That was the most complex aspect, to
10 gather them and to get them organised.
11 Q. Thank you very much indeed, sir. In your response you mentioned
12 this Federal Secretariat for All People's Defence. I would like to draw
13 your attention to the very beginning of the order on the consideration
14 now, 1614-182, and the portion entitled "Signals." And then there is this
15 order by the Federal Secretariat, strictly confidential, 693-106. What I
16 want to know is is this the order that you refer to later -- earlier in
17 one of your answers as the fundamental order for clearing the terrain
18 which was eventually followed by the 1st Military District command?
19 A. Indeed. With certain provisos, obviously. There is an outline of
20 what else needs doing.
21 Q. Thank you. We're getting to the question you raised yourself a
22 while ago. What were the forces that were under the command of the
23 commission headed by you? What were the forces involved in the
24 implementation of this task, and what was the area in which this activity
25 took place?
1 A. The military district command, the SSNO, in order to have these
2 tasks implemented needed to provide appropriate assistance. There was a
3 great variety of forces. This was a very complex situation. So one thing
4 I'd like to point out is the JNA provided the investigating magistrates
5 from the Belgrade military court led by Saljic Milo investigative
6 magistrate and his assistants. Further, a body from the 50th medical
7 regiment held by Ljubomir Sljivovic, and then bodies from the Military
8 Medical Academy, pathology institute, headed by Major Zoran Stankovic.
9 Q. Thank you very much. You may continue but there is one name that
10 has been misrecorded and just to keep from losing the thread, please, when
11 you pronounce names and unit, just try to go a little more slowly so we
12 can get it all in.
13 The 5th medical regiment --
14 A. No, no, no, no. The associated preventive medical detachment from
15 Svezdara headed by Ljubomir Videnovic.
16 Q. Thank you very much. We will have to really sink our teeth into
17 this. We have to pronounce the names of these units slowly because we
18 have a great deal of confusion in the transcript. I will do it all over
19 again. You were speaking about this medical unit. Please tell us slowly
20 which medical unit and tell us slowly who it was held by? But slowly so
21 everybody understands what you're talking about.
22 A. Organs of the 50th protection preventive medical detachment led by
23 Lieutenant Colonel Ljubo Videnovic.
24 Q. Thank you for trying. As you continue enumerating these various
25 units, please do it in perhaps the same way as now, slowly.
1 A. Organs of the Military Medical Academy. The pathology institute
2 led by the then Major Zoran Stankovic. Further, units for immediate
3 implementation of assignments, the 305th Engineering Brigade. Further,
4 the 24th Engineers Regiment. Further, the 813th Engineers Regiment, its
5 numerical strength being about 3.150 officers and soldiers. And about 138
6 pieces of engineering equipment. Further, a company for biological,
7 chemical, and -- protection and atomic warfare from the 246th regiment of
8 the atomic, biological and chemical defence, as well as a platoon from
9 Belgrade city's defence system, which was another JNA unit.
10 Q. Thank you very much. We need to stop here before we go on with
11 this unit that was outside the JNA. The ones that you mentioned as being
12 inside the JNA, part of the JNA, this particular unit, was it placed at
13 your disposal and sent to your area, especially after the organisational
14 order was received when you realised how many different things you would
15 have needed and what exactly, were they placed at your disposal by the 1st
16 Military District command?
17 A. Yes, all these units were placed under my direct command. It was
18 a fortunate circumstance that these were units that had been organised on
19 the ground even before this time. They were just taken away from their
20 normal units, larger units of which they were part and placed under my
22 Q. Were these units, too, in the area covered by the 12th corps,
23 which is where your headquarters was before you set out for this
25 A. Yes.
1 Q. Would you please be so kind and tell us what the units were that
2 were not formally part of the JNA, these other units that were involved in
3 carrying out the task of which you were in charge?
4 A. As for the external units, non-JNA units, we had the following
5 units: Interior Ministry of the Republic of Serbia; SUP of Vojvodina, the
6 province of Vojvodina. Further, investigating magistrate from Novi Sad.
7 Further, doctors from the pathology institute of the Novi Sad hospital.
8 Whenever necessary, the -- we could have had more, which sometimes we
9 required. There was a task, an initiative, at one point in time to enlist
10 the assistance of the Red Cross from that area as well as other forces.
11 There was little we could do about that, but we had some Red Cross people
12 from Borovo Naselje who helped us clear the ground. But there was little
13 we could do in order to get that. But we had our own manpower. We had
14 our own qualified people, our own technicians and everything else that was
15 required, in Vukovar.
16 Q. You say you enlisted the assistance of the Red Cross from Borovo
17 Selo, but did you also enlist the help of the Vukovar TO staff?
18 A. We worked with the assistant commander for logistics, Antic, from
19 the TO staff. He backed us and he helped us, but it was more us who were
20 helping them on certain assignments, but rather than them assisting us.
21 We couldn't even get ordinary citizens to help us clear the bodies and
22 bury the bodies. Eventually we had to gather a number of volunteers and
23 pay them daily rates to help us with this.
24 Q. When you talk about this assistance, cooperation, I don't know
25 what I should call it, with the assistant commander of the TO staff of
1 logistics, do you know where this headquarters was, or this logistics base
2 of the Vukovar TO, its location?
3 A. Of course I know. I was in touch with them all the time. Antic
4 was stationed at Velepromet. This entire territorial structure that was
5 unified was there. The Municipal Assembly was a street away from there.
6 I think Vukum [phoen] Radic was the chairman of the Municipal Assembly,
7 and I knew all of them as the Assembly was being set up. I knew all of
8 these people because I needed all the help I could get. They helped to
9 the best of their abilities, but we could hardly have expected more.
10 Q. When I look at this order that we have in front of us, if I look
11 at item 1, which describes the composition of the units placed under your
12 command for this mission, it says: "Organs of the SAO Krajina of
13 Slavonija, Baranja and Zapadonja Srem [phoen]." Can you tell us which
14 organs of the autonomous province are these, the ones referred to here?
15 A. We had nothing to do with them and no help from them.
16 Q. So although they're specifically stated in this order by the 1st
17 Military District command, you still got no support from these autonomous
18 province bodies. Can you tell us at least which organs or which bodies
19 the reference is to?
20 A. I believe that the reference here is more to organs of the
21 vicinity of Vukovar, Slavonija where we had Borovo Naselje, where we had
22 Borovo Selo, major settlements. And it was from Borovo Selo of all places
23 that we received the most assistance from ordinary citizens, from the
24 locals, because they were the ones maintaining the siege and taking into
25 account everything that needed doing, but we didn't get any help from
1 anyone else, not even an undertaker who could have helped us bury the
3 Q. Thank you very much. Mr. Basic, I would like to go back to what
4 you mentioned before as someone being within your group, the investigators
5 of the military court who had their own jobs and the investigators of the
6 civilian judiciary. What were their jobs and what were their assignments
8 A. Had we not had them with us, we could not have legally worked on
9 any of the jobs, especially when it came to the discovering of graves,
10 mass graves, identification of bodies. This was all their job. We set up
11 such groups in order to provide them with protection, freedom of work, and
12 physical protection when they performed their duties. In order for them
13 to perform their jobs, we had to help them, and there was a harmony
14 between us. We never had a single problem whether it was the fact that we
15 all loved our work, that we wanted to carry the job through, that we took
16 pride in what we did, I don't know what was the cause of that.
17 Q. Sir, was the task of these investigative bodies in addition to
18 what you have mentioned and that was the legal way to exhume bodies, was
19 their task also to process perpetrators of crimes if such perpetrators
20 were discovered?
21 A. Yes, that was the case, of course. And they helped us with that.
22 We had very few situations of them working beyond that scope. There was
23 so much work here that they couldn't do much else. And this part of the
24 job we gave to Antic, who was the commander of the logistics in Vukovar
25 and they also processed thefts and other crimes. I don't know to what
1 extent and how this continued.
2 Q. Tell me, these bodies, including the ones that we are talking
3 about right now, were they also responsible to the command of the 1st
4 District for the implementation of their tasks?
5 A. Let me put it this way: We knew exactly how far our authorities
6 went. That's why we had Alan Piovic [phoen], the little Saljic, and so on
7 and so forth. They were our right hand in that respect. All of the
8 authorities that touched upon those issues we handed over to them.
9 Q. The persons that you just mentioned, were they actually
10 investigative judges who were on the ground and who were in charge of
11 anything that had to do with law?
12 A. Yes.
13 Q. Tell me please, your commission that was in involved in the task
14 of clearing and clean-up, what part of the area were you responsible for
15 and in which period of time?
16 A. When the command issues an order, they don't know what the scope
17 of the job will be. The winter was very harsh. It was icy. It was very
18 difficult to dig up the victims' bodies and identify them. Those were all
19 consequences of the winter. And up to 20th of February, we managed to
20 perform the total scope of the de-mining jobs. We did the entire
21 clear-up. A lot of people returned to their homes. This -- the Vukovar
22 Hospital was completed and restored to its function.
23 What we did not accomplish by February we put forward to March.
24 Let me just give you an example. About 1.350 victims were identified and
25 300 remained for identification. We collected all the bodies at Ciglana
1 where they were kept and we were in constant conflict with our pathologist
2 and we dealt with all these problems. This whole mission was completed by
3 the end of April, 1992, for all the various reasons that I've just
5 Q. Thank you very much. Let's go -- we shall go back to our -- to
6 your particular task a bit later. Can you please look at the order that
7 we are talking about. That is strictly confidential order number 1614-182
8 paragraph 8 of this order which speaks about the military investigative
9 organs of the 1st District. Let me read and then you will explain the
10 meaning of this paragraph. It says in this paragraph as follows: "The
11 military investigative organ of the 1st District will determine a
12 necessary number of persons for all the tasks relative to the
13 identification of bodies and other tasks from -- stemming from their
15 Is this what you were talking about, and that is that the
16 investigative judge was in charge of the tasks of identification and
17 everything else that accompanied exhumation and other things all the way
18 up to the prosecution of the perpetrator if there is a reasonable doubt
19 that there was a crime involved in the death of the -- that body?
20 A. You are right. We were assisted by the organs of the Supreme
21 Court. At certain points they came to provide advice and this was the
22 mutual assistance that we provided to each other. And I believe that the
23 military investigative bodies did a very good job. I don't know whether
24 their competence -- whether it was in their purview to prosecute
25 perpetrators or not. However, they had a very serious task, and it was
1 very difficult for them to go beyond that task and prosecute thieves or
2 perpetrators of minor crimes, but we knew that, and they did their job
3 very well.
4 Q. Thank you, Mr. Basic. I would now like to draw your attention to
5 paragraph 12 of this order in which it says that communications chief of
6 the 1st District will plan communications of the Operative Group south for
7 the purposes of the city command and the commission.
8 Does that mean that what had been used before by the Operative
9 Group south is now being transferred to the command of the city of Vukovar
10 and the commission for clear-up?
11 A. This was indispensable, because the garrison command, the
12 commander of the 80th Motorised Brigade, Vojnovic, he assumed duties of
13 the garrison commander.
14 Second of all, our commission was in the entire territory of
15 Slavonija, not only in Vukovar but everywhere where anything appeared. I
16 am referring to the general area of Vukovar. That's why we had to have
17 communications means. We had to be in contact with the 1st Guards Brigade
18 and so on and so forth. The system had to function, and it had to be
19 enlarged to other structures that had been established in the meantime.
20 Q. Thank you very much. Page 23, line 15, the name recorded is
21 "Vujovic". It should be "Vojnovic".
22 You've just mentioned the territory in which your commission was
23 active, which brings me to paragraph 17 of that same order, the last
24 paragraph in the order in which it says that the mission commander will
25 submit daily reports to the commission on the implementation of all tasks
1 in various microlocations, and the commission, in its turn, will regularly
2 report to the command about the situation on the ground.
3 Can you please explain how you as the head of this commission
4 report -- reported to the district command? In what form were your
5 reports, and how often were they submitted?
6 A. Our commission was billeted in Ciglane near Velepromet across the
7 road from Vupik. This was our command post. In the morning we organised
8 the beginning of work. We organised ourselves. Around 1600 hours, just
9 before dusk, we had to stop working to pull people back because there was
10 fire all over the town. This task of collection, as soon as it was
11 processed at the level of the commission, it was coded through the
12 garrison command, and it was sent to the command of the military district.
13 And this was what happened every day.
14 In drastic cases I would report urgently by means of radio
15 telephone to the commander, because I was in constant contact with him.
16 Secondly, at the level of the garrison command we organised a
17 meeting, a regular meeting involving the president of the command of the
18 1st Guards Brigade, Mr. Sljivic. He was there at every meeting. We met
19 regularly in order to assist each other in all the relevant issues. The
20 commander was not very experienced, and that's why he benefited from our
21 assistance. Then once a week I would meet with the military commander and
22 his assistants to discuss all the issues.
23 Q. Can you please repeat who was there in addition to the commander
24 of the military district, which assistants were there? But slowly.
25 A. The commander of the military district could not have done
1 anything without his assistants and those were assistant commanders for
2 logistics, the chief of medical department, the chief of technical
3 department, the chief of security. Mile Babic was in that post at the
4 time. These are the bodies who were of immediate assistance to the
5 commander for all the relevant -- relevant issues.
6 Q. Thank you.
7 MR. VASIC: [Interpretation] Your Honour, I would tender this
8 document bearing number ID 1D10 for admission.
9 JUDGE PARKER: It will be received.
10 THE REGISTRAR: With the Exhibit number 759, Your Honours.
11 MR. VASIC: [Interpretation] Thank you, Your Honour.
12 Q. You were talking about reporting to the commander and his
13 assistants. Did you report to any other bodies in the 1st Military
14 District about any problems or irregularities that you encountered on the
15 ground? In other words, problems that happened that you were informed
16 about, problems that would be relative to volunteers, members of the ZNG?
17 Q. We were very good colleagues and we cooperated very well, and the
18 commander of the military district issued an order that every form of
19 assistance should be extended to me. And this did not have to be
20 reiterated. As soon as I requested something from the assistant, any
21 assistant, this would be implemented immediately. There were no
22 confrontations there. There was no position on anybody's part to any of
23 the requests that I may have had.
24 Q. I would now like to ask you whether you knew an officer, Colonel
25 Petkovic. Can you tell us who he was at the relevant time?
1 A. Colonel Petkovic was a chief of security of the military district.
2 He was in Sid. Actually, he was not chief. Milan Babic was chief, but he
3 was his assistant in Sid. In critical situations, I had to call him in
4 order to deal with some issues, to resolve certain problems. Sometimes
5 problems were major so he had to come over. They thought that we could
6 deal with everything, and we could. We dealt with issues that were within
7 our purview, but we had him who could turn up and provide us with
8 assistance if needed. He would come from -- all the way from Sid to help
10 Q. Does that mean that when you informed him about certain problems
11 he was not very willing to help you solve them, although he was informed
12 about problems that existed on the ground?
13 A. You spotted that very well.
14 Q. Thank you. Tell me, please, Mr. Basic, the commission that you
15 led, did it meet every day to consider plans for more efficient and better
16 implementation of your mission? And when it came to the implementation of
17 your mission, did you ask for support from companies across Yugoslavia?
18 A. Let me put it this way: Our commission worked in a very
19 responsible way. We did not need any help from elsewhere in Yugoslavia,
20 because the command of the military district was a very strong
21 organisation, and if they could not solve the problem, nobody could.
22 Several times we addressed SAO Krajina, but we did not receive any help.
23 The Minister of Health was there who did not help us in any way. He did
24 not help us in an adequate way, although these were his people. The
25 president, who had come from Bosnia, actually from Krajina, he was in
1 Erdut. He also did not help us in any way. Sometimes as he was passing
2 by he would stop in his vehicle just to ask us how we were doing, but he
3 did not help us. We did not need his help, as a matter of fact. We were
4 glad when he stopped. But we could deal with all the problems ourselves.
5 Q. We'll return to the specific assignments of your commission later
6 on to discuss them in greater detail. Now I want to know about repairing
7 buildings that were of public interest in order to get as many people as
8 possible back.
9 Where did you find the construction materials necessary for these
10 repairs, and who was helping you with that?
11 A. You know, to be a chairman of a commission you need a lot of
12 understanding, a lot of knowledge. You need to be aware of what is
13 possible. For example, just for the Vukovar Hospital, I picked up a power
14 generator that weighed 600 kilos myself from a pit in the ground for it to
15 be used there, and then I took several trucks -- truckloads of glass from
16 the Novi Sad glassworks for the Vukovar Hospital. I got 80 of the best
17 people, stone masons, concrete workers, stone cutters, from all the
18 brigades, and then we set up a working group to help mend the hospital. A
19 month later the hospital was up and running and in a position to perform
20 even the most complex times of surgery.
21 The chairman of the commission and all members were not there to
22 stand by and idly watch. They had to blanch headlong into the tasks
23 facing them. I knew every single building from roof to basement. I knew
24 every single construction site. I knew every single street. The length
25 of all these roads, the total length, was 218 kilometres. We cleared all
1 of these. Not a single mine left. Roads fit for travel. All the
2 vehicles that had been destroyed, but now it was all clear, and most of
3 the debris was near the bus terminal, and we later took this to Odzak.
4 But we certainly did a great deal to help the returnees, to the people
5 returning to Vukovar.
6 Just as all the principal streets. We did the mending ourselves.
7 We mentioned all these houses for the citizens, all the principal
8 buildings, but they helped too.
9 Q. Before we head for our break, just one thing. What about the
10 water pipes in Vukovar, the water supply system? Was this badly damaged,
11 and how long did you take to get it up and running again?
12 A. The water supply system was entirely destroyed. Just to give you
13 an example, we built artesian wells for the Vukovar Hospital, but
14 meanwhile we also helped clean the water supply system. We introduced
15 high voltage electricity with a company from Vojvodina. We had people
16 doing this, distributing the cables, putting up pylons. Until the final
17 confrontation there was high voltage. So Vukovar was up and running
18 again. It got a new lease of life. It had running water, electricity,
20 Q. Thank you very much, Mr. Basic.
21 MR. VASIC: [Interpretation] Maybe this would be a convenient time
22 for our first break.
23 JUDGE PARKER: Thank you, Mr. Vasic. We will resume at just after
24 a quarter to eleven.
25 --- Recess taken at 10.25 a.m.
1 --- On resuming at 10.52 a.m.
2 JUDGE PARKER: Mr. Vasic.
3 MR. VASIC: [Interpretation] Thank you, Your Honour.
4 Q. I know there have been problems with the interpreters. I hope
5 that now the sound is better. If so, I would like to continue.
6 Sir, before the break we spoke about the assignments of your
7 commission in Vukovar, Borovo, and parts of Eastern Slavonia. You
8 enumerated for us the units involved, the units that were under your
9 command while you were carrying out all those tasks. At one point in
10 time, I think you said, and it may have been a mistake, you mentioned the
11 1st Guards Brigade. I suppose you meant the 1st guards division, since as
12 far as I know there was no such thing as the 1st Guards Brigade.
13 A. I think it was an error in terms of the authority of the military
14 district over the brigade, and the 1st guards division is the 1st guards
16 Q. Thank you. Sir, you spoke about the fact that you succeeded in
17 record time to get the hospital up and running. I would now like to show
18 you the photograph that has an exhibit number. The photograph shows the
20 Can we please have Exhibit 170. This is photograph number 11.
21 The ERN number is 00531266.
22 Mr. Basic, can you tell what's in this photograph?
23 A. Yes. This is the side entrance to the hospital building near the
24 basement. I spent some time there. I was there several times surveying
25 the situation, and I have to say in my opinion the hospital had been
1 prepared in some way for combat operations and used for combat operations.
2 I went to all the rooms, and I surveyed the entire situation.
3 In addition to this, the basement and the first floor had water
4 mattresses on which they slept with hundreds of litres of water, and this
5 water was used for combat. That's my opinion. I have to tell it like it
7 My friend and colleague was the director of the hospital, Ivezic.
8 I have to say that hospital did not put up a single soldier, did not
9 hospitalise a single soldier, but in a month's time we had the hospital
10 full of soldiers, wounded persons, people who had lost their limbs.
11 One thing is for certain. I'm familiar with the hospital.
12 Q. Can we clarify something, please? You said that as of the 23rd
13 you started clearing up. I suppose it's after that date that you got to
14 the hospital, the hospital building. Can you confirm that for me, sir?
15 A. Yes.
16 Q. Another matter which I would like to have clarified. You gave us
17 your opinion on what the hospital had been used for. Would you agree with
18 me that you saw no weapons in the hospital when you came? This was
19 several days after Vukovar had been taken.
20 A. Indeed. We pulled out a number of bodies from the hospital, dead
21 bodies, but one thing that was particularly exceptional was there were two
22 common graves across the way.
23 MR. MOORE: I object to the questions in relation to the hospital.
24 My learned friend knows that we have indicated that the summaries that we
25 received were inadequate. We received a proofing note at 3.50 this
1 morning, which is extensive, and there is no reference, as far as I can
2 see, to anything about the hospital. We submit if this topic is going to
3 be dealt with, it should have been in the summary so that we have the
4 proper and appropriate notice of any of these areas or this specific area.
5 JUDGE PARKER: Mr. Vasic.
6 MR. VASIC: [Interpretation] Your Honour, it wasn't my intention to
7 speak about the hospital, and I wouldn't have unless the witness had
8 confirmed about them getting the hospital up and running in a month's
9 time. And I will not inquire into any further circumstances regarding the
10 hospital, especially in view of the fact that the witness only arrived at
11 the hospital several days after the fall of Vukovar, which makes it
12 entirely irrelevant for our purposes.
13 JUDGE PARKER: I'm glad you used those words, because that is the
14 fact. A number of the matters being dealt with by the witness have no
15 relevance to the issues we're trying. They may be very important to the
16 witness, having regard to his role, but they're not going to assist us in
17 the trial of this matter.
18 The evidence concerning the hospital will not be taken into
19 account by the Trial Chamber in its deliberations.
20 MR. VASIC: [Interpretation] Thank you, Your Honour.
21 Q. Can we now please move on to what I indicated would be another
22 subject matter for us to tackle, that is the mines lying about Vukovar and
23 the areas that were mined.
24 Can you specify the areas that you worked in when you were
25 clearing these mines, and can you tell us what sort of explosives were
1 found? Can you tell us about whether there was any system to these mines
2 being laid and distributed, in the briefest possible terms, please.
3 A. If we look at the general area of Vukovar and Borovo, the entire
4 area was strewn with mines and explosives. The clearing was done in a
5 systematic way in order to get the area back to normal as soon as
7 Now, as to the system that was used while laying these mines, we
8 cleared 16.000 anti-tank mines in Vukovar, the airport, and Borovo
9 Naselje. Seven tonnes of explosives, gas cylinders, that sort of thing.
10 It was dreadful. It was dreadful the sort of explosives that were
11 concealed all around the area, especially near the major roads such as the
12 Borovo-Dalj-Bogojeva [phoen] road. There were lots of mines there. The
13 Vukovar-Sotin-Sid road, the Vukovar-Bogdanovci road, the
14 Vukovar-Negoslavci road. Likewise these were the directions in which our
15 brigade was moving. The Vukovar-Brsadin road, the Vukovar-Trpinje road.
16 In Vukovar itself there were lots of obstacles near the bridges, the Vuka
17 River, near the Marina. That area was affected to a large degree.
18 Also, another area where this problem was particularly pronounced
19 was the area around Luzac, also Mitnica. These were areas where the most
20 obstacles were found.
21 Q. What I want to know is downtown Vukovar. I'm particularly
22 interested in that. Could we have Exhibit 256 brought up, photograph
23 number 6. Exhibit 256, photograph number 6. The ERN is 00531236. Thank
24 you. We have it on our screens.
25 Mr. Basic, what does this photograph show?
1 A. This is the bus terminal, the market, and then the road to the
2 hospital on the left and then the road to the department store. Also
3 heading for the hospital there is the marina, and this area had lots of
4 mines and other sorts of obstacles in it.
5 Q. If you can please continue to speak slowly. I think the second
6 part of your testimony in the morning was much, much better in those
8 And if the usher could hand the witness what my learned friend
9 usually calls the magic pen so he can mark for us the areas of downtown
10 Vukovar that were mined and booby-trapped before the team that arrived
11 cleared the mines.
12 A. The bridge over the river Vuka. There are two bridges. The
13 marina, this area, and I just have to tell you, this street, the road to
14 the hospital, it was all booby-trapped as well. So this is the area shown
15 in the photograph. Mitnica, Oljinica [phoen], all these areas were
16 booby-trapped all over. Oljinica is to the left of the hospital on the
17 way to Luzac. That area was quite booby-trapped as well. We lost two
18 soldiers there from the 305th brigade.
19 Q. Could you please put a number 1 in the area where the bridges
20 were, per se number 2 where the marina was that you mentioned. Number 3,
21 you said. Okay. Number 2 --
22 A. Where the bus terminal was.
23 Q. What about this arrow in the direction of the hospital? Can you
24 put a number 4 there, please. Thank you.
25 A. [Marks]
1 Q. Thank you.
2 MR. VASIC: [Interpretation] Your Honours, I move that this be
3 admitted into evidence, the map as marked.
4 JUDGE PARKER: It will be received.
5 THE REGISTRAR: Your Honour, it will be received with Exhibit
6 number 760.
7 MR. VASIC: [Interpretation] Thank you very much.
8 Q. Mr. Basic -- we won't be needing Ms. Usher's help with the
9 photograph for the time being. A little later perhaps. Thank you.
10 Mr. Basic, can you tell us how long your team took to clear the
11 Vukovar area and its surroundings, to clear the mines, and when was this
12 mission completed, roughly speaking?
13 A. Vukovar was divided into areas as well as Borovo Naselje, as far
14 as the Bulgarian cemetery and Vucedol. Vucedol and the surrounding
15 vineyards were booby-trapped to a large extent, and each unit was given an
16 area. The 305th brigade was given Borovo Naselje because that was the
17 strongest unit, and they were capable of carrying out this mission. They
18 were well trained with some experienced senior officers, and their
19 numerical strength was the greatest of all the units there. The 24th got
20 the area to the right, Oljinica. And the 813th was assigned the area near
21 the Bulgarian cemetery, Dubrava, Jakvolac [phoen], Ovcara, and that
22 general area. So that the entire room was enveloped. They got themselves
23 organised and they finished sometime in December, on the 25th or the 28th.
24 Some of the units were leaving the area by this time and were on their way
1 Q. Can you tell us, when was it safe for people, for civilians, to
2 move about the centre of Vukovar without fearing that they would come
3 across a mine?
4 A. Listen, we used Free Slavonija, the radio station, on a daily
5 basis. Every three or four days I would publicly announce the rules of
6 conduct for the citizens. We were telling them that the situation was
7 quite complex and that there were many dangers of being injured and
8 wounded. So we took all kinds of measures to ensure safety. We
9 instructed citizens to inform us as soon as possible if they noticed
10 anything in their houses, in their gardens. We had small intervention
11 platoons that would be available to intervene immediately should there be
12 any explosive found. I think that we had very brave people there who were
13 very loyal to us and reported things to us. We even conducted some
14 exhumations upon receiving information and found some people.
15 It is quite certain that the commanders guaranteed that their
16 sectors were all complete, and we had no fatalities in those areas. Yes,
17 there were some mines planted and there were cases where neighbours did
18 that to each other and peoples limbs were blown off, but that's another
20 Q. What you said about the commanders, did you have in mind December?
21 A. Yes, yes. December. Late November and December.
22 Q. In addition to the work on de-mining and the work on ensuring safe
23 passage through the region, your commission and units subordinated to it
24 also were duty-bound to remove carcasses so that there would be no
25 infection spreading around.
1 A. Yes.
2 Q. Can you tell us in which locations carcasses were buried?
3 A. Not only in the Vukovar region but throughout the entire Slavonian
4 and down towards Nijemci we came across a terrible situation in relation
5 to dead animals. Why? Because there was a lot of food for them but no
6 water, and in Vukovar there was a great amount of dead animals. Some
7 cattle died in Jakupovac and Ovcara in great numbers, so we buried those
8 carcasses immediately. And then there was some cattle that died in
9 Vukovar itself.
10 We had a prevention platoon, and they had a large number of
11 vehicles, loaders, and they would transport those carcasses in them. The
12 unit was capable of digging graves and then atomic, biological, and
13 chemical warfare unit also did its share in order to clear up the Vukovar
14 region from all the carcasses.
15 Let me just tell you that out of 15 -- there were actually 15.000
16 carcasses in the territory of Vukovar and the surrounding area, which is
17 quite a lot.
18 I apologise. If I can say this: The units and the preventive
19 platoon were tasks -- tasked with collecting all carcasses in Jakupovac,
20 Ovcara, and Sutin and hospitalised, if I can say so. Rather, not
21 carcasses but the living animals. They were supposed to capture them, and
22 we managed together to round up 27.000 to 28.000 heads of cattle, and we
23 put them under quarantine, and for several months there was a ban on using
24 those animals until we were sure that they were not infected.
25 Q. Could we see Exhibit 256, please, photograph number 20. ERN
1 number 00531250.
2 Do you recognise the area? Do I need to clarify?
3 A. No, no. This is Ovcara, the region of Ovcara. This is the road
4 leading from the main road to Ovcara, to the administration building, and
5 to the right of the administration building is where we dug large canals,
6 large trenches where we put layers of animal carcasses and then poured
7 lime over it and then finally covered it with soil. We did this both to
8 the left and to the right of the administration building.
9 Q. Could we now have the assistance of the usher, please, so that the
10 witness can mark the areas that he just described as the areas where the
11 carcasses were buried in order to prevent epidemics.
12 A. I saw this area when I toured it, and there was some here too. 1
13 is the central area, and this is 2.
14 Q. Thank you. I don't think we will be requiring the assistance any
15 longer. Thank you.
16 MR. VASIC: [Interpretation] Your Honours, can I tender this marked
17 photograph into evidence, please?
18 JUDGE PARKER: It will be received.
19 THE REGISTRAR: As Exhibit 761, Your Honour.
20 MR. VASIC: [Interpretation] Thank you. We won't be requiring the
21 usher's assistance. Thank you. We won't be requiring it until we have
22 the next photograph.
23 Q. Now I would like to turn to the issue of exhumation of corpses,
24 identification of corpses, which was one of the most important tasks of
25 your commission and units subordinated to it.
1 Tell us, please, how did this part of your team function, this
2 part that dealt with locating, exhuming, identifying and marking corpses
3 and then reburying them?
4 A. I have to tell you that that was the most difficult part of our
5 work for a number of reasons, both involving the families of those who
6 died and the victims. And I have to tell you that our most solid work was
7 performed in that area. We worked at Ciglana and we established a large
8 identification station there. There were all kinds of doctors there,
9 surgeons, dentists, pathologists, anybody who we needed in order to
10 identify persons.
11 I have to tell you that we took great care in locating bodies and
12 recording those locations. So we created several documents to that
13 effect. The first document was the document on the finding of the corpse.
14 No military person was allowed to get involved until lawyers and
15 technicians came to the spot and everything was recorded as to what was
16 found on the victim.
17 From that location the corpse was placed into a body bag with
18 certain information and then transported to the identification station.
19 The identification station had the best working conditions. We had heated
20 tents. We had sufficient amount of warm water to bathe the corpses and do
21 everything else, and then there were doctors there who analysed injuries
22 and all other details concerning the death.
23 Then further, we had records on what was found on corpses, and we
24 did this following very strict rules. We had to ensure that everything
25 was done in full compliance. And it lasted for days. People were
1 removing these corpses and taking them to the right place.
2 We also had a location where the corpses were examined, and this
3 is where we wrote post-mortem -- post-mortem records, and then we had all
4 other kinds of records concerning fingerprints, dental records, and so on,
5 in order to ensure that we could better identify these bodies.
6 Victims were, after being processed, put into body bags and then
7 buried at the Bulgarian cemetery, Bugarsko Groblje, with all appropriate
8 dignity and in a dignified ceremony.
9 Q. You said that before the body was processed for post-mortem
10 examination, it was handed over to investigative organs who performed
11 their work and then -- only then was a post-mortem conducted.
12 A. Yes, yes. Correct. Crime technicians were there on the spot to
13 give their analysis, their evaluation.
14 Q. Once a body arrived to pathologists for post-mortem examination,
15 were injuries recorded? Did you have any schematic, graphic drawing to
16 record injuries in that drawing?
17 A. This is one of the most sensitive issues. Not only pathologists
18 but also doctors had drawings of human bodies, and they were the ones who
19 entered into the drawing of injuries, whereas all factual details were
20 recorded in the post-mortem record. Yes, this was mandatory. Dental
21 records were recorded there as well. And this is evidenced in the success
22 that we achieved. Namely, we processed 1.300 bodies by December.
23 Q. Yes. You mentioned that a large number of persons were
24 identified. Tell me, what did you do about the identified victims? Were
25 families informed or was it not done?
1 A. We had a whole panoply of activities that we conducted. If the
2 person was from the territory of Eastern Slavonia, then, yes, the person's
3 family was informed by Glas Slavonia and then other media. We also had an
4 information bureau at Ciglana, and that functioned very well so that the
5 families would be able to take over bodies as soon as they were available.
6 In the cases where we did not have sufficient information, where
7 the person was not identified, we would bury that body, making sure that
8 whatever records we had were maintained. And if the family was delayed in
9 coming to take over the body, they could pick it up later. It was also
11 Q. Does this mean that in relation to each corpse you knew where it
12 was buried, you knew where the information was stored regarding that
13 corpse so that if a family came subsequently you could easily find that
14 corpse and find that information?
15 A. Yes, absolutely. I have to tell you that until late December we
16 held a meeting with military attaches and other international
17 representatives who were relevant where we described to them the work
18 procedure at Ciglana. Major Stankovic held that meeting with them. TV
19 cameras were there. We explained to them the procedure that we used in
20 relation to corpses uncovered in the wider territory of Vukovar.
21 Q. Thank you. You said that these bodies were buried at the
22 Bulgarian cemetery.
23 Can we now see Exhibit 156. This is a map of Vukovar. I think
24 that this is the map of Vukovar in large scale, or in small scale. Yes,
25 we have it on the screen now. Can we zoom into the central area by 25 per
1 cent. No this is too much. This is too much. Can you zoom out. Yes,
3 Mr. Basic, I guess you are familiar with this map.
4 A. Yes.
5 Q. Certain areas are marked here.
6 A. On the left side there is the Dubrava forest, and on the right
7 side there is the cemetery right there in the middle.
8 Q. I want to ask the usher to give you the magic pen again so you can
9 mark the cemetery where you buried corpses that you had exhumed throughout
11 A. [Marks]
12 Q. You marked it with 1?
13 A. Yes. Mala Dubrava is also interesting because it was extensively
15 Q. Would you please mark it on the map, this Mala Dubrava area, and
16 put a 2 there.
17 A. These are forest roads, and they were extensively mined.
18 Q. Thank you very much.
19 MR. VASIC: [Interpretation] Your Honours, could we tender this map
20 into evidence, please.
21 JUDGE PARKER: It will be received.
22 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Would you repeat the procedure.
23 JUDGE PARKER: [Previous translation continues] ... it will need to
24 be remarked.
25 MR. VASIC: [Interpretation] Thank you, Your Honour. We will do it
1 very quickly.
2 Q. Mr. Basic, can you mark the Bulgarian cemetery where the bodies
3 exhumed in Vukovar were reburied?
4 A. [Marks]
5 Q. And now 2, next to the Mala Dubrava forest for which you say it
6 was extensively mined.
7 A. [Marks]
8 Q. Thank you very much.
9 MR. VASIC: [Interpretation] Now, Your Honour, I would like to
10 tender this document into evidence.
11 THE REGISTRAR: Your Honour, the map marked of Vukovar will become
12 Exhibit 762.
13 MR. VASIC: [Interpretation]
14 Q. Thank you. Mr. Basic, in the first half of my examination I asked
15 you about Colonel Petkovic and how you reported to him, and he did not
16 want to react. Can you tell us what it was all about? Why did he not
17 want to react? If you can tell us.
18 A. Of course I will tell you. I will. When there was this issue
19 with the Chetnik leader Kamena where six people were killed, among them
20 during the night on the eve of new year or thereabouts, I came there
21 urgently. I was there. I could not reach them. There was extensive
22 security, and I asked Petkovic to come there urgently to deal with that.
23 I told you what had happened there.
24 Q. You said that he didn't come?
25 A. No, he didn't come. I went to control this settlement, the Kijena
1 settlement. I could have been killed because I was held at gunpoint
2 and ...
3 Q. I would like to ask you one more question, probably my last. Did
4 you ever learn from Colonel Petkovic about the cemetery in Ovcara, that
5 about 200 people had been executed in Ovcara? Did you ever learn that
6 from Colonel Petkovic from Sid?
7 A. Let me put it this way: In the territory of Vukovar, I was mostly
8 interested in graves and mass graves. We take a lot of pride that we
9 buried these bodies, that we assist these people regardless of the side
10 that they had been on. We buried everybody with a lot of dignity. That
11 was our utmost priority.
12 However, I'm absolutely certain that if I had known where that
13 grave was I could have exhumed bodies from that grave as well, but I
14 didn't know. I had a few soldiers from the TO who hinted to that, but I
15 did not have the exact information, so I could not know. But I did move
16 around the territory of Jakupovac, but I did not have any information as
17 to where that was, and I could not react.
18 Q. So you never received any information from Colonel Petkovic?
19 A. I'm sure that I didn't. Petkovic and I were good pals. That's
20 why our relationship was what it was.
21 Q. Thank you very much, Mr. Basic, for your answers?
22 MR. VASIC: [Interpretation] Your Honour, I have no further
23 questions for this witness.
24 JUDGE PARKER: Thank you, Mr. Vasic.
25 Examination by Mr. Borovic:
1 MR. BOROVIC: Good afternoon, I'm Borovoje Borovic. I represent
2 Miroslav Radic. Your Honour, could we have Exhibit 761 on the screen,
4 Q. Do you see this on your screen? A while ago you made some
5 markings on this map. Do you see under 1 where you buried the carcasses
6 and also in the place marked number 2. My question to you is this: Were
7 you the first people to carry out these jobs of clean-up after the fall of
8 Vukovar and Ovcara?
9 A. Yes.
10 Q. Was there anybody else that was allowed to do any digging,
11 burying, apart from your commission and your people?
12 A. No.
13 Q. Could you please tell us whether you remember whether in this area
14 that we're looking at the screen on the number 1 where you buried the
15 carcasses, did you find any grave with human bodies or not?
16 A. No, we didn't.
17 Q. Later on when you finished your job in Vukovar, did you
18 subsequently receive any information as to the fact that across the road
19 from the hangar there was a grave of some sort?
20 A. No.
21 Q. One more question. When you physically carried out this clean-up
22 and when you dug out the grave for these carcasses, did you find there any
23 empty graves or were there none? Were there no traces of any burials
24 having taken place there?
25 A. There was absolutely nothing there.
1 MR. BOROVIC: [Interpretation] Your Honours, I am asking these
2 questions to explain to the Trial Chamber the reference for my question is
3 on page 5008, line 2, with regard to Witness P022. That is the reference
4 that has made me put this question to the witness.
5 JUDGE PARKER: Thank you, Mr. Borovic.
6 Mr. Lukic.
7 MR. LUKIC: [Interpretation] I have no questions for this witness,
8 Your Honour.
9 JUDGE PARKER: Thank you. Yes, Mr. Moore.
10 MR. MOORE: Thank you very much.
11 Cross-examination by Mr. Moore:
12 Q. Mr. Basic, I have very few questions for you, but I think it's
13 right to say that you have indicated what an excellent military record you
14 have. You've excelled in everything that you have done. I think being
15 modest, that's correct, isn't it?
16 A. Yes.
17 Q. Can I just ask you about one or two things? You say and have said
18 in your evidence that you have completed the highest possible military
19 schools, including the All People's Defence school. You occupied all
20 positions, platoon commanders up to chief. What exactly does that mean?
21 Can you just give us an idea what your experience was?
22 A. Let me tell you. I am a person with a lot of practice. I was in
23 construction all my life, throughout my career. I acquired knowledge from
24 everybody, from the most common person to the most experienced and
25 knowledgeable person. My experience and the practice that I had helped me
1 to deal with all the problems that I've encountered in my life.
2 I went through all sorts of military schools, the academy, the war
3 school, and this has all helped me to use my knowledge for the well-being
4 of my state which existed at time. At the time, we were all Yugoslavs,
5 let me put it this way. And my view of the territory where I was deployed
6 reflected that.
7 Q. What I'm really trying to clarify is you said that you occupied
8 the position equivalent to that of a general. What exactly do you mean by
9 that, that you had a command structure that operated underneath you?
10 A. Let me tell you. In my work, I was held in high regard. I always
11 used my authority as best as I could. Maybe that was my mistake. Maybe I
12 did not call a spade a spade often enough. I had financial recognition
13 that I found satisfactory for the work that I was doing.
14 Q. But the question is very simple. Did you have a command
15 structure, a comprehensive command structure underneath you at various
16 times. For example, I think you were a brigade commander between 1976 and
17 1979. I want to know if you could just tell us what exactly you mean by
18 command structure. What way did it operate?
19 A. I must tell you that a commander is a personality invested with
20 all the responsibility, but a commander cannot work on his own. He has
21 his assistants, the chiefs of staff, the assistant for political work, and
22 they all work in a synchronised manner. I always respected these people,
23 and I held their views in high regard. I respected their knowledge, their
24 profession, and everything that could be of assistance to my work.
25 I worked in a synchronised manner with everybody, and that has
1 been a great help to me in my whole life.
2 Q. Would it be fair to say that as a commander in, as it was then,
3 the JNA army, that it was important for commanders to coordinate with
4 lesser officers so they understood what was existing within their area of
5 responsibility and their area of command? Would that be a fair way of
6 putting it?
7 A. Of course.
8 Q. And so it would really be a two-way process, I presume. Your
9 subordinates would inform you of what was occurring, and you would, using
10 experience as a commander, observe and make sure that you knew what was
11 going on underneath by your subordinates. Would that again be a fair way
12 of putting it?
13 A. Yes.
14 Q. Thank you. I want to ask you about something really to -- to
15 assist me, as I don't really understand it very well. What you say is as
16 follows: "It's pretty clear cut in the army who gives the directives, who
17 hands them out. You have to know what forces are available."
18 I want to deal with if I may with the first part because I don't
19 understand. What do you mean "it's pretty clear cut in the army who gives
20 directives"? What did you mean by that?
21 A. I must tell you one thing that you may not be able to understand
22 fully, and that is that the personality of a commander is a personality
23 that is fully capable of command. A commander has to have a lot of
24 characteristics that make him able to command whether he will lead people
25 into war or not, and if people love the commander they will not desert the
1 army, and the commander has to prove himself by his behaviour and by his
2 attitude towards his people.
3 JUDGE PARKER: We're just asked, Mr. Moore, to remind the witness
4 to try and speak more slowly because there is difficulty in keeping up
5 with your speed of speaking by the interpreters.
6 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Thank you very much.
7 MR. MOORE:
8 Q. But it's the phrase that you use, "It's pretty clear cut in the
9 army." What I think you mean is it's pretty clear to the soldiers who's
10 in charge; is that right?
11 A. Let me tell you, in the army there's not just one person in
12 charge. We had a system of command in steps, and the commands are handed
13 down, down the ladder, and the one at the bottom of the ladder is the one
14 that is superior to the soldier. And his attitude will also reflect on
15 the commander, but the commander is responsible for the whole system.
16 I occupied a lot of commanding posts, and I had never experienced
17 any confrontation.
18 Q. When you refer to the whole system, I don't come from the Balkan
19 area, I come from the United Kingdom, we did not in our army have anything
20 equivalent to what is called and has been called the security organ. When
21 you refer to the whole system, does that include the security organ?
22 A. Of course.
23 Q. And when it comes to ensuring that orders are carried out, what
24 methods does a commander of your seniority use to ensure that orders are
25 carried out? What I'm trying to say is you can give an order, but how do
1 you make sure it's acted upon?
2 A. The difference in education between the UK army and our army is
3 very big. I watched movies, I watched relationships, I studied
4 presentations, I followed lectures by officers from those armies. I
5 realised that our system was different. Morale is different.
6 When I was commander, I said to every soldier, "When you see light
7 in my office, that means I'm here. You can bring your parents or whoever
8 to see me." I made sure that the parents of my soldiers dined with them,
9 and I received everybody. There's no recipe, but you have to know that
10 there has to be discipline. That is normal. That is normal across the
11 board, but another thing prevails, and that is love for your commander,
12 love between commanders and soldiers.
13 Q. Well, can I just set aside love one's commander for a moment and
14 operate on the basis of discipline? Would that be possible?
15 Dealing with discipline, would it be right to say that it is and
16 was an essential element within the JNA army? And we're talking now the
17 1980s, early 1990s. Would you accept that?
18 A. Could you please repeat the last part of your question? Was this
19 the key -- something?
20 Q. All I'm suggesting -- maybe I'm going about it in a rather
21 roundabout way. Would you accept that discipline is essential for the
22 existence of any army?
23 A. Yes, absolutely. But how you achieve it is an entirely different
24 ball game.
25 Q. Well, let's look at the ball game for a moment. Clearly you have
1 referred to documents and the reporting. So, for example, if a order is
2 issued, it's right to say it can be done in two ways principally, and
3 we're talking 1990, 1991, it can be done orally; is that right? That nod
4 means yes, I presume.
5 And it can be done if written form. That is correct, isn't it?
6 A. Relevant order's always issued in writing. Minor orders are
7 issued orally.
8 Q. Yes, but I mean an unimportant fact like the resubordination of a
9 unit is not important. That could just be done orally, couldn't it?
10 A. Yes.
11 Q. But you would expect to find that written in the subsequent order
12 to ensure everybody knew where they stood. That's right, isn't it?
13 You've got to know who's underneath you.
14 A. That would be bad practice, if you first issued an oral order and
15 then followed it up by a written order. The essence of most orders and
16 the approach to them is this: Sometimes you don't even have to issue
17 written orders if your officer is responsible. But in any case, if you
18 want to know who is responsible, if you want to assign responsibility to
19 somebody, then yes, you have to follow up with a written order.
20 Q. And why is it important to follow up with a written order? Can
21 you explain to me?
22 A. You see, we are talking about a very significant task if you're
23 referring to the order by the 1st Guards Brigade to the units, which was
24 followed up by the Secretariat for Defence. The second order in this case
25 has to be issued because the latter body was a superior body and the
1 methodology of dealing with the issue contained in the order was different
2 when the subsequent order came from the Federal Secretariat.
3 Q. Well, that's wonderful, but I'm afraid I've completely lost what
4 exactly your talking about. My question really is very simple.
5 You have told us that if you want to assign responsibility to
6 somebody, then, yes, you have to follow it up with a written order, and
7 I'm asking you why you have to follow it up with a written order. I'm
8 talking about the principle. Why do you use the written order as a
9 follow-up? Why is it necessary?
10 A. Let me tell you one thing. In our command practice, the written
11 order is compulsory up to the level of company commander. From company
12 commander level down, you have oral orders. Orders are transmitted
13 orally. That's the command system we have.
14 Secondly, the person giving an order must also cover everything in
15 an order, because an order can include a great many aspects relevant for
16 whoever is supposed to carry it out. It all depends on the degree of
17 complexity involved in an order. This is a methodology that anybody is
18 free to use to the best of their ability.
19 Sometimes some commanders write their orders down without
20 necessarily envisioning the implementation there.
21 Q. But when we talk about methodology in relation to orders, would it
22 be right to say the more complex the task the more important that there is
23 an order which has specific details outlining the task? I think you've
24 nodded your head, but ...
25 A. Yes, you are right.
1 Q. Do you speak English? Okay. You just understand it intuitively.
2 A. Yes.
3 Q. Can we just deal then, please, with orders themselves? Why is it
4 important to issue orders on complex tasks?
5 A. It's a little strange the way you're phrasing this question.
6 Every order, especially complex one, must inform the subject about the
7 methodology, about the nature of the order, and a whole series of other
8 matters helping this individual to have the order implemented. An order
9 is never just for an order's sake. That would be the easy way out, to
10 just have it written down. But how exactly do I help those supposed to
11 carry an order out in very practical terms?
12 Q. Let us assume. Let us take you back in time hopefully not very
13 long to where you remember being a brigadier or ostensibly a general. Let
14 us imagine you in that role, that task. You issue a written order. How
15 do you as a brigadier general or a general ensure that that order is
16 carried out? Can you explain that to someone like myself?
17 A. Each commander writing an order just to justify his actions
18 without taking into account the implementation stage and without
19 monitoring the implementation stage and without giving practical
20 assistance to whoever is carry it out, well that's something for the
21 commander, right.
22 Q. Why is it something for the commander? Please explain.
23 A. I think there should never be an order just for an order's sake.
24 An order must contain practical elements, instructions, what is required
25 in terms of equipment and the exact scope of the task to be carried out by
1 a subordinate officer well-defined. No order is meant forever. The
2 greatest misfortune is that people believe there is such a thing as a
3 recipe for writing orders. There is no such thing as a recipe for orders.
4 It all boils down to the skill and ability of the officer drafting an
5 order. But if you'll excuse me, each subordinate officer is normally
6 familiar and well familiar with their commander, aren't they?
7 Q. Ah, you're just talking to a lawyer, I'm afraid. But can we just
8 deal with orders. When you issue an order as a commander, is it important
9 that you familiarise yourself with the environment, the context of the
10 order in relation to what should be achieved? So if something is going to
11 be more difficult, that should be taken into the equation?
12 A. It seems that we are talking at cross-purposes. You cannot have a
13 commander writing for the sake of writing. A commander must be
14 reasonable. He must make sure that assistance is provided through an
15 order to their subordinate officers and to make sure that any mission
16 ordered is successful in terms of implementation. If I don't insist on
17 that, that will soon be the end of me as a commander, because I don't have
18 my own officers making sure that everything is right.
19 Q. But what about the subordinate officer whom you give a task to?
20 If the task that is being given to him is either unreasonable,
21 unachievable, then what is that junior subordinate officer supposed to do?
22 Here he is. He's been given an order, but he perhaps doesn't have, as he
23 sees it, the capacity to carry it out. What's the junior officer's
24 responsibility? What should he do in those circumstances? Can you -- can
25 you help me on this?
1 A. We have developed a debate here. We're talking about the
2 framework of command and control. We had a subject talk called command
3 and control for a commander to learn exactly what constitutes good command
4 and good control. If I can't write an order, I'm a poor commander. My
5 superior officer will soon feel the extent of my failure in terms of
6 exercising command and control. If I want my subordinate to get the
7 simplest possible understanding of my order then I should phrase it in
8 such a way that with the least effort expended he understands what it's
9 about. But each subordinate has the right to ask further questions once
10 an order has been seed.
11 Q. What about your situation as a brigadier general or a general, and
12 you receive an order from a superior officer to you indicating an urgent
13 topic or topics that clearly should be implemented at a lower level by
14 units subordinated to you? How do you transmit the urgency or the context
15 or the content to your subordinate officers? Can you explain that to me?
16 A. I must tell you that I faced a situation like that. I was
17 building this road that was to be used by President Tito himself. My
18 deadline is now down to five months. I'm ordering my soldiers, eat -- or,
19 rather, drink your food because you don't have enough time to eat your
20 food. I have to stick to my deadline.
21 Why did I do this? My love for that man, my desire, whatever.
22 But I always found sufficient resources to be able to do that. However,
23 that is no way to go about that sort of task.
24 An officer must be capable. He must know how to give orders, how
25 to receive orders, and how to pass orders down to his own subordinate
2 I must say I'm exceptionally glad to be discussing this matter
3 with you now.
4 Q. I think probably you're the only person, you and I, that are. But
5 can I just go back to the question I asked you, and I asked you is how do
6 you transmit the urgency from your superior officer? Do you -- can you
7 tell us? You get something marked very urgent. It clearly applies to
8 subordinate units. What do you do as a brigadier general or general? I
9 want to know about the methodology that's implied here for command and
10 control of the JNA, and you have that experience. Can you help us?
11 A. I must tell you one thing and one thing alone. We have norms for
12 everything we do, for all the steps we take. We have books containing
13 these norms. It is in the spirit of these norms that we place a soldier,
14 that we place a tank in position, all in the best combat spirit.
15 Improvement can be achieved by using equipment but one of the ways
16 to motivate people is to approach people. This approach, you give them
17 something extra. You give them something that is outside of what would be
18 considered strictly necessary. It's not always like that. You shouldn't
19 think that it's always like that, but there are cases like that and I have
20 had many cases throughout my career.
21 Q. Let me see if I can put it more directly. If you as a brigadier
22 received an order from, let's say, your general informing you that there
23 was a danger of, let us take this context, atrocities, the possibility of
24 atrocities occurring at a lower level. Wouldn't you issue an order
25 immediately transmitting your general's concern? Because if you didn't do
1 so, you wouldn't be carrying out the orders of your general. Isn't that
3 A. No. The methodology's quite different. You can use knowledge
4 obtained from your closest superiors, from your most intimate superiors,
5 or perhaps you can choose a different methodology.
6 Please, bear one thing in mind. My army commander, I told
7 him, "Sir, General, you can't build a road by using haystacks. You can't
8 do it without money. It's as simple as that."
9 Q. What I'm suggesting to you is within the structure of the JNA, if
10 you received an order from your general indicating a topic of concern, you
11 passed it on to your subordinates. Do you agree with that; yes or no?
12 A. No. You know which method is to be applied to which person. You
13 always use the one you have the most confidence in, and you take one step
14 at a time. There are so many ways to find something out. There are so
15 many ways to obtain certain kinds of information.
16 MR. VASIC: [Interpretation] Your Honours.
17 JUDGE PARKER: Mr. Vasic.
18 MR. VASIC: [Interpretation] Thank you very much, Your Honours. I
19 don't have an objection to this question, but I don't think the entire
20 answer has been recorded. He said, "No, not to all, not to all the
21 subordinates." That part was not recorded. And then he continued by
22 saying, "Depending on the method," and so on and so forth.
23 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] I really love your questions.
24 JUDGE PARKER: Thank you.
25 MR. MOORE:
1 Q. You must be one of the very few people who do. Let's -- let's
2 move on. What happens if in actual fact you receive an order from your
3 superior officer, can you disobey it? Can you disobey that order?
4 A. No. There is no such order. You need to approach him to know
5 what is at stake, a case of revolt, a case of insubordination, and then
6 you take further steps.
7 Q. But if you're ordered to -- if as a -- perhaps if I rephrase it.
8 If you receive an order from your superior commander to do something,
9 you're ordered to do it, which would be clear that carrying out that order
10 would involve committing a criminal offence, what do you do then? You
11 can't carry on, can you, because you'll be committing a criminal offence?
12 A. No. Our commanders are reasonable when drafting their orders. We
13 have our commanders. I've had many commanders myself. I spent all my
14 life with commanders, all my career, and I've never seen anything like
15 that happen.
16 There were confrontations. There were considerations to be made,
17 but it wasn't as if I was committing a crime by carrying out an order. It
18 wasn't like I had to be responsible for it. I might as well be carrying
19 out an order by one of my superiors officers but making such omissions in
20 the process that it leads to the same result.
21 Q. Well, what I'm going to do is I'm going to read out something to
22 you. You might be aware of it. It's our Exhibit 584. I'm not going to
23 pull it up on e-court. But it's the decree on the declaration of the law
24 on service in the armed forces, February 1985. The sub-heading is, number
25 2, "Carrying out orders." And it's Article 53. I'll read it out slowly
1 so that you can have it properly translated. It reads as follows:
2 "Members of the armed forces shall be duty-bound to carry out
3 orders issued by their superior officers while their superior officers are
4 in the execution of their office."
5 Now, can we say that we agree with that part, or you agree with
6 that part?
7 A. Yes, we do.
8 Q. But it hasn't quite finished. It reads on as follows: "Unless it
9 is clear that carrying out such orders would constitute a criminal
11 Do you agree with that as being a correct statement of carrying
12 out orders? Yes or no, please.
13 A. Yes. If you'd read out the entire meaning I would have said yes
14 or no immediately. Yet you read the first half first and only then do you
15 continue with the second half. This is a whole law. You can't have it
16 done by halves.
17 Q. I'm not trying to do it by halves, I'm merely just breaking it up
18 for understanding. I'm not trying to catch you in any way. I need your
20 So you agree that if there was -- the carrying out such orders
21 would constitute a criminal offence, what in your judgement should that
22 junior officer who has received that order do? Can you tell us?
23 A. You have several methods. He gets back to his superior officer
24 for a report. He seeks an explanation in order to see what he was in for.
25 Further, he can submit a complaint. But one thing that's important in all
1 of this is the relationship between a junior officer and a senior officer
2 with not even the least bit of a spirit of revenge involved.
3 Q. I'm not asking about spirit of revenge. I'm asking you what the
4 duty is. Now, can I just read out the fourth paragraph of Article 53, and
5 I suggest it deals with it.
6 "If he," that's the junior officer, "receives an order and
7 compliance or agreement with that order would constitute a criminal
8 offence, a member of the armed forces shall immediately notify a higher
9 superior officer or an officer senior to the individual who issued the
11 Do you agree with that? It seems that it does correspond --
12 A. Certainly, certainly.
13 Q. So what it really means is that you are duty-bound to carry out an
14 order unless it's going to involve the likelihood of a criminal act. Do
15 you agree? Yes or no, please?
16 A. Certainly. Yes, I do. I do.
17 Q. And if -- and if that junior officer believes that that is the
18 case, he basically goes to a superior officer, a superior officer to the
19 one who issued the order. That's correct, isn't it?
20 A. Yes.
21 Q. I asked you about disobeying an officer. If a situation arose --
22 we deal now with the theory, what I call the JNA command and control
23 climate existing in the 1990, 1991.
24 If an officer receives an order from his superior commander
25 indicating that something is not to be done, not to be done, would it be
1 right to say that unless that officer who receives the superior officer's
2 order, unless he refers either to that officer or a superior officer, he
3 should do nothing except, of course, abide by the order of the superior?
4 It's a convoluted question. I apologise for it, but I think you
5 understand the question.
6 That is right, isn't it?
7 A. Yes.
8 Q. So if a senior officer indicates no prisoners were to be exchanged
9 without the permission of a superior officer, that should not be done
10 without that senior officer's permission. That is correct, is it not?
11 A. Yes.
12 Q. Thank you.
13 And adopting my learned friend Mr. Borovic's technique, I refer to
14 Exhibit 442, for the Court's assistance.
15 Can I now move off the riveting topic of command and control and
16 deal with one or two other areas.
17 MR. MOORE: Would Your Honour forgive me one moment, please.
18 MR. VASIC: [Interpretation] Your Honour, while my learned friend
19 is thinking as to his next move, I am afraid that the tape will run out.
20 JUDGE PARKER: Not yet, I don't believe, Mr. Vasic. I would be
21 thinking of a break in about seven minutes.
22 MR. MOORE: Well, I'll try and do a topic within seven minutes if
23 I may.
24 Q. We have seen some of the documents and -- dealing with your
25 commission. Shall I just deal with it? Clearly it was a great honour to
1 receive the position you did, running as it is and being responsible for
2 the commission, but what I want to know is if we just deal with Exhibit
3 758, which is the new exhibit from today, we have got the commission
4 hereby established and made up of. It gives yourself there as chairman,
5 deputy chairman, and there are two members. There is yourself, basically
6 all Colonels, all extremely responsible. Why was there no civilian on
7 that commission?
8 A. A commission is composed of three to five men. Secondly, if the
9 military district commander thinks that his men would be best suited to do
10 the job, he has the right to appoint whoever he wants. I don't have any
11 influence on his opinion. But I believe that the superior command did
12 have a say in the appointment of the commission members.
13 Q. But I think it's right to say you never suggested the -- because
14 there's only four, we've got one seat vacant, you never recommended a
15 civilian, did you, to come onto your commission, committee? That's right,
16 I think, isn't it?
17 A. That's true. In any case, there has to be an odd number of people
18 in any commission in order to be able to make decisions.
19 Q. Well, there were only four. So if you had another, that would be
20 the odd number, wouldn't it. But in any event, you didn't ask for a
22 Can I move on to another aspect of the commission itself. That
23 was the -- the terms of reference. I'll use that phrase if I may. What
24 would you say in general terms was the principal term of reference for
25 the -- the role of the commission? What was its principal task?
1 A. I believe that in the documents of the Federal Secretariat you
2 will find the tasks. It's very difficult to prioritise them and say which
3 is the most important. That is why we did not work on just one element.
4 We worked on all the issues parallelly, all the activities relative to
5 identification. De-mining were done at the same time, in the same room.
6 Q. Would it be fair to say that often the term of reference don't
7 deal with the reality, but you were there, you knew what the reality was,
8 would it be fair to say that the real job of this commission was to get
9 Vukovar back and running?
10 A. Yes.
11 Q. You told us about the water supply. You indicated, I think, that
12 the -- you were involved and obliged to bring in water bowsers as I call
13 them, so people could have water to drink. That's right, I think, isn't
15 A. Yes.
16 Q. Was the water damage -- or was the water supply damaged to such a
17 degree that that was necessary?
18 A. I must tell you that water supply through the town was completely
19 destroyed in many places and that the pipes, the water pipes, had to be
20 replaced because the water system suffered a lot of damage during the war.
21 Everything had to be reconstructed in order to bring the water supply
22 system up to the standard.
23 Q. If I may pay a small compliment to you. You come across as a
24 senior officer who has integrity. Would you view the targeting of water
25 supplies that were really going to supply civilians, would you take the
1 view that targeting such water supplies would be a breach of all the rules
2 of war?
3 A. Yes, of course.
4 MR. MOORE: May I perhaps suggest that that's an appropriate
6 JUDGE PARKER: We will resume at a quarter to.
7 --- Recess taken at 12.23 p.m.
8 --- On resuming at 12.51 p.m.
9 JUDGE PARKER: Mr. Vasic.
10 MR. VASIC: [Interpretation] Thank you, Your Honour. Just a
11 technical issue and a very brief one. We have another witness who is
12 waiting outside, but given the timing, given the fact that my learned
13 friend has asked for another half hour, I would like your permission to
14 send the witness home and start with him on Monday.
15 JUDGE PARKER: Your time estimate, Mr. Moore?
16 MR. MOORE: My learned friend asked me how long I would take. I
17 have perhaps three topics. It's difficult to estimate because sometimes
18 the answers and I mean no discourtesy, are not always on point. Perhaps
19 the questions are not always on point. But I would think I would be
20 finishing at half past 1.00.
21 JUDGE PARKER: The witness will not be reached today, Mr. Vasic.
22 Part of the reason for that, could I suggest, is the questioning in chief
23 this morning dealt with many issues that weren't kernel to the case. So
24 if you could bear that in mind. We're going to simply have to speed up
25 the rate at which we deal with witnesses.
1 Very well. That is the position of the witness Monday. It will
2 be 9.00 morning. 2.15 on Monday, I'm reminded. There were some worried
4 MR. MOORE: Extremely worried looks.
5 Q. Mr. Basic, could I move on to a different topic. What was
6 actually working within the Vukovar infrastructure when you took over
7 22nd, 23rd? I'm talking about buildings, electricity. Can you just give
8 us an idea?
9 A. Yes. Nothing worked save for the logistical support by the
10 assistant commander of the Territorial Defence, Mr. Antic. We had
11 logistical support from them, and there were also some things directly
12 connected with the organisation of life, but very little. We did not even
13 have any support when it came to exhumation and reburials.
14 Q. Thank you very much. I would like, please, just to turn up
15 today's exhibit. I think it is Exhibit 760. It should be the photograph
16 of the bridge or bridges. Here we are.
17 We've got -- have you got it in front of you, Mr. Basic?
18 A. Yes.
19 Q. Thank you very much. I'm not going to take very long on this
20 topic. We've got the bridges 1, 2, 3 and 4. You were saying that the --
21 the area, the road up towards the hospital, 4, I think you said was
23 A. Yes.
24 Q. But would it be right to say that if you stuck to the road you
25 would have been all right, but don't go off the road? Would that be
2 A. The road itself was not dangerous between the hard shoulders.
3 However, around the department store there was a lot, and a lot around
4 marina. There were a lot of minefields there, and this was the reason for
6 Also, between the department store and the hospital, the park
7 leading up to the hospital was also very dangerous.
8 Q. Thank you very much. May we deal with a topic, I've given a sort
9 of generic title of carcasses, burial of carcasses. You've told us about
10 how many carcasses there were and the need to bury them, and it's right to
11 say that you buried them in the Ovcara area? Do you remember that?
12 A. Yes. Yes. I was there when the carcasses were buried. I was
13 interested in the way things were done. I had to gain an impression.
14 This was done by a special unit from Belgrade. The burial was
15 the -- was a minor problem. The biggest problem was to clear up the town
16 and the Ovcara itself where there was cattle moving around in an
17 uncontrolled manner, and that was the biggest problem we faced.
18 You asked me how many head of cattle there were. About 15.000.
19 Pigs and cows. And I can give you a breakdown. Ovcara had 4.500 dead
21 Q. Thank you very much. That's very helpful. Perhaps my learned
22 friend may deal with it in re-examination. I won't.
23 Can I move on now to a topic that perhaps concerns this trial a
24 little more than the others, and it is this: It is the bodies of human
25 beings that you were obliged to retrieve and bury. I want to deal with
1 that topic, if I may. So if you can just focus on that.
2 Clearly one of your responsibilities was the collection of those
3 bodies. Yes? Could I just ask you what document you're looking at? Can
4 you just tell me what that is?
5 A. This is the record on the task accomplished about the clearing of
6 Vukovar. This is signed, and one copy was seen to the secretariat. This
7 was signed by the commission.
8 Q. Thank you very much. And I'm not very good on documents. Do we
9 have a copy of that document, do you know? Apparently Mr. Vasic says that
10 we haven't.
11 Would you have any objection if I have a look at that document?
12 Unfortunately, I don't speak your language, but could I have a look at it
13 for a moment? Do you mind? Could you just pass it over to me? Would you
15 Thank you. That's extremely kind of you.
16 Would Your Honour give me a moment, please.
17 Would you mind if I, with the Court's leave, because it's not an
18 exhibit, but if I gave it to someone trustworthy here to have it
19 photocopied and you could have back the original? You wouldn't mind that,
20 would you?
21 A. I don't know whether this document is a classified document. This
22 is my concern. And I sent the document to the Federal Secretariat on the
23 date indicated on the document, and I kept my copy to myself because I was
24 entitled to it. I was the head of the commission.
25 Q. I don't criticise you in any way at all. Please understand that.
1 All I'm simply saying is would you mind terribly if I just had this
2 photocopied and you have the original back? I'm asking to be allowed to
3 do that.
4 A. Let me tell you, I don't have the power to allow you to use it
5 without you requesting that officially from the General Staff under a
6 number. I'm sure that they will allow you to have it. I don't know.
7 JUDGE PARKER: The document was used in court, Mr. Moore. I will
8 have a court officer copy it for the purpose of the Court.
9 MR. MOORE: Thank you very much.
10 Q. Are there any other documents that you have there? I notice that
11 you have some in front of you that are yellow and look as if they're
12 written records.
13 A. No. No.
14 Q. What about the -- what about the book that you have? Not that
16 A. What you have here?
17 Q. No, the one that's sitting on the table.
18 A. There's just one page with something written on it. The rest of
19 the book is empty.
20 Q. And the page that is -- has writing on it, what does that page
21 refer to?
22 A. The commission that was in charge of the clear-up, and these are
23 the original words from the minutes. I can quote you what is written in
24 here and you will see that it is identical.
25 Q. All right. I'll not -- I'll not deal with that document for the
1 moment, but let's move on to bodies.
2 Clearly you had, unfortunately, a large number of bodies that were
3 located, and you did your best to identify them and inform the loved ones
4 that their -- someone had been found who had been killed. Was the
5 location of dead bodies a priority for your commission?
6 A. There were three significant tasks pursuant to the document, to
7 collect bodies, to collect cattle in order to prevent infections, and
8 de-mining. Those were the three priorities which were to be followed by
9 the clearing of Vukovar. But the three first tasks could not wait. The
10 others could.
11 Q. Well, I just want to deal with the discovery of human bodies. I
12 suggest it was important because clearly the last thing you need from a
13 health position is decaying human bodies or carcasses in a built-up area;
14 and secondly, just for respect for people, to make sure they are given a
15 proper burial. That's right, isn't it, surely?
16 You nod and then we'll put it on the record as yes.
17 Now, you clearly are aware now that there were people who were --
18 you're clearly aware now that people were murdered and buried at Ovcara.
19 You're aware of that fact? Isn't that right?
20 A. No.
21 Q. No, that's not right, I'd suggest. Are you saying you aren't
22 aware that bodies were found? I'm not talking about you in 1991, I'm
23 talking about now. You're aware that bodies were buried at Ovcara.
24 A. I'm aware now.
25 Q. Yes. Thank you. Now, can we deal, please --
1 A. Can I say something, please?
2 Q. Of course you may.
3 A. From the press I learnt about Ovcara. There were some Australian
4 journalists who were interested in that. When I came to Ovcara, I didn't
5 know where to go. And then the guards told me to go left. I took that
6 road until I came to the Russian battalion that was providing security for
7 that place. The colonel who was in command there received me, told me
8 that the place was fenced off. He asked me to have a seat, but he did not
9 want to discuss the situation with him, and that was the long and the
10 short of it. Later on, I told you straight and generously that I didn't
11 know a thing. Why wouldn't I have told him if I had known something? If
12 I had known about the place I would have exhumed the bodies.
13 Q. Let me ask you to stop, please. You talk very quickly. I'm not
14 suggesting anything about you. I've told you before, I'm not here to trap
15 you. I'm here to obtain information. Do you understand? That is my
16 function. So please listen to the question.
17 You told us that you had heard or you were aware Australian
18 journalists were interested in the killings at Ovcara. I see you nod your
19 head. Can you just say yes so it goes on the record, you see.
20 A. I had already left the army, and as a private citizen I came with
21 them. That was in 1993, sometime in spring. I came there. It took me a
22 while to find the place, and then I was surprised. It was to the very
23 left from the place where we -- where we exhumed bodies. If I had known
24 about that, I could have exhumed the bodies. I could have identified them
25 like all the other bodies that we had found in various burial sites. And
1 this place was some 800 metres to a kilometre from that place.
2 Q. I'll try and keep my questions short if you try and keep your
3 answers short. I think that's a fair exchange.
4 Would it be right to say, then, that on the record, you were
5 aware, because of Australian journalists in 1993, the suggestion of people
6 being murdered and being buried at Ovcara? Is that correct?
7 A. Yes.
8 Q. And may we deal then, please, was that something that concerned
9 you, that you had been responsible for the burial of bodies, and here was
10 a suggestion of a large number of people who had been murdered and were
11 buried at Ovcara?
12 A. No.
13 Q. That didn't concern you?
14 A. No.
15 Q. Why, because they were Croats?
16 A. No, it's not about that. What I knew about Vukovar was about
17 Vukovar. This was out of the scope of my responsibilities. And if it had
18 been hidden away from me, I could not have known about that. This place
19 Ovcara was something outside of my knowledge.
20 Q. The area, the actual physical area, was within your scope of
21 responsibility. That is correct, is it not, in 1991?
22 A. If you take into consideration that I was in charge of the
23 downtown area and the general area, then I would say yes.
24 Q. So can we just say yes and let's move on a little quicker, please.
25 So Ovcara was within your area of responsibility in 1991, early
1 1992. Ovcara, in 1993, and we'll just leave it at that moment, there was
2 a suggestion of individuals having been murdered and buried at Ovcara,
3 your former area of responsibility. That is correct, isn't it?
4 A. No.
5 Q. Why not?
6 A. Because at the time when I arrived there, the place where the
7 burials had taken place that the Russian colonel pointed to me. I saw the
8 area but I couldn't get the impression. The colonel told me that an
9 Australian doctor had arrived and they excavated a skull and that was all.
10 I could not see anything else, and we returned to Belgrade just as we had
11 come there.
12 Q. We receive from the Defence what is called a proofing note, and
13 that basically means an indication of what your evidence is going to be.
14 Now, it is right, is it not, that you had discussions with lawyers for Mr.
15 Mrksic last evening? That is correct, is it not?
16 A. No. No. I spoke to only one lawyer, Mr. Vasic, and nobody else.
17 Q. I'll deal with it more specifically. The gentleman sitting there,
18 with the moustache --
19 A. And that was just to prepare me and nothing else. The lawyers did
20 not try to influence me in any way at all.
21 Q. I am not for one moment suggesting that Mr. Vasic tried to
22 influence you. Do you understand?
23 A. Yes.
24 Q. Good.
25 A. I understand.
1 Q. Good.
2 Q. And it's right, isn't it, you saw Mr. Vasic last night? That is
3 correct, isn't it?
4 A. Yes.
5 Q. And it is correct that you gave an account to him of what had
6 happened. That is also right also isn't?
7 A. No.
8 Q. Not at all?
9 A. No.
10 Q. You didn't discuss -- you didn't discuss this case and what your
11 evidence was going to be?
12 A. Of course that we discussed the possible elements. First of all,
13 I was angry that this did not take place at a normal time. I arrived
14 yesterday evening, and they told me, "You would -- you will appear before
15 The Hague Tribunal," and I said, "How? Why?" I had to know what this was
16 all about.
17 You, as a lawyer, must have had a lot of preparation in order to
18 defend your positions.
19 Q. I'm entirely sympathetic to the position that witnesses find
20 themselves in in this Tribunal, so understand that you're speaking to
21 someone who is sympathetic. But the fact of the matter is you did discuss
22 what your evidence might well be. That is correct, under it?
23 A. No.
24 Q. So what did you discuss? Just tea and biscuits?
25 A. We had topics to discuss. We had met before. And we never
1 discussed this, in Belgrade or elsewhere. I did not want to waste my time
2 on that. I have my reasoning. I have my own preparations. Why would we
3 have to discuss that? I thought you would talk to me about the
4 impressions of Mr. Sljivancanin and Mrksic. I thought you would ask me to
5 discuss them and not this that you're asking me to discuss.
6 Q. The questions I ask are a matter for me as long as they're
7 relevant. Do you understand?
8 Now, I'm going to read out what is in this proofing note, which I
9 would suggest indicates what your evidence was going to be. "During the
10 period he," that's you, "worked on the field, the witness said that he
11 found out that some of the volunteer formations had breached the law. On
12 that fact, he had informed Colonel Petkovic in Sid, but the colonel was
13 not apt to take any action."
14 Now, that's -- I won't -- please just don't answer, and I won't
15 ask any questions until the conversation is concluded.
16 [Trial Chamber and registrar confer]
17 MR. MOORE: If Your Honour gets the proofing note. I don't know
18 if Your Honours do or not. This is the one that came at 3.50 last night.
19 JUDGE PARKER: It may be one you have. It's not one we have.
20 MR. MOORE: Well, I've got spare copies. Mr. Vasic, I'm sure,
21 will supply to his colleagues. That's for the Court, please.
22 Q. I've got it in English. My apologies. I don't know if it's in
23 B/C/S as well.
24 To assist the Court, and I know they like to read it quickly, but
25 if one looks at the very bottom paragraph.
1 May I continue? I'll read it again just to assist all parties and
2 my learned friends.
3 During the period he worked on the field, the witness said that he
4 had found out that "some of the volunteer formations had breached the law.
5 On that fact, he had informed Colonel Petkovic in Sid, but the colonel was
6 not apt to take any action."
7 Now, I would suggest to you that in actual fact there is a very
8 clear indication that when you were in the field in Vukovar you had found
9 out that atrocities had been committed by volunteer formations. Now, what
10 do you say to that? This is a document that's created in relation to the
11 evidence you were to give.
12 A. It's not true at all. Petkovic was never informed, and we talked
13 about that. I'm sorry to say he's to longer alive, but for as long as I
14 knew, he didn't know.
15 MR. MOORE: I see my learned friend Mr. Vasic wants to interject.
16 JUDGE PARKER: Mr. Vasic.
17 MR. VASIC: [Interpretation] Your Honour, maybe this is something
18 that should be raised if redirect, but I think that the witness is misled,
19 if you followed his evidence, and he talked himself about the information
20 shared with Mr. -- Colonel Petkovic, and I think that follows from his own
21 explanations, the ones that we discussed today.
22 JUDGE PARKER: I think we better not go into your understanding of
23 facts at the moment. The witness will deal with it, and you can follow it
24 up. Thank you.
25 Yes, Mr. Moore.
1 MR. MOORE:
2 Q. I'm suggesting that on this proofing note, which is a document
3 created to -- both parties must supply the other side, you see. There is
4 a suggestion, one, that you had found out that volunteers had breached the
5 law, and I would suggest that that means that you found out, either by
6 rumour or by another way, that volunteers had committed atrocities. What
7 do you say to that?
8 A. I say this is an untruth and nothing but an untruth. For the
9 first time in my entire career, I can say this: I haven't a clue about
10 this, no clue. It was something entirely different that I discussed with
11 Petkovic, about what happened at the Carrington, and when you brought it
12 up a moment ago, it was the first I ever heard of it.
13 Q. I suggest that's not right either, because what you were told in
14 evidence in chief is that you were told by Petkovic about graves. "I had
15 no information." I'm trying to abbreviate from my recollection where it
16 was. "I did have some info in respect of the TO."
17 So did you have a discussion with Petkovic about graves?
18 A. Not at all.
19 Q. Well, can you explain the following to me, and this is your
20 evidence. What you say is however -- it's 43.20, "However, I'm absolutely
21 certain that if I had known where the grave was, I could have exhumed
22 bodies from that grave as well, but I didn't know." The following
23 phrase: "I had a few soldiers from the TO who hinted to that."
24 Now, what do you mean bit phrase "I had a few soldiers from the TO
25 who hinted to that"? What do you mean by that?
1 A. First of all, I wish to say that I did not have any TO in my unit.
2 But in the area where we had our ID station, there were always some TO
3 men. A man named met Metrusic, if I'm not mistaken. He said there's
4 something behind the barracks, there is something we need to look into.
5 But it was so disconnected, so out of context that I didn't pay it any
6 heed at the time.
7 I know that Radio Free Slavonia kept saying that whoever spotted a
8 single dead body should get in touch immediately, and that was a
9 speculation. But I think you misconnected some bits there. The truth of
10 the matter is I called Mr. Petkovic in relation to what had occurred at
11 villa Carrington, not in connection with this. I think you should try to
12 follow more closely. You're misleading me there. Villa Carrington. You
13 know what I'm talking about? Six people -- six men from his group had
14 been killed. That was the problem. You're confusing things there.
15 Q. I'm not confusing anything, and I'll read it out so there's no
16 misunderstanding what your evidence was. You were actually asked
17 questions by your counsel, and it is as follows: "I would like to ask you
18 one more question, probably my last." That's Mr. Vasic. "Did you ever
19 learn from Colonel Petkovic about the cemetery in Ovcara?"
20 Now, I'm working on the basis that cemeteries doesn't refer to
21 animals. "That about 200 people had been executed in Ovcara. Did you
22 ever learn that from Colonel Petkovic from Sid?"
23 This is your answer: "Let me put it this way: In the territory
24 of Vukovar, I was mostly interested in graves and mass graves. We take a
25 lot of pride that we buried these bodies, that we assist these people
1 regardless of the side that they had been on. We buried everybody with a
2 lot of dignity. That was our utmost priority."
3 Listen now to the following: "However, I'm absolutely certain
4 that if I had known where that grave was, I could have exhumed bodies from
5 that grave as well, but I didn't know. I had a few soldiers from the TO
6 who hinted to that, but I did not have the exact information, so I could
7 not know."
8 That is specifically designed and relates to Ovcara. It's got
9 nothing to do with Velepromet or any other area. That's correct, isn't
11 A. I think you are totally off the mark. It's got nothing to do with
12 it. It really amazes me that you can act like this. I'm totally clueless
13 about this. You're suggesting that I know about this. How on earth can
14 you possibly know whether I do or not?
15 Please, sir, I'm no clueless brat myself.
16 Q. Answer the simple question. Answer the simple question. How is
17 it that that question refers specifically to Ovcara, you refer to TO
18 hints, and you even refer to the grave. Now, explain to me how it is that
19 you give that reply if you didn't know?
20 A. I didn't give anyone that answer. And please don't mislead me on
21 what it was that I was talking about. I'm not sure where you get the idea
22 of putting it to me that I knew. I wish I had known. I wish I'd have
23 been able to do something about it, but I knew nothing at all. Eventually
24 the grave at Ovcara is outside Vukovar. The Bulgarian cemetery marks the
25 end of Vukovar. I'm not saying I wouldn't have done it. I'm not saying I
1 wouldn't have reported it officially. I had no clue. I had no idea,
2 believe me, but you're trying to insinuate that I knew about it, so please
3 don't, sir.
4 Q. I do suggest you did know, and I'm relying on your evidence, and I
5 would suggest you had a discussion with Petkovic about it and that quite
6 simply the JNA did not want to know about it. That is the reality of this
8 A. That is not the reality of the situation. This is sheer nonsense.
9 I'm not sure where you get this at all. Now you're trying to insinuate
10 something that I wasn't even thinking about, not even in my wildest
11 dreams. How can you possibly be doing like this?
12 Q. I'm suggesting it because I'm using your words, not anybody
14 A. Manipulated ones, twisted ones.
15 Q. They are not manipulated, I would suggest, they are not twisted,
16 and I would equally suggest the reason you're denying it is because you
17 know perfectly well that if you admit that you knew to the grave at that
18 time, that you would be held responsible as well for not passing that
19 information on to superiors. That's why you're denying it. What do you
20 say to that?
21 A. I say your illusions are entirely off the mark. It's got nothing
22 to do with the situation that prevailed. Where do you get this
23 information? What can your possible source be? I can tell you that I
24 never had anything to do with this, not even in my wildest imaginings.
25 Why wouldn't I have said so. I didn't even know where it was. I just
1 came there -- I didn't even know where anything else was and you're
2 suggesting I knew. Please, this is simply disrespectful. You are a
3 lawyer. You should know about that.
4 Q. I have no further questions for you.
5 JUDGE PARKER: I thank you, Mr. Moore.
6 Mr. Vasic.
7 MR. VASIC: [Interpretation] Thank you very much, Your Honour.
8 Re-examination by Mr. Vasic:
9 Q. [Interpretation] First of all, let me try to clarify this matter
10 that remains moot. Mr. Vasic, you mentioned a group of people surrounding
11 Kameni; right?
12 A. Yes.
13 Q. You said six people had been killed?
14 A. Yes.
15 Q. Were these people killed in a clash amid volunteers?
16 A. Yes. It was about the sharing out of their booty but that's
17 something I found out later.
18 Q. For you, the murder of six individuals is a crime; right?
19 A. Yes, definitely a crime.
20 Q. Six people were killed, volunteers. For you, that was a crime.
21 You informed Colonel Petkovic; right?
22 A. Yes.
23 Q. Colonel Petkovic did not react, refused to react; right?
24 A. Yes. I was on Carrington street. I couldn't go in because I was
25 being held at gunpoint.
1 Q. This is the only incident that you reported to Colonel Petkovic as
2 a crime; right?
3 A. Yes.
4 Q. I didn't see him at the time to discuss anything else really.
5 Q. I would like to move on to something different now. You talked
6 about the way orders were issued. I said orders were issued orally or in
7 writing. My question is if there was an order that was issued orally and
8 it was entered into a notebook belonging to a certain officer, would that
9 have carried the force of a written order?
10 A. No, it wouldn't.
11 Q. Thank you. If, for example, an officer orders his subordinate
12 officer to carry out an act which would probably lead to a criminal
13 offence, what about that officer? Would he have the duty to refuse that
14 oral order and ask for the order to be submitted in writing first?
15 A. Yes, that's correct.
16 Q. If this officer still believes that this might lead to a crime
17 being committed, he mustn't even carry out at that written order but must,
18 instead, inform his superior officer; is that right?
19 A. Yes.
20 Q. Now, about the water supply system. You said that the destruction
21 of a water supply system constitutes a war crime in your opinion. I would
22 phrase the question in the following way: What about deliberate
23 destruction of a water supply system? Would that constitute a war crime?
24 What if a water supply system is destroyed merely as a consequence of
25 other combat operations and not a deliberate act aiming at leaving people
1 without their water supply?
2 A. Yes, you're quite right in suggesting that, and the distinction
3 between these two is enormous.
4 Q. Were you ever aware of the fact that an infection was rife in
5 Vukovar because of the shortage of water among the population? Those
6 people in the hospital were lying on mattresses stuffed with water after
7 all, weren't they?
8 A. Yes, that's correct.
9 Q. Does that mean you never heard any reference to an infection
10 breaking out in Vukovar during the combat; right?
11 A. No, never.
12 Q. Do you know that during combat in Vukovar they kept on using
13 artesian wells and almost every house had one?
14 A. Yes, that's correct. And we built one such well for the hospital,
15 to be used by the hospital.
16 Q. So your testimony was solely if relation to the town's water
17 supply system, which wasn't operated. Meanwhile the wells and artesian
18 wells continued to be used and operated; right?
19 A. Yes.
20 Q. Do you know where the main water pump of the town's waterworks
21 used to be?
22 A. No.
23 Q. Did you ever find out if the waterworks facilities had been
24 destroyed by the JNA, or maybe there had been an act of sabotage by the
25 Croatian forces whereby the facilities were destroyed?
1 A. I can't say, but the facilities were entirely disrupted,
3 Q. The facilities were destroyed because they were amid ruins, ruins
4 created by artillery fire; right?
5 A. Yes.
6 Q. But these ruins could have been caused by booby-traps and by
7 mines, explosives equally; is that right?
8 A. Right.
9 MR. VASIC: [Interpretation] Thank you very much, Your Honours. I
10 have no further questions.
11 JUDGE PARKER: Thank you, Mr. Vasic. Could the Court officer
12 return to the witness the original of the document. The copy held by the
13 Court will be marked for identification, and all counsel have leave to
14 examine that photocopy if they wish.
15 THE REGISTRAR: Your Honours, it will be marked with the reference
16 number 763, Your Honours.
17 JUDGE PARKER: Thank you. Sir, you're be pleased to know that is
18 the end of the questions for you. You are now able to return to your
19 home. We would like to thank you for your attendance here and the
20 assistance you have given. And the court officer will show you out.
21 Thank you very much.
22 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Thank you very much, Your Honour.
23 Thank you for the way you have treated me. I wish you every success.
24 [The witness withdrew]
25 JUDGE PARKER: There are some matters that need to be raised now.
1 We had planned by this stage to have dealt with the issue of the length of
2 the Defence cases. The turn of events this week means that I suspect
3 there is not adequate time left at this moment, unless I see on the looks
4 of counsel the thought that it could be dealt with very quickly, and I
5 don't think that is the case. We will simply have to fit it in next week.
6 For that reason and generally, Mr. Vasic, if the Chamber could
7 make clear that it will become imperative for you to be very careful as to
8 the relevance and importance of the matters you deal with with witnesses
9 from now on. We want to get from your witnesses their evidence that is
10 important, but we don't want to have this trial drag on unnecessarily with
11 unimportant and side issues, and we will be much more attentive to
12 interrupting evidence and having counsel move on if counsel are not
13 successful in directing their questions only to important issues. Time is
14 increasingly becoming critical in this case.
15 A problem with that is that the President has called a Plenary
16 meeting for next Wednesday, which means we must try and get into next week
17 the evidence of the witnesses you had planned for the week in four days
18 rather than five. So it will be important for all counsel to be attentive
19 to time.
20 Now, we have just five minutes. Is it that we can successfully
21 deal with the length of the Defence cases in that time? I suspect it's
22 unreasonable and impractical to think of it. So we will defer that issue
23 until next week. Ah, you're showing some hope, are you, Mr. Borovic?
24 MR. BOROVIC: [Interpretation] Your Honours, I think we can be
25 pretty accurate in five minutes about our own predictions. That would be
1 useful, useful for me to know what other Defence teams have on their
2 minds. That's efficient.
3 JUDGE PARKER: Mr. Vasic.
4 MR. VASIC: [Interpretation] Your Honours, I will try to meet my
5 learned friend halfway, as well as everybody else in this courtroom, but
6 my Defence case is the first to start, and I hope that I'll be wrapping it
7 up by the end of the first week of October at the latest.
8 JUDGE PARKER: And the number of witnesses you have in mind?
9 MR. VASIC: [Interpretation] The number of witnesses is in line
10 with our previous predictions, a total of 18, possibly, 19 witnesses.
11 Certainly within that estimate. We've dropped more than half our
12 witnesses who we now believe to be superfluous but we leave the
13 possibility open that we will be further curtailing our list.
14 JUDGE PARKER: Thank you. Mr. Borovic.
15 MR. BOROVIC: [Interpretation] Thank you, Your Honours. As I've
16 already indicated in my motion, we have a total of eight witnesses, two of
17 them 92 bis witnesses. We've taken certain steps already to get their
18 statements signed and accepted by the Court.
19 We have the accused himself, who has decided to appear, and we
20 have an expert. We have a schedule of four hours for each of these
21 witnesses, seven hours in the case of our military witness -- military
22 expert, and 12 hours for the accused himself, which is a total of eight
23 working days. I assume the OTP will not be going too far with their
24 questions, and if we split the time equally, this shouldn't exceed a total
25 of 10 days for all of our witnesses.
1 JUDGE PARKER: I make it 16 days on what you've just said. Eight
2 days in chief.
3 MR. BOROVIC: [Interpretation] When I said 10 days, I meant the
4 whole thing including the OTP's bit, the total time it would take. If I
5 look at my time only, if I say, for example, 12 hours for Miroslav Radic,
6 what I mean is six hours for the Defence and six hours for the cross.
7 The only thing I can't do is say how long the Prosecution are
8 planning on taking up.
9 And if I may just say another thing. I had been preparing a total
10 of about 20 witnesses, but then I realised what you were saying, that time
11 was of the essence for the accused. I have peared this back down to the
12 bare bones. I have a minimum of witnesses that I require. I have really
13 done my best. I believe that I have achieved most of the things that were
14 essential for our defence with Prosecution witnesses already. I don't
15 think I should go over 10 days including cross-examination as my colleague
16 has just suggested to me.
17 MR. LUKIC: [Interpretation] If you give me a minute and a half, I
18 don't think I'll be able to deal with this, and I certainly wish to have
19 this raised as soon as possible. Your Honour, there is the suggestion
20 that you made at the Pre-Trial Conference. I took it to heart very much
21 so, in fact. I have drafted an overview for that purpose indicating what
22 we believe will be required for examination-in-chief. I would like to
23 provide a table, a copy of this table, for everyone in the courtroom. Ms.
24 Usher, if you could give me hand, and then you could have a look. By
25 Monday -- look at my tentative schedule and then give me five minutes to
1 explain my arguments once you've looked at the table.
2 My Defence case seems to be a very demanding one. It probably
3 requires a greater amount of analysis and in-depth work, especially if I
4 look at the nature of the witnesses I'm calling. I can only draw your
5 attention to one thing, Witness number 2, Witness number 6, Witness number
6 8, Witness number 9, and Witness number 13 at one point in time gave
7 statements to the OTP, and Mr. Moore can determine confirm this. And
8 these statements ran into 10, 15, sometimes 20 pages, which is a lot
9 longer than the one we took from Vesna Bosanac. And that is something
10 that very much dictates the terms for me in terms of time especially.
11 I think you are fully familiar with some of these names. We're
12 well into this trial, and I believe everybody understands the significance
13 of some of these names and why they would take up the amount of time
14 indicated to testify on behalf of our defence.
15 I dropped witness number 12, and I have a new proposal. I
16 discussed this with Mr. Moore. There are certain witnesses that I wanted
17 to -- to get depositions from, but maybe they could be 98 -- 89(F)
18 witnesses. That would help us avoid their examination-in-chief, and all
19 they would take up is the time that their cross-examination would take.
20 I've tried to be very rational in going through all of these witnesses.
21 If you can give me some more time now or on Monday, depending on the
22 Chamber obviously, perhaps I can go through it and explain in greater
24 JUDGE PARKER: I am grateful, Mr. Lukic, for the preparation
25 you've done here, but we really are over time now. There is another trial
1 commencing at 2.15 -- not commencing, continuing at 2.15. We simply as
2 matter of courtesy have to leave to give time for the tapes to be replayed
3 and the staff to have a break.
4 So we must adjourn now, but with the information provided now and
5 with opportunity early next week at an appropriate time, we will get to
6 the bottom of this important issue. I'm sure everybody realises it's an
7 issue we can't just put off. It's got to be dealt with if this trial is
8 to be managed sensibly so that we get to its end in a way that deals
9 adequately with the issues but which doesn't just use time wastefully at
10 the cost of the accused, the cost of everybody, and of the cost of the
11 waiting accused. We have trials banked up behind this one waiting. We've
12 got to look at all of those.
13 We will adjourn now. We'll resume on Monday at 2.15.
14 --- Whereupon the hearing adjourned at 1.47 p.m.,
15 to be reconvened on Monday, the 11th day of
16 September, 2006, at 2.15 p.m.