1 Wednesday, 14 March 2012
2 [Open session]
3 [The accused entered court]
4 --- Upon commencing at 9.04 a.m.
5 JUDGE PICARD: [Interpretation] In the absence of Judge Orie, the
6 Tribunal, this Trial Chamber will be sitting according to Rule 15 bis.
7 Could the Registrar please call the case.
8 THE REGISTRAR: Good morning, Your Honours. This is case
9 IT-03-69-T, the Prosecutor versus Jovica Stanisic and Franko Simatovic.
10 JUDGE PICARD: [Interpretation] I am a just checking if our
11 videolink with Belgrade is working correctly.
12 Yes, I can hear the witness.
13 Mr. Groome, go ahead, please.
14 MR. GROOME: Good morning, Your Honour. Before I continue my
15 examination, I just want to inform the Chamber that the technical problem
16 with respect to uploading the video that we ended with, 65 ter 6431, we
17 are still in the progress of sorting that out, but we expect by the end
18 of the first break that we will have done that.
19 WITNESS: GORAN OPACIC [Resumed]
20 [Witness answered through interpreter]
21 [Witness testified via videolink]
22 Cross-examination by Mr. Groome: [Continued]
23 Q. Good morning, Mr. Opacic. I would like to pick up where we ended
24 yesterday. If you recall, I asked you what you meant when you said in a
25 public speech:
1 "We must kill such people on the spot."
2 And you said the following:
3 "Those people who betrayed the places where the weapons were, who
4 gave them away, and they were the inhabitants there, also I don't know
5 for what reason they disclosed the places where the weapons were being
6 hidden, and they were telling UNPROFOR that. And I said that those
7 people should have been killed. And to this very day, I stand by that,
8 that every single one of those people should have been killed for
9 weakening the combat strength of the Serbian people in the Krajina."
10 Do you recall giving that answer?
11 A. I do remember that and I stand by it, and I would repeat that
12 again, today.
13 Q. I'd like to now ask you a few more questions with respect to this
14 so that we fully understand your evidence. You said that the people who
15 told UNPROFOR where Serb forces had hidden weapons should be killed on
16 the spot. Am I correct that you are referring to the period immediately
17 after a peace settlement had been reached and it had been agreed by both
18 sides to the conflict that they would secure their weapons under the
19 supervision and control of UNPROFOR peacekeepers; is that correct?
20 A. Correct.
21 Q. Now at page 83 of yesterday's transcript, you said the following
22 with respect to these weapons:
23 "Then our army, which was the army of the Krajina at the time,
24 had some weapons concealed, self-propelled weapons and things like that."
25 The weapons that Serb forces had concealed was in violation of
1 that peace agreement, was it not?
2 A. Well, for me that does not constitute a violation of the peace
4 Q. If it did not constitute a violation of the peace agreement, why
5 was it considered necessary to conceal them from UNPROFOR peacekeepers?
6 A. Precisely because we did not have confidence in them. You saw
7 that there was an attack on Ravni Kotari and the UNPROFOR was protecting
8 us while the Croatian army was attacking us, and our weapons were being
9 under control and they would not release the weapons. And as for how
10 they actually did protect us, well, that can be seen from what happened
11 to us. Did the Croats respect the peace agreement?
12 Q. Well, let's confine our inquiry at this moment to the weapons
13 themselves. Isn't the truth of this that you and other members of Serb
14 forces conceal these weapons in violation of the peace agreement because
15 you did not trust UNPROFOR peacekeepers to safe-guard Serbs? Isn't that
16 the truth of this?
17 A. We did not trust the peace forces. I did not trust them.
18 Perhaps the authorities before did trust them, but actually we did not
19 trust the UNPROFOR because we knew that they were partial.
20 Q. And the people who revealed the location of these weapons were
21 simply people who wanted the peace agreement to be observed. Is that not
23 A. They were citizens or inhabitants who had grudges against each
24 other. So in order to get back at each other, they would give away that
25 such and such a person was carrying a machine-gun or something like that.
1 There was a case where somebody reported their neighbour because they did
2 not want to harvest the wheat.
3 Q. The people you say should have been killed, what was their
5 A. Serbs.
6 Q. It was your opinion in August of 1992, and remains the same
7 today, that Serbs who took steps to ensure that there was compliance with
8 the peace agreement should have been killed on the spot; is that correct?
9 A. Which agreement? These people have nothing to do with any
10 agreement. These people did not sign any agreement. These were
11 inhabitants of the villages, the different villages where these things
12 were. What did they know about any agreements?
13 Q. So you're saying that the people that you wished to kill were not
14 aware of the peace agreement that prevailed at the time and that this had
15 nothing to do with the peace agreement. Is that your evidence?
16 A. First of all, what you say, that I wanted to kill them, had I
17 wanted to kill them I would have done so. I said they should have been
18 killed. This is quite a different thing.
19 Q. Can you please explain to us what the difference is between those
20 two statements.
21 A. Had I wanted to, I would have killed them. I believe that all
22 those people who were betraying things and weakening the defence of
23 Republika Srpska ought to have been killed.
24 Q. By who?
25 A. Who? Well, I don't know. I mean, I should have killed them.
1 Well, there.
2 Q. And would -- if you -- if you had had the opportunity to kill one
3 of these people, would you have taken that opportunity?
4 A. I knew those people. I didn't kill them. I didn't want to kill
5 them. They were just retches.
6 Q. Now, sir, as you can imagine over the course of this long trial,
7 the Judges have heard the evidence of many witnesses. Some witnesses of
8 one witness may appear to be in contradiction to the evidence of another
9 witness. It is helpful in their assessment of each witness's credibility
10 and reliability to know something about the background of witnesses. I
11 want to spend the next several minutes asking you questions about your
12 background for this purpose.
13 You, yourself, are not on trial in this case. I am simply asking
14 these questions so that we may learn more about you. Do you understand
16 A. Yes, yes.
17 Q. Let me ask you some general questions and then I will ask you
18 some specific questions with respect to information we were able to find
19 out about your background. My first question to you is whether you have
20 ever been convicted of a crime?
21 A. Yes. I was in Loznica.
22 Q. Can you please tell us when?
23 A. This was in 2003 or 2002. I don't know. But the verdict was
24 reached in 2008 or 2009.
25 Q. And can you tell us what crime you were convicted of?
1 A. I was convicted because the person caught me and tried to
2 strangle me in front of my own mother, and when I saw what it was I hit
3 him with my fist, and the man fell and he hit his head on the sidewalk.
4 Q. Do you -- what was the name of the man who you hit and who fell
5 and hit his head?
6 A. I think his last name is Maric. I don't remember his first name.
7 I don't know.
8 Q. And did you present -- it sounds as if you believe that you were
9 defending yourself. Did you present this defence during your trial?
10 A. Yes, that was the defence. But the Court was corrupt and I was
11 unjustly sentenced, and there was an expert examination of my eyesight,
12 and everybody said that I could not have been responsible for that. I
13 could not have hit the person from 10 metres away. The proceedings were
14 conducted for seven or eight years. I was acquitted. Then there was an
15 appeal. Then the Court in Belgrade finally passed a sentence that I was
16 guilty and I was sentenced to one year in prison and a fine of 100.000
17 dinars, and I never actually -- sentence was suspended, and I actually
18 never paid because I never believed that I was actually guilty of the
20 Q. But you were convicted for hitting a person from 10 metres away.
21 That's your evidence?
22 A. No. The plaintiff said that I was running. I rushed up to him
23 and hit him, but actually what happened was that he caught me. I was
24 standing in front of a church with my mother - and this was in Loznica -
25 and he grabbed me by the neck and started to strangle me.
1 JUDGE PICARD: [Interpretation] Mr. Bakrac.
2 MR. BAKRAC: [Interpretation] Your Honours, I apologise for
3 interrupting my learned friend, Mr. Groome, but I think it's important
4 for the transcript. As far as the sentence, it was not recorded
5 correctly. If I can see correctly on page 12, the witness said -- if you
6 permit me, actually, but I think he can repeat. He was sentenced to a
7 prison sentence but then he added the kind of sentence that it was.
8 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] I was sentenced -- I received a
9 one-year suspended sentence. It was actually 16 [as interpreted] months
10 of imprisonment but then it was commuted to one year suspended and
11 100.000 for court costs, and so on and so forth. I didn't know,
12 actually. I didn't even wish to read the verdict because it's a shame of
13 our court in such a way, too.
14 JUDGE PICARD: [Interpretation] Witness, you have provided an
16 Is this what you wanted to hear, Mr. Bakrac?
17 MR. BAKRAC: [Interpretation] Your Honour, if you permit me, I
18 don't want to waste time, again it has been recorded as "16 months" but
19 actually it was 6 months.
20 JUDGE PICARD: [Interpretation] Very well. I think that when we
21 go over the transcript again this will be corrected.
22 Mr. Groome, you may continue.
23 MR. GROOME: Thank you, Your Honour.
24 Q. Sir, you have said that it's your intention not to pay the fine
25 given you by the judge who heard this case and that you intend not to pay
1 because you don't believe that the verdict was a correct one. Is that
2 your evidence?
3 A. That is correct. I believe that it is a shame on the part of the
4 judge who sentenced me in such a way on the basis of all of the
5 parameters that were there against me and all the witnesses who gave
6 false testimony. All of his witnesses lied.
7 Q. Have you ever been convicted of any other crime?
8 A. I don't know if I was or not. I've never been sentenced for
9 anything before until I came to Serbia.
10 Q. And when you say "sentenced before," you're talking about this
11 case that you've just described to us? That's the only time in your mind
12 or to your knowledge that you have been convicted of a crime.
13 A. I don't know. I don't know if I had any other misdemeanors and
14 things, but until I came to Serbia there was nothing. The only thing was
15 that Croatia sentenced me for non-existing crimes that they ascribed to
16 me in Skabrnja. I was sentenced to 20 years. Actually, before that I
17 was not subject to any kind of criminal punishment.
18 Q. In addition to these two case, the Loznica case and the Croatian
19 case, have you ever been the subject of a criminal investigation to your
21 A. I don't know of any criminal investigations against me. No.
22 Which crimes?
23 Q. Have you ever used an alias, a name other than your own name?
24 A. No, I never used any alias. I've always used my own name, except
25 when I went to Belgium for surgery.
1 Q. When was that?
2 A. This was after I was wounded on the 22nd of January in 1993. I
3 went to Belgium and I think my passport was in the name of
4 Goran Petrovic.
5 Q. And who issued you that passport? What country was it issued
7 A. I was given a passport. I don't know who issued it, but I was
8 given the passport by Minister Jarcevic, who was the foreign minister of
9 the Republic of the Serbian Krajina. I didn't even see the passport.
10 This guy told me that my name is Goran Petrovic, and I didn't actually
11 see any of it.
12 Q. Why were you issued an alias for a -- and a false passport to
13 travel to Belgium under an assumed name?
14 A. For my personal security, because in the west there were Croat
15 Ustasha people whom I knew from before with whom I worked, so this was in
16 order for them not to recognise me. It was for my personal security.
17 MR. GROOME: Could I ask that we take a look at 65 ter 6419.
18 It's at tab 28 in the binder that the Registrar has in Belgrade.
19 Q. Sir, the document that you are going to be shown, and I will
20 summarise its contents in detail because of the difficult you have -- or
21 you may have in seeing it, it's a Croatian Ministry of Defence Security
22 and Information Service Official Note on a preliminary interview of a
23 Mr. Joseph Bepo Bajlo on the 2nd of June, 1993, in Zadar. Mr. Bajlo, you
24 may recall, was a fellow patient at the same clinic you were in. And as
25 you've just told us, the official note states that you stayed in an eye
1 clinic under the name of Goran Petrovic.
2 Sir, this is a Croatian intelligence document regarding
3 information about your stay in the eye clinic. You've told us why you
4 went there under an assumed name. Did you provide any other
5 documentation indicating that you were Goran Petrovic, or was it simply
6 the passport?
7 A. I don't know. All I had was on the basis of that passport, which
8 was issued from -- by Bepo Bajlo from Zadar, and he came for that surgery
9 as well from Zadar. And he also needed it for that surgery and we spoke
10 together. But I don't know of any other documents, but I do know about
11 the passport, and I know that when I returned to the Military Medical
12 Hospital in Belgrade, all my medical documents that were sent to the VMA
13 hospital were in the name of Goran Petrovic.
14 Q. You mentioned that you travelled with someone who also needed
15 surgery, but the record did not catch the name that you said. Can I ask
16 you to repeat the name of the person who you went -- who went with you
17 for surgery?
18 A. The individual whom I mentioned didn't travel with me because he
19 had come from Zadar in Croatia and I travelled from Serbia. Matic
20 escorted me. Now, the individual who was called Beljo, to me an
21 interpretation, he was Bepo "balija," and he was in that same eye clinic
22 in Antwerp where I was. He also had an eye surgery. I knew the man from
23 the time I worked as a policeman in Zadar.
24 Q. Now you confirmed the name that Mr. Beljo, as you say, says you
25 were under, and you confirm his identity. Both of these items were
1 mentioned in the report.
2 MR. GROOME: Could I ask that we have page 2 in the original --
3 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Yes, Bajlo is his name.
4 MR. GROOME: Page 2 in the original at the bottom and page 3 of
5 the translation of this document.
6 Q. This Official Note further states that you told Bajlo, that you
7 personally told him that you belonged to the unit of 30 men under the
8 command of Captain Dragan and that you did not agree with Martic and
9 Babic, and that you even attacked Babic during his visit to Benkovac. Do
10 you recall saying this to Mr. Bajlo?
11 A. Bajlo was lying. I didn't exchange more than two words with him.
12 We just exchanged hellos. That was all.
13 Q. So it's your evidence that while he accurately reported other
14 information about you, this particular piece of information is a lie?
15 A. It's a lie. That's true. I never discussed this issue with him,
16 nor did we really talk about anything much.
17 Q. And is there a reason that you can tell us why Mr. Baljo would
18 lie about this one particular piece of information that you -- he
20 A. Yes, there is a reason. I'm a Serb and he's a Croat. Actually,
21 I was a Serb Chetnik to them. And of course he would accuse me of
23 Q. And he would accuse you of anything simply because he was a Croat
24 and you were a Serb? Is that your evidence?
25 A. Correct.
1 Q. Sir, I want to now talk about another event that our
2 investigations into you were able to find some information about, and it
3 regards the death of a man killed in the Knin prison shortly before you
4 made the speech that we listened to yesterday afternoon. In 1992 did you
5 ever go to the prison in Knin?
6 A. Never.
7 Q. Did you ever transfer captured Croatian soldiers or members of
8 the HVO to the Knin prison?
9 A. I had never had any contact with the HVO, ever.
10 Q. Is it correct that there were combat operations in the area of
11 Kupres during April 1992?
12 A. I am not aware of these operations. I was never present in the
13 Kupres front. No, never.
14 MR. GROOME: Could the witness please be shown 65 ter 6420. And
15 that can be found in tab 28 in the binder in Belgrade. The document is a
16 report from the Security and Information Service of the Croatian
17 government, dated 26 November, 1993. The document was recovered from the
18 Croatian state archives by an investigator of the Office of the
19 Prosecutor on the 27th of November, 2000.
20 The Prosecution request that the document itself not be broadcast
21 to the public.
22 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Now?
23 MR. GROOME:
24 Q. Sir, the subject of this report before you relates to the killing
25 of a man named Davor Tadic in the Knin prison. The information provided
1 indicates that Mr. Tadic was approximately 25 years old in 1992 and he
2 was from Kola near Tomislavgrad. Mr. Tadic was captured as an HVO member
3 of the 10th to the 11th of April, 1992, during combat operations in
4 Kupres and was transferred to Knin, to the Knin prison, with a group of
5 prisoners. He was killed shortly afterward. This report names you
6 personally as the perpetrator of this killing and ascribes that you are
7 actively involved in martial arts and you comitted this murder by kicking
8 and punching Mr. Tadic. Has this refreshed your recollection whether you
9 have ever been to the Knin prison and ever participated in the killing of
10 a man?
11 A. The only accurate thing is that I was into martial arts. All the
12 rest is a lie. I was never in the Knin prison and never killed anyone,
13 nor was I ever present in the Kupres theater of war. All these are lies.
14 MR. GROOME: Your Honour, at this time --
15 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] It was well known who the prison
16 guards were. I never worked there and I never went to the Knin prison.
17 MR. GROOME: Your Honour, at this time the Prosecution tenders
18 65 ter 6420 as an exhibit, and we'd ask that the document be placed under
20 JUDGE PICARD: [Interpretation] Very well. Madam Registrar, can
21 we have a number for the exhibit.
22 THE REGISTRAR: Document 6420 will receive number P3099,
23 Your Honours.
24 JUDGE PICARD: [Interpretation] P3099 is tendered under seal. I
25 said "is admitted under seal."
1 MR. GROOME:
2 Q. Sir, the next thing I'd like to deal with, I believe, is the
3 incident in Loznica which you've described to us your version of events.
4 I'd like to take a look at the version from the perspective of others
5 involved in the case. In 1991 [sic] you were a member of the Association
6 of Disabled War Veterans in Loznica; correct?
7 A. Which year is that?
8 Q. I apologise, I misspoke. In 2001.
9 A. Correct.
10 Q. Was Miladin Maric a member of this veterans' group?
11 A. I think that Miladin Maric was the president of the invalid and
12 war veterans, I believe.
13 Q. Were you expelled from this group on the 6th of September, 2001?
14 A. Yes, I was, because I accused him of being a thief. He stole
15 packages of aid that were intended for the war disabled. And it wasn't
16 just I who complained. There were other war invalids who complained,
17 too, but I was the only one expelled.
18 Q. And why were you singled out for expulsion if others made the
19 same complaint?
20 A. They were expelled at a later date. I was the first one to be
21 expelled for drawing everyone's attention to his maladministration.
22 Q. I'd like us to take a look at the stated reasons why you were
24 MR. GROOME: And could I ask that we look at 65 ter Exhibit 6424
25 and that can be found in tab 33 in the binder in Belgrade.
1 Q. Sir, you will soon be shown a document that the Prosecution
2 received from the Republic of Serbia pursuant to an official request for
3 assistance. The document is a decision from the Executive Committee of
4 the Association of Disabled War Veterans in Loznica, dated the 11th of
5 September, 2001. The decision indicates the reasons that you were
6 dismissed from the veterans' group. My first question to you is whether
7 you were given a copy of the group's decision when it was entered?
8 A. No.
9 Q. Under the statement of --
10 A. I never received it.
11 Q. Under the statements of reasons for your dismissal, an event at
12 the office of the association on 6 September, 2001, is described.
13 Paragraph 2 of the section states:
14 "Opacic did not accept the explanation given to him. But in a
15 very inappropriate, rough, and insulting manner, he hurled curses and
16 threats at the president of the association, cursing his communist mother
17 and physically attacking him in front of several people."
18 Do you acknowledge that you physically attacked the president of
19 the association?
20 A. I do not.
21 Q. Do you accept or acknowledge that you used -- or, you cursed him
22 and used the inappropriate language and threats in speaking with him?
23 A. The only thing I told him was that he was a commie and a thief.
24 I did not curse him. That's not true.
25 MR. GROOME: Your Honour, at this time the Prosecution would
1 tender 65 ter 6424 as a public exhibit.
2 JUDGE PICARD: [Interpretation] Madam Registrar, under what
3 exhibit number, please.
4 THE REGISTRAR: Document 6424 will receive number 3100,
5 Your Honours.
6 JUDGE PICARD: [Interpretation] Very well. Document P3100 is
7 tendered -- is admitted.
8 MR. GROOME:
9 Q. Mr. Opacic, about a year later, on the 28th of August, 2002, did
10 you go to a gathering of disabled war veterans at the church in Loznica?
11 A. No.
12 Q. Is this not the day on which you assaulted a person who you've
13 described and was convicted for crimes associated with that?
14 A. When I left that sorry association of disabled war veterans, the
15 28th of August is my Saint Patron's Day, and with my mother, my wife, and
16 two daughters, I was on my way to the church for service. And this man,
17 Miladin Maric, gathered a number of war veterans in order to stage a
18 protest outside of the municipality building because their funds had been
19 blocked by the municipal authorities on account of his maladministration.
20 THE INTERPRETER: Can the witness please repeat the last thing he
22 JUDGE PICARD: [Interpretation] Mr. Witness, the interpreter did
23 not quite understand what you just said, the last portion of your
24 sentence. Could you please repeat it.
25 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Miladin Maric had gathered the
1 disabled war veterans in order to stage a protest. I, on the other hand,
2 happened to pass by the area because I was on my way to the church, so I
3 didn't intend to participate in this protest. So as my mother, my wife
4 and two children and I happened to walk past this group of people, I
5 asked my wife who they were and she said, They are the disabled war
6 veterans who gathered there to stage a protest. At that point I said out
7 loud that they were commies and frauds.
8 MR. GROOME: Could I ask that we take a look at 65 ter 6422.
9 It's tab 31 in the binder in Belgrade. I'd ask if we can go to page 2 of
10 the B/C/S original and English translation.
11 Q. Mr. Opacic, this is an arrest report connected with this event.
12 It is filed by a police officer by the name of Zoran Opacic, and it was
13 filed on the 9th of September, 2002. Was this report filed by your
14 brother? Is this the Zoran Opacic that is your brother?
15 A. Which Zoran Opacic?
16 Q. The police officer who drafted this report.
17 A. Authorised officials -- Zoran Opacic --
18 THE INTERPRETER: The interpreter didn't hear because of the
20 MR. GROOME:
21 Q. The police official who filed this report, if you look at the
22 very last page, Zoran Opacic. Is that the same Zoran Opacic who you have
23 described as being your brother?
24 A. No. This is an inspector in the Loznica police station.
25 Q. Is he --
1 A. He is not my brother.
2 Q. Does he have any --
3 A. There are Opacic families in Loznica, too.
4 Q. Is he any relation to you that you know of?
5 A. No.
6 Q. I am going to read to you what -- how he described the event,
7 based upon his initial assessment and interviews with people:
8 "Around 0900 hours Goran Opacic, a disabled war veteran,
9 suffering from severe vision impairment, came with his wife to the church
10 with the intention of attending the service in the church. Since his
11 vision is impaired he asked his wife, Zorica, what was happening there,
12 and she said it was a rally of disabled persons. Then he asked where
13 Miladin Maric, the president of the Loznica RBI, was. She told him where
14 he was, and when he passed by Miladin, Goran -- when he passed by
15 Miladin, Goran started hurling insults at him, calling him a crook and a
16 thief, but as Miladin paid no attention to his insults, Goran went to the
17 church entrance. When his wife went to buy candles, he was standing
18 outside the entrance door, and then Radenko Maric, Miladin's son, who
19 came to make footage of the protest of disabled war veterans, came to him
20 and said that it was not the place or the time to argue with Miladin.
21 Then Goran punched him in the head, so Radenko fell from the blow and his
22 head against the monument."
23 That is how the original police officer investigating this event
24 reported it. Do you accept that he has accurately reported the events of
25 that day?
1 A. He must have taken a statement from eye-witnesses there because
2 he wasn't there. Well, I did say what happened. Radenko Maric caught me
3 by the neck and started strangling me in front of my mother and outside
4 the church, and that is the real truth. And as for what everybody else
5 had to say, including this institution, they are lying.
6 MR. GROOME: Could we now have on our screens 65 -- I'm sorry,
7 65 ter 6423, the first instance judgement regarding this assault on
8 Radenko Maric. And that is at tab 32 in the binder below.
9 Your Honours, recognising that the witness would be unable to
10 read the document, can I suggest that we simply mark both 6422 and 6423
11 at this time for identification and that I postpone formally tendering
12 them into evidence until the Chamber has had an opportunity to review the
14 The Defence have had the documents since yesterday. Perhaps they
15 have already formed a view as to whether they will oppose their
17 JUDGE PICARD: [Interpretation] Is there an objection to the
18 admission to this document, 65 ter 6422? Apparently not.
19 Mr. Jordash.
20 MR. JORDASH: Can I just inquire as to whether it's just for
21 impeachment purposes?
22 MR. GROOME: Yes, Your Honour.
23 MR. JORDASH: No objection.
24 JUDGE PICARD: [Interpretation] Well, in that case, yes, it can
25 be admitted, Mr. Groome.
1 MR. GROOME: Thank you, Your Honour.
2 JUDGE PICARD: [Interpretation] Madam Registrar, would you please
3 give the number.
4 THE REGISTRAR: Document 6422 will receive number P3101, and
5 document 6423 will receive number P301 -- P3102, Your Honours.
6 JUDGE PICARD: [Interpretation] Very well. So P301 -- P3101 and
7 P3102 are admitted.
8 MR. GROOME: Could I ask, as soon as it's convenient, that 65
9 ter 6421 be brought to our screens, and it is in tab 30 in the binder in
10 Belgrade. This is a report sent to the State Security Service of Serbia,
11 in particular the JSO. It is dated the 15th of March, 1999, but refers
12 to earlier events.
13 Q. Sir, the next document that I would like to discuss with you is
14 65 ter 6421. Recognising your problems with vision, I am going to
15 describe and quote parts of the report so we are able to discuss it. And
16 the report concerns largely yourself and a person who you have given
17 evidence about, Mr. Zoran Rajic. The report states, in part:
18 "Rajic, Zoran, was engaged in criminal activities. He took
19 tractors and tractor attachments away from the non-Serb residents and
20 transported them onto the territory of Federal Republic of Yugoslavia.
21 Besides tractor equipment, he also 'transported' the TV sets, hi-fi
22 equipment, video recorder."
23 Is it true that Zoran Rajic was involved in transporting TV
24 sets --
25 A. It's a lie.
1 Q. And you --
2 JUDGE PICARD: [Interpretation] Witness, could you please wait
3 for the Prosecutor to finish putting his question to you before
4 answering. Otherwise, your answers cannot be interpreted.
5 MR. GROOME:
6 Q. My question again: Is it true that Zoran Rajic was involved in
7 the theft and transportation of stolen property, including tractors and
8 electronic equipment, taken from non-Serbs?
9 A. It's a pure fabrication. Zoran Rajic didn't have need for any
10 tractors or TV sets or whatever. It's a pure fabrication.
11 Q. Sir, so that you understand what the report is saying. It's not
12 suggesting that Mr. Rajic was a farmer. It's suggesting that he was
13 taking this property and selling it to gain money and to gain profit from
14 these stolen goods. So I ask you again: Was Mr. Rajic involved in such
16 A. As far as I know, and I know for a fact that Zoran Rajic never
17 did anything of the sort, ever, in his life. It's a big fat lie.
18 Q. How are you so certain it is "a big fat lie"?
19 A. Well, because I know the man personally. We are on visiting
20 terms and even have the bond of being --
21 THE INTERPRETER: The interpreter isn't sure if it's godfathers
22 or witnesses of marriage, as the term is the same in the B/C/S, "kum."
23 MR. GROOME:
24 Q. Is Zoran Rajic your "kum"?
25 A. No. He is the "kum" of my brother, Milos.
1 Q. The report continues and alleges that both you and your brothers
2 were working with Rajic in this scheme:
3 "The following were in business with Rajic: The brothers Opacic,
4 Goran, Zoran, and Milos. They transported the goods in an official
5 vehicle across the border (a Japanese-made pick-up truck). They engaged
6 in the resale of cigarettes in this manner."
7 Is this true?
8 A. You see Zoran was never present in Ilok. You did mention Ilok,
9 did you not? My brother Zoran was never with us in Ilok. It was my
10 brother Milos and I who were there. This is not true. And I was never
11 involved any sort of smuggling or reselling cigarettes or anything, nor
12 did Zoran Rajic ever do anything of the sort. He didn't need to.
13 Q. Sir, I apologise, I didn't mention it was in Ilok, but that is,
14 in fact, where it occurred. How did you know that the allegation
15 referred to Ilok?
16 A. I assumed because you said it was across the border and that was
17 in that period. There is no other such period except that one.
18 Q. You knew it was Ilok where these allegations arose because Ilok
19 is near the border. Is that your evidence?
20 A. Yes, yes, because we are in Ilok and that is from that same
21 period, so it must be that.
22 Q. Sir, I didn't even mention the year or the period when this
23 occurred. How do you know it's that period, the period you're referring
25 A. I'm sorry, I didn't understand the question.
1 Q. Sir, I did not read to you any portion of the document that
2 established what time-period it referred to. So my question is: How did
3 you know the allegations -- or, why did you assume the allegations
4 concerned the time-period that you personally were in Ilok?
5 A. I assumed that because you mentioned the border and smuggling of
6 cigarettes across the border and that's how or that's why, on the basis
7 of that.
8 Q. Can you explain the logic of that? It's not clear to me. The
9 border is quite a long border and there are many towns on both sides of
10 the border between Serbia and Croatia or Serbia and Bosnia. Can you walk
11 us through the logic of how you knew it was in Ilok and referred to the
12 time when you were there?
13 A. That's that period. I think that that's because that border
14 between Serbia and Croatia is there and that we were smuggling cigarettes
15 and things. That's alleged. But that was in that period, but that has
16 nothing to do with anything. I mean, I heard these stories before, too.
17 Q. The last line of the first paragraph suggests that Zoran Rajic
18 was under pressure from you because he owed you a great deal of money:
19 "Rajic, Zoran, owed big money to Opacic, Goran, and that Rajic
20 was under the influence and under the pressure of Opacic."
21 Is this true?
22 A. These are just pure lies, nothing else. Rajic, under pressure,
23 because he owed me money? Where does that come from? Who wrote that?
24 Q. It's a report sent to the state security of Serbia, in
25 particular, the JSO. The next paragraph goes on to describe how JSO
1 members of the Poskok Detachment set aside their daily wages to help
2 other members of the detachment having financial difficulties. Are you
3 aware of a detachment of the JSO known as the Poskok Detachment? And
4 that's P-o-s-k-o-k.
5 A. This was in Ilok. I don't know what the name was, Poskok or
6 something. But that's true, those people did help me. This is what I
7 was saying before. But this was not in Ilok. It was on Tara.
8 Q. And is the Poskok Detachment the unit that you described
9 yesterday that you were -- that your name was listed as a member when, in
10 fact, you were not?
11 A. Correct.
12 Q. And it's your evidence that the members of this unit sacrificed
13 approximately one month of their salary each to give you 20.000
14 Deutschmarks so that you could purchase a home. That's your evidence?
15 A. That is my evidence and this took place in 1996/1997, when at the
16 proposal of Zoran Rajic, when I was with them when we were on this
17 endurance training, I was an advisor to Zoran Rajic about these
18 preparations, so he suggested for them to give up one month's salary in
19 my favour so that I could settle my housing problem.
20 Q. The report was submitted by a person by the name of Zoran Gulic.
21 Do you know this person?
22 A. Never heard of him.
23 MR. GROOME: Your Honour, at this time the Prosecution would
24 tender 65 ter 6421 into evidence.
25 JUDGE PICARD: [Interpretation] If there are no objections,
1 Madam Registrar, could we have the number.
2 THE REGISTRAR: Document 6421 will receive number P3103,
3 Your Honours.
4 JUDGE PICARD: [Interpretation] P3103 is admitted into evidence.
5 MR. GROOME:
6 Q. Sir, yesterday Mr. -- I'd like to turn our attention now to the
7 events in Skabrnja. Yesterday Mr. Bakrac asked you about events in
8 Skabrnja, and you told us that although you intended to go and
9 participate in that action, you decided before getting there to flee; is
10 that correct?
11 A. Well, I did not run or flee. I withdrew.
12 Q. I think you said you took a car and left; is that correct?
13 A. Correct.
14 Q. In --
15 A. I took my own -- actually, the people who were with me, all of
16 them, we took -- may I just complete my thought, please?
17 Q. Certainly.
18 A. I withdrew from Skabrnja, like I said yesterday. I withdrew
19 because I saw that something was not quite right there and a few people
20 withdrew. I turned around. I took my people and went from Biljane Donji
21 to Benkovac.
22 Q. In summary, your evidence is the following: You were part of a
23 reconnaissance group accompanied by tanks and APCs and was approaching
24 Razovljeva Glava elevation outside the town of Skabrnja. When you came
25 within 800 metres of the Razovljeva Glava --
1 A. No, no it wasn't like that at all.
2 JUDGE PICARD: [Interpretation] Witness, sir, please, can you
3 make sure that you do not overlap with Mr. Prosecutor, otherwise your
4 words cannot be interpreted.
5 MR. GROOME:
6 Q. I'll break it down bit by bit so we can be sure where I may have
7 understood your evidence incorrectly.
8 You were part of a reconnaissance group that was ordered to go on
9 a mission in the Skabrnja area; is that correct?
10 A. Correct.
11 Q. At least at the time you set off for this mission you were
12 accompanied by at least one tank and some armoured personnel carriers; is
13 that correct?
14 A. No. I was accompanied by two tanks. There were no armoured
15 personnel carriers there at all.
16 Q. Now, the next part: This group approached the elevation known as
17 Razovljeva Glava outside the town of Skabrnja; is that correct?
18 A. Correct.
19 Q. When you came within 800 metres of that elevation, the two tanks
20 were ordered to return to the starting position and wait; is that
22 A. Correct.
23 Q. You considered the order to withdraw the tanks a betrayal and an
24 attempt to get you and your men killed; is that correct?
25 A. Correct.
1 Q. You said at transcript page 31 yesterday:
2 "I was afraid that the army might set us a trap again with a view
3 to having us killed during the action."
4 Did you flee the scene because of cowardice or because you
5 genuinely believed your superior officer was attempting to get you
7 A. Which superior officer? Are you thinking of Zoran Lakic?
8 Q. He's the person that you testified yesterday ordered you to
9 engage in this operation; correct?
10 A. Correct. He was my superior officer. I did not run or escape,
11 as it is written there. I withdrew. I pulled back. Secondly, I was
12 never a coward. Had I been a coward I would never have been wounded in
13 the eye but in the ass.
14 Q. But you believe the withdrawal of the tanks was an attempt by
15 Lakic to get you killed?
16 A. Lakic has nothing to do with that. This is the army, but Lakic
17 was the commander of the Territorial Defence. This is the military
18 command, the JNA. Zoran Lakic never had tanks under his command.
19 Zoran Lakic was the commander of the Territorial Defence. He had nothing
20 to do with that. We are talking about military security here.
21 Q. Sir, what is the name of the person you believed was setting a
22 trap for you in order to have you killed during this action?
23 A. Ristic, Major Ristic.
24 Q. And why would Major Ristic --
25 A. And Ostojic, Milivoj Ostojic, too.
1 Q. Why would Major Ristic and Milivoj Ostojic -- what reason would
2 they have for entrapping you and getting you killed?
3 A. Well, there must have been idealogical reasons involved;
4 idealogical reasons because I accused them of being traitors and war
6 Q. And what evidence do you have to support the fact that this was
7 an effort to get you killed?
8 A. Well, as you can see, the first action on the 2nd of October,
9 when we had the action in Nadin, they ordered the military police which
10 was located 6 kilometres away from that conflict -- they ordered that
11 military police, instead of coming to help us, to go to target practice
12 in the range in Listici [phoen], and only at 5.00 after they were asked
13 to come and help us, they came with two APCs to pull us out. So what
14 else could one think except for that? The whole day we were stuck there,
15 whereas it was only 6 kilometres involved which you can cover by car in
16 five minutes.
17 JUDGE PICARD: [Interpretation] Mr. Bakrac.
18 MR. BAKRAC: [Interpretation] Your Honours, I -- sorry for
19 interrupting, Mr. Groome, but I did promise the witness because of his
20 difficulties that we will be having breaks every 75 minutes, so I'm just
21 reminding everyone that perhaps this would be a good time for a break.
22 MR. GROOME: This would be convenient time if it's convenient for
23 the Chamber.
24 JUDGE PICARD: [Interpretation] Very well. We will have a break.
25 But just before the break, Mr. Groome, there is a document, a 65 ter
1 document that you wanted to show about a hospital. I think it was
2 65 ter 649. You haven't tendered it. Or perhaps we can do it after the
4 MR. GROOME: I will investigate that, Your Honour, and deal with
5 it first thing when we get back.
6 JUDGE PICARD: [Interpretation] Very well. We will have a break
7 and we will resume at a quarter to 11.00.
8 --- Recess taken at 10.16 a.m.
9 --- On resuming at 10.48 a.m.
10 JUDGE PICARD: [Interpretation] We resume.
11 Yes, Mr. Groome. I asked you about -- I asked you about 65 ter
12 document 6149. [In English] 6419.
13 MR. GROOME: Yes, Your Honour. I thank the Chamber for bringing
14 my failure to tender that document to my attention. It is something that
15 the Prosecution tenders into evidence.
16 JUDGE PICARD: [Interpretation] If there are no objections, then
17 document 6419 is admitted. Can we have a numbers, please,
18 Madam Registrar.
19 THE REGISTRAR: Document 6419 will receive number P3104,
20 Your Honours.
21 JUDGE PICARD: [Interpretation] Thank you. The video-clip that
22 we saw yesterday, the video number 6431, was it -- it was finally
23 provided to the Registrar. Do you want it admitted as well?
24 MR. GROOME: Yes, Your Honour. It has been prepared and
25 transmitted to it Registrar. So the Prosecution at this time would
1 formally tender 6431.
2 JUDGE PICARD: [Interpretation] I see that there are no
3 objections to the admission of the document. So video number 6431 will
4 be admitted. Can we have a number, please.
5 THE REGISTRAR: Document video 6431 will receive P3105,
6 Your Honours.
7 JUDGE PICARD: [Interpretation] Thank you. Mr. Groome, you may
8 continue your cross-examination of the witness.
9 MR. GROOME: Thank you, Your Honour.
10 Q. Mr. Opacic, I'd like to now turn to a different topic, the events
11 in Skabrnja. You indicated earlier today that you know that you have
12 been convicted for crimes perpetrated against the civilian population of
13 Skabrnja; is that not correct?
14 A. Yes.
15 MR. GROOME: Could I ask that we have on our screens 65 ter 6415.
16 And that can be found in tab 24 in the binder in Belgrade. This is a
17 first instance judgement of a trial associated with those events. And
18 the judgement is dated the 7th of July, 1997.
19 Q. In this judgement, Mr. Opacic, Judge Milan Petricic sentenced you
20 to 20 years incarceration after finding you did the following. And I am
21 reading from e-court pages 4 in the original and 4 in the English:
22 "They entered the village of Skabrnja, the exclusively Croat
23 populated region, in several groups. Headed by the accused Goran Opacic,
24 Bosko Drazic."
25 The judgement continues a few lines later referring to you and
1 your men:
2 "They shell the village without prior selection of military
3 targets. After which, they forcefully pulled out from cellars and other
4 shelters civilians and noncombatant locals, mainly women and the elderly,
5 and children as well, who did not stage any resistance nor posed any
6 threat to the aggressor. Then they killed at least 44 persons from
7 firearms at close range or with blunt objects on the head and molested
8 and massacred few persons before they killed them."
9 Judge Petricic finds that these acts constituted international
10 crimes. My question to you is simply: Were you aware of the crimes
11 perpetrated in Skabrnja?
12 A. I didn't know that, no. I did not participate in that and I did
13 not see it.
14 Q. Did you know any of the men present in Skabrnja?
15 A. Which men, the ones who were in Skabrnja?
16 Q. Did any of the men who were part of your unit, do you know
17 whether any of them were in the town of Skabrnja?
18 A. No, none did. None were.
19 Q. Did you learn about the crimes comitted in Skabrnja?
20 A. I heard the stories later.
21 Q. When did you first hear what you describe as stories?
22 A. A couple of days later.
23 Q. And can you tell us --
24 A. And I know that there were --
25 Q. Can you tell us or summarise the stories that you heard a couple
1 of days later?
2 A. What can I say? These were just stories, that usually people
3 retell around town that the -- this Lieutenant Stevanovic was killed by a
4 rifle and that there was a clash they had between those military forces
5 and the Croatian forces. This is all that I heard.
6 Q. At this moment I am more interested in whether you heard anything
7 about the crimes comitted against the civilians of the town, mostly
8 elderly people?
9 A. No, no. I did not hear of any crimes.
10 Q. Is it your evidence that the first time you heard anything about
11 these crimes is when I have -- when I just read a description of them a
12 few minutes ago?
13 A. Read about the crimes? I didn't have the sentence, though, the
14 verdict. But I did see it in newspapers.
15 Q. One of the men found guilty, Jovan Badzoka, was before the court.
16 Do you know him?
17 A. He's from my village.
18 Q. Listen to how Judge Petricic summarised part of his evidence.
19 When Judge Petricic uses the pronoun "he," it is a reference to Badzoka:
20 "He heard about the attack and suffering of Skabrnja several days
21 after the event had occurred. He was at his home but the information
22 were not extensive. There were only talks that many people were killed
23 and that the JNA did it and that Goran Opacic was there."
24 He says that he learned immediately after the attack that you
25 were there. Do you still deny that you were present in Skabrnja?
1 A. This was a staged trial. I mean, you can see that. It's so
3 Q. Is there any reason why Badzoka would have a reason to fabricate
4 your presence in Skabrnja?
5 A. Out of fear of the Croats. Anybody who went there or who
6 returned for any kind of killing or anybody who was killed, this was
7 always something that they ascribed to me.
8 Q. Why is that?
9 A. Because I was a former policeman. I fought in the police. I
10 fought against Croats with all my might. I fought against them. And
11 this is a staged trial by the Croats against me. They had no other
12 reasons for me to commit any crimes. But on the basis of lies and
13 statements of those people who were there, they drafted the charges.
14 It's a staged trial. I never participated in any crimes. I wasn't even
16 Q. Do you know a person by the name of Slobodan Coso?
17 A. I know Mirko Coso. I don't know Slobodan.
18 Q. How do you know Mirko Coso?
19 A. I know Mirko Coso from Jagodnja Gornja.
20 Q. Was he a member of your unit during this period?
21 A. No.
22 Q. One of the witnesses in that trial, Marijan Pesut, that's
23 P-e-s-u-t, recounted statements made by one of the direct perpetrators of
24 the crime, a Slobodan Coso, who identified himself as a member of the
25 Goran Opacic group. Judge Petricic summarised Pesut's evidence:
1 "He remembers the words of Slobodan Coso, that Goran Opacic was
2 the cruelest and that very few people would survive the passage of his
4 The judgement goes on to describe in detail the crimes comitted
5 upon the civilians of Skabrnja, the summary executions of elderly people
6 with bullets to the heads, the international running over of a woman with
7 a tank, and made the following finding:
8 "In respect to accused Goran Opacic, Bosko Drazic,
9 Zoran Jankovic, it was established that they were not only the executors
10 of the crime but also ordered the above-crime."
11 MR. GROOME: And that can be found at B/C/S e-court page 41 and
12 English 37.
13 Q. Sir, is it not a fact that not only were you were a direct
14 participant in the crime but that you ordered some of the crimes
15 perpetrated upon the civilians of Skabrnja?
16 A. I wasn't present there.
17 MR. GROOME: Your Honours, at this time the Prosecution tenders
18 65 ter 6415. It is the first instance judgement. It was provided to the
19 Office of the Prosecutor by the public prosecutors office of Croatia on
20 September 28, 2000.
21 JUDGE PICARD: [Interpretation] Mr. Jordash.
22 MR. JORDASH: I am just wondering what the probative value is of
23 this report. My learned friend's cross-examined the witness on an issue
24 of credibility, suggesting he was there. The witness has denied it.
25 He's put the judgement finding to him. The witness has denied being
1 there. That, in our submission, should be the end of it. We don't need
2 a judgement and the judgement doesn't take the matter any further.
3 JUDGE PICARD: [Interpretation] Mr. Groome.
4 MR. GROOME: Your Honour, the judgement actually does take it
5 much further and it describes in great detail this individual's
6 participation in the crimes, and the Chamber really, in the Prosecution's
7 submission, needs to have the judgement before it so it can properly
8 assess what this person, what Mr. Opacic says now about the events in
9 this -- this crime and what the findings were of the first instance
10 judge -- the first instance court.
11 MR. JORDASH: If it is just for impeachment then I will withdraw
12 the objection, but if it's more than that, then I maintain the objection.
13 JUDGE PICARD: [Interpretation] Mr. Groome.
14 MR. GROOME: It's for impeachment, Your Honour.
15 JUDGE PICARD: [Interpretation] Very well. Document number -- I
16 can't remember any more.
17 THE REGISTRAR: Document 6415 will receive number P3106,
18 Your Honours.
19 JUDGE PICARD: [Interpretation] Thank you very much,
20 Madam Registrar. So document 3016 is admitted into evidence.
21 MR. GROOME: I'd now ask that we look at 65 ter 6416. That is in
22 tab 25 of the binder in Belgrade. This is a second instance judgement
23 entered on the 16th of June, 1998, by members of the Croatian supreme
24 court, Judge Milan Gudelj presiding; and that's G-u-d-e-l-j.
25 Q. Sir, your case was appealed to the Supreme Court of Croatia. The
1 judgement states that you were represented by a lawyer by the name of
2 Filip Brdar, B-r-d-a-r. Do you confirm that he represented you in this
4 A. I never appealed against that judgement before the Croatian
5 court, nor do I know this man, Brdar. He is a Croat.
6 Q. The Supreme Court summarised its finding as follows:
7 "All indicted persons are responsible for committing the crime
8 together and former mentioned three indicted persons for commanding as
10 That's at B/C/S page 5 and English e-court page 6.
11 MR. GROOME: Your Honour, at this time the Prosecution would
12 tender 65 ter 6416. It was received from the Zadar police administration
13 on the 29th of September, 2000.
14 MR. JORDASH: Same position, Your Honour.
15 JUDGE PICARD: [Interpretation] Then I imagine it's the same as
16 well for Mr. Groome?
17 MR. GROOME: Yes, Your Honour.
18 JUDGE PICARD: [Interpretation] Very well. Document number 6416
19 is admitted into evidence. Can we have the number, please.
20 THE REGISTRAR: Document 6416 will receive number P3107,
21 Your Honours.
22 JUDGE PICARD: [No interpretation]
23 THE REGISTRAR: I will repeat, Your Honours --
24 JUDGE PICARD: [Interpretation] Could you please repeat.
25 THE REGISTRAR: -- document 6416 will receive number P3107,
1 Your Honours.
2 JUDGE PICARD: [Interpretation] There must be a mistake again in
3 the number. P3107; is that right? Thank you very much.
4 Mr. Groome.
5 MR. GROOME: Your Honour, I think the record still needs a bit of
6 correction. I think it's P3107.
7 THE REGISTRAR: I will repeat one more time. And make sure there
8 is no interpretation going on over what I am speaking. So I wait. Okay.
9 So document 6416 will receive number P3107.
10 JUDGE PICARD: [Interpretation] I think we have got it. Thank
11 you very much.
12 MR. GROOME: Your Honour, the Chamber may also be assisted with
13 assessing this particular witness's evidence by Exhibits P1206 and P1207.
14 These are interviews of two participants in the attack in Skabrnja
15 conducted by military intelligence and describes some of the crimes in
16 greater detail.
17 I would like to focus on another military report, and that is
18 P1208. I'd ask that that be brought to our screens. It can be found in
19 tab 8 in the binder in Belgrade. This is a report of Major
20 Branislav Ristic on 27 November, 1991, shortly after the crimes in
22 Q. Mr. Opacic, Major Branislav Ristic, was given the task of
23 collecting information about the crimes in Skabrnja. The Chamber has
24 before -- before it his notes of two interviews with participants in the
25 attack on the village. In P1208 we have his report which includes
1 information from a source he identifies as IS. The report states that
2 you told IS that you were present in Skabrnja and that you blamed some of
3 the crimes on a volunteer Chetnik group called Jaro-Jare. Do you deny
4 the veracity of this?
5 A. Yes, I do deny it. I never said that.
6 Q. Do you know a group called Jaro Jare?
7 A. There was never one such group, as far as I know.
8 Q. The report goes on to recount your own very description of seeing
9 an old man running away and then seeing an active duty soldier fire a
10 hand-held rocket into the old man's back. The report states:
11 "Goran Opacic said that he had never seen a more terrible sight
12 in his life because the old man was blown to pieces, with just a leg
13 remaining nearby."
14 Do you deny that you said that?
15 A. I was not there.
16 JUDGE PICARD: [Interpretation] Mr. Groome, that is not the
17 document that we have on our screens.
18 MR. GROOME: I apologise, Your Honour. I apologise, Your Honour,
19 I should have indicated that it was page 5 of that document. If I could
20 ask that we go to that. I think we can see it now in the middle
21 paragraph on that page.
22 Q. Sir, when I asked you earlier today about who it was that you
23 thought would set you up and try to have you killed, I believe you said
24 it was a Major Ristic was one of these persons; is that correct?
25 A. And Milivoj Ostojic.
1 Q. Is -- this report is authored by a Major Branislav Ristic. Is
2 this the person who you believed wanted to have you killed?
3 A. Correct.
4 Q. Now in this report Major Ristic doesn't accuse you of any
5 wrong-doing. He simply reports what another informant told him you said.
6 Is there any reason that you can think of that Major Ristic would want to
7 attribute to you as having eye-witnessed a crime but not accuse you of
8 actually committing that crime?
9 A. Well, of course he wanted to shift the blame onto someone, so he
10 ascribed it to me because he was responsible for the crimes comitted in
11 Skabrnja. Well, the commander of the military police unit that was
12 present there was his security officer, and now I, who wasn't there at
13 all, am supposed to take the blame for it; whereas, he, who was there in
14 command of it all, should be cleared.
15 MR. GROOME: Your Honour, I am finished with this report. And I
16 would also refer the Chamber to P1209. It is also a report with respect
17 to this incident.
18 Q. Sir, I would like the change the subject now.
19 MR. GROOME: And I would ask that we bring P428 to the screen,
20 and it can be found in tab 2 of the binder in Belgrade.
21 Q. And sir, keeping in mind your evidence that you had no employment
22 with the Serbian DB, I want to go over a number of documents with you and
23 explore whether or not that is true.
24 Did you attend an award ceremony on security service day of the
25 RSK in which you received a plaque?
1 A. I never attended that meeting, nor was I given any sort of award
2 while I was in the Republic of Serbian Krajina.
3 Q. If we take a look at this document, this is a list of individuals
4 who received recognition on the occasion of security service day of the
5 RSK. Your name appears as the 21st individual on this list. Would the
6 fact that your name appears on a list of people receiving recognition
7 refresh your recollection as to whether you were ever honoured in this
9 A. This is the first time I am seeing it.
10 Q. Were you ever a member of the RSK State Security Service?
11 A. Never.
12 Q. The list indicates that plaques were being awarded due to
13 demonstrated bravery, self-sacrifice, or exceptional contribution to the
14 successful operation of the internal affairs service. Do you know why
15 you would have been -- why your name would appear on such a list?
16 A. I have no idea. I was never on good terms with him.
17 THE INTERPRETER: The interpreter didn't catch the name of the
19 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] When was this awarded? What was
20 the time-period?
21 MR. GROOME:
22 Q. Let me first ask you to -- the interpreter did not catch the name
23 that you mentioned, the person you were not on good terms with. Can you
24 first tell us that, and then we can discuss when this might have been.
25 A. Mile Martic.
1 Q. And with respect to the date, it's unclear exactly what year,
2 although it is clear that it occurred on the 5th of July. Now, were any
3 of your brothers ever members of the RSK State Security Service or the
4 Krajina DB?
5 A. No.
6 Q. Number 28 on this list indicates a plaque was awarded to the
7 Benkovac SDB Detachment. Could you please tell us what detachment this
8 refers to?
9 A. That must have been the detachment headed by Aco Draca. He was
10 there. He was the head of state security in Benkovac.
11 Q. Captain Dragan is listed immediately above your name at
12 number 20. Was he present to receive this award, if you know?
13 A. I was not present there. I know nothing about this event. I
14 don't know who received awards.
15 MR. GROOME: I am finished with this document.
16 Q. Mr. Opacic, yesterday you said your brother, Milos, was in the
17 Guards Brigade in Belgrade and not in Golubic with you. My question to
18 you today is: Is it possible he was in Golubic during a period when you
19 were not there?
20 A. No, he definitely was not. He came in 1992, in early 1992, from
21 the army. He was in the Guards Brigade in Belgrade.
22 MR. GROOME: Could I ask that P2824 be brought to our screens,
23 and it's tab 19.
24 Q. Sir, I would like to show you a document from your brother
25 Milos's state security personnel file --
1 THE REGISTRAR: Your Honours, this document is under seal.
2 MR. GROOME: Thank you for that reminder.
3 Your Honour, perhaps out of an abundance of caution -- I don't
4 think ultimately my questions will trigger a sensitivity, but perhaps in
5 an abundance of caution if we could move provisionally into private
6 session -- that be sure.
7 JUDGE PICARD: [Interpretation] Very well. Let's move into
8 private session.
9 [Private session]
11 Page 18302 redacted. Private session.
20 [Open session]
21 THE REGISTRAR: We are in open session, Your Honours.
22 MR. GROOME:
23 Q. Sir, I want to correct what I just said. 65 ter 2D250 is on the
24 Simatovic exhibit list. It is not a document that they, themselves,
25 found in their investigations.
1 In this letter sent by Mr. Rajic to Mr. Simatovic, he recommends
2 eight men be given command responsibilities in the Poskok Detachment. We
3 obtained this document -- the Office of the Prosecutor obtained this
4 document from your very own personnel file provided by the government of
5 Serbia, a file from the archives of the State Security Service. The
6 first person on the list is your brother, Milos Opacic, detachment
7 commander. Do you deny that your brother was the detachment commander of
8 the Poskok Detachment of the JSO?
9 JUDGE PICARD: [Interpretation] Mr. Witness, just before you
10 answer, Mr. Bakrac would like to say something.
11 Yes, Mr. Bakrac.
12 MR. BAKRAC: [Interpretation] Your Honours, I do believe that we
13 need to treat this witness more fairly than we do others in that he
14 cannot possibly see the document before his eyes. Can Mr. Groome please
15 let the witness know that the title is a proposal for the command cadre
16 of the detachment, whereas Mr. Groome put it to him in the way that
17 these -- this was already done or that they were commanders. So I think
18 we should be more careful where this witness is concerned when we put
19 questions to him.
20 JUDGE PICARD: [Interpretation] You're absolutely right,
21 Mr. Bakrac.
22 Mr. Groome, can you describe the document to the witness a little
23 bit more in detail since he cannot see it.
24 MR. GROOME: Yes, Your Honour.
25 Q. Sir, Mr. Bakrac is, indeed, correct. I will literally read the
1 heading of this letter on state security stationery. Title of document:
2 "Recommendation to Establish Commanding Personnel in the
3 Poskok Detachment." Underneath the title, there are listed eight
4 different people, each being recommended for a somewhat different
5 position. I read down the names:
6 "1. Milos Opacic.
7 "2. Dusko Maricic.
8 "3. Nikola Simic.
9 "4. Goran Opacic, advisor for military affairs and sports
11 "Gavrilo Tutus.
12 "Rajko Zezelj.
13 "Jovo Mirkovic."
14 And last:
15 "Stevan Tutus."
16 It is signed by Zoran Rajic and addressed to Mr. Simatovic. And,
17 again, this came from a personnel file bearing your name in the
18 State Security Service. So my first question to you is, again: Were you
19 aware that your close friend, Zoran Rajic, had recommended to
20 Mr. Simatovic that your brother, Milos, be made the detachment commander?
21 Were you aware of that?
22 A. This is when we were on Tara. I didn't know that he sent that
23 letter, but I know that there was a proposal for my brother to be the
24 commander for those services of Poskok because I was also proposed for
25 physical training and preparations. It was 1996/1997, during the time
1 that we were in Tara.
2 Q. Do you have any explanation as to how you, a person who has
3 testified under oath, never had an employment relationship or was never
4 working for the Serbian DB, has a personnel file in their archives?
5 A. I don't know if I have a personnel file in their archives or not,
6 but I was never a member. The only thing is if the connection is there
7 because I worked there as Rajic's assistant for physical training. That
8 could be the only connection. That's one thing. But I was never in that
10 Q. In your last answer there is a reference to the few days that you
11 spent in helping Mr. Rajic develop a plan for the physical conditioning
12 of recruits. Is that what you are referring to?
13 A. Yes, that's what I am saying. Yes. That's the period when we
14 were in Tara.
15 Q. Sir, yesterday you told us that the first time you actually spoke
16 with Franko Simatovic was in a celebration at the Kula centre in 1997,
17 and the first time you met Mr. Stanisic was --
18 A. Correct.
19 Q. And the first time you met Mr. Stanisic was at the same ceremony.
20 Do you recall giving that evidence?
21 A. Correct, correct. Yes.
22 Q. And you said that your first encounter with Mr. Stanisic was when
23 he gave you a gift during that ceremony; is that correct?
24 A. Correct.
25 Q. As you know, we have a video of the celebration and can clearly
1 see you there. In concluding my examination of you, I am going to play
2 three specific portions that are relevant to you personally. Could I ask
3 you to do your best to view the video but also to listen to the video.
4 To orient you, the first portion of the video that I will play
5 depicts introductions of a number of individuals, including yourself.
6 You and the other men are being introduced to President Milosevic.
7 MR. GROOME: At this time I would ask Mr. Laugel to please play
8 an excerpt of Exhibit P61. The time code -- I'm sorry, this excerpt is
9 uploaded as 65 ter 58 -- the time code -- please disregard the reference
10 to the 65 ter number. It's P61 and the time code from the original
11 exhibit is 9 minutes, 2 seconds to 10 minutes, 2 seconds. May I ask that
12 that be played now.
13 [Video-clip played]
14 THE INTERPRETER: [Voiceover] "ZI: Mr. President, veterans of the
15 Special Operations Unit of the Republic of Serbia State Security are
16 lined up for inspection. Colonel Zika Ivanovic reporting!
17 "SM: Hello, Ivanovic.
18 "ZI: Mr. President, allow me to introduce the unit's veteran
20 "Mr. President, Colonel Radojica Bozovic!
21 "SM: Hello Bozovic. I read those reports of yours.
22 "RB: Thank you. God forbid there should be more of them, but
23 should there be, I'm here.
24 "ZI: Colonel Dusan Orlovic.
25 "SM: Pleased to meet you.
1 "DO: Likewise, comrade President.
2 "ZI: Colonel Vasilje Mijovic!
3 SM: Pleased to meet you.
4 "ZI: Colonel Goran Opacic.
5 "SM: Hello."
6 JUDGE PICARD: [Interpretation] Mr. Groome, if is the same
7 footage was shown to the witness that we saw, I am sure that he couldn't
8 see much. He could hear, though.
9 MR. GROOME: I will explore that with him, Your Honour, to see if
10 there is anything we can do to make sure that he has a full and fair
11 opportunity to look at it.
12 Q. Sir, were you able to view any of that video or did you recognise
13 the introductions that were made, including the introduction of yourself?
14 A. No, I don't need to even look at it. I already know it. I told
15 you yesterday that I was invited by Zoran Rajic to attend the anniversary
16 celebration of the unit, and when we got there, I've given a uniform. We
17 were introduced there has military war veterans, but I was never in that
18 unit. As a matter of fact, I was just given a rank and a uniform, and it
19 was for those 10, 15 minutes to shake hands with Milosevic, and that was
20 that. I returned the uniform later. I never had any rank nor was I a
21 member of that special unit. It was all just some sort of a -- a show to
22 create a certain image, nothing else.
23 Q. Is it correct that you knew Zika Ivanovic [Realtime transcript
24 read in error "Jovanovic"] and Radojica Bozovic before this day?
25 A. Not Zika Jovanovic but Zika Ivanovic. I knew him from Golubic
1 from 1991 he was the first volunteer who came to the camp. And I met
2 Radojica Bozovic only at this particular review.
3 Q. The person referred to as Dusan Orlovic, was he one of the
4 individuals who helped organise the barricades during the log revolution
5 in 1991?
6 A. I knew Dule Orlovic, he was the head of the Krajina
7 State Security Service.
8 Q. Now, Mr. Ivanovic introduces you and others not as war veterans
9 but as "veterans of the special operations unit of the Republic of Serbia
10 State Security," and you were specifically introduced as a colonel in
11 this unit. Now you claim that this was the first time that you ever put
12 on a uniform of this unit. You are introduced in the presence of
13 Mr. Stanisic. Did he express any surprise that --
14 A. That is correct. That is correct.
15 Q. Did he express any surprise at seeing you being presented as a
16 member of his unit?
17 JUDGE PICARD: [Interpretation] Witness, I have to remind you
18 that if you speak at the same time as the Prosecutor, we cannot hear your
19 words in interpretation.
20 MR. GROOME:
21 Q. My question is: Did Mr. Stanisic express any surprise at seeing
22 a person in a uniform of the unit who was, in fact, not a member of the
24 A. How could I see that if I cannot see whether he was surprised or
25 not. I didn't see him.
1 Q. He never walked up to you and said, Who are you? Did he? Where
2 did you come from?
3 A. No, no, he did not.
4 Q. Before I show you the second clip.
5 MR. GROOME: Your Honour, could I please return to 2D250. I
6 neglected to tender that exhibit, and I would ask to do that at this
8 JUDGE PICARD: [Interpretation] Are there any objections to the
9 admission of the document? I don't see any.
10 Madam Registrar.
11 THE REGISTRAR: Document 2D250 will receive P3108, Your Honours.
12 JUDGE PICARD: [Interpretation] The document P3108 is admitted.
13 MR. GROOME:
14 Q. I am now going to show a second video excerpt from the Kula
15 celebration. And, again, please let us know if you are able to see it or
16 hear it. And what impact your visual impairment has upon your ability to
17 answer questions regarding it.
18 Now before I show it --
19 A. I can't see it.
20 Q. It hasn't been played yet. Before I do ask that it be played, I
21 want to ask you a few questions. Is it correct that you received what
22 you described as a gift during the Kula ceremony?
23 A. Correct. I did receive a gift from Jovica Stanisic. He gave me
24 a gift. It was a knife. And there was a diploma, too.
25 Q. And did the diploma bear your name?
1 A. Yes.
2 Q. Was your name engraved on the knife?
3 A. No.
4 Q. Where is the knife and the diploma today?
5 A. I have it at home.
6 Q. Would you be willing to provide it to the Tribunal so that it can
7 be brought here to The Hague for us to examine?
8 A. I don't have the diploma. It was left at my brother's in Kula,
9 but I do have the knife. It's a -- it's -- I am keeping it in a wooden
11 Q. Would you agree to have a investigator from the
12 Office of the Prosecutor go to your home and take pictures of the knife?
13 A. Yes, I would.
14 Q. Now, this particular clip of the video that I am going to show
15 you is important because it depicts as what you describe as your very
16 first encounter with Mr. Stanisic. Over the course of the entire video,
17 we have ample opportunity to observe Mr. Stanisic, and he does not appear
18 to be a person disposed towards spontaneous displays of physical
19 affection. You are only one of a very small number of men at the
20 ceremony who Mr. Stanisic greets with a kiss, one of the others being
21 Captain Dragan. I would ask that we now look at this clip.
22 MR. GROOME: It is 43 minutes 0 seconds to 44 minutes,
23 42 seconds, of the original video.
24 [Video-clip played]
25 THE INTERPRETER: [Voiceover] "RB: Nikola Pupovac!
1 Dragan Olujic! Dragan Vasiljkovic!
2 "JS: I am proud to present you with (the rest is inaudible).
3 "Announcer: Dragisa Grujic, Djurica Banjac! Miomir Popovic!
4 Goran Opacic! Filipovic ..."
5 MR. GROOME:
6 Q. Sir, were you able to see any of the video?
7 A. No.
8 Q. Let me describe what we saw, and I trust that the members of the
9 Defence will correct me if I describe what occurred inaccurately. Before
10 I do that, do you remember being greeted by a kiss by Mr. Stanisic?
11 [Trial Chamber and Registrar confer]
12 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] I do.
13 MR. GROOME:
14 Q. Now, when we watched the video, and if one looks at it closely,
15 after your name is called and after you begin to walk towards
16 Mr. Stanisic, he puts the gift, the knife, on the table next to him and
17 greets you in a way that's somewhat different than the other
18 participants. Are you able to explain why it would be that on this, the
19 very first time that you are meeting Mr. Stanisic, he would respond in
20 that way to you? To put down the gift and to then greet you with a kiss.
21 A. Because he had perhaps heard about me and my sacrifice in the
23 Q. I am going to show you the third and final clip from this Kula
24 celebration. To orient yourself, this will be a portion of the video
25 depicting the comments of Mr. Stanisic, just a minute or two after the
1 award ceremony where you received the gift. At the beginning of this
2 excerpt, we see Mr. Simatovic speaking to Mr. Stanisic. After this brief
3 exchange, Mr. Stanisic states:
4 "There, Frenki is correcting our protocol."
5 Mr. Stanisic then describes the presentation of awards without
6 any notes, and he states:
7 "We have now actually given out the greatest, the highest awards
8 that can be earned in work of this kind and these are the awards for
10 Out of all of the members of the unit that were present, you, you
11 are the first person he mentions and one of only two individuals he
12 mentioned by name. He also refers to your work in Knin. If your
13 evidence was to be accepted as truthful, all of us in this courtroom
14 would have to believe that on such an important occasion to mark the
15 anniversary of the establishment of the unit, and the formal dedication
16 of the Rade Kostic centre at Kula, that the first person that came to
17 Mr. Stanisic's mind was you, the man who never belonged to the unit. Do
18 you fully appreciate what you are asking us to believe?
19 A. I expect the worst from all of you, but the truth is what I am
20 saying. I came to this review. I was never a member of that unit.
21 Never. And Mr. Jovica Stanisic did that only because of my sacrifices
22 that I bore in the war and because of the merits that I earned in the
23 front in the Krajina, and he gave me that knife for bravery. As for why
24 they said that I was a member of the unit over there, that was just a
25 formal thing. You can believe whatever you like.
1 Q. When Mr. --
2 A. That is your right.
3 Q. When Mr. Stanisic mentions you he says the following:
4 "Each of you that received this award, be it Opacic in the Knin
5 area or Djurica in the Banija, and even the story about us as men who
6 tried to help their people ... each one of them is the same, particularly
7 the way it came about, but in essence it speaks of the heroism of our
8 people and what we have put into our unit ..."
9 I am going to ask that the video be played now. We will see that
10 Mr. Stanisic uses no piece of paper. He has no difficulty thinking of
11 your name. He calls your name as one calls the name of a friend, a
12 colleague, or someone familiar to him. Can I ask that you listen to the
13 words of Mr. Stanisic, and then I will ask my final two questions for
15 [Video-clip played]
16 THE INTERPRETER: [Voiceover] "There, Frenki is correcting our
17 protocol. We have now actually given out the greatest, the highest
18 awards that can be earned in work in this kind and these are the awards
19 for valour. Each of you that received this award, be it Opacic in the
20 Knin area or Djurica in the Banija area, and even the story about us as
21 men who tried to help their people ... each one of them is the same,
22 particularly the way it came about, but in essence it speaks of the
23 heroism of our people and what we have put into our unit and who will
24 carry on the tradition of this unit."
25 MR. GROOME:
1 Q. Sir, Mr. Stanisic, in this moment of celebration, an occasion of
2 great personal pride for him, hold you up --
3 MR. JORDASH: Sorry to object.
4 JUDGE PICARD: [Interpretation] Mr. Jordash.
5 MR. JORDASH: I think we can ask the questions without the
6 constant stream of, shall we say, highly subjective commentary on issues
7 such as how Mr. Stanisic is saying things.
8 JUDGE PICARD: [Interpretation] Mr. Groome, perhaps you could --
9 when you describe the events be a bit less partial.
10 MR. GROOME: I will rephrase the question, Your Honour.
11 Q. Mr. Stanisic, at the celebration in Kula in 1997, mentions you as
12 one of the two members of the unit as an exemplar of "what we have put
13 into our unit." My last question to you is the following: It is the
14 Prosecution's case that you were and have been a member of the special
15 units of the Serbian DB from its earliest days and that the evidence
16 shown here today demonstrates that. This fact is further demonstrate by
17 the accolades you received during the 1997 celebration, the visible
18 display of affection by Mr. Stanisic, and the esteem afforded you during
19 the course of the celebration. Mr. Opacic, all of this unequivocally
20 points to the fact that you, as a member of the special -- member of the
21 special units of the Serbian State Security Service were considered a
22 brave defender of Serbs and a member of that unit. Do you deny this?
23 A. This does not show anything. The fact that I received a present
24 from Mr. Jovica Stanisic, it's only out of gratitude for my sacrifices,
25 meaning I was there from the beginning, meaning of the uprising. That is
1 something that is known in the Krajina. And because of the sacrifices
2 and because of my actions, I received this present from him; not because
3 I was an employee of the State Security Service. That is how it may seem
4 but actually, no, it was not like that at all.
5 Q. Mr. Opacic, thank you for answering my questions today.
6 MR. GROOME: Your Honour, I have no further questions.
7 JUDGE PICARD: [Interpretation] Thank you.
8 We are coming up to our time for the break, but I will ask
9 Mr. Bakrac and Mr. Jordash if they have any re-examination for this
11 Mr. Jordash.
12 MR. JORDASH: No, thank you.
13 JUDGE PICARD: [Interpretation] Mr. Bakrac.
14 MR. BAKRAC: [Interpretation] Your Honour, I just need five
15 minutes, very briefly. If you permit me.
16 [Trial Chamber confers]
17 JUDGE PICARD: [Interpretation] Very well. You will have five
18 minutes because, as far as I understand, this is the last witness, the
19 only witness we have for the week.
20 MR. BAKRAC: [Interpretation] Yes, Your Honour. You're right.
21 May I continue? Thank you.
22 Re-examination by Mr. Bakrac:
23 Q. [Interpretation] Mr. Opacic, Mr. Groome showed you a document
24 which is now P30 -- or rather 3103. Can it please be shown for our
25 benefit here in the Court, and let me repeat for you that it is an
1 Official Note on information related to Zoran Rajic. It was drafted on
2 the 15th of March, 1999.
3 Mr. Groome asked you if you knew the person who filed this
4 Official Note. And I just want to clarify with you if you heard the name
5 properly. It was Zoran Gulic, with a G.
6 A. Never heard of him.
7 Q. And it says initially in conversation with Dusko Maricic, leader
8 of the 1st Combat Group of the JS. Does that name ring any bells?
9 A. I used to know a Dusko Maric.
10 Q. And what were your relations with Dusko Maricic?
11 A. He was from Gracac and I was from Benkovac. We weren't on any
12 terms, really.
13 Q. Since it's an Official Note that was drawn up because some sort
14 of information was received, was there ever against you, your brother
15 Milos, or Zoran Rajic, was there ever an investigation launched against
16 you with the allegations that you had been smuggling tractors, TV sets,
17 cigarettes, et cetera?
18 A. No, never. The Prosecution would most certainly have the
19 document had this been launched. There was nothing other than the
20 incident in Loznica that I was involved in.
21 Q. Thank you, Mr. Opacic.
22 MR. BAKRAC: [Interpretation] Thank you, Your Honour. Those were
23 my questions in re-examination.
24 JUDGE PICARD: [Interpretation] Very well. Thank you very much,
25 Mr. Bakrac.
1 Are there any more questions for the witness? No other
3 MR. GROOME: Not by the Prosecution, Your Honour.
4 JUDGE PICARD: [Interpretation] Very well.
5 Mr. Opacic, this Trial Chamber thanks you for accepting to
6 testify from Belgrade.
7 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Thank you.
8 JUDGE PICARD: [Interpretation] We will now allow you to leave
9 the room. The hearing stands adjourned. We won't have any other
10 witnesses for the rest of the week. And the next hearing will take place
11 on Tuesday of next week at 2.15 in the same courtroom. This hearing
12 stands adjourned.
13 --- Whereupon the hearing adjourned at, 12.03 p.m.,
14 to be reconvened on Tuesday, the 20th
15 day of March, 2012, at 2.15 p.m.