1 Monday, 14 April 2003
2 [Open session]
3 [The accused entered court]
4 [The witness entered court]
5 --- Upon commencing at 9.04 a.m.
6 JUDGE MUMBA: Good morning. Please call the case.
7 THE REGISTRAR: Good morning. Case number IT-95-9-T, the
8 Prosecutor versus Blagoje Simic, Miroslav Tadic and Simo Zaric.
9 JUDGE MUMBA: Yes. We have a new witness. Can the usher please
10 assist? Please make the solemn declaration.
11 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] I solemnly declare that I will speak
12 the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.
13 WITNESS: STEVAN NIKOLIC
14 [Witness answered through interpreter]
15 JUDGE MUMBA: Thank you. Please sit down.
16 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Thank you.
17 JUDGE MUMBA: Yes, counsel, Mr. Pisarevic?
18 MR. PISAREVIC: [Interpretation] Good morning, Your Honours.
19 Examined by Mr. Pisarevic:
20 Q. [Interpretation] Good morning, Mr. Nikolic.
21 A. Good morning.
22 Q. We have already had the redacted statement distributed so could
23 one copy of this redacted statement be placed before the witness himself?
24 Thank you.
25 Mr. Nikolic, while preparing for your testimony before this
1 Honourable Trial Chamber, we discussed the way in which we could do our
2 best to have your testimony recorded in the transcript in the best
3 possible way. So do remember to pause between question and answer, let us
4 not speak at the same time, let us not overlap. So when a question is put
5 to you, please wait for a few seconds, don't speak too fast, so that the
6 interpreters could interpret this properly, because we want your testimony
7 to be recorded appropriately.
8 Could you please state your full name and surname for the
10 A. My name is Stevan Nikolic.
11 Q. Thank you. Mr. Nikolic, you have given your statement in Belgrade
12 in February 2003. According to a decision made by the Trial Chamber,
13 certain paragraphs, numbers 30, 32, 39, 40, 41, 42 and 44 have been
14 redacted from your statement, and it was decided that you would testify
15 about those matters, including these paragraphs, before the Honourable
16 Trial Chamber. The remaining part of your statement will be as it is.
17 Mr. Nikolic, you stated that on the 12th of April, 1992, you
18 invited Stevan Todorovic, Mico Ivanovic, nicknamed Mijak, to a meeting, as
19 well as the leaders of this group of the many-coloured ones that appeared
20 in the territory of the village of Batkusa on the 11th of April, 1992,
21 Dragan Djordjevic, nicknamed Crni and Srecko Radovanovic, nicknamed
22 Debeli. Do you remember that?
23 A. I do.
24 Q. Tell us now, this meeting that you scheduled for the 12th of
25 April, 1992, in Donji Zabar. Was it actually held?
1 A. The meeting being was held in Donji Zabar, the way I had scheduled
2 it. Those who I invited to the meeting came to the meeting and in
3 addition to them, Mr. Blagoje Simic attended this meeting as well as
4 Mr. Mirko Jovanovic and there was another group of people and I do not
5 remember exactly what their positions and assignments were.
6 Q. As for the persons present at this meeting, what did you say to
7 them and what did they say to you?
8 A. Let us clarify this. The meeting was scheduled because a group of
9 some 30 men landed in my area of responsibility in the village of
10 Batkusa. In order to establish who these people were and with what kind
11 of assignments they came and who had sent them and on the basis of the
12 orders that I had to receive from my superior command, I scheduled this
13 meeting, the way I did. At this meeting I insisted on this particular
14 information. I wanted to know who these men were. They stated who they
15 were. A group of them stated that they were members of the police of the
16 Republika Srpska Krajina and another group said that they were members of
17 the police of the Army of Republika Srpska. In addition to that, I wanted
18 to say what their tasks were, who invited them and so on and so forth and
19 at this meeting in fact we established that.
20 THE INTERPRETER: Interpreter's correction not the police of the
21 Army of Republika Srpska but the police of Republika Srpska.
22 MR. PISAREVIC: [Interpretation]
23 Q. What have you said? I'm sorry, it's all right. Please proceed.
24 A. At this meeting, we talked about the situation in the area of
25 responsibility of the 17th Tactical Group, and also the reasons why these
1 police forces came. I asked first and foremost for an explanation why
2 they had come because their arrival in my area of responsibility was not
3 announced. It was explained to me that they came in two helicopters, that
4 in the first helicopter were the members of the police of the Serb
5 municipality of Bosanski Samac who were sent for training to Sarengrad
6 near Ilok. And in the second helicopter were the members of the police of
7 the Republika Srpska Krajina. There were about 30 of them. I've already
8 said the group was led by Srecko Radovanovic, nicknamed Debeli, and Dragan
9 Djordjevic, nicknamed Crni.
10 Q. All right. Thank you. At that meeting, did other invited persons
11 take part, and also were there other persons who were simply present at
12 the meeting?
13 A. Yes. Yes. Mr. Stevan Todorovic did most of the talking. He said
14 that he was responsible for the arrival of this group. He contacted them,
15 he organised this, and he took them in and they were supposed to
16 organise -- they were supposed to carry out police work in the territory
17 of Bosanski Samac. In addition to Stevan Todorovic, others also took part
18 in this. Mr. Blagoje Simic said that as far as he knew this was organised
19 by Mr. Todorovic. He thought that it was the right thing to do, that this
20 was proper for Todorovic to organise this and that he didn't want to
21 interfere any more and the others started discussing how they would be
22 engaged, where they would be and so on and so forth. All in all, I could
23 say that the leading person at the meeting was Mr. Todorovic.
24 Q. Thank you. At this meeting, was it specified under who this group
25 of policemen that had come would be?
1 A. This was specified. Mr. Todorovic said that he took these people
2 in, that he was responsible for their accommodation, for their engagement,
3 and for their work and conduct. I cautioned him saying that these were
4 police forces and that my powers did not include the use of such forces,
5 and he said that it would all be in his hands, including logistic
6 support. He said that he would put up this group in the village of
7 Obudovac near the playing field there and that he would lead them.
8 Q. Thank you, sir. If I understood you correctly, these people who
9 came were policemen, right, and they were under the responsibility of the
10 police; is that right?
11 A. Yes. That's right. I personally checked the documents of some of
12 them and I saw that they had documents of the police of the Republic of
13 Serb Krajina and of the Serb police.
14 Q. Mr. Nikolic, over here these people were often referred to as
15 volunteers, these people who had come. Can you tell us something about
16 this, whether they could have had the status of volunteers at all in the
17 Yugoslav People's Army?
18 A. Well, you see, according to the law in the Yugoslav People's Army
19 they could not have become volunteers. I think that Official Gazette I 89
20 from 1991 is where the Presidency regulated the status of volunteers and
21 how they should be treated. This is the way it was roughly. Volunteers,
22 whoever wanted to enter the police or the military, had to go through the
23 Secretariat for National Defence and until entering the Secretariat for
24 National Defence they are volunteers. The Secretariat for National
25 Defence can do two things. If this volunteer had done his military
1 service on the basis of the level of his training and his military ID, he
2 can be sent to one of the units. If not, then it is the duty of the
3 secretary to send him for an assessment, a psychological and physical
4 assessment and only then can such a person be sent to a unit. When these
5 people get to a certain unit, if they had not gone through their military
6 service, they have to undergo training and only once they have completed
7 their training can they be used in combat operations. Those who had done
8 their military service and had then reached the -- a particular unit have
9 a shorter training and their knowledge is checked and then they start
10 operating within the unit. There is no status of volunteers there.
11 Q. If I understood this correctly, this group that came, according to
12 no regulations that existed then in the Yugoslav People's Army could it
13 have joined the Yugoslav People's Army and obtained the status of a member
14 of the Yugoslav People's Army?
15 A. Yes, you're right.
16 Q. Mr. Nikolic, now we are going to talk about what happened on the
17 17th of April, 1992. What do you know about the events that occurred
18 between the 16th and 17th of April, 1992? What did you find out? How did
19 you find out about this? Could you please tell the Honourable Trial
20 Chamber about it?
21 A. Sometime around 3.00 in the morning or perhaps after 3.00 in the
22 morning, I was awakened by the duty officer and he gave me the telephone
23 and it was Mr. Blagoje Simic. He had called me to say the following,
24 roughly: I am calling as president of the Crisis Staff and I wish to
25 inform you that the Serb police and the Serb Territorial Defence have
1 taken measures because there was a danger of a conflict breaking out in
2 Samac. Therefore, they took over Bosanski Samac. They have taken
3 authority in Bosanski Samac. This is under way and it will be finished
5 I cautioned against the possible consequences and I pointed out
6 that what should be avoided at all costs was an interethnic conflict,
7 casualties, and I cautioned him against anything that could be done in
8 this direction. Also I said that my powers do not go that far. I cannot
9 appoint governments and I cannot dismiss governments, but I ask and I
10 insist that this be carried out in a proper way, in order to enable the
11 system to function properly.
12 JUDGE WILLIAMS: Excuse me, Mr. Pisarevic, I wonder, Mr. Nikolic,
13 when you say, and this is on page 6, line 25, when you say that Dr. Simic
14 called you and informed you that -- in the English translation it then
15 says the Serb police and the Serb Territorial Defence have taken measures
16 et cetera, can you explain what was meant by Serb Territorial Defence?
17 Just for the sake of clarity, what you understood that to mean.
18 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] I have understood the question. I
19 must admit that in principle I did not understand what this meant, the
20 Serb Territorial Defence because I had no idea that it had been organised
21 as such. It was quite clear what the Serb police was but I assumed that
22 in the meantime, some units were organised as a Serb Territorial Defence
23 that were placed under the command of the organs of authority, and that
24 they were engaged as such. Later on, in the coming period, it was proven
25 that such units had already been organised.
1 JUDGE WILLIAMS: And just one other question. You mention that it
2 was your understanding that these units organised as a Serb Territorial
3 Defence were placed under the command of the organs of authority. Could
4 you perhaps tell us what your meaning is there, the organs of authority?
5 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] I mean the Crisis Staff specifically
6 in Bosanski Samac, as the representatives of government, or those who had
7 taken over power in Bosanski Samac at that moment.
8 JUDGE WILLIAMS: Thank you very much.
9 JUDGE LINDHOLM: I have another question. It goes to the
10 transcript, page 6 line 11, the question by counsel, "If I understood this
11 correctly, this group that came, according to no regulations that existed
12 then in the Yugoslav People's Army could have joined the Yugoslav People's
13 Army in the status of a member..." I don't understand that question. I
14 don't think it makes -- I think it makes no sense. Could you perhaps have
15 a look at it and repeat your -- what you intended to ask? Thank you.
16 MR. PISAREVIC: [Interpretation] Yes, we shall certainly clarify
17 this question.
18 Q. You have heard what Honourable Judge Lindholm is interested in.
19 The question was the following. This group that came, at that time, could
20 it have directly become part of the Yugoslav People's Army or not? That
21 is the core of this question, if I understood His Honour properly.
22 A. Your Honours, this is a group that belonged to the police forces.
23 There were no grounds whatsoever on which they could become part of the
24 Yugoslav People's Army. The Yugoslav People's Army had combat manpower
25 with certain specialties and it had the military police. That is to say
1 there was no other police. These are professional policemen. I think
2 that you understand what I'm saying. Professional policemen. Police
3 officers that deal with the civilian structure of society.
4 Q. Mr. Nikolic, let's not go too far. I think that the core of the
5 question put by His Honour is the following: This group or any other
6 group in April, in the month of April, could it have, as such, joined the
7 Yugoslav People's Army?
8 A. It could not have. Only if it were a formation unit that would be
9 sent from some other establishment into the 17th Tactical Group.
10 Q. If I understand you correctly, this formation unit would have
11 already been with -- within the JNA and then it would have had nothing to
12 do with volunteers?
13 A. That's right.
14 JUDGE LINDHOLM: Thank you.
15 MR. PISAREVIC: [Interpretation] Very well.
16 Q. So this meeting came to an end on the 12th -- oh, yes, yes. So
17 what did you do after that, after Mr. Simic informed you about what had
19 A. I called my corps commander, that is my superior commander,
20 commander of the 17th Corps, General Savo Jankovic, and I conveyed to him
21 a preliminary piece of information, what I had learned, that is, and I
22 said that the Serb police and the Serb TO had taken over the key functions
23 in Bosanski Samac. I explained the situation to him in somewhat greater
24 detail, and he said to me that the units of Tactical Group 17 should
25 remain outside what was going on at all costs, outside everything that was
1 going on in Samac. And that we should do our job in accordance with the
2 assignments that the tactical group had been given.
3 Q. Those units of the 17th Tactical Group of the Yugoslav People's
4 Army also included the 4th Detachment?
5 A. That's right. The 4th Detachment was part of the tactical group
6 number 17.
7 Q. Very well.
8 A. The 4th Detachment of the JNA, that is what it was called.
9 Q. Very well, thank you. You've already explained in your statement
10 what happened next and I will not be asking you about that. But do you
11 remember, and did you discuss with Mr. Simo Zaric the next day, on the
12 18th of April, 1992, do you remember discussing it?
13 A. Yes. The next day, but to answer this question with Your Honour's
14 leave I'd need to perhaps explain the situation that the tactical group
15 number 17 was in at the time, namely that is the time when the regular
16 forces of the Republic of Croatia and the forces of the Croat Defence
17 Council had already launched an offensive against the northern part of
18 Posavina. Across the Sava River, across the Bosna [Realtime transcript
19 read in error "boza"] River and from the municipality of Orasje and the
20 village of Domaljevac [Realtime transcript read in error "moemal yea
22 A. The major part of the tactical group forces, that is the manoeuvre
23 structures and by this I mean not detachments but units which are mobile
24 which may be used.
25 MR. LAZAREVIC: The transcript on page 10, line 19, here it says
1 "boza river" this means Bosna River and the village is Domaljevac on line
3 JUDGE MUMBA: Yes, I think that will be corrected.
4 MR. PISAREVIC: [Interpretation]
5 Q. Yes, do go on.
6 A. Thank you. So fighting was already under way at the majority part
7 of the manoeuvreing units of the tactical group number 17 was already
8 being engaged in those combat operations. Under the circumstances, at the
9 time, Mr. Simo Zaric was in Bosanski Samac and in the wake of the events
10 in Bosanski Samac, I told him and Mr. Radovan Antic the commander of the
11 4th Detachment ordered to first put the detachment on full combat
12 preparedness and in -- early in the morning I issued an additional task to
13 them, telling them that the major part of the detachment should act with
14 the deployment plan, and the deployment plan meant the Defence of the
15 boundary areas of the municipality of Bosanski Samac, that is taking
16 positions on the right bank of the Sava and the right bank of the Bosna.
17 Q. Mr. Nikolic, you already spoke about this in your statement so let
18 us not repeat that all, and my question was: What you're telling us
19 about, it all happened on the 17th, and my question was whether you and
20 how met or talked on the 18th, that is the next day, with Mr. Zaric and
21 what did Mr. Zaric tell you on that occasion? Did he tell you that some
22 members of the 4th Detachment who were of Muslim and Croat ethnicity
24 MR. RE: It's leading, I object.
25 JUDGE MUMBA: Yes, Mr. Pisarevic?
1 MR. PISAREVIC: [Interpretation] Yes, of course. I withdraw this
3 Q. But tell me, do you remember the 18th of April and so on and so
4 forth, of course what I mean is did you talk with Mr. Zaric?
5 A. Yes, on the 18th of April, I talked with Mr. Simo Zaric indeed
6 because Mr. Simo Zaric called me from Bosanski Samac and quite upset said,
7 "I'm at the MUP, that is at the police station. There is some problems
8 here because even some members of the 4th Detachment have been arrested,
9 that is members of our regular unit." And he said to me, that he was
10 asking me to take some urgent measures to have those members set free.
11 And I called Mr. Blagoje Simic and he told me when I'm not abreast of what
12 is going on there, this Mr. Todorovic is at the head of these actions so
13 call Mr. Todorovic please and the problem will be solved. I called
14 Mr. Todorovic and after, well, let's say, after pretty heated discussion
15 during which he told me I don't know who members of the 4th Detachment are
16 and I said it's very simple because they all have documents showing that
17 they belong to the 4th Detachment so all you have to do is ask them to
18 show these documents so the understanding was that Mr. Zaric should refer
19 to the authorisation by Mr. Todorovic to take over the members of the 4th
20 Detachment and that is what he did.
21 Q. And after that, did Mr. Zaric send you a report telling you that
22 your order had been put through?
23 A. Yes, he did send me a report. We also met, and I was fully
24 briefed about the situation.
25 Q. Could Mr. Zaric go to the police station and take over the members
1 of the 4th Detachment without your order to that effect?
2 A. Mr. Zaric, if we are talking about the chain of command, two
3 superiors. His first superior was Captain Radovan Antic the commander of
4 the 4th Detachment, and then the next one up the ladder was I. He had
5 nothing to do at the MUP until and unless I ordered him to do something.
6 So he carried out an order that I had given him.
7 Q. After that, did you speak with Mr. Simo Zaric again and did your
8 command receive information through security agencies? What was going on
9 in Samac and what did Mr. Zaric ask you to do on that occasion when you
11 A. At the time I was busy with combat operations against regular
12 members of the army of the Republic of Croatia and the Croat Defence
13 Council but I was nevertheless also following with attention the
14 developments in Bosanski Samac and not only in Bosanski Samac but
15 throughout the area of responsibility. Mr. Zaric, as the assistant
16 commander of the 4th Detachment for intelligence and security, was
17 duty-bound to monitor the situation in Bosanski Samac. I'm explaining
18 this in order to make you understand the problem. So Mr. Zaric called me
19 and said there are quite a number of arrested members of the Croat and
20 Muslim ethnicity, they are being arrested, some are beaten, they are
21 harassed and one of them had already been killed. That is roughly what
22 Mr. Zaric told me.
23 Q. Did Mr. Zaric ask you to protect or in some way try to prevent the
24 arrests of Croats and Muslims?
25 A. Yes. He if I may put it that way, he asked me and requested that
1 I take certain steps to prevent that or to reduce it to the minimum.
2 Q. And do you remember what Mr. Zaric asked you to do towards the end
3 of April or rather on the 26th of April, 1992? What did he ask you to do
4 to protect those incarcerated persons?
5 A. Yes, I do remember that. I think it was around the 26th of April,
6 when Mr. Zaric called me. My assistant responsible for security Captain
7 Maksimovic answered the phone and first the two of them talked first and
8 then Makso, that is my security assistant, handed me over the phone and
9 said Mr. Zaric is calling because there is some problems in Samac.
10 Mr. Zaric told me that the treatment of prisoners, that is the detainees,
11 at the police station, and in the TO building, was quite brutal. He said
12 that some had been beaten up and that is when he mentioned that a man had
13 been killed, I believe he said, and said, "Please do something to solve
14 the situation and to rescue those people somehow." And I told him to stay
15 at the police station, that is to stay put, to then contact and call
16 Captain First Class Momcilo Petrovic who was in Brcko to talk to him, to
17 discuss the possibility of transferring those prisoners to Brcko. I said
18 that I'd also call Petrovic and that I would also send Makso Simeunovic,
19 my security assistant to take over those men or to take some steps.
20 Q. Thank you. Why was it necessary to establish contact with Captain
21 Petrovic and what you said in Brcko? In Brcko what is it a garrison,
22 barracks, where in Brcko to be transferred?
23 A. Well, you see, there was a JNA garrison in Brcko. That garrison
24 had a regular military prison, besides in the barracks there was plenty of
25 room. So that a certain number of detainees could be properly
1 accommodated there and be provided with some decent living conditions.
2 Secondly, pulling them out across the Tinja river, that is outside the
3 area of responsibility of the 17th Tactical Group would practically
4 protect those people because they would be beyond the reach of any other
5 possible reprisals.
6 Q. If I understand your meaning properly, the transfer of prisoners
7 to the garrison in Brcko puts them outside the area of responsibility of
8 the 17th Tactical Group, that is your area of responsibility, and thereby
9 the civilian authorities and -- in Bosanski Samac has no powers over what
10 happens in Brcko; is that correct?
11 A. Yes, it is.
12 Q. And what did you do? Did you order Makso Simeunovic to carry out
13 that task?
14 A. I called my corps commander, General Jankovic explained the
15 situation to him and he said, "Nikolic, you must bear in mind that our
16 competences do not extend that far, that no state of war has been
17 proclaimed." However, I insisted, I wanted to do something for the simple
18 reason, and that was the humanitarian one. We wanted to help those
19 people. And he said, right, do something but please do it elegantly, to
20 avoid any fighting, any bloodshed or anything, because we have no
21 authority to settle accounts with anyone in this manner. After that, I
22 called captain Makso Simeunovic. I ordered him to take sufficient number
23 of vehicles to ensure a police escort [as interpreted], go to Bosanski
24 Samac to establish contact with Mr. Zaric.
25 Q. Just a moment, let us see.
1 MR. LAZAREVIC: Your Honours maybe just one word is missing here
2 in the transcript. To ensure military police escort in page 15, line 20.
3 Here it says just police escort and actually he said military police
5 JUDGE MUMBA: Yes, perhaps the witness can restate that.
6 MR. PISAREVIC: [Interpretation]
7 Q. Mr. Nikolic --
8 A. Your Honours, I ordered my assistant, Makso Simeunovic, the chief
9 of security in the tactical group number 17 to take a certain number of
10 vehicles, sufficient to accommodate all those prisoners, to take -- to get
11 the escort from the military police platoon at the disposal of the
12 tactical group number 17, to go to Bosanski Samac, to meet or rather
13 communicate with Mr. Simo Zaric, and take over the detainees. To my
14 knowledge, Makso Simeunovic carried out this task fully. The -- he
15 transferred the detainees to Brcko. He handed over to the command of the
16 garrison in Brcko, that is the Captain First Class Momcilo Petrovic,
17 handed them over to him, they were accommodated there. He returned,
18 informed me that he had carried out that task, and that was the end of my
19 concern about those people.
20 Q. Whilst those people were in the police station in Bosanski Samac
21 and the TO headquarters, did you and your security assistant Mr. Makso
22 Simeunovic, issue any orders to Mr. Simo Zaric regarding the conduct of
23 interviews or rather collection of information about the illegal arming of
24 citizens in the municipality of Bosanski Samac?
25 A. Yes. Should I explain it?
1 Q. Yes, please do.
2 A. Well, you see, illegal armament of paramilitary organisations of
3 literally all the parties was under way, we knew that and we were
4 monitoring it. Many of these shipments were seized and measures were
5 instituted against them. There is also some information, that some
6 members of the army, I mean the JNA, also participated in these
7 dishonourable deals, and that is I told Mr. Zaric, as a man who was
8 experienced in police matters, to interrogate a certain number of people
9 whom -- who he -- in his opinion could have some information, to collect
10 this information, and to brief me about this. That is to tell me what it
11 is that he'd learned from them.
12 Q. And how did you enable Mr. Zaric to enter the police station?
13 A. I did it by calling Mr. Todorovic. I told him Mr. Zaric is
14 coming, so I urge you to enable him to talk with some of the detainees,
15 because there is reasonable doubt that they have something to do with the
16 weapons contraband, with the cooperation with paramilitary organisations,
17 and there is also doubt that some JNA members are participating in it.
18 Mr. Todorovic said he had nothing against it and Mr. Zaric could do that.
19 Q. And did Mr. Zaric report to you after the task?
20 A. Yes, yes, he did.
21 Q. Mr. Nikolic, now we shall move on to the event which happened in
22 Crkvina on the 8th of May, 1992. The event in Crkvina is a crime which
23 happened when, in the -- in a -- when 16 people were killed in a
24 warehouse. How did you learn about this event?
25 THE INTERPRETER: Could the counsel speak into the microphone?
1 MR. PISAREVIC: [Interpretation]
2 Q. And from whom did you learn this?
3 A. I learned about this unfortunate incident from Mr. Zaric once
4 again. I suppose in view of the nature of his work and the movement --
5 area of responsibility of the 4th Detachment and the reconnaissance in the
6 area, that is how Mr. Zaric learned about this event. He called me and
7 said, have you heard about what had happened? He was very upset and I
8 said no, I don't know, what's it about? Since I was busy with combat
9 operations which were already under way. And were very intensive. And he
10 told me that in Crkvina, there had been a crime committed by a man called
11 Lugar, that he had killed 16 people, and that it was -- that it was
12 terrible and that something had to be done about it, that we had to see
13 what we should do. And I listened to him and when he finished I said,
14 "Fine, you do your job and I'll see what is going on and what can be
16 I called Mr. Todorovic, and he answered rather diplomatically. He
17 said perhaps it did happen, perhaps it didn't, he doesn't know anything
18 about it but I insisted. I wanted to talk to those who had -- who were
19 involved in this. My signals service has ensured the line to
20 Mr. Radovanovic for me, Srecko Radovanovic called Debeli and the
21 communication with Mr. Djordjevic called Crni. I must admit that they
22 were also pretty upset by this incident and quite taken aback and I asked
23 them what is going on, what has happened? And they thought that
24 Mr. Mirko Lugar, had committed a crime in which he had killed those people
25 while being mentally disturbed, and I said that steps have to be taken to
1 prevent any such thing happening again and so on and so forth and to
2 Todorovic I also said that he should investigate the matter because at
3 that time he represented the police. How far had he gone in his
5 MR. RE: Your Honours, it may assist if we have a date, no date
6 has been given for Mr. Zaric informing Mr. Nikolic of the Crkvina
7 massacre, nor of the witness's conversations with Mr. Todorovic.
8 JUDGE MUMBA: Yes. Counsel will deal with that.
9 MR. PISAREVIC: [Interpretation]
10 Q. Mr. Nikolic I told you that we would be talking about the events
11 of the 8th --
12 A. And the 9th.
13 Q. Yes. Tell us when did Mr. Zaric inform you about the crime and
14 when did you talk with Djordjevic and Radovanovic and Todorovic?
15 A. I think it was on the 9th. The 9th of May.
16 Q. And that was early in the morning?
17 A. That was in the morning before noon.
18 Q. Please, did you, after the information that you were given from
19 Mr. Zaric, did you issue any orders to Mr. Zaric?
20 A. I ordered Mr. Zaric, I told him to collect the information, all
21 the information that he could, and to come to me, that is to come to the
22 command post. I also called Makso Simeunovic, chief of security, head,
23 and we -- the three of us sat down and talked a little and I said the
24 following. Knowing that Mr. Zaric knows people of influence in Belgrade,
25 and I also knew a certain number of those people, I said that he should
1 pack his bags, go to Belgrade, communicate with key individuals dealing --
2 addressing such problems, solving such problems, and jobs of that kind,
3 and to take whatever was necessary to find whatever channels to avoid --
4 to prevent any such thing happening again.
5 Q. Did you know this individual that Mr. Zaric also knew who worked
6 for the security in the Yugoslav People's Army?
7 A. Yes, I did.
8 Q. And what was his name?
9 A. The man that we knew is Colonel Maksimovic, who was born somewhere
10 around Bosanski Samac, I believe that he was born in Obudovac. Mr. Zaric
11 went to see him and through him he talked with the highest security bodies
12 in the army.
13 Q. Mr. Zaric went to Belgrade and when did he return to Belgrade, did
14 he report to you and what did he tell you, whom did he see and whom did he
15 notify of the crime?
16 A. Mr. Zaric went to Belgrade, carried out the task, returned, and
17 said that he had informed the security administration of the Yugoslav
18 People's Army practically. At what time it was headed by General
19 Aleksandar Vasiljevic. In addition to Aleksandar Vasiljevic, there were
20 several other people present at the meeting but he was the key person
22 Q. Did he tell you, do you remember that he had also put together an
23 official report of the meeting?
24 A. Yes. Thank you. He said that at the security administration, an
25 official record had been made of the meeting and that it had been said
1 that this memo would go through all the relevant bodies and that measures
2 would be taken to avoid any such situations happening -- from happening
4 Q. And when you left the area of the municipality of Samac, that is
5 from the position of the commander of 17th Tactical Group, did the 17th
6 Tactical Group cease to exist at the time?
7 A. Well, from the municipality of Bosanski Samac, that is I left the
8 post of the commander of the 17th Tactical Group because it didn't cover
9 all the municipality Bosanski Samac only. I left this position on the
10 19th of May because I received the -- from the command of the 17th Corps
11 according to which all the members of the Yugoslav People's Army who had
12 not been born in Bosnia-Herzegovina had to return by 2400 hours on the
13 19th of May and had to report to specified garrisons in the Federal
14 Republic of Yugoslavia and I did that and I took along all the officers
15 that were there who fell within this category. I turned over the duty and
16 I left.
17 Q. And after that, were you not in the territory of
18 Bosnia-Herzegovina or Republika Srpska?
19 A. After that, I was no longer visited that territory.
20 Q. Thank you very much. Your Honours, I have finished.
21 JUDGE MUMBA: Yes, cross-examination? I see Mr. Pantelic, you
22 want to put some questions? Yes, you can go ahead.
23 MR. PANTELIC: Yes, Your Honour, that's correct.
24 Cross-examined by Mr. Pantelic:
25 MR. PANTELIC: Your Honour I do apologise, I have to rearrange my
1 papers. Just a couple of seconds, please. In the meantime, I would also
2 kindly assistance of the -- of Ms. Registrar, if the interpreter's booth
3 can be provided with a copy of P16A ter. It's a transcript, it's a
4 transcript of the video footage that we shall use in these proceedings.
5 Thank you. And also, Mr. Usher, I need your assistance also for
6 interpreter's booth, one copy of the part of Blaskic judgement.
7 Q. [Interpretation] Good morning, Mr. Nikolic. My name is
8 Mr. Pantelic and I defend Mr. Blagoje Simic.
9 A. Good morning.
10 Q. Before we begin, would you kindly tell me, the 17th Tactical
11 Group, you were the commander of this group, what was the area of
12 responsibility? Was it north, south, east or west? Please give us the
13 boundaries of the responsibility of the 17th Tactical Group?
14 A. The zone of responsibility of the 17th Tactical Group was mouth of
15 River Tinja into Sava, so north-east to the east River Tinja to the north
16 River Sava, up until the point where the River Bosna goes into River
17 Sava. The western boundary followed along River Bosna and up until the
18 depth going to Modrica up to the municipality of [Realtime transcript read
19 in error "^"] Gradacac. What's excluded is Orasje and Domaljevac.
20 MR. LAZAREVIC: Your Honours, maybe we need just one small piece
21 of evidence here in the transcript. Until the depth going to Modrica up
22 to the municipality of and here we don't read which one was and it would
23 be helpful now to know which municipality it was.
24 MR. RE: Before my friends go on, I actually have a large colour
25 map blown up with ten copies which I was going to show to the witness in
1 cross-examination. It may assist Mr. Pantelic if he uses that for the
2 area of responsibility and perhaps the witness marked it on with a text or
3 something at this stage.
4 JUDGE MUMBA: Yes.
5 MR. PANTELIC: I'm grateful to my learned friend, yes.
6 JUDGE MUMBA: Yes. I think the witness can be shown that.
7 MR. PANTELIC: I think it will be assistance for all participants.
8 Thank you.
9 MR. RE: The writing is not as clear as it could possibly be
10 because it's been blown up from a one to 50.000 but we can certainly work
11 out where everything is.
12 MR. PANTELIC: I see that my learned friend has a smaller map.
13 Maybe it will be more convenient for the witness to mark.
14 MR. RE: The smaller one is obviously easier to handle. The
15 larger one was because the writing wasn't as distinct but I can certainly
16 give the witness the smaller one if it will assist.
17 MR. PANTELIC: Yes.
18 MR. RE: I have three copies of the smaller one here.
19 MR. PANTELIC: [Interpretation]
20 Q. Mr. Nikolic, you're a retired officer, aren't you? You are a
21 Colonel, aren't you?
22 A. Yes, I am but I'm retired right now.
23 Q. Very well. Colonel, kindly take a felt pen, it's a black coloured
24 felt pen?
25 MR. PANTELIC: Could the witness have a marker?
1 Q. [Interpretation] Colonel, kindly draw a line on this map and show
2 us where the area of responsibility of your tactical group was so that we
3 can clearly understand what is going on. Lots of witnesses have testified
4 on this but you were the commander of this tactical group and we would
5 like to hear this from you. Sir, it doesn't really have to be very
6 precise down to the millimetre. Just so that we can have an idea to the
7 best of your recollection as to what your area of responsibility was. We
8 know that ten years have gone by since. Thank you.
9 A. [Marks]
10 Q. Colonel, you said that Domaljevac and Orasje were not part of the
11 area of responsibility. Would you kindly show us where that is?
12 A. Yes, that's correct. This is Orasje and here we have -- we have
14 Q. For the transcript, I would just like to say that on this map that
15 you drew, the black line drawn by yourself with a felt pen is the area of
16 responsibility of the 17th Tactical Group and the crossed out area is the
17 area that belongs to the municipality of Domaljevac and Orasje and they
18 did not belong to the area of responsibility of the 17th Tactical Group;
19 is that correct?
20 A. That is correct.
21 MR. PANTELIC: Could we have an exhibit number if there is no
22 objection obviously from the other parties?
23 JUDGE MUMBA: Yes.
24 THE REGISTRAR: The map will be treated as Exhibit D180/1.
25 MR. PANTELIC: Thank you.
1 Q. [Interpretation] The 17th Tactical Group, according to military
2 terminology, you know we are laymen here, Colonel, would you kindly
3 explain to us what does the 17th Tactical Group, where does it belong?
4 A. It is a temporary formation. The command of the corps, army
5 corps, formed it for the area of which it was supposed to act on and
6 according to the tasks that it has, the formation was temporary and it
7 was only valid for the time, certain time period.
8 Q. With regards to the number of soldiers, can you tell us --
9 MR. PANTELIC: Yes, I have assistance of my learned friend, in the
10 answer --
11 Q. [Interpretation] So the 17th Tactical Group, what is that military
12 unit? What -- how -- what is the level of it?
13 A. It's at the level of the motorised brigade, for instance.
14 Q. How many soldiers did you have under your command in the 17th
15 Tactical Group?
16 A. Depending of the period in question, and the number of people that
17 would answer the call-up, we would have from 3.500, up to 4.700 and up to
18 4.800 soldiers. Counting the manoeuvrable structures and the
19 non-manoeuvrable structures.
20 Q. Very well. So you have explained the structure of the 17th
21 Tactical Group in your statement, under paragraph 19. I will not go over
22 that now. Could you kindly tell me, Colonel Nikolic, you have completed
23 the highest military schools, haven't you?
24 A. Yes.
25 Q. As part of your training in those schools, as part of your calling
1 that you obtained, you must have undergone certain regulations and you
2 must know the regulations of the brigade from 1964, this --
3 THE INTERPRETER: 1984. Interpreter's note.
4 Q. And it was given by the Secretariat of the national defence,
5 issued by them; is that correct?
6 A. Yes.
7 Q. The regulations of the -- for the brigade, from 1984, of the
8 Yugoslav People's Army, those regulations talk about the structures of the
9 brigade. Just to remind you, I do have the schematics from that
10 regulation, from that period, and I would like to you give us your
11 comments on it. Colonel Nikolic, we have the schematics here showing us
12 the formation of a brigade. What I'm interested in is the following:
13 Tell us, was this structure also used and applied with regards to the 17th
14 Tactical Group or was it different?
15 A. I told you that the rank of the tactical group belongs
16 approximately to the rank of a brigade but the structure was not like
17 this. Before I arrived here, I told Mr. Pisarevic, and I insisted, that I
18 would like to get all the rights to give you the precise information from
19 the Secretariat of National Defence but I did not get this authorisation.
20 However, I will try to answer to the best of my knowledge. All the units
21 are manoeuvre units, meaning that wherever a brigade goes, they go as
22 well. When we talk about a tactical group, a tactical group was composed
23 of a command. It had headquarters and there were also units attached to
24 the headquarters, such as you see here, we have the headquarters and then
25 the reconnaissance unit and the command and that was very similar to the
1 17th group. We did not have the command for political matters, because we
2 didn't need it and then the security organ was existed at the time because
3 it was linked to the police operations and then we also had the
4 reconnaissance unit. I also said what units the tactical group was
5 composed of but what the particular -- the particularity of this was that
6 it had also non-manoeuvrable structures, meaning that units that are
7 linked to a certain area and everything that took place under the area of
8 responsibility of the 17th Tactical Group, those units never moved from
9 their positions. Those are the detachments of the JNA and the platoons of
10 the JNA, the companies of the JNA, there were four or six, and the number
11 of those units was changing, depending on the situation. The system or
12 the organisation of the command such as we can see it here, of course we
13 did not have the committee of the SKJ and we did not have any political
14 organs if you want, if -- I hope that I've answered clearly.
15 Q. Very well. I was just waiting for the end of the translation or
16 the interpretation rather. You have stated that the security organ was
17 subordinate to the units of the superior over the units of the police, as
18 it is described here on the schematics; is that correct?
19 A. Yes, that is -- that was the case. Makso Simeunovic was my
20 assistant for security and he commanded directly to the units of the
21 military police, which means that I did not have the right to -- it
22 doesn't mean that I didn't have the right to command those units but they
23 were under his command.
24 Q. Thank you. How many men did that unit of the military police
1 A. About 30 members. It was -- it had the strength of a platoon, and
2 three men from that unit were in charge of my personal security, whereas
3 the other departments were in charge of all other police tasks. One
4 department was carrying out all the police tasks and the other one was
5 taking care of the -- regulating the traffic. The three men who were part
6 of my personal security team, I can tell you that one was Edin, he was a
7 Muslim; another one was Pero, he was a Serb; and the third one was Cule
8 [phoen], he was a Croat. I just want you to know that...
9 Q. In paragraph 115, at paragraph 115 of this regulation, we talk
10 about the role of the commander of the brigade and I would like to read it
11 out for you, just to remind you, although I'm sure you know it by heart.
12 MR. LAZAREVIC: I have no problem about showing certain documents
13 and certain sketches to the witness but we have not received these
14 documents earlier, and what is Mr. Pantelic wants to quote to the witness
15 we don't know that so if he does want to do that, could it be pleased be
16 placed on the ELMO so that we know what he's talking about?
17 MR. PANTELIC: Yes, no problem. It's actually a part of the
18 regulation that already Colonel Nikolic said that he's familiar with
19 during his education and I'm simply would like to refresh his memory.
20 It's no problem.
21 JUDGE MUMBA: Mr. Pantelic, the Trial Chamber is of the view that
22 you should concentrate on the areas which was touching your client which
23 the witness discussed in his evidence. We don't need all these details at
24 all, all these matters that you're discussing. Go to the events that
25 happened on the dates that the witness has discussed in relation to the
1 activities of your client, attendance of the meeting, the telephone call,
2 and matters such as were mentioned by this witness.
3 MR. PANTELIC: Yes, Your Honour.
4 JUDGE MUMBA: That is why your cross-examination is limited to --
5 MR. PANTELIC: I will do that, Your Honour, no problem with me. I
6 just want a very briefly cover the issue of the role of Colonel Nikolic in
7 that regard because directly and indirectly it's relevant to the case of
8 my client. So I will be very concise and very efficient, if you allow
9 me. I will not go into details, no, Your Honour. I will do --
10 JUDGE MUMBA: Because he has already explained what his role was.
11 We don't need a repetition of that.
12 MR. PANTELIC: Yes I'll do that.
13 Q. [Interpretation] Mr. Nikolic, as part of your training, and
14 background, I imagine that you were acquainted with the regulation issued
15 by the Presidency of SFRJ in 1988 with regards to what to do in case of
17 JUDGE MUMBA: [Previous interpretation continues] ...
18 MR. PANTELIC: Your Honour it's just a part of this important
19 document which I already tendered into evidence, just to have a
20 confirmation of his personal knowledge of the role of commander with
21 regard to the international humanitarian law and conventions. It's just
22 one paragraph, Your Honour, related to the events in Samac. If you allow
23 me, please. It's just a couple of questions.
24 MR. RE: Your Honours, the Prosecution knows where Mr. Pantelic is
25 going on this. We certainly don't object to him pursuing this. I mean
1 subject to Your Honour's directions of course pursuing this for a limited
2 period, this small area in which he wishes to go.
3 [Trial Chamber confers]
4 JUDGE MUMBA: Yes, Mr. Pantelic.
5 MR. PISAREVIC: [Interpretation] If I may, Your Honour, the
6 regulations that Mr. Pantelic is evoking, it is the way the international
7 humanitarian law is seen in case of war, and if I recall correctly, the
8 Colonel said that the state of war was never proclaimed. I just wanted to
9 explain what my learned colleague is probably trying to do and we are not
10 objecting to it.
11 MR. PANTELIC: I think it's a matter for the final judgement of
12 this Trial Chamber, whether it was conflict or not.
13 JUDGE MUMBA: Yes, Mr. Pantelic, you can go over what you wanted
14 to cover but very briefly.
15 MR. PANTELIC: Very briefly, yes, thank you, Your Honour.
16 Q. [Interpretation] Colonel, tell us are you aware of this regulation
17 on how to apply the international humanitarian law, this regulation from
18 1988 so how to apply the humanitarian law in case of war, this regulation
19 replaced the one from 1972. Are you familiar with it?
20 A. I did not understand your -- I didn't hear actually your
21 interpretation because I just heard the interpreter's all of a sudden say
22 something but I didn't follow your question.
23 Q. Terribly sorry. Tell us, are you familiar with the regulation on
24 how to apply the international humanitarian law in case there is a war in
25 the former Yugoslavia in the regulation of 1988 which replaced the
1 regulation issued in 1972?
2 A. All the commanders of the former JNA are familiar with those
3 regulations, and that particular regulation was applied throughout all the
4 units. That was the principle of our work. Every time when there was a
5 new regulation, the new order, it was always applied and it was published
6 in the Official Gazette, all members had to get familiar with it.
7 Q. You will agree with me undoubtedly that as part of those
8 regulations and orders, we can see that there is a definition about the
9 personal responsibility in case of a violation of law of war. What was
10 your answer to this question?
11 A. I said yes. That's correct.
12 Q. These regulations also talk about the responsibility of military
13 commanders and they state their responsibility with regards to the doings
14 of their subordinates; is that correct?
15 A. Yes.
16 Q. These regulations also make sure that the -- or talk about the
17 violations of the laws of war?
18 A. Yes, but I cannot remember textually the way it is written.
19 MR. PANTELIC: Obviously our friends from interpretation booth are
20 not in good shape and form this morning so we have to repeat again. The
21 transcript is not accurate.
22 Q. [Interpretation] My question is the following: Or was the
23 following: Amongst other things, these regulations talk about the
24 procedure on how to find and how to make sure that the evidence is
25 collected when there is a violation of the laws of war?
1 A. Yes. But I do not remember them textually. I couldn't recite
2 them to you.
3 Q. Yes, of course. We did not want to go into details here. We just
4 wanted to make sure that you're aware of these facts.
5 My colleague, Mr. Pisarevic, asked you a question about your
6 understanding of volunteer units and your understanding of those.
7 MR. PANTELIC: Could the witness be shown Exhibit D166/1, please?
8 Your Honour, I believe it's time for our break. Maybe we can
9 leave this topic until after the break.
10 JUDGE MUMBA: No, we still have a minute to go. Go ahead.
11 MR. PANTELIC: Okay. From this angle, I cannot see the official
12 watch and that's why --
13 Q. [Interpretation] Mr. Nikolic --
14 A. Yes?
15 Q. I would like to you look at this regulation -- order. You were in
16 the 17th Tactical Group, but tell us, when did you become a member of it?
17 A. It was in the end of the month of October, 1991. It's when the
18 creation started of the 17th Tactical Group and I ended the creation of
19 this group on the 15th of January, 1992.
20 Q. This order is from the month of December of 1991. I would like
21 you to look at point 7?
22 MR. LAZAREVIC: [Previous interpretation continues] ... Because
23 this is not any order. This is something different that we have here.
24 MR. PANTELIC: Yes, yes, that's my mistake, sorry, Your Honour. I
25 do apologise. Although we should discuss that document too but Your
1 Honour now I believe it's 10.30.
2 JUDGE MUMBA: Yes. We shall take our break and continue at 1100
4 --- Recess taken at 10.30 a.m.
5 --- On resuming at 11.01 a.m.
6 JUDGE MUMBA: Yes, Mr. Pantelic.
7 MR. PANTELIC: Yes, thank you, Your Honour. Could we have Exhibit
8 D177/1, please?
9 Q. [Interpretation] If it's easier, because the print is very small,
10 you can take it and you can read it.
11 THE INTERPRETER: The interpreters note that they do not have a
13 MR. PANTELIC: [Interpretation]
14 Q. Since this is an order of the Presidency of Yugoslavia, were you
15 aware of it?
16 A. Yes, I was.
17 Q. In item 7, it says that within ten days, all individuals and
18 forces that are outside the armed forces of the SFRY should accord their
19 positions and all individuals and groups of volunteers will be removed,
20 all of those who do not carry this out. Did you have any such cases in
21 the 17th Tactical Group?
22 A. We had a case in the 17th Tactical Group when a group of
23 volunteers came who were somewhere on the front line, and I think there
24 were about 15 of them. As for these 15 odd men, I personally, since they
25 did not have any documents, no proof whatsoever of having been sent by an
1 appropriate authority, I had them disarmed, I put them into vehicles at
2 the Sava River near Raca, I transferred them back and practically expelled
3 them from my area of responsibility.
4 JUDGE WILLIAMS: Excuse me, Mr. Pantelic, do you think that we
5 could just clarify in the translation here, page 33, line 13, where your
6 question, it comes as a question, two questions in a row, I think, in any
7 way, in any event, it says, the armed forces of the SFRY should accord --
8 accord, their positions. I am just wondering what that means, accord
9 their positions.
10 MR. PANTELIC: Should -- it's issue of translation. Authorised is
11 better translation, instead of accord, should authorise their presence
12 within the zone of responsibility of a particular JNA units.
13 JUDGE WILLIAMS: Thank you.
14 MR. PANTELIC: [Interpretation]
15 Q. Since the persons you mentioned arrived by helicopter -- I shall
16 repeat this, since the persons you mentioned arrived by military
17 helicopter, I'm referring to the people were Serbia who introduced
18 themselves as representatives of the police of Krajina; is that right?
19 A. Yes.
20 Q. And when speaking to them, did you find out how come they reported
21 to these units and arrived by military helicopter in Batkusa? Did you
22 find out how they were engaged?
23 A. As far as I know, they came at the request of Mr. Stevan
24 Todorovic, who had some connections in Belgrade and they came to work on
25 police activities in the territory of the municipality of Bosanski Samac.
1 All of them had IDs and I claim with full responsibility because I saw
2 them that they had IDs of the MUP of the Republika Srpska Krajina or IDs
3 of the MUP of the Republika Srpska. I informed my corps commander about
4 that, after the meeting, and after these facts were established and then
5 he said to me that allegedly, I mean I don't know whether it's this way,
6 there is an agreement between Republika Srpska and the Republic of Srpska
7 Krajina on mutual assistance and cooperation. And this was purportedly
8 the reason why they came, the fact that they arrived in helicopters of the
9 Yugoslav People's Army.
10 Q. All right. Tell me, in agreement with the higher command, what
11 did you do about putting them under control of your tactical group or
12 rather under your personal command?
13 MR. LAZAREVIC: This is a double-barrelled question. I have no
14 problem for witness to answer this question but this question cannot be
15 simply answered. First he's putting them under control of your tactical
16 group or your personal command. These are two very, very different
18 JUDGE MUMBA: Yes, Mr. Pantelic, can you rephrase your question?
19 MR. PANTELIC: Yes, yes, Your Honour.
20 Q. [Interpretation] Tell me, you informed your superior command the
21 17th Corps, about their arrival?
22 A. I did not hear the question because of this other thing I was
24 Q. You informed your superior command, the 17th Corps, about their
25 presence in your area of responsibility; is that right?
1 A. Yes.
2 Q. Tell me, what were the instructions of the 17th Corps regarding
3 their stay in your area of responsibility?
4 A. I explained a while ago that the commander of the corps said to
5 me, since these are members of the police, we do not have any authority
6 over them and that I have no authority to put them under my command unless
7 I submit a special request and then this request would be granted at a
8 certain level, then this kind of order would come to the head of MUP and
9 to me, and then they could be engaged somewhere. On the other hand, they
10 were not under my control. Am I clear?
11 Q. During your stay until the 19th of May, 1992, did you use the
12 members of these alleged units of the Krajina police in some combat
14 A. I used members of the Serb police, or rather members of the police
15 of the Serb municipality of Bosanski Samac and Pelagicevo under formation.
16 That would be a precise answer.
17 Q. Did you use Lugar and Crni in military operations?
18 A. I used all that I got from MUP, from Mr. Todorovic, and in
19 accordance with my own requests. My request went to the corps commander
20 or rather the commander of the 17th Corps. He had his own lines and
21 connections through which this went, and then Mr. Todorovic and I both
22 received orders accordingly. I that I could and he that he could place at
23 my disposal the forces I needed. Had a state of war been proclaimed, then
24 in fact everybody would have been under my command. Then that would have
25 meant the organs of authority, the organs of the police, and the business
1 community, the economic sector. When there is a state of war, then they
2 are all under the command of the army but that was not the case then.
3 Q. If I understood you correctly, Lugar, Crni and Debeli were used in
4 military operations under your command?
5 A. Between 40 and 50 members of the Serb police of the Serb
6 municipality of Bosanski Samac and Pelagicevo were used.
7 Q. Tell me, Colonel Nikolic, which officers of the command of the JNA
8 air force did you know in Belgrade? Who did you maintain contact with?
9 A. I did not know -- well, I knew in principle who the commanders of
10 the air force corps were, et cetera but I did not have anyone special.
11 The only person I spoke to once was Colonel Jeremic. This was some kind
12 of air support, as to whether it would be there or would not be there and
13 his telephone was the contact telephone so no one personally. I mean even
14 Mr. Jeremic, I didn't know him personally.
15 Q. I'm asking you this because Simo Zaric, in his book, on page 259,
16 says that when you send him to Belgrade, to visit, if necessary, some of
17 his people and your people in the command of the air force, so I'm
18 interested in hearing who this pertains to. Is this Colonel Jeremic or
19 some other person?
20 A. No. Wait a minute. The command of the air force could not have
21 influenced the situation in Tactical Group 17 or in the 17th Tactical
22 Corps at all unless it is air support or something else.
23 MR. PANTELIC: [Interpretation] Wait a second.
24 MR. RE: Could we have the English page number? There was the
25 B/C/S page number of 259. Could we have the English page number if
1 possible, please?
2 MR. PANTELIC: Unfortunately I don't have the English version with
4 MR. LAZAREVIC: If I may have the floor for one second? Your
5 Honours we still don't have a ruling of the Trial Chamber in respect to
6 Mr. Zaric's book so at this point I'm a bit curious about the situation
7 what is going to be, because Mr. Pantelic obviously is using and quoting
8 portions of the book as they are so...
9 MR. RE: I note that Mr. Lazarevic did exactly the same thing with
10 Mr. Simeunovic's evidence. I don't have the transcript page reference
11 with me at the moment. I have it upstairs but I certainly found that in
12 re-examination of Mr. Simeunovic after Mr. Pantelic's cross-examination,
13 Mr. Lazarevic himself quoted passages or extracts from Mr. Zaric's book in
14 relation to the Brcko incident so the Defence itself has already put the
15 book into -- put sections of the book into evidence.
16 MR. LAZAREVIC: I can confirm what my learned colleague said it
17 was during re-examination because of some misquoting but the issue of the
18 use of Mr. Zaric's book during proceedings was raised later and we are
19 awaiting for a ruling.
20 [Trial Chamber confers]
21 JUDGE MUMBA: The ruling which the Trial Chamber has yet to
22 deliver is whether or not the whole book should be produced in evidence.
23 But as far as the excerpts that parties are using, which are relevant to
24 the issues that are under discussion, that can be done.
25 MR. PANTELIC: [Interpretation]
1 Q. Colonel Nikolic, he mentions some of his people and your people at
2 the command of the air force. Let's be very precise. Who were your
3 people at the command of the air force?
4 A. I did not have my people in the air force. If you mean by that
5 some special connections or friends.
6 Q. But it is an uncontested fact that Lugar and his group came by
7 helicopters of the air force; isn't that right?
8 A. According to eyewitness statements, that's the way it was.
9 Q. Tell me, Mr. Nikolic, the period I'm interested in is October 1991
10 until your departure from the area of Samac Posavina, that is the 19th of
11 May. Tell me, in that period, did you as commander of the 17th Tactical
12 Group make plans with the leadership of the SDS in Samac about military
13 operations, including the takeover of authority by armed force in Samac?
14 Could you describe this to the Trial Chamber what your relations with the
15 SDS were?
16 A. My relations with any members of any party was -- were
17 non-existent so in fact I didn't have anything with the SDS or the SDA or
18 the HDZ. If there were any relations, these were relations where I could
19 and always did receive people. I talked to people regardless of the party
20 they belonged to. All of this with the objective of bringing the
21 situation back to normal, if possible, and also keeping law and order. I
22 did not take part in any plans that were being elaborated by the SDS if
23 so, or I was not a member of any party. I'm not a member of any party
24 nowadays either.
25 Q. So we will agree that the SDS and specifically Blagoje Simic did
1 not make any plans with you as commander of the 17th Tactical Group on
2 joint activity and forcible takeover of power in Bosanski Samac?
3 A. That's right. I often talked to Mr. Simic and Mr. Todorovic but
4 these were conversations that had nothing to do with military actions.
5 They were interested, like anybody else, in what was going on, et cetera.
6 Q. At any rate, on the basis of intelligence information that came to
7 the 17th Tactical Group you personally had knowledge that a programme of
8 illegal arming was taking place within the area of responsibility of the
9 17th Tactical Group, by the SDA and the HDZ; is that right?
10 A. I did have knowledge that there was an illegal arming of all
11 parties, the SDA, the SDS and the HDZ, precisely due to such information I
12 insisted that Mr. Zaric talk to all the persons who were detained. We
13 received information through our intelligence service, I got it also
14 through my scouts, and also through radio reconnaissance. I must say that
15 processing this information at the level of the tactical group and the
16 17th Corps was correct, and that we did have a picture of what was taking
17 place, who was being armed, and to what extent this had gone.
18 MR. PANTELIC: Could we have now Exhibit D166/1, please?
19 Q. [Interpretation] Take a look at this document. You can take it
20 into your hands so you can see it.
21 THE INTERPRETER: Could the interpreters please have a copy on the
23 MR. PANTELIC: [Interpretation]
24 Q. Please look at these two pages?
25 JUDGE MUMBA: Is it possible to have a copy on the ELMO?
1 MR. PANTELIC: [Interpretation]
2 Q. Could you please put your copy on the ELMO so that we could follow
3 it as well? Tell me, Colonel, just put it on -- where you had put it.
4 Yes. Now, tell me, did you personally ever see this document?
5 A. I did.
6 Q. Could you explain when, on which occasion and in which period?
7 A. You see, I think that this document encompasses the month of
8 March, the end of March, rather, and the beginning of April. This is a
9 document that we discussed in the command of the 17th Corps at a
10 particular briefing. The document that was compiled by our military
11 intelligence service on the basis of collected data on the situation in
12 terms of who was armed and where in various areas, within the area of
13 responsibility of the 17th Corps. This is a document that was sent to the
14 security organs and we were all familiarised with it. It was updated and
15 corrected on the basis of new information received. We sent new
16 information to the 17th Corps, the command of the 17th Corps to us, and
17 then we corrected what had changed or improved in a particular area or
19 Q. Specifically, I'm interested in the following: On the basis of
20 your intelligence information from your zone of responsibility and in
21 relation to this document, does this mean that the SDS in your area of
22 responsibility did not have any armed formations?
23 A. The document shows that it didn't, and it is true that it is --
24 Q. I'm not talking about other municipalities.
25 A. We are not talking about other municipalities.
1 Q. Please look at page 2. Can you remember, since more than ten
2 years have elapsed, in your area of responsibility, what were the villages
3 here where there were forces of the HDZ, as it is mentioned here, what was
4 the information that you got from the field, the intelligence information
5 you got in the period from October 1991 until April, mid-April, 1992?
6 A. I have understood your question. You see, a short while ago, when
7 I marked the area of responsibility, you saw that I excluded Orasje and
8 Domaljevac. That was not accidental. That was because this was an area
9 that was populated by Croats almost 100 per cent, and my commander said
10 that there is no reason for us to touch this, for a simple reason so that
11 people would not be upset in any way, et cetera. However, they were used
12 as a basis for having the regular forces of the Republic of Croatia come
13 to the territory of Bosnia and as a basis for setting up Croat Defence
14 Council units. So critical places were Orasje, Domaljevac, I think -- I
15 can't say exactly now, I can't just say it off the cuff, Hasici, et
16 cetera. These were these areas that were grouped over there where that
17 bend of the Sava River is, where the Tinja flows into the Sava. We even
18 knew that they had anti-aircraft guns and during a particular
19 reconnaissance of mine, the helicopter that I was in, was hit by an
20 anti-aircraft gun from one of those villages.
21 Q. Can we agree that there was rather intensive activity from the
22 autumn of 1991 until April, 1992, by Croat units in terms of preparing for
23 an attack on Posavina?
24 A. We can agree in principle. However, from the month of March,
25 perhaps the beginning of April, all of this was intensified, and serious
1 forces were there. We know that the 101st Brigade of the ZNG was engaged
2 there and the 108th Brigade and the 106th Brigade of the HVO, if you allow
3 me I have to say one more thing. Why I know this. I know this for a
4 simple reason, because we took prisoners, some of the members of these
5 units. Perry Colton, an American, is a person who we took prisoner
6 because he destroyed the bridge on the Tinja river. When we took him
7 prisoner, he said publicly on television that he belongs to the
8 reconnaissance and scouting unit of the 101st Brigade of the ZNG. And I
9 also have to say that 17th Tactical Group also had a radio reconnaissance
10 unit, platoon that was put at its disposal. So we listened to entire
11 conversations so I don't think that there could have been any serious
13 Q. Tell me, please, did Simo Zaric inform you as to whether he
14 perhaps talked to members of the SDS about armament? Did you get any kind
15 of information from Simo Zaric?
16 A. I did not have such information. You see, in Bosanski Samac, we
17 established the 4th Detachment of the JNA. On a few occasions, at the
18 memorial centre, I held meetings with reserve officers, irrespective of
19 their ethnicity and I was convincing people that the only possible
20 solution for keeping the situation as it was from preventing a conflict
21 was that everybody should join this detachment or such detachment. That
22 was the solution. So at that moment, in that place, there was not a
23 special reason for doing anything on the sly over there.
24 Q. Simo Zaric in his book on page 168 says that there was a meeting
25 between the HDZ and the SDA on the 19th of March in Prud and he speaks
1 about the well organised operative work of the army and also a man that
2 was planted there at that meeting. What do you know about that particular
4 A. I know that this meeting was held. I know that we had an
5 intelligence man of ours there and I cannot give you that person's name.
6 At any rate we did have full information. We knew literally quite
7 everything that would happen and we knew what they were planning and we
8 knew who attended the meeting and we could make some estimates in terms of
9 what would happen in the future.
10 Q. On page 169, Simo Zaric, then says that in the command of the 17th
11 TG, one expected a strike of the Muslim-Croat police on Samac. Does this
12 confirm what you just said?
13 A. Yes, it does. Two things have to be distinguished here. One
14 thing is what the civilian authorities in Samac did, and the -- it is
15 another matter what the Tactical Group 17 did. Tactical Group 17 and I'd
16 like to be given a minute to explain certain things. It had three
17 principal tasks. The first one was to prevent the transfer of the combat
18 operations from Republic of Croatia to the territory of
19 Bosnia-Herzegovina, so this was the first task; the second task was
20 preventing the outbreak of a major interethnic conflict; and the third
21 task was to control and secure the communications in the area of
22 responsibility in order to ensure an unhampered supply of the JNA units
23 and the population.
24 Q. I have to interrupt you because you've already said that in your
25 statement so let us please be efficient.
1 When we talked before your testimony about the information that
2 you had, you mentioned that sometime around the 10th or 11th April, 1992,
3 so-called tongue was caught and from that man, you learned a number of
4 things concerning the technical [as interpreted] group 17. So could you
5 tell us who was this tongue whom you captured?
6 A. Why, yes. He was a member of regular Croat -- Croatian Army units
7 who was caught by our reconnaissance patrols and after the interrogation,
8 he gave us a certain number of information. He was then transferred to
9 the prison in Sremska Mitrovica and from there, he was exchanged within
10 the framework of the exchanges which were taking place like everybody
11 else. At that time, we learned more or less that across the River Sava,
12 across the Bosna River, and from the area of Orasje, Domaljevac, there
13 could be an attack between the 12th and the 17th of April. Now, the date
14 was the problem. That was what that prisoner stated.
15 JUDGE MUMBA: Mr. Pantelic, you are coming close to one hour for
16 your cross-examination.
17 MR. PANTELIC: Your Honour, this particular part is relevant to
18 the forcible takeover subcharge 1 in the indictment, all these events. We
19 heard a lot of testimonies from Prosecutor's witnesses regarding the
20 pre-conflict period in Samac, saying that they didn't -- they were not
21 involved in any kind of preparation, there was no military movements, et
22 cetera. The position of the Defence is the following: The absolutely
23 legitimate action to prevent the incursion from Croatian side was of JNA,
24 4th Detachment and all forces there, specifically 17th Tactical Group, due
25 to the fact that they were in possession of the possible attack from
1 Croatia and they reacted. It's absolutely in accordance with the military
2 doctrine. The Prosecution has the opposite approach and the Trial Chamber
3 will make the final judgement. So it is of the relevance for the Defence
4 case to elicit and to have from such important witness, a military person,
5 number 1, in this region. So we have to conclude, to finalise, all
6 previous evidences heard here.
7 [Trial Chamber confers]
8 MR. LAZAREVIC: And one, if I may, one small correction for the
9 transcript, on page 44, line 23, concerning the here it says technical 17,
10 this means 17th Tactical Group.
11 JUDGE WILLIAMS: Excuse me, Mr. Pantelic, I'm just wondering, I
12 mean in terms of the relevance to the indictment and the Defence of your
13 client, Dr. Simic, the emphasis surely is on the night of the takeover, or
14 the early morning of the takeover. Why the 17th Tactical Group and the
15 4th Detachment did nothing to stop the takeover, and the connection
16 between the 17th Tactical Group, the 4th Detachment and the civilian
17 authorities headed by your client, Dr. Simic. I mean I think those are
18 things that we need to have information on, and maybe not necessarily all
19 of the details about the radio reconnaissance and so on. I mean I think
20 we have enough of that now to show that this was being done and so on.
21 MR. PANTELIC: Yes, Your Honour, I will establish the evidences
22 with that regard. First of all, we think that -- my client was not a part
23 of any forcible takeover. Secondly, our position is that the military
24 operation was absolutely legitimate in order to prevent the incursion from
25 the Croatian side, and in the fact -- in light of the fact that Serbia
1 Republic of Bosnia-Herzegovina was established in January and after that,
2 Serbian municipality Samac and Pelagicevo in formation, we have this
3 position, that everything was legitimate. Specifically with regard to the
4 military operation, the position of Defence of Dr. Blagoje Simic is that
5 he personally, nor he, nor the other civilian authorities, were not
6 involved in this kind of military action, kind of prevent action.
7 JUDGE MUMBA: Yes, that's precisely the point, that you go to the
8 crucial role which the Crisis Staff played, because it's in that capacity
9 that your client is involved in.
10 MR. PANTELIC: That's correct, and I tried to find this relation
11 with the military organs, with the military authorities.
12 Q. [Interpretation] Ergo, let's conclude, Colonel Nikolic, can we
13 agree that on the basis of the previous intelligence available to the 17th
14 Tactical Group, and in line with the military doctrine, everything was
15 done to forestall any attack of the Croatian forces from Prud and that
17 A. The units of the Tactical Group 17 did everything they could to
18 prevent the incursion of the regular Croatian forces into the territory of
19 Bosnia or members of the Croat Defence Council who already were in the
20 territory of Bosnia and to prevent their incursion in the area of
21 responsibility of the tactical group.
22 Q. In relation to the 16th and 17th April, 1992, Mr. Simo Zaric on
23 page 212, referring to the period of the time when the operation of the
24 seizure of weapons from armed civilians, that is unlawful armaments in
25 Samac started. He said then that it was necessary to cooperate with the
1 police and the volunteers in the defence of the town and it was
2 coordinated through the command of the 17th Tactical Group. Do you agree
3 with Simo Zaric's view?
4 A. I do not agree with that position. I've told you what was the
5 task of the 4th Detachment. The majority of forces of the 4th Detachment
6 took the right bank of the Sava and the right bank of the Bosna, to
7 prevent the Croatian forces forcing their crossing into Bosnia. A
8 platoon, a reinforced platoon, was designated to collect weapons, but I
9 ordered literally to Simo Zaric and Antic and I mean the commander of the
10 detachment, these may not be breakings into houses, these may not be
11 seizure by force. It needs to be done in a civilised -- in an urban
12 manner and why was that?
13 A. Because that day around 12.00 somebody called Ibela, whatever his
14 name was --
15 Q. Sorry, sorry, sorry. I have to interrupt you because we are going
16 into this unnecessarily?
17 A. So my answer is no there was no such coordination. The detachment
18 did its part of the job and the police did its part of the job.
19 JUDGE MUMBA: Mr. Pantelic, before you proceed, can the witness
20 complete his answer because he was stopped by you when he was trying to
21 say because somebody called Ibela. Can the witness complete his answer,
23 MR. PANTELIC: Yes, sure.
24 Q. [Interpretation] Will you please, you mentioned Ibela?
25 A. Thank you, Your Honours. Well, the thing is that a Muslim called
1 Ibela called me and he must have seen me somewhere meanwhile during my
2 stay there, so he called me and said openly, "I command a group of an
3 illegal Muslim unit that has been armed by the SDA. What should I do?"
4 And I told him, "Don't do anything, just go home and the members of the
5 4th Detachment turn up, when they fetch up in front of your house then
6 bring out the weapons that you don't have licences for and hand them
7 over." And that is how it was done. That is what I wanted to say.
8 Q. Mr. Simo Zaric several times spoke to the OTP and I'm referring to
9 the one of the 3rd of June, 1998, and this is P142 exhibit. And when Simo
10 Zaric on page 22 spoke about the takeover of Samac, he, in answer to the
11 investigator's question, said the following: "I think that part of the
12 responsibility should be borne by the command of the 17th Tactical Group
13 and I mean Mr. Nikolic." Do you have any reason to doubt the veracity of
14 Mr. Zaric's words, his answer to the Prosecutor, just yes or no.
15 A. Well, my responsibilities is mentioned here and I cannot answer
16 yes or no. We have to clear up these matters.
17 Q. Please, I'm asking you about this part?
18 THE INTERPRETER: Your Honours we are sorry but everybody is
19 speaking over each other.
20 MR. LAZAREVIC: Maybe the witness could be shown page 22 of the
21 interview and then give his command. I have it right here.
22 JUDGE MUMBA: Yes. The usher can take that to the witness.
23 MR. PANTELIC: No problem, P142, please.
24 JUDGE MUMBA: And Mr. Pantelic, please avoid speaking over the
1 MR. PANTELIC: I do apologise, Your Honour.
2 Q. [Interpretation] You see down at the bottom, I said not going into
3 your interpretation because you will explain it to counsel Pisarevic when
4 he asks you about this and I'm asking you very concretely, do you have any
5 reason to doubt the veracity of Simo Zaric, who told the Prosecutor's
6 Office that he believed that part of the responsibility should be borne by
7 the command of the 17th Tactical Group and he's referring to Mr. Nikolic.
8 Do you have any doubts about that or not?
9 MR. LAZAREVIC: The way it was said, said maybe, it is some
10 opinion or something, and Mr. Pantelic is trying to ask the witness
11 whether he has reason to doubt about facts. These are not facts that was
12 stated in this statement, these are some possible conclusions, some
13 understanding or something like that but not facts.
14 MR. PANTELIC: It's a position of Simo Zaric, according to his
15 personal knowledge. I want to see from this witness, Your Honour, whether
16 he shared that knowledge or whether he has some sort source of his
17 personal knowledge or opinion, simply as that.
18 JUDGE MUMBA: What Mr. Lazarevic is saying is that you should have
19 put it precisely as it was said by Mr. Simo Zaric, that it was his
21 MR. PANTELIC: Your Honour, that's a conclusion of Simo Zaric.
22 JUDGE MUMBA: Any way, the witness has got the text and he has
23 read it.
24 MR. PANTELIC: He can give his comment.
25 JUDGE MUMBA: Yes, he can comment.
1 MR. PANTELIC:
2 Q. [Interpretation] Tell us, what do you think about this?
3 A. I've read the text. It is vague. One cannot see what kind of
4 responsibility is meant when the command of the 17th Tactical Group is
5 mentioned. Of course, I've made mistakes in my life and I'm sure that the
6 command of the 17th Tactical Group also had its shortcomings but I really
7 do not see in this text what is it that Simo thinks. What is it that he
8 blames us for specifically. That is what I don't understand.
9 Q. No, Colonel. Simo doesn't say that. Nobody is guilty but do you
10 agree with me when I say that the 17th Tactical Group headed by you
11 personally did everything within its power to prevent the attack of the
12 Croatian troops on Samac, including the takeover of the vital positions in
13 the town of Samac? Do you agree with me?
14 THE INTERPRETER: The counsel is again speaking over the
16 MR. LAZAREVIC: Maybe --
17 MR. PANTELIC: It's absolutely another topic Your Honour, I do not
19 MR. LAZAREVIC: He's talking about the takeover of Bosanski
21 MR. PANTELIC: It's another topic Your Honour, I don't understand
22 the intervention.
23 JUDGE MUMBA: Can we have one person speaking at a given time?
24 Mr. Lazarevic, what is your intervention?
25 MR. LAZAREVIC: Yes. My invention was that what this portion of
1 Mr. Zaric's interview indicating -- it has nothing to do with the question
2 of Mr. Pantelic. He was referring about the takeover of Bosanski Samac,
3 and asking two questions, first whether the 17th Tactical Group has any
4 role in the takeover. The other one was whether they have done anything
5 in what respect, to do the takeover, to avoid the takeover, to do
6 something against the takeover? I really didn't understand what it has to
7 do with this portion of the interview.
8 JUDGE MUMBA: Mr. Pantelic?
9 MR. PANTELIC: Your Honour, as I said, I finished with this
10 interview. That's another line of questioning. It's not -- there is
11 nothing --
12 JUDGE MUMBA: As far as you're concerned, the witness gave the
13 answers to your questions?
14 MR. PANTELIC: Yes, I'm going to another topic.
15 JUDGE MUMBA: Very well.
16 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Should I answer this?
17 MR. PANTELIC: [Interpretation]
18 Q. I'll have to repeat the question for the transcript. Do you agree
19 with me when I say that the 17th Tactical Group under your command did its
20 utmost to prevent the incursion in Samac of the Croatian troops, including
21 a preemptive action of taking over the vital positions in the town of
22 Samac on the 16th, 17th of April?
23 A. I agree with the first part of your question. The Tactical Group
24 17 did all within its power, in its area of responsibility, to prevent the
25 incursion of Croatian forces. We did not take Bosanski Samac. Of the
1 vital facilities in Bosanski Samac, I only put some observers on the silos
2 and those who were checking fire and I believe I'm clear.
3 Q. Well, that is what I want to know. I'm talking about the 17th --
4 16th and 17th of April. Isn't it?
5 A. No, no, no please, we are talking as of the moment when I raised
6 the combat preparedness to a higher level so that is the time I'm talking
7 about. When I raised the combat preparedness and it started at about
8 11.00 in the morning on the 17th but before that, we had not taken any
9 positions in Bosanski Samac, nor had we had any part in the takeover of
10 power in Bosanski Samac.
11 Q. If I put it to you, if I suggest to you, that members of some
12 detachments of the 17th Tactical Group participated in the preemptive
13 takeover of vital facilities in Samac between the 16th and 17th of April,
14 1992, will you then agree with me?
15 A. That is possible, but I did not authorise that. I am not aware of
16 such a case. I am aware of some cases when, for instance, people who were
17 engaged in the first JNA detachment were at the same time were at the
18 disposal of the TO. I know of such a case. And when I tried to
19 investigate why was that first preliminary report, why did it say the
20 police and the Serb TO, and I inferred that somebody from there had been
21 engaged and sent somewhere as TO, and then it did transpire so later on,
22 because the commander of the 1st Detachment, Mico Ivanovic [Realtime
23 transcript read in error "me yat"], Mijak, was subsequently appointed the
24 commander of the TO.
25 Q. And the security assistant was?
1 A. Stevan Todorovic.
2 Q. I mean in the 1st Detachment?
3 A. That's right, Stevan Todorovic was the security assistant and that
4 is why we seriously investigated the detachment later on to see what
5 had happened there. It is quite possible that somebody acted against the
6 orders and they forgot involved somewhere but that was without our
7 knowledge. I hope I was quite clear now.
8 MR. PANTELIC: Just for the record, the complete answer, last
9 answer starts at page 53, line 22, until page 54, line 2. Just for the
11 Q. [Interpretation] But of course we shall agree that the 1st
12 Detachment was part of the 17th Tactical Group, wasn't it?
13 A. Yes, it was.
14 Q. And we shall also agree that --
15 MR. LAZAREVIC: Yes, Your Honours, we have a problem, maybe
16 counsel and witness are speaking too fast but obviously here we have a
17 1st Detachment on page 54, line 9, and then there is here on page 53, line
18 19, Mico, here it says something "me yat", actually it's Ivanovic,
19 Mico Ivanovic, nicknamed Mijak.
20 MR. PANTELIC: [Interpretation]
21 Q. So let's clear this up. The 1st Detachment was an integral part
22 of the 17th Tactical Group, wasn't it?
23 A. Yes, it was.
24 Q. And as the commander of the 17th Tactical Group, did you on the
25 17th of April, 1992, take certain measures against the - how shall I put
1 it - unauthorised military involvement of some of the members who were
2 under your command? What did you, for instance, do with regard to the
3 commander of the 1st Detachment and his security assistant?
4 A. Let me say, Stevan Todorovic quit the detachment and came to be
5 the Chief of Police or whatever you call it. And Mico Ivanovic stayed
6 on. We had no proof that he had misused his position, although even
7 before that, an interview was conducted with him in which he had to
8 explain what he had been doing at the time when those two helicopters
9 landed. And his explanation was then, since it was his area of
10 responsibility, that was why he had gone out and met those helicopters --
11 and saw those helicopters land. Then when I had already left, it turned
12 out that they were playing a twofold game and they were showing a
13 collusion between Todorovic, Ivanovic and Milos Bogdanovic. So to make it
14 clearer to the -- Your Honours, the collusion between Todorovic, commander
15 of the 1st Detachment, Mico Ivanovic, and the late Milos Bogdanovic who
16 was killed and he was the head of the Secretariat for National Defence and
17 he was the one who issued summonses, who called up people and sent them to
18 combat units. But it also happened that there, in the 1st Detachment,
19 they had dual -- dual combat orders, combat assignments but that
20 transpired on later, and after I'd left, and I have no reason to talk
21 about this.
22 Q. But did you start any proceedings before the military court
23 against Stevan Todorovic, who had left the unit unauthorised?
24 A. It wasn't unauthorised.
25 Q. But was it with your accord?
1 A. Milos Bogdanovic appointed another man and Todorovic was removed
2 from that position.
3 Q. Right. But you must know that towards the end of April, 1992,
4 Simo Zaric was appointed the head of national security in the territory of
5 the municipality of Samac whilst at the same time he was still an officer?
6 A. I don't understand, what does it mean head for national security?
7 Q. Do you have any information that in late April, 1992, Simo Zaric
8 was appointed head for national security in the municipality of Samac?
9 A. No, I do not have such knowledge.
10 Q. Tell me, your relations with -- your relationship with Simo Zaric
11 is a special one. Explain to the Chamber why did you send Simo Zaric to
12 Belgrade to report about the incident in Crkvina rather than your security
13 assistant, Makso Simeunovic?
14 MR. LAZAREVIC: We already have the answer, the witness was
15 talking in pretty much details about all this.
16 JUDGE MUMBA: Yes, Mr. Pantelic.
17 MR. PANTELIC: [Interpretation]
18 Q. In view of the chain of command in the army, your assistant was
19 Makso Simeunovic, wasn't he?
20 A. Yes.
21 Q. Wasn't he the one who should have taken certain measures at the
22 higher body?
23 A. Well, measures can be taken by the one whom I order it to, and who
24 I should order it to is up to me because I'm the commander and I decided
25 that it should be Mr. Zaric because he knew people. Had I sent Mr. Makso
1 Simeunovic, he would have probably wander around Belgrade looking for who
2 to talk to and it's a question whether somebody would agree to receive
3 him. So there was a problem there. And therefore, I sent Mr. Simo Zaric,
4 and when I -- when you said that my relationship with Simo Zaric was a
5 special one, I must respond to it in this way. When I was appointed the
6 commander of 17th Tactical Group and when I was sent to form it, I
7 didn't -- I didn't fall out of the blue into this area, because I had come
8 already in possession of certain information. I did not meet Mr. Simo
9 Zaric by accident. I already had information that Mr. Zaric had rescued
10 JNA soldiers who were fleeing from the fire opened on them by Croatian
11 units and getting them out, rescuing them from the Sava River. Mr. Simo
12 Zaric was doing, you know, whenever you go somewhere, you go with some
13 information, you go there with reason, and you therefore establish contact
14 with people who prove to be reliable, who prove to be humane and so on and
15 so forth, even acquaintanceships we didn't just come across one another in
16 the street and by happen stance I came to know Mr. Zaric.
17 JUDGE MUMBA: Mr. Pantelic, you should be winding up.
18 MR. PANTELIC: Yes, Your Honour.
19 Q. [Interpretation] Mr. Nikolic, I must ask you to cut your answers
20 shorter to try to answer yes or no and so on and so forth and then you
21 will explain it to Mr. Pisarevic because you are wasting time?
22 A. Yes, I shall happy to do it but please ask me questions so that I
23 can answer them.
24 Q. At any rate, there is a question that they are leading
25 questions --
1 THE INTERPRETER: The counsel and witness are not breaking between
2 question and answer.
3 JUDGE MUMBA: Yes, Mr. Pantelic, you should know better about
4 pausing and you should be winding up.
5 MR. PANTELIC: Yes, Your Honour. Yes.
6 Q. [Interpretation] Mr. Simo Zaric in his conversations with the
7 Prosecution, on page 142 of the document, speaks of the moment when he
8 started -- when he got his retirement on the 1st of September, he said he
9 was then mobilised by the JNA and he was with General Jankovic in Tuzla,
10 he had a meeting with him, and he was also -- another person was also
11 there, Mr. Masulovic, who was the assistant of the general and you were
12 also present during this meeting. During that meeting, did you engage
13 Simo Zaric practically as your man who would be responsible for the
14 tactical group, for this area of responsibility?
15 A. In general terms, yes, if you will, but I would like to explain.
16 In order to appoint somebody at the position of an information officer or
17 a security officer, one must check everything and one must also give his
18 agreement with the previous -- we were the -- with the superior officer so
19 this person can be work -- rather in this position. You cannot proceed
20 without any verifications.
21 Q. I understand you fully. Tell me now, since the 5th Detachment of
22 the 17th Tactical Group was located in Obud -- is that correct?
23 A. Yes.
24 THE INTERPRETER: Obudovac.
25 MR. PANTELIC:
1 Q. [Interpretation] Can you tell us when this unit in charge of the
2 manoeuvre tasks was created, this unit that had a name, this special name
3 tactical group, can you tell us?
4 A. It is not a unit that comes from a 5th Detachment headed by
5 Captain Zoranovic. It is a company belonging to the 1st Motorised
6 Battalion. It is a manoeuvre unit, and we took one of these companies
7 and we trained this company and that company was my reserve company. The
8 reserve company of the commander of the 17th Tactical Group for
9 intervention, when the moment was appropriate, whenever there was a
10 problem and when the problem would become so great they would have to
12 Q. Who was the commander of this special unit?
13 A. The commander of this special unit was Captain Grbic. I cannot
14 recall his first name at this present time.
15 JUDGE MUMBA: Yes, Mr. Pantelic, your time is over now. You have
16 decided to use --
17 MR. PANTELIC: Your Honour, I just need ten minutes to finish.
18 JUDGE MUMBA: No, no, no, no. We gave you enough time. We
19 directed you as to which areas you should be concerned with, about the
20 Defence of your client, and you've decided to use your time according to
21 your best solution.
22 MR. PANTELIC: Your Honour, please, I just have five positions of
23 my client and I'm done, please, with regard to that. It's only a couple
24 of minutes.
25 MR. RE: Your Honours the Prosecution doesn't object to
1 Mr. Pantelic -- we understand there might have been a little time wasted
2 but if there are matters which he feels are necessary to the Defence of
3 his client but has not yet put, perhaps he could outline those so the
4 Trial Chamber knows and could control it that way. Because we don't want
5 to stop him putting all matters.
6 JUDGE MUMBA: No, Mr. Re, the point is he was directed by the
7 Trial Chamber as to which areas he should be concerned with but he decided
8 to use and he has used up so much time.
9 MR. RE: But if he hadn't put those matters to the witness which
10 are vital to his Defence for whatever reason there could be problems later
11 if he doesn't do so now. And if it's only going to take a little bit more
12 time in the context of the entire trial it may not be time wasted.
13 [Trial Chamber confers]
14 JUDGE MUMBA: Yes, Mr. Pantelic, we shall give you ten minutes.
15 MR. PANTELIC: Thank you very much, Your Honour.
16 Q. [Interpretation] My client has these following positions.
17 MR. PANTELIC: Before that, Your Honour, please, I would like to
18 introduce one document into evidence. Mr. Usher, please.
19 JUDGE MUMBA: Is it a new document.
20 MR. PANTELIC: It's a Prosecution document. It was disclosed to
21 the Defence a long time ago. Three copies for the Bench, two, and one for
22 the Defence, please -- for the Prosecution, please. It's ERN number
24 Q. [Interpretation] In the meantime, Mr. Nikolic --
25 JUDGE MUMBA: What is the description of the document? What is
1 the title?
2 MR. PANTELIC: It's a note with a telephone number and the name of
3 the witness.
4 Q. [Interpretation] Mr. Nikolic, you told me that after the 19th of
5 May, you were transferred to Cuprija and you became a commander of the
6 unit of the JNA; is that right?
7 A. After --
8 Q. No, no. Just tell us yes or no?
9 A. Yes.
10 Q. If you consult this document, tell us, please, is this the
11 telephone number of your garrison in Cuprija. If you remember?
12 A. No, I do not remember. My telephone was 053.
13 THE INTERPRETER: Could the witness please repeat the telephone
15 A. It was a number from Jagodina and not a number from Cuprija. It
16 is quite possible that this is the central, main number of the switch
18 JUDGE MUMBA: The interpreters didn't catch the number the witness
19 was giving earlier on.
20 MR. PANTELIC: [Interpretation]
21 Q. Let's go, let's take it one number at a time, please. This is a
22 switch board number in Jagodina?
23 A. It's possibly a number of the military switch board in Cuprija --
24 Jagodina, sorry.
25 Q. Your nickname is Kriger, isn't it?
1 A. My nickname is Lieutenant Colonel Kriger. It has been Kriger ever
2 since I was a lieutenant.
3 MR. LAZAREVIC: The witness didn't repeat his telephone number.
4 There was an intervention by the interpreters. In order to --
5 MR. PANTELIC: No, no, no, Your Honour, I switch on that because
6 he said that's a probably -- it's line 17, page 61, it's probably a number
7 of the military switch board in Cuprija, the unit that he was deployed so
8 I don't need any particular -- his personal numbers et cetera?
9 MR. LAZAREVIC: Yes, but it was said what his number was.
10 JUDGE MUMBA: Yes and it should be -- it should be recorded
11 because the interpreters didn't catch it.
12 MR. PANTELIC: [Interpretation]
13 Q. What was your private number at the time, sir?
14 A. I said to the Trial Chamber the following: I wanted to say what
15 was the number that was entered under my name as a commander and it is
16 222430. I remember it very clearly now. 222430. That was the number,
17 with the area code 035. That is the Jagodina area code but it was
18 transferred to that number, it was direct line.
19 Q. And the number that figures on this note is the number of the
20 switch board of the military unit in Cuprija; is that correct?
21 A. Yes, it is quite possible.
22 Q. Your nickname Kriger comes from an officer, it was a series in the
23 former Yugoslavia, and that was the name of the role of an actor?
24 A. Yes, Stevo Zigon was playing that role and I was wearing glasses
25 and I looked like him and that's why I was nicknamed Kriger because in
1 that television series his name was Kriger.
2 Q. It's a SS officer, isn't he, or the Wehrmacht?
3 A. That's right.
4 JUDGE MUMBA: That is how you're using your time, you see? This
5 is a problem with you.
6 MR. PANTELIC: [Interpretation]
7 Q. Mr. Nikolic, if I put to you that Lugar Miljkovic was with you,
8 was in touch with you, in contact with you, before and after you were
9 hired in Samac, would you -- would you agree with me?
10 A. No.
11 Q. If I put to you that you were responsible for the area of
12 responsibility or in the area of responsibility for all the volunteers,
13 including killings, beatings, mistreating people, would you agree with me?
14 A. No.
15 Q. If I put to you that on the 16th, the night between the 16th to
16 the 17th of April, 1992, there was no Serb Crisis Staff in existence,
17 would you agree with me?
18 A. The gentleman said that Blagoje Simic was the President of the
19 Crisis Staff, whether it existed, when it was formed, I don't know, but I
20 all know that everybody was making Crisis Staff, the HDZ, SDS, SDA,
21 everybody was forming Crisis Staffs so I don't know when this one was
23 Q. If I put to you that Blagoje Simic never called you at 3.00 a.m.
24 on the 17th of April in Pelagicevo, would you agree with me?
25 A. No. I will not agree with you because I did receive that phone
2 Q. If I put to you that you, according to your order, you have
3 created the Crisis Staff in Samac, would you agree with me then?
4 A. No, never.
5 Q. If I put to you that the TO as a component of the armed forces of
6 the JNA was part of the armed forces of the JNA would you agree with me
8 A. The Territorial Defence, the TO? No. The Territorial Defence was
9 a component of the armed forces of the SFRY and it was under the command
10 of the republic staffs of the TO but the JNA never had units of the TO.
11 The JNA, during the combat activities, according to our military doctrine
12 could have done tasks for the units of the TO but that was when the
13 greater Yugoslavia existed, when Yugoslavia existed as a whole, when it
14 got dismantled they no longer existed in such a way.
15 Q. If I put to you that in the month of April, up until the 19th of
16 May, the TO for the area of responsibility covered by the 17th Tactical
17 Group was under your command, would you agree with me then?
18 A. No. I can only agree with one thing is that I had engaged some of
19 the units of the TO who were belonging to the TO of the Serb republic.
20 Q. If I put to you that the police was also a part and was under your
21 area of responsibility and under you, is that correct?
22 A. No. I was never -- I never had the authority, any legal
23 authority, over the police.
24 Q. And then would you agree with a portion of the interview that was
25 given by Simo Zaric on Novi Sad television when he says that the 4th
1 Detachment of the TO was preparing for attacking Samac and that it carried
2 out that mission, would you agree with that?
3 A. No, because the expression is not correct. And I would like you
4 to give me a minute so that I can explain this. Whenever somebody hears a
5 detachment, everybody knows or thinks TO. That was a habit and even my
6 commander said or even the person who was working for me would write down
7 TO as soon as one would hear detachment. The 4th Detachment was not a
8 detachment of the TO but it was the detachment of the JNA precisely in
9 order not to make any ambiguities because TO was organised at the republic
11 Q. If I put to you that you were responsible as a commander of a
12 military unit for the fact that you did not press charges against Lugar
13 who killed people in Crkvina on the 8th of May, 1992, would you agree with
14 me then?
15 A. No, I do not agree with you, but I can only declare the following.
16 My command knew everything, I reported it to them, and later on,
17 everything I told them was used in the trial against the gentleman that
18 you've mentioned in Banja Luka. I don't know what the outcome of this
20 Q. If I tell you that as a commander of an important military unit
21 such as the 17th Tactical Group, you did not do everything in your power
22 to arrest and to detain people, authors of the crime, authors of crimes
23 who were conducted by these people in your area of responsibility?
24 A. No I do not agree with you because my authority was only to
25 declare that -- was only -- I was only competent if the state of war was
1 proclaimed, the taking over the people from Bosanski Samac and the
2 transferring of these people outside of my area of responsibility was
3 legal [as interpreted]. I am -- I did this for humanitarian reasons and I
4 will answer for this.
5 JUDGE MUMBA: That's it, Mr. Pantelic.
6 MR. LAZAREVIC: Your Honour there is something in the transcript
7 that was not recorded what the witness said.
8 JUDGE MUMBA: Where?
9 MR. LAZAREVIC: Here. On page 65, line 22. The witness literally
10 said even that was illegal but I did it. And here it says it was legal.
11 JUDGE MUMBA: Yes, perhaps the witness can --
12 MR. PANTELIC: Yes, can I go over that with the witness, Your
13 Honour, this particular part of his statement?
14 Q. [Interpretation] For the transcript, Mr. Nikolic, could you please
15 tell us even if the transferring of people from Samac was what? What
16 did you say, for the transcript?
17 A. In order for everything to be absolutely clear, after the
18 conversation I had with the commander of the 17th Corps who very clearly
19 said to me do everything in your power so that there is no conflict, that
20 these people should be taken from Samac and should be transferred outside
21 of your area of responsibility and these people would be sent to prisons
22 or other detention centres, I did this. I agreed, and in fact, I did not
23 have the authority to do this, and my commander, the corps commander, did
24 not also have the right to order me the following -- that following
25 order. We did this only to protect these people in order to protect them,
1 not to have them under the attack. If I am guilty of this, well, I will
2 then agree. And that's why I'm sitting here.
3 MR. PANTELIC: Thank you, Your Honour, I've finished with this
5 JUDGE MUMBA: What about this document with the number?
6 MR. PANTELIC: Yes, maybe we could have ID, since I have to -- it
7 speaks for itself but I will ask for the official translation so up to now
8 maybe, up to then maybe we could have the ID number.
9 JUDGE MUMBA: Yes. Can we have the number, please?
10 THE REGISTRAR: This will be treated as document D181/1 ter ID.
11 JUDGE MUMBA: Thank you. Yes, the Prosecution?
12 Cross-examined by Mr. Re:
13 Q. Good afternoon, there, Mr. Nikolic. I have some questions to ask
14 you for the Prosecution. A moment ago you just spoke about the trial in
15 Banja Luka. That was of Crni, wasn't it, just yes or no?
16 A. I am not sure who was involved in that trial, all of the people
17 who were involved but I know that the above-mentioned person was also on
18 trial and Mirko Lugar was one of the people amongst other people.
19 Q. If I ask to you answer something yes or no as to whether or not
20 Crni was involved please just answer yes or no, I'm just after very
21 specific information, please. Look the trial in Banja Luka that was to do
22 with the -- please, let me finish the question.
23 A. I don't know.
24 Q. Well, if you don't know, how could you know that the information
25 you gave was used against them in the trial? Which is the evidence you
1 gave a moment ago.
2 A. I found that out later, because that trial took place after I left
4 Q. I'm unclear. Can you please tell the Trial Chamber do you know
5 what the trial concerned? Firstly, yes or no, if yes, I'll ask you what,
6 if no, we'll move on.
7 A. No, no.
8 Q. Well, if I tell you it had nothing to do with the Crkvina massacre
9 that would be a revelation for you, wouldn't it?
10 A. Yeah, yes.
11 Q. If it had nothing to do with the Crkvina massacre the information
12 you passed on couldn't have been used, could it, sir? It's a matter of
14 A. I said what I wrote down and whom I sent that information and I
15 was expecting this information to be served in the Court of law and serve
16 the purposes of justice. Now, I don't know if they used that information
17 that I gave or not.
18 Q. Okay. Now, in your evidence earlier, you gave evidence of clashes
19 between forces from the Republic of Croatia and troops from the JNA. To
20 be quite clear, that was the army of the Republic of Croatia and the HVO
21 combined, which were fighting the JNA forces in your area of
22 responsibility, wasn't it?
23 A. Yes.
24 Q. This was of course after the declaration by Croatia of
25 independence from Yugoslavia in 1991, recognised in early 1992, wasn't
1 it? What I'm saying is that between January and May when you left Bosnia.
2 A. It's too fast. Your question was interpreted to me too quickly.
3 If I understood you correctly you're asking me when did this take place,
4 what period did it cover? These clashes became even greater and I said it
5 started at the end of March and they lasted up until I left Bosnia up
6 until the 19th of May.
7 Q. All right. The defendant over there, Mr. Miroslav Tadic, you know
8 him, don't you?
9 A. Yes.
10 Q. You knew him because he was among other things the assistant
11 commander for logistics in the 4th Detachment which was ultimately under
12 your command? Didn't you?
13 A. Yes.
14 Q. How long have you known Mr. Tadic for?
15 A. Well, I cannot give you the exact figure but let's say after I
16 arrived and after the tactical group was formed, that was on the 17th so
17 up until the end of October so from the month of October, 1991 and on.
18 Q. Mr. Zaric, how long have you known Mr. Zaric for, Mr. Nikolic?
19 A. I met both of them at approximately the same time, with a small
20 difference in -- concerning the time period but I probably met them at the
21 same time.
22 Q. You're saying you met Mr. Zaric for the first time in October
23 1991, just to be clear, that's what you're saying, around that time?
24 A. I cannot tell you the exact date. The tactical group was formed
25 or I started working at the formation of the tactical group around that
1 date but I cannot give you the exact date.
2 Q. Perhaps it would really assist if you would listen very carefully
3 to the question and answer it as precisely as possible. The question I
4 asked you was: Was it around that date? Doesn't really require an
5 explanation. I'm only interested in approximately. Now, I'll move on the
6 question I want to ask you is: Would you consider yourself a friend of
7 Mr. Zaric's or Mr. Tadic's, from the time you first met them?
8 A. I would say it differently. I am a man who recognises what they
9 did and who respects what they did.
10 Q. What do you respect about what Mr. Tadic did, Mr. Nikolic?
11 A. To begin with, the time when they accepted the soldiers who were
12 running away from Croatia up until the time when they were saved and then
13 later on, from what happened to the 4th Detachment, I'd say that I would
14 respect them or I would assess their work very positively.
15 Q. And of course you're aware of Mr. Tadic's role as the head of the
16 exchanges in Bosanski Samac for some period, aren't you?
17 MR. LUKIC: Objection, Your Honour.
18 JUDGE MUMBA: Yes?
19 MR. LUKIC: [Interpretation] If you're asking this question or if
20 one is asking this question, we should also ask about the time. We know
21 that the witness left around the 20th of May and we know that the first
22 exchange took place on the 21st of May, 26th of May, so if we are asking
23 this question, we should ask the question about the involvement of Tadic
24 during these exchanges.
25 MR. RE: The answer the witness gave which prompted me to ask that
1 question was I am a man who recognises what they did and who respects what
2 they did. That's a very open answer. He didn't say it was confined to a
3 certain period. I'm just asking him what he knows and what he respects.
4 Whether it be before he left the territory or afterwards. He knows or he
5 doesn't. Why did he say that? What does he respect about them? I can
6 divide the question into three but it will take longer.
7 JUDGE MUMBA: I think Mr. Lukic's concern was maybe he thought
8 ahead that you are going to discuss what Mr. Miroslav Tadic was doing in
9 connection with exchanges. That's why he was particular about time.
10 MR. RE: Your Honour my question was, you're aware of Mr. Tadic's
11 role of the head of the exchanges in Bosanski Samac for some period,
12 aren't you? The witness hasn't answered whether he knows Mr. Tadic's
13 role. When doesn't really matter. I just want to know whether he was
14 aware of Mr. Tadic's role in exchanges.
15 JUDGE MUMBA: Yes, you can go ahead then.
16 MR. RE:
17 Q. You understand that Mr. Nikolic?
18 A. Absolutely.
19 Q. [Previous interpretation continues] ... you are you were aware of
20 Mr. Tadic's role as chairman of the exchange commission, were you?
21 A. That role, I am not aware of that. I knew that he was involved
22 and I knew what he was doing only when I was his commander, at the time he
23 was doing what he was to do, as an assistant for logistics in the 4th
25 Q. So your respect for his contribution is confined to his job as
1 assistant commander for logistics before you left the territory, is that
3 A. That's correct. And then it would not go further because I have
4 no idea what else was done.
5 Q. All right. What about Dr. Blagoje Simic? When did you first meet
6 Dr. Simic, Mr. Nikolic?
7 A. I cannot recall with precision, but I believe that I met
8 Mr. Blagoje Simic sometime in the month of December, maybe, 1991, sometime
9 around that date, but I couldn't really give you a precise date.
10 MR. RE: It's 12.30, Your Honour.
11 JUDGE MUMBA: Yes, we will take our break and continue afterwards.
12 --- Recess taken at 12.30 p.m.
13 --- On resuming at 12.53 p.m.
14 JUDGE MUMBA: Yes, Mr. Re, you're continuing.
15 MR. RE:
16 Q. Mr. Nikolic, your evidence earlier to Mr. Pisarevic was of you
17 having some contact with Mr. Todorovic and Dr. Simic before the takeover
18 on the 16th and 17th of April, 1992. This is just an introductory
19 question. You remember that evidence? Just yes or no.
20 A. I spoke to them many times. I don't know whether we talked before
21 the 16th and 17th.
22 Q. Can you please listen very carefully to my question? And only
23 answer that and not another one? It will be much quicker for all of us if
24 we do it this way. What I want to ask you about is the contact you had
25 with Mr. Todorovic and Dr. Simic. Firstly, were you present at the
1 meeting establishing the Serbian Municipality of Samac on the 29th of
2 February, 1992?
3 A. No.
4 Q. Were you present at the meeting on the 28th of March, 1992 --
5 sorry, 1992, in Obudovac in relation to the appointment of the executive
6 council and officers of the Serbian Municipality of Samac?
7 A. No.
8 Q. Did you send a representative to either of these meetings to
9 attend on your behalf?
10 A. Colonel Mico Djurdjevic went to one meeting but I don't know
11 exactly which one. I mean out of those that you mentioned.
12 Q. But Colonel, when Colonel Mico Djurdjevic went, was it as your
13 representative or a representative of the JNA or the 4th Detachment or the
14 17th Tactical Group? In what capacity was he there?
15 A. I cannot recall exactly now which meeting this was, but if he went
16 to this meeting, he went as a representative of the 17th Tactical Group.
17 Q. Third meeting I wish to ask you about is the meeting at which the
18 Crisis Staff was formed in St. Sava hall in Obudovac on the 15th of April,
19 1992. Did you attend this meeting yourself or did a representative of the
20 JNA or the 17th Tactical Group attend that meeting, that's the formation
21 of the Crisis Staff?
22 A. I did not attend it, and I did not send a representative.
23 Q. You first met Dr. Simic in -- sorry you said I think in December,
24 1991, and your evidence a little bit later was that you had talked to him
25 many times. I just want to ask you approximately, I'm not trying to pin
1 you down to a number, how often did you or how many times did you speak to
2 him between when you first met him and the takeover on the 17th of April,
3 when he telephoned you at 3.00 a.m. In the morning?
4 A. Well, perhaps six or seven times. I don't know exactly.
5 Q. Did you communicate with him after the formation of the Serbian
6 Municipality of Samac in his official capacity as the head of that -- or
7 the chairman or the president of that municipality? That's between the
8 29th of February, 1992 -- I'll just finish it -- and the 17th of April,
10 MR. PANTELIC: Objection, Your Honour, unless there is an evidence
11 with regard to the capacity of Dr. Blagoje Simic as a chairman, I think
12 it's a little bit confusing.
13 MR. RE: I'll withdraw the question in that form. It was my
15 Q. Did you communicate with Dr. Blagoje Simic between December -- I'm
16 sorry, between the 29th of February, 1992 and the 17th of April, 1992, in
17 his capacity as the local president of the SDS and his activities
18 connected with the Samac municipality, Serbian municipality?
19 A. I did not have any contacts with him as with a representative of
20 the SDS but I did have contacts with him in his capacity of president of
21 the municipality.
22 Q. That's the Serbian municipality before the takeover, to be quite
24 A. Before the takeover and after the takeover, I had contacts with
25 him. Before the takeover I contacted with him as with Blagoje Simic, a
1 particular personality, and after the takeover he was president of the
2 municipality. I had to contact with people, those who held certain
3 offices, I had no other way to go.
4 Q. Again, please be precise. My question was only confined to before
5 the takeover. Likewise, your evidence earlier was that you had contact
6 with Mr. Todorovic. Now, Mr. Todorovic was appointed as the chief of
7 police of the -- or chief of the public security station of the Serbian
8 Municipality of Samac on the 28th of March, 1992. Between that date, when
9 he was appointed the chief of public security station and the takeover on
10 the 17th of April, 1992, what communication -- sorry, did you communicate
11 with him in his capacity as the chief of the public security station?
12 A. First of all, I did not know at all when he was appointed chief of
13 the public security station. I communicated with him as with Stevan
14 Todorovic, in his personal capacity. When he introduced himself and when
15 he said that he was appointed municipal chief of security, then I
16 contacted with him as with head of the public security station because I
17 was resolving certain problems and I explained a while ago what kind of
18 contacts these were.
19 Q. What I'm trying to ask you about is before the takeover. You were
20 aware that he had -- or he had been appointed as the chief of the police
21 of the Serbian Municipality of Samac before the takeover, weren't you?
22 A. No. If you wish to have a full answer, I knew that when they took
23 over the municipality and when Todorovic said that he was head of the
25 Q. Todorovic was before the 17th of April, working in a wicker
1 factory, a factory that made baskets. Why were you communicating with him
2 before the takeover in his capacity as Stevan Todorovic?
3 A. I think that God all mighty himself cannot give an answer to that
4 question. He was simply after me all the time and wanted to talk to me,
5 whenever any kind of occasion arose, he chased me, asked me questions.
6 MR. RE: Would Your Honours just excuse me for one moment? I'm
7 just trying to find something.
8 JUDGE MUMBA: Yes.
9 MR. RE:
10 Q. You were of course aware that a democratically elected government
11 was supposed to be in power in the municipality of Bosanski Samac, having
12 been elected in October, 1990, as of April, 1992, weren't you,
13 Mr. Nikolic?
14 A. I was not sent either to appoint or dismiss governments. I was
15 sent to carry out a combat assignment.
16 Q. I'll ask my question again and please answer the question I'm
17 asking you. The question was: You were aware in April 1992, weren't you,
18 that there was a democratically elected government which was supposed to
19 be in power in the municipality of Bosanski Samac, weren't you?
20 A. I knew that there was that government.
21 Q. You've already told us you knew that Dr. Simic was connected with
22 the Serbian municipality, and that this Serbian municipality had
23 proclaimed itself at the same time?
24 MR. PANTELIC: Objection. We didn't hear that he said that
25 Dr. Blagoje Simic was connected with Serbian municipality.
1 MR. RE: I'm sorry, I don't have the transcript in front of me. I
2 can try and locate it. It will take me a moment.
3 JUDGE MUMBA: Perhaps -- yes, perhaps it will help, Mr. Re, if
4 you're specific instead of using the word "connected."
5 MR. RE: Your Honour, I did ask a question earlier, I'm searching
6 for the answer he gave. I can't find it on the lap top to my left. Maybe
7 it's on the lap top to my right, if I can just have a moment to find it.
8 MR. PANTELIC: Your Honour in the meantime maybe I can be of
9 assistance, it is not in dispute in this case that Dr. Blagoje Simic was
10 elected in election of 1990 as a vice-president, vice-chairman of the
11 municipal assembly of Bosanski Samac. And he was on the same position
12 until the 17th of April, 1992, when he became president, allegedly, in
13 this period of president of Crisis Staff, Serbian municipality but he
14 never was president of Serbian municipality, information or any other
16 MR. RE: Yes, I withdrew that question. I asked another
17 question. The question was: Did you communicate with Dr. Simic
18 between -- in his capacity as the local president of the SDS and his
19 activities connected with the Samac municipality, to which the answer was:
20 I did not have any contacts with him as a representative of the SDS but I
21 did have contacts with him in his capacity as president of the
22 municipality. It's on the record.
23 Q. If I could take you back to my question sir, and the question I
24 was going to ask you --
25 A. That was not the answer.
1 Q. I'm asking you about your contact with Dr. Simic before the
2 takeover on the 17th of April, 1992. We've already established that there
3 was a democratically elected government in power. And a Serbian
4 municipality had proclaimed itself. Now of course you're aware that this
5 Serbian municipality which proclaimed itself was one which concentrated
6 power in the hands of Serbs only and that non-Serbs could not participate
7 as elected representatives of the municipality which was covering an area
8 which had a non-Serb majority. You're aware of that, aren't you, sir?
9 A. Absolutely.
10 Q. Of course, the proclamation of a Serbian municipality and the
11 takeover of power by Serbs to the exclusion of the non-Serbs wouldn't
12 exactly promote interethnic harmony, would it, sir?
13 A. Are you asking me for my opinion?
14 Q. You were there, sir.
15 A. I was there but I'm not an expert. If you're asking me, I can
16 have an opinion of my own. I believe that there can be no harmony if only
17 one people governs, if only one ethnic group governs.
18 Q. Of course, sir, and it could lead to, sorry, the usurping of power
19 by one ethnicity at the expense of the others could lead to ethnic
20 clashes, couldn't it?
21 A. Yes.
22 Q. And given the extremely delicate nature of interethnic relations
23 in Bosnia-Herzegovina in the first half of 1992, you would agree, wouldn't
24 you, that such a takeover by the Serbs would result in ethnic clashes
25 because of what had been occurring in other parts of Bosnia, wouldn't you,
2 A. I was there precisely to prevent that kind of interethnic
3 conflict, and where this led to can be seen from what happened.
4 Q. Well, in your statement, you said that the mission or the task of
5 the 17th Tactical Group was to, among other things, prevent the outbreak
6 of ethnic clashes in the tactical group's area, sorry, zone of
7 responsibility. Of course --
8 A. That's right.
9 Q. Allowing the Serbian -- or the Serbs to take over the municipality
10 at the expense of the non-Serbs breached that fundamental task or
11 objective or mission of the 17th Tactical Group, didn't it? That is to
12 prevent the outbreak of ethnic clashes, because ethnic clashes occurred as
13 a result of the takeover, didn't they?
14 MR. LAZAREVIC: I believe it's a call for speculation. I mean
15 what was the reason for clashes, whether they would appear because of the
16 takeover or for some other reasons, we have also evidence that there were
17 arming between parties and.
18 MR. RE: [Realtime transcript read in error "MR. LAZAREVIC:"]
19 Stop, stop, you cannot do that. You cannot clue the witness. You can
20 object but not do that. I press the question on the basis that the
21 witness was there and was charged with "preventing the outbreak of the
22 ethnic clashes in the tactical group's zone of responsibility," paragraph
23 14 of his statement in evidence here.
24 JUDGE MUMBA: Yes, the witness can answer. Except that in the
25 transcript, there is no separation from Mr. Lazarevic's objection and
1 after the time you start talking.
2 MR. RE: Yes.
3 JUDGE MUMBA: I hope it will be corrected.
4 MR. RE: Yes, Mr. Lazarevic has indicated he objected to his own
5 question which wasn't the case. That will be corrected in the
6 transcript --
7 Q. My question, Mr. Nikolic, was allowing the Serbs to take over the
8 municipality at the expense of the non-Serbs it breached the fundamental
9 mission or objective of the 17th Tactical Group, that is to prevent the
10 outbreak of ethnic clashes because ethnic clashes did in fact occur as a
11 result of the takeover, from which you saw, didn't they?
12 A. Allow me to explain this. I believe that things cannot be put
13 that way because the 17th Tactical Group was not the one who was supposed
14 to regulate who will and when and where take over government, and plan
15 government, et cetera. My task was to prevent the killing of people,
16 prevent the possibility of interethnic conflicts breaking out, et cetera.
17 As I already said a while ago, everybody created Crisis Staffs, everybody
18 had units of their own, everybody wanted to be the one that's going to be
19 in power. Then it would seem that I was supposed to take the tactical
20 group and start attacking everyone and that would have been senseless.
21 Q. Sir, you cannot disagree with me, can you, that what happened on
22 the 17th of April, 1992, was a military takeover by Serbs and Serb forces
23 of a democratically elected government and all the instrumentalities of
24 government, you can't disagree with that, can you?
25 A. I have agreed with that.
1 Q. Can you tell us the extent of your communications with Dr. Simic
2 before the takeover, how often you spoke to him and what you spoke to him
3 about in the period leading up to the 17th of April when you received that
4 telephone call at 3.00 a.m. in the morning?
5 A. I can say to you that he and Mr. Todorovic often wanted to talk to
6 me. They were particularly interested in the assignments of the tactical
7 group, what the army was doing, et cetera. I have the impression that
8 they saw me as a communist officer who they did not trust very much. For
9 them, after all, I was Tito's officer. Therefore, their attitude towards
10 me was a sceptical one. I often had the impression that they were trying
11 to keep me under some kind of control. Why? They know that the best. I
12 did not allow that. And I did my job professionally.
13 Q. What sort of things did Dr. Simic say to you when he contacted you
14 or communicated with you in the months prior to the takeover on the 17th
15 of August -- sorry, April?
16 A. Well, various things were discussed, attempts were made to discuss
17 politics, possible events, possible developments, I said that I was not
18 interested in that, I was given a task that I had to carry out and that is
19 the only thing that I'm interested in.
20 Q. Was it you contacting him or him contacting you?
21 A. For the most part, he contacted me.
22 Q. For the other part, when you contacted him -- maybe there is a
23 misunderstanding here. You said for the most part, meaning he mostly
24 contacted you. When you contacted him, what did you contact him about?
25 How many times did you contact him before the takeover and why did you
1 contact him?
2 A. There weren't any reasons for me to contact him before the
3 takeover. For the most part he and Todorovic came to me, and they tried
4 in different ways to find out what was going on, they tried to collect
5 information, things like that.
6 Q. In what capacity was he contacting you, Dr. Simic, local medical
7 practitioner, in what capacity was he, Dr. Simic, contacting you? The
8 head of the local JNA?
9 A. I have to say to you that you obviously do not understand the Serb
10 mentality. Every day I had 50 people who came to see me, to ask me about
11 something, to see what was going on. That is an approach that is quite
12 unbelievable and it took a lot of my time and that is how these contacts
13 took place as well.
14 Q. Your evidence earlier to Mr. Pisarevic was that you put observers
15 on the silos. Now, these observers, I take it, were armed, weren't they?
16 A. Yes, yes. All members of the tactical group, of Tactical Group
17 17, were armed.
18 Q. Were they armed with sniper rifles, the ones who were on the
20 A. No, no. The silo is sufficiently far away. I mean it was used as
21 an observation point, because -- if you understand what I'm saying,
22 because it rises so high then one could observe from there even without
23 optical instruments what was going on and even what was going on on the
24 other side of the Sava River.
25 Q. All right. Now, was it on the 17th, the morning of the 17th of
1 April, that you placed people, placed your men, on the silos using it as
2 an observation post?
3 MR. LAZAREVIC: We already have the answer to that, if my
4 colleague was reading this carefully, he said after this -- after the 4th
5 Detachment was raised, his combat readiness. It is in the transcript.
6 MR. RE: I'm only after the date. If I've missed it, I apologise.
7 I'm just after the date.
8 JUDGE MUMBA: Yes, go on.
9 MR. RE:
10 Q. Was it on the 17th, the morning of the 17th, that you placed those
11 people in the silos?
12 A. No. I placed people on the silo on the 17th, sometime in the
13 afternoon, when there was already a danger of forces from Croatia crossing
14 over to the Bosnian side.
15 Q. You've already agreed with me that it was a military takeover of
16 the municipality by the Serbs. Now that of course would qualify in your
17 own understanding as an armed insurrection against legitimate organs of
18 government, wouldn't it, at least on a local level?
19 A. Probably, yes, but that is why there were organs of authority at
20 republican level that were supposed to take certain measures. It is well
21 known who is accountable to who.
22 Q. You had intelligence information and reliable intelligence
23 information at the time, that members of the 1st Detachment under your
24 command, that's Stevan Todorovic and Mijak Ivanovic, participated in the
25 takeover, didn't you?
1 A. Yes. But Todorovic had already been replaced and as for Mijak, we
2 got this information much later.
3 Q. When you say much later, what's much later, Mr. Nikolic? Before
4 you left Bosnia?
5 A. Well, say, I think, no, no, no. No. Well, I still was in Bosnia
6 but after that, he was relieved and another man was appointed, and he went
7 to become a TO commander.
8 Q. I'll just take you back a step. You've already agreed that I
9 think you said probably it would amount to an armed insurrection, which of
10 course as you know was illegal under federal Yugoslavian code, you had
11 information that at least one member, a commander of one of your
12 detachments had participated in an armed insurrection. You found out
13 about that a bit later. You found out about that when you were still the
14 commander, didn't you?
15 A. Look, I can't now pinpoint the time when that was established, all
16 I know is that from the Secretariat, the information arrived that he was
17 being transferred to another position and that another man was being
18 appointed to his post but I can't give you the date.
19 Q. As the commander, what steps, if any, did you take to ensure that
20 this person, Ivanovic, who participated in at least the preemptive strike
21 or the preemptive planning of the takeover of Bosanski Samac, if not on
22 the day, what actions did you take to ensure he was brought to justice for
23 his illegal activities?
24 A. Look, those illegal activities, if they indeed existed, became
25 obvious only after my departure so that there was nothing in particular
1 that I could do.
2 Q. Your evidence to Mr. Pisarevic or I think maybe it was
3 Mr. Pantelic, was that you used police in some of your military
4 activities. I don't think it's in your statement there. You said it
5 earlier this morning. Were these regular police? I just want to ask you
6 about regular police from the --
7 A. I remember that, yes.
8 Q. I just want to ask you, please confine yourself to regular police,
9 that's not the paramilitaries, regular police from the Samac police
10 station. I want you to tell the Trial Chamber when you used these police
11 and what you used them for, how you managed to obtain these police to help
12 you on the front line.
13 A. The Tactical Group 17 was surrounded, and sometime between the 7th
14 to the 10th of May, certain problems had to be resolved because the road
15 from Brcko towards Loncari and Orasje was blocked and likewise the road
16 which from Samac goes to Modrica. Since the attacks of the forces from
17 Croatia were considerable and engaged all my units, then in the villages,
18 I collected those small detachments which by that time had already become
19 TO detachments, sent a request to my corps commander to establish contact
20 with relevant authorities, and to have Todorovic informed that I was being
21 authorised to engage the police, and about 40 to 45 policemen were taken
22 on and that is how we carried out those operations, that is unblocking the
23 roads in both directions.
24 Q. I was only asking you about regular police from the Samac police
25 station. You used both on the actions between the 7th and 10th of May to
1 clear the roads towards Modrica and towards Brcko; is that correct --
2 Orasje, sorry, Brcko?
3 A. That's right. All the policemen that I could get.
4 Q. And these police of course were subordinated to you for that
5 period of time, weren't they?
6 A. Look, at the time, when the task was being carried out, when the
7 communication between the civilian authorities and my corps command which
8 was responsible for this was established, then these policemen were
9 attached, that is resubordinated to me, for a while. After that period
10 elapsed, it was my duty to return them to let them go back to their police
12 Q. You were the commanding officer in relation to the clearing of the
13 road to Brcko and Modrica between the 7th and the 10th of May, and all
14 troops involved in that were subordinated to you, weren't they?
15 A. When you say all troops, then you must understand that the
16 overwhelming majority of forces were already engaged on the right bank of
17 the Sava and on the right bank of the Bosna River, in fighting members of
18 the Croatian formations and the forces of the Croat Defence Council. So
19 at that time, I no longer had any forces at my disposal. I was simply
20 trying to get every man I could get, in order to put together units which
21 could clear those roads and ensure normal communication.
22 Q. You were the officer who issued the order for the clearing of
23 those two roads, weren't you, Mr. Nikolic?
24 A. Yeah. I never gave any orders to cleanse the roads. My only
25 order to the units was to take steps when the roads were blocked, to make
1 the enemy pull away from those roads so that normal communication could be
3 Q. You issued orders on the 7th of May in relation to the unblocking
4 or clearing of the roads in the area of Modrica on one side and Brcko on
5 the other over the next three days, didn't you, Mr. Nikolic?
6 A. I issued one order for -- to free the communication towards
7 Modrica because that was the task I got from my commander and my second
8 order was to liberate the communication from Loncari towards Brcko.
9 Q. In issuing those orders, you drew up battle plans subordinating
10 various units, coordinating them to do the two separate tasks, didn't you,
11 Mr. Nikolic?
12 A. The plans for the execution of these tasks were drawn at the
13 Tactical Group 17 and were carried out as such. Except that the plan
14 concerning Modrica when the attack started a commander of a paramilitary
15 unit, some Perija, had already fled, and the road had already been
16 cleared so that that attack never would -- would never really got in full
17 swing, never was completed, I mean it was finished. It was all over by
18 around 10.00 in the morning.
19 Q. You issued orders for the subordination -- of the attack in which
20 various units were subordinated to your command for those two areas,
21 Modrica and Brcko over those three days, didn't you? You were the
22 commanding officer, the units you issued the orders to were subordinated
23 to you for that period, weren't they?
24 A. Correct, so I issued the orders and I commanded them during the
25 execution of the task.
1 Q. Now, of course, two of those groups included battalions headed by
2 Crni and Lugar, didn't they, sir?
3 A. This is how it was.
4 Q. Lugar and Crni headed two of the groups that you issued orders to
5 between the 7th and the 10th of May, correct? Easy question.
6 A. Excuse me, the question is simple but the answer isn't and I must
7 give you a precise answer. Since the crime in Crkvina happened between
8 the 8th and the 9th, this order was issued -- was written on the 7th of
10 Q. I'm not asking you about Crkvina. I'm asking you only about the
11 issuing of the orders and I'm going to show you two orders.
12 MR. RE: Can the usher please show these two orders to the
14 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Right.
15 JUDGE MUMBA: Do you have exhibit numbers, Mr. Re?
16 MR. RE: No. They are not in evidence at the moment.
17 JUDGE MUMBA: Not yet.
18 MR. RE: Please put them on the ELMO.
19 Q. Now, sir, look, I just want to say to you if you have some
20 difficulties, if you feel that answering a question may incriminate you,
21 the Trial Chamber will warn you and specifically in relation to command
22 responsibility, and Article 21 of the document Mr. Pantelic referred to
23 you which is D179/1, and if my questions suggest to you that you were in
24 charge of those troops at the time the Crkvina massacre was committed and
25 that you as a commanding officer based on those orders had a duty to
1 punish or prevent, and if the answer you give based on those documents,
2 incriminates you, you have a right to object and the Trial Chamber may
3 direct you to answer the question. I'm just alerting the Trial Chamber to
4 that at this very moment, based on those orders. So can you please look
5 at the two orders, sir?
6 MR. LAZAREVIC: Yes, and just one -- to be fair to the witness, he
7 asked to explain. It is really unfair because this is a situation that my
8 colleague is referring to, and I believe that the witness has the right to
9 give a full explanation of these documents that have just been tendered.
10 MR. RE: I won't interfere with the witness's right to give a full
11 explanation. I want to ask him about the two orders which on their face
12 subordinate Lugar and Crni's units to him for those two attacks. This is
13 corroborated by other evidence before the Trial Chamber, specifically
15 JUDGE MUMBA: I don't understand, Mr. Lazarevic, because the
16 witness is given the documents and he can answer the questions according
17 to the way he understands them.
18 MR. LAZAREVIC: Yes, I just wanted the witness not to be
19 interrupted in giving his --
20 JUDGE MUMBA: His answers.
21 MR. LAZAREVIC: Because he cannot simply answer yes or no when
22 he looks at the document.
23 JUDGE MUMBA: Yes, of course, the witness will be allowed to give
24 his answers as complete as he wishes them to be.
25 MR. RE:
1 Q. I'm sorry. Firstly, sir, can you please look at the document, the
2 two documents I have given you? Which one have you put on the ELMO there?
3 A. I've put the one which says, "Command, the left column."
4 Q. If you look at the page, you'll see it's the 7th of May, 1992, and
5 it is a two page document?
6 A. That's right.
7 Q. Document that you've signed, isn't it?
8 A. That's right.
9 Q. And it's an order for units to be ready to attack on the 10th of
10 May, 1992, in the direction of Modrica, isn't it? That's what you've just
11 given the evidence about?
12 A. Not on the 10th. This is the order about the preparedness for
13 attack on the 8th at 6.00 and it seems that we've put wrong documents on.
14 I put the document number 2 and you put document number 1. Do you want me
15 to put on document number 1? Here it is in front of me.
16 Q. Please put it on the screen and if you could just possibly turn to
17 your side so that everyone, the interpreters and everyone can see the
18 order? Right. This is the one for the attack on the 10th of May, 1992,
19 again this is also an order you issued with your signature on it, isn't
21 A. That's right but let me explain what this is about. If I may, of
23 Q. In a moment, sir, you'll have a full chance in a moment. I just
24 want to ask you a few questions first. If you look at the text of the
25 document it's got the words Lugar written in large letters on the top
1 right of the front page. Is that your handwriting, sir?
2 A. No, it isn't. This is the handwriting of somebody in the staff.
3 Q. All right. If you look at the body of the text, number 1, which
4 is about halfway down the first page, it says, "A north column composed of
5 the Lugar group and Territorial Defence company enforced with Praga
6 platoon from the second battery shall carry out the attack in the
7 direction of Milosevac village, Obalj [phoen], Garevac village, Modrica."
8 And so on. If you go down further it's supported by 128 millimetre mortar
9 battery and 82 millimetre mortar platoon. You can see that, can't you,
11 A. I see it everything, and I know this order by heart, literally.
12 May I explain?
13 Q. Not yet, not yet. You will have your chance. If you go down, you
14 will see that the words, "Commander of column, Lugar." Lugar is in
15 inverted commas. That clearly indicates that Lugar was the commander of
16 one of the units, doesn't it?
17 A. That shows that he was supposed to be one of the commanders of the
18 columns but it doesn't show that he was because this document should be
19 accompanied by other documents. There is a supplement to the order for
20 this task in which the actors were changed, and they were changed after
21 the crime in Crkvina, and that is what I'm trying to explain to you but
22 you're not letting me to do that. So we have a different situation now,
23 because the crime happened, I removed certain people. For instance the
24 commander of the south column, the third one, it says, Crni, and yet it
25 was Major Zoran Jovanovic, and the first one, war it says Lugar was as a
1 matter of fact Srecko Radovanovic, Debeli. That is what I'm trying to
2 tell you. So I took steps to remove those people from there. But if
3 documents are being shown, then all the documents need to be shown,
4 documents cannot be taken out of the context. This is only one of the
5 orders and it shows when it was planned, it shows that there is a time,
6 objectively, during when I established all the contacts with my superior
7 command and Mr. Stevan Todorovic when he was ordered to resubordinate the
8 policemen to me for this task, he insisted that some of his men, if at all
9 possible, to have some of his men appointed commanders of the columns and
10 I told him where that could be done and where that could not be done.
11 Q. If I could just take you back to the document, sir, if you turn
12 over the page, it refers to the third column, the commander of that column
13 was Crni, doesn't it? That's what it says. This was on the 7th of May,
14 you issued the order for Lugar's men and Crni's men to take part in an
15 attack and to be subordinated to your command for that period, wasn't it,
17 A. No. On the 7th, the preparations were done. The date up here
18 shows when was the preparation done, and when the document was done. The
19 document is delivered to those who are supposed to carry it out and it is
20 made more precise by previous order which you should have shown me, when
21 are -- which units to report, and to be subordinated to the commander of
22 the Tactical Group 17. So they reported immediately before the task and
23 as soon as the task would be over, they would be relieved of their duty
24 and sent back to perform their law enforcement jobs.
25 Q. If I could just take you to the second document you have there,
1 also dated the 7th of May, 1992, if you could just turn to your right to
2 have a look at that, that's dated the same day, you've already agreed it
3 has your signature on it. It again, about halfway down the page, in
4 relation to the attack in the general direction of Markovic Polja,
5 Grabovica [phoen], Brcko, refers to the use of the Lugar group, doesn't
6 it? That's 2.1.
7 A. That is correct, yes. That is so.
8 Q. And that was for according to this, an attack on the -- according
9 to your evidence an attack on the 8th of May, wasn't it, 6.00 a.m. on the
10 8th of April, wasn't it?
11 A. That's right. That is the attack which --
12 Q. That's the date? And according to your evidence, you didn't hear
13 about the Crkvina massacre until the 9th of May, did you? Yes or no.
14 A. Well --
15 Q. I just asked you about the date?
16 A. No, no.
17 Q. I thought your evidence earlier was that Mr. Mr. Zaric told you
18 about the Crkvina massacre on the 9th, the morning of the 9th.
19 A. That is correct. The massacre happened between the 8th and the
20 9th. In the afternoon and in the morning of the 9th.
21 Q. Of course according to these -- according to these attack plans
22 the attack was supposed to occur on the 8th of April, first thing in the
23 morning, that is the day before or long before or hours before the Crkvina
24 massacre wasn't it? Wasn't it? According to the face of this document.
1 A. We started the attack as planned. The attack was over at 11.00 in
2 the morning. The road was unblocked and around 12.00 already or perhaps
3 even earlier, all those who had been incorporated in the Tactical Group 17
4 as temporary reinforcement had already been released and sent back to
5 their usual jobs. That is what I'm trying to explain to you, and then in
6 the next document, when this happened, I simply eliminated them, wrote
7 another order, and engaged other individuals. That is what I'm talking
9 Q. I see, sir. So you're saying that you actually used Lugar and his
10 men on the 8th up until about mid-day, and then let them go home; is that
11 right? Even though you're other order said they were to be used on the
12 10th as well, you let them go after using them on the 8th? Is that what
13 you're telling us?
14 A. Yes, it is. That is what I'm trying to tell you because they had
15 nothing to do for me. They were performing their law enforcement jobs and
16 I had to just borrow them while I needed them. Otherwise, they were in
17 the police. And you keep talking about Lugar or this or that but I'm
18 talking about policemen, about law enforcement officers in the police
19 station in Bosanski Samac, and I engaged everybody that I could lay my
20 hands on in Bosanski Samac.
21 Q. Sir, the order says, this is the first one, about the attack, was
22 100 men from the special detachment of the Lugar group, with an 82
23 millimetre mortar platoon and 60 millimetre mortar squad, Praga platoon,
24 the command of the column Crni. Those are the troops you used on the 8th
25 of May, Lugar and 100 men from his special detachment. It doesn't say
1 local police, does it, sir? Does it?
2 A. No, not the local police, when they report to me and when they are
3 attached to me, then in the order will not mention them as the local
4 police. Once the task is over I turn them back to their regular jobs. So
5 that in this particular case, there was Lugar and some men from the
6 special detachment and I just explained it a moment ago that in the
7 motorised battalion, the first motorised battalion, a company of 60, 70
8 men had been specially trained for active operations, and he was given
9 some of them to carry out the task.
10 MR. RE: May the documents be tendered into evidence.
11 MR. PANTELIC: I do apologise to my learned friend. Sorry, sorry,
12 Your Honour. It's just a clarification, if you're looking at this
13 document which is on the ELMO, let's clarify that with the witness, it's
14 just a suggestion, we have a date 8 of April which is absolutely
15 inconsistent with the top left-hand side. Obviously it's an error in
16 writing. So maybe we could clarify that although the testimony is very
17 clear of this witness but still, for the sake of transcript. Yes. Thank
19 MR. RE: Certainly but may the documents be tendered into evidence
20 at this point?
21 JUDGE MUMBA: Yes, can we have the explanation first?
22 MR. RE: Thank you.
23 Q. Sir, you can see that it does say the 8th in handwritten letter,
24 the 8th of April, on the document headed "lijeva kolona." That's the one
25 the 8th of April -- the 8th of May you just explained to us where Lugar
1 and Crni were involved in the clearing or the operations in Brcko, it says
2 the 8th of April, that's clearly a mistake isn't it? It clearly is meant
3 to be the 8th of May, from your evidence just then, isn't it, sir?
4 A. Yes. I can explain that. This is a mistake here. Somebody in
5 the staff made this mistake because he should have written the 8th of --
6 the 5th month, May. That is one thing. Secondly, in the army, you have
7 so-called preceding orders, regulating which units will be subordinated to
8 whom, report to whom, how it will be prepared and so on and so forth, so
9 they were taken over on the eve of the attack. We started the attack
10 towards Brcko because the Croatian units had taken the village of
11 Grebnica, in front of us we have Perry Colton, an American, whom we
12 captured as a member of the first Brigade of the ZNG and who had destroyed
13 the bridge across the Tinja. Tinja was crossed these from Grebnica pulled
14 out and all there was over by, say, around 10.00 that day. Around 11.00,
15 I sent those people off and I said, you go back to your jobs. And that
16 was then followed or rather there was already a plan prepared for the
17 attack towards Modrica. And the grouping is done when the task is about
18 to be carried out. And that is the principal matter because it shows if
19 you group people earlier then it becomes common knowledge, the moment
20 you've grouped your people together the enemy already knows that they are
21 there together and what they are about to do. So that when this was done,
22 there was no crime, but there was a communication and there was an order
23 to Todorovic that he had to attach his police and that solved the matter.
24 JUDGE MUMBA: There was a request to admit. Is there any
25 objection from the Defence? None at all. Can we have the number, please?
1 THE REGISTRAR: The order with ERN number 0063-6931 will be marked
2 as document P174 ter ID.
3 The order with the ERN number 0063-6932 will be marked as document
4 P175 ter ID.
5 JUDGE MUMBA: We don't have English translations.
6 MR. RE: Don't we? We should have. Certainly Mr. Leese has
7 photocopied them all.
8 JUDGE MUMBA: So they should be admitted as exhibits, not just
9 marked for identification.
10 THE REGISTRAR: Yes, they will be exhibits P174 ter and P174, and
11 P175 ter and P175.
12 JUDGE MUMBA: Thank you.
13 We shall adjourn and continue our proceedings tomorrow.
14 --- Whereupon the hearing adjourned at
15 1.51 p.m., to be reconvened on Tuesday,
16 the 15th day of April, 2003, at 9.00 a.m.