1 Monday, 10 September 2001
2 [Open session]
3 [The accused entered court]
4 --- Upon commencing at 9.30 a.m.
5 JUDGE HUNT: Call the case, please.
6 THE REGISTRAR: Good morning, Your Honours. Case number
7 IT-98-32-T, the Prosecutor versus Mitar Vasiljevic.
8 JUDGE HUNT: Appearances for the Prosecution.
9 MR. GROOME: Your Honour, for the Prosecution, Dermot Groome,
10 Sabine Baur, and Frederic Ossogo.
11 JUDGE HUNT: Thank you. And for the Defence?
12 MR. DOMAZET: Your Honour, Vladimir Domazet, lead counsel for the
13 accused Mitar Vasiljevic, and Mr. Radomir Tanaskovic, co-counsel in this
15 JUDGE HUNT: Mr. Vasiljevic, can you hear the proceedings in a
16 language which you understand? There's no need to stand up.
17 THE ACCUSED: [Interpretation] Yes, I can, Your Honour.
18 JUDGE HUNT: Thank you very much. Sit down, please, sir.
19 I won't ask you that again whilst we're in this court, but if you
20 do have any problems at any time hearing the proceedings, make sure you
21 make that known so we can have it fixed for you. It is absolutely vital
22 that you hear everything that goes on.
23 Now, Mr. Groome, before we take your opening statement, there are
24 a couple of points that I think I should raise with you. So far as I can
25 see, the accused has never pleaded to the amended indictment. If you know
1 to the contrary, you've got to let me know now, but it certainly doesn't
2 appear in any transcript.
3 MR. GROOME: Your Honour, that amended indictment was filed at the
4 last court appearance, and he did not plead at that time.
5 JUDGE HUNT: Well then, we better make sure that he pleads before
6 you start.
7 The second matter, in relation to sitting hours. As I understand
8 it at this stage, and it may alter, we will not be sharing this court with
9 any other trial. So we will be sitting the usual sitting hours, 9.30 to
10 11.00, 11.30 to 1.00, 2.30 until 4.00. This week we'll be sitting Monday
11 to Thursday only because of a build-up of pre-trial matters in some other
12 cases that I have to deal with on Friday.
13 Depending upon the speed with which this trial moves, I hope that
14 we may be able to get through it sitting four days or perhaps four and a
15 half days a week. We'll see how we go.
16 I was rather alarmed to read in the latest pre-trial brief that
17 the estimate for the Prosecution case has grown from 15 days to 26 and a
18 half days, but perhaps the discussions we had at the Pre-Trial Conference
19 will have cured some of that problem. It simply cannot be 26 days.
20 That's two months' worth of work, and we don't have that sort of time,
21 and, in any event, we don't want a great deal of repetition. No doubt by
22 the time we have finished the evidence of the witnesses this week, we will
23 have a very good idea of where the issues really do lie in relation to
24 what might be called the chapeau issues.
25 Another matter is this: I was informed on Friday that the
1 accused's family is using the cubicle at the end of the courtroom there to
2 watch the proceedings this week. I hope that we'll be able to accommodate
3 them there for the whole week, but I do point out a problem, that it is
4 possible from that cubicle to see the witnesses, or at least side on, and
5 all but one of the witnesses this week has an order for protective
6 measures in his favour.
7 There have been some screens erected in the cubicle, and there
8 will have to be some checking to see how suitable they are. But I do draw
9 to your attention, Mr. Groome, that there are members of the public - in
10 effect members of the public - in there this week. So you might also keep
11 an eye on what can be done to ensure that the witness is not visible by
12 the naked eye from that room.
13 Finally, Mr. Domazet has filed now his argument in support of the
14 admissibility of the evidence which tends to establish that there were
15 attacks by the Muslims upon the Serbian civilian population, and we
16 require the Prosecution's response to that as soon as possible because,
17 unfortunately, the submissions came later than we thought they would, and
18 this is an issue which probably will arise with the first witness.
19 Have you given any consideration to that yet?
20 MR. GROOME: Your Honour, I've been occupied with witness
21 preparation last evening. I've read the motion, and I will have papers to
22 the Court tomorrow.
23 JUDGE HUNT: Tomorrow may be too late, if I may say so, because we
24 are going to have it arising with the first witness in cross-examination,
25 I would think.
1 MR. GROOME: Your Honour, I'd ask that we hear the witness's
2 testimony. I'm not sure it will. But if it does, I'd be prepared to
3 argue it orally at this time.
4 JUDGE HUNT: Very well. Mr. Domazet has sent a note to say that
5 the accused's family is not here.
6 Is that so, that the accused's family will not be here at any
7 time, Mr. Domazet?
8 MR. DOMAZET: Yes, Your Honour. I think this week. Next week it
9 is sure that they ...
10 JUDGE HUNT: That they will or will not be here.
11 MR. DOMAZET: No, they will not.
12 JUDGE HUNT: Well, there's obviously somebody in there who is -- I
13 actually see some of our legal officers in there at the moment. They've
14 probably taken possession.
15 Now, Mr. Domazet, this question of pleading to the amended
16 indictment. It is a formal matter, of course. I assume that your client
17 will be pleading not guilty to each of the charges directed to him.
18 Unless you have some objection to it, I propose simply to ask him does he
19 plead guilty or not guilty to all the charges pleaded against him, and we
20 can take a global answer. Have you any problem with doing it that way?
21 MR. DOMAZET: Yes, Your Honour, I agree.
22 JUDGE HUNT: You agree with that way.
23 MR. DOMAZET: Yes.
24 JUDGE HUNT: Thank you very much.
25 Well, Mr. Vasiljevic, you should stand up, please.
1 There has been an amended indictment filed. It, in fact, reduces
2 the extent of the charges against you, but nevertheless, there are a
3 number of charges there against you.
4 You pleaded not guilty to the original indictment. I therefore
5 ask you: Do you plead guilty or not guilty to each of the charges in the
6 amended indictment pleaded against you?
7 THE ACCUSED: [Interpretation] Your Honour, I plead not guilty.
8 JUDGE HUNT: Thank you, sir. Sit down, please.
9 Mr. Groome, are you satisfied with that as a satisfaction of
11 MR. GROOME: Yes, Your Honour.
12 JUDGE HUNT: Very well. Then now we'll hear what you want to say
13 by way of opening.
14 MR. GROOME: Your Honour, there is just one matter that I want to
15 raise. This is Mr. Tanaskovic's first appearance before the Court. I
16 would just -- given the serious situation that faces some of the
17 witnesses, I would just ask has he read the Court's orders regarding
18 protective measures and is he familiar with them?
19 JUDGE HUNT: That's a matter I think you can deal with outside the
20 courtroom. I must assume that they will comply with the rules and that
21 Mr. Domazet, who has quite some experience in this Tribunal, will ensure
22 that he has read the orders. But I don't think it's necessary for me to
23 ask him formally in court.
24 Are you giving evidence, Mr. Groome?
25 MR. GROOME: I was told this is where I could give my opening.
1 JUDGE HUNT: I've never seen it done that way before. That's the
2 witness box. But if you want to do it from there, you're welcome to do
3 so, provided we can hear you. You better turn the microphones on.
4 [Prosecution Opening Statement]
5 MR. GROOME: May it please the Court, all they wanted to do was to
6 leave. All they wanted to do was to leave Visegrad. By the 14th of June,
7 1992, the ethnic cleansing operation in Visegrad was well underway. It
8 was as widespread as it was brutal. Most of the town's Muslims who had
9 already fled once in fear, only to return, had now fled for a second and
10 final time. Those who remained were among the last to believe what they
11 hoped to be impossible had now come to pass.
12 On the 13th of June, a Serb from Koritnik walked over to his
13 Muslim neighbours and announced with surprising straightforwardness, "You
14 have to leave. You are being ethnically cleansed. You must leave for
15 Kladanj." These last remaining Muslims of Koritnik, finally resigned to
16 the awful reality around them, they agreed to leave.
17 When they crossed the old Turkish bridge in Visegrad on the 14th,
18 they were simply looking for the Red Cross. They had been told a bus
19 would be waiting for them to take them to safety. There was no bus. They
20 were told perhaps tomorrow. Their great tragedy began when they met the
21 accused, Mr. Vasiljevic. Mr. Vasiljevic is not the most infamous among
22 the Tribunal's indictees. He is no powerful politician accused of the
23 grand plans of the carnage in Bosnia. He is a simple waiter, one
24 generally liked by Muslims and Serbs alike. But he is one who, by his own
25 hands, committed an act which is perhaps one of the single most horrific
1 and egregious affronts to humanity in the war, to the most innocent of
2 victims. Judge Hunt, Judge Janu, Judge Taya, on behalf of the Prosecutor,
3 Ms. Carla Del Ponte, it is both my legal responsibility and my privilege
4 to stand before you and to describe the evidence the Prosecution intends
5 to present in this case against Mr. Vasiljevic.
6 The crime I am speaking about began when Mr. Vasiljevic offered
7 his help to these desperate, desperate people. He led them to a specific
8 house. He told them to remain there the night. They would be safe. He
9 issued them written authorisation to stay overnight. He told them he
10 worked for the Red Cross, that they would be placed on a bus to safety the
11 first thing in the morning.
12 He would then participate with Milan Lukic and several others in
13 burning those people alive. At least 65 people, mostly women and small,
14 helpless children, were forced into a house on the edge of a creek that
15 had already been prepared with highly flammable liquid and set on fire.
16 There was a small baby among them; she had yet to see her third day of
17 life. Anguished cries from the dying echoed along that gully for two
18 hours after the match was first struck.
19 This was not the first time Mr. Vasiljevic and Milan Lukic had
20 killed Muslims. They, along with others, had marched seven unarmed men to
21 the eastern bank of the Drina River and cowardly shot them in the back
22 until they had believed they had killed all of them. One of those men was
23 an old colleague of Mr. Vasiljevic's. His frantic pleas for mercy to his
24 old friend were silenced by a bullet to the back of his head. The seven
25 men dropped into the river that day. Fate spared two, who will recall
1 that day for you during the course of this trial.
2 Your Honours, before I discuss the crimes themselves, I want to
3 begin my remarks by describing, in a very cursory fashion, the historical
4 context in which the accused committed these crimes.
5 The former Yugoslavia, up until 1991, was a federal state
6 comprised of six different republics. One of those republics, Serbia,
7 included autonomous provinces of Voyvodina and Kosovo. After General
8 Tito's death, the forces that originally held these republics together
9 began to disintegrate, and with that came signs that Yugoslavia, as it had
10 existed for the last several decades, was in danger of coming asunder.
11 The increasingly Serb-oriented federal institutions, including the
12 Yugoslav People's Army engaged in a series of conflicts, first in
13 Slovenia, then in Croatia, and soon therefore in Bosnia - all of this an
14 attempt to create a new country, still called Yugoslavia, in the very
15 midst of the separating republics, bloodily carved in part from the land
16 of two of those republics a new Yugoslavia that would be run by and be
17 home to Serbs and their close allies the Montenegrins. This plan,
18 conceived by Serb political leaders both in Serbia and in Bosnia, was
19 executed in a most brutal fashion by the Yugoslav People's Army working in
20 cooperation with special forces from the Serbian Ministry of Internal
21 Affairs and paramilitary groups funded by nationalist political parties.
22 They worked in close consultation with local political leaders and local
24 The military operations of these Serb forces were coordinated and
25 systematic, and by the end of 1992, this campaign resulted in the deaths
1 or forced displacement of approximately 2 million non-Serbs, who were not
2 welcome in this vision of an ethnically homogeneous Serbian state.
3 The United Nations in a series of resolutions attempted to quench
4 the burgeoning flames of inter-ethnic conflict. It passed and implemented
5 an arms embargo and the former Yugoslavia, which froze the military
6 advantage of the Serbs and left the Bosnians unable to adequately arm
7 themselves. However, as a result of international pressure, the Yugoslav
8 People's Army was forced to withdraw from Bosnia by the 19th of May,
9 1992. The withdrawal was in large measure illusory, as in fact
10 substantial numbers of army personnel and equipment remained in Bosnia to
11 seamlessly reinvent itself as a Bosnian Serb army called the Army of
12 Republika Srpska.
13 Visegrad. Prior to the Bosnian conflict, Visegrad was a small
14 town in southeastern Bosnia and Herzegovina. It is one of several towns
15 along the Drina River and today forms part of Republika Srpska. Visegrad
16 has a number of features which ensured that it was of strategic importance
17 during the conflict. First, the municipality is the site of an important
18 hydroelectric dam. This dam not only provided essential electricity but
19 also controlled river levels and prevented flooding in areas downstream.
20 Second, the town was an important transportation hub. It is
21 situated on the main road between Belgrade and Sarajevo; the primary road
22 connecting Titovo Uzice in Serbia and Gorazde and Sarajevo. This road was
23 a vital link for the Uzice Corps of the Yugoslav People's Army with its
24 base camp in Uzamnica.
25 Your Honours, I'd like to draw your attention for the next couple
1 of minutes or minute or so to a photograph, an aerial photograph, and I'd
2 like to point out some of the key locations that will come up in testimony
3 here. Let me start with perhaps the most famous of the features of
4 Visegrad; and this is the old Turkish bridge which traverses the Drina.
5 THE INTERPRETER: Please speak into the microphone.
6 JUDGE HUNT: We will have to get a microphone around there so they
7 can capture your remarks for the transcript. You are probably speaking at
8 a rate which is the upper limit of their capacity. They are pretty good,
9 but you are speeding a little.
10 MR. GROOME: The Drina here runs north, so downstream is going up
11 this way, and this is the direction of north. On the stone bridge, if you
12 recall, or if you take a look, in about the centre, it widens. This is
13 the infamous sofa or the large stone seat where people would pass; as they
14 passed each other, would sit and talk with each other.
15 There is another bridge that crosses the Drina. This is the new
16 bridge. And there was one final bridge that crosses the Rez River
17 [phoen], and this is this bridge here, and you will hear about that.
18 This down here is the football stadium, and you will hear
19 testimony about 4.000 Muslims being gathered here one day to be
20 individually searched and intimidated. Up in this area here is where the
21 two houses, the Pionirska street -- or the three houses that you will hear
22 testimony about on Pionirska street. Perhaps the easiest way to find them
23 is to look across the street from this large, white building, which is a
24 school. Down this area here is called the Bikavac settlement, and you'll
25 hear testimony about the men from the river Drina were hiding here for
1 several weeks and this is where they were apprehended the day they were
2 brought to the Drina River. As we come back full circle, we come to the
3 centre of town down here. And in here we have the hotel Visegrad, the
4 police station, and the Panos restaurant is the restaurant where the
5 accused worked and where most of the people knew him from. There are a
6 few items not depicted on this picture. Let me just indicate where they
7 would be, and you will hear them in the testimony here.
8 There is the Uzamnica Barracks of the Yugoslav People's Army.
9 That is on this bank, the eastern bank, or locals would call it the right
10 bank, of the Drina. But it is further south, so it would be off to the
11 left of the photograph.
12 Also not depicted on the photograph would be the water dam, which
13 would be several kilometres upstream and would be off to the left on the
14 map. And then the two other locations which are not depicted on the map
15 which you will hear testimony of, one is the place in Sase where the seven
16 men were taken to be killed. That is located on the right or eastern bank
17 of the Drina River and is located north of the town several kilometres.
18 The one final location I'd like to indicate for you is the Hotel
19 Vilina Vlas, and that is northeast of the town and would be approximately
20 over here. That is where the men were taken to the river.
21 Local Serb units began a mortar bombardment of the town and its
22 surrounding villages on the 6th of April, 1992. Muslim neighbourhoods and
23 villages were predominantly targeted. In retaliation, a small group of
24 Bosnian Muslim men seized control of that dam that I've just referred to,
25 and they threatened to blow it up. As the Yugoslav army's circle around
1 the town grew closer, one of these men managed to release water from the
2 dam, causing flooding to some houses and streets. This crisis attracted
3 considerable media attention, and leaders on both sides entered into
4 intense negotiations. Many residents, both Serb and Muslim, fled from the
5 town to await the outcome of the crisis.
6 The crisis at the dam was defused when JNA commandos seized the
7 dam. They were followed the next day by a large contingent from the Uzice
8 Corps from the Yugoslav army which had crossed the border from Serbia.
9 The Uzice Corps encountered some light resistance from Muslim factions but
10 ultimately had little difficulty in taking control of the town.
11 After taking control, the JNA positioned tanks and heavy artillery
12 around the town. The JNA detained men and women for questioning. Some of
13 these detainees reported being beaten. After securing absolute control of
14 the town, JNA officers and Muslim leaders, persuaded by assurances from
15 the Yugoslav People's Army that Muslims would be safe, jointly led a media
16 campaign to encourage Muslims to come out from hiding, to return to their
17 homes, to return to their jobs. Many did return, believing in the
18 assurances that they were given and naively hoping that life in Visegrad
19 could once again return to normal. But soon after their return, they
20 learned that this Visegrad was worse, even more threatening than before.
21 Checkpoints manned by army, police, and paramilitaries seemed to be
22 everywhere. People were robbed by police and paramilitaries and
23 threatened with their lives if they did not surrender their property.
24 Local Serbs were sent off for training and practice in shooting weapons.
25 Muslims with prominent positions in the town were fired; some
1 disappeared. Paramilitaries drove around the town playing tapes of people
2 being tortured, from loudspeakers mounted on the tops of their cars.
3 This situation only became worse when the Uzice Corps left the
4 town around the 19th of May, 1992. Upon their departure, local Serb
5 leaders established the Serbian Municipality of Visegrad and took control
6 of the municipal government offices. Soon thereafter, local Serbs,
7 police, and paramilitary units began one of the most brutal campaigns of
8 ethnic cleansing in the Bosnian conflict. This was designed to
9 permanently rid the town of its over 13.000 Bosnian Muslim residents.
10 During the period that followed, Serb and Bosnian Serb forces
11 attacked and destroyed a number of Bosnian Muslim villages. Hundreds of
12 unarmed Muslim civilians in the town of Visegrad were killed for no other
13 reason other than their ethnicity. The Drina was regularly used to dump
14 the bodies of men, women, and children who were killed along its banks or
15 on the historic Turkish bridge, a symbol for centuries of festering
16 animosity between Muslim and Serb peoples. Many of these shockingly
17 mutilated bodies washed down the Drina, where they were caught by a sharp
18 bend in the river near the village of Slap.
19 Many Muslims who were not killed were detained at various
20 locations in town, including the JNA military barracks at Uzamnica. Some
21 were detained in the Hotel Vilina Vlas or other makeshift detention
22 centres. Here the victims were beaten, tortured and subjected to sexual
23 assaults. Many were eventually killed. Both of the town's two mosques
24 were completely destroyed.
25 During the spring of 1992, a former inhabitant of Visegrad, Milan
1 Lukic, returned to Visegrad and took control of a paramilitary unit which
2 worked with the police and military units in exacting a reign of terror
3 upon the local Muslim civilian population. This paramilitary organisation
4 was often referred to by locals as the White Eagles and included Milan
5 Lukic's cousin Sredoje Lukic and his kum, Serbian word for "best man," the
6 accused, Mitar Vasiljevic.
7 Milan Lukic and Mitar Vasiljevic were good friends, and their
8 families shared a special bond and relationship that extended over several
9 generations. Sredoje Lukic was a member of the Visegrad police, and Mitar
10 Vasiljevic was a well-known waiter that worked for the Panos company which
11 had several restaurants and coffee houses in the Visegrad area.
12 From April 1992 until October of 1994, Milan Lukic and his group
13 committed hundreds of crimes in the municipality of Visegrad against its
14 non-Serb population. Many of his victims were thrown -- killed on and
15 thrown off the old Turkish bridge, most by the stone sofa. From here the
16 bodies drifted down to Slap, where they were dragged in from the river and
17 given a semblance of a proper Muslim burial.
18 Sadly, the story of Visegrad is one of the most successful stories
19 of ethnic cleansing during the Balkan crisis. Of its over 21.000 people,
20 over 61 per cent were Muslim. During the war, after the events that you
21 will hear about at this trial, there were none left. That is, over 12.000
22 people forcibly removed from their homes or killed according to the
23 records of the Red Cross.
24 Visegrad holds the tragic distinction of having the most number of
25 people who simply disappeared after Srebrenica, most of them men and
1 teen-aged boys, most of them in May and June of 1992, when the accused
2 made his contribution to this evil scheme.
3 Part of my legal burden is to prove that what Mitar Vasiljevic is
4 accused of wasn't simply the work of a rogue band of criminals but was
5 connected to the takeover and ethnic cleansing orchestrated by Slobodan
6 Milosevic, Radovan Karadzic, and others.
7 The Prosecution will introduce several pieces of evidence on this
8 issue. There are two in particular I would like to tell you about at this
10 You will hear from a man who was a prominent member of the
11 Visegrad community. He will describe a chilling event in which he was
12 brought into the command post of the Yugoslav People's Army for a meeting
13 with an army colonel, and as he sat waiting at a table, three officers
14 unknown to him came in and sat at the table across from him. Not
15 realising he was a Muslim, they ignored him. One of them unrolled a map
16 of the town and pointed out to the other two the areas along the right
17 bank that had been successfully cleaned. A paralysis overcame this man as
18 the officer pointed to the village in which his entire family lived on the
19 left bank of the river and declared that it was scheduled for cleaning the
20 very next day.
21 You're also going to see a video taken about five or six weeks
22 before these crimes were committed. It was first aired on Serbian
23 television and begins with a camera crew filming Visegrad from an army
24 helicopter. You will see the helicopter circle over an army facility on
25 which Muslims are gathered onto a concrete basketball court like sheep.
1 The video will continue, and you will see an army truck with armed
2 soldiers in the back and a number of Muslims in the truck. As the truck
3 passes the camera, you can see their frightened, worried faces. One of
4 those frightened people will appear before you. He will describe the day
5 the army entered his village and collected all of the Muslims and brought
6 them to the football stadium in town. He will describe how, as he crossed
7 the old Turkish bridge in the back of that truck that he was driving in,
8 he became part of a line of army trucks also laden with frightened Muslim
9 men, women, and children. He will tell you how the paramilitaries,
10 including these White Eagles, waited at the end of the bridge, jeering and
11 threatening them, unchecked by the great number of army personnel. He
12 will tell you the army made no effort to stop one of the White Eagles as
13 he took his friend's son from the truck in front of him, never to be seen
15 I would like to describe in greater detail the crimes for which
16 the accused is about to stand trial. Credible and reliable eyewitness
17 testimony will be adduced that on the 7th of June, 1992, Milan Lukic,
18 Mitar Vasiljevic, and other members of Milan Lukic's group detained seven
19 Muslim civilian men, drove them to the bank of the Drina River, and shot
20 at them. Five of those victims died as a result of the shooting; two
21 escaped fatal injury by pretending to be dead.
22 The events leading to the shooting began at approximately 5.30 in
23 the evening of the 7th, when Milan Lukic and his men were conducting
24 house-to-house searches for Bosnian Muslim civilian men. One of the first
25 men to be taken prisoner was forcibly taken from his own house, and as he
1 was being lead away, he meekly requested permission to give his daughter a
2 good-bye kiss. Milan Lukic said no. When Lukic turned his back, he stole
3 a last kiss from this little girl.
4 The first two men they took prisoner were placed in the rear seat
5 of a dark red Volkswagen Passat that Milan Lukic was known to drive and
6 had been stolen from a Muslim businesswoman who was one of the first to be
8 At approximately the same time, six different men in Lukic's group
9 were at other Muslim homes close to the Bikavac Hotel. Two of the men who
10 were captured had lived for several weeks in the basement of a home,
11 hiding behind a cupboard every time they heard a car drive down the
12 street. When one of these men saw his own car curiously rolling down the
13 street with its engine off, he stepped outside for a closer look, never
14 realising that several of Milan Lukic's men were making their way up the
15 hill behind where he was hiding.
16 Apprehended, they were held with Milan until Milan Lukic arrived.
17 They were brought to another house close by where they were joined by
18 several other unfortunate men who were unable to escape. When Milan Lukic
19 arrived at this area, the Bosnian prisoners were searched and their
20 valuables and identification papers were taken. Perhaps of the first
21 indication of Lukic's intentions was what he did with the identification
22 papers afterwards. He threw them on the ground and kicked them into a
23 pile behind the door. The men were then forced into two cars stolen from
24 Bosnian Muslims.
25 The two cars drove off down through the town, past the two
1 destroyed mosques in the direction of the Vilina Vlas Hotel, north-east of
2 the town. On the way, Milan Lukic stopped as people -- stopped next to
3 people walking in the treatment, and he called out to them from the car,
4 asked them what their name was to see if they were Muslims. At one of the
5 checkpoints that they passed through, he remarked to the police officer
6 there, "I have hunted myself several balijas," a derogatory word used to
7 describe Muslims.
8 When the two cars filled with the Bosnian Muslim prisoners arrived
9 at the closed and empty Vilina Vlas Hotel, they were met by the accused,
10 Vasiljevic, and other members of Milan Lukic's group. The accused was
11 standing at the left of the lobby as they entered. The accused was well
12 known to the victims from his many years of work as a waiter in several
13 restaurants and coffee houses owned by the Panos company in Visegrad. One
14 of the victims, Meho Savovic, had been Vasiljevic's supervisor and his
15 mentor in the company.
16 The accused was dressed in an olive drab military uniform with a
17 red ribbon on the sleeve. Both his black cap and uniform bore the
18 insignia of a double-headed eagle. He was armed with an automatic rifle.
19 While the men were lined up with their backs to the reception desk, Mitar
20 Vasiljevic stood on their right while another Serb guard stood on their
21 left. Milan Lukic rummaged through the reception desk in an futile
22 attempt to look for a certain set of keys. He opened the door behind the
23 reception desk and looked there as well. When he couldn't find the keys
24 he was looking for, he angrily exclaimed, "Let's go back."
25 The seven men were once again forced into the two cars. The
1 accused, Vasiljevic, sat in the front passenger seat of the Passat as
2 Milan Lukic drove. The two vehicles drove to Sase, a small village just
3 outside Visegrad and just along the bank of the Drina River. On the way,
4 one of the paramilitaries offered one of the men a cigarette and assured
5 him, "You are being taken to be exchanged."
6 As they pulled alongside the road in front of a house, Milan Lukic
7 asked Vasiljevic if he knew whether the house was owned by Muslims. He
8 replied that it was.
9 After the accused and the other paramilitaries got out of the car,
10 they assumed positions around the car and ordered the Bosnian Muslims
11 out. Milan Lukic had a sniper's rifle with a sound suppressor or
12 silencer, and Mitar Vasiljevic had a locally made Kalashnikov-style rifle
13 like the other two men. All of the guns, including the one held by
14 Mr. Vasiljevic, were trained on the men.
15 When the captives were out of the car, they were forced to walk
16 towards the Drina, which was approximately 100 metres away. On the way to
17 the river, Milan Lukic and Mr. Vasiljevic guarded their condemned on one
18 side and the remaining paramilitaries guarded them from the other. It was
19 clear to the men what fate awaited them. One of them attempted to move
20 towards his brother-in-law as they walked to say a last good-bye. He was
21 quickly threatened to walk straight ahead.
22 When they arrived at the river, the seven men were ordered to line
23 up along its bank. The men walked the ten paces slowly towards the river
24 they swam in as boys, knowing that to reach it was to meet their death.
25 Vasiljevic's former supervisor, Meho Savovic, repeatedly begged the
1 accused to spare his life. Vasiljevic coldly responded, "I don't know
2 you." Some of the others begged as well, but it was in vain. Some of
3 them were simply silent and spent what they thought was the last few
4 moments of their life thinking about their children or the others they had
6 As the seven stood at the river's edge, Vasiljevic, Milan Lukic,
7 and the other paramilitaries assumed positions approximately ten metres
8 behind them. After a brief discussion regarding whether to use the
9 Kalashnikovs in automatic or semi-automatic mode, the sound of the three
10 guns could be heard as they were clicked into single shot. The
11 paramilitaries, beginning with Milan Lukic, fired repeatedly into the
12 men's backs and into their heads until they believed they had killed all
13 of them.
14 Two of the victims threw themselves into the river when the firing
15 began and desperately pretended to be dead. They remained still in the
16 shallow water as additional shots were fired into the bodies around and on
17 top of them to ensure that they had all been killed. They could hear the
18 sound of the bullets thud into the bodies of their friends. They could
19 feel life quickly leave the men lying on them as their movement stilled.
20 When the paramilitaries were satisfied that they had killed the
21 seven men, Vasiljevic, Milan Lukic, and the others returned to the two
22 cars and drove away. The two survivors of the shooting remained
23 motionless until they heard the cars leave, and together they found their
24 way to safety.
25 For these crimes, Mr. Vasiljevic has been charged with murder as a
1 crime against humanity and as a violation of the laws or customs of war,
2 the crime of inhumane acts as a crime against humanity, and finally the
3 crime of violence to life and person as a violation of the laws or customs
4 of war.
5 The evidence of this incident will come from four sources,
8 There will also be testimony from a man who was hiding on the
9 opposite bank and observed the crime through a set of binoculars. And
10 finally, by the accused's own account of what happened, I will talk in
11 greater length about his videotaped interview. But for now I will just
12 say that he admits being present at all times during the crime beginning
13 from the Vilina Vlas hotel through the executions themselves and up until
14 Milan Lukic dropped him back at his home.
15 The fire. Credible and reliable eye witness testimony will
16 establish beyond a reasonable doubt that on or before the 14th of June,
17 1992 approximately 65 to 75 people of Bosnian Muslim ethnicity, mostly
18 women and children, were imprisoned in a house on Pionirska street by
19 Mr. Vasiljevic, Milan Lukic, Sredoje Lukic, and then burned alive. The
20 events leading up to the fire began as a group of people, mostly women and
21 their children from a small settlement called Koritnik, about six
22 kilometres outside of Visegrad, gathered in the town of Visegrad, seeking
23 the protection of the Red Cross and a way to leave the town.
24 Earlier in the day, one of their Serb neighbours told them
25 directly that the village was to be ethnically cleansed.
1 THE INTERPRETER: Could counsel please slow down.
2 MR. GROOME: Some of these people had been instructed earlier in
3 the day.
4 JUDGE HUNT: Mr. Groome, we've had another request to please slow
5 down. When you are reading, it's very natural for to you speed up. I'm
6 told I do it myself. But just keep it in mind. It has to be translated
7 or interpreted and it has to be typed, so just space yourself out a little
8 more, please.
9 MR. GROOME: Thank you.
10 Some of these people had been instructed earlier in the day by
11 people claiming to work for the Red Cross or a refugee committee that
12 there would be safe transportation out of the town. The accused Mitar
13 Vasiljevic was among those who disseminated this false information and
14 falsely represented himself to be a member of the Red Cross.
15 Most of these people had been forced from their homes or had
16 determined that remaining in Visegrad imperiled their lives. Finding the
17 Red Cross office closed, the group made its way to a Muslim neighbourhood
18 at the edge of Visegrad where they hoped to find shelter for the night.
19 As they approached the area, they were met by Vasiljevic, who introduced
20 himself by name and told them that he was working for the refugee
21 commission. Most of them already knew him from his work in the Panos
22 restaurants. Vasiljevic instructed the women to stay in the ransacked
23 house of Jusuf Memic on Pionirska street and issued them an official
24 looking certificate supposedly legitimising this arrangement. He returned
25 one more time later in the day and assured them that they would be safe
1 there and that, in the morning, transportation would be arranged to carry
2 them out from Visegrad.
3 Shortly after Mr. Vasiljevic's second instruction to the group,
4 Milan and Sredoje Lukic, the men that he had worked with in the past, as
5 well as another from that group, arrived. They stole valuables from the
6 group, questioned them about their husbands, and then made them strip
7 naked for a final, humiliating search. When they finished, they again
8 instructed them, as Vasiljevic had done before, they were to remain in the
9 house until morning.
10 Later that day, Milan and Sredoje Lukic returned to the house and
11 forced the shoeless victims to move to another house behind the first
12 house, a house owned by Adem Omeragic. This house was only 20 to 50
13 metres away and was closer to the stream that ran behind the houses.
14 There were already a number of persons detained in this house, and
15 the group from the Memic house had to be physically squeezed into the
16 Omeragic house. It was clear to one of the witnesses when she entered
17 that the carpet had been soaked with some volatile chemical and the
18 windows had been barricaded. The chemicals smelled like glue and it made
19 it difficult to breathe.
20 After approximately 30 minutes, Milan and Sredoje Lukic and
21 Vasiljevic came back to the house and opened the front door. As
22 Vasiljevic and Sredoje Lukic stood at Milan Lukic's sides preventing
23 anyone from escaping, Milan Lukic placed an explosive device on the carpet
24 and lit its fuse. As the device exploded, it ignited the flammable
25 substance on the floor. The flames quickly engulfed the solvent-soaked
1 socks of the victims and the house itself. Vasiljevic and the Lukics
2 remained outside the house, shooting at any of the people who desperately
3 tried to escape through the windows.
4 One woman and her son climbed out of the window and fled along the
5 creek bed. Another young boy showed him mother to that very same window
6 and jumped out first and ran as quickly as he could down the creek bed and
7 up to a small hill across the creek.
8 He did not see his mother climb out after him. He did not see
9 when she was shot by Milan Lukic. She rolled down the embankment of the
10 stream, limp from her wounds. As she lay there, she listened to the
11 horrifying screams of the victims as they burnt to death.
12 Her son on the crest of that hill could not see her and cried as
13 he watched the house burn, listening to the screams of his many burning
14 relatives, believing that his mother was among them. It would not be
15 until 1995 that he would learn that his mother had survived that
16 Holocaust. The two Memic houses were also burned to the ground that
18 For these crimes, Mr. Vasiljevic has been charged with
19 extermination, murder, both as a crime against humanity and as a violation
20 of the laws and customs of war, the crime of inhumane acts as a crime
21 against humanity, and finally the crime of violence to life and person as
22 a violation of the laws and customs of war. There is also an overall
23 charge of persecution regarding the totality of the accused's conduct.
24 The Pionirska evidence. The evidence of what happened on
25 Pionirska street will come from a number of sources. Remarkably, seven
1 people escaped the fire that day. As the women were moved from the Memic
2 house to the Omeragic house, two sisters, two twins, dropped behind a shed
3 as they passed by -- as they passed by the shed as the group was forced
4 into the second house. They will describe their observations of the fire,
5 the crime in general, and in particular their observation of the accused,
6 Mr. Vasiljevic, and his participation in the crime.
7 Of the approximately 70 people that were forced into the house --
8 I'm sorry, of the people that escaped, two mothers and their sons were
9 able to climb out of the window and jump to the ground. They will come
10 and testify about their ordeal and the role the accused played in the
11 crime. An elderly man also survived the fire that night, a man who knew
12 and identified Mr. Vasiljevic very soon after the fire. Although he died
13 in 1995, we will call his son to recount what his father told him about
14 the fire that night.
15 Your Honours, I would like to draw your attention to another
16 enlarged photograph - this is an aerial photograph of the Pionirska street
17 houses that are relevant to this trial - and just point out a couple of
18 things. These two houses here are the houses that belong to the Memics.
19 They are most easily identified by the northerly one which has a green and
20 yellow awning at this point in time, and as you can see, they are directly
21 across from the large, white school which can be seen on the broader
23 These houses were burned that night, but these are not the houses
24 where the women were forced into and burned. That is this house back
25 here, this shell of a house back here. And in particular, the witnesses
1 will talk about this bottom, ground floor with no windows on this side,
2 simply windows facing the creek which runs along, through, or under the
3 shade of these trees.
4 The ashes of these and remains of the dead are still in and around
5 that house. And in a final act of desecration, the ground floor of the
6 house was turned into a pig sty that -- today that hallowed ground lies
7 covered in pig filth.
8 From very early on in the Prosecution case, I think you will have
9 a sense of just how well known Mr. Vasiljevic was. You will hear ample
10 evidence regarding how the witnesses know Mr. Vasiljevic. One woman will
11 tell you she has known him all her life. They are about the same age.
12 They were born in the same area. As young adults, they used to frequent
13 the same places, and she, like the rest, knew him from the Panos
14 restaurants and cafes.
15 One of the witnesses will tell you how often he frequented the
16 cafe where Mr. Vasiljevic worked and will estimate that he has seen Mitar
17 Vasiljevic hundreds of times over the course of the last several years,
18 prior to 1992.
19 At least one of the defences in this case, perhaps the primary
20 defence, is that the accused was not present when the fire was actually
21 set in Pionirska street. Because this necessarily raises the issue of
22 whether or not the witnesses were mistaken, the Prosecution undertook to
23 conduct identification procedures in this case. The format of the
24 identification procedure was a photo array. I have placed one of these
25 arrays on the ELMO, and I would ask if we can see that now.
1 Each witness, along with the investigator and interpreter, was
2 asked to view a set of pictures. The photo array contained a picture of
3 the accused along with a number of other men of similar appearance, one of
4 which was a recent photograph of the accused. They were asked if they
5 recognised anyone. If they did, they were asked who they recognised it to
6 be. They were then asked to sign their name to the photograph they
7 recognised. The investigators will testify and describe the steps they
8 took to ensure that the identification procedure was fair. And you will
9 hear from the witnesses themselves, describe the circumstances under which
10 they were shown the photo spread and the level of certainty they had in
11 identifying the picture that they did.
12 An alibi defence has been raised in relation to Pionirska street.
13 The accused in his video statement claims that on the day of the 14th, he
14 fell off a horse in the centre of town. He says that he found the horse
15 abandoned northeast of the town and rode it into the town to release it
16 along the railroad tracks and in the very centre of town, the horse
17 slipped, threw him --
18 JUDGE HUNT: I couldn't read the signature there, but in case
19 somebody could, is that a witness who has protective measures in his or
20 her favour?
21 MR. GROOME: No, Your Honour. Sorry, Your Honour, it is a witness
22 who has protective measures.
23 JUDGE HUNT: I suggest you don't show it on the ELMO any more
24 unless you want it somehow in private session. But I think we've seen
25 enough of it.
1 MR. GROOME: Yes. At the very centre of the town, the horse
2 slipped, threw him, and then fell on top of him, breaking his leg. And
3 sure enough, there are medical records from Uzice hospital which indicate
4 that a person by the name of Mitar Vasiljevic was admitted into the
5 hospital that night at approximately 11.00 p.m., here in this book. Some
6 jurists might be tempted to end the inquiry here. It is a seemingly
7 impressive piece of evidence, and there is no obvious evidence that it was
8 forged or tampered with. But the victims of this fire are owed more than
9 a cursory look, a summary decision about this piece of evidence important
10 to the case.
11 This big blue ledger was not the only item contained in the
12 medical records. You will hear about all of the documents contained in
13 the records and the circumstances under which they came into the
14 possession of OTP.
15 If this inquiry is to be a complete one, then they all must be
16 examined carefully. In one of the admittance records, a doctor or nurse
17 noted where the person had broken his leg and it said, "the battlefield."
18 In the box for indicating who was notified of the person's injury, there
19 is an indication that a military post was notified.
20 There was also an x-ray film of the person's broken leg. Written
21 across the bottom of the x-ray, very clearly, is the name Mitar Vasiljevic
22 and the date, 14 June 1992.
23 You will hear testimony from Dr. DeGrave, an expert in the
24 comparison of x-rays. He will describe how he had the opportunity to
25 conduct a physical and radiological exam of the accused this past August.
1 He will also describe his analysis and comparison of an x-ray of the
2 accused's leg taken here in the prison with the one that was part of the
3 medical records. He will tell you that, to a scientific certainty, the
4 leg depicted in the x-ray from the Uzice hospital is not the same person
5 as the accused.
6 You will hear from two women that helped one of the survivors of
7 the Pionirska street fire. They tended her burns and injuries soon after
8 the fire. You will hear them describe their encounter with Mr. Vasiljevic
9 after they saw the woman who survived the fire.
10 Your Honours, this process we embark on this morning will
11 hopefully lead us to the truth of what Mr. Vasiljevic's participation was
12 in the Pionirska street fire. The Prosecution's role in that process has
13 been to thoroughly investigate this matter and gather relevant evidence.
14 I think at the conclusion of the Prosecution's case, you will see that
15 this has been done. And in that search for evidence, evidence was
16 discovered that suggest that these records are not what they seem. That
17 will be presented.
18 There is also evidence that suggests that perhaps the accused was
19 indeed in that hospital. That evidence was promptly turned over to
20 Mr. Domazet, Defence counsel for the accused, and I trust that he shall
21 present that evidence in turn.
22 All the Prosecution ask of Your Honours at this juncture is to
23 reach no hasty conclusion, forge no theory about what happened, until you
24 have heard all of the evidence and both counsel have had an opportunity to
25 address you.
1 Further in relation to Defence assertion that Mr. Vasiljevic is
2 not guilty because he was not present when the fire was ignited, I would
3 say the following: Your Honours, Mr. Vasiljevic did not begin his part in
4 this crime when he shone a flashlight on the victims so Milan Lukic could
5 shoot them. His part in this crime did not begin when he guarded the door
6 as Milan Lukic knelt to ignite the carpet under the feet of the victims.
7 His part did not start when he helped move them from the house on the road
8 to the house where they died. This crime began when he told the victims
9 to go stay in that first house. This crime began when he issued a
10 supposed official document authorising them to stay in this house. This
11 crime began when he told them he worked for the Red Cross and they would
12 be safe there that night.
13 It is just common sense that perpetrators of crimes tell lies to
14 their victims. The kidnapper tells the young child that he has candy for
15 her. Why, even the first murder recorded in the Bible, Cain invited his
16 brother Abel to go for a walk, to lure him away to be killed. Like so
17 many crimes before, the victims of this fire were told lies to overcome
18 their resistance to what Mr. Vasiljevic and the two Lukics had planned for
19 them. I draw your attention to them in advance. They will be important
20 in this case. You will hear evidence that not only in the Pionirska
21 street but also in the Drina river, you will hear a witness describe an
22 event that she witnessed in which she saw Mr. Vasiljevic take a young
23 little girl who was crying for her father and put the little girl up on
24 his lap.
25 THE INTERPRETER: Could counsel please slow down for the
1 interpreters. Thank you.
2 JUDGE HUNT: Yes, another complaint. I realise you're probably
3 trying to finish this speedily, but we'd rather have it taken properly by
4 the interpreters and the court reporters.
5 MR. GROOME: He cuddled this small girl who was crying for her
6 father. He consoled her with a smile and told her that her dad had been
7 taken to be exchanged. Her father's butchered body was one of the ones
8 that washed up in Slap.
9 Your Honours, I suspect that it is quite possible at some point in
10 this case you may be struck by the idea that this case really isn't about
11 whether these witnesses are mistaken when they saw Mr. Vasiljevic commit
12 those horrific acts on the 14th of June. You just may conclude that they
13 could not be mistaken; they know him too well. You may be drawn to the
14 dilemma that this case isn't about mistake, it's about some person or
15 persons attempting to perpetrate a fraud upon this Tribunal. Someone must
16 not be telling the truth.
17 In that likelihood, I would ask, as we begin to hear testimony
18 today, that you closely assess the credibility of each and every witness
19 for the Prosecution. Consider the risks that they have accepted to come
20 to tell you what Mr. Vasiljevic did. Consider the magnitude of how
21 difficult it is to relive that night here in court. Look carefully into
22 their eyes and see the scars from the fire that night and ask yourself
23 whether or not you believe them.
24 In 1961, a native Visegradian by the name of Ivo Andric won the
25 Nobel Prize for literature for his famous book, "The Bridge over the
1 Drina," a book about this bridge, this town, and these people. He
2 describes the bluish green Drina rushing northward out of the precipitous
3 gorge and the old, stone Turkish bridge which traverses it, connecting its
4 flattened banks where the town of Visegrad was founded so many years ago.
5 He describes life there among the Serbs, Muslims, and Croats and how from
6 time to time an inexplicable madness descends like a poisonous fog on the
7 town, dividing its several peoples and giving birth to egregious acts of
8 violence, many of them, and the cold stone seat of the bridge, that
9 sacrificial altar to an insane god of nationalism.
10 Why, in June of 1992 Mitar Vasiljevic and the Lukics decided to
11 write the next chapter of that book, a chapter far surpassing any one that
12 came before it in its complete and utter cruelty to the most innocent of
13 victims, we can never hope to understand. Fortunately, the law does not
14 impose upon me the burden of proving what compelled Mr. Vasiljevic to
15 commit these acts. The law does impose upon me the burden of proving that
16 he did in fact intentionally commit these crimes, a burden that will be
17 satisfied completely by the evidence that will be presented over the
18 coming weeks.
19 They just wanted to leave. Thank you.
20 JUDGE HUNT: Now that you're back at your usual position,
21 Mr. Groome, may I ask you just two questions? What was the street in
22 which the burnt house is to be found? Was it Pionirska, or if it was,
23 what is the street in which the other buildings are shown, the ones
24 opposite the school? Because we are going to get into terrible trouble if
25 we keep on referring to this as the Pionirska street incident.
1 MR. GROOME: Your Honour, this is Pionirska street here.
2 JUDGE HUNT: All right. That's where the house was when they were
3 first put.
4 MR. GROOME: First brought. The other house isn't on the street.
5 It's essentially in the backyard of these houses here.
6 JUDGE HUNT: You see, I was tempted at first to call them the
7 first and the second house, but then we are going to get into trouble
8 because of the way in which you have drafted the indictment, because there
9 is another house in Pionirska street that was burnt -- no, in another
10 street that was burnt. It's referred to throughout as the second house.
11 MR. GROOME: May I make a suggestion, Your Honour?
12 JUDGE HUNT: Yes.
13 MR. GROOME: That we call these two houses the Memic houses. They
14 were owned by the Memics.
15 JUDGE HUNT: No, please let's keep it either a street number or
16 the street name, but the names of people are very difficult to keep in
18 MR. GROOME: Your Honour, unfortunately, in this part of the
19 world, this house did not have a street number or even a street. You must
20 walk through the backyard to get to it. It's just on a creek bed.
21 JUDGE HUNT: Can we call that the backyard house? It's just much
22 easier to have names.
23 MR. GROOME: Call it the house by the creek?
24 JUDGE HUNT: House by the creek? All right. Don't mind.
25 Whichever way you like.
1 The other question I wanted to ask you: It appears you are
2 grasping the nettle, as it were. You're going to deal with the alibi in
3 the Prosecution's case in chief, are you?
4 MR. GROOME: Yes, Your Honour.
5 JUDGE HUNT: Yes, that's all right.
6 Now, Judge Taya would like to ask a question.
7 JUDGE TAYA: I want to have some clarification from the
8 Prosecution. As to the house-burning incident on Pionirska street,
9 according to the opening statement of the Prosecutor, there are already a
10 number of persons in the house of Adem Omeragic when approximately 65
11 Bosnian Muslims arrived there. As to those persons who were already in
12 the house of Adem Omeragic, is it the allegation of the Prosecutor that
13 they were also detained there by the accused, Milan Lukic, Sredoje Lukic
14 and others? This is my question.
15 MR. GROOME: Your Honour, unfortunately we know very little about
16 those people. Those people were not from the village of Koritnik. The
17 victims in this case from the village of Koritnik did not recognise them.
18 I think there will be a reasonable inference that they -- it was all part
19 of the same conduct by Mr. Lukic and Mr. Vasiljevic, but there will be no
20 evidence about the identity of those people or how they came to be in that
22 JUDGE TAYA: Thank you.
23 JUDGE HUNT: Well, you may call your first witness.
24 What are we going to do about all of the documents that we're
25 eventually going to get? I assume we're going to be given some documents,
1 are we?
2 MR. GROOME: Yes, Your Honour.
3 JUDGE HUNT: When?
4 MR. GROOME: Your Honour called my assistant Friday afternoon, and
5 I believe they were prepared the same day.
6 JUDGE HUNT: I made no calls, but certainly one of the legal
7 officers did because usually we get them in advance. Are we going to be
8 given a copy of each of these documents?
9 MR. GROOME: Yes, Your Honour.
10 JUDGE HUNT: How have you got them identified in the folders?
11 MR. GROOME: Your Honour, they're in the order that we intend to
12 refer to them. They've all been pre-numbered. I was going to ask for a
13 few minutes with the clerk of the court to decide whether we pre-mark them
14 all for identification at this juncture or we do it as we call upon the
16 JUDGE HUNT: It will be sufficient if you just leave the numbers
17 on it. We will use those numbers as exhibit numbers for ease of
18 reference. If any are not tendered or not admitted into evidence, then we
19 just simply will not have any exhibits of that number.
20 I don't think it's necessary to mark them for identification as
21 such. There will be some documents which will be marked for
22 identification which won't get into evidence immediately, perhaps because
23 some other witness has to establish their authenticity. But if you have
24 numbers on the documents, we'll keep to those numbers. At this stage,
25 they are simply numbered documents, but we will use those numbers for the
1 exhibit numbers.
2 They're going to be tendered when you call the investigator, are
4 MR. GROOME: Some, and some will be referred to when the witnesses
6 JUDGE HUNT: We haven't seen the investigators' names on the list
7 yet, so I assume that some of these witnesses will be referring to plans
8 or streets, maps, or something like that, will they?
9 MR. GROOME: Yes, Your Honour.
10 JUDGE HUNT: Well, could we have those at some stage before the
11 witnesses come?
12 MR. GROOME: They can be provided for you right now.
13 JUDGE HUNT: Well, perhaps during the morning adjournment you can
14 physically supply them to us. Let's see how we go with your first witness
16 MR. GROOME: Can I ask for just a couple of minutes to rearrange
17 the witness box and recover some of the evidence?
18 JUDGE HUNT: Yes, most certainly. And you can take that down so
19 the interpreters can see what's going on inside the courtroom. They do
20 really need to see.
21 The technical people will be pleased to set up the witness box
22 again after you've destroyed its virginity. I'm sure it's the first time
23 it's ever been used by counsel for an address. So it won't take long.
24 The technical people can come in and fix up the microphones.
25 Who is your first witness? I gather there is some problem with
1 your witness list.
2 MR. GROOME: VG022, Your Honour.
3 JUDGE HUNT: Now, this witness is going to have facial distortion
4 and a pseudonym. Yes, very well.
5 When you are doing your list, it would be very helpful if you did
6 it the same way as the one we received on Friday noting what the
7 protective measures are, because otherwise we have to go searching through
8 the books.
9 Are we getting somebody from the audio-visual group to come and
10 fix the microphones, or are we allowed to do them ourselves?
11 Mr. Groome, I notice there's a reference there that this witness
12 is expected to give us some idea of the political situation after the
13 multi-party elections. How far are we going to go into this? It really
14 only invites what the Defence wants to do, to run the line that it was an
15 attack by the Muslims upon the Serbs. Why do we have to go into so much
17 MR. GROOME: I'll ask him to give a very brief description of
19 JUDGE HUNT: Yes, I know. But a very brief description is going
20 to invite, then, a brief description about something else. You've got an
21 admission there was an armed conflict at the relevant time. We can assume
22 that. Somebody, I assume, will give us a brief history which will support
23 your opening address how the former Yugoslavia split up. I don't know
24 what more we need, except, of course, you have to prove that it was an
25 international armed conflict if you're still pursuing that particular set
1 of charges. Most of the smaller cases such as this, that has been
2 dropped, and I'm still hoping that you might see some common sense about
4 But what we are going to end up doing is a long argument about
5 meetings, political rallies, and what was said in parliament and all of
6 this, and I'm at a loss myself to know why we need that. All we have to
7 prove -- all we have to have proved for us is that there was an attack
8 upon the Muslim civilian population.
9 MR. GROOME: Your Honour, the witness will not be going into the
10 items that you've just mentioned.
11 JUDGE HUNT: That will be a relief, because I've heard them so
12 often now when Prosecutions have forced it on us.
13 Is the witness ready? Yes, bring him in then.
14 MR. GROOME: Just a point of clarification. There were no
15 Article 2 points on this indictment.
16 JUDGE HUNT: Aren't there? I thought that there was some
17 discussion in the pre-trial brief about the Geneva Conventions.
18 [The witness entered court]
19 JUDGE HUNT: Now, sir, will you stand up to take the solemn
20 declaration that the usher is showing you? Please stand up so that the
21 usher can show you the solemn declaration.
22 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] I solemnly declare that I will speak
23 the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.
24 JUDGE HUNT: Sit down, please, sir.
25 WITNESS: WITNESS VG22
1 [Witness answered through interpreter]
2 JUDGE HUNT: Who is taking this witness? Mr. Groome.
3 MR. GROOME: May I have a moment, Your Honour?
4 Examined by Mr. Groome:
5 Q. Good morning. Can you hear me? Good morning. Can you hear me?
6 JUDGE HUNT: Just say yes so we can hear you.
7 THE WITNESS: Yes.
8 MR. GROOME:
9 Q. I'd ask you to take off your jacket. You're going to be here
10 awhile. Get yourself comfortable, please.
11 JUDGE HUNT: Mr. Groome, have you got what has generally been
12 described as a pseudonym sheet that shows his name and address or his name
13 and age and place of birth, which also shows his pseudonym?
14 MR. GROOME: Your Honour, I have a list of all names and all the
15 pseudonyms that have been assigned in this case. I do not have the
16 biographical information on it. If you like, I will provide that for you
17 this afternoon.
18 JUDGE HUNT: The way I have found it always to be done - and it is
19 far more helpful if it is done this way - is that for each witness, you
20 provide a sheet of paper which has his name and whatever identification
21 details you want in it, plus a reference to his pseudonym, and then he
22 knows that he will be referred to by that pseudonym. And then you have on
23 that sheet of paper a list of all of those persons to whom he may refer
24 who have pseudonyms. You can't expect every witness to go through a whole
25 list of pseudonyms to work out whether somebody he's going to mention is
1 on that list.
2 MR. GROOME: I don't expect that of witnesses, Your Honour.
3 JUDGE HUNT: Well, how is he going to know, when he refers to
4 somebody by name, that he shouldn't refer to that person by name but by a
6 MR. GROOME: He's not going to refer to anybody that he shouldn't
7 refer to by name, Your Honour.
8 JUDGE HUNT: All right. But for the other witnesses, do you think
9 we can do it? It saves him having to write down on a piece of paper what
10 his name is, and we've got a document which goes in under seal as an
12 MR. GROOME: Yes, Your Honour. I will do that.
13 JUDGE HUNT: And the numbering of those exhibits is going to have
14 to follow your numbering system. So can you tell me how far your
15 numbering system goes at this stage?
16 MR. GROOME: We're up around 55 at this stage, Your Honour.
17 JUDGE HUNT: Let's start off, let's say, at 70. So the first
18 pseudonym sheet or whatever other document you will want in will start off
19 at 70.
20 Now, you proceed, please.
21 MR. GROOME:
22 Q. Sir, you have been assign the pseudonym VG22. Are you ready to
24 A. Are you asking me?
25 Q. No. I'm telling you that you've been assigned number 22 and
1 asking are you ready to proceed.
2 A. Yes.
3 Q. I just remind you, as I told you yesterday, please do not use your
4 name or any information about yourself which could identify you.
5 JUDGE HUNT: I'm sorry to keep on interrupting, Mr. Groome, but we
6 have to know what his name is somewhere on the record. That's the purpose
7 of the pseudonym sheet that I suggested to you. It's given to the
8 accused's counsel and to us and to the witness.
9 MR. GROOME: I'm sorry, Your Honour. I provided such a table with
10 the protective measures motion. I assumed that that's what the Court
11 would be using this morning to coordinate the numbers with the names. I
12 apologise, and we will have the sheet you're requesting.
13 JUDGE HUNT: Thank you.
14 Now, sir, is that your name on that sheet of paper?
15 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Yes.
16 JUDGE HUNT: Very well. That will be Exhibit 70. Show it to the
17 accused's counsel, please.
19 MR. GROOME:
20 Q. Sir, I'd ask you to briefly describe your educational and
21 professional background.
22 A. I completed primary school in Visegrad, secondary school. I
23 graduated from the high school for air force studies in Mostar, and I
24 graduated from the faculty in Sarajevo. After graduating, I worked in
25 Visegrad, in a local firm there.
1 Q. And today what is your occupation?
2 A. Today I live in Sarajevo and I have a private business.
3 Q. I would ask you to describe for the Court what was the general
4 political situation in Visegrad in 1992.
5 A. As has become common knowledge, in 1990 -- that is to say, in the
6 former Yugoslavia and also in Bosnia-Herzegovina, the first multi-party
7 elections were held. Up until then, it was a one-party system with one
8 party; that is, the Communist Party.
9 After the multi-party elections were held, there were two parties
10 in Visegrad which gained the largest number of votes and seats and
11 deputies or members of parliament for the town of Visegrad. Those parties
12 were the Party of Democratic Action and the Serbian Democratic Party, and
13 they made up the majority. They had the power. The other parties had
14 negligible influence and had a very small number of deputies in the
16 In keeping with this, the results of the election, the power, and
17 the authority after the elections was set up.
18 JUDGE HUNT: Mr. Groome, it's 11.00. We'll take the break now.
19 I should have said that Exhibit 70 will be under seal.
20 We will resume at 11.30.
21 --- Recess taken at 11.00 a.m.
22 --- On resuming at 11.30 a.m.
23 JUDGE HUNT: Yes, Mr. Groome.
24 MR. GROOME:
25 Q. Sir, do you recall where we left off, or would you like to have
1 the last line of your testimony read back to you?
2 A. I do recall the point where we left off, and we may continue.
3 Q. Would you please continue?
4 A. As I was saying, power and authority in the municipality of
5 Visegrad was divided up in percentages and commensurate with the
6 multi-party election results. The assembly of Visegrad numbered 50
7 members of Parliament or deputies, and of that number, the SDA, the Party
8 of Democratic Action, won 27 seats; the Serbian Democratic Party, the SDS,
9 had 13 seats; and three or four other parties had the rest, making up the
10 50 number. The SDA, the Party of Democratic Action, Serbian Democratic
11 Party, had wielded power and authority in the municipality to all effects,
12 with the majority. The President of the municipal assembly was Mr. Fikret
13 Cocalic, and his assistant --
14 JUDGE HUNT: One moment, sir. We do not need this detail, do we?
15 MR. GROOME: Your Honour, some of these names will become relevant
16 later on in the trial. I assure you that I will try to keep it as brief
17 as possible.
18 JUDGE HUNT: The fact that, in effect, you're letting the witness
19 have his head worries me. He has a story to tell, but very little of it
20 will be relevant to what we have to decide. So just try to take him to
21 where you want him to go so we can get on.
22 MR. GROOME: Your Honour, in the interests of time, when I
23 prepared him yesterday, I asked him to tell briefly. So rather than
24 interrupt him with questions on each point, I'd ask you to give us perhaps
25 a little leeway, and if you want me to start going point by point, I will.
1 JUDGE HUNT: Well, if you assure us that it is going to be
2 relevant, he can proceed, but I really do not want to know all of this
3 history. It is not relevant to anything we have to determine.
4 MR. GROOME: Yes, Your Honour.
5 Q. Please continue. Would you please tell us just the main names of
6 the heads of the two parties?
7 A. Very well. The President of the Party of Democratic Action was
8 Mr. Fikret Cocalic, and other influential members of the party were Omer
9 Brankovic, Ohranovic Esad. I myself was a member of that party. The
10 President of the Serbian Democratic Party was Mr. Branimir Savovic and his
11 assistants were Stanko Pecikoza, Risto Perisic. They were the most
12 influential people in the Serbian party.
13 Q. I want to draw your attention now: Did there come a time when
14 Muslim members of the Territorial Defence were disarmed?
15 A. Yes, that did happen. It happened somewhere in February or March
16 1992. And how it happened was the following: The Yugoslav People's Army
17 issued an order that all firms, companies, and institutions who had arms
18 in their possession intended for Territorial Defence purposes were to lay
19 down those arms and hand them into the army; that is to say, to the
20 Yugoslav People's Army. And that's what happened during that period of
22 Q. And the company that you worked for at the time, were you a
23 prominent member in that company?
24 A. I was the manager of that company, or director, and that company
25 had a significant stock of weapons and military equipment which was taken
1 over by the Yugoslav people's army.
2 Q. And did there come a time to your knowledge that people of Serb
3 ethnicity were provided arms in Visegrad?
4 A. I am aware of that fact, yes, because a large number of people saw
5 that taking place. How it happened was that in -- that vehicles brought
6 in weapons to Serb villages and those weapons were distributed amongst the
7 Serb nationals or ethnic group.
8 Q. To your knowledge, were members of your company who were Serb,
9 were they given any special military training around this time?
10 A. At that time, practically all the employees in the company that I
11 was director of went for military training, and this military training was
12 conducted by the offices of the Yugoslav People's Army together with the
13 heads of the Territorial Defence who were Serbs by ethnicity. This took
14 place on a training ground which was generally used for military training.
15 Q. Could you describe for the Chamber when was the first incident of
16 violence or shooting incident in Visegrad?
17 A. The first shooting took place on the 4th of April 1992, and it
18 happened some 10 or 12 kilometres away from the centre of town at a place
19 called Dobrun. And I know for sure that it was in a quarry, a stone
20 quarry there, and the workers working in the stone quarry were shot at and
21 they left the quarry and came into town.
22 Q. In the days after that initial shooting, were there mortar attacks
23 on Muslim areas of Visegrad?
24 A. The first day was artillery shooting. On the very next day, there
25 was mortar bombardment, and places inhabited by Muslims were shot at as
1 well as the centre of town. And as the days went by, the shooting became
2 more and more intense.
3 Q. I'd now like to draw your attention: Did there come a time when
4 approximately 12 Serbs were taken or captured by some of the Muslim
5 members of the police force?
6 A. Yes, that's right. This occurred on perhaps the 7th, 8th or 9th
7 of April 1992. It wasn't the Muslim police, but they were units of the
8 police force, the police force that had already been in existence, and
9 members of the Territorial Defence who were doing routine patrolling
10 around town, and they happened to come across an armed group of 12
11 individuals who were -- neither belonged to the police force or the army
12 or the Territorial Defence, and they arrested them, took them into
13 custody, and took them to the police station in town, where they held them
14 in detention.
15 Q. Did you know these people?
16 A. I knew most of them personally. Some of those people who had been
17 taken into custody were members of the regular police force, 10 to 15 days
18 previously, in town; whereas some of the others were civilians until 10 or
19 15 days prior to the event. And I knew them personally. I knew where
20 they worked, what they did, that kind of thing.
21 Q. And at the time they were taken into custody, were they dressed in
22 military uniforms?
23 A. Yes. Some of them had the police-type uniforms. Others were
24 wearing military uniforms.
25 Q. Now, I'm going to ask you to describe the events of the next five
1 days. I'm going to ask you to go day by day, beginning with day one, the
2 time when water was released from the dam. Would you explain the
3 circumstances surrounding the release of the water.
4 JUDGE HUNT: There is an admission of fact about this, is there
5 not? The document that was attached to the pre-trial brief is not signed,
6 and I know there has been some problem about translations of it, but is
7 that not an admitted fact?
8 MR. GROOME: Your Honour, it may be. And I guess --
9 JUDGE HUNT: I know you want to go further, but I'm just trying to
10 say you don't have to prove that it happened.
11 MR. GROOME: Yes, Your Honour. And it's not directly relevant to
12 the charges, but it does fill out the picture of what was going on in
13 Visegrad at the time, and I think it will be particularly important to
14 understand the context in which these crimes occurred.
15 JUDGE HUNT: Mr. Groome, every time you talk about the picture and
16 the context, I become worried. Unless it proves something, we are not
17 terribly interested in it.
18 MR. GROOME: Your Honour, I have to prove a connection between
19 the events as --
20 JUDGE HUNT: Yes. Very well. Then it is relevant. You go
22 MR. GROOME:
23 Q. Will you please describe the beginning -- let's call this day
24 one, the day water was released from the dam, and tell us the
25 circumstances surrounding that.
1 A. The water from the dam was released by a certain man called Murat
2 Sabanovic, who came there at his own initiative with a group of men. And
3 the very act of releasing the water was geared towards preventing; that is
4 to say, the threat that water would be released from the dam and the
5 hydroelectric power plant was geared towards turning away the arrival of
6 the Yugoslav People's Army units which were burgeoning towards the town of
7 Visegrad. They were coming in large numbers and from different
9 Q. How did you become --
10 A. But as they did not succeed in preventing the army from coming in,
11 I think what happened next was on the 12th of April -- that was the date
12 when he actually released the water from the dam, just before the arrival
13 of the troops, the army troops, before they reached the hydroelectric
14 power plant and the surrounding villages around the town.
15 Q. Would you explain to us what would have happened had the water in
16 the dam all been released?
17 A. Had all the water been released from the dam, I do not think that
18 anything major would have occurred, because downstream on the River Drina,
19 there was another dam which had been emptied previously. So it would have
20 captivated that water. But there would have been local damage in the town
21 and the villages bordering on the river.
22 Q. What was the response of the people who lived in Visegrad to this
23 threat of the water being released?
24 A. Well, it caused a great deal of fear and panic amongst the
25 population because they tied this in with the arrival of the army and the
1 release of the water. And as there was fear generally, this made the
2 situation worse. So the fact of the water being released was -- tipped
3 the scale in this balance of fear. They were terribly afraid that if the
4 water was released, everything would be inundated.
5 Q. Did members of the Muslim community flee from Visegrad in response
6 to this threat?
7 A. Yes. The town was left empty on threat that the water would be
8 released. And when a little of it was released, everybody left the town.
9 The town was left completely empty by all its inhabitants.
10 Q. And where did the Muslim members of Visegrad go to?
11 A. The Muslims from Visegrad went, for the most part, in two
12 directions. One direction was upstream towards the town of Gorazde, and
13 the other direction was downstream towards villages that were five or six
14 kilometres away from the centre. Brstanica was one of them, and it was
15 the centre of this rallying of the population. And a small part went off
16 to Priboj.
17 Q. And did members of the Serb community also flee the town?
18 A. Yes, they did.
19 Q. And you mentioned that some water was released from the dam. Is
20 that true?
21 A. Yes, some of the water was released. Not all of it, but some of
22 it was.
23 Q. And what was the result of that water being released?
24 A. The results weren't what people had expected them to be. They
25 were very much afraid. But what happened was that one of the villages
1 suffered mostly, the village where Murat Sabanovic in fact lived, the
2 actual person who released the water; whereas the rest of the damage was
3 not as great.
4 Q. Was there any loss of life?
5 A. No, there wasn't. When this act took place, nobody lost their
6 lives, no.
7 Q. But there was damage to property?
8 A. Yes, there was. Quite a bit.
9 Q. Did there come a time when you were asked to negotiate on behalf
10 of the Muslim population or be involved in negotiations on behalf of the
11 Muslim population to try to reduce tensions in Visegrad?
12 A. Yes. Among other things, negotiations were called for. The first
13 negotiations were called for by the SDS with respect to the release of the
14 12 people who had been taken prisoner. After that, the Yugoslav People's
15 Army asked for negotiations, which took place in the barracks near
16 Visegrad, and I attended those meetings.
17 Q. I'm going to draw your attention to the first negotiation. Did
18 that occur on the day after the water was released from the dam?
19 A. Yes. Yes, after the water was released, the first negotiations
20 were held with the SDS at a place called Kosovo Polje, perhaps some two
21 kilometres out of town.
22 Q. In which direction?
23 A. Downstream on the right-hand bank.
24 Q. That would be north of the town?
25 A. North, yes.
1 Q. Would you please describe for the Court what happened at that
3 A. At the negotiations, the president of the SDS was to come. His
4 name was Branimir Savovic. He was expected to arrive. And on the other
5 side, (redacted) We came to that
6 village. Mr. Branimir Savovic did not arrive, but the negotiations were
7 attended by the Vice-president of the SDS party, Stanko Pecikoza.
8 We discussed the release of the people that had been taken into
9 custody, and our side - if I can use that term - called for a ceasefire,
10 for an end to the mortars shelling Muslim villages and parts of the town,
11 and we said that two days later they would be released.
12 Stanko said that he didn't have the authority to go ahead with
13 anything like that. And we sat around talking for a while because we knew
14 each other from before. We knew each other quite well, in fact. So we
15 discussed the situation. This might have gone on for about an hour, and
16 then we all went our ways, having agreed upon nothing, decided nothing.
17 Q. Can you describe for the Chamber, did you have difficulty arriving
18 at this place or returning back?
19 A. As we had agreed to meet at that particular location and hold the
20 negotiations there, the SDS guaranteed safe conduct, that we would not be
21 shot at. I told them which car we would be arriving in and other
22 information of that kind.
23 The only difficulties that we had was because of the water that
24 was released from the dam, because there were pebbles and sludge on the
25 road. That was the only difficulty. We found it difficult to reach the
1 location because of all the sludge and slush and stones on the road.
2 Q. I would like to move now to day three. Did you have a meeting
3 with a member of the Yugoslav People's Army?
4 A. After one or two days, the President, Mr. Cocalic, that Colonel
5 Ojdanci, who was the commander of the Uzice Corps, wished to talk to the
6 leadership of the municipality, and I said that I would go with them in
7 view of the fact that (redacted)
8 (redacted) and that's what happened. That's how we went to the
9 negotiations which had been scheduled to take place in a barracks called
10 Uzamnica on the right bank of the Drina, two to three kilometres upstream
11 and quite near the dam.
12 Q. That would be south of the town?
13 A. Yes, that's right.
14 Q. And who else attended from the Yugoslav People's Army?
15 A. On the part of the Yugoslav People's Army, there was the
16 commander, the local commander of the barracks, and his name was Captain
17 Borko. But he didn't actually attend the negotiations. He was just
18 there. He would come and go for brief periods of time. He would come in
19 and leave, but he didn't actually attend the negotiations. There were
20 other members from the JNA and Colonel Ojdanic.
21 Q. When you arrived at the Uzamnica barracks, was Colonel Ojdanic
23 A. No. We arrived a little earlier. Actually, we arrived on time,
24 at the scheduled time; whereas the colonel was a little late.
25 In the room where the negotiations were to be held, we came across
1 several JNA officers who were not from the barracks themselves, and
2 amongst them there was an air force major, so we talked to them for a
3 while while we were waiting for Colonel Ojdanic to arrive.
4 Q. Did anything occur between yourself and this major?
5 A. While we were waiting for the colonel - and we waited for
6 approximately one hour - the major was very nervous and angry. He was a
7 little intoxicated. And immediately after the talks started, which refer
8 to the situation in Visegrad, he was angry, he beat the table with his
9 fists, he hurled derogatory terms at our team. I wasn't there alone. I
10 was with some others. So that it was all very unpleasant, and we were a
11 little taken aback by his behaviour.
12 Q. At the time this meeting was being held, who is in control of the
14 A. We went to the negotiations in the barracks via the dam, across
15 the dam, because there was no other way to reach the barracks. There was
16 nobody there, just some of the workers who worked on the dam's
17 maintenance. When the meeting with the colonel was over, on our return,
18 we were detained by soldiers of the JNA, so that means that in the
19 meantime, they had taken control of the dam.
20 Q. Can you describe what happened when you were detained by these
22 A. Well, standard procedure. They had their weapons cocked at us.
23 We were told to get out of the car. We were all travelling in small
24 passenger vehicles. They searched the cars. They searched us
25 personally. And they asked us to go by military truck to see the
1 commander who was providing security for the dam. He was Captain
2 Vukosavljevic. He was the dam commander. We insisted on going in our own
3 car and the captain came to see us. That's what happened in the end.
4 After we had explained who we were and where we were coming from and where
5 we were going, he ordered the soldiers to let us pass, and they had to
6 clear away the guns that had been positioned on the road that we had to
7 pass through. The soldiers didn't like having to do that, but they obeyed
8 and got rid of the guns and we were able to pass by.
9 Q. This Vukosavljevic, over the course of the next several days, did
10 you have conversations with him regarding the situation in Visegrad?
11 A. Yes. In the following days, I had an opportunity to meet with
12 Captain Vukosavljevic on several occasions. One night we stayed the whole
13 night in the dam. Nobody slept. We spent the entire night discussing the
14 situation, the current situation, and the causes of the situation, and so
16 Q. Did he tell you what he had been told about the situation in
17 Visegrad prior to his arrival in Visegrad?
18 A. Yes. Captain Vukosavljevic, at first, when we were captured, when
19 he arrived to let us go, he was extremely angry and he did not like us. I
20 spent this evening, this whole evening, with him. He asked me about the
21 overall situation in the town. This was his major area of interest. I
22 explained this to him. I explained the actual situation, because I
23 realised that he obviously had a completely wrong picture of what had been
24 going on in the town. And after that, he changed substantially. And, in
25 fact, he did help us. He met some of our requests. So his relationship,
1 his attitude towards us, changed 100 per cent after this.
2 Q. What had he been told was happening in the town?
3 A. Well, he told me first of all that he had been transferred
4 urgently from Macedonia, where he had served as an officer of the JNA, to
5 Serbia, and then immediately to Visegrad, with the order to take the dam
6 and to secure it. He was also told that Muslims were committing horrible
7 crimes there, slaughtering Serbs, roasting small children on spits, and so
8 on and so forth. And this was the preconception that he had when he
9 arrived there. After this talk with me, and I assume with some other
10 people of Serbian ethnic background, he realised that this was not the
11 actual real situation, that these were all things that had been invented
12 by somebody. And then his attitude towards us changed. When I said
13 "towards us," I mean the legal authorities and the Muslim community.
14 Q. I want to now move to day four. Were you called a second time to
15 have a meeting with Yugoslav People's Army representatives?
16 A. On the first day of our meeting with Ojdanic, nothing really was
17 achieved, nothing special was achieved, because he wanted the
18 representatives of both parties present there, both of the SDA and the
19 SDS, the Democratic Action Party and the Serbian Democratic Party. Since
20 members of the SDS were not present at the first meeting, he promised that
21 he would make sure that SDS members were present on the next meeting the
22 next day, together with the President, Brane Savovic. So what was agreed
23 at the first meeting was that the second meeting would be held the next
25 I arrived on time at that second meeting, but the other members
1 had not yet arrived because there was quite a lot of shooting around the
2 town and it was quite unsafe to travel. So the other members failed to
3 arrive. I entered the room, the same room where the meeting was held the
4 day before. I sat down at the table and waited for the other people to
5 arrive. Officers, two or three officers of the JNA, were there. I said
6 hello to them. I sat down and we did not talk at any length. And after a
7 short while, another officer of the Yugoslav People's Army entered the
8 room, carrying some military maps.
9 Q. Would there have been any way for these people to know who you
11 A. Well, if they had asked anyone who I was, somebody would have told
12 them that. But I don't think that they knew. They did not ask me
13 anything, so they did not know who I was.
14 Q. Can you describe what happened when this third officer walked into
15 the room with the maps?
16 A. The third officer brought the map, sat down at the table where I
17 was sitting, right across me, it so happened, because there was an empty
18 space there. He spread the map on the table, so the map was right in
19 front of me. In the beginning, I just looked at this whole thing. I was
20 not really interested in the proceedings. But then he explained to the
21 other officers how far each of the units from Uzice got, how far they
22 reached. And now this topic really got my -- got me interested. I was
23 looking at what he was pointing at at the map and listening to what he was
24 saying to the other officers. He explained to them, very briefly, showing
25 them on the map the points where the units were, the points that the units
1 had reached, saying, "This whole area is clean." "Another unit reached
2 this such and such point. This is all clean." And so he went through the
3 whole of the right bank of the river, indicating the points that the units
4 had reached and saying, "This is all clean."
5 Q. Just to be clear, what is this a map of?
6 A. It was a military map. I know what a military map looks like,
7 because I had the opportunity to hold it in my hands. There were blue and
8 red arrows and signs. I am not really familiar with those signs.
9 Q. Was it a map of Visegrad municipality?
10 A. Yes, yes, yes, indeed. It was a map of the Visegrad
11 municipality. I knew every location. I knew all those places that the
12 officer pointed out.
13 Q. Please continue. You were describing what the officer said about
14 the right bank.
15 A. Yes. And at one point, he circled a location on the left bank of
16 the river. He circled an area, saying, "This area we will clean
17 tomorrow." I saw this, and I know -- I knew what the word "to clean"
18 meant. And he indicated an area where about 4.000 Muslims lived. There
19 were several groups of villages there, including the village where my
20 father was born, and I knew that there were about 4.000 people there, and
21 the word "to clean" was a term that was used in the sense of to clean it
22 from -- of people, to remove all the people, to clean it in this sense.
23 Q. You say that this place that was pointed to was a place that you
24 were familiar with. Had you been to that place in the preceding days?
25 A. Yes.
1 Q. Was there any conflict going on in that area at the time?
2 A. No, no, there were no conflicts there.
3 Q. Please continue.
4 A. I was familiar with this location because my father was born there
5 and my entire family, father, mother, brothers, sisters, their children,
6 my wife, my children, were there. They were all there. And in the
7 previous days, I had been going there, and I knew how many people there
8 were. There were so many people there. It was crammed with people. If I
9 may be allowed to give you an image, my father could not sleep. There was
10 no room for him to sleep in his own house. They had to sleep elsewhere,
11 in the car. So I knew just how many people there were, because I had been
12 visiting this area.
13 Q. What happened then?
14 A. Then I became paralysed, as we say in Bosnia. I was unable to
15 move, because in a split second, I knew what the officer had pointed out.
16 I knew what "to clean" meant, and I knew what would happen, what he was
17 planning to do. And because so many people were there, including my
18 entire family, I was paralysed for an hour.
19 Q. Okay.
20 A. And even after ten years, I don't feel comfortable describing
22 Q. Did there come a time when Colonel Ojdanic did arrive for the
23 scheduled meeting?
24 A. When I insisted, in fact, I even cried. I was unable to say a
25 word for an hour. My chin froze. I was unable to utter a single word.
1 There were some foreign journalists there in the barracks. I
2 spoke to them. Perhaps that had some impact on the development. But at
3 any rate, they told me that the colonel would arrive for the negotiations,
4 because before that, he had told us that he would not be arriving because
5 there weren't enough people for him to actually conduct any negotiations.
6 So the Colonel arrived, perhaps an hour later. In the meantime,
7 the others came, the President of the Rudo municipality, Mr. Topalovic,
8 and the SDA president for Rudo, Ramiz Abdem [phoen]. I was already there,
9 and the colonel arrived.
10 Q. Before we get to that meeting, you described people being in the
11 barracks and meeting some reporters. What barracks are you referring to?
12 A. I'm referring to the Uzamnica barracks, which is quite close to
13 the dam.
14 Q. And can you describe who you saw in the -- who were the people you
15 were referring to when you saw there were people in the barracks?
16 A. These were the refugees from the town mostly and from the villages
17 in the immediate vicinity of the barracks, but most of them were from the
18 town, because they were afraid of the water coming. There was this hype
19 that the water would be released, and they also knew that the army would
20 be arriving. They took shelter in the barracks.
21 Q. And what was their ethnicity?
22 A. They were mostly Muslims. Perhaps 99.9 per cent of them were
23 Muslims. I saw some that I recognised, but there were also some Serbs
25 Q. And the reporter that you met, did you describe to this reporter
1 what you had just seen earlier regarding the map?
2 A. Yes. I, in fact, asked the reporters to stay there until the next
3 day, explaining to them, saying to them that a genocide would take place
4 in the vicinity of the town of Visegrad. He did not really trust me
5 because he thought that I was one of the refugees there. When I explained
6 to him that I was not a refugee, that I was there to take part in the
7 negotiations with the colonel, that he was from the outside, and I also
8 explained to him the functions that I held at the time, then they said,
9 "All right, we'll stay there until the next day."
10 I think that actually this was the crucial element that made the
11 colonel arrive and take part in the negotiations.
12 Q. I'd asked you to describe what happened during those
14 A. You mean the reporters? We did not get into any details.
15 Q. I'm sorry. The negotiations with the colonel. Would you please
16 describe the meeting with the colonel now.
17 A. The colonel arrived. I already mentioned other people present.
18 He is a pleasant person. He was in a good mood. He sat down at the
19 table. He greeted us. And first he addressed me saying, "Do you have any
20 particular problems?" referring to the situation that I had been in an
21 hour ago and the fact that my family was there with all the other people
22 in Brstanica. I said that I did not have any particular problems, that I
23 had the same problems like everybody else.
24 The president of the Rudo municipality was the first to speak at
25 the meeting as the Democratic Action Party and the Serbian Democratic
1 Party were able to reach an agreement and that there were no problems
2 there and that the same type of agreement should be reached in Visegrad.
3 I then spoke very briefly, insisting on the following point: that
4 the JNA should protect this large group of people in Brstanica, that they
5 should protect them so that they do not come to any harm. They were
6 saying that there were no problems, there was nobody to protect them from,
7 that they were sure that there would be no problems, but I knew that there
8 could be a large-scale massacre there.
9 Q. Up until this time, had the Yugoslav People's Army provided
10 protection for any of the Muslim communities in the Visegrad
12 A. You mean in just the short term or in the period of, let's say, 20
14 Q. No. I'm saying at the time that you're making this request. Was
15 it because at present there was no protection for the Muslim settlements
16 in Visegrad?
17 A. Yes. This was the reason I sought the protection of the Yugoslav
18 People's Army, because there was nobody else to provide such protection.
19 They were the only ones.
20 Q. And what did Colonel Ojdanic say when you made this request?
21 A. Colonel Ojdanic first said -- because I asked for the protection
22 of these people by the JNA, he said, "I don't know. I have my superiors
23 too." Then after some further conversation, I asked him, "Does it mean
24 that if we cannot have -- make sure that the SDS members are here at the
25 negotiating table, does this mean that the Yugoslav People's Army will
1 just sit back and watch the Muslim population being massacred?" And his
2 response to this was, "All right. Tomorrow we will enter the town and we
3 will protect this group of people," that I had mentioned, the people in
5 Q. Is there anything else that occurred at that meeting of
7 A. Well, that was more or less it.
8 Q. After the meeting, I'd ask you to describe for the Chamber what
9 happened regarding the protection that you had requested.
10 A. After the meeting, the colonel had to go urgently to Uzice. I
11 went out and talked for a while with Captain Vukosavljevic. He was the
12 commander of the dam. I told him what had happened, and he was already
13 concerned about the developments. He was not present at the meeting, so I
14 described very briefly what had happened, and I told him that the colonel
15 promised that he would order the army to protect the population and to
16 secure or, in other words, to take the town.
17 So we said good-bye, and I went to this place where my parents
18 lived, which is called Crnca. I spent the night there, and the next
19 morning I phoned Captain Vukosavljevic at the dam, asking him what had
20 happened with the promise that the colonel made last night about
21 protecting the civilians, and he told me that there were some unforeseen
22 problems and that the army was unable to do it that day, that they would
23 do it the next day.
24 Q. When you went to this village, did you see any signs that there
25 was protection from the Yugoslav People's Army there?
1 A. On that day? Is that what you mean?
2 Q. On the day of the meeting when you went to this village, did you
3 see any evidence that protection was being provided to these people?
4 A. No. No. Nobody from the Yugoslav People's Army was there.
5 People were very scared. Their fate was uncertain, and they were really
7 Q. Did Vukosavljevic ever suggest to you that you contact Colonel
8 Ojdanic again?
9 A. Yes.
10 Q. When was that?
11 A. This happened on the day when the army was supposed to protect the
12 civilians, according to his promise. Since the colonel notified us from
13 Uzice that he would be unable to do this -- to do that on that day but the
14 next day, I decided, although it was quite risky, to go there.
15 I got into my car and rushed there. I met with Vukosavljevic and
16 I asked him, "How come the army is not moving yet?" He said, "I don't
17 know what's happening. Why don't you call Uzice? Call the colonel and
18 insist that he fulfil his promise, the promise that he made the day
19 before." And this is precisely what I did. He gave me the phone number.
20 He also handed me the phone. So I called him.
21 One of his officers answered the phone. I told him who I was, and
22 I got the colonel on the line. I reminded him of the events, and I
23 insisted for the army to go there on that day, that we were should not be
24 waiting another day. And then he said, "Okay. Let Captain Vukosavljevic
25 call me." And that's what I told him. He went to another office and
1 called the colonel from there. I don't know what they were talking
2 about. The conversation was not long. And he came back in a very good
3 mood, and he told me, he said, "We got the approval from the colonel.
4 We're going to move quickly. Let's get all those people from the villages
5 and into the town."
6 He put maybe 30 soldiers onto two trucks, and I got into his car
7 with him. He drove a Lada Niva. So followed by two trucks, we went
8 straight to Brstanica to let those people know that they should go to town
9 and take shelter in the town as soon as possible, where they would be put
10 under the control of the Yugoslav People's Army. And that's what
12 We went there. The people had already got the news somehow - they
13 knew that we would get there - and they gathered in the centre of the
14 village of Brstanica in large numbers. Vukosavljevic insisted that this
15 all be done very quickly, that columns be formed. There were some
16 passenger vehicles. He wanted the old people to get into cars, and he
17 wanted everybody to go to Visegrad immediately.
18 That's what we ask. We organised everything as quickly as
19 possible, formed the columns, and we headed towards the town.
20 Q. Now, is this on the date that the Uzice Corps actually enters the
21 town of Visegrad?
22 A. Yes. That was on the same day.
23 Q. Can you describe their arrival, where they came from, and the
24 circumstances of it?
25 A. Well, the Uzice Corps came from the direction of Uzice, and that
1 is on the right bank of the Drina from the direction of Serbia, the town
2 of Uzice in Serbia; from several directions, actually. And they were
3 fully equipped with the weapons that the JNA usually had. Apart from the
4 standard so-called infantry weapons, there were tanks, guns, mortars, and
5 so on.
6 They had a full range of weaponry. The units were completely
7 equipped, and they were coming in from different directions so that they
8 covered the whole right bank of the River Drina, but they didn't enter the
9 town straight away. They did this only one or two days later. So for one
10 or two days, the town was completely empty.
11 They entered town on the day that the people from Brstanica
12 arrived; a little before them, perhaps an hour or two before. They took
13 control of the town.
14 Q. Where did these people -- where were they made to go?
15 A. The problem was where to put up this large number of people, and
16 Captain Vukosavljevic had no idea where to put them up. First of all, he
17 thought we'd put them up in the hotel. The hotel's name was the Hotel
18 Visegrad. But when he saw there were many more people than he had
19 assumed, he said, "Let's go to the football stadium." And that's what
20 happened. He took the column off to the football stadium. I stayed
21 behind because, before we came into the town, you could hear shooting.
22 The shooting was fairly intense along the road which we were to take. So
23 the captain then said to me - and there were two other men with me who
24 were sitting in his car, in the Niva car - "You stay here, I'll go on
25 ahead to see what's happening, what all the shooting is about." And he
1 went off in the direction the shooting was coming from, and we stayed on
2 further down alone. In the meantime, the people had already arrived, went
3 into the town and went off towards the stadium, so that I arrived at the
4 stadium when all the people were already there.
5 Q. Approximately how many people were assembled in the stadium?
6 A. At the stadium, there were about four thousand, perhaps four and a
7 half thousand people.
8 Q. And did somebody from the Yugoslav People's Army address these
9 4.000 people?
10 A. Yes.
11 Q. And what was the name of that person?
12 A. The people were addressed by -- he introduced himself as the
13 commander of the locality, Lieutenant-Colonel Jovanovic. He used a
14 loudspeaker, a megaphone.
15 Q. Was that the first time you had seen Jovanovic?
16 A. Yes. That's when I saw him first.
17 Q. Prior to his speech, did you go and try to speak with him?
18 A. Yes. Captain Vukosavljevic, who went with us - in fact,
19 introduced me to Jovanovic - he said, "This man's name is such and such.
20 This is his post." And then the other one said, "I'm Lieutenant-Colonel
21 Jovanovic, the commander of the locality." But he was a little arrogant.
22 He didn't take me seriously, and he said, "You move away and let me hear
23 from two or three of the citizens from amongst the people. Go and call
24 two or three of the people." And that's what I did.
25 Q. And were you present during his address to the people?
1 A. Yes. I was a little further off, 10 to 15 metres away from him.
2 Q. And as best as you can remember, would you please relate to the
3 Court what it was he said to these 4.000 Muslims assembled in the football
5 A. Well, I remember what he said. He said the following. Actually,
6 he started off by introducing himself. He said who he was. He said he
7 was the commander of the place and that they were to listen carefully to
8 what he was going to say. And what he said was the following: He said
9 that in a village -- that if a single shot was fired in any of the
10 villages, he would raze the house to the ground, and if a soldier were
11 wounded or shot in any of the villages, he would raze the whole village to
12 the ground.
13 He also said that he had the units of the White Eagles under his
14 command, the Beli Orlovi. Otherwise those were the units that were most
15 feared by the Muslims. They were terribly afraid of them. And that if
16 anybody had any weapons, that they should turn them in; if they had not
17 got these weapons with them, they could bring them in tomorrow; and that
18 they were free to leave, go back to their houses. But he also said where
19 they were allowed to go and where not. So he enumerated all the places
20 where they could go and those that they could not go to, and he said that
21 where -- the areas his units covered, "You can go there," whereas he
22 didn't offer any guarantees for any of the other places, if people went to
23 any of the other places. So that was more or less the gist of what he
25 Q. Because it's so important, I would ask you, to the best that
1 you're able, tell us exactly what he said regarding the White Eagles.
2 A. Well, he just addressed one or two sentences. He said that the
3 units of the White Eagles were under his command, or "are under my
4 command." That's what he said. "And so take care of what you do."
5 Q. And what places specifically did he say Muslims were permitted to
6 go and what places were they not permitted to go, if you remember?
7 A. I remember that too, because I knew all these localities. They
8 were -- I was well-acquainted with them. On the right bank of the river,
9 he said that we were permitted to go up to the village of Musici but not
10 further on, including the village of Musici. So that village was sort of
11 -- it was better not to go to the village of Musici, but up to that
12 village, downstream from the town. And on the left bank, he enumerated
13 all the villages in order, Sumchaila [phoen], Jelasci, Hamzici, Brstanica,
14 and said that we were permitted to go there, the people were allowed to go
15 back to those villages.
16 So what happened was that the people from the right bank, from the
17 places that the colonel did not enumerate, went to the left bank, returned
18 to the left bank, stayed with relatives or friends.
19 Q. And these locations on the right bank, were some of these the same
20 locations that you had heard referred to as having been cleaned the day
21 before in Uzamnica Barracks -- or, I'm sorry, in the meeting the day
23 A. Yes, that's right. It was precisely those places.
24 Q. And the people were not permitted to return there?
25 A. That's right.
1 Q. Did there come a time when the 4.000 people in the stadium were
3 A. When the colonel finished speaking, he explained that the people
4 had to pass by in columns, and the soldiers did -- made three or four
5 checkpoints, set up three or four checkpoints. The people would pass by
6 them. They would ask if anybody had any weapons it turn in, and once the
7 people had passed the checkpoint, they were free to go to the localities
8 that the colonel had said were safe. And that's what happened.
9 Q. And was every person in the stadium searched?
10 A. At the beginning, they were diligent in their searches. But as
11 there were so many people who were hurrying, it was just a routine sort of
12 quick search, not in any great detail as had been the case at first. For
13 example, they didn't search me.
14 Q. Did you have a gun with you at that time?
15 A. At that time, I really did have a pistol on me.
16 Q. And what did you do --
17 A. It was a Zastava pistol, 762 calibre.
18 Q. What did you do with that pistol?
19 A. Well, as the town was full of soldiers, it was like when you come
20 out of the cinema, when the audience leaves a cinema. I was frightened of
21 what I would do if somebody found the pistol on me. I found Captain
22 Vukosavljevic and I handed him the pistol, telling him to keep it for me
23 because if I was searched and found with a pistol on me, it would mean my
24 head. He took the pistol and a few days later sent me a certificate. He
25 issued a certificate saying I had handed him the pistol.
1 Q. Just for the record, what was the ethnic background of
3 A. He was of Serb ethnicity.
4 Q. What did you do after the meeting?
5 A. After the meeting, the colonel spoke to me briefly and told me to
6 report to him at the hotel. And that's what I did. I went to the
7 Visegrad Hotel which was in the centre of town.
8 Q. Which colonel was this?
9 A. Colonel Jovanovic. Actually he was Lieutenant-Colonel, I'm
10 sorry. Not Colonel; Lieutenant-Colonel.
11 Q. Approximately what time was this when you went to the Visegrad
13 A. Not long after the speech delivered by commander Jovanovic. I
14 stayed on for a few moments to see if my family was there and then went
15 off to the hotel. When I got to the hotel, I was told to wait by an
16 officer who met me there. He said that the commander would not be
17 receiving me straight away, that I had to wait a while. And while I was
18 waiting by the reception desk, Mrs. Biljana Plavsic turned up along with
19 Branimir Savovic, who was wearing a military camouflage uniform. As they
20 went in to where I was supposed to go to see the commander, I was told
21 shortly that the commander would be unable to receive me on that day and
22 that I was to return the next day. So I left the hotel and went to the
23 place where my family was.
24 Q. Would you please remind us who Mr. Savovic is?
25 A. Branimir Savovic was in fact the President of the SDS, the Serbian
1 Democratic Party, for the Visegrad municipality.
2 Q. Did there come a time when you left Visegrad?
3 A. I left Visegrad on the 16th of May at 12.00 noon.
4 Q. Would you please describe for the Court the circumstances under
5 which you left Visegrad?
6 A. As the army had taken control of the town, and they were to leave
7 Visegrad on the 20th of May, I think, it was not very safe towards the end
8 of the time for their departure. It was unsafe. And I felt that it was
9 not safe for me or my family to stay, and we decided to leave town. But
10 that was no easy thing to do, because at all the exits there were
11 checkpoints and people were not allowed to leave. What I did was to ask
12 the Vice-President of the Serbian Democratic Party, one of the
13 vice-presidents, his name was Stanko Pecikoza, who was an influential man
14 both in the party and in town generally, to take me and my family out of
15 town, towards Uzice. That was the only exit road open, taking you out of
16 town. He explained to us in great detail when we -- where we should
17 gather, when the departure would be scheduled, and he took us through the
18 checkpoints. There were two checkpoints, one in Dobrun and the other in
19 Dabric on the road to Uzice. Then he issued instructions as to what we
20 were to do once we crossed into Serbia, how we were to proceed. And we
21 carried on towards Macedonia.
22 Q. And this man who helped sneak you out of Visegrad, what was his
24 A. He was a Serb, an influential Serb in town.
25 Q. And do you know where he is today?
1 A. Unfortunately, he died. He is dead. He was a good man. And as
2 far as I know, he was liquidated by the members of the SDS a little after
3 the time he took me and my family out of the town.
4 MR. GROOME: Thank you.
5 I have no further questions, Your Honour.
6 JUDGE HUNT: Mr. Domazet?
7 Cross-examined by Mr. Domazet:
8 Q. [Interpretation] Sir, you began your testimony by saying that the
9 parties were formed in Visegrad. And you mentioned, if I understood you
10 correctly, that the two strongest parties were the Party of Democratic
11 Action and the SDS party. Is that correct?
12 A. Yes.
13 Q. Can you tell us which of these two parties was formed first,
14 established first?
15 A. I don't know exactly. I can't say for sure. I don't have that
16 information. But both parties were set up in a short space of time.
17 Q. You're not sure that -- whether the SDS was formed before the SDS
18 [as interpreted]?
19 A. Well, I'm not sure.
20 Q. Was there any other national party, ethnic party, in the area?
21 A. Well, if you can call them nationalist parties, there were other
22 parties where the members were predominantly one ethnic group.
23 Q. Can we say, for example, that in the SDA party, of which you were
24 a member, there were Serbs too?
25 A. No, there weren't.
1 Q. Or that there were Muslims in the SDS?
2 A. No. There weren't any Muslims in the SDS either.
3 Q. These, then, were nationalist parties, were they not? Ethnically
4 based; is that not correct?
5 A. Well, if you say so, then all right, yes.
6 Q. Well, that would emanate from your answer. However --
7 JUDGE HUNT: Mr. Domazet, just one moment. When both of you are
8 speaking the same language, you present terrible problems for the
9 interpreters. Please pause after the answer before you start your
11 And, sir, would you please pause before you start your answer
12 after the end of the question? Otherwise, the interpreters lose you.
13 MR. DOMAZET: Yes, thank you, Your Honour.
14 Q. [Interpretation] Before the multi-party elections in
15 Bosnia-Herzegovina, in the town of Visegrad itself, in view of the ethnic
16 composition of the population, could you tell me whether it is true that
17 in posts of leadership, in executive power, the courts and legislation,
18 you had representatives of both the two major ethnic groups; that is to
19 say, the Muslims and the Serbs?
20 A. Yes, yes. After the multi-party elections --
21 Q. No. I asked before, before the multi-party elections, up until
22 the multi-party elections.
23 A. My answer is yes. Before as well, yes.
24 Q. You told us that the multi-party elections, as far as Visegrad is
25 concerned, ended -- resulted in a majority for the Democratic Action
1 Party, with 27 seats compared to 13 seats from the SDS. Did this
2 correspond to the national structure of the population and the ratio
3 between the Muslims and Serbs in town? Roughly.
4 A. Roughly it did. The ratio was roughly the same, like the national
6 Q. After the establishment of local power and authority, after the
7 elections that you mentioned, were there any changes in the leadership
8 structure and leadership posts in the Visegrad area?
9 A. Yes. Changes did take place in the municipal organs of
10 authority. In the other structures there were no changes. For example,
11 in the companies, the directors or managers weren't replaced. If you were
12 a manager before the elections, you went on being the manager after the
13 elections. All that changed was the structure I mentioned in the
14 municipality, the executive council, board of the municipality, and the
15 secretariats, the organs of power and authority.
16 Q. Yes, the organs of power and authority. Was it under the
17 competence of these authorities to replace managers of companies,
18 according to the laws that were in force at the time?
19 A. Well, I can't be a hundred per cent certain, but I think that the
20 authorities could have replaced them had they wanted to.
21 Q. If I understand you correctly, the president of the municipality
22 could replace a manager of a company in Visegrad; is that right? Is that
23 what you're saying?
24 A. No, he couldn't do that directly. He couldn't issue a direct
25 order to have these people replaced, but the Assembly did have authority
1 over the nomination and appointment of certain directors or managers of
3 Q. Do you mean the directors of the communal enterprises, the
4 utilities, or the other socially-owned companies as they were called at
5 the time?
6 A. Well, quite simply, to quote an example, they could exert changes
7 on the utilities companies and the companies close to the state
8 structures, attached to the state structure, but they could also replace
9 other managers as well. I know, for example, because I was one of the
10 managers. I was a manager myself, a director. I know that they talked to
11 my colleagues, and people were fairly afraid as to whether the new
12 authorities would replace the directors or not. I remember that. We
13 were -- all had this qualm.
14 Q. Yes. You were the director of one particular company. I won't
15 mention which one, but it wasn't an utilities company. It was a
16 socially-owned company. And you were not appointed by either the
17 municipal assembly, nor could it relieve you of your duties nor appoint
18 you to another post; is that correct?
19 A. Yes, that's correct.
20 Q. Can you tell us whether after the establishment of these new
21 authorities after the first multi-party elections, at any post of
22 leadership in the courts such as the president of the court, the president
23 of the municipality or executive board, were they Serbs or were all these
24 posts held by Muslims, in fact?
25 A. Well, this corresponded roughly -- that is to say, I know when
1 negotiations took place with respect to the nomination and appointment of
2 people to fill these responsible posts. I know that a basic criterion for
3 this was the number of votes gained at the elections, and that's how those
4 structures were established, the new authorities after the elections.
5 Q. My question was a concrete one. The president of the municipality
6 was a Muslim, was he not?
7 A. Yes.
8 Q. The president of the executive board likewise?
9 A. Well, I can tell you who everybody was. Yes, the president was a
10 Muslim. Yes.
11 Q. This was a prominent leadership post after the president of the
12 municipality. What about the president of the court in Visegrad after the
13 elections? Who was he? Was he a Muslim?
14 A. I'm not quite sure, but I think he was, yes. That is to say --
15 Q. Well, these are facts that we can ascertain. But you said that
16 this corresponded to the structure. How did this correspond if all the
17 leadership posts were held by Muslims? How then do you believe that the
18 Serbs had a share in the posts of leadership, according to the election
20 A. Well, this is how it was. The president of the municipality, as
21 the highest authority, came from the ranks of the SDA party. The
22 vice-president was from the ranks of the SDS party, and her name was
23 Jelisavka. I can't remember the lady's surname, but she used to be a
24 teacher at the primary school I attended. Now, the president of the
25 executive board was an SDA member, and the vice-president was from the
1 SDA, and he was Slobodan Klipe.
2 So this is how the parity ratio worked, power distribution. For
3 example, the president of one of the municipal bodies, I think the
4 registry office, land registry office, was a Serb also. His name was
5 Sinisa Ceho, I think. And that's why I say more or less why this parity
6 was reflected on the posts of leadership. The election results were
7 reflected on the composition of the leadership posts.
8 Q. If I understand you correctly, the only Serb whom you considered
9 to have been in a prime post was the president of the land registry
10 office. Is that true? If so, let me tell you that that post did not
11 exist. Perhaps he was head of the land registry office so that that was
12 the only post that a Serb held, just that post with the land registry
13 office, whereas in all the other posts Serbs were either assistants or
15 A. Well, yes. I have remembered what I have just told you. That's
16 what I recall. But I continue to claim and I know that it was agreed upon
17 that the SDA party and the Serbian Democratic Party -- and as I say, I
18 attended some of those meetings when they were deciding on the
19 distribution of power and authority on the basis of the electoral
20 results. That's how it worked. That's how the system functioned. An
21 agreement did exist. It was signed and everybody was happy.
22 Q. On the basis of what do you consider that the SDS was happy, was
23 pleased, satisfied?
24 A. Well, they accepted the agreement that was reached. The agreement
25 was accepted by both parties and signed, and they put forward these
1 people. For example, for the vice-president of the municipality and the
2 vice-president of the executive board and so on and so forth, they
3 nominated people from amongst their ranks, and that is why I say that I
4 consider that they accepted it.
5 Q. Up until this authority was established, did the statute of your
6 municipality envisage a two-thirds majority deciding upon all major issues
7 according to the statute?
8 A. Well, I can't be quite sure of that. I can't say with any
9 certainty, but yes, certainly some questions must have been decided, and
10 to be decided by a two-third majority vote.
11 JUDGE HUNT: Mr. Domazet, it's 1.00, lunch. But when we resume,
12 do you think we might advance to the relevant period, which was in 1992?
13 What is the relevance of all this? Was it to provide some sort of motive
14 for the Serbs to throw out the Muslims? What is its relevance?
15 MR. DOMAZET: [Interpretation] No, Your Honour. I don't mean to
16 justify anyone or anything, any act. But I considered, and I am drawing
17 to a close. I'm reaching the end. I just have a few more questions on
18 that area and then we'll go back to April 1992 and continue from there.
19 JUDGE HUNT: It better be relevant, though, Mr. Domazet. We are
20 not going to run into a political argument about what was fair and what
21 was not fair back in 1990. That has nothing to do with this case.
22 So if you can say you will have two questions, we'll allow you two
23 questions, but we want to get on with what is relevant, which, as you
24 agree, is April 1992.
25 We will resume --
1 MR. GROOME: Your Honour, if I may just before we do break.
2 JUDGE HUNT: Yes.
3 MR. GROOME: Over the weekend a situation arose regarding two
4 witnesses, and I will be seeking some protective measures for those two
5 witnesses. One of them is scheduled to testify tomorrow. I wonder if the
6 Court would entertain an oral application followed by papers or grant me
7 time to try to put together the affidavit and the motion this afternoon.
8 JUDGE HUNT: There is no need to put it in writing, Mr. Groome,
9 but we do want some reason why this is being done late, and in particular,
10 if you want something more than facial pixilation and pseudonym, you will
11 have to justify it with something fairly substantial.
12 MR. GROOME: There's nothing more than that, Your Honour, and
13 there is an explanation why it is late.
14 JUDGE HUNT: Very well. We will resume at 2.30.
15 --- Luncheon recess taken at 1.04 p.m.
16 --- On resuming at 2.30 p.m.
17 JUDGE HUNT: Mr. Groome, on my desk when I got back was a motion
18 seeking leave to call an additional expert witness. May I suggest that
19 this appalling American habit of putting everything in writing, which has
20 been imposed upon this Tribunal, is not one that we need follow in every
21 case? What I suggest you do is you speak to Mr. Domazet about it, give
22 him a copy of the report. If he's got some problems with it, then we'll
23 hear it when we are about to finish at 4.00 one afternoon or something
24 like that. But we do not need this sort of motion in writing. I don't
25 know why we were ever inflicted with it, but I rather suspect that
1 Judge McDonald had something to do with it.
2 MR. GROOME: Yes, Your Honour.
3 JUDGE HUNT: Right. You proceed, Mr. Domazet.
4 MR. DOMAZET: [Interpretation] Thank you, Your Honour.
5 Q. I would like to conclude, and as I have already said, I have
6 perhaps two more questions relating to the period. First question: Are
7 you aware of the fact that the Assembly that you spoke about changed its
8 statute and repelled the provision about the two-thirds majority required
9 for certain decisions, that this was done precisely by the Muslim majority
10 in the Assembly, that this decision was -- that this provision was
12 A. I'm not aware of this. I don't think that this was done.
13 Q. Another thing: Are you aware of the fact that the Serb deputies
14 left the Assembly and no longer took part in its work?
15 A. Well, this might have happened sporadically when they were unhappy
16 with certain items or provisions. Some deputies may have left the
17 Assembly, but then they would come again and take part in the next
19 Q. Well, we obviously are not talking about the same thing. But I
20 don't want to dwell upon it any longer. I would now like to go to the
21 period spring 1992, that you spoke about at length and in some detail
23 One of the questions put to you referred to the Territorial
24 Defence and the fact that weapons were seized -- weapons were seized from
25 the Territorial Defence. Was the Territorial Defence in Visegrad composed
1 only of -- both of Serbs and of Muslims or just some of those?
2 A. The Territorial Defence was composed both of Serbs and Muslims.
3 Q. Does that mean that if the weapons were seized from the
4 Territorial Defence in Visegrad, that all the members of the Territorial
5 Defence no longer had access to weapons, regardless of their ethnicity,
6 Muslim or Serb?
7 A. Yes.
8 Q. Thank you. You also spoke about the fact that Serbs were able to
9 obtain weapons in some way. Do you have any specific knowledge as to who
10 obtained the weapons and in which way, based on your direct knowledge or
11 direct observation?
12 A. I personally did not see weapons being distributed to Serbs, if
13 that's what you're asking me.
14 Q. Thank you. Are you -- do you know that the Muslims did the same
15 thing; in other words, that they also obtained weapons in this period?
16 A. At that time, some Muslims did obtain weapons by actually buying
17 those weapons.
18 Q. At that time, was the chief of the MUP or the police, was it Seval
19 Murtic, a Muslim?
20 A. Yes.
21 Q. Did anyone - I mean specifically the JNA that you referred to when
22 you spoke about the Territorial Defence - did anyone interfere with the
23 weapons held by the police? Did they disarm the police or ask them to
24 surrender their weapons?
25 A. I cannot state this with any certainty, but I don't think so. I
1 think that the answer is no.
2 Q. You mentioned that you have personal knowledge that Serbs were
3 called up for military exercises because you had the opportunity to see
4 this in your company. Can you tell us who sent those call-up papers and
5 who is in charge of sending such call-up papers?
6 A. I do not know who sent those papers. I just heard from what
7 people who actually went to those exercises told me. They gave me this as
8 an excuse as to why they have to be absent from work.
9 Q. Is it your knowledge or do you remember that it was the military
10 department that was in charge of sending such papers?
11 A. In normal circumstances, yes.
12 Q. Do you remember who was, at the time, the chief or the head of the
13 military department in Visegrad?
14 A. At the time when the call-up papers were sent out, I do not
15 remember who was the head of the office, of the department, but I do know
16 it was a Serb.
17 Q. Are you sure? Do you know the name of that person?
18 A. No, I do not know his name, but I am absolutely certain that he
19 was a Serb, because no Muslims worked there.
20 Q. Let us stay with the military department. Are you aware of the
21 fact that Muslims seized some weapons belonging to the military
23 A. No.
24 Q. You spoke about an incident in the quarry around about the 4th of
25 April. Could you please tell us more about it? You said that some people
1 were shot at. Do you know who opened fire and for what reason, and what
2 was the conclusion of this incident?
3 A. I could only make an assumption as to who opened fire. I knew the
4 people who were shot at very well. And immediately after the event, they
5 told me about it, and the outcome of the shooting was that everybody left
6 their posts there.
7 Q. Those who worked there. Is that what you mean?
8 A. Yes.
9 Q. Today you spoke about the events a day or two after that when
10 mortar fire was opened on Visegrad; is that correct?
11 A. Yes.
12 Q. You also talked about the fact that the Muslim areas and the town
13 centre were targeted. Can you please tell me which areas in Visegrad were
14 purely Muslim? Were there any such areas, in fact, at all?
15 A. There were quite a few areas which were purely Muslim. There can
16 be no doubt about that. In addition to the town centre, Nezuci was one
17 the first villages to be targeted. It is a village quite close to the
19 Q. As far as I know, the dam is quite far away from the town itself.
20 A. Yes.
21 Q. So you claim that mortar fire was opened both on the town centre
22 and areas around the dam?
23 A. I was present in the town centre when the shells fell. As for
24 this other thing, I want to say that this was not close to the dam. The
25 village of Nezuci was targeted. In addition to the villagers, there were
1 quite a few refugees there, and I was personally visited by a man who
2 asked me for some gasoline to transport his wife to the hospital because
3 she was wounded in the mortar attack. This woman was 11 months' pregnant
4 [sic] at the time.
5 There was another person, a Muslim priest, who was also wounded,
6 and he was also taken to Gorazde, to the hospital.
7 Q. When you talk about the persons who were wounded, do you know
8 whether anyone was killed in any of these attacks in Visegrad and the
9 surrounding areas?
10 A. There were some people who died; specifically this woman that I
11 mentioned. She did not survive. I know that quite a few people were
12 wounded. I'm not sure about the persons who were killed, as to their
13 number, but some people were killed.
14 Q. In Visegrad itself?
15 A. In Visegrad, yes, but to a lesser extent. I am now talking about
16 this village of Nezuci, which is close to the dam.
17 Q. When you spoke about the negotiations with the representatives of
18 the SDS which were mediated by the JNA, you said that the meeting took
19 place somewhere in Kosovo Polje. Why was the meeting not held in
20 Visegrad, or in other words, where were those SDS representatives at the
21 time when you organised this meeting?
22 A. The meeting that you're referring to was held at Kosovo Polje. It
23 was not organised with the mediation of the army. I spoke directly with
24 Branimir Savovic, who was the SDS president. He was in Visegradska Banja,
25 on the phone, and we agreed to have a meeting at Kosovo Polje because it
1 was roughly halfway between Visegradska Banja and the town itself.
2 Q. Does that mean that at that time, Brane Savovic and the SDS
3 members were in Visegradska Banja?
4 A. As far as I know -- maybe I could give you a wider answer. I knew
5 the phone numbers in Visegradska Banja very well, and Savovic answered the
6 phone that -- the phone number that I dialed, but I think that at that
7 time I think that he was actually in a village further up from Visegradska
8 Banja. That's my assumption.
9 Q. Do you by any chance know why Savovic and the others were not in
10 Visegrad but in Visegradska Banja or in the villages nearby?
11 A. I think that they went, left the town of their own volition and
12 went elsewhere because they wanted to occupy the town from the positions
13 around it.
14 Q. So you think that they left the city, the town, in order to be
15 able to go back and occupy it?
16 A. Yes, that's my opinion.
17 Q. Were there any Serbs in the town at the time, or did a certain
18 number or perhaps the majority or even all of them, did they leave the
20 A. Most of them left the town, and some remained.
21 Q. This is the period before the incident involving the releasing of
22 the water from the dam?
23 A. Yes. But we met at Kosovo Polje one day after the water was
25 Q. Yes. I'm just -- I just want to -- we are talking about the Serbs
1 leaving the town. When did they leave the town?
2 A. Before that.
3 Q. At the time --
4 JUDGE HUNT: Mr. Domazet, the witness is behaving very well. He's
5 pausing. You're not. Just give it a break. You've got your earphones
7 MR. DOMAZET: Yes, I understand.
8 JUDGE HUNT: You can probably hear it. It's a good test, if I may
9 say so, if you see that the typing is finished, you know then that the
10 interpretation is finished. But please do pause.
11 MR. DOMAZET:
12 Q. Can I then take it to mean the following: When the threat was
13 made that the water would be released, that mostly Muslims remained in the
15 A. Yes, mostly, but there was a substantial number of Serbs left
17 Q. When you talked about the Uzamnica Barracks and the fact that many
18 people had taken refuge there and that perhaps 99 per cent of these people
19 were Muslims, were these the same people that remained in Visegrad and who
20 left Visegrad, who fled Visegrad, because of the danger that the water
21 might be released?
22 A. Yes.
23 Q. As regards the releasing of the water, you told us today that this
24 had been done by a man by the name of Murat Sabanovic, and you said that
25 he had got there on his own initiative, but you left it at that. Could
1 you please clarify it, what did you mean when you said that, if you still
2 maintain that he went to the hydroelectric power plant on his own
4 A. Yes. I did use this term advisedly, "on his own initiative." He
5 took with him a group of his friends, neighbours, perhaps some of his
6 relatives. They organised themselves in their village, since the
7 situation was such that they felt this overall insecurity, and the people
8 in the villages just organised themselves in order to protect themselves
9 and their families, their villages. And he went with a group of his
10 relatives, neighbours and so on, to the dam, and this is what I meant when
11 I said that he did it on his own initiative.
12 Q. So he went to the dam with a group of his relatives and
13 neighbours. Were they armed?
14 A. Yes, they were armed.
15 Q. As far as you know, do you know if there was anyone on the dam to
16 defend the dam? Do you think -- do you know whether the dam was defended
17 by anyone with weapons?
18 A. No. There was nobody to offer any resistance. The dam was not
20 Q. As far as you remember, how long did it last? How long did Murat
21 Sabanovic and his friends and relatives hold the dam?
22 A. Well, not to be too precise, I think about four days, four or five
23 days, thereabouts.
24 Q. During that time, did the police in Visegrad take any measures to
25 resolve this problem in any way, to arrest Murat Sabanovic and the rest of
1 the people who had taken the dam?
2 A. I do not know exactly, because these events were happening very
3 fast. A lot of things happened every day. I don't know whether they did
4 anything, but I do know that there was no danger, that he and his group
5 were no danger to the personnel at the dam or anyone else.
6 Q. Can you be more specific? How do you know that he posed no danger
7 to the personnel at the dam, if we know that he was armed and that they
8 held -- that they were armed and that they held the dam?
9 A. I do not have any specific proof. But on the basis of the actual
10 situation, he did not make any threats to anyone, any of the employees on
11 the dam, and since the people who worked -- also, the people who worked on
12 the dam said the same thing.
13 Q. This is what you heard from the people who worked on the dam, if I
14 understand you correctly?
15 A. Yes.
16 Q. Yet if the fact that he held the dam with the weapons, if this was
17 not a great risk, do you also maintain that the threat of releasing the
18 water was no -- that it was not a great threat, neither for Visegrad nor
19 for other places down river from Visegrad on the Drina River?
20 A. I do not make any such claims because I'm not an expert. But as
21 far as I know, since I am of the same profession, I was able to conclude
22 that no major damage could have been caused, particularly in light of the
23 fact that the next dam further down river was empty and that it was
24 possible for this dam to hold the water from the previous dam.
25 Q. Yes. But do you know -- are you not familiar with the fact that
1 this river, that this lake, was emptied at the time precisely because
2 there was a danger that Murat Sabanovic might release the water from the
3 previous dam?
4 A. Yes. I think this was the reason why this was done.
5 Q. Can you tell us something more about the incident when 12
6 uniformed police officers of Serb ethnic background were arrested? You
7 said that perhaps half of them were in the police. You said up until ten
8 days before the event. Am I correct in my memory?
9 A. Yes, yes. Something like that, I think.
10 Q. Can you please explain what happened in the ten-day period before
11 this event? Did they cease being members of the police or did something
12 else happen?
13 A. Well, I think that it was perhaps 10 or 15 days before. I cannot
14 be much more specific. The SDS asked for the police force to be split
15 up. I attended some of the meetings where they demanded that the police
16 be split up into the Serbian force and the Muslim force. And since they
17 had a lot of influence over the Serbs, ethnic Serbs, some ten days before
18 the shooting they directly were in charge of most of the Serb police
19 officers, which means that most of them were already under the command of
20 the SDS.
21 Q. If possible, could you explain this to us in a little more
22 detail? How was it possible for one portion of the police force to be
23 separate in one and the same town and have a separate command structure,
24 if I understood you correctly? Could you explain that to us?
25 A. In concrete terms, the demands that were made was that there be
1 two police forces with two headquarters and for this newly established
2 police force that they wanted to establish - that is, they envisaged -
3 they had set aside a building next to the new bridge, on the right bank,
4 about a kilometre away from the centre of town. That building that was to
5 become the headquarters belonged to a company which was in charge of
6 roads. It was the road administration company. And I know that they
7 wanted this to become their police station. And that's why I said a
8 moment ago what I said.
9 Q. But this did not actually come about; is that right? It didn't
11 A. There was no political agreement for this to be implemented nor
12 was there agreement from the competent authorities. I think that the main
13 police administration was in Sarajevo, and they did not give the go-ahead
14 for that. No such agreement was reached. But nevertheless, they did so
15 on their own initiative. But they didn't have their command headquarters
16 in that particular building, the one they had asked for during the
18 Q. However, if I understood you correctly, among the group of people
19 arrested, a certain number, almost half of them, were active-duty
20 policemen, is that right, or Serbs? They were Serbs; is that right?
21 A. Yes.
22 Q. Were they arrested because they were with another group of Serbs
23 or were no longer policemen, or was there another reason, if you happen to
24 know what the reason was, because you did speak about the reasons earlier
1 A. As far as I know, they no longer went to work regularly. They no
2 longer went to the police station regularly to take up their duties
3 there. And as they were in the company of people who were armed and wore
4 uniforms but did not belong to any regular organisation, I think that that
5 was the reason they were arrested.
6 Q. When they were arrested, I assume that they were taken to the
7 police station. Were they all detained - that is to say, the policemen
8 and the rest who were not policemen - and what happened to them?
9 A. Yes, they were all detained. I know that for sure. And then
10 after five or six days -- five, six, or seven days later - I'm not quite
11 sure of the time - they were handed over to the Yugoslav People's Army at
12 the dam; that is to say, they were released.
13 Q. Six to seven days after they were arrested; is that what you
15 A. Yes, thereabouts.
16 Q. Did they spend all that time at the police station or at the dam
17 or both at the police station and on the dam?
18 A. Well, I wasn't as well acquainted with those affairs. I know that
19 they were at the police station. But as that area was shelled, then
20 people didn't stay there for any length of time or move around, and I
21 think that that was the reason they were transferred to the left bank as
22 prisoners, to accompany their company building, and then sent from there
23 to the dam. That's what I seem to recollect.
24 Q. But the police force didn't change its headquarters from the
25 locality that you said was in danger of being shelled. The police force
1 stayed on; is that right?
2 A. Yes. I think the police force stayed on there, that locality, at
3 the police station.
4 Q. The group on the dam was released, and it spent the last days on
5 the dam. But the dam was held by Murat Sabanovic. Now, how can you
6 explain the fact that they came under his command and control, that is to
7 say that they become his prisoners if they were arrested by the regular
8 police force? How did they come to be under his control?
9 A. I didn't say that during those last days; that is to say, during
10 the last two days, I communicated with those people, and I know about
11 that. On the last day or perhaps the last two days, they were put up at
12 the Granit construction company, and nearby there was a restaurant, and
13 that's where they were. I know that full well because I was there. And
14 one of the prisoners from that place talked on the telephone with Branimir
15 Savovic. I know that for sure. As for the rest, I didn't see it myself.
16 Q. At that time, you were conducting negotiations and you were
17 probably well acquainted with the overall situation, were you not? Now, I
18 asked you how it could have come about that on the last few days or the
19 very last day they came to be in the hands of ^ Murat Sabanovic and his
20 group, the group that held the dam. How did that come about?
21 A. I don't know that they were ever in his hands, as you have just
22 said. What I know is what I have told you. I know that when people left
23 the town, when the water was released and when the army was coming in,
24 they were taken in a vehicle in the direction of Gorazde, towards Gorazde,
25 because that's where the population withdrew to. Everybody went up there,
1 to Gorazde. They were withdrawing towards Gorazde.
2 Q. Did you give the Prosecution a tape on which, among others, you
3 had conversations taped of these people, these people who were arrested or
4 detained, a tape where they spoke about-- speak about those days and the
5 conditions prevailing, the conditions under which they were taken into
7 A. I remember handing over a videotape to the investigator. Is that
8 the term, the right term? I don't know. But I don't remember the
10 JUDGE HUNT: Mr. Domazet, let's get this very clear. The
11 investigators are not part of -- they're not part of the Tribunal as
12 such. They're not our investigators. They are the Prosecution's
13 investigators. Now, if you want to get this tape from the Prosecution,
14 you only have to ask for it, I would have thought. I don't know why we're
15 spending so much time with this.
16 MR. DOMAZET: [Interpretation] Your Honour, I was just asking the
17 witness whether he gave the Prosecution investigator the tape, because I
18 received the tape yesterday from the Prosecution, from the OTP, and saw on
19 the tape the conversations with these particular individuals who speak
20 about the fact that they were held in the hydroelectric power plant, that
21 they were in the water, underneath the water level, and I really did wish
22 to have an explanation as to how it was possible that Murat Sabanovic was
23 holding these people at the dam if they had been arrested by the regular
24 police force.
25 But let me leave that aside for the time being. I won't pursue
1 the matter.
2 JUDGE HUNT: Sometime ago, the witness said - it's at page 89 at
3 line 14 - they were handed over to the Yugoslav People's Army at the dam.
4 Now, that's what he started with, and then you started to suggest that
5 there was another particular person involved in it, which he has never
6 accepted. If you want to challenge his version of it, put to him what you
7 say happened for him to deal with it. But let's get on with the case.
8 MR. DOMAZET: [Interpretation] I agree, Your Honour, and I shall
9 proceed. From the tape that he supplied, I came by the information that I
10 used a moment ago and talked about.
11 Q. Now, I have several questions about the JNA, the Yugoslav People's
12 Army. During the time you're talking about, that is to say, April 1992,
13 at that time did the JNA represent the regular army of the then
14 Yugoslavia? Or let me put it another way: the sole, regular Yugoslav
16 A. Yes.
17 Q. Do you happen to know that the headquarters of the corps was in
18 Uzice and that Visegrad and the Uzamnica Barracks belong to that
19 particular corps? Are you aware of that?
20 A. No.
21 Q. You don't know that the corps' headquarters were in Uzice or don't
22 you know that the Uzamnica Barracks belong to that corps? I have to
23 reformulate that question because there were two there, two points.
24 A. When I said "no," I meant about the Uzamnica Barracks, that I
25 didn't know it belonged to the corps. I didn't know that. It was
1 difficult to know in view of the fact -- of the way the army was
2 organised, and that was -- was organised, and that the corps' headquarters
3 was in Uzice. As to that fact, everybody knew -- seemed to know that.
4 And I think even now that that's where the headquarters was.
5 Q. Yes. The headquarters were there, but did Visegrad belong to that
6 corps, according to the territorial military organisation? And your
7 answer to that was that you didn't know. I accept that, thank you.
8 When you spoke today about the JNA, you used the term "occupied,"
9 talking about Visegrad. Can you explain why you consider that a regular
10 army, the regular army of a state, is in fact occupying part of its
11 territory, if we are talking about a regular army? Why should you use the
12 term "occupy"?
13 A. Well, it's like this, you see: First of all, the JNA, the
14 Yugoslav People's Army, was no longer the JNA because all the officers
15 were Serbs and all the soldiers who came to Visegrad were also Serbs.
16 Next, the Muslim population was very much afraid of that army. On the
17 other hand, the Serb population, the Serb villages, embraced the JNA
18 wholeheartedly, and as I said -- but as I say, it was no longer the JNA,
19 an army in which everybody believed in, which everybody believed in. It
20 had already become a Serb army. So those are the reasons for which I used
21 the term I used.
22 Q. On the basis of what? Do you maintain that this army was made up
23 of exclusively Serb officers and soldiers? Do you have any facts and
24 figures about that, or is that merely your assumption?
25 A. I have no written material, facts and figures, to bear this out.
1 But all the officers that I came into contact with - and I came into
2 contact with about ten of them - they were all ethnic Serbs and, for the
3 most part, originated from Serbia. The soldiers who came with that corps
4 were also -- and I had contact with the majority of those soldiers, and my
5 neighbours and my brother had contacts with another -- with other
6 soldiers, and as I say, they were all ethnic Serbs. So there was not a
7 single Muslim among them.
8 Q. Very well. But you will agree with something you -- that is to
9 say, you said earlier on that that was the only regular army in the
10 Yugoslavia of the day.
11 A. Professionally, yes. The only professional army, yes.
12 Q. You also said that the Muslims were afraid of the JNA, that they
13 feared it. That's what you said a moment ago. Now, how do you explain
14 the fact that the Uzamnica Barracks was full of Muslims who had fled to
15 the barracks? If, as you say, they were afraid of the JNA, why would they
16 have fled and taken refuge in the barracks?
17 A. At that time, people were generally highly nervous. There was a
18 lot of fear and panic among the population and the people wanted to take
19 shelter, to find safety somewhere. Everybody was afraid to seek out a
20 safe place for themselves individually, so they formed groups and chose a
21 place where they thought they would be safest. Because it was not only
22 the Uzice Corps which posed a threat - and they knew that this corps was
23 coming to Visegrad - but other ones too, the other paramilitary
24 formations. They were afraid of them. So there was a general fear and
25 panic amongst the population, and people were looking to see where they
1 could take refuge. And there was a sort of unwritten law, according to
2 which everybody gravitated towards the barracks because they thought,
3 well, the army is there and it will be safer there. But they were not
4 only in the barracks. They were elsewhere as well. They sought refuge
5 and protection, for example, in the retarded children's centre for girls
6 or some other organisation. And they felt safety in numbers. They
7 thought they would be safer if they were together.
8 Q. Yes, that is possible, but you will recognise that a large number
9 of them, as you yourself say, went to the Uzamnica Barracks; whereas you
10 say they were afraid of the JNA, which was coming to Visegrad. So this
11 remains unclear to me. Your reasoning there is not clear. But I don't
12 want to insist upon an answer, unless you wish to add anything.
13 A. No, I don't wish to add anything. I have nothing special to add.
14 Q. Part of your testimony dwelt on an explanation and something that
15 disturbs you today; that is to say, the portion of your testimony when you
16 said you heard officers of the JNA in front of you looking at maps and
17 speaking about individual sections which, as you said, they had designated
18 as being clean or ones that should be clean. I understood you to say that
19 you were afraid that this meant that the population from those territories
20 and these areas would either be killed or expelled or arrested. Am I
21 right? Is that what you said?
22 A. Yes.
23 Q. At that particular point in time, in view of the overall
24 situation - because, as you said, you were in constant contact with the
25 JNA officers during that time - did you have any reason to believe that
1 something like that was possible, that the JNA could ever do anything like
2 that to the population of whole areas or villages around Visegrad, in the
3 environs of Visegrad?
4 A. Well, at that particular point I was completely convinced that a
5 massacre of these people was being planned, the people that I mentioned.
6 Q. Did a massacre of that type actually take place? And during the
7 entire stay of the JNA in Visegrad - and I know that they were there for
8 over a month - did anything like that happen? And were there any dead
9 and, if so, how many?
10 A. Luckily, the massacre did not take place. And during the time the
11 JNA spent in Visegrad, a relatively -- a relatively few people lost their
12 lives after their arrival. Perhaps seven or eight -- there were seven or
13 eight casualties. And during the time they spent in the town and its
14 environs - once again let me say conditionally, because even one life is a
15 lot - but given the times and circumstances, I can say that relatively few
16 people died.
17 Q. Didn't you think perhaps that the term "clean" meant that there
18 were no groups around in the area, armed individuals or any armed
19 resistance that the army could encounter? Didn't you think that "clean"
20 might apply to that?
21 A. No, no. The notion, the term, and the expression "everything is
22 clean," what was meant was that too, what you just said, but also the
23 other thing, that there was nobody left. First of all, that there were no
25 Q. But there were Muslims in the villages and in those areas?
1 A. In those parts that he pointed to, there were not. There weren't
3 Q. Can you recollect which particular localities were mentioned and
4 which villages?
5 A. The officer pointing to the map went -- did not go village by
6 village in detail, although they are villages close to each other. He
7 just pointed to it as a smaller region. He did not go village by
8 village. I remember when he was showing this, he would draw a circle
9 around the whole of the right bank and say, "That unit is here." I don't
10 know the name of the unit, but he would say, "The unit is here." And it
11 was the usual term for army organisation. He would refer to the units
12 stationed there, and he would say, "That is clean." Then he would say,
13 "The other unit is over here and that is clean too." And this covered
14 the whole right bank. He covered the whole right bank designating the
15 areas in this way.
16 Q. When you say this unit is there and the region is clean, you mean,
17 as I understand you, that the region comprised several villages; is that
19 A. Yes. Yes, that's right.
20 Q. Did that mean that there were no more inhabitants in those
21 villages, and are you quite certain that that is what it meant and what
22 villages were meant?
23 A. I know which villages are in the region he pointed out. He didn't
24 mention the name of the villages but would just draw a circle around the
25 region on the map. But as I lived in Visegrad and as I know all these
1 villages and pass through practically all of them personally, I know which
2 the villages are that are located in that particular area. I can
3 enumerate some of them if you want.
4 Q. But what I'm interested in is the following: When you refer to
5 the term "clean," you yourself say that you thought that this meant that
6 the people were either killed or expelled. They were not killed. You
7 said that yourself. That they had been expelled, this would mean an
8 enormous number of people displaced in another area or in another village
9 quite close to Visegrad, and this would be visible. People would have
10 seen that. So that day when you heard this conversation or a day later,
11 you would have had to have learnt about this and realised your mistake in
12 taking the term to mean what you first thought it meant.
13 A. Well, I knew that. Practically all the villages on the right bank
14 of the Drina River; that is to say, the population crossed to the left
15 bank, to villages on the left bank of the river. And I knew many of these
16 people personally. They either worked in my own company or they were --
17 we were related in some way, kinship relations. I had a lot of family
18 members on the right bank. So I saw them, some people from almost every
19 village. And they were the people who were in Brstanica, for example. So
20 a large people were from the right bank who had moved to the left bank and
21 who then went on from the left bank to the stadium.
22 Q. Yes. But did they move to the left bank because of the actions of
23 the JNA or not, that is another matter. What I understood you to say is
24 these people reached the stadium with the help of the JNA. Is that
1 A. Yes.
2 Q. And they were then promised that they would go back to Visegrad
3 and asked to go back to Visegrad and continue to work; is that right?
4 A. Yes.
5 Q. After that, did they return en masse and take up their work, and
6 did life and work continue in Visegrad without any major incidents taking
8 A. Yes.
9 Q. And how long did that go on for? According to you, how long did
10 that last?
11 A. Until perhaps seven days before the army left Visegrad, because
12 the situation had more or less gone back to normal. So ten or seven days
14 Q. You mean before or after their departure?
15 A. Before their departure. The situation, given the circumstances,
16 had got back to normal. It was fairly good. The situation was fairly
17 good seven to ten days before the army departed, but then the situation
18 started to deteriorate.
19 Q. When you talked about the fact that the Lieutenant
20 Colonel Jovanovic told you which villages the Muslim population could go
21 back to, and you mentioned some locations both on the left and on the
22 right bank of the river, was any explanation offered for such a request to
23 the effect that these villages were under JNA control whereas some others
24 were not, or was there no -- was it not specified?
25 A. As far as I can remember, people kept asking questions at the
1 stadium of the commander, Jovanovic, "Where can we go? Where is it safe
2 for us to go?" And then he enumerated the locations that I had already
3 mentioned, saying that, "This is safe. This is under our control, whereas
4 the rest is not under our control and is not safe."
5 Q. I would also like to ask you whether you have any knowledge of the
6 fact that before the arrival of the Uzice Corps and before the incident at
7 the dam, of any incidents when buses were passing through or a JNA convoy
8 that was passing through and that on some occasions the police station was
9 under siege and it was besieged by some persons, among whom was Murat
10 Sabanovic and his brother.
11 A. I heard about such events that you mentioned as to an army convoy
12 that was blocked. I don't recall this. It might have happened. It might
13 not have happened. I don't know.
14 Q. Do you remember an incident when a bust of the Nobel Prize-winning
15 writer Ivo Andric was pulled down? Who did that?
16 A. I also heard about this incident. I did not see any of it
17 personally. I was not there. But I heard that -- at least that was the
18 tale that was going around, that Murat Sabanovic knocked down the bust of
19 Ivo Andric and threw it into the river. This was the rumour, that
20 something like this happened.
21 Q. That this incident and the other incidents that you also heard
22 about, as far as you remember, did those incidents cause any disruptions
23 in the relations, interpersonal relations in the town of Visegrad?
24 A. Yes, they did have a negative impact on the interpersonal
25 relations or, rather, inter-ethnic relations.
1 Q. You spoke about the person who helped you leave Visegrad, Stanko
2 Pecikoza; is that correct?
3 A. Yes.
4 Q. Is this the person that you refer to as the vice-president of the
5 SDS in Visegrad? Is this the same person?
6 A. Yes.
7 Q. You said today that he was killed by the SDS members, the members
8 of the same party of which he was the vice-president. Can you tell us
9 something more about that? Who were you referring to? Do you know who
10 killed him and why SDS?
11 A. At the time when Stanko was killed, I was not in Visegrad. I
12 heard that he was killed on the border between Serbia and Bosnia, in that
13 area. The rumour had it that he was killed because he disagreed with the
14 SDS policy and that this was done by them or by persons acting on their
16 Q. At that time, you were far away from Visegrad, if I understood
17 correctly, at least in Macedonia if not even further away. So I don't
18 know. On what do you base your knowledge or where did you hear that
19 Pecikoza was killed in this way?
20 JUDGE HUNT: Mr. Domazet, you asked him the question. He made it
21 very clear that he had no personal knowledge. He said it was rumour.
22 Now, why don't we get on with something that is relevant in this case?
23 MR. DOMAZET: [Interpretation]
24 Q. Just one more thing regarding the speech delivered by Jovanovic.
25 At least that was the name you gave him. You said that he had said, among
1 other things, that the so-called White Eagles were also under his
3 A. Yes.
4 Q. My question is: At that time, were there such formations in
5 Visegrad, and who represented those formations in Visegrad if there were
7 A. As far as I know, at that time there were no such formations in
8 Visegrad, but everybody heard that such formations existed. And they were
9 the holy terror. The Muslims were very much afraid of them, the Muslims
10 in Visegrad.
11 Q. So at the time when he spoke about it, there were no such
12 formations in Visegrad?
13 A. Not in Visegrad but in the village of Dobrun, which is 10 or
14 perhaps 12 kilometres from Visegrad in the direction of Serbia. They were
15 there. People would find their insignia. So they were there, but not in
16 the town itself.
17 Q. Do you have any information whether these were people who came
18 from Serbia or somewhere else or whether these were local Serbs?
19 A. It is hard to say this specifically, whether these were the people
20 from Serbia or local Serbs. My personal opinion is that it was a mixture
21 of both, both people from the outside and the locals.
22 Q. In view of your answer, I assume that you do not know the names of
23 the -- even of the locals?
24 A. No, I don't.
25 MR. DOMAZET: I have no further questions, Your Honour.
1 JUDGE HUNT: Any re-examination?
2 MR. GROOME: I have no redirect, Your Honour.
3 JUDGE HUNT: Thank you, sir, for coming to give evidence before
4 the Tribunal. You are now free to leave.
5 Who is your next witness, Mr. Groome?
6 MR. GROOME: Your Honour, I have an application when the witness
8 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] I wish to thank Your Honours.
9 JUDGE HUNT: Thank you, sir.
10 [The witness withdrew]
11 JUDGE HUNT: Yes, Mr. Groome.
12 MR. GROOME: Your Honour, the pace of the proceedings has gone a
13 little bit quicker than I had anticipated.
14 JUDGE HUNT: Now, look, Mr. Groome, if there is one thing that you
15 were fairly warned about, it was that we did not accept your estimate, so
16 you must have these witnesses waiting.
17 MR. GROOME: We are doing our best, Your Honour, but you realise
18 the Court has changed the trial schedule now two times in the last two
19 weeks. We are doing our best. I tried to contact this witness. This
20 next witness, I will be making an oral application for protective
21 measures. Could I ask that we go into closed session, deal with that
22 matter now, and he will be here first thing in the morning? And I will do
23 my best to back up witnesses now so that there is no more down time. And
24 I apologise to the Court for this inconvenience at this time.
25 JUDGE HUNT: I don't know quite what you mean when you say the
1 Court has changed the schedule twice in the last two weeks. I know of
2 only one. At one stage, we were going to be sharing courtrooms with other
4 MR. GROOME: For example, Your Honour, this morning I was just
5 informed that next week we will be working full days instead of half
6 days. That is the change in the schedule. That we are working hard to
7 get these witnesses from this different country over here -- last Monday I
8 was before -- during August I was under the impression that we would be
9 working primarily half days, five days a week. When I returned last
10 Monday, I was informed that we would be working full days this week. We
11 have been doing our best to accommodate the changes in this schedule. I
12 assure the Court that we have no intention of wasting any of the Court's
13 time, but it is difficult when these people do live in different countries
14 to make everything happen on such short notice.
15 JUDGE HUNT: I assume that you thought that this witness would
16 last the whole week, then. You must have other witnesses here.
17 MR. GROOME: I thought that he would last the entire day, Your
19 JUDGE HUNT: Well, then you better make sure next time you don't.
20 When you talk about half days, there was never any suggestion of half
21 days. The schedule, as I understood it, that was being proposed by the
22 Registry, was four hours a day each, and those who were unlucky enough to
23 be in the afternoon shift would finish at 7.00 at night. There is no half
24 days. There were certainly shorter days.
25 MR. GROOME: Yes, shorter days.
1 JUDGE HUNT: We are sitting four and a half days a week, and you
2 should proceed that that will be so hopefully for the rest of the trial.
3 We will be sitting four to four and a half days a week, depending on the
4 speed with which you go through your witnesses. But we really must have
5 witnesses sitting around waiting. They are required to be here. The next
6 witness must be here in case something dramatic happens and any witness
7 finishes. Now, so you haven't got the witness VG14, who was due to be
8 your first witness, either.
9 MR. GROOME: No, Your Honour.
10 JUDGE HUNT: Very well. Then we will go into private session.
11 Just one moment while that's being organised.
12 [Private session]
11 Pages 200-205 redacted. Private session.
7 --- Whereupon the hearing adjourned at 3.55 p.m.,
8 to be reconvened on Tuesday, the 11th day
9 of September, 2001, at 9.30 a.m.