1 25 April 2002
2 [Open session]
3 [The accused entered court]
4 --- Upon commencing at 2.22 p.m.
5 JUDGE SCHOMBURG: Good afternoon. The case be called, please.
6 THE REGISTRAR: Good afternoon, Your Honours. This is Case Number
7 IT-97-24-T, the Prosecutor versus Milomir Stakic.
8 JUDGE SCHOMBURG: Thank you. And the appearances, please.
9 MR. KOUMJIAN: Nicholas Koumjian with Ruth Karper, case manager,
10 for the Prosecution. Good afternoon.
11 JUDGE SCHOMBURG: Thank you. For the Defence?
12 MR. LUKIC: Good afternoon, Your Honours. Branko Lukic and Mr.
13 John Ostojic for the Defence.
14 JUDGE SCHOMBURG: Thank you, Dr. Lukic. Before we turn today to
15 the testimony of our witness, I have to address some administrative
16 matters. Unfortunately, and I have to apologise for this, there are
17 issues to be resolved with priority tomorrow in the morning. And
18 therefore, we have to come back to that what was planned, to have the
19 hearing in the afternoon but in order to have the necessary time, if you
20 don't have severe objections, I would like to start at half past 1.00, and
21 then proceed until 5.00. I can't see any objections at this point.
22 MR. KOUMJIAN: Just to put the Trial Chamber on notice, the second
23 witness -- actually both the witness today and the one we anticipate for
24 tomorrow have told us that they have severe problems staying next week, so
25 we hope to complete them both in the next two days.
1 JUDGE SCHOMBURG: I do the same. And as I understood, the
2 decision on the admission of parts of our so-called SK document are not
3 yet right and not yet finished. So in order to not let the witnesses wait
4 too long, we should continue with Dr. Donia next Wednesday. Right? No
5 problem. Fine.
6 And this brings me to another serious question, and I think it's
7 better to address it frankly in the courtroom. This is an International
8 Tribunal, and of course we all are socialised with and under different
9 rules. For example, one Defence counsel normally would never address a
10 judge ex parte, and the other one would be called a bad Defence counsel in
11 his own country having not a good contact to the Judges. Therefore, we
12 have to find a kind of balance, and this balance will be the following:
13 That it's on the record that for the expeditiousness of the proceedings,
14 and when it's really necessary and urgent, the participants of this trial
15 can, of course, contact me directly by phone or coming to my office.
16 There should be no problem at all. I will set the other party on notice
17 of what has happened immediately. This is how things stand. And of
18 course, we need the -- we all need the assistance of legal officers, and
19 therefore it shouldn't be any problem that the legal officers contact the
20 one and the other party separately. I think the main issue is all the
21 parties are informed immediately about what's happened and to avoid any
22 kind of misunderstanding that there is a discussion with one party not
23 with the other and so on. But this should be clear from the beginning.
24 Having said this, I want to inform, especially the Defence, that I
25 got a phone call from Mr. Cayley this morning telling me that for urgent
1 reasons, he would not be able to attend the hearing this afternoon. And
2 he made the suggestion I brought to you to continue with Dr. Donia next
4 Are there any objections to proceed in this way also in the
5 future? I can see this is not the case.
6 In order to prepare for the next days, I had a look on the list
7 given to us from the Office of the Prosecutor yesterday on the envisaged
8 witnesses. The first and main concern is there is a new witness on the
9 list, and number 88 under 65 ter. During the pretrial, we didn't have
10 this witness, and therefore I'm wondering whether this witness can really
11 have a 65 ter number. But this is more a technical question. We know all
12 about -- yeah, we can say -- we can address the name in public? Do you
13 want to have it --
14 MR. KOUMJIAN: If no one objects I prefer in private session. To
15 be honest, I'm not quite sure about some matters regarding that, and I
16 think it would be safer in private session.
17 JUDGE SCHOMBURG: Objections?
18 MR. LUKIC: We have no objections.
19 JUDGE SCHOMBURG: Then we continue in private session.
20 [Private session]
13 Pages 2190-2203 – redacted – private session.
2 [Open session]
3 JUDGE SCHOMBURG: Do you need some time for the preparation of
4 this technical equipment?
5 MR. KOUMJIAN: I believe it's done already, Your Honour.
6 JUDGE SCHOMBURG: Then the witness may be called in.
7 Just before the witness comes in, pseudonym was requested. Then
8 the witness should be addressed: "Witness B."
9 MR. KOUMJIAN: I would have -- early in the testimony, have asked
10 the witness a few details regarding his current whereabouts and
11 information such as his date of birth. We could begin in private session,
12 if the Court wants, and I can go through those details.
13 JUDGE SCHOMBURG: Objections? No objections.
14 When the witness is brought in, immediately after the declaration,
15 we'll go in private session. The witness can be brought in.
16 [The witness entered court]
17 JUDGE SCHOMBURG: Good afternoon, Witness. Can you hear me?
18 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Yes.
19 JUDGE SCHOMBURG: First of all, sorry, but I have to address you
20 in this impolite manner as Witness B only, but this is a protective
21 measure in your interest. And therefore, please understand this.
22 Could the solemn declaration be taken now.
23 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] I solemnly declare that I will speak
24 the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.
25 JUDGE SCHOMBURG: Thank you. Please be seated.
1 WITNESS: WITNESS B
2 [Witness answered through interpreter]
3 JUDGE SCHOMBURG: We start in private session.
4 [Private session]
20 [Open session]
21 JUDGE SCHOMBURG: It is confirmed. You may proceed.
22 MR. KOUMJIAN:
23 Q. Sir, can you tell us what your ethnicity is?
24 A. I'm a Bosniak.
25 Q. Do you practice a religion now?
1 A. No, no.
2 Q. Do you consider yourself a Muslim?
3 A. Yes.
4 Q. In 1991, what was your occupation?
5 A. I was a car-body mechanic.
6 Q. Were you active in politics or a member of any political party?
7 A. No. I was a member of the League of Communists at that time,
8 until, maybe, 1994 approximately.
9 Q. Did you as part of your youth perform military service and were
10 you in 1991 a member of the reserve police?
11 A. I served my military term in 1983, and after the army, I was a
12 member of the police reserves in Prijedor.
13 Q. Do you recall the date of the 30th of April, 1992?
14 A. Yes.
15 Q. What do you remember about that day? Tell us what you recall.
16 A. I remember the 30th of April, Serb forces -- how shall I say it --
17 took power forcibly in Prijedor, and they took control of the police, the
18 municipal bodies, and so on.
19 Q. Please tell us what your own experience was that day. What do you
20 remember happening, seeing, and hearing?
21 A. I didn't see anything in particular, simply because my house is
22 quite close to the town. In the morning, I was woken up first by my
23 father. And when we went out, he was in a panic, so when we went outside
24 and looked, I saw, because there's a hotel close to my house, I saw that
25 there were Serb flags already flying at the hotel. Then, we turned on the
1 radio, the Radio Prijedor station, and that's when we found out exactly
2 what happened.
3 Q. After you heard that announcement, did you see that day, or in
4 subsequent days, men in uniforms, armed men in uniforms, on the streets of
6 A. From that day on, Prijedor was full of armed people.
7 Q. Were there any checkpoints near your house?
8 A. The closest checkpoint was on the bridge.
9 Q. And would that bridge be a bridge between your neighbourhood and
10 the town of Prijedor?
11 A. Yes.
12 Q. Now, I would like to ask you some questions about what life was
13 like after the takeover. Did the takeover affect your ability to go and
14 move around the city of Prijedor?
15 A. Yes, yes, it did.
16 Q. Can you describe what it was that made you reluctant to move
17 around Prijedor, or unable to.
18 A. The first step was that we had to show our ID when we crossed the
19 bridge, when we wanted to go into town. That was the only way to get into
20 town for us.
21 Q. Did you hear announcements on the radio giving orders during this
22 time after the takeover?
23 A. Yes. We heard them. There were plenty of them, and yes, we did
24 hear them.
25 Q. Can you describe what kind of orders were given to the population
1 over the radio.
2 A. First of all, that day, we heard an announcement. It was a decree
3 by the new authorities that they had taken over because the old
4 authorities were not functioning. It couldn't go on any more like that.
5 And more or less, the proclamation was something to that effect, that they
6 had taken over power in order to have a better life in our municipality.
7 Q. When you say "they had taken over power", was it identified who
8 was now the power in Prijedor?
9 A. Yes. Yes. It was the Serb authorities.
10 Q. Was it clear in these orders who among the -- when you say the
11 Serb authorities, was there an institution or body that was named as the
12 supreme authority?
13 A. Yes, at that time there was already talk about a Crisis Staff. I
14 know that the Crisis Staff took power. That's what they started to call
16 Q. Was there a curfew ordered?
17 A. Yes.
18 Q. Did you hear any orders for the surrender of weapons?
19 A. Yes, we did hear about that. But I don't know when. In any case,
20 it was after the 30th of April when the proclamation started. And one of
21 those proclamations was to surrender the weapons. But I don't know how
22 long it was after this event.
23 Q. Do you recall these orders for the surrender of weapons? Were
24 they directed to all the citizens of Prijedor or were they directed to
25 particular citizens or particular areas?
12 Blank page inserted to ensure pagination corresponds between the French and
13 English transcripts.
1 A. It basically was for all citizens of Prijedor, non-Serb citizens,
2 meaning Muslims, Croats, and others.
3 Q. Were the orders for surrender directed to the entire municipality,
4 or were they directed to particular neighbourhoods, over the course of
5 various periods of time?
6 A. In the beginning -- well, this applied to the territory of the
7 entire municipality. Later, the proclamations applied to certain parts or
8 certain areas of the town and various units.
9 Q. Did you hear anything on the media, the radio- or I don't know if
10 you were able to watch TV or not- anything regarding that you considered
12 A. From that day on, everything was propaganda, both on the radio and
13 on television.
14 Q. Can you give the Judges some examples of things you recall hearing
15 that you considered were inflammatory?
16 A. Yes. In any case, for example, they used terms such as
17 "mujahedin," "Ustashas," and other derogative names. They didn't call us
18 any more by our proper names; they called us Green Berets and so on and so
20 Q. By the way, what did you do? Did you have a weapon as a member of
21 the reserve police?
22 A. Yes.
23 Q. What did you do with your weapon?
24 A. I returned it to the police station.
25 Q. If you were a Serb at that time living in Prijedor and listening
1 to go the media that was going on at that time, how would you have felt
2 about your non-Serb neighbours?
3 A. Well, after all that I had seen on TV before and after the camp,
4 at that time I wasn't able to watch television and listen to the radio.
5 After all of my troubles, perhaps if I had been a Serb and had seen a
6 Croat or a Muslim on the street, I would have shot him, too. I don't
8 Q. You're saying that based upon the propaganda that was on the media
9 at that time -- that was in the media?
10 A. Yes.
11 Q. Do you recall the 30th of May, 1992?
12 A. Yes.
13 Q. Were you home that morning, and if so, can you tell us what you
15 A. On the 30th of May, people used different names to describe it,
16 but it was the Muslim attack on Prijedor, a group of armed Muslims and
17 Croats on that day attacked Prijedor.
18 Q. What was your experience? What did you see, hear, and experience?
19 A. I was woken up very early in the morning by blasts, explosions. We
20 got up. And I saw that the explosions were coming from the direction of
21 the town. And close to the hotel, I could see that after the explosion, I
22 could see black smoke rising.
23 Q. Did you hear shooting for some period of time that morning?
24 A. Yes, you could hear shooting.
25 Q. From where you lived, were you able to see Stari Grad?
1 A. Yes. It was right across the River Sana, and I could see it very
3 Q. After the attack was over, did you hear any announcements on the
4 radio regarding anyone marking their house?
5 A. Yes. That day, since the only sort of -- source of information,
6 the only way we could find out approximately what was going on was to
7 listen to Radio Prijedor, because we couldn't listen to anything else. So
8 that day, in the course of that day, there was an order that all non-Serbs
9 had to put up white flags on their houses. And this is what I also did.
10 Q. Was it explained where you got a white flag? What did people use
11 for a white flag?
12 A. Anything white from the house, a sheet, any fabric, any object
13 from the house.
14 Q. Did life change after the Muslim attack?
15 A. Yes, yes, drastically.
16 Q. Can you describe what life was like living in Prijedor, after that
18 A. That day, the concentration camps were opened. Already on that
19 day, certain parts of town had all the men -- all the male population from
20 those parts of town transferred to the Omarska camp. My wife's brother
21 also was taken away. So after that day, there were daily arrests and
22 people were being taken to camps.
23 Q. Did you see Stari Grad? You mentioned you can see Stari Grad from
24 your house. Did you see any damage to Stari Grad after that day?
25 A. That same day, I saw one of the first buildings to burn, the one
1 that you could see most clearly. And that was the old mosque in the Stari
2 Grad, in the old part of town.
3 Q. Now, we're going to come to some of your experiences in the camps.
4 Did you return, though, to your house near Stari Grad before leaving
6 A. Yes, I was released from the camp, and I went home.
7 Q. Was that in August of 1992?
8 A. Yes.
9 Q. At that time, did you see Stari Grad, in August of 1992?
10 A. I saw the area where Stari Grad was, because Stari Grad wasn't
11 there any more. It was the site of it, but now it was a green -- a grassy
12 area, completely cleared, no buildings. And in the middle, there was only
13 one restaurant which was there before the war. It was called Lovac, "the
14 hunter," and it was the property of the hunters' association, hunting
15 society, in Prijedor. And then a little bit further away from the Lovac,
16 there was one small house. So these were the only two buildings standing
17 in the Stari Grad.
18 Q. Do you know who was living in that house in August of 1992, the
19 ethnicity of that person?
20 A. Until August 1992, it was the property of a Muslim man, that house
21 that remained.
22 Q. And then what happened?
23 A. Not far from that house, there was another house, and I think that
24 that was the only Serb who was living in Stari Grad. And I heard -- I
25 didn't see it myself -- that he wouldn't let them demolish that house
1 because he demolished his own house because this other house was in a
2 better condition. So he moved into that other house.
3 Q. You mentioned people being arrested and taken to Omarska and
4 Keraterm. When do you recall first hearing about the Omarska and Keraterm
6 A. Practically that same day. We heard about it very quickly, that
7 people were taken away. We heard that on that same day. And then shortly
8 after we found out where they were, at which location.
9 Q. Do you recall an incident that happened at Hambarine?
10 A. Yes.
11 Q. Hambarine. What did you recall hearing on the radio about the
12 incident at Hambarine?
13 A. I heard that there was an incident at Hambarine at a checkpoint
14 and that three or four Serb soldiers were killed there. And after that,
15 again, we heard an ultimatum over Radio Prijedor that the population of
16 Hambarine had to hand over a certain person because of that incident, as
17 the main culprit for that incident.
18 Q. Now, at that time did you go to an area near Hambarine, another
19 village in the area?
20 A. Yes. The next day, I went to Rizvanovici, which is more or less
21 in the same position. It's a village close to Hambarine.
22 Q. Did Rizvanovici and Hambarine constitute two of about four Muslim
23 villages that were known in this general area as the "Brdo" area?
24 A. Yes, yes.
25 Q. When you were in Rizvanovici, what did you hear after going there?
1 What happened?
2 A. I heard -- I'm sorry, you mean did I hear how the incident came
3 about or...?
4 Q. Well, let's go -- were you aware of an attack? Tell us about the
6 A. When I went up there, I heard from the local population how this
7 incident happened. There was a checkpoint set up there by Muslims. Since
8 the Prijedor-Ljubija Road passed through Hambarine, so there were always
9 unfamiliar armed people in vehicles passing through. And since they
10 simply felt that this wasn't all right, they began to check the vehicles
11 that were passing through there. And at one such check, they say that
12 there were -- they said that there were five armed Serb soldiers in one
13 vehicle. And when they wanted to check their IDs, the Serbs wouldn't
14 allow that, and they started firing from the vehicle. They returned fire,
15 and we heard information that four were killed and one person was captured
17 Q. What was the response of the authorities after that incident?
18 A. Well, they immediately demanded that a certain man be handed over,
19 as I've already said. And that the population of Hambarine -- in fact,
20 the population of the entire Brdo -- surrender whatever weapons they had.
21 Q. Just to be clear, the person that they demanded surrender is Mr.
22 Aliskovic. Is that correct?
23 A. Aliskovic, yes. The first name is Aziz.
24 Q. Did the people in the Brdo region surrender their weapons, any or
25 all of the people surrender their weapons?
1 A. Not that day.
2 Q. What happened?
3 A. Then Serb forces started shelling Brdo.
4 Q. How did you find out about the shelling?
5 A. Well, I was up there myself.
6 Q. What did you see or hear?
7 A. There was not much you could see, but shells were falling all
8 around us. We were hiding in a basement, and we could hear the shells. We
9 saw a couple of locations where they fell.
10 Q. What did you do after the -- when the shelling slowed down?
11 A. In the intervals between rounds of shelling, we found cases and
12 empty shell cartridges scattered about the place.
13 Q. Could you tell from -- did you have any idea what kind of weapons
14 were being used?
15 A. Well, from our earlier experience from the JNA, and there were
16 several of us who had done our military duty, we concluded that those were
17 tanks and mortars doing the shelling, although we couldn't see them.
18 Q. The next day, did you go back to your neighbourhood near Prijedor
19 town, through Biscani?
20 A. Yes, I returned home.
21 Q. Why did you go up to -- first of all, did you take part in any of
22 the fighting or any fighting in the Brdo area?
23 A. No, no, I didn't.
24 Q. Were you ever a member of any militia or armed resistance group?
25 A. No. No.
12 Blank page inserted to ensure pagination corresponds between the French and
13 English transcripts.
1 Q. Why did you leave your neighbourhood and go to Rizvanovici?
2 A. Simply because my house was surrounded by Serb homes, and my
3 neighbours were Serbs. And I thought I would feel more comfortable and
4 safer up there.
5 Q. Did you have family in Rizvanovici?
6 A. Yes, because that's the place where we originally come from.
7 Q. Were you arrested?
8 A. Yes, in the month of June.
9 Q. Would it be correct to say, then, that Hambarine was in the end of
10 April -- excuse me, around the end of May, around the 25th of May, and you
11 were in your neighbourhood in Prijedor town until the 18th of June?
12 A. Yes, later when I returned from Rizvanovici, I was at home all the
14 Q. Why did you stay at home all the time?
15 A. Because I didn't know where to go.
16 Q. Where you afraid to travel around Prijedor?
17 A. It was impossible to travel anywhere.
18 Q. Did you ever see any houses searched before your arrest? Before
19 the day of your arrest?
20 A. No, no, I didn't.
21 Q. How about on the day of your arrest? Tell us what happened that
22 day. And again, this is the 18th of June.
23 A. Well, that morning when we woke up, our street was already
24 encircled by armed men from Tukovi. The people from Tukovi were our
25 neighbours, and they had already encircled our street. And from the
1 direction of Prijedor, military police were walking along the streets,
2 searching our houses.
3 Q. What were your Serb neighbours doing?
4 A. They surrounded our street, probably to prevent us from running
5 away through our backyards and fields.
6 Q. Were the houses searched thoroughly, if you could tell? Or what
7 actually happened in the search, if you were able to observe that?
8 A. Well, I was able to observe the search of my own home. It was
9 nothing special. They didn't search it very thoroughly. They just walked
10 in, looked inside the closets, and then walked out.
11 Q. What happened to your family that day? Were you all kept
12 together, or what happened?
13 A. After they had searched the houses and went on to continue
14 searching the houses of our neighbours, they told all of us to get out.
15 They allowed my father to stay in, while myself and my two brothers were
16 told to get out into the road and wait there.
17 Q. Were there other men with you, and approximately how many were
18 there with you?
19 A. In total, there were 20 to 25 men who were found at home that day
20 in our street.
21 Q. Was anybody beaten?
22 A. Yes, Stipo Gavranovic.
23 Q. Who beat him, and can you describe briefly the beating?
24 A. First they brought all the people from our neighbourhood to the
25 intersection of Djure Djakovica and another street. We were waiting for
1 something. We didn't know what. And all around us were the mil -- it was
2 the military police. Our neighbours were no longer there. And close to
3 the place where we were sitting, some bricks and pallets were lying. And
4 Stipo sat down on to one of those bricks. And then one military policeman
5 started to beat him. And even outside his own house earlier on, he was
6 also beaten, but I didn't see that.
7 Q. Were you and the other men taken away?
8 A. Yes. After a rather long wait, a bus came. We were loaded on to
9 that bus and transported to Keraterm.
10 Q. Did you recognise the bus as coming from a public -- excuse me,
11 coming from a company in Prijedor?
12 A. Yes. The bus belonged to the Autotransport company.
13 MR. KOUMJIAN: Your Honour, I'm coming now to the experience in
14 the camp. If you would like to take a break, this would be an appropriate
16 JUDGE SCHOMBURG: Thank you. The trial stays adjourned. We
17 resume 4.15.
18 --- Recess taken at 3.45 p.m.
19 --- On resuming at 4.19 p.m.
20 JUDGE SCHOMBURG: Let us first of all come back to the motion of
21 the Defence. I have to announce the following decision of the Chamber:
22 The Defence's motion on providing all former transcripts of a witness is
23 dismissed. First of all, to a certain extent, it's to apply Rule 66 to 68
24 correspondingly. And the Trial Chamber believes that there is nothing
25 special with former transcripts opposed, for example, to other former
1 statements of a person, be it in public or not public. We have to decide
2 on the individual criminal responsibility of Dr. Stakic on the basis and
3 in the limits of the fourth [Realtime transcript read in error"first"]
4 amended indictment. As it is true for all other statements, the special
5 relevance for the case before us must be demonstrated, also when it's on
6 the question of former transcripts. Of course, additionally, it has to be
7 pointed out that there are two exceptions: One, if one party wanted to
8 come back and make reference of a former transcript, this transcript has
9 to be made available for the other party and the Bench seven days prior to
10 the day of the hearing of the witness.
11 And additionally, it remains the duty of the Office of the
12 Prosecutor, whenever they identify exculpatory material in a former
13 transcript, this has to be disclosed in the same way to the Defence and to
14 the Bench.
15 May I ask whether there is already an opinion of the Defence on
16 the question of lineup of the envisaged witness.
17 MR. OSTOJIC: Yes, Your Honour, there is an opinion. And our
18 opinion is that respectfully we would ask that the Court order a lineup
19 for the particular witness that the Office of the Prosecution wishes to
20 call, I believe, tomorrow. So we would ask that that lineup proceed --
21 next Friday, I'm sorry. And that would be Witness under 65 ter Number 47,
22 in the calling order, Number 7, if I'm correct.
23 JUDGE SCHOMBURG: Thank you for this statement. We will make a
24 decision tomorrow early that we can ask the Office of the Prosecutor to
25 provide the necessary -- let me just check what is laid down here.
1 For the record, please, probably I was misunderstood. At
2 16.20.57, it's not the first but the fourth amended indictment. Could
3 that please be corrected. Thank you.
4 Mr. Koumjian.
5 MR. KOUMJIAN: If I could just comment on the lineup, Your Honour,
6 I don't have any experience in conducting a lineup here, so I'm using, I'm
7 relying somewhat on my knowledge of my prior jurisdiction, but also my
8 understanding of the relationship between the Detention Unit and the
9 Office of the Prosecutor. The Detention Unit is clearly separate and does
10 not come under the authority of the Office of the Prosecutor. The Office
11 of the Prosecutor is prepared to provide the witness and ensure that he is
12 transported to the lineup, if the Court orders a lineup. But the physical
13 arrangements, I think would have to be done by the Detention Unit
14 including finding the other individuals to stand in the lineup. I don't
15 think the Defence would care for us to select them. They should be
16 selected if the Court orders it by the Detention Unit. I know it's going
17 to be a very difficult logistical operation. The witness will be here by
18 Wednesday morning, so we can do it any time from Wednesday or Thursday, if
19 that's possible, day, morning, or night.
20 JUDGE SCHOMBURG: Thank you for those comments. I believe we can
21 proceed now hearing Witness B. May Witness B be brought in, please.
22 MR. KOUMJIAN: And perhaps -- I don't know if Your Honour wants me
23 to speak now or later, but I would like to clarify that we indicated this
24 issue was coming up for the Court's benefit because the Court had
25 identified the issue in pretrial. It's not our opinion that a lineup will
1 be particularly useful. We believe this witness is a recognition witness
2 who has indicated he knows -- knew Dr. Stakic before. I do not have
3 information about whether he has seen pictures of him since his arrest. We
4 also indicated in pretrial our position regarding the change in
5 appearance. But I put before the Chamber the issue that there would be a
6 possible identification of Dr. Stakic in the camp by this witness.
7 JUDGE SCHOMBURG: Thank you.
8 Please, Witness B.
9 Please proceed.
10 MR. KOUMJIAN:
11 Q. Witness B, can you describe what you saw when the buses arrived at
12 the Keraterm camp.
13 A. When we arrived at Keraterm, there was nobody outside in the
14 compound. And since the bus had stopped and we had got out and were lined
15 up, we were able to see that there were people inside the rooms on the
17 Q. How many rooms were there in the Keraterm camp?
18 A. There were four rooms in the Keraterm camp.
19 Q. Can you briefly describe to the Judges what that camp looked like
20 and what the rooms were like.
21 A. Well, it used to be a big company, a big factory. And in the back
22 where the camp was set up, there were premises which had been used for
23 storage before the war. And the rooms were called 1, 2, and 3. And the
24 numbers went from the Prijedor-Banja Luka Road. Across the road was Room
25 Number 1, followed by Rooms 2, 3, and 4. The biggest was Room Number 2.
1 And the smallest was Number 3.
2 Q. How many prisoners were in the Keraterm camp at one time, would
3 you estimate?
4 A. Well, at one point, in end June, we were ordered to make a list of
5 prisoners per room, including name, surname, father's name, and
6 occupation. And according to that list, only in our room, Number 1, there
7 were about 320 persons, prisoners, while Room Number 2 contained 450. In
8 late July, that number had considerably grown. As for Rooms Number 3 and
9 4, I couldn't tell how many people there were at that moment, but they
10 were full.
11 Q. So based upon the size of those rooms in comparisons to Rooms 1
12 and 2 where you said there were approximately 750 in total in Rooms 1 and
13 2, how many would you estimate there would be in the camp in total?
14 A. At that time, in late June, there were over 1200.
15 Q. Did prisoners arrive at the camp often? Would you say it was on a
16 weekly basis, a daily basis, or did they just come a few times while you
17 were in the camp?
18 A. There was no rule governing new arrivals. People were brought in
19 every day in smaller or greater numbers. But every day, somebody would be
20 brought in. Somebody would be taken away.
21 Q. So it's clear, you were brought to the camp on June 18th. What
22 day did you leave the camp?
23 A. Yes. Around the 5th of August. I think it was the 5th of August
24 when we got out.
25 Q. Was that the day the camp was closed?
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13 English transcripts.
1 A. Yes.
2 Q. Who were the guards in the camp? Could you tell whether they were
3 police or army, and did you recognise any of them? Without naming them,
4 did you recognise any of them from Prijedor?
5 A. Yes, I knew many people. And the force in question was the
6 reserve police. Whether they belonged to Prijedor or Cirkin Polje or some
7 other municipality, I don't know. All I know is they were reserve
9 Q. You mentioned Cirkin Polje. Was Cirkin Polje an area or a
10 settlement within Prijedor municipality, or was that a separate
12 A. No, that belonged to the Prijedor municipality.
13 Q. So what you're saying is you don't know which particular police
14 station within the municipality they belonged to, but they were part of
15 the Prijedor municipal reserve police. Is that correct?
16 A. Yes, yes. Correct.
17 Q. Was there any army around the camp that you observed?
18 A. Yes. On the other side of Keraterm, there were offices of the
19 military police. They could be seen frequently in the vicinity of the
20 camp. And the largest force that came to reinforce the guards' detail was
21 from the Territorial Defence, to reinforce, as I said, the team of guards.
22 But they came only to be there during the day and returned home every
24 Q. You said -- I forget your exact words, but you talked about a
25 military headquarters. Was that on the other side of the road directly
1 across from the camp?
2 A. That was on the other side of the Prijedor-Banja Luka Road, not
3 within the perimeter. They were housed on the premises of the Kozara
4 Putevi company. It was some sort of military headquarters. I don't know
5 what units were situated there.
6 Q. Just to be clear, then, is that different from the military police
7 headquarters you talked about?
8 A. No. The military police were within the perimeter of Keraterm.
9 Q. Can you describe the Judges the conditions that the prisoners
10 lived in in the Keraterm camp. First, can you describe the space that you
11 had to live and sleep in.
12 A. It was a large storage room. We slept on pallets normally used
13 for the transport of goods. Those are wooden pallets where goods lie
14 before being loaded by forklifts onto trucks. Many people slept on bare
15 concrete. And, at the time when I arrived at the camp, the camp was
16 already well filled, so that we were placed near the door which had bars
17 on it like a prison.
18 Q. How much space did you have between you and the persons lying next
19 to you?
20 A. There was no space in between people. People lay directly next to
21 each other.
22 Q. At one point, did it become necessary where you were sleeping for
23 people to put parts of their bodies on top of the parts of the bodies of
24 the person next to them?
25 A. Yes. Specifically in the spot where I slept, I have to say that
1 we lay lined as sardines with our heads next to the wall. And the inmates
2 who came later also slept very close to us, but their heads were next to
3 the bars. So in the evening, when we lay down to sleep, four or five of
4 us had our legs almost intermingled, intercrossed, forming a net. And all
5 night, we shifted. The person who had his legs under the legs of another
6 person lay like that as long as he could stand it, and then they would
7 sort of change places. He would put his legs on top of the other person's
8 legs, because there was no other way you could take it all night.
9 Q. Again, could you tell us how many people in your room
10 approximately? You said you counted once.
11 A. It was in June that we made those lists. In fact, in late June,
12 the number was 320 at the time, and it continued growing steadily.
13 Q. Using the dimensions of this room, could you give us an idea so we
14 can imagine the size of the room that you were in? Was it as big as this
15 room, bigger, or smaller? Can you describe it?
16 A. It was larger than this, but not much larger.
17 Q. Can you describe the food that you received. How many meals a day
18 did you receive?
19 A. We got one meal per day, and I don't think it's really necessary
20 to describe it, because there isn't much to describe. Two thin slices of
21 bread and some sort of stew, mainly water with cabbage and perhaps a
22 couple of potatoes in it. But we didn't get even that every day. There
23 were days, when for reasons we ignored, the stew was never distributed,
24 and all we got were the slices of bread.
25 Q. Did the families of prisoners bring food to the camp for the
2 A. Well, yes, our families tried every day to get some food through
3 to us, also some clothes. But they rarely succeeded.
4 Q. How do you know that? How do you know that people's families were
5 trying to bring food and other goods to prisoners that they did not
7 A. Well, I saw it. You could see it. When they came, our fathers,
8 mothers, sisters, they had to pass by the camp. They had to walk along.
9 And when we see them with bags containing food in their hand and return 20
10 minutes later empty-handed, it means that the food was taken from them
11 somewhere at the gate. And then we would wait to see if it would come
12 through to us. And sometimes they returned home carrying their bags with
14 Q. Well, how often would the prisoners receive the bags of food and
15 other goods left by their families?
16 A. Well, they got it very rarely. As for myself, I got food from my
17 family and from -- from my family only twice. I mean, myself and the
18 other members of my family who were inside.
19 Q. Do you know how often your family tried to bring food or other
20 clothes or goods for you?
21 A. Almost every day, someone would come. They would try every day,
22 and sometimes they would turn them back from the bridge. Sometimes they
23 weren't even able to cross the bridge and enter town. But practically
24 every day, somebody tried to.
25 Q. Were the prisoners in the camp interrogated?
1 A. Yes.
2 Q. Were you interrogated?
3 A. Yes, I was.
4 Q. What kind of questions were you asked?
5 A. The usual police questions, nothing special. "Are you a member of
6 the party?" "Do you have weapons?" "Who is selling weapons?" So at that
7 time, these questions were quite usual. "Did you go out to vote?" "Who
8 did you vote for?" And so on.
9 Q. Was anyone beaten in the camp?
10 A. In the camp? Yes, yes.
11 Q. How often did that happen?
12 A. This would happen every day.
13 Q. Would it happen during the day, at night, or both?
14 A. In the beginning, in the month of June and partly in July, it was
15 mostly at night.
16 Q. What about later, just before the camp was closed?
17 A. From approximately the 20th of July, when the people from Brdo
18 came, then there were no rules. People were beaten night and day then.
19 Night and day.
20 Q. Who were the people that were beating the prisoners? Were they
21 guards or other people?
22 A. There were no rules there. Mostly the guards, but anybody could
23 come into the camp.
24 Q. Did you see people in military uniforms come into the camp and
25 beat people, army uniforms?
1 A. Yes.
2 Q. Did you see civilians come into the camp, people in civilian
3 clothes, and beat and kill people?
4 A. No, I didn't see anybody in civilian clothes.
5 Q. Were people in your room beaten inside the room or were they
6 called out of the room?
7 A. No, there was no beating inside the room, because the guards
8 didn't enter the rooms, except for individuals. But they would call
9 people out, and the person who was called out had to go out of the cell.
10 Q. Did people get called out of the room and not return?
11 A. Yes. Yes, they did.
12 Q. How often did that happen in your room?
13 A. This didn't happen very often in my room. For those who were
14 called out, not to come back.
15 Q. Do you have information about other rooms?
16 A. Yes. Because after the people were called out at night, then they
17 would open the door for us in the morning, for us to go to the toilet. And
18 the night before, if people were called out and when we would hear this
19 and the beatings, then those who would not come back to the rooms, meaning
20 those who were killed, were left approximately towards Room Number 4, next
21 to a container. And then vehicles would come. In the beginning, this was
22 some kind of utility services vehicle that would come, and that vehicle
23 would take away those bodies.
24 Q. When you say "a utility service vehicle", can you describe it or
25 tell us a little bit more about it? Was this something that was part of
1 the municipal service?
2 A. It was a vehicle that was used to transport or for funeral
3 services, to transport bodies, even before the war.
4 Q. Can you give us any estimate of how many bodies you, yourself,
5 saw, how many corpses, at the Keraterm camp? And right now I'm not
6 talking about Room 3 incident, which we'll come to later.
7 A. Besides those killed in Room 3, I saw at least five or six more.
8 Q. Did you know someone named Dzemal Mesic?
9 A. Yes. That man died next to me in my cell, because he used to
10 sleep close to me.
11 Q. Tell the Judges what happened the night that this man died.
12 A. One of the guards called out "Dzemal Mesic" and told him to come
13 outside. And he did. And then after a certain amount of time -- and in
14 the meantime, we heard blows. And then after a certain amount of time, he
15 was brought back to the cell. Those who were closest to the door placed
16 him in the place where he was usually lying down. And then very shortly
17 afterwards, maybe after a couple of minutes, he died.
18 Q. Do you recall the time that someone named Suad Halvadzic was
20 A. That was a night or two after Dzemal.
21 Q. Besides being beaten, did anything else happen to his body?
22 A. Yes. A part of his ear was ripped off.
23 Q. I'm trying to move quickly so we can finish your testimony. But I
24 want to ask you, in the camp, were there women that you saw in the
25 Keraterm camp?
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13 English transcripts.
1 A. There were no women except -- well, women did come. They would
2 leave women at the camp, those who were waiting for some transport or
3 vehicles to transfer them to Omarska. Two women even spent the night in
4 our cell. But as a rule, they didn't stay there for long.
5 Q. Were there minors, people under 18 or even under -- well, people
6 under 18, minors, in the camp?
7 A. Yes, yes, there were. I even met a boy. He introduced himself to
8 us. And through our conversation, he said that in -- in the conversation,
9 he said that he was 14 years old. You could see that he was a child, but
10 we were really amazed that -- when we heard that he was so young.
11 Q. Did you see any people that were older, past the normal retirement
13 A. Yes, there were older people there, much older than retired
14 people, because I think you could go and retire after -- once you were 60.
15 But there were people who were much older than that. There was even a
16 person who we thought perhaps was even over 70 years old. This was an old
17 man from Kozarac. He wasn't very tall, but he was quite fit. And you
18 could see that he was healthy. He was alert. And every morning, when we
19 would get up, he would do some exercises, which we found a little silly at
20 that time, because he was the only one who did that. But he happened to
21 be the oldest amongst us. So while we were talking to him, he even told
22 us that he was in Hitler's camp. That's what he told us. He said, "I was
23 in Hitler's camp, too, during World War II. So then we asked him: "Which
24 one is worse?" And he laughed and he said, "This one is a hundred times
25 worse." Because he was in Germany in a labour camp. And he said, "Nobody
1 beat me. I had food to eat. I had my own bed." So he said that this one
2 was much, much worse.
3 Q. Do you remember the night of the Room 3 incident?
4 A. Yes.
5 Q. Tell the Judges about what had happened in the day or two before
6 that incident that led up to that day.
7 A. One day the guards in the camp, in our camp, completely emptied
8 Room Number 3 where, up until that time, they had mostly people from
9 Kozarac in that cell. They emptied it and they allocated the people from
10 Kozarac to the other three cells. We didn't know what was going on. But
11 after a couple of hours, we saw that buses were coming with new people.
12 And these were the people from Brdo.
13 Q. Were these prisoners put into Room 3?
14 A. Yes. They were all put in Room 3, all of them.
15 Q. Can you tell us approximately what time -- what the date was
16 approximately when this happened?
17 A. It was approximately the 20th or the 21st of July when the first
18 started to arrive.
19 Q. Were these prisoners from the Brdo area treated differently; and
20 if so, describe how they were treated.
21 A. Yes, they were treated very differently. The first few days - I
22 don't know how many days - they didn't receive any food. And then mostly
23 all of the beatings and the abuse was concentrated in their room, so that
24 the other rooms were spared somewhat from that.
25 Q. What happened the night that so many men were killed?
1 A. That day, sometime in the afternoon -- since we didn't have
2 watches, nobody had a watch because we were robbed before that, so the
3 only way we could orient ourselves was by the sun. So sometime in the
4 afternoon, a large group of soldiers entered the camp, which was not usual
5 for that time. And even if they did enter the camp, there wouldn't be so
6 many of them. They immediately picked out people from Room 3 for
7 themselves and they lined them up on the grassy area in front of Rooms
8 Number 1 and 2 and started to beat them.
9 Q. And then what happened?
10 A. I don't understand the question.
11 Q. After the men were beaten, were they returned to the room?
12 A. I don't know that, because we were ordered to turn our backs to
13 the door, so that we were able to just see a little bit. So that I don't
14 know what happened to those people when they were returned to the rooms.
15 I don't know when they returned to the rooms.
16 Q. Do you recall a day where you saw soldiers with a machine-gun in
17 the camp?
18 A. That was that day, that day that we're talking about now.
19 Q. Where was the machine-gun?
20 A. In the course of that day, a table was placed in front of Room
21 Number 3. It looked like a school desk. And a little bit later, we saw
22 that a machine-gun was placed on that desk.
23 Q. That night, what happened that you could hear or see?
24 A. I didn't see anything that night. We only heard things. First we
25 heard the inmates from Room Number 3. We heard some strange sounds,
1 nothing audible, nothing intelligible. We just heard some strange sounds,
2 as if they were all speaking at the same time, or trying to say
3 something. That's what we heard.
4 Q. What else did you hear? Tell us what happened that night that you
6 A. We heard the moans, those sounds, from Room Number 3. I heard the
7 shift commander, Kole, he was there. We heard him -- I heard him asking
8 or begging for something, requesting something from those people who had
9 come, pleading with the people who had come to the camp.
10 Q. Tell us what you remember hearing.
11 A. I remember that he said something to the effect: "Don't touch
12 Rooms Number 1 and 2."
13 Q. At some time, did you hear gunfire?
14 A. Yes. After that, it wasn't that we heard shots. We heard bursts
15 of fire from several weapons.
16 Q. Where was your room in relation to Room 3? Can you give us an
17 idea of how far away you were and how it was arranged between you, where
18 the machine-gun was, and where Room 3 was.
19 A. Room Number 3 was in the same line. My room was Number 1, then
20 Number 2, and then Number 3. The machine-gun was placed in front of Room
21 Number 3, and it was at that moment, perhaps 30 metres away from me. Not
22 more. Maybe not even that much.
23 Q. How long did the bursts of gunfire go on for? Can you describe
24 what you heard that night.
25 A. It went on for a long time. Well, they were repeated. First we
1 would hear bursts of fire. Then it would stop for a little bit. Then we
2 would hear individual shots. Then again, there would be a lull. Then
3 again we would hear bursts of fire. So I couldn't really estimate how
4 long this took. According to our estimate, from the moment the shooting
5 began until all of the shooting stopped, according to our estimate, it
6 went for about two hours, although...
7 Q. What were the people in your room doing when the shooting was
8 going on?
9 A. Nothing. We were silent, and we were lying down, and waiting to
10 see if our turn would come as well.
11 Q. Was anyone -- did any bullets pass into your room to your
13 A. Yes. A man in my room was wounded, and in Room Number 2, one man
14 was killed.
15 Q. What happened the next morning? What did you see or hear?
16 A. The next morning, that morning, they didn't let us go to the
17 toilet at all, because you could see that there were a lot of bodies in
18 the compound in front of Room Number 3. So that they didn't allow us to
19 go out anywhere. After that, a truck came. First, a small truck came
20 from the local utility company to pick up the dead and then, the guards
21 really laughed because they had sent them this vehicle, and there was so
22 many bodies. It was a small truck that you couldn't even load ten people
23 on to. So then this small truck went back, and a trailer truck entered
24 the Keraterm compound. It was parked roughly near Rooms 1 and 2, and then
25 the bodies began to be loaded.
1 Q. Do you know who was loading the bodies on to the trailer truck?
2 A. I know one man. The people from Room Number 3 were supposed to do
3 the loading. I don't know why they couldn't do it. Probably some of them
4 were quite tortured. Some of them were sick. And they asked: "Is
5 anybody willing to volunteer to do this, people who are not horrified or
6 afraid of such things? So who is willing to come and help us with the
7 loading?" And they promised that those who helped would be returned to
8 the cells. And then one man from my room volunteered.
9 Q. What happened then?
10 A. After that, all the dead were loaded, all the wounded were also
11 loaded, all those who were wounded that night. And also, 15 fit, healthy
12 men, were also put on the trucks allegedly for unloading of the bodies
13 since the truck was covered with tarpaulin, the tarpaulin was closed, and
14 the truck left the camp, going in the direction of Kozarac.
15 Q. Did you talk to one of the people that had loaded the bodies on to
16 the trailer truck?
17 A. Yes, with the man who volunteered, and they really did return him
18 to the cell.
19 Q. Did he tell you how many bodies he had loaded?
20 A. I think that there was talk about 128 dead bodies. We, ourselves,
21 could count about 45 wounded and 15 healthy men.
22 Q. Did the truck leave the Keraterm camp that day?
23 A. Yes, yes.
24 Q. Were any of the people, the injured, or the 15 healthy, that you
25 saw get on that truck, did you ever see or hear of them being alive again?
1 A. No.
2 Q. Do you recall an incident that happened a day or two after the
3 Room 3 shooting involving the commander of the camp?
4 A. Yes, I do. That was a day or two later, after the massacre. The
5 men from Room Number 3 were driven out of their room and ordered to line
6 up -- in fact, to lie down on the ground on their stomachs on the turf
7 outside Room Number 3 with their hands behind their necks and sticking
8 their heads as deep down into the grass as they could. The then commander
9 of the camp was there at the time, the warden, holding a rifle in his
10 hand, and he was surrounded by a couple of guards. Those men were told
11 that whoever moved would be finished, gone. The warden of the camp raised
12 his rifle and seemed to be playing with it until he actually fired a shot
13 in the direction of the people lying on the ground.
14 Later on, one of the guards took out his pistol, walked among
15 those people who were lying down, and fired a shot in the direction of
16 somebody's head.
17 Q. Were you able to see what happened to that person? Did you
18 actually see him being shot in the head?
19 A. Well, from that distance, I can say that the guard was right next
20 to the man, so the barrel of his gun must have been no more than 40
21 centimetres away from the person's head.
22 Q. I want to go back to -- you were telling us about when the men
23 from Brdo who were brought to the camp in late July were beaten before the
24 massacre. Was there anything else done to those men to humiliate them
25 that you saw?
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13 English transcripts.
1 A. At one point, I mustered up all my courage to look outside, and I
2 saw people naked from the waist down. And half of them were standing, and
3 half of them were kneeling. And they were positioned in such a way as if
4 engaged in intercourse.
5 Q. These people that were naked that you saw were the prisoners from
7 A. Yes. All of them were from Room -- from Cell Number 3.
8 Q. I want to move on now to the day that the camp closed. Can you
9 tell us -- before I move on to that, what was the name of the camp
10 commander that you referred to earlier?
11 A. Commander Sikirica.
12 Q. What happened on the day the camp closed?
13 A. Early that morning, we saw that a large number of buses had
14 arrived outside the Keraterm camp. The commander of the camp came,
15 carrying some papers, and we were told that the people whose names he
16 calls out should come out of the line, one by one, and stand on the
17 tarmac. About 120 people were called out. They were lined up there and
18 put on to two buses which drove away towards Kozarac under escort. Later,
19 when the buses had left, the other buses entered the perimeter of the
20 Keraterm, and all the rest of us were told to get on to the buses and that
21 no one must stay behind. We did so, and we were transferred to
23 Q. For a moment I want to talk about the buses that you talked about
24 in your testimony. You said that when you were arrested that you were
25 taken to the camp by an Autotransport Prijedor bus. You also said that a
1 truck came after the Room 3 massacre and took the bodies away. Do you
2 remember if there were any markings on that truck?
3 A. Yes, that truck, too, belonged to the Autotransport company. I
4 know that from the lettering on the truck itself.
5 Q. What about the two buses that came and took away the you said
6 approximately 120 men whose names were called out the day the camp closed.
7 Do you know what kind of buses those were?
8 A. Yes. Those buses were the usual public transport buses in
9 Prijedor. They had some seats, like benches, inside, with more standing
10 than sitting places, and they were normally used for public transport
12 Q. The Buses that took you and the others whose names were not called
13 to Trnopolje, what kind of buses were those?
14 A. The same buses of the same class.
15 Q. And jumping ahead to -- I believe you're going to tell us later
16 about being transported on a convoy over Vlasic mountain towards Travnik,
17 what kind of buses were used, and trucks, in that convoy?
18 A. Again, the buses of the Prijedor Autotransport company.
19 Q. On these buses, could you tell if the drivers were the normal
20 drivers that would have been in normal times been driving the buses
21 transporting people within the city or municipality, civilians?
22 A. In the convoy that took us across Mount Vlasic, the drivers wore
23 civilian clothes. They did not have uniforms. But I don't know whether
24 they were normally employed in the public transport services.
25 Q. So going back to the day the camp closed, you said that 120 or so
1 names were called out. Did you know the names of any of the people who
2 were called out and got on one of those two buses?
3 A. Yes, I knew quite a lot of people out of those 120.
4 Q. Do you recall any of the names now, just at this moment, of people
5 that you remember being called out and getting on one of those two buses
6 the day the camp closed?
7 A. Yes. I can remember. Those were my neighbours who had been taken
8 away together with me. Anto Gavranovic, for one. Juro Matanovic. He was
9 one of those who were called out and taken away in those buses. Refik
10 Pelak, Ismet Avdic, Alija Alibegovic, Esad Islamovic, Rasim Music.
11 Q. Did you hear where those buses next went or where they went later
12 that day after leaving Keraterm?
13 A. They drove away in the direction of Kozarac. And when we were
14 transferred to Trnopolje, a certain number of inmates from Omarska joined
15 us in Trnopolje and told us that those people were brought that day to
16 Omarska, spent there only a short while, were again loaded on to buses
17 that same day, and driven away, and they didn't know where.
18 Q. Did you hear if any of the prisoners from Omarska were put on to
19 the buses during that stop?
20 A. Yes. I know only one name but they say that a couple of more
21 people were loaded on to the bus, too. All of those people from Keraterm,
22 plus some people from Omarska.
23 Q. What is the name of the one person you know from Omarska who was
24 ordered on to the bus?
25 A. Dr. Esad Sadikovic.
1 Q. Did you know Dr. Esad Sadikovic?
2 A. No, not personally.
3 Q. Did you hear that he had been a doctor for -- in the Seychelles
4 working for an international organisation?
5 A. I heard about that later. I didn't know it at the time.
6 Q. Were any of the people that you saw having their names called out
7 at Keraterm and getting on those two buses ever seen again alive by you o
8 ever seen again alive to your knowledge?
9 A. No.
10 Q. Have you ever heard of a place in Sanski Most called -- and
11 forgive my pronunciation -- Hrastova Glavica?
12 A. Yes, some of the people who had been taken away on buses were
13 later found in a place called Hrastova Glavica and identified. Well, if
14 you ask me about the number of bodies identified, I don't know. But a
15 large number of bodies were found, about 145. How many of them were
16 identified, I don't know. I know that some of them were.
17 Q. That's okay. We'll present other evidence regarding that.
18 When you say they were found, do you mean their corpses were
20 A. Yes, yes. The corpses were found; in fact, the bones.
21 Q. Did you see when these prisoners were called out and put on the
22 bus, who it was that was escorting the prisoners? What kind of people
23 were they? Were they soldiers or police? Did you recognise the unit?
24 A. The escort was from the police. I believe it was the reserve
25 police force. They belonged to the Prijedor police force, but they were
1 not active-duty. It was one of the reserve units.
2 Q. Did you --
3 MR. KOUMJIAN: Can we go into private session for just a question
4 or two.
5 JUDGE SCHOMBURG: I can see no objections. Then private session.
6 [Private session]
18 [Open session]
19 MR. KOUMJIAN:
20 Q. When you were released from Keraterm or taken away from Keraterm,
21 where were you taken to?
22 A. To Trnopolje.
23 Q. Can you describe Trnopolje to the Judges.
24 A. We were unloaded not far from the schooling building in Trnopolje.
25 Close to the school, there was a structure which resembled a small cinema
1 and it had a large yard, a wide perimeter, so we had more space for
2 walking. We were unloaded from the buses there, and we were told to get
3 by as best we could. We were left to our own means and devices, decide
4 ourselves what we would do, where we would sleep. And most of the inmates
5 ended up sleeping under the sky, on the grass.
6 Q. How many people were there in the Trnopolje camp?
7 A. A lot. Several thousand.
8 Q. Can you describe, was life different in the Trnopolje camp from
9 Keraterm? Was there more freedom for the prisoners?
10 A. Well, more freedom. As a rule, food was easier to get. Visits
11 came through more easily. Our fathers, mothers, sisters could reach us
12 and bring us some food; also, we got food from the Serbs once a day. And
13 we had a larger, wider perimeter, inside which we could walk. There were
14 a lot of people from Kozarac, who were there with their families. There
15 were women and children waiting for some convoys or whatever.
16 Q. Going back to Keraterm for a moment, what were the ethnicities of
17 the inmates in Keraterm?
18 A. There were Muslims and Croats. There was a pretty large number of
19 Croats, too.
20 Q. What was the ethnicity of the people in the Trnopolje camp?
21 A. The same thing, Muslims and Croats.
22 Q. Have you heard people claim that Trnopolje was a refugee centre,
23 and that people were there voluntarily?
24 A. Yes, I heard about that. But that's not true.
25 Q. Were you free when you were in Trnopolje to -- you and the others
1 who came from Keraterm -- to walk out if you wanted to and go home?
2 A. We could do that, but under certain conditions, which were
3 dictated by the Serbs. I wasn't there long, just four or five days. And
4 I was released to go home after that. Because one of the rules concerning
5 release from the camp was that those who had a formal decision on leaving
6 the autonomous district or region of Krajina, whatever they called it, and
7 to get that decision, you had to sign. And in my case, my wife did it for
8 me. Somebody could do it for you from your family. At any rate, you had
9 to sign that you are waiving all your rights to your own property in
10 favour of that entity, whatever it was called, autonomous region of
11 Krajina. My wife brought this formal decision, this piece of paper, and
12 based on that, I was issued with my release papers which said that I was
13 free to go home. And that meant that I had to take the first convoy out,
14 because I had no longer any property there.
15 Q. I'll come back to your release papers in a moment. Just a few
16 quick questions about the Trnopolje camp. Were people beaten at the
17 Trnopolje camp, to your knowledge?
18 A. At Trnopolje, I watched one beating in those few days that I spent
20 Q. Did you -- what actually physically prevented the prisoners from
21 leaving the camp? Was there a wall? Were there guards? What stopped you
22 from just walking out?
23 A. Well, first, there was no wire fence or any other fence around the
24 entire camp making a full circle. But there were checkpoints that you had
25 to pass positioned on all routes out of the camp. And if they saw anyone
12 Blank page inserted to ensure pagination corresponds between the French and
13 English transcripts.
1 coming towards them in civilian clothes, they would certainly check their
2 papers. So there was absolutely no chance for anyone to escape or to pass
3 through without some formal permit or certificate.
4 Q. Thank you.
5 MR. KOUMJIAN: Your Honour, this would be a good time for a break.
6 And I anticipate 15, 20 minutes left of direct.
7 JUDGE SCHOMBURG: The trial stays adjourned. We resume 6.05.
8 --- Recess taken at 5.44 p.m.
9 --- On resuming at 6.07 p.m.
10 JUDGE SCHOMBURG: The witness may be brought in.
11 THE INTERPRETER: Microphone, please.
12 JUDGE SCHOMBURG: May witness be brought in immediately, please.
13 MR. KOUMJIAN: Your Honour, may I just introduce Mr. Bergsmo who
14 is a member of the Prosecution team.
15 JUDGE SCHOMBURG: Welcome aboard.
16 MR. KOUMJIAN:
17 Q. Witness B, we were talking about your stay and release from the
18 Trnopolje camp. In order to be released from the Trnopolje camp, can you
19 describe what kind of paperwork or what kind of administrative matters you
20 had to take care of, or your family had to?
21 A. A little earlier, I was saying that they had to go somewhere. I
22 never asked them or found out. My wife or my father or somebody had to go
23 to the police or to the municipality, but I don't know where, to get this
24 paper signed that all the property we have is being left to some kind of
25 institution or body of theirs, the Serb institution. I don't know what it
1 was called. It's an entity or something like that. I don't know exactly
2 what it was called. And then when they signed it, then they would be
3 allowed to leave the Serb entity. That's when you could be, then, on the
4 basis of that document, issued release papers from Trnopolje. Also, they
5 found out -- I was still at Keraterm. They found out that that was one of
6 the ways that we could be released from the camp. So that's what our
7 family did for all of three of us.
8 Q. I think the Judges would be interested if you could tell us what
9 were the other ways you heard an individual could be released from the
10 Trnopolje camp.
11 A. That was the way that I got out. There was another way: When two
12 Serbs would come, and they would sign something for a particular Muslim
13 individual, that perhaps they were taking him home. And we also heard,
14 but I don't know if anybody was released in that way, we heard that a
15 person could be released because there was also a Red Cross in Prijedor,
16 that it was possible to leave the camp if you were a blood donor, if a
17 person, perhaps, gave blood a certain number of times before the war, then
18 it was possible to be released in that way.
19 Q. You say that you were released by going through the procedure
20 where you signed away all of your property rights. Once that was done,
21 did you actually receive a certificate at the camp that allowed you to
22 walk out of the camp?
23 A. I didn't sign the document. My wife signed it on my behalf, and
24 then she brought that decision. And based on that decision, they made up
25 my release papers, that I was being released from Trnopolje. And at the
1 same time, it was also a pass for me permitting me to cross all the
2 checkpoints on the way to my house.
3 Q. Did you maintain a copy of that release paper, and did you have
4 your wife fax it to my office to my attention the evening of April 23rd,
5 two days ago?
6 A. Yes.
7 MR. KOUMJIAN: Your Honour, I have that document. I don't want to
8 necessarily have it admitted because it's very short and not translated.
9 But I would like the witness to be able to read and go through the
10 document. Counsel has a copy, and I could also distribute a copy of the
11 actual document to the Court to look at.
12 JUDGE SCHOMBURG: Please do so.
13 MR. KOUMJIAN: May the witness have a copy, please, to refer to.
14 Q. You have the document before you. Is this a copy or a faxed copy
15 of the released certificate that you obtained at Trnopolje?
16 A. Yes, it is.
17 Q. The writing in the upper right which I believe says Za Koumjian,
18 is that something that your wife wrote on the fax to me?
19 A. Yes. She wrote that. That is the person that is supposed to
20 receive the paper, the fax.
21 Q. Can you read the printing, realising that it's very light, on the
22 upper left, the printed material.
23 A. "Municipal Organisation of the Red Cross of Prijedor."
24 Q. In the document, there's some hand writing in the middle that
25 includes your name in the top line. In the original is there actually some
1 typed material to the left of the handwriting that indicates, for example,
2 name on the top line?
3 A. It is written: "Receipt," and then below that, there is my
4 personal data, name, last name, date of birth, the town, a number,
5 probably the number of my ID card, my former ID card issued in Prijedor.
6 And below it states: "Trnopolje, the 5th of August, 1992." Then again it
7 states: "Prijedor," my address.
8 Q. Below that material, in the bottom centre there's a stamp. And
9 can you just -- with a cross. Can you read what is stamped in the
10 material next to the cross?
11 A. It states: "The Red Cross of Bosnia and Herzegovina" -- well, the
12 Red Cross of B and H -- "the municipal conference of the Red Cross,
14 Q. There appear to be two signatures above the cross. First there's
15 one under your personal data. Do you recognise that signature?
16 A. I recognise both signatures.
17 Q. Starting with the one that's under your personal data, the one on
18 your right, whose name is that?
19 A. The name is Pero Curguz. At that time, he was in charge of the
20 Red Cross office at Trnopolje.
21 Q. And the name on the left, the signature on the left, again it's
22 left and above the cross, do you recognise that signature?
23 A. You can't see the first and last name here, but I know this
24 signature very well.
25 Q. Whose signature is that?
1 A. It's Slobodan Kuruzovic's signature.
2 Q. Do you know what Slobodan Kuruzovic's job was on the 5th of
3 August, 1992?
4 A. He was the commander, the warden, of the Trnopolje camp.
5 Q. Below the signature of Mr. Curguz, there is some writing, some
6 handwriting. If you can read that, read it out loud.
7 A. Yes. It states as follows: "Released, based on the certificate
8 of departure of AK Krajina, number 03-3-896-413 on the 8th of August,
10 Q. Okay. And by the way, you said the 8th of August. Is it clear to
11 you what the digit is, 08 --
12 A. Yes.
13 Q. Is that clear to you, the second 8?
14 A. Yes, the 8th. That's the day when I went home.
15 JUDGE SCHOMBURG: Sorry to interrupt, but to be complete, can
16 Witness B please explain what is the abbreviation "AK"?
17 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] I think it's Autonomna ^ Krajina,
18 autonomous region, or -- A is for autonomous, and the other letter, I
19 don't know what it stands for. Or it could be autonomous region, AR.
20 MR. KOUMJIAN: Thank you. I'm finished with the document if the
21 Court is.
22 JUDGE SCHOMBURG: You want to offer this as an exhibit? Evidence,
23 I think, for completeness and, in order, probably later on, to follow what
24 we have done, it would be -- it would make sense in case the Defence wants
25 to come back to this document. I think it's better.
1 MR. KOUMJIAN: Fine.
2 JUDGE SCHOMBURG: Then what would be the number of this document?
3 THE REGISTRAR: This would be Number S12B [Realtime transcript
4 read in error "S1B"], Your Honour.
5 JUDGE SCHOMBURG: S12B [Realtime transcript read in error "S1B"].
6 Any objections?
7 MR. OSTOJIC: I do, Your Honour. Since we just received the
8 document this afternoon, we would like an opportunity to discuss it, and
9 we would ask that the Court respectfully reserve the right or reserve the
10 ruling on the admissibility of the document until we've had time to
11 consult and determine whether our objection both on authenticity and
12 signatures can be verified. So at this point, to make such an objection
13 may be preliminary, but once again, respectfully, if the Court can reserve
14 the right, understanding that this witness has answered some questions in
15 any event in that regard.
16 JUDGE SCHOMBURG: So it's additional item on the agenda for next
18 MR. OSTOJIC: Yes, Your Honour.
19 JUDGE SCHOMBURG: Please proceed with the examination-in-chief.
20 MR. KOUMJIAN:
21 Q. When you were released from Trnopolje and when you went back to
22 your house, was anyone in your house at that time?
23 A. No, no one except for my family.
24 Q. How long did you stay at your house before you left the area?
25 A. I stayed there for about ten days approximately. I don't know
1 exactly. But not long. Maybe about 10 days.
2 Q. How did you leave the region? Describe that process.
3 A. Since at that time, after the massacre at Brdo, the entire
4 population had moved away from there, towards Tukovi. So the convoys were
5 going while we were still at the camp, but a lot of people still stayed.
6 And these people were waiting for the Serb authorities to organise a
7 convoy or convoys for them to cross over to Muslim territory. That's how
8 they called it. So while I was at home, I decided to join a convoy like
9 that. So one day in the morning, about ten days after I had arrived home,
10 I could see many trucks and buses going down my street. And we assumed
11 that this was a convoy, that these are trucks which were supposed to take
12 us to Muslim territory somewhere. So we decided to board such a convoy,
13 get on to one of those trucks. It was all very rushed. We made our
14 decision. We took a few things with us, and we went exactly to the place
15 where the trucks and the buses were filling with people.
16 Q. Were there police at this point, or soldiers, at the point where
17 the convoy was being loaded?
18 A. Yes. The police was there already, the reserve police was there,
19 when the convoy was being formed. So they were the ones who organised how
20 many people would get on to which truck, how many people would get on to
21 the buses. They were the ones who were doing all of these things. A
22 truck or a bus would come to an open field. Then they would let through a
23 certain number of passengers. Then the truck would leave that place, and
24 an empty one would come in its place. So that all the loading took place
25 in one location.
12 Blank page inserted to ensure pagination corresponds between the French and
13 English transcripts.
1 Q. How many people boarded that convoy in your estimate? Can you
2 give us an estimation?
3 A. I couldn't really say. Many people, thousands of people, were
4 waiting for convoys. But how many boarded, I don't even know myself how
5 big the convoy was. I don't know the number of vehicles in it. So I
6 couldn't make an estimate. But there was a large number of people there.
7 Q. From what you said, would it be correct for us to understand that
8 more people were waiting than there was room on the convoy? That not
9 everyone was able to find a space on one of the vehicles?
10 A. Yes. In any case, a large number of people stayed behind. They
11 didn't all board this convoy. Other convoys were formed after our convoy.
12 Q. What was the route that the convoy took briefly? Can you tell us
13 where you went when you left that area in Tukovi?
14 A. We passed through Prijedor and set out in the direction of Banja
15 Luka through Kozarac, Omarska, Banja Luka. From Banja Luka, we went to
16 Skender Vakuf. And then from Skender Vakuf onwards. There was the Mount
17 Vlasic. There weren't any inhabited places after that.
18 Q. Were you and your family on a bus or a truck?
19 A. We were in a bus.
20 Q. You said that you stopped first in Kozarac. Did any other
21 vehicles join your convoy in Kozarac, and did you learn where they came
23 A. Yes, the convoy stopped on the Prijedor-Banja Luka Road
24 approximately -- yeah, at a petrol station in Kozarac. We stopped there.
25 And after a certain amount of time, we were joined by four buses. And
1 then the convoy continued on its way.
2 Q. Did you see any of the people on those buses at any point during
3 the convoy or after you reached your ultimate destination?
4 A. For a while, I finished the trip together with them, because at
5 some point, on Mount Vlasic, the bus that I was in broke down. So the
6 passengers from that bus were moved to the other buses and trucks in the
7 convoy. And I got on to one of those buses in which the inmates from
8 Trnopolje already were.
9 Q. During the convoy, did anyone ever come on to your bus and rob the
11 A. While I was on the first bus, which broke down, it was stopped,
12 and one of the soldiers who were part of the escort told us some story
13 that we were supposed to pass by Seselj's men, Arkan's man, and such
14 troops. And lest our women be raped and our children killed, we should
15 empty our pockets of all valuables and collect anything worthwhile we had
16 and hand it over to them, so that they could pass it on to those troops as
17 some sort of fee for safe passage. And that's what we did.
18 Q. The person that came on the bus and collected the valuables, was
19 he a policeman or a soldier?
20 A. It was a policeman, one of the policeman from our escort.
21 Q. Did you recognise this person as one of the same policeman you saw
22 escorting the two buses that left Keraterm the day the camp was closed in
23 which all of those who entered those buses were never seen again?
24 A. Yes.
25 Q. At one point on the convoy, were you asked to get out of the bus
1 and line up?
2 A. I had already once changed buses during that trip. I had been
3 with inmates from Trnopolje, together with my wife and children, and
4 another man from my bus changed buses with me. He had a wife and a child
5 with him, too. So our wives and children were the only ones on that bus.
6 All the rest were men. And on our way across Mount Vlasic, at some point,
7 the bus stopped near a creek. We didn't know why. On the right side of
8 the road, so as to let the other buses pass by. At first, we were told to
9 get out if we wanted to, because it was very hot the month of July. We
10 were told we could go to the creek and drink some water if we liked. But
11 when we got to the creek, or almost near the creek, we saw a lot of Serb
12 soldiers. And nobody dared go any further. So for a while, we just sat
13 there on the buses until we were eventually ordered by our police escorts
14 to leave the buses, without exception, and to line up outside the bus.
15 Q. What did that mean to you? And from your knowledge of the camps,
16 what did you think was about to happen?
17 A. I stood in the line, just as everyone else. And at that moment, I
18 thought I knew what was going to happen next with extreme clarity, from
19 all my previous experience. I thought that we were going to be robbed
20 again, beaten up, perhaps even something worse. Because that's the way
21 that all the previous lineups I had seen ended.
22 Q. What happened then?
23 A. So as I said, we were standing there, lined up. And then one of
24 the policemen said that -- actually, at one point, we were alone there.
25 Our bus was the only one standing there. There was no one around. And
1 while we were lined up, a trailer truck arrived and parked behind our bus.
2 And then one of those policemen from our escort told the women to get on
3 to that truck. My wife asked if we were allowed to take our things. And
4 since she had a child, a baby less than a month old in her arms, while I
5 was holding our other child, a four-year-old by the hand, she asked me to
6 help her move her things. Actually, she asked for permission for me to
7 help her move her things from the bus to the truck. And when I did so, she
8 got on to the truck. The other man who had his wife and child with him
9 did the same, and when we loaded everything, we got on and left. The
10 truck departed leaving the bus behind together with all the people outside
11 Q. Did you recognise any of the men from the Trnopolje camp who were
12 lined up in that line that you were able to get away from thanks to what
13 your wife had had done?
14 A. Yes, there was a man who was a good friend of mine among the
15 inmates. Himzo Mrkalj. While the majority of the rest were the men from
16 Kozarac, whom I didn't know.
17 Q. Did the truck you were on continue on towards the front line, and
18 then were you allowed to get out and did you walk to Travnik?
19 A. The truck drove for a while, not long, and stopped again, pulled
20 over at a clearing. And we were all ordered to get off. And the clearing
21 was already full of people, very large number of people, who had already
22 arrived on different trucks and buses which had got there before us so
23 that we all continued again in the direction of Travnik.
24 Q. Did you ever see Himzo Mrkalj or any of the other men that you saw
25 lined up at that last stop again?
1 A. No.
2 Q. Did he or any of the other men that you remember, make it to
4 A. No.
5 Q. When the people arrived past the front line, was there a concern
6 among many of the people about their family members? Can you describe
8 A. Only after we arrived in Travnik, while we were getting settled,
9 finding accommodation, it was only then that we heard that ours was not
10 the only bus that had been left there, that other men had been taken off
11 other buses and trucks, two from one bus, three from another. And there
12 were also two buses from Mount Vlasic which were also left there. And
13 then people started making lists of their family members whom they
14 believed to have been on those buses. And the list, when it was
15 completed, contained more than 250 names, around that number.
16 Q. Those thousands of people that you saw in Tukovi waiting to leave
17 the territory, what was the ethnicity of those people?
18 A. All of them were Muslims, and a small number of Croats.
19 Q. Why were thousands, if you know, of Muslims and Croats wanting to
20 leave the territory at that time?
21 A. Because we no longer had any rights there. We no longer had the
22 right to live, let alone own anything. Any day, somebody could come,
23 confiscate your car, take away your house, shoot you, without ever being
24 held responsible for it. So it was the only solution, the only way out,
25 to go as far as away from there as possible, at any cost.
1 MR. KOUMJIAN: Thank you for your patience, Your Honours. I'm far
2 exceeding my estimate. No further questions.
3 JUDGE SCHOMBURG: Thank you. Even though it's an additional
4 burden for Witness B, I don't believe it would be fair to start the
5 cross-examination today. And therefore, we would kindly ask you to come
6 back tomorrow in the afternoon for the cross-examination. For today,
7 you're excused.
8 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Thank you.
9 [The witness stands down]
10 JUDGE SCHOMBURG: Two small issues: There is a small mistake on
11 the record at 18.22.02. There it says: "Exhibit S1B." It should read
12 "S12B". Could this please be corrected. Thank you.
13 And then I have to announce a decision of the Trial Chamber that
14 it is ordered that a formal identification may take place next Friday.
15 It's a burden of proof for the Office of the Prosecutor; and therefore, it
16 is expected that the Office of the Prosecutor points out from possible
17 persons, possibly some other inmates of the United Nations Detention Unit,
18 to come. And I think this would be an idea - and I expect the comments
19 from the parties to this - to come in the beginning of the hearing on
20 Friday to this courtroom. And this would give all the participants, of
21 course, especially the Bench, to see the immediate reactions of this
22 witness. This is the best application of the principle of directness.
23 Comments from the Office of the Prosecutor?
24 MR. KOUMJIAN: I'd rather see what can be arranged before I make
25 any comments. I think the transportation and security people will have
1 some problems. We'll try to deal with them, and then report to the Court
2 what our comments are.
3 JUDGE SCHOMBURG: As I explained, on the basis of some domestic
4 jurisdictions, I believe it's appropriate to have a number of five persons
6 What are the comments of the Defence?
7 MR. LUKIC: We accept your proposal, Your Honour.
8 JUDGE SCHOMBURG: So I hope we can overcome all obstacles, I'm
9 aware of this, in order to come as close as possible to the truth.
10 The trial stands adjourned. We resume tomorrow as indicated.
11 --- Whereupon the hearing adjourned at
12 6.50 p.m., to be reconvened on
13 Friday, the 26th day of April, 2002,
14 at 1.30 p.m.