1 THE INTERNATIONAL CRIMINAL TRIBUNAL CASE NO. IT-94-1-T
2 FOR THE FORMER YUGOSLAVIA
3 IN THE TRIAL CHAMBER
4 Monday, 20th May 1996
5 (10.00 a.m.)
6 THE PRESIDING JUDGE: Mr. Tieger, would you like to continue with your
7 witness, please?
8 MR. TIEGER: Yes, your Honour, thank you.
9 MR. MUHAREM NEZIREVIC, recalled.
10 Examined by MR. TIEGER, continued.
11 THE PRESIDING JUDGE: Good morning. Mr. Nezirevic, you are under oath.
12 You understand you are still under oath, do you not?
13 THE WITNESS [In translation]: Yes.
14 THE PRESIDING JUDGE: Mr. Tieger, you may continue.
15 MR. TIEGER: Thank you, your Honour. (To the witness): Good morning, Mr.
17 A. Good morning.
18 Q. Just before the adjournment yesterday, you were discussing the
19 takeover of the transmitter at Lisina. Following the takeover of
20 that transmitter, was there a change in the television broadcast
21 which people at Prijedor could receive?
22 A. Yes.
23 Q. What channel and from what area were people no longer able to receive
24 television transmissions?
25 A. The most important thing is that the population of Prijedor and Banja
1 Luka had to watch
2 on channel 2 of Sarajevo television what was sent from his Lisina
3 transmitter, that is, on channel 2 they could only watch the news of
4 the Belgrade television.
5 Q. Previously what programmes had been available on Channel 2 through
6 Sarajevo television?
7 A. On Channel 2 Sarajevo television alternately take over the news of
8 television Belgrade and television Zagreb and a multi-ethnic
9 programme called "Yutel".
10 Q. Was Yutel managed by people of different nationalities?
11 A. Yes.
12 Q. Serbs, Muslims, Croats?
13 A. Yes.
14 Q. What kind of attitude did Yutel television take toward the war in
15 Croatia, for example?
16 A. Yutel was trying to contribute to peace and togetherness of the
17 former Yugoslavia in all
18 the ways possible.
19 Q. Sometime after the takeover of the transmitter Yutel was no longer
20 available; is that right
21 A. Yes, in the beginning we could see it now and then, and after a while
22 it stopped completely, Yutel stopped completely.
23 Q. You indicated that after that point only Belgrade TV was available on
24 that channel. What kind of broadcasts came from Belgrade?
25 A. I have to say that one could also watch Sarajevo television on
1 Channel 1. I am referring now to Channel 2 of Sarajevo television
2 which regularly transmitted Belgrade prime time news, and on that
3 channel they commenced very, very harsh propaganda directed against
4 all other peoples of Yugoslavia.
5 Q. Did you see extremist national leaders on Belgrade TV?
6 A. Yes, I saw Seselj, Arkan.
7 Q. For example, what was Seselj depicted doing on some of those
9 A. Seselj attended several rallies. If I remember well, it was a rally
10 in Vojvodina which is a region in Serbia and he spoke openly about
11 what greater Serbia should look like. He listed the names of towns
12 to belong there. He spoke about the threat to the Serb people, and
13 other, the whole Serb people should live in one country. I saw him
14 at a parade, at a review, where he attended a military parade.
15 Q. Did he participate in some way in that military parade either by
16 meeting with officials or reviewing the troops?
17 A. Yes, he did meet them and, as far as I remember, he also met with
18 Mrs. Bijeljina Plavsic.
19 Q. With regard to his meeting with the troops, first of all, are we
20 talking about the JNA?
21 A. Yes, they looked like JNA soldiers.
22 Q. How did they respond to Seselj's presence?
23 A. Quite normally, as if he was a high ranking politician.
24 Q. Did they salute him?
25 A. Yes.
1 Q. You mentioned you also saw Arkan on TV with Mrs. Plavsic, I believe
2 you said?
3 A. Yes.
4 Q. What were the two of them doing together?
5 A. They were evidently very close -- "close" is perhaps not a good
6 expression, but they seemed to have a friendly relationship.
7 Q. What was depicted on the footage you saw that indicated they had a
8 friendly relationship?
9 A. As far as I can remember, I saw them greet each other and hug each
11 Q. During this time did you also have an opportunity to read periodicals
12 and magazines from Belgrade?
13 A. Yes.
14 Q. What themes appeared in those magazines or periodicals?
15 A. More often than not what I found in those papers were supplements
16 from the modern and more remote history of Serbia, mention of the
17 battle on Kosovo, Dusan's empire as a state, a threat to the Serbs,
18 criticisms for the falsified history about the Serbs, and very
19 disagreeable, very unpleasant critique of the Croats, Slovenians,
20 Muslims, Albanians.
21 Q. Did such promotion and dissemination of such themes appear to have an
22 effect on relations between the national groups within Prijedor?
23 A. Yes.
24 Q. What effect did it begin to have?
25 A. Slowly people began to see, to look for, friends among their own
1 ethnic group, that is, mistrust began to be created. This was
2 politics; people began to support that kind of state of affairs, and
3 others criticised that. But people who were good friends until that
4 time began to mistrust one another.
5 Q. Did people begin to talk about each other or even report each other
6 to authorities?
7 A. I do not know what period of time you have in mind before the
8 takeover of power in Prijedor or after that, but after the takeover
9 of power there were instances of that kind.
10 Q. When we get to that point I will ask you specifically about that.
11 Did the Serbian people within Prijedor begin to openly advocate the
12 same views which were being espoused
13 from Belgrade TV and through Belgrade media?
14 A. No, not so openly but there were some groups which did it openly.
15 Q. Yesterday you also spoke about the difficulties which were occurring
16 within the local assembly of Prijedor between the SDS and the SDA?
17 A. Yes.
18 Q. Did you have an opportunity to observe the last meeting that was held
19 at the local
20 assembly prior to the takeover?
21 A. Yes.
22 Q. Was that a co-operative or harmonious meeting?
23 A. No.
24 Q. What was the main point of contention at that meeting?
25 A. The main points of contention were the political order, political
1 system, of Bosnia-Herzegovina, whether Bosnia-Herzegovina should
2 remain in Yugoslavia, the
3 army and the manager, the head of the public auditing service.
4 Q. What position did SDS politicians take with respect to Prijedor's
5 relationship with Yugoslavia or Bosnia-Herzegovina?
6 A. Well, the position that was repeated many times before that, that the
7 Serbs wanted to remain with their mother country Serbia, and to
8 remain part of Yugoslavia even if rump -- that expression, that term
9 "rump" was used very often.
10 Q. Did SDS politicians publicly proclaim support for greater Serbia?
11 A. They manifested open support to remaining linked to the mother
12 country, Serbia, but they did not refer to it as greater Serbia;
13 often they said it was Yugoslavia, even if "rump".
14 Q. Did you hear them refer to greater Serbia in private conversations or
16 A. Yes, often times they had their private debates and they would forget
17 themselves and say, "We want it to remain a part of Serbia".
18 Q. Had the SDS leadership indicated what it believed to be greater
19 Serbia or Serbian land?
20 A. SDS leadership kept pointing out what one could hear from Belgrade,
21 all Serbs in one
22 state, and I heard Mr. Karadzic saying that all the areas with at
23 least five per cent of the Serb population were to be considered as
24 Serb territory.
25 Q. How did that last meeting of the assembly end?
1 A. It ended like many times before, very simply representatives of SDS
2 proposed to
3 withdraw, to go to their MP club, and that after a while they would
4 notify about their decision and it lasted, well, perhaps more than an
5 hour, and then they only said that they did not want to go on because
6 not all matters had been cleared and that on some other occasion at
7 some other session they would try to clarify it. So that that
8 particular session was discontinued without a result.
9 Q. Is that the manner in which previous sessions had ended and were
10 unable to achieve any kind of concrete results?
11 A. Very often. It was almost a practice in the work of the assembly of
12 the Prijedor municipality. There were almost always some excuses
13 found why a session could not
14 end, could not adjourn, in a normal way.
15 Q. Excuse was found by whom or by which party?
16 A. SDS.
17 Q. During the period of time before the takeover, was there a discussion
18 or discussions about separating Prijedor or dividing it?
19 A. Yes.
20 Q. Who proposed that Prijedor be divided?
21 A. SDS.
22 Q. How did they propose to divide Prijedor?
23 A. They proposed to divide it according to what they had found in
24 Cadaster registers, and they announced that 70 per cent of Prijedor
25 territory belonged to Serbs, and they even published a map of their
1 division in Prijedor, that is, in Prijedor municipality.
2 Q. This was a map of the proposed division of Prijedor for Serbs in one
3 part and Muslims in another?
4 A. Yes.
5 Q. What part of Prijedor was allocated to the Muslim community?
6 A. The Muslim community would get the outskirts of the town where more
7 Muslims lived, such as old towns, Stari Grad, Rizvanovici, Kozarac,
8 etc., and the central part the town of Prijedor itself, all the
9 institutions and almost all industries would go to the Serbs.
10 Q. How did the Muslim community respond to the proposal by the SDS that
11 Prijedor be divided so that the Serbs received the industry or most
12 of the industry and most of the institutions?
13 A. Well, they responded diversely, of course. They tried to prevent it
14 in a way, and even the SDA President, Mirza Mujadzic, suggested in a
15 public broadcast that the areas of Prijedor, Sanski Most, Bosanski
16 Novi and Kljuc remain a neutral zone, a zone of peace, that would not
17 belong either to the Serb or to the Muslim entity.
18 Q. Did the national groups in Prijedor live in such a way that a
19 division in Prijedor could be achieved simply by drawing an arbitrary
20 or theoretical line through the opstina?
21 A. No.
22 Q. What would be the result of any proposal to have Muslims in one area
23 and Serbs in another?
24 A. Terrible effect would ensue because we lived together, we lived in
25 the same houses, we married, we took wives or husbands from other
1 ethnic groups, we had children, we were friends and would be the same
2 as to divide one body, one soul.
3 Q. Was there also discussion about establishing a separate Police Force?
4 A. Yes.
5 Q. Did that discussion involve Serbian officials from outside the
7 A. Yes.
8 Q. Do you recall any particular Serbian official from outside Prijedor
9 who came in to participate in the discussions about the possibility
10 of a separate Police Force?
11 A. Yes, I remember it well.
12 Q. Who was that?
13 A. It was Mr. Stojan Zupljanin, chief of the regional district of Banja
14 Luka in charge of security.
15 Q. Do the decisions by the Prijedor police have to go through the CSB or
16 the security office in Banja Luka?
17 A. I do not know their organisation, but I assume that the main centre
18 was Sarajevo. However, I am not sure if Prijedor had to be under the
19 Banja Luka patronage.
20 Q. When Mr. Zupljanin came over from Banja Luka, did he come with the
21 apparent authority to resolve the issue of separate police on behalf
22 of the Serbs?
23 A. I assume he did have such authority which normally I did not see, but
24 as everybody received him, accepted him and accepted help from him,
25 it is natural to assume that he
1 did have the authority to do it.
2 Q. Who had proposed separate police departments or Police Forces?
3 A. I do not know exactly who was the person who had proposed it, but
4 about a month or two before the takeover of power there was plenty of
5 discussion in the police station, that is, Prijedor SUP, about this
6 and I know it well that they held joint meeting altogether in the
7 police station at SUP and that they decided to go on as one, as
8 joint Police Force.
9 Q. Who announced that decision?
10 A. It was announced on the radio and in the paper.
11 Q. Who made the decision publicly on behalf of the Serbs?
12 A. On behalf of the Serbs, I do not know who decided that, that is, to
13 keep the joint police before the arrival of Mr. Zupljanin, but the
14 public was told that it had been agreed within the Prijedor SUP to
15 keep the joint Police Force.
16 Q. Were they told that after Mr. Zupljanin came from Banja Luka?
17 A. Before Mr. Zupljanin, but when Mr. Zupljanin came it was repeated
19 Q. You mentioned yesterday the plebiscite which was held in November
20 1991. Was that plebiscite regarded by local SDS officials as an
21 important event?
22 A. Yes.
23 Q. What was the reason for that, what was the plebiscite's importance to
24 local SDS officials?
25 A. As far as I know, at the time Yugoslavia as a state was already
1 facing imminent columns, Slovenia, Croatia. The foundations of the
2 former Yugoslavia were already shattered and now there remained the
3 problem of Bosnia. SDS wanted to ensure the support of the people to
4 join the mother country Serbia, that is, to remain in the so-called
5 rump Yugoslavia.
6 Q. Were the results of the plebiscite cited or focused on by Serbian
7 officials when separate institutions by Serbs were later created?
8 A. Yes.
9 Q. Mr. Nezirevic, I would like to bring you to the period of time
10 immediately before the takeover of Prijedor. First of all, I would
11 like to ask you about the extent of military presence in Prijedor at
12 that time. Were you aware of military forces in Prijedor?
13 A. Yes, and that was a very important fact, this military presence at
14 Prijedor. I knew that in Prijedor at the airfield at Urije there was
15 a unit that had been located there -- we called it the units from
16 Pancevo of the JNA, a unit of the JNA -- and we heard that a missile
17 unit was located at Kozara. The war in Croatia, in Pakrac and Lipik,
18 and almost all the people who were armed then who went to that war,
19 they would be coming back home bringing arms with them. The
20 atmosphere in the town was very bad, so that we felt that we were
21 under some kind of silent occupation.
22 Q. What was the ethnic composition of those troops?
23 A. I know that a very small number of Muslims and Croats had accepted
24 the call for mobilization and to go to war to Pakrac and Lipik. So
25 we can conclude from that, as far as I know the people from Prijedor
1 and the situation there, that a very high percentage, an enormous
2 percentage -- I could not tell you the exact percentage -- that was
3 practically a Serb army.
4 Q. When you said that "we felt we were under some kind of silent
5 occupation", who did you mean by "we"?
6 A. Well, of course, I mean the Bosniaks and the Croats and the other
7 people who are not Serb.
8 Q. Does "Bosniaks" refer to the Muslim community?
9 A. Yes.
10 Q. You mentioned the Pancevo unit that Urije airport, what kind of unit
11 was this?
12 A. I am not really an expert of military things, but I could see that
13 was a tank unit. I know what a tank is. I was going through a
14 street after they had arrived at Urije and on a tarmac road you could
15 still see damage that had been made after the mechanized part of the
16 tanks passed, these mechanized units, and the mud; everything that a
17 normal person, an average person, who is not a soldier could notice
18 to know what things were going on.
19 Q. You also mentioned that soldiers who returned from the war in Croatia
20 retained their weapons and were in the town. What was the nature of
21 their behaviour when they got to town?
22 A. Very arrogant, very arrogant. I felt in the town an almost military
23 atmosphere. They would be coming back home for a rest and then go
24 back there in certain intervals. They would shoot after each goal at
25 a match. They would wound people, civilians, by chance. Even in the
1 part where I lived, there was a primary school, a child had been
2 injured there and a man who was standing at his balcony, they used
3 machine guns to shoot out of the windows. They were showing off the
5 Q. In addition to the JNA troops in the locations you mentioned and
6 returned Reservists, were other Serbs in opstina Prijedor armed?
7 A. No.
8 Q. Do you know whether or not there was any effort to arm Serb
10 A. I know, concretely.
11 Q. Did you observe such an effort?
12 A. Yes, yes.
13 Q. Was that in your neighbourhood?
14 A. Yes.
15 Q. What did you see?
16 A. My colleague was sitting at my place on the 6th or 7th April 1992, we
17 were expecting the news about the recognition of Bosnia as a state.
18 He came back. I was looking through the window of my flat. I saw a
19 truck full of arms. I saw people who would come and take those arms,
20 and I very concretely saw Dragan Kaurin, my neighbour, who took an
21 automatic weapon and put it under his coat.
22 Q. What national group did your neighbour belong to?
23 A. He was a Serb.
24 Q. What national group did the others who came to take arms from the
25 truck belong to?
1 A. They were Serb.
2 Q. Were other Muslims in your neighbourhood also aware of the
3 distribution of arms to Serb civilians?
4 A. Yes. They were observing that.
5 Q. What impact did that have on the Muslims in your neighbourhood?
6 A. A very terrible impact; fear, helplessness, completely lost.
7 Q. Around this time did you begin hearing the use of offensive terms
8 regarding Muslims used in public and in the media?
9 A. At that time, not in the local media, I could not hear it that often,
10 but I could hear and read it in other media where we, the Muslims,
11 were always called "Turks".
12 Q. What did that term connote when it was used in the media?
13 A. It is very easy to conclude if you take all the time into account,
14 the constant syndrome that we, Muslims, have, the syndrome of Turks,
15 they were constantly repeating about the Kosovo battle, the Czar
16 Dusan and the Prince Lazer and carrying around about symbols of
17 Prince Lazer, and all the preparations for the 600th anniversary of
18 the Serb battle, and the Turks are presented as the people who kill;
19 and if we were called the "Turks", it is not very difficult to
20 conclude what they mean.
21 Q. You mentioned the presence of the army in Prijedor. Who was the
22 Commander or Commanders of the army units in Prijedor?
23 A. I know that Mr. Radmilo Zeljaja and Mr. Radmilo Arsic were that.
24 Those were two persons that participated in the public life and I
25 cannot tell you who was the real Commander.
1 Q. Did either one of them have a connection to any of the local
2 political parties?
3 A. Yes, one could say that people like Mr. Radmilo Zeljaja were more
4 close to the SDS party; whereas Mr. Arsic would more often come to
5 the meeting of the assembly of the municipality.
6 Q. Would Arsic speak at the meetings of the municipality?
7 A. I cannot recall that because I was not a member. You could ask
8 somebody else, but I can suppose that he did take part.
9 Q. Did he also associate with members of the SDS?
10 A. As far as I know, maybe he could, but Radmilo Zeljaja did it more
11 than he did.
12 Q. You have mentioned the takeover of Prijedor several times. Do you
13 remember the date of that event?
14 A. 30th April 1992, it was a Thursday.
15 Q. About what time of the day did you first discover that the takeover
16 had taken place?
17 A. On that day at 6.10.
18 Q. What was it that you saw or heard that alerted you to the fact that
19 something had happened?
20 A. Somebody phoned me from the radio, phoned me at home, telling me that
21 not to ask any questions and to come to the studio. I passed through
22 the town. I saw machine gun nests at various points in front of the
23 public auditing office building in front of the bank, in
24 front of the museum, in front of the town hall and in front of
25 the police station, there were armed soldiers, also people with
1 snipers. There was a Serbian flag on the town hall. In front of the
2 studio, there were very many soldiers and in the studio there were at
3 least 30 to 40 soldiers.
4 Q. What nationality were these soldiers?
5 A. Serb nationality.
6 Q. Were they JNA soldiers?
7 A. They were dressed in various ways. People wearing military uniforms
8 with or without a helmet, camouflage uniforms. They had ranks, some
9 had insignia over their pockets, and they wore armed bands of
10 different colours.
11 Q. Was any SDS leader present in the studio when you arrived?
12 A. Yes, Milomir Stakic, who in normal times before the takeover used to
13 be the Vice Chairman of the Municipal Assembly, but before the
14 takeover when the Serb Assembly separated and said they would not
15 continue working together and formed their own Serb municipality, he
16 had been appointed Chairman of the Serb municipality of Prijedor,
17 Mayor of the Serb municipality of Prijedor.
18 Q. Did Mr. Stakic tell you or indicate to you what had happened?
19 A. He told me we took over the power in Prijedor and this should be
21 Q. Was Mr. Stakic announced on the radio?
22 A. Yes.
23 Q. With what title?
24 A. Yes.
25 Q. I am sorry, what title were you or the announcer told to give for Mr.
2 A. "The Chairman or the Mayor of the Serb municipality of Prijedor, Mr.
3 Milomir Stakic".
4 Q. Did Mr. Stakic explain on the radio what had happened and ---
5 A. Yes.
6 Q. -- and what the SDS intended to do with Prijedor thereafter?
7 A. Yes.
8 Q. What did he explain?
9 A. He said that, among other things, the Serbs could not tolerate any
10 more such atmosphere without work and such discord, so they decided
11 to take the power in their hands. Upon the question, "What would
12 happen to Muslims?" he answered, "They do not interest us. Their
13 territories, those territories that belong to Muslims and the
14 municipality of Prijedor can be organised and managed in the way they
15 decide. We are only interested in our areas".
16 Q. At that point had the Serb military forces taken control of all the
17 institutions in Prijedor?
18 A. All the institutions from police, the town hall, industrial plants,
19 radio, communications, the bakery, the medical centre, the bank, the
20 public auditing office, traffic -- everything of vital importance for
21 the life in the municipality of Prijedor.
22 Q. In addition to the soldiers you mentioned earlier, did you see heavy
23 equipment or heavy arms in Prijedor that day?
24 A. Yes.
25 Q. At what time?
1 A. It was on 2nd May. We were watching a tank unit that was passing
2 through the street Sava Kovacevic, and then they continued through
3 the JNA street across the bridge on the Sana towards Sanski Most,
4 and then we heard that it had been located in Lusci.
5 Q. Did you see any heavy artillery?
6 A. Yes, tanks with canons. I cannot tell you anything about calibres or
7 the names of these weapons, but there were tanks and canons. The
8 whole part of town was resounding while they were passing through
9 it. It was a very, very long column.
10 Q. During the days following the takeover did Muslim leaders attempt to
11 speak on the radio?
12 A. Yes.
13 Q. Who came to the radio station and tried to speak?
14 A. Mr. Becir Medunjanin and Ilijas Memic from Kozarac came.
15 Q. What was it they wanted to say?
16 A. They wanted to go into the studio and broadcast to the public saying
17 that from Kozarac no danger was coming, that they would even put
18 somebody to guard in front of the orthodox church in Kozarac so that
19 somebody would not do anything inappropriate, but they were not
20 allowed to do so.
21 Q. Who stopped Mr. Medunjanin and Mr. Memic from speaking?
22 A. They were stopped by two or three armed soldiers with automatic
23 weapons. They told them to go to Mr. Cadja at the police station and
24 in case he allowed them, they could do it.
25 Q. Did Mr. Medunjanin and Mr. Memic indicate what the nature of their
1 message was?
2 A. Yes.
3 Q. Did you try to get them to be allowed to speak?
4 A. Yes.
5 Q. Were they ultimately permitted to speak on the radio and explain that
6 Kozarac was under no threat?
7 A. No, no. Again in the same way when they came back from Cadja, they
8 said that Cadja had told them he had nothing to do with it, and once
9 again I took them to the studio and then the soldiers once again
10 prevented them to go in with automatic weapons and I said I will be
11 going with them.
12 Q. Were SDS leaders permitted to speak on the radio?
13 A. Yes.
14 Q. Did they have any access to the radio station that they desired?
15 A. Always.
16 Q. Did one Muslim leader get an opportunity to speak on the radio after
17 the takeover?
18 A. Yes.
19 Q. Who was that?
20 A. That was Mirza Mujadzic.
21 Q. What did he say?
22 A. He called through the phone so he was not in the studio, he
23 telephoned, and he said that he considered that to be a military coup
24 and he was trying to explain that the previous day somebody killed,
25 the killing of a policeman and that that was not the result of the
1 Muslim attack, but that the Serb themselves had killed that policeman
2 in order to create an incident.
3 Then Milorad Kovacevic called, the chairman of the
4 Executive Council of the Serb Assembly. He threatened that he would
5 come and kill everybody, why were we allowing that person to
6 broadcast and that he was going to rape our female presenter.
7 Q. That was Mr. Kovacevic's response to the fact that Mr. Mujadzic from
8 the SDA had been permitted to be heard on the radio?
9 A. Yes.
10 Q. You had mentioned yesterday that you made unsuccessful efforts to
11 moderate the tone of the coverage about the war in Croatia?
12 A. Yes.
13 Q. As time went on and those efforts continued to be unsuccessful, did
14 you become increasingly marginalised within Radio Prijedor?
15 A. Completely.
16 Q. Were you the only Muslim on the editorial board?
17 A. Yes.
18 Q. After the takeover did you resign from Radio Prijedor?
19 A. Yes, after a couple of days.
20 Q. You had mentioned the nature of the coverage which followed the war
21 in Croatia. What was the nature of the coverage of events from Radio
22 Prijedor and Kozarski Vjesnik after the takeover?
23 A. For the first two weeks it was almost as normal, slightly attenuated.
24 They were even, you could even hear Muslim songs up until 20th May,
25 up until the incident at Hambarine on 22nd May 1992, and then after
1 that everything became open, and then open propaganda started against
2 everything Muslim and Croat.
3 Q. What kind of propaganda? Can you give us some examples?
4 A. Yes, I can. To me, as a person and as a journalist, it is
5 inconceivable how much very respectful people in Prijedor,
6 professional people like doctors -- for example, you could hear Dr.
7 Musta, that was a physician, a specialist, a gynaecologist, Mr.
8 Zeljko Sikora, and it was written that he, as a Croat, was castrating
9 women and newly born Serbian children, Serb children, in order to
10 prevent further reproduction and further procreating of Serb people.
11 There were also something against an internist and cardiologist
12 Muslim and saying he survived all therapies, and it was said that
13 Dr. Mahmuljin wanted practically to kill his colleague, Dr. Zivko
14 Dukic, because he was all the time after a
15 heart attack of the other doctor, he was on purpose giving him
16 the wrong type of drugs, and had it not been for a Serb lady
17 doctor, Dr. Zivko Dukic would have died. They said for Dr. Mirza
18 Mujadzic that he was a dwarf-like doctor than Dr. Ali Cehaja. They
19 said he was a doctor, he was only corrupt, of Ustasha origin. There
20 had been very many such examples.
21 I think they picked up on purpose people who were
22 respected, because in Prijedor area people respect and believe in
23 doctors; and if you say for two doctors, a Muslim and a Croat, and if
24 you write something like that about them, then ordinary people -- I
25 mean, it is very easy to say to ordinary people: "You see what kind
1 of danger can be threatening you from the Croats and the Muslims".
2 Q. In addition to such attacks on respected Muslims in the town, what
3 terms were used generally to characterise Muslims?
4 A. "Fundamentalists", "Alijas", "Mujaheddin", "Alija Balija", "Ustashe",
5 fighters and so on.
6 Q. You mentioned the term "Balija", is that an ethnic insult?
7 A. Yes.
8 Q. Is it a term used in polite company?
9 A. No.
10 Q. In addition to attacks on Muslims, were there other things which
11 dominated the propaganda in the new Kozarski Vjesnik?
12 A. There were such topics, that the whole world was against the Serbs,
13 that media the world over were writing only against the Serbs, that
14 the Serbs were a heavenly people, that they were a much suffered
15 people which was armed, and they knew how to defend themselves, they
16 attacked numerous western politicians and a very low ethical level
17 falling beneath both the human and journalistic code of conduct.
18 Q. Was a curfew imposed on Prijedor?
19 A. Yes, on 2nd May 1992.
20 Q. What were the hours of curfew?
21 A. Well, from 10.00 to 5.00 at first and then, as far as I remember,
22 from 9.00 to 6.00.
23 Q. Did it become difficult for Muslims and Croats to travel in Prijedor?
24 A. Yes.
25 Q. What mechanisms were imposed to restrict the movement of Muslims and
2 A. At first, there were checkpoints in all areas at all entrances and
3 exits from the town and in the town itself and in different parts of
4 the town, and then I was surprised, I was staggered, very surprised,
5 when I saw a neighbour who put a white arm band, and I ask him,
6 why; it had been announced that all those who wanted to go out and
7 move about had to wear a white band over the arm.
8 Q. When you say "all those", do you mean every member of the community?
9 A. No, I mean the Muslims and Croats.
10 Q. It was the Muslim and Croat community which had to wear the white arm
12 A. Yes.
13 Q. Was there a control of movement in the individual buildings?
14 A. There was.
15 Q. Individual apartments or apartment buildings?
16 A. Inside of the buildings and in the apartments themselves.
17 Q. How was that imposed? Was there a register of some sort?
18 A. The Muslims were either given notices or were sent on holidays. They
19 had no arms, no uniforms, normally in civilian clothes. They were
20 then -- duty guards were organised for Muslims. They had to sit in
21 front of the buildings and note down all those entering, who they
22 were visiting, why they were going into the building, when they would
23 come out, etc., with the ID No.; and in the evening they submitted
24 these to one of the Serbs, to a Serb, responsible for a particular
25 building. In my building the man in charge was a gentleman called
2 Q. Let me ask you about something you mentioned that was terminations
3 from employment; did Muslims and Croats begin to be discharged or
4 terminated from their positions?
5 A. Yes.
6 Q. Was that limited to people with regular jobs or low paying jobs?
7 Which segment of Muslim society was terminated from employment?
8 A. No, at first they fired heads, directors, those who held some
9 positions, and then immediately in May, Mr. Miroslav Turnsek, manager
10 of the biscuit factory, was fired because the propaganda said that he
11 had been shipping weapons from Croatia in margarine he needed to make
12 biscuit and cookies in his factory. Then Idriz Jakupovic, a director
13 of the Centre for Social Work, and others followed suit, but the
14 first one to be fired was the Mayor of the municipality as they did
15 not allow him to enter the building.
16 Q. Did local Serbs react to the continued presence of Muslims or Croats
17 in their positions if they managed to retain those jobs?
18 A. I do not know if they reacted and how they reacted, but none of the
19 Serbs rank and file citizens in enterprises, in schools or wherever,
20 when Muslims and Croats were given notice, they never protested or
21 asked why, and in some schools there was even applause when the
22 principal read out the Muslims, Croats had to leave the session and
23 that there was no room for them in that company any more.
24 Q. One thing I wanted to raise with you that you mentioned earlier: I
25 had asked you whether or not people began talking about members of
1 other groups or even reporting them to the authorities, and you
2 indicated that that was something that happened after the takeover.
3 What were you referring to?
4 A. Yes, well, it sufficed for someone to call the police station and
5 say, "My neighbour listens to radio Zagreb or watches HTV"; it
6 sufficed for that to detain that person. Excuse me, another instance,
7 if I may?
8 Q. Please.
9 A. In the bank, Privredna Banka, a bank clerk came, saw a Croat, Mr.
10 Marijan Zec, screamed and asked: "Is it possible that this Ustasha
11 is still working at the bank?"
12 Q. Did you know Marijan Zec?
13 A. Yes. He was in the Omarska camp.
14 Q. Was he associated in any way with Ustashas?
15 A. No.
16 Q. You mentioned an incident which preceded the attack on Hambarine.
17 How did you learn about that incident?
18 A. I was listening to Radio Prijedor and Mr. Zivko Ecim was reporting
19 about how Serb patrol had been attacked in front of Hambarine in a
20 field, and he mentioned then that an incident had happened after
21 the Serb had fired first. Then the ultimatum was issued that men,
22 Muslims, who had provoked that incident were to surrender, and that
23 was how I learned about it because the shelling of Hambarine ensued.
24 Q. How long after the ultimatum did the shelling begin?
25 A. One can see it in an issue of Kozarski Vjesnik. The ultimatum was
1 very terse, but the Crisis Staff announced that they were cutting
2 shorter, cutting the ultimatum shorter. I do not know the deadlines
3 exactly, but I know that the deadline was very short.
4 Q. You mentioned the Crisis Staff, do you know when that was
6 A. The Crisis Staff was established after the takeover of power.
7 Q. Who belonged to the Crisis Staff?
8 A. Those whom I know whom I have recorded on the tape at the session, I
9 know there was Mr. Radmilo Zeljaja, Slobodan Kuruzovic, Spiro Marmat,
10 Simo Miskovic, Slavko Budimir.
11 Q. Before the takeover, was Slavko Budimir a prominent person in
13 A. No.
14 Q. Was there anything about his background which impaired his prospects
15 for political success before the takeover?
16 A. Yes.
17 Q. What was that?
18 A. I remember that some seven or eight years before that, perhaps, he
19 wanted to take up a position, but he was told that he could not be
20 appointed to that particular post because his father was a Chetnik.
21 Q. After the takeover he became a member of the Crisis Staff?
22 A. Yes, and chief of the public security station, that is, head of all
23 the security in the municipality of Prijedor instead of Mr. Becir
25 Q. Where were you when the attack on Hambarine began?
1 A. I was on my way from my sister's to Mr. Sefik Bijlkic in the yard and
2 then I hurried home and I was at home and then we were absolutely
3 flabbergasted. It is very difficult to explain to one who has lived
4 in peace for such a long time and in such a nice way to suddenly feel
5 the sound of heavy shells from Urije airfield and count up to seven
6 -- I remember that exactly -- from the moment it will be fired to its
7 hitting whatever because one could feel the sound. It was terrible.
8 Q. Can I ask for Exhibit 79, the Prijedor map, to be shown to the
9 witness? (Exhibit 79 handed) (To the witness): Mr. Nezirevic, are
10 you able to locate Prijedor on that map?
11 A. Yes.
12 Q. Can you find the Hambarine area as well?
13 A. Here.
14 Q. Is Hambarine on an elevated portion of the Prijedor area?
15 A. Yes, on a hill, on the way towards Ljubija.
16 Q. How long did the shelling of Hambarine continue for?
17 A. I cannot remember exactly, but I know it was for quite a long time.
18 I cannot say if it was three, four or five hours, but it must have
19 been more than just a few hours. There may have been intermissions.
20 Q. Did you become aware of an attack on any other part of Prijedor after
22 A. After that, the attack on Kozarac ensued.
23 Q. Can you point out where Kozarac is on that map as well, please?
24 A. (Witness indicates).
25 Q. Given the distance between Prijedor and Kozarac, is one who was in
1 Prijedor able to see what was happening in Kozarac?
2 A. No.
3 Q. Did you see people from Kozarac coming into Prijedor?
4 A. Yes.
5 Q. Were those people gathered at particular places?
6 A. Yes.
7 Q. Where were they taken?
8 A. Gymnasium sports hall, Mladost, in the centre of the town near the
9 secondary school building.
10 Q. Did you hear reports on Radio Prijedor about the attack on Kozarac?
11 A. Yes.
12 Q. What was reported?
13 A. They spoke tentatively that roadblocks put there by Muslim extremists
14 had to be prevented, that they had to use a tank sent there to clear
15 it and then the posse of Muslim extremists began.
16 Q. Is there any report about what had happened to the police at Kozarac?
17 A. Yes.
18 Q. What was that?
19 A. They said that 13 or 14 policemen had been captured and liquidated
21 Q. Were you in Prijedor on May 30th?
22 A. I was.
23 Q. What happened the morning of May 30th?
24 A. In the morning of May 30th, I heard on Radio Prijedor that Prijedor
25 had been attacked by Muslim extremists. It was described in detail
1 from both sides; they had come from Hambarine across the Sana River,
2 that they had attacked Partizanska Street, were moving towards the
3 radio station, the police station, the town hall, the municipal hall
4 building, but owing to the quick intervention and force of the army
5 that the attack was rejected, that many were liquidated, some
6 arrested and that some had fled.
7 Q. Did you stay in your home that day?
8 A. Yes.
9 Q. Were there any troops in your neighbourhood?
10 A. Yes.
11 Q. Were you taken from your home that day?
12 A. No.
13 Q. Do you know what happened in other parts of Prijedor?
14 A. In the town itself, do you mean, or in the municipality?
15 Q. In other parts of Prijedor town, on May 30th?
16 A. Other parts of the town, I learned that afterwards there were major
17 fighting in Partizanska Street which goes along the Sana River in
18 Stari Grad, the old town, that is, in direction of the Sana and its
19 tributary Berek, and that major fighting was between those attackers,
20 as they call them, Muslim extremists, next to Radio Prijedor, in the
21 secondary school building, near the police station and the municipal
22 hall building.
23 Q. Over the succeeding days did you learn whether or not members of the
24 Muslim community from Prijedor town were being removed from the town?
25 A. Yes. After the attack on Kozarac I learned even that the Muslim
1 population was taken to Trnopolje, rather, that the road was open for
2 them from Kozarac to Trnopolje. Then a few days later we heard that
3 over 30 carriages, that is, freight carriages with women and old
4 people had been taken away in an unknown direction; and after the
5 attack, the so-called attack, on Prijedor, from my neighbourhood,
6 from my area which is Rajkovac, Skela, Stari Grad, many men were
7 taken away and women and children also. They were released later.
8 They were put in the Balkan Hotel. Some of them were directly taken
9 to SUP and some to Omarska.
10 Q. Prior to the attack on Hambarine, attack on Kozarac and the beginning
11 of the removal of the Muslim community from Prijedor, had there been
12 announcements or calls for Muslims and Croats to surrender weapons
13 in Prijedor?
14 A. Yes.
15 Q. How were those announcements made?
16 A. There were invitations to surrender all arms, personal, that is,
17 those legally obtained even before the crisis and the weapons of the
18 Territorial Defence.
19 Q. How did Muslims respond to that demand for surrender of weapons?
20 A. ... and even on the radio and television, Banja Luka radio and
21 television, were shown various areas to show how Muslims were coming,
22 surrendering their weapons on tractors, cars, trucks, or some other
23 smaller vehicles.
24 Q. Mr. Nezirevic, we missed the first part of your answer because of a
25 technology problem. The question was, how did Muslims respond to the
1 demand for surrender and the beginning of your answer was, if you
3 A. They responded.
4 Q. Did some members of the Muslim community go out in the community and
5 encourage people to do so?
6 A. Yes.
7 Q. Do you recall any of those people?
8 A. Yes.
9 Q. Who were they?
10 A. I remember Dr. Esad Sadikovic, an eminent citizen who was a doctor
11 who worked for the United Nations, and Mr. Dedo Crnalic an eminent
12 citizen of the town of Prijedor, a sports executive, a man of
14 Q. They went around to urge people to surrender any weapons they might
16 A. Yes.
17 Q. Did those include weapons for which people had lawful permits?
18 A. Yes.
19 Q. Did that include hunting weapons?
20 A. Yes, all of that -- pistols even.
21 Q. Did you have any weapon?
22 A. No, never.
23 Q. Did the people you knew who had weapons surrender them?
24 A. I know of three cases in my building because in my area there was an
25 office assigned for that purpose for people to come and surrender
1 their weapons. My neighbours, Sefik Trovjik, Kamil Pajalic and Abaz
2 Jakupovic went there and surrendered their pistols for which they had
3 the licences before the crisis. They surrendered them in that
5 Q. Why did the Muslim people surrender these weapons?
6 A. Because they were afraid, because they did not need them, because it
7 was futile, it was of no use to have a pistol; and it was very
8 dangerous because there were daily searches in almost every flat
9 inhabited by a Muslim or a Croat.
10 Q. Was your telephone service interrupted?
11 A. Yes. After the interrogation at Keraterm. I was taken to Keraterm
12 first and after that my line was cut off.
13 Q. When were you taken to Keraterm?
14 A. In early June 1992.
15 Q. How long were you held on that occasion?
16 A. For only one day for interrogation.
17 Q. What kinds of questions were you asked during the interrogation?
18 A. Almost all the time I was asked, why did I resign as the editor and
19 under whose pressure.
20 Q. Did you serve a useful purpose for the editorial board and the
21 Serbian officials as a Muslim editor of Kozarski Vjesnik?
22 A. I believe, yes, up until a certain moment when everything became
24 Q. Were you abused or mistreated during that one day in Keraterm in
1 A. No. Yes, the actual arrest had been unpleasant. I was on the
2 pavement in the town and a car pulled up, and soldiers jumped out of
3 the car and put me into it. They drove me to the military barracks
4 and after that to Keraterm.
5 Q. Before you were taken to Keraterm, did you learn whether or not
6 friends and neighbours in the Muslim community were being taken away
7 from their homes and disappearing?
8 A. Yes, I know that. That was the usual, one could even say an everyday
9 practice. You would just hear people say, "Yes, did you hear about
10 it?" That is how we would discuss it among us. Marijan Zec, Sead
11 Softic, Sefik Bijlkic were taken away almost every day regularly. So
12 that almost every Muslim and every Croat at every moment would expect
13 the same thing to happen to him. Whenever I would hear the sound of
14 a car in front of my building, I started to dress.
15 Q. You started to dress in anticipation of being taken away?
16 A. Yes. It is maybe not a nice thing to say, but my wife told me, "it
17 seems as if you were just waiting to go".
18 Q. After you were returned home following one day in Keraterm, were you
19 again arrested?
20 A. Yes.
21 Q. Where were you taken that time?
22 A. On 24th June 1992.
23 Q. Who arrested you?
24 A. I was arrested by my neighbour who lived in the house next door. He
25 was a professional policeman, by name of Ranko Kovacevic. He was
1 Milorad Kovacevic's brother. He came in a Mercedes. I was as a
2 civilian on duty in the morning in front of the entrance of the
3 building. He told me that I had to go with him. I asked him, "Where
4 to?" and he said, "To Omarska".
5 JUDGE STEPHEN: You have just said that you were on duty in the morning in
6 front of the entrance of the building as a civilian. I do not
7 understand what you mean by "on duty".
8 A. All of us, Muslims and Croats, that lived in particular buildings, we
9 were all obliged to sit during the day in front of the entrance of
10 our house and take down the notice of all those people who were going
11 in and out of the house and in the evening to give all this
12 information to Mr. Egic, saying who came to visit whom, at what time
13 and for how long that person stayed there.
14 THE PRESIDING JUDGE: We will stand in recess for 20 minutes.
15 (11.30 a.m.)
16 (Adjourned for a short time)
17 (11.55 a.m.).
18 THE PRESIDING JUDGE: Mr. Tieger, would you like to proceed?
19 MR. TIEGER: Thank you, your Honour. (To the witness): Mr. Nezirevic,
20 after you were seized by the policeman Kovacevic, where did he take
21 you --- Mr. Nezirevic, could you turn on your microphone, please?
22 The interpreter in the booth cannot hear you.
23 A. [Original in Serbo-Croat]: He took me to the police station in
25 Q. Once inside the police station where were you taken?
1 A. I was taken to a cell in that police station.
2 Q. Were you searched first?
3 A. Yes.
4 Q. Were whatever possessions you had taken from you at that time?
5 A. Yes, I was particularly upset because they took my shoelaces off
6 because I am no criminal.
7 Q. Were other people in the cell when you were taken there?
8 A. There was only one man by the name of Aziz Maksuti. He was the owner
9 of a restaurant in Prijedor; Albanian by nationality.
10 Q. Did other people join you and Mr. Maksuti in the cell?
11 A. Yes.
12 Q. How many people?
13 A. With us there were -- we were eight together.
14 Q. What was the nationality of those people?
15 A. One was a Croat, his name was Dado Zombra, Aziz Maksuti, an Albanian,
16 and the six of us were Muslims, Kasim Mesanovic, Basic, three young
17 men from Alisic, whose surname was Alisic, and myself.
18 Q. You were arrested in the morning; is that right?
19 A. Yes.
20 Q. What time was it when you were finally taken from the cell?
21 A. It was somewhere past 10 o'clock in the evening.
22 Q. Did you receive any food or water during that time?
23 A. No.
24 Q. At 10 o'clock or after 10 o'clock that evening what happened?
25 A. They opened the door of the cell, this is a metal door, they started
1 to shout, saying, "Get out, you Ustashas and fundamentalists". They
2 started swearing, beating and they ordered us to stand against the
3 wall in the yard of the police station having our legs spread out
4 and the arms against the wall. They were beating us, they swore
5 at us, threatened us.
6 Q. What did they use to beat you with?
7 A. With police batons.
8 Q. What were they swearing at you as they beat you?
9 A. They swore our mother, our Ustasha fundamentalist or extremist mother
10 -- very, very heavy words which this Tribunal could not accept as
11 something that was underneath anything that could be spoken in polite
13 Q. Then did they direct you to go somewhere?
14 A. They did not tell us, but in the centre of the yard, some 20 metres
15 from that wall, there was a special police vehicle open as a van --
16 we call it a black Mariah -- and next to that black Mariah there were
17 two lines of policemen as in a gauntlet, and they ordered us to run
18 towards the open door of that vehicle. We were running as fast as we
19 could because they were beating us. Kasim Mesanovic fell down. He
20 received a blow with a boot in near the eyes. Then we ran in that
21 van. It is a very small space. We were full of blood, the eight
22 of us holding our hands. Then the door closed behind us and we were
23 taken in an unknown direction.
24 Q. When that journey was over where were you?
25 A. When the journey was over we found ourselves at Omarska.
1 Q. Mr. Nezirevic, have you had a brief opportunity to look at the
2 exhibit in front of you?
3 A. Yes.
4 Q. Do you recognise that as being a model of the Omarska camp to which
5 you were taken?
6 A. Unfortunately, I recognise it.
7 Q. Where did the van stop when you arrived in Omarska, where were you
8 taken out?
9 A. The same procedure again as when we were escorted from the police
10 station in front of this wall here, here, here, the van stopped
11 roughly speaking here. We were following from this direction and
12 here, here. They ordered us out of the car and then in front of
13 these walls here, we had to put our arms against the wall, spread our
14 legs and then the beatings again.
15 Q. Who was beating you this time?
16 A. We were beaten by the people who were there at Omarska waiting for
18 Q. What were you and the other prisoners beaten with?
19 A. These were not only police batons now. Various types of weapons made
20 from wood, then of wooden cane or something that looked more like a
21 mallet, then a lengthy part in wood with various kind of pointed bits
22 on it.
23 Q. Were the persons beating you saying anything to the prisoners or
24 yelling anything at them as they beat you and the others?
25 A. The same thing again. The same type of vocabulary just in a
1 different way, maybe in a more violent way, more severe, more
2 offensive, just the nuances were different.
3 Q. Were there ethnic curses against Muslims?
4 A. Yes. Yes.
5 Q. Curses against Croats and Ustashas?
6 A. Yes.
7 Q. After the beating finished, where were you taken?
8 A. To the white house.
9 Q. Can you point to the white house? I am not sure you can reach it
10 completely but point to it.
11 A. Yes, here is the white house.
12 Q. Where were you taken inside the white house?
13 A. I was taken to the second room on the right.
14 Q. Were the prisoners already in the white house?
15 A. Yes.
16 Q. What was the nationality of those prisoners?
17 A. Muslims.
18 Q. What was their condition? What did they look like?
19 A. They were in a very poor state. For me who had only arrived there
20 from what I could call normal life, it came as a shock to me. On the
21 floor people, silhouettes, were lying, frightened people, piled up on
22 one on the others, dark in colour, starved, huge beards, their eyes
23 were like they were inside their heads. There was not a square
24 centimetre of space there on those tiles. I had the feeling they
25 were lying one on the other.
1 Q. Did you know those prisoners personally?
2 A. No.
3 Q. Do you know where they were from?
4 A. Later on I learned, from one person next to whom I lied down (whose
5 last name was Sahbaz) that these were young men from Kamicani,
6 Kevljani and from Kozarac who had surrendered to the Serbs, to the
7 Serb army, at Mrakovica on Kozara mountain.
8 Q. Incidentally, do you remember if there was a man there with a hearing
10 A. Yes. I do not know whether his name was Deumic or Dautovic but I
11 know that he used to work at the bakers' shop in Kozarac. His hair
12 was long. He was not completely deaf and dumb, but he had a hearing
14 Q. After you joined the others, the prisoners, in that room, what
15 happened that night?
16 A. When I calmed down, next to that man Sahbaz, next to a wall on these
17 tiles a guard came and somebody said, and he said: "Who said who
18 would be fleeing from here?" Nobody could say anything, utter a
19 sound, even say that they would run away from there. Then he told
20 me: "You, come here, get out". He told me to get out. In front of
21 the white house there was fire there. They were around that fire,
22 drunken, laughing, provoking, asking: "Where's your rifle?" "Which
23 rifle?", said I, "I never had any kind of weapons, let alone a
24 rifle." "Go inside" where I really could not wait to go back and
25 calm down.
1 Then underneath the open window of the white house I
2 could hear sounds like a hog, then Radio Prijedor which is a
3 provocation instead of Prijedor, then I hear: "Come here, come here,
4 why do you pretend you are asleep? Come here to the window". I came
5 to the window and I heard: "Pull out your head of the window". I
6 pulled out my head of the window, and said: "Close the window". I
7 shut it. Only my head was outside in the dark, and then I do not
8 know who, but somebody put the point of the knife under my throat and
9 then said: "Where's your rifle?" because they used to ask everybody
10 where their rifle was. I once again said the same. Maybe I was a
11 bit more open and I said: "No, I never ever had a rifle, nor I
12 needed one".
13 Then they asked me whether I had any money. In a small
14 pocket I had ten billion of old dinars. I gave that money away.
15 They asked me whether I wanted to buy cigarettes. I said: "Yes".
16 What else could I say?
17 They told me to go back to my place and after five
18 minutes a hand came through a window and two packets of cigarettes
19 were given to me.
20 Q. Were prisoners from your room beaten that night?
21 A. Yes.
22 Q. When did that start?
23 A. It started, it is difficult to say exactly at what time because you
24 were not even allowed to look at a watch, not move even slightly in
25 order not to catch anyone's attention, but it happened in the
1 evening, in the late evening, when Nermin or Ermin Foric was called
2 out. I know his parents. I do not know exactly whether his first
3 name is "Nermin" or "Ermin", but his last name is "Foric".
4 He went out after they called him, and some 10 minutes
5 later he came back with a huge bloody blue under his eye and his head
6 was bloody, but he was wearing a smile and I could see that he was
7 happy, he survived another calling up of names. An elderly man
8 covered under a table with his body, his young son, and he exposed us
9 his body in order to protect his son who was younger than 18 years.
10 A bigger man was lying on the table. He was crying with pain,
11 because he wore no shirt you could see huge blue bits along his
12 body, bruises.
13 Q. Approximately how many prisoners were called out of your room that
14 night and returned beaten?
15 A. Maybe some five to six. As far as I can recall, because I might have
16 even fallen asleep for a while, for half an hour or an hour. That
17 was not real sleep, but the nature has its own rules and that is
18 sometimes stronger than the feelings.
19 Q. Did those beatings continue during the night?
20 A. Yes.
21 Q. The next morning did guards come with any water or food?
22 A. It was not in the morning. It was maybe noon already or thereabouts,
23 because nobody dared to ask whether they could go to the toilet or go
24 to drink some water. In the corner by the door there were two black
25 plastic buckets, cut the upper part, and maybe some kind of motor oil
1 was in there previously. One was -- both were used for toilet, one
2 for urinating; the other one was used for water, and in that black
3 bucket they brought water. We were thirsty and we were all holding,
4 touching the edges of this plastic bucket trying to drink, and we
5 were so desirous of drinking so that the bucket broke up, completely
6 destroyed, and then on a newspaper a guard brought just crumbles of
7 bread. Everybody was so hungry that they were even cutting the paper
8 and the crumbles trying to find something to put in their mouth.
9 Q. Did you have an opportunity to see who else was in the white house,
10 in the other rooms of the white house?
11 A. Yes, in the morning I was able to see in the second room on the left
12 that was opposite my room, I saw Husein Crnkic, a teacher of
13 mathematics who was the head master of the secondary grammar school,
14 then Asif Crnkic who was the manager of one part of the Omarska mine.
15 I saw Marijan Zec, an economist from the bank and Sead Softic, an
16 optician; Asim Kadic, the owner of the restaurant "Sport" in
17 Prijedor. I saw in the first room to the right Esad Sadikovic;
18 Sabahudin Avdagic, an engineer; Mehmedalija Sarajlic, another
19 engineer; Zlatau Besirevic, the manager of Bosuamontaza company.
20 Q. In addition to their professional lines, were any of these people
21 soldiers at the time they were brought to Omarska camp?
22 A. No, nobody, nobody. They were all wearing civilian clothes.
23 Civilian clothes, shirts, t-shirts, trousers. Nobody.
24 Q. Were any of these men extremists?
25 A. I do not know that any one of them was an extremist. I know them as
1 ordinary people, people whom I used to meet daily in my town.
2 Q. Did any of them ever express any interest or ambition to attack the
3 JNA or Serb military forces?
4 A. I do not know completely but, as far as I know them personally, no,
5 never. They never had such a desire. I cannot guarantee what
6 somebody holds in one's head, but I know those people as being
7 honest, good, not having any weapons, wearing civilian clothes,
8 respectable citizens. I could never believe that they wanted war,
9 extremism or to do harm to somebody else.
10 Q. What nationality were these men?
11 A. Marijan Zec is a Croat; the others were Muslims.
12 Q. What was their physical condition?
13 A. They were worse. It was worse than my condition because I had only
14 arrived, but it was better than those of a group of people I saw in
15 the room where I was there. One could see some markings or some
16 signs on their faces, either a wound or a bruise or a trace of blood,
17 and what marked me most were their eyes, the look. Whenever I looked
18 at some of them, even later, I had a feeling those eyes were not on
19 the outside but somewhere deep, deep inside, in the head.
20 Q. Did you also have a chance to see the first room on the left in the
21 white house?
22 A. Yes.
23 Q. Can you describe what that looked like?
24 A. It was a -- this was a death room, a small room, and the door was
25 open, we would run out for food, and for short, brief intervals one
1 could see. Then I saw Anes Medunjanin, a young man whom I knew from
2 before, but I could hardly recognise him. He was not like other
3 people with a lost face, but he was some kind of a heap, his eyes
4 were peering almost. Everything was inflamed because of blows and he
5 was kneeling near the wall. Then I saw Ekimovic, son of Omer
6 Ekimovic, and called "Dado". I could see bloody stains on the walls
7 that were dark in colour. On the tiles I saw puddles of blood. I saw
8 something that a man never, ever wants to see again or to describe.
9 Q. Were there persons other than Anes and Adnan in that room?
10 A. Yes, but I know those two people, that is why I mentioned them. Only
11 later I learned who were other people there so I can tell you, if you
12 want me to.
13 Q. What was the condition of the other men in the first room to the
15 A. In the same condition in which I described Anes was.
16 Q. Did Adnan Ekimovic also have a relative in the camp?
17 A. Yes, he did. His father Omer Ekimovic who was in the second room on
18 the left; whereas Adnan was in the first room on the left. I saw
19 Omer when he was coming back from lunch. He was so fearful, but with
20 this eye he was turning his head towards the first room on the left
21 to see his son.
22 Q. Did he try to communicate with his son or send things to his son?
23 A. It was impossible.
24 Q. Did he try to get any food to his son?
25 A. Every time when he would go to lunch, he would leave half of his bit
1 of bread for his son, Adnan, and he would ask Eso Sadikovic, a
2 physician, to take that bread to him; and later on at one occasion
3 Eso said: "I went to give Adnan this part of bread, he is not
4 there". Adnan disappeared. I cannot tell this to Omer. He did not
5 tell him and some days later Omer disappeared as well.
6 Q. What was the nationality of the men in the first room to the left?
7 A. The first room to the left were people of Muslim nationality, but
8 earlier on I had heard that Slavko Ecimovic used to be there. He is
9 a Croat by nationality, but when I came to Omarska I did not find him
11 Q. Do you know whether or not there was a Serb in the camp as a
13 A. Yes. Yes, there was one, Darko, a young man, 20-ish, 25 perhaps. I
14 saw him in front of the white house begging the guards to spare him,
15 to say, "I am a Serb, let me go", and they were forcing him to repeat
16 his entreaty once again to try to prove that he was a Serb; he was
17 trying to, they laughed. Then he said, "Let me go. I am urinating
18 blood. I cannot stand it any longer. I cannot stand up".
19 Throughout the time they were sprinkling him with water, with a
20 powerful jet of water, which normally was -- at normal times was used
21 in the mines to wash tyres on those big trucks.
22 Q. Was this Serb accused of somehow being sympathetic to or being in
23 alliance with Muslims?
24 A. As far as I know, yes. They said that he was on the side of the
1 Q. As that day grew into evening, did the prisoners begin to prepare
2 themselves for anything?
3 A. Yes, for a fight, to be beaten.
4 Q. How did they prepare themselves?
5 A. It is difficult to say "prepare themselves"; encouraged one another,
6 whispering, and each one of us somehow tried to withdraw into
7 oneself, to somehow reduce the size of one's body in this tremendous
8 desirous attempt to disappear, to somehow shrink. Then if one
9 managed to shrink then there was this illusion that you would be less
10 noticeable and, therefore, less beaten. I have already described
11 that father who covered his son with his own body.
12 Q. Did a guard come to the door before the beatings began?
13 A. Yes. A huge guard, a very tall guard came. I cannot really say
14 whether he was really as tall as that or did he simply seem to us
15 since we were lying on the floor all emaciated. He had a red beret
16 and he took out a Kama which is an army knife and with the tip of
17 that knife he began scratching on the glass saying, "There will be
18 meat tonight."
19 Q. Were prisoners called out that night and beaten again?
20 A. Yes.
21 Q. Did that continue through the night?
22 A. It did.
23 Q. Did you also hear any sounds coming from the corridor of the white
25 A. Yes.
1 Q. What sorts of sounds were they?
2 A. At first laughter, shouts, ridiculing, then the cry of a woman, the
3 entreaties of a male voice, then laughter again, sobbing, a scream. -
4 then a guard came in, said: "I'm looking for two who are stronger".
5 Kasim Mesanovic, who was arrested together with me, was one of
6 those. Then we learned that on the table put in the corridor rape
7 was prepared of a young girl, and she was being raped by a
8 Mehmedalija Sarajlic, an engineer, a Muslim, a respected citizen, a
9 man of my age. They stripped her naked, that girl. They stripped
10 him, forced him to undress, beat him. They wanted him to rape her
11 and he was begging, imploring, saying, "She could be my child". I am
12 really sorry for the coarse language, but then said to try to do it
13 with a finger. He did that and it hurt her. She was screaming. He
14 then gave it up completely. They beat him. He had a weak heart. In
15 the morning when were taken out six by six to the loo, to the left of
16 the white house to a lawn, I saw Mehmedalija Sarajlic's body.
17 Q. How long were you held in the white house?
18 A. Two nights and two days.
19 Q. Where were you moved to after that?
20 A. Interrogation.
21 Q. Where was the interrogation conducted?
22 A. The interrogation was conducted on the upper floor of this building
23 here; in the offices here. This is where one entered this building,
24 up these stairs and depending on the room, which the prisoner went to
25 which room, we were taken for interrogation. This was the entrance
1 up the stairs and then here.
2 Q. What were you asked for in the interrogation?
3 A. First they asked me why I had resigned. Again it was under some
4 pressure, things like that. Then they asked me about specific
5 persons. The interrogator was leafing through a notebook with
6 covers, it had handwriting in it, as if incidentally or by the way,
7 "Well, what do you think about Djedo?" I did not know who Djedo was.
8 They asked him, "Is it Djedo?" About Mursel and then finally about
9 Haris Silajdzic and Silvije Saric. I asked him in the end what will
10 happen to us? He answered: "I don't know what will happen to us, let
11 alone you."
12 Q. Did you recognise the person who was interrogating you?
13 A. No, I did not recognise him. There was -- we had heard that there
14 were several persons apart from people from Prijedor, that there were
15 some from Banja Luka, but according to what I learnt later this could
16 have been possibly, I am not sure, Popovic, that is Jovan or Jovica
17 Popovic, who also came from Banja Luka for these questionings. It
18 was a man of a middle height, up to 40 years of age, balding. He
19 looked very urban.
20 Q. Where were you taken after the interrogation?
21 A. The pista. This is the pista, this was an area between this here
22 building and this one. We were allowed to move up to this part,
23 roughly here, so that one could get through, from here up to here and
24 I was next to my friend by this wall here about 10 metres from the
25 corner of this building here.
1 Q. Can you estimate how many prisoners were held in the pista area?
2 A. Between 600 and 800.
3 Q. How much room was there for each prisoner?
4 A. As much as, enough to sit down or lie down, but with a part of the
5 body over the body of another person.
6 Q. Did prisoners from on the pista stay there during the day?
7 A. Yes, the whole day.
8 Q. And at night where were you?
9 A. At night it was the worst because we were compelled to go to the
10 restaurant, all of us, on the pista to this restaurant here, here,
11 and to spend the night there and look at the area here on the pista.
12 While it was, shall we say, comfortable in this small restaurant, we
13 had spend, all of us had to spend the night there. There was barely
14 room for sitting down sometimes, and in the morning once again
15 running to the pista to find some space on the pista.
16 Q. What did the prisoners do during the day on the pista?
17 A. During the day the prisoners on the pista did nothing unless they had
18 been called out for further questioning. They sat or tried to lie
19 down waiting, seeking the permission of some guards to go to the
20 loo, to get some water, and usually somebody would, someone with
21 enough courage to ask to go to the toilet, they would take a group
22 from this side through this hangar here, it is this building here,
23 and there were some 700 to 800 prisoners and they would go through
24 the hangar because the toilet was on that side. Then sometimes they
25 would close it. They would allow one to go into the toilet but they
1 would break in and start beating. There were often times people
2 would avoid it who were afraid of asking for water or to go to the
4 Q. Let me ask you some questions then, Mr. Nezirevic, about the general
5 conditions in the camp. How often were prisoners fed?
6 A. Once in 24 hours.
7 Q. How much food did prisoners get?
8 A. As regards bread it was 1/8th of a loaf, 1/8th, and some fluid in a
10 Q. You call it "fluid". Did you know what it was?
11 A. More often than not I did not know what it was at all in terms of
12 taste or its appearance. One could find some beans in it, so one
13 could guess. Sometimes there were some potatoes, but more often
14 than not I simply did not know what I was eating.
15 Q. How much time were prisoners given to eat?
16 A. Not more than a minute and a half to two minutes.
17 Q. Did the prisoners go to eat individually or in groups?
18 A. Regularly in groups of 30.
19 Q. Did some prisoners on occasion avoid going to get their 1/8th of a
20 loaf of bread and whatever fluid was available?
21 A. Yes, I believe there were at least not less than 100 to 200 prisoners
22 refused to go for their meals daily because they were afraid of
23 beating. I did that often.
24 Q. Were prisoners beaten when they went to eat?
25 A. Yes.
1 Q. Who would do that?
2 A. Guards escorting them or at the entrance into the restaurant or in
3 the restaurant itself or along the line in the restaurant or at the
4 exit from the restaurant.
5 Q. What nationality were the guards of the camp?
6 A. Serbs.
7 Q. What about facilities for personal hygiene? What was available to
9 A. Nothing, nothing except water at times, not even the toilet.
10 Q. How did prisoners take care or attempt to take care of their personal
11 hygiene or personal needs?
12 A. At times it did happen that a prisoner, again through some guards,
13 would get a plastic bag from home with a little bit of soap or
14 chocolate or something else, but always small quantities, but regular
15 invariably we never got anything, received anything from the
16 authorities or in Omarska, we never got anything, any hygienic, any
17 toiletries, toilet paper or anything.
18 Q. What about prisoners who were sick or had suffered injuries, how were
19 they taken care of?
20 A. Only Eso Sadikovic, a doctor. He took care of them. He was also a
21 prisoner in that camp himself, but he had no aids, no implements. He
22 had nothing except an ordinary needle and thread.
23 Q. Did he attempt to bind prisoners' wounds with that needle and thread?
24 A. Yes, on many occasions, one even with hairs. He tied hairs on their
25 head to try to protect the brain of a prisoner; because his head was
1 cut so much that he tried to do it in that way.
2 Q. In what position were the prisoners who remained in the pista during
3 the day - standing, sitting, moving about?
4 A. No, they sat. Perhaps from time to time somebody would walk two or
5 three metres to someone. Some were lying down but free movement was
6 not allowed. More often than not we heard orders when new prisoners
7 would be brought in, and they were brought in daily, either on
8 Mercedes or a van and it would stop here, in this part here, and they
9 would take them out. We would be ordered then to turn to face the
10 wall here along the pista. One day we were lying prostrate on the
11 pista for 11 hours.
12 Q. This was July, is that right?
13 A. Yes.
14 Q. Was there any shelter from the sun?
15 A. Never. I mean how could we be shielded in the sun? Those were
16 orders. It was an order to lie down. You were simply ordered to lie
17 down and we would lie down and there was no room enough to stretch.
18 So just as we happened to be in the position that we happened to be
19 in, somebody's leg perhaps on my neck and my foot on somebody's
20 stomach. If anyone moved there would be shots in the air. They were
21 firing at pigeons above us. Once a friend of mine had put a sock
22 here, to dry here in this wall here between the bricks, and as I was
23 lying there a soldier from here fired at that sock. I simply felt
24 the sound above me and bits of plaster, bits of the wall which fell
1 Q. Were there women in the camp, women prisoners?
2 A. To my knowledge, as far as I know, there were 38 women.
3 Q. Where did you see them in the camp?
4 A. In the restaurant. In day time they sat in the restaurant in a form
5 of a corner. In this part here and this part there there were chairs
6 and they sat all the time while some women helped in the restaurant.
7 They washed dishes or passed plates where we would come there for
9 Q. You indicated that new prisoners would come to Omarska and arrive in
10 buses or Mercedes on the back side of the kitchen building. What
11 happened when they arrived?
12 A. Those here I could see them while I was on the pista and those who
13 were brought by buses I could hear them, because I was in this room
14 later and buses came up to here. But when they would take them for
15 interrogation it was usually depending on the kind of prisoners. As
16 they would wait for interrogation they had to kneel in front of this
17 wall with their hands against the wall and we had to turn our backs
18 on them, but we could hear the blows, sobs, threats. After
19 interrogation a number of people would be thrown out on to the pista,
20 sprinkled from the hose and be gone.
21 Q. How long were you held in the pista?
22 A. Ten to 12 days. I am not sure, but roughly.
23 Q. After that where were you taken and where were you held?
24 A. I was taken to a room we called "mujo’s" room. The door was here on
25 this side, then passing through the corridor and arriving in this
1 part here; not upstairs but on the ground floor. Here was a window
2 and I lied down along that window.
3 Q. You said that from that particular room you could hear bus loads of
4 new arrivals coming to camp?
5 A. Yes. It was sometime in mid July 1992. We heard buses stopping and
6 then that silence set in in this room where we were 600 to 700 of us
7 and I was beneath a broken window. Then terrible threats began.
8 Unloading, they were not throwing them, they were not throwing people
9 off, they were unloading them and we could hear: "Look at this one,
10 he's got soppy shoes. Look at this jacket. Look at this football
11 player. This one's got two fingers missing." Then the sounds of
12 blows, sobs, "Oh mother". The sound from the outer side of the wall,
13 beatings and we knew that new prisoners were arriving. We heard that
14 most of them came from Rizvanovici and Biscani.
15 Q. As those prisoners were being beaten could you hear whether the
16 guards were hitting them in particular places or throwing them
17 against the wall in particular ways?
18 A. I heard the beating, blows, but how they spoke the guards, "Until you
19 break through this wall with your head, I won't let you". I could not
20 see what he was doing behind the wall.
21 Q. Then you could hear the sounds of the prisoners reacting in pain?
22 A. Yes.
23 Q. How often did new bus loads of prisoners arrive?
24 A. After mid-July there was a period when they arrived often, and then
25 in early August it stopped or end of July, but then we can come back
1 to this later when buses came from Keraterm.
2 Q. How many prisoners were in the room that you were taken to after the
3 pista, the mujina room?
4 A. 600 to 800.
5 Q. How much room was there for those prisoners?
6 A. When I came back to that room I tell immediately how much room there
7 was. I could not even find a place to sit until a friend of mine,
8 Fiko Zjakic, suggested that we alternate, that he sits until midnight
9 and that I then sit after midnight. Nobody could stretch out his legs
10 or lie on his back. It was simply we were trying to manage as best
11 we could, but we were patient and sometimes we would get angry if
12 someone would put his foot on your face.
13 Q. What was on the floor of the room?
14 A. Nothing.
15 Q. Were prisoners called out of that room that night?
16 A. Yes, almost every night.
17 Q. Did some of those prisoners return to the room?
18 A. Most of them did not.
19 Q. Of those who did what was their condition generally?
20 A. More often they were beaten, battered, but sometimes they came back
21 looking quite normal as if nothing that happened to them.
22 Q. Were you called from the room at any point?
23 A. Yes, on 23rd July 1992.
24 Q. Where were you taken?
25 A. I was taken by Ckalja to a room which was from the corridor directly
1 next to the staircase. Jadranka Kondic was there with Ckalja. There
2 was another one with moustaches, round cheeks. They told Jadranka to
3 go out. Told me to sit down. Ckalja sat on the table, the other one
4 was standing, and they told me: "We have something to tell you. You
5 are in the first category. Do you know what that means?
6 Liquidation." I got scared and my head dropped on one side and I
7 began sweating. "But it can be arranged", he said. "Money, German
8 Marks, 10,000 German Marks." "I don't have them. I have never had
9 that much money." I offered the garage, land, household appliances,
10 everything I had. No. "Will you write a note, sign, give a
11 telephone number?" They told me then: "We'll try to bring it down to
12 3,000 and you have eight days to find that money, that your wife find
13 it." I was merely back and I was called out again. Kemal Pajalic
14 first, a man who had never been in the camp; then I, Mehmedalija
15 Kapetanovic, Hajrudin Campara and Asim Kadic. We were told to take
16 our things and come out. When you are called out in this manner then
17 you know it is liquidation. We were taken out to this part here and
18 waited to see what would happen to us. Then I saw two prisoners
19 being brought out of the white house, two prisoners bringing out the
20 lifeless body of Muhamed Burazirevic, Braco, from the white house.
21 Q. Mr. Nezirevic, did you attempt to contact anyone on the outside to
22 obtain the 3,000 deutschemarks demanded by Ckalja?
23 A. Yes.
24 Q. Who did you write to?
25 A. I wrote a letter to my wife first and said, "I may not be alive when
1 this message reaches you". I explained that I needed 3,000 marks;
2 and to my friend Rezak Hukanovic who had a Serb friend among the
3 guards and who came every three or four days below their window
4 hiding from others, bringing messages. When after a day later, I
5 asked Rezak, "Did you send the message?" He said, "No, because I
6 would have caused a tragedy in the family, and they read those
7 messages". Then I wrote another message, tried to tone it down,
8 without "I may not be alive", and sent it through Rezak.
9 MR. TIEGER: Your Honour, may I have this marked for identification as
10 Exhibit 132, please? (Document handed). (To the witness): Mr.
11 Nezirevic, would you look at that document and tell us if you
12 recognise it, please?
13 A. Yes, I can.
14 Q. Is that the message you just referred to which you sent to your wife,
15 or a copy of that message?
16 A. Yes, it is.
17 MR. TIEGER: We tender that for admission, your Honour.
18 THE PRESIDING JUDGE: Any objection to 132?
19 MR. WLADIMIROFF: No, your Honour.
20 THE PRESIDING JUDGE: Exhibit 132 will be admitted.
21 MR. TIEGER: Can we put the English translation of that message on the
22 video, please? (To the witness): Mr. Nezirevic, in your message did
23 you tell your wife after you toned the letter down that the wheels
24 were turning slowly and the situation was very uncertain and that you
25 loved her very much?
1 A. Yes.
2 Q. Did you ask her using an exclamation point after her name to "please
3 send immediately 3,000 deutschemarks"?
4 A. Yes.
5 THE PRESIDING JUDGE: We will stand in recess until 2.30.
6 (1.00 p.m.)
7 (Luncheon Adjournment)
8 (2.30 p.m.). PRIVATE
9 THE PRESIDING JUDGE: Mr. Tieger, would you continue, please?
10 MR. TIEGER: Yes, your Honour, thank you. Your Honour, may I have these
11 documents added to Exhibit 132? They should comprise part of the
12 same exhibit.
13 THE PRESIDING JUDGE: Has the Defence seen the entire 132?
14 MR. TIEGER: Yes, your Honour, for the benefit of the Defence, those
15 additional two notes in the original language and another
17 THE PRESIDING JUDGE: OK, four pages, five pages -- how many pages?
18 MR. TIEGER: It should be a total of five.
19 THE PRESIDING JUDGE: OK. Exhibit 132 is admitted again with the addition
20 of those pages.
21 MR. TIEGER: May the entire exhibit be presented to the witness?
22 (To the witness): Mr. Nezirevic, did you attempt to contact your wife
23 once again in an effort to obtain the 3,000 dollars that Ckalja
24 indicated would save you from liquidation?
25 A. Not dollars but German marks. Yes, I tried to through this contact
1 of Mr. Rezak Hukanovic and she did not manage to return a message, a
2 personal message, but she in the message sent by Mr. Rezak
3 Hukanovic's wife, it was said "Muharem's wife says she cannot find
5 Q. Do you see the message that you sent to your wife in the Exhibit 132,
6 if you can look through those documents?
7 A. Yes, I knew straightaway what it was about.
8 Q. I am sorry, I was not clear with that question. Mr. Nezirevic, if you
9 can look through the documents that are in front of you and tell us
10 if you see the message that you just referred to, the second message
11 you sent to your wife asking for 3,000 deutschemarks?
12 A. Yes, this I asked her and I wrote, "In case something could be done
13 it should be sent by a secure person", and I mentioned the names that
14 were told to me by Ckalja when he asked the money, who were those
15 people with whom it was safe to send the money with.
16 Q. The third message in Exhibit 132, is that a message you sent to your
17 family before you were confronted with the demand for money by
19 A. Yes, on 11th July, yes.
20 Q. That was just a brief message trying to make contact with your family
22 A. Yes.
23 Q. -- in which you indicate that, "We are all somehow in a game of
24 Russian roulette, some of us more, some less"?
25 A. Yes.
1 JUDGE VOHRAH: Can we have a look at it?
2 MR. TIEGER: Yes. Can we have a look first at the message of July 11th,
3 please? Can we now see the message of August 1st? Mr. Nezirevic,
4 were you able to come up with the money, the 3,000 deutschemarks?
5 A. No, not even in theory. Later on my wife told me that she understood
6 it was 300 deutschemarks and she barely managed to find 300
7 deutschemarks, but later on she read the message a bit better and she
8 saw 3,000 deutschemarks. She decided not to ask for further help.
9 Q. Did Ckalja ever show you any confirmation of his claim that you were
10 on the liquidation list?
11 A. Yes. He was accompanied by a short man in uniform; cannot tell you
12 his last name for sure but I think his name was Prcac. Around the
13 corner from this building at the very corner, I was called, and I was
14 shown a piece of paper with a name and a surname with the mention
15 "L", the letter "L".
16 Q. What did he tell you the "L" represented?
17 A. It meant "liquidation".
18 Q. After the deadline expired, did Ckalja, in fact, return and demand
19 his money?
20 A. Yes, and then he told me on that occasion, "I arrange with an
21 inspector. We are going to give him 2,500 deutschemarks and the two
22 of us are going to take 500. Run away, hide, do not go anywhere so
23 that no one could notice you and when you would be going away, I will
24 put you somewhere and we will see where you will get".
25 Q. Ultimately, when you were not able to come up with the money, did
1 Ckalja return again?
2 A. No. Every day I was waiting to be called. I was silent. I was not
3 going anywhere. Very often I skipped going to meals, and then the
4 date of the roll calls came deciding who was supposed to go where.
5 Q. Roll calls for what purpose?
6 A. For the purpose of the third and the second category; the third
7 category were the so-called inoffensive, which were put on the pista
8 and which had to go to Trnopolje. The second category was supposed
9 to go for exchange, and the first category for liquidation.
10 Q. What happened on the date of the roll calls?
11 A. When they call the roll on that day, everybody went out, lots of
12 people went out, from my room either on the pista or just outside,
13 but some 20 or 30 of us were not called out at all.
14 Q. What happened to the 20 or 30 of you who were not called out?
15 A. You meant what happened? I do not know what happened to the others,
16 but I saw a policeman at this roll call and he used to work in a
17 butcher's shop, a chicken shop. As far as I know, his last name was
18 Zgonjanin and his nickname was "Koka". I went towards him and asked,
19 "Why am I not on the list?" and he said, "I am going to check that."
20 He left, went upstairs into the room and came back an hour later.
21 He called me and I saw I was the third person whose name was being,
22 was added to the list.
23 Q. How long after that was it before you left Omarska?
24 A. I did not understand quite the question too well.
25 Q. How long was that before you left Omarska?
1 A. It was about an hour or an hour and a half or two hours before I
3 Q. Was that when the majority of prisoners were taken from Omarska and
4 sent to other camps?
5 A. Yes.
6 Q. Which camp were you sent to?
7 A. To Manjaca.
8 Q. First of all, how did you go from Omarska to Manjaca?
9 A. It was the most difficult day in my life. Although I had spent 44
10 days at Omarska, it is very difficult for me to speak about that, I
11 am sorry; I have to. They called us out from the hangar, that is
12 here. We were all put into the hangar, all of us that were meant to
13 go to Manjaca. They tried to organise a group of 30 people, but then
14 they abandoned that and we thought that we were to be sent to
15 Trnopolje, but when I saw that next to the buses parked there there
16 were pit guards then the military escorts, I doubted that we would be
17 taken to Trnopolje.
18 When they started to load us on buses, I saw that we would not
19 be going to Trnopolje. They put between 100 to 120 and 130 people on
20 a bus. People were lying on the floor of the bus. They were sitting
21 in between seats and, unluckily, I was sitting just in the first row
22 in the seats just behind the back of the driver. My friend, Rezak
23 Hukanovic, was seated on the second seat on the right. The escorts
24 were the driver and two armed guards who had automatic rifles.
25 When we left Omarska, the first escort who was nearer was
1 holding the automatic rifles some 10 centimetres away from me. He
2 said, "Those who are from the town of Prijedor could raise their
3 heads up". What does that mean? We all had to lower our heads down
4 while we were driving on-- while we were on that bus. I could not do
5 it really. I had to put the head on the back of the seat. My friend
6 Rezak and myself, we raised our heads. All the others remain in that
7 position with their heads low.
8 Then they started to criticise, how come we are there with them?
9 "What are you doing here?" Rezak asked whether he could drink water
10 out of a plastic bottle. He allowed him to do so, but at that moment
11 a tall man with a beard, with a beard, jumped on the bus. He was
12 armed. He had a red beret and he was holding a huge stick in his
13 hand. He saw that Rezak was drinking water and he started to beat
14 him on his head.
15 As I was sort of shrunk there, I felt awful blows on the left
16 part of my shoulder blade. I heard that that was the hottest day of
17 the year, 36 degrees Celsius. We were all lying, seated, bent,
18 without water, without anything. The drivers put the heating on.
19 During the drive the people were saying, "How come you manage to
20 capture so many of them? You are heros". They would answer, "Would
21 you like us to take one out for you so that you can butcher them?
22 Just choose."
23 They stopped at some kind of restaurant and people were throwing
24 bottles at us and stones. We were driven from some half past one or
25 2 o'clock in the afternoon up until 10 p.m. and this is 60 to 70
1 kilometres away. They parked the buses in front of the entrance of
2 the Manjaca camp. The fronts of the buses were facing. I might have
3 fallen asleep and I heard softly almost some sobbing. As I was
4 turned towards the back of the bus I saw that they were beating Rezak
5 once again.
6 Then I felt awful pain in my back and my neck. I was hit with a
7 baseball bat on the neck. I screamed, not, it was like a dead man's
8 sob, a cry. As a kind of reflex, I stood up and I was completely
9 shivering and I felt pain in every bit of my fingers. Then I sat
10 down once again and turned as they told me, and I was hit maybe some
11 10 times more on my back. I thought they had finished. I was happy I
12 had survived.
13 In the meantime, I heard a cry by Nezir Krak who was outside.
14 They were slaughtering him while we were being beaten in there. As
15 the door of the bus was open, a soldier came dressed in a military
16 uniform, a real one. He told me to go out, get out. Incredulously,
17 I saw that. I wanted to say, "You have just beaten me." He told me
18 to get off. I got off outside.
19 There was a circle of eight or nine soldiers who started to beat
20 me with various objects on my head. Suddenly they stopped, and then
21 I heard the voice of Zoran Babic: "This is how we solved the
22 problem of Bosnia, Muharem". I ran towards the bus, and I fell. I
23 was stabbed in part of my belly. I went inside. I was feeling
24 blood. There was nothing I could stop the blood, everything was
25 bloody, my trousers, my jacket. Somebody called Sistek gave me his
1 shirt so I could stop the blood and clean myself. Then I felt an
2 urge to go to the toilet because of fear. I did not dare go towards
3 the door. So I did it in that part of the clothes I had on me.
4 Q. Mr. Nezirevic, how were conditions in Manjaca at least compared to
6 A. We were joking very often, although the conditions were atrocious,
7 sleeping, just being without food. We said, "It is as if you were in
8 an hotel compared to Omarska". I would have preferred to stay
9 another four months in Manjaca rather than spend one hour at Omarska.
10 Q. Let me ask you a few more questions, if I may, about Omarska? I am
11 sorry to return you to those questions. Did you ever see any
12 prisoner beaten or killed in Omarska for using a Muslim or Islamic
14 A. Yes. I saw -- I was some eight or nine metres away on the pista away
15 from Rizah Hadzalic, a man from Prijedor, who finished eating, went
16 out of the restaurant, sat down and while he was eating a guard came
17 by and asked him, "Does it taste well?" and he just in a very human
18 way, he was happy that somebody asked him something like that, he
19 said, "Thank you, bujrum". "Bujrum" is a word used by Muslims; it is
20 an old word and it means "here it is" or "thank you", and then I
21 heard an awful shout of anger by a guard and then six or seven others
22 came and they started hitting him, hitting that man, saying, "You
23 used the word 'bujrum' for us?" I do not know for how long it
24 lasted. Then later on he splashed him with water, with a hose, and
25 he was dead.
1 Q. You mentioned Djedo Crnalic before who along with Eso Sadikovic went
2 through the opstina trying to persuade people to disarm as demanded
3 by the new Serbian authorities. Did you see him in Omarska?
4 A. Yes, and we talked many times.
5 Q. Did you ever see him mistreated?
6 A. Not in Omarska.
7 Q. Where was he held?
8 A. He was held in our room, and from it there was a small, a small room,
9 with a window there, and there in normal times miners, workers in the
10 mine, received, were issued, their mining equipment.
11 Q. Did you ever see a prisoner forced to drink motor oil?
12 A. Yes.
13 Q. Where did that take place?
14 A. It was in July as I was on the pista, in this part of the pista, near
15 the entrance into this building. I saw a young man whose surname was
16 Crnalic, who had inclined this motor oil and drinking it and made
17 strange movements as if he was flying, dancing. The guards laughed,
18 encouraged him. After they took him to the white house and some half
19 hour or an hour later one could hear a burst of fire and they said
20 that he had tried to escape from the white house.
21 Q. Were you in Omarska during Petrovdan?
22 A. Yes.
23 Q. Before Petrovdan did you hear any guards talking about the upcoming
25 A. Yes.
1 Q. Can you explain to the court, Mr. Nezirevic what Petrovdan is?
2 A. Petrovdan is an orthodox family holiday. In eastern orthodox
3 believers, people of Serb origin have various holidays apart from
4 Christmas, such as St. Nicholas Day or St. Peter's Day, and families
5 can choose, I do not know on the basis of what criteria, may choose a
6 saint to celebrate his day. Petrovdan, that is St. Peter's Day and
7 Nikoldan are very important saints celebrated by orthodox. That is
8 as far as I can explain. I am not a sociologist. I am only speaking
9 from experience.
10 Q. So Petrovdan is a Serbian holiday, a Serbian orthodox holiday?
11 A. Yes, an orthodox, yes.
12 Q. What did you hear from the guards before Petrovdan?
13 A. Numerous threats, "Ustasha, when we come in in the morning, we say
14 'you'", and then we heard them say there would be meat for Petrovdan
15 because they would roast us.
16 Q. On the night of Petrovdan where were you held at that time?
17 A. In the Mujo's room.
18 Q. That is inside the restaurant building?
19 A. Yes, yes, inside the restaurant building.
20 Q. From that ---
21 A. It is here.
22 Q. -- were you in a position to see what happened on Petrovdan?
23 A. No.
24 Q. You have mentioned a number of beatings that took place, both
25 specific incidents and regular ones. Let me ask you this question.
1 Did the guards operate in shifts?
2 A. There were three shifts. Momir Gruban, and then Ckalja, Milojica
3 Kos, Krle and Radic -- I am sorry, I forgot Krkan.
4 Q. How often did those shifts change?
5 A. Over 24 hours, as far as I can remember, they would change twice,
6 that is, Krkan's shift when we expected Krkan's shift to come on,
7 then we thought: "Oh, he will be here the day after tomorrow, so we
8 may still be alive".
9 Q. Was there some reason why prisoners paid attention to which shift was
10 coming up next?
11 A. Yes. Krkan's shifts showed open brutality. They were the roughest.
12 They threatened, shouted, nobody could go even to get some water or
13 to go to the toilet.
14 Q. In addition to the regular shift guards, were persons from outside
15 permitted to enter the camp?
16 A. Yes, yes.
17 Q. Were those soldiers or civilians?
18 A. Soldiers.
19 Q. What did they do in the camp?
20 A. As I was in the pista, I saw a group of four soldiers standing here,
21 and watching what they did, simply watching. I recognised one of
22 them. His surname was Baldic, son of Misa Baldic, a tall, dark young
23 man. They never did anything directly. They merely watched, and
24 another instance, there was one Suskalo in a black uniform with
25 Chetnik insignia who went to Bijela Kuca and asked for Alija Ganic
1 and Alija Ganic had never been in the camp.
2 Q. Mr. Nezirevic, I want to ask you now about the people who you saw
3 taken from rooms and who did not return.
4 A. Yes.
5 Q. I would like to know if you can list people you knew personally who
6 were taken from their rooms in Omarska and did not return after that
7 and whom you have never heard from since, yes?
8 A. Yes, I can. Should I begin?
9 Q. Please.
10 A. Idriz Jakupovic, Nedzad Seric, Osman Mahmuljin, Zijad Mahmuljin,
11 Adbulah Puskar, Ibrahim Kokanovic, Crnalic, Ziko Crnalic, son of Ziko
12 Crnalic whose nickname was Caruga, were taken out. I saw returning
13 from interrogation and dying a couple of hours later Camil Pezo.
14 Fikret Mujakic died. Kadir Mujkanovic did not return either, nor
15 Senad Mujkanovic; Omer Kerenovic; Aco Komsic; Meho Mahmutovic;
16 Mustafa Tadzic; Husain Crnkic; Esref Crnkic.
17 Q. Did you know these people personally?
18 A. Yes.
19 Q. Did you know of their other friends and family?
20 A. Yes. I forget just to mention Esad Mehmedagic; he was blind.
21 Q. Among these men did they include the following professions:
22 professor, economist, cardiologist, president of the local court ---
23 A. Yes.
24 Q. -- judge in the local court?
25 A. Yes, doctors, Rufad Suljanovic, Osman Mahmuljin.
1 Q. Professors?
2 A. Yes, Fikret Mujakic, Professor Abdula Puskar, another professor.
3 Q. Director of the taxation office?
4 A. Yes, Meho Terzic.
5 Q. Engineers?
6 A. Yes.
7 Q. Businessmen?
8 A. Yes.
9 Q. Cafe owners?
10 A. Yes, Asaf Kapetanovic.
11 Q. While you were on the pista, did you see people in camp who would go
12 to lunch on one day and then not see those people again in the camp
14 A. True. I saw Miroslav Solaja, a driver, I saw Hamdija Balic, I saw
15 Ilija Drobic, engineer, dead.
16 Q. In addition to the people you personally knew, did you see persons
17 who you did not know but only recognised from camp taken from rooms
18 and not returned?
19 A. Yes, I did, two brothers Trto; Burhurudin Kapetanovic, Mehmedalija
20 Kapetanovic, Mujo Crnalic.
21 Q. Do you know the approximate number of prisoners who were held in
22 Omarska on any given day while you were there?
23 A. 3,000.
24 Q. During the time you were there, were prisoners arriving on a regular
25 basis, new prisoners?
1 A. Yes. They brought them. Strika -- they were brought by Strika and
2 Batan, Ranko Kovacevic.
3 Q. Bus loads of prisoners, new prisoners, came?
4 A. Yes, what I described already, buses arrived from this side of the
5 camp, of the building, and cars, Mercedes, or vans would stop here in
6 this part.
7 Q. When the camp began to close down at the beginning of August, August
8 5th or 6th, how many prisoners were transferred from Omarska to
9 Manjaca and Trnopolje?
10 A. 1,360.
11 Q. Where did those prisoners go?
12 A. To Manjaca, 1,360 went to Manjaca.
13 Q. How many to Trnopolje?
14 A. About 700.
15 Q. How many remained?
16 A. 165. Of those 165, two were killed.
17 MR. TIEGER: Those are all the questions I have, your Honour.
18 THE PRESIDING JUDGE: Is there cross-examination?
19 MR. KAY: No cross-examination, your Honour.
20 THE PRESIDING JUDGE: I have just a couple of questions, I believe. Mr.
21 Tieger, I wanted to ask Mr. Nezirevic what year he was born. Is
22 there any reason why that should not be given?
23 MR. TIEGER: No, your Honour, there is not.
24 THE PRESIDING JUDGE: Mr. Nezirevic, what year were you born, October
25 20th, I believe. I did not -----
1 A. 1943.
2 Q. 1943, did you indicate? Yes, thank you. You testified that there
3 was a flag on the town hall after the takeover on April 30th and you
4 said it was a Serbian flag?
5 A. Yes.
6 Q. What do you mean by a Serbian flag? Is that the Republic of Srpska
7 or Serbia?
8 A. We called it Serbian flag when it had four Ss, that is, four Cs
9 around the centre of the field.
10 Q. So it had four Cs did you indicated?
11 A. S, in Cyrillic. It is four, well, it is a matter of words all
12 beginning with the letter S, only concord, only harmony, saves the
14 Q. Do you know whether that was the flag of the Republic of Srpska or
15 the flag that Serbia used before the break up of the former
17 A. I would not know that. I would not know.
18 THE PRESIDING JUDGE: I have no further questions. Mr. Tieger, do you
19 have additional questions?
20 MR. TIEGER: Just one, your Honour, really prompted by your question, if I
22 Further examined by MR. TIEGER
23 Q. Mr. Nezirevic, did you ever see your old colleague, Zivko Ecim, in
25 A. Yes.
1 Q. What was he doing?
2 A. Taking pictures, a camera man, a journalist.
3 Q. Was he your old colleague from Radio Prijedor and Kozarski Vjesnik?
4 A. Yes.
5 Q. What part of the camp was he taking pictures of?
6 A. In the restaurant -- no, I have to apologise, I did not see him in
7 the restaurant. I saw him later on a cassette, but I saw him in this
8 part of the staircase here through this glass one day when all
9 prisoners were beaten, all day long.
10 MR. TIEGER: Thank you.
11 THE PRESIDING JUDGE: Mr. Wladimiroff, do you have any questions?
12 MR. WLADIMIROFF: No, your Honour.
13 THE PRESIDING JUDGE: Is there any objection to Mr. Nezirevic being
14 permanently excused?
15 MR. WLADIMIROFF: No problem.
16 THE PRESIDING JUDGE: You may be permanently excused, Mr. Nezirevic.
17 Thank you for coming.
18 THE WITNESS: Thank you.
19 (The witness withdrew
20 THE PRESIDING JUDGE: Mr. Niemann or Mr. Tieger, would you call your next
21 witness, please?
22 MR. TIEGER: Your Honour, Prosecution's next witness is Mevludin
24 MR. MEVLUDIN SEMENOVIC, called.
25 Examined by MR. TIEGER.
1 THE PRESIDING JUDGE: Mr. Semenovic, would you please take the oath?
2 THE WITNESS [In translation]: I solemnly declare that I will speak the
3 truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.
4 (The witness was sworn)
5 THE PRESIDING JUDGE: Thank you. You may be seated. Mr. Tieger?
6 Examined by MR. TIEGER
7 Q. Will you state your full name, please?
8 A. My name is Mevludin Semenovic.
9 Q. Mr. Semenovic, when and where were you born?
10 A. I was born on 15th October 1962 in Srpska near Vlasenica.
11 Q. Did you move to Prijedor sometime as a child?
12 A. Yes, when I was two, that is in 1964, I moved to Prijedor and I have
13 been living in Prijedor as of 1964, changing addresses; my latest
14 address is Trnopolje.
15 Q. Did you go to school in the area?
16 A. Yes. I completed my primary education in Kozarac and secondary
17 school in Prijedor; after that I did my military service.
18 Q. What year was that?
19 A. I served in Leskovac in the Republic of Serbia.
20 Q. What rank did you have and what sorts of duties did you perform?
21 A. I was a soldier serving in an artillery unit.
22 Q. After your military service, did you return to school or return to
24 A. I returned to Prijedor, but then I enrolled in the university and
25 went to study mining in Tuzla.
1 Q. What is your nationality, sir?
2 A. Bosniak Muslim.
3 Q. Elections were held in 1990; is that correct?
4 A. Yes, November 1990.
5 Q. Did you become involved in the political process at that time?
6 A. Yes, I became politically active as of the second half of 1989. I
7 then actively joined democratic processes and I joined the initial
8 committee to establish the Party of Democratic Action and then also
9 in the foundation, I participated in the foundation of the party for
10 Democratic Action.
11 Q. In the 1990 election did you win elective office?
12 A. Yes, during the election campaign, that is, during our primary
13 election, I was elected the first President of the party for
14 Democratic Action in the municipality of Prijedor, and in the
15 elections I won a seat in the Assembly of the Republic of
16 Bosnia-Herzegovina, to the Chamber of the municipalities as
17 representative of the Prijedor municipality.
18 Q. Just so that the court can understand a bit about the political
19 structure, we have already heard about a local Assembly in Prijedor.
20 You have mentioned there was also a Republic Assembly. Was there
21 more than one Chamber or House in that Republic Assembly?
22 A. Yes. There were the Chamber of Citizens and the Chamber of
23 Municipalities similar, not identical but similar, to the House of
24 Commons and House of Lords, except that to the Chamber of
25 Municipalities people were elected by name, that is, persons by name
1 and surname, and one could become a member of the Chamber of
2 Municipalities on the basis of the party membership.
3 In the former case, we had regions as constituencies, that is,
4 there were Banja Luka, Bihac, etc., and for the other Chamber
5 elections took place in every municipality. Only one seat could be
6 won, that is, there could be only one winner. From the list for the
7 Chamber of Citizens, several people could be elected depending on the
8 number of votes.
9 Q. Mr. Semenovic, for the benefit of the interpreter who is trying to
10 keep up with you in a simultaneous fashion, perhaps I can ask you
11 just to slow down your speaking just a bit. I have received the same
12 request myself on some occasions.
13 A. Yes, I will. Thank you.
14 Q. So only one representative from each opstina went to the Chamber of
16 A. Yes.
17 Q. In the other Chamber there was a more proportional representation,
18 depending on the size of the opstina?
19 A. Yes.
20 Q. Let me ask you quickly about the back drop of the democratic
21 elections of 1990. What were the primary parties competing for seats
22 in the Republic in local Assemblies?
23 A. Well, the local parties were the party for Democratic Action, Serb
24 Democratic Party, Croat Democratic Union and the left coalition
25 involving several parties, leftist parties, which mostly merged from
1 the former League of Communists. There were Socialists, Reformists,
2 the Communist Party, the Party of Private Initiative and some
3 others. There was a Liberal Party also which brought together youth,
5 Q. Were there any radical or extremist parties?
6 A. Yes, there was the Serb Radical Party, but it did not take part on
7 the lists for the Municipal parliament. It only took part for the
8 candidates on the Republican level.
9 Q. What was the platform or the position of the Serb Radical Party?
10 A. The programme of that party was very nationalistic. The essence of
11 that platform was the political aspiration to unite all Serbs within
12 one state, to homogenize the Serb people, and they supported Seselj
13 who had already become well known as a symbol of extreme Serbian
14 nationalism in the former Yugoslavia.
15 Q. Did Seselj ever come to speak in Prijedor?
16 A. Yes, as far as I can recall, he was there on two occasions. One in
17 the area of Omarska and at one occasion in the town of Prijedor
19 Q. Was there any evidence in Omarska or elsewhere that there were
20 Seselj's followers in the opstina?
21 A. Yes, one could often see that, and the first public manifestation of
22 that were the paroles they would write. I remember that the first
23 written slogan was written on the railway station at Omarska, on a
24 railway station building, and it was written "Long live Seselj", and
25 then there were other slogans "This is Serbia", and "The Serb Chetnik
1 movement", that was written on several places.
2 Q. The SDA won the elections in Prijedor?
3 A. Yes.
4 Q. And also on the Republic level?
5 A. Yes.
6 Q. Which party finished second in Prijedor?
7 A. The Serbian Democratic Party.
8 Q. How close was the voting?
9 A. The difference was very small. I think that we gained one or two
10 seats more which gave us victory and the right to decide to appoint
11 people on the leadership positions.
12 Q. During the preelection period, was there cooperation between the SDA
13 and the SDS?
14 A. Yes. The co-operation existed during the process of creating of
15 those parties when it was allowed by the law of the
16 Bosnia-Herzegovina. The co-operation was very good and it had
17 several aspects. Maybe I could give you two examples to illustrate
18 that? In the first phase, some of those speakers from both parties
19 would be asked to go and deliver a speech in the meeting of other
20 party, that is, people from the SDA would go to the SDS party
21 meetings, and we also planned to have a common poster, but that was
22 at the very beginning. I myself was asked to talk at a preelection
23 rally of the Serb Democratic Party at a local level in the town of
24 Cirkin Polje and I went there.
25 Another example was our offer to the Serb Democratic Party, in
1 order to win in a better way the former communists, we make a common
2 platform in the opstina Prijedor. We had several ideas that we
3 proposed, but the only idea that had been accepted was the one to
4 make a common preelection poster and to put that poster around
5 immediately before the elections.
6 We also agreed upon a common financing of that poster. That
7 poster was made. We printed it in several thousand copies.
8 Q. Was this co-operation all in furtherance of the goal of getting past
9 communism and introducing democracy?
10 A. That was our primary objective and we from the Party of Democratic
11 Action looked at it in that way. Neither myself nor any one of my
12 colleagues that took part in these activities I am speaking about it,
13 did not look upon it as some kind of a national programme. At first,
14 we tried to explain that, not only to the Muslim Bosniaks, but also
15 to the Serbian people and the Croatian people, thinking that our
16 programme would win some votes by all democratic -- by some
17 democratic persons, no matter what nationality they belonged to. At
18 first we did have some success in that.
19 I am going to give you an example of a committee. It was a
20 party, a local committee, in the area of Hambarine. One of the
21 leaders there was a Serb. His name was Jovo and his last name, as
22 far as I can remember, started with an "R". In the local committee
23 in Trnopolje, there was an Ukrainian who was a member. His name was
24 Miroslav Komarnicki. He was even elected as a delegate in the
25 parliament, in the municipality parliament.
1 Q. What happened to that joint poster that was produced by the SDA and
2 the SDS? Was it posted around town?
3 A. After several lengthy negotiations about how the poster should look
4 like, we agreed that once the poster should be, would be, printed,
5 that each party would put around a number of copies. We took our
6 part, they took their part and the SDS paid whatever they had to pay,
7 according to our agreement.
8 Then, for the first time, something came up which surprised us.
9 We were putting the posters around, according to our agreement, and
10 some people from the SDS that were supposed to do the same thing did
11 not do it. They had even sent a group of people to tear down the
12 posters that we had put on from the walls, the trees and so on.
13 Q. Who were among the leaders of the SDA in Prijedor?
14 A. Among the leaders of the SDA party in Prijedor there was a doctor,
15 Mirza Mujadzic, he survived; myself; then Professor Muhamed Cehajic,
16 he was killed; then Camil Pezo, an economist, also killed; Professor
17 Ilijaz Music was killed; Meho Terzic, MA, was killed; Dr. Rufas
18 Suljanovic was killed, a lawyer, Emil Dovnikovic who was killed;
19 Refik Kadijevic whose profession I do not know and who was killed; a
20 dentist, Danjel Dzafic who survived; Husein Basic, a lawyer, who was
21 killed; a teacher, Becir Medunjanin, he was killed; a teacher, Mrs.
22 Valida Mahmuljin, she was killed; a teacher, Ilijaz Memic who
23 survived -- a long list and, if necessary, I can give you the names.
24 Q. Who were among the leaders of the SDS in Prijedor?
25 A. Among the leaders of the SDS there was a dentist, Srdjo Srdic; then
1 Milomir Stakic; Mr. Kovacevic; then Simo Miskovic; Dragan Sidjak;
2 Dragan Kurnoga; Slobodan Kuruzovic -- he was not one of the leaders
3 but he would come from time to time to the meetings.
4 Q. Did the SDA victory mean that your party would be able to fill all
5 political slots in the opstina with its own members?
6 A. No.
7 Q. Was there any agreement about whether or not any particular seat
8 would be allotted to the winning party?
9 A. The principle was determined before the elections already on the
10 level of the Republic and on the level of Municipality. The principle
11 was the following: the party that wins most seats, no matter which
12 party that would be, would have the right to have the leading
13 position, that is, the Chairman of the Municipality.
14 The second party, the one that comes second, would be awarded
15 the Deputy Chairman party, that is, and then the following one, the
16 President of the Municipal Parliament. All the other important
17 portions would be divided proportionately according to the number of
18 seats and the number of votes.
19 In Prijedor, that meant that the SDA had the post of the
20 Chairman, his Deputy would come from the SDS and the President --
21 then a Chairman of the Executive Board would come from the SDS, his
22 Deputy from the SDA, and all the rest would be distributed according
23 to the number of votes, and we wanted to distribute that according to
24 the election results.
25 Q. After your election to the Chamber of Municipalities, did you spend
1 all your time in Sarajevo, sometime in Prijedor or did you go back
2 and forth?
3 A. Roughly speaking, I would spend half of my time in Prijedor and half
4 in Sarajevo. Most often, I would go by train to these meetings; very
5 rarely I would go there by car.
6 Q. How smoothly did the process of distributing seats or positions among
7 the parties go after the election?
8 A. You mean on the local level?
9 Q. In the Municipal Assembly.
10 A. The most important positions were distributed without any kind of
11 problems, according to the agreement. The problems started to come
12 up at the moment we had to allocate other seats.
13 Q. What was the nature of the problem that arose at that time?
14 A. The SDS insisted at that time that they had to be given the right to
15 appoint a chief of the police. It was almost an ultimatum, the way
16 in which they asked for it. They demanded also the position of the
17 Manager of the Public Auditing Office. It is really an institute that
18 arranges all payments.
19 Q. Were the difficulties in reaching agreement on the distribution of
20 those positions reflected in the working of the Municipal Assembly
22 A. Yes. At first, it did function but then the problems I mentioned
23 started to have more and more influence to the work; that means they
24 were blocking the work of the Municipal Assembly. In the end, after
25 many negotiations, the chief of the police was determined SDA managed
1 to get that position. As one of the leaders of the Party of
2 Democratic Action, I can say that this post was important to us for
3 various reasons, and the main one was that never before had a Bosniak
4 Muslim been the head of the police in Prijedor. As a Muslim Bosniak
5 party, we won the elections, so our electorate expected that somebody
6 from the winning party could become chief of police. That was the
7 main reason why we insisted on appointing the chief of the police and
8 we managed to do that in the end.
9 Q. Otherwise was the Assembly in a position to carry out the wish of the
10 voters as expressed in the election. Let me clarify -----
11 A. Partly.
12 Q. You were also working in the Republic Assembly at this time?
13 A. Yes.
14 Q. Were the central offices of both the SDA and SDS party located in
15 Sarajevo, in the capital?
16 A. Yes.
17 Q. The relationship between those central offices and the local offices
18 of SDS was that of superior office to subordinate office; is that
20 A. Yes. I could notice that there is, there was an analogy between the
21 degree of blockade and the quantity of problems in the Republican
22 parliament and in the Municipal parliament. The SDS acted as if
23 everything had been orchestrated. Whatever was going on in the
24 Republican Parliament, there was -- we could find an identical
25 behaviour in the Municipal Parliament by the members of the SDS.
1 That was obvious from the very beginning.
2 Q. Did you ever have discussions with SDS officials which reflected
3 their knowledge and interest about what was happening in Prijedor,
4 and by that I mean SDS officials in the Republic Assembly?
5 A. Yes. I would sometimes talk to Mr. Srdjo Srdic who was a member of
6 the Republican Parliament from the SDS from Prijedor. It was very
7 difficult to talk seriously with him because as soon as he would
8 approach a serious issue he would avoid speaking about these things,
9 and he gave the impression of somebody who was not interested in
10 those things. But I remember that he was very often criticised in
11 Sarajevo by other SDS MPs because they were telling him he was not
12 doing anything, and that the SDS from Prijedor leaders were not doing
13 things well.
14 Q. As the difficulties and tensions you described in both the Republic
15 and Municipal Assemblies continued, was there a movement by Serbian
16 politicians away from the democratically elected government?
17 A. Yes. We could feel that, I would say secretly, a process was going
18 on. We could not know exactly what was going on, but we could feel
19 by the behaviour from the SDS people in the Republican level and on
20 the Municipal level. The first incidents happened when the
21 discussions about the army started. Then we saw that there were no
22 effects if we discussed things about -- with arguments, because in
23 the closed forums the Serbs would agree on a particular attitude,
24 they declare that attitude later on in the Assembly and there is no
25 discussion allowed about it. So we discussed for a very long time
1 some issues with many arguments, but the final issue would always be
2 the same. Either SDS people would leave the parliamentary session or
3 simply they would boycott when voting was going on.
4 Q. Did the SDS move toward the development of a separate political
6 A. Yes. After some very important demands, which went against the
7 constitution and the laws of the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina,
8 and that is why these demands were rejected in Parliaments, SDS
9 decided to take some action which was outside the legal and
10 legitimate framework.
11 The first such step was the creation of autonomous regions.
12 Their first explanation in relation with such movements was that
13 those were regions they wanted to create for economic interests, for
14 the alleged lack of interest by the Republic for those regions; but
15 we answered that the regions do exist, both by fact and by law.
16 According to the laws of the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina,
17 those regions were called the municipal communities and, in fact,
18 they were regions -- a region of Banja Luka, a region of Tuzla and so
20 They insisted, saying that what we said was true, but that the
21 boundaries of their regions were not natural, so that they should be
22 changed. They made some proposals, gave some plans, and it was
23 obvious that they wanted to change the territory along ethnic
24 boundaries and restructure it ethnically. We rejected that in the
1 After that they did it, nevertheless, out of their own will.
2 Q. Was the first framework for this economic association the so-called
3 Assembly of Municipalities?
4 A. Yes. It had existed for the past 15 years, I think.
5 Q. Was that normally an economic association?
6 A. Yes, there was only an economic association.
7 Q. In this case when the SDS formed the new Assembly of opstinas, did it
8 have aspects other than economic aspects? Did it have a military
10 A. It had also military aspects. One could see it from the boundaries
11 of those regions. It contained areas with a Serbian ethnic majority.
12 It also included some parts that neither by economic or geographic
13 criteria could not belong to the region of Banja Luka.
14 Q. Did the Assembly of Municipalities develop into the autonomous
16 A. They did not recognise the Assembly of Municipalities. On their
17 illegal forum and through unlawful methods through institutions where
18 they represented the majority, the Serbs simply proclaimed the
19 autonomous region of Krajina. In the municipalities where they had
20 obvious majority in institutions, they did that by putting political
21 pressure on those who were against it, and in the municipalities
22 where they could not achieve this by such means, they made some kind
23 of a coup. A drastic example of it happened in Prijedor.
24 Q. Eventually did those autonomous regions become part of Republika
1 A. Yes.
2 Q. Was there a plebiscite conducted in November 1991?
3 A. Yes.
4 Q. Who organised and conducted that plebiscite?
5 A. The plebiscite was against the law and the constitution of Bosnia and
6 Herzegovina, and it was impossible to conduct it through legal
7 municipal republican institutions. The organisation of the
8 plebiscite was done by the Serb Democratic Party, SDS, both on the
9 local and on the Republican levels.
10 Q. Subsequently, was there a referendum held on the question of the
11 independence of Bosnia-Herzegovina?
12 A. Yes.
13 Q. What was the SDS position on the referendum?
14 A. The SDS was absolutely against the referendum and wherever they could
15 they would boycott it.
16 Q. Within opstina Prijedor itself, was there a movement by the SDS
17 toward a separate political structure within the opstina?
18 A. Well, the aspirations were obvious to us, but what period have you
19 got in mind?
20 Q. Prior to the takeover, were you or other SDA members aware of any
21 movement by local officials toward the development of a separate
22 political structure within Prijedor?
23 A. Yes, before the takeover by a military coup, some months prior to
24 that, it became obvious that SDS did not want full co-operation with
25 the SDA party in order to exercise power. The demands put by SDS had
1 become ever more an ultimatum. Then, according to Serb movements by
2 the SDS, we came to the conclusion that they were starting to create
3 parallel forms of authority.
4 Q. Did SDS create a separate Serbian Municipal Assembly?
5 A. The SDS, after the blockade of the Municipal Assembly of Prijedor,
6 SDS did not attend the meetings, but they continued holding their
7 meetings. We did not know officially at that time that that was a
8 Serb Assembly, but we could come to such a conclusion according to
9 what we could see.
10 THE PRESIDING JUDGE: We will stand in recess for 20 minutes please.
11 (4.00 p.m.)
12 (The court adjourned for a short time)
13 (4.20 p.m.)
14 THE PRESIDING JUDGE: Mr. Tieger, you may continue.
15 THE PRESIDING JUDGE: Thank you, your Honour. (To the witness): Mr.
16 Semenovic, before the recess you had discussed the indications that
17 there was a separate Serbian Municipal Assembly. Let me ask you if
18 there were also some signs of a parallel Serbian government within
19 the local communes.
20 A. Immediately before the military coup, almost all power structures in
21 those areas where Serb constituted an ethnic majority were held by
22 Serbs and were unlawful and they were not legitimate. Those were
23 parallel Serb authorities. The only areas where parallel Serb
24 authorities did not exist were those inhabited by Bosniaks, Muslims,
25 in other words, Kozarac, the so-called Brdo, comprising several
1 villages, and the area around Kozarac.
2 Q. In the local communes were people who did not belong or were not
3 members of the legitimate organs of government presented as
5 A. Yes, yes. On some occasions it was evident that some persons were
6 exercising, discharging important functions of power in the Serb
7 people and did not belong to lawful authorities. For instance, in
8 Trnopolje, when an attempt had to be made to find a way to relax the
9 tension and to try to appease, to calm down, the fear which had
10 already appeared among the people. The (indecipherable) Ostoja
11 Skrbic appeared to enjoy, to be the most authoritative person among
12 the Serbs even though he held no official post. We asked why him,
13 and they said he was the most -- the person with most authority and
14 that he had amended and the right to discuss matters with individual
15 groups on behalf of the Serbs.
16 Similar situations also occurred in some other neighbourhood
17 communities in some other Mejsna Zajednica. In the town of Prijedor,
18 one could see how SDS meetings would be attended by considerable
19 groups of people of Serb ethnic origin who did not make part of any
20 party structures or any other authorities; such an example for
21 instance is Marko Pavic who at that time began to come to SDS
22 regularly, yet he was not formally a member of SDS. We assumed that
23 in this parallel system there were a number of people about whom we
24 did not know, and we only knew those I mentioned and it turned out to
25 be true later on.
1 Q. Focusing on the summer of 1991, was there a difference between the
2 SDA and SDS position on the mobilization for the war in Croatia?
3 A. Yes, there was.
4 Q. What was the SDS position?
5 A. The SDS absolutely supported the army's plans to intervene in the
6 Republic of Slovenia, the Republic of Croatia, and the SDA was
7 against it. The army began to hold military drills evidently in
8 preparation of some major army moves, and the Serbs gladly accepted
9 the summonses for these drills, and even the population who were not
10 summonsed prepared food for them and carried enormous quantities of
11 food or beverages to those places, to those areas, where there were
12 larger concentrations of men of soldiers and equipment. It turned
13 into a kind of popular holiday.
14 A typical instance happened at the Urije airfield where they
15 organised two Serb folk festivals. Hundreds of women brought food
16 and they spent part of days, part of a particular day, with soldiers.
17 We were against that because, globally speaking, that is, the former
18 Yugoslavia's level, the position of the army was evident, I mean,
19 towards the Serb people, and that army's position towards Slovenians
20 and Croats even though nominally the army was common, but it was no
21 longer the case.
22 Q. Did some Muslims volunteer for service in the army at the time of the
23 war in Croatia?
24 A. Very, very few; a symbolic number. I know only of several people.
25 Q. Did those people come back to Prijedor and report on the kind of
1 treatment Muslims received in the army?
2 A. Yes, yes. Yes, I had the opportunity to talk to some of them.
3 Q. How were they treated in the JNA?
4 A. I shall tell you about the conversation with one of the soldiers who
5 came back. Salih Elezovic, a young man, who was a Reserve
6 Lieutenant, 2nd Lieutenant, he was mobilized and took part in the war
7 in Croatia for a while. Then he was slightly injured and returned
8 home at the same time when some people deserted. He told me that
9 during the campaign there the army was increasingly Serb, that there
10 was less and less respect, less scruples towards people of other
11 origin, that is, of Muslim or Croat origin, that would increase in
12 frequency there was nationalistic Chetnik songs especially in between
13 battles, in between fighting where some of the army would get drunk,
14 and then in that state of drunkenness they would utter, they would
15 say, things that they would not had they been sober.
16 Even at that time already some soldiers put some badges or
17 insignia on their caps and their uniforms, some traditional Serb
18 insignia, or markings used by some Serb formations in World War II.
19 They sang in glorified Serb myths, and a few Muslims or Croats in
20 that army were the object of ridicule and someone whose leg may be
21 pulled whenever it would occur to anyone.
22 Q. Mr. Semenovic, you indicated that the SDA opposed the mobilization.
23 Did they do so in theory or did they attempt to physically obstruct
24 the mobilization?
25 A. Only in theory, it was our political stand. In point of fact, our
1 political position was that we condemned the war, that we are against
2 the war, but that we shall not either by force or in any other way
3 prevent those who of their own will wanted to accept the summons for
4 mobilization, because the Yugoslav People's Army was still lawful and
5 legitimate, and during that first stage of war in Croatia,
6 Bosnia-Herzegovina had still a kind of a legal tie with Yugoslavia.
7 Later on, things took a different direction -- and very suddenly at
9 Q. Did the dispirit response to mobilization result in a change in the
10 composition of the JNA, in the ethnic composition of the JNA?
11 A. Yes, undoubtedly. After the first mobilization wave, it became
12 solely a Serb army and I should say that there would be about one
13 soldier of non-Serb origin as against several hundred Serbs.
14 Q. As time grew closer to the time of the takeover, did it result in a
15 change in the presence of the military within Prijedor itself?
16 A. Yes. Yes, in Prijedor, of the nucleus of the JNA, and that was a
17 small garrison there, at the time of mobilization, that is what I am
18 referring to, a large military formation was set up of volunteers and
19 a small number of army members from Serbia. This large army
20 formation was sent as the 5th Kozara Brigade to the front in Croatia.
21 Its task was to conduct military operations in the areas of Pakrac,
22 Lipik and Novska.
23 When the first groups returned to Prijedor for vacations, they
24 immediately began to provoke incidents. They used to shoot quite a
25 lot, and it was characteristic that when they would come home for
1 holidays they did not leave their weapons in their barracks or at any
2 other specific point, but they brought them back home, both weapons
3 and ammunition.
4 When the 5th Kozara Brigade returned from Croatia to Prijedor
5 for the first time, a major incident happened. The fire lasted
6 several hours. Five people were wounded by stray bullets, I think
7 that one person died, and at the same time during that period of time
8 the Yugoslav People's Army was intensively deploying its forces in
9 several important positions around the town of Prijedor and in the
10 municipality of Prijedor.
11 Q. In addition to the presence of Reservists, was there a build up of
12 troops in other parts of the opstina?
13 A. Yes. Forces from the Yugoslavia, from the former Yugoslavia, that
14 is Serbia, were brought and amassed in the area of Mrakovica. Then
15 troops were also built up north west, to the north west along the
16 boundaries of the Prijedor municipality, and there were also large
17 concentrations of troops along the Prijedor Sanski Most axis,
18 somewhere midway between, between them, but these were a considerable
19 build ups of troops, but this was far away from the road itself, in
20 the woods somewhere.
21 I had the opportunity to talk to an officer -- I have already
22 mentioned him -- who left that army. He told me that, formerly
23 speaking, those were places, meeting points of Reservists who were to
24 go to the war in Croatia. But, in point of fact, and he saw that, he
25 was present there, they were concentrating enormous immense
1 quantities of ammunition and weapons and equipment, and that a camp
2 had been organised there for the drill, for the exercise, for the
3 training of soldiers, that is, Reservists, those who had no war
4 experience. He was not a layman in military matters. He explained
5 that it was something completely different, that it was not the
6 meeting point as it was officially represented to those soldiers.
7 Q. You indicated that the JNA had become an almost exclusively Serbian
8 military force. Let me ask you about the TO in Prijedor, the
9 Territorial Defence. The Territorial Defence was designed to
10 constitute the citizens, the able bodied citizens, of any particular
11 municipality; is that correct?
12 A. Yes.
13 Q. And under normal circumstances would reflect the demographics and
14 ethnic makeup of that community?
15 A. Yes, on the constitution and Statute.
16 Q. Was the TO in Prijedor armed in 1990 at the time of the elections?
17 A. No.
18 Q. Where had the arms gone?
19 A. The arms were withdrawn from territorial units, that is, from
20 neighbourhood communities, before the elections while the
21 reorganisation of the Yugoslav People's Army was underway, when the
22 Sarajevo army district was abolished. It used to cover the territory
23 of Bosnia-Herzegovina. It was decided then to take almost all the
24 -- to withdraw almost all the weaponry and armaments from the
25 Territorial Defence, that is, territorial units, and to store them in
1 a central depot in Prijedor.
2 The territorial units were left with only a symbolic number of
3 pieces, weaponry, and by law, by Statute, they were kept in
4 territorial units, locked. In point of fact, those weapons were
5 there so that in case of danger those storage room would be opened,
6 unlocked, and under the relevant procedure the members of the
7 Territorial Defence would be armed and then perform whatever duties
8 they had.
9 Q. So all weapons were first removed from the TOs and stored in the
10 central depot by the JNA?
11 A. Yes.
12 Q. And then a symbolic number was returned to the TOs and ---
13 A. Yes.
14 Q. -- stored in the -----
15 A. I have to add something. When the tension became evident and when
16 the Yugoslav People's Army became Serb Army formally, then because of
17 the fear among the population, it became a necessary to return those
18 weapons once removed from them to territorial units. This request
19 was addressed to the Ministry of the Interior of the Republic of
20 Bosnia-Herzegovina, and the Republican staff of the Territorial
21 Defence ordered that a certain amount of this weaponry be returned to
22 the field.
23 However, in the case of Prijedor, this was done only in the
24 symbolic amount, that is, it was far from the quantity of weapons
25 that should exist in various places on the basis of the existing
1 criteria, the supplies to those areas where the Muslims constituted
2 the majority. In the areas where the Serbs were the majority, the
3 situation was completely different.
4 Q. Thank you. In addition to the returning Reservists who came back
5 from Croatia and the JNA units which were brought into Prijedor, was
6 there arming of Serb civilians in opstina Prijedor by the SDS or the
8 A. I do not know what they called it, but I remember that their youth
9 organisation, the youth branch of SDS was conducting some
10 preparations, but it was more to raise the awareness of the people.
11 As for some paramilitary formations, there was no need for that among
12 the Serb people because there was full compatibility with the army.
13 Q. Were there any reports of the JNA introducing troops to Serbian
14 civilian populations?
15 A. Yes, yes, yes. Yes, it was right on the eve of the takeover of
16 power. SDS decided then to arm the rest of the unarmed Serb people,
17 that is, who were not fit for the army, had not been mobilized for
18 the army. The weapons were distributed publicly and in some
19 neighbourhood communities, in some local communities, one could see
20 it with one own's eyes; for instance, in Orlovci or in Cirkin Polje,
21 that is, where this was done around 1300, 1.00 p.m. next to the local
22 municipal station building in the street where there were passers-by,
23 so nothing was done at night, nor was it concealed.
24 At the same time -- no, even before that, we had already noticed
25 the Yugoslav People's Army used helicopters. I know of two such cases
1 that helicopters brought and that the helicopters landed in some Serb
2 villages, in the Serb village or hamlet, rather, Sajaci and Petrov
3 Gaj. In Petrov Gaj, they were seen by people who were working on a
4 farm, those were largish crates, and the helicopter which landed at
5 Sajaci, we requested some explanation in the local commune from the
6 representatives of the Serb authorities there and they denied, that
7 is, they admitted that a helicopter had landed but their explanation
8 was that the helicopter had brought a soldier from that village and
9 that they had landed to take a cup of coffee in his home and then
10 leave off again. That was the explanation given us.
11 Q. As the time grew closer to the takeover of Prijedor, did the SDS
12 propose a division of Prijedor?
13 A. Yes. When the President of SDS, Radovan Karadzic, proposed in
14 Sarajevo to divide Bosnia into Serb and Muslim and Croat, at the same
15 time the SDS in Prijedor also came up with a proposal to divide
16 Prijedor into two municipalities, Muslim and Croat. But we did not
17 want to discuss this proposal because it was completely unlawful and
18 signified division which was not either in the political programme or
19 acceptable under the laws of our country, but SDS continued to insist
20 on it.
21 After some time, they concluded that the discussion about that
22 matter was yielding no fruit and the non-Serb population would not go
23 along with this division, and then they came out in public with this
24 proposal. I mention it that the proposal, that until that time this
25 proposal was mentioned only at various sessions in discussions with
1 the Party of Democratic Action. After that, Kozarski Vjesnik carried
2 the article by a Serb journalist -- unfortunately, I do not remember
3 his name -- and the article insisted on the division, and there
4 was a large map of Prijedor drawn there with "Serb areas", and they
5 do it under quotation marks, marked and where "Muslim areas" again in
6 quotation marks were marked too.
7 Q. In your answer you indicated that the SDS proposal was to divide
8 Prijedor into two municipalities, Muslim and Croat. Was that
9 accurate or -----
10 A. And Serb, and Serb.
11 Q. The map that appeared in Kozarski Vjesnik and indicated the regions
12 that were to be allocated to the Serb community and to the Muslim and
13 Croat community, what portions of Prijedor did the SDS proposal
14 distribute to the Serbian community?
15 A. About 80 per cent of the territory of the Prijedor municipality on
16 this map was marked as Serb territory. All the industrial complexes
17 were marked as Serb areas. All the state property, that is forests,
18 large farms, all this was marked as Serb territories or, rather, Serb
19 opstina Prijedor, and about 20 per cent was not marked as Muslim.
20 Q. But 20 per cent was marked or not marked as Muslim?
21 A. They were marked as Muslim.
22 Q. Under the SDS proposal, approximately what percentage of the local
23 communes would have to be divided in order to achieve that end?
24 A. I did not quite understand.
25 Q. I am sorry, I will try to clarify that. In order to divide Prijedor
1 into an 80 per cent Serbian held community and a 20 per cent Muslim
2 held community, would there be any impact on the local communes?
3 A. Yes, yes. Yes, the two areas had a marked Bosniak Muslim majority,
4 the area of Kozarac and the so-called Brdo, several villages west,
5 the southwest, of Prijedor. The largest number of Bosniak Muslims
6 lived in mixed places, mixed settlements, with Serbs and this holds
7 true especially of the towns and outskirts of towns where the
8 population is a mixed and roughly on a 50-50 basis. Possible
9 implementation of such a plan inevitably meant the expulsion of
10 population from certain areas.
11 Then, according to the map as it was marked, we saw that
12 theoretically it could happen in case of expulsion, as has already
13 happened in some of the parts of Bosnia-Herzegovina under Serb
14 control, then over 50,000 people would have to be settled in Kozarac
15 and in Brdo which was impossible, which would mean that about 12
16 persons would have to be accommodated in a two roomed flat. That
17 would roughly be the order of magnitude
18 Q. I asked you about the presence of the JNA in Prijedor. Did you
19 know who the Commander of the JNA garrison in Prijedor was?
20 A. Yes.
21 Q. Who was that?
22 A. His name was Radomir Zeljaja. He was a Commander of the garrison,
23 and after that when preparations for the war in Croatia had started,
24 the Commander was Vladimir Arsic. I think he was a Lieutenant
25 Colonel by rank.
1 Q. Did Arsic involve himself in the political process in Prijedor?
2 A. Yes, yes, yes. Of lately, he was present regularly at the meeting of
3 the Municipal Assembly. When the first time, he was there he was
4 passive, he followed the discussion of the meeting, but after that he
5 had started very often to participate in the discussions, although
6 formerly he did not belong to the Municipal Assembly. At the same
7 time his co-operation with the SDS became more intense.
8 Q. You spoke earlier about a nationalist movement which had emerged even
9 prior to the 1990 elections. As the time grew closer to the
10 takeover, was there an increase or intensification of information or
11 propaganda related to Serb nationalism?
12 A. Yes, yes. More and more the Serb nationalist became more and more
13 aggressive in the media. At first, it was only to support rallies
14 in Serbia in 1988, then to express the support of the army and after
15 that it became the propaganda, the only purpose of which was national
16 homogenizing and the so-called awakening of the conscience of the
17 Serb people. At the same time, probably it had been planned,
18 memories and commemorations from the tragedy of the Second World War
19 appeared, so graves were dug out at several locations and the TV
20 always reported on that. Then the bones of some Serb saints were
21 taken throughout the whole Serbia and then throughout
23 The most impressive example was the carrying of the bones of the
24 Serbian Saint, the Talasa. It was all accompanied by some kind of
25 popular festivals, both religious and lay, and nationalistic songs
1 would always accompany that kind of event and the clothing that was
2 worn, as the one worn about 100 years ago by the Serbs, was used as
3 symbols. That was all to be seen on television. One could also hear
4 national speeches that created fear in non-Serb people.
5 Q. Was there any effort by Serbs to increase broadcasts from Belgrade
6 and reduce broadcasts from Sarajevo?
7 A. Yes. First of all, on the level of the republic, the MPs from the
8 SDS claimed that Sarajevo TV was more partial towards Muslims, that
9 it was Muslims, that it was not Serbian TV. They did not want the
10 Yutel programme to be seen. At the same time they started to prepare
11 for the occupation of TV transmitters, and they eventually did that
12 in Prijedor. They took over the transmitter at Lisina after that at
14 Q. After the transmitters at Lisina and Vlasic were taken over, what
15 programmes were available in Prijedor?
16 A. Exclusively the programmes by TV Belgrade, Croatian TV and after some
17 time local Banja Luka television, because within a few days Serbs
18 started to have a local TV programme that was presented by
19 journalists from the Bosnia-Herzegovina radio that was sent to Banja
20 Luka to do that job there. They stopped working for the Bosnian TV
21 in Sarajevo. It was clear that there that that had been planned, but
22 there were no means to combat that. People could see that when the
23 Lisina transmitter was taken over a larger group of soldiers took
24 part in that and part of those soldiers were members of special units
25 of the JNA.
1 Q. Did the broadcasts from Belgrade and other sources lead to an
2 increase of ethnic tensions from opstina Prijedor among Serbs or
3 between Serbs and Muslims and Croats?
4 A. Yes. Yes, but I have to say that we can speak about national
5 tensions, ethnic tensions with a quotation marks, because when the
6 transmitter was taken over, when we look at it chronologically in
7 this period when we were nearing the war, at that time the JNA was
8 fully with the Croatian people, and where the Serbs felt additional
9 insecurity they were distributed and given weapons by the JNA. One
10 could not speak about tensions. There was fear in the non-Serb
11 population, and there was also an attempt by Serb authorities that,
12 although they had armed the Serb people, tried to scare them
13 additionally; that is what SDS tried to do. Because I suppose that
14 one part of Serbs was against this arming.
15 Q. Were there any peace movements among Serbs against the war in
17 A. No. No, larger movements, but Serbs did become members of the League
18 for Peace organised in Prijedor by Dr. Eso Sadikovic who had later
19 been killed. I took the initiative to organise the civic forum
20 several months before the war, and in that that civic forum there
21 were Serbs, Croats, there were some other nationalities in the forum
22 as well. I remember Zltako Duric, a journalist, was there and in our
23 everyday discussions he criticised severely the behaviour of those
24 soldiers. He was against the war. I remember that he was not from
25 Prijedor. He worked in Prijedor. He was originally from Serbia.
1 From the SDS and the local municipal committee there was somebody who
2 was a member of the civic forum, but as time passed by more and more
3 pressure was put on those people from the SDS and they were not
4 allowed to come to our meetings.
5 Q. You indicated that the broadcast from Belgrade and other sources
6 caused fear among the non-Serb community. What was it about those
7 broadcasts that generated that feeling?
8 A. First of all, the population was able to watch what had been going on
9 in Kosovo several years then, and it was well known that there is a
10 large Albanian majority, that means a non-Serb majority, but on that
11 majority terrible terror was exercised. At the same time on TV
12 everything was presented in a different way. They would say that the
13 Serbs were constantly threatened and more and more Serbs from
14 Prijedor would become convinced, I do not know whether truly or just
15 formally, about that. Then the events started to happen in the Knin
16 Krajina in the Republic of Croatia. The Serb population from
17 Prijedor was mobilized by political means and it fully supported the
18 threatened "brothers" in Croatia. In all these programmes and those
19 speeches there was no other nation presented in a positive context;
20 only the Serb nation was presented positively. When something like
21 that lasts for months and when at the same time the Yugoslav People's
22 Army, which was powerful, sides with the only people that is
23 supported by television and by all the media, you do feel threatened
24 because very often there was a thesis expressed saying that for the
25 Serbs the Second World War has not ended. One could hear it on
1 dozens of rallies or else it was said that the Serbs always win wars
2 and lose in peace time. That was repeated many times. At first on
3 TV one could hear such words only from Seselj or from some others
4 like Arkan or some others, some radicals, Serb politicians or
5 leaders. But as time went by and as more and more the JNA was put
6 into the function of achieving the objectives of a greater Serbia,
7 one could hear it from official politicians as well.
8 Q. Did the SDA or the Muslim community of Prijedor take steps to
9 indicate to the SDS and to the Serbian community that it did not want
10 any conflict and wanted no provocations to occur?
11 A. Yes. We undertook some steps, although very little success, but we
12 did have some success to start with. The following occurred in some
13 local communes where a Bosniak Muslim population bordered with Serb
14 population, and where there could have been reasons for fear by
15 either the Serb or non-Serb population. We proposed that some common
16 groups be organised, some patrols, among neighbours and that they
17 should be on duty overnight, so to ensure that nothing unpredicted
18 would happen. I noticed in many occasions when I contacted people
19 from Serb villages that they were saying, and they were convinced,
20 that only somebody could come from elsewhere, that means somebody
21 unknown coming from far away, and cause an incident, because they
22 among neighbours had been living for very many years and they agree
23 and they would not do anything like that.
24 For example, in my local commune where I live and where I have
25 spent most of the time, the local Serbs and Bosniak Muslims came to
1 an accord very easily. They formed common patrols and common guards
2 and they did it for some time like that in places where there were
3 boundaries among villages. They would sit until the morning
4 together. They would eat dinner, drink coffee and talk, but that
5 lasted for a short period of time because they were ordered to quit
6 such duties.
7 Q. Who ordered to quit such duties?
8 A. The SDS ordered that, that is the structures that the SDS controlled.
9 I know that they explained to us on one occasion, they said: "We
10 will not be on duty together any more." When we asked them "Why?"
11 they said there was no need for it, each should keep its own. We did
12 not know exactly what that meant, but we noticed some events that
13 indicated something unpredicted could happen.
14 Q. What happened in Prijedor on April 30th 1992?
15 A. Before I answer your question, I would like to say that before 30th
16 April and after we abandoned these common patrols, we noticed the
17 evacuation of Serb population during the night from some parts. We
18 noticed that in the town of Prijedor where from some skyscrapers
19 dozens of families would in groups, late in the evening, they would
20 go into other parts of town, the whole families with children, and
21 the same thing would happen in the local commune of the Trnopolje, a
22 population from Sajak Radonjici and some other hamlets, that means
23 women, children and elderly people, they would go to spend the night
24 somewhere else, more into the Serb territory. We did not know why
25 and nobody explained that to us although we did ask.
1 Eventually, if I can answer your question, on 30th April, in
2 fact in the morning, an hour somewhere around 3 o'clock in the
3 morning, a military coup took place in Prijedor. All the facilities
4 were taken over and the whole town was under the control of people in
5 uniforms and they were deployed on military points, checkpoints.
6 Q. So the evacuation of certain portions of the Serbian neighbourhoods
7 had preceded the takeover?
8 A. Yes. Yes, but those people would come back in the mornings. For
9 example, from the neighbourhood of Pecani, that is from Puharska,
10 they would go to Pecani. They would spend the night there and in the
11 morning they would go back to their houses and flats.
12 Q. Was the coup accomplished without a battle or bullets flying?
13 A. No, no. No, there were not even indications that something like that
14 could happen. At the same time the position of Bosniak Muslims and
15 the position of the Party of Democratic Action and the whole non-Serb
16 population was objectively such that they were not able to plan any
17 kind of armed actions, no kind of such actions. All our work was in
18 trying to avoid a possible conflict. That is why we very often
19 undertook sometimes even senseless steps. I will give you one
20 example. For example, some Serb houses in Bosniak Muslim villages,
21 around those houses, those houses would always be guarded by Bosniak
22 Muslims or also with mounted guards around the orthodox church in
23 Kozarac, so that nobody would come to the idea to damage it. Very
24 many guarded that church so that nobody would sabotage it, and later
25 on the Bosniak Muslims would be accused that that they want a war and
1 that such things would not cause a war. On these things we spent
2 quite a lot of effort and time. That means that we did not provoke
3 the action committed by SDS.
4 Q. What did Prijedor town look like on the morning of the coup?
5 A. In the morning hours from Trnopolje where I lived I went to Prijedor
6 to work. Very normally I took the bus and went towards Prijedor.
7 After only two kilometres in the first Serb village the bus was
8 stopped, soldiers came in and they asked all the passengers for their
9 IDs. At the same time I saw machine gun nest with sacks of sand
10 which was not there the previous day. Later on, on the way to
11 Prijedor I saw various points like that. At the very bus station in
12 the town and also on at the railway station there was a great number
13 of soldiers, very many machine gun nests or, as the soldiers called
14 them, fire points. All the junctions, all the major junctions had
15 either a couple of soldiers there without a machine gun nest in a
16 shelter or else a machine gun nest with sand bags. In the centre of
17 the town in front of the building of the SUP and also in front of the
18 town hall, in front of the public auditing office, there were also
19 machine gun nests. In many places one could see Serb women carrying,
20 taking coffee and sweets to those soldiers. All the civilians were
21 controlled for their ID every 100 metres.
22 Q. Did you attempt to get into the municipal building?
23 A. First of all, I went to the offices of the party and during that
24 journey I was asked for my ID on several occasions. In the party
25 offices some party members had already been there and they tried to
1 contact the SDS, but it was impossible to contact them. At the same
2 time the people who held office in the Municipal Assembly gathered
3 there, because they had been prevented to go to the organisations
4 where they worked. Not a single Bosniak Muslim was able to go to his
5 office in the municipality, neither a civil servant nor somebody a
6 simple employee. The same thing was true for all the institutions of
7 the municipality in Prijedor. Then we learned that in the police
8 station during the night while they were on duty all the non-Serb
9 policemen were disarmed and that they were dismissed. Only Serb
10 policemen remained.
11 Q. Over the next few days did you learn who the new authorities of
12 Prijedor were?
13 A. Yes, yes. Yes, Radio Prijedor started to broadcast its announcements
14 straightaway that morning, saying that SDS undertook some measures in
15 order to "deblock authority in Prijedor". The SDS members appeared
16 on broadcasts very often during the day. They were saying how
17 Prijedor was free eventually, at last, and on the radio one could
18 hear nationalistic music. At the start of all the programmes there
19 was the music to March on the River Drina. This is a song from Serb,
20 history music from Serb history used in some moments, not very
21 pleasant for other nationalities during the Second and the First
22 World Wars.
23 Q. You indicated that after the takeover Muslims were terminated from
24 their jobs and could not go to their places of employment. Were
25 other restrictions imposed on the Muslim community?
1 A. Yes. After a couple of days the Muslims could not in a single
2 institution controlled at that time by Serbs, they could not receive
3 any kind of a document. They were not able to go to work. Very soon
4 Bosniak Muslims that were teachers in school, they were sent away
5 from there. After some 10 days not even Bosniak Muslim children were
6 allowed to go to school, neither to primary nor to secondary schools,
7 where the Serbs controlled the territory. At the same time they
8 prevented all travel out of the municipality of Prijedor to all
9 Bosniak Muslims women, children and elderly people included, that
10 means to people of all ages. We during some talks asked for
11 explanations, but we never received any. But we could hear on the
12 radio accusations against Bosniak Muslims. After an incident from
13 the area of Omarska three buses were returned with women and children
14 that were to go towards Croatia. After that, on the radio there was
15 an accusation against Bosniak Muslims stating they were preparing to
16 wage war against Serbs and that for that reason they were trying to
17 send women, children and elderly people to more secure areas in order
18 to wage war more easily against the Serbs. That was completely
19 without any sense.
20 THE PRESIDING JUDGE: It is 5.30 and we normally adjourn at 5.30. Mr.
21 Semenovic, you may be excused until tomorrow at 10 a.m. I would like
22 counsel to remain just for a short moment so that we may discuss a
23 matter. You are excused until tomorrow at 10 a.m. Thank you.
24 (The witness withdrew).
25 THE PRESIDING JUDGE: A few days ago we discussed the trial schedule in a
1 closed session and discussed two options, one option being to extend
2 the hours during which the Trial Chamber would receive testimony and
3 also meet on some Mondays. The other option was to maintain the
4 status quo. The hours we meet are from 10 to 1 and from 2.30 to
5 5.30. As we indicated, on many Mondays we would not meet because of
6 the need for this Trial Chamber to conduct other matters and because
7 of the need of the other Trial Chamber to conduct other matters. We
8 heard in camera from counsel for the Defence regarding their
9 preference. Of course, the Office of the Prosecutor presented the
10 first option and then an analysis of the status quo.
11 Under an option that would extend the time for receiving
12 evidence and hear evidence on some Mondays, I believe the Prosecutor
13 had indicated that it would complete its case in-chief (that of
14 course does not include cross-examination because you could not
15 estimate how much time would be needed tore cross-examination) by
16 July 30th. Of course, if we kept with the status quo then we would
17 complete or the Prosecutor would complete its case in-chief by August
18 30th. Again, that does not include any estimate for
20 The Trial Chamber has reviewed this option as well as the status
21 quo and taken into consideration the position of the Defence. But we
22 have also had to take into consideration the limitations under which
23 the interpreters operate and we have been advised that there are time
24 limitations, and that they can only perform their services for a
25 certain specified time and we are at that limit now.
1 So keeping that in mind, it is impossible for the Trial Chamber
2 to extend the hours, that is start earlier and go later because of
3 the situation with the interpreters. We have six
4 interpreters. If we changed the hours, extended the hours, that would
6 another entire team at significant cost which it is just not
7 available to us.
8 Then we need Mondays not only for this Trial Chamber to handle
9 other matters, but also for the other Trial Chamber to handle other
10 matters or matters of its own because we only have one courtroom,
12 So, we have no option except to maintain the status quo. I
13 appreciate the Prosecutor's efforts to get us to focus on this, and I
14 appreciate the position of the Defence. Your position is in line
15 with the situation that we have operate under with the interpreters
16 and the need for this courtroom for other purposes.
17 So, is there anything else on that matter, Mr. Niemann, at this
19 MR. NIEMANN: No, your Honour, there is nothing else on that matter.
20 There is another matter I would like to mention.
21 THE PRESIDING JUDGE: Is this anything regarding this matter, Mr.
23 MR. WLADIMIROFF: Not directly, your Honour, but indirectly. We have no
24 matter on this issue, but we have a related matter. I take that Mr.
25 Niemann is going to deal with that too. That is, we learned from the
1 a press release that there will be a 61 hearing by the end of June
2 and the beginning of July. A moment ago you indicated that there was
3 only one courtroom, so it is very intriguing what is going to happen
4 with this trial. Is there anything yet known what might be the
6 THE PRESIDING JUDGE: The matter came up because I suppose Mr. Niemann
7 when we were discussing the trial schedule a couple of days ago
8 mentioned something about a Rule 61 proceeding. I did not respond to
9 that because, as far as I am concerned, nothing had been formally
10 set. I too have seen that press release and I presume that there is
11 a Rule 61 proceeding scheduled for the dates that are indicated. I
12 believe it is to commence on June 27th?
13 MR. WLADIMIROFF: June 27th to July 5th.
14 THE PRESIDING JUDGE: 27th June to commence. I really cannot comment on
15 it because there are procedures under our Rules that have to be taken
16 before a Rule 61 proceeding is set. I do not know whether the other
17 Trial Chamber has accomplished all of those conditions precedent, I
18 suppose, to the setting of the Rule 61. So what I know is what I
19 have seen in the press release. If that is so, if that happens and
20 all of the necessary procedures that are set forth in Rule 60 I think
21 of our procedures are followed, then this courtroom will be used for
22 that Rule 61 proceeding for that period of time.
23 MR. WLADIMIROFF: We would highly appreciate, your Honour, if we would
24 know this in due time because we might use it also for completing our
25 own discovery on location. Therefore, it would be highly appreciated
1 if we were given notice about that.
2 THE PRESIDING JUDGE: Then that, in a sense, makes me feel better because
3 I have been so concerned about the delays, the intrusions really,
4 into the trial, but if I hear that maybe you can use that time ----
5 MR. WLADIMIROFF: That is the reason why I am bringing this up.
6 THE PRESIDING JUDGE: --- it makes me feel as far as you are concerned. I
7 do not know what the Prosecutor would say. Now the Prosecutor would
8 say what? I should not feel better! In any case, do you have
9 anything to say? Is that what you wanted to bring up, Mr. Niemann?
10 MR. NIEMANN: Your Honours, I have a different matter I wanted to raise.
11 The break, if there is to be one, is not something that we are happy
12 about, but it is something with which we will learn to live no doubt,
13 your Honours. No, your Honours, the matter we wanted to mention is
14 that this is an application that we would like to make, if we may,
15 and I suggest if we could do it in the morning, regarding a witness
16 and certain measures that we would ask your Honours to consider. To
17 that end could we perhaps start off the proceedings tomorrow very
18 shortly, it is a very short application, in relation to a witness
19 that is due to give evidence shortly. If we could start off tomorrow
21 THE PRESIDING JUDGE: We will begin with that at 10 o'clock tomorrow?
22 MR. NIEMANN: If that would be convenient to your Honours.
23 THE PRESIDING JUDGE: Rather than continuing with the witness. That is
25 MR. WLADIMIROFF: I take it that it is in camera?
1 MR. NIEMANN: Yes.
2 THE PRESIDING JUDGE: It is in camera. Thank you. There is no objection
3 to that, Mr. Wladimiroff?
4 MR. WLADIMIROFF: No. We have been informed about that.
5 THE PRESIDING JUDGE: Then we will meet in camera at 10. What I am
6 referring, Mr. Wladimiroff, is Rule 61 requires that certain steps be
7 taken and that orders be issued. I have not seen those orders, but
8 as soon as I hear definitely and know that the conditions precedent
9 to the Rule 61 have taken place, I will advise the lawyers, that is
10 for sure.
11 MR. WLADIMIROFF: Thank you very much.
12 THE PRESIDING JUDGE: We will resume tomorrow at 10 o'clock in camera.
13 (5.40 p.m.)
14 (The court adjourned until the following day).