1 Monday, 26 August 2002
2 [Open session]
3 [The accused entered court]
4 --- Upon commencing at 9.32 a.m.
5 JUDGE SCHOMBURG: Good morning, everybody. May we please hear the
6 case number.
7 THE REGISTRAR: Case Number IT-97-24-T, the Prosecutor versus
8 Milomir Stakic.
9 JUDGE SCHOMBURG: Thank you. And the appearances of today.
10 MR. KOUMJIAN: Good morning, Your Honours. Nicholas Koumjian with
11 Ruth Karper for the Office of the Prosecutor.
12 JUDGE SCHOMBURG: Thank you. And for the Defence.
13 MR. LUKIC: Good morning, Your Honours. Branko Lukic, John
14 Ostojic, and Danilo Cirkovic for the Defence.
15 JUDGE SCHOMBURG: May I take the opportunity after this long break
16 to ask Dr. Stakic himself about his health condition and are there any
17 problems regarding the conditions in the Detention Unit?
18 THE ACCUSED: [Interpretation] Good morning, Your Honours. At the
19 moment, I'm in good health, and I have no particular objections to make
20 regarding the conditions in the Detention Unit.
21 JUDGE SCHOMBURG: Thank you. Please be seated again.
22 You may be advised that no doubt the same rules apply as they did
23 since the beginning of this case, that it's your right to address this
24 Bench whenever, after having contacted your Defence counsel, this Bench,
25 and especially when you feel it appropriate to intervene, be it in the
1 form as foreseen under our rules as a formal witness, or by an own
2 statement also in the framework of our rules.
3 You may have seen, and this is true for both parties, that we have
4 to a certain extent an enlarged time frame. I think it's helpful that we
5 can start all the days from now on until the end of the Prosecutor's case
6 in the morning, and have additional the afternoon. Even though it may be
7 possible that the one or other day has to be cancelled, no doubt, it's
8 time enough to close the Prosecutor's case. Until then, and if there is
9 no unforeseeable real obstacle, the case of the Prosecutor has to be
10 finalised as scheduled. This is Thursday, the 19th September.
11 If there should be the one or other obstacle, please discuss this
12 as soon as possible. And the Judges want to ask the Prosecutor to
13 concentrate during the rest of the Prosecutor's case, first of all, on
14 questions related, no doubt, you know it yourself, related to the personal
15 responsibility to link to those events shown in the past to Dr. Stakic,
16 but also to the question why - we mentioned this earlier - why this
17 special time limit, why starting at this period in time, why ending at
18 that period of time, and here it could be indeed, and the Defence should
19 think about this issue very carefully, whether it's appropriate to present
20 Dr. Stakic either as a witness or in the form of a statement as regard the
21 end of the alleged activities in 1992. And it's, of course for the
22 Prosecutor to describe and to declare why they held, necessary to limit
23 the case for this short period, relatively short period of time.
24 One issue remaining, having reviewed that what has been said since
25 April here in this courtroom is no doubt the question of the mens rea, the
1 state of mind, especially as regards the intent. And there is no doubt
2 the burden of proof for the Prosecutor, and we have, first of all, to rely
3 on certain documents. But it could be also helpful for the Defence
4 already during the presentation of the Prosecution's case give their own
5 presentation or give the presentation through the words of Dr. Stakic in
6 order to limitate as far as possible the case after the end of said case
7 of the Prosecution. And it's not for nothing that you will find after
8 the -- immediately after the close of the Prosecution's case some days
9 called deliberations or negotiations, and this is the attempt really to
10 streamline the case both on the factual basis as well as on the -- as
11 regards the charges. Both is important, and both is indispensable because
12 in relation to other cases, be it in the framework of this Tribunal, be it
13 in the comparison to cases on domestic level, for me, it seems to be
14 scandalous that our case should take us more than one year. It is
15 necessary for all participants to streamline this case.
16 Having said this, I want to ask the Prosecution to concentrate
17 during this week, first of all, on the witnesses summoned from abroad.
18 Maybe we should hear, and we can hear in-house witnesses later.
19 Admittedly, there are some reasons during this week endangering the
20 continuity of the case. I'll try to do my very best, but I can't
21 guarantee that I can be here all the time. Probably we have to make use
22 of Rule 15 bis. But I regard it as necessary to hear at least the
23 witnesses called from abroad. If there is no other special intervention,
24 then we could immediately start with the witness.
25 MR. KOUMJIAN: Just before the witness is brought in, the witness
1 requested this morning a pseudonym.
2 JUDGE SCHOMBURG: Pseudonym. Objections?
3 MR. LUKIC: No objections, Your Honour.
4 JUDGE SCHOMBURG: May I ask, after this long period of time, Madam
5 Registrar, what will be the next available pseudonym? Did we have already
6 W? So it would be Witness X. Could the usher please bring in Witness X.
7 [The witness entered court]
8 JUDGE SCHOMBURG: Good morning, Witness X. Can you hear me in a
9 language you understand?
10 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Good morning, Your Honour. I can
11 hear you in a language I can understand.
12 JUDGE SCHOMBURG: And please understand, in addition, that we will
13 call you, for your own protection as "Witness X," and not call you with
14 your own name. It's for your own protection. It's not to be unpolite. Do
15 you understand?
16 May we please hear your solemn declaration.
17 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] I solemnly declare that I will speak
18 the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.
19 JUDGE SCHOMBURG: Witness X, please be seated. And the Office of
20 the Prosecutor may start, please.
21 WITNESS: WITNESS X
22 [Witness answered through interpreter]
23 Examined by Mr. Koumjian:
24 Q. Good morning, Witness X. Can you tell the Court the year that you
25 were born.
1 A. I was born (redacted) .
2 MR. KOUMJIAN: Your Honour, can the day and month be redacted from
3 the transcript?
4 JUDGE SCHOMBURG: May I ask --
5 THE INTERPRETER: Microphone, Your Honour, please.
6 JUDGE SCHOMBURG: No objections?
7 May the day and month of the birth be redacted, please.
8 MR. KOUMJIAN:
9 Q. Witness X, where were you born?
10 A. I was born in Prijedor Municipality.
11 Q. Where did you grow up?
12 A. I grew up in the village of Biscani, Prijedor Municipality.
13 Q. Were you educated in Prijedor?
14 A. Yes, I was. I went to elementary school and secondary school in
16 Q. What is your ethnicity?
17 A. I am a Muslim.
18 Q. I want to take you to 1991. At that time, where were you living
19 at the beginning of 1991?
20 A. At the beginning of 1991, I was living in Biscani. However, I
21 also spent some time in that period in Sarajevo at the police academy.
22 Q. Going to where in Biscani -- did you live with your parents?
23 A. Yes. I lived in the same house with my father, my mother, and my
25 Q. You said that you spent some time at the police academy in
1 Sarajevo. Can you explain that?
2 A. Yes. That was a police academy, a four-year programme. But I
3 came to Sarajevo in 1991, and I stayed there until April 1992 when the war
4 began. When the war began in 1992, I left the academy and returned to my
5 home municipality, Prijedor Municipality.
6 Q. Were you actually in training -- before April 1992, were you
7 actually being trained as a police officer? Were you a cadet?
8 You have to answer out loud. Sorry, I didn't hear your answer.
9 A. Yes, yes, I was a cadet between 1991 and April 1992.
10 Q. In April 1992 when the conflict began in Bosnia, what happened to
12 A. In April 1992, I was working in a department at the academy. It
13 was part of the main police academy in Sarajevo in a place called Tarcin.
14 That's where I was when the war began, when the conflict began and when
15 the barricades were set up in Sarajevo. I was there at that school. And
16 we were told that the school was being closed and that we should all do as
17 we saw fit, and perhaps go to our homes.
18 Q. What did you do? Did you go back to your home?
19 A. Yes, we did that. And the school was dissolved. There was an
20 order -- an order was issued for the school to close, and we returned home
21 to northwest Bosnia. The school was in Central Bosnia, near Sarajevo. We
22 left on our own initiatives in a manner of speaking with our fellow
23 students from the school who knew the area, and they were our guides
24 actually. They took us through the surrounding mountains and villages
25 until we reached our final destination.
1 Q. The other cadets at the academy that you studied with, were they
2 of one particular nationality or different nationalities?
3 A. They were of different nationalities. There were Muslim, Croat,
4 and Serb cadets. It was a mixed group.
5 Q. So did you return to Biscani in April of 1992?
6 A. Yes, I did. I returned to Biscani, my place of birth.
7 Q. Do you recall anything about the 30th of April, 1992?
8 A. The 30th of April, 1992, Serbs took the police -- the Prijedor
9 Police Station by force.
10 Q. Did things change at all for the people of Biscani after that
12 A. Yes, a lot changed. We were isolated. We were cut off. We had
13 no access to the town, and we lived in some sort of an enclave.
14 Q. What was your father's occupation?
15 A. He was a joiner by profession and a construction worker also.
16 Q. Was your father able to work after the takeover?
17 A. No, no one was, not my father, not any of the other Muslims
18 there. They were all dismissed from their jobs. And they couldn't go to
19 the town. There were checkpoints being set up all around the town.
20 Q. Did the people of Biscani set up their own checkpoint or organise
21 any kind of defence or patrols?
22 A. Not at that time, nothing in particular. Just at night, we would
23 simply go outside our own houses and guard our own families from anything
24 happening to them. But there was nothing special aside from that.
25 Q. Do you recall an incident happening in Hambarine?
1 A. Yes, there was an incident in Hambarine about 20 days after
2 Prijedor Municipality was stormed by the Serb authorities. On the 22nd of
3 May, there was an incident. A checkpoint had been set up there already,
4 and people started organising themselves. That was some kind of
5 self-defence, they were watching the roads leading into the village.
6 MR. KOUMJIAN: Your Honour, could we have S170 put on the ELMO.
7 Q. Now, Witness X, the diagram that's on the screen is also to your
8 right. Perhaps you could take a pointer and just point on the diagram to
9 your right where your village that you were living in, Biscani, was.
10 A. The village of Biscani was right here, the blue dot on the map
11 here west of Prijedor.
12 MR. KOUMJIAN: Indicating the blue dot just south of Ravine and
13 just to the east of Mrkalj.
14 Q. Is that correct? That's where you lived at the time?
15 A. Yes, that's correct.
16 Q. Now, you've also talked about Hambarine. Can you point to where
17 that is on the map?
18 A. Hambarine are further south, south of Biscani. This point on the
20 Q. Were Hambarine and Biscani both in an area called Brdo?
21 A. Yes.
22 Q. Can you show us which area is Brdo? Can you circle that area with
23 your -- with the pointer and tell us where it is?
24 A. On the map, I'll circle it like this, just follow the movement of
25 my pen. South of Hambarine, there's the village of Zecovi. That's so to
1 speak the southern most point in Brdo. And then it stretches all the way
2 to the River Sana in the valley, and then up to Ravine at the northernmost
3 point, and on to Alagici and further on south to Zecovi. So this would be
4 the circle.
5 Q. Thank you. And I believe, is it correct, that in that circle you
6 indicated that Carakovo was within the boundaries of the Brdo area on the
7 eastern part? Is that correct?
8 A. Yes, that's correct.
9 Q. Thank you.
10 Where was the barricade for Hambarine?
11 A. The barricade for Hambarine was at the road we used to refer to as
12 the Ljubija Road, because there was a road leading from Prijedor to
13 Ljubija, and that's where the checkpoint was.
14 Q. Okay. How did you hear about the incident at Hambarine?
15 A. Well, I heard it in this way: On that day when the incident
16 happened, there were people on motorcycles that road very fast on the road
17 through all the surrounding villages, and they told us to hide and to seek
18 shelter because we would be attacked because there was an incident that
20 Q. After that incident, did you hear any announcements on the radio?
21 Did you ever hear anything communicated by authorities from Prijedor?
22 A. We listened to the Prijedor radio at that time, and the radio
23 spoke to us, to the population, told us to surrender ourselves, or rather
24 that the people who were responsible for the incident should surrender,
25 that is, the checkpoint commander, Aziz Aliskovic, that we should
1 surrender. If he didn't surrender, then he said that we would be
3 Q. Do you recall in whose name this announcement was made? What is
4 your best recollection?
5 A. Could you put your question a little more simply, please.
6 Q. I'll try.
7 Do you recall who made that order, that order was made on whose
8 behalf that Aziz Aliskovic had to be surrendered?
9 A. It was issued by the Crisis Staff or someone in -- certainly by
10 the Serb authorities. They issued the order because they had the control
11 of all the main points. On the 30th of April, the 1st of May when the
12 police station was taken, all the crucial facilities were taken, and
13 everything was in their hands, in the Serb hands.
14 Q. After that order, ultimatum, was given, was the Brdo area
16 A. On that night, they fired four shells, and then it was probably
17 that the group hadn't surrendered, the people who were sought did not
18 surrender. And on that night, they fired four shells on Hambarine.
19 Q. That was the night of the 22nd, or the morning?
20 A. Yes, between 22nd and 23rd of May, 1992.
21 Q. What happened on the 23rd of May?
22 A. So the next day, after the shelling, by noon, 1200 hours noon, the
23 Prijedor radio kept broadcasting information that Aziz Aliskovic to
24 surrender with his group, and the ultimatum was by 1200 hours noon. They
25 said that if he didn't surrender, then we would be shelled. The shelling
1 began a few minutes after 12.00.
2 Q. Where were you during the shelling?
3 A. I was with my family at home.
4 Q. From the map that we were just looking at, Biscani appears to be
5 in the northern part of Brdo and Hambarine in the south. Did the shelling
6 reach all the way to Biscani, or where was it concentrated?
7 A. It was directed -- the fire was mostly directed at Hambarine, but
8 you already mentioned the Brdo area, and the Brdo was surrounded from all
9 sides with the villages, with nationality, population of Serb
10 nationality. So we were completely surrounded. Mostly Hambarine was
11 shelled, but there were shells going from Hambarine, Rizvanovici, and all
13 Q. Was any part of Brdo occupied? Did the army go into any part of
14 Brdo that day or the next day?
15 A. On that day, the army took Hambarine because from Prijedor, they
16 started to go with armoured units and with infantry, and they managed to
17 get to Hambarine and to take the highest elevation point because Hambarine
18 is probably the highest elevation point on Brdo. They took the school,
19 and they also made their checkpoint there. And all the population fled to
20 the surrounding villages, to Rizvanovici, and to Biscani.
21 Q. Now I'd like to talk about a time period from that point until the
22 20th of July. During that time period, after the attack on Hambarine on
23 the Brdo area until the 20th of July, what was life like in Biscani?
24 A. Life was difficult. We were isolated still although we all
25 believed that nothing would happen to us and that people would go back to
1 their homes. But it didn't come to pass. We were isolated in that
2 period, and they asked for all the weapons owned by people to be handed
3 over, all the weapons they had including rifles, handguns, and also the
4 uniforms that people had. Because all the people, regardless of
5 nationality, people had obligations towards the army as reserves, and
6 following their military service, most of the people had uniforms at home
7 still. So all the uniforms and all the weapons were gathered in front of
8 each local community from Biscani up to Rizvanovici, and all this was
9 taken to the barracks.
10 Q. Did you yourself have a weapon?
11 A. I did not have any weapons.
12 Q. Why did the people of Biscani agree to give up all their weapons
13 and all of their means of defending themselves?
14 A. Simply we believed them that they wouldn't do anything to us, and
15 we thought that if we did it in a nice way, that they wouldn't attack us.
16 That was in that sense. People were afraid.
17 Q. Do you remember the events of the 20th of July, 1992?
18 A. Yes, I do remember the events.
19 Q. Were you in Biscani that day?
20 A. I was throughout this time in Biscani with my family.
21 Q. Your father, mother, and sister?
22 A. Yes, my father, mother, and sister, yes.
23 Q. What happened that morning, the 20th of July, in Biscani?
24 A. On the 20th of July, there was ethnic cleansing that took place of
25 the entire region of Brdo, not only Biscani but the entire area of Brdo.
1 Q. What did you see and experience? Tell the Judges what your
2 experience was that day.
3 A. That day, in the morning, about 10.00 in the morning, there were
4 shots that were heard from the direction of Prijedor, and we saw that
5 there was burning. There was smoke coming. We saw that houses were being
6 set on fire, but I had no idea what was going on, in fact. And we
7 supposedly heard that there would be a search carried out of houses by the
8 Serb authorities, that they would be searching the houses looking for
9 weapons, and people who didn't hand over their weapons. And people who
10 were in connection with the SDA party, they were mostly sought. So that
11 was the idea we had of a search that was going to be carried out.
12 However, the army was coming from the direction of Prijedor, from
13 the direction specifically of Tukovi, and behind our backs where Cikote
14 and Volar were, the Serb villages and Brezicani, that's where Serbs were
15 also. And they were firing on us so we wouldn't be able to flee there
16 when the other soldiers were coming from the town. So that there would be
17 no resistance. But we were waiting in our homes. We were waiting for the
18 army in our homes, and we thought that they would take us to a football
19 pitch or something like that. And so my father and I were in front of our
20 house when two soldiers came in front of our house, and they told us to go
21 down the road, to go down the village, to go down through the village
22 towards Prijedor. This was a road that was leading to Prijedor.
23 And we were there. There was a coffee bar there. It was a sort
24 of collection point they made there, the Serb soldiers made it so. This
25 is where the people were gathered. This was one of the collecting
1 points. There were several such points in the village. As the army was
2 coming more and more into the village, they were making more of these
3 collecting points but I didn't see these horrific events because I was
4 taken -- I was forced away from my home.
5 Q. What about your mother and your sister? Did they go with you and
6 your father?
7 A. No. Nobody, none of the women went. None of the women were sent
8 away from home. They all stayed at home for a while. Only the men,
9 according to their assessment, from 16, 17 onwards, until elderly people,
10 those men were being sent out of their homes.
11 Q. Before we go on to talk about what happened with you and your
12 father, can you tell us, did you later see your sister and your mother?
13 A. Later on, we met in the Trnopolje camp.
14 Q. Did they tell you how they got -- sorry. Did they tell you how
15 they got to the Trnopolje camp?
16 A. Yes, we managed to speak a little. It wasn't for very long
17 because they had to go. There was a convoy from Trnopolje which was going
18 to go to Travnik or towards Travnik. But we managed to get some
19 information from them about how they survived.
20 Q. How did they survive?
21 A. They were mistreated many times every day the soldiers would force
22 their way into the house every day asking for valuables, gold, money.
23 Then they mistreated my sister a great deal. They found my fisherman's
24 equipment. I used to be a fisherman. And that's why they mistreated her
25 more. I don't particularly know why.
1 Q. Did your sister and mother go on their own to Trnopolje camp or
2 did someone take them there?
3 A. Nobody went. Everything was done on the initiative of the
4 soldiers who continued to cleanse and loot the villages.
5 Q. The soldiers that you saw in Biscani in the Brdo area on the 20th
6 of July, or the men that you saw in uniform, could you tell were they
7 army, police, paramilitaries?
8 A. There were uniforms of all kinds, from all kinds of formations,
9 units. There was olive drab. There was camouflage. There were police
10 uniforms, all kinds of uniforms were there.
11 Q. What happened to you and your father? What was your experience
12 after being taken to the collection point by the cafe bar?
13 A. On that collection point, we were there, and we were stopped there
14 for a while because people were being collected at that point.
15 Q. What did you see there and what happened to you?
16 A. There, I saw the killings of several people. I saw when people
17 were being tortured, beaten. I saw people being killed.
18 Q. Tell us what you remember seeing that day.
19 A. I remember that I saw a man who was lying by the roadside,
20 probably dead, probably killed. And I remember that behind the column
21 that were standing there, a column of people where I was as well, when a
22 soldier in uniform called out two men to come out and take this dead man
23 behind a house, and he escorted them behind the house. And then he fired
24 into them, and these two men never returned. I also remember --
25 Q. Let me stop you and ask you, the incident that you just told us
1 about, do you remember the names of the people that you saw killed in that
2 incident, either the man that was dead or the two who were taken out to
3 bury him and never returned?
4 A. Yes, I remember the names. The person that I thought that was
5 dead, his name was Hamdija Fikic, and the two people who were called out
6 from the group of people where I stood were Mirhad Mrkalj, and
7 Ferid Sabanovic.
8 Q. Have you ever seen any of these three since that day?
9 A. Never.
10 Q. What else happened that you saw?
11 A. I also saw when from the very same group they took out a person
12 called Mirhad Mrkalj, a person who used to be a policeman before the war.
13 One of the men recognised him and addressed him as in a way "Mrkalj, do
14 you remember when you took my driving license away"? So he took him out
15 of the group. He started beating him in front of us. Then two of them
16 joined him as well because this man was rather large. He was being beaten
17 there for a while, and then this person took Mirhad behind the cafe bar,
18 and Mirhad did not come back. Afterwards, when Mirhad's wife came to
19 Trnopolje, told me that she found Mirhad with his throat cut behind the
20 cafe bar.
21 Q. Did you know someone named Mirsad Medic?
22 A. Yes, I knew him.
23 Q. Did you see Mirsad Medic that day?
24 A. Yes, I saw Mirsad, and Mirsad was also taken out on that day
25 during the cleansing. There was Mirsad's colleague who was there. They
1 used to work together at that petrol station. This person's name was
2 Zolka. I'm not sure what his last name was. He took his former
3 colleague, and took him and killed him. And I also saw when another
4 policeman was killed, Sasa Karagic on the very same point, the very same
6 Q. What happened to Sasa Karagic?
7 A. He was also killed.
8 Q. What happened -- how long were you and your father at the cafe bar
9 collection point?
10 A. I can't tell you exactly, but I think we were there certainly an
11 hour, perhaps more.
12 Q. And then --
13 A. Please, go on.
14 Q. It's more important for you to finish. Did you finish or have
15 something to add?
16 A. I just wanted to mention that while I was standing there in that
17 group of people waiting, not knowing what would happen to us, I recognised
18 a man from Sarajevo who used to be with me in the same dormitory in the
19 school, in the academy. A colleague who arrived in a police car, and he
20 came along and looking at the column as it was by the roadside, and he was
21 looking at faces, and he stopped by me and he recognised me immediately.
22 And he asked me,he addressed me by my last name, and said "(redacted), what
23 are you doing here?" We were all standing with our hands like this, all
24 the time we were standing in a line.
25 MR. KOUMJIAN: Your Honour, may that be redacted. Line 20,
2 JUDGE SCHOMBURG: Can you indicate at least the reason.
3 MR. KOUMJIAN: The name, the name of the witness.
4 JUDGE SCHOMBURG: Yes, please, redact the name of the witness.
5 MR. KOUMJIAN:
6 Q. I'm sorry, but you just mentioned a name that we had to take out
7 of the transcript and the tape, and we can do that if you make a mistake.
8 Don't worry about it.
9 But you're saying that this policeman you knew from the academy
10 came and asked you what you were doing there. What happened then?
11 A. Yes, he recognised me and said that I should stay there, and that
12 he would return and save me. However, very quickly after he left, because
13 he left, he continued on with the car, I don't know where he went, the
14 person who was the commander of that collection point, the person who was
15 in uniform, he was dressed in olive drab uniform, and he had a helmet on
16 his head. He wore sort of a Lennon-type dark glasses and he had black
17 mittens of letter [as interpreted] on his hands and he had automatic
18 weapons with him. He had a semi-automatic machine-gun.
19 He called me out from the line, and he asked me: "How come I knew
20 Dragan -- this person who was at school with me? So how come I know
21 Dragan?" So I said we were friends from school. I didn't dare say we
22 were at the police academy together because I was already aware that
23 people who had such background or such positions would simply be killed
24 very quickly. So that's all I said. I said it very briefly. I gave a
25 short answer. And he said he was going to save me, and then he said --
1 told me to go back to the line, which is what I did.
2 Q. Was the person you knew from Sarajevo, the policeman, also from
4 A. He lived in the village of Svodna. This village was located
5 between Prijedor and Bosanski Novi, about 10 kilometres from Prijedor.
6 Q. After you were sent back into the line, what happened?
7 A. After I returned to where I was, a bus came. It was Autotransport
8 coach from Prijedor. This bus arrived, and the same person who called me
9 out, who came out of the line, the same person who was in this good
10 uniform and well camouflaged, hiding his face, in my assessment, the line
11 was longer than 100 metres of people on this collection point. And he
12 simply halfed the line next to me. I had a yellow T-shirt on me. I
13 remember it well. And then he said: "Yellow T-shirt and everyone else
14 behind him, we should get on to the bus. And all the others in front of
15 me, they stayed for a while." So we got on to the bus, and we set off to
16 an unknown destination which was -- ended up being Prijedor, or it was
17 towards Prijedor we were going.
18 Q. During that bus ride, did you see -- did you ever get a chance to
19 look out the window and see anything alongside the road?
20 A. For a few moments, I was curious, and I was a little deeper into
21 the bus, further back in the bus, so a couple of times I look out the
22 window of the bus to see where we were. But then I could see a lot of
23 people lining the road dead. They were lying dead, and there was smoke
24 coming from houses and houses that were burnt. But everybody who was by
25 the driver, or there was a person, a kind of escort standing by the driver
1 driver, we were not supposed to look and we were ordered to keep our heads
3 Q. Where did the bus go?
4 A. The bus went towards Prijedor.
5 Q. Where did you stop?
6 A. When we went into Prijedor town itself, and near the police
7 station in Prijedor, I don't know why, perhaps for technical reasons,
8 perhaps the bus wasn't working any more, we changed bus. We went into
9 another bus. It was with the same coach company, also Autotransport
11 Q. Where did this bus take you?
12 A. This bus took us on to the Banja Luka Road, so that was
13 Prijedor/Banja Luka Road. That's the road we took. And we were then
14 stopped near Keraterm, at the checkpoint. I saw the checkpoint, and I
15 heard that people were there in the camp, and that was the first time in
16 my life that I saw, what a camp looked like, that people were simply
17 imprisoned there, that they were fenced off with wire. And we stopped
18 there for a while, and then we continued our journey again or still
19 towards Banja Luka.
20 And then somewhere near Kozarac, I also saw another checkpoint.
21 And a guard came on to the bus who shouted at us in a sense, did we go off
22 to be photographed, that we should have our heads bent as far as we
23 could. And after that, we continued, and I saw that we were going in the
24 direction of Omarska for a moment because I saw the transport line because
25 the transport line was used for mining ore. And this transport line road
1 was going alongside the road itself, parallel with the road.
2 And there were these facilities where people were being kept. And
3 in Omarska, we sat on the bus. We didn't leave. A soldier came on to the
4 bus and asked a person with the last name of Kadiric, let me just think, I
5 can't remember the first name. I believe that his nickname was Muno.
6 Yes, Munib, that was his first name. Munib Kadiric was asked for by this
7 person, but there was no such person on our bus. And we left Omarska,
8 possibly because or probably because there was no room for us. So we used
9 this old road -- that's what we got from the conversation, that we were
10 using this old road.
11 Q. Where did you go from Omarska?
12 A. I suppose we took the old road because it was no asphalt road. It
13 was a dirt track really. What they used to refer to as the old road
14 through Petrov Gaj. That's where the road led all the way to Trnopolje.
15 Q. Did you then arrive in the Trnopolje camp?
16 A. Yes, we did. We got off the bus, and there was a school building
17 there, a gym, and some sort of a centre, a dome. There was some sort of a
18 department store there, too. It was abandoned. Only the walls standing.
19 And that was that. There was nothing else there. That's where we
20 stayed. A window had been smashed on that shop. It was not very high, so
21 we had to climb on through that window into the building, and then lie
22 down on the tiles, on the floor.
23 Q. You told us that at the collection point near the cafe bar in
24 Biscani, that your group was divided in two. Do you know what happened
25 with the other half of the group that didn't go on the bus with you?
1 A. The other group, the other bus, arrived later, after we did. We
2 were on the first bus, but a while later, the other bus came, too. And
3 those people who were ahead of me -- however, when I saw those people, I
4 saw that -- I realised that a number of people were missing in the group,
5 those people who were standing in my close proximity, next to me, those
6 people were no longer on the bus.
7 Later we found out, the same night, because the two groups were
8 mixed and put in the same place, so we started talking to the people from
9 the other group. And they told us their version of the events on the way
10 to Prijedor, they said in Prijedor Skoplje, the bus was pulled over. The
11 person who had singled me out from the line back there who was wearing a
12 helmet was providing security for the bus, but then that person said that
13 people should get off through the back door, and then he simply shot them.
14 That house there, right next to it, that person's nickname was
15 Granata, meaning shell. I can't remember his first or last name, but
16 that's what they called him. There were pits dug next to the house.
17 There were pebbles lying, and the pits were open. We used to call those
18 pits sand pits, and that's where he had the people lined up, and then he
19 shot them. And then the bus continued, they said, directly on towards
20 Trnopolje, and they claimed they stopped at no other places along the
22 However, when the bus got to Trnopolje, those people were lined up
23 in front of the bus, and then the same person with the helmet, I had
24 already given you the description, that person that singled out again 12
25 or possibly 13 people and sent them back to the bus and then on to the
1 village because there were other people waiting in the village and there
2 were other collection points there.
3 Q. Before you go on to talk about what happened once the second bus
4 arrived at Trnopolje, I want to ask you a few more questions about what
5 learned had happened at this house owned by the man with the nickname
6 Granata. You said that you noticed some men that you knew from Biscani
7 who had been in the line with you at the cafe bar were missing.
8 Do you remember now any of the names of those people who were at
9 the cafe bar and didn't arrive on the second bus when it got to Trnopolje?
10 A. Yes, those were my neighbours, friends, and relatives, all of
11 them. I know their names. Should I give you their names?
12 Q. Yes, please.
13 A. The person I've already mentioned --
14 JUDGE SCHOMBURG: [Previous translation continues]... Session if
15 the witness discusses the names of the neighbours?
16 MR. KOUMJIAN: I don't think it's necessary because he has already
17 indicated his village.
18 JUDGE SCHOMBURG: Okay. Please proceed.
19 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] The person I've mentioned before who
20 had been killed next to the cafe bar, (redacted)
23 MR. KOUMJIAN: May I stop you there.
24 May the statement the witness just made about his relationship be
1 JUDGE SCHOMBURG: I was afraid of this. And please redact the
2 names in line 16 and 17. And twice in 17.
3 MR. KOUMJIAN:
4 Q. Okay, Witness X, without telling us how you know these people,
5 just give us the names of the other people that you know were on the
6 second bus and didn't reach Trnopolje.
7 A. Yes. I've given you three names. There were also Nurija Kekic,
8 Halid Kekic, Sabahudin Kekic, Asmir Kekic, Muhamed Tedic,
9 Ferid Risvanovic. I think those people had been taken off the bus when
10 the bus was stopped along the road between Biscani and Prijedor.
11 Q. Did you know someone named Vojnikovic, Elvir?
12 A. Yes, I forgot about him. Yes, he was there, too.
13 Elvir Vojnikovic.
14 Q. Now, you were telling us about what happened when the -- after the
15 second bus arrived at Trnopolje. Can you please continue and tell us what
16 occurred to the people on the second bus? You said that some of them were
17 asked to remain on the bus?
18 A. I already said that once the other bus got there, those who had
19 survived were lined up outside the bus and in front of the shop in which
20 we were staying. The front of that building was all glassed over, but
21 glass had been shattered on some of the windows so you could see what was
22 happening outside to a great extent. There were soldiers outside the
23 house, but inside there were no soldiers. So we could see a lot of what
24 was happening in front of the building. Then the person called out the
25 names of 12 people and sent them back to the bus. And then the bus left.
1 We had no idea where it went or where they took those people.
2 But several days later when they had done the things with the men,
3 Serb soldiers began carrying out ethnic cleansing with the women and
4 children up there in the Brdo area and bringing them to the Trnopolje
5 camp. So the families began to be reunited in the camp. So one of the
6 families told us about the events because they walked for a portion of
7 that road, and then the parts of the road I told you about and those
8 locations, that's where they found all the dead bodies.
9 Q. The bodies of the men that had been ordered back on the second
11 A. Yes. The execution site where those people had been killed was a
12 bit further on closer to Prijedor down that road because there is a big
13 bend in that road, a 90 degree bend. And that area is called Kratalj.
14 There was some sort of a pit there. And whenever the River Sana
15 overflows, water collects there, so that plot of land was not good for
16 harvesting because there would always be water there whenever the Sana
17 River overflowed. So that was a very peculiar piece of work. Those 12
18 people were shot in that place. I had the opportunity to talk personally
19 to one of the survivors there in that place.
20 Q. How many people survived among those that were ordered back on the
21 bus, to your knowledge?
22 A. Two persons survived in the first case. One remained alive and
23 went back to the village and stayed in the village and could not break
24 through because when the military came later on and expelled everyone in
25 an ethnic cleansing operation, they combed the woods, and it was not
1 possible to get out. So he disappeared somewhere in the village. I heard
2 an account by his wife who told me about how he came at night to bring
3 food, and then he would go back to the forest, but then at one point he
4 disappeared, and nothing was later heard of him.
5 Q. What was his name?
6 A. His name was Fikret Sabanovic. And the person who survived and
7 who is still alive is called Nenad Kekic.
8 Q. Did you speak to Nenad Kekic about what happened?
9 A. Yes, I did.
10 Q. Where did you get a chance to speak to him?
11 A. In Germany, that's where I met him, because he spent some time in
12 Germany after the war, the first period following the war. He was in
13 Germany, and then after a while he left Germany.
14 Q. Can you tell us what he told you about what happened to the men on
15 the second bus?
16 A. He told me how they were lying on the floor in the bus, and that
17 they were then returned to Biscani, and then along that portion of the
18 road, the bus was pulled over. They were made to get off the bus, and
19 they were lined up. And then he said somehow he managed to fall down on
20 the ground before everyone else, and then the corpses just piled up on top
21 of him and that saved his life.
22 Q. Did he say how the others were killed?
23 A. He said that they were simply machine-gunned. They were shot. It
24 was some sort of an automatic rifle, but it had some sort of a trigger in
25 front. And the bar -- and the barrel was a bit longer, but it was the
1 same type of rifle, the so-called Crvena Zastava, the "red flag" automatic
2 rifle. I was also familiar with that kind of weapon, because when I was
3 in the army, I had that type of weapon myself.
4 Q. These men that were ordered to get on the second bus in Trnopolje
5 and most later were killed, did you see any criteria? Did they have
6 anything in common that in your mind could have led them to be selected
7 for execution?
8 A. No, there was no selection criterion, they were people like anyone
9 else, just average people. One of them was a driver who used to work in
10 the company before the war. And one of his workmates who was also a
11 driver and who was wearing a uniform put him on the bus. And all the
12 others were just selected randomly, I'd say.
13 Q. You arrived at the Trnopolje camp on the 20th of July, 1992. Is
14 that correct?
15 A. On the 24th of July. No, that's not correct.
16 Q. The 20th of July?
17 A. Yes, the 20th of July, that's when I arrived in Trnopolje.
18 Q. And you stayed there until the 21st of August. Is that correct?
19 A. Yes, that's correct.
20 Q. Can you tell the Judges about the conditions that you lived in --
21 under at the Trnopolje camp?
22 A. As I've mentioned before, there was an elementary school building
23 in the camp, and inside that building there was a gym and a building we
24 called the dom, plus the shop I was talking about. When we arrived in the
25 camp, the next morning, the Serbian Red Cross had us all registered, all
1 the people who arrived on that day and who had spent the night inside the
2 shop. And then we were allowed to join the other inmates. People from
3 Prijedor, Kozarac, and those surrounding villages who had already spent
4 quite a bit of time in the camp. And then we were simply recorded by the
5 Red Cross.
6 And when they registered us, I saw there Slobodan Kuruzovic, who
7 was standing next to the other two persons, two women, with Red Cross
8 insignia, who were recording our names in their books. And I saw
9 Slobodan Kuruzovic standing there. He was a major by rank.
10 Slobodan Kuruzovic had been a teacher of mine in elementary school. He
11 was a teacher of maths at the Mladen Stojanovic elementary school in
12 Prijedor for some time.
13 Outside of school I would often meet him at the Sana River because
14 he was often fishing there, and we sat next to each other quite often near
15 the bridge over the River Sana fishing together. There was a railway
16 bridge, because there was a track leading to Ljubija. And we spent quite
17 some time on that bridge fishing together.
18 Q. Did Slobodan Kuruzovic say something to you at the camp?
19 A. Not on that day, nothing special.
20 Q. On another day, did he say something to you?
21 A. After several days there, just outside the school building, inside
22 the camp, we met. He asked me: "Did we really need this? We'll never go
23 fishing together again." He said something like that, as though it had
24 been my fault to have been brought there in the first place. I wanted no
25 debate with him, however, because it was all as clear as day to me, all
1 the horrible things that I had been through up to that point, seeing the
2 camp, being captured and brought to another camp again. I really didn't
3 want to comment. And that's what it was like, but he was there every day
4 in the camp. And every time new convoys of buses arrived taking women and
5 children away, I'd see him there.
6 He had a house inside Trnopolje, and he lived there. I'm not sure
7 if it was the headquarters, but it was some sort of a crucial place in the
8 camp because I know what it means to be a high-ranking officer. That
9 means the highest responsibility. And in those days, at least as far as I
10 could tell, he was the only major in the camp, and all the other officers
11 there were lower-ranking officers.
12 Q. Can you tell the Court the conditions that you lived under, how
13 you slept, what you ate, in the Trnopolje camp?
14 A. The day we got into the camp and to the school building, we didn't
15 really have any proper accommodation. We just walked around. There was
16 no place for us to be put up. Too many people sleeping in the gym, in the
17 school building, in the corridors, and we just slept outside. So whenever
18 we crossed paths with people we knew who had been there for a while, if
19 only we had managed to get a piece of bread until we started to find our
20 way around a bit better.
21 People from the surrounding villages were allowed to leave the
22 camp, leave their ID at one of the checkpoints and go to houses in the
23 surrounding villages to get some food, some vegetables, that people had
24 grown in the surrounding villages, food like tomatoes, because there was a
25 lot of ovens there, cookers, which people then used to prepare food.
1 Those were also cookers from the surrounding houses.
2 It's also important to mention that in Trnopolje, you could buy
3 bread every day but you needed to have money in order to buy bread there.
4 And there was -- Serbian bank notes were being used at that time, and when
5 my mother and sister came to the camp they brought some money with them
6 and gave us that money because they had nowhere else to spend it there in
7 the Travnik area because a different currency was in use over there. So
8 when the convoys arrived whoever knew anyone else in the camp, they just
9 leave them all the money because the money couldn't be used anywhere
10 else. And that was also how we managed to survive. We would order the
11 bread for the next day, and then we would buy it and get it the next day.
12 That was only for a short while, but it was enough, and there was a need
13 to go somewhere.
14 My father and myself always talked about how we should try and
15 join a convoy with the women and children so we could get out, but every
16 time we tried, we failed. Whenever buses and lorries arrived, there would
17 be so many armed people there controlling, checking, in order to keep all
18 the men from getting away and joining the groups of women and children.
19 So for a month, we lived under those circumstances in the camp.
20 Conditions were dreadful. We couldn't wash. There was some sort of
21 improvised toilets, and it was dreadful. It was extremely hot. There
22 were so many flies. I remember clearly things scattered all over the
23 place, garbage. It was -- an epidemic might have broken out at any point.
24 Q. When you arrived, when the people in the camp, were they men,
25 women, were they mixed? And did that change at all in the month that you
1 stayed there?
2 A. The day we arrived, they were mixed because every two or three
3 days, new convoys of buses and lorries came, and they would only take away
4 women and children. It was like that several times until only men
5 remained. And then I remember clearly it was around the 5th of August
6 when the people had been captured came to Trnopolje on the 6th or 7th
7 August when Omarska was closed down and we were all collected in
8 Trnopolje, we were all staying there at that point, there were only men
10 MR. KOUMJIAN: Your Honour, I could break now or I could go on
11 about another 10 or 15 minutes to finish Trnopolje.
12 JUDGE SCHOMBURG: I think it's appropriate to have a break now.
13 The trial stays adjourned until 11.30.
14 --- Recess taken at 10.58 a.m.
15 --- On resuming at 11.33 a.m.
16 JUDGE SCHOMBURG: Please be seated. And please, proceed
18 MR. KOUMJIAN:
19 Q. Witness X, you told us that when you arrived that first night, you
20 couldn't find a place to sleep inside the Trnopolje camp, and you slept
21 outside. Did you later find accommodations indoors, or where did you
22 sleep for the month that you were at the camp?
23 A. All the time period when the convoys were leaving Trnopolje,
24 taking women and children, I didn't sleep indoors. I slept outside. But
25 when the last convoy with women and children left towards Travnik, only
1 men were left, and there were no women and children left, and I managed to
2 find my father and I, we managed to find a place where we would be
3 sleeping together in a sports hall near each other.
4 Q. When you arrived at the camp, were you allowed to bring anything
5 with you from your home in Biscani?
6 A. Nothing, nothing was allowed to be brought along because of the
7 soldiers of Serb nationality. We were searched in going towards the
8 gathering point. We had to empty our pockets of our valuables. They
9 asked for ID cards and so on. But I didn't carry an ID card with me that
10 day, and so I had nothing to give. The only thing I had was what I had on
11 me, the clothes I wore.
12 Q. Were people's families allowed to bring them clothing and food and
13 other necessities, soap?
14 A. My sister managed to bring me a pair of trousers and a jacket when
15 she left the house, and she gave it to me, and I kept it under a blanket
16 where I slept in the sports hall, in a plastic bag. And on that day, on
17 the 21st of August, we set off with the convoy, I put on the trousers and
18 the jacket.
19 Q. So on that -- we'll get to that day. But just this one question:
20 On that day, then, did you wear, then, two pairs of trousers?
21 A. You mean on that day, you mean on the 21st of August?
22 Q. Yes.
23 A. No, I did not. I only wore one pair of trousers.
24 Q. Did the conditions at the camp change in any way towards the
25 middle of August, after Omarska was closed?
1 A. In no particular way. I just remembered that many delegations
2 came, foreign delegations came. They were moving about inside the
3 perimeter of the camp. Some people were giving statements. In that
4 sense, there was a change.
5 Q. Was there a sign put up at the camp?
6 A. They would just put up a sign if a delegation was to come, then
7 they would put the sign up. But then they would even take away the wire
8 as soon as an international delegation organisation would come, then they
9 would make it look as if it was a collection or gathering centre of
10 Trnopolje, not a camp.
11 Q. Do you recall what the sign said that you're talking about?
12 A. I can't remember at this very moment, but it was something like
13 that a collection point or a collection centre, something like that.
14 Q. Did you see someone in the camp that you knew named Mirsad Medic?
15 A. This person I met during the ethnic cleansing on 20th of July. I
16 met him again on the very first night in the camp. He was the one who was
17 supposed to guard us who were imprisoned in the shop. This was the person
18 with the nickname of Zolka who was working on the Energo petrol station in
19 Prijedor. It was on the Banja Luka Road that the petrol station was
20 located, on the road leading towards Banja Luka.
21 I also remember when the night approached when this same man
22 called Zolka, when he put his head through the door or through the window
23 and asked the people if they needed anything, one man said -- he spoke to
24 Zolka and said he was cold, that he needed a coat, that he was very, very
25 cold, that he was freezing cold. And the two of them, they already knew
1 each other. So perhaps it was for this reason that this person addressed
2 Zolka hoping that Zolka would help him. Because this Mirsad Medic who had
3 been killed at the checkpoint used to be a colleague of Zolka. They used
4 to work together at the petrol station. And so this man called Zolka
5 asked this person who had spoken, the person called Sulejman Kekic how he
6 would he was, and Sulejman Kekic said that he was 70. And then Zolka said
7 to Sulejman, you're ready to be killed or you're mature enough to be
8 killed, and so he him out of the shop and then he beat him in front of the
10 When Sulejman returned into the shop, the only thing that could be
11 heard was his sobbing, his crying. He was sobbing from all the kicks and
12 hits that he received, and nobody said anything. We were all silent
13 because we were not allowed to speak to each other. And then this man
14 called Zolka told another guard to come and wake him up at 2.00 a.m., that
15 he would come and get Sulejman and kill him, and that's exactly what
16 happened. At 2.00 a.m., Zolka came and called out Sulejman, and took him
17 out. Two shots were heard, and Sulejman did not return.
18 Q. Did you know Sulejman Kekic, the man who was killed?
19 A. Yes, I knew him. He was a neighbour of mine.
20 Q. And just to be clear, Zolka, the person you called Zolka, do you
21 know if he was a member of the police or the army?
22 A. He was not a member of the police. He was either a member of the
23 army or he was a paramilitary. If I say a member of the army, I know what
24 army was. It is when a person is serving a military service at a certain
25 age when he's after 18 years of age, after finishing secondary school.
1 But all the people who were over 30, 35, 40 years old, these were people
2 who were members of the reserve forces of the army, and they were then
3 mobilised into soldiers, combatants or paramilitary soldiers, what you
4 wish. And he was certainly of Serb nationality, all of them were. And
5 they were all in uniform. And they were all members of paramilitary
7 Q. At the Trnopolje camp, did you ever hear of a police unit called
8 the intervention squad from Prijedor?
9 A. We heard what was called Sarenci, that's what it was called.
10 Every time a convoy came to the Trnopolje, this intervention platoon would
11 come, and all the men and myself included were all afraid of these men
12 because these were terrible. We were all afraid of these so-called
13 Sarenci who were actually persons wearing camouflage uniform. And all of
14 these people were frightened of joining the women and children, perhaps
15 boarding one of the buses.
16 Q. Was there anything about the uniforms of the men in this unit that
17 distinguished them from the regular police?
18 A. This uniform was a camouflage uniform that was worn by the
19 police. It was a police war uniform. It was blue and yellow camouflage
20 uniform with insignia which had a Serbian flag on one side, and on the
21 other side it said "Militia" which means police and that was written in
22 Cyrillic script.
23 Q. What would happen when members of this unit would show up at the
25 A. As I said already, simply through the experience of the people who
1 had been in there for a -- longer than we had, we all realised that these
2 people were dangerous, that what they did was dangerous. They were very
3 aggressive because, for instance, when the convoy would be loading, then
4 they would appear, and they were there protecting the convoy, guarding it
5 while people were boarding it, boarding the buses.
6 Q. Did they have a vehicle that you recognised?
7 A. They had one vehicle, a Ford vehicle, which was a van, and it had
8 a large tiger depicted on it, a large picture of a tiger on that van. It
9 was a white Ford van.
10 Q. Had you seen that vehicle or people in those blue camouflage
11 uniforms during the cleansing of Biscani on the 20th of July?
12 A. No, I did not see this vehicle, no.
13 Q. While you were at the Trnopolje camp, did you ever see any
14 representatives of the International Red Cross come to the camp?
15 A. I saw some delegations.
16 Q. But you're not sure who they were exactly; is that correct?
17 A. No, I did not dare because before they appeared, the people who
18 guarded us threatened us that we shouldn't give any statements for our own
19 protection. So we could only see them from a distance. When the
20 delegations were going round visiting looking at the living conditions in
21 the camp, we would be watching them from a distance. We would be
22 sheltering a little, and praying to God that nobody would ask us any
23 questions or interview us.
24 Q. Prior to the convoy on the 21st of August, do you know if the
25 International Red Cross had registered you or other prisoners at the
1 Trnopolje camp?
2 A. Before the 21st of August, nobody had registered us.
3 Q. Did you receive any information as to when the International Red
4 Cross was to begin or began registering inmates at the Trnopolje camp?
5 A. Nothing specific, no.
6 Q. Did you later learn that the International Red Cross had come to
7 the camp in August to register the inmates?
8 A. Yes, I learned it later because after I left the Trnopolje camp,
9 there were people who were left whom I knew, people who I met four or five
10 months later in December that year. And then they told me that the ICRC
11 came on Monday, the 26th of August, and that they then registered the
12 prisoners -- oh, no. Sorry. 21st was the Friday, 22nd Saturday, so that
13 would have been 24th of August, it would have been Monday. And the ICRC
14 came and registered all the inmates at the Trnopolje camp.
15 Q. From the time that you left Biscani on the 20th of July up to the
16 21st of August, did you have much contact with your father?
17 A. Father was always near me.
18 Q. On the 21st of August, what happened that day while you were at
19 the Trnopolje camp?
20 A. On the 21st of August, buses started coming, and only men were
21 boarding them.
22 Q. Were there women and children left in the camp at that time, the
23 21st of August?
24 A. That day, there were no women and children left in the camp.
25 There were only men.
1 Q. Among the men that were at the camp, were there people who had
2 been released in August from Omarska and Keraterm?
3 A. Yes, there were people who were in Keraterm. There were people
4 who had been in Omarska. We were all gathered in Trnopolje, yes, that's
5 correct. There were people from other camps, yes.
6 Q. When the buses arrived, were you told anything by the guards and
8 A. The guards said that we should board the buses.
9 Q. Was the camp commander present when the buses arrived?
10 A. Yes, he was always in the immediate vicinity, yes.
11 Q. When you say or we say the camp commander, who did you understand
12 at that time to be the camp commander?
13 A. I presume that this person was Slobodan Kuruzovic, who was a
14 major, and that he was camp commander or whatever, that he was the main
15 person in the camp, yes.
16 Q. What happened when -- were the buses loaded in the camp? Can you
17 tell us what happened and particularly what happened with you and your
18 father during that time?
19 A. At that time, when the buses arrived, this van also appeared, the
20 van that I mentioned earlier. This intervention platoon arrived,
21 so-called. And the bus would come at a time, and then bus would arrive.
22 It would be loaded, and it would leave Trnopolje and go in the direction
23 of Kozarac and a second, third, fourth, and so on. So this is how people
24 were boarding buses. There were no -- not all four buses did not come at
25 the same time. But one bus would arrive, would be loaded, would leave,
1 the guard would board the bus, the prisoners would board, and then he
2 would leave, and then second and so on.
3 On that day, again, I met Dragan Knezevic and managed to have a
4 direct contact with him again. He was wearing this blue camouflage
5 uniform and had an automatic rifle. He had some additional ammunition
6 frames around and some other men also were walking around in this
7 fashion. So it could be noted that -- remarked that they were
8 additionally armed or had additional ammunition. So Dragan addressed me,
9 asked me where I was, that he had been looking for me ever since the
10 cleansing took place, that he couldn't find me in Trnopolje, Keraterm, or
11 Omarska. He said that he was going to save me, that that was his
12 intention, that he would get me transferred to Croatia via Orahova, that
13 was the place near Gradiska, near Sava River, that he would transfer me.
14 That was where UNPROFOR was located. He spoke in this sense. Then he
15 told me to look for my father, that he would help me as well as the other
16 members of my family and people I knew, that he would help us to get on to
17 one of the buses because there was a lot of chaos there. There were a
18 large number of people, and when people went for the buses, there was
19 simply -- things were going out of control, and there was even some firing
20 into the air.
21 In order to stop the people who were going for the buses. Because
22 these people had nothing else left but to go for the buses because they
23 couldn't go back home because everything had been burned or looted. At
24 the time when we were in Trnopolje, it was obvious that all of these --
25 all the smoke that we could see, this is our houses that had been set on
1 fire and burned down.
2 Q. By the way, did you ever learn what happened to your house?
3 A. As far as our house is concerned, I later found out in 1999. I
4 visited the house, I went to see the house, I was in front of the house.
5 But until then, I only heard stories from other people what actually was
6 happening in the area, that all our property had been looted and that all
7 the houses had been set on fire, mined, and so on.
8 Q. When you saw your house in 1999, can you describe the condition
9 and whether you saw any evidence of fire, previous fire?
10 A. It's like this: The house was derelict. There were no doors.
11 There were no windows. It had all been taken out. There was no roof on
12 the house. And what we called the base of the roof, all that was thrown
13 to the floor, all this had been broken. And so what I did was that I just
14 walked through this destruction, and I went to the house. I saw that the
15 walls were black, that paint had fallen off, and all the traces that told
16 me that the house had been set on fire, yes.
17 Q. Going back to the 21st of August, do you remember what the weather
18 was like that day?
19 A. It was very hot.
20 Q. Were you able to get on the first few buses that arrived?
21 A. Yes, I was, but because Dragan Knezevic insisted I didn't, I did
22 not actually get on the bus. He said that he had no more time to spend
23 with me, and that he had to go to another bus where he was providing
24 security. Then a third bus showed up, and near the bus there was
25 Kuruzovic, Dragan Kuruzovic standing there. He used to know my father.
1 They were together in the Yugoslav army. He told me to go get my father
2 and to get on the bus together, and that's what happened. My father and
3 I, we got on to the bus together.
4 And when the bus filled up with people, it left Trnopolje and
5 continued on to Kozarac. On the road near Kozarac, near the petrol
6 station and the sawmill, we stood and waited. No one informed us why we
7 had to wait, but after a while, lorries showed up from the direction of
9 Q. In the transcript, it indicates that you said that "it was
10 Kuruzovic Dragan" that told you to get your father and get on the bus.
11 What was Kuruzovic's first name?
12 A. I'm sorry, Slobodan Kuruzovic. Dragan Knezevic was the other
13 person who was with me at the academy.
14 Q. Do you know, on the bus that you and your father boarded, how many
15 people do you think were on that bus? Were there as many people as there
16 were seats?
17 A. You see, those buses were a bit special. They were for urban
18 transportation, and there were more standing places than seats. So you
19 could fit a lot of people inside those buses because the seats were not
20 taking up much space. There was more space to stand than to sit. The bus
21 was full.
22 Q. After you and your bus and the others went to Kozarac, you said
23 you stopped and waited there. And what happened at that juncture of the
24 road at Kozarac?
25 A. That stretch of the road, as I've said before, lorries and buses
12 Blank pages inserted to ensure pagination corresponds between the French and
13 English transcripts. Pages 6888 to 6895.
1 showed up from the direction of Prijedor. As far as I know, that convoy
2 had been loaded in Tukovi on that same day, the 21st of August, with the
3 same destination, Travnik, or perhaps the separation line, the line of
4 separation near Travnik.
5 Q. After waiting at that point, do you know how many different buses
6 or other vehicles arrived from the group that you believe was loaded in
7 Tukovi? How large was a convoy once everyone was together, to the best of
8 your knowledge?
9 A. As far as I could tell, there were four other buses that arrived,
10 plus those four that we were in which had set out from Trnopolje, and then
11 I could also see eight lorries. Some had trailers, and as far as I could
12 tell, there were eight buses and eight lorries. The security was provided
13 by a vehicle manned by some mechanics with a TAM truck, the so-called TAM
14 truck in case the bus broke down, they were there to help and repair it
15 because we had a long way to go. I can't tell you the distance exactly,
16 but there must be about several hundred kilometres between Prijedor and
17 Travnik. And it's a very hilly road. It's mostly hillside. So
18 experience showed that one such vehicle was needed, and that the
19 mechanics, too, had to be there.
20 Q. In addition to the schlepers [as interpreted] or lorries and the
21 buses and the repair vehicle, were there other police vehicles or any
22 other police vehicle escorting the convoy?
23 A. Yes, there were a number of police vehicles, Golf police
24 vehicles. They led the convoy probably.
25 Q. What was the route that you took after the convoy joined up at the
1 Kozarac crossroads?
2 A. The road for Banja Luka.
3 Q. After you went through or around Banja Luka, where did you go?
4 A. We went towards Skender Vakuf.
5 MR. KOUMJIAN: Your Honour, I have a map entitled
6 "Trnopolje-Vlasic route." It has the ERN number 02166228. May that be
7 given the next exhibit number. And I have copies to distribute to all
8 parties. JUDGE SCHOMBURG: It should be then provisionally S245.
9 MR. KOUMJIAN:
10 Q. That map is now being placed on the monitor. Witness X, if you
11 could look at it. Does this map depict the blue line -- the line with
12 blue arrows depict the approximate route of the convoy that you were on on
13 the 21st of August, 1992?
14 A. Yes.
15 Q. Is it correct that you passed through the road -- more or less
16 through the outskirts of Banja Luka? You didn't go through the centre of
17 town; is that correct?
18 A. Yes, that's correct.
19 Q. Were you told what -- what was the object, the destination, that
20 you were told that the convoy was going to? Where were they supposed to
21 take you?
22 A. We were supposed to reach the line of separation, to simply go
23 there and cross over into territory controlled by Muslims and Croats.
24 Q. And do you know at that time, on the 21st of August, was Travnik
25 controlled by the government in Sarajevo, the non-Serb forces?
1 A. Yes.
2 Q. After you left Kozarac, were there other stops on the way? Can
3 you please tell us about the stops that occurred.
4 A. I remember clearly when the guard on our bus spoke to me and
5 called me by my last name. He ordered me to collect all bank notes from
6 the men on that bus and all their valuables, all the valuables that those
7 men had on them. Their watches, any gold, jewellery they were wearing. I
8 did this, but those people would not give anything away, or perhaps they
9 had nothing on them. But I recall only having collected several bank
10 notes, and that's what I handed over to him. But then he sent me back to
11 the bus. How that person knew my last name -- well, I suppose
12 Dragan Knezevic had already found out everything about my whereabouts and
13 which bus I was on because this security person, I had never met that
14 person before and probably he had not met me either.
15 MR. KOUMJIAN: May I ask the usher to move the ELMO out of my line
16 of sight with the witness. Thank you.
17 Q. After this stop, did you have other stops? What was the next stop
18 stop that you recall?
19 A. I recall another stop. We waited for a while, and I also remember
20 that the person securing our bus, the guard on our bus, asked me about
21 Edin Mrkalj, whether I knew the person. He used to be a policeman, a
22 member of the police forces. I said I did know the person.
23 Q. What did he say?
24 A (redacted) . I can't remember what he
1 MR. KOUMJIAN: Your Honour, on page 44, line 8, can the first
2 sentence be redacted.
3 JUDGE SCHOMBURG: Yes. For evident reasons, the first sentence,
4 page 44, line 8 be redacted.
5 MR. KOUMJIAN:
6 Q. Did you know at that time what had happened to Edin?
7 A. I didn't know, but before the cleansing began, Edin went to the
8 Prijedor Police Station of his own initiative and returned the uniform
9 that he had signed for as well as the weapons. But then he did not return
10 afterwards. He ended up in a camp.
11 Q. Did this guard that asked you about Edin tell you what happened to
13 A. No, he didn't. But I already knew at that point what had happened
14 to him, even before this guard spoke to me.
15 Q. At one point, did you stop in a wooded area?
16 A. Yes, the stretch of the road from Skender Vakuf, I remember that
17 at one point, we turned and drove down a dirt track. And then the convoy
18 took -- the convoy was actually so long that vehicles were no longer
19 following one another, but there were larger intervals between them. The
20 ground was very difficult to travel, and it was a dirt track, and the
21 buses and lorries were full. So probably the vehicles had difficulty
22 climbing up the hill. So it was not a very tight convoy, but rather there
23 were quite spacious intervals between the individual vehicles.
24 Q. Did you stop somewhere after Skender Vakuf?
25 A. I remember a stop in Skender Vakuf when soldiers got on to the
1 bus, local soldiers from the area in olive drab. They got on to the bus,
2 and they joined us for the rest of the journey.
3 Q. And where did you go then?
4 A. The same place we were headed before, but I remember that after
5 that, we were pulled over once. We were descending down one side, and
6 there was a creek there. And we were stopped there. And this was the
7 longest stop. And as the buses and lorries were arriving, they were just
8 being lined up one behind the other.
9 Q. Tell us what happened at the stop by the creek.
10 A. We were told to exit the buses, all of us, and to drink water from
11 the creek because we would stop there for a while, they said.
12 Q. Did you see what the policemen were doing at that time while you
13 were by the creek?
14 A. I did. They were all together forming a large group, and they
15 were talking about something.
16 Q. These policemen that were escorting the convoy, did you know if
17 they were policemen from the Prijedor opstina?
18 A. Yes. Only from Prijedor Municipality.
19 Q. When the policemen in a group talking, after you saw that happen,
20 what occurred?
21 A. We were ordered to line up two by two as though we were going to
22 an exchange.
23 Q. When you say "we were ordered to line up," was it the prisoners
24 from Trnopolje or were there also people from the trucks and buses that
25 had joined you from Tukovi?
1 A. Only people from Trnopolje because those two buses that had set
2 out from Trnopolje were empty, those buses were left empty. And they
3 gathered some more people down the convoy, and they collected more people
4 just randomly.
5 Q. What happened when you were lined up there?
6 A. We were lined up and told to get back on to the buses.
7 Q. How many buses were you ordered to get into?
8 A. I was among the first to get on to the bus, the first bus.
9 Q. How many other buses were there that the people who were lined up
10 were ordered to get into?
11 A. As far as I could tell, there was just another bus behind us. And
12 the rest, the lorries and the buses, stayed there, and all the refugees,
13 if that's what I should call those people.
14 Q. You said you got on the first bus. Where was your father?
15 A. He was near me.
16 Q. How old were you on the 21st of August?
17 A. 22.
18 Q. How old was your father?
19 A. He was born in 1942. He later turned 50 in November, so at that
20 point he was 49.
21 Q. When you got on to this bus after the separation at the creek,
22 where the men were separated, how crowded was that bus?
23 A. We got on through the back door of the bus and headed down towards
24 the front of the bus, and we were then ordered to lie down on the floor.
25 I felt a weight on my back, and those -- that was actually the weight of
1 people lying on top of me. Everything I saw happening at that point, I
2 was trying to see what was happening in front of me because I couldn't
3 turn my head left or right or look behind me.
4 Q. Do you have any estimate of how many men were packed on to the bus
5 that you were on at that point?
6 A. According to my estimate, roughly a hundred people. I know that
7 when we were being transported from Biscani to Trnopolje, when we headed
8 down the road for Banja Luka when conditions were more normal, at that
9 point, I was able to have a look and see how many people there were on the
10 bus before we got piled up one on top of the other. And when we were
11 allegedly being taken for an exchange, I saw that more and more people
12 started boarding the bus.
13 Q. When you were being ordered on to the bus, who was ordering the
14 prisoners to get on to that bus?
15 A. I still remember clearly is this one person in uniform, in police
16 uniform. You could only hear this person's voice. It seems that he was
17 the commander at that moment because his was the only voice heard. This
18 person was armed with a scorpio and a pistol.
19 Q. Did you later describe, discuss this person's description with
20 your uncle?
21 A. Later when I met my uncle several years later, when I told him
22 about my version of the events, he told me that that person may have been
23 Dragan Mrdja.
24 Q. Can you describe this person that was giving the orders whose
25 voice you heard.
1 A. I remember that he had rather thick eyebrows, hair brushed to one
2 side, black hair.
3 Q. What was his complexion like?
4 A. Can you please repeat the question.
5 Q. What was his complexion, his colouring?
6 A. A bit dark.
7 Q. You said he carried a pistol. Can you describe the pistol.
8 A. He was talking about a CZ-99 all the time. He just kept shouting
9 and repeating that word.
10 Q. Is that a semi-automatic pistol?
11 A. I think it's an automatic pistol actually, CZ probably standing
12 for Crvena Zastava, the red flag, because they made the gun, they produced
13 the gun, the pistol. It must have been something like that, the CZ thing.
14 Q. After the men in the line were ordered on to these two buses, what
16 A. When our bus was filled, we moved on, and that same person was on
17 our bus, alongside with a handful of other policemen. This person then
18 produced a plastic bag and said to put all our valuables in it. And then
19 the plastic bag was passed down the bus, and then eventually returned to
21 Q. How far did the bus travel or how many minutes, to the best of
22 your recollection, before it stopped again?
23 A. I think between 10 and 15 minutes.
24 Q. What happened when the bus stopped?
25 A. When the bus stopped, we all had to exit through the front door.
1 And then outside the front door of the bus, there was a group of police
2 officers who were directing us to go back in a column two by two. And
3 then to the right, of course, there was the door of the bus, and then we
4 walked down the road on which we had arrived there walking in a column two
5 by two. My father was walking next to me. I just looked in front of me,
6 because I was not supposed to look left or right. And then I saw a gorge
7 there. We were walking towards a gorge, and it began dawning on me that
8 they would shoot us there.
9 Q. At the point where the bus stopped, can you describe the road?
10 Was it a wide road, and what was to the two sides?
11 A. As much as I could see, on the right-hand side, as we returned to
12 the road, there were rocks, rocks just by the road. And on the left-hand
13 side, I remembered some concrete pillars which were like a border post. I
14 just remember those concrete pillars that were there.
15 Q. When you're talking about the right-hand side as you returned,
16 that is after you got out of the bus, you walked back in the opposite
17 direction that the bus had travelled. Is that correct?
18 A. Yes, so the bus was turned in this direction, and we were going
19 back. So on the right-hand side, there were rocks, and on the left-hand
20 side was the abyss, the gorge, and these concrete pillars which I
22 Q. When you described that on the right-hand side there were rocks,
23 are these rocks that you can walk across? Can you describe what was the
24 shape of the terrain at that point? Was it something you could easily
25 cross or was it difficult?
1 A. Well, it was like this: On the right-hand side, there were these
2 rocks, and there were going just by the road. And you could see some
3 trees and the wood, and you couldn't walk there. The left-hand side, you
4 could see the abyss because you couldn't see anything there. It was just
5 further there, which I could see the rocks from the canyon. It was almost
6 as if it was a huge gorge, a huge ditch between the road and this other
7 hill. But the further we were going -- closer we were going to this pit,
8 it was more obvious that it was an abyss.
9 Q. So walking back on the left-hand side was the abyss. On the
10 right-hand side the rocks that you talked about, was that a sheer face of
11 rock that could not be climbed? Just a vertical rock cliff?
12 A. Yes, yes, in that sense, they were just like that. Yes, there
13 were just steep rocks, yes.
14 Q. As the column of men walked back, about how many metres do you
15 think you walked back after getting out of the bus?
16 A. We walked for about a hundred metres or so. I think I was perhaps
17 fifth or sixth from the start of the column, of the line, and we were
18 walking until we were ordered to stop. And I presumed the people who were
19 at the end of the line, until they saw the abyss, that's when we were
20 stopped because it was all under military command. We were told to walk
21 in two by two, and then the very same person gave orders and said that the
22 line should stop. We did stop. Turn left. We all turned left. Step
23 three steps forward. We did. And then they told us to kneel down. When
24 we kneeled down, then we could see this enormous abyss below us. And here
25 I could hear the person saying: "Here we exchange dead for the dead and
1 living for the living."
2 Q. Which person said that?
3 A. The same person that I believe is called Dragan Mrdja.
4 Q. You said that when you were walking, you were about fifth or sixth
5 from the front in line. When the group of people from your bus lined up,
6 could you see the rest of the group mainly to your left?
7 A. No, just as much as I could see -- as much as was in my field of
9 Q. How close to the cliff, to the abyss, did you stop?
10 A. The very edge, on the very edge of the road, very edge of the
11 abyss, if it touched us, we would be down in the abyss. We were on the
12 very edge.
13 Q. Where was your father?
14 A. On -- standing to my left.
15 Q. What happened then?
16 A. When this person said that he was exchanging dead for the dead and
17 living for the living, that's when the shooting started from firearms.
18 Shooting first came from my right-hand side. I saw that people were
19 starting falling down into the abyss. And I somehow managed to shout at
20 my father, to say to my father: "Father, throw yourself."
21 Q. What happened to you, then?
22 A. He pushed me into the abyss down there, into the precipice.
23 Q. Do you know how far that drop was?
24 A. No, I am not clear about that even today. From the very moment
25 when my father pushed me, I do not recall when was it the first time that
1 I actually touched ground. I only felt a couple of times that through the
2 speed, I was turning, and that I was trying to stop. There were some
3 rocks and there was some grass, and a couple of times I realised that I
4 was still alive. But the actual fall on the ground, I do not remember
6 Q. What is your next memory?
7 A. I remember when I found myself in a sitting position deep down
8 away from the road. And I remember the shooting. That's what I remember
9 most. So I just found myself in that position, and I remember also the
10 time when we were going in the line, left the buses, I had a jacket on
11 me. This jacket was lost. It's almost as if someone had taken it off
12 me. The jacket had flown off me, fallen off me. I had no sport shoes on
13 my feet. When I woke up, I had no sports shoes. I was all bruised all
14 over my body. But the worst injury that I had was that I had broken my
15 ankle of my right foot. I don't know how even my foot was just hanging on
16 by some kind of a -- some tendon. It was the pain that actually woke me
17 up, and I was apalled at what I saw as being my injury.
18 And shortly afterwards, I also remember that moment when I saw two
19 men who had come down to the abyss and were going round and shooting at
20 people in the head, and I just waited for them to come and shoot me. Then
21 I could see them, that they turned back. They were going sideways in
22 order to get back to the road. Nobody did anything to me. I just
23 remained sitting down. In fact, I had -- by that time, I pretended to be
24 dead and I had lied down, although this was -- I was going to tell you, it
25 was a kind of clearing. They would have been able to see me, but I still
1 can't make it clear to myself why I was not killed then.
2 I also remember that that time period while I was sitting there
3 next to me, there were some bags and some things that people had taken
4 with them. It was all thrown into the abyss. And there were also some
5 rocks and stones that were there because there was still the rest of the
6 abyss which goes round down to the small river. So I also heard some
7 shooting which was coming from my left side, and I presume that this was
8 the second bus that what it could have been because I had the opportunity
9 to speak to the survivors from the second bus. So I presume that it was
10 the location in question.
11 Q. What time of day was it when the massacre happened?
12 A. In the afternoon.
13 Q. You said that you recall being awakened by the pain or regaining
14 consciousness and hearing shooting. At that time, where was the
15 shooting? Could you tell where it was coming from?
16 A. The first few moments I recall because I looked behind me. I
17 looked up towards the road where people were standing. And I thought the
18 firing was coming from there, and perhaps a little bit further on. From
19 my left side, there was some shooting coming, but these were large hits,
20 as if there were some kind of hand-held rocket launchers or something.
21 But this is what I could hear.
22 Q. Just to be clear, when you talk about what's coming from the road
23 and you say your left side, is that looking from where you were up to the
24 road it would be to the left?
25 A. Yes, when I say from my left-hand side behind my back, behind me
1 there were people up a hill who had been killed. But when I'm
2 saying "left," I suppose this is another place where these people could
3 have been. So it wasn't quite behind my back. It was a little bit to the
4 front of me.
5 Q. When you were conscious there, did you see the bodies of other
6 people who had been on your bus?
7 A. Yes, I saw the bodies. I saw some bodies. But perhaps I survived
8 because I was the one who went the furthest away from all the others
9 because I went the furthest -- deepest into the abyss. So some of the
10 bodies were stopped 10, 15, 20 metres before me, and I saw some of those
12 Q. You said you saw two soldiers walk down and you heard pistol
13 shots. Is that correct?
14 A. Yes, that's correct.
15 Q. What happened after they left?
16 A. After they left, I already heard the shooting, as I said, coming
17 from my left side. And when this shooting died down, it was then that I
18 saw the convoy, the convoy that had been stopped down there, passed by the
19 road down to the confrontation line. It was in the late hours of the
20 afternoon. And I also saw this convoy when it returned empty using the
21 same road. And to me, this meant that this confrontation line was nearby,
22 and that I thought that although injured, somehow I would manage to get to
23 the confrontation line and save myself.
24 Q. Were you able to walk?
25 A. No. I was not able to walk because this ankle was broken, and it
1 completely came out of a joint. It was just -- my foot was just hanging.
2 It had no connection to the bones. I had no feeling that I had been shot
3 by a bullet. I presume that this was a sharp rock that had hit me as I
4 was tumbling down.
5 Q. Did you do anything to stop the bleeding?
6 A. That day, I did not do anything. I just waited for nightfall so
7 that I would get to some water because my body needed water. I did not
8 dare to go further down because there was shooting all around. And I
9 started to see things wrongly. I started to have hallucinations, so I
10 waited for nightfall, waited for sun to set. And I was trying to get down
11 to the water slowly on my hands, and this is -- I spent my first night
12 there by that water.
13 As I was lying during that time before night, there was a bag that
14 belonged to some person that was near me. And from that bag, I took a --
15 the top of the track suit because it was cold, so I spent the night by the
16 river drinking the water. And I decided to follow this river, and I could
17 hear the sound of the water running. And my only hope was that I would
18 get to river where it was wider so that I would throw myself in the river
19 and the river would take me somewhere. That's the thought that led me.
20 So I followed this river and I could just hear the sound of the
21 river running. But I didn't go to swim, and the problem was that perhaps
22 there was not enough rain at the time, and the river was quite shallow.
23 So I couldn't throw myself into the river, and I couldn't walk. So I was
24 crawling on all fours, on my knees and on my hands, and this -- I took a
25 belt from my trousers, and I took the T-shirt off, and I took that and
1 managed to somehow bandage my foot. But there were flies starting to
2 gather on me because I was all covered in blood.
3 So somehow I crawled alongside that river on that first day.
4 That's what I remember. And according to what I could gather, this must
5 have been Saturday.
6 Q. Had you seen any other survivors up to that point?
7 A. That first day following the execution, just before nightfall, I
8 saw one person who was coming towards me, climbing down the rocks because
9 when it is night you could then hear everything. And I could see and hear
10 somebody approaching. He simply did not notice me because it was dark. It
11 was night. But I spoke to him, and he was also trying to get to the
12 river, and then to go somewhere where it was safe.
13 Q. Did this person -- did you know if it was someone who was on your
14 bus and had survived the massacre?
15 A. No, I presumed this person came from behind my back where all
16 these person had stopped falling from that direction.
17 Q. Did he try to help you in any way?
18 A. I think that I addressed him, and I said I had no foot or I had no
19 leg or something like that. And he just carried on down there. He just
20 continued, and so I just gritted my teeth, and I went towards the water.
21 That's all I could do. This water probably saved my life.
22 Q. How far could you crawl in that time? Let's say in an hour, how
23 far would you get?
24 A. That day, on Saturday, somehow, I had some strength, I had more
25 strength. And I followed the river on that day. But I seem to believe
1 that I was seeing things, I seemed to be seeing soldiers who were shooting
2 towards me. I believe I had hallucinations. And then on the other side
3 of the river, and I was going downstream, so I was on its left bank, on
4 the other side, on the right bank, there were also some rocks. And among
5 those rocks, I kept seeing soldiers and rifles pointed towards me. And I
6 was so afraid that I didn't even dare drink water. And even just by the
7 river itself, I would just have to lower my hand into the water and get
8 some water, but I didn't dare even have an idea that I should cross the
9 river diagonally and that I would make it impossible for them to see me
10 and they wouldn't see me then because I would be in their blind spot. And
11 this is what I tried to do.
12 Q. You tried to cross the river?
13 A. Yes, I tried to cross the river, also on all fours.
14 Q. How long did it take you to crawl across the river?
15 A. I think, as far as I could recall, this was on Sunday only when I
16 managed to cross the river.
17 Q. What happened after you crossed the river?
18 A. Then I also remember the moment when I crossed over to the other
19 side, then there was a storm that started. There was -- rain started.
20 Then I saw an abandoned mill which was roughly the middle of the river.
21 This wasn't a full river. There were lots of small river islands and
22 rocks, and there was this abandoned mill. And I decided again from that
23 other bank to enter the mill because there had been no rain. There was
24 this storm that started because I remember throughout the time I was in
25 the camp rain hadn't fallen. It was on that day that rain started to
2 When I was injured and when the rain started, I hid in this
3 abandoned mill. I remember that this mill was made of wood, and there was
4 no roof. There was just the roof frame. It was an old mill. It was an
5 old mill, old house.
6 Q. What was the condition of your ankle? You said the first day,
7 some flies were landing on the blood.
8 A. I was without any strength, and I tried to get the flies away. I
9 took a little branch with some leaves to get rid of the flies, so I was
10 waving that in order to get rid of the flies because I had been injured.
11 And I had a lot of blood because I had bruises and cuts. And the first
12 day on Saturday, I was waving that with a branch, and then later on I just
13 stopped because I just couldn't do it any more. I was too exhausted. But
14 I know that the T-shirt that I had taken off me which I had put over the
15 foot, it was a black T-shirt, but it was all white from all the eggs that
16 the flies had left.
17 Q. What happened after you got to the mill?
18 A. This mill, in the meantime, I would be losing it really about day
19 and night differences. I just remember the river bed and the rocks on
20 both sides. I could just see the sky within a hundred metres and that was
21 it. That was all I could see. I had no orientation as to when was day
22 and when was night, and then suddenly I heard some voices. And I saw some
23 people who were in the mill, who had taken the mill. And they spoke to
24 me. And they thought that I had a bomb or something or a grenade on my
25 foot because I had it -- the T-shirt was over my foot because it was
1 pear-shaped. And so then they saw it and they were apalled because they
2 took pity on me of sorts and nobody beat me and nobody mistreated me then.
3 Q. Were these people you saw in the mill soldiers or civilians?
4 A. These people had olive drab uniforms on.
5 MR. KOUMJIAN: Your Honour, this would be an appropriate time.
6 I'm not sure, is this the lunch break now?
7 JUDGE SCHOMBURG: Trial stays adjourned until 2.30.
8 --- Luncheon recess taken at 12.57 p.m.
9 --- On resuming at 2.33 p.m.
10 JUDGE SCHOMBURG: Please be seated. Please, proceed.
11 MR. KOUMJIAN:
12 Q. Witness X, the location where the executions took place on Vlasic
13 mountain, do you know what that particular place is called, or did you
14 ever learn the name of that place?
15 A. Yes. I learned that the name of the place was Koricanske Stijene,
16 and the river that runs there is called Ugar. I learned this from a man
17 from the area who was with me in Banja Luka when I was detained, and he
18 was detained, too. And I had occasion to speak to him several times. I
19 told him my story, and he somehow figured out that that was the place.
20 Q. You talked about meeting one of the survivors, I believe the day
21 of the massacre, later that afternoon. Did you ever see that person
23 A. Yes, I did, the next day.
24 Q. What happened then when you saw the person?
25 A. That person approached me and we talked. I also remember we
1 talked about that, and in my ignorance, I was talking about soldiers who
2 had given me bread nearby there. I was saying something along these
3 lines. And then the person tried to help me. I tried to lean on his
4 shoulder and hop along on one leg so that he could get me out of that
5 place, but we failed. So he left me there, and then I remained alone.
6 Q. When you say in your ignorance, you talked about soldiers giving
7 you bread, explain what you mean by that.
8 A. At that moment, these were the thoughts I had, those were my
9 impressions at that time. It's as simple as that. Because I did not
10 really see what was happening. I did not see the overall picture. I was
11 living in my own thoughts, in a manner of speaking.
12 Q. Do you believe that you were having some hallucinations at that
14 A. Yes.
15 Q. You talked about crossing the river on your own. About how wide
16 was the river at that point?
17 A. How wide? Between 20 and 30 metres I guess.
18 Q. How long did it take you to cross that 20 or 30 metres?
19 A. A lot of time. I remember when I stopped at about halfway through
20 or two thirds of the way through the width of the river, I remember those
21 moments, but I did take an awful long time.
22 Q. At the site or on the convoy or at the actual site of the
23 execution, you said you saw some policemen you recognised from Prijedor.
24 Do you recall the names of those individuals?
25 A. Yes, I do. At the execution site, I recognised, again,
1 Dragan Knezevic. I also recognised Sasa Zecevic who was also at the
2 academy with us in Sarajevo. I recognised Zoran Babic who was also
3 wearing a uniform with police insignia. Zeljko Predojevic, who was
4 wearing an olive drab uniform. He was an ex-schoolmate of mine from my
5 earlier school days. I recognised Branko Topala who lived in Tukovi, and
6 he was a security guard at the Trnopolje camp at the time when I was in
7 the camp. I also recognised a neighbour, Topala's neighbour -- I think
8 his nickname was Dado, I think he was there, too -- near the bus.
9 Q. You said that some soldiers came to the mill and saw your leg.
10 You unwrapped the T-shirt around your leg. After you did that and they
11 saw your foot, what happened?
12 A. After that, they told me not to go anywhere from that water mill.
13 They said they would come there and rescue me.
14 Q. Did you wait for them?
15 A. Yes, I did. I didn't even budge. I was hoping that they would be
16 back to rescue me.
17 Q. And then what happened?
18 A. Well, the same persons came back with a horse, and there was some
19 sort of a seat on the horse made of wood, and that's where they put me.
20 They tied me on to the horse's back with rope. I had no power, no energy,
21 to cling on, but that's how they then began to take me away from there.
22 Q. Where did they take you to?
23 A. At first, we started heading back down the river, but the other
24 side, the other river bank, not the one I crawled down. And very soon we
25 went further from the river and started to climb up a hill.
1 Q. Where did you go to?
2 A. We climbed some sort of elevation. There was some sort of a
3 checkpoint there. I remember clearly, there were soldiers. And they
4 blindfolded me. They took a bandage, wrapped it around my head so I
5 couldn't see where I was being taken to. I only know that it was a long
6 trek for me and a strenuous one, too. I was seated, and my foot was sort
7 of dangling. The ground was difficult to travel jumping from stone to
8 stone, so to say, because the horse found it difficult to proceed. So I
9 kept dangling and screaming from pain. I kept asking for water all the
11 Q. Where did the soldiers with the horse finally take you to?
12 A. That was in the middle of the night, because it was evening when I
13 had been found by those soldiers. So now, I think it was 1.00 past
14 midnight when we reached a village, probably the slopes of the -- of Mount
15 Vlasic. When we reached the village, they lowered me on to a blanket to
16 lie down, and a doctor came along who gave me two injections, one to kill
17 the pain, and one against poison apparently. And then I was taken to --
18 was it a school building? Some building, at any rate, with beds in it.
19 There was a hall. I don't know what sort of a building it was, but I know
20 that that's where I spent the night until the next morning.
21 And the next morning, a car came along, an all-terrain vehicle, a
22 Lada Niva car. That's what the brand was. They came to take me to
23 Skender Vakuf. I was escorted by the person who had taken me away from
24 that canyon into which I had fallen. So this was the person who saw me,
25 too. Skender Vakuf, the hospital there, and that's where I received first
2 However, soon after, I was sent to Banja Luka.
3 Q. Where were you taken to in Banja Luka?
4 A. In Skender Vakuf, I entered the ambulance, the vehicle, and before
5 I left Skender Vakuf, another person got in, a person wearing a uniform,
6 who sat in front of me, and then I gave a statement to that person. This
7 person tape recorded my statement, and I couldn't see the person's face
8 because I was sitting in the ambulance just staring at the ceiling. And
9 this person was seated in the front seat of the vehicle. He told me that
10 he was tape recording my statement, so I should beware and not tell any
11 lies since my statement was being tape recorded.
12 In Skender Vakuf, when I came to the medical station -- when I
13 entered the ambulance and when -- and after I had given the statement,
14 another survivor appeared, and then the two of us went together to
15 Banja Luka.
16 Q. Where did you go to in Banja Luka?
17 A. At first, as far as I could tell, we went to some sort of
18 headquarters to get a certificate in order to be able to enter -- to be
19 admitted into the medical station, surgery. Once we obtained our
20 permission, we were admitted into that ward, the surgery, in Banja Luka.
21 Q. When you got to the Banja Luka hospital, did they clean your
23 A. When I got into the hospital, they began to clean my wounds. They
24 ripped the trousers I was wearing with a pair of scissors. And then they
25 took me by elevator, I think, to the second floor to a room on the second
1 floor. And then another uniformed person came, a colonel, to whom I also
2 gave a statement.
3 Q. When you talk about these two statements, do you mean you talked
4 about the massacre that you experienced on Mount Vlasic?
5 A. Yes, only about the massacre.
6 Q. When your wound was cleaned, did you look at your ankle?
7 A. Yes, I did.
8 Q. Was there anything that you saw in your wound, in your skin?
9 A. It was worm infested.
10 Q. Tell the Judges about your experience at the hospital.
11 A. After I had given the statement, I was taken back to surgery. I
12 was anaesthetised there, allegedly in order to be operated on. But when I
13 woke up, my whole leg was in a plaster cast.
14 Q. When you say your whole leg was in a cast, how high did the
15 plaster go?
16 A. The whole length of my leg. That's how long it was.
17 Q. What happened then?
18 A. Then I was taken to Room Number 7. There were two beds in that
19 room, and three other men. I was the fourth. So the two of us shared one
20 of the beds, and the other two men share the other bed. We were subjected
21 to severe beatings there and torture. My wounds were no longer being
22 dressed, and I was not being given any medical assistance. My organism
23 needed water badly, but there was no water to be had. We were made to
24 drink our own urine then. And that's what we did.
25 We were, so to speak, isolated from all the other wounded persons.
1 The hospital was teeming with wounded people, invalids. All of them
2 were curious, and with the permission of the guards who were watching us,
3 all of the invalids were given a chance to beat us in their own way. Many
4 of them were without a leg or without an arm walking on wooden crutches
5 through the hospital. They would come to our room and just beat us
6 everywhere. They would come back from the centre of the town drunk when
7 the hospital officials were no longer around, only the nurses. So they
8 just come back at night, switch off the lights, draw the curtains, and
9 just beat us in every possible way.
10 I suppose the hospital staff must have known about what was
11 happening to us, because we then got evacuated from Room Number 7, and
12 there was another room next to ours, Number 8, with people whom I had met
13 the day when we were transferred to Paprikovac in Banja Luka. That was
14 also sort of hospital on a hill above Banja Luka. Military police
15 officials came there for us with an ambulance, and they took us to
16 ophthalmology and the Pediatric ward because that's where the only beds
17 were. But even there, we were still isolated and watched over by the
19 The transfer itself from one place to the other was also
20 difficult. Everyone was just waiting for us. We were practically running
21 a gauntlet on our way out of the hospital. The other patients were just
22 beating us with no sympathy whatsoever. And our arrival at Paprikovac, we
23 were received there almost the same way.
24 Q. Who were the other patients that shared Room 7 with you? What was
25 their nationality, if you know or ethnicity?
1 A. There were Croats there, too, but mostly Muslims. But there were
2 Croats there. I remember a number of Croats there.
3 Q. Do you remember a Croat with the name of Damir?
4 A. Damir, yes, I do.
5 Q. What happened to Damir?
6 A. Damir was transferred with us from surgery to Paprikovac. One
7 day, they just took him away, and he never returned. He was beaten
8 most -- the most of all the prisoners because supposedly he had been
9 brought in wearing a uniform.
10 Q. You talked about being beaten by patients, and you said some would
11 come back drunk from the centre of town. Who were these people? Were
12 they patients? Were you beaten by anyone besides other patients at the
14 A. The patients beat us, the police, the military, civilians who
15 probably came there to visit their own kin who had been wounded on the
16 front. That's the sort of people who were beating us.
17 Q. Did the doctors or medical staff of the hospital ever do anything
18 to protect you during those beatings?
19 A. They probably did try. The head of clinic, as far as I knew, I
20 think his name was Kustric, so probably they did try something. But they
21 have their working hours, and this was happening at night. After
22 nightfall, in the dark, and not during their duty and office hours.
23 Q. You said your leg was put in a cast that went from your foot to
24 your groin area. What happened to your wound during that time?
25 A. The day we were taken to Paprikovac, there were three beds in the
1 room. And I was lying in the bed next to the window. It was a very hot
2 day. My wounds were festering, and the whole ward was stinking.
3 Q. The ward was stinking because of your wound, because of your leg?
4 A. Yes, that's correct.
5 Q. When was the cast taken off?
6 A. The cast was taken off the next day. I asked for a transfer, to
7 be transferred -- to be put near the door, the entrance door to the room
8 because there was no sun there. And that's when the cast was taken off.
9 The plaster cast, but then they put on a different kind of cast up to my
10 knee. Prior to that, they had cleaned my leg. But then after they had
11 taken off the cast, I saw an enormous amount of worms all over the cast
12 and my leg. Where my ankle was supposed to be, there was only hollow.
13 And there were cotton pads inside that hole where my ankle was supposed to
14 be. It was only stuffed into the hole. I saw the doctor when he did it.
15 Q. You saw the doctor put the cotton into the hole in your ankle?
16 A. I saw it when he took the cotton wool out, and I saw it when he
17 was cleaning this wound.
18 Q. Is it correct that the cotton must have been put in and the cast
19 put on when you were unconscious because of some anaesthesia at the first
20 hospital. Is that correct?
21 A. Yes, precisely. Because when the cast was taken off, when it was
22 cut with scissors, that's when I saw the cotton wool and everything that
23 was in the leg it was in the cast, so it was probably done when I was
24 unconscious, when I had been given anaesthesia.
25 Q. Do you know which doctor had put that cast on you?
1 A. I don't know which doctor had put the cast on when I had been
2 anaesthetised, but I know which doctor had taken the cast off and which
3 doctor had put the splint on after the cast.
4 Q. How long did you remain in the hospital?
5 A. In Paprikovac, I remained until the 15th of October.
6 Q. Then where did you go?
7 A. After that, in that time period, while I was still in Paprikovac,
8 until about 15th of October, the same person came to whom I had given the
9 statement when I arrived at the hospital. And this person asked me if I
10 had anything family members in Banja Luka, and Serb authorities would not
11 charge me with anything, that I was free to go.
12 Q. Did you then go and stay with someone you knew?
13 A. No, I did not. For that reason, I had relatives and friends.
14 They were also fighting to stay alive, and it was also difficult for them
15 in Banja Luka. And these family members would not have been able to help
16 me because they would have needed to transfer me somewhere else because I
17 was in a difficult situation. So in Banja Luka, there was this Merhamet
18 organisation which helped people, and it was through Merhamet that I went
19 to the mosque. And that's where I was the whole time.
20 Q. How long did you stay at the mosque? When did you leave Bosnia?
21 A. According to my assessment, about 20th of November.
22 Q. In the hospital, in Banja Luka, how was your foot finally treated?
23 A. When they put the splint on my leg, I was then transferred
24 possibly because of strong sunlight and because of all the wounds that
25 were very odourous, I was then taken to the front of the room, and I was
1 there for a few days. And then a doctor came, and he was escorted by
3 We were in those few rooms in Paprikovac, and we were guarded by
4 guards. And they would let in people who they wanted to let in, because
5 it was all under their control. And every time when a surgeon would have
6 to come in or somebody else, they would do it depending on their own
7 goodwill or not, as the case may be.
8 So that day, a surgeon came in to dress my wounds, and this guard
9 said that I should not be looked at, something like this will be cut off.
10 And then I realised that I will not have the leg for much longer, and that
11 most of it probably will be cut off.
12 Q. Was your foot amputated?
13 A. Yes, it was.
14 Q. Above the ankle?
15 A. Yes, yes, about 15 centimetres below the knee.
16 Q. I'd like now to show you some photographs. The first
17 photograph --
18 MR. KOUMIJIAN: I have various sets that should be distributed
19 now before I begin.
20 JUDGE SCHOMBURG: First of all, are there any objections to admit
21 S245 into evidence, the map?
22 MR. LUKIC: No objections, Your Honour.
23 JUDGE SCHOMBURG: S245 admitted into evidence.
24 May we then proceed with S246-1, -2, and so on.
25 MR. KOUMJIAN: Your Honour, S246 is a set of 24 photographs. And
1 they all should be in the same order so I can go through and briefly
2 describe them while we all mark our copies. Everyone has their copy, I
3 can begin. Before they are shown to the witness, I'll describe them.
4 S246 is a photograph of a road with the rock face to the right. I believe
5 that's a view looking toward Skender Vakuf.
6 JUDGE SCHOMBURG: -1.
7 MR. KOUMJIAN: -1. 246-2 would be looking down an abyss or a
8 gorge. 246-3 is looking over the edge of an abyss. 246-4, again, the
9 bottom of the gorge. 246-5 would again be a view of the road with the
10 rock face to your right, apparently looking towards Skender Vakuf.
11 246-6 is, again, the gorge. 246-7 is the gorge. 246-8 looking
12 down, and there appears to be some kind of tree felled in the right-hand
13 side of the photograph. And it appears to be something man made in the
14 centre, something white. 246-9 is the rock face to the left. It's a
15 photograph of the road looking towards -- I believe Smet or towards
17 246-10 is the bottom of the gorge. 246-111 is a photograph of a
18 UN vehicle and an ICTY investigator on the road. 246-12 is a photograph
19 of a long view of the area, I believe, looking across the gorge towards
20 the other side. 246-13 is a still longer view looking towards the hill on
21 the opposite side of the river. 246-14 is a close-up of one of the
22 concrete pillars on the side of the road, as is 246-15. As is 246-16,
23 even closer view. 246-17 is another pillar. 246-18 showing the area of
24 the river bed, I believe. 246-19, view of the road with the rock face to
25 the right and UN vehicle parked there.
1 246-20 has the rock face to the left, the UN vehicle visible.
2 246-21 is the bottom of the gorge. 246-22, again, the bottom of the
3 gorge. 246-23 appears to show a sheer cliff. And 246-24, again, shows
4 the sheer side of the cliff.
5 JUDGE SCHOMBURG: Any objections?
6 MR. LUKIC: No objections, Your Honour.
7 JUDGE SCHOMBURG: Admitted into evidence as S246-1 to S246-24.
8 MR. KOUMJIAN: I wonder if it's possible to give the witness a set
9 of photographs that are marked so he can pick out the ones, and then we
10 can have the numbers available.
11 Q. Witness X, we're first going to show you 246-1, an exhibit. I ask
12 you to look at that, and do you recognise this area at all?
13 A. No, no, I presume that these are photographs from the location
14 where the execution had taken place.
15 Q. Okay. I understand you presume that, but you have not been shown
16 these photographs before. Is that correct?
17 A. No, I have never seen photographs. I find it a little hard. Yes,
18 yes, you can go on.
19 Q. Is there anything on -- perhaps you can look through the
20 photographs, and just comment if you recognise any of the areas depicted
21 and if you have any comments you want to make.
22 A. May I begin?
23 Q. Yes, please.
24 A. First of all, here, I selected one of the photographs which for me
25 is the most poignant in some way, because in this position where the
1 vehicle is parked, I presume that the execution had taken place here by
2 the rocks in here. This hill here, this is where the bus had stopped.
3 This is the bus where I had been with my father. This is where the bus
4 had stopped. And from this place, we started to walk up this road, as I
5 have explained already.
6 Q. Okay. And for the record, can we get the number of that
7 photograph from the usher. The photograph the witness was referring to,
8 S246-20. On the video it was a bit difficult to see because of the
9 glare. Can we have that brought back -- put back on the ELMO. And
10 perhaps the ELMO could be moved a little bit to get rid of the glare on
11 the rock. I don't know if you can do anything for that. Okay.
12 So you're saying that the bus that you were in, there's a very
13 large boulder on the right-hand side of the road looking at this
14 photograph. Your bus stopped somewhere around where that boulder is?
15 A. Yes, this large rock on the right-hand side, on the photograph,
16 this large rock alongside this rock, this is where the bus was stopped
18 Q. And then you walked back, would it be correct -- where on this
19 photograph, if anywhere, does it show the area where you were ordered to
20 stop and walk to the edge of the cliff?
21 A. Yes, perhaps a little bit further, a little bit forward.
22 Q. In other words, in the foreground of the picture, somewhere around
23 the area that whoever took the photograph was standing. Is that correct?
24 A. Well, approximately there, perhaps a few more metres forward,
25 according to my estimate.
1 Q. You talked about remembering seeing some posts. Do those posts
2 appear in these photographs?
3 A. Yes, these posts are remarkable. You can see them. This is where
4 I could see them -- I saw them.
5 Q. And you're referring to those concrete -- small concrete pillars
6 right at the edge of the abyss, about --
7 A. Yes, these that you can see one behind the other.
8 Q. Can you see anywhere in those photographs the area where you fell?
9 A. On this photograph here, although it is the same photograph, but
10 here I can see a kind of a wall. It is possible to see the wall down
11 which I was looking.
12 MR. KOUMJIAN: And for the record, that is photograph number 11.
13 Q. Do these photographs appear to be of the site where the execution
14 took place?
15 A. I presume so, yes.
16 MR. KOUMJIAN: Okay, thank you, Mr. Usher.
17 Q. Witness X, in the hospital in Banja Luka, did you meet other
18 people who had survived the massacre at Vlasic?
19 A. Yes. I met people in Paprikovac, that was in Paprikovac in
20 Banja Luka. These people who had survived these executions. As it
21 happened, they were not physically injured like I was. They were mobile.
22 How they survived, in what way, in fact, I couldn't tell you. But it was
23 only occasionally that I spoke to them because their orders as when we had
24 to go to the toilet in a bucket, the orders were for them to gather that
25 because there was one guard and there were three rooms. And sometimes one
1 would be talking, and that's how we managed to speak during the toilet
3 Q. At the site of the massacre, you said that the last thing you
4 recall on the cliff was being pushed from behind. Is that correct?
5 A. I said that this was my father.
6 Q. Did you ever see your father again, or his body? I'm sorry, the
7 interpreter did not get your answer. Can you say it again, please.
8 A. I never saw my father again, either dead or alive.
9 Q. To your knowledge, have any of the bodies of those that were
10 killed on Vlasic been recovered?
11 A. As far as I know, no. The only thing I recall, the bodies, as I
12 was struggling to survive or to stay alive after that crime on the bank of
13 the river, I saw two dead bodies. And these were, so to speak, freshly
14 dead people. They seemed to have been just killed.
15 Q. Does it matter in your culture and to your personally that these
16 bodies have never been recovered?
17 A. Well, of course it bothers me. Of course, it upsets me. It's my
18 father. I loved him a lot and respected him. And he disappeared. I
19 never saw him again. I think that I would feel better if I could find out
20 one day where his remains are so that I could erect a monument for
21 gratitude simply, in that sense, I mean. I relied on him a great deal,
22 and we had a good relationship.
23 Q. Thank you, Witness X.
24 MR. KOUMJIAN: I don't have any further questions at this time.
25 Thank you.
1 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Thank you.
2 JUDGE SCHOMBURG: I believe it's appropriate to start with the
3 cross-examination only tomorrow morning. Do you agree?
4 MR. OSTOJIC: Yes, Your Honour, we do..
5 JUDGE SCHOMBURG: Any other points to discuss today in the absence
6 of the witness?
7 Please, Witness X, understand, the Defence, of course, has the
8 right also to put questions to you. And we will ask you to answer these
9 questions in the same way, in the same manner, as you did vis-a-vis the
10 questions put by the Office of the Prosecutor. This will take place
11 tomorrow at 10.00. I thank you for today, and you're excused for today.
12 May the usher please escort the Witness X out of the courtroom. Thank
14 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Thank you.
15 [The witness stands down]
16 JUDGE SCHOMBURG: May we please take the opportunity of the
17 remaining time to discuss some issues. There was presented a lot of
18 material related to military expertise. I don't know whether the Defence
19 got these documents in time, because admittedly for us, it was a little
20 surprise to see this volume of documents.
21 MR. OSTOJIC: Your Honour, the Defence actually, the lawyers, did
22 receive the military analyst's report without the background in which we
23 can examine whether he qualifies necessarily as an expert. But our
24 objection not just to the voluminous nature of the document is that the
25 report itself is not interpreted for our client to review, and for him to
1 assist us in preparing his Defence. I'm not sure if that's forthcoming,
2 but that would be really our only objection to the report at this time.
3 And obviously we would reserve the right to make any objections based on
4 the qualifications of Mr. Brown at the time when we get his complete
5 curriculum vitae.
6 JUDGE SCHOMBURG: And I take it that Mr. Brown will appear as a
7 witness here in the courtroom?
8 MR. KOUMJIAN: Yes, that's correct.
9 JUDGE SCHOMBURG: And what about the translation, will it be
10 provided in due course?
11 MR. KOUMJIAN: It has been submitted, and I do not have a date.
12 We'll check on what the due date is from CLSS.
13 JUDGE SCHOMBURG: Fine. Thank you. Then we have got one
14 expertise on handwriting. Is this available for you in both languages,
15 also for Dr. Stakic?
16 MR. OSTOJIC: It is not, Your Honour. We only have it in the
17 English version, and we did not yet have an opportunity to discuss it with
18 Dr. Stakic in detail. But we did reference it in several conferences that
19 we had with him. We do not have it in a language in which he can
20 understand and most certainly don't have the attached article which seems
21 to be the basis which gives us a five-point guideline on how they rate the
22 analysis that was done by the expert. So we do not have either the report
23 or the bases that the expert apparently relied upon.
24 JUDGE SCHOMBURG: Yes. As regards the guideline, the same seems
25 to be true as far as I can see. But probably I'm mistaken, on the basis
1 what I could find today on my desk, that the -- in the expertise mentioned
2 guidelines are not attached.
3 MR. KOUMJIAN: I see. The Defence did not get a copy of the
4 guideline, as you're referring to. It's about a three-page document. I
5 can provide it. But it's simply a standard -- Ms. Karper says it was
7 MR. OSTOJIC: If I may, we do have the report, and we also have
8 the four-page article that's attached to the report. We just don't have
9 it in a language in which our client can fully understand or appreciate,
10 although we have discussed it briefly with him. But we don't have also
11 the qualifications of this purported expert, although I understand that he
12 comes from a reputable institute. We still think we should at least be
13 given his background information and -- because the report itself is
14 somewhat ambiguous. It talks about one individual on the first page, then
15 references, who may be the actual content of the report, another
16 individual. So if we could perhaps get some clarity on that, it would be
18 MR. KOUMJIAN: Your Honour, I would appreciate the Court's
19 guidance on one matter that counsel raised.
20 JUDGE SCHOMBURG: If the attachment is the one with the head line
21 "Netherlands forensic institute, forensic handwriting analysis," if this
22 is the guideline, then indeed it's in our hands.
23 MR. KOUMJIAN: Yes, that is it.
24 JUDGE SCHOMBURG: Okay. What about the translation?
25 MR. KOUMJIAN: I submitted it when I received the handwriting
1 report last week I submitted the report. I did not submit that background
2 material on the institute. Interpreting the rule that only the report has
3 to be translated, but that's the matter I wanted Your Honours' guidance
4 on. If Your Honour feels it's necessary, we will submit that also for
5 translation. But Your Honour has seen that document. It simply explains
6 how handwriting analysis is done and the significance of the various
8 JUDGE SCHOMBURG: I would appreciate very much if the Defence
9 counsel could live with this additional attachment, and if necessary,
10 explain it to your client because, indeed, this is a kind of basis on what
11 the expert is working on. So this could be feasible, I believe.
12 Can we agree that this translation is not necessary?
13 MR. OSTOJIC: I'm sure we can, Your Honour, yes.
14 JUDGE SCHOMBURG: Thank you.
15 And did you already make up your mind, what about the
16 cross-examination of this witness?
17 MR. OSTOJIC: The Defence has made up their mind, Judge, in part,
18 only - and I say in part because we would like to consult with Dr. Stakic
19 once he has the report in the language in which he can understand. And
20 also, I would like to have the -- and again, not to repeat myself, but the
21 CV or the background information on the two individuals who appear on page
22 1 of 7 of the report so that we can determine if and whether it's
23 necessary. But quite frankly, looking at what we coin "guidelines" and
24 the report, we think that comparing it to other institutes that do
25 forensic handwriting analysis we believe it would be necessary at least at
1 this time to cross-examine the witness who is providing this report. We
2 would need some guidance also because the way that the report can be
3 subject to some interpretation. I spoke briefly with the OTP on that. I
4 don't want to share the contents of our conversation, because I don't want
5 to misrepresent what they had said. But I think it's necessary, perhaps,
6 for both sides if the Court gives us their view, as to what weight if any
7 they will give this report.
8 Certainly, we would like an opportunity to cross-examine. We're
9 anticipating and are contemplating calling our own forensic handwriting
10 expert to make a similar if not what we believe a more thorough analysis
11 of the materials that were provided, and hope to she what his or her
12 conclusions are at that time.
13 JUDGE SCHOMBURG: I think then the best way to proceed already
14 now, because it's always difficult to get some time window for expert
15 witnesses, to try to summon during the remaining time this witness after
16 the first reading, I also have the impression that from the side of the
17 Judges, there will be the one or other question. So therefore, I invite
18 the OTP to try to summon the witness at an appropriate point in time.
19 MR. KOUMJIAN: I'll do that. The witness is now on holidays, I
20 know, and out of the country. But we'll find out when the witness returns
21 and try to work out a date.
22 JUDGE SCHOMBURG: Yes, thank you.
23 What about the other expertise as regards making use of the same
24 machine, printer.
25 MR. KOUMJIAN: That could only have been done once the handwriting
1 was complete. I spoke to the expert from the same lab, a different
2 expert, who is doing that. The last I heard was that October was the
3 earliest we could expect the results.
4 JUDGE SCHOMBURG: So you regard it as Defence material already
5 now? To be serious, I think we have to live with this and probably we can
6 introduce this only later. It will not disturb your possible motion on
8 Third point, indeed, is the question, what about the documentation
9 on the interrelationship between the documents we have before us?
10 MR. KOUMJIAN: Actually, I received before I had to go on a
11 business trip last Thursday I believe a draft copy of a very long, very
12 difficult, detailed, report regarding the linguistics, et cetera. I've
13 skimmed it, but I don't think any of it sunk in last week. I'll try again
14 this week. I'm not sure when that will be in final form. Hopefully soon.
15 JUDGE SCHOMBURG: But please, as soon as possible taking into
16 account the rules governing expertise witnesses. But this would be an
17 in-house witness. Right?
18 MR. KOUMJIAN: Correct.
19 JUDGE SCHOMBURG: Finally, there are some remaining points,
20 probably they are resolved without our knowledge during court recess. The
21 last time we asked for four pages of Kozarski Vjesnik in a colour print.
22 Everything is well-prepared as I can see by Ms. Karper.
23 MR. KOUMJIAN: I have the Kozarski Vjesnik, Ms. Karper has just
24 handed to me, Exhibit 242-1 through 242-4, ERN numbers 01469741 through
25 44. I believe that's the 17th of June.
1 JUDGE SCHOMBURG: They were already admitted into evidence. It's
2 only a copy, one copy for the Court and one for the Defence, please.
3 Anything else to be resolved immediately?
4 MR. KOUMJIAN: No.
5 MR. OSTOJIC: We do, Your Honour, unfortunately. In speaking of
6 the Kozarski Vjesnik, we requested to the Court, and we believe the Court
7 instructed or ruled, ordered, the OTP to provide the Defence with copies
8 of the relevant materials with respect to newsletters and items that
9 appeared in Kozarski Vjesnik for the time period of the indictment, April
10 through September of 1992. We have not yet been provided with copies of
11 those materials. In addition to that, we also requested that all the
12 Crisis Staff orders purportedly that were found or during a subpoena or in
13 any other manner that were seized, that they also be produced. We have
14 not received those items as well, Your Honour. And I have two other
15 points, but I think maybe we should take these separately.
16 JUDGE SCHOMBURG: Step by step. Kozarski Vjesnik.
17 MR. KOUMJIAN: My memory is not the best, but as I recall the
18 Court's ruling, it was that the Kozarski Vjesniks would be available to
19 the Defence to go through at the Office of the Prosecutor.
20 JUDGE SCHOMBURG: Right.
21 MR. KOUMJIAN: I haven't had a request or time suggested. As I
22 indicated, these are -- we don't have multiple sets. They are signed out
23 at various times by different people. So we have to work with the
24 schedule and see what we can provide at various times.
25 JUDGE SCHOMBURG: So you invite the Defence to go through your
1 archive as regards Kozarski Vjesnik. The same is true as regards the
2 orders of the Crisis Staff, or is there any helping tool to find it in
3 your computer system?
4 MR. KOUMJIAN: Yes, there was a project that was ongoing when we
5 took the break. I was away for a short time, and I have been on a
6 business trip for the last week. I'll check on, it but I believe we have
7 a list now of all Crisis Staff decisions in-house. And we can give that
8 to the Defence and compare and see if you're missing any.
9 This was also part of the same project, to answer the Court's
10 question about which decisions appeared in the Gazette. So I hope we will
11 have a spreadsheet available. I'll check on it today and see if it will be
12 available tomorrow, I'm not sure whether it's available yet, which will
13 show all the Crisis Staff decisions and whether or not they also appeared
14 published in one of the Gazettes.
15 THE COURT: May I ask, what about number 1 of the Official
16 Gazette, was it found in the premises of the OTP?
17 MR. KOUMJIAN: My understanding is that the Official Gazette
18 number 1 would be not the Crisis Staff, that would be the Municipal
19 Assembly of Prijedor headed by president Cehajic. That would be a
20 separate publication.
21 JUDGE SCHOMBURG: It is not enough for relevance to say it's
22 interesting to see, but I really wonder having seen the dates of number 2
23 and 3 in the middle of the year whether or not this number 1 was already
24 one of the Official Gazette, and then to see the difference between, if
25 it's your opinion it still was a normal Official Gazette as opposed to the
1 other Official Gazette, that one can really find out the difference.
2 MR. KOUMJIAN: Your Honour, I think that his a matter that' really
3 not in my opinion, but Mr. Corin who is our in-house expert on matter, he
4 is a linguist and a historian, he's reviewed those, and I believe as I
5 recall that's his explanation to me.
6 The decisions did not begin to be published until the Serbian
7 Municipality of Prijedor reconvened the Serbian assembly and adopted the
8 Crisis Staff decisions. So the decisions were not published in the
9 Gazette until the decisions of the Crisis Staff were actually taken.
10 JUDGE SCHOMBURG: Finally from my point of view, sorry, is it your
11 intention under some jurisdiction, it is mandatory, even if you know that
12 a witness will make use of the right not to answer any questions, to call
13 Mr. Mrdja, to call Mr. Brdjanin, to call Mr. Talic or others.
14 MR. KOUMJIAN: It's not our intention, because I actually believe
15 it will be a futile exercise. Actually we haven't discussed it, but you
16 asked if it was our intention, we didn't have that intention to do that.
17 JUDGE SCHOMBURG: Only the question of the intention, and we have
18 to find out, you know, of course different legal systems, in some
19 jurisdictions --
20 MR. KOUMJIAN: Obviously, they could testify if they wanted to.
21 JUDGE SCHOMBURG: It could cause a reason for appeal if you don't,
22 at least, try, a reason for appeal for both sides. So one has also to
23 take this question into account how to react on this. I think in
24 addition, available would be possible in a broader connection,
25 Mr. Gruban. Is it your -- I understand that it's not your plan to hear
1 any person already in this entire area arrested, indicted, or even
2 convicted even if it's not final, person, to hear one of these persons, to
3 call one of these persons?
4 MR. KOUMJIAN: That's correct, we did not have the intention to do
6 JUDGE SCHOMBURG: Is it the intention of the Defence?
7 MR. OSTOJIC: We don't believe that it will be necessary, Your
8 Honour, to call them. But we would ask that the OTP provide us with the
9 interviews that they have conducted with those defendants as well as other
10 defendants, including the Plavsic Krajisnik defendants who they have
11 extensively interviewed. We think it's their obligation to give us that
12 complete picture. We don't know whether we would utilise it or not
13 because we don't have access to that information.
14 Likewise, if they did take a statement from Mr. Brdjanin or
15 General Talic or Mrdja, we would like that as well so we could make an
16 informed decision once we have had the opportunity to review that
17 material. To date, we don't have that, and the OTP has steadfastly
18 refused to provide us with that what we think is that relevant information
19 under an obligation that should be ongoing.
20 MR. KOUMJIAN: Well, we believe we've complied with our Rule 68
21 obligation regarding these matters.
22 JUDGE SCHOMBURG: But you have had some other issues.
23 MR. OSTOJIC: Yes, just to respond to the Court with respect to
24 the Kozarski Vjesnik, would it be permissible, and we would like to know
25 if the OTP would agree to have our investigator from the region come here
1 so he would exercise those newspaper articles. He is approved obviously
2 by the Registrar. Just because of time constraints Mr. Lukic and I are
3 unable to do that, so we would like to at least orally and formally make
4 that request to the Court and to the OTP if they wouldn't mind us having
5 this investigator who has been on staff with us since the beginning of the
6 case from my understanding to come in and examine those documents.
7 MR. KOUMJIAN: If I could just get together with counsel with
8 proposed dates informally and then run it by my office and then we see if
9 there's a disagreement to bring to the court.
10 MR. OSTOJIC: Two other points if I may, Your Honour, one was
11 also -- and not to start the week on any critical note, but we were also
12 promised I believe a supplemental report from Dr. Tabeau, who is a
13 demographer, who testified a week or so prior to the break. We have
14 not -- although I spoke briefly with my learned friend about that, I just
15 want to put it on the table so that we continue to follow up on that
16 issue. I'm not sure what the time frame is for us to receive that report,
17 although we were hoping we would receive it at least by today if not prior
18 to our arrival here this week.
19 JUDGE SCHOMBURG: No doubt that we all have some problems seeing
20 65 ter numbers 77, this is Ms. Ewa Tabeau and Mr. Inayat. I'm afraid this
21 will take a lot of time when I anticipate your questions. So therefore,
22 it should also be taken into account.
23 I think it would be really helpful if the OTP could, as soon as
24 possible, provide all of us with a time schedule until the 19th of
25 September that we all know what we can expect during this time.
1 MR. KOUMJIAN: We can provide a schedule of those --
2 JUDGE SCHOMBURG: Provisional, no doubt. The unexpected will
3 happen. Any additional?
4 MR. OSTOJIC: One last point, Your Honour, respectfully this is
5 not a criticism, it is an attempt to have a clarification in connection
6 with the revised scheduling order that we have dated August 2nd of this
7 year. If I may just be permitted to put it in context, the witnesses that
8 the OTP is planning to call now certainly seem to be those witnesses that
9 are not fact witnesses but opinion witnesses, some which we will object to
10 as being so-called expert witnesses. It is for those witnesses in
11 particular Your Honour that I believe the Defence needs to meet with
12 Dr. Stakic to go over the materials in detail. The schedule respectfully
13 as proposed does not give the Defence attorneys an opportunity to visit
14 Dr. Stakic in the Detention Centre in order to go over those materials.
15 And again, I understand we don't have it all in the language in
16 which Dr. Stakic would understand, namely Serbian or B/C/S as it's
17 referred to, but we would also if the witness testifies, and we most
18 certainly appreciate the Court's indulgence, today, for example, by giving
19 us an opportunity to further clarify issues and questions for the witness
20 tomorrow. If we may from time to time be permitted to ask the Court to
21 take a break or to recommence or reconvene questioning at a subsequent
22 time so that we would be given an opportunity to discuss it with
23 Dr. Stakic. As the Court knows, the Detention Unit does not allow us to
24 have weekend visits and does not permit us to go there after I believe 5
25 or 5.30. So we're kind of constrained with that -- 4.30.
1 Thank you, Your Honour.
2 JUDGE SCHOMBURG: No doubt, this is one of the purposes that we
3 envisaged to have morning and afternoon sessions that will hopefully allow
4 us to cancel the one or other afternoon session and we'll give you the
5 opportunity. Maybe it's necessary, then please ask one or two days
6 beforehand that for a special witness, you need special preparation that
7 we can fix this date in a special way. We are flexible, and the schedule
8 until Thursday, 19 September, is envisaged to have this flexibility for
9 both parties because I know it's for you difficult to discuss it with your
10 client. It's for the OTP difficult to summon the witnesses during this
11 very short period of time. So if we could have this provisional schedule
12 from the OTP, this would enlighten us to a certain extent and give you the
13 basis to say before we hear this witness, we have to discuss the issue
14 with our client.
15 MR. OSTOJIC: Thank you, Your Honour.
16 JUDGE SCHOMBURG: Any other issues? This is not the case.
17 The trial then stays adjourned until tomorrow, 10.00. Please,
18 10.00, because there is another Status Conference in front of the hearing.
19 Thank you.
20 --- Whereupon the hearing adjourned at
21 3.52 p.m., to be reconvened on
22 Tuesday, the 27th day of August, 2002,
23 at 10.00 a.m.