Tribunal Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia

Page 11834

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,

6 please?

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

15 manager.

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

Page 11835

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]

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Page 11836

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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.


Page 11837

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

Page 11838

1 reorganise and bring a shorter witness.


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

Page 11839

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.


8 MS. KORNER: From Monday to Wednesday, 7.46, the major military

9 witness.

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

24 7.46.

25 JUDGE AGIUS: What happened was this, that for reasons that I

Page 11840

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

Page 11841

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

17 that.

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

Page 11842

1 are sitting and which we are not. So perhaps if we could be told tomorrow

2 morning?

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

19 January.

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 --

Page 11843

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

10 January.

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

Page 11844

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

Page 11845

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

15 tomorrow.

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.

Page 11846

1 JUDGE AGIUS: There being no further submissions, we go into

2 closed session, and bring in Witness BT-28?



5 [Closed session]

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Page 11877

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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

Page 11878

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

Page 11879

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

15 worry.

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

18 them.

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

Page 11880

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.


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

Page 11881

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

3 time?

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?

Page 11882

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

8 sure.

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.

Page 11883

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

9 weapons.

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

Page 11884

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

4 anything.

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.


11 Q. Who was present that told you about what happened at the

12 checkpoint?

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

Page 11885

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

7 explaining.

8 MR. ACKERMAN: He's deceased.


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

14 cross-examination.

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

Page 11886

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.


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?

Page 11887

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

Page 11888

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

11 people?

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

Page 11889

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

19 approximately.

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

Page 11890

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

Page 11891

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

Page 11892

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

Page 11893

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

4 bread.

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 --

Page 11894

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?

Page 11895

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

Page 11896

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]

Page 11897

1 THE INTERPRETER: Microphone for the council, please.


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?



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

23 everything.

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

Page 11898

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

4 point?

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

9 Kozarac?

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

Page 11899

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.

Page 11900

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

8 it.

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

Page 11901

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.

Page 11902

1 Q. Who else collected weapons from the woods besides the three of

2 you?

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,

Page 11903

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

23 know.

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

Page 11904

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

Page 11905

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

Page 11906

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.

Page 11907

1 Q. That's not what you would have expected before that moment, was

2 it?

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

Page 11908

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

5 that?

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?

Page 11909

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.

Page 11910

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

Page 11911

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

4 handwriting?

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

8 document?

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.


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

Page 11912

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.


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.

Page 11913

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

Page 11914

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

17 desertion?

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.


Page 11915

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

4 that?

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?


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

Page 11916

1 there?

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.


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.

Page 11917

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

15 long?

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

21 distortion.

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 --

Page 11918


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.