1 Wednesday, 3 September 2003
2 [Closed session]
13 Page 25975-26071 – redacted – closed session
7 --- Recess taken at 12.12 p.m.
8 --- On resuming at 12.38 p.m.
9 [Open session]
10 MR. NICE: Your Honour, just before the witness is sworn, can I
11 mention one thing. It will take 30 seconds.
12 [The witness entered court]
13 MR. NICE: The revised witness lists we issued in the Status
14 Conference yesterday were unsatisfactory in several ways, not least that
15 some of the shading is so dense you can hardly read the document, and the
16 third part of the document needs updating in several respects. We will
17 try and reissue a more useful document tomorrow, and I would suggest
18 deferring working on the present document until then.
19 JUDGE MAY: Thank you.
20 Yes. Let the witness take the declaration.
21 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] I solemnly declare that I will speak
22 the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.
23 WITNESS: MUSTAFA HRUSTANOVIC
24 [Witness answered through interpreter]
25 JUDGE MAY: Yes. If you'd like to take a seat.
1 Yes, Ms. Bibles.
2 Examined by Ms. Bibles:
3 Q. Would you please tell us your name.
4 A. Hrustanovic Mustafa.
5 Q. On Monday of this week, did you meet with a member of the Registry
6 to certify two statements that you've made regarding the events in
8 A. Yes.
9 Q. And those statements -- one of the statements is dated the 7th of
10 October, 1994, the other dated the 12th of November, 1999?
11 A. Yes.
12 MS. BIBLES: If he could be shown those statements, please.
13 Q. Are these the documents that you certified with the registrar on
15 A. Yes.
16 MS. BIBLES: Your Honours, I'd move to admit the 92 bis packet
17 into evidence.
18 JUDGE MAY: Yes. The next exhibit number?
19 THE REGISTRAR: Exhibit number P530.
20 MS. BIBLES: Your Honours, Mr. Hrustanovic is a long-term resident
21 of the town of Bijeljina. Prior to the takeover of Bijeljina, he worked
22 as a financial director for a large company there. His evidence, which is
23 being presented via 92 bis, covers several relevant areas of the
24 indictment with respect to Bijeljina.
25 With respect to the takeover of Bijeljina, he and other members of
1 the community had heard that Arkan and his men were nearby at Popovi on
2 the Drina River.
3 On the night of the 31st of March, 1992, he woke to the sound of
4 gunfire. The shooting that began that night went on off and on for the
5 next three to four days. During that time period, the Muslim residents
6 were confined to their homes.
7 Through phone conversations with family and friends and the rest
8 of the municipality, Mr. Hrustanovic learned that the war had begun.
9 Through the media, he learned that over 40 people had been killed.
10 During the days that the shooting was going on, an armed Serb
11 wearing a uniform controlled his neighbourhood. This individual was Goran
12 Jelisic. He directed the residents to stay in their homes. This is the
13 same Goran Jelisic who was convicted in this Tribunal.
14 After the takeover, there were still restrictions on the movements
15 of the Muslim residents of the municipality. Uniformed Serbs patrolled
16 the streets. They stopped non-Serbs and checked their papers.
17 Mr. Hrustanovic saw that many shop windows of businesses belonging
18 to Bosniaks had been smashed. He was also told by a Serb friend that he
19 himself had been on an execution list but that his colleague had removed
20 him from that list.
21 Over a period of time, there were mass dismissals of non-Serbs,
22 with their positions being replaced by Serbs. In the end in Bijeljina,
23 only irreplaceable non-Serbs were kept in their positions and they were
24 kept under close supervision.
25 With respect to the destruction or desecration of non-Orthodox
1 symbols, this witness describes in his statements that there were
2 substantial destruction of non-Orthodox symbols. The mosques of the
3 municipality were destroyed and the interior of a Catholic church was
5 With respect to forced labour, Mr. Hrustanovic was detained on the
6 10th of August, 1993. He was forced to work digging trenches and
7 fortifications on the frontlines of the VRS. This was at the location and
8 just after the VRS pushed the Bosnian army back from Brcko.
9 The detainees were told to find shelter in the bombed-out houses
10 in the area. They lived without roofs, sanitary facilities, or running
11 water. The only food that they ate was the leftovers from the VRS
13 One of the Muslim men from Bijeljina, Suljo Osmanovic, was killed
14 when a Bosnian shell hit the area in which they were digging trenches.
15 This group of detainees was driven back to Bijeljina, taken to the MUP
16 headquarters to be registered before they were released on the 4th of
17 September, 1993.
18 And finally, Mr. Hrustanovic was forced out of the municipality in
19 1994. This began when he was summoned to the offices of a Vojkan
20 Djurkovic, who wore a JNA uniform and intimidated Mr. Hrustanovic. This
21 intimidation culminated with the order that he would have to leave the
22 municipality and he had to decide whether he was leaving via the Drina
23 River or whether he was going to go to Tuzla. Mr. Hrustanovic made it
24 clear that he did not intend to leave Bijeljina.
25 Over the following days and time period, the witness was harassed
1 and badly beaten by Djurkovic's men. On the 22nd of August,
2 Mr. Hrustanovic and his family were detained and taken away with other
3 Muslim residents in a cattle truck towards Tuzla. They were held
4 overnight and subjected to humiliating searches. In the end, this group
5 of Muslims was forced to walk through no man's land to Bosnian-held
7 JUDGE MAY: Yes, Mr. Milosevic.
8 Cross-examined by Mr. Milosevic:
9 Q. [Interpretation] Mr. Hrustanovic, in paragraph 6 of your
10 statement, you say that life in Bijeljina started to change after the
11 death of President Tito; is that right?
12 A. Yes. And he died in 1980.
13 Q. You say that there were social changes that took place but that
14 this could be noticed only by those who were susceptible to these changes.
15 Is that what you said?
16 A. Yes.
17 Q. In that same paragraph and in that same context, you go on to say
18 that the Bosniaks were suppressed from social, political, and economic
19 fields of work, as you say.
20 A. Yes.
21 Q. But that many Bosniaks simply did not see what was going on, what
22 was happening around them. Is that right?
23 A. Yes.
24 Q. And then you go on to say that these changes were also reflected
25 in the fact that workers' salaries were not being paid out, that strikes
1 were being held and so on.
2 A. Yes.
3 Q. Are you talking about the economic and social problems that arose
5 A. There were other things there besides social and economic
7 Q. All right. Tell me, was it only the Muslims that went on strike
8 and that didn't receive their salaries on time, or did these social and
9 economic crises reflect on all workers, regardless of their ethnic group?
10 A. It depended on the structure, on the companies and the ethnic
11 make-up of the workers in those companies. So it wasn't only that there
12 were social and economic problems. The Bosnians were being suppressed.
13 They were being pushed out of high-ranking positions, and Serbs brought in
14 to replace them. And all this evolved through the organisation of the
15 League of Communists. The Bosnians were found to be unsuitable. And this
16 made it easier for them to be replaced from the posts they held and to be
17 replaced by Serbs. So during that period of time, in a very rapid
18 succession, the Bosniaks were being fired and the Serbs appointed to their
19 posts. And the mayor -- the president of the municipality became a Serb,
20 so was the president of the League of Communists; he was a Serb too. And
21 the head of MUP was a Serb. The command of the garrison was also a Serb.
22 The director of the Zitopromet company was also a Serb, so was the
23 director of the medical centre. He was a Serb too, not to enumerate all
24 the others. All I can say in summing up if you were to ask me who was in
25 what -- which Bosniak remained in his place and post in what company, I
1 would be hard pressed to answer.
2 Q. I was just asking you something with respect to what you say in
3 paragraph 7 of your statement, that the changes were reflected in the fact
4 that salaries weren't being paid out on time and that the workers
5 organised strikes. So all I'm asking you now is: Was it only the Muslims
6 that suffered these problems and went on strike and didn't receive their
7 salaries on time, or did this social and economic crisis affect everyone?
8 A. It was primarily the work organisations that went on strike which
9 had a majority of employees being Bosniaks. There was the Zenit factory,
10 the Uzice factory. As I say, it was mostly in those work organisations
11 that this happened, because we were linked to the Belgrade economy.
12 Zenit, for example, the Zenit company was linked 100 per cent to Belgrade.
13 It exported footwear to the Soviet Union. Through another company, Centro
14 Textile, we found it very difficult to be paid out the money we had
15 earned. So that, too, was a sign that the Bosniaks -- or rather, firms
16 employing Bosniaks, a majority Bosniak labour force, was not being paid
17 for their exports.
18 Q. So the economic crisis -- what you're saying is that the Muslims
19 bore the brunt of the economic crisis and the Serbs didn't feel the crisis
20 at all? Is that what you're saying?
21 A. Well, something along those lines.
22 Q. All right. Let's move on.
23 THE ACCUSED: [Interpretation] Mr. May, with respect to the events
24 in Bijeljina, we have had a number of witnesses. And as this comes under
25 92 bis, I'm not going to go through those events again. We have heard a
1 great deal about the events themselves. So if we were to repeat all that,
2 then I'd have no time left to deliberate his statement.
3 JUDGE MAY: Very well.
4 THE ACCUSED: [Interpretation] So I'm not going to dwell on those
5 events with this witness.
6 JUDGE MAY: If we say that -- if you take this course with
7 witnesses, as you do with this one, we will understand the position and
8 indeed encourage any saving of time.
9 THE ACCUSED: [Interpretation] Well, I have been forced to save
10 time, because for 92 bis I have been allotted one hour.
11 MR. MILOSEVIC: [Interpretation]
12 Q. Mr. Hrustanovic, in paragraph 10, you go on to say that on the
13 31st of March, 1992 at about 2100 hours you heard some sort of shooting
14 and that you rang up your daughter-in-law in Janja and she said that the
15 war had started. And then you phoned up some other friends and nobody
16 knew what was going on and they told you that some people had already been
17 killed. Is that what you say in your statement?
18 A. Yes.
19 Q. All right. Tell me, what did your daughter-in-law tell you? Did
20 the war break out in Bijeljina or Janja? Where was the shooting?
21 A. She said that the war had started in Bijeljina.
22 Q. And how far is Janja from Bijeljina?
23 A. Between 11 and 12 kilometres.
24 Q. Nothing was happening in Janja?
25 A. At that time, nothing.
1 Q. You claim that none of your friends knew what was actually going
2 on. How come they knew that some people had been killed, then?
3 A. Well, I first phoned Janja.
4 Q. Where nothing was happening.
5 A. Nothing was happening in Janja, but the telephone lines were
6 linked and you could hear -- they said you could hear the shooting. I
7 didn't hear the shooting myself, because I was sleeping at that time, in
8 actual fact.
9 Q. You said you heard the shooting, in paragraph 10. Now you say
10 that you didn't hear any shooting. Did you hear it or didn't you?
11 A. I heard it towards the end, when it was a general chaos and I
12 jumped up to see what was going on. I phoned Janja and some other people
13 from Bijeljina, and then I put all that together, all the tales that were
14 recounted. But anyway, there was -- you could hear the shooting.
15 Q. Tell me, who were the people around Bijeljina killed on the night
16 of the 31st of March?
17 A. Well, they didn't say which people, but they said that some people
18 had been killed. It was only the next day that through the information
19 media we learnt that one, two, three, four, five, six -- actually, over 40
20 people had been killed, and that's when there was an information blockade,
21 as far as we were concerned, that was put in place.
22 Q. When you say "for us," "we," who do you mean; the inhabitants of
24 A. Yes, the inhabitants of Bijeljina, because that was the third,
25 fourth, or fifth day when the Majevica repeater was turned the other way.
1 Q. Do you know how many people were killed?
2 A. You mean in total?
3 Q. Yes, in Bijeljina. Do you have any idea?
4 A. The figure bandied about is approximately 600 inhabitants as
5 having been killed.
6 Q. You said that was the figure being manipulated or bandied about.
7 A. Yes. Those were the speculations.
8 Q. Now, tell me, who were the people who were killed?
9 A. I can enumerate some of them. But of course there were whole
10 lists of people, whole families.
11 Q. Who killed them and where?
12 A. They were killed mostly by Arkan's men and people from Captain
13 Dragan's guards, the Chetniks of Vojvoda, Mile Blagic. Actually, on the
14 31st of March, they entered Bijeljina.
15 Q. All right. That seems to be somewhat different from the testimony
16 of other witnesses, but let's leave that aside for the moment.
17 In paragraph 11, you say that you were very cautious on the phone,
18 as you had heard that your phones were being tapped.
19 A. Yes, that's right. All the lines were intertwined and you didn't
20 know who was talking to who, who was on line. So it was difficult to
21 actually have the person answer your telephone call, the person you wanted
22 to speak to.
23 Q. Well, that was a breakdown in the switchboard system, I assume.
24 How else can you explain this? Why would anybody else listen in to your
25 telephone conversations?
1 A. I think that it had been organised earlier on, in advance. It was
2 no breakdown.
3 Q. Tell me, Mr. Hrustanovic, what were you then? Which office did
4 you hold then?
5 A. I was a member of the board for economic and financial affairs at
6 the Zenit industry.
7 Q. So you were one of the directors in Zenit?
8 A. Yes.
9 Q. And you exported footwear?
10 A. Yes. And I was the deputy director of Elektro.
11 Q. And what would be the reason why would somebody have your phone
12 tapped? What would be these secrets that somebody would want to find out?
13 A. All the lines were mixed up. And now, who was tapping who or not,
14 that is something I don't know, but I assume that some people were tapped.
15 Q. You assume that some people were tapped and you include yourself
16 among those persons; right?
17 A. Something like that.
18 Q. Are you trying to say that Serbs had your telephone tapped?
19 A. Those who created this commotion in Bijeljina were certainly
20 listening in, and those were the Serbs.
21 Q. All right. Tell me, please: How did they do this? Was it only
22 Serbs who were then employed, say, in the police in Bijeljina, at the
23 public security centre in Bijeljina or in the post office, for instance?
24 Was it only Serbs who were employed there, or were there Serbs, Muslims?
25 A. Both were employed. But when those who I mentioned entered town,
1 they took over all functions. So they suppressed all the Bosniaks, all
2 the Muslims.
3 Q. Well, you say that the Bosniak Muslims were all replaced ages ago,
4 after Tito's death, 1980.
5 A. Well, that's not what was said.
6 Q. That's what I asked you at the beginning. Things had changed and
7 that Muslims had been suppressed and dismissed, replaced, the Secretary of
8 the League of Communists was a Serb and so on and so forth. In these
9 events, the League of Communists did not exist?
10 A. You didn't listen to this properly. I'm just saying what --
11 Q. No. I listened to what you were saying just now. I'm not talking
12 about what I read.
13 A. That's not what I said.
14 Q. I heard you, and I hope everybody else did too, that you explained
15 that the Secretary of the Municipal Committee of the League of Communists
16 was a Serb.
17 A. Yes. And at the post office, of course, people went on working
18 there, not only Serbs but Muslims too. But on that 31st of March, in
19 those three, four, or five days, when everything that happened happened in
20 Bijeljina, they took over all positions there. Also guards were set up.
21 Arkan did this, Kapetan Dragan too. So there were no Muslims there. So
22 they could have done whatever they wanted to with the telephone lines.
23 They could have tapped anybody's conversations. They always had some
24 locals who were there to help them.
25 Q. I had some different pieces of information here confirmed by other
1 witnesses too. It wasn't Kapetan Dragan at all. It was a Serb guard led
2 by Mauzer, otherwise a citizen of Bijeljina.
3 A. Mauzer only joined them.
4 Q. Tell me, please: You say that the shooting went on for the next
5 three or four days and that through the media you were being informed that
6 you should stay at home; is that right?
7 A. Yes. And every street had a commissioner of its own, and among
8 others, they cautioned us not to go out and to stay at home. Among
9 others, there was Dragan Jelisic, who covered the area. We are
10 neighbours, otherwise. He came to see a friend whose house was right by
11 mine. I went out of the house and he said, "No, no, no, go back to the
12 house," something like that.
13 Q. Tell me, please: You say that through the media you found out
14 that about 40 people were killed.
15 A. Yes.
16 Q. Which media reported about this?
17 A. It was only Bijeljina Television. I think that this went through
18 TV Sarajevo, and then that was interrupted too. Subsequently, we heard
19 who all the persons who went missing were. Entire families became extinct
20 in this way. They were killed in the centre of town.
21 Q. We had the opportunity of seeing all of this here, and it is quite
22 different from what other statements say, but I'm not going to dwell on
23 that now. But tell me, in terms of what you claim in paragraph 14, you
24 say that "Able-bodied Bosniaks in 1992 received call-up papers to report
25 to the army of Republika Srpska." Is that right?
1 A. First, they reported for mobilisation, general mobilisation. When
2 it was proclaimed, we Muslims thought that this did not pertain to us.
3 However, over a short period of time, all Muslims were called up
4 separately to Novo Selo for this mobilisation. I did not respond, but
5 many did. And afterwards, those who did respond started getting call-up
6 papers and they were sent to frontlines. We, who did not respond to
7 mobilisation, were treated quite differently. We were sent on these work
8 obligations, but I call them prison, slavery.
9 Q. Is it true that this pertained to both Serbs and Muslims? Those
10 who were in the army did not have work obligation and those -- those who
11 were not in the army had work obligation and those who were in the army
12 did not have it?
13 A. No Serbs had work obligation.
14 Q. All right. How many Muslims were there in the army of Republika
15 Srpska, Muslims from Bijeljina?
16 A. I don't know the exact number, but there were quite a few. And
17 for the most part, they were sent to Pelagicevo and to Posavina. They did
18 not send them to Majevica and Teocak because up there they had many
19 friends and there were family ties.
20 Q. Let's not go into where they were being sent. But these Muslims
21 who were in the army of Republika Srpska, they were armed too, weren't
23 A. Well, probably they had weapons.
24 Q. Do you know any of the officers who were Muslims and who commanded
25 some unit of the army of Republika Srpska from Bijeljina?
1 A. I know two.
2 Q. Tell us, who are they?
3 A. Pasaga Halilovic and Jahic Mujica.
4 Q. Pasaga Halilovic, was he a commander of a brigade?
5 A. Well, it wasn't a brigade but it was a bigger formation, yes.
6 Q. And he's a Muslim, isn't he?
7 A. Yes.
8 Q. How many other Muslims were on these units? Thousands, hundreds,
9 how many?
10 A. I could not really answer that, but there were quite a few Muslims
11 who went to the frontline.
12 Q. And tell me, this other man you mentioned, what was he?
13 A. He also had some kind of rank. He did not have a formation, but
14 he was engaged.
15 Q. Also a Muslim? Also in the army of Republika Srpska?
16 A. Yes.
17 Q. Also an officer?
18 A. Yes.
19 Q. Of the army of Republika Srpska?
20 A. Yes.
21 Q. As far as I understand what you've been saying, you did not
22 respond to the mobilisation call-up.
23 A. I did not.
24 Q. Please go ahead.
25 A. That is why I was treated differently. That's why they took me to
1 dig trenches, communication trenches, and everything that was involved in
2 the fortification of lines, as it is called.
3 Q. All right, Mr. Hrustanovic. Because you did not report for
4 mobilisation, did somebody arrest you?
5 A. There was such a possibility, but I avoided such a thing because I
6 did not have any papers on me which would enable me to walk about freely.
7 Q. You say that you went out for work obligation so everybody could
8 see you and you could not really avoid anyone if somebody did want to see
9 you; is that right?
10 A. I find this question a bit unclear.
11 Q. You say that you avoided being arrested and you went for work
12 obligation together with others, so you were not hiding anywhere.
13 A. No. I was at home. And I got call-up papers that on the 10th of
14 August, 1993 I should report at the school yard of the Fadil Jahic Spanac
15 School, which is vis-a-vis the SUP, the MUP, call it what you will, and
16 then they picked us up, 47 of us, 17 from Bijeljina and 30 from Janja, and
17 they drove us to Brcko.
18 Q. They drove you out there to work; right?
19 A. Yes.
20 Q. You mentioned, actually, in paragraph 15 that on the fifth day,
21 since that has started, together with your neighbour you walked out into
22 the street for the first time in order to see what was going on.
23 A. Yes, we did.
24 Q. So it was only on the fifth day that you came to learn about what
25 was going on.
1 A. We heard some details only then.
2 Q. And then some Serbs in uniform returned you to your home because
3 it was not safe in the street.
4 A. Yes. We found out only later how dangerous it was for us to go
5 out like that. We could have been killed.
6 Q. And these Serbs who returned you to your homes, sent you back,
7 they did that so that you could avoid being exposed to gunfire or
8 something like.
9 A. This is a neighbour, Jelisic, nicknamed Adolf. He had a friend
10 there and he's the one who actually sent us back. But there were others
11 with him, so that is why I'm saying it.
12 Q. They sent you back. But they did not mistreat you in the process
13 in any way or insult you in any way.
14 A. They did not. We were just sent back, so that we would crawl back
15 into hiding in our houses, and it was very dangerous to walk about.
16 Q. All right, Mr. Hrustanovic. You're a Muslim who practically spent
17 his entire career in managerial positions; is that right?
18 A. Precisely.
19 Q. When things started in Bijeljina, you were a deputy general
20 manager, weren't you?
21 A. Yes.
22 Q. So you were a prominent and respected member of the community in
23 Bijeljina; is that right?
24 A. Precisely, something like that.
25 Q. However, in paragraph 22 of your statement, you say that one of
1 the characteristics of the Serb campaign aimed at intimidating the
2 non-Serb population was the mass dismissal of non-Serbs from work. That's
3 what you said.
4 A. Yes. I said that there were some who were irreplaceable, but my
5 turn came soon too. We were all pushed away. Zenit was a difficult
6 company, difficult, really difficult.
7 Q. You spent your entire career in Bijeljina in positions of
9 A. I was director of several companies at different times. I was
10 also director of a catering enterprise.
11 Q. All right. In Bijeljina.
12 A. Yes, Bijeljina. Also the medical centre in Bijeljina.
13 Q. As far as I can see, nobody ever dismissed you or replaced you or
14 mistreated you in the streets of Bijeljina, even during the time of the
15 conflict, although any Serb could have recognised you since you were such
16 a prominent citizen; isn't that right? You were a well-known person in
18 A. That was my very own merit, because I was on good terms with
19 everyone. I didn't step on any toes. So I could not have experienced any
20 such thing.
21 Q. Tell me, please: What you mentioned in passing a few minutes ago,
22 that it was only the irreplaceable non-Serbs who stayed at work, who kept
23 their jobs, does that mean that the Serbs in Bijeljina were selective in
24 that sense? They distinguished between replaceable and non-replaceable
1 A. Now I'm going to say something what I meant. For example, in
2 Zenit, a technologist cannot be found. He's not there. Everybody who
3 worked in technology -- I mean, it was hard to find people like that, and
4 such people were kept until others were trained or until others were
5 brought from elsewhere, and so on. That's what I meant. At a given point
6 in time, they were irreplaceable. If there is no other electrician
7 available, then they would leave that electrician. If there was no other
8 technologist, they would leave that technologist. So it meant that it was
9 something special that they could not find right then in terms of an
10 adequate replacement.
11 Q. Are you trying to say that there weren't electricians or
12 technologists who were Serbs and that's why Muslims kept these jobs?
13 A. I just mentioned electricians by way of an example.
14 Q. All right. All right, Mr. Hrustanovic. It's a bit strange that
15 that is the only reason why Muslims kept their jobs, and then on the other
16 hand you talk about their large number in the army of Republika Srpska in
17 Bijeljina and you also talk about officials and officers in the army of
18 Republika Srpska who were Muslims. Were they also irreplaceable?
19 A. No. They simply agreed to be loyal to Republika Srpska.
20 Q. All right. This Pasaga Halilovic who you mentioned, was he
21 director of a company in Bijeljina before that?
22 A. Yes, the director of Duvan.
23 Q. Is he director now?
24 A. As soon as he finished his job, they got rid of him the way they
25 got rid of me, the same way.
1 Q. Oh, so he was expelled from Bijeljina?
2 A. Yes. And now he's in Gradacac, in the Federation of
4 Q. On the 10th of August, as it says here in your statement, you were
5 detained and taken to Omerbegovaca, near Brcko.
6 A. Yes.
7 Q. Tell me, were you arrested or was this labour that was organised?
8 When you say "detained," that means taken into custody.
9 A. I don't know how it can be treated, but we were picked up, the 47
10 of us, and we were driven off in that direction. It's the same as if I
11 had been taken prisoner. That's why I said that this was a prison
12 sentence for me.
13 Q. Oh, so it was as if you had been arrested, the fact that you were
14 taken out for labour.
15 A. Yes.
16 Q. Did somebody mistreat you there, beat you, threaten you with
17 firearms or something like that?
18 A. We did have such unpleasant situations, yes. Some people were
19 beaten up, badly beaten. Some people were almost beaten to death. The
20 colour of their faces was like this, like this black thing you can see
22 Q. All right. Didn't you say yourself that conflicts and the
23 campaign against Muslims started even earlier on? You say even in 1991
24 this was in full swing. Isn't that what you said? This campaign against
25 the Muslims?
1 A. The campaign, yes, but there were no conflicts.
2 Q. All right. A campaign. And you were a respected Muslim in
3 Bijeljina, a prominent Muslim. That's not in question.
4 A. That's right.
5 Q. Well, how is this possible that it was only as late as August 1993
6 that the Serbs detained you or arrested your or something like that, if
7 you say that the persecution of Muslims had been going on for several
8 years before that?
9 A. Other Serbs came in. All the domicile Serbs were repressed and
10 suppressed and nobody could even notice them, the ones that lived there,
11 but they -- the Krajisnik, men from Krajina, came from Ilidza and other
12 places. And then you couldn't distinguish between them. Nobody knew who
13 was who in Bijeljina any more.
14 Q. All right. Now, you say that on that occasion the Serbs made you
15 responsible for a small group of some ten people; isn't that right?
16 A. Yes. When we arrived in Omerbegovaca, Brcko, they divided us up
17 into groups.
18 Q. And you were the head of one of these groups; isn't that right?
19 A. Yes, that's right. And that was the first time I saw who was with
20 me in the group, because before that I was in a state of shock and didn't
21 know who the other people were.
22 Q. Tell me, what shocked you so much?
23 A. Well, I was shocked to have been taken away and humiliated and
24 taken off to dig trenches and dugouts and fortify the frontlines of the
25 army of Republika Srpska. That's what shocked me.
1 Q. Now, in the course of all this, did anybody abuse you, beat you,
2 mistreat you in any way?
3 A. Not me personally, but other people from my group, yes, they did.
4 They did mistreat some of the others, one or two people actually, and one
5 of those was killed, Suljo Osmanovic.
6 Q. Well, you say in paragraph 26 that while you were at those
7 positions, that Suljo Omeragic was killed. I made a note of that.
8 A. His surname was Osmanovic, in fact.
9 Q. Right, Osmanovic.
10 A. And that happened on the 20th of August, 1993.
11 Q. Well, let's just clear that point up. He lost his life and was
12 killed by a shell that was shot from Muslim positions; is that right?
13 A. Yes.
14 Q. So nobody actually killed him there on the spot, the Serbs who
15 were with you?
16 A. But let me explain how this came about. There were shifts and
17 people were rotated. One shift would take over every two days or three
18 days. And usually when one shift replaced another, some of those young
19 men there from the army of Republika Srpska, those youngsters, if I can
20 put it that way, and the army of Republika Srpska had a lot of weapons.
21 They would start shooting at the positions of the lilies or, rather, the
22 fighters belonging to the army of the Republic of Bosnia-Herzegovina. And
23 just as the shooting stopped on the part of the army of Republika Srpska,
24 a shell hit -- a shell was shot by the lilies, the Ljiljans, the Bosnian
25 side. And then the shell hit a large tree trunk, and this man was digging
1 communicating trenches and he was hit by a shrapnel here in his forehead,
2 and by the time they got him to the sanitary corps, he was already dead.
3 He was taken, actually, to Belgrade. That's what we were told, at least.
4 And he died. It was only when we returned home that his sisters asked
5 where Suljo was, where their brother Suljo was. And then it was through
6 the Red Cross that we found that he had been buried in Sremska Mitrovica.
7 Q. So he died as the result of his wounds en route to hospital; is
8 that right?
9 A. Yes, probably.
10 Q. Well, tell me, he was actually -- received a fatal wound during
11 the Muslim attack on Serb positions, one can say.
12 A. They weren't attacks. They were just provocations. These were --
13 the others would keep shooting, and then they'd just return fire on this
15 Q. All right. So he died by the fire that was opened by the Muslim
16 side; is that it, then?
17 A. Yes.
18 Q. Now, up at those positions, there were a lot of Serbs, weren't
19 there? That's right, isn't it?
20 A. On the Serb side, yes, but on the other side over there ...
21 Q. Well, of course not on the Muslim side. But there were a lot of
22 Serbs there too. So the shell could not have selectively chosen to kill
23 Suljo Omeragic. It was that it targeted Serb positions and it so happened
24 that he was killed.
25 A. Yes, he was killed at Serb positions. I could have been killed
1 too. And today, when I recollect those days and those events, I don't
2 know how we stayed alive, the six of them in uniform and the four of us
3 who were digging trenches. But he was the only one actually killed.
4 Q. So these six uniformed persons, they were also Muslims, were they?
5 A. No, they were Serbs.
6 Q. Oh, I see, Serbs. So there were only four Muslims and the rest,
7 the other six, were Serbs in that locality?
8 A. Six of them were soldiers of the army of Republika Srpska and they
9 were in uniform, and we were the workers, the labourers.
10 Q. All right. Now, tell me this, please: You came back on the 4th
11 of September, 1993, did you?
12 A. Yes.
13 Q. So you spent up at those positions some time, around 23 or 24
14 days; is that right?
15 A. 26 days.
16 Q. All right, 26 days. You weren't arrested during all that time and
17 you weren't detained and held in custody either, were you? That's right,
18 isn't it?
19 A. Well, except that one time.
20 Q. All right. In your statement, the one you gave to the Ministry of
21 the Interior of Bosnia-Herzegovina in Tuzla on the 7th of October, 1994,
22 you say that your brother died on the 20th of May, 1993. Is that right?
23 A. Yes.
24 Q. And you say that his wife, according to that statement of yours,
25 set up with another -- with a Serb, Dragutin Mackovic, and she had a
1 liaison with that particular person while your brother was still alive.
2 Is that right? And then your daughter-in-law, towards the end of 1993,
3 left for France, and you say that this man Mackovic stayed on living in
4 their house.
5 A. Yes.
6 Q. And it was then that your problems started with that house,
7 because he didn't want to leave; is that right?
8 A. Well, that wasn't the reason. The reason was that I -- that he
9 wanted me to sign over the house to him. Whereas, the house was my
10 property, I owned it.
11 Q. Just a moment. Let's get this straight. You entered into the
12 conflict not on any ethnic grounds and basis but in a personal conflict
13 and difference of views between your sister-in-law's lover and yourself;
14 is that it?
15 A. Well, houses were being seized and he thought he would seize my
16 house too, because she left him a piece of paper, a certificate, telling
17 him to ask me to sign over the house to her, to my sister-in-law. And
18 later on he would -- she would sign it over to him.
19 Q. Just a moment, please. Your sister-in-law left him a certificate
20 asking that the house be signed over to him, and she lived in the house
21 while she was your brother's wife.
22 A. Yes. Probably that was the price she was asked to pay for him to
23 take her out of Bosnia.
24 Q. Well, I don't suppose you want to say that somebody wanted to stop
25 your sister-in-law from travelling. Well, tens of thousands of people
1 travelled and left. There were tens of thousands of Muslim refugees in
2 Serbia from Bosnia, let alone how many in other countries. Nobody stopped
3 them from leaving. So who could stop your sister-in-law from leaving
5 A. Well, your information is not correct.
6 Q. Well, anyway, but we're not challenging the fact that your
7 conflict was one of a personal nature and not an ethnic one. It wasn't an
8 ethnic conflict, it was a personal conflict between you and him.
9 A. Well, you could say that it was ethnically based too.
10 Q. Well, I don't suppose your sister-in-law lived conjugally with
11 this Mackovic on an ethnic basis.
12 A. Well, they lived together out of love.
13 Q. All right. Let's move on, then. In paragraph 31 of your
14 statement, you mention a certain man by the name of Vojkan Djurkovic, if
15 I've noted this down correctly. And he was somebody you didn't know. He
16 was unknown to you but began to play an important part in your life, as
17 you yourself say.
18 A. Yes.
19 Q. And you say in paragraph 35 that you would see Djurkovic wearing a
20 JNA officer's uniform.
21 A. Yes.
22 Q. So are you saying that Djurkovic was in fact a JNA officer?
23 A. I don't know whether he was an officer or not, but he wore an
24 officer's uniform, at any rate, and it was the uniform worn by JNA
1 Q. All right. Now, the time you're talking about and talking about
2 this Djurkovic, was there any JNA unit in Bijeljina at all at that time?
3 A. I don't know. I didn't have access to the garrison. It was
4 called Fadil Jahic Spanac at the time.
5 Q. But in paragraph 38, you say that the next time you went to see
6 him, his paramilitaries were there.
7 A. Yes.
8 Q. And that they recognised you because one of his policemen used to
9 come to your house. Is that what you said?
10 A. Yes, to summon me and to convey this summons for me to go to
11 Vojkan's office.
12 Q. All right. Is it clear, then, that he wasn't a JNA officer of any
13 kind but that in fact he led some sort of paramilitary unit or para-police
14 unit or member of the VRS or police or what? Tell me what he was in
15 actual fact. What was he?
16 A. He was at the head and led that commission, the commission that
17 was called the Commission for Exchanges.
18 Q. I see.
19 A. But he wore a uniform.
20 Q. I see. But everybody wore a uniform. But he's from Bijeljina
21 otherwise; is that right?
22 A. He was from a village, Latoma [phoen] is the name of the village.
23 It's nearby, quite near Bijeljina.
24 Q. All right. But we can say that he was from Bijeljina
1 A. Yes.
2 Q. Not from the town itself but from a nearby village; is that it?
3 A. Yes.
4 Q. And you say that Djurkovic exerted pressure upon you to leave
5 Bijeljina; is that right?
6 A. Yes, I think that's how it was.
7 Q. Tell me, please: This man Djurkovic and that other one that I
8 mentioned a moment ago, Mackovic, with whom you had that disagreement, the
9 two of them were friends; is that right?
10 A. I assume so, yes.
11 Q. So they were, were they?
12 A. Yes.
13 Q. But to go back to Mackovic for a moment he didn't ask you to give
14 him something. It was your sister-in-law who left him a chit authorising
15 him to have the house signed over to her, the one that belonged to your
17 A. Yes. But then she would have signed it over to him.
18 Q. Well, what would have been, we can't really know, but she left
19 this piece of paper and -- instructing you to sign over the house to her.
20 So is this an inter-ethnic conflict or was it a conflict within a personal
22 A. Everything was on a national ethnic basis.
23 Q. Oh, everything on an ethnic basis. All right.
24 Now, several days later, you and your family in the presence of
25 this man Djurkovic were sent by truck to territory under the control of
1 the Muslims; is that right?
2 A. Yes. Yes.
3 Q. Now, according to what you say in your statement given to the
4 security centre in Tuzla, a Serb by the name of Vujadin informed you of
5 all this. Is that what you said?
6 A. Yes. He told me to beware of Dragutin, to be wary of Dragutin.
7 Q. Which Dragutin, Mackovic or Djurkovic?
8 A. Mackovic.
9 Q. So this was the person who was living with your sister-in-law but
10 they weren't married.
11 A. Yes. He told me to be wary because he went around saying to
12 Vujadin that he would send me off to do forced labour, work duty, and that
13 he'd find somebody there to shoot me.
14 Q. All right. Now, according to your statement, that was all in May
15 1994. That's when all that was going on.
16 A. Yes, everything in 1994.
17 Q. All right. Fine. Did you report him to the local police station,
19 A. Yes, I did.
20 Q. So, in fact, you were confident that the police would protect you.
21 Was it -- were the policemen Serbs?
22 A. I think I made a cardinal mistake there, for reporting this,
23 because they were all the same people. They were prosecutor and judge in
25 Q. And then you say that some unknown person stormed your house, beat
1 you up, and forced you to leave your home.
2 A. Yes. And all this was done continuously. It was a series of
3 events forcing me to leave Bijeljina, because I had previously told Vojkan
4 that I wouldn't leave Bijeljina dead or alive, that I had no intention of
6 Q. All right. But is it true that you reported the event to the
7 security centre in Bijeljina?
8 A. Yes.
9 Q. And it was the Serbs who manned that security centre; is that
11 A. Yes.
12 Q. And you say that the policeman performed his duty professionally,
13 he compiled a report in the proper manner, that he was very proper in his
14 conduct? That's right, isn't it?
15 A. Yes.
16 Q. And did you tell him that Vojkan Djurkovic had been forcing you to
17 leave your house, or did you just give a description of the men that on
18 the 30th of May forced you to -- mistreated you?
19 A. I just mentioned the man that was nicknamed Rosavi with a bad
21 Q. So you described the people that mistreated you. You didn't say
22 that it was Djurkovic in actual fact who was forcing you to leave
24 A. But all this took place through Djurkovic.
25 Q. Yes, I know. But you didn't report that to the policemen in
1 Bijeljina. You just described the people who mistreated you when they
2 stormed your house.
3 A. Well, I was making this statement in the police station not in
4 just one or two sentences. I made a complete statement narrating what had
6 Q. Okay. On the 22nd of August, 1994, Djurkovic expelled you and
7 your family to territory that was under Muslim control; is that right?
8 A. On the 22nd, he rounded us up and it was only on the 24th that I
9 crossed over into territory under the control of the army of the Republic
10 of Bosnia-Herzegovina.
11 Q. Who else was with him? Tell me that.
12 A. With Vojkan, you mean?
13 Q. Yes.
14 A. There was a policeman with white belts, bandoliers.
15 Q. You mean a traffic policeman, actually, wearing these white belts?
16 Because that's what the traffic police wore, is that right, these white
18 A. Well, I'm not well versed in matters of that kind.
19 Q. You say that another 161 persons together with you left Bijeljina
20 on that occasion. Yes, go ahead.
21 A. 35 of us were rounded up on the 22nd, and we were taken to the
22 Fazanerija in Suho Polje. And the next day these other 161 persons turned
23 up. They were brought in in two busloads, and it was only at 1600 hours,
24 after having been examined and checked, were we sent in two trucks via
25 Priboj to Lopare.
1 Q. All right. From what you're saying now - and you're mentioning --
2 you've mentioned these 161 persons who left with you - it would appear
3 that they left Bijeljina of their own free will.
4 A. Well, nobody left Bijeljina of their own free will, in actual
5 fact, but they had to pay a very high price to Vojkan Djurkovic.
6 Q. You mean they bribed Djurkovic to allow them to leave Bijeljina?
7 A. Yes, and to avoid being beaten, like I was. So they would have to
8 pay Djurkovic some money, as much as each of them could, and then they
9 were allowed to take something with them, some belongings with them in a
10 bag; whereas I myself had to leave with a plastic bag, that was all, and
11 all I could get into that plastic bag was a change of clothing.
12 Q. That means they didn't let you take your things with you?
13 A. No. None of us who had been rounded up.
14 Q. All right. Tell me, on the basis of what you've been saying now,
15 nobody expelled you. On the contrary, you say that they had to give
16 bribes in order to be able to leave. Now, let's clarify this, please.
17 A. I did not say "bribe."
18 Q. But you said that they gave money allegedly.
19 A. They were bargaining with Vojkan, depending on who should give how
20 much money and then be transferred across the lines.
21 Q. All right. In view of what you explained just now, Djurkovic,
22 Mackovic, your relations with Mackovic, doesn't it seem to you,
23 Mr. Hrustanovic, that the reason for your departure was of a completely
24 different nature? It wasn't expulsion.
25 A. Tell me, what nature?
1 Q. Personal conflict.
2 A. No.
3 Q. The one you had with this Mackovic.
4 A. No. No. No personal conflict, no way.
5 Q. All right. If it's not, that's what you're saying. Of course,
6 I'm not going to squabble with you over that.
7 And tell me, this Djurkovic you mention, who was allegedly the
8 organiser of these expulsions, did he belong to a political organisation
9 in the area of Bijeljina?
10 A. I think that he belonged to the Serb Unity, something like that.
11 That was the name of the party more or less, Arkan's party.
12 Q. Please, he was not a member of the army of Republika Srpska or of
13 the police, nothing. He was a self-styled mediator there. There was a
14 Commission for Exchanges that was led by a completely different person
16 A. He was this official person.
17 Q. All right. But there is information to that effect. But since he
18 was not a member of any army or police, does the same go for Mackovic?
19 Was Mackovic a member of any army or police?
20 A. It says in my statement that Mackovic was not a member of any
21 formation but he was in the executive committee of the Serb Democratic
23 Q. Doesn't it seem to you, Mr. Hrustanovic, that you are actually the
24 victim of a criminal group, a group of criminals, not a campaign
25 orchestrated by Serbs against you?
1 A. I was not the only victim. 30.000 inhabitants, that was the
2 population of Bijeljina. And everybody was expelled. Only 5 per cent of
3 the Muslims were kept. So we were all victims.
4 Q. You're not testifying about that, how many Muslims remained. You
5 do know that a great many Muslims nowadays live and work in Bijeljina.
6 A. I know how they live in Bijeljina, these 5 per cent who stayed
7 behind, this 800 to 2.000 persons. They cannot even be seen. They do not
8 live in their own houses. They lived in auxiliary buildings, in sheds,
9 garages, basements, cellars.
10 Q. Do you live in Bijeljina?
11 A. No, not yet. I didn't manage to get my property back. I live in
13 Q. All right. Were you in Bijeljina recently? Have you been there
15 A. Yes. I was an assemblyman there in the first Assembly after
16 Dayton, 1997-1998.
17 Q. You were an assemblyman. How many more Muslim assemblymen were
18 there in Bijeljina who were elected there?
19 A. There were 12 of us.
20 Q. Out of a total of how many assemblymen in the municipal Assembly?
21 A. Sixty; 20 per cent.
22 Q. Oh, 20 per cent.
23 A. There should have been many more of us.
24 Q. And then and from then on, did you think that there was no
25 discrimination against the Muslims by the Serbs in Bijeljina?
1 A. We were just there as ikebana.
2 Q. Are you trying to say that you did not carry out your duties?
3 A. I'm telling you, we were just ikebana.
4 Q. Did somebody exert any pressure against you, while you were an
5 assemblyman? Did somebody exert any pressure against you as a Muslim?
6 A. Nobody exerted any pressure, but quite simply nothing we proposed
7 was taken into account. And what we asked for, and what we had the right
8 to ask for.
9 Q. All right. But when the war was over and when you were in
10 Bijeljina again and you were even a member of the Assembly, did you raise
11 the issue of Mackovic's and Djurkovic's responsibility, if you thought
12 that what was done to you was done in an illegal way by violating your
13 rights or something like that? Did you bring any charges against them?
14 A. No. I didn't have anyone to complain to. But once conditions are
15 created for me to take action, I shall.
16 Q. Thank you.
17 JUDGE MAY: Let me interrupt. Are you finished?
18 Yes, Mr. Tapuskovic.
19 MR. TAPUSKOVIC: [Interpretation] Your Honours, I will really try
20 to finish within a few minutes' time.
21 Questioned by Mr. Tapuskovic:
22 Q. [Interpretation] I want to ask Mr. Hrustanovic: You gave two
23 statements. This first statement you gave as far back as 1994. In
24 paragraph 3, it reflects what you said, and in this third paragraph it
25 says, "My problems in Bijeljina started only after the death of my
1 brother." This statement, therefore, shows that you personally did not
2 have any problems until May 1993, the 20th of May, 1993. That's what's
3 written here.
4 A. Well, I didn't have any problems. I had a very correct
5 relationship with my neighbours.
6 Q. Thank you. And then today, in response to somebody's question - I
7 don't know whose exactly - you said approximately that many people from
8 Ilidza and Krajina came and that they took over a great many things in
10 A. Yes.
11 Q. Can you explain to the Judges where they came from and how many of
12 them were there? Because they had left their homes somewhere else. Do
13 you know that or do you not know that?
14 A. I don't know the number. I know that people from elsewhere took
15 all key positions in Bijeljina.
16 Q. But do you know where they came from? So from Krajina and
18 A. Usually people said that they were from Krajina.
19 Q. Just one more thing: In the summary here, when you spoke to the
20 Prosecutors, you said that there were 40 victims during that gunfire in
21 Bijeljina, and that's what you said in the statement that you gave to the
22 investigators. I am sorry if I made a mistake here, but I think that you
23 said today that in Bijeljina, in the month of March, 600 people were
24 killed? Did I hear this well?
25 A. I'll explain. The media reported that figure, 40. And we were
1 under an information blockade, and only later, when we were able to move
2 about, when we could hear what was going on in the area, the speculation
3 is that 600 Bosniaks were killed in Bijeljina.
4 Q. In the month of March that year?
5 A. In the month of March that year.
6 Q. Thank you very much.
7 JUDGE MAY: Yes, Ms. Bibles.
8 MS. BIBLES: No redirect, Your Honour.
9 JUDGE MAY: Thank you.
10 Mr. Hrustanovic, that concludes your evidence. Thank you for
11 coming to the International Tribunal to give it. You are now free to go.
12 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Thank you.
13 JUDGE MAY: We will adjourn now, until 9.00 tomorrow morning.
14 --- Whereupon the hearing adjourned at 1.48 p.m.,
15 to be reconvened on Thursday, the 4th day of
16 September, 2003, at 9.00 a.m.