1 Monday, 24 February 2003
2 [Open session]
3 [The accused entered court]
4 --- Upon commencing at 2.49 p.m.
5 JUDGE SCHOMBURG: Please be seated. May I ask you, please, to
6 call the case.
7 THE REGISTRAR: Yes, Your Honour. Good afternoon. This is Case
8 Number IT-97-24-T, the Prosecutor versus Milomir Stakic.
9 JUDGE SCHOMBURG: Thank you. And the appearances, please, for the
11 MR. KOUMJIAN: Good afternoon, Your Honours. Nicholas Koumjian
12 with Michael McVicker and assisted by Ruth Karper.
13 JUDGE SCHOMBURG: Good afternoon. And for the Defence in The
15 MR. OSTOJIC: Good afternoon, Your Honour. John Ostojic on behalf
16 of Milomir Stakic.
17 JUDGE SCHOMBURG: Thank you. I learned that the videolink in the
18 moment is not yet stable. May I ask the audio and video unit -- I can
19 see -- it's okay?
20 THE REGISTRAR: Yes.
21 JUDGE SCHOMBURG: Then we can start immediately. Hello, Madam
22 Dahuron. Can you hear me in a language you understand? Unfortunately, we
23 can't hear you. Could you please speak some words.
24 THE REGISTRAR: [Banja Luka] Can you hear me now?
25 JUDGE SCHOMBURG: Yes, better. Can everybody hear Madam Dahuron?
1 It's okay. May I ask for the appearances in Banja Luka, who is please
2 present in Banja Luka in the room.
3 THE REGISTRAR: [Banja Luka] At this moment, there is only
4 audio/visual unit and myself. Witness is waiting --
5 JUDGE SCHOMBURG: May I ask the witness to be brought in, please.
6 THE REGISTRAR: [Banja Luka] Okay.
7 JUDGE SCHOMBURG: Today we have two cameras, one covering the
8 entire room, and one specially for the witness.
9 May I ask before we start, Mr. Ostojic, any protective measures
10 you would need in addition?
11 MR. OSTOJIC: None that I am aware of, Your Honour, but perhaps we
12 can inquire directly of the witness just to be certain.
13 JUDGE SCHOMBURG: Good afternoon. Can you hear me in Banja Luka
14 in a language you understand?
15 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Yes, I can hear you.
16 JUDGE SCHOMBURG: Thank you. May we please hear your solemn
18 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Yes. I solemnly declare that I will
19 speak the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.
20 JUDGE SCHOMBURG: Thank you very much. You may be seated.
21 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Thank you very much.
22 JUDGE SCHOMBURG: May I ask you before we start, do you regard it
23 necessary that we have protective measures especially designed for you, or
24 may it be in open court?
25 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] I don't need any protective
1 measures. Whatever I have to say, I can say it publicly.
2 JUDGE SCHOMBURG: Thank you very much for this clarification. You
3 are called as a Defence witness, and therefore, may I ask Defence counsel
4 to start with the examination-in-chief.
5 MR. OSTOJIC: Thank you, Your Honour.
6 WITNESS: ZORAN BECNER
7 [Witness answered through interpreter]
8 [Witness testified through videolink]
9 Examined by Mr. Ostojic:
10 Q. Good afternoon, Mr. Becner. My name is John Ostojic, and along
11 with Branko Lukic, we represent Dr. Milomir Stakic.
12 A. Good afternoon. I am glad to be able to contribute to the
13 perception -- to establishing the perception and the views of my
14 acquaintance, Dr. Milomir Stakic.
15 Q. Thank you, sir. I'm going to ask you a couple of questions, and I
16 would ask that you please allow me to complete the question before you
17 give us your response. And also, if you do not understand the question,
18 please affirmatively state that you do not understand it and ask for
19 clarification at which point I'll be more than happy to clarify any
20 questions we put to you. Fair enough?
21 A. Yes, that's okay.
22 Q. For the record, sir, can you please state your full name, first
23 and last name.
24 A. My name is Zoran Becner.
25 Q. Mr. Becner, can you please share with us a little bit about your
1 personal background. Can you tell us where you currently reside and with
3 A. I currently reside in Prijedor in Srpskih Velikana Street Number
4 323. I have a Ph.D. in economics. I work as a full-time professor at the
5 management school in Prijedor, and I also work as a professor and a member
6 of the faculty and business in Novi Sad. I am married. I have two
7 children, and I am happy to say that I also have three grandchildren.
8 Q. Wonderful. Sir, can you tell us the year in which you received
9 your Ph.D. in economics.
10 A. I received my Ph.D. in economics in the year 2000 from the
11 university in Belgrade.
12 Q. Can you share with us briefly your employment -- your current
13 employment status. Can you tell us in the last 10 to 15 years, if you
14 will, where were you employed and in what capacity did you hold such
16 A. Throughout my professional career, I worked in different walks of
17 life, and I worked in various capacities. I was the secretary-general of
18 the school of music in Prijedor. I was also the head of tourist and
19 transport office of the ZTP Sarajevo, the branch office in Prijedor. I
20 was also the director of the driving school in Prijedor. That was I
21 immediately up to the beginning of the war, then I also owned my own
22 driving school, Zolka, in Prijedor. Since 1994, I have been the founder
23 and one of the professors of the business management school in Prijedor.
24 Q. Thank you. Sir, forgive me for asking this question, but can you
25 share with us what your ethnic background is.
1 A. I was born in a mixed marriage. My father is a German and my
2 mother is a Croat. But I have declared myself as a Croat.
3 Q. And sir, had you declared yourself as a Croat also in 1992 as
5 A. This is what was written in all the documents. This is not how I
6 declared myself as, but this is what was registered, what has been
7 registered in all of my documents.
8 Q. Moving right long, if I may, sir, can you tell me about the
9 general situation in northwest Bosnia, and specifically in Prijedor,
10 during the period of the spring and summer of 1992?
11 A. During that period of time, I had my own business, and I was in
12 the education. I didn't -- I was not involved in politics. But everybody
13 could notice that the situation was very tense and that the tension arose
14 from ethnic issues. I belonged to the type of people who have made
15 everything in the former Yugoslavia, and therefore supported the former
16 Yugoslavia. However, the situation developed in a different direction as
17 everybody could see at that time.
18 Q. Sir, if I may ask in part a leading question of you, were you ever
19 involved or participated in the sales of hunting guns or weapons?
20 A. When I was giving information about my profession, I omitted to
21 say - not on purpose - that at the same time when I had the driving
22 school, I also had a retail store which was registered, amongst other
23 things, for the sale of ammunition and hunting rifles.
24 Q. Just so that I'm clear, sir, was that during the period of the
25 spring and summer of 1992, both before and after?
12 Blank page inserted to ensure pagination corresponds between the French and
13 English transcripts.
1 A. Let me clarify. That retail store was open up to May 1992
2 immediately before the first conflict. At that time, none of the retail
3 stores were open any longer, so mine was not an exception to that.
4 Q. If I can take you back to those ten and a half-plus years, the
5 period immediately before you shut down your retail store, was there an
6 increase in the sales of such hunting guns, weapons, and ammunition?
7 A. There was no increase, although the demand was somewhat higher.
8 However, the -- our sources of supply, that was the Zastava from
9 Kragujevac, we had a contract with them, and there were other colleagues
10 of mine in other towns who were engaged in the same kind of job. And the
11 quotas of weapons that we received was the same. My store was little. It
12 was some 3 and a half kilometres away from the town, and it was my
13 friends, the hunters, who used my services most because let me remind you,
14 I graduated from the school of economics. I also received my masters
15 degree, and I received my Ph.D. all with the same subject matter, and that
16 was hunting and hunting economy. And therefore, this was a logical
17 development, that my colleagues would go to my store to ask for my
19 Q. Just describe for us, if you will, the type of weapons and
20 armaments that you sold and the use of those weapons on what type of
22 A. This was all hunting weapons, hunting rifles, and hunting shotguns
23 as well as the ammunitions for the same types of weapons. And those
24 weapons were used for the small animals and for the big animals alike.
25 Q. Let me turn to something that you stated initially when you
1 appeared, that you're an acquaintance of Dr. Stakic. Can you share with
2 us, sir, how you met his acquaintance.
3 A. I knew Dr. Stakic. I met him before the war. But we were just
4 nodding acquaintances. In simple words, he was just one of the doctors in
5 the medical centre in Prijedor. I got to know him a bit better in the
6 year 1993 when I cooperated with his institution, and his institution was
7 the occupational medicine in Prijedor. We made a cooperation contract,
8 and our cooperation involved the issuing of medical certificates for all
9 the prospective drivers. We cooperated for about a year, and our
10 cooperation was really good.
11 During that period of time, not for a single moment did I observe
12 any kind of behaviour on the part of Dr. Stakic that would show me that he
13 had ethnic prejudices. He was a very pleasant person, and he respected
14 his family and he also respected those who cooperated with him and who
15 worked alongside him.
16 Q. Sir, at any time during the period that you knew Dr. Stakic, did
17 he exhibit any ill will, hatred, or animosity against Muslims, Croats, or
18 other non-Serbs?
19 A. I would see Dr. Stakic several times every week, either in his
20 office when we would discuss business or when we went for a drink to one
21 of the bars in Prijedor. Not for a single moment did I notice any kind of
22 chauvinism or ethnic animosity or any similar thing. Let me be more
23 specific. Among many people who are my colleagues and who had their own
24 driving schools and who were Serbs, Dr. Stakic decided to cooperate with
25 me, and I am not a Serb. I don't know why he did that. I did not pay any
1 attention to that. But let me say that in my presence, he never showed
2 any signs of any ethnic animosity, hatred, or any kind of undermining
3 people of different ethnic background.
4 Q. Can you share with us your opinion, sir, if you feel that
5 Dr. Stakic treated you, a Croat, a non-Serb, any differently than he
6 treated people of the Serbian ethnic background, or were you treated the
8 A. There was no difference in his behaviour. Very often, when we
9 socialised outside his office, we would find ourselves with our colleagues
10 and peers, and we would joke. We would talk informally. In these
11 conversations, there was not any sign of any discrimination against me or
12 anybody else.
13 Q. Can you tell me, sir, if at any time during the periods that you
14 were with Dr. Stakic you observed or recognised Dr. Stakic exercising any
15 violent means or threats against anyone?
16 A. I didn't notice, not for a single moment. And personally, I
17 believe that he was a doctor and a humanitarian. Whenever we talked about
18 that, we talked about the normal life, the standard way of life.
19 Q. Did at any time, sir, you observe from Dr. Stakic any
20 nationalistic radical idealogy or policies?
21 A. I am determined when I say no, and especially never in my
22 presence. But I also believe that he has never displayed any such
23 feelings in the conversations with other people. Prijedor is a small
24 town, and nationalism cannot be hidden from people.
25 Q. Describe for us if you will the personal treatment you received
1 from Dr. Stakic both in private and in public if it differed. And, sir,
2 what I'm trying to determine, if I may, is to determine whether Dr. Stakic
3 treated you differently when you were in public with him, in public
4 venues, when as you say you went out and occasionally had a drink. Did he
5 treat you any different, the same while you were in public versus private?
6 A. Let me explain. In our business contacts and in our private
7 contacts, I always received the same treatment, and that entailed mutual
8 respect and correctness. Very often, I would go into his office
9 unannounced. I would sit there with him for a certain period of time. We
10 would exchange ideas, or we would discuss business matters. I never had
11 any problem talking to him. I was never discriminated against. I was
12 never treated differently from anybody else.
13 Q. Can you, sir, in your own words describe for us Dr. Stakic's
14 character that which you have concluded with respect to his integrity, his
15 temperament, and to his honesty.
16 A. I'm not a psychologist. I've told you that I am an economist by
17 profession. But I'm a humanitarian, and I find it easy to recognise those
18 people who are the same as me. I would not like to say anything bad about
19 a different profession, but I would still like to answer your question.
20 Dr. Stakic is a -- by the way he looks, by the way he behaves, he came
21 across as a kind person, and he was received well by everybody. He has
22 never imposed his views on other people, or at least I have never
23 experienced him imposing his views on other people. So I would say that
24 he is a quiet and a self-effacing person.
25 MR. OSTOJIC: Your Honour, since I have not met Dr. Becner before
1 today, and I'm happy to meet his acquaintance, the Defence has no further
3 JUDGE SCHOMBURG: May I ask the Prosecution, the Prosecution is
4 prepared for cross-examination immediately?
5 MR. McVICKER: Your Honour, could we just take five minutes,
6 please, to review our notes and resume at around 3.20.
7 JUDGE SCHOMBURG: Yes. You understood the Prosecution is prepared
8 to put to you questions in cross-examination in about 5 minutes. Could
9 you please wait these five minutes. I don't know whether -- what is less
10 expensive, to have the line going on or... Would it be better to have a
12 So then let's wait and stand by. If I may kindly ask you to stay
13 there and I will call you back in 5 minutes when the Prosecution is
15 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Your Honour, I've understood what
16 you said, and it's okay.
17 JUDGE SCHOMBURG: Thank you.
18 MR. KOUMJIAN: I don't know if Your Honour wants to use this time,
19 I could comment on the 92 bis declarations.
20 JUDGE SCHOMBURG: In the moment, the -- you should be aware that
21 the witness can follow what we are discussing here.
22 MR. KOUMJIAN: I don't have a problem with that given the very
23 general nature of my remarks, and that is simply that having reviewed
24 those that I received today, I could give the witness numbers just to make
25 sure that we're talking about the same numbers -- I'm sorry, they do not
12 Blank page inserted to ensure pagination corresponds between the French and
13 English transcripts.
1 have numbers. But I received the package from Your Honour. I'm sure it's
2 the same that Your Honours received. We do not have an objection to any
3 of these, and we are not requesting that they be brought for
4 cross-examination. Of course, this is not to say that we accept all
5 statements and conclusions of the witness or assertions of fact. But we
6 do not believe it would be particularly useful to bring those witnesses
7 here to The Hague to testify. So we would be willing from the side of the
8 Prosecution to accept these 92 bis statements into evidence.
9 JUDGE SCHOMBURG: These comments would be true for all of the
10 seven we received today?
11 MR. KOUMJIAN: Yes, Your Honour.
12 JUDGE SCHOMBURG: All the seven statements. And to be quite
13 concrete, you have no problems with the questions related to the influence
14 of Dr. Stakic on the military, especially as to the fact that it's not
15 extremely concrete where this mobilisation took place?
16 MR. KOUMJIAN: Yes, we do not agree with these conclusions of
17 these witnesses. We do note the fact Your Honour just stated as far as
18 the lack of concreteness of some of the witnesses' assertions regarding
19 influence given the position of these witnesses to observe or know about
20 the relationship. As to the specifics about the mobilisation, to be
21 frank, we would be willing -- we're not going to argue, just so Your
22 Honours and the Defence know, that the witnesses didn't go to Dr. Stakic
23 and he didn't say, "I can't do anything for you." But in wartime, it's
24 very difficult especially for any political leader to simply excuse people
25 because they are his friends from military service. And we do not -- we
1 will assert that that does not itself that the witness did not have
2 influence or even the ability if he so choose to exempt someone. But sons
3 of presidents of countries serve in wartime in armed services. This is
4 not conclusive, we believe, but we accept the facts that the witnesses
5 went to Dr. Stakic, did ask and then received a negative response from
6 Dr. Stakic regarding exempting these individuals from military service.
7 JUDGE SCHOMBURG: So in conclusion, it means that the Prosecution
8 and of course the Defence, having submitted these statements, they would
9 be in agreement that if without any change of the wording of the
10 statements, these statements could be accepted as such.
11 MR. KOUMJIAN: Yes.
12 JUDGE SCHOMBURG: But it is premature to be decided now because it
13 has not yet been signed. So we can --
14 MR. KOUMJIAN: And I should say not that not all members of the
15 Prosecution team have reviewed those statements, but those are my initial
17 JUDGE SCHOMBURG: As to the fact that the Prosecution is one unit,
18 we take it as the submission by the Prosecution. And I think that is
20 Any other remarks by the Defence in the moment related to the 92
21 bis statements? We expect the other four during the day or maybe
23 MR. OSTOJIC: I'm not certain of those four, Your Honour, but I
24 would like to address the Court on it at some later time, perhaps this
25 afternoon. With respect to the comments from my learned friend, we are
1 grateful that they do not have an objection. I would just like to point
2 out to the Court in connection with the issues of mobilisation and time of
3 death, as the statements themselves reflect, there will be attachments to
4 the statements as exhibits the issues that the Court and the OTP raise as
5 to the specific date of death and the date of mobilisation.
6 I see in this packet that was somewhat prematurely offered that
7 those documents were not included. We reviewed them in part and they are
8 expected to be attached to the affidavits where applicable to three if not
9 four of the witnesses that have provided us with those statements.
10 MR. KOUMJIAN: Just one further caveat, we have not yet had the
11 chance to search our database for specific information that may either
12 corroborate or throw into dispute some of these issues, particularly about
13 particular individuals' mobilisations.
14 JUDGE SCHOMBURG: I believe everybody in this courtroom agrees
15 that it would be premature to finally decide on the admission of evidence
16 before we have the signed statement with all the attachments.
17 May I ask, what about the Prosecution starting cross-examination?
18 You are ready?
19 MR. McVICKER: Yes, Your Honour.
20 JUDGE SCHOMBURG: Mr. Becner, you are prepared to continue with
21 the cross-examination?
22 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Yes, I am ready.
23 JUDGE SCHOMBURG: Then the floor is for the Prosecution, please.
24 MR. McVICKER: Thank you, Your Honour.
25 Cross-examined by Mr. McVicker:
1 Q. Mr. Becner, can you hear me?
2 A. Yes, I can.
3 Q. Mr. Becner, my name is Mike McVicker, and I am representing the
4 Prosecution today. What I'd like to do right now is just take a few
5 moments to clarify some of your testimony that you just gave. If you
6 don't understand the question, please ask, and I will repeat it. Okay?
7 A. Yes, that's fine.
8 Q. I have just a few questions about your hunting rifle business.
9 Was it only hunting rifles that you sold, or did you sell other sorts of
10 guns or arms?
11 A. I sold only hunting rifles. As I've said, the one intended for
12 big and small game, shotguns and rifles, hunting rifles as we call them,
13 in hunting jargon. And in addition to that, I also sold pistols, and I
14 was licensed for that.
15 Q. Did people from all ethnicities purchase rifles and pistols from
17 A. Yes, that's right. People of all ethnicities used to buy in my
18 shop. I still have the records with me today because one copy of the
19 purchasing permit needs to remain in my records. And this is why I have
20 kept the records even today.
21 Q. Did you ever provide copies of those records to Serbian government
22 authorities in 1992?
23 A. My shop was open up until the takeover of power. And following
24 that, following the takeover, as we already know, conflicts started
25 breaking out. There were certain controversies, therefore there was need
1 for people to go hunting or there was no need to procure such weapons.
2 Q. I understand that, Mr. Becner. But my question was: Did you
3 personally provide Serbian government authorities in 1992 with the records
4 of people who had purchased weapons from you before then?
5 A. Following the takeover of power by the Serbian side, so to speak,
6 the MUP of Prijedor carried out inspection of all entities selling weapons
7 in the time period prior to that. In the course of that inspection, they
8 also carried out the search of my house and the inspection of my records.
9 The entire records were returned to me, and all of the weapons were left
10 there, the ones that were not sold at the time. And those were two
11 carbines of calibre 70.4 and 30.06.
12 Q. Do you know who in the MUP from Prijedor carried out those
14 A. There were two policemen from Prijedor MUP. I didn't know either
15 of them, but I got to know one of them. One was Kovacevic, and his first
16 name might have been Radovan. The information I provided I provided to a
17 man whose first name I believe is Milisav, but I'm not sure about that.
18 He was an inspector in the SUP in Prijedor.
19 Q. Thank you, Mr. Becner. I'd like to clarify one question
20 concerning your ethnicity in 1992. You stated that your identification
21 papers listed that you were a Croat, but that, as I understood it, you did
22 not declare yourself as a Croat. So to be clear, did you declare yourself
23 a specific ethnicity in 1992?
24 A. I have to say that when a child is born, nobody asks the child
25 what the ethnicity is. Rather, the ethnicity is written down in the birth
12 Blank page inserted to ensure pagination corresponds between the French and
13 English transcripts.
1 certificate. And my ethnicity was written down in my birth certificate
2 without anybody ever asking me what my ethnicity was. Let me clarify: I
3 live in an environment in the village or a suburb of Prijedor inhabited by
4 Serbs. Despite the fact that my parents were members of the Partizan
5 movement, nobody ever gave a bad look to my family either in the past or
7 Q. In the 1991 census, how did you declare your ethnicity?
8 A. Croat.
9 Q. Thank you. I now want to move ahead to the events around 30th of
10 April, 1992. Were you in Prijedor on that day?
11 A. On the 30th of April, as I've mentioned, I was in a settlement
12 which is 3 and a half kilometres from downtown area. At the time, it
13 wasn't desirable for anyone to move about in the streets of the town and
14 thereabouts. It wasn't desirable for anyone including myself.
15 THE INTERPRETER: The interpreter's note that the witness
16 mentioned the name of the settlement but we didn't catch it.
17 MR. McVICKER:
18 Q. Could the witness please clarify the name of the settlement.
19 A. The settlement is called Gomjenica.
20 Q. Thank you, Mr. Becner.
21 A. Before the war, there was a street called Partizanska Street
23 Q. Mr. Becner, were you engaged in any combat activity between 30
24 April 1992 and 30 September 1992?
25 A. No, I did not -- I was not. Towards late August, or rather in
1 early August, I was engaged in the territorial unit within the local
3 Q. Could you please clarify what you mean by "engaged in the
4 territorial unit of the local commune."
5 A. At the time, especially after the 30th of April, in local
6 communes, there were commissions established as a way of self-defence, and
7 they also set up night watches or night guards along the borders of
8 villages where -- bordering with other entity or rather entities inhabited
9 by Muslims in this case.
10 Q. Did you personally meet or otherwise communicate with Dr. Stakic
11 between 30th of April, 1992, and around 30th of September, 1992?
12 A. No, never. During that period of time, it was impossible. I was
13 in Gomjenica, and I don't know where he was and what kind of work he did.
14 Q. When you say -- it was well-known, wasn't it, Mr. Becner, that
15 Dr. Stakic was the president of the Crisis Staff in the summer of 1992?
16 A. I know that Dr. Stakic was president of municipality. What office
17 he was assigned following that, I don't know. I wasn't interested in
18 that, nor were other people interested in that. The situation was such,
19 at least where I lived, that people didn't care about that. My neighbours
20 and I didn't.
21 Q. During your testimony, you said that you discussed business in
22 Dr. Stakic's office. Could you please tell me what sort of business you
23 were discussing with him.
24 A. The first contact pertained to establishing the share of my
25 driving school, the share of the revenue, how much needs to be paid to the
1 occupational medicine company and how much should be paid to physicians
2 involved in issuing medical certificates. At the time, I dealt with
3 managerial tasks pertaining to issuing of medical certificates, whereas
4 the entity issuing these certificates was the occupational medicine
6 Q. Did you ever discuss any other business with Dr. Stakic in his
8 A. In view of the time that has passed, it is difficult to remember
9 all of the details of the conversation. However, what I can say -- what I
10 should say and what I feel as a person is that these questions did not
11 touch upon nationalism and other problems arising in connection with the
12 situation, Prijedor and the battlefield and so on. Our conversations
13 mostly related to business issues or other topics that would be touched
14 upon in any normal, regular conversation.
15 Q. So your company was paying money to Dr. Stakic's occupational
16 medical clinic. Correct?
17 MR. OSTOJIC: I object to the form of the question, Your Honour.
18 JUDGE SCHOMBURG: May I hear the reasons.
19 MR. OSTOJIC: I don't believe that the witness testified that
20 there was an occupational clinic owned exclusively by Dr. Stakic, so it
21 is somewhat presumptuous and it presumes facts not in evidence.
22 JUDGE SCHOMBURG: Could you please rephrase the question.
23 MR. McVICKER: Yes, Your Honour.
24 Q. Was Dr. Stakic the head of the occupational medicine clinic?
25 A. Yes, he was.
1 Q. Did your company pay money to that clinic?
2 A. I have to clarify. We had a partnership relationship. We had a
3 business relationship. My company was in charge of organisation,
4 organisational matters. And therefore, from the money collected by those
5 who sought medical certificates, we received a certain percentage. The
6 other part related to the costs of using the premises and equipment of the
7 occupational medicine clinic as well as remuneration for work, retirement
8 compensation, and social security benefits for the people who worked
9 part-time in my company after having worked in the occupational medicine
11 Q. You also discussed in your testimony that you socialised with
12 Dr. Stakic. Correct?
13 A. Yes, that's right.
14 Q. Can you tell me some of the other people who were present during
15 those occasions.
16 A. There was the late Dr. Mico Kovacevic with whom I went -- rather,
17 Balaban Slobodan with whom I went to high school. Vaso Cvijic, director
18 of Zitopromet company, and some other people.
19 Q. Did Dr. Kovacevic ever display any sort of nationalistic feelings
20 or express those feelings in your presence and in front of Dr. Stakic?
21 A. No, never. Dr. Mico Kovacevic was a happy person, a pleasant
22 person to socialise with. And at least in my presence, he never exhibited
23 any signs of nationalism either with respect to myself or while talking to
24 Dr. Milomir Stakic.
25 MR. McVICKER: Your Honour, I have no further questions at this
2 JUDGE SCHOMBURG: Thank you.
3 Questioned by the Court:
4 JUDGE SCHOMBURG: May I ask only a few additional questions. Sir,
5 do you have any other nationality than the Croatian?
6 A. I do not have two ethnicities. But whenever I introduce -- when I
7 introduce myself, I told you that my father was a German, and that I do
8 have some sort of a German affiliation in that respect. But in Tito's
9 Yugoslavia, let me remind you, and especially after the establishment of
10 Tito's Yugoslavia, it was not popular to be a German in Yugoslavia. And
11 as my mother was a Croat, me and my siblings were registered as Croats in
12 our birth certificates.
13 JUDGE SCHOMBURG: Thank you. One other concretisation, please.
14 Where did you actually live in April 1992? I have a map before me, and
15 could you -- is it in the neighbourhood of Prijedor or what is the exact
16 name and area where you live?
17 A. Gomjenica is the name of that neighbourhood. It is upstream of
18 the Sana River, and Gomjenica River towards the Sanicani some 3 and a half
19 kilometres from the city centre. At the time the name of the street was
20 Partizanska, and currently it is Srpskih Velikana Street, and the number
21 is still the same, it is 323.
22 JUDGE SCHOMBURG: On the map, I see a huge area called Gomjenica.
23 Could you clarify a little bit more what is the town or the hamlet you
24 lived in.
25 A. It is on the Prijedor/Tomasica Road. That is where you will find
12 Blank page inserted to ensure pagination corresponds between the French and
13 English transcripts.
1 this hamlet Gomjenica. You cross the bridge on the Gomjenica River, and
2 then you go towards Tomasica, and you pass the Sanicani fish pond. That
3 fish pond is at the far end of this settlement, Gomjenica, and almost at
4 the end of that main road that passes through this settlement of
6 JUDGE SCHOMBURG: Did you ever in April or May 1992 hear and/or
7 see helicopters landing in that area?
8 A. Gomjenica is a relatively peacefully local commune, particularly
9 in the area where I live. At that time, there was no need for any
10 helicopters to fly over, nor did they indeed fly over at that time.
11 JUDGE SCHOMBURG: You mentioned "at that time." Did you see any
12 special movements by helicopters in your area immediately -- say starting
13 with the beginning of 1992 and until September 1992?
14 A. No.
15 JUDGE SCHOMBURG: Thank you. I take it from your statement that
16 you did not really socialise with Dr. Stakic before September 1992, but
17 only met him and it was limited to a mutual nodding. Correct?
18 A. Yes, that is correct.
19 JUDGE SCHOMBURG: Did you ever meet the family of Dr. Stakic?
20 A. No.
21 JUDGE SCHOMBURG: You gave a long and extremely clear
22 characterisation of the personality of Dr. Stakic. Can you please tell us
23 what is the basis for this, your assessment?
24 A. It is a very difficult question on the face of it. And the answer
25 would contain a moral obligation on my part. I said at the beginning that
1 I am a humanitarian person by nature. Already in grammar school when
2 others didn't want to jump into the Sana River, I saved two people who
3 were drowning. I don't know their names to this very day. I also believe
4 that it is humanitarian, that it is honest and moral to say something
5 about the person, what one has experienced about that person. As I've
6 already said, that's how I have seen Dr. Stakic, and that is the only way
7 I have seen him and I have perceived him.
8 JUDGE SCHOMBURG: Could you please tell us, how often did you meet
9 Dr. Stakic approximately?
10 A. Two or three times a week.
11 JUDGE SCHOMBURG: Why was this that it was necessary to meet two
12 or three times a week?
13 A. It was not a need or an obligation, simply twice a week, I had to
14 attend inspections or exams. I had to sit in those exams twice a week.
15 He would also be there, so we would have a drink after that. It was only
16 logical that I was there and that we would have a drink after those exams
18 JUDGE SCHOMBURG: Did you ever meet Dr. Stakic in the building of
19 the Municipal Assembly of Prijedor?
20 A. No, never.
21 JUDGE SCHOMBURG: Do you recall the events of the 30th of April,
23 A. All the people who lived in Prijedor at the time remember those
24 events. But they -- their perceptions are from different angles, just
25 like the place where people found themselves at the time were different.
1 I've already told you that me and my family, that we were in Gomjenica,
2 and that at the time the electricity was cut and there was no water, and
3 we experienced a lot of problems every day. Before those events, there
4 were some tensions in Prijedor, and I found that very difficult to
5 accept. I have always been an advocate of the federation, of a weak
6 federation at the time. But the events started going in a different
7 direction and leading in a different direction. In that context, my
8 influence or my contribution could be only minimum or none whatsoever.
9 JUDGE SCHOMBURG: How did you learn about the takeover in April
11 A. Through the media, radio and television. Actually, it was on the
13 JUDGE SCHOMBURG: Who announced the takeover on the radio?
14 A. I have to think. One of the announcers. I can't remember if it
15 was Senad Dzapic or Marinovic or somebody else. I can't remember. Let me
16 tell you another thing, if I may. Like everywhere, there is also a
17 hearsay or the grapevine on which you can hear news. And things, rumours,
18 can be heard about different things and about different events on the
20 JUDGE SCHOMBURG: Did you ever hear Dr. Stakic on the radio or see
21 him on television? In 1992?
22 A. No, no.
23 JUDGE SCHOMBURG: To be honest, I was a little bit surprised when
24 previously you testified that you did not know what kind of work
25 Dr. Stakic did, and then later: "I didn't care about what happened." Are
1 you or have you been aware in 1992 about the investigation centres or
2 camps or - I don't know which expression you would prefer to use?
3 A. When I said that I was not interested in some things, maybe I have
4 not chosen the right expression. In simple words, there was no way for me
5 to influence things, and that's why I used this word, that I was not
6 interested. But it is not the best expression. As far as the camps are
7 concerned, I was never in any of the camps. And a little while ago, I
8 said that there was a system of conveying news. How reliable that system
9 was and how reliably it really depicted the situation, I really cannot
11 JUDGE SCHOMBURG: Last question: Did you ever meet Mr. Simo
13 A. I met Simo Drljaca only once during the war. We greeted each
14 other because we knew each other before the war. He learned to drive in
15 my driving school, and so did his wife.
16 JUDGE SCHOMBURG: You gave us some characteristics and assessment
17 of the personalities of Dr. Stakic and others. What would be your
18 personal impression of Simo Drljaca?
19 A. During the period when I knew the late Simo Drljaca, he worked in
20 the centre for primary education in Prijedor. He was a keen fisherman.
21 And he was a pretty anonymous person in Prijedor. During the war, I did
22 not have an opportunity to talk to him or see him.
23 JUDGE SCHOMBURG: Sorry. I forgot to ask you. Was it possible to
24 continue with your driving school during May to September 1992?
25 A. At that time, none of the companies worked, none of the driving
1 schools, and mine was not an exception. It was only in 1993, in May 1993,
2 when companies were opened again and when the economy was revived, and
3 then my company could also continue its business.
4 JUDGE SCHOMBURG: When did your company stop continuing with the
5 business, in 1992 or was it maybe already earlier, and for what reason?
6 A. Immediately prior to April 1992, the socially-owned company, the
7 Prijedor Driving School that I was the director of, pursuant to the legal
8 regulations that were in place at the time distributed its assets to its
9 employees who were then able to establish their own private driving
10 schools. The law in question is the so-called Markovic's law. The
11 driving schools that were established in such a way started operating, but
12 there was no interest from the prospective candidates.
13 As for the period that you mentioned, such interest died
14 completely. Nobody actually banned the work of a driving schools or other
15 companies for that matter, but there were no objective conditions in place
16 for the operation of any of the companies. There were checkpoints in
17 local communes, on the roads, so the roads were not passable. And for
18 that reason, driving schools could not operate, and their business was not
19 needed by the general public at the time.
20 JUDGE SCHOMBURG: Thank you. What was the basis for your income
21 in the period from April through September 1992?
22 A. At that time, nobody received income, and that included me. My
23 wife as well. And a number of others who worked in the socially-owned
25 JUDGE SCHOMBURG: Thank you. I have no further questions.
1 Judge Vassylenko, please.
2 JUDGE VASSYLENKO: I have two questions: What were the relations
3 between Dr. Stakic and Simo Drljaca between April 1992 to September 1992?
4 A. I cannot answer that question because I never saw them together.
5 Therefore, I am not able to tell you what their relationship was. I can
6 only assume that those relationships were friendly, but I cannot be sure.
7 JUDGE VASSYLENKO: And what was the relationship between
8 Dr. Stakic and Dr. Kovacevic in the same period of time?
9 A. I believe the relationship was friendly, and that they were also
10 in a sort of a business relation because Dr. Kovacevic was Dr. Stakic's
11 superior. Dr. Kovacevic was the director of the medical centre, and
12 Dr. Stakic was the head of the occupational medicine department. And I
13 believe that their relationship was good, both as colleagues as well as
14 private individuals.
15 JUDGE VASSYLENKO: I'm asking you about the relationship between
16 Dr. Stakic and Dr. Kovacevic between April 30th of, 1992, and September
18 A. I apologise. I have misunderstood your question. In that period,
19 I was never in a position to be together with the two of them, so I can't
20 answer. But from mid-1993 onwards, their relationship was the way I have
21 just described it.
22 JUDGE VASSYLENKO: Thank you. I have no more questions.
23 JUDGE SCHOMBURG: Thank you. Judge Argibay, please. No
25 May I ask the Defence, are there any questions in addition
1 emanating from the line of questions put to the witness by the Prosecution
2 or the Judges?
3 MR. OSTOJIC: Yes, Your Honour, if I may.
4 JUDGE SCHOMBURG: Please.
5 Re-examined by Mr. Ostojic:
6 Q. Sir, John Ostojic again. I want to clarify a question that the
7 president of our Chamber asked you, the Honourable Judge Schomburg. You
8 testified according to the LiveNote, page 22, line 16, regarding the lack
9 of electricity, and I think you stated "electricity was cut. There was no
11 Just, sir, so that I am clear on the time period that you were
12 referring to, is it true that the electricity was cut and there was no
13 water in the Prijedor Municipality on May 30th, 1992, the day in which the
14 city/town was attacked? Correct.
15 A. I have to think. I believe that at that time there was
16 electricity, but there were frequent cut offs. And since I live in the
17 suburbs where the water pressure is very weak, as soon as there are some
18 disturbances, some hiccups, we don't have water.
19 Q. Let me ask you this, sir, if I may: You're a well-educated and
20 obviously intelligent man. If Dr. Stakic held any nationalistic, radical
21 views or prejudices against Croats, you would have been able to pick up on
22 those characteristics, would you not?
23 A. The way he engaged me, although there were other driving schools
24 and other people, speaks in favour of that. And I've already told you
25 that he did not show any signs of nationalism. In my team, there was a
1 nurse Suada, who was a Muslim lady, and she could work there without any
2 problems. And Dr. Stakic never made any distinction among the members of
3 his staff. In the occupational medicine department, the climate was such
4 that there were no signs of nationalism whatsoever. The spirit of
5 cooperation was good in that department.
6 MR. OSTOJIC: Thank you, sir. We have no further questions. Thank
7 you, Your Honour.
8 JUDGE SCHOMBURG: Additional questions by the Prosecution?
9 MR. McVICKER: Just one, sir.
10 JUDGE SCHOMBURG: Please.
11 Further cross-examination by Mr. McVicker:
12 Q. In response to the question just asked by Mr. Ostojic, that
13 assessment is based from a time period after September 30th, 1992.
15 A. Yes, that is correct.
16 MR. McVICKER: No further questions.
17 JUDGE SCHOMBURG: Then it remains for me to thank you, Mr. Becner,
18 for your testimony in Banja Luka. And you are excused.
19 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Thank you as well.
20 JUDGE SCHOMBURG: May I ask that, please Madam Dahuron, once again
21 appears on the screen.
22 THE REGISTRAR: [Banja Luka] Your Honour, can you hear me?
23 JUDGE SCHOMBURG: Yes. I just wanted to confirm for the following
24 days that the order remains unchanged? Now, that would mean tomorrow
25 Witness 039 for a period, estimated period of three and a half hours.
1 THE REGISTRAR: [Banja Luka] That is the last information I have
2 for tomorrow.
3 JUDGE SCHOMBURG: Then 037, two and a half hours on Wednesday.
4 THE REGISTRAR: [Banja Luka] Your Honour -- indiscernible.
5 JUDGE SCHOMBURG: And then on Thursday, because this is a crucial
6 date, Witness 030, for only one hour. Correct?
7 THE REGISTRAR: [Banja Luka] Your Honour, I haven't received the
8 update. I will --
9 JUDGE SCHOMBURG: I just want to clarify that we are on the safe
10 side and hear this witness with the estimated time for the
11 examination-in-chief on Thursday, because on Thursday we have limited time
12 only. Thank you for this. And goodbye, enjoy the rest of the day in
13 Banja Luka. Thank you.
14 This concludes the videohearing. The trial stays adjourned until
15 a quarter to 5.00.
16 [The witness's testimony via
17 videolink concluded]
18 --- Recess taken at 4.11 p.m.
19 --- On resuming at 4.56 p.m.
20 JUDGE SCHOMBURG: Please be seated. May I apologise for this
21 delay, but extremely urgent matters had to be resolved immediately.
22 I didn't conclude today's hearing immediately after the
23 videoconference in order to have some time in preparation of the next
24 following days. Let us first for a moment please go into private session.
25 [Private session]
12 Pages to 12510 12524– redacted – private session
18 at 5.35 p.m., to be reconvened on Tuesday,
19 the 25th day of February, 2003,
20 at 2.15 p.m.