1 Wednesday, 20 November 2002
2 [Open session]
3 --- Upon commencing at 2.18 p.m.
4 [The accused entered court]
5 JUDGE AGIUS: So, Madam Registrar, could you call the case,
7 THE REGISTRAR: Yes, Your Honour. This is case number IT-99-36-T,
8 the Prosecutor versus Radoslav Brdjanin.
9 JUDGE AGIUS: I thank you, Madam Registrar. Mr. Brdjanin, can you
10 hear me in a language that you can understand?
11 THE ACCUSED BRDJANIN: [Interpretation] Good afternoon,
12 Your Honours. Yes, I can hear you and understand you.
13 JUDGE AGIUS: Appearances for the Prosecution?
14 MS. SUTHERLAND: Ann Sutherland assisted by Denise Gustin, case
16 JUDGE AGIUS: Good afternoon to you, appearances for
17 Radoslav Brdjanin?
18 MR. ACKERMAN: Good afternoon, Your Honours I'm John Ackerman with
19 Milan Trbojevic and Marela Jevtovic.
20 JUDGE AGIUS: And good afternoon to you, too. Can we proceed with
21 the next witness or do you have further matters to thrash out?
22 MS. SUTHERLAND: Your Honour I wish to make an application for
23 protective measures in relation to the next witness, BT-32. If we go into
24 private session, I can give you the reasons for that.
25 JUDGE AGIUS: Yes. I understand there is no objection on your
1 part? Mr. Ackerman?
2 MR. ACKERMAN: There is no objection to going into private session
3 if that's what you're asking.
4 JUDGE AGIUS: That's what I mean. So we go into private session,
5 Madam Registrar, please.
6 [Private session]
9 [Open session]
10 JUDGE AGIUS: Yes. The Trial Chamber, having heard submissions by
11 Ms. Sutherland for the Prosecution, requesting additional protective
12 measures for Witness 7.204, consisting in particular to having his
13 evidence tendered in closed session, in addition to the protective
14 measures already granted, the Court -- the Chamber, upon considering that
15 this witness has already been -- has already given evidence in the Stakic
16 case and was granted this protective measure in that trial, for the same
17 reasons and particularly those submitted by the Prosecution earlier on in
18 private session, this Trial Chamber grants the application of the
19 Prosecution and decrees that the testimony of the said witness be heard in
20 closed session. Thank you.
21 MS. SUTHERLAND: Thank you, Your Honour.
22 JUDGE AGIUS: Closed session, no? Closed session.
23 MS. SUTHERLAND: [Microphone not activated]
24 THE INTERPRETER: Microphone, please.
1 MS. SUTHERLAND: Thank you, Your Honour. Before we continue with
2 the witness I've been passed a note to the effect that plenary in December
3 has been cancelled and now the Stakic case is sitting from 9.00 a.m. until
4 1.00 p.m. -- I'm sorry, now the Stakic case is sitting from the 9th to the
5 13th of December and I had been asked if we are also sitting in the
6 Brdjanin case from the 9th to the 13th of December.
7 JUDGE AGIUS: Actually, as you know, Ms. Sutherland, I have just
8 returned and I just have an idea of what is going on or is likely to go
9 on, to happen. I haven't had time to discuss anything with
10 Judge Schomburg except that I know that this is in the offing. I am on
11 duty starting on the 13th of December, right through the 20th, and if it
12 is okay with you, we can sit some of those days, if indeed the plenary
13 dates, which had been set before, are cancelled, because I don't have yet
14 a confirmation of that. There is a suggestion to have the plenary moved
15 to the 2nd of December. Which brings me to something else I'll
16 probably -- probably end of next week we will not be sitting because I
17 need to travel. So the idea was to travel only on -- not be here Friday
18 and Monday, but things are working in a way that probably we will have to
19 miss the Thursday's sitting as well. I'm trying not to have that happen
20 but I will be back to you as soon as my secretary has finalised the
21 arrangements. So if we miss those two days perhaps we could find another
22 two days but not more than that.
23 MS. SUTHERLAND: The witness that's coming next week is a rather
24 lengthy one and I don't know whether we will have examination and
25 cross-examination in Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday. So it may mean we
1 reorganise and bring a shorter witness.
2 JUDGE AGIUS: Maybe.
3 MS. SUTHERLAND: We can discuss that and I misspoke a moment ago,
4 Your Honour, because we are sitting on the 9th and 10th of December
5 already, so it will just be the 11th, 12th and 13th.
6 JUDGE AGIUS: I think what I would suggest is this: I personally
7 am tied up here until the 21st, so for me it doesn't really make a big
8 difference but for my two colleagues it does because if they had
9 arrangements already in place to travel upon the end of the plenary, then
10 obviously it's not my intention to disrupt those plans so I think we need
11 to have this discussed amongst ourselves first. If it is possible we will
12 try to accommodate you. If it's not possible, of course, we will have to
13 leave it at that.
14 MS. SUTHERLAND: It seems as if it's not possible.
15 MS. KORNER: Your Honour, I'm very sorry I know I'm not robed but
16 I was watching. Your Honour, it will cause the most incredible
17 difficulties if we now have to change witnesses. The witness who is
18 coming next week, who is arriving today, as Mr. Ackerman says, is a
19 lengthy one, it may not be as lengthy as Mr. Ackerman anticipates but it
20 will certainly be lengthy. In addition to that, in the week of the
21 6th -- 2nd of December, we have - I can't remember his number but - the
22 military witness, about which Your Honour has heard a great deal, and on
23 the 6th of December, fixed and 7.46, who is likely to take, well, I would
24 think, I'm not sure, but I would certainly think three days, and on the
25 6th of December, Lord Ashdown has been fixed to testify and he's
1 enormously difficult.
2 JUDGE AGIUS: I can imagine that.
3 MS. KORNER: To get hold of.
4 JUDGE AGIUS: So let's go backwards again. 6th, you plan to have
5 Lord Ashdown here?
6 MS. KORNER: We do. His staff have agreed that he will testify.
7 JUDGE AGIUS: 6th.
8 MS. KORNER: From Monday to Wednesday, 7.46, the major military
10 JUDGE AGIUS: Do you plan to have that person testify
11 from -- starting when?
12 MS. KORNER: On Monday, he's in full, Monday, the 2nd of December.
13 JUDGE AGIUS: I won't be here. So Monday, I'm returning Monday.
14 So if necessary, if we can find the time, we can sit for an extra hour or
15 two on Tuesday and Wednesday, if that is possible.
16 MS. KORNER: Your Honour, obviously we'll have to stop him, I
17 think. We will have to try and sort that.
18 JUDGE AGIUS: My plans were to travel on Friday, but it seems that
19 I won't be able to travel on Friday -- sorry, on Thursday evening which
20 wouldn't have disrupted anything.
21 MS. KORNER: That's next Thursday, Your Honour is talking about?
22 JUDGE AGIUS: Exactly, tomorrow week.
23 MS. KORNER: That would enable us, I'm pretty certain, to finish
25 JUDGE AGIUS: What happened was this, that for reasons that I
1 don't understand, my secretary has been informed that on that day, the
2 time I was supposed to land or -- the airport will be closed for three
3 hours or four hours and it doesn't make sense to me, because as an
4 alternative, they suggested another flight which would still get me the
5 same airport at a time when supposedly it would be closed, so I'm still
6 not understanding anything. However, I asked her to check properly and
7 she should be in a position to confirm everything tomorrow morning.
8 Alternatively, in order not to miss the Thursday sitting, I suggested to
9 her to see other alternatives, what other alternatives there could be.
10 Which I'm pretty sure aren't many because of the location where I need to
11 travel. But any way, by tomorrow this time I should know precisely what
12 the arrangements are and then we can -- I'm trying to reduce it as much as
13 possible, and if it is necessary, absolutely necessary, then perhaps I
14 would try to return Sunday rather than Monday, but I have to chair a
15 meeting and I think the meeting that I have to chair is on Monday. This
16 is --
17 MS. KORNER: That's next Monday?
18 JUDGE AGIUS: The 2nd. Now it seems that the plenary is being
19 moved to Monday, the 2nd as well so in any case, if -- indeed, if it is
20 moved to 2nd, 3rd of December, that would mean that there would be no
21 sittings on the 2nd and the 3rd of December.
22 MS. KORNER: I know Your Honour feels that we sometimes make
23 difficulties about this question of changing witnesses but, Your Honour,
24 it really is -- particularly for the Defence who rightly need to know in
25 advance and if we are suddenly changing because I don't know there has
1 been a change in the dates of the plenary.
2 JUDGE AGIUS: Well, I actually got informed of the suggestion,
3 it's a suggestion that is being made, to have the dates originally
4 scheduled for -- fixed for the plenary, I think 11, 12, 13th of December,
5 cancelled, and have the 2nd, 3rd and 4th of December instead, I have only
6 discussed it very briefly with one of my colleagues who gave me the
7 information. I haven't seen the document as yet because my secretary has
8 still got them. I meant to go through everything between today and
9 tomorrow, and then see what the situation is, because I realise that if we
10 don't sit on the 2nd, 3rd and 4th of December because of the plenary,
11 that's going to cause some serious disruption of our timetable and as I
12 said, I mean, I personally would have no problems sitting the 11th, 12th
13 and 13th of December but if those days are -- will be available and the
14 courtroom will be available, but I don't know what the other two judges'
15 arrangements are for their Christmas holidays so I still have to discuss
16 it with them and I don't think this is the place where we should discuss
18 MS. KORNER: I imagine Mr. Ackerman, like most of us I think,
19 we've all made plans on the base that is the 10th was the last day of
20 sitting but it's not so desperate in our case because we can arrange
21 witnesses for people we know are going to be here to call, although
22 because the Stakic Defence case is running as well, it's causing a certain
23 amount of juggling, we have had to alter the witnesses but can I ask this,
24 perhaps, Your Honour? It really is important because if we have to change
25 the witnesses round, and we need to know as soon as possible which days we
1 are sitting and which we are not. So perhaps if we could be told tomorrow
3 JUDGE AGIUS: I'll try and do my best to get all the information.
4 In the meantime, I had in mind also, this is happening I'm just thinking
5 aloud at the moment, if it will be all right with the other two judges and
6 of course with you, if that particular week of December we could sit right
7 through the 13th, then it was my intention to suggest to you that in
8 January, instead of starting on the 6th or the 7th - because it was my
9 intention to honour the Orthodox Christmas or at least - we could have the
10 entire of that week off and then start on the 11th, but I would ask you to
11 sit at least until the 13th of December. In other words you will have a
12 whole week off, extra week off in January.
13 MS. KORNER: Your Honour, I'd ask very strongly that even if we
14 don't sit the 6th and the 7th because of the Orthodox Christmas, that's
15 Monday and Tuesday, we do start on the Wednesday. I'm getting really
16 concerned about the delay in this case. We said we'd try and finish our
17 case by Easter and that seems to be a proper cutoff point but if we are
18 losing all these days in December and we are going to lose more in
20 JUDGE AGIUS: And the way it seems that the first week of December
21 is going to be disrupted, for sure.
22 MS. KORNER: Yes.
23 JUDGE AGIUS: That's for sure. And if -- I've seen a document,
24 I've been shown a document, by one of my colleagues suggesting the 2nd,
25 3rd and 4th of December as alternatives for the plenary. So --
1 MS. KORNER: Your Honour, I don't like to ask because of course
2 it's a matter for the judges but unless there is a very good reason, is
3 there -- why the plenary can't stick to its original dates?
4 JUDGE AGIUS: There seems to be a good reason, yes.
5 THE INTERPRETER: Your Honours, excuse me, but could it be slowed
6 down, please.
7 JUDGE AGIUS: Anyway, I'll come back to you tomorrow, in the
8 meantime do try and cultivate the idea of working an extra couple of days
9 in the second week of December and then taking off the days I suggested in
11 MS. KORNER: Yes. Well, I think Mr. Ackerman --
12 JUDGE AGIUS: Let's hear what Mr. Ackerman has to say.
13 MR. ACKERMAN: Your Honour, it is just enormously disruptive to
14 publish a schedule, to allow people to make plans based upon that
15 schedule, and then to say, "Sorry, we are going to change it." For a long
16 time now I have had plans that were made based upon the 10th being our
17 last day of sitting in December. Family plans, business plans. I
18 desperately need to be in the United States and be able to fly there on
19 the 11th of December. I have a ticket. The plans are made. I understand
20 the problems we have.
21 JUDGE AGIUS: One moment, let me interrupt you for a second.
22 Perhaps we could identify a witness that Mr. Trbojevic could handle those
23 two days, or three days.
24 MR. ACKERMAN: That may be possible, Your Honour. The problem is
25 that we are in the Prijedor phase and we are dealing with transcripts that
1 are only in English but there may be a way to get around that. That's a
2 possibility. And I'll certainly look into that. But I wish we would
3 adopt a policy that once we decide what days we are going to sit, that
4 those are the days we are going to sit, and not decide at the last minute
5 that, "gee, there's a court open on Friday let's sit on Friday," because
6 we really do make plans in advance based upon that calendar and those
7 plans may involve some intensive work on the case to be prepared to do
8 something different. It's not that we go off and party and carouse and
9 things like that it's that we work on those days off. I have not had a
10 day off since I can't remember when. I've worked every day for a long
11 time. I'm not asking for a medal again.
12 JUDGE AGIUS: You won't get it.
13 MR. ACKERMAN: I know I won't get it but that's what's going on.
14 And I just wish we could stay with the days. While I'm on my feet, can I
15 raise another matter?
16 JUDGE AGIUS: Yes, Mr. Ackerman.
17 MR. ACKERMAN: I was handed as I came into the courtroom today,
18 it's about a 70 page, as near as I can tell, transcript of what I was told
19 was Rule 68 material regarding the witness that's about to come in and
20 start testifying. I would request, as a result of that, that I not be
21 required to cross-examine that witness until tomorrow when I've had a
22 chance to go through this new material.
23 JUDGE AGIUS: Is that all right with you, Ms. Sutherland? I know
24 you have two witnesses in the pipeline.
25 MS. SUTHERLAND: Yes, Your Honour. We have another witness to
1 testify after this witness. Just in relation to what Mr. Ackerman just
2 said, the 70 odd pages is of a transcript of a witness who testified in
3 another case. There is, in fact only three pages that relate -- which is
4 the potential Rule 68 in relation to this next witness. I will hand
5 Mr. Ackerman a note which gives him the exact page numbers that he can go
6 to, but I agree if he wants to put the cross-examination off until
7 tomorrow that's fine by me. But once he reads these pages he may not wish
8 to put the cross-examination off.
9 JUDGE AGIUS: I've taken note of your submission and request. And
10 also of the non-objection on the part of the Prosecution should it be the
11 case. Mr. Ackerman, when you are in a position to either confirm your
12 request or change it, you will let us know, all right? In the meantime,
13 if it is necessary to have the witness cross-examined tomorrow, then
14 obviously, there being no objection, you will cross-examine the witness
16 MS. SUTHERLAND: Your Honour, for everyone's benefit, Your Honour,
17 the order of witnesses for this week just so everyone is clear, and
18 Mr. Ackerman is being very accommodating because we've changed the order a
19 number of times to accommodate counsel who are involved in other cases, at
20 the moment, the order is that the first witness is 7.204, the second
21 witness will be 7.225, the third witness will be 7.79 and the final
22 witness for this week will be 7.226.
23 JUDGE AGIUS: All right. So I think we need to go into closed
24 session now, correct?
25 MS. SUTHERLAND: Yes, Your Honour.
1 JUDGE AGIUS: There being no further submissions, we go into
2 closed session, and bring in Witness BT-28?
3 MS. SUTHERLAND: 32.
4 JUDGE AGIUS: 32.
5 [Closed session]
13 Pages 11847-11876 – redacted – closed session
17 [Open session]
18 MR. KOUMJIAN: Your Honour as I understand the agreement that was
19 made between the parties was that for these Prijedor witnesses who have
20 previously testified, Your Honours have their transcript.
21 JUDGE AGIUS: Yes, that's correct. What we don't know is if
22 Mr. Ackerman has received a replica of our bundle as well.
23 MR. KOUMJIAN: So I will not -- the agreement as I understand it
24 is I will not lead the witness live through his rather remarkable story
25 except to perhaps touch on areas that he did not or that I failed to ask
1 him the first time and then that Mr. Ackerman will cross-examine him; is
2 that correct?
3 JUDGE AGIUS: Yes, more or less, any additional information or
4 confirmation or -- any way, it's the usual procedure that is adopted in
5 other trials as well when this takes place.
6 MR. KOUMJIAN: I was just wondering if there would be a conflict
7 of interest if I got Mr. Ackerman to negotiate my contract with the UN
8 next time because I think he made a pretty good deal on that.
9 JUDGE AGIUS: So you can bring the witness in, please, thank you.
10 [The witness entered court]
11 JUDGE AGIUS: Incidentally, Mr. Ackerman, perhaps we can go
12 through just I want to make sure what you have and what you don't have.
13 Maybe you have another 70 pages. What we have been given is a map of
14 Kozarac and Omarska overview which is P1146. Then we have exhibits from
15 Stakic, S51 which is the usual map surrounded by photos. Then a -- two
16 photos, S15/26 and S15/29. Then witness statement to the Prosecutor, to
17 the investigator, sorry, of the Tribunal dated 11th January, 1996. And
18 then some other -- and then the transcript of the testimony -- it's okay,
19 it's okay, -- which starts from page 6372 -- sorry, 6326. I think we have
20 some missing here. There must be some mistake because mine starts at
21 6326, stops at 6361, and then recommences at 6372. But it could well
22 be -- yeah, no, no, it's okay. It doesn't make a difference because
23 basically the witness entered court so there must be a number of pages
24 relating to some other matter we are not interested in. So the second
25 part of the testimony of the witness starts on page 6372 in the Stakic
1 transcript. And this is the sitting of the 24th of July.
2 MR. KOUMJIAN: Shall I proceed? Is everyone ready.
3 MR. ACKERMAN: Your Honour, the short answer is I don't have the
4 packet that was handed to you. Now, whether I can assemble all those
5 things that were given to me over the last several weeks, I probably
6 could. I don't know until I see what was given to you I don't know.
7 JUDGE AGIUS: Have you been given the transcript of his testimony
8 in Stakic.
9 MR. ACKERMAN: Absolutely, I have.
10 JUDGE AGIUS: That's basically what we have. The rest are the
11 statement that is he gave, the statement he released, gave to the
12 investigator of the Tribunal.
13 MR. ACKERMAN: I've got all of that.
14 JUDGE AGIUS: And then it's two photos plus a map so I wouldn't
16 MR. ACKERMAN: I'm quite certain I have the photos and the map
17 somewhere. I was just getting ready to look. I thought I'd prepared
19 JUDGE AGIUS: If there is a problem we'll stop for the time being.
20 So Mr. Poljak, good afternoon to you.
21 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Good afternoon.
22 JUDGE AGIUS: Welcome to this Tribunal.
23 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Thank you.
24 JUDGE AGIUS: I understand this is not the first time you are
25 giving evidence in a trial because you have already testified in the
1 Stakic case. So I will cut my introduction short. You are about to give
2 evidence in this case. It will be much shorter than the one you gave in
3 Stakic because we have a transcript of all your testimony, your entire
4 testimony, in the other case, and we will be making use of it in this
5 case. So you will only be asked a few questions in addition to what is
6 already contained in that transcript.
7 As you know, and I'm sure you're familiar with this, before you
8 start giving evidence, our rules require that you enter a solemn
9 declaration that in the course of your testimony, you will be telling us
10 the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. The usher is going
11 to hand you now the text of the solemn declaration and I would now invite
12 you to read it out aloud and that will be your undertaking to this
13 Tribunal that you will testify the truth. Please proceed.
14 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] I solemnly declare that I will speak
15 the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.
16 WITNESS: SAMIR POLJAK
17 [Witness answered through interpreter]
18 JUDGE AGIUS: I thank you. You may sit down and Mr. Koumjian for
19 the Prosecution will be directing a few questions to you.
20 MR. KOUMJIAN: Perhaps the exhibit previously marked in this case
21 as P1146 could be put on the ELMO? I'll be referring to it shortly.
22 JUDGE AGIUS: Yes. Please.
23 Examined by Mr. Koumjian:
24 Q. Hello again, Mr. Poljak. Can you tell the Court which has your
25 transcript, and has read your transcript, just to remind us of a few
1 things, you talked in the transcript about being at home the day that
2 Kozarac was attacked on the 24th of May, 1992. How old were you at that
4 A. I was 19, 19 and one month to be exact.
5 Q. Who did you live with at that time? Who was in the home where you
6 were living?
7 A. I was living in a house with my parents and my middle brother
8 lived with us there. He was married so that his wife also lived with us
9 in our family house.
10 Q. Did his wife have a child? Did you have a nephew or niece?
11 A. Yes, yes, she did have and she does have the child.
12 Q. How old was the child in May of 1992?
13 A. About six months, an infant.
14 Q. Can you show us on the map that's in front of us the area that you
15 lived in, the house, your parents' house, where you were on the 24th of
16 May, 1992?
17 A. Well, I can do it only approximately. I think that it's here more
18 or less.
19 Q. And for the record you're pointing to an area between what's
20 marked G or Gornji Jakupovici or D or Donji Jakupovici; is that correct?
21 You lived in between Gornji and Donji Jakupovici, didn't you?
22 A. That's right, yes.
23 Q. In your prior transcript were you asked quite a bit on
24 cross-examination about the checkpoint in Jakupovici. Can you point on
25 the diagram to where that checkpoint was?
1 A. It was on the main Prijedor-Banja Luka road, over here.
2 Q. You're indicating the road that runs closest to Donji Jakupovici.
3 Can you describe, physically describe, what that checkpoint looked like,
4 what you called a checkpoint?
5 A. Well, I don't know what it exactly looked like. Some logs had
6 been brought to the road but I did not see it. This was made -- put up
7 two or three days before the attack, something like that, but I'm not
9 Q. Okay. You described -- before we go to the attack, did you
10 yourself have any military training? Did you ever serve in the JNA or in
11 any other military or paramilitary unit?
12 A. No. I didn't serve in the army. I wasn't a member of any unit.
13 I was going to school in Prijedor. I was completing the final fourth year
14 of the mechanical technical school in Prijedor.
15 Q. You talked in your transcript you talk about what happened to you
16 and your family during the attack on Kozarac. There is -- there has been
17 allegations made by some individuals or statements made that the attack on
18 Kozarac began because a convoy of the JNA was attacked at Jakupovici at
19 that checkpoint. What do you know about that? When I say the JNA I mean
20 the JNA or former JNA, the VRS.
21 A. Could you please repeat your question?
22 Q. You were not present at the checkpoint when the attack -- any time
23 the day of the attack on Kozarac; is that correct?
24 A. No, I wasn't. Neither that day or the day before. I don't know
25 if I was ever there.
1 Q. When the attack on Kozarac came, you talked in the transcript
2 about running to various locations and there being shelling. Can you tell
3 me the direction that the shelling came from?
4 A. I had the feeling that the shells were coming from all directions.
5 When you heard the first shot, it wasn't a shot, it was like a very large
6 fireworks display. There was shooting on all sides. So it was impossible
7 to tell from which direction it was coming from. It was frightening. You
8 could hear very loud explosions, you could hear the firing from regular
10 Q. Prior to the attack happening on the Sunday, the 24th, had you
11 seen the army, the VRS, the former JNA, making any preparations in the
12 area of Kozarac?
13 A. This went on for a while. We watched this for a while, military
14 vehicles, at night you could hear, according to the estimates of the
15 people from the village that -- they could hear tanks, powerful sound of
16 engines, the children who went to elementary school at Lamovita saw that
17 there were many soldiers stationed there as well as weapons, quite
18 sometime before the attack on Kozarac was carried out. I also saw,
19 myself, on a hill called Cuklac which is not far from my house, there we
20 could see soldiers digging in the artillery, the mortars, Howitzers and so
21 on. It took a while but even though nobody believed that the attack on
22 Kozarac would actually be carried out, there was no reason for it.
23 Q. Realising that you were not, yourself, at the checkpoint did you
24 ever hear anyone who was at the checkpoint, did anyone who was present
25 ever tell you what occurred between the army and the people at the
1 checkpoint that started the firing?
2 MR. ACKERMAN: Your Honour I object to that unless he can --
3 unless he can identify who it was that told him what he heard, if
5 JUDGE AGIUS: Yes. What do you have to say about the objection?
6 MR. KOUMJIAN: I'd certainly ask him to identify to the best of
7 his ability.
8 JUDGE AGIUS: So ask that question rather than the one you asked
9 before, because the objection raised by Mr. Ackerman is being sustained.
10 MR. KOUMJIAN:
11 Q. Who was present that told you about what happened at the
13 A. My cousin, who is no longer with us, Sakib Poljak, he told me
14 about it.
15 Q. Okay. And since Sakib Poljak cannot tell us about what
16 happened -- by the way, why is it that Sakib Poljak isn't here to tell us
17 about what happened?
18 A. He cannot tell us about it because like the majority of the
19 population of Kozarac, he was detained in a camp, just like that, he and
20 myself and thousands of others were in Omarska. He was beaten day after
21 day. He was taken from Omarska. He was killed. We don't know what
22 happened to him but all traces of him are lost from Omarska.
23 JUDGE AGIUS: Yes, Mr. Ackerman?
24 MR. ACKERMAN: The answer is not responsive to the question, Your
25 Honour. It's a story that's being told about his cousin now that he can
1 only know from hearing from someone else, I'm sure.
2 JUDGE AGIUS: But he's explaining actually -- I think he's
3 answering the question because the question was, and "since Sakib Poljak
4 cannot tell us about what happen -- by the way why is it that Sakib Poljak
5 isn't here to tell us about what happened." He could have answered
6 because he hasn't been summoned, because he didn't want to, he's
8 MR. ACKERMAN: He's deceased.
9 JUDGE AGIUS: Yes.
10 MR. ACKERMAN: I object then to his giving any evidence about that
11 because there is no way we can independently verify it. We certainly
12 can't call the cousin as a witness or speak to the cousin and therefore it
13 is just pure hearsay and there is no one around for us to confront in
15 JUDGE AGIUS: But your objection is still not being sustained, the
16 reason being is that he is explaining why is it that he is not here to
17 give evidence. He is giving his own version.
18 MR. ACKERMAN: I understand that. I'm objecting to him giving the
19 answer to the next question which is: "What did Sakib tell you?" I'm
20 objecting to that because there is no way I can independently verify that.
21 No one for me to confront as a witness to that event and therefore I think
22 it's improper.
23 JUDGE AGIUS: It will be admitted just the same, Mr. Ackerman, but
24 of course the position will be that the fact that the witness is not here
25 or the person is not here and can't possibly be here to be examined or
1 cross-examined will be taken into consideration but he is no different
2 than any other person that has been referred to as having given -- passed
3 on information and who is now dead. We've had several of them.
4 Yes, Mr. Koumjian.
5 MR. KOUMJIAN:
6 Q. Mr. Poljak, the Defence counsel asked if there is any way for to
7 you know that your cousin was detained in Omarska and that he disappeared
8 from Omarska and was beaten there. Is there way to know that, can you
9 help him, how you learned that information?
10 A. We were staying in adjacent rooms when I was in Omarska, so that I
11 had the opportunity a couple of times to go from my room to that room to
12 see how they are and to talk to them during the time that they were alive
13 in Omarska.
14 Q. When you say, "They," are you talking about Sakib and someone
15 else? Can you tell us who the other person is?
16 A. I'm thinking of Sakib, Saban, Sabit. They are my cousins, my
17 relatives. I'm thinking of my uncle Jusuf, he survived. I'm thinking of
18 my neighbours who were also in that same room, Husein, Bilal, I'm thinking
19 of Nihad Jakupovic. I'm thinking of the three brothers, Jusuf, Kasim and
20 Garo who are no longer with us. Many neighbours, who were beaten,
21 tortured, interrogated, robbed and finally all traces of them are lost.
22 They were taken away, killed, I don't know what happened to them. And my
23 own father.
24 Q. What did Sakib tell you about what happened -- first of all, did
25 he tell you that he was at the checkpoint?
1 A. Yes, he did.
2 Q. And what did he tell you happened at the checkpoint?
3 A. The conversation I had with him about what happened at the
4 checkpoint took place when we were fleeing the village. It was just a
5 short conversation about what happened, and he told me that at one point,
6 a tank came from the direction of Banja Luka, and a large number of
7 soldiers suddenly split up behind the tank on each side of the
8 Prijedor-Banja Luka road. They had automatic rifles and they started
9 firing. So when the shooting occurred or when the shooting started, they
10 escaped, they fled from there so there wasn't really that much to talk
11 about. The situation was such that we were, how shall I put it, we were
12 frightened, we were out of our minds with fear, we were escaping. It
13 wasn't a situation where people could actually sit down and talk about
14 what happened. We were running. It was very uncertain. A person didn't
15 know what was ahead.
16 Q. You've talked about that flight and being captured eventually,
17 separating from your family, saying goodbye to your mother and father,
18 your sister-in-law and the child and that while they went into Prijedor,
19 you went over the mountains trying to walk to Croatia and you were
20 captured and taken to Benkovac barracks. I know you have many things that
21 happened during that journey. The judges have it in the transcript so I'm
22 not going to go over all that happened to you during that journey. But at
23 Benkovac barracks, you mentioned a hodza. Can you tell us again the name
24 of that hodza or how you -- how you knew him?
25 A. His name was Hamid Softic. I think his last name is Softic. I'm
1 not sure about his last name. His name was Hamid. Everybody knew him. I
2 knew him. He worked, he was on duty for a while in the mosque at Gornji
3 Jakupovici, when I was still little; maybe I was seven, eight or ten years
4 old. Then, most recently, he worked at the Kamicani mosque. He was
5 married to a woman from Jakupovici so I knew him fairly well.
6 Q. You talked about at Benkovac various people being beaten but when
7 you were detained in the bathroom and that he was called out many times;
8 is that correct, the hodza?
9 A. Yes.
10 Q. Do you know why he was targeted or called out more than other
12 A. I don't know, probably because he was a hodza.
13 Q. You talked about seeing his upper body when he was sitting on a
14 chair, being black and blue. I think in your testimony in Stakic, that
15 was the last time you talked about seeing this hodza. Did you ever see
16 the hodza again after you were transferred to the Omarska camp?
17 A. He was transferred together with me and the others to Omarska, to
18 the garage, but I don't know, I think that immediately, the next day, a
19 man whom I don't know, who was at Benkovac and who probably took part in
20 the torture of Hamid, the hodza, came, like I said I don't know whether
21 that was the very next day or a day or two later, but any way, he came one
22 morning, called out the hodza, and said, "You are coming with me." And he
23 took him away. He came on a motorcycle. I don't know what he did, where
24 he went, but all traces of Hamid the hodza are lost from that point on.
25 Q. You then discussed in your testimony the garage where you were
1 kept when you were first taken to Omarska. So that we can have some kind
2 of picture in our minds of that place, can you point to some areas in this
3 courtroom and tell us approximately the dimensions of the garage? Was it
4 as big as this room or a portion of this room?
5 A. It was much smaller than this room. It was maybe four by four
6 metres, maybe the height of the room was 2 -- 20 metres. It was as wide
7 as a regular garage door, and then another normal door.
8 Q. How many men were put in the garage with you when you first
9 arrived at Omarska?
10 A. I am not sure about the number of people because there are many
11 numbers running through my head. 100, 150, these numbers seem to be
12 coming again and again, about 100, 150 people were transferred from
13 Benkovac to Omarska. The same number approximately remained at Omarska
14 after all the other people who were detained at Omarska and who survived
15 were transferred to Manjaca and Trnopolje. Also that was about the number
16 of the people, the last persons who remained at Omarska. The same number
17 was transferred from Manjaca to Batkovici so I'm not sure about the
18 numbers. These numbers are repeated very often. 100 to 150 people
20 Q. Recognising it's very hard to estimate numbers, can you describe
21 the proximity that you were in with the other people? How close were you?
22 Did you have an arm between you? Were you able to lie down? Can you
23 describe the conditions in that garage?
24 A. The first evening, the first two or three evenings, there was no
25 room even to turn around. We were all standing up. The first two or
1 three days, no one sat down. You couldn't. There was no room. There was
2 no air. And then I don't know after how many days they started to take
3 people away. I remember very well, there were people -- I mean these
4 people were -- their last name was Garibovic there were five or ten of
5 them, so all of them were taken away from that group in the garage. I
6 myself after ten days was take be away and interrogated. The worst time
7 was during the first four or five days. I don't know, I'm not sure, you
8 couldn't even turn around, there was no room. We were standing up the
9 whole time. It was like in a gas chamber, there was no air to breathe.
10 We -- for three days, we didn't. We were brought in on Friday, then we
11 were there Saturday. On Sunday, they gave us this sack with some bread in
12 it to eat. It's very difficult to explain, to describe this. It was just
13 terrible. It was impossible. It's impossible to describe. It was hell.
14 Q. You testified it was very hot. Can you give us any estimate of
15 the temperature in Centigrade or can you in any other way describe to the
16 Judges how the heat felt and how it affected the people in that garage?
17 A. When they put us into that garage and after they closed the door,
18 it wasn't long afterwards that because there was such a big crowd of
19 people in such a small space, that the temperature soared. It was very
20 hot. The walls were painted by just -- with normal paint which in some
21 ways started to melt and I remember very well they would give us canisters
22 of water and they brought that in through the windows, and then there
23 would be a crowd there around that window. There would be a struggle to
24 get to that water, to drink, to survive. So that the -- there was a lot
25 of pressure, and I remember very well, I put my hand on the wall, and the
1 paint started to rub off. It was melting down. And there were also drops
2 from the condensation which were falling from the ceiling. It was just
3 terrible. But the worst thing was with the air. You couldn't breathe.
4 We were practically suffocating.
5 Q. Did anyone pass out or have any effect from that condition, the
6 first night or two days that you were in the garage?
7 A. The first night, I think two men of about 30 or 35 years of age
8 died. They died. They suffocated. I don't know what happened to them.
9 They weren't beaten or anything. They were there together with us. In
10 any case, I remember that they died. Then there were five or six cases of
11 people who, how shall I put it, just went crazy. They went mad. They
12 were not aware of where they actually were. They thought that they were
13 somewhere else. I remember one man, he was a younger man, he was maybe
14 about my age, he started to hallucinate: "Get out of that forest, what
15 are you doing there? The Chetniks are coming. They will kill us." There
16 was another elderly man who was looking into my eyes as if he were looking
17 through me. He started to talk to me, "Come on, young man, saddle the
18 horses. We are going." It was very strange. It's very difficult to
19 describe the situation. Then the entire time, the first night when we got
20 there, when they locked us up, they forced us to sing songs. They shouted
21 from the other side, "Tomorrow we are bringing your mothers and your
22 sisters to rape them and you can watch." And things of that kind. I have
23 no idea how I survived and how it is that I'm still normal, if I am
24 normal. I really don't know. It was really terrible.
25 Q. What opportunities did you have to use the -- to go to the
1 bathroom when you were in the garage for the ten days?
2 A. During the day, they let us outside occasionally to go to the
3 toilet, and even though a person avoided going to the toilet out of fear,
4 I don't remember whether it was the first or the second day that I went
5 out of that garage for the first time, it was morning. They allowed me to
6 go about ten metres away from the entrance to the garage to pee. I
7 remember that feeling very well, when I came out. It was sunny, it was
8 May, the weather was nice. Maybe it was about 10.00 or 11.00 in the
9 morning. Three or four metres away from me was the body of one of the men
10 who had suffocated on the first or the second day, I think, in that
11 garage. I went outside and I wasn't even paying attention to that. There
12 was a dead man lying there. It didn't even prompt any kind of feelings in
13 me. It was as if it was just a piece of wood, a log, a rock. The things
14 that did elicit any kind of feelings from me was the fact that I was out
15 in the fresh air, in the sun, that I was out of the garage for the first
16 time in two or three days, one or two days, and that I could breathe in
17 fresh air. It was a totally abnormal situation. It was awful.
18 Q. Did you know that man who had suffocated, whose body you saw?
19 A. He was older than I. I know that he came from Kamicani but I
20 can't remember his name now, and the other one, who suffocated too to
21 death, I didn't know him.
22 Q. You mentioned that bread was brought a few days after you arrived
23 in Omarska. Was that the first time you were fed in Omarska?
24 A. Yes. The first time that this group arrived with which I was, we
25 arrived there on Friday evening or late afternoon, and at some time on
1 Sunday afternoon, they opened the door and threw in bread in a paper bag,
2 so of course everybody was trying to get to this bread because there
3 wasn't enough of it. I remember I managed somehow to get two slices of
5 Q. What did you do with the two slices of bread that you were able to
6 fight for?
7 A. One slice, I put in my pocket. You could say that I hid it in my
8 pocket. And the other one, I ate slowly, crumb by crumb. How shall I put
9 this? I mean, it's -- it beggars the imagination. It was at some animal
10 level, it wasn't human. There was nothing human about the situation that
11 we were in. The only thing that mattered -- I mean instinct reigned, not
12 mind. The water canister was put in through the window and I never even
13 thought: "How shall I get to this canister and have some water." You
14 simply fought for it. As when you throw a bone, a piece of meat, to dogs
15 and then they start fighting over it. That is how we behaved too. There
16 was nothing, you are younger, you are stronger, you are older, you are
17 weaker, nothing mattered. The only thing that mattered was to somehow get
18 at that bread or get at that water. I mean it was simply some instincts
19 which all of a sudden had taken complete sway.
20 Q. Was there someone in the garage who you knew, a neighbour named
21 Enes, who was sick?
22 A. That's right. He wasn't my neighbour. He came from Kamicani but
23 his sister was married to a neighbour of mine. Yes. Enes, his father, I
24 think there were some relatives. Whether it was that day when they gave
25 us this bread, I think that that day he felt very bad, and --
1 Q. You mentioned -- you mentioned eating one piece of bread and you
2 said you saved the other in your pocket. What happened to that?
3 A. Since I knew his father, and him, I knew them well, I mean the
4 family, his father was also a bricklayer and he was building our new house
5 when my family were building the house when I was small so that I knew
6 them and his sister was married to my neighbour, and so that I was sitting
7 or crouching or whatever, squatting there, and I could see that he was not
8 feeling well and I was thinking what to do, whether to give, whether to
9 take out this slice of bread and give it to him, that is to give them, to
10 give him, perhaps, it might help him, or to keep it for myself, and
11 finally I decided to give them this piece of bread that I had with me.
12 Q. Were you present the day that the -- I want to move now on to a
13 different subject -- to August of 1992. You're aware now that a few
14 journalists, one of them Penny Marshall, came to the Omarska camp in early
15 August, 1992. You're aware of that now?
16 A. Yes. I know that journalists came but who those journalists were,
17 where they had come from, I have no idea. Yes, there were journalists,
18 most of them came at a time when only 150 of us were left in Omarska but
19 before that, I know there was a delegation, there was a group of
20 journalists who came.
21 Q. I don't know the answer to this. You tell me. Have you ever seen
22 videotape of journalists who first came to Omarska and videotaped only in
23 the cafeteria some prisoners going to -- for the soup and bread in the
24 cafeteria? Were you present in that cafeteria the time the journalists
25 first came?
1 A. Yes. I was in Omarska. I was at the Omarska camp at the time.
2 Q. But is it correct that you were not one of the people that went to
3 the cafeteria and are on that first videotape? Let me --
4 A. No, no. I wasn't, no.
5 Q. Did you ever see, while you were at Omarska, any foreigners or
6 foreign journalists come to the camp?
7 A. I did not -- I could not see them to begin with I was in the
8 garage and during that time nobody came and besides you couldn't see
9 anything from there. And then they transferred me to another room in the
10 bigger hangar where the dumptrucks were and from there you couldn't see
11 anything either. And journalists did not come to that particular room,
12 not at least to my knowledge.
13 Q. In August of 1992, did some foreigners come and did conditions
14 change in Omarska?
15 A. About 150 of us - well those 150 again - were kept in Omarska. I
16 didn't know it at the time. It was other people were taken by buses from
17 Omarska, we didn't know where, until the day when the Red Cross registered
18 us and until they told us that some people had been transferred to
19 Trnopolje, or to Manjaca, and that they had also been registered by the
20 Red Cross and 150 of us were kept there in Omarska and that day, when we
21 stayed there, we had somehow accepted our fate, that they would kill us,
22 and we were very much afraid. But it was pretty quiet. Nobody came to
23 tease us to provoke us, the guards didn't come, nothing so we didn't
24 really know what was in the offing and what would happen to us. And late
25 at night about 2.00 or 3.00 in the morning, we heard trucks, and the
1 guards came then and ordered us to come out and to unload whatever was in
2 those trucks, and those were beds with bed linen. We were completely at a
3 loss. We didn't know what was going on. But we took it all to a room
4 which was in the same building as the garage, in which I was put up first.
5 So we lined those beds in there and the bed linen, and in matter of fact
6 those beds were meant for us so that after three months, I had for the
7 first time the opportunity to lie in a bed. The conditions changed
8 completely. There was no more mistreatment. It meant the food got better
9 They even procured shaving appliances and there was also a barber with us,
10 a male hair dresser who started looking after us, that is, cutting our
11 hair. We were also issued with some hygiene articles so we did not know
12 what was going on. We were at a loss. What was that all about? And that
13 went on for I don't know how many days. We also went all over the camp,
14 cleaning, WCs, and traces of torture and killing. I know that a couple of
15 guys went to remove several dead bodies, not far from the camp, which had
16 lain there for a long time and I remember it well. It stuck in my memory.
17 When they tried to move them, they simply -- these bodies, I mean they
18 simply disintegrated. The arm came off, a leg came off. So that is what
19 we did for a few days. And then journalists started coming. I don't know
20 who was the first to come, whether it was the Red Cross or journalists.
21 But we then began to have visitors almost every day, foreign journalists,
22 the Red Cross, who registered us. So we began slowly to get some
23 information about what was going on elsewhere in Bosnia, and we began to
24 hope that we might survive.
25 Q. [Microphone not activated]
1 THE INTERPRETER: Microphone for the council, please.
2 MR. KOUMJIAN:
3 Q. There is one photograph that apparently that's not in evidence.
4 It has the ERN number 02123687.
5 MR. KOUMJIAN: Could this be shown to the witness? Did Your
6 Honour want -- I'm not familiar any more with the procedures do we premark
7 it? Do we give it an exhibit number now.
8 JUDGE AGIUS: Yes, I suggest we do.
9 MR. KOUMJIAN: May that be P1128.30?
10 JUDGE AGIUS: Yes.
11 MR. KOUMJIAN:
12 Q. Mr. Poljak do you recognise anything in this photograph?
13 A. Well, beds looked like these here and this room does remind me of
14 the room that I was kept in.
15 Q. After the visit of the foreigners, this is what the room looked
16 like after the foreigners visited and the beds were brought in?
17 A. Well, the room was furnished before the journalists and the Red
18 Cross came. That day when others were taken to Manjaca. I mean in the
19 evening, at night, a truck came, as I've just told you, at 3 o'clock in
20 the morning and that is when we furnished those rooms and after we put it
21 all in order, three or four days later, journalists started to come but we
22 had already put this room in order. There was bed linen in place and
24 Q. You mentioned your father and you testified in your -- in the
25 Stakic case that you said goodbye to your father when you decided to try
1 to make your way to Croatia and he stayed with your -- with your
2 sister-in-law and her child and your mother, and you also testified you
3 saw him again in Omarska. Were you in the same room in Omarska at any
5 A. When some ten days later I was taken from interrogation from the
6 garage, they transferred me after the interrogation to the same room where
7 my father was.
8 Q. Who was your father? What was his occupation before the attack on
10 A. He worked for a long time as a bricklayer in Croatia, the company
11 was called Pula Siporeks. Then he also worked privately at Suma, that is,
12 many members of my family were engaged in forestry business so that he had
13 spent a large part of his life doing that.
14 Q. Was he politically active or did he -- was he militarily active?
15 Was he part of any paramilitary group?
16 A. Politically, no, he was not politically active. And he was not
17 with any military formation either, as far as I know.
18 Q. You said your father was called out many times and beaten. Do you
19 know why?
20 A. He reluctantly spoke about that, and when I asked him: "Well what
21 was it, how was it," his usual answer would be, "It's all right, it's
22 okay, never mind, they just hit me slightly." I suppose they didn't want
23 me, they didn't want me to worry about him.
24 Q. You testified your father was called out one night and never
25 returned. Does it bother you that to this day you don't know where your
1 father's body is?
2 A. It does.
3 Q. Can you explain to the Judges why?
4 A. Well, it's very simple. I mean the mere thought, you know, when
5 you lose one of your loved ones, then you bury those persons, you do
6 whatever is due on such occasions. You know he or she is dead, so we
7 shall bury this person, we shall bring flowers. We shall honour the
8 person's memory. I don't know how my father was killed and I'm
9 practically 100 per cent sure that he was killed, that he's dead, that
10 he's no more. Was he tortured? How did they kill him? Was it a rifle?
11 I'd be the happiest if that was the case, or axes which they also did,
12 hammers, all sorts of objects. So that is -- that is a question that
13 troubles me. Where do his bones lie?
14 MR. KOUMJIAN: No further questions, Your Honour.
15 JUDGE AGIUS: I thank you. Mr. Ackerman? Can I ask you how long
16 you anticipate your cross will take? The idea is to see whether we should
17 break now for 15 minutes or so or in 20 minutes.
18 MR. ACKERMAN: Probably about the same as the last witness, Your
19 Honour. I think that was 20, 25 minutes.
20 JUDGE AGIUS: So we can go ahead. We can go ahead. Do you have
21 another witness today?
22 MS. SUTHERLAND: No, Your Honour.
23 JUDGE AGIUS: Okay. So interpreters and technicians, shall we
24 proceed until we finish? We anticipate we are talking of another 25
25 minutes or so and then it will be over for the day.
1 THE INTERPRETER: Yes, Your Honour.
2 JUDGE AGIUS: All right. Okay. Thank you. Yes, Mr. Koumjian?
3 MR. KOUMJIAN: I'm told I made another mistake. Your Honour, may
4 the package of Mr. Poljak's testimony in the Stakic case be entered into
5 evidence as P1521?
6 JUDGE AGIUS: 1521, all right. Yes, Mr. Ackerman. This last
7 photo that you showed the witness, you haven't given to us. We don't have
9 MS. SUTHERLAND: Your Honour, it's in the bundle of photographs,
10 the big bundle of photographs.
11 JUDGE AGIUS: All right.
12 Yes, Mr. Ackerman.
13 MR. ACKERMAN: Thank you, Your Honour.
14 Cross-examined by Mr. Ackerman:
15 Q. Good afternoon, Mr. Poljak.
16 A. Good afternoon.
17 Q. In addition to testifying in the Stakic case, you've given a few
18 statements. You gave one to the Office of the Prosecutor in January of
19 1996, correct?
20 A. It is.
21 Q. In that statement that you gave to the Prosecutor -- and if you
22 want to look at it, just let me know and I'll see that you get one to look
23 at -- I'm reading from the English here on page 2 of the statement,
24 numbered page 2, it's actually the first page of the English statement.
25 You say, "I think that about" -- you're talking about after the attack on
1 your village and what happened, and how you left Kozarac and then got
2 captured. "We were captured on 27 May, 1992. I think that about 80
3 people all together were captured. Some of them armed and dressed in
4 uniforms." How many would you say were dressed in uniforms of that 80?
5 A. Several of them, four, five men perhaps.
6 Q. Four or five? How many were armed?
7 A. I wouldn't know exactly. Afterwards, I was taken to collect those
8 weapons and there were several automatic rifles, some hunting weapons,
9 some ammunition.
10 Q. How many weapons would you say that you collected? There were
11 three of you collecting weapons of the -- between the three of you, how
12 many weapons did you collect?
13 A. Well, I wouldn't know exactly because at that moment, it -- I
14 never gave it a thought how many weapons, why I did that, all I was
15 thinking about was what would happen to me and I was afraid.
16 Q. And what happened was when it became clear that you were all going
17 to be captured you dropped your weapons there in the woods, didn't you?
18 A. I didn't have any weapons.
19 Q. You didn't have a light submachine-gun? I'm saying you didn't
20 have a light submachine-gun?
21 A. I didn't. I didn't have a single weapon, no.
22 Q. What is your best estimate that you can give us today of how many
23 weapons, automatic weapons, rifles, whatever, that you collected, the
24 three of you, there in the woods that day?
25 A. Ten, perhaps.
1 Q. Who else collected weapons from the woods besides the three of
3 A. We were escorted by a guard who belonged -- I suppose -- to the
4 reserve force. He had the old olive green-grey army uniform, and then
5 there were some soldiers who were deployed in the woods. I suppose as
6 guards, wearing camouflage uniforms with red berets, as far as I can
7 remember, and there was the soldiers who came with us and talked and took
8 us to collect those weapons.
9 Q. Those -- the 80 of you that had left Kozarac and went into the
10 woods, you really were -- you were all part of an organisation that was
11 armed and trying to defend Kozarac, weren't you?
12 A. That is not so. I was at Brdjani in the basement, like I
13 explained to you, when the decision came down for the people to surrender
14 to the army, to the Serb authorities, I and my sister-in-law's brother
15 decided not to go and to go to the woods and to try to cross over into
16 Croatia. That's when I said goodbye to my parents, to my father and my
17 mother, and we set out towards the woods. We -- there were not 70 armed
18 men with us. There was only two of us. He was grown up. He was older.
19 He knew the terrain and our plan was to cross over into Croatia, not to
20 get killed.
21 MR. ACKERMAN: Could the witness be shown P1075, please? Oh, I'm
22 sorry, forget it.
23 Don't talk to me any more, okay?
24 JUDGE AGIUS: That's an order.
25 MR. ACKERMAN: When the microphone is on, you can hear that stuff,
1 can't you? Well, okay.
2 Q. There came a time, sir, at Omarska, and were you asked about this
3 on direct, by Mr. Koumjian, when the foreign journalists came to the camp
4 and I'm talking about before people left and went to Trnopolje and
5 Manjaca, and it was that -- that time that you said you weren't aware, at
6 the time they were there, that they were in fact there, correct?
7 A. I knew about the Trnopolje camp but I didn't know that this other
8 group had been taken to Manjaca. I don't remember.
9 Q. I think you misunderstood my question it's probably because I
10 didn't phrase it very well. At the time the foreign journalists were at
11 Omarska, when everyone was there, you didn't know that they were there.
12 The day they were there, you weren't aware of their presence?
13 A. When the first group of journalists came, at the point in time
14 when they did come, I didn't know, but perhaps already the next day, there
15 was talk about them having been there.
16 Q. Yes. And you knew that because you heard from other people about
17 the fact that they had been there, didn't you?
18 A. Yes.
19 Q. Would you say this is a true statement: Any one in Omarska would
20 know very soon about anything that happened there because news travelled
21 fast in Omarska? That's true, isn't it?
22 A. They travelled fast, yeah. This is what I found out. I don't
24 Q. So for instance, you learned even though you weren't out on the
25 pista, you learned from other people things that were happening out on the
1 pista, didn't you?
2 A. I cannot tell you anything exactly that I remember 100 per cent.
3 That's something that I cannot do. I don't remember everything. This
4 wasn't something very important that I troubled myself to remember or to
5 think about. I heard this from information that was going around. I
6 don't know who I heard it from, how I heard it from -- how I heard it. I
7 don't know. The conditions were so terrible in the camp, psychologically
8 that a person clung to straws. It's possible that I heard about the
9 journalists later also. I don't know when I heard about it but I did hear
10 about it. Those journalists did come but I didn't know about it when they
11 just came, that first group. I don't know what you would like me to say
12 about it, for me to tell you in detail about when the journalists arrived,
13 who I heard it from, this was not anything that I ever spent much of my
14 thoughts on. I never thought about this issue too much. I was troubled
15 by many other things at the time.
16 Q. I think you think I'm accusing you of something and I'm not. I'm
17 just trying to have you tell the Trial Chamber what I think is the case,
18 and that is that matters that were going on in Omarska were generally
19 known throughout the inmate population at Omarska rather quickly after
20 they occurred because of the grapevine, because of the way news travelled
21 in Omarska. That's all I'm asking. I'm not asking you to remember any of
22 the things you heard or anything else. Just to agree with me and advise
23 the Chamber that that was the case, and it was, wasn't it?
24 A. What kind of news?
25 Q. Well, like when the journalists visited. I mean that was
1 something that everybody in Omarska learned rather quickly after their
2 visit, right?
3 A. Yes, probably that piece of news probably spread very quickly.
4 After three months of torture and killing, finally somebody arrived to see
5 what was going on, so it's very probable, it's very likely, that that
6 piece of news did spread but I don't remember. It had to spread very
7 quickly because it was an event. It was that straw that a man could cling
8 to in order to survive, hope, "now they know we are here, they are killing
9 us, they can see what we look like, we are hungry, tortured, full of lice
10 in a terrible state, beaten, half dead."
11 JUDGE AGIUS: You were not answering the question. The question
12 was a very simple one. You seem to be worrying about the question when
13 you don't need to worry about it. What you are being asked is a very
14 simple question. In the environment you were in in this camp, is it
15 correct, is it true, that news spread fast and around?
16 MR. KOUMJIAN: Your Honour, if I may --
17 JUDGE AGIUS: This is a very simple question. Answer yes or no.
18 I mean what difference is it going to make?
19 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Your Honour, may I make --
20 JUDGE AGIUS: Let him answer the question.
21 MR. KOUMJIAN: That's all I want him to do. I think he is
22 answering the question.
23 JUDGE AGIUS: It's like in a small village, if something happens,
24 everyone knows about it within minutes. Was it like that in the camp?
25 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] The situation in the camp was like
1 this: We were placed in the different rooms and sometimes it would happen
2 that a person would go to an interrogation from one room but then would be
3 brought back to another room so that's when the information would spread.
4 Sometimes ten or 20 days would pass and nobody would come to that room,
5 and so on. So I cannot say that information spread quickly. Sometimes it
6 did and sometimes it did not.
7 JUDGE AGIUS: [Previous translation continues] ... Your question
8 now, Mr. Ackerman.
9 MR. ACKERMAN: Thank you.
10 Q. In your testimony in the Stakic case, sir, you were talking about
11 being, as you talked about earlier today, in that room with around 150
12 other men in that garage. And you said something in the Stakic case that
13 was very interesting. I want to remind you of it and then ask you some
14 questions about it. You said and I'm quoting and this is page 6357, "And
15 then a jerry can filled with water was brought to us and then people
16 started fighting over the jerry can. It was awful. It was a fight to
17 survive as simple as that. No one really cared about the person next to
18 them. We fought like animals over the water they had brought us. It was
19 really awful." That's true, isn't it?
20 A. Yes.
21 Q. You learned something about people at that moment, didn't you?
22 A. Yes.
23 Q. You learned how human beings will behave when confronted with the
24 fear of death.
25 A. Yes.
1 Q. That's not what you would have expected before that moment, was
3 A. It was something that would not have occurred to me, not even in
4 my dreams.
5 Q. You talked about the two men who died of suffocation and were just
6 lying there on the floor and no one paying any attention to them. How
7 could that be?
8 A. That nobody cared for those people?
9 Q. Yes, how could that be? How did that happen? How can you explain
10 that change in behaviour that you observed there?
11 A. I don't know. I don't know if that's something that can be
12 explained at all. For me that's incomprehensible. Maybe it's some kind
13 of survival instinct that takes over control, takes control over a man at
14 times like that. Maybe some experts could explain that. I could not get
15 to a better explanation.
16 Q. I take it that you all didn't sit around and talk about it and
17 decide to behave that way, that it was just something that just happened,
18 wasn't it?
19 A. Yes.
20 Q. And whatever role you played in that was not something you decided
21 to do but just something that came from somewhere inside you and inside
22 the rest of those men?
23 A. Could you please explain or clarify your question?
24 Q. I think you've probably already answered it. I'm just asking it
25 in a different way. What you observed, what you yourself did during those
1 moments, like when you talked about going outside and just ignoring a dead
2 man lying there in front of you, about it not having any effect on you,
3 that wasn't something that you consciously at some point decided to do but
4 something that just happened because of some instinct or something like
6 A. Yes.
7 MR. ACKERMAN: Could the witness be shown P1134, please? Could I
8 be shown the English part of it before you take it to the witness? I just
9 want to show you what part to put on the ELMO.
10 Q. Sir, you have a document before you that is Prosecution's Exhibit
11 1134. It's a report that was written by a commission that visited
12 Omarska. You probably saw them there since you were probably there at the
13 time. If you find the section, you'll have to turn a few pages and find
14 the section in there that refers to Omarska, it's paragraph 2, "Omarska
15 near Prijedor," it says. And if you look down to about the third
16 paragraph, it starts with, "The prisoners." "The prisoners are kept in a
17 hall containing military camp beds and orderly toilet facilities. Food is
18 provided for them in the workers' canteen. The food is prepared in the
19 mine's central building as provided on a self-service basis. A first aid
20 point is located in one of the offices and is staffed by a physician and a
21 nurse to administer any first aid that may be required, while in more
22 serious cases, the prisoners are transferred to the medical centres in
23 Banja Luka and Prijedor." I'll ask you firstly two questions. Does that
24 fairly describe your experience in Omarska after the -- there were the 150
25 or so of you left there? And if not, what about it is not correct?
1 A. That was more or less the situation once we were left behind.
2 Q. Thank you. During all the time that were you in Omarska, you
3 never saw or heard about any politicians visiting Omarska, did you?
4 A. That's right.
5 Q. You gave a statement, do you remember giving a statement in Zenica
6 on 22 February, 1994?
7 A. I remember.
8 Q. It's -- this was given to the Centre Institute for Investigation
9 of Crimes against Humanity and International Law, Prijedor Municipality.
10 Do you recall that?
11 A. I remember.
12 Q. If you want to look at this statement when I ask you questions
13 about it, you can have a copy so just let me know if you want to see a
14 copy, okay?
15 A. Yes.
16 Q. I want to read you what the statement indicates you said with
17 regard to the situation where there was an attack upon Kozarac that we
18 talked about a little bit earlier. What you said in this statement
19 was, "As the enemy was numerous and better-armed --"
20 JUDGE AGIUS: We will be running out of tape in a few
21 minutes -- we will be running out of tape in four minutes so we need to
22 stop for a couple of minutes until they change the tape, Mr. Ackerman.
23 MR. ACKERMAN: We can stop, Your Honour, if you want to take a --
24 let's see, I've probably got ten, 15 more minutes, if you want to stop
25 right now and wait for them to go ahead.
1 JUDGE AGIUS: With me it's no problem but I want to make sure that
2 it's all right with the interpreters and the technicians. Because we have
3 gone beyond the 25 minutes that you had mentioned. Okay. We stop for
4 four minutes, we stay here, until they change the tape, and then we
5 resume. Thank you.
6 [proceedings suspended]
7 JUDGE AGIUS: Yes. Mr. Ackerman. You may continue.
8 MR. ACKERMAN: Thank you.
9 Q. Okay. Sir, we were talking about there statement that you gave in
10 Zenica. "As the enemy was numerous and better armed, we did not succeed
11 in preventing a breakthrough by their forces into our village." Whether
12 you say, "We did not succeed in preventing a breakthrough," I assume that
13 included you.
14 A. No. It does not.
15 Q. So when you're giving a statement and using the term "we," you do
16 not include yourself in that term "we"?
17 A. No, I don't include myself.
18 Q. "We withdrew into the interior of what was then the free territory
19 and took up positions." Were you part of that "we"?
20 A. Yes.
21 Q. And when you say "took up positions," did you dig trenches or what
22 kind of positions did you take up?
23 A. I used the plural there. I explained who was at the checkpoint,
24 who was in the basement, who was withdrawing. I used the plural saying,
25 "We were withdrawing." There were people who were on the checkpoints but
1 there were also women and children but we all withdrew. We were not all
2 at the checkpoint. Some people withdrew to Kamicani, Brdjani.
3 Q. Did you write this statement yourself? Is it in your own
5 A. I don't remember whose handwriting that was. If I may see the
6 document, then I can confirm the handwriting.
7 MR. ACKERMAN: Could the Prosecutor show the witness this
9 MR. KOUMJIAN: Do you need an extra copy of the document?
10 MR. ACKERMAN: To be given to the witness. The one I have is
11 typical. It's copied in such a way that it can't be read.
12 MR. ACKERMAN:
13 Q. The question, since you have it before you is: Is that your
14 handwriting or did someone else write that out?
15 A. This is not my handwriting.
16 Q. Look at the last page and tell me if you see your signature there.
17 A. Yes, I do.
18 Q. And right above your signature, you should see the language, "I
19 affix my signature to confirm that everything contained in the above
20 statement is true. And that I am prepared to give testimony before any
21 court." Correct?
22 A. Yes.
23 Q. Who was the commander of this group that was withdrawing and
24 taking up positions in the woods? Who was in charge of the group?
25 MR. KOUMJIAN: Objection, misstates the evidence. He hasn't
1 identified any group that was withdrawing and taking up positions in the
2 woods. It's the second part I object to.
3 JUDGE AGIUS: Objection sustained.
4 MR. ACKERMAN:
5 Q. Your statement says "we withdrew into the interior of what was
6 then the free territory and took up positions." Who was the commander of
7 the "we" that withdrew into the interior into the free territory and
8 took up positions. Who was in charge?
9 JUDGE AGIUS: I think you need to ask him first whether there was
10 someone in charge.
11 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Nobody was in command. Simply,
12 people were fleeing. We fled the village. Nobody ordered anybody, "You
13 have to go there or you should go there." So nobody was in command. Yes,
14 my father told me, "You are coming with me," and with my mother. We were
15 going to the parents of my sister-in-law. Yes, and that's where we went.
16 Q. We are talking about this group of men that eventually was
17 captured and put in Benkovac barracks that had weapons and some had
18 uniforms, and when you say, "We withdrew into the interior of what was
19 then the free territory and took up positions," what I'm trying to find
20 out is did somebody give you directions as to which way to go and where to
21 take up positions? Was somebody giving directions, saying, "Follow me,
22 let's go here, come on, boys, bring your guns," or anything like that?
23 A. The word was that we had to escape from the village and that we
24 were to go towards Kamicani and towards Kozarac.
25 Q. All right.
1 A. And that group, it was the people from around there, neighbours,
2 cousins, women, children. Everybody who happened to be in the village on
3 that day. We all withdrew from there.
4 Q. In this same statement in Zenica, the one you affixed your
5 signature to confirm that everything contained in it was true, you said,
6 "530 of us were transferred to Batkovici camp in a village near
7 Bijeljina." That's what you said then, wasn't it?
8 A. I gave the statement. I said that I had given the statement.
9 Now --
10 Q. [Previous translation continues] ... Then you gave a statement to
11 the Prosecutor later on 11 January of 1996. In that statement you said,
12 "I was transferred to Batkovici, a village close to Bijeljina together
13 with approximately 500 prisoners." Correct?
14 A. Yes. But right now I cannot remember how many of us were
15 transferred. We were transferred to Batkovici, though.
16 Q. And then there came a time in October of 2001 when an officer came
17 from the Tribunal and showed you your statement and asked you -- you were
18 asked if you wanted to make any corrections to and then you swore to the
19 truth of your statement, and one of the corrections you made was that on
20 page 4 of your statement, where you said that you went to Batkovici with
21 500 people, that should be reduced to 150 people, didn't you?
22 A. Yes, that's right.
23 Q. After a period of time, you were exchanged, weren't you?
24 A. Yes. That is so. I was exchanged in September or October, 1993.
25 I'm not sure about the exact date, whether it was the 10th of September or
1 the 9th of October.
2 Q. And after that exchange, you joined the Army of
3 Bosnia-Herzegovina, didn't you?
4 A. No, not immediately. It was three or four months later that I
5 joined the Army of Bosnia-Herzegovina.
6 Q. But you did join the Army of Bosnia-Herzegovina. And what did you
7 do in the Army of Bosnia-Herzegovina? Were you engaged in any fighting of
8 any kind?
9 A. Yes.
10 Q. And you left, then, after about four months after joining the
11 army, you say that you fled to Croatia, true?
12 A. It is.
13 Q. Did you desert the army? Were you discharged? How did you happen
14 to leave the army?
15 A. I fled. I deserted.
16 Q. Have you ever faced any consequences as a result of that
18 MR. KOUMJIAN: Objection. Relevance.
19 JUDGE AGIUS: Pardon?
20 MR. KOUMJIAN: What is the relevance of this question.
21 JUDGE AGIUS: Yes, what's the relevance, Mr. Ackerman?
22 MR. ACKERMAN: There probably isn't any, Your Honour.
23 Q. You --
24 JUDGE AGIUS: He's giving evidence in open session.
25 MR. ACKERMAN:
1 Q. You spoke about -- you spoke about this room you were in at
2 Omarska and you said it was the garage with the 150 people. The words you
3 used were this. You said it was like a gas chamber. You remember saying
5 A. Gas chamber, yes, possibly, I don't remember. I can't remember
6 every single word.
7 Q. It was just today. Can you remember what you said today? Today
8 you said it was like a gas chamber.
9 A. I said it today?
10 Q. Yes.
11 A. Yes, yes. Today, last time? I guess I did say that. Because
12 that is how it was. That is what it looked like.
13 Q. [Previous translation continues] ... Gas chamber is like? What
14 kind of a gas chamber are you referring to?
15 A. A good question. I don't know. A very -- the air very closed,
16 stuffy, nothing to breathe.
17 MR. ACKERMAN: That's all.
18 JUDGE AGIUS: Thank you. Any re-examination, Mr. Koumjian?
19 MR. KOUMJIAN: Yes.
20 Re-examined by Mr. Koumjian:
21 Q. When you used the term gas chamber, you said it was difficult to
22 breathe. How difficult was it to breathe in that room?
23 A. It was very -- the air was very close. I mean we were simply
24 suffocating. We were gasping for breath.
25 Q. Anyone in the room become sick during the ten days that you were
2 A. As I have already said, two persons died.
3 Q. Did any one get intestinal problems? Did people have diarrhoea in
4 the room?
5 A. Oh, yes.
6 MR. ACKERMAN: This goes beyond my cross-examination.
7 JUDGE AGIUS: I think we don't need to go into all this,
8 Mr. Koumjian. I think he's given already quite a vivid description of
9 what it was like in there. I don't think we need more details.
10 MR. KOUMJIAN:
11 Q. Mr. Ackerman asked you about the 80 armed men, I believe -- I
12 don't want to misquote him, the group, the armed group of 80 people that
13 you were captured with and then on the mountain. Were those all 80
14 people, were they all men?
15 A. No.
16 Q. Describe that group of people. You said there were four or five
17 men in uniforms, some had guns, some other men had guns. What were the
18 rest of the people like?
19 A. They all looked like ordinary people. What do you mean? How
20 could they have looked?
21 Q. Were they men, were they women? What were their ages?
22 A. The majority were men, and there were several women and some
23 children. There were also some underage, some minors.
24 Q. Before being imprisoned in Omarska, did you own a gun?
25 A. No.
1 MR. KOUMJIAN: I have no further questions.
2 JUDGE AGIUS: Thank you. So Mr. Poljak, that brings us to the end
3 of your testimony. I wish to thank you for having come again to this
4 Tribunal to give evidence. You will now be escorted by the usher and you
5 will be attended to, to assist you in your return to your country. Thank
6 you once more.
7 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Thank you.
8 [The witness withdrew]
9 JUDGE AGIUS: So Ms. Sutherland or Mr. Koumjian, tomorrow we are
10 hearing the testimony of -- I just want the chronological order.
11 MS. SUTHERLAND: Yes, the first witness will be witness 7.79.
12 JUDGE AGIUS: Okay and that is open session, I take it.
13 MS. SUTHERLAND: Yes, Your Honour.
14 JUDGE AGIUS: You expect that to last -- your in chief to last how
16 MS. SUTHERLAND: Ms. Korner is leading the witness. She has
17 advised that she doesn't think it will take very long.
18 JUDGE AGIUS: All right.
19 MS. SUTHERLAND: And the witness which follows is Witness 7.226,
20 and he has been granted protective measures, pseudonym, image and voice
22 JUDGE AGIUS: Yes. And you expect that to go into Friday?
23 MS. SUTHERLAND: Yes, I think so, Your Honour, with
24 cross-examination as well.
25 JUDGE AGIUS: Who will be examining --
1 MS. SUTHERLAND: I will.
2 JUDGE AGIUS: You. And you expect your in chief to last how long?
3 MS. SUTHERLAND: Another estimate but perhaps three-quarters of an
4 hour, Your Honour.
5 JUDGE AGIUS: All right. Okay.
6 MS. SUTHERLAND: And he is witness BT-27.
7 JUDGE AGIUS: Yes, yes. All right. So I would like to openly
8 thank the interpreters and the technicians and the rest of the staff in
9 this courtroom for their cooperation, which I can assure you we very much
10 appreciate. I thank you once more. We will all meet tomorrow in the
11 afternoon. It's tomorrow in the afternoon, yes.
12 --- Whereupon the hearing adjourned at
13 6.10 p.m., to be reconvened on Thursday,
14 the 21st day of November, 2002, at 2.15 p.m.