1 Monday, 13 May 2002
2 [Open session]
3 [The accused entered court]
4 --- Upon commencing at 11.05 a.m.
5 JUDGE SCHOMBURG: Please be seated. Good morning, everybody. And
6 could you please call the case.
7 THE REGISTRAR: Good morning, Your Honours. Case Number
8 IT-97-24-T, the Prosecutor versus Milomir Stakic.
9 JUDGE SCHOMBURG: Thank you very much. And the appearances.
10 MR. KOUMJIAN: Nicholas Koumjian with Ruth Karper for the
11 Prosecution. Good morning.
12 JUDGE SCHOMBURG: Thank you. And for the Defence?
13 MR. LUKIC: Good morning, Your Honours. Branko Lukic and Mr.
14 Danilo Cirkovic for the Defence. Mr. John Ostojic will join us during the
15 day. Thank you.
16 JUDGE SCHOMBURG: Without preliminary remarks, let us finally hear
17 Witness 26. It still remains open session, no other protective measures
19 MR. KOUMJIAN: Correct, Your Honour.
20 JUDGE SCHOMBURG: Thank you. Then the witness be brought in,
22 [The witness entered court]
23 JUDGE SCHOMBURG: Good morning, Mr. Kapetanovic. Can you hear me
24 in a language you understand?
25 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Yes, I can.
1 JUDGE SCHOMBURG: Could you please take the solemn declaration.
2 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] I solemnly declare that I will speak
3 the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.
4 JUDGE SCHOMBURG: Thank you. Please be seated.
5 WITNESS: NIJAZ KAPETANOVIC
6 [Witness answered through interpreter]
7 JUDGE SCHOMBURG: If you could start with the examination, please.
8 Examined by Mr. Koumjian:
9 Q. Sir, could you please tell the Court your name?
10 A. Nijaz Kapetanovic.
11 Q. Mr. Kapetanovic, can you tell us where and when you were born.
12 A. I was born in 1946 in Prijedor.
13 Q. Are you married, and do you have any children, sir?
14 A. Yes, I am married, and I have three sons.
15 Q. Can you tell the Court the years of birth of your three sons.
16 A. One was born in 1976, one in 1978, and one in 1987.
17 Q. Mr. Kapetanovic, what is your ethnicity?
18 A. I'm a Bosniak.
19 Q. And the ethnicity of your wife, please?
20 A. The same.
21 Q. Sir, do you practice a religion?
22 A. Yes, I do.
23 Q. And what is your religion?
24 A. I should perhaps explain. I think that the God is endless, that
25 his power is limitless, that he's just. That he created humankind so that
1 together they would fight for good and not for bad.
2 Q. By your explanation, do you mean that you don't practice any
3 formal religion, but believe in God?
4 A. Yes, well, you can put it that way, although it depends. People
5 have different ways of practicing. And I think this is good.
6 Q. So it would be correct then to say that you respect all religious
7 beliefs who believe in a God?
8 A. Yes. I believe that Adam and Eve are our forefathers, that people
9 should respect the ten commandments of Moses, that they have to be
10 inspired by love as Jesus was, and so on and so forth.
11 Q. Thank you, sir. Can you tell us what is your profession?
12 A. I am a teacher by occupation. Currently I am teaching technical
13 subject and subjects in computer science in an elementary school.
14 Q. Where were you educated, sir?
15 A. I was educated in Rijeka, in Tuzla, partly in Sarajevo and in
16 Banja Luka.
17 Q. Mr. Kapetanovic, we've heard in this trial that military service
18 was compulsory in the former Yugoslavia. Can you explain to the Court
19 what your experience was with compulsory military, and why you did or did
20 not complete that service?
21 A. Of course, like almost all citizens of Bosnia and Herzegovina, I
22 was called up to do my military service. During the first month of the
23 training and before we were sworn in, due to the dynamics of the training,
24 that is, the rhythm of the training which was conducted even in rain, and
25 I exercised daily. I practiced marching, which we were supposed to do
1 during the sworn-in ceremony. After that, I remember the day, the day
2 after I came from the exercise. I lay down. I didn't change my clothes,
3 which was probably my mistake, and the next day I woke up seriously ill. I
4 have some -- I did some damage to my kidneys, and I was sent to hospital.
5 And after the checkup, after the examination, I was sent home.
6 Q. Sir, can you explain to the Court why you are wearing sunglasses
8 A. Yes, I can. Since I spent almost one year, minus ten days, in a
9 camp in the military detention prison in Banja Luka as a result of
10 beatings and psychological mistreatment, I suffered many illnesses,
11 including an eye condition. I cannot stand too much light. I visited a
12 doctor for that, and he recommended that I should spent as much time as
13 possible in dark. I apologise for this. I don't know whether I speak too
14 fast for the interpreters. I have no problems if they want to warn me to
15 slow down.
16 Q. I think you're doing fine, sir. Thank you very much. If you
17 forget and go too fast, we'll remind you. Thank you.
18 Mr. Kapetanovic, do you suffer from any other medical conditions
19 at the present time?
20 A. I have a number of problems. My rib cage was broken in several
21 places, and I have some heart problems and kidney disorders as well.
22 Q. Just to clarify, so we know its relationship to this case, your
23 arrest was in 1995, and the beatings that happened to you happened in a
24 prison in Banja Luka municipality. Is that correct?
25 A. Yes, it is. If I may add, this lasted one entire day, from 7.00
1 a.m. until 9.15 p.m., and it was actually a miracle that after this
2 beating, things improved and were relatively good.
3 Q. Mr. Kapetanovic, can you tell the Court what your involvement was
4 in politics; and in particular, with the SDA party in Bosnia?
5 A. Even as a small child, I listened to the radio with my father. We
6 listened to the "Voice of America," to the BBC later on, Deutsche Welle.
7 The radio was always very loud. We had to turn it down from time to time.
8 But this gave me an experience in differences amongst people. And I think
9 that that is why we were given all these characteristics by God. I have a
10 very humanistic view of religion. Some individuals attempted to impose
11 their religion to other people. During the time of communism, the most
12 prominent figures, the leaders, were Tito, Lenin, Marx, and Mao Tse Tung.
13 One was not supposed to criticise them. And I believe that the religion
14 was very important for the historical development of man and his
15 civilisation. And I believe that in that spirit, it would be good to have
16 a multiparty system in Bosnia and Herzegovina. So I assisted in forming
17 both the SDA and HDZ, and I attended pre-electoral rallies of the HDZ and
18 SDS also. I attended rallies organised by other political parties as
20 It is true that at the time, I simply didn't believe that people
21 could be so narrow-minded and not tolerate other people's opinions. It
22 was my view that they tried to impersonate some deities, and they believed
23 they held the keys to the truth. And with this truth of theirs, that they
24 can impose themselves -- that they could impose themselves to other
25 people. But it was already too late. So it is true, I participated in
1 the formation of both the HDZ and SDA.
2 Q. In 1990, were you living in Prijedor?
3 A. Yes, I was.
4 Q. Can you tell the Court -- you told us you were born in Prijedor.
5 Have you lived in Prijedor for all of your life? Can you explain when you
6 were not in Prijedor?
7 A. Since I come from a family which is one of the founding families
8 of the town of Prijedor, I am very profoundly linked with Prijedor. And I
9 was present in -- lived in Prijedor most of the time except for -- except
10 during my studies and when I worked in Jajce for a year.
11 Q. Where did you live now, what town?
12 A. I also -- I live in Prijedor.
13 Q. Did you hold a position with the SDA political party in 1990 or
15 A. Yes, I did. Ever since the beginning, I was vice-president of the
17 Q. So from the founding of the party, was that in 1990 in Prijedor,
18 the founding of the SDA?
19 A. Yes. No, in 1991.
20 Q. From the founding of the party, and at some point, were you
21 replaced as a vice-president and just become a normal party member?
22 A. Yes. It happened prior to the outbreak of war in Slovenia.
23 Internal party elections were held. Mevludin Sejmenovic, who was another
24 vice-president, we got about 500 votes from various -- out of 500 votes
25 from various communities, I got 5 votes, and Sejmenovic got 6. And we
1 didn't get through.
2 Q. So in 1991, with the outbreak of the war in Slovenia, you were no
3 longer the vice-president of the SDA in Prijedor. Is that correct?
4 A. Yes.
5 Q. Have you since the war obtained -- I'm sorry. Do you need to
6 explain your answer?
7 A. I was the president of the Merhamet humanitarian organisation in
9 Q. Yes. Thank you, we'll come to that in a moment.
10 At the present time, do you have a position with the SDA party in
12 A. No.
13 Q. After the conflict, did you ever hold a position in the SDA party
14 in Prijedor?
15 A. Not in Prijedor. I did in Sanski Most. For a period of time, I
16 was trying to present my opinion to the community there, but it didn't
17 really work out.
18 Q. You told the Court that you also had a role, in addition to having
19 a role in the founding of the SDA, the Muslim political party or the
20 Bosniak political party, you also had a role in the founding of the
21 Croatian Democratic Union, the HDZ in Prijedor. Can you explain that?
22 A. As I stated at the beginning, I am pleased to be able to cooperate
23 with as many ethnic and religious communities as possible. It is a key
24 factor to any development, because people who are intellectually
25 narrow-minded are not prepared to accept differences of other people. So
1 I was happy to see as many political parties as possible to be formed at
2 that time so that democracy could be developed and could prosper. I went
3 to see a Catholic priest. I talked to him, and he told me that Croats in
4 Prijedor were afraid of founding an HDZ branch there. And I said that,
5 well, I'm willing to help. They wanted to vote for the SDA in Prijedor,
6 but they also wanted to have their own political party there. So I tried
7 to assist them as best as I could. I attended a number of talks with them
8 which lasted over a period of two months, I believe.
9 Q. Did the SDA party in Prijedor include only Bosniaks, or were other
10 ethnicities members of that party prior to the war?
11 A. Prior to the war, there were Serbs, Croats, Ukranians, Yugoslavs,
12 and many more.
13 Q. Can you tell us the names of any Croats who were members of the
14 SDA party prior to the war that you can think of at this moment?
15 A. Let me give you an example: I remember a person by the name of
16 Pero. His family name escapes me now. He was originally from Hambarine.
17 He's a Croat, and his wife is a Serb. He was later killed. We had a
18 Ukranian from Trnopolje who was a deputy to the Municipal Assembly. There
19 were people from -- other people from Prijedor and Donja Puharska who were
20 members of the SDA but were Croats or Yugoslavs. At this point, I cannot
21 remember names, but I'm sure that there were such members of the SDA. This
22 was something that I most strongly advocated at the time.
23 Q. You told us that you were the president of Merhamet. Can you tell
24 the Judges, what is Merhamet?
25 A. Merhamet is a Bosniak humanitarian organisation. Prior to the
1 outbreak of the crisis in the former Yugoslavia, a humanitarian
2 organisation, whose name I cannot remember, arrived from Germany. They
3 worked very well. They provided food, but also various type of equipment
4 such as heating devices and so on and so forth. They supplied flour,
5 powdered milk, sugar, many things. Two trailer trucks arrived carrying
6 this food. One trailer truck, 50 per cent went to Serbs and the other
7 one, the second one, was split in two. 25 per cent went, therefore, to
8 Croats, and 25 per cent to Bosniaks. This humanitarian aid, we
9 distributed to all those whom we thought to be in need.
10 Later on, when Serbs try to check whether I was helping only
11 Bosniaks or others as well, they could see on those lists that I was
12 helping all. And they could see what my opinions were, that is, that we
13 are all children of God and that we are all brothers and sisters. And as
14 such, we are required and obliged to help each other and to help those who
15 are in need.
16 Q. When were you the president of Merhamet?
17 A. In 1991, in the month of November, I was unofficially elected
18 president upon a proposal of a Catholic priest who suggested that Muslims
19 should have their own humanitarian organisations, because Catholics had
20 their humanitarian organisation there. And since I was there, and I was a
21 Bosniak, and I grew up next to a Catholic church, never minded chimes of
22 its bells at the time of prayer, so they knew me. They contacted me for
23 that purpose, and I was unofficially elected. Later on, a certificate
24 arrived from Sarajevo whereby I was -- I became officially president of
25 Merhamet in January 1992. A delegation came from Sarajevo, and they
1 confirmed me officially as the president.
2 Q. How long did you remain the president of Merhamet?
3 A. Up until the takeover of power and the outbreak of conflict in
5 Q. After the takeover of power on April 30th of 1992, did you
6 continue to work with Merhamet?
7 A. Since all the humanitarian aid was actually distributed out of the
8 warehouse of Merhamet, I was actually unable to find premises for the
9 humanitarian organisation, and I actually turned to my own house, where I
10 actually opened up an office. And Merhamet continued with its activities
11 with the arrival of the international Red Cross. When contacts were
12 established I attended a meeting with the Adil Solo, and when we were
13 asked by the international Red Cross if there was a Bosniak organisation
14 present, he answered yes, there was. And according to what Adil told me,
15 Serbs themselves said that Merhamet was not present in Prijedor. However,
16 he said that I was the president of Merhamet and that Merhamet, in fact,
17 did exist.
18 And then the representatives of the international Red Cross
19 visited me at my home. I was already then, at the time, in some sort of a
20 home detention, house detention.
21 Q. So would it be correct to say that because of your role with
22 Merhamet, you had contacts with foreigners from western countries before
23 the conflict and during the conflict in Bosnia?
24 A. Yes. The first initial humanitarian aid that arrived from
25 Germany, I, of course, spoke to the people who brought the humanitarian
1 aid since it was already the start of the so-called "Jogurt" revolution,
2 road barricade revolutions. Since we needed aid and we couldn't get it
3 from the former Yugoslavia, this particular aid was very useful to us. We
4 already felt the shortage of baby food, and this really came as a help
5 from God.
6 I would like to use this opportunity to thank all the people of
7 goodwill who were there to help all the people in Bosnia-Herzegovina.
8 Q. In 1990, were there all-party elections in Prijedor? And can you
9 tell us the basic results of those elections?
10 A. As I have already said, I was -- as I already said, I was
11 interested really in having this religion of communism. Perhaps people
12 like hearing me say "religion of communism," but this was my opinion
13 because different opinions were imposed on people to represent them.
14 I was really enthusiastic about the fall of the Berlin wall, and I
15 was really looking forward to the increasing progress in the world, that
16 there would be increasing accord between people and religions, and that we
17 would do our best to improve the world because this is something that
18 mankind, that human beings do deserve. I really did not think that we
19 would live to see the problems that we did live to see. I was always
20 doing my best to respect the personality of any person that I met,
21 regardless of the person's background. I am not the one to actually judge
22 people on behalf of God, or to change them. I think that God was there.
23 He created the world with the reason he created us in order to develop our
24 knowledge. And I was really happy that a multiparty elections were to be
25 called, and the results of these elections in Prijedor, to put it this
1 way, the SDA won most votes, together with some other parties. Serbs were
2 dissatisfied, and I can understand that. All the people in
3 Bosnia-Herzegovina, in the former Yugoslavia, felt threatened, and I also
4 understand that feeling.
5 They were truly threatened, because they were unable to make
6 choices for themselves. The problem emerged because the vast amount of
7 differences that existed between the people, this was something that the
8 people could not really grasp, and this became a disaster for them. They
9 tried to reduce the situation to one theory, their own theory, whereby
10 they started offending each other. And of course, people who are very
11 short-tempered in nature, they brought to some situations that were really
12 unworthy of man.
13 Q. You mentioned that the SDS party or some members accused the SDA
14 of falsifying the results. Can you explain what you remember who made
15 these accusations and who were they directed against?
16 A. I think that these complaints were mostly directed against Serbs.
17 Perhaps Serbs would disagree with me, but I have my own opinion because I
18 think that it is the Bosniaks and the Croats themselves that can bring
19 most problems to themselves. And this is true for the Serbs as well, that
20 they work at their own expense. The results of the elections actually
21 stirred Serbs. It created a confusion among them, because they proceeded
22 based on their prejudice, that they were the majority, the Serbs were the
23 majority. And thus, they forgot the fact that there were Bosniaks and
24 Croats who actually declared themselves as Yugoslavs. And with the advent
25 of nationalism, this tension was heightened, and then Serbs started
1 explaining and lamenting that they were threatened. But they were indeed
2 threatened, but by themselves, mostly.
3 Q. Who was Nedzad Seric?
4 A. Nedzad Seric was president of the Court in the Prijedor
5 municipality, and he was the one in charge of the elections in Prijedor.
6 He was subsequently accused of having rigged the elections, which was, of
7 course, not true because both Serbs and Croats were present there, and the
8 representatives of the international community, and they were there and
9 were able to check that the procedure was regular. I don't think that
10 there were -- that there was any rigging. I think everybody had a chance
11 of controlling the process of the elections. Of course, the problem lied
12 in the dissatisfaction of the very results, and I can understand that.
13 Q. What was the ethnicity of Nedzad Seric?
14 A. He was a Yugoslav by his declaration, but his background was
15 probably Bosniak. But he was known as being pro-Serb oriented.
16 Q. What was his fate in the conflict? Do you know?
17 A. I only know what I heard, and I heard that he was killed in
19 Q. Who accused him of rigging the election results, if you recall?
20 A. The SDS, the Presidency of SDS.
21 Q. Who was that at the time?
22 A. Mr. Kovacevic, Dr. Srdjo Srdic.
23 Q. After the elections in 1990 -- excuse me. Let me withdraw that
24 and start over. Prior to the elections in 1990, was there an agreement
25 among the three national parties, the SDA, the SDS, and the HDZ, in Bosnia
12 Blank page inserted to ensure pagination corresponds between the French and
13 English transcripts.
1 that to divide up positions in municipalities where together they
2 controlled the Municipal Assembly?
3 A. Yes, there was an agreement both at the level of
4 Bosnia-Herzegovina and at the level of the municipality. Agreements were
6 Q. Do you know if negotiations took place in Prijedor after the
7 election regarding this division of positions?
8 A. Yes. I myself attended two or three meetings that were held in
9 Prijedor municipality where the division of power was being discussed, and
10 it was said that it should be done in percentages, according to the
11 results in the elections, and that some sort of a slower pace should be
12 given to the process.
13 Q. Who was representing the SDS party in these negotiations?
14 A. Srdjo Srdic, Stakic, Kovacevic was there. The people from the
15 military, Arsic, from the police forces, and so on.
16 Q. You mentioned Stakic. Who are you referring to when you say
18 A. He's the person who used to be the president of the SDS in
19 Prijedor municipality.
20 Q. Can you tell us what you knew about Stakic prior to these
22 A. I knew very little. I heard from other people that he was
23 moderate. He didn't seem to show that he was peculiar in character. He
24 didn't show, display, any eccentricity or intolerance toward people.
25 Q. After the elections the Municipal Assembly, do you know what Dr.
1 Stakic's position was?
2 A. I think he was vice-president for a time, and then a president.
3 I'm not sure. I know that there were changes. I know that Dr. Mile
4 Radetic was also in the party. Srdjo Srdic. I know that Stakic was
6 Q. Do you know at these negotiations that you attended, do you
7 remember Dr. Stakic speaking at those negotiations, and can you tell us
8 what you recall about his input?
9 A. Yes, but I would first like to go back and explain a bit further
10 that the mass media had an active role in creating hatred, and with each
11 new statement broadcast hatred increased, and everyone was really
13 Q. I'm sorry, Mr. Kapetanovic, but please try to answer the questions
14 and perhaps later we can come back to other issues.
15 What was -- the question is what was Dr. Stakic's input in these
16 negotiations? If you were leading into that, then please continue, but
17 that's the question I'm interested in right now.
18 A. Yes. I wanted to say that the reasoning was conditioned by the
19 very situation, the reasoning that was followed. Dr. Stakic said on
20 several occasions that the Serbs were being threatened, that genocide had
21 been committed, directed against them, that the Ustasha during World War
22 II committed crimes against Serbs. This is something that I myself never
23 tried to deny, or to confirm. The truth is being shown by historical
24 research, regardless of what individuals think. Mr. Stakic said at the
25 time that Bosniaks were the ones who occupied all the leading positions,
1 Ustasha, Croats, that they, Serbs, would not allow for the repetition of
2 the crimes committed against the Serbs during World War II.
3 Q. What was Dr. Stakic's stated position regarding who should be
4 allocated the leading positions in Prijedor?
5 A. Well, their thesis was that Serbs were threatened and that
6 Prijedor was a Serbian town, and it is the Serbs who should have the most
7 responsible positions.
8 Q. What was the result of these negotiations? Was an agreement
10 A. I said at the beginning that the agreement was reached -- well,
11 the results eventually were accepted. Other elections would be held
12 anyway soon, so they managed to agree. The results were abided by, as
13 long as we had an informal discussion. But as soon as we had Mr. Stakic,
14 Kovacevic, and Srdjo Srdic, as far as I know, they would travel to Banja
15 Luka or Belgrade to get further instructions. So whatever we did agree at
16 a table could not be implemented because probably, later on, they were
17 given different instructions, not accepting what had been agreed.
18 Obviously, Serbs could not implement things that they did not agree on. I
19 even have an information that camps for Serbs were organised for those who
20 would not follow the official policies, the official activities, those who
21 would not follow them, they were also beaten and detained and so on.
22 I do not know what sort of an authority Stakic had or did not
23 have. But in my opinion, he did not.
24 Q. Did you see -- was there an agreement on the chief of police
25 through those negotiations, on who would be appointed the chief of police?
1 A. Yes. It was reached. There were problems, however, in regulating
2 the issue, because to us, we found it more acceptable to have Mr.
3 Talundzic from Basic Husein, and there were people travelling to Sarajevo
4 to the headquarters, trying to persuade people there preferring one over
5 the other because apparently, this other one would be more acceptable to
6 Serbs. And as far as I know, as regarded other issues, we never went to
7 Sarajevo to ask for their instructions. We -- I always advocated the
8 practice of resolving problems in Prijedor and not going to ask for help
9 to Sarajevo, because we were in Prijedor and knew what the problems were,
10 and we were there to solve the problems and not to create them.
11 Q. So if I understand what you're saying, you indicated that the SDS
12 representatives seemed to be changing their position after the
13 negotiations, after consultations with higher authorities. Is that
15 A. Yes.
16 Q. But Mr. Talundzic, who was appointed the chief -- he was appointed
17 the chief of police. Is that correct?
18 A. Yes.
19 Q. Was he a Bosniak?
20 A. I think so.
21 Q. Was he a professional policeman?
22 A. No. He was an engineer. I think electrical engineer.
23 Q. I want to go back for a moment. You mentioned being a teacher.
24 As a teacher, did you come in contact with some individuals who were --
25 who would come to hold high positions in the SDS party?
1 A. Yes. The secretary of the centre for elementary education was
2 Mr. -- What's his name now? I'm sorry. He was in the police. I think he
3 actually was -- he perished when he was being arrested in Prijedor.
4 Q. Mr. Drljaca?
5 A. Yes, yes. Simo Drljaca. He was the secretary for elementary
6 education. He's unfortunately deceased now. But I would really like to
7 hear what he would have to say about me being constantly transferred from
8 one school to another, and I think he was responsible for that. And then
9 finally, I was proclaimed to be the technical surplus in the labour force,
10 and then I worked in the library. I worked in Omarska. I had to change,
11 of course, the job that I did, but I didn't find it very difficult.
12 I'm not the sort of person to bear a grudge on others. I have --
13 I have gone through some temptations and testing, but I don't know what he
14 had in mind -- God knows that only, and he will be the one to judge our
15 deeds, what we have done in our lives.
16 Q. So Mr. Drljaca was, by profession, an educator. Is that correct?
17 A. No. He was a jurist. He was a secretary for the centre for
18 elementary education in Prijedor. This is an institute, an organ, that
19 covers all the elementary schools in Prijedor.
20 Q. I want to concentrate for a few moments on your interactions with
21 Dr. Stakic. Can you tell the Court first when you met in person first,
22 Dr. Stakic, if you recall.
23 A. Of course, as soon as I started working, so it has been a long
24 time, for a long time. By that time, I had already been working for 20
25 years. And of course, I knew Simo Drljaca. It means that I had known him
1 for a long time. We didn't have high-level contacts. We discussed the
2 problems at the schools, problems of teachers, as workers, whether we had
3 some entitlements or not. And I didn't have any problems. I think this
4 is something that bothered people, the large differences in people's
5 positions and views.
6 Q. I'm not sure that we are understanding each other. Are you
7 talking now about your interactions with Dr. Stakic or Mr. Drljaca?
8 A. Drljaca.
9 Q. Now I'd like you to tell us about your interactions with Dr.
11 A. I knew Mr. Stakic only superficially up until the multiparty
12 elections, I don't think we ever spoke a word to each other. But the last
13 time I did speak to him was when the Municipal Assembly had its session in
14 the theatre building and when there was an interruption and I was trying
15 to persuade him to continue the cooperation. He was trying to persuade me
16 that the Serbs would be actually underrepresented. I wasn't actually a
17 deputy in the assembly, but I allowed myself to go there, because I tried
18 to calm the situation down. I also wanted to hear the other side, and I
19 wanted to settle the situation. So I told them: "Perhaps we do not agree
20 with what happens in Sarajevo, but we should try and reach an agreement
21 amongst ourselves and try and reach some sort of stability."
22 However, there was not enough will or trust on either sides to
23 achieve this, although I do think that the majority of people were really
24 interested in preventing what happened.
25 Q. I think we need to explain a little bit about the circumstances
1 regarding the discussion you just mentioned. You said that it happened at
2 one of the last meetings, or after one of the last meetings of the
3 Municipal Assembly. Were you in attendance or were you able to follow
4 those -- that meeting from the radio or some other source?
5 A. I live nearby. I live close to the Catholic church and the
6 theatre where the Municipal Assembly was in session. I was listening to
7 the radio. And when I heard that there was an interruption, I ran out of
8 my house and went there. The problem was that Bosniaks and Croats should
9 respect the JNA, the Yugoslav army. Bosnia and Herzegovina were
10 recognised. I understand that there were people who disagreed with it,
11 but if the United Nations were the ones who recognised something, then I
12 personally can, perhaps, disagree, but I can, through democratic means,
13 try to improve the situation. This was the last drop in the cup, and the
14 Serbs said that they had enough, that they were constantly being outvoted.
15 And as a result, naturally, naturally in brackets, to do anything about
16 it, although there were people who thought that it would be able to reach
17 an agreement outside the assembly. But however, it all came to an end.
18 Q. I think you can still help us, if you tell us exactly what you saw
19 and heard that day. You were listening to the radio, and you heard that
20 there was an interruption or a stoppage of work at the assembly. Is that
21 correct? Yes or no?
22 A. Yes.
23 Q. Then you went to the assembly building, and what did you see when
24 you went towards the theatre or the assembly? What did you see?
25 A. This is how it happened: I was listening to the radio and there
1 was an argument going on concerning whether Croats should -- and Bosniaks
2 should go to fight war in Croatia or not. So that was one problem. The
3 other problem was the fact that the Serbs could not outvote them. And
4 they believed to be outvoted. Because their opinion, that that was the
5 right thing to do, was not respected. So they no longer wanted to talk.
6 They said: "We have nothing to discuss with those who have no respect for
7 Yugoslavia." So having seen that a crisis had erupted, and this was all
8 broadcast over the radio, that this should stop, and I immediately went to
9 the theatre where the session was being held. Whom did I find there? I
10 found groups of people discussing amongst themselves, including, for
11 instance, Mirza, Cehajic, Stakic, Srdjo, and others from the SDS, all
12 members of the SDS were there.
13 So what was I supposed to do? I tried to calm them down, all of
14 them, Stakic, Mirza, Srdjo. I tried to reason to them. I said: "Just
15 calm down. There must be an agreement that we can reach. We must find an
16 agreement." But the situation was such that nobody listened to anybody
17 any longer. They all felt offended and humiliated. No one listened to
18 anyone else any more, unfortunately.
19 Q. If you recall, at that -- when you got to the theatre or outside,
20 who did you see Dr. Stakic with?
21 A. He was talking to Mr. Mirza Cehajic [as interpreted].
22 Q. I think the -- you said Mirza, and you said Cehajic. Are those
23 two separate people?
24 A. Yes, yes. I said Mirza and Cehajic. I was referring to the
25 professor Muhamed Cehajic and to Mirza Mujadzic.
1 Q. And Muhamed Cehajic was the president of the assembly. Is that
3 A. Yes. Mirza was only the president of the party, the SDA.
4 Q. That's Mirza Mujadzic?
5 A. Mujadzic. You're correct, yes.
6 Q. Just to make it clear for the record, if you can try, if you know
7 the last name, try to refer to people by their last name, family name.
8 Besides this occasion where you saw Dr. Stakic in front of the
9 assembly, and the negotiations where you met with him, did you meet with
10 him -- see him in person on any other occasions that you can recall?
11 A. No, I did not. There were other negotiations as well. I know
12 that. But I did not attend them, though people begged me to go. But at
13 the time, I finally understood that these negotiations and talks were no
14 longer serious at all. I didn't think that there was anything else that I
15 could do. I know that the negotiations were attended by Muhamed Cehajic,
16 Mirza Mujadzic, Becir Medunjanin.
17 Q. We'll come back to that. Did you ever see Dr. Stakic -- you
18 mentioned a person by the name of Simo Drljaca. Did you ever see Dr.
19 Stakic with Simo Drljaca?
20 A. Yes. I would often see them together downtown in cafes when they
21 went to meetings. SDS held their own meetings; SDA, their own.
22 Q. Did you -- sorry.
23 A. They were preparing for the meetings of the municipal session, so
24 they would see each other for that purpose. And I think that for a while,
25 their cooperation was correct. The problem was with the percentages and
1 how to divide the power.
2 Q. Now, do you know someone by the name of Colonel Arsic? I believe
3 it's Vladimir Arsic.
4 A. Yes. I think he was the chief responsible for the Prijedor
5 barracks. He attended several meetings at the municipality. I know that
6 he also cooperated with them.
7 Q. Did you ever see Dr. Stakic with Colonel Arsic?
8 A. Of course. It was a perfectly normal sight. One could also see
9 me with Arsic at the time. Those were the times of negotiations. As for
10 the influence of Arsic on Stakic or of Stakic on Arsic, that is something
11 that I'm not able to tell you about.
12 Q. You said Colonel Arsic was in charge of some military units in
13 Prijedor. Is that correct?
14 A. Yes. There was quite a big presence of the military in Prijedor,
15 especially after the withdrawal of the JNA and after they had -- that is,
16 after they had withdrawn from Slovenia and Croatia, they all came to
17 Prijedor prior to the outbreak of conflict in Prijedor, with a lot of
18 equipment. There were many soldiers from Serbia proper, from Vojvodina,
19 for example, and one could tell by the way they spoke where they came
20 from, they came from southern Serbia, Belgrade, or someplace else. There
21 were lots of soldiers around. I know that some of my pupils, some of my
22 students, had Serb friends staying with them at the time. We were
23 surprised to see many Serbs staying with them in barns, in their houses,
24 and elsewhere.
25 Q. Do you know if these units had heavy weapons? I'm talking about
1 the JNA that was later transformed into the VRS in Prijedor.
2 A. Of course they did. They had artillery pieces and tanks. There
3 was a missile base at Karanovo [phoen] From where missiles went eventually
4 towards Kozarac and other places.
5 Q. I want to ask you now about the events of the 30th of April, 1992.
6 Do you recall there being a takeover of power on that date?
7 A. Yes, I do. When I got up that morning, I didn't know what was
8 happening. Later, I heard that Mirza, with two or three other members of
9 the party, had been to some negotiations, but that eventually Serbs
10 decided that they should take over power. They established a Crisis Staff
11 for that purpose, and the first thing that I saw that morning when I got
12 up was a checkpoint which had been set up in the vicinity of my house. I
13 turned on the radio to hear the news and I heard that the SDS had taken
14 over, that the SDA, the HDZ, the western world were working against Serbs,
15 and that they were threatening them and so on and so forth.
16 We could hear this on a daily basis over the radio. Many posters
17 with such slogans had been put up all over town. And I saw that things
18 were getting pretty serious. Nevertheless, I went to work, and for a
19 period of time, maybe one or two days, I didn't have any major problems.
20 The checkpoint was manned by the military. Prior to that, there had been
21 a Territorial Defence checkpoint with light weapons in Kozarac where I
22 worked at the time. Later, it was the Serbs with weapons who were manning
23 this checkpoint as well.
24 Q. In your answer, you mentioned again "Mirza" with two or three
25 other members of the party. Are you referring to Mirza Mujadzic, the
1 president of the SDA party at that time?
2 A. Yes, yes, Mirza.
3 Q. You mentioned that there were announcements on the radio and
4 posters about the reasons for the takeover. Was it -- were these
5 announcements or posters signed by anyone or was there any occasion of who
6 had taken power or what the governing body was?
7 A. It was announced and written that the body was the Crisis Staff of
8 Prijedor. Prior to that, a so-called Serbian municipality of Prijedor had
9 been established, so the entire municipality of Prijedor was this now
10 Serbian municipality.
11 Q. Did you know who was the president of this separate Serbian
12 municipality of Prijedor?
13 A. The president was Stakic, Mr. Stakic.
14 Q. Do you know who the president was of the Crisis Staff that was
15 established after the takeover?
16 A. Through an automatic procedure, I think it was Stakic. I'm not a
17 hundred per cent sure, but I believe that it was him.
18 Q. Can you tell us how life in Prijedor changed after the takeover on
19 the 30th of April?
20 A. Despite claims of the SDS that the former government was only a
21 Bosniak government and only for Bosniaks, the reality was different, and
22 this can be proved with documents. That authority was a multiethnic,
23 multinational authority. I think that they would have gone on functioning
24 as best as they could. Now, what happened after the SDS took over, I
25 think that up until the 28th of May, not more than 2 or 3 per cent of
12 Blank page inserted to ensure pagination corresponds between the French and
13 English transcripts.
1 Bosniaks or Croats remained at their work. They had all been replaced. By
2 the 28th of May, all Bosniaks had been removed, and they complained about
3 having lost their jobs. This is telling you quite a lot about what the
4 situation was. As for various accusations which were constantly broadcast
5 over the radio and TV, this only instilled further hatred and
6 misunderstanding which was not to the benefit of anyone.
7 Q. Did you ever hear Dr. Stakic on the radio?
8 A. Yes, he was also one of those who kept repeating these claims and
9 announcements which we heard over the Prijedor radio on a daily basis.
10 And the presenter was a Bosniak lady who had to read this.
11 MR. KOUMJIAN: I don't know whether the Court wants to schedule
12 any break today. Would you like to do that?
13 JUDGE SCHOMBURG: In about 15 minutes.
14 MR. KOUMJIAN: Thank you.
15 Q. Can you tell us how your life changed after the takeover of the
17 A. During the takeover itself, I didn't have many major problems.
18 Problems occurred at the time of the so-called attack against Serbs and
19 the killings at Hambarine. I have information that no Serb had ever been
20 killed. Yes, one Serb was severely wounded and transferred to the Banja
21 Luka hospital, but his condition was not critical. There was another Serb
22 who was wounded, but he was able to make a statement over the Prijedor
23 radio. He declared that -- they ordered --
24 Q. Mr. Kapetanovic, please try to answer the question that I ask, and
25 then we'll come to other matters later. So the question was about your
1 own life and circumstances and how they changed, and you were explaining
2 that it started out not so bad, and then after the attack. Can you
4 A. Yes. I wanted to link it up with the time when the situation
5 exacerbated, because Serbs later on told in the media that they had been
6 attacked by Bosniaks, which -- I mean, if Serbs had a Serbian
7 municipality, then of course the Bosniaks had their own municipality. So
8 what were they doing on the Bosniak territory? So the situation was only
9 getting worse. So after this -- and I'm sure that there are witnesses who
10 would confirm that this was so, there were many Serbs at the time who were
11 coming back from the front line in Croatia. Many of them had been killed
12 in Croatia, but later on they said that these people had been killed in
13 the area of Prijedor. I don't know why they had to go there. They were,
14 after all, the JNA, but what was this JNA doing in Bosnia and Herzegovina
15 if it had been internationally recognised? But the problem was that
16 Bosnia had put up a -- yes, yes, I know. I apologise. I got carried
17 away. I know.
18 Q. Okay. The question is, let me rephrase it, after the takeover, at
19 some point did you stop going to work?
20 A. Yes. I went to work up until the 28th of May, but not after that.
21 Q. And what prevented you from going to work, or why didn't you go to
22 work after the 28th of May?
23 A. Because all Bosniaks and Croats had been sacked.
24 Q. Did someone tell you that you were no longer employed?
25 A. Yes. Some people got their employment booklets back. I didn't
1 dare go there to fetch mine.
2 Q. After the takeover, was your apartment ever searched?
3 A. After the attack, and that is why I started telling you about the
4 attack, before the attack, my house had not been searched. At least, that
5 was the case with my place.
6 Q. After the 30th of May, 1992, the date of the attack, was your
7 apartment searched?
8 A. Yes. They conducted altogether 16 searches. Whatever I had which
9 belonged to the Merhamet organisation, including food, everything was
10 taken away. I was beaten and eventually taken to the theatre where a part
11 of the Crisis Staff was located. They probably had some information about
12 me, and finally I was told: "you're lucky, you can go back." But many of
13 my neighbours never came back.
14 Q. Now, in this time -- we're talking now about the end of May or
15 June -- were you using your apartment to store the humanitarian goods that
16 belonged to Merhamet?
17 A. It was not in my apartment. It was not in the flat itself but in
18 the building where I lived, I had a space which was used for that purpose.
19 And one could enter the space, these premises, from the street. And this
20 is where this humanitarian aid belonging to Merhamet was stored. The aid
21 that had been given to us by this German organisation. Part of this aid
22 was immediately distributed, but we needed some time, we needed to
23 reorganise ourselves and update the lists with the necessary statistical
24 data, so it all took a while, and I worked on those papers. The papers,
25 the lists contained both Croats and Serbs. Later on, I was able to show
1 this against the accusations that I had distributed this food to the army,
2 and I said: "Look here, you can see the signatures of Croats and Serbs,
3 the numbers of their identity cards, of the people who had received the
4 food, including various other data such as the age of the children and so
5 on and so forth."
6 Q. What kind of property was this that Merhamet -- that you were
7 storing for Merhamet?
8 A. Most of it was baby food and bottles for feeding babies. Then we
9 had some children's clothes, some heating devices which used not fuel but
10 gas -- or actually petroleum, I think. Then we also had some flour,
11 sugar. I know that the food had been brought in two huge trailer trucks,
12 so the quantity was considerable. I was surprised, because of the
13 prevailing crisis at the time and the problems we faced with transport.
14 So I thought that the best would be to distribute it as quickly as
15 possible to those who were in need. I went to the municipality in
16 Prijedor. I cooperated with them. I actually had asked them for
17 assistance because they had already done that. They had already
18 distributed humanitarian food on several occasions, so I wanted them to
19 help me to go about it.
20 Q. In addition to the property of Merhamet, was any other property,
21 personal property, belonging to you taken during these 16 searches?
22 A. Yes, of course. As I said, my flat was searched on 16 occasions.
23 Eventually, I was left with no flour, sugar, and oil for about a month.
24 We had nothing except water. And I didn't dare go out, because the
25 military and the police had told me that we were all under house arrest
1 and that we shall not receive any visits either, that we should not go
3 Q. Do you remember approximately when it was that you were told that
4 you should not leave your house, that you were detained at your house?
5 A. The first day, sometime around the 30th of May.
6 Q. During these searches, was anyone in your family mistreated?
7 A. As I said, I was beaten and so were my children.
8 Q. How old were your children that were beaten?
9 A. My wife was not.
10 Q. Thank you.
11 A. 15 and 16.
12 Q. Sir, did you ever hear an order directed towards Bosniaks and
13 Croats regarding marking their houses in some way?
14 A. Yes, I did. I, too, had to mark my house. I was told by the
15 police and the soldiers that I should put up some white sheets on the
16 windows and the door. And we had to keep these out for a while.
17 Q. You mentioned earlier in your testimony that there was a Catholic
18 church near your home. Is that correct?
19 A. Yes. 80 metres away from my building.
20 Q. Can you tell us -- by the way, what part of town are we talking
21 about, what part of Prijedor?
22 A. The centre of the town. The name of the street was Marsal Tito,
23 and it was a very big junction in the town where five major communications
24 meet. The Catholic church was in the vicinity and so was the building of
25 the Jugobanka, a department house, the Prijedor Patria department house,
1 the Prijedor Hotel, both the railway and the bus station. The PTT
2 building was maybe a hundred or 200 metres away. The theatre, an
3 elementary school, a number of secondary schools, the town hall,
4 everything, that was located within a perimeter of 500 metres.
5 Q. Do you know what happened to that Catholic church in 1992?
6 A. People were euphoric. I don't know exactly when that was, but I
7 remember that police and soldiers were on duty that night. I saw them
8 roll up a barrel containing something, which I didn't know what it was,
9 but later I heard that it was gunpowder. They were saying that allegedly
10 a sniper was located at the top of the Catholic church, at the roof, and
11 that they were about to take him out. But it's interesting to point out
12 that the sniper -- this sniper never opened fire. And at about 1.00 or
13 2.00 a.m., I didn't want to look out, but I could hear things. It was
14 nighttime. I could clearly hear what happened. There was a very loud
15 explosion and a flash, and a piece of the structure flew by my house.
16 That night, the mosque in Donja Puharska was also blown up.
17 I also know that the Catholic priest was interrogated. They
18 wanted to know who was there, if he knew anything. He was an elderly man.
19 I don't think they beat him. I didn't see them beat him, but after that,
20 he was very frightened.
21 JUDGE SCHOMBURG: I think it's appropriate to have a break now.
22 Let's resume at 12.50. Thank you.
23 --- Recess taken at 12.30 p.m.
24 --- On resuming at 12.53 p.m.
25 JUDGE SCHOMBURG: Please be seated, and let's start immediately,
2 MR. KOUMJIAN:
3 Q. Mr. Kapetanovic, you mentioned that you saw people going into the
4 church before the explosion. Can you tell us more about what you saw and
5 what these people were wearing, what kind of clothing?
6 A. I know that they had military and police uniforms.
7 Q. Was it one or two people, or more?
8 A. More. I don't know the exact number. I was unable to find out.
9 Q. Did you actually see these people? Could you actually see them
10 from your home?
11 A. Yes. I had it in full view.
12 Q. Let's talk a little bit about your home that you were living in at
13 that time. You said it was on the street called Marsal Tito, is that
14 correct, prior to the conflict?
15 A. Yes, it was called Marsal Tito Street, and the other street, Latka
16 Marusica, which was actually running toward the Catholic church. This is
17 a street that is about 100 metres long.
18 Q. When you say this was your house, was this a house that had been
19 assigned to you because of your job? Was it something that was in your
20 family? Can you explain that to us.
21 A. It was a family house where I lived with my mom, and my brother
22 was staying with us for a while.
23 Q. So was this a home owned by your family?
24 A. Yes.
25 Q. Can you tell us, what was the style of the architecture?
1 A. There were basically three units, two in front, one at the back.
2 We were living on the first floor, some 12 by 11 metres.
3 Q. Was the style of the architecture typical of any particular group
4 or period?
5 A. It was typically Bosnian architecture. The roof faced four sides.
6 Q. What happened to your house in 1992?
7 A. In 1992, the house was still intact because I received visits by
8 the representatives of the international Red Cross, because as I said, I
9 was under a sort of a house arrest. And then, according to the town plan
10 that was produced in November, my house was supposed to be pulled down
11 because some sort of a street or a lane was supposed to go through. And I
12 was really surprised at this decision, because my house was just across
13 from the Catholic church. And then I tried -- I asked the people,
14 representatives of the municipality who came, I asked them for an
15 explanation. And this was something that happened after the takeover by
16 the Serbs. My wife was then told that she should abide by this decision,
17 and that she would, in turn, get a Bosnian house, and we were given a
18 house in Donja Puharska. We moved to this house. And my house in
19 Prijedor was then destroyed.
20 Q. How was it destroyed?
21 A. By bulldozers.
22 Q. Withdraw that.
23 A. It was destroyed by bulldozers.
24 Q. Was -- did you receive an order regarding your house being
25 demolished; and if so, who signed the order?
1 A. I did not receive any document, or an order of such sort. I
2 just -- there were people from the power distribution company who came and
3 said that we should have our power cut off and that we should move out.
4 We were told this by the police, the army, and that's when we moved out.
5 I was -- part of the building material of my house was used, and then they
6 transported it later to -- in Donja Puharska where I was able to actually
7 recognise the brick of which my house had been made in Urije.
8 Q. Did anyone ever tell you on whose authority your house was
10 A. I was told that this was a decision taken by the war presidency of
11 Prijedor municipality in order for some sort of a road to be built on this
12 site. I received a piece of paper which contained signatures of certain
13 people whose names I cannot recall at this moment. This, I received it
14 when we were moved into this other house. In the meantime, we filed a
15 suit. That was maybe one month earlier, because we did not receive a
16 paper, a decision, that our property would be returned. This was a month
17 ago, sorry, we filed a suit, hoping for the return of the property. And I
18 hope it will all be sorted out soon.
19 Q. Are you saying that you filed the suit in year 2002? Correct?
20 A. Yes, yes. Because I had been waiting for some sort of a document,
21 a decision, which we have not received so far.
22 Q. Going back, concentrating on the events in 1992, as the president,
23 formal or informal, of Merhamet, was there any attempt by the authorities
24 of Merhamet in Prijedor to give aid to detainees in the Omarska, Keraterm,
25 and Trnopolje camps?
1 A. At the time I was unable to go out because I was under house
2 arrest, but as far as I know, Adil Solo did bring some aid to Omarska, and
3 this was really a specified purpose mission. We had a list of people.
4 But it created additional problems to us because citizens thought that we
5 were stealing goods and then giving aid to some people and not to others.
6 However, this was really specified by the international Red Cross, that
7 the aid was to be given to the people on the list. That was something
8 taken care of by the international Red Cross. So we had problems also
9 with Bosniaks. They started accusing us of not giving them aid, of
10 speculating with the goods, and it was very difficult for us to explain it
11 to them.
12 Q. Do you know if any aid ever reached people in Omarska, Keraterm,
13 or Trnopolje?
14 A. Some aid did arrive in Trnopolje, yes, but I don't know if the
15 same is true for Omarska and Keraterm.
16 MR. KOUMJIAN: Your Honour, I have an article I would like to have
17 marked as an exhibit next in order. It is for the record, it comes from
18 Kozarski Vjesnik, it is dated the 28th of April, 1994. And the ERN number
19 on the translation begins 00326342 and 343, in consecutive order. And the
20 ERN on the B/C/S original, a photocopy, is 00326340 and 6341.
21 JUDGE SCHOMBURG: This was former 65 ter Exhibit Number 423?
22 MR. KOUMJIAN: Yes.
23 JUDGE SCHOMBURG: What will be the new number for the exhibit,
25 THE REGISTRAR: The Exhibit Number will be Prosecution Exhibit
1 S47, A for the English version and B for the B/C/S version.
2 JUDGE SCHOMBURG: Thank you.
3 MR. KOUMJIAN:
4 Q. Sir, I don't know if you can see the newspaper article in front of
5 you. Can you see it?
6 A. I see the article, but I am unable to read, so I would kindly ask
7 the interpreters to read it out for me.
8 Q. No problem. What I'm going to do is I'm going to read it in
9 English, and you will be receiving the translation in B/C/S. And then I
10 will ask you some questions about it.
11 JUDGE SCHOMBURG: Sorry, this causes indeed some problems. Can we
12 have any solution that it's read out in the original version, and then be
13 translated into English? I know it causes problems, but to be as precise
14 as possible, it would be better the other way around. Is there anybody
15 possible? It's, of course, the right of the Defence to remain silent.
16 But if you could do us a favour, I think it will be also, to a certain
17 extent, to the advantage of your client if you could read it out.
18 MR. KOUMJIAN: If I could suggest, I think the B/C/S booth could
19 read out the document while the English booth translates.
20 JUDGE SCHOMBURG: Okay. Thank you.
21 MR. KOUMJIAN: Is that possible?
22 JUDGE SCHOMBURG: Is it appropriate for the interpreters? Okay,
23 thank you. Could the B/C/S booth please start reading this article.
24 MR. KOUMJIAN: The English and French booths translate.
25 JUDGE SCHOMBURG: They translate. And I see the B/C/S booth
1 nodding. Could it additionally be put on the ELMO.
2 Can it be heard by the English and the French booth? Okay.
3 THE INTERPRETER: Mr. Koumjian, do you want the whole article?
4 MR. KOUMJIAN: Yes.
5 THE INTERPRETER: How Dr. Milomir Stakic, first chairman of the
6 Municipal Assembly of Prijedor, saw the events of 30th April and after.
7 SDA had a detailed plan for the liquidation of Serbs -- can you please
8 slow down -- making up uniforms with the lily symbols and building
9 strongholds in Kozara and the neighbouring districts. When I was elected
10 chairman of the Serbian assembly in Prijedor, the then chairman of the
11 joint assembly Muhamed Cehajic congratulated me, but I knew what was
12 hiding behind his smile.
13 It had been two years ago this Saturday since the Serbian people
14 in this part of Potkozarje, with guns in their hands, succeeded to defend
15 themselves from Muslim and Croatian extremists. This is an opportune
16 moment to remind ourselves once again of this, for the Serbian people,
17 very important date, and at the same time, to expose the infernal plan for
18 the liquidation of Serbs in Prijedor, concocted jointly by the Party of
19 Democratic Action and Croatian Democratic Union. The choice of our
20 collocutor Milomir Stakic, one of the leaders of SDS and the first
21 chairman of the Serbian Municipal Assembly in Prijedor, was not
22 accidental. By nature unobtrusive, but a determined and tenacious man
23 Stakic, while still vice-president of the joint Municipal Assembly in
24 Prijedor, came to realise that the SDA and HDZ are contriving a plot to
25 get rid of Serbs, and he used every opportunity to counteract them.
12 Blank page inserted to ensure pagination corresponds between the French and
13 English transcripts.
1 This is what and why he said this at the start of our interview.
2 "What happened on the 30th of April, 1992, was only the final act of a
3 long-standing but, for the Serbs, perilous plan. I often talked in
4 private with the leaders of the SDA and HDZ, and this is what convinced me
5 that they were concocting a terrible plan regarding Serbs. They were
6 secretly arming themselves, sewing uniforms with the symbol of the lily,
7 building strongholds in Kozara and the neighbouring districts. But we
8 were not sitting there with our hands in our laps. When we saw what they
9 were doing" -- one part of the page is illegible. "So they were secretly
10 arming themselves, sewing uniforms with the lily, building strongholds in
11 Kozara and the neighbouring districts. But we were not just sitting there
12 with our hands in our laps. When we saw what they were doing, we began to
13 arm ourselves and told the party members what they were planning to do to
14 us, and what had to be done to prevent 1941 happening all over again.
15 "On the direction of the central office of the SDS, we, on 7
16 January, 1992, formed the Serbian assembly of Prijedor, and I became its
17 president. When I arrived to work the next day, the then chairman of the
18 joint assembly, Muhamed Cehajic, greeted me with the following words:
19 "Hello, colleague. Now, we are both presidents, and I congratulate you
20 from all my heart and wish you success." But in spite of his smile, I
21 knew what was behind these words and what they were planning to do to us.
22 In April, things started to happen in Sarajevo, Bosanska Krupa and other
23 places and this convinced we have to speed up the process of arming
24 ourselves. All more so, as both Muslims and Croats on the 6th of May of
25 that same year called an all-party conference inviting managers of various
1 firms and prominent people and formed their government, appointed heads of
2 SUPs and army and other institutions. I was informed through my own
3 channels that a decision had also been reached to take over power by
4 force. We were lucky that Colonel Arsic was the commander of our
5 garrison, a good soldier, and a man with a lot of experience, and we
6 decided we must speed up the process of arming ourselves."
7 "An interesting thing happened on the 20th of May," Stakic
8 continued. When travelling to work from Omarska, I saw in Prijedor at
9 Kozarac a checkpoint, armed Muslims with lilies on their sleeves. I
10 noticed the same in Kozarusa, and I knew that the time for action had
11 come. Two days later, our people were attacked in Hambarine, and the same
12 happened in Kozarac on 24th May. We reacted by mounting guards,
13 checkpoints in certain spots in town, and prepared for defence. We knew
14 they were armed mainly with light infantry weapons and Wasps, but we were
15 better armed and our lads were brave and bold. But it has to be said once
16 again that we were not vigilant enough.
17 "That morning, when we were attacked, a light rain was falling.
18 We were only half awake; and therefore, in the first clash, 12 of our
19 people were killed. Later, when we organised ourselves, the enemy was
20 soon forced to his knees. When we took into custody the most hardened of
21 extremists," continued Mr. Stakic, "we gathered enough information to
22 conclude that the Muslims were very well organised and determined to
23 liquidate their fellow citizens, the Serbs. Their armed, well-trained
24 groups were stationed in all the villages, all bearing the emblems of the
25 Muslim guerrilla, but lucky for us the delivery of heavy weapons had been
1 slightly delayed. We thwarted their plans by stopping Agrokomerc lorries
2 carrying heavy weapons.
3 "From the interrogation records, we learned that they had intended
4 to simultaneously take over power and seize the barracks and with it, the
5 arms depot. But worst of all, we found out that the Muslims had a
6 detailed plan for the liquidation of the Serbian population of Prijedor.
7 They knew exactly who, in which house will liquidate which Serb. The
8 worker was given the task to liquidate his coworker, the neighbour his
9 neighbour, the friend his friend, but we stopped them and in doing so
10 prevented the repeat of the massacre of the Second World War." At the
11 end, Dr. Stakic warned and rightly so that the war was not over yet. "And
12 although we are now some 50 kilometres from the nearest front line we
13 should never not for a moment forget that we are at war nor should we
14 relax and forget about the infernal plans of our false brothers. Now is
15 the time," he said, "to perfect our combat readiness and to strengthen the
16 SDS, because the conditions are ripe to transform her from a national
17 movement into a party. If SDS does not achieve that, who knows how she
18 will fare in the elections which will probably be held already in autumn
19 because the time for putting up posters and shouting slogans and blaming
20 communists for everything bad that happened is past. We must identify our
21 own failings and eradicate them as we go along," concluded Dr. Milomir
22 Stakic. Signed by O. Kesar.
23 MR. KOUMJIAN: Thank you. I thank the booths for that reading and
24 say that on behalf of all the lawyers who've worked at the Tribunal, it
25 was gratifying to hear the interpreter asked to slow down for once.
1 Q. Sir, in the article, I want to ask you about a few parts of that
2 article. It was indicated that Dr. Stakic was described as "an
3 unobtrusive, but determined and tenacious man." Would you agree with that
5 A. Yes.
6 Q. The article goes on to talk about the leadup to the Serbian
7 takeover, the SDS takeover, on the 30th of April. It talks about Muslims
8 secretly arming themselves and preparing lists of people for execution. Do
9 you have any comment to make regarding those statements by Dr. Stakic?
10 A. First, I will like to comment on the process of arming themselves.
11 It was argued that Srdjo Srdic at one point, that he was arming Bosniaks.
12 There were a lot of Bosniaks who actually bought arms through him, and it
13 was not done by the SDA. Furthermore, the gentleman himself said that the
14 Serbs were arming themselves. The gentleman says that Bosniaks were
15 sewing the lily patches on the uniforms. And I would like to remind the
16 gentleman that these were the official state symbols, this very symbol was
17 actually appended on the wall in the UN headquarters. And he himself in
18 1994, did not recognise this as an official emblem? And I would ask him
19 whose emblems that he saw on the uniform, his countries or some others?
20 Furthermore, he says that there were people in Kozarac who were
21 building dugouts. This is true. But why were they doing this? Well, to
22 hide their women and children, because they witnessed what was
23 happening -- they were able to see what was happening in Croatia, in
24 Slovenia. Could the gentleman please tell me, where was it that Bosniaks
25 and Croats attacked a Serbian village? Were did they perform a massacre?
1 Did Bosniaks ever perform rapes or threaten Serbs; Bosniaks or Croats?
2 This has been fabricated in order for -- in order to increase the rage of
3 the Serbs, in order to increase the nationalist tension.
4 I think that this article really characterises the entire
5 psychology and tactics that they employed. It is difficult for me to
6 comment on each and every line, because it's difficult for me to recall
7 the text that I heard. But if you have any additional questions, I am
8 here to respond to them.
9 Q. In the interview, Dr. Stakic indicates that the SDA party or the
10 Muslims were preparing lists of people for execution and preparing to take
11 over Prijedor. Given what you have told us about the presence of the JNA
12 and later the VRS in Prijedor, was it feasible for Muslims to take over
13 power militarily in Prijedor?
14 A. I said at the beginning that there was more than 100 tanks, and
15 the army that withdrew from Slovenia and Croatia, there was an entire
16 corps surrounding the town. And in Banja Luka, it was only Bosniaks who
17 were so naive that could actually think that there would not be a war and
18 that they should have done something to prevent it. I think that this
19 psychological approach really had an impact on the way people were
20 thinking at the time. I think very few people could have resisted the --
21 this imposed situation. I said at the beginning that we had a euphoria,
22 this psychological approach trying to heighten the feeling of being
23 threatened, the mass media and individual persons really contributed to
24 the formation of such an opinion, public opinion.
25 Q. I'm going to quote one sentence out of the article, where Dr.
1 Stakic is quoted as saying: "When we say what they were doing, we began
2 to arm ourselves and to tell the party members what they were planning to
3 do to us, and what has to be done to prevent 1941 happening all over
5 A. This is where the problem lay, because the Serbs had this feeling
6 that they were the ones who were the greatest victim of the Second World
7 War. Bosniaks, but even the Serbian Djilas wrote that it was the Bosniaks
8 that were killed most in the Second World War. But the Serbs were the
9 ones who were blaming Bosniaks and Croats for having committed most
10 massacres against the Serbs. And this is really a vicious circle that
11 nobody really wanted to go out of. In my opinion, this is what the
12 essential problem was. People looking back at history, and not thinking
13 about the future. I was using my powers, as many as I had, did my best to
14 prevent this, but it simply did not turn out that way.
15 Q. When Dr. Stakic indicates that "we were arming ourselves," did you
16 have any evidence -- could you see whether that was true? Was the SDS, or
17 the authorities of the SDS, arming the population?
18 A. Mr. Stakic himself said that they did, and of course I knew this
19 because in the Serbian-dominated villages, they would put up crosses next
20 to their houses and helicopters would land. I understand that Serbs were
21 afraid and that they armed themselves. But what I cannot accept is that
22 they entered and attacked Bosniak and Croat villages and killed people.
23 If they -- if we were unable to agree immediately on issues, we could have
24 reached the agreement eventually. In my opinion, a human being is a
25 sacred thing, it's a creature made by God. As I said, our forefather --
1 we have Adam and Eve. We are their descendants. Such actions really
2 constitute the refusal to accept the will of God, that we are all the
3 same. It is the refusal to abide by the ten commandments that was
4 conveyed to the people by Moses. This is irrespect -- showing lack of
5 respect for any sciences. The greatest problem lay in the fact that
6 people were allowed to act as if they were God, deities, and this is
7 something that I think was brought about by communism because in
8 communism, people had always one God, they Stalin, Lenin, Tito, Mao
9 Tse-tung. Now they are left without these divinities, and now they turn
10 to religion, to the ethnicity. And now they thought they were there to
11 perform the will of God as they saw it, and this was the major human
12 mistake. This is, I think, a problem shared by the entire mankind. It
13 constitutes a destruction of the mankind itself.
14 I would like to live in a country where we have Americans,
15 Japanese, and Serbs and Croats, and others. I don't like to be in a
16 society that is narrow-minded, because of course this also leads to --
17 makes people dumb, and we have been made different for a purpose. However,
18 we came out of this communist system with this narrow-minded attitude, and
19 it was difficult for the people to absorb all of a sudden all the
20 differences, and this is why they behaved as they did.
21 Q. Isn't it true, Mr. Kapetanovic, that the Crisis Staff was giving
22 orders to disarm people and conducting searches for weapons? How can you
23 explain that this was done the same time that Dr. Stakic indicates that
24 they were arming the Serb population?
25 A. Yes, of course the police and the military had all the necessary
1 information with respect to weapons, the number of the piece of weapon and
2 to whom it had been sold. And it all used to belong to the JNA. I
3 learned from other people, I mean, I didn't personally buy or sell any
4 weapons. But I learned from other people that the person in charge was
5 Srdjo Srdic. So they knew all this, including rifle numbers. And this is
6 how it was done. Well, once again, I understand that Serbs had reasons to
7 be concerned; what I do not understand is why they acted on such feelings
8 and why they eventually did what they did. I respect their fear; I
9 respect fear of every individual. But I also respect every individual's
10 opinions. What I cannot respect are activities which are to the detriment
11 of others. I cannot impose my opinions to other people, including my
12 children, let alone issue orders to other people. But they used this
13 approach and misrepresented it as a protection of their interests.
14 It cannot be in the interest of Bosniaks to attack Serb villages.
15 Only madmen would do that, be they Croats or Bosniaks or Serbs. I'm now
16 living in Prijedor again. If I thought that it was not possible to live
17 with Serbs, I wouldn't be there today. There were quite a few Serbs who
18 helped me in this very difficult situation. They risked their own lives.
19 They risked losing the respect of the community. As I told you, there
20 were camps for Serbs as well. Whether Mr. Stakic was aware of this or
21 not, I don't know. I don't have any example, nor did I hear from anyone,
22 that Mr. Stakic killed someone or did something really bad to anyone.
23 However, my major criticism of Mr. Stakic is that he failed to put some
24 additional effort and do something. I think that Serbs, having conducted
25 themselves in this manner, lost more than they gained, as we all lost,
1 Croats and Muslims and Serbs alike.
2 Q. In the article, Dr. Stakic --
3 THE INTERPRETER: Microphone for the counsel, please.
4 MR. KOUMJIAN:
5 Q. In the article, Dr. Stakic is also quoted as saying: "We thwarted
6 their plans by stopping Agrokomerc lorries carrying heavy weapons." Can
7 you comment on that?
8 A. I've heard the word "plan" several times here. I cannot either
9 confirm or deny anything, but in cases of killings and rapes, this is
10 possible. A plan is possible, but however, to my knowledge, there were no
11 such plans on the part of Bosniaks. I would like to see such plans if
12 they existed and I would like to hear from people from the Bosniak
13 community who allegedly acted this way. I think it was a very barbaric
14 thing to do, to represent things in this manner.
15 As for the Agrokomerc company, the idea is crazy in itself. We all
16 know on whose side Abdic was. The food produced by this company was sold
17 in Prijedor. I would need some very strong proof to believe this. But of
18 course, the gentleman has the perfect freedom to express his opinion. But
19 he said a number of times: "They planned," "according to their plans,"
20 and so on and so forth. If there were any plans, their intention was to
21 protect people, not to do anything against Serbs. And I'm all in favour
22 of holding Bosniaks responsible if they had done anything against Serbs.
23 I consider Serbs to be my brother to this very date.
24 Q. Was Agrokomerc controlled in 1992 by Fikret Abdic, a Muslim?
25 A. Yes.
1 Q. And can you briefly tell the Court who Fikret Abdic was and what
2 his relationship was with the Serbian authorities?
3 A. They were negotiating with the purpose of resolving the problem of
4 Bosnian Krajina. This is how we called this area where Croats, Bosniaks,
5 and Serbs lived. He argued that a political solution should be found.
6 Q. And did Fikret Abdic eventually reach a political agreement in
7 Belgrade with the authorities of Yugoslavia and the Republika Srpska and
8 actually join his forces against the Bosnian army?
9 A. Yes. What he wanted, and this is only my opinion, is to buy some
10 time for himself so that he would eventually become the president of
11 Bosnia and Herzegovina. Those were probably his hopes.
12 Q. I want to ask you about one more part of the interview. Dr.
13 Stakic says, at the bottom of the first page in the English translation,
14 the very last sentence: "We were lucky that Colonel Arsic was the
15 commander of our garrison, a good soldier, and a man with a lot of
16 experience, and we decided that we must speed up the process of arming
18 As an observer of the events in 1992, did you see indications of
19 cooperation between the SDS authorities and Dr. Stakic with the army that
20 was, before the May the 16th the JNA, and later the VRS?
21 A. There's no need for too many words for that. It was a military
22 discipline. Those Serbs who helped Bosniaks or Croats were in jeopardy.
23 They had to help them in secret. I received food from some Serbs, and I
24 think that Mr. Stakic is now going to be surprised. I received help even
25 from some people who were members of his staff. This is the first time
1 that I'm telling this to anyone, but I'm not going to give you any names
2 in order not to endanger security of these people. There were people whom
3 I called "reasonable" people amongst Serbs and Croats and Bosniaks. I
4 wouldn't be alive today if this was not the case. I wouldn't be in
5 Prijedor today. What I'm not clear about is to what extent Stakic had any
6 power, just as much as I didn't have much power to improve things,
7 generally speaking. So I don't know what the situation was, with respect
8 of him. I don't know whether what eventually happened was the result of
9 his desires and endeavours. I know that some Serbs were killed and
10 detained, such as this gentleman that I mentioned, Pero, from Omarska. I
11 was, I think, burnt alive, and his wife was killed. So Serbs were also
12 under a lot of pressure. But they were also under a lot of pressure as a
13 result of the overall situation in the former Yugoslavia and the events in
14 general. It was not easy for them to cope with a situation of this kind.
15 Q. My question, sir, Mr. Kapetanovic, was just directed towards the
16 role, the interaction between the army and the SDS authorities and whether
17 you saw any evidence of cooperation between the two of them. Did you see
18 that, or were you not able to observe that?
19 A. One could observe that, of course, because Arsic and Zeljaja could
20 be seen coming to the town hall, to the sessions, and to various other
21 places, in local communes, at the local barracks, and so on and so forth.
22 And as I already indicated, one could tell that things were very well
23 structured as far as the military's concerned.
24 Q. In the negotiations regarding the division of power prior to the
25 takeover, can you tell us the names of some of the SDA and HDZ officials
1 that took part in those negotiations?
2 A. Mr. Stakic, Srdo Srdic, Kovacevic for a period of time, Mirza
4 Q. You mentioned some SDS officials, and I think you're now starting
5 with the SDA but I want to distinguish them. Now, tell me first the SDA
6 officials that were involved in negotiations. That's my question.
7 A. I see, the SDS. Mirza Mujadzic, Cehajic, Medunjanin, Ilijaz
8 Music. As for the HDZ, Saric, and a couple of others whom I cannot
9 remember at the moment.
10 Q. Did Dr. Rufad Suljanovic take part?
11 A. Yes, yes, Rufad, Rufad Suljanovic.
12 Q. Did Mr. Safet Ramadanovic take part?
13 A. Yes. Yes.
14 Q. Mr. Mujadzic escaped from Prijedor and survived the conflict. Is
15 that correct?
16 A. Yes. I don't know exactly, but as far as I heard, he went over to
17 Fikret Abdic.
18 Q. Did the following people that you mentioned, Mr. Cehajic,
19 Mr. Seric, Ilijaz Music, Dr. Rufad Suljanovic, and Safet Ramadanovic, can
20 you tell me if you know what their fate was in the conflict in 1992?
21 A. From what I learned subsequently, they were killed in Omarska.
22 The majority of these individuals who attended negotiations were killed.
23 Q. Did Dr. Stakic personally meet with these people during the
24 negotiations who were subsequently killed in Omarska?
25 A. Well, I'm sure he did. He attended the meetings, so he must have
12 Blank page inserted to ensure pagination corresponds between the French and
13 English transcripts.
1 met them.
2 MR. KOUMJIAN: Thank you. I have no further questions on direct
3 examination. I would move to have the exhibit admitted.
4 JUDGE SCHOMBURG: Yes. I'm afraid --
5 THE INTERPRETER: Microphone, Your Honour, please.
6 JUDGE SCHOMBURG: I'm afraid the last part of your last question
7 is not on the record. Read at 13:42. There is no question before.
8 MR. KOUMJIAN: I believe the question -- I don't know if Your
9 Honour wants to correct it. I asked: "Did Dr. Stakic subsequently meet
10 with these individuals who were killed?"
11 JUDGE SCHOMBURG: Right. And then it was your answer: "Well, I'm
12 sure he did. He attended the meetings, so he must have met them."
13 Is it a correct answer, Witness, to this question?
14 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Yes.
15 JUDGE SCHOMBURG: Thank you for this clarification.
16 We have one exhibit today, the former 65 ter Exhibit Number 423.
17 Objections from the Defence?
18 MR. LUKIC: The same objections, Your Honour, as prior exhibits
19 like this; no authorisation, and we don't know whether it has been
20 composed by these papers. We'll ask these questions of the witness so we
21 can afterwards see what's going on with this exhibit.
22 JUDGE SCHOMBURG: But I think the same is true as we did it in the
23 past. We take this sheet of paper as such, and we have an English
24 translation, some distinctions on the transcript. And therefore, this is
25 the article from Kozarski Vjesnik from 18th of April is, in the English
1 version, admitted into evidence as S47A. And the left-hand side of this
2 article from the 18th of April, 1994, only the left-hand side, is admitted
3 into evidence as S47B.
4 I don't believe it makes much sense to start with the
5 cross-examination for the last 10 minutes of this hearing. I heard that
6 the parties are prepared to meet at a meeting at 3.30 in my office in
7 application of 65 ter (I) correspondingly dealing with administrative
8 matters only, and the results will be brought to the attention of the
9 public in our -- one of our next sessions, and minutes will be taken by
10 the registry.
11 I would kindly ask the witness, Mr. Kapetanovic, please come back
12 tomorrow to the hearing. And first of all, I have to do what I didn't in
13 the beginning this morning, to apologise that you had to be here for such
14 a long period of time. Unfortunately, it wasn't possible to proceed in
15 another way. But we are really grateful for all the assistance you
16 provided and will provide tomorrow when we resume at 9.00.
17 [The witness stands down]
18 --- Whereupon the hearing adjourned at
19 1.47 p.m., to be reconvened on
20 Tuesday, the 14th day of May, 2002,
21 at 9.00 a.m.