1 Friday, 11 July 2008
2 [Open session]
3 [The accused entered court]
4 [The witness entered court]
5 --- Upon commencing at 9.02 a.m.
6 JUDGE AGIUS: Always a better feeling on Friday. Certainly much
7 better than it is on Monday. So I wish you all good morning in
8 anticipation of a good weekend. Madam Registrar, if you could kindly
9 call the case, please.
10 THE REGISTRAR: Good morning, Your Honours. This is the case
11 number IT-05-88-T, the Prosecutor versus Vujadin Popovic et al.
12 JUDGE AGIUS: Merci, madam. So all the accused are here. I
13 notice the absence of Mr. Bourgon, Mr. Krgovic, Mr. Lazarevic,
14 Mr. Haynes. I can't see behind. Yes, Mr. Haynes. And on the part of
15 the Prosecution now, we have Mr. McCloskey and Mr. Nicholls. The witness
16 is here. Good morning to you, Mr. Medic.
17 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Good morning, Mr. Presiding Judge.
18 JUDGE AGIUS: And I'm happy to greet you again. Hopefully we
19 will finish with your testimony today so that you can go back to your
21 Yesterday morning, Mr. Nikolic had started with the
22 preliminaries. Today we will go into more substance. You've got all the
23 time you requested, Mr. Nikolic, to proceed with and finish your
24 examination-in-chief. Thank you.
25 MR. NIKOLIC: [Interpretation] Thank you, Your Honour.
1 WITNESS: VOJISLAV MEDIC [Resumed]
2 [Witness answered through interpreter]
3 Examination by Mr. Nikolic: [Continued]
4 MR. NIKOLIC: [Interpretation] Good morning to you and everyone
5 in the courtroom.
6 Q. Before we go into the substance I just wanted to remind ourselves
7 where we left it off yesterday so as to make it easier. Mr. Medic, your
8 last answer yesterday had to do with the organisation of the military
9 courts and the fact that the military court of Split was relocated to
10 Tivat. Split
11 In 1992 you were in the investigative judge of the military court
12 in Belgrade
13 A. Yes. I was an investigative judge working for the military court
14 in Belgrade
15 Q. That same year you conducted an investigation against Ljubisa
16 Beara and a group of soldiers as well as another officer for the crime of
17 instigation murder; is that correct, instigating to commit a murder?
18 A. That is correct.
19 Q. Was the military court in Belgrade competent to carry out and
20 investigation in that case?
21 A. It wasn't geographically competent to conduct an investigation.
22 Q. How did it come about, then, and how was it that it was possible
23 for the military court to conduct that investigation and to entrust you
24 with that investigation in particular?
25 A. There was a possibility for that in the law. If I may, I can
1 explain to you how that came about. It was in early July 1992. I was
2 summoned by the president of the court who told me that in Debeli Brijeg,
3 in Montenegro
4 of the soldiers or members of the Territorial Defence - I don't know what
5 they were exactly - and that the top echelon of the army decided that
6 that investigation should be carried out by the military court in
8 Q. I suppose that it was preceded by certain legal documentation
9 because, indeed, the law envisages that the jurisdiction of one court can
10 be delegated to another. Did you have occasion to see those documents?
11 Were they presented to you before you took over the investigation?
12 A. I cannot tell you with any degree of certainty now. I don't
13 remember whether I saw the decision of the supreme military court on the
14 delegation of territorial jurisdiction to the court in Belgrade.
15 However, without that document it would have been difficult to do
16 anything. I suppose that the decision existed; however, I cannot tell
17 you with any certainty whether I saw it and if at all and when.
18 Q. Very well, then. So you took over the case file, and you took
19 measures in order to launch an investigation against these persons. What
20 was your first task, the first action that you undertook within that
22 A. I can first tell you about the whole course of my preparations to
23 go to Montenegro
24 Q. Yes, of course. This is exactly what I meant. What happened
25 from the moment when you were tasked with the case onwards?
1 A. I'm not sure as I sit here, because it was 16 years ago, whether
2 the President of the Court told me that there was a vehicle waiting for
3 me, or maybe the chief of the security administration of the army,
4 General Boskovic, called me and told me that a car would pick me up. I
5 really don't know who told me that, but soon after that, maybe half an
6 hour or an hour later, a vehicle did come. In the meantime, I called the
7 forensic pathologist from the VMA, and I believe that a military
8 Prosecutor went together with us, if I remember it well. I believe it
9 was the late Tomislav Cvetkovic, but I'm not sure. In General Boskovic's
10 vehicle, we were taken to the General Staff to General Boskovic's office,
11 and that is where General Boskovic showed me a report by the security
12 service of the command of the navy from Kumbor with a brief description
13 of what had happened, and that was my first encounter with the incident.
14 Q. In the security administration in General Boskovic's office, you
15 received the initial information on where you were supposed to go and
16 what had happened; is that correct?
17 A. He briefly told me about the incident, maybe in a sentence or
18 two, and he was in a hurry. He gave me the report. I believe that it
19 was a teleprinted report from the navy command in Kumbor. He also told
20 us that a plane was waiting for us and that we were supposed to fly to
22 Q. Who was it who provided the plane? Was it a regular Belgrade
23 Tivat flight, or was it a special flight; and who provided that flight?
24 A. It was a military plane. I don't know who provided it. In any
25 case, it was the General Staff of the air force. It was a Falcon plane
1 with 12 seats. It was a passenger aircraft but it belonged to the air
3 Q. Mr. Medic, you were an investigating judge for a number of years.
4 Did you often have such conditions in place when you had to carry out
5 investigations. Was that something that happened very often?
6 A. It was an exceptional situation. I believe it happened only once
7 or twice. In other cases, we had to make due as we could using public
8 transportation, trains, cars.
9 Q. So why was this an exceptional situation in your view? Were
10 there any legal foundations for this to be so exceptionally well
11 organised, since you said yourself that in your everyday life and in all
12 the other cases you had to make do and you had to find your own means?
13 A. In my view it was not an exceptional case. It was a case like
14 any other. Why it was organised in that way by the General Staff, I
15 really can't tell you. I can't account for that.
16 Q. Very well then. You take off -- you took off at Tivat. Who was
17 on the plane with you?
18 A. General Nedjo Boskovic; Dr. Zoran Stankovic, the forensic
19 pathologist; and I believe the deputy prosecutor Tomislav Svetkovic was
20 also with us, but I'm not sure about the last name, although I believe
21 that he was with us as well.
22 Q. Why would General Boskovic who was the chief of the security
23 administration travel with investigating judge? Did he maybe have
24 something else to attend to in Tivat?
25 A. It's very difficult for me to answer that. I suppose that he had
1 some other things to attend to. What his interest in the whole matter
2 was, I don't know, save for the fact that these people were his
4 Q. During your flight to Tivat, did you discuss the case? Did you
5 talk to General Boskovic and to the other passengers on the flight at
7 A. On the plane I spoke to General Boskovic, and he told me about
8 the case that Dr. Vojislav Seselj, the president of the Serbian radical
9 party - I believe that it was its name at the time - had called the
10 general -- the chief of the General Staff, General Panic. He was very
11 angry, and he called for a very detailed investigation. That's what he
12 told me about the case. I don't know whether he told me anything else,
13 but this I know for certain.
14 Q. When you spoke about that on the plane, what conclusions did you
15 arrive at after this conversation? Did you arrive at any conclusions?
16 A. One could sense pressure, and I could feel that there was
17 pressure being put on me, but I did not let the pressure get to me. The
18 way things had been organised, the way the plane had been organised, it's
19 all pointed to the fact that this was an important matter. But it did
20 not have any bearing on me.
21 Q. When given such an explanation by General Boskovic, did you deem
22 it important to warn him that you would not succumb to any pressures, and
23 did you explain yourself to him?
24 JUDGE AGIUS: Mr. Nicholls.
25 MR. NICHOLLS: I've been letting it go, but there's been some
1 leading of the witness. I'm now objecting to further leading, and the
2 bigger picture, I'm not sure yet what the probative value so far is and
3 if it can be reached sooner.
4 JUDGE AGIUS: Okay, but you knew exactly what this witness was
5 going to testify about, so...
6 [Trial Chamber confers]
7 JUDGE AGIUS: This might sound like something strange in legal
8 terms. Given the subject matter that we are dealing with, or rather,
9 that the witness is dealing with and the great detail in which Mr.
10 Nikolic is leading the witness to, we believe that the best way to cut it
11 short is as follows: First, to encourage Mr. Nikolic to sift the grain
12 from the chaff and concentrate on what is important for your client when
13 it comes to this witness and go straight to the point. I mean, we don't
14 need fine details that will get you and us nowhere and will involve some
15 more expense of time.
16 The second thing that is given the subject matter, we believe
17 that allowing Mr. Nikolic to lead is perhaps the speediest way of
18 bringing the testimony of this gentleman to a quick end. I don't know
19 whether you would be prepared to live with that, and the same applies to
20 Mr. Nikolic. I think Mr. Nikolic would definitely be in favour of what I
21 have stated, but perhaps the Prosecution on second thoughts would agree
22 as well. There is a reason why we were allowing leading questions too.
23 Mr. Nicholls.
24 MR. NICHOLLS: All right. I'll withdraw my objection for the
25 moment, Your Honour.
1 JUDGE AGIUS: Thank you. We are trying to be as practical and
2 pragmatic as possible and hoping that Mr. Nikolic will be too. Thank
3 you. Mr. Nikolic.
4 MR. NIKOLIC: [Interpretation] Thank you, Your Honours. I was
5 just going to go to the heart of the matter.
6 Q. Mr. Medic, what was the first thing that you did when you arrived
7 in Tivat and embarked on your investigation?
8 A. I cannot give you a very short answer to that. When I arrived in
9 Tivat, I learned that my colleague from the Tivat military court Judge
10 Radomir Besevic [phoen] had already carried out an onsite inspection, and
11 I really wasn't clear why I should do all that again. I felt
12 uncomfortable. I had to apologise to him. He even showed me the record
13 of the onsite inspection, and here I was, having to do all that again.
14 Q. Did you interview the accused Beara?
15 A. Yes. Having carried out an onsite inspection, I interviewed the
16 suspects, Mr. Ljubisa Beara and two or three others whose names I can't
17 remember. One of them I believe was Pag and a junior officer, but I
18 can't remember their names.
19 Q. How did Mr. Beara behave? Did he respond to your summons as the
20 investigating judge, and did he come for the interview?
21 A. Of course. Mr. Beara came without any problem. Not only him but
22 everybody else turned up for the interviews.
23 JUDGE AGIUS: Yes, Mr. Nicholls.
24 MR. NICHOLLS: I am sorry to interrupt. No objection. It just
25 might save time on cross. I wonder if I could get the -- I think its
1 clear but the time frame of when this interviewing is occurring. If it's
2 directly after the killings or if it's at some point later. It wasn't
3 completely clear to me.
4 JUDGE AGIUS: I would take it for granted, but yes. Please, Mr.
5 Nikolic, if you could put the question to the witness.
6 MR. NIKOLIC: [Interpretation] Thank you, Your Honours.
7 Q. Mr. Medic, when you interviewed Mr. Beara, the accused in this
8 case, did Mr. Beara pose any obstructions? Did he object to the
10 JUDGE AGIUS: I don't know whether it could be a question of
11 interpretation, but my suggestion to you, Mr. Nikolic, was that you ask
12 the witness to state the time frame when he interviewed Mr. Beara. That
13 is, whether it was immediately after the killings or whether there had
14 been a lapse of time, in which case we would like to know about it.
15 MR. NIKOLIC: [Interpretation] Your Honour, obviously there was a
16 misunderstanding due to the interpretation. I did not understand your
17 question at first.
18 Q. Mr. Medic, how much time lapsed from your first conversation with
19 your colleague to the moment when you summoned Mr. Beara and interviewed
20 him, and how much time elapsed between that and your arrival in Tivat?
21 A. I understood the Prosecutor's question as wanting to know how
22 much time lapsed between the incident and the interview. In any case,
23 there were three or four days from the event to my arrival, and I carried
24 out the onsite inspection on the same day when I arrived, and I believe
25 that on the same day or on the following day I interviewed Mr. Beara and
1 the other suspects. I can't answer this question with any degree of
2 reliability. I know that the interviews took place in the evening, but I
3 don't know whether it was on the same day when I arrived or the day after
4 my arrival.
5 Q. Thank you. When you interviewed Mr. Beara, did you remand him in
6 custody, and could you please just briefly give us the legal foundation
7 for any such decision.
8 A. Having interviewed Mr. Beara and other suspects, I believe that
9 there were two. I ordered them to be remanded in custody, and I told
10 each and every one of them that Mr. Beara behaved as a true gentleman.
11 He did not object. He behaved in a very proper manner, and if you wanted
12 to hear the legal foundations for the custody, first of all you have to
13 bear in mind the gravity of the crime that had been committed over there.
14 The legal foundations would be influencing witnesses, disturbance for the
15 general public, and a very strange climate had been created, and I
16 wanted, amongst other things, to isolate Mr. Beara from the area, and
17 custody was one way of doing it.
18 Q. When you say that the climate was strange, what did you mean by
20 A. One could feel tensions among all the members of the navy whom I
21 contacted. Even the general population was highly strung, and the latter
22 was one of the main reasons why I ordered the suspects to be remanded in
23 custody. In addition to that, I came by information that Mr. Beara had
24 come under certain threats.
25 Q. Who did the threats come from? Do you remember?
1 A. I can't tell you exactly, but I believe that the threats came
2 from the circles close to the victims of the murder.
3 Q. The victims were members of the Territorial Defence as you've
4 told us. Which region did they hail from?
5 A. I believe that they were members of the Territorial Defence in
7 that they were volunteers of the Serb radical party.
8 Q. Very well. Mr. Medic, you carried out the investigation. We
9 know that was completed, and then the case was forwarded to the
10 Prosecutor for further processing.
11 A. That is correct.
12 Q. Do you know what the results or the outcome of the proceedings or
13 procedure was? I know that you were not the judge in charge of the trial
14 itself, but it took place at your court in Belgrade, so what was the
15 final outcome of the case?
16 A. I can't answer with any certainty. There were several trials.
17 There were several judgements and then appeals, and it seemed to go
18 around about two or three times. I don't know what the final decision
19 was, but according to some information Mr. Beara did not receive a prison
21 Q. Thank you, Mr. Medic. For your information, Mr. Beara was
22 acquitted concerning the charge of instigating murder, and for the other
23 charge he received a probationary sentence.
24 MR. NIKOLIC: Your Honours, this concludes my examination. I
25 have no further questions.
1 JUDGE AGIUS: Thank you, Mr. Nikolic. Now, let's do the round.
2 Mr. Zivanovic, you had asked for ten minutes.
3 MR. ZIVANOVIC: I'll not cross-examine this witness, Your Honour.
4 JUDGE AGIUS: Thank you.
5 MR. ZIVANOVIC: Thank you.
6 JUDGE AGIUS: Madam Nikolic, you had asked for a quarter of an
8 MS. NIKOLIC: [Interpretation] No questions for the witness.
9 Thank you, Your Honour.
10 JUDGE AGIUS: Thank you. Mr. Gosnell, you had asked for ten
12 MR. GOSNELL: No questions, Mr. President. Thank you.
13 JUDGE AGIUS: Thank you. Madam Fauveau, you had asked, also, for
14 ten minutes.
15 MS. FAUVEAU: [Interpretation] No questions, Mr. President.
16 JUDGE AGIUS: Merci, madam. We don't know, but I would assume
17 you are not much interested in this topic.
18 MR. JOSSE: Very correct, Your Honour.
19 JUDGE AGIUS: No questions. Thank you. And Mr. Sarapa? Equally
21 MR. SARAPA: No. Yes, no questions, thank you.
22 JUDGE AGIUS: All right. Thank you. Mr. Nicholls, you had asked
23 for an hour and a half. If you need two hours, we are prepared to extend
25 MR. NICHOLLS: Well, I hope you won't hold it against me, Your
1 Honours, but we weren't sure exactly what the witness was going to say.
2 I have no questions at this time. Thank you.
3 [Trial Chamber confers]
4 JUDGE AGIUS: All right. Mr. Medic, I don't know if you've
5 broken the record on this trial, but your testimony is over in a few
6 minutes. Roughly we've taken just over half an hour between yesterday
7 and today. You are free to go back to your family and work. On behalf
8 of the Trial Chamber, my colleagues, and the supporting staff, I would
9 like to thank you very much for being so kind to come over and telling us
10 all about these events, and on behalf of everyone present I wish you a
11 safe journey back home.
12 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Thank you, Mr. President. I wish
13 you all very fruitful work.
14 [The witness withdrew]
15 JUDGE AGIUS: I take it we have no documents.
16 MR. NIKOLIC: [Interpretation] That is correct, Your Honour. No
18 JUDGE AGIUS: That concludes the testimony of Vojislav Medic.
19 Next witness. Who is he?
20 MR. OSTOJIC: Morning, Mr. President. The next witness is our
21 2DW-11, which is Ljubomir Mitrovic, who was at one point --
22 JUDGE AGIUS: Okay. I just wanted to make sure it's the same
24 MR. OSTOJIC: Yes.
25 JUDGE AGIUS: Well, let's wait for madam usher to bring him in.
1 MR. OSTOJIC: I'm not even sure if he is here this morning. I
2 haven't seen him, but --
3 JUDGE AGIUS: I wouldn't be surprised if he isn't because we
4 finished a little bit earlier than expected. On the other hand, again,
5 without chastising the newcomer, Mr. Nikolic, and directing myself to you
6 or rather Mr. Ostojic, given the substance of the evidence of this
7 witness, I wonder how it circulated around the corridors of your mind, of
8 your brains, to indicate that you required two hours for this witness's
10 MR. OSTOJIC: Mr. President, when we proofed the witness it
11 actually took a lot longer, and we just wanted to make sure that we were
12 not barred from going over the initial estimate, which was made several
13 months ago without actually ever meeting the witness. I mean, I met him
14 the first time this past few days, so we just wanted to be safe, and we
15 felt with respect to the next witness, since the Prosecution estimated an
16 hour and a half and we weren't informed at all that they would have
17 anything less than that, and given the exhibits that they produced
18 potentially to be used with the exhibit -- with this witness, we felt
19 rather safe that it was going to take us to at least the very first
20 break. And I do apologise for that.
21 JUDGE AGIUS: All right, Mr. Ostojic. Madam, we are
23 [Trial Chamber and registrar confer]
24 JUDGE AGIUS: Please -- all right, that's perfectly
25 understandable. I mean, when these things happen, we'll have to learn to
1 adjust accordingly. We are informed that the next witness was scheduled
2 to be brought over towards 12.30. That's taking into account, of course,
3 the two hours that were required by you, the hour and a half that were
4 required by the Prosecution, more or less; that's it.
5 [Trial Chamber confers]
6 JUDGE AGIUS: We were trying to discuss how we could all together
7 pull a little bit more effort and try to be more efficient in this. But
8 I'm pretty sure that you will try. Independently of this, we are
9 informed that this gentleman was scheduled to come over at 12.30. Our
10 staff is trying to locate him, make sure that -- if he is still in his
11 hotel, in which case they will bring him over in a matter of between 20
12 and 30 minutes, and we can resume the sitting. If he is not in the
13 hotel, we may have problems, but I would all ask you to stand by, have a
14 coffee or whatever, but stay inside the building because we could resume
15 any time and at the first opportunity he is found and brought over. All
16 right? Thank you.
17 --- Break taken at 9.44 a.m.
18 --- On resuming at 10.17 a.m.
19 [The witness entered court]
20 JUDGE AGIUS: Good morning, to you, Mr. Mitrovic.
21 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Good morning.
22 JUDGE AGIUS: On behalf of the Trial Chamber, I wish to welcome
23 you to this Tribunal. You are about to start giving evidence.
24 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Thank you.
25 JUDGE AGIUS: Before you do so, I wish to tell you that you are
1 required to make a solemn declaration, equivalent to an oath in certain
2 jurisdictions, that the course of your testimony you will be testifying
3 the truth. Madam usher is going to hand you now the text of this solemn
4 declaration. Once you've made it, that will be your solemn commitment
5 with us. Go ahead.
6 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] I solemnly declare that I will
7 speak the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.
8 JUDGE AGIUS: Thank you. Please make yourself comfortable.
9 You've been summoned as a witness by the Defence team for Colonel Beara
10 here, so it will be that Defence team that will go first with some
11 questions. They will be followed by others on cross-examination. Is it
12 Mr. Ostojic? Mr. Ostojic.
13 MR. OSTOJIC: Thank you, Mr. President.
14 THE WITNESS: LJUBOMIR MITROVIC
15 [Witness answered through interpreter]
16 Examination by Mr. Ostojic:
17 Q. Mr. Mitrovic, as you know my name is John Ostojic, and I
18 represent -- we represent Mr. Beara here in this case. Good morning to
19 you, sir.
20 A. Good morning.
21 Q. Can you just -- so we have it in the record, can you tell us your
22 full name?
23 A. Ljubomir Mitrovic.
24 Q. Can you share with us your date of the birth and where you
25 presently reside?
1 A. The 27th of September, 1939. I currently reside in Bijeljina in
3 Q. And I apologise for asking you this question, sir, but sometime
4 it is seems relevant in these proceedings. Can you tell us what your
5 ethnic affiliation is?
6 A. I am a Serb.
7 Q. Again, forgive me fore asking your religious affiliation, if any?
8 A. I'm an atheist.
9 Q. Sir, if you could give us a little more background about yourself
10 so we could have a better understand of what you did during your life and
11 specifically in 1995. Tell us a little bit about your educational
12 background. What is the greatest level of education that you completed?
13 A. I completed the teachers academy, which is at the level of high
14 school, and then two years of academy specializing in chemistry.
15 Q. And can you just tell us where you worked approximately in the
16 late 1980s to early 1990s, if at all?
17 A. During that time, I worked for the state security until 1985.
18 And that year, I transferred to the public security sector. In 1986, I
19 was appointed commander of the municipal staff of TO for Bijeljina under
20 the proviso that after four years I was to return again to the ministry
21 of the interior. In 1991, my mandate ran out; however, I did not return
22 to the ministry because I was not a member of the parties that won at the
23 time. That party in particular was the Serb democratic party. As I was
24 expected to join the party when assuming my previous position, I did not
25 do so, and I requested that I be retired.
1 Q. And just help me again, what year was that that -- 1991 that you
2 requested that you -- to retire?
3 A. 1991.
4 Q. Thank you, sir. What, if anything, did you do from 1991 through
5 let's just say September or December of 1995?
6 A. In 1991 when I retired, I took some time to rest and to get away
7 from all the problems that have plagued all of our nations. In December
8 1991, I was summoned to the command of the 38th Partisan Brigade. That
9 command was being in formation, and they told me that they were short of
10 staff since they could no longer count on any Muslim or Croat colleagues.
11 Knowing that I had worked for the security services, I was offered to be
12 the head of the security organ of the 38th Brigade. I knew the commander
13 from before; therefore, I wasn't ordered to do so, although in military
14 terms, that should have been so. I requested some time to take my time
15 before assuming position, but it didn't take place. I remained at the
17 Q. And for how long did you remain at that unit, the 38th Partisan
19 A. I stayed there until late May 1992. On the 20th of May, the
20 active duty professional officers were supposed to go to Serbia
22 command was disbanded, and I was transferred to the 17th partisan brigade
23 in charge of the security organ. In a few months time, it was to be
24 renamed to the 1st Semberija brigade the same year my brigade went to
25 Majevica, which is a mountain; and I was there until mid-March 1993,
1 after which I was transferred to the corps, to the security department
2 there. I was also appointed a member of the commission for the exchange
3 of POWs and the mortal remains of those killed. I was a member of the
4 commission, and I worked in my capacity according to the rules. I wasn't
5 a decision-maker with the commission, and on several occasions I visited
6 Batkovic, and I also had frequent contacts with other members of the
7 commission as well as the other party's commission and representatives of
8 the ICRC.
9 Q. Thank you, Mr. Mitrovic. We are going to break that down a
10 little bit if you don't mind, sir, and specifically what I'd like to know
11 is, you were initially from your testimony a member of the commissioner
12 for exchange of prisoners and bodies. That commission was of the East
13 Bosnia Corps, correct?
14 A. Yes.
15 Q. A little more background, sir, before we ask what your job duties
16 and responsibilities were in connection with that. How long were you a
17 member of this commission as a member of the commission, meaning not as
18 we know you became president subsequently, so I want to just break it
19 down. Were you a member for a short period of time, or did you become
20 president of this commission immediately thereafter?
21 A. As of mid-March 1993 until the 20th of April, 1994, I was a
22 member of the commission. It was then that I was made president by the
23 corps commander's order. I was appointed president of the exchange
24 commission. That lasted until the 30th of April, 1997. After that, the
25 commission no longer existed; I was demobilized and went home. I
1 requested that.
2 Q. Thank you, Mr. Mitrovic. Let me focus if I can with you the
3 period when you were a member of this Commission for Exchange of
4 Prisoners and Bodies. How many people were in this commission with you,
5 again, during the period you were there, 1993 through 20th of April,
7 A. In total there were five members on the commission: The
8 president, and that was an establishment post; then there was a
9 secretary. That was another establishment post. As for the rest, they
10 came from various units. They had their primary duties with those units
11 but, also, when the commission met they were supposed to join the
12 commission and work with it.
13 Q. Now, can you share with me who at that time was the president of
14 the commission, from 1993 through the time April 20th, 1994, when you
15 became president, sir?
16 A. It was Matija Bodirogic from Tuzla. He was a refugee in
17 Bijeljina. Do you need me to tell you anything about him?
18 Q. We may, but it you could just be kind enough to share with us if
19 you recall some of the other members of the commission during that time
20 period, 1993 through 1994.
21 A. The secretary, Mitra Radovanovic. There were changes taking
22 place. There was Sokic, I think he was a warrant officer; and Makso
23 Simeonovic from Brcko. He was to remain with the commission for some
25 Q. Sir, during that period of 1993 through 1994 when you were a
1 member of this commission, can you describe for me what the commission
2 was doing as a whole? What were your job duties and responsibilities at
3 that time?
4 A. The commission established contacts with the commissions from the
5 Federation and occasionally from Croatia
6 It was done by the commission member from Brcko because he had radio
7 communication. Occasionally, we made use of other types of communication
8 from Bijeljina. There were quite a number of bodies on both sides to be
9 exchanged as of early 1992 when the fighting began. First, we would
10 negotiate in order to ascertain whether there were any bodies, and then
11 we wanted to know how many and what the opposing party wanted in return.
12 Those problems could not be dealt with in one blow. There were some
13 problems as far back as 1991, and once the commission was disbanded there
14 were still problems expected to be resolved. We also had contacts with
15 the ICRC. They were looking for some people, and we wanted to gain some
16 information from them. We had good cooperation, and things went as they
17 should have.
18 Q. And just so I can clarify, you said that you established contacts
19 with the Federation and contacts with Croatia. When you say the
20 Federation, you had -- did you have a counterpart on the Bosnian Muslim
21 side that you would enter into these negotiations or discussions with,
22 sir, in 1993, 1994?
23 A. As for the Federation commission, from the moment I joined our
24 commission until the end there was always somebody that I had known,
25 either we had worked together; some people I knew from the Territorial
1 Defence regional staff; some people were from the state security service.
2 There was also a committee secretary from Bijeljina from the time when I
3 had been a member of the committee. There was always someone I knew on
4 the other side, and I believe that contributed to an exceptionally good
5 cooperation we had, and that was the opinion shared by both sides.
6 Q. Just tell me the name of the commission in 1993/1994 from the
7 Federation that you had contacts and dealings with with respect to the
8 exchange of prisoners and bodies.
9 A. For the most part, it was the commission of the Tuzla canton.
10 There may have been one meeting with the Zenica Canton Commission, but
11 that's where we ran into most of the problems. There were the most
12 difficult problems to be resolved with them. The Tuzla Canton
13 comprised some 15 municipalities. There were far more numerous in terms
14 of members of the commission, whereas on our side there were always four
15 or five. They, however, had one representative per each town or
16 municipality. There was also some discussion concerning civilians, and
17 at the beginning there were some exchanges - I don't know how many,
18 exactly - that involved the civilian population, of course, following the
19 approvals of both sides' authorities. There were some exchanges, and
20 certain people were sought after who had been in prison. However, we
21 established that they were no longer in prisons, and we continued with
22 that type of civilian exchanges. At a later point, we gave up from
23 exchanging civilians, and we continued exchanging soldiers only.
24 Q. Thank you, sir. We'll get into that in a little more detail when
25 you became president of this commission, but again, just if we can focus
1 for the time being on the '93 and '94 so I can get a better
2 understanding, and we all can, as to what -- thank you, as to what was
3 going on.
4 Now, you mentioned that you were a member of this commission of
5 the -- it's in the title. It says the East Bosnian Corps. Can you tell
6 us were there other similarly situated commissions in the other corps
7 areas of the former territory of Bosnia
8 Krajina, the Herzegovina Krajina, the Sarajevo-Romanija corps, and the
10 A. All of the corps had their own exchange commissions, all of them
11 at the time. They had exchange commissions for the exchange of POWs. It
12 would have been impossible to have one corps commission working in such a
13 large area and dealing with such extensive problems. If we are talking
14 about meetings, then occasionally we would have two commissions on our
15 side meeting with the commissions of the other side at the state level.
16 We will have the state commission of the Serb side meeting the state
17 commission of the Federation, and that will usually take place in
19 Q. Thank you. And with respect to your answer that all the corps
20 had their own exchange commission, do you know when they were formed in
21 each of the corps if they were not formed at the same time? Do you know
22 approximately when they were formed, these commissions?
23 A. I don't know when they were officially established, but something
24 was in existence already. Perhaps it wasn't called commission, but each
25 of the corps had something. Once combat began, there was an immediate
1 need to exchange bodies of those killed. It was, therefore, sometime in
2 1992, but I don't know when exactly and in what official capacity or by
3 what name, but in any case exchanges were underway.
4 Q. Okay. Well, help us with this: Do you know or do you recall
5 whether or not in 1993 the commissions existed into each of the corps
6 that we just discussed?
7 A. Yes. I was able to see that myself and to meet some of the
8 presidents of those commissions.
9 Q. Now, you discussed briefly the need or the immediate need to
10 exchange bodies of those killed. Were there exchanges of soldiers in
11 that period when you were just a member of the commission from 1993 to
13 A. We didn't have any, but those corps which had soldiers captured
14 did exchange them. We did have people who had been killed from the
15 Posavina theatre, and that's when -- where they were exchanged.
16 Q. When did the commission from the East Bosnia Corps which you
17 became the president ultimately form, if at all, a detention centre or
19 A. The commission did not establish a collection centre or a camp.
20 I don't know what it was exactly. It was established in 1992, but I
21 don't know under whose orders. I was at Majevica at the time. I do know
22 it was formed that year and that it was used to have the prisoners from
23 the other corps brought in to a single centre. That's why I use the term
24 "collection centre." I don't know at what time it was, though.
25 Q. And do you know the name of that collection centre?
1 A. The collection centre of Batkovic.
2 Q. Okay. Well, let's talk about Batkovici for a few minutes here.
3 Is that the collection centre that you say was established in 1992?
4 A. Yes.
5 Q. Have you ever been there, sir?
6 A. Not up to the time when I transferred to the commission for
7 exchange. Basically I never went there. I only went home every
8 fortnight or so to take a shower, but prior to my arrival to the corps, I
9 had no knowledge of the existence of that centre. Once with the corps to
10 become a member of the commission -- go ahead.
11 Q. No, no, please.
12 A. When I arrived in the corps as a member of the commission, I had
13 occasion to meet the people from the command of the collection centre.
14 It was then that I learned where it was and what the status of the
15 detainees was. I was interested in that. One of the reasons why I asked
16 to go to Majevica and to be returned to my brigade was because I put
17 forth a request that if the detainees are to be beaten or maltreated, I
18 would be refuse to be a member of the commission since I would be too
19 ashamed to negotiate. I think that had a bearing, since I was unable to
20 order anything in Batkovic [Realtime transcript read in error,
21 "Baljkovica"] the commander at the time was someone who was with me in
22 the Semberija brigade. We could talk as friends so that I would be able
23 to work on my duties as best I could with the other side. If you need me
24 to go into any more detail, I'm willing to do so.
25 I went there with representatives of the ICRC, as well, and when
1 they wanted to do so, we could go, and perhaps it was once a week
2 depending on the situation. If I was not busy with other tasks, I would
3 go with them, and it would be on those occasions that I could arrange for
4 something as well. I was there in terms of escort when they wanted to
5 talk to prisoners, and there would be sentries. Sometimes we would
6 leave, as well, so that the detainees could share their concerns or
7 objections if they had any.
8 Also, the representatives of the ICRC never conveyed to me
9 something that would have been of particular interest to me in terms of
10 the detainees being maltreated. They never told me they noticed any
11 irregularities in terms of how those people were treated or that their
12 money was taken or anything of the sort. The cantonal commission never
13 mentioned anything of that either. Quite to the contrary. When I talked
14 to a colleague from Doboj, they told me it's good that these people went
15 to Kotorsko because it's a real jail. Why did they have to leave
16 Batkovici? We know that they faired far better in Batkovici than
17 anywhere else. Any jail is bad in and of itself, but we tried to treat
18 them as humanly as possible.
19 I can also say that they ate the same food as the officers of the
20 corps. There was only one mess, and the food was the same for all. It
21 was rich in terms of nutrition but not very varied; we were not happy,
22 either. When there was a surplus of food, we always shared it with the
23 prisoners. I think they were happy in that regards as well.
24 Q. Mr. Mitrovic, we were going a little -- and I know we are all
25 anxious. We are going a little further ahead, and we are going to cover
1 those areas, sir, hopefully with you today. But really, my question is
2 if we can focus on the Batkovic camp. Where is it located, or where was
3 it located?
4 A. Batkovic?
5 Q. Yes, sir, Batkovic.
6 A. It shows the name of the village. The village is Batkovic. It
7 is 7 -- 6 kilometres away from Bijeljina, and as you pass through the
8 village, some 4 kilometres further is the camp, so altogether it's about
9 10 kilometres from Bijeljina. And since you had to go through the
10 village of Batkovic to get to the collection centre, the name given to it
11 was Batkovic.
12 MR. THAYER: Good morning, Mr. President. I just wanted to make
13 a correction for the record. We've had this problem before. The names
14 sound familiar, and it's being Baljkovica, which is a different location,
15 and it's Batkovici.
16 JUDGE AGIUS: Thank you. Yes, Mr. Ostojic.
17 MR. OSTOJIC: Thank you, Mr. President.
18 Q. Sir, can you describe for us the premises of the detention
19 centre? What did it look like? Was there one structure? Was it a
20 multi-structure centre?
21 A. The premises were of the former agricultural combine of Batkovic.
22 It was actually called the Semberija farm. The buildings that were there
23 were prefabricated buildings. There, you could see all over
24 Bosnia-Herzegovina. Their purpose was to serve as storages. They were
25 not meant to be residential buildings but, rather, storage for cereals,
1 and since Bijeljina is midway from Herzegovina to Krajina, I suppose this
2 was what made people decide that this would be a collection centre.
3 When it comes to conditions, the conditions were not really what
4 they should be, but we tried to provide mats and blankets - the ICRC also
5 helped - in order to create conditions for the detainees to spend
6 sometime there, though to large hangars to large storage facilities, and
7 there were also adjacent buildings which had housed the combine
8 management back in the day.
9 When I came, only one of the buildings was used, but later on
10 another building was also prepared to accommodate the detainees but was
11 never put in use. Maybe we'll come to that later.
12 Q. Well, just give me a chance to ask the question, and I'm sure
13 we'll get there, sir, soon enough. Focusing on the premises of the
14 Batkovic camp, can you tell me who maintained the premises in 1993 and
15 1994? Who was in charge of running the camp?
16 A. The collection centre had its commander and its command, of
17 course. The commander was subordinated to the corps commander, and it --
18 he reported to him as well.
19 Q. Now, did your commission have any involvement with running the
20 detention centre at all or maintaining it or providing any of the food to
21 that facility, or were you a separate and distinction entity?
22 A. We were a separate body because the exchange commission was
23 appointed by the commander. We were supposed to cooperate, but we could
24 not influence one another, especially when it came to the provisions. It
25 was the assistant commander for logistics who took care of that for the
1 collection centre and for the other units, and there are also some other
2 junior officers who were in charge of that.
3 Q. Now, sir, if we could include the period of when you became
4 president of this commission, as well, in my next question. What is the
5 greatest number of POWs, if you recall, that were maintained at this
6 collection centre up to July of 1995?
7 A. The situation changed in 1992 and 1993. People came and went.
8 For example, the Banja Luka corps would bring a certain number, and they
9 would take them away. There were up to 500 people at any one time. When
10 I became the president of the commission, there were only 40 to 50 of
11 them, and they were not all of them prisoners of war in the proper sense
12 of the word.
13 Q. Okay. Well, let's talk about the period of the -- when you were
14 president of this commission. Were there any other detention centres
15 during the time that you were president other than the one that we
16 mentioned called Batkovic?
17 A. As far as I know there were no other collection centres. I don't
18 know about Herzegovina
19 that the 1st Krajina Corps, the 2nd Krajina corps did not have any.
20 Actually, the 1st Krajina Corps I don't know about because I did not have
21 any contact with them. As for the 2nd Krajina corps and the Drina Corps,
22 they did not have of any such collection centres, but I would like to say
23 this: It did happen that not everybody managed to reach Batkovic. Some
24 would be kept because if the corps needed to conduct exchanges and if
25 there was an opportunity, it would not have been economical to take
1 people there and return them. So they would keep them for a while until
2 they got in touch with the other side or until things were negotiated and
3 agreed upon, and as for the rest they would be taken to Batkovic first,
4 and then when there was an occasion to have them exchanged, they would be
5 taken from Batkovic and brought to the place where each of the
6 commissions had agreed upon the exchange to take place.
7 Q. Earlier today in your testimony, you were beginning to share with
8 us your view that you instructed people that if you are going to undergo
9 and conduct certain negotiations that you specifically require that the
10 POWs be treated properly, and I just don't -- and I want to ask you this,
11 and we'll talk about that specifically more: When did this happen, sir,
12 in your capacity as a member of the commission or in your capacity as
13 president of the commission? If you could give me the date or the year
15 A. That was in 1993, the same year when I joined the commission. I
16 said I could not issue any orders, but I did inform my superior officer
17 on what I was going to say and what I was going to propose to the
18 commander of the collection centre, and this was accepted. The situation
19 was as it was because we were not strictly on official terms. We had
20 been acquaintances and friends for a number of years. When he arrived in
21 January 1993, that's how he behaved. That's one of the reasons, as I've
22 already told you at the very beginning. I told him if any of them were
23 to be beaten in Batkovic, be it Croats or Muslims, the same would happen
24 to the detained Serbs on the other side; and I believe that this was very
25 helpful because people who had been detained from our corps, they were
1 not ill-treated because the news spread very quickly. We did not have to
2 wait until the end of the war to learn what the treatment of the
3 prisoners on both sides was.
4 Q. Sir, did you maintain this policy or position when you became
5 president of the commission in April of 1994 and through 1997?
6 A. That was my way approach -- that was my way of thinking
7 throughout all my life. You can't expect to do evil by others and fare
8 differently, and as president I probably had a bit more influence than
9 otherwise, but it wasn't even necessary. As far as I can tell you, and I
10 repeat, I did not sleep there; I would only go there occasionally,
11 accompanying the ICRC, and I never learned from the Tuzla commission or
12 the members of the ICRC that there had been any complaints, any mention
13 of ill treatment, at least for as long as I was in the position.
14 Q. Now, covering the period while you were in the position, do you
15 know how often you -- or do you remember how often you would meet with
16 the Tuzla Canton for Exchange Commission in a given month or if it was
17 once a month in a given year, if you could just break it down for us?
18 A. I can't tell you exactly. There was no plan to meet. We would
19 meet very often. Sometimes it would even happen that we met on one day
20 and then we would have to meet again the following day or within a week
21 even when we did not have prisoners of war in Batkovic that they would be
22 interested in, and when they spoke to the commission of the first -- or
23 actually the 2nd Krajina corps that they would not come to negotiate, I
24 would tell them, I have nothing to offer you; we'll wait until we have
25 prisoners of war and then we can meet. And then the president would say,
1 no, let's meet next week and see what we can do. They even wanted
2 able-bodied men, but I suppose the leadership would not allow them to do
3 that. It was a lot of work because there were about 900 Muslims,
4 able-bodied men, younger men that needed to be looked into. I had to
5 find out where they were. I know that they had all the good intentions,
6 but things were not always simple. We did meet and we tried to talk, and
7 if we did not have prisoners of war to exchange, then we would look at
8 exchanging the bodies of those who had not been exchanged from 1991. In
9 the meantime, we would exchange bodies. We would try to find locations
10 of though who were missing, and so on and so forth. In any case, there
11 were lots of contacts, perhaps even up to seven or eight meetings in a
12 month because it sometimes happened that we could not coordinate
13 ourselves, so we had to consult each other in order to solve the
15 Another commission was established in the municipality of Teocak
16 which was closer to me, and we spoke even with them, with the consent of
17 the Tuzla
19 Q. Thank you. Sir, did you also have these meetings with ICRC?
20 A. Not official. These meetings were never official, but since my
21 office was in town, maybe four buildings or five buildings away from the
22 ICRC building, we would either talk, or I would drop in when passing the
23 building, or they would come to see me in my office and we would talk.
24 Whenever they could go and assist negotiations, we would inform them and
25 ask them to join us. There was never any problem for them joining us in
1 our negotiations. The ICRC representatives often accompanied the other
2 side, as well, so that was never a problem.
3 Q. Thank you. Mr. Mitrovic, where did these meetings take place,
4 and just if you could be brief a little bit so that I could try to put a
5 couple questions to you. I know you want to share all this, and we will
6 get to it, but just tell us where. Was it always in the Federation side;
7 was it always in Bijeljina, or where when you were president of that
9 A. The meetings were always between the lines of the warring parties
10 in that territory, and the places were Satorovici near Brcko; Sibosnica
11 near Lopare; Povrsnica on Mount Majevica
12 pass on Mount Majevica
13 attempt, in Memici near Zvornik. That's where the meetings took place
14 most frequently. Later on, we had meetings in Gradacac and Gracanica on
15 one or two occasions. The previous ones were taking place more often.
16 Q. Did you ever have any meetings in Sarajevo or near Sarajevo
17 during the July 1995 period?
18 A. Yes.
19 Q. Okay. I'll walk you through that if you don't mind, sir. Sorry
20 to interrupt you. Was that the only time that you had a meeting in
22 Commission, or did you have other meetings prior to that in Sarajevo
23 A. I believe that we had a meeting in January 1995 or maybe in
24 December. There was snow. That's when we had a meeting, and a few days
25 later we had another meeting in Sarajevo
1 Sidski Brod near Tuzla
2 in that military camp we also had a meeting, and that preceded the events
3 in Srebrenica, all these meetings.
4 Q. We'll get to that, sir. Who attended the meeting? Was it just
5 representatives from your commission? Were you the sole representatives,
6 and give us a little more flavour or feeling, if you will, of who was on
7 the other side and whether or not ICRC was present, as well, during those
9 A. When we had meetings in Sarajevo
10 by the state commissions of the Republika Srpska and the Federation;
11 i.e., the presidents of the respective commissions had agreed the
12 principles of the talks, and then we would be invited. Not all the corps
13 were present. Most commonly, it would be the representatives of the
14 Tuzla Canton and the Zenica Canton who would be present and also the
15 Banja Luka or the 1st Krajina Corps as well as the East Bosnia Corps. I
16 am not sure, but I believe that there were representatives of the Drina
17 Corps at one of the meetings, but I'm not sure. And these meetings did
18 not yield any results. Those were mostly negotiations between the
19 presidents of the state commissions on the two sides. The records were
20 taken of what had been done, how commissions had carried out their work.
21 I never wanted to sign any of these minutes or records because they were
22 really not helpful and there was not much use of them.
23 Q. Okay, and we'll talk about that. Let me ask you this, sir: Do
24 you remember an occasion in July 1995 that you had a meeting in Sarajevo
25 with the Tuzla
1 A. We were supposed to have a meeting in Kiseljak near Sarajevo
2 the 11th of July, 1995.
3 Q. Okay. We'll talk about that in just a few minutes, but I'd like
4 to understand a little bit more about how the meeting was set up and when
5 it was set up and why it was set up, so if you give me that chance, sir,
6 we'll get to the meeting as soon as possible. You said you were supposed
7 to have a meeting. How much before July 11th, 1995, did you schedule to
8 have a meeting in Kiseljak near Sarajevo
10 A. It was not us who scheduled that. It was the state commissions
11 who scheduled that meeting, and they were the ones who decided who should
12 be present. The corps commissions did not have a say in making a
13 decision whether they would attend or not.
14 Q. How much, if you know, before July 11th was this meeting set up?
15 A. I don't know. Maybe two days earlier we learned of the meeting,
16 and I don't know when it was scheduled.
17 Q. You were asked to attend this meeting, correct?
18 A. Yes.
19 Q. And by whom?
20 A. The president of the state commission, which, again, went through
21 the corps, of course.
22 Q. And what was --
23 A. Because the corps command was the command that made any decisions
24 on that.
25 Q. We understand that, Mr. Mitrovic. Just help me with this: Do
1 you know prior to going to the meeting on the 11th, 1995, what the
2 purpose of the meeting was going to be?
3 A. In principle, yes. We knew that the Tuzla corps representatives
4 were -- would be there, and that's what we were actually interested in,
5 and we knew already what we were supposed to discuss. So we did not ask
6 for any details. We did not need any details; we were prepared for the
8 Q. So would I be fair to say it wasn't a special meeting; it was
9 just a typical and regular meeting that was set up, I know not by you and
10 the commission. It was set up and you were going to Kiseljak in order to
11 meet with your counterparts to have discussions about POWs and diseased
12 individuals, correct?
13 A. That's how things should have been, yes.
14 Q. Give me an idea, sir, how far it is from Bijeljina or where your
15 headquarters were for the commission to Kiseljak where this meeting was
16 supposed to take place? What is the distance?
17 A. About 200 kilometres to Sarajevo
18 from Sarajevo
19 that familiar with the plan of Sarajevo
20 the control of the Croatian Defence Council, and it was populated by
22 Q. An approximation will be fine, sir. Thank you for that. Did you
23 ultimately end up going to Kiseljak for this scheduled regular meeting
24 with your counterparts in July of 1995?
25 A. We knew where we were supposed to wait for the UNHCR's APC. We
1 waited, and I believe seven APCs turned up. We did not need as many. I
2 was a bit phased to see so many of them when we only needed two, and then
3 we arrived at the Kobiljaca crossing close to Kiseljak, and that's where
4 we were kept by the military police of the Croatian Defence Council.
5 They asked for our IDs, we told them that we were members of the Serbian
6 Exchange Commission and then they asked from our escorts, from the UNHCR
7 to open the flaps because we were closed inside so that we wouldn't see
8 the lines of our opponents. We waited there for some two hours, nobody
9 turned up, nobody told us anything and finally they told us that the
11 not turned up, the representatives of the UNHCR had crossed over to the
12 other side. They wanted us to cross over, one of the officers asked us
13 to wait.
14 We didn't know what we should do until the moment when
15 communication with the Main Staff was established and then we learned
16 that Srebrenica had fallen, that we should not pose any problems and that
17 the two APCs should be let through. They went in the direction of
18 Kiseljak. We were not in a very enviable position. We continued towards
19 Mount Jahorina
20 airport. The other side had claimed that they had attended, that they
21 had turned up for the meeting. And we did not reach any agreement.
22 Q. Mr. Mitrovic, we were going to get to the 12th and -- right when
23 we finish the 11th, that's the next topic I hope to cover. Let's just
24 focus for a little bit on the 11th of July, when you were there with the
25 UNHCR. Did they always provide escort to you and the members that came
1 to undertake these negotiations? Did they always provide that escort?
2 A. Only on those couple of occasions when we went to the airport,
3 that's when they arrived with APCs to take us through the combat lines to
4 the airport. As for other talks or negotiations, there was no need for
5 them to escort us. It was up to us to make sure that everything was calm
6 and peaceful when we went for these negotiations. They only took us to
8 Q. Did you spend the night that night in Kiseljak or in an area near
10 A. Somehow we returned to Ilidza and we didn't know what to do. We
11 were supposed to pass through the territory which was part of the
12 Federation, then we had to pass by the trenches of their army although
13 the troops were not there. And we decided to go, we drove at a high
14 speed and that's how we avoided any fire. No fire was open on us because
15 they probably did not know who it was and then we crossed over to the
16 area where we took some forest roads and maybe after 150 or 160
17 kilometres later, after having driven for that distance through forest --
18 on forest roads we arrived at Mount Jahorina
19 spend the night.
20 Q. And it may be just my curiosity but why didn't you just go back
21 home, why did you spend the night somewhere, was there any reason for
23 A. We cancelled our accommodation at Jahorina and we planned once
24 everything is done to go back to the places we had come, because the
25 families and parents awaited us there to learn whether we had agreed on
1 anything. However, we were told that we were supposed to go to Jahorina
2 and spend the night there so that the next day we would meet again with
3 the other side on the Sarajevo
4 we had to go all the way back because of the vehicles -- because our
5 vehicle from Banja Luka which we had used remained there. We did not
6 plan for another meeting the next day but following the request of the
7 state commission president and because the need was such, we adhered to
8 it, trying to deal with some things at least.
9 Q. How many people were in this group with you, sir?
10 A. From Banja Luka, from the 1st Krajina Corps, there were two.
11 Then myself, that's three. Three. But there were some from the state
13 Q. You can just tell me if you remember, or if you don't we'll move
14 on, if you remember just give me, was there five, more than five? You
15 can approximate, we'll accept that from you. It was a long time ago.
16 Was it more than ten. We don't need to you list out exactly where they
17 were all from unless it's necessary but first give us an idea of how many
18 people were there, more or less than five?
19 A. Maybe seven.
20 Q. Fair enough. Now, you had this meeting scheduled, not you, you
21 didn't schedule it we got that, but a meeting was set up -- yes, I know.
22 And the meeting was set up and the other side didn't show up on the 11th
23 of July, 1995. And they told you --
24 A. Yes.
25 Q. And they told you the reason was because Srebrenica had just
1 fallen; correct?
2 A. We weren't told that that was the reason for them not showing up
3 but before even returning we did learn of that event. However, it wasn't
4 related to the reason of them not showing up. We were just told they did
5 not show up and that we were supposed to go back, no further explanation
6 was given. The next day they told us that they were there.
7 Q. And the next day, sir, meaning the 12th of July, 1995, did you go
8 back with the group and have a meeting with your counterparts to discuss
9 POWs and bodies? A yes or no may even help.
10 A. There was a meeting at the airport. Two presidents discussed the
11 general problems concerning Sarajevo
12 into more specific things. There was also a wish to go on with the
13 negotiations, but pending the Srebrenica event, questions that were to be
14 raised, we subsequently had several meetings with them without the
15 mediation of the state commission.
16 Q. Let's just stick with this meeting for the moment. Where was
17 this meeting at, you said at the airport, which airport?
18 A. The Sarajevo
19 Q. And I know it may seem obvious sir, but I just want to make sure
20 that I don't lead you and I get that information from you.
21 How long did that meeting last?
22 A. In the building of the airport.
23 Q. Right. And how long did it last?
24 A. I can't tell you exactly. Perhaps an hour.
25 Q. Your counterparts from Tuzla
1 at the meeting?
2 A. From the Federation there were people from the state commission.
3 Q. How many, if you could estimate to the best of your recollection,
4 and just the number for now, how many people from your counterparts from
5 the Federation were present at this meeting on the 12th of July, 1995
6 A. I think there were some from the state Federation commission,
7 there were five. Based on what had been agreed upon in Kiseljak, the
8 people from the Zenica canton were supposed to be there but they did not
9 arrive. I think there was one representative from Tuzla. I only know
10 that nothing was agreed upon.
11 Q. But share with us -- although there was not an ultimate agreement
12 reached as a result of those negotiations, share with us, if you will,
13 some of the discussions that were being conducted, if any, during that
14 meeting or during those negotiations? What was discussed, if anything?
15 A. We discussed the exchange problems in general. Specifically, we
16 were supposed to talk about the bodies of killed soldiers, that was
17 always a burning issue which still remains unresolved until the present
18 day partly. Some representatives of the state commissions had their
19 agendas, but the event I mentioned prevented them from dealing with the
20 items. The only thing that was agreed was that we were to continue
21 negotiating after a while but we did not set a date.
22 Q. And then what happened after the meeting concluded, sir, what did
23 you and your group or that group that you were a part of, what happened?
24 Did you leave or stay, or ...
25 A. Once the meeting was closed, we went to our destinations. I went
1 to Bijeljina together with the president of the commission from the
2 1st Krajina Corps who went onwards Banja Luka. It was on the 12th. We
3 went as far as Vlasenica, and then we were told that we could not go on
4 because there was fighting in the area. There were obstacles on the road
5 preventing us from passing; however, did I talk to them and persuaded
6 them to let us through. I was able to reach Milici there was a joint
7 checkpoint there manned by the police and the military police, and then
8 we couldn't go any further. Among other things, one could hear infantry
9 weapons being fired and mortar shells.
10 My parents -- the parents waited for me for two days. I told
11 them I had to go and ask who could make a decision on me passing through,
12 they told me the military brigade commander. I asked to see him and I
13 explained him that the parents were waiting for me for two days. He
14 allowed us to pass, of course at our own risk. We, indeed, set out and
15 we were rather lucky, we drove fast and were not hit. But there was --
16 there were some bullets fired over our heads.
17 We reached our destination and I was able to tell the parents
18 what the situation was and what we were expecting to happen. It was that
19 evening. The next day I went to the corps in the morning --
20 Q. We'll get to that, sir, in a second. If you don't mind, I just
21 want to ask you a couple more questions about your return to Bijeljina on
22 the 12th. And you mentioned the parents, that you were meeting with
23 parents, and I think I know what you are trying to say but I'm going to
24 have you explain it as opposed to me summarizing it for you. Did you
25 have routine and regular meetings with this group that you identified as
1 "the parents" in your position as president of the Commission for
2 Exchange and Bodies?
3 A. I will try to briefly explain. I did have such meetings but they
4 were not planned. For example, in Ugljevik municipality there were 66
5 that had been taken prisoners and they formed a committee, that was the
6 committee of the parents of those captured and including some politicians
7 there. They were very interested in the exchanges as opposed to
8 Bijeljina which was not particularly interested in the exchanges of
10 After three
11 [phoen] and the parents and family members would attend. I would explain
12 to them how far ahead the negotiations were. For example, Tuzla
13 to exchange five and then I would tell them if you want five to be
14 exchanged, you should decide who the five would be. And then they would
15 refuse, and then the number would increase to 15. They rejected that as
16 well. I didn't want to state who was to be exchanged because then they
17 would ask me why this one, not that other one; it would make things more
18 difficult for me. But we managed to pull through at great satisfaction
19 for the parents. We managed to get those kids back in total.
20 In the area of Bijeljina, the parents organised themselves, as
21 well, and the door was always open. I would only go to the corps
22 occasionally and go back. There was always someone there, either myself
23 or the secretary to provide information. If I left to negotiate, there
24 was at least someone there, and there was always a group of people
25 waiting the results, and I would always explain to them, although I often
1 returned very tired. It functioned well, in particular with the Ugljevik
2 municipality. Of course, I did ask them not to protest or cause trouble.
3 Occasionally people were protesting, demonstrating because no exchanges
4 were taking place, but usually it was all right.
5 Q. And thank you, Mr. Mitrovic, for that answer.
6 You -- that was part of your basic job duties, if I can say that,
7 to meet and to assist the parents if they had any issues or concerns,
8 which they obviously had given your answer there, from time to time. On
9 the 12th when you arrived to Bijeljina in your headquarters, did you
10 immediately meet with these parents and give them an update as to any
11 questions they may have had regarding their loved ones that were being
12 held in the Federation?
13 A. When negotiating, irrespective of what the time of day was
14 because sometimes negotiations were taking place 200 kilometres away, but
15 always I went to the commission first, and even though occasionally it
16 was rather late, there were always groups waiting to hear what the
17 outcome was.
18 In particular on this occasion, we couldn't get by any
19 information. The secretary was waiting there, and they awaited my
20 return. They were explained what the situation was. What was important
21 for them was to know what the situation was and that we would do our
22 utmost. We were at war, and we were facing the opposing party, but we
23 only saw this as a humanitarian issue. We discarded any politics, and I
24 believe it was only good that we did not allow any politics to meddle
25 with what we were doing.
1 Q. Now, sir, I want to show you an exhibit, and it's -- I know we
2 are still talking about July of 1995, but I want to clarify a couple of
3 issues in 1993 when you first became a member of this commission and
4 ultimately its president, so if I may request that 2D520 be brought up to
5 the screen.
6 Sir, you just give me an indication of when you get that
7 document, and tell me if you are able to see it.
8 A. Yes.
9 Q. I believe we do have a draft English translation. I have a draft
10 English translation, and I thought that we were going to make available
11 to pass out if we didn't have it on e-court for everyone. And if the
12 Court will just bear with me, I'll try to find it. Or it may be just as
13 fast if I just place it on the ELMO, the one that I have, although I have
14 to say that I did make a slight mark on it.
15 JUDGE AGIUS: I think that would be better. In fact, you could
16 have heard probably Judge Prost precisely suggesting that. Let's do
17 that. It's quicker.
18 MR. OSTOJIC: Thank you.
19 Q. And Mr. Mitrovic, as she is putting this on the ELMO, that's
20 English translation, and thank you for focusing on the computer screen in
21 front of you, which is the e-court B/C/S version. Just to get an idea
22 about this document, it obviously mentions as you see there the camp at
23 Batkovic. Do you see it at the top third paragraph on the left-hand
25 A. Yes.
1 Q. And did you --
2 A. Collection camp, but the name was Collection Centre of Batkovic.
3 Q. Okay. Well, we'll call it that, sir; and can you just tell me
4 whether you can identify, and if we can just maybe scroll the document
5 down, from who -- who wrote this document?
6 A. Chief Major-General Manojlo Milovanovic. He ordered it.
7 Q. Can you give us the sum and substance of what -- to the best of
8 your knowledge sitting here, what he was ordering there to the East
9 Bosnian Corps and to the Drina
10 A. It was normal that the chief or commander orders their
11 subordinate, who was the commander of the corps. They were not issuing
12 orders directly to the commission. This was standard procedure. We know
13 in that situation who was responsible for what, who issued the order, who
14 implemented it. This was quite a regular thing for an armed force in
15 which things worked properly.
16 Q. I'm just leading up to, actually, the next exhibit, Mr. Mitrovic,
17 which is 2D521, and it's a document that we also have an English draft
18 translation. With the Court's permission, we'd like to use the usher to
19 place on the ELMO, as well, and that's dated the -- we'll take a look.
20 The draft translation has a date on it, but I would like us to just look
21 at the B/C/S version because I think the date may be somewhat
23 And, Mr. Mitrovic, when you get the chance, you tell us when
24 you've had the opportunity to look at this document, and then I'll ask
25 you some questions about it. If you could scroll down, please, ELMO as
1 well. Thank you, that's fine.
2 A. I am familiar with it. I wasn't the president then. This was a
3 communication between the commander and the president. I do know this
4 document, though. Given that these corps brought their prisoners to us,
5 the predecessor of mine who was the president of the commission used
6 those prisoners in exchanges, as well, not taking into any particular
7 consideration what the needs of those corps were. However, this exchange
8 took place, and the Drina Corps, for example, objected. They wanted that
9 their captured be exchanged, but we were not in a position to do that.
10 However, we were supposed to respect that, to take it into
11 account. And in the subsequent period, it was no longer possible to take
12 prisoners from another area, to have them exchanged without an approval,
13 and there was some part to be played by the corps in that approval, the
14 corps from which the prisoners had come from, from their areas of
16 Q. Just a couple of questions to follow up on your last answer. You
17 said there's some part played by the corps, but given that last paragraph
18 wouldn't it be the corps' call, that they had to be included and involved
19 in more detail, in greater detail than just playing a small part?
20 A. Well, yes. This reflected the reality as it was. People from
21 Batkovic, POWs from Batkovic were exchanged who had been captured by the
22 second corps, and the 2nd Corps wanted exchanges, but frequently they
23 would go to somewhere else to be exchanged. Therefore, the corps that
24 had provided the prisoners was not able to have anyone exchanged
25 subsequently. This was only to introduce some order when it comes to
2 Q. Just so we have the date of the document, sir, in English I think
3 the date was typed incorrectly on the day, but I think it's October 1993.
4 But if you would be kind enough to help us and read what the date is on
5 the top of the document 2D521 that we are referencing. You see it on the
6 top left-hand corner, fourth line from the top?
7 A. I think the 8th of November. I'm not sure.
8 Q. Okay.
9 A. Or the 8th of October, 1993, in any case.
10 Q. Well, we'll take a better look at it if we could zoom in on it,
11 but I think it's anywhere from we thought initially 16th or the 23rd of
12 October, 1993. But I don't know that it matters by that many days. But
13 the thing that I'm trying to focus on is that the year is 1993, and that
14 is the time that the Drina Corps, at least to your knowledge being a
15 member of the commission, initially objected as to how they can or cannot
16 bring captured POWs to the Batkovic camp or detention centre.
17 A. I think the previous order was implemented. It could have been
18 the Banja Luka or some other corps, but in any case, if they had
19 prisoners and some of their soldiers who had been captured, they asked
20 not to be forced to go as far as Batkovic if they were in a position to
21 establish contact with the other side and to quickly exchange those
22 people in a matter of a few days. Then according to what I know ... I
23 don't think it was done poorly, but if it was at all, the same procedure,
24 regular procedure was followed. There was a request sent from the corps
25 to the Main Staff and the state commission, and once it was approved it
1 was done, of course. The difference may have been in a matter of a few
2 people who were to be exchanged at a later date, and the rest were
3 brought to the collection centre.
4 JUDGE AGIUS: Mr. Ostojic, any time between now and another four
5 minutes when it's convenient for you, we'll have a break.
6 MR. OSTOJIC: Thank you, Mr. President. I'm just going to try to
7 get through a little bit more here, if you don't mind.
8 Q. Sir, let's go back now to the 12th of July, 1995. During that
9 time period, did you ever come to learn or were you ever informed as to
10 whether or not there were going to be POWs brought into the Batkovic camp
11 or detention centre?
12 A. I was.
13 Q. Let me just ask the question, sir. It might go a little faster.
14 Thank you for your patience in that regard. By whom were you advised of
16 A. The chief of security of the corps. I met him, and he told me of
17 the fact that an order was received and that the preparations were
18 carried out in Batkovici to have 1.300 captured Muslim soldiers
19 accommodated in two hangars in the camp.
20 Q. Sir, to the best of your recollection, can you tell us -- this
21 happened, obviously, after the 11th and after the 12th when you returned
22 back to Bijeljina, correct?
23 A. Yes.
24 Q. Okay. Do you know if it happened on the 13th in the morning,
25 afternoon, or evening?
1 A. Well, it's been 13 years since. I can't tell you what the time
2 was, but after my return -- it wasn't on the 12th, that's certain, but I
3 don't know at what time on the 13th.
4 Q. During the day sometime on the 13th. We'll accept that, sire.
5 Thank you. Do you know -- can you tell us who it is that you had this
6 conversation with and from which corps?
7 A. From the East Bosnian Corps, the chief of security. He conveyed
8 it to me. He knew what problems I had concerning the exchanges.
9 Q. Sorry to interrupt you. Just -- I need to just get the name
10 before we break for a little period to take a rest. Can you just tell me
11 the name of the individual?
12 A. Colonel Milenko Todorovic.
13 Q. Okay. Thank you.
14 MR. OSTOJIC: I think it might be a good time to take a break
15 now, Mr. President.
16 JUDGE AGIUS: We will have a -- we need 30 minute break, which
17 will start from now. That is, now it's ten to 12.00. We'll reconvene 30
18 minutes from now. Thank you.
19 --- Recess taken at 11.49 a.m.
20 --- On resuming at 12.23 p.m.
21 [The witness entered court]
22 JUDGE AGIUS: Mr. Ostojic, how much more do you have?
23 MR. OSTOJIC: We were --
24 JUDGE AGIUS: My idea is to try and finish with this witness
25 today if it is possible. I don't know if there are other
1 cross-examinations, but otherwise, we'd have to keep him here waiting
2 until Wednesday.
3 MR. OSTOJIC: And we're hoping not to do that, Mr. President, but
4 me and my learned friend did have a discussion about that, and we might
5 -- or we do need the COURT'S guidance on that because I don't know how
6 long the Prosecution has, and I certainly want to give him the
7 opportunity that he needs. I've tried to move it along as best as I can,
8 so perhaps if my learned friend from the Prosecutor's Office can address
9 that issue without me speaking for him.
10 JUDGE AGIUS: Of course, I was going to ask the Prosecution as
11 well, yes. What is your forecast?
12 MR. THAYER: Good afternoon, Mr. President. The forecast is
13 gloomy, unfortunately. We had been in discussions about the possibility
14 of myself interviewing the witness in advance of his testimony. We had
15 considered doing that today as we were operating under the schedule that
16 seemed to be pretty reasonable in terms of the examination schedule. We
17 are both obviously taken by surprise by the movement of events, so I've
18 not had an opportunity to interview the witness. That's water under the
20 However, I was given the lest of exhibits finally late, late last
21 night and was only able to get them together this morning and review them
22 during the witness's testimony. Based on what I've seen so far, I'm
23 going to be at least an hour, I would say, on cross if not more, and
24 where I think we're just getting into what seems to me to be the relevant
25 portions of the testimony. We're frankly being taken by surprise by some
1 of the testimony that goes way beyond the 65 ter summary, so my
2 representations to you are obviously qualified because I don't know what
3 this witness is going to say. And I fear that my estimates will go up
4 and not down, so unfortunately, I think consistent with the conversations
5 I had with my friend earlier this week, we are going to have to keep this
6 witness here, which is what we had planned in any event over the weekend.
7 JUDGE AGIUS: At the same time, I would suggest to you in
8 particular to do exactly what I had suggested to Mr. Nikolic earlier on
9 in the day, to distinguish the wheat from the chaff, see what's relevant
10 to this case and forget the rest because we will allow ourselves to be
11 concentrating on what is relevant and certainly not intend to waste time
12 on what is not. So let's proceed, and we'll take it up from there.
13 MR. OSTOJIC: Thank you, Mr. President.
14 Q. Mr. Witness, we are going to try our best to finish today. Just
15 be, as you have been, patient with the question. Just give me a short,
16 if you don't mind, answer, and of course, if you need to elaborate and
17 explain, the Court will most certainly give you that opportunity.
18 Now, we left off that you got a message or information from
19 Milenko Todorovic that there should be preparations made for I think you
20 said 1.300 POWs that were going to be placed in Batkovici. Can you tell
21 me, sir, to the best of your recollection what if anything did you do
22 after you received that information from Mr. Todorovic?
23 A. I received information and was looking forward to that. I was
24 not duty-bound to do anything. It was the camp command that was supposed
25 to do things. This was just information for me.
1 Q. Do you know and were you familiar with whether or not the camp
2 command made any preparations to the Batkovici camp in connection with
3 this new information that was received that there were going to be 1.300
4 or so POWs brought to the detention centre, Batkovici?
5 A. Yes, I knew that. The second hangar had been prepared, cleaned,
6 and prepared to receive them because it was estimated that not everybody
7 could fit in the first hangar.
8 Q. Okay, and let me just quickly show you P117 on e-court, and as
9 that's being pulled up I just give quickly what the document is so we can
10 save some time. It's dated the 13th of July, 1995, and it's an order
11 that seems to be signed by Milenko Zivanovic. And sir, I'm going to just
12 focus your attention quickly once we have it up on the second full
13 paragraph right before it states that "There is an order." It says the
14 paragraph preceding that, it starts "During the night of 12 and 13, July
15 1995." Do you see that?
16 A. Yes, I do.
17 Q. Okay. Now, if you look at this document, sir, although you
18 didn't author it, it's -- you are saying you got this information on the
19 13th. In fact, you couldn't have got the information before the 13th
20 that there were going to be POWs because the Drina Corps itself only
21 learned late July 12th and early -- late July 12th and July 13th, 1995,
22 this there were going to be forces that they may capture; isn't that
24 A. It's true.
25 Q. Okay, now, just looking at the first paragraph of the order,
1 could you just help us with that. In that first paragraph, I'd like to
2 focus everyone's attention on the seconds line of that order. It's
3 discussing the fact that the brigade commands in their area of
4 responsibility will employ all available able-bodied men to do the
5 following, sir: "... discover, block, disarm, and capture any Muslim
6 groups observed and prevent their crossing into Muslim territory." Do
7 you see that?
8 A. Yes.
9 Q. That was, sir, consistent with what Mr. Milenko Todorovic told
10 you on the 13th of July, 1995, correct?
11 A. Yes.
12 Q. Now, let's just go back quickly to the preparations, if any, that
13 were made in the Batkovic camp, and I know you didn't make them, sir.
14 That was the commander's responsibility at that detention centre. Can
15 you tell me, in addition to just adding or bringing or opening another
16 hangar, what if anything to your knowledge was done at the Batkovici camp
17 in preparation for these 1.300 POWs?
18 A. Well, the accommodation was prepared in the second hangar. The
19 material supplies had already been provided for the corps reserve. Food
20 was prepared, and it was expected from the ICRC to help with the clothing
21 and all the other preparations in respect of the hospital conditions.
22 Everything had been planned should the need arise in the course of the
23 event. In any case, there were capacities and provisions to accommodate
24 that many people.
25 Q. And ultimately, sir, were POWs brought to the Batkovici camp from
1 the Srebrenica area?
2 A. I believe that it was already the second half of the month after
3 the 15th or the 18th when the first group of 20 was brought in, mostly
4 wounded. They had already been taken care of in the area where they were
5 captured, I suppose, so when they arrived in Bijeljina they once had
6 already been dressed and any additional aid had been administered, if
7 necessary. I believe it was on the 20th when they arrived. I did not go
8 to the corps, but I was told that there were 20 POWs, and I said that I
9 couldn't do anything with the 20 because I had 101 in Tuzla. And after a
10 certain while, not to take up any more of your time, later on we received
11 a total of 167 prisoners, so we could offer them for exchange.
12 Q. And they were all from the Srebrenica enclave or thereabouts,
13 correct, to the best of your recollection?
14 A. Yes, yes.
15 Q. Let me show you --
16 A. The 167.
17 Q. Okay, thank you. Let me show you an exhibit, 3D17. And as we
18 are getting that exhibit up on the screen, sir, I think there's -- and
19 I'll just briefly identify it. It seems to be a list, and it has certain
20 information on it, so I would ask that it perhaps not be a public
21 broadcast because I'm not sure of the sensitivity of the names. So just
22 with that caution, but we'll look into that, and I think it's already
23 been accepted in evidence. Sir, in this list of POWs that were brought
24 to Batkovici, or so it seems, there's a certain date that says "odlazak"
25 or "dolazak," which is when they arrived at Batkovic, and "odlazak" when
1 they were released or left Batkovic. If you could just help me, if we
2 look at the first few pages, and I'll give you the exact page number.
3 There are indications that POWs were brought to the
4 Batkovic detention centre as early as the 18th of July, 1995, and maybe
5 if I give an ERN number, that would help, and that would be this Document
6 3D17, ERN number 0357-2256. And I'm merely highlighting this, I think,
7 throughout the document, Mr. Mitrovic. We do see the entry dates of when
8 they were admitted into the Batkovic camp, but I'm looking at that one
9 because it seems to have a group of maybe five or so, six individuals
10 that were brought into Batkovic that day. Do you see that?
11 A. In July, you mean?
12 Q. Correct.
13 A. There were more of them who were brought on that day. I believe
14 that some 20 of them. I can't be sure, but I know that that's when the
15 first group arrived.
16 Q. Mr. Mitrovic, I'm just showing you a portion of the list, sir,
17 and if you'd like and if --
18 A. Okay, then. Okay. Yes.
19 Q. If the Court permits, I could hand you the list, but it's just --
20 on the screen we can only take it one page at a time. So what I'd like
21 to know, sir, and if we could go back to the first or second page of this
22 document, again, ERN 0357-2252, which is the first page of when the list
23 starts identifying individuals and places thereof they're from and
24 information such as when they arrived at the detention centre. This
25 list, sir, help me with this. Is this the list to the best of your --
1 did you ever see this list before?
2 A. I didn't. I didn't see the list. If this arrived in Batkovic,
3 it was part of the normal procedure. The corps or whoever sent POWs
4 would send a list and an accompanying document. In other words, I did
5 not have to see this list if I wasn't in Batkovic, but I knew how many
6 there were. And later on, I went there to take the particulars of all of
7 them, which was what the Tuzla
8 Q. Fair enough. And, sir, on this list as you can see, and just
9 help me understand, it shows the place where these individuals, these
10 POWs were from, right? It identifies Srebrenica, Zvornik, Bratunac, and
11 other areas throughout the list. Am I reading that correct? That's all
12 I just want to know from you at this point.
13 A. Yes.
14 Q. Okay. Now --
15 A. It should be correct.
16 Q. Fair enough. Do you remember when was the first time that ICRC
17 was given access to the POWs at the Batkovic camp in July 1995 or
19 A. I can't give you the exact date. There were no bans on visits,
20 and I believe that it was after the arrival of the last groups once the
21 situation had been consolidated. I believe that it was around the 25th
22 or the 26th; in any case, when after the last groups arrived.
23 Q. Okay. And I think you are actually -- memory serves you better
24 than I had thought. 2D, if we can have, 522.
25 MR. OSTOJIC: And we're just briefly to show this document, Your
1 Honour. This is a document in English, and it's from the ICRC which
2 identifies this date. I just wasn't certain the witness was able to
3 recall that it was approximately the 25th or 26th when ICRC had access.
4 I believe this document assists us in that regard. So... and if we can
5 just have the second page of that document, please.
6 Q. Okay, sir -- and actually the third paragraph. I apologize. I
7 thought there was a carryover. It says in this document, sir, it's in
8 English, and I'm not sure if you can read English, but I'll it read for
9 others here as well. It's in this -- third paragraph of page 2, it says
10 "ICRC has granted access to prisoners from Srebrenica ..." And on the
11 third line below that, it says that "These negotiations in order to
12 obtain access finally bore fruit on 26." Do you see that? No? Okay.
13 A. [Previous translation continues]
14 Q. This document, sir, is obviously dated, for the record, the 27th
15 of July. I might have the wrong first page on it, but we'll check that.
16 Sir, my question to you is, what happened to the 160 or so POWs that were
17 in Batkovici after the fall of Srebrenica when they were turned over to
18 that detention centre?
19 A. They were received in the collection centre, and I was in contact
20 with the Tuzla
21 of them from Batkovic to be handed over. I believe there were some 220
22 or 30 of them for the 101. I couldn't accept that. I reminded them that
23 through all this time in negotiations, pointed out the request of
24 exchanging one fighter for one fighter. In the meantime, a group of 45
25 was transferred to Kotorsko, to the area of the 1st Krajina Corps,
1 because they had an immediate need for an exchange.
2 However, things may have been -- there were two or three delays.
3 There were several meetings, and finally it was agreed for the 27th of
4 September, delayed for the -- rescheduled for the 29th of September. And
5 on that occasion we received 66 men, and we gave them the 20 wounded plus
6 some 20 people from Srebrenica, and we also gave them those who had been
7 there from before from other areas, from Cazin, Kladusa, and other
8 places. So for their 66 we gave them our 88, which was only normal
9 because what we received were indeed fighters, and what we gave them were
10 people who might have participated in initial fighting. So it was a fair
11 exchange that had been agreed upon on both sides.
12 As for the rest of the people in Batkovici, they would be subject
13 of negotiations between the Krajina corps and the commissions of the
15 everybody from Batkovic where I had 35 of those who were supposed to be
16 returned to me, and there was a need on the part of the 1st Krajina Corps
17 for the rest of the detainees. At the end of the day, there was an
18 exchange in which we managed to exchange everybody from Batkovic and the
19 people from Zenica in the Kotor prison in Doboj; and also on the 24th of
20 December, 1995, Batkovic was closed down because the last group had been
21 exchanged in Sockovoc near Gracanica. That's where the exchange took
22 place between the Tuzla
23 and the 1st Krajina Corps, and our commission, and that was the end of
24 the story of Batkovic.
25 Q. Okay, and thank you for sharing that with us. I just want to go
1 back on two points, and clarify this for me: You mentioned the 29th of
2 September, 1995. That's when the POWs that were captured, the Bosnian
3 Muslim military men that were in Batkovic, that's when they were
4 ultimately exchanged to their counter -- or to their -- to be brought
5 back home. Is that correct? They were exchanged to either Tuzla
6 somewhere in the Federation, correct?
7 A. Correct.
8 Q. That was the last date. I know there were other exchanges before
9 that. I just want to get that as timeline. And then also, sir, I think
10 you told us that the Batkovic camp ceased to exist and was closed as of
11 the 24th of December, 1995? Am I correct in that?
12 A. Yes.
13 Q. Okay. Now, you --
14 A. Yes.
15 Q. -- I think as you told us in your testimony earlier today that
16 you continued to work in this position as President of the commission
17 until I think you said 1997. Is that correct also?
18 A. Correct.
19 Q. Now, during the time from 1995 when Batkovic detention centre was
20 closed and up until the time you remained in 1997, were you dealing with,
21 obviously, deceased POW -- deceased soldiers and individuals in an
22 exchange with the your counterpart in Sarajevo or Tuzla
23 A. Correct. Tuzla
24 Q. Fair enough, I misspoke. Tuzla. And your counterparts continued
25 to negotiate and meet with you similarly to that which you've testified
1 here already earlier, correct?
2 A. Yes.
3 Q. And I thank my learned friend for allowing me to ask those
4 questions. Let's me ask you something about the Geneva Convention, sir,
5 and I'm not asking you to give me your legal opinion. Do you remember at
6 that time at all having discussions with Milenko Todorovic or others at
7 the East Bosnia Corps? Was there ever a discussion about Geneva
8 Conventions and complying with that when dealing with POWs?
9 A. No, this was not discussed. However, already 1993, the first or
10 the second time I went to Batkovic, I had an occasion to see that
11 brochures had been left there by the ICRC. I read them, and I know that
12 everybody read them. There were brochures, and this existed in our army
13 even in peacetime. They were informed about that, both the soldiers and
14 the officers, and it was the officers' duty to convey to the foot
15 soldiers the message on how to treat prisoners of war. This was already
16 present during peacetime.
17 Q. Let me just show you, if I may, P107. Let's see if I can --
18 let's see if this document is familiar to you or not, and it's dated the
19 2nd of July, 1995.
20 MR. OSTOJIC: And with the Court's assistance, if we can go
21 directly to page 7 of the document, although the document is ten or so
22 pages long. I think just for our purposes we would focus on that at this
24 Q. Sir, I'm showing you a document from, again, Milenko Zivanovic
25 who was the Drina Corps commander at that time dated the 2nd of July.
1 AND there's many things in this document, but for our focus I'd like just
2 to read out this sentence on the 7th page that's in English and in B/C/S.
3 It says "In dealing with prisoners of war and the civilian population,
4 behave in every way in accordance with the Geneva Conventions." Do you
5 see that?
6 A. Yes. Yes, I do.
7 Q. Is that a typical -- given your experience in dealing with the
8 corps and your experience in the military and that which you've shared
9 with us relating to your background, is that a typical-type order that
10 would be given by a corps commander for active combat activities, if you
12 A. I am not an active serviceman, but as far as I know this would be
13 the sequence when it came to preparations for combat, although this was
14 issued to the 2nd Corps that I didn't belong to. Maybe it would be best
15 to provide explanations about that, but I would say that this is
16 customary and this was in keeping with the military regulations.
17 Q. Fair enough. Let's move, then, away from this document, and
18 let's look at P, 33 and as it's being called up, it's a document dated
19 the 9th of July, 1995. It seems to have been authored by Zdravko
20 Tolimir, although the English version, I believe, misspells his name.
21 And this is, sir, on top as you can see on this document - thank you -
22 it's from the Main Staff of the Army of Republika Srpska dated the 9th of
23 July, 1995. Do you see that?
24 A. Yes.
25 Q. [Previous translation continued]... it's indicated here, at least
1 in the English, very urgently to, among others, the president of the
2 Republika Srpska for information, correct?
3 A. That's what it says in here.
4 Q. What I'd like to do is focus with you, given the period of time
5 that we have left, the last sentence in the last paragraph of this
6 document. And just so the record is clear, Mr. Mitrovic, this is
7 obviously being sent, also, to the Drina Corps command as you can see.
8 A. Yes, but this had nothing whatsoever to do with the East Bosnia
9 Corps or the commission for exchanges as far as I can tell.
10 Q. And we'll get to that in a second, sir. The Main Staff of the
11 army would have from time to time sent, if you know, to the East Bosnia
12 Corps certain information or directives or orders on how they should
13 comply, wouldn't it?
14 A. Yes.
15 Q. Now, in this one, Mr. Tolimir apparently on the 9th of July,
16 1995, proceeds to tell the Drina Corps the following among other things:
17 "Ban the torching of residential buildings and treat the civilian
18 population and war prisoners in accordance with the Geneva Conventions of
19 12 August 1949
20 A. That's what I read, and it -- this has been repeated several
21 times, that Geneva Conventions should be abided by.
22 Q. To the best of your recollection, sir, and I think you mentioned
23 it, but I just wanted to be clear: Did you ever receive a complaint from
24 ICRC as to whether or not the POWs that were in Batkovici camp were
25 mistreated in any fashion?
1 A. Never, either from the ICRC or from the commissioner of the Tuzla
3 kind happened.
4 Q. Sir, I am trying to rush through. Thank you for your patience.
5 I just didn't get a good feeling as to -- and I don't know if you may
6 have answered, and forgive me for asking it again. I know you said that
7 at one point there were approximately 800 POWs that were in the Batkovici
8 camp while you were president or a member of this commission. Can you
9 just tell me, during the period of time that you were there, from 1993
10 through, let's say, 1995, how many Bosnian Muslim POWs were exchanged
11 with your counterpart?
12 A. This was reduced by the time I joined the commission as its
13 president. Only 50 remained in Batkovic. The rest had been exchanged,
14 but that was done during the time while I was still not the commission's
16 Q. And the POWs, the number that you gave, were exchanged, those 50,
17 correct? There weren't some that you were holding back. I mean, you
18 exchanged everything that you had, correct?
19 A. Correct.
20 Q. Mr. Mitrovic, thank you very much for your patience.
21 MR. OSTOJIC: And I'll conclude here in the interests of trying
22 to have him go home this week or so.
23 JUDGE AGIUS: Yes, thank you. Mr. Zivanovic, do you have a
25 MR. ZIVANOVIC: No, Your Honours. Thank you.
1 JUDGE AGIUS: Ms. Nikolic?
2 MS. NIKOLIC: [Interpretation] No, Your Honour. Thank you.
3 JUDGE AGIUS: Mr. Gosnell?
4 MR. GOSNELL: No questions, Mr. President.
5 JUDGE AGIUS: Ms. Fauveau?
6 MS. FAUVEAU: No questions.
7 JUDGE AGIUS: Mr. Josse?
8 MR. JOSSE: One question.
9 JUDGE AGIUS: Okay.
10 Cross-examination by Mr. Josse:
11 Q. You just mentioned, sir, about the ICRC documents. Do you know
12 how it is that they were distributed to members of the VRS?
13 A. Am I supposed to answer that?
14 JUDGE AGIUS: Yes, of course.
15 MR. JOSSE:
16 Q. If the question made sense to you.
17 A. I don't know. I don't know.
18 Q. Thank you.
19 JUDGE AGIUS: Mr. Sarapa.
20 MR. SARAPA: No questions, thank you.
21 JUDGE AGIUS: Thank you. Mr. Thayer? It has been pretty much
22 limited now, so I suggest that you try and finish by quarter to 2.
23 MR. THAYER: I'll do my best, Mr. President.
24 Cross-examination by Mr. Thayer:
25 Q. Good afternoon, sir.
1 A. Good afternoon.
2 Q. My name is Nelson Thayer. I'll be asking you some questions on
3 behalf of the Prosecution.
4 A. Okay.
5 Q. Sorry we didn't have a chance to meet. I was hoping to, but
6 that's life, and let me get underway with my questions.
7 If I understood the military service history that you shared with
8 us this morning, you served as head or chief of security, it sounded
9 like, in a couple of brigades, partisan brigades; is that correct?
10 A. In one brigade and in a division. Actually, it was a division
11 that was disbanded, and then I joined the brigade; and before that it was
12 the civilian security or the state security where I was professionally
14 Q. Now, turning your attention to your service on the commission for
15 exchange. Can you just tell us, was that a civilian position, or was
16 that a military position?
17 A. It was a military position because we were involved with the
18 exchanges of prisoners of war and not of civilians. It was a military
19 position, but the president of the commission was also appointed by the
20 establishment, and the rest were from other units, the other three that
21 were members of the commission.
22 Q. So when you were serving both as a member and then later as the
23 president, were you, for example, in uniform?
24 A. Yes. I also attended negotiations in uniform and sporting my
1 Q. And that was in July of 1995 -- what, sir?
2 A. All the time. I would never wear civilian clothes when I went to
3 negotiations, always uniform.
4 Q. My question was, and in July of 1995, what was your rank, sir?
5 A. In July 1995, I believe I was either major lieutenant-colonel in
6 -- a reserve lieutenant-colonel, that is, either/or. Both promotions
7 followed each other in a very short sequence. I was either major or
9 Q. Okay. And so you were -- just to make sure there's no
10 misunderstanding, you were a uniformed member of the East Bosnia Corps,
12 A. Yes.
13 Q. Okay. And to what extent during your service in that capacity
14 did you interact with the security organs at any level, be it from the
15 Main Staff, to the corps, to the brigade, or even below?
16 A. The only interaction was with the corps. If there was something
17 of importance for the commission, then it went via the chief of security
18 of the corps directly in communication with the Main Staff.
19 THE INTERPRETER: Interpreter's correction.
20 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] There were no contacts with the
21 Main Staff and the security administration directly. It always went
22 through my superior.
23 MR. THAYER:
24 Q. And when you say your superior, to whom are you referring, sir?
25 A. While I was a member of the commission, as I was told I came to
1 the corps to be a member of the commission, but the establishment post I
2 was assigned to was a desk officer for security of the corps. As I've
3 said, there were people from other units in the commission, and this was
4 on top of their regular duties, and the same applied to me until the
5 moment I became president of the commission. I went between the corps
6 and the office that was downtown. That's the office where we would
7 receive citizens.
8 Q. And again, I'm not sure this came out entirely clearly, but when
9 you referred to the office, where was that office located, sir?
10 A. The office was in Filipa Visnjica Street. I don't know what
11 number of the -- what the number of the house was. 14, I think, four or
12 five houses down the street from the office where the ICRC premises were.
13 I would pass by their office to get to my office. That was a cafe/bar
14 that they occupied. It used to be a cafe/bar which had a door to the
15 street so that everyone who wanted to could get by the office.
16 Q. Okay. And what city was this in? What city are we talking
17 about, sir, or town?
18 A. Bijeljina.
19 Q. All right. And to whom would you report in the corps? Who was
20 your immediate superior in the corps?
21 A. Colonel Milenko Todorovic.
22 Q. Now, we've obviously heard testimony about this collection centre
23 or camp or prison. I want to show you a photograph. This is 65 ter
24 number 3521, and while we are waiting for that to get uploaded onto
25 e-court, sir, can you describe for the Trial Chamber, please,
1 approximately where is this camp located, just -- geographically so we
2 can orient ourselves.
3 A. From Bijeljina, some 10 kilometres northeast to the Sava. You go
4 by Batkovic, the settlement of Batkovic, and you come across the area
5 that was the cooperative of Batkovic.
6 Q. Now, do you see an image before you on --
7 THE INTERPRETER: Microphone, please.
8 MR. THAYER:
9 Q. Do you see an image before you on the computer, sir?
10 A. Yes, I do.
11 Q. And is that to your recollection an aerial image of the Batkovic
13 A. It seems to be, sir, yes. The buildings closest to us are the
14 two small warehouses, and then the following four out of those, two had
15 already been full of grain, wheat. They were in regular use because
16 crops had to be placed somewhere, and in one of the remaining two we had
17 the prisoners.
18 Q. Okay. We are done with that exhibit. And if we may have 65 ter
19 3522, please. Sir, do you see a document in front of you that is --
20 A. Yes.
21 Q. -- dated 13 March 2002
22 A. Yes.
23 Q. Now, you were shown previously a --
24 JUDGE AGIUS: Do we have a translation of this document?
25 MR. THAYER: We do. It's being uploaded but I can --
1 JUDGE AGIUS: Okay.
2 MR. THAYER: -- I can work with the ELMO if we need to,
3 Mr. President.
4 JUDGE AGIUS: We could do that if it's going to take time to
5 upload it.
6 MR. THAYER: Yes, frankly, I don't think I will be really
7 referring to many pages so I won't need the ELMO for a moment. I think
8 we can work with the B/C/S. Sorry, Madam Usher, actually I will need
9 your assistance.
10 Q. Sir, I'm going to hand you a hard copy in your own language of
11 this document. You were shown another list of prisoners from the
12 Batkovici prison camp, that was 3D17. I want to show you another
13 document. And if you could just turn the cover page over, and if, sir, I
14 could direct your attention to the very first page of this list.
15 A. Very well.
16 Q. And you see the heading where it says: "List of Muslims
17 exchanged from the Batkovici collection centre." Do you see that?
18 A. Yes, I do.
19 Q. Now, if we look at the column, and it's the second column in from
20 the right, it says: "Date of departure from the Batkovici collection
21 centre." I've highlighted just that heading for you. Do you see that,
23 A. I do.
24 Q. Okay.
25 MR. THAYER: Mr. President, I'm being informed that the English
1 is available now.
2 JUDGE AGIUS: Thank you.
3 JUDGE KWON: Is it under seal? Your list cites it as under seal.
4 MR. THAYER: Yes, this is under seal, Judge Kwon. Thank you for
5 the intervention.
6 JUDGE AGIUS: Thank you, Judge Kwon. So there will be no
7 broadcast of any of the pages from this document.
8 [Trial Chamber and registrar confer]
9 MR. THAYER:
10 Q. And before I start asking you a couple of questions about this
11 document, sir, looking at that column under date of departure from the
12 Batkovici collection centre, we see some dates that are repeated over and
13 over again. Can you see that, sir? We have some prisoners being
14 exchanged on the 12th. There's another group, it looks like, on the 12th
15 of September, sorry. Another group on the 24th of December, and we see
16 another group that appears to have been exchanged on 7 October. Do you
17 see those general groups, sir, those common dates of exchange?
18 A. I do.
19 Q. I just want to point out what I think may be a typo on the very
20 first line under the name "Alada Alic," [phoen] it indicates that he
21 arrived in Batkovic on the 18th of July, and I believe that's consistent
22 with what you testified earlier that there were a number of prisoners
23 that began arriving after the 18th or on the 18th. Then it indicates
24 that he departed from the camp on 10 July.
25 I would just suggest to you and see if you agree that that is
1 just a transposition of the date and day and that is it should actually
2 be October 7th, like the other people that were exchanged on October 7th?
3 Certainly he couldn't have arrived on July 18th and been left on the
4 10th. Would you agree with that, just to get that typo out of the way?
5 A. I agree.
6 Q. Now, can you recall receiving any explanation from the
7 East Bosnia Corps security chief, Mr. Todorovic -- and forgive me, I
8 forget his rank, was he a lieutenant-colonel?
9 A. Colonel.
10 Q. Do you recall receiving any information or explanation as to why
11 it was not until July 18th or afterwards that prisoners from Srebrenica
12 began arriving in the Batkovici prison camp?
13 A. I wasn't told why and as a subordinate I had no right to ask and
14 I didn't. I didn't ask what the reason of their late arrival was. It
15 was up to me to say, "Yes, sir." That is where things stopped.
16 Q. Okay. I want to share with you some excerpts from statements
17 provided by two prisoners who wound up in the Batkovici camp, and if you
18 could just look at your hard copy there, sir, and I'll give you their
19 names and you can identify them with me. If we go to entry number 113?
20 A. Hasanovic.
21 Q. Yes, sir, do you see the entry for Sead Hasanovic, son of Huso?
22 A. I do.
23 Q. From Srebrenica?
24 A. Yes.
25 Q. And he arrives, according to this record, on or about the 26th of
2 A. Yes.
3 Q. Now, I also want to turn your attention to the entry at number
4 124, if you can locate that, sir.
5 A. Very well, I found it.
6 Q. And do you see the entry for Ramo Osmanovic, son of Ramiz?
7 A. Yes.
8 Q. And it indicates that he was brought to the camp on the 26th of
9 July. Do you see that, sir?
10 A. Yes, I do.
11 Q. Okay. Now, I just -- and if I may have the -- Madam Usher's
12 assistance. Do we have the English on e-court. Does everybody have
13 that? Okay, then. Thank you. I won't need your help. If we go just to
14 the first page of -- if we can have 3519, please. We see here -- and do
15 you have it in your own language, sir, the first -- the front page there?
16 A. Yes.
17 Q. A witness statement by a Ramo Osmanovic, son of Ramiz?
18 A. Very well.
19 Q. [Previous translation continued]... the year 1976?
20 A. Yes.
21 Q. And if we turn to page 5 of this statement, and it will be the
22 last paragraph in the B/C/S, in the actual statement portion, just before
23 the witness acknowledgement. And that's actually page 5 in both the
24 English and the B/C/S, so it will be just before that witness
25 acknowledgement that we are seeing there. My apologies sir. We are
1 getting you the proper page on e-court right now. Should be the -- just
2 the page before the -- page 5 of both B/C/S and English. And about
3 midway through that big paragraph, sir, it refers to being surrounded by
4 Serb soldiers at around 0830 hours. Do you see that, that section, sir,
5 where it refers to that time? I'm just calling that out to you as a way
6 of orienting you in the paragraph, if you see the time 0830, and if you
8 A. I found it.
9 Q. And -- Mr. Osmanovic told the investigators that when they got to
10 a temporary holding place or prison in Osmaci, it says that "In the
11 prison we had found the four comrades that had been captured previously.
12 One of the prisoners asked the policeman what would happen to us, and he
13 answered that we were very lucky because the order that had been given by
14 General Mladic was that all the prisoners captured by 18 July had to be
15 executed, and those captured after the 18th had to be arrested and
16 detained." You see that there, sir?
17 A. I do.
18 Q. Now, if we may go to 65 ter 3518, and I'll ask you a couple of
19 questions about that document and then finish up on this topic, sir. We
20 see here a statement by Sead Hasonovic, and if we turn to the second
21 page, do you see, sir, at the top of the page in your own language where
22 it refers to -- he says, I am Sead Hasonovic, son of Huso. Do you see
24 A. Yes I do.
25 Q. Okay. Born in 1964. If we could --
1 A. Yes.
2 Q. If we could go to page 4 of the English, please, and that's also
3 4 of the B/C/S. And there's a reference to a Sapka, a type of military
4 hat or head dress. Do you see that word, sir? I'm just trying to orient
5 you. It's a very long, dense paragraph.
6 A. Very well.
7 Q. You've located it, sir? Okay.
8 A. Yes.
9 Q. Okay. Do you see where it says, "The leader of the patrol said
10 to me, 'You are very lucky that you were captured by this corps,' and
11 that they had been issued instructions from the authorities the previous
12 day that they had to stop killing those prisoners who were captured as
13 well as those captured previously and not yet killed. The instruction
14 was issued to keep the captives alive to use us for prisoner exchange."
15 Do you see that there, sir?
16 A. Yes, yes.
17 Q. Now, just to orient you to the date that he is referring to or
18 the approximate date, if we could go back to page 3, and this will be in
19 paragraph 6 of the B/C/S, and you've got it there. Towards the bottom,
20 there's a reference to about 400 people gathered. He refers to it being
21 about the fifth or sixth day after setting out from Susnjari, and I would
22 submit to you that it's the Prosecution's evidence that this would place
23 the date of this witness's capture on or about the 18th of July, 18th or
24 19th of July.
25 Now, sir, my question to you is, having heard these excerpts from
1 these two prisoners, two separate prisoners captured in two different
2 locations, both of whom wound up in Batkovic, saying essentially the same
3 thing about prisoners being ordered not to be executed after a certain
4 date, does that ring any bells with you? Does that refresh your
5 recollection at all about any information you may have heard about why it
6 was that prisoners didn't begin arriving at that camp until on or about
7 the 18th of July?
8 A. I don't know of such an order ever being issued. I doubt that
9 any of the most senior officials would do such a thing. As for the rest
10 of what was happening to them, it was not in the area of the East Bosnian
11 Corps. I as the president of the commission was not in a position to
12 know what was happening in another territory. I am sorry for what
13 happened to those people. It's a tragedy, but it's a very wide area, and
14 it was not a topic of my interest. I wasn't supposed to be interested in
15 such things.
16 Q. Okay, sir. Well how about the 13.00 prisoners that my friend
17 asked you about that you told us about you had been expecting? You
18 testified that General Tolimir had indicated to your security chief to
19 expect these 1.300 prisoners, but what we've heard about so far today
20 was, I think, somewhere around 200 Srebrenica prisoners that may have
21 been exchanged at some point. What happened to the other 1.100
23 A. They didn't arrive. It was an estimate. That many had been
24 estimated to arrive in Batkovici, but I don't know what actually
25 happened. The others also did not arrive when we expected them, and I
1 was looking forward to their arrival because of the exchanges that were
2 pending. Only 20 arrived later on in the evening, and they were all
3 wounded. Later on, there was some pressures to bear from the president
4 of the neighbouring municipality. They were willing to go to the area to
5 capture and to use them for exchange. The corps commander refused that,
6 and he said that he would send a unit of the military police and that
7 their task would be to capture and not to kill, to capture at all costs,
8 making sure that none of ours got killed. However things may have been,
9 we received that number and we could perform the exchange, and I was glad
10 that the 1.300 arrived. We would have handed them over without any
11 exchange, actually, because there was no reason for them to be kept.
12 Q. Okay. Maybe I'm a little confused, but you started out at line 1
13 of page 74 saying that the 1.300 didn't arrive, and if I understand what
14 I'm reading, you are saying now that they did arrive at some point?
15 Where did they arrive, sir? Or maybe it's just a translation or
16 transcription error, or maybe it's just Friday.
17 A. It must be a translation problem. Nobody arrived before the
18 18th, although we expected them. Everything had already been prepared
19 for the 1.300, and then on the 18th only 20 wounded came. And it was
20 only after the 18th, on the 23rd, 24th, that the others came, and that
21 was it. That was all. There was no more. I don't want to go into great
22 length. There are some other dates here. I believe that a group of 45
23 were handed over to the 1st Krajina Corps and they were taken to the
24 prison in Kotorsko so that they could exchange them for those people in
1 the exchange on the 24th of 12 when the last prisoner left Batkovici and
2 when Batkovici was closed down as the collection centre.
3 Q. And sir, you're, I take it, familiar with the --
4 THE INTERPRETER: Microphone for the Prosecutor. Microphone,
6 MR. THAYER:
7 Q. You're familiar, sir, with the general geography of this area of
9 Driven that road many times, I presume?
10 A. Not many times. Every time I went to the sea, I went via Tuzla
11 and the rest of the area that later on belonged to the Federation. I did
12 take that road several times before the war, and I know the area to a
13 certain extent. I don't know any of the hamlets or villages. I'm
14 familiar with the bigger settlements like Zvornik, but I'm familiar with
15 the road from Zvornik to Milici, Vlasenici, and that area. That's where
16 I went through.
17 Q. And can you estimate for the Trial Chamber, please, about how
18 long would it take to you drive from, say, Zvornik to the camp at
20 A. The distance is about 60 kilometres. I can't give you an
21 estimate. It all depends on the speed and on the type of vehicle, on the
22 quality of the driver. In any case, the distance is 60 kilometres of an
23 asphalt road. That would be that.
24 Q. Okay. Sir, you just told us that those 1.300 prisoners never
25 arrived as you had expected. I want to show you one last document and
1 ask you some questions about it along those lines, and that is P00175.
2 This was a document that was on my friend's list of documents, so I don't
3 know if you've been shown it or not, but I'm going to show it to you. Do
4 you see the document in your own language in front of you, sir? It's a
5 little --
6 A. Yes.
7 Q. And if we can just scroll down a little bit on the B/C/S -- I
8 mean, sorry. Scroll the other way, thanks, so we can just read the top.
9 Sir, we can see that this is a report to the Drina Corps command dated 12
10 July 1995, and this is from the command of the Milici Brigade. If you
11 could, sir, just take a moment to read through this document, please. It
12 shouldn't take too long. It's pretty much just that first page that you
13 see there in your own language.
14 A. This also doesn't refer either to my area or to me as the
15 president of the commission. This is the area of the Drina Corps so that
16 -- I don't know what I could tell you about this. This was not sent to
17 the East Bosnia Corps but to the Drina Corps. If I had been the
18 president of the state commission, then the story would be different
19 because that person had jurisdiction over everything.
20 JUDGE AGIUS: Why don't you wait for the question, please. Your
21 question, Mr. Thayer.
22 MR. THAYER: Mr. President, thank you.
23 Q. Sir, this document is dated 12th of July. I believe you've
24 already testified about what you were doing that day and when you
25 received this information that you say you got through General Tolimir.
2 you, does it not, that he is in the custody and control of the Milici
3 Brigade of the Drina Corps; is that correct?
4 JUDGE AGIUS: Yes, Ms. Fauveau.
5 MS. FAUVEAU: [Interpretation] Your Honour, I may be mistaken, but
6 I don't remember that the witness ever said that he had received such
7 information from General Tolimir.
8 JUDGE AGIUS: Thank you, madam. Yes.
9 MR. THAYER: I believe I said it was through General -- or from
10 General Tolimir but obviously through his chief of security. I don't
11 think we need to quibble about that.
12 JUDGE AGIUS: Thank you, both. Let's proceed, please.
13 MR. THAYER:
14 Q. Now, sir, this individual who is described as a prisoner of war
15 on the 12th of July within the Drina Corps, you would have expected him
16 to be one of these 1.300 soldiers or civilian prisoners that you had been
17 told to expect, correct?
18 A. Possible.
19 Q. And again, we can see that his name is (redacted)
20 (redacted). May we have P03517A, please.
21 MR. THAYER: This needs to be in private session or just not
22 broadcast, Mr. President, whichever is easier?
23 JUDGE AGIUS: I think it's easier either way, so let's not
25 MR. THAYER:
1 Q. Bear with us, sir, while it's coming up on e-court. I can tell
2 you, you are definitely going home today.
3 A. Thank you.
4 JUDGE AGIUS: You haven't asked Mr. Ostojic --
5 MR. THAYER: It's 3517A. I'm sorry. I thought I called out for
7 JUDGE AGIUS: You haven't asked Mr. Ostojic if he has got a
9 MR. THAYER:
10 Q. Sir, do you see a document in front of you? It's just a couple
11 of lines, and I'll help you with it.
12 A. Yes, yes.
17 Q. 1 January 1977
18 forest. Sir, this document is Prosecution evidence of the remains of
19 this individual being recovered and identified through DNA evidence,
20 recovered from a mass grave in the area of Cancari. Prosecution's
21 evidence is that this individual was a victim of a mass execution.
22 Did you receive any information during this time that mass
23 executions were being committed in the Drina Corps zone of
25 A. No. One could assume that bad things were happening, but I did
1 not receive information to that effect from anybody.
2 Q. And, sir, why could one assume that bad things were happening?
3 What information did you have, or what led you to assume that bad things
4 were happening during this time?
5 A. I'm starting from the fact that we were expecting 1.300 to arrive
6 in Batkovic and they failed to arrive. We didn't know why they didn't
7 arrive, and we could only assume that something happened to them if there
8 was an estimate of that number. And if you will allow me, I would like
9 to say something else. If something was indeed happening, it was not
10 very wise to make any inquiries, especially on my part. I was a reserve
11 officer. I was not that interested in the politics, and if the civilian
12 bodies had learned of me expressing any sort of interest, I would not
13 have fared that well. So I had to refrain myself from asking any
14 questions. I was never very much in favour of walking around Bijeljina
15 and making inquiries. That's why I never maintained contact with Tuzla
16 I tasked with my deputy to do that. I always avoided such tricky
17 situations that would have cost me something.
18 Q. So, sir, you've got security experience, and you served on this
19 commission, had a lot of experience with prisoner exchanges. Do you know
20 of any reason to divert thousands of prisoners of war from Batkovic
21 instead of back to Batkovic and housing them in little schools around the
22 Zvornik area? Do you have any explanation why that would have been done,
23 thousands of prisoners?
24 A. I have no explanation, and if we are talking about executions, I
25 don't believe that anybody from the command had ordered that. And as for
1 the evil that took place, I'm very sorry that this happened. I'm sorry
2 for all the people that fared badly during the war, but there were
3 individuals who acted of their own will, who did not respect any command,
4 who did not obey any orders. They just did as they pleased, and I
5 believe that as a result of that some bad things happened. The behaviour
6 of such individuals caused some of those bad things to happen.
7 MR. THAYER: Thank you, sir. I have no further questions.
8 JUDGE AGIUS: Thank you, Mr. Thayer. Mr. Ostojic, do you have
9 any further questions?
10 MR. OSTOJIC: No, Mr. President, in the interest of seeing this
11 witness --
12 THE INTERPRETER: Microphone for Mr. Ostojic.
13 MR. OSTOJIC: -- get home this weekend.
14 JUDGE AGIUS: I appreciate that, Mr. Ostojic, and behalf of
15 everyone I wish to express our gratitude that you all cooperated to make
16 it possible for this gentleman to return home to his family.
17 On behalf of everyone Mr. Mitrovic, I would like to thank you for
18 having come over, and I also wish you a safe journey back home.
19 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] I thank you very much for your
20 understanding, and thank you for allowing me to go home.
21 [The witness withdrew]
22 JUDGE AGIUS: Shall we do the documents next time? All right.
23 Okay. Exhibits, Mr. Ostojic?
24 MR. OSTOJIC: Yes, Mr. President. We would ask that Exhibit
25 2D520 and 2D521 and 2D522 be introduced into evidence. The other
1 exhibits that I've used I believe are already introduced into evidence,
2 so I'm only calling for those three.
3 JUDGE AGIUS: Thank you. Any objections, Mr. Thayer?
4 MR. THAYER: None, Mr. President.
5 JUDGE AGIUS: Thank you. They are so admitted. They are all
6 translated, aren't they?
7 MR. OSTOJIC: Mr. President, they are in draft -- two of them are
8 in draft translation. One is in English. I just want to check the date
9 on the ICRC it said -- has a different date that I think is just an error
10 on their part.
11 JUDGE AGIUS: All right. Thank you. Any documents on your part,
12 Mr. Thayer?
13 MR. THAYER: We do, Mr. President. We have 65 ter 3517, which is
14 under seal; an excerpt that we showed today, 3517A, and that is also
15 under seal; we have 65 ter 3521, that is the aerial imagery of the camp;
16 3522, that is the list of Batkovic prisoners shown to the witness; 3519,
17 one of the witness statements shown to the witness; 3518, another witness
18 statement shown to the witness; and P00175, the Milici report, Milici
19 Brigade report that was shown to the witness.
20 JUDGE AGIUS: Any objections, Mr. Ostojic, or any --
21 MR. OSTOJIC: Yes, I do. Pardon me.
22 MR. THAYER: I think -- if this is about the statements...
23 MR. OSTOJIC: It is.
24 MR. THAYER: Yeah. Okay. Certainly the portions that were
25 quoted and the front page that was shown to the witness are the only
1 portions we need placed in evidence, just to establish if there's any
2 question. But we don't need the whole statement in evidence.
3 MR. OSTOJIC: I still object to the statement or any portion of
4 it going in, Your Honour.
5 JUDGE AGIUS: But if questions were put and answered...
6 MR. OSTOJIC: And I realise that they were put to the witness, if
7 they were put to the witness for things other than what they are going to
8 ultimately try to use because they obviously see a -- in my opinion, a
9 hole in some -- in their claim that they were orders being distributed,
10 and what they're trying do is to bring in evidence through these
11 witnesses in connection with that. I do object to that. Those
12 witnesses, if they could come and testify on that very critical issue,
13 but for using it for that purpose I think is highly prejudicial and,
14 quite candidly, improper.
15 JUDGE AGIUS: Mr. Josse.
16 MR. JOSSE: Your Honour, I wouldn't put it quite like that with
17 respect to my learned friend. What I would submit is, first of all, the
18 relevant passages have been read out, read out very slowly by my learned
19 friend, and therefore, they are in evidence. And secondly, if the Court
20 was against me on that, then the Court has previously admitted certain
21 documents on a very limited basis vis-a-vis the impeachment of a
22 particular witness, but I hope I can win on my first point.
23 JUDGE AGIUS: Thank you. I think -- is it on the same matter,
24 Madam Fauveau?
25 MS. FAUVEAU: [Interpretation] Simply to say that I fully agree
1 with my colleagues.
2 JUDGE AGIUS: Thank you. Yes, I think the fact that the relevant
3 parts were read out and answered doesn't require the introduction of the
4 documents in the record. In other words, what we have in the transcript
5 itself should suffice.
6 All right. The others, any objection with regard to the other
7 documents? We hear none, so they are all admitted provided they are all
8 translated, which I think they are. Thanks.
9 We stand adjourned until Wednesday. In the meantime,
10 Mr. Ostojic, you've been approached by our senior legal officer on some
11 things we would like you to attend to. You have got a short break to do
12 that. Otherwise, we will have to clamp down.
13 MR. OSTOJIC: Thank you, Mr. President. I think I've answered
14 the question to him, and I think all those witnesses will and should
15 belong on our 65 per list, but I'll look specifically at that.
16 JUDGE AGIUS: Okay. Thanks.
17 MR. OSTOJIC: Thank you.
18 --- Whereupon the hearing adjourned at
19 1.52 p.m.
20 day of July, 2008, at 9.00 a.m.