1 Monday, 6 June 2011
2 [Open session]
3 [The accused entered court]
4 --- Upon commencing at 2.16 p.m.
5 JUDGE FLUEGGE: Good afternoon to everybody. Is the next
6 witness ready to go, Mr. Vanderpuye?
7 MR. VANDERPUYE: Yes, good afternoon, Mr. President, he is.
8 Good afternoon, Your Honours.
9 JUDGE FLUEGGE: The witness should be brought in, please.
10 [The witness entered court]
11 JUDGE FLUEGGE: Good afternoon, sir. Welcome to the courtroom.
12 Would you please read aloud the affirmation on the card which is shown to
13 you now.
14 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] I solemnly declare that I will
15 speak the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.
16 WITNESS: SREDOJE SIMIC
17 [Witness answered through interpreter]
18 JUDGE FLUEGGE: Thank you very much. Please sit down and make
19 yourself comfortable.
20 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Thank you.
21 JUDGE FLUEGGE: As you know, first, the Prosecutor will conduct
22 his examination-in-chief and will put questions to you.
23 Mr. Vanderpuye.
24 MR. VANDERPUYE: Thank you, again. Mr. President and good
25 afternoon to everyone.
1 Examination by Mr. Vanderpuye:
2 Q. Good afternoon to you, Mr. Simic.
3 A. Good afternoon.
4 Q. Mr. Simic, I know you've testified before, and I just want to
5 remind you that if there is anything I ask you that is unclear, to let me
6 know so that I can restate it in a way that we can better understand one
7 another and just to try speak a little bit more slowly than you would
8 normally so that the interpreters have a chance to translate, interpret
9 what you say accurately to the parties.
10 Let me start by asking, do you recall testifying in the case of
11 Prosecutor versus Vujadin Popovic et al, on 1st of June, 2007?
12 A. In 2007.
13 Q. And have you had an opportunity to review your testimony before
14 coming to court today?
15 A. Yes.
16 Q. And having reviewed that testimony, do you stand by it?
17 A. Yes, of course.
18 Q. And does it fairly and accurately reflect what you would say,
19 were you to be examined here today and asked the same questions?
20 A. Yes. There is nothing to add or subtract to what I said when
21 answering the questions that were posed to me then.
22 MR. VANDERPUYE: Mr. President, I would offer into evidence,
23 Mr. Simic's prior testimony as 65 ter 6588.
24 JUDGE FLUEGGE: It will be received.
25 MR. VANDERPUYE: In addition to that, Mr. President --
1 JUDGE FLUEGGE: One moment, please.
2 MR. VANDERPUYE: Sorry.
3 THE REGISTRAR: Your Honours, 65 ter 6588 shall be assign the
4 Exhibit P2266.
5 MR. VANDERPUYE: In addition to that, Mr. President, I would
6 offer into evidence the exhibits that were admitted through the witness
7 in the prior proceeding. And those are 65 ter 6589, 6590 and 454.
8 JUDGE FLUEGGE: All three associated exhibits will be received.
9 THE REGISTRAR: Your Honours, 65 ter document 6589 shall be
10 assigned Exhibit P2267.
11 65 ter number 6590 shall be assigned Exhibit P2268.
12 And 65 ter number 454 shall be assigned Exhibit P2269. Thank
14 MR. VANDERPUYE: Mr. President, I have a brief summary of the
15 witness's prior testimony I'd like to read into the record.
16 JUDGE FLUEGGE: Yes, please do so.
17 MR. VANDERPUYE: Thank you.
18 Mr. Simic was born in 1952 in the village of Vrsac, Vojvodina, in
19 the Republic of Serbia. He attended the University of Zagreb, earned a
20 law degree and began his career in journalism in March or April 1975.
21 Except for relatively brief periods, he worked continuously as an
23 In 2002, Mr. Simic worked for weekly Belgrade publication called
24 "Svedok." On 29th of October of that year, he published an article in
25 "Svedok" featuring an interview with VRS Colonel Ljubisa Beara.
1 A few months before Colonel Beara's indictment was made public,
2 Mr. Simic considered interviewing him, particularly in light of his role
3 and position at the time of the Srebrenica operation.
4 Mr. Simic, who was then in charge editorially of army and
5 security matters for "Svedok," used his connections to put him in contact
6 with Colonel Beara, as he did not previously know him. After the
7 indictment was made public, Mr. Simic intensified these efforts, and,
8 through an intermediary was able to set up an interview with Beara, who
9 agreed to it on three conditions: 1, that Mr. Simic come alone to the
10 interview location; 2, that no photos were to be taken; and, 3, that
11 Mr. Simic promise not to reveal the location of the interview.
12 Mr. Simic interviewed Colonel Beara for about two hours, some two
13 or three days after the indictment was made public. He used roughly 45
14 to 55 per cent of the interview material in the article, which included
15 all the information Beara provided concerning the Srebrenica events,
16 which, of course, was Mr. Simic's focus.
17 Mr. Simic testified that he kept the article as authentic as
18 possible, leaving Beara's responses as is, save for removing some filler
19 words and repetitions. At its conclusion, Colonel Beara deadlined
20 Mr. Simic's invitation to review the interview and Mr. Simic did not see
21 Colonel Beara again. However, following the article's publication, the
22 intermediary who had initially placed him in contact with Beara informed
23 Mr. Simic that Beara was extremely satisfied with the article and had no
24 objections to its content.
25 Although during the course of the interview, Colonel Beara
1 claimed, among other things, that he was not around during the Srebrenica
2 events, that the VRS did not commit any mass crimes in Srebrenica,
3 stating that this was "nonsense," and that he, Beara, was not -- was,
4 rather, "convinced" that Srebrenica was engineered by the Muslims for
5 propaganda purposes, Mr. Simic testified that it was his impression that
6 Beara had been truthful during the interview.
7 Mr. Simic also noted that, while he recorded the full interview,
8 he was not able to locate or retrieve the tape, which may subsequently
9 have been discarded or destroyed.
10 This concludes my summary. And I do have some additional
11 questions for Mr. Simic, Mr. President.
12 JUDGE FLUEGGE: Yes, go ahead, please.
13 MR. VANDERPUYE: Thank you, Mr. President. I would like to have
14 in e-court, please, P2269. This is the interview statement -- or,
15 rather, the interview by Mr. Simic.
16 Q. First of all, Mr. Simic, do you recognise what we have here on
17 the screen in e-court?
18 A. Yes, this is the title page of the issue of "Svedok" in which the
19 interview with Mr. Beara was published.
20 Q. I'd like to go to page 2 in the B/C/S. And we'll stay on the
21 same page in the English, please.
22 And can you tell us what we have here in this second page in the
23 B/C/S language?
24 A. That is one of the two pages containing the interview with
25 Mr. Beara, as the interview was published on two pages of the newspaper.
1 Q. All right. I'd like to go to page 7 in the English, and I think
2 we'll have to go to page 3 in the B/C/S. And I have just a few questions
3 regarding this.
4 I'm sorry, for the English, we'll have to start at page -- no,
5 we've got the right page.
6 Towards the bottom of the page, you'll see a question that you
7 put to Mr. Beara where you ask him:
8 "Are you trying to say that the VRS did not commit mass crimes in
10 Do you -- do you see that question?
11 A. Yes.
12 Q. Okay. And in relation to that question, Mr. Beara, Colonel Beara
13 responds at that they didn't, meaning the VRS didn't. And that The Hague
14 allegedly had a list of mass grave locations. He says:
15 "That they report there are 800 bodies in one grave, 2.000 in
16 another, 3.000 in another."
17 And he says:
18 "They claim that they are primarily and secondary graves,
19 alleging we moved the bodies."
20 He says, "What nonsense."
21 And that:
22 "It is not possible to carry out such killings on a mass scale in
23 the presence of UN representatives, even if someone had such an insane
25 And then he says:
1 "In order to kill so many people in such a short time, one would
2 need to engage a brigade?"
3 Now, in terms of just that answer you recorded, was that
4 essentially in the words of Mr. Beara?
5 A. Yes, quite certainly. Because, as can you see, the answer is
6 very sensitive, and I do not think that Mr. Beara would not react and use
7 the possibilities of the Public Information Act in Serbia if I had stated
8 something wrongly or if I had interpreted his words wrongly.
9 Q. And you're aware now, of course, that Colonel Beara was convicted
10 of certain crimes in relation to these killings; are you not?
11 A. Yes, I am. But I'm not sure if the verdict has really come into
12 force, if it's final or not.
13 Q. And you also are aware, are you not, that members of the
14 Zvornik Brigade, in particular, have also been convicted in relation to
15 their respective roles in the killings, mass killings of Muslims,
16 regarding the Srebrenica events; are you not?
17 A. Yes.
18 Q. I'd like to take you to page 8 in the English of this article.
19 And I'd like to focus you, if I could, on Mr. Beara's response to your
20 question where you asked him:
21 "Does it mean that Srebrenica was, in fact, engineered by the
22 Muslims for propaganda purposes."
23 Do you see it in the B/C/S?
24 A. Yes, I can see that.
25 Q. And in response to that question, he says, as you've written in
1 your article:
2 "I am convinced it was. I don't know what the reason was, but it
3 is monstrous to kill one's own people in order to spite someone."
4 Then he talks about that that was the case in Markale. Do I
5 understand from your article correctly that Colonel Beara's suggesting
6 that the killings that occurred in relation to the Srebrenica events were
7 perpetrated by the Muslims against their own?
8 A. Well, as far as I remember, I did this interview with Mr. Beara
9 in 2002, so that was eight or nine years ago, and I believe you
10 understand that I cannot remember everything. But what I do remember,
11 and what my impression was, are two things: Firstly, that Mr. Beara
12 claimed that, at the relevant time, when the events in Srebrenica
13 occurred, he was not in that location but, rather, in the Bihac area;
14 and, secondly, he wanted to say, or prove, though he couldn't, but he
15 kept insisting and claiming, and several times I omitted that because he
16 kept repeating that everything had been engineered for the purposes of
17 propaganda by the Muslims themselves. And if I can interpret him freely
18 now, he said that there were some victims, but that the numbers were not
19 at all the ones that were broadcast by the Muslim media and some
20 international media in Europe and elsewhere in the world.
21 Q. When you say "victims," do you mean victims of the VRS; or when
22 you say "victims," do you mean victims in the sense that the Muslims
23 perpetrated the crimes against Muslim -- against Muslims?
24 A. No, no. As far as I understood him, he said that there were
25 victims but that their numbers were much fewer than the media claimed.
1 And it is also true one can see that from the interview, I think that
2 there is Mr. Beara's claim which is repeated twice in the interview, that
3 the Muslims, or the Bosniaks, the members of their armed forces, came
4 into mutual conflict and, as far as I remember, I think he also offered
5 some proof of that and that that came, as far as I can tell, from a
6 highly ranked French officer. He offered proof - that's what he told me
7 and what I had published - that the Muslims, the members of their armed
8 forces, had argued among themselves, had started fighting amongst
9 themselves, and that there were some victims, as a result of that.
10 Q. At the time that he told you this, during the course of the
11 interview, was that your understanding of the events that had occurred
12 back in 1995?
13 A. Well, I cannot say how the events had developed because I was not
14 in the area at the time. I had some information about events in
15 Srebrenica, Zepa and Bratunac, and that part of Bosnia-Herzegovina, but
16 it came from media, what I saw on TV or read in the press. I had no
17 reason not to trust Mr. Beara, especially as he seemed quite convincing.
18 I could see that the accusations against him voiced by General Krstic,
19 Vojislav Seselj, and some Muslim media were something that hit him really
20 hard. And I remember that when he went away from his apartment that, on
21 this occasion, he wanted to say his truth and his point of view about
22 everything that occurred there.
23 Q. All right. Let me take you to page 6 in the English. And we can
24 see a question at the very bottom of page 6 in the English which is:
25 "You participated in the operation of the Serbian forces entering
2 Is a question. And we'll find the answer on the top of page 7
3 which is, I think in part, what you were just referring to were
4 Colonel Beara's answer to you is:
6 And he says:
7 "Nor did I know that it was being prepared," that is the
8 operation of the Serbian forces entering Srebrenica. "My assignment was
9 not to participate in preparing military operations. The operations
10 Department of the Staff is in charge of that. I was involved in
11 intelligence work. I was a counter-intelligence officer. When that
12 operation started, I was on the Bihac front."
13 Which is what you referred to; right?
14 You'll have to answer for the record.
15 A. Yes, yes.
16 Q. He then says:
17 "I returned when it was over," and says, "one day when I was
18 taking mail to General Mladic, I saw a large number of buses on the road
19 leading from Bratunac to Zepa and Srebrenica."
20 And he says that:
21 "The vehicles were sent from all over Bosnia to transfer the
22 Muslims to Tuzla via Kalesija."
23 He says:
24 "An UNPROFOR convoy was providing security."
25 And then he says:
1 "Stories immediately started circulated in the press, even our
2 own papers, of a crime and of mass killings of the Muslims."
3 In relation to that, let me ask, first, did you ask him about his
4 knowledge of the transfer en masse of these Muslims from Srebrenica? Did
5 you ask him about that during the course of the interview?
6 A. No, I did not ask him such a question.
7 Q. Is that because you considered the transfer of these individuals,
8 of these people, en masse, from Srebrenica after the army had entered the
9 enclave to be separate and apart from the Srebrenica operation, or for
10 some other reason?
11 A. Not for that reason. When I look at the question and Mr. Beara's
12 answer now, and that was also obvious when I testified in the Popovic
13 case, I obviously did not do my work professionally, and I should have
14 asked him an additional question when he said "one day." And it's not
15 really clear what day it was when he saw those trucks or buses, whatever
16 he mentioned.
17 As for the transfer of these people in the convoys, I watched
18 that on television. I know that that happened. Mr. Mladic was also
19 there, as far as I can remember. And he guaranteed to the civilians, the
20 women and children that nothing would happen to them. I can still see
21 that picture in my mind because it was broadcast in the electronic media
22 many times. However, it is obvious that Mr. Beara somehow disrupted my
23 attention because I asked him where he was at the time, and he briefly
24 responded that he was at the Bihac front and then he said that he had
25 seen the buses and trucks. I did not sufficiently insist on that, for
1 him to clarify that for me, when he was there. He said that he was
2 carrying mail. He should have told me when he was carrying mail. That
3 remained unclear.
4 Q. Did he share with you what he knew about this transfer of these
5 individuals from the enclave? Did he tell you how it came about or who
6 was involved in that, independently of you asking him about it?
7 Voluntarily, so to speak.
8 A. No. As far as I recall, he didn't try to explain in any detail
9 how those people were transferred. The women, the elderly, and children
10 from Srebrenica to other locations. He didn't explain that.
11 Q. Did he say anything about the men that weren't transferred with
12 those people, with the women and the children and some of the elderly?
13 Did he tell you about what happened to the men that were also in the
14 enclave and why they weren't transported out, together with the women and
15 the children and some elderly? Did he mention that?
16 A. No. He did not discuss it in that way. I think that part of the
17 interview was published, where Mr. Beara asserted that the unit of
18 Naser Oric practically pulled out of Srebrenica and that they captured a
19 Praga of theirs with a crew. He stated that the Bosniak officers asked
20 to be let through so that the crew would not be harmed, and they were
22 I think he mentioned a corps, saying that that unit managed to
23 get out of the encirclement. And he also said that General Delic himself
24 inspected that unit in Tuzla following the withdrawal. I believe I
25 mentioned that in the interview. It would mean that most of the
1 able-bodied men who had arms managed to get out, and that was his
3 Q. All right.
4 Now you can see in your article, itself, you, yourself, have
5 written down that Colonel Beara said that:
6 "Stories immediately started circulating in the press, even our
7 own papers, of a crime and of mass killings of the Muslims."
8 And you, yourself, mentioned just a moment ago that you were
9 aware of some of these stories?
10 JUDGE FLUEGGE: Could we please move to that relevant part you
11 are referring to.
12 MR. VANDERPUYE: Yes, Mr. President. It is actually right on the
13 screen. It's the last sentence --
14 JUDGE FLUEGGE: Oh I see it.
15 MR. VANDERPUYE: -- of the first paragraph.
16 JUDGE FLUEGGE: Thank you very much. Now I see it.
17 MR. VANDERPUYE:
18 Q. I'd like to show you a couple of articles. We'll start with
19 65 ter 7418.
20 This is an article, Mr. President, that was not part of the
21 Prosecution's original 65 ter list but is responsive, obviously, to the
22 issues, both in the article itself and as per the witness's testimony
23 because it concerns events that were published concerning the --
24 concerning the Srebrenica events.
25 JUDGE FLUEGGE: Mr. Gajic.
1 MR. GAJIC: [Interpretation] Mr. President, as you could probably
2 see in our estimate we would need for the cross-examination of this
3 witness, we reserved our right to place an objection for the OTP's
4 request to include documents 65 ter 7416, 7418, and 7419 on the list.
5 There is a number of reasons why we object. Before that, I just
6 wanted to remind you that you are well aware of the practice of this
7 Defence not to object to any new documents being introduced, in spite of
8 the fact that some of them may not have been on the original 65 ter list.
9 However, these are newspaper articles by Mr. Block and we see no basis
10 due to which these documents should be put to this witness. First of
11 all, there is no mention of them in the 65 ter summary of the Prosecution
12 that they intended to use these articles. This witness's testimony is
13 limited only to the circumstances under which Mr. Beara provided the
14 interview and nothing more than.
15 This witness's testimony in the Popovic case --
16 JUDGE FLUEGGE: Mr. Gajic, I have to interrupt you. I would like
17 to ask the accused, Mr. Tolimir, if he objects, and he may request that
18 you address the Chamber. This is a bit beyond the normal proceedings, if
19 you are raising such an objection.
20 Mr. Tolimir, do you object to the addition of these three
21 documents to the 65 ter exhibit list by the Prosecution?
22 You may do that. This is your right. You can ask the Chamber to
23 allow Mr. Gajic to address the Chamber.
24 What is your position?
25 THE ACCUSED: [Interpretation] Thank you, Mr. President. I'd like
1 to greet all those present, and may these hearings be concluded in
2 accordance with God's will and not my own. I would like to greet
3 Mr. Simic. And I would kindly ask that no propaganda be admitted, and
4 the witness testified to that effect.
5 Now the Prosecutor is trying to have that admitted. If you
6 believe it is necessary to have such material admitted, we could present
7 a lot of Muslim books which also speak of events in Srebrenica, and we
8 might ask for them to be admitted as well. I believe my legal assistant
9 should be permitted to explain our Defence's position.
10 JUDGE FLUEGGE: just to clarify, we are not discussing the
11 question, if these documents would be admitted into evidence. At the
12 moment, we are discussing the request of the Prosecution to add them to
13 their 65 ter exhibit list, which is a different matter.
14 I understand your last sentence as a request to allow Mr. Gajic
15 to address the Chamber on this topic; is that correct?
16 THE ACCUSED: [Interpretation] Yes, it is, Mr. President. Thank
18 JUDGE FLUEGGE: Mr. Vanderpuye, do you have a position to that?
19 THE ACCUSED: [Interpretation] Please allow him to conclude his
21 JUDGE FLUEGGE: Mr. Vanderpuye, in relation to the position of
22 Mr. Gajic to address the Chamber, do you have a position.
23 MR. VANDERPUYE: Yes, I do, actually. I think is entirely
24 appropriate to add these exhibits to the 65 --
25 JUDGE FLUEGGE: No, I asked you if have a position to the request
1 of Mr. Tolimir to allow Mr. Gajic to address the Chamber.
2 MR. VANDERPUYE: I'm sorry. No, I have no problem with that. If
3 that's what he requires and would like, I would welcome it.
4 [Trial Chamber confers]
5 JUDGE FLUEGGE: The reason why I asked you, Mr. Tolimir, was the
6 decision of the Chamber of the 28th of April, 2010. The Chamber decided
7 that day that the audience of Mr. Gajic, the right of audience, is
8 limited to addressing the Chamber on legal issues that arise during the
9 proceedings upon a specific request for such, by the accused being
10 granted by the Chamber.
11 This is the reason why I interrupted Mr. Gajic, and the Chamber
12 is of the view that Mr. Gajic should address the Chamber on this topic.
13 I would like, first, to give Mr. Gajic the floor to continue with
14 his objection. And then you may respond, Mr. Vanderpuye.
15 Mr. Gajic.
16 MR. GAJIC: [Interpretation] Mr. President, I'd like to apologise
17 first for not having followed the prescribed procedure completely.
18 In addition to what I've already said concerning the 65 ter
19 summary for this witness, it is not clear from it that this witness was
20 about to testify about the events in question.
21 Another thing I wanted to object to is the following:
22 Mr. Robert Block is neither on the witness list, nor can this witness, at
23 least to the extent of our information, tell us anything about
24 Mr. Robert Block, who authored the three articles that the OTP is now
25 seeking to add to their 65 ter list. In our view, those articles have no
1 probative value for the simple reason that they often refer to
2 unidentified sources and they are nothing more than media reports
3 published as such.
4 Therefore, their probative value is basically none.
5 I would conclude my arguments, having said that, and I hope I
6 have sufficiently explained why we believe these documents should not be
7 included on the 65 ter list at this stage.
8 JUDGE FLUEGGE: Thank you very much, Mr. Gajic.
9 Mr. Vanderpuye.
10 MR. VANDERPUYE: Thank you, Mr. President.
11 The first thing is that these documents are clearly relevant and
12 probative of material issues arising out of the indictment. They are
13 relevant and probative in respect of the fact that they were published.
14 It's appropriate to put the fact of a journalistic publication about the
15 events concerning Srebrenica to a journalist who, himself, authored such
16 a publication, albeit many years after the fact, but throughout the
17 period of time -- but worked as a journalist throughout that period of
18 time up until the present day. It is entirely an appropriate issue to
19 put to this witness.
20 The second thing is that the fact of publication or the
21 information that was available in the media during and around the time of
22 the events in question is directly referred to in his article. It's
23 referred to in the paragraph that I just read into the record, where,
24 during the course of the interview, Colonel Beara, himself, makes
25 reference to media reports concerning crimes and other events related to
1 the Srebrenica operation.
2 Not only that, but the witnesses, himself, said during the course
3 of his testimony today that he, himself, was aware of certain reports
4 concerning the Srebrenica events at the time. And so I think it is
5 appropriate in these circumstances to put these documents to the witness:
6 First, to see whether or not the witness is aware of the fact that these
7 documents -- that these stories were published; and, secondly, as to the
8 content. That is, what was published. It doesn't go necessarily to the
9 truth of the matter that this fact happened or that fact happened, but
10 what it goes to is the question of what was being reported about
11 Srebrenica, true or untrue. That is of relevance to this witness's
12 testimony and also of relevance to the accused's knowledge of these
13 facts, to the general knowledge in the VRS about these facts. Remember,
14 we have witnesses who have testified here ranking as high as the chief
15 of -- of intelligence in the VRS who have claimed not to have any
16 knowledge of three events. And so it is a salient issue of relevance to
17 these proceedings and entirely appropriate to put to this witness as is
18 mentioned in his article and is the subject matter of his testimony
20 Mr. Gajic says that this was not part of the 65 ter summary, in
21 particular. But what is part of the 65 ter summary, undoubtedly, is the
22 article itself that he wrote. And what is part of that article,
23 indisputably, is that he reported that Colonel Beara said that there were
24 media reports concerning the Srebrenica events as he wrote down in the
25 article, so it is an entirely appropriate avenue to pursue.
1 And that's the reason why I think it is appropriate to add it to
2 the 65 ter list, to show it to the witness. Ultimately, the
3 Trial Chamber will determine whatever weight to give it, if it decides to
4 admit them.
5 JUDGE FLUEGGE: To understand your position better, I would like
6 that ask you: All the three articles were published in "The Independent"
7 newspaper; is that correct?
8 MR. VANDERPUYE: That's correct, Mr. President.
9 JUDGE FLUEGGE: And all three articles were published in
10 July 1995?
11 MR. VANDERPUYE: That's correct.
12 JUDGE FLUEGGE: And you are saying that you want to show, by
13 using these documents, that there have been -- yes, some news articles
14 about the Srebrenica events at the relevant time?
15 MR. VANDERPUYE: That's correct, Mr. President.
16 JUDGE FLUEGGE: Mr. Gajic.
17 MR. GAJIC: [Interpretation] Mr. President, I would briefly touch
18 upon one thing that the Prosecutor said.
19 Namely, the article that is the core of this witness's testimony
20 is an interview, basically, which understands recording the words of
21 another person; in this specific case, of Mr. Beara. In the article,
22 there is no comment made by the witness. He did not go into analysing
23 those events or anything that had to do with Srebrenica. This was simply
24 conveying information uttered by someone else.
25 When making your decision on our objection, I would kindly ask
1 you to bear that in mind as well.
2 JUDGE FLUEGGE: Judge Nyambe.
3 JUDGE NYAMBE: Just as a clarification from you, Mr. Vanderpuye,
4 where is the journalist, Robert Block; do you know?
5 MR. VANDERPUYE: I don't know off the top of my head. I think he
6 is in the United States.
7 JUDGE NYAMBE: Thank you.
8 MR. VANDERPUYE: You're welcome, Your Honour.
9 [Trial Chamber confers]
10 MR. VANDERPUYE: Mr. President, I did want to add one thing that
11 I think may be of --
12 JUDGE FLUEGGE: [Overlapping speakers] ... please.
13 MR. VANDERPUYE: The first thing is that I've -- I've learned,
14 since you've started debating the issue, that Mr. Block is in Florida in
15 the United States.
16 The second thing I should point out to you, I think, which is
17 important is that these are public documents. In other words, if you
18 type in his name in the Internet, you'll get these articles. A number of
19 these documents have been disclosed already to the Defence, despite the
20 fact that they're public, as late as April of 2010. So this is not a
21 surprise to the Defence or inaccessible to the Defence. Indeed, when I
22 was preparing the binder for this witness, I was able to find these
23 articles on the Internet, as recently as a couple of days ago, Thursday
24 or Wednesday of last week. So it seems to me that this is not something
25 that the Defence could not have reasonably anticipated, particularly in
1 view of the fact that the article itself mentions publications soon after
2 the Srebrenica events.
3 So as a matter of notice, it seems to me that the Defence is
4 clearly on notice of this issue, certainly if not specifically to this
5 accused, then more generally in the case. And it has arisen, as I
6 mentioned before, with respect to the knowledge of these events, as has
7 been testified to by other witnesses in this case, including,
8 intelligence officers and security officers, as well as people that were
9 actually on the ground. And can I point to the transcript in respect of
10 this issue, specifically with relation to one witness, if the
11 Trial Chamber would like to -- to develop that or like me to elaborate on
12 that further.
13 JUDGE FLUEGGE: To clarify the matter, I would like to ask the
14 witness: I just checked the transcript and your answers you were -- have
15 given to the Prosecutor, do you remember having seen on TV or in the
16 media any reports about the events in Srebrenica in July 1995 in Serbia?
17 Did you -- did you say anything about that during your
18 examination today?
19 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] I have to clarify one thing about
21 I started working as a journalist in Serbia in May of -- or
22 April of 1995. That is to say, a month and a half before Operation Flash
23 in Croatia. I had not worked for over two and a half years prior to
24 that. I was in Vrsac staying with my uncle for private reasons which are
25 irrelevant for my testimony.
1 Now, whether, in 1995, and in what month I heard or saw or read
2 anything about Srebrenica is difficult for me to say. But I need to say
3 the following: As time went by, there was more and more information by
4 way of newspaper articles, broadcast programmes and content in the
5 electronic media, depending on the source. The case of Srebrenica was
6 very interesting for all of us living in western -- western Balkans; that
7 is to say, in the successor states of the SFRY. There were such texts
8 authored by Zagreb editorial rooms and Bosniaks had their own view. The
9 Serb media in Bosnia-Herzegovina had their own; whereas, for Serbia, the
10 media were divided. One club reported on the issue of Srebrenica one
11 way, and the other in another way.
12 There was much confusion. I saw many programmes about Srebrenica
13 and read many articles, but I can't tell you who wrote what and in what
14 newspaper. That would be very difficult.
15 JUDGE FLUEGGE: Thank you very much for that explanation.
16 Mr. Vanderpuye, Mr. Tolimir, Mr. Gajic, the Chamber has
17 considered your request to add these three documents to the 65 ter
18 exhibit list, but the Chamber is not persuaded that the -- that you have
19 laid a good foundation, a convincing foundation for this request. We --
20 in the past we had several occasions when you requested such an addition
21 to the 65 ter exhibit list. There was no objection by the Defence and,
22 therefore, in most cases, we granted this addition. Today, the Defence
23 put the objections to the Chamber, and the Chamber is of the view that we
24 don't see a connection to the current witness, the witness here present
25 in the courtroom.
1 There may have been quite a lot of articles in the world. These
2 are three articles in "The Independent" newspaper, published in another
3 state and not in the region. The witness can't testify about these
4 articles. He just explained further what he said earlier on page 8,
5 lines 10 to 12, that there were different media at the relevant time,
6 even in the region, but with different sources and different information.
7 The Chamber is not of the view that this witness is the right
8 witness to put additional media articles from another part of the world
9 and to testify about the existence of these articles or of the content of
10 these articles.
11 This is the reason why we will, in this case, not grant your
13 Please continue.
14 MR. VANDERPUYE: Thank you, Mr. President. I do understand -- I
15 understand the Court's point of view. I do have -- nevertheless, I do
16 have an article that has already been admitted in this case by the same
17 author, whom I think it would be appropriate to put questions to this
18 witness concerning the content of this article.
19 There are a couple of issues. One is to establish whether or
20 not --
21 JUDGE FLUEGGE: Please indicate which article you are referring
23 MR. VANDERPUYE: I have P1254.
24 JUDGE FLUEGGE: Which -- through which witness did you tender it
25 and we have received it?
1 MR. VANDERPUYE: Just a moment I'll find out for you.
2 [Trial Chamber and Registrar confer]
3 [Prosecution counsel confer]
4 JUDGE FLUEGGE: I was told it was a protected witness.
5 MR. VANDERPUYE: That's correct, Mr. President. PW-063, for the
7 JUDGE FLUEGGE: This article on the screen is in evidence, as
8 P1254. You may put it to the witness.
9 [Trial Chamber and Registrar confer]
10 [Prosecution counsel confer]
11 MR. VANDERPUYE:
12 Q. Mr. Simic what we have here is an article, as can you see that is
13 written by -- I'm sorry.
14 MR. VANDERPUYE: Mr. President?
15 JUDGE FLUEGGE: Please continue.
16 MR. VANDERPUYE: Thank you, Mr. President.
17 Q. What we have here is an article, Mr. Simic. It's dated
18 25th July 1995. And it's entitled: "River killings shed light on scale
19 of horror after the fall of Srebrenica." And it says, "By Robert Block,
20 Loznica, Serbia."
21 In the first paragraph of this article, we see some discussion
22 about an individual who Mr. Block writes is a person by the name of
23 Resid Halilovic and he talks about this individual throughout the
25 In the second paragraph, it says that:
1 "On the 15th of July, four days after Bosnian Serbs overran
2 Srebrenica, Mr. Halilovic was discovered lying in the shallow water of
3 the Bosnian side of the Drina river," and he was badly bleeding and
4 screaming for help.
5 First, have you heard about what we've gone through so far? Did
6 you hear about that in or around July 1995?
7 A. I cannot answer that question, because I actually do not
8 remember. This first and last name seemed to exist in my subconscious,
9 but I cannot place them anywhere specific.
10 Q. Okay. Throughout the article, you will see that this individual
11 was apparently treated in Serbia.
12 MR. VANDERPUYE: And if we go to the next page. And I think
13 we'll have to go to the second page in the B/C/S as well. It may be the
14 last -- second-to-last paragraph in the B/C/S, but it reads that:
15 "The officials of the United Nations High Commissioner for
16 Refugees in Belgrade say they are aware of several cases of Muslims from
17 Srebrenica who fled across the Drina to Serbia only to be handed back to
18 the Bosnian Serbs and an uncertain fate. Thousands of men from
19 Srebrenica were taken prisoner by the Bosnian Serbs after their
20 'liberation' of the Muslim enclave on 11 July. Some estimates of
21 prisoners executed are as high as 4.000."
22 Now, you can see that this was reported from Loznica, Serbia. It
23 also refers to officials of the UNHCR in Belgrade who make these
25 And my question to you is: Were you aware of the facts and
1 circumstances as reported in this article in or around July 1995.
2 A. No. Certainly not in July 1995. Because I already said in 1995,
3 in March or April, I started working in Belgrade. For three years before
4 that, I was unemployed and was not working as a journalist at all. Later
5 on, in some newspapers from Sarajevo, or excerpts from these articles and
6 from these media which were quoted by some Belgrade papers, I saw such
7 stories. Namely, that the Bosniaks who had crossed the Drina into Serbia
8 were sent back. Even that some of them were provided with medical
9 assistance, if they were injured, at the medical institutions in Serbia.
10 I was reading about that for years, but I did not really investigate that
11 or pay special attention to it. So I really cannot say anything specific
12 about it.
13 Q. Let me ask you one other question.
14 MR. VANDERPUYE: If we can go back to page one of this document
15 and the fourth paragraph of the document.
16 Q. It says that:
17 "In the days after Srebrenica fell, residents reported seeing
18 'truck loads' of men being brought to shallow pits dug on the other side
19 of the river bank and shot by Bosnian Muslim [sic] soldiers. 'Dozens of
20 people stood on a hill here and watched this,' said one Serb from the
21 area who did not want to be identified. 'Last week I saw, with my own
22 eyes, 50 men shot as they were forced to jump off the back of a truck
23 into a pit.'"
24 And my question is the same to you: Were you aware of the facts
25 and circumstances as reported in this article back in July of 1995? Is
1 this among the stories that you heard about?
2 A. It seems similar to one of the stories which I read in the
3 Bosnian and partly also Croatian media. But what was really happening,
4 what the truth was, that is something I do not believe I am an adequate
5 witness to answer.
6 Q. Yes. I'm just interested to know what you heard about, or what
7 you heard was reported around that time. And you've indicated - and
8 correct me if I'm wrong - that this is, or these represent some of the
9 things that you heard about in July of 1995?
10 A. As for the events in Srebrenica, Zepa, and the area along the
11 Drina in Bosnia and Herzegovina, that was something that the Serbian
12 media reported little about in 1995; and when they did, it was rather
13 brief. Later on, as time went by, and as some non-governmental
14 organisations and individual media dealt more seriously with the truth
15 about Srebrenica and began to investigate it, there were many more
16 articles published in the press.
17 From Serbian, Bosnian and even some Macedonian and Montenegrin
18 sources, many articles were published which also dealt with crimes
19 against the Serbs; also in Bosnia and in the vicinity of both Srebrenica
20 and Zepa. It happened more than once that in a newspaper, you would have
21 an article on half a page, or even a full page, discussing what happened
22 to the Bosniaks from Srebrenica; for example, quoting sources from the
23 Zagreb or Sarajevo media. And on the other page; for example, on the
24 right page, would you have a whole page including the testimony of a Serb
25 who suffered or whose family perished or a report about the perishing of
1 Serbs in villages surrounding Srebrenica. So in one and the same
2 newspaper, there were both kinds of articles.
3 I did not really deal much with the crimes committed in
4 Bosnia and Herzegovina, just a little about what happened in Croatia
5 because that was where I used to live before the war. But as for this
6 subject, Srebrenica, and, in particular, this period that you insist on,
7 Mr. Prosecutor, I mean 1995, a lot of time has passed since, almost 15
8 years, and at the time I was just beginning to work again as a
9 journalist, and I had all kinds of problems. So perhaps I could say
10 that, at the beginning, in 1995, 1996, 1997, I didn't really pay that
11 much attention to Srebrenica and what was reported about it because there
12 was so much information. This happened, that happened. Then a fortnight
13 ago, it would turn out that it wasn't true. They would report that
14 somebody had gone missing or had been killed, and then he would appear
15 later on and it would turn out that he was alive.
16 On the other hand, I was more focussed on Croatia, because many
17 of my family members stayed there. My brother, who is now in Slovenia,
18 was wounded at the time and because of that, I also had to leave Croatia.
19 So I was preoccupied with some other private problems and did not deal
20 with this too much.
21 Q. Mr. Simic, I ask you --
22 JUDGE FLUEGGE: Mr. Vanderpuye, I think the witness repeated now
23 several times what kind of knowledge he had at the relevant time. You
24 received the answer he could provide you with, and you should move to
25 another topic.
1 MR. VANDERPUYE: That's where I'm going, Mr. President.
2 JUDGE FLUEGGE: Very good. Go ahead, please.
3 MR. VANDERPUYE:
4 Q. Mr. Simic in your answer you represented, or you said, rather,
5 that you considered Serbian media in respect of the issues that I've
6 asked you about. And my question to you is -- and you can hopefully
7 answer it directly, is: Did you consider other sources of information
8 concerning the events in Srebrenica besides Serbian media? And you can
9 answer yes or no and that probably ought to suffice.
10 A. Yes, of course.
11 Q. Now, did you consider any of this media in respect of the
12 interview that you conducted with Mr. Beara in 2002, in order to prepare
13 for it, for example?
14 A. Yes, I did.
15 Q. And so when Mr. Beara made the reference to stories that
16 circulated immediately after the Srebrenica operation, do you have any
17 idea what he was referring to, what stories and from what sources?
18 A. I'm not sure if I did not understand Mr. Beara properly or if you
19 have not understood me properly.
20 Mr. Beara said that he was surprised when General Krstic linked
21 him to Srebrenica, not only him but some other officers of the VRS.
22 However, he said -- yes?
23 Q. I'm referring to what Colonel Beara told you about crimes and
24 mass killings of the Muslims, that you refer to in the English of page 6
25 and 7 of your article, where you say that Mr. Beara said that stories
1 immediately started circulating in the press "even our own papers," which
2 I take it to mean Serbian papers, "of a crime and of mass killings of the
4 What did you take that to mean? What papers, what press, and
5 what sources?
6 A. Well, there, he talked about the Serbian newspapers and the
7 Serbian media, as far as I understood him. At the time, in the 1990s, up
8 until the 5th of October, some of the newspapers were state-owned and
9 were under direct control of the regime. When crimes or incidents
10 occurred, they were rather weary and they offered only selective
11 information. However, already at the time, there were many independent
12 privately owned media which reported much more freely. They would use
13 more sources, and sometimes even quoted or took over reports of other
14 media from the region. So that when Mr. Beara said that the first number
15 of the victims that was mentioned was 14- to 16.000 men and boys, he
16 probably meant that the Serbian newspapers reported about that. And that
17 is true, what he said at the time, that all sorts of information was
18 published. But it is also true that as time went by, the number was
19 diminished, and then, most often, the one that was mentioned was 7.000
21 Q. So the reports of crimes that were circulated immediately after
22 the Srebrenica operations was information that you, yourself, were aware
23 of at that time; is that right?
24 A. Yes, I was aware of it in 1995, 1996, 1997, and as time went by,
25 I knew more and more because more information became available even to
1 ordinary people and, in particular, to the journalists.
2 But I have to say that confusion reigned at the time. For two or
3 three months, one information was reported about. Then, on another
4 occasion, there would be some different information or a third piece of
5 information, depending on the source, and it created confusion among the
6 people. The people did not really what was actually happening. And even
7 us, the journalists, we didn't know what the truth was or what happened
8 at some points.
9 Q. I take it that you're aware that Colonel Beara was convicted
10 concerning his involvement in the murders of thousands of Muslim
11 prisoners in July 1995 following the Popovic trial in which you
12 testified. Yes?
13 JUDGE FLUEGGE: This question is already answered, if I'm not
14 mistaken, Mr. Vanderpuye.
15 Mr. Simic added that he is not sure about, if this is the final
17 Mr. Gajic.
18 MR. GAJIC: [Interpretation] Mr. President, I'm not certain if it
19 is an error, I'm looking at the record just now, I think that
20 Mr. Vanderpuye was translated as if he said that the judgement against
21 Mr. Beara was final. But Mr. Vanderpuye didn't say that because, as we
22 know, the appeals proceedings are underway in this case at the moment.
23 JUDGE FLUEGGE: I don't see the word final in the transcript.
24 Mr. Gajic.
25 MR. GAJIC: [Interpretation] Mr. President, that was how it was
1 interpreted into Serbian, and as it was a question that the witness was
2 asked, I had to intervene because the witness, himself, said that he was
3 not sure whether the judgement was final or not, so I just wanted to make
4 sure that this is clear in the Serbian language as well.
5 JUDGE FLUEGGE: Thank you very much for that.
6 Mr. Vanderpuye.
7 MR. VANDERPUYE:
8 Q. Knowing what you do now, Mr. Simic, and given Mr. Beara's
9 conviction, do you still believe that he told you the truth during the
10 course of your interview with him in 2002?
11 A. Well, I still believe what I believed then. He made an
12 impression on me as a man who was speaking the truth. Especially as
13 regards several occasions that, at the relevant time, he was not in the
14 Srebrenica area but, rather, in the Bihac area; that he had great
15 difficulties only after Mr. Vojislav Seselj had publicly attacked him in
16 the media; that he had many problems and was concerned about his family;
17 and that after 35 or -6 years as serving as a honourable officer, as he
18 said, that this all hit him hard and considering all the circumstances,
19 the impression he left with me was that he was saying the truth.
20 Q. Thank you very much, Mr. Simic. I don't have any questions for
22 MR. VANDERPUYE: That concludes my direct examination,
23 Mr. President. Thank you.
24 JUDGE FLUEGGE: Thank you very much, Mr. Vanderpuye.
25 Now it is your turn, Mr. Tolimir, to commence your
1 cross-examination. Would you prefer to start immediately or would you
2 like to have the break now and then commence your examination after the
3 break? It's up to you.
4 THE ACCUSED: [Interpretation] Thank you. We can take the break
5 so that we do not disrupt the continuity of questions and answers. Thank
7 JUDGE FLUEGGE: That's fine.
8 Sir, we must have our first break now, and we will resume after
9 approximately half an hour. I think five minutes past 4.00 should be
11 --- Recess taken at 3.39 p.m.
12 --- On resuming at 4.09 p.m.
13 JUDGE FLUEGGE: Yes, Mr. Tolimir. Now you may commence your
14 cross-examination. You have the floor.
15 THE ACCUSED: [Interpretation] Thank you, Mr. President. Once
16 again, I wish to greet everyone present and I hope that this day ends in
17 accordance with God's will rather than with my wishes.
18 Cross-examination by Mr. Tolimir:
19 Q. I wish the witness a pleasant stay among us and a pleasant return
20 back home.
21 A. Thank you, General.
22 Q. During the cross-examination [as interpreted], on page 71
23 [as interpreted], and the towards the end on page 31, you were asked
24 whether you know -- on page 71, whether you know that Beara was convicted
25 for crimes that have to do with these killings. And on another page you
2 "Knowing that Beara was convicted, do you still believe that he
3 was telling the truth?"
4 My question is this: Do you know that Beara has been convicted
5 only from the media, or do you have any specific information or proof on
6 the basis of what he was convicted, or do you know this only from the
8 A. That Mr. Beara was convicted, but I said I'm not sure whether it
9 is final or not. I have heard that from the media, that is to say, from
10 an agency, piece of news, because there are two news agencies which
11 reported about this in Serbia, "Beta" and "Tanjug," not just about
12 Mr. Beara but everyone who was in the preceding.
13 JUDGE FLUEGGE: Mr. Tolimir, you made a reference to page 71 of
14 today's transcript, but we have only reached page 33. I think that was
15 slip -- yeah. You made a mistake. I think you were referring to
16 page 31; is that correct?
17 Mr. Gajic.
18 MR. GAJIC: [Interpretation] Mr. President, the first reference
19 mentioned by Mr. Tolimir was 7, page 7, but the line was 1 or 2. And
20 after that, I think it has been recorded properly. After that, page 31
21 was mentioned. So these are two separate references.
22 JUDGE FLUEGGE: Thank you very much.
23 Go ahead, please, Mr. Tolimir.
24 THE ACCUSED: [Interpretation] Thank you, Mr. President.
25 MR. TOLIMIR: [Interpretation]
1 Q. On page 7, in line 19, the question was this: Does that mean that
2 you know that Srebrenica was Muslim propaganda?
3 On page 7, 24, you said Beara was the one who said it was all
4 Muslim propaganda, that there were some victims, but that the numbers
5 were not those reported by the Muslims in their media, more or less. I'm
6 paraphrasing now what you said.
7 This is my question: Was it during a long period that this was
8 the media image created by the media, as the one that Beara talked about
9 here in three different ethnic communities.
10 A. It was roughly as Mr. Beara put it. There's Serbian media, the
11 majority of them at least, not all, though, not all, claimed -- or,
12 rather, hinted that this was Muslim propaganda. Whereas, the Muslim and
13 some of the Croatian media claimed that this was a crime without
15 Q. Thank you. On page 8, line 12, you said:
16 "He said that there were some victims but much fewer than
17 reported in the media. He said that the Muslims had argued among
18 themselves and fought among themselves and that there were some
19 casualties as a result of that and that he offered information about this
20 to French officers."
21 Was that so? Thank you.
22 A. Yes, that was what Mr. Beara said.
23 Q. This is my question -- I apologise to the interpreters.
24 My question is this: Did the Muslim media also contribute to
25 this view an opinion on the Serbian and Muslim sides by their reports
1 about the number of casualties and how they were offered that some
2 Muslims should be killed so there would be an intervention? Did you have
3 sort of information and was something like that circulated in the public?
4 Thank you.
5 A. The Muslim, that is to say the Bosniak media, let me say,
6 insisted on the story about genocide, crime, and a huge number of
7 casualties. That was accepted by many non-governmental organisations,
8 even in Serbia. And a greater part of the international public also
9 referred to Srebrenica as a crime. It's something that was final, that
10 the crime occurred there.
11 Q. Can we now please see 1D53 so that we can first see how the
12 Muslim side reported about this in June 1998. Once we have a look at
13 this, I will ask you my question. Thank you.
14 This is an interview with Hakija Meholjic, who was a member of
15 the War Presidency of the Srebrenica, and at the same time he was the
16 president of the SDP for Srebrenica. It's the second strongest party.
17 And he says: "500 [as interpreted] Muslim lives for military
18 intervention." He published that in newspapers in Sarajevo, in Bosnia,
19 called "Dani" on the 22nd of June 1998. And he says, the journalist asks
21 "In your accusations of the state leadership, and particularly of
22 President Izetbegovic, over a share of the Bosniak blame for the
23 Srebrenica tragedy, the departure of the Srebrenica delegation to
24 Sarajevo in September 1993 for talks on the fate of this enclave cannot
25 be avoided?"
1 I have read the introductory question which the journalist asked.
2 Now I will only read a part of what Mr. Meholjic said in the fourth line
3 from bottom up.
4 JUDGE FLUEGGE: Mr. Tolimir, just to have a clear record, on
5 page -- I don't know if it is a translation issue or if you made a
6 mistake. On page 35, line 14, you are recorded as having said, "500
7 Muslim lives for military intervention." If you look into -- on to the
8 document on the screen, you see in the document we see the figure of
9 "5.000 Muslim lives for military intervention."
10 If you would agree to that, then you should continue, please.
11 THE ACCUSED: [Interpretation] Thank you, Mr. President. It is as
12 you said, and is as it says here in the English version. And Meholjic
13 then says in the first paragraph - I'm reading from the bottom - the last
14 five lines, what is under quotation marks. I quote:
15 "What do you think about the swap of Srebrenica for Vogosca?
16 There was a silence for a while. And then I said, Mr. President, if this
17 is a done thing, then you should not have invited us here, because we
18 have to return and face the people and personally accept the burden of
19 that decision."
20 This is my question: Was there any information in the public,
21 both ours and the Muslim ones, that Srebrenica was to be swapped for
22 Vogosca and that the swapping was -- or had been announced since 1993, as
23 Meholjic says here. Were you aware of that or not?
24 A. One could hear such rumours, especially in the then-opposition
25 papers or from opposition leaders in Serbia as well as among certain VJ
1 officers. I heard such stories a number of times in different versions,
2 one of which is was the one you have just referred to. I can't specify
3 what year exactly it was, though. In any case, I know of that option,
4 although I don't know how accurate or true it is. I didn't see this
5 interview before, although I know this Hakija and I know the editorial
6 staff of this newspaper.
7 Q. Yes. It seems that in the "Dani" newspaper it is stated that he
8 refused Izetbegovic's offer, and then I quote his answer:
9 "We rejected it without any discussion. And he said, you know,
10 I was offered by Clinton in April 1993, after the fall of Cerska and
11 Konjevic Polje, that the Chetnik forces enter Srebrenica, carry out a
12 slaughter of 5.000 Muslims and then there be will be a military
14 My question is this: Did you also hear such stories in the media
15 on both sides, and did you know that -- gave an interview, this
16 Mr. Meholjic gave an interview to the "Dani" newspaper?
17 A. I don't know whether any Bosniak media reported on this. It is
18 the first time I see it. I don't remember any Belgrade papers carrying
19 this interview unless I missed it.
20 Q. Let's going to be page 2 of the interview. Let's see what
21 Meholjic says further about Srebrenica in 1995. He was a War Presidency
23 "When Srebrenica fell in 1995, you had a chance to address
24 President Izetbegovic?"
25 That was the journalist's question.
1 And in the second paragraph, Meholjic answers:
2 "I requested then that a state commission be formed to examine
3 the responsibility of the international community, the president, the
4 Army General Staff, the 2nd Army Corps, our responsibility. The people
5 are missing, he (President Izetbegovic) asked me what I would achieve by
6 doing that. Rasim Delic tried to say something too. But nobody gave him
7 a chance to speak."
8 Did you hear or did you know that the Muslims demanded political
9 responsibility and accountability by their state leadership for the
10 events in Srebrenica? Did you know anything about that from the media?
11 A. The Serb media reported that, quoting some media from Germany, I
12 believe, or German language newspapers in any case, as having mentioned
13 such requests. The problem was that such information was not always
14 taken seriously; at least that was my feel of things in Belgrade.
15 Q. Thank you. When you said that Beara mentioned those clashes
16 between the Muslims, the Prosecutor asked you whether, indeed, events
17 took such a turn. And then you stated:
18 "I had no reason to distrust Beara, and I believe the accusations
19 levelled against him were the reason why he decided to give me an
21 My question is this: When we read these articles today, could we
22 form the same conclusions you did at the time? That is to say, that
23 Beara was personally accused of something that even the Muslim media
24 blamed on some Muslims as carried by the Serbian media?
25 A. When I tested in the other case, I said the same thing. It was
1 my impression, as a human being not as a journalist, that Mr. Beara was
2 bitter because of everything that was going on. Perhaps it may be
3 important to say that when the Law on Co-operation with The Hague
4 Tribunal came into force in Serbia, a list of indictees was published for
5 Srebrenica. At the time, Mr. Beara was not on the list. His name
6 appeared subsequently, and he constantly claimed that that was because he
7 had come into conflict with paramilitary formations of Mr. Seselj in
8 Montenegro concerning a barracks which was within his area of
9 responsibility. At the time, he did not allow for something to take
10 place. There seems to have been an incident there. In short, it seems
11 he did not allow those paramilitary members to kidnap -- or, rather,
12 to -- to seize military combat vehicle.
13 Following that, Mr. Seselj kept attacking Beara in the media,
14 stating that he was a liar and it bothered him a lot. It also bothered
15 him what the Bosniak media wrote about him, stating that he was basically
16 the -- a brain behind everything that took place in Srebrenica.
17 Q. Thank you.
18 THE ACCUSED: [Interpretation] Could we please have this admitted
19 and then move to another document.
20 JUDGE FLUEGGE: How many pages does this document have?
21 Mr. Tolimir?
22 THE ACCUSED: [Interpretation] Thank you, Mr. President.
23 This document contains four pages. Not even four. But, yes,
24 half of the fourth page.
25 JUDGE FLUEGGE: Thank you. It will be received as an exhibit.
1 THE REGISTRAR: Your Honours, 65 ter document 1D53 shall be
2 assigned Exhibit D277. Thank you.
3 THE ACCUSED: [Interpretation] Thank you. D268, please.
4 MR. TOLIMIR: [Interpretation]
5 Q. We will see that even the authorities of Bosnia-Herzegovina
6 published documents mentioning a high number of victims. For example,
7 let's look at this document from the Ministry of the Interior of the
8 Republic of Bosnia-Herzegovina and its State Security Service; its Tuzla
9 sector. Let's took at paragraph 7 where it says:
10 "In further conversation, Enver stated that when the 285th and
11 282nd Brigade came out at around 10.00 on the same day, a Chetnik
12 paramilitary formation opened artillery fire on the remaining brigades
13 and civilians who happened to be at Buljin. In his estimate, around
14 1.000 civilians and soldiers were killed there."
15 [Microphone not activated]
16 THE INTERPRETER: Microphone, please.
17 MR. TOLIMIR: [Interpretation]
18 Q. "... so according to his estimate, some 1.000 soldiers and
19 civilians were killed there."
20 Without referring to some other statements which mention these
21 events involving some suicides and murders, my question is this: Can we
22 see from it that there were also casualties during combat, en masse?
23 There are five statements in total which refer to the same location; and
24 was there any information in the public that there were numerous
25 casualties sustained by the units attempting to break through?
1 A. I think I have partially answered it when responding to the
2 Prosecutor's question.
3 Mr. Beara said as well that a number of Muslim fighters were
4 killed in mutual conflict or in mutual fights. This was not the first
5 time I heard of it. Such information were in circulation even before he
6 told me that.
7 Q. Thank you. Let's look at D269, which refers to the same event.
8 JUDGE FLUEGGE: [Microphone not activated] ... now it works.
9 The last document and this one don't have an English translation
10 yet. They are both marked for identification, pending translation.
11 Please continue.
12 THE ACCUSED: [Interpretation] Thank you.
13 MR. TOLIMIR: [Interpretation]
14 Q. We see another document by the authorities of the Republic of
15 Bosnia-Herzegovina from its state security sector. They received a
16 statement from a specific person whose name I won't mention. It was
17 marked as state secret and forwarded to their leadership.
18 Let's look at page 2 of the document.
19 Let's look at line 12:
20 "The source states that, on that occasion, some 1.000 soldiers
21 and civilians from the column were killed. After the crime, the Chetniks
22 invited the people to surrender or to negotiate. On that occasion,
23 Ejub Golic talked to the Chetniks, asking that the shelling be stopped.
24 They, indeed, did so. They stopped shelling the columns of civilians and
25 soldiers. After the shelling stopped, the 284th Brigade gathered in the
1 nearby woods and continued en route to the free territory."
2 Can we see from these two statements that they actually refer to
3 this location at which around 1.000 soldiers and civilians were killed in
4 combat; and did you know that all these victims and all other combat
5 casualties were counted as people who were executed by firing squad?
6 JUDGE FLUEGGE: Mr. Vanderpuye.
7 MR. VANDERPUYE: Yes, Mr. President. I think the last part of
8 General Tolimir's question gravely misstated the evidence before this
9 Trial Chamber. I don't know exactly why he would ask a question like
10 that, given the evidence we have here. Maybe he has something else in
11 mind. But there's been no evidence in this case that these thousands of
12 individuals that are referred to in this document, or any other document,
13 were counted among the victims of the mass killings or in mass graves in
14 this case. There's just no evidence of that. In fact, to the contrary.
15 We've heard the evidence of Mr. Janc who carefully and conscientiously
16 explained exactly how these victims were counted or considered in terms
17 of the overall victim population concerning the Srebrenica events.
18 So I'd ask General Tolimir to either restate that question or ask
19 a different one because it unfairly misleads this witness and
20 mischaracterises the evidence.
21 JUDGE FLUEGGE: Mr. Tolimir, can you give us a reference to that
22 statement you gave in the last question when asked the witness:
23 "Did you know that all these victims and all other combat
24 casualties were counted as people who were executed by firing squad?"
25 To whom are you referring? Who was counting them as victims of
1 executions? What do you mean by that?
2 THE ACCUSED: [Interpretation] Thank you, Mr. President. I'm
3 looking for the reference to which Mr. Janc referred to when he said that
4 they were all considered genocide victims. All those in the various mass
5 graves were considered as genocide victims.
6 By your leave, I will find it. I can go back through my notes
7 and provide you with an exact reference. If you want me, I can do that
8 now, or I can forward it to you later.
9 In any case, Mr. Janc said during his testimony that he considers
10 all such victims, genocide victims.
11 JUDGE FLUEGGE: Mr. Tolimir, in your question, you didn't refer
12 to mass graves. Now you are referring to those found in mass graves.
13 This is different.
14 I propose that you rephrase your question and we can overcome
15 this difficulty.
16 THE ACCUSED: [Interpretation] Thank you, Mr. President.
17 [Defence counsel confer]
18 MR. TOLIMIR: [Interpretation]
19 Q. Mr. Babic [sic], did you know that 7.000 people were -- are
20 believed to be the victims of genocide and this is something you also
21 referred to in your testimony, I believe?
22 A. Yes --
23 JUDGE FLUEGGE: Mr. Tolimir, this is not Mr. Babic but Mr. Simic.
24 Please provide us with your answer.
25 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Yes. Well, it's no problem.
1 There were different pieces of information in circulation among
2 the public. I don't know which one is correct. And I don't know whether
3 the victims were actually ever counted in the area of Srebrenica.
4 In Serbia at least, and in its neighbourhood, there are different
5 NGOs who came forth with certain numbers that were carried by the media.
6 In Serbia, in any case, such figures are usually in the area of 7.000
7 civilian casualties.
8 MR. TOLIMIR: [Interpretation]
9 Q. Thank you. I apologise for calling you Mr. Babic, Mr. Simic.
10 Let us now please look -- as we will not be discussing this
11 anymore, I just wanted to provide an example as to how everything is
12 subsumed under victims of genocide.
13 Can we now please see the document D176.
14 While we're waiting for it to appear on the screen, we'll say --
15 here it is. It's a document from the Army of Bosnia-Herzegovina, their
16 2nd Corps command from Tuzla, which talks about the chronology of
17 events --
18 JUDGE FLUEGGE: Is there an English translation? There should be
19 one. Thank you.
20 THE ACCUSED: [Interpretation] That's right, Mr. President.
21 JUDGE FLUEGGE: Now we have it on the screen.
22 Please continue.
23 MR. TOLIMIR: [Interpretation]
24 Q. This is a document from the 2nd Corps command of the Army of
25 Bosnia-Herzegovina issued on the 27th of July 1995; that is to say,
1 immediately after the events. And the title is: "Chronology of events
2 surrounding the break-through by the 28th division." Sent to -- it was
3 signed by Sead Delic, brigadier, commander of that corps.
4 On page 12, line 2, you said, and I quote your words:
5 "Beara claimed that Naser Oric's unit had pulled out, that they
6 had taken a Praga and that this unit was reviewed and that most of them
7 managed to leave the area."
8 That is what you said on page 12, line 2. Let us see what the
9 Muslim sources say about this. So can we please show page 7 in the
10 English version of this document.
11 THE INTERPRETER: Can the accused please repeat the page
13 JUDGE FLUEGGE: Could you please give us, again, the page
14 reference. You said page 7 in English. And what is it in B/C/S?
15 THE ACCUSED: [Interpretation] Page 5 in B/C/S. Thank you.
16 [Microphone not activated]
17 THE INTERPRETER: Microphone, please.
18 MR. TOLIMIR: [Interpretation]
19 Q. Mr. Simic, if we look, the second paragraph from the bottom,
20 which begins with:
21 "The hours 430 hours on the 16th of July," then we skip that
22 paragraph and look at the next one, "The first group went through at
23 about 1300 hours."
24 It is the fourth paragraph in the English version:
25 "The first group went through at about 1300 hours and people
1 continued going through" --
2 Now I've lost the text. I don't know whose mistake that was.
3 Thank you:
4 "People continued going through in the afternoon and during the
5 night on 16 and 17th of July, 1995, and small groups are still passing
6 through. For example, 33 members of the 28th Division of the KoV came
7 through the corridor during the night of the 19th and 20th of July,
9 "According to a rough estimate and our intelligence, a total
10 number of," text missing. Can we please move on to the next page in the
11 B/C/S. Thank you.
12 Text missing. But we'll move on to the next passage, "In combat
13 operations" -- but let me ask the question first: Is that what Beara
14 talked about, that a unit broke through and passed through the defence
15 lines of the VRS towards Kladanj and Tuzla? Did he tell you about that?
16 A. He told me, he actually claimed, that the majority of
17 Naser Oric's forces had pulled out and that this unit was reviewed in
18 Tuzla. He didn't talk in such detail as we can see in this report, but
19 he probably had members of that unit in his mind. I cannot remember
20 which unit he was talking about and whether Naser Oric commanded these
21 units or some others.
22 Q. Thank you. We'll return to the previous page to see that
23 Naser Oric did command them. But now I will quote the first
24 paragraph that we can see on the page which is now in front of us.
25 It says:
1 "In combat operations with the 28th Division and the
2 24th Division of the KoV, the aggressor suffered significant losses.
3 Twenty bodies of enemy soldiers stayed behind in our territory, and
4 according to aggressor's reports intercepted by the PEB," that is
5 counter-electronic struggle, "they took 30 bodies back to the Zvornik
6 hospital. Six people enemy soldiers were captured as well as a
7 self-propelled gun and a tank which were immediately introduced in combat
8 against the aggressor. Another self-propelled gun and ammunition depot
9 were set on fire in Baljkovica village."
10 Can we see from this that there was really fighting going on in
11 the place for which Beara said that they had pulled through -- that they
12 broke through and pulled through, the majority of them, to the territory
13 that was under their control?
14 A. Well, not even the Muslim media denied that fighting was going
15 on. As far as I understood, they say when they quote their military
16 commanders -- I believe that even Naser Oric said in an interview that
17 they pulled out and fought along the way. Now what exactly the fighting
18 implies, I wouldn't know. I cannot talk about something if I wasn't
20 Q. Thank you, Mr. Simic. This is why I won't be asking anything
21 else about that. I just told you that I would show you a part which
22 shows that Naser Oric was involved in this and that he commanded a part
23 of the units which were going from Tuzla. I cannot find that at the
24 moment, so, in order not to waste time, I will ask my assistants to find
25 that. It is not even so relevant because you said you cannot know
1 something if you haven't been somewhere.
2 Can we now please see 1D55 [as interpreted]. Thank you.
3 THE INTERPRETER: Can the accused please repeat the reference,
4 because we are not certain about the document number. Thank you.
5 JUDGE FLUEGGE: Mr. Tolimir, are you referring to D155 or to
7 THE ACCUSED: [Interpretation] D155. Thank you.
8 JUDGE FLUEGGE: This is correct. This is on your list of
10 THE ACCUSED: [Interpretation] This is also a document from the
11 Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina, dated the 16th of July, 1995, "Report
12 on the situation in Srebrenica." It was submitted after the fall of
13 Srebrenica to President Alija Izetbegovic.
14 Can we please see page 4 in English and page 3 in Serbian. We'll
15 only look at one page of this document and read out one paragraph.
16 We can see it now. In Serbian, it's the last paragraph on
17 page 3. It's marked here as paragraph 3. And it reads:
18 "Units of the 28th Division of the KoV are pulling out of
19 Srebrenica while still fighting. They have remained compact. They have
20 scored success after success in the temporarily occupied territory. They
21 have inflicted great losses on the aggressor. So far, they have eight
22 Chetniks (alive) in captivity. Units of the 28th Division of the KoV
23 have linked up with the infiltrated units of the 2nd Corps. Their joint
24 forces have continued fighting in the temporarily occupied territory. It
25 is expected that they will fully link up with these units. Activities
1 are underway to exploit the success of units carrying out the
3 And now can we just please show the last page of this document -
4 it is page 5 in this document - so we can see the signature. Thank you.
5 We'll see a signature soon, both in English and Serbian version.
6 It says "Commander, Army General Rasim Delic."
7 MR. TOLIMIR: [Interpretation]
8 Q. As you have now seen what the Muslims said about this, did Beara
9 lie to you when he said that the majority managed to break through? Do
10 the Muslim reports from the time say the same thing?
11 A. I have no reason not to trust official documents, especially when
12 they were signed by the general of an army.
13 Q. Thank you.
14 THE ACCUSED: [Interpretation] Can we now please show D38. Thank
16 We can see the document now.
17 MR. TOLIMIR: [Interpretation]
18 Q. On page 10, that is to say, 11, line 22, the Prosecutor asked you
19 whether he told you what happened with the men and why they were not
20 transported together with the women, the elderly, and the children.
21 Mr. Tokaca says here in the title of this document, "We found 500
22 people from Srebrenica who are alive, although they were listed as
24 My question is this: During last year and this year, were there
25 many articles in the press about what Tokaca said at press conferences in
1 the territory of Republika Srpska, rather than in the Muslim territory;
2 and do you know anything about that?
3 A. Yes. Some news agencies carried this information. It was brief
4 from a press conference, I think the "Beta" news agency carried it, but I
5 don't remember the numbers. As for those who have been found alive,
6 fortunately, there was a lot of talk about that in the media in
7 connection with election lists because in Bosnia-Herzegovina, names of
8 people who had been declared killed and perished in the Srebrenica
9 operation figured on some of these lists, and it created quite a negative
10 impression on the people.
11 Mr. Beara also talked about it in a brief section of the
12 interview, if my memory served me well.
13 Q. Thank you. Let us now look at the third paragraph of the article
14 which we see in front of us. It says:
15 "The biggest problem in BH is the perfidious monopoly on
16 information, Tokaca said, pointing out that the IDC wanted to break this
17 monopoly by compiling the Bosnian crime atlas."
18 This is my question: When Tokaca mentioned this information that
19 500 people from Srebrenica who were alive but had been listed as missing,
20 was that his attempt to break this monopoly? And do you know anything
21 about this monopoly over information in Bosnia and Serbia because you,
22 yourself, said a while ago that one would report one thing and others
23 would report other things. Thank you.
24 JUDGE FLUEGGE: Mr. Vanderpuye.
25 MR. VANDERPUYE: Thank you, Mr. President. I think,
1 Mr. President, that there is evidence in this case with respect to this
2 article, in the form of either a retraction or a correction, that
3 Mr. Tolimir has not put to this witness as making representations
4 concerning what Mr. Tokaca -- what has been attributed to Mr. Tokaca,
5 with full knowledge of the fact that there is such information in the
6 record. I think the questions as put to this witness are therefore
7 misleading, and to the extent that General Tolimir -- I understand that
8 it is P1370. And to the extent that Mr. Tolimir, or General Tolimir,
9 wishes to pursue this line of questioning, I think it is only fair and
10 appropriate that he put to the witness what, in fact, the record shows
11 concerning what Mr. Tokaca has said about these missing individuals.
12 JUDGE FLUEGGE: This document on the screen, if I'm not mistake,
13 was gained from the Internet. It was published at the 31st of March,
14 2010. It's not a very long time ago.
15 Mr. Simic, have you ever seen this article in the Internet or
16 somewhere else? Did you read it?
17 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] No. I just know that several times
18 from Banja Luka, and from Bijeljina, I'm not sure, there is an
19 association of veterans in Republika Srpska. In their organisation,
20 searching for the missing persons, they provided information that they
21 managed to find some people who had been considered dead. But who it
22 was, I haven't read this article.
23 JUDGE FLUEGGE: Mr. Tolimir, you should take into account that
24 testifying about this article, the witness has no knowledge about it.
25 Please continue.
1 THE ACCUSED: [Interpretation] Thank you, Mr. President.
2 I asked the witness if he, as a journalist, felt he had a
3 monopoly on information, and whether such monopolies are still in place
4 in the different ethnic communities and on different sides which had
5 waged this war.
6 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Well, can I only speak of Serbia
7 and Montenegro for a while, while we were still in a common state.
8 There was a monopoly in place. In certain situations, it was so
9 strong, it was terrifying. Fortunately, there is less and less of it
10 now, and many things surface much more easily. I don't think the
11 monopoly is as strong as it had been, if you have in mind the monopoly of
12 certain political structures and the media that is used to cover up facts
13 about events, et cetera.
14 JUDGE FLUEGGE: We have a technical problem again. The
15 transcript in e-court doesn't work. It stopped at page 51, line 5, but
16 LiveNote is still working. Just for the record.
17 You may continue, Mr. Tolimir. We will not lose anything on the
18 record, but it may be problematic and difficult to look at a document
19 and, at the same time, on the transcript.
20 Please continue.
21 THE ACCUSED: [Interpretation] Thank you, Mr. President.
22 MR. TOLIMIR: [Interpretation]
23 Q. On page 29, you said:
24 "That is true, what he said. That figure was gradually reduced
25 to the figure of up to 7.000 people because they started off with
2 That is why I asked you whether, even today there is a certain
3 monopoly in place which prohibits the public from knowing the exact
4 number of victims in Srebrenica?
5 A. I can't say that certain monopoly toys with that figure of 7.000
6 people having been killed there. But it is a fact that there are
7 individuals who openly doubt that figure. Of course, I still had no
8 occasion to see any proof on which anyone would say that there were less
9 than 7.000 victims. Many documents are still not available to the
11 [Trial Chamber and Registrar confer]
12 JUDGE FLUEGGE: I was informed by Mr. Registrar that there are,
13 indeed, at the moment some technical problems with e-court. If you don't
14 have a problem with that, Mr. Tolimir, you may continue. Otherwise, to
15 re-start the whole system during the break, we need a break. Otherwise,
16 it can't be set up again in a proper way.
17 We could have our second break now to re-start the system, if
18 that would be convenient for both parties. But you may continue as well.
19 It's your decision. We have the full transcript, of course, in LiveNote.
20 THE ACCUSED: [Interpretation] Thank you, Mr. President.
21 I have only one question left, so it will be as you please.
22 Following that question, I will conclude my examination of the witness.
23 MR. TOLIMIR: [Interpretation]
24 Q. Mr. Simic, you said that you saw no proof of that figure of 7.000
25 or less. Did you see any proof of any other figure? Or is this a
1 brush-stroke figure that figures in the media?
2 A. Well, what amounts to proof? If my opinion is relevant in any
3 way here, such proof ought to be put forth by a competent commission.
4 Perhaps an international commission which would come up with the list of
5 all those who were killed.
6 It is a fact that different figures were in circulation. Even
7 the Sarajevo media occasionally reported on people surfacing who had been
8 considered missing or killed or buried in one of the mass graves. Those
9 people showed up and voted. I remember such reports a few years ago in a
10 Belgrade paper.
11 Maybe there is such a list somewhere, but I have never seen it.
12 I'm not aware of its existence.
13 Q. Thank you, Mr. Simic, for having come here to The Hague Tribunal
14 to testify. Thank you for everything. I wish you a safe journey back
15 home, and may you live a long and happy life.
16 A. Thank you.
17 THE ACCUSED: [Interpretation] Your Honour, this concludes our
18 examination of this witness. We have no further questions.
19 JUDGE FLUEGGE: Thank you very much, Mr. Tolimir.
20 Mr. Vanderpuye, your re-examination.
21 MR. VANDERPUYE: Thank you, Mr. President. I would ask if we
22 could take the break now. I just want to review something very quickly
23 in the transcript. And I'm afraid that if e-court is not running, I may
24 not be able to do what I need to in redirect examination.
25 JUDGE FLUEGGE: That's fine. We understand that we should
1 adjourn for the second break and resume 20 minutes before 6.00.
2 --- Recess taken at 5.08 p.m.
3 --- On resuming at 5.42 p.m.
4 JUDGE FLUEGGE: Yes, Mr. Vanderpuye, your re-examination please.
5 MR. VANDERPUYE: Thank you, Mr. President. I only have one
7 Re-examination by Mr. Vanderpuye:
8 Q. Good afternoon, Mr. Simic.
9 A. [No interpretation]
10 Q. You stated in response to General Tolimir's last question to you
11 that you had heard various figures for the number of individuals that had
12 been killed, recovered from mass graves, different figures from different
13 sources. And you said:
14 "Well, what amounts to proof?" And, "If my opinion is relevant
15 in any way here, as [sic] such proof ought to be put forth through a
16 competent commission. Perhaps an international commission which would
17 come up with the list of all those who were killed."
18 If you recall that answer.
19 Let me ask you: Have you heard the figure of 5.777 individuals
20 recovered from mass graves and identified by the International Commission
21 of Missing Persons through DNA analysis? Has that number come up? Have
22 you heard that reported?
23 A. Yes, I heard of that figure. And that is why I said that such a
24 list ought to be compiled. In spite of the fact that this official
25 figure was published, still, in certain circles, in certain broadcasts on
1 TV, we hear different numbers coming from NGOs or organisations. Nobody
2 says 5.777. People usually go up to 7-, 7.500. So this official data is
3 not frequently referred to. That's what I was trying to say. I didn't
4 mean to say that there is no definitive list. I know there were
5 exhumations, DNA analyses, et cetera. But even though this figure of
6 5.700 [as interpreted] exists, frequently, other figures appear, such as
7 you could see in the media surrounding Mladic's arrest, and there they
8 mention 7- up to 7.500 victims. And it is no laughing matter. It's not
9 a game that one could play. Even a single victim is one too many, let
10 alone 7.000. Out of respect for those victims, we should have a set
11 figure that everyone should always refer to.
12 Q. Of course, you understand that the identification through DNA
13 testing is an ongoing process, and the number I have given you is as of
14 February 2010. So you might imagine that that number would increase over
16 A. Yes, certainly.
17 Q. Thank you, Mr. Simic.
18 MR. VANDERPUYE: I have no further questions. Thank you,
19 Mr. President.
20 [Trial Chamber confers]
21 JUDGE FLUEGGE: Mr. Simic, this concludes your examination here
22 in this trial. The Chamber would like to thank you that you were able to
23 come to The Hague again and provide us with your knowledge. Now you are
24 free to return to your normal life and normal activities.
25 Thank you very much again.
1 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Thank you as well.
2 [The witness withdrew]
3 JUDGE FLUEGGE: Good afternoon, Mr. Thayer. While you are
4 preparing yourself for the next witness, the next witness should be
5 brought in, please.
6 [The witness entered court]
7 JUDGE FLUEGGE: Good afternoon, sir.
8 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Good afternoon.
9 JUDGE FLUEGGE: Mr. Mitrovic, welcome to the courtroom. Please
10 read aloud the affirmation on the card which is shown to you now.
11 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] I solemnly declare that I will
12 speak the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.
13 WITNESS: LJUBOMIR MITROVIC
14 [Witness answered through interpreter]
15 JUDGE FLUEGGE: Thank you very much. Please sit down and make
16 yourself comfortable.
17 The Prosecutor, Mr. Thayer, is now conducting his
19 Mr. Thayer, you have the floor.
20 MR. THAYER: Thank you, Mr. President. Good afternoon to you
21 Your Honours. Good afternoon to the Defence. Good afternoon, everyone.
22 Examination by Mr. Thayer:
23 Q. Good afternoon, sir.
24 A. Good afternoon.
25 Q. Would you please state your name for the record.
1 A. My name is Ljubomir Mitrovic.
2 Q. Can you tell us when you were born, please.
3 A. On the 27th of September, 1939.
4 Q. And please tell us where you were born and raised.
5 A. The village of Malesevci, the municipality of Ugljevik. I was
6 raised in the village of Brodac, in the municipality of Bijeljina, and in
7 Sremska Raca which is in the municipality of Sremska Mitrovica. I was an
8 orphan and I lived in different orphanages.
9 Q. And sir, where do you live now, please?
10 A. In Bijeljina.
11 Q. You testified in this very courtroom, I believe, in July 2008,
12 as a witness for the Beara Defence. Have you had a chance recently to
13 listen to that testimony, sir?
14 A. Yes, I have.
15 JUDGE FLUEGGE: Mr. Gajic.
16 MR. GAJIC: [Interpretation] Mr. President, I believe the
17 witness's answer, whereby he stated where he resides now, is not in the
18 transcript. It should be immediately following line 10 on this page, but
19 there is answer.
20 JUDGE FLUEGGE: That's correct.
21 Mr. Thayer.
22 MR. THAYER:
23 Q. I think we all heard it. I assume it will be picked up, but I
24 can ask it again for the sake of the record.
25 Sir, the record, for technical reasons, doesn't reflect your
1 answer to my question earlier which simply was, where do you live now?
2 A. I live in Bijeljina.
3 Q. Thank you, sir. Turning back to your --
4 A. You're welcome.
5 Q. Turning back to your testimony in 2008. Is there anything you'd
6 care to correct, add, or subtract from it before we move on to your
7 testimony in this case?
8 A. Perhaps there is an need to correct something. In the record,
9 there's a mention of the 38th Brigade which ought to be the
10 38th Partisan Division.
11 Also, something needs to be clarified in that testimony when it
12 comes to the work of the commission prior to my appointment as president.
13 There is a difference in that the former president of the exchange
14 commission was answerable to the corps commander, and he submitted his
15 proposals to him. Then such proposals were forwarded to the Main Staff.
16 When I arrived, the corps commander delegated some authority to
17 his chief of security. And I was part of the security department.
18 Therefore, I no longer had to communicate with the corps commander as my
19 predecessor did. I communicated with the chief of security, who then
20 forwarded information to the commander along the command and control
21 lines, and then on to the Main Staff. That is the difference.
22 There was another thing that was not clear enough. As regards
23 the events in Batkovici before the 15th of March, that is to say, prior
24 to my arrival and after, they are two different periods. I cannot
25 address specifically the issue before my arrival. Probably, the
1 situation at the beginning was not the same as the one that occurred
2 yesterday --
3 THE INTERPRETER: Later on, interpreter's mistake.
4 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] There was something else that I
5 wanted to add, but perhaps we can get to it later when we discuss someone
6 getting in touch with someone else. But we can clarify that later.
7 MR. THAYER:
8 Q. Okay. Thank you, sir. That is very helpful, and we will -- we
9 will get to all those issues before too long.
10 What I'd like to do for a few moments is review with the
11 Trial Chamber a little bit about your educational, professional and
12 military background.
13 Could you tell the Trial Chamber a little bit about your
14 education and the type of work you did, up until the beginning of the
15 war. And then we'll pick it up from the point that the hostilities
17 A. I completed two years of high school in Bijeljina, and then I
18 completed high school for teachers in Bijeljina and the teaching academy
19 in Belgrade. I have lived in Bijeljina since 1953. For two years, I
20 worked as a teacher, then eight years as a teacher in high school, two
21 years as a school director. And then I left education altogether. I
22 joined the state security.
23 I was an operative in the service. I was in that position for a
24 few years. Then I became an independent inspector in the public security
25 domain. And in 1986, I was transferred to the TO as a commander because
1 there some standing issues there that needed to be resolved. In the
2 meantime, I became eligible for retirement from the Ministry of Interior.
3 I could choose, and it was better for me to join the TO as commander for
4 the next four years, following which I would be allowed to return to the
5 Ministry of the Interior. We had an agreement in place about that, and
6 things remained as such until 1991, when my tenure expired. I was sent
7 to Sarajevo for a medical examination which I passed, and in keeping with
8 a written agreement, I was supposed to go back to the ministry. However,
9 those higher up, the Muslim and Serb authority, that is to say, the SDS
10 and the SDA, agreed to divide the managerial positions amongst
11 themselves. Therefore, only someone from the Serb Democratic Party or
12 someone from the Muslim Democratic Action Party could occupy such a
13 position. Given the fact that I was not a member of any party once the
14 league of Communists ceased its existence, I told my superiors in the
15 staff that I'd rather stay alone than choose the wrong parties, and I was
16 a non-party member until there was a movement for the unified Yugoslavia.
17 Then the Staff suggested to me that I should join it.
18 However, it was too late to do anything, and that party was
19 unable to do anything. It only caused further problems for the JNA. JNA
20 officers had grave problems in Bijeljina because many districts voted for
21 the Movement for Yugoslavia, and I was eligible for retirement by that
22 time. This was supported by the municipality, and I eventually retired
23 at the time.
24 Q. And just so we have a clear understanding, sir, your service as
25 an operative in state security and the public security was where, sir?
1 Where did you perform that service? Was it in Bijeljina or was it
2 somewhere else?
3 A. In state security, it was the Tuzla centre, the Bijeljina
4 department. Around as for public security, I worked for them in
6 Q. And, again, just so we have it clear, the TO which you referred
7 to, which TO was that, sir?
8 A. It was the municipal staff of Territorial Defence, which is
9 managed by the commander. There was also a republican and district
10 staff, but during war operations, it is a military unit. The JNA
11 military unit which arrives there is the one to which the TO unit is then
13 Q. I'm sorry, my question was not as clear as it should be. It was
14 actually much more simple. Where was the TO located that you were
15 referring to before?
16 A. In Bijeljina. The seat of the municipal staff and the units
17 belonged territorially to Bijeljina. There were several units with a
18 total of about 10.000 members, who were in zone staffs, detachments,
19 brigade, and so on.
20 Q. Okay. I think you had brought us up to sometime in 1991, sir.
21 Can you just bring us along through the beginning of the hostilities and
22 where you served after that.
23 A. Yes. In 1991, when there was a reception for me on the occasion
24 of my retirement, it was attended by the representative of the
25 District Staff, the deputy commander because the commander was away.
1 There was also the commander of the communications regiment in Bijeljina
2 and the commander of the 38th Partisan Rocket Brigade. With these
3 officers from Bijeljina, I had very good co-operation while I was the
4 commander. So we knew each other well. The commander of the
5 38th Division, in brief conversation, because there were other guests,
6 hinted at the need to man his division with commanding officers. Ethnic
7 Muslim and Croatian officers had left the command so that only several
8 officers remained. However, I told him that I had not even taken any
9 rest. I was also aware that I would be engaged somewhere because war was
10 looming ahead, but I did not wish to be a member of security.
11 Several days passed and he called me for an interview, and he
12 offered me to be the assistant commander for morale, which I accepted in
13 the 38th Light Partisan Division. However, as there was no chief of
14 security, I was in the situation to discharge both duties. I then asked
15 that someone be found for one of the two positions so that I would
16 discharge only one of the duties. As it was easier to find an assistant
17 commander for morale, I took that on myself, and I selected an operative
18 from the municipal TO staff that was a professor of defence, Ivanic. I
19 nominated him for this position, that was accepted. And at the time when
20 I got there, war operations had not yet begun in the territory of
21 Bosnia-Herzegovina. The corps was located in Tuzla in 1991. In
22 February 1991, I was in Tuzla and I took a platoon of soldiers to be
23 trained as military policemen. I brought them back, and it was only on
24 the 1st of April that combat operations began in Bijeljina.
25 In order to have a clearer picture of certain issues, let me say
1 the following: In this area, which, in the Second World War put up
2 strongly resistance to fascism, almost everyone was on the side of the
3 People's Liberation Army. Now in peacetime, officers were highly
4 esteemed, officers of the JNA, regardless of their ethnicity. However,
5 at the outbreak of the war, as in some villages that were economically
6 strong, and one side lost the elections, there was this negative feeling
7 towards the JNA. And therefore some officers were removed from their
8 positions. Politicians were appointed. And then at the beginning of the
9 war, some of them were returned. This was reflected on the lives of
10 these officers, because the political circles called them cowards or
11 traitors because they had withdrawn from Croatia and Slovenia, and so.
12 And I want to say that it was very difficult -- a very difficult time for
13 active personnel. A division commander went with me wherever I was
14 going, and I was saying, Wait a minute. I am a reserve officer. I am a
15 man just like you. And I wanted to say that it was not true that anyone
16 had betrayed his own people, and so on and so forth.
17 JUDGE FLUEGGE: Mr. Gajic, I waited for the conclusion of this
18 lengthy answer.
19 Mr. Gajic.
20 MR. GAJIC: [Interpretation] Mr. President, on page 62, line 1,
21 the 38th Partisan Rocket Brigade is mentioned. And on the same page, in
22 line 12, the 38th Light Partisan Division.
23 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Infantry division, yes. There's no
24 brigade. There's no rocket. It's just a division.
25 JUDGE FLUEGGE: I would kindly ask you to wait until you get the
1 floor. It is difficult for the record if everybody is talking at the
2 same time.
3 Mr. Gajic.
4 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Excuse me.
5 MR. GAJIC: [Interpretation] I would ask Mr. Prosecutor to clarify
6 the issue, because it seems that there was wrong interpretation. It
7 seems that it was the 38th Light Partisan Brigade.
8 JUDGE FLUEGGE: Mr. Thayer.
9 MR. THAYER: Thank you, Mr. President. Now that we've come to
10 the end of the answer, I will follow up with a couple of brief questions.
11 Q. Sir, in -- in your initial answers to my questions about whether
12 you had any corrections or changes to make to your prior testimony, you
13 mentioned that there was a brigade that you referred to which was
14 actually a division. Can you tell us, you referred to a 38th
15 Partisan Unit, in which you served. Can you tell us what exactly that
16 unit was? It's been interpreted a couple of ways. If you could just
17 tell us, for the record, what that unit was, please.
18 A. The 38th Light Partisan Infantry Division.
19 Q. Now, before we move a little bit further, again, I don't know if
20 you've finished telling us about the exact role in which you served in
21 the 38th Light Partisan Infantry Division. But can you tell us exactly
22 what your position was, and did the division change its name at some
23 point; and, if so, did you stay with it?
24 A. In the 38th Division, I was initially the assistant commander for
25 morale, and I discharged also the duties of chief of security. After
1 perhaps two months, I was appointed chief of security, because I found
2 another suitable person who was appointed the assistant commander for
4 As the command of the Yugoslav People's Army had sent a dispatch
5 in April - I'm not certain about the exact date - it was addressed to all
6 subordinated commands in Bosnia and Herzegovina to the effect that all
7 active-duty officers who wanted to leave Bosnia and Herzegovina should do
8 that. I think the date mentioned was the 20th of May, 1992.
9 The division commander showed me the dispatch, but officers were
10 not informed about it immediately. It was rather only several days
11 before the deadline expired, so that the few remaining active-duty
12 officers left the division. There was only one warrant officer who
13 remained. Others left for Serbia. The division ceased to exist, and
14 therefore the corps officially disbanded it. I was transferred to the
15 17th Partisan Brigade. After two or three months, it was renamed as the
16 1st Semberija Brigade. I was also chief of security in that brigade.
17 The brigade went to Majevica mountain, where it had a zone of
18 responsibility. At the time, relations between the Tuzla Brigade and our
19 1st Semberija Brigade were very good. Combat operations were rare,
20 perhaps a few provocations. When I say the relations were good, I mean
21 that the soldiers from the Federation, the Muslim units and soldiers,
22 would meet the Serbian soldiers between the lines, and sometimes with a
23 bottle of an alcoholic drink they would talk about the new times. There
24 was also the case where two battalion commanders from our army, the
25 Serbian army, and from the Muslim army, also met between the combat
2 Several times it happened that some special units came to the
3 area and carried out provocations against our forces, so as time went by,
4 the friendship disappeared, and the situation was disrupted. I was
5 discharging this duty in this brigade until the 15th of March, 1993. On
6 that date, I was transferred to the corps; that was the
7 Eastern Bosnia Corps. And I was transferred to the Department of
8 Security as a security clerk. That was my duty. I was told that I was
9 sent to the department but that my main duty would be the exchange of
10 prisoners of war as a member of the commission. I was supposed to ensure
11 that everything would be done properly, that there should be no trade, no
12 deceit, or nothing of the sort. I also needed to check how our security
13 conducted themselves because they were sometimes willing to trade. I had
14 to ensure that everything would be carried out properly.
15 At the very beginning, I was told to go to Batkovici, where the
16 collection centre was located. I was supposed to see what the situation
17 was like in Batkovici, to review the documents and files, to make a
18 sketch of the facilities where persons were accommodated, and the whole
19 area. I did that. I reviewed documents and files for several days. I
20 made an Official Note. And I noted some shortcomings which I observed
21 and which had existed prior to my arrival. Namely, some people were
22 allowed to leave to visit their relatives but it was not mentioned who
23 the relatives were, what was their address. There were cases when
24 individuals would take certain groups away from there and exchange them
25 privately because these were not soldiers, even though everything that
1 happened at the time was ascribed to the military. Even if civil persons
2 did some dishonourable things, they did it in uniform, but the army did
3 not participant in that. The army did not take part in such incidents
4 when people were killed.
5 Q. Let me stop you right there, if I could, sir. And we'll talk
6 about the Batkovici collection centre in a little while.
7 Let me go back just a little bit. You told us that in March of
8 1993, you were transferred to the security department of the
9 Eastern Bosnia Corps. Did you, in fact, have a -- an office or a desk in
10 the Eastern Bosnia Corps Command when you began serving there, sir?
11 A. At the security department, I did not have a separate office.
12 There was one room where the communications centre of the department was
13 located. People who needed to see the chief were received there. I did
14 not have a separate room, but I had a safe in which I could keep certain
16 Q. And during your service in the security department of the
17 Eastern Bosnia Corps, you referred to this communications centre of the
18 security department.
19 Where would you report for duty when you were serving in the
21 A. I reported to the department, which was separated. The corps was
22 not situated in one building but in a number of buildings. There was a
23 privately owned building where the security department was. So it's
24 called the communications centre. The communication was there, but it
25 was a room where the officer on duty was and he actually discharged some
1 duties through the main communications centre.
2 Q. And to whom would you report, sir?
3 A. I reported in the morning, at 7.00 a.m., and as the office of the
4 chief was right across, a little before 7.00, or at 7.00, the chief would
5 invite us to his office to brief us if there was something that was
6 common. And then, individually, he would brief individuals about what
7 was necessary, and we would most often drink coffee during the briefing,
8 and we would agree about the following documents that needed to be
10 Q. And when you referred to the chief, who is that, sir, if you
11 could tell the Trial Chamber the chief's name, please.
12 A. On my arrival, it was Lieutenant-Colonel Pero Jakovljevic. He
13 was retired as lieutenant-colonel. And when the war broke out he
14 rejoined the service. He served in security structures in the army
16 Q. And at some point, did Lieutenant-Colonel Jakovljevic leave the
17 Eastern Bosnia Corps and be replaced by somebody else?
18 A. Yes. I don't know, I don't remember when exactly that happened.
19 I think it was in late 1993. He left, or, rather, was retired again, and
20 an active-duty officer replaced him. It was also a lieutenant-colonel,
21 Milenko Todorovic. He had worked for security earlier. One could
22 maintain excellent co-operation with him, as opposed to this Jakovljevic,
23 who was rather stiff and did not often have much understanding.
24 At one point when I said that if anyone was beaten in Batkovici
25 that I would not be the chairman of the Commission for Exchange and told
1 him that he would go to Majevica, I was told that I was crazy, that
2 people lost their lives there. But I really had a mind to leave. But
3 from my arrival there and while he was chief of security, no one was
4 maltreated there. It didn't happen. I occasionally went there. While
5 he was the chief, I would talk one-on-one with individuals to see how
6 they were treated, to check that money was not taken from prisoners, that
7 they did not have to pay higher price for anything, because, for example,
8 they would buy cigarettes for prisoners if they had any money, and
9 generally how the guards treated them.
10 These persons did not treat the prisoners properly. And I
11 reported on that. Why didn't they do that? Because some persons were
12 hidden there. They were party favourites so that they wouldn't go to
13 war. They wanted to represent themselves as big Serbs and patriots, but
14 once these problems were noted, I think it was when Todorovic was
15 appointed, the police took over the charge of Batkovici and then the
16 treatment was quite different because the duties were then discharged in
17 the true military fashion.
18 Q. And, sir, when you refer to the police, are you referring to the
19 military police taking over the charge of Batkovici or the civilian
20 police? Just so that we have a clear record.
21 A. Yes, yes, military police.
22 Q. And just two final questions on this topic before we move to your
23 work on the POW Exchange Commission.
24 The first is when Colonel Todorovic arrived to replace Colonel -
25 and forgive me for my pronunciation - Jakovljevic, did you report to
1 Todorovic as you had to his predecessor?
2 A. It was like this: I always informed them when I needed to go to
3 exchange. I informed them how the exchange proceeded, what was agreed,
4 and the chairman of the commission, while I was just a member, had to
5 inform the Main Staff and the chairman of the state commission by a
6 dispatch about the outcome of the talks and also the subject of the
8 Q. Okay. And, again, we'll get to that in just a moment.
9 My last question to you, sir, and it may sound like an obvious
10 one, but in -- from 1993 through 1995 and the end of war, did you wear a
11 uniform to work every day?
12 A. Since the end of 1991 to the 30th of April, 1997, whenever I
13 went, and I went all the time, sometimes I would get a day of leave, I
14 went there in a uniform. For two years, it was M77, which was the JNA
15 uniform. Others wore the camouflage uniforms, but they didn't have one
16 for me. And it was all the same to me which one it would be. I also
17 attended the exchanges and negotiations with the uniform showing my rank,
18 while I was a member of the commission and when I was the chairman. As
19 for my predecessor, he sometimes went to these meetings in civilian
21 Q. And in July of 1995, sir, do you recall what your rank was?
22 A. In July? Which year?
23 Q. 1995.
24 A. I think I was a lieutenant-colonel.
25 Q. Okay. You've already spoken a little bit about your service on
1 the commission for the exchange of prisoners of war. Can you tell the
2 Trial Chamber, please, how the commissions were set up, how you became
3 appointed a member, and, later president, what the structure was, and so
4 forth? And I may stop you every now and then to ask you for some more
5 details. But if you just give the Trial Chamber an idea of how these
6 commissions operated, please.
7 A. With the beginning of combat operations, the Eastern Bosnia Corps
8 had one active-duty officer who held the rank of major and who was in
9 charge of this. There was no commission. He was in charge of contacting
10 the other side so that they would resolve the problems of prisoners of
11 war and those who had lost their lives. I'm not sure when in 1992 the
12 commission was set up.
13 When I was in it in 1993, it was set up by the corps commander
14 who issued an order to that effect. The president of the commission did
15 not have other duties. According to establishment, he was the president,
16 and he directly reported to the corps commander. The members of the
17 commission were a secretary, who did not have any other wartime
18 deployment. That was her wartime position. And three of us members were
19 from the units. If you need to hear the names, I can provide them.
20 Q. That's okay. Thank you, sir. You told us that the corps
21 commander issued an order to set up the Eastern Bosnia Corps Commission.
22 Who selected the various members to serve on -- on this commission?
23 A. I don't know who nominated the members of the commission. For
24 example, one person was from the Engineers Corps; the other from the
25 logistics; I was from the security branch; there was another person from
1 the Brcko who was a civilian working in the armed forces. He was there
2 with the JNA and then stayed with the army later on.
3 I don't know who proposed those members. I don't know whether it
4 was someone from the morale department or the security department, or
5 maybe together. Maybe the morale department proposed and then the other
6 department agreed. In any case, such proposals were sent to the
7 commander on the nomination for the different members of the commission.
8 Q. Okay. So just so we have an absolutely clear record, it sounds
9 like, from your answer, that the nominations and the decision were made
10 essentially by the army and not a civilian body. But please tell us if a
11 civilian body was involved in making these final decisions about who
12 would serve or not.
13 A. It was a military commission. Occasionally, some civilian
14 structures did have an influence when the serving civilians rotated. For
15 example, the Tuzla Commission was a mixed commission, which had some 15
16 members from the different municipalities. They were in charge of both
17 civilian exchanges, soldier exchanges, and the exchange of dead bodies.
18 At the time of my arrival, given that my predecessor was familiar with
19 the people from Tuzla, they also engaged in civilian exchanges, as
20 opposed to some previous exchanges that were arranged by individuals on
21 both sides, and then there were reactions to it on both sides.
22 Q. And when you refer to the Tuzla Commission, sir, is it fair to
23 say that the Tuzla Commission was a commission on the Muslim side or
24 Bosniak side, on the other side, so to speak, from your side, which was
25 part of the -- connected with the VRS?
1 A. Yes. The Tuzla Commission was also a military commission of the
2 Tuzla canton. All of their members were Muslim, save for one Croat,
3 because there is Croatian population in that area as well. In other
4 words, it was a Federation commission in charge of the Tuzla canton.
5 Q. And within the VRS, can you tell the Trial Chamber whether other
6 corps had POW Exchange Commissions similar to the Eastern Bosnia Corps'
7 commission, on which you served?
8 A. Yes, they did. The 1st Krajina Corps did, the 2nd Krajina Corps,
9 the Drina Corps, the Herzegovina Corps, and the Sarajevo-Romanija Corps.
10 I don't know when they had their commissions set up, but when I
11 started going to negotiations, those commissions were already in
13 Q. And in addition to these corps-level commissions, was there a
14 state-level commission as well on the Serb side and/or on the Muslim or
15 Bosniak side?
16 A. Yes, there were. There was a state-level commission. Both sides
17 had such commissions. They merged the competencies of both the military
18 and civilian part.
19 Q. And on your side, sir, so to speak, was there somebody who was
20 the head of the state commission? And, if so, what was that person's
22 A. The head of our, or RS commission, was Bulajic. I forgot his
23 first name. The Muslim state commission, or the Muslim Croat or the
24 Federation Commission was headed by Amor [Realtime transcript read in
25 error "Amir"] Masovic, who is still at the helm of the institute for
1 missing persons.
2 Q. And --
3 JUDGE FLUEGGE: Mr. Gajic.
4 MR. GAJIC: [Interpretation] Mr. President, line 73
5 [as interpreted] line 22, we have an incorrect name in the transcript.
6 And it should be Amor Masovic.
7 JUDGE FLUEGGE: That is what I heard in the interpretation.
8 Thank you. But it was not line 73, but page 73.
9 Thank you. Mr. Thayer please carry on.
10 MR. THAYER: Thank you, Mr. President.
11 Q. And Mr. Bulajic, was he military or civilian, sir?
12 A. He was a civilian. He was in civilian clothes. He was a bad
14 Q. At some point during your service on the commission, did you
15 become president of the Eastern Bosnia Corps Exchange Commission? And if
16 you can remember approximately when that was, if it, indeed, happened,
18 A. On the 12th of April, 1994.
19 Q. Okay. I must say you've got my curiosity peaked a little bit.
20 If you can tell the Trial Chamber, since you mentioned it, Mr. Bulajic,
21 you noted that he was a bad chairman. And I don't want to spend too much
22 time unless you think it's pertinent to your testimony. But if you could
23 share with the Trial Chamber why you said that. I'm just following up.
24 As I said, you've kind of piqued my curiosity with that comment. However
25 much detail you are comfortable providing us.
1 A. It was my impression, and I believe it was correct from the
2 outset, that he was a man of politics who was more interested in -- in
3 individual private exchanges than in what the Serb people needed. This
4 proved to be correct later on in some exchanges. Once he was removed, he
5 became a wanted person. The Serb side wanted him, but he fled. When I
6 became president, I no longer sent my requests or proposals to the
7 president of the state commission. Instead, I sent them to the command
8 of the Main Staff. Before that happened, my proposal was checked and
9 discussed by the chief of the security. Next, we sought approval from
10 the corps commander, and then it was sent up the security chain. As far
11 as I was informed, they always sent a copy to the president of the state
12 commission though.
13 He never assisted any of our exchanges. And when an important
14 exchange was to occur, I advised him not to show up. We managed to do
15 our best, given the circumstances, in order to alleviate the suffering on
16 both sides, to have people brought back to their dearest and nearest.
17 There was some mutual understanding and discussion. At the outset,
18 things didn't work out that well. For example, sometimes they would use
19 pejorative terms for the Serb soldiers. They would say Serbian Chetniks.
20 And I always steered clear of such names for the Muslim side, so I
21 referred to them as Muslim soldiers or fighters.
22 The other members of that commission attacked their president
23 because he did it in such a way. For example, there was an attack on a
24 Serbian settlement when the list came with the determination aggressor,
25 Serb soldiers, I said that one cannot be an aggressor in one's own
1 territory. It was a Serb territory inhabited for Serbs for centuries.
2 Such methods then were stopped, and from that moment on, our relationship
3 was a fair one without insulting. There were no longer any attempts to
4 play tricks, and I believe the people of Bosnia and Herzegovina would be
5 far happier if they had such politicians nowadays. We didn't -- we never
6 turned a blind eye. We always tried to do our best, and I must say that
7 they had people up their chain as we did, too.
8 I always prepared three different drafts of documents for
9 exchanges. There was always the original list and then lists with
10 potential changes, if the other side refused the original one. And it
11 was usually approved by those superior to me. I tried to save as much
12 time as possible by doing so, by making such proposals on the spot, and
13 it usually worked.
14 If you're interested in what the documents say, the exchanges
15 took place between the front lines. There would be a cease-fire on both
16 sides, and then we moved into no man's land. We were frequently
17 accompanied by ICRC representatives who were always interested in those
18 exchanges as well as in Batkovici. We had an exceptionally good
19 co-operation, mutual co-operation. They helped us with medical supplies
20 in our reception centre. They also provided toiletries, et cetera. And
21 they were basically there on a weekly basis. They were never prohibited
22 from coming, unless someone was absent. Then we would always talk about
23 a later date. We also visited each other.
24 When I was appointed commission chairman, I had my office in
25 town. That is to say, my predecessor had an office in town, so that he
1 wouldn't be challenged on the street by those who had their relatives
2 missing. They always had to go through their respective commission
4 Irrespective of the fact that the civilian authorities disliked
5 me because I had been a Communist, or, rather, a member of the party,
6 there came such a time when the Municipal Deputy Speaker, Mr. Simic, the
7 late Mr. Simic, came to the municipality asking that I be in charge of
8 civilian exchanges as well, because some things that were happening did
9 not amount to proper exchanges. There were many shortcomings. And he
10 and the municipal president went to see the corps commander. They came
11 back to me then, stating that the corps commander agreed to their
12 proposal. However, I rejected it by saying that I was a soldier, and
13 that I would only exchange soldiers, my soldiers for other soldiers. I
14 also said that if I were to take up this other task I would be unable to
15 deal with my first duty properly, and I suggested to find someone else.
16 JUDGE FLUEGGE: Judge Mindua has a question for the witness.
17 JUDGE MINDUA: [Interpretation] Witness, I have a precision
18 question. I would just like to clarify something you said.
19 You said that there were exchanges of prisoners, and this would
20 take place on -- between the front lines, so in the no man's land. And
21 this is when the -- when there was a cease-fire.
22 The procedure seems to me to be a little odd, because usually the
23 exchange of prisoners usually happens after a battle. So, in your
24 situation, where you were exchanging prisoners, was there a clause, for
25 instance, in your agreements which stipulated that exchanged prisoners
1 could no longer fight, or were they free once they would go back to their
2 side to take the weapons and to go back to the front line?
3 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] It was well-known that they were
4 not to fight anymore, although I'm not sure it was always honoured.
5 There were probably deviations from that rule on both sides. There were
6 such individual cases.
7 JUDGE MINDUA: [Interpretation] Yes, I understand. Because you
8 said that, in fact, you were only dealing with the exchange of soldiers.
9 So if I understand correctly, soldiers would go back, would take the
10 weapons and would go back to fight on the front line?
11 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] It was not their obligation. On
12 the contrary, after exchanges, they would be released to go home.
13 However, there were individuals who still wanted to fight alongside their
14 friends from their units.
15 JUDGE MINDUA: [Interpretation] Thank you very much, indeed.
16 JUDGE FLUEGGE: Judge Nyambe has a question.
17 JUDGE NYAMBE: Thank you, I just need a clarification.
18 At page 74 of today's transcript, line 23, you are quoted as
19 having said:
20 "It was my impression, and I believe it was correct from the
21 outset, that he was a man of politics who was more interested in
22 individual private exchanges than in what the Serb people needed."
23 Then once you -- you continued to say:
24 "Once he was removed, he became a wanted person. The Serb side
25 wanted him, but he fled."
1 Can you explain why he was wanted by the Serb side?
2 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Well, twice I attended meetings of
3 the state commissions at Sarajevo airport, during which we agreed about
4 nothing. Once his arguments with Masovic stopped, it was up to them to
5 agree whether this or that group of five would be exchanged or not. So
6 it was their private conversation. It was my impression that it had
7 nothing to do with the army. And in my personal contacts with him, I was
8 given the same impression. Most of the people in charge and a number of
9 officers were aware of the fact that he was not the kind of person who
10 could exercise his duties properly. He was set -- they told him as much
11 when he was removed.
12 Instead of him, another man was appointed who was a honourable
13 man who had been a judge, and during one of the meetings he told me,
14 Let's talk about anything, but do not mention him to me, because I know a
15 lot of things about him. There's no need to discuss that in any detail
16 right now.
17 JUDGE NYAMBE: Thank you.
18 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] You're welcome.
19 JUDGE FLUEGGE: Mr. Thayer.
20 MR. THAYER: Thank you, Mr. President.
21 Q. The judge who succeeded Mr. Bulajic, what was his or her name?
22 A. If I manage to recall his name, I'll tell you tomorrow. Later
23 on, he became president of the constitutional court.
24 After a short while at that position with the commission, he
25 became president of the constitutional court of the RS. Yes, Rosic.
1 Q. Just a couple of quick follow-up questions in the few minutes we
2 have left tonight, sir.
3 The prisoners from the Army of Bosnia and Herzegovina who were in
4 the VRS's custody in your area of responsibility, where were they held?
5 What facility?
6 A. The prisoners captured by the units of the East Bosnia Corps were
7 held in the collection centre at Batkovici. However, there weren't many.
8 Very few were captured.
9 Q. And, again, we'll get to that a little bit more tomorrow, sir.
10 And can you tell the Trial Chamber where the VRS soldiers who
11 hailed from the East Bosnia Corps area of responsibility who were
12 captured by the Army of Bosnia and Herzegovina -- where those soldiers
13 were typically held, in your experience, prior to these exchanges that
14 you've been telling us about?
15 A. In the prison in Tuzla. A unit which managed to take our soldier
16 prisoner, usually held that prisoner for a while, while they interrogated
17 him, following which, such people were turned over to the former district
19 Q. And just to help us with the time-line a little bit, you
20 mentioned at some point Branko Simic requesting that you also participate
21 in exchanges of civilians. Can you just give us a year in which that
23 A. It was in 1994, when I was appointment the president of the
24 Commission for Exchanges. The military commission, that is.
25 Q. And my last question for this evening: You told us how you
1 reported to the communications centre of the security department in
2 your -- in your corps; first to Colonel Jakovljevic and then to
3 Colonel Todorovic. Did you also have an office in connection with your
4 duties on the POW Exchange Commission? And, if you did, where was that
6 A. No, I did not.
7 I wanted to clarify something. It was one thing per
8 establishment that I was in the military security service, and another in
9 the role of -- in the commission. I was no spy. My task was to take
10 care of those people who were involved in negotiations on our side and
11 those escorting them, so as not to contravene some military rules and
12 principles. That was my task. And it basically had nothing to do with
13 the security aspect.
14 Q. Okay. Again, I'm sorry, I -- I asked a poor question.
15 The -- my question simply was: In your role as, first a member,
16 and then as president of the Eastern Bosnia Corps Exchange Commission,
17 did you have an office somewhere in which you would meet with, for
18 example, parents or relatives of prisoners, of VRS prisoners?
19 A. Yes. There was an office in town, even before my appointment as
20 chairman. In Filipa Visnjaca Street in Bijeljina. I think the number
21 was 14, though I cannot remember exactly. It was three or four buildings
22 from the building where the ICRC was located. It was a suitable building
23 because it used to be a cafe restaurant, so it had an entrance from the
24 street. And someone was always there; if not me, then the secretary who
25 provided information to the interested parties. Civilians would come
1 too. Muslims came because they wanted to cross over to the other side.
2 She was open to everyone.
3 Q. Thank you, sir. I think we're a little bit beyond the break for
4 the evening.
5 JUDGE FLUEGGE: Thank you very much.
6 We have to adjourn for the day. Sir, I have to inform you that
7 you are not allowed to have any contact with either party about the
8 content of your testimony during the break.
9 We adjourn and resume tomorrow in the afternoon for -- 2.15 in
10 this courtroom, number III.
11 We adjourn.
12 [The witness stands down]
13 --- Whereupon the hearing adjourned at 7.02 p.m.,
14 to be reconvened on Tuesday, the 7th day of
15 June, 2011, at 2.15 p.m.