1 Wednesday, 15 October 2014
2 [Open session]
3 [The accused entered court]
4 --- Upon commencing at 9.01 a.m.
5 JUDGE DELVOIE: Good morning to everyone in and around the
7 Mr. Registrar, could you call the case, please.
8 THE REGISTRAR: Thank you. And good morning, Your Honours. This
9 is case IT-04-75-T, the Prosecutor versus Goran Hadzic.
10 JUDGE DELVOIE: Thank you.
11 May we have the appearances, please, starting with the
13 MR. OLMSTED: Good morning, Your Honours. Matthew Olmsted,
14 Douglas Stringer, our intern Nika Jurkovic, and, of course,
15 Thomas Laugel, our Case Manager.
16 JUDGE DELVOIE: Thank you.
17 For the Defence, Mr. Zivanovic.
18 MR. ZIVANOVIC: Good morning, Your Honours. For the Defence of
19 Goran Hadzic, Zoran Zivanovic and Christopher Gosnell.
20 JUDGE DELVOIE: Thank you.
21 The witness may be brought in.
22 [The witness takes the stand]
23 JUDGE DELVOIE: Please proceed, Mr. Zivanovic.
24 WITNESS: VOJIN SUSA [Resumed]
25 [Witness answered through interpreter]
1 Re-examination by Mr. Zivanovic: [Continued]
2 Q. [Interpretation] Good morning, Mr. Susa.
3 A. Good morning.
4 Q. During the cross-examination, you spoke, inter alia, about
5 military courts in the Republic of the Serb Krajina, so I wanted to ask
6 you something. What were the reasons why these military courts were not
7 organised as they should have been set up, according to regulations?
8 Rather, it was done in a way that you described as illegal.
9 A. Military courts in the classical sense, as envisaged, could not
10 have been established because, really, we had very, very few
11 professionals, trained people. Our law said that whenever it was
12 necessary for military courts to try people, that this would be done by
13 civilian courts.
14 Q. Do you know whether any measures were taken to find the right
15 kind of people who met all the prerequisites for working in a court of
17 A. I personally gave a maximum contribution, and throughout, I tried
18 to get people to come to our area and work there. I did that, but at one
19 point in time, there were no possibilities of stimulating these people to
20 come and work there financially. As a matter of fact, people who were
21 already working there were leaving.
22 MR. ZIVANOVIC: [Interpretation] P2687. Could we please take a
23 look at that.
24 Q. This is a letter that was written by Goran Hadzic. It's sometime
25 in June 1993. At that time you were no longer minister. But I would
1 just be interested in the second paragraph, actually. And then the last
2 sentence there that says:
3 "Due to the establishment of military courts and military
4 prosecutor's offices, officers with a degree in law are also needed for
5 the posts of military judges and military prosecutors."
6 Did you know that, that the president of the Republic of Serbia
7 and generally the Serbian and Yugoslav authorities were asked to help in
8 providing the proper kind of personnel?
9 A. I'm definitely unaware of this letter. I know that beforehand
10 other organs were asked, military organs, military judiciary organs,
11 primarily to possibly second some of their people to our area so that we
12 could establish military courts. This probably yielded no result, since
13 this high level had to be addressed.
14 Q. During your testimony, when asked by the Prosecutor, you provided
15 an explanation saying that you had heard from others that
16 Zeljko Raznjatovic, Arkan, provided security for Goran Hadzic while
17 travelling through the area. Can you tell me whether you heard that from
18 Hadzic himself?
19 A. I did not hear that from Hadzic himself. I did not discuss the
20 topic with him. I saw those two men close to him all time and a third
21 one later on. Then this Jovo Batalo, who I know personally, also
22 appeared there. I never went with Hadzic when he took these long trips,
23 except when we were on the same delegation that went to Geneva and
24 wherever else. Perhaps once or twice we flew together to Knin, but Arkan
25 was not with us then.
1 Q. And did you hear that Arkan said that? Did he tell you
2 personally? Did he say that somewhere in the media, on TV?
3 A. I did not hear any such thing. A certain Mile Ulemek talked
4 about that who often came to that area of ours, near Erdut. He came for
5 coffee or tea and then said that they were providing security for
6 different people, but I did not see any of that personally.
7 Q. Can you tell me another thing: These people that you saw as
8 Goran Hadzic's security detail, were they members of Zeljko Raznjatovic,
9 Arkan's Tigers or Serb Guard?
10 A. No. They wore civilian clothes and they were with Goran from the
11 very outset, before Arkan even showed up there.
12 Q. The Prosecutor also asked you about that centre in Erdut that was
13 given to Arkan, and he showed you two documents.
14 MR. ZIVANOVIC: [Interpretation] P194.140, can we please see that.
15 Q. You've already seen this document. I showed it to you. The
16 Prosecutor showed to you. 1/91 is the number. I would kindly ask you to
17 make a note of this for a second. I'll tell you, actually, why I'm
18 showing you this document.
19 You said that this document and the next one that I'm going to
20 show you bear the same number but that these are different bodies. So
21 now I'm going to ask that we take a look at the next document, 196.140.
22 MR. OLMSTED: Could we have a cite in the transcript for the
23 representation that the counsel has just made.
24 MR. ZIVANOVIC: It is transcript page 12.302, line 21.
25 Q. [Interpretation] Can you take a look at this corner up there,
1 1/91 is handwritten, truth to tell. What did you mean when you said that
2 these were different bodies?
3 A. Over there, I saw it was actually the secretary of the president,
4 and over here it is the government that passed this decision, and that
5 was the difference that I noted.
6 Q. The secretariat, as written there, the secretary of the president
7 on the one hand and the government, did they register documents under the
8 same numbers or did they have their own numbers under which they register
10 A. Let me say this straight away and I'm repeating this actually.
11 I'm not aware of the existence of a secretary of the Presidency and this
12 person's registering certain documents. I have never seen any such
13 documents including the previous one that we saw. There was no such
14 documentation. I claim that it was only much later, towards the end of
15 the year, that the office of the president was established. And later on
16 I remembered the last name of the person who worked there. It is Zrilic.
17 Q. In addition to this document, the Prosecutor showed you that
18 document about mobilisation that is also registered as number 1/91 and
19 this was a document that was issued by the prime minister and it was
20 signed by Goran Hadzic. Could you please tell me -- well, actually, that
21 document is also marked 1/91. So these documents that were issued by the
22 prime minister that were adopted by the prime minister only and documents
23 that were issued by the government and only signed by the prime minister,
24 were they registered under the same number?
25 A. I really cannot say. Really. I'm not sure of that.
1 Q. So what were you trying to tell us when you said that these are
2 different bodies? Because this document was shown to you, the one that
3 had to do with call-up, mobilisation, and then you were shown this
4 document as well. And both are marked 1/91 and you said that these are
5 different bodies.
6 A. In both cases, as far as mobilisation is concerned, it has to do
7 with something that has to do with the government. Over there it was the
8 prime minister and here it is the government. The signatories for both
9 documents are the same. It is the prime minister, Goran Hadzic. I have
10 no way of knowing whether perhaps this number where somehow it generally
11 pertains to the work of the government and also that other number that
12 has to do with mobilisation, whether they could have been registered in
13 this way, the same way. If they just had this basic number 1/91. Then
14 there had to be yet another, additional, number that would distinguish
15 between the two. There was a way of doing that. We actually made
16 decisions to that effect, how this can be done in terms of
17 implementation, and Pejakovic made no mistakes in this respect.
18 Q. Now I'm going to ask you another thing that has to do with the
19 document that was shown to you by the Prosecutor.
20 MR. ZIVANOVIC: [Interpretation] That is P370. Can we please take
21 a look, these are answers to questions that were put.
22 Q. We're just going to look at the questions, not the answers. The
23 four questions that you have there.
24 The Prosecutor asked you whether these were actually answers to
25 the letter of Goran Hadzic, practically what Goran Hadzic referred to in
1 his letter on that day. That's what he asked the command of the town of
2 Ilok. As you can see, this document was compiled by the 1st Infantry
3 Guards Division and all of this is not written correctly. This is
4 obviously some kind of circulatory letter. Could you please look at the
5 questions here and then I'm going to show you document P369.
6 A. I have had a look at the document. I see it now.
7 Q. And now you are going to look at document P369. You see this
8 document dated the 23rd of December and now you're going to see the other
9 one. This is a letter of that same unit, the command of the
10 1st Motorised Division, dated the 17th of December. That is to say, six
11 days before that. And now please take a look at the four questions here,
12 towards the bottom of the page, that were sent to the command of the
13 Military District. Can you see a difference? Do you see any difference
14 between these four questions that were put here and the questions that
15 were put in the previous document?
16 A. As far as I can see, these are absolutely the same questions.
17 Q. Thank you. Mr. Susa, please, do you know whether the government
18 established civilian authorities in Lovas?
19 A. No. Not after the meeting we attended, not later either. Lovas
20 was rather special. There were some other people there, some different
21 circumstances were involved, and I personally, and I think other members
22 of the government, too, could not really get involved.
23 MR. ZIVANOVIC: May we move into private session, please.
24 JUDGE DELVOIE: Private session, please.
25 [Private session]
11 Pages 12399-12402 redacted. Private session.
1 [Open session]
2 THE REGISTRAR: We're back in open session, Your Honours.
3 JUDGE DELVOIE: Thank you.
4 MR. ZIVANOVIC: [Interpretation] Page 3 in the original and
5 page 12 in English.
6 Q. Article 7, which you discussed, which says that:
7 "The office of the prime minister shall perform work for the
8 purposes of the prime minister and deputy prime minister.
9 "And the head of the office," that is to say, chef de cabinet of
10 the prime minister, "shall manage the work of the office and be
11 answerable to the prime minister."
12 Now from the time you came, let's say, from August, from the time
13 when the government was established, was this office of the
14 prime minister in existence as we read here?
15 A. It was set up much later - I believe in December of that year -
16 and a person named Zrilic was appointed to the post of chef de cabinet.
17 Now when you showed me that document, 1/91, I forgot to tell you one
18 thing. Goran Hadzic, as prime minister, was never able to issue orders
19 and he never did. It is clearly prescribed in the law what kind of
20 decisions the government may make, and orders are not listed as one of
21 the documents and acts that the government can issue, and in that sense,
22 this document is a -- rather a problem for me.
23 Q. Mr. Susa, I will now quote a passage from a document that was
24 quoted from by the Prosecution as well, but you won't be able to see it
25 because of certain rules that exist here.
1 MR. ZIVANOVIC: [Interpretation] And this document should not be
3 Q. I will, in fact, not quote it to you for the same reason. I will
4 just re-tell you one paragraph, paragraph 23.
5 MR. ZIVANOVIC: [Interpretation] It's 65 ter, from the Prosecution
6 list, 6686.
7 Q. In this paragraph, 23, which continues on the next page in
8 English, we read that in mid-August 1991, Radovan Stojicic, Badza,
9 came --
10 MR. OLMSTED: Your Honours, I'm reading the paragraph and I don't
11 see how this relates at all to my -- my cross-examination. I just put
12 that out there right now, and I guess I'll have to see what the question
13 is, but I'm just very concerned.
14 MR. ZIVANOVIC: I think it is closely related for the questions
15 of the Prosecution related to TO and the relationship between the
16 government of SBWS and TO and the other issues, so I think that it is
17 very closely related.
18 JUDGE DELVOIE: We will hear your question, Mr. Zivanovic.
19 MR. ZIVANOVIC: [Interpretation]
20 Q. It follows from this that in mid-August 1991, Radovan Stojicic,
21 Badza, came to the primary school in Borovo Selo. There, in the presence
22 of a number of persons, he stated he had been sent by
23 President Milosevic, and he was taking over the Territorial Defence of
24 Slavonia, Baranja, and Western Srem. On that occasion, the commanders of
25 the village staffs were not present, but in the days that followed, it
1 was organised that this process of hand-over and take-over take place.
2 Do you know that Radovan Stojicic, Badza, took over the
3 Territorial Defence in Slavonia, Baranja, and Western Srem, as indicated
4 here, in that period, in August 1991?
5 JUDGE DELVOIE: Mr. Olmsted.
6 MR. OLMSTED: Again, I did not bring up the topic of this meeting
7 which I don't believe the witness was at. But, in addition, I think this
8 is extremely leading, the manner that he is doing -- that the Defence
9 counsel is using in this regard. The Prosecution position is that is
10 perfectly acceptable during cross-examination to put a series of facts
11 and ask if the witness agrees with it, but that is not a proper means of
12 direct or re-direct.
13 MR. ZIVANOVIC: I didn't find it as leading because my question
14 is whether he -- whether the witness knows that in August 1991
15 Radovan Stojicic, Badza, took over --
16 JUDGE DELVOIE: Yes, Mr. Olmsted.
17 MR. OLMSTED: The proper question would have been: Witness, do
18 you know when Badza took over the Territorial Defence in the SBWS.
19 Instead, what Mr. Zivanovic has done is led him through a statement, and
20 now I assume he is going to try to have the witness agree with this
21 statement. So I think the -- that Defence counsel should move on to a
22 different topic.
23 MR. ZIVANOVIC: I believe that the witness should answer my
24 question. I put him the question when he knows that Radovan Stojicic,
25 Badza, took over the TO.
1 JUDGE DELVOIE: But why then do you need this statement to ask
2 that question? If it is only to know whether he knows that Badza took
3 over the TO, why -- why do you need this statement to do that?
4 MR. ZIVANOVIC: I just like to -- to put him some information
5 about the time when it was done. If he could refresh his memory.
6 JUDGE DELVOIE: You don't even know whether the witness needs to
7 have his memory refreshed.
8 MR. ZIVANOVIC: May -- I'll move on from this question --
9 JUDGE DELVOIE: Thank you.
10 MR. ZIVANOVIC: [Interpretation]
11 Q. Do you know at all whether Radovan Stojicic, Badza, ever took
12 over the control of the Territorial Defence of Slavonia, Baranja, and
13 Western Srem?
14 A. I never attended a meeting where that happened. The first time I
15 met Radovan Stojicic, Badza, was in Dalj in August 1991. I did not know
16 who he was and what position he held. The next time I saw him it was in
17 Erdut, perhaps ten or 15 days later. I heard that he was the commander
18 of the Territorial Defence. We did not make any decisions about that, so
19 I don't know when it was that he was appointed commander.
20 Q. I'll ask you something else in response to the Prosecutor's
21 question --
22 THE INTERPRETER: Interpreter's note: We did not catch the page.
23 Could Mr. Zivanovic please speak into the microphone. Thank you.
24 MR. OLMSTED: Your Honour, we didn't get the page number that
25 was --
1 MR. ZIVANOVIC: [Interpretation] 12.301.
2 Q. You said, among other things, that no one had to give Arkan the
3 TO centre in Erdut and that he could have taken whatever he wanted
4 because he had been sent. I'll tell you even more specifically, I'm
5 going to read out this part of your answer. Line 16:
6 [In English] "Nobody should have assigned this training centre to
7 Arkan. Nobody needed to do it. Arkan was sent there and he was able to
8 take whatever he wanted."
9 [Interpretation] I wanted to ask you whether you know --
10 actually, what did you mean when you said Arkan was sent?
11 A. Well, I know what this was like on the ground, and I know how
12 Arkan behaved. Who sent Arkan specifically, I don't know. Arkan in his
13 statements and in the way in which he functioned, he showed that in his
14 relations with us, with the police, and the army. I spoke about what I
15 had seen and how I experienced all of that. If Arkan needed the premises
16 where we held government sessions, we would have to move. He had such a
17 lot of authority. Somebody had given him a great deal of credit, and
18 that was evident in the way he spoke and behaved.
19 Q. Can you clarify something else for us, also part of your answer
20 to the Prosecutor, and this has to do with your previous testimony.
21 Speaking of TO commanders -- actually, that was put to you, what you had
22 said in the Dokmanovic case, that the commanders of the Territorial
23 Defence regularly attended government meetings and provided information
24 about the situation in their villages.
25 First of all, I'd like to ask you: What was this that they
1 provided information about from their villages? Can you be a bit more
2 specific? What is the period that you are referring to?
3 A. I'm referring to the period right after the government was
4 established. This early stage, about a month and a half or two, when
5 these villages were in grave danger. These people who came to us were
6 probably the only people who could get out because everybody else was
7 encircled. They had come during the night through the cornfields. They
8 would inform us about very different topics, that several persons got
9 pneumonia, that they don't have medicine. That was indeed what the
10 situation was on the ground. Somebody also got killed. And from
11 Mirkovci they informed us that they don't have enough coffins to bury the
12 dead and there were other diseases that were spreading.
13 Q. On the basis of what you said to us, this information that they
14 provided to you, it seems that all of that has to do with civilian
16 A. Well, they're all civilians.
17 Q. This is my question: Did you receive any information about
18 military affairs from these people, for example, the state of combat
19 readiness in the area, operations that should be carried out and so on?
20 A. I have to say that there aren't any operations there. All of
21 those things that were happening were defence activities. Nobody was on
22 the move. If anything did happen there, they were simply telling us that
23 they could not take it any longer, that their villages were under such
25 Q. And, actually, you did provide an answer what it was that they
1 were asking you for. Did it boil down to that or did they ask you for
2 something else? Would that be it?
3 A. Well, I'm not aware of anything else. I saw that as the most
4 dramatic thing.
5 Q. Let me ask you something else. You said that they had a shortage
6 of people and they were asking for people to be transferred from the
7 field of agriculture to the military.
8 Can you tell me when they asked you? I don't know whether they
9 asked you directly, the government, or whether they asked some minister,
10 or whatever. In which period was this requested? Was this requested
11 before the Territorial Defence was placed under the armed forces? Was it
12 requested afterwards?
13 A. Well, of course, this was a period when nothing was in existence
14 yet. Everything was so divergent, everything had broken down. There is
15 no functioning of the system there. These are individual cases, but
16 actually it can be applied to all. They are just informing us that we
17 should help them as we see fit. They have no idea. Villages were
18 halved. Many people left. They had many sick people. There is no
19 system. All of this is a cry for help, if at all possible. That
20 certainly didn't happen afterwards, after the TO was established. All of
21 this was in the very beginning. Whereas we, who were laypeople just like
22 they were, did not know how to help them and what to do.
23 Q. Among other things, you said -- I'm talking about your testimony
24 in the Slavko Dokmanovic trial and that was put to you by the Prosecutor
25 here. You said that no one was sent to the JNA any longer and everybody
1 just sat at home. So this is what I wanted to ask you: First of all,
2 sent to the JNA. What does that mean? Did you mean regular military
3 service or were they not responding to possible mobilisation or other
4 efforts, or --
5 A. No --
6 MR. OLMSTED: I was going to object to the earlier question that
7 Mr. Zivanovic used the same technique. He starts out his question quite
8 good. He had asked an open question. But then gives a multiple choice
9 to the witness and I believe that that is leading. Really, Mr. Zivanovic
10 should let the witness answer the question in -- a question that is very
11 open. What did you mean by that? And let the witness explain. Don't
12 give him options as to what he means and let the witness choose the one
13 that best suits him.
14 So I object to the last question as leading.
15 MR. ZIVANOVIC: I don't believe that the options are leading.
16 The witness may say everything, may say both -- either about one option
17 or another option or any option at all. I don't believe that it is a
18 leading question.
19 MR. OLMSTED: Well, Your Honour, it absolutely is. It doesn't
20 matter if you just give one option. If you give a multiple choice of
21 options, that too is leading because it is directing the witness to a
22 particular set of possible answers.
23 JUDGE DELVOIE: It is leading, indeed, Mr. Zivanovic. Please
25 MR. ZIVANOVIC: To rephrase this question or prior question?
1 Because it is objection as to prior question that the witness already
2 answered, as far as I understood.
3 JUDGE DELVOIE: Okay. Then I would ask you to repeat your actual
4 question but without leading -- leading the witness.
5 MR. ZIVANOVIC: [Interpretation]
6 Q. Mr. Susa, I'm going to repeat the previous question to you. It
7 has to do with the shortage of men that was indicated by military
8 commanders who came to Erdut. They asked for people to be transferred
9 from the field of agriculture to the military so that they could defend
10 villages and so on.
11 Could you please tell us when this happened? During which period
12 of work of the government of Slavonia, Baranja, and Western Srem?
13 A. In the later stages. In the initial stages, people could not do
14 any work in the field. They were all squeezed in their own villages, in
15 the basements there, the trenches they had dug and so on. So in the
16 first stage when the people would come to us and when they'd say that
17 they did not have enough manpower, we could just receive that as some
18 very bad information. We did not have a single person available whom we
19 could send somewhere else. We do not have this relationship with village
20 guards so that we can tell people in Negoslavci to send some of their men
21 to Mirkovci so that they could be helped. That was a big problem. It
22 would have been a good thing had we been able to do that. Later on, when
23 the Territorial Defence was established, when all of that was united,
24 they had the possibility of rechannelling people.
25 As for this other question, you don't have to formulate it
1 particularly. I just meant young people who, until then, were duty-bound
2 to do their regular military service. These people were never called up
3 afterwards, and I believe that they could not even leave their villages
4 and go anywhere.
5 Q. Also, the Prosecutor showed you part of your testimony in the
6 Dokmanovic case where it was stated that these village guards, these
7 local people, local commanders as stated there, had two superiors. That
8 one was the JNA and that from them they got food, weapons, salaries, and
9 the other superior were the civilian authorities.
10 Can you tell us what that meant and who you meant when you said
11 "civilian authorities"?
12 A. I think that this was really not interpreted properly or
13 channelled properly when I testified. Nobody was really accountable to
14 us and we could not take any punitive or other measures. I would call
15 these people leaders of village guards, and we could not dismiss any one
16 of them. These were people who thought that they were totally equal.
17 However, their position was even more difficult than ours and, therefore,
18 their merit was greater and therefore their influence should be greater.
19 That's how they felt. Then they had military commanders who wanted to
20 organise the defence of villages. At one point in time they even
21 obstructed the work of these people, but then they were forced by their
22 own population that saw that this was taking them nowhere. They realised
23 that they had to be resubordinated and that they had to listen to
24 commands. Until then, they were only accountable to these people who had
25 elected their -- them there, locally. Until then, we had not appointed a
1 single village guard or commander, call them what you will, local
3 Q. Let us try to explain this a bit, clarify it. So who did you
4 mean when you said "civilian authorities"? Civilian authorities that
5 they were subordinated to. What civilian authorities? There was the JNA
6 on the one hand and who were the civilian authorities?
7 A. I think -- or, rather, this is what I think now. These were the
8 people who elected them to these positions. We did not elect them or
9 appoint them. They didn't suit us. We could raise certain objections
10 with them, but, believe me, it was meaningless. It had no effect.
11 Q. Let me ask you another thing. You also said - again, I'm quoting
12 part of the Dokmanovic testimony that was put to you by the Prosecutor -
13 that the local commanders asked for the government to be an arbiter in
14 their relations with the JNA. Can you tell us a bit more about this?
15 When was it that they asked for this, for the government to act as an
16 arbiter in these relations?
17 A. In that period when they wanted to keep their positions. That's
18 the initial period. It is not only their right to command and control.
19 Many of them had additional advantages.
20 Q. Sorry, I think that one word was omitted. Could you please say
21 which period, because I think it went very fast.
22 A. This first stage when the government -- when the military came to
23 the area and then the local village commanders did not like that because
24 they wanted to keep their positions. It wasn't only defence that was
25 their objective but they were planning their future positions already,
1 and they were not exactly in accordance with the law.
2 Q. One more thing on the subject. Can you tell us -- because you
3 also told us in the Dokmanovic case that they regularly came to attend
4 sessions. You also gave us a couple of names and they would report about
5 this, they would provide information. In what form did they provide this
7 A. They would only brief. They never brought written reports and we
8 couldn't oblige them. They would just come and talk. Sometimes they
9 would take over the whole government session. They would hijack it, and
10 you couldn't do any more work. Later on, they would sit in the hallway
11 and they would not actively participate.
12 Q. My last question to you, Mr. Susa. After you testified in the
13 Slavko Dokmanovic case and after you gave a statement to the OTP, were
14 you perhaps called to testify against Mrksic, Radic, Sljivancanin?
15 That's another case we had here. Did the OTP contact you then?
16 A. Nobody did.
17 Q. Thank you, Mr. Susa. I have nothing further.
18 JUDGE DELVOIE: Mr. Olmsted.
19 MR. OLMSTED: Yes, Your Honours. Just one matter with regard to
20 one of the recent questions that this witness answered. It is with
21 regard to his Dokmanovic testimony about the issue of two superiors. And
22 the Prosecution put this evidence to the witness during
23 cross-examination. The witness affirmed it. He has now suggested that
24 that evidence was misinterpreted during his testimony, and I think it's
25 important, Your Honours, that we have a clear record on this issue. And
1 I think we could do it perhaps two ways.
2 One, I could read -- actually it comes not only from his
3 Dokmanovic testimony but his 1998 statement, this issue of two superiors,
4 and I could just read them into the record so that Your Honours are aware
5 of his prior evidence on this issue. Or we could just tender the
6 relevant pages of his statement and his Dokmanovic testimony, and then
7 Your Honours can evaluate that in light of his now new assertion that
8 somehow this issue was misinterpreted to him.
9 But we believe it's important enough that we have a clear record
10 that this witness -- his evidence on this issue was not misinterpreted
11 during his Dokmanovic testimony.
12 JUDGE DELVOIE: Mr. Zivanovic.
13 MR. ZIVANOVIC: I would object to it. The Prosecution could
14 explore this matter during his -- its cross-examination.
15 However, what I would ask the Chamber, I would just ask the
16 Chamber to put the witness one more question, because I omitted it in my
17 re-direct as to his testimony in -- in Dokmanovic.
18 JUDGE DELVOIE: Is it the same issue or a different --
19 MR. ZIVANOVIC: No, no, no. It is not the issue of the -- of --
20 of any -- anything of --
21 JUDGE DELVOIE: Okay. Let's first deal, then, with the issue
22 raised by Mr. Olmsted.
23 Yes, Mr. Olmsted, you wanted to intervene again.
24 MR. OLMSTED: Yes, thank you, Mr. President.
25 I could not have dealt with this during cross-examination because
1 I put to him his evidence in Dokmanovic, and he -- he affirmed it. And
2 only during re-direct now is he making the suggestion that somehow that
3 evidence was misinterpreted during his testimony. And, therefore, now it
4 is a live issue and now I'd like to address it either orally or I think
5 it actually could be quite -- a lot more simple just to tender the
6 relevant page from his 1998 statement and the page from his Dokmanovic
7 testimony, and that can be considered by the Trial Chamber.
8 JUDGE DELVOIE: Yes, Mr. Zivanovic.
9 MR. ZIVANOVIC: I would just say that, as far as I understand the
10 Prosecution, they had also this same issue in his statement, and they did
11 not put it to the witness. And he would ask to -- to do it now. They
12 choose what they will put to the witness or not.
13 [Trial Chamber confers]
14 JUDGE DELVOIE: Mr. Olmsted, you may clarify this with the
15 witness. And after, that we will come back to Mr. Zivanovic for the
16 question he forgot to ask.
17 MR. OLMSTED: Thank you, Your Honours. Let me first give the
18 witness back his 1998 statement.
19 Further Cross-examination by Mr. Olmsted:
20 Q. And, Mr. Susa, if you could turn to page 4, I want to draw your
21 attention to the last two sentences of paragraph 8. The last two
22 sentences and I'll read them to you.
23 "Thus, the local commanders had in fact two superiors: The JNA,
24 who would supply them with food, weapons and wages on one hand, and the
25 local civilian authorities, on the other. When they were not able to
1 come to terms with their military superiors, they would turn to us to
2 complain about their problems."
3 I'm going to read you your testimony in the Dokmanovic case, and
4 this is page 42 of 1D2319, and this is a question put to you by the
5 Prosecutor who was questioning you during cross-examination. And the
6 question put to you was:
7 "You had also indicated to Mr. Waespi that the local commanders
8 had, in fact, two superiors, the JNA who would supply them with food,
9 weapons and wages on one hand, and local civil authorities on the other
11 Then he quotes:
12 "When they were not able to come to terms with their military
13 superiors, they would turn to us to explain about their problems."
14 And then the Prosecutor asks you:
15 "Is that a fair statement?"
16 And you responded:
17 "Yes. I remember what I told Mr. Waespi. What I said was true."
18 MR. ZIVANOVIC: Sorry. In his re-direct, the witness answered
19 about the period, referring to this statement and to this testimony, the
20 period of time when this statement refers to, and it is not anything that
21 was -- that had to be raised by the Prosecution. The witness did not say
22 that it is not true --
23 JUDGE DELVOIE: Mr. --
24 MR. ZIVANOVIC: -- but just restricted to one period --
25 JUDGE DELVOIE: Mr. Zivanovic, should we hear the question first
1 and you intervene after the witness answered or eventually before him,
2 but not during the -- the OTP's question.
3 Mr. Olmsted.
4 MR. OLMSTED: Yes, Your Honour, because the issue here is a very
5 simple one. I'm not going to go into any other details than to ask the
6 witness --
7 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] I am prepared to answer your
8 question. I am prepared to explain the position.
9 MR. OLMSTED:
10 Q. I don't need an explanation. What I'm focussed on is on your
11 assertion that what I've just read to you was a misinterpretation during
12 your testimony. And all I'm putting to you is, in fact, during the
13 Dokmanovic case, you confirmed what you said in your 1998 statement. And
14 it's simply a yes or no question.
15 A. We obviously didn't understand each other well on this whole
16 issue. I will stand by all that I said. We were not civilian local
17 authorities. Now, if you want me to explain further who the civilian
18 local authorities were, it's part of this explanation. We can do without
19 them. The civilian local authorities were not the government from Erdut.
20 MR. OLMSTED: Your Honour, I think the record is sufficiently
21 established. He's confirmed his prior evidence.
22 MR. ZIVANOVIC: I would just ask the witness to clarify this last
23 answer before I put him another question. What -- maybe --
24 JUDGE DELVOIE: What is it you want to clarify, Mr. Zivanovic?
25 MR. ZIVANOVIC: Yes --
1 JUDGE DELVOIE: What is that you want to clarify?
2 MR. ZIVANOVIC: Just this part of answer -- sorry. "We were not
3 civilian local authorities." What does it mean "we"?
4 MR. OLMSTED: Your Honours, my re-examination was very much
5 limited to asking this witness whether he stands by his statement that he
6 made in -- his 1998 statement as well as testimony in Dokmanovic. If
7 Mr. Zivanovic has a question with regard to his statement that "I stand
8 by that evidence," that's perfectly fine. But other than that, this
9 issue has been covered, Your Honours.
10 MR. ZIVANOVIC: No. No --
11 JUDGE DELVOIE: Mr. Zivanovic --
12 MR. ZIVANOVIC: -- the Prosecution --
13 JUDGE DELVOIE: -- the witness said --
14 MR. ZIVANOVIC: Oh, sorry.
15 JUDGE DELVOIE: The witness said: "The civilian local
16 authorities were not the government from Erdut." That explains your "we
17 were not" --
18 MR. ZIVANOVIC: Thank you. Thank you. That's -- may I now put
19 the witness just one statement as to his testimony in Dokmanovic.
20 JUDGE DELVOIE: That's the question you forgot to ask?
21 MR. ZIVANOVIC: Yes.
22 JUDGE DELVOIE: Please do.
23 Further Re-examination by Mr. Zivanovic:
24 Q. [Interpretation] The Prosecution asked you about many things from
25 the Dokmanovic case. I've read it and you had occasion to see it too.
1 Your testimony there was much shorter than here, of course. But I
2 noticed that in that testimony, Radovan Stojicic, Badza, was never
3 mentioned, nor was any role that he might have had in the Territorial
4 Defence of SBWS.
5 Could you briefly explain why that was?
6 A. I've tried, but maybe I haven't succeeded in saying that my
7 testimony was led by the questioning from the Prosecution and Defence;
8 also in the giving of my statement. I focussed on answering their
9 questions. If I had been asked about it then, I would have given the
10 same answers that I gave now.
11 MR. ZIVANOVIC: Thank you, Your Honours. I have no further
13 JUDGE DELVOIE: Thank you.
14 [Trial Chamber confers]
15 Questioned by the Court:
16 JUDGE MINDUA: [Interpretation] Witness Susa, I have two questions
17 to put to you.
18 The first question is a rather specific question. In the
19 transcript, page 16, line 14 to 16, you said that if Arkan -- I'm
20 translating this now:
21 If Arkan was on the premises in which the government held its
22 sessions, in that case we had to move out because he had such a great
23 authority. Someone had given him this authority, and this was obvious in
24 the way he expressed himself and in the way he behaved.
25 So this is my question: I'd like to know who vested such
1 authority in him? Who was it, or which institution was behind that?
2 A. I could not define that for you. It's only because I knew who
3 Arkan was and all the things that he had done did I know that he must
4 have very good support for what he was doing. His very tight and very
5 important connections are well known with the former secretary for
6 internal affairs, Stane Dolanc. From that time on, Arkan began to be
7 frequently mentioned in some activities even during the former SFRY. He
8 didn't just walk in from the street. He was very powerful, very mighty
9 in certain circles, political and not only political circles, and we
10 found out about that later.
11 He did not arrive carrying any document saying that he was sent
12 by such and such a person or such and such an institution. But his
13 arrival from Serbia was not the arrival of a regular man. He had with
14 him truck-loads of state-of-the-art weaponry and his men were walking
15 about Serbia armed to their teeth. Nobody else would have been allowed
16 to do that. From all of that, I concluded that he had extraordinary
17 power and influence. He either achieved it himself or somebody enabled
18 him. Until then, none of us knew him or had any contact with him. That
19 first impression of him is just what I told you.
20 JUDGE MINDUA: [Interpretation] Thank you very much, Witness.
21 I have a second question for you which is of a much more general
22 nature. I would like to refer to the transcript, page 2 and 3, today's
23 transcript, of course. This relates to the jurisdictions of the military
24 tribunals, military courts. You explained how difficult it was to
25 establish these jurisdictions. You talked about the -- your efforts in
1 bringing to these courts professional judges, and you found it very
2 difficult, since you ran into financial problems. You also mentioned the
3 letter dated June 1993 Mr. Goran Hadzic sent to the President Milosevic
4 promoting these military courts.
5 So I have two questions.
6 The first question is the following. Given the difficulties you
7 encountered to establish these military courts, who, then, was in charge
8 of prosecuting and investigating and trying the perpetrators of crimes
9 under criminal law?
10 A. Until the withdrawal of the Yugoslav People's Army, they did that
11 regularly. After the JNA withdrew, it was taken over by civilian courts.
12 JUDGE MINDUA: I don't have the interpretation in French -- the
13 interpretation in French.
14 A. Shall I go on, or shall I start from the beginning?
15 JUDGE MINDUA: [Interpretation] It's fine now. Thank you.
16 A. I will repeat. Until the withdrawal of the Yugoslav People's
17 Army, their military investigative authorities and their military
18 judiciary had jurisdiction in the entire area where they had a presence.
19 After their withdrawal, my idea was that civilian courts would hold
20 trials in some cases and based on the Law on the Army. For a while, it
21 worked, but at some point the Ministry of Defence wanted at any cost to
22 create their own judiciary, although there were absolutely no conditions
23 in place for that. That's when the first problems occurred. Because, on
24 principle, I opposed the idea that lay judges be introduced into the
1 JUDGE MINDUA: [Interpretation] Thank you very much. Thank you
2 for your clarification.
3 And my second question. I stand to be corrected. From what I
4 understood, your government did not have enough authority with regard to
5 the JNA and other military forces, paramilitary forces, or police forces
6 operating in the RSK. From what I understood, some statements made by
7 your politicians did not match the reality on the ground. I stand to be
8 corrected, of course.
9 Witness Susa, do you think, notwithstanding financial
10 difficulties you encountered, that your attempts at establishing military
11 courts failed because you lacked the necessary authority or - I could put
12 the question differently - did you know, right from the outset, that your
13 attempts would come to no avail because you were pragmatic or realistic
14 about the situation?
15 What do you have to answer to this?
16 A. You understood perfectly the greatest part of what you were
18 Speaking of the military judiciary, we first encountered it in
19 practice when the Republic of Serbian Krajina was established. Until
20 then, this whole work was done by the army. I was pragmatic but I was
21 also hopeful that we would be able to finish this job. However, then
22 certain structures of the Army of the Republic of Serbian Krajina got
23 involved at that point, trying to create their own judiciary, and when
24 the civilian judiciary made attempts to take it all apart and bring in
25 their own judges, I opposed that.
1 JUDGE MINDUA: [Interpretation] Mm-hm. Thank you very much. And
2 thank you for your clarifications.
3 [Trial Chamber confers]
4 JUDGE HALL: Mr. Susa, if I may return to the -- if I may build
5 on the answer that you gave to His Honour Judge Mindua's first question,
6 especially after you assumed responsibilities as a member of the RSK
7 government, did it -- did you make inquiries as to the source of this
8 great power that was being wielded by Arkan. And if not, why not?
9 A. After I met Arkan, and that was definitely after he came to
10 Erdut, of course I made inquiries, and I realised how powerful and how
11 dangerous he was. At each and every moment, I tried to keep a distance
12 from him as much as possible. But seeing the kind of man he was, you
13 cannot keep a distance from him unless he wanted it so. It was easy for
14 me because my job was not interesting to him, but all the others who came
15 in contact with him did not succeed in distancing themselves from him as
16 I did.
17 He was a very commanding man, a man who took up all the space.
18 We had a small parking lot and a few guards around the entrances where he
19 had several hundred perfectly trained and perfectly armed people. I seem
20 not to have been in his way, but if I had been in his way, I think I
21 would have had to simply pull back and go away.
22 To answer your question most briefly, that's the time when I
23 found out what Arkan had done in his youth, what his services were to
24 various services in Yugoslavia, what his international connections were,
25 and I must say this did not leave me indifferent. I realised that I have
1 to keep my distance from him. Other people knew it too, but they just
2 couldn't do anything about it.
3 JUDGE HALL: Thank you.
4 JUDGE DELVOIE: Mr. Susa, I have a few questions for you as well.
5 We will deal with them after the first break at 11.00.
6 Court adjourned.
7 --- Recess taken at 10.29 a.m.
8 [The witness stands down]
9 --- On resuming at 11.00 a.m.
10 JUDGE DELVOIE: While the witness is brought in, Mr. Olmsted, is
11 there any news about that document that we would amalgamate all the
12 different ...
13 MR. OLMSTED: Your Honours, we -- the Prosecution sent it via
14 e-mail to the Defence yesterday. We have not heard a response. So that
15 they can look it over and then we'll --
16 JUDGE DELVOIE: As long as the issue is not forgotten, it's okay.
18 MR. OLMSTED: Thank you, Your Honours.
19 [The witness takes the stand]
20 JUDGE DELVOIE: Mr. Susa, the SBWS government had a spokesman, a
21 minister of information; right?
22 A. Yes.
23 JUDGE DELVOIE: Do you remember his name?
24 A. Mr. Ilija Petrovic.
25 JUDGE DELVOIE: Thank you. When, in his capacity as a spokesman
1 he would give interviews, would he give his personal views or would he
2 give official views and standpoints of the government?
3 A. I'm afraid that Mr. Ilija Petrovic very often handed over to
4 Mr. Rade Leskovac. I don't know why. Perhaps because of the fact that
5 he was absent very often. He was ill. Mr. Rade Leskovac, in some of his
6 interviews, definitely transmitted the official views of the government
7 but did he not restrict himself to that. He sometimes provided his
8 personal opinions as well, taking advantage of the situation that, at
9 that point in time, he was the leader of a highly positioned political
11 JUDGE DELVOIE: I'm not asking you about the other name. I'm
12 asking you about Ilija Petrovic. He was interviewed at times. Would he
13 be expected to give the official viewpoint, standpoint of the government,
14 or would he give personal -- personal views that were not the views of
15 the government?
16 A. I think that it is not possible just to gloss over the government
17 positions. He was supposed to express the positions and views of the
19 JUDGE DELVOIE: Thank you. When discussing Thursday last week
20 the government decision on the return of refugees, the document L8 was
21 shown to you.
22 Could we have it on the screen, please.
23 And while it's coming on the screen, you commented on the
24 possibility to ban certain people in returning by saying that, and I
1 "Only those for which there was evidence that they participated
2 in the commission of crimes could be forbidden to return."
3 Article 2 of the decision, however, does not refer to the
4 commission of crimes and seems to refer to more than the commissions of
5 crimes alone. The wording of that decision - we have it in front of us
6 now - could make people think that also members of the HDZ party were
7 banned from returning. Isn't that right?
8 A. It could be interpreted that way but that is not correct. All
9 people had to be checked. Had we had such requests, we could say how we
10 behaved towards that.
11 JUDGE DELVOIE: Thank you. I also want to ask you about the
12 27 November 1991 letter of the president of the Knin District Court. The
13 document is P3285.
14 If we could have it on the screen, please.
15 You will remember that the court president asked for directions
16 or instructions of how to proceed with the extraction of Serb bodies from
17 a pit in which also some 40 Croat bodies were thrown, with the
18 implication that the Croat bodies were not of any interest, and, in that
19 letter, the president asked what to do so that the UNPROFOR would not
20 find out about the pit and those dead bodies.
21 The letter states that, among others, you were informed of the
22 situation and copied on the letter which, in cross, you did not deny;
24 A. I did not deny that, but I'm confused by the day. If it is
25 November 1991, then this letter could not have been sent to me.
1 MR. OLMSTED: Your Honour, I believe it is 1992. I think it's --
2 JUDGE DELVOIE: I'm sorry, I could have -- I could have had that
4 MR. OLMSTED: It may be on the last page, Your Honour.
5 JUDGE DELVOIE: Can we have the last page, please.
6 A. I did receive this letter. I encouraged Mr. Djuro Kresovic to
7 continue carrying out the investigation related to this incident, and I
8 created great problems for Mr. Kresovic on the ground and in his life in
9 general. All my efforts to bring this project to an end and to protect
10 Mr. Kresovic, in this stage could only have ended as I had done this. I
11 transferred him to the district court in Beli Manastir and that's how I
12 saved him. And at the same time, I told him to take the entire
13 documentation with him and then it was handed over to the organs who had
14 the strength to act as opposed to us. And Mr. Kresovic did, indeed,
15 conduct proceedings against Mr. Buha in Beli Manastir. I tried to
16 discuss this in the most affirmative manner with people from the police
17 as well, but I was not exactly welcomed. I was told that Mr. Kresovic
18 was crazy. Mr. Kresovic and I could not have conducted investigations on
19 these sites ourselves as these sites were guarded by the police and the
20 military. The documents were taken out and handed over to the organs of
21 the United Nations.
22 JUDGE DELVOIE: Thank you. That's all, as far as I'm concerned.
23 If there is anything, Mr. Olmsted.
24 MR. OLMSTED: Just to confirm, the witness mentioned that
25 Mr. Kresovic conducted proceedings against Mr. -- and I didn't catch the
1 name in Beli Manastir.
2 JUDGE DELVOIE: Could you repeat the name, Mr. Susa?
3 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Risto Buha. Panenic Alojzije
4 [phoen] is the name of the family that were the injured party. And also
5 there was a Serb soldier who was killed.
6 MR. OLMSTED: Well, Your Honours, then if I could ask one
7 follow-up question to that question.
8 Further Cross-examination by Mr. Olmsted:
9 Q. Mr. Susa, there was case against Risto Buha but you will agree
10 that Mr. Buha committed crimes in the SBWS and not this particular
11 incident relating to bodies found around Knin; isn't that correct?
12 JUDGE DELVOIE: Mr. Zivanovic.
13 MR. ZIVANOVIC: I think that the answer of the witness was not
14 understand. He did not say this.
15 JUDGE DELVOIE: The answer of the witness was not correctly
16 understood? Well, let the witness answer then.
17 Yes, Mr. Susa.
18 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] The Prosecutor did not quite
19 understand what I was saying.
20 At the time when proceedings took place against Risto Buha, the
21 Republic of the Serb Krajina was in existence. Mr. Djuro Kresovic is a
22 judge or, rather, the president of the district court in Knin. I have
23 already stated why I did my best to have him transferred to the district
24 court in Beli Manastir that now operated within the same system. As for
25 this case, I believe that Djuro Kresovic - and the president of the
1 district court in Beli Manastir, Mr. Dasic, agreed with that - was more
2 than qualified to conduct such a serious case. Unfortunately, because of
3 the mistakes made by the military investigation agencies we did conduct
4 the proceedings but we could not bring them to an end.
5 JUDGE DELVOIE: Yes, Mr. Zivanovic.
6 MR. ZIVANOVIC: Sorry, may I put the question to the witness just
7 to clarify this last answer.
8 JUDGE DELVOIE: Go ahead.
9 Further Re-examination by Mr. Zivanovic:
10 Q. [Interpretation] Mr. Susa, can you tell us, these proceedings
11 that were conducted by Djuro Kresovic against Risto Buha, was it related
12 to the corpses from Knin that were the subject of this letter from
13 November 1992 or something else?
14 A. No, it did not pertain to the corpses from Knin or the
15 surrounding area because this case could not move any further from the
16 on-site investigation on the ground and the police did not want to
17 co-operate. This was another case that Mr. Kresovic took over when he
18 moved from Knin to Beli Manastir. I had to do that in order to save
19 Mr. Kresovic's life. Unfortunately, it was indispensable to have him
20 moved from Knin.
21 MR. OLMSTED: Mr. President, if I may be allowed one more
23 JUDGE DELVOIE: Please go ahead.
24 MR. OLMSTED: Thank you.
25 Further Cross-examination by Mr. Olmsted:
1 Q. You testified now for the first time, in response to
2 Judge Delvoie's question, that this case which I believe you stated was
3 never fully prosecuted was turned over to the United Nations. Can you
4 tell us when was it turned over -- over to the United Nations, as you
6 A. I don't have any information about that. You'd have to ask
7 Mr. Djuro Kresovic. Because, at the time when this was being resolved, I
8 had already embarked on a completely different path and was involved in a
9 completely different line of work. He took out all the documentation
10 that he considered to be valid and he kept it. I never took it or handed
11 it over to anyone else because the material that Mr. Kresovic had at the
12 time was - how do I put this? - it was raw material, totally raw
13 material, with insufficient evidence at that point in time.
14 Q. So if I understand your answer, if the documentation regarding
15 these corpses was, in fact, turned over to UNPROFOR, it would have been
16 sometime after you ceased to be minister of justice so it would be after
17 May 1993. Is that what you're testifying to?
18 A. I said that, but I cannot claim that with full reliability. That
19 is the information that reached me. It may be accurate but not
21 JUDGE DELVOIE: Mr. Susa, before all this explanation, my
22 intention was to ask - and I don't really know whether I have an answer
23 to that question already - so we have this letter that you could qualify
24 as extraordinary sent to the minister of the interior with copy to you
25 and Mr. Hadzic and other persons.
1 The question I wanted to ask was: Has there ever been an
2 official written answer from any -- to this letter, from any of the
3 members of the government?
4 Yes, Mr. Zivanovic.
5 MR. ZIVANOVIC: I noticed that the letter was sent, among other
6 persons, to Mr. Hadzic, but --
7 JUDGE DELVOIE: Yes.
8 MR. ZIVANOVIC: -- I didn't see his function here. It was
9 president of the government of RSK. He was not president of government
10 but president of republic. At the time.
11 JUDGE DELVOIE: The letter states that it is copied to
12 Mr. Hadzic, Goran Hadzic; right?
13 MR. ZIVANOVIC: I didn't see -- no, it is --
14 JUDGE DELVOIE: Oh, no, I see what you mean.
15 MR. ZIVANOVIC: Yeah.
16 JUDGE DELVOIE: President of the government of RSK. Oh, I'm
17 sorry. I stand corrected.
18 So it is -- it is by all means sent to the minister of the
19 interior and to you, Mr. Susa, and to the president of the government of
20 the RSK. Now my question --
21 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] At that time it was Mr. Zecevic.
22 JUDGE DELVOIE: That would be Mr. Zecevic, indeed.
23 Now my question is: An official written answer from the
25 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] As far as the government is
1 concerned, I don't know. This was not discussed officially. Perhaps
2 somebody had assumed --
3 JUDGE DELVOIE: [Previous translation continues] ...
4 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] -- that it was sufficient that I
5 addressed Djuro Kresovic as his superior minister and that I said that
6 this matter should be investigated. This investigation was rendered
7 impossible. What was stated was that Djuro Kresovic received wrong
8 information about this --
9 JUDGE DELVOIE: My question is -- Mr. Susa, my question is: If
10 you addressed the matter, did you address it by answering in a written
11 letter to the president of the Knin District Court?
12 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] I think the answer is yes.
13 JUDGE DELVOIE: Thank you.
14 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Your Honour --
15 JUDGE DELVOIE: Yes --
16 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] May I? If I have completed the job
17 I had to do here, I would like to thank you for giving me this
18 opportunity to contribute to your work. Your authority and
19 professionalism allowed me to dedicate my efforts to this as best I
20 could. I would like to thank the Defence and the Prosecution for their
21 fair examination during these hours. And, finally, I would like to thank
22 the Victims and Witness Unit because they helped me on a daily basis to
23 resolve minor matters but of vital importance to me. Thank you.
24 JUDGE DELVOIE: Thank you, Mr. Susa. And the Tribunal is
25 grateful for your assistance in this case. Indeed, this is the end of
1 your testimony. You're now released as a witness, and we wish you a safe
2 journey back home.
3 The court usher will escort you out of the courtroom.
4 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] I am no longer under oath; is that
6 JUDGE DELVOIE: That's correct.
7 [The witness withdrew]
8 JUDGE DELVOIE: Mr. Zivanovic, are you ready for your next
10 MR. ZIVANOVIC: Yes, he is ready, Your Honours.
11 JUDGE DELVOIE: Thank you.
12 Mr. Olmsted.
13 MR. OLMSTED: Yes, with the leave of the Chamber I will turn over
14 the podium to Matthew Gillett, who will be representing the Prosecution
15 for this witness.
16 JUDGE DELVOIE: Thank you.
17 The next witness may be brought in.
18 Mr. Gosnell.
19 MR. GOSNELL: Good morning, Mr. President. I don't know if this
20 could be done before the witness reaches the stand or not but ...
21 JUDGE DELVOIE: Yes.
22 MR. GOSNELL: There's an application to add six documents to the
23 Defence's Rule 65 ter list of which I believe -- well, I'm certain I
24 would use two with the witness --
25 JUDGE DELVOIE: Just one moment, please.
1 [Trial Chamber and Legal Officer confer]
2 JUDGE DELVOIE: Sorry, Mr. Gosnell, there was a little confusion
3 about the documents. You're talking about documents there is no motion
5 MR. GOSNELL: Correct. This is an oral application being made
7 JUDGE DELVOIE: Okay.
8 MR. GOSNELL: And I'm happy to explain the basis for the request.
9 These are documents that are part of a disclosure that was made
10 by the Prosecution last week under Rule 68. As I understand it, it's the
11 first disclosure that we have received of these documents. We reviewed
12 them and I should add that they were indicated as being relevant to -- by
13 the Prosecution to Mr. Strbac's testimony, and that's the basis for
14 seeking to add these documents at this stage.
15 JUDGE DELVOIE: Mr. Gillett, is there a position from the OTP?
16 MR. GILLETT: Yeah, thank you, Mr. President, Your Honours. And
17 good morning.
18 Yeah, we won't take a position on the motion to add those to the
19 65 ter list. I just note in relation to one of the documents which I
20 believe is subject to the motion, 1D3782, that appears to be a duplicate
21 of a document already on the Defence 65 ter list, 1D2697. At page 4 of
22 that latter document it contains the article which is 1D3782. So I don't
23 think there's a need for them to add that to their list.
24 JUDGE DELVOIE: Mr. Gosnell, are in a position to verify that?
25 MR. GOSNELL: I can't at the moment, Mr. President, but if that's
1 the submission from the Prosecution, I'll accept it as accurate.
2 JUDGE DELVOIE: Thank you. So then we grant the request for five
3 of the documents. Could you read the numbers, Mr. Gosnell.
4 MR. GOSNELL: Certainly, Mr. President.
5 The numbers are: 1D3781, and then 1D3783 through 1D3786.
6 JUDGE DELVOIE: Thank you very much.
7 The witness may be brought in.
8 [Trial Chamber and Legal Officer confer]
9 [The witness entered court]
10 JUDGE DELVOIE: Good morning, Mr. Witness. Thank you for coming
11 to The Hague to assist the Tribunal.
12 First of all, do you hear me in a language you understand?
13 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Good day to you, too. Yes, I can
14 hear you well.
15 JUDGE DELVOIE: Mr. Witness, could you state for the record your
16 name and your date of birth, please.
17 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] My name is Savo Strbac. I was born
18 on the 6th of October, 1949.
19 JUDGE DELVOIE: Mr. Strbac, you are about to make the solemn
20 declaration, by which witnesses commit themselves to tell the truth. By
21 doing so, you expose yourself to the penalties of perjury, should you
22 give false or untruthful information to this Tribunal.
23 Could I now ask you to read out the solemn declaration the court
24 usher will give to you.
25 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] I solemnly declare that I will
1 speak the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.
2 WITNESS: SAVO STRBAC
3 [Witness answered through interpreter]
4 JUDGE DELVOIE: Thank you very much. You may be seated.
5 Mr. Gosnell, I take it it is your witness.
6 MR. GOSNELL: Yes, Mr. President. Thank you.
7 May we please have 1D3652.1, Defence tab 34, on the screen. And
8 may I also request that a hard copy of the document be provided to the
9 witness and I have hard copies for Your Honours and the legal officer, if
10 you so desire.
11 JUDGE DELVOIE: Thank you, Mr. Gosnell.
12 Examination by Mr. Gosnell:
13 Q. Good morning, Mr. Strbac.
14 A. Good day. After 9.00, it is day, so good day.
15 Q. Do you recognise the document that has just been handed to you?
16 A. Yes.
17 Q. And what is that?
18 A. That's my statement and my signature on that statement.
19 Q. If we turn to page 2, paragraph 2, is there a correction that
20 you'd like to make to the first sentence?
21 A. Yes. There's a typo here. Instead of 1991, it should say 1990.
22 Q. And with this correction, is this statement accurate and true, to
23 the best of your recollection?
24 A. Yes, it is accurate and true.
25 Q. Does it reflect what you would say if you were questioned here on
1 the same matters?
2 A. Yes.
3 MR. GOSNELL: Mr. President, I tender 1D3652.1 for admission,
4 along with the nine associated documents that were approved for admission
5 along with the statement by your decision of the 10th of October. And I
6 have a list or I could read them out, as would be more convenient for the
8 JUDGE DELVOIE: I think, Mr. Registrar, correct me if I'm wrong,
9 that the list would be the best way and you'll give numbers subsequently.
10 THE REGISTRAR: That's correct, Your Honour. I have the numbers
11 on the list circulated by e-mail but I can assign a number to the
12 statement --
13 JUDGE DELVOIE: Okay.
14 THE REGISTRAR: -- which will be Exhibit D234.
15 JUDGE DELVOIE: Mr. Gillett.
16 MR. GILLETT: I just noted a small number of other, what look to
17 be, typographical errors and so I wonder if we should MFI the statement
18 just to get these corrected. I can tell you where they appear to be.
19 In the paragraph after paragraph 12, it doesn't have a
20 paragraph number, that's -- it's a minor issue. Paragraph 26, it refers
21 to the term "is witnesses." I believe it is supposed to be "is
23 In paragraph 48, it says "until there were prisoners left," and I
24 believe it should read "until there were no prisoners left." That seems
25 to logically follow.
1 And then in paragraph 59, there's a reference to "departure of
2 one civilians," in the plural, which is unclear in its meaning, and so
3 perhaps that -- and it may be clearer in the B/C/S version, I'm not sure.
4 So I'd suggest that it could be MFI pending those to be clarified.
5 JUDGE DELVOIE: Mr. Gosnell.
6 MR. GOSNELL: I agree with each of those being typos and there
7 are other typos, Mr. President. And I should perhaps clarify that this
8 English version is technically a Defence translation of the witness's
9 original language statement. We have requested an official translation
10 and that is the one that we would propose to be the final exhibit. In
11 the meantime, no objection to MFI'g this version.
12 JUDGE DELVOIE: I indeed think it's appropriate to MFI the
13 document as long as we don't have the official translation which will be
14 uploaded, I hear. Thank you. So admitted and marked MFI'd.
15 THE REGISTRAR: As MFI D234, Your Honours.
16 JUDGE DELVOIE: Thank you.
17 MR. GOSNELL: Should I read the numbers of the associated
18 exhibits or would it better to provide a list?
19 JUDGE DELVOIE: To provide a list would be better, Mr. Gosnell.
20 Thank you.
21 MR. GOSNELL:
22 Q. Mr. Susa [sic], could I ask you please to turn to paragraph --
23 A. Strbac.
24 Q. Excuse me. Mr. Strbac, I apologise. Could I ask you please to
25 turn to paragraph 25 of your statement.
1 A. [In English] Okay.
2 Q. And you describe here the events at Miljevacki Plateau in June of
4 A. [Interpretation] Yes.
5 Q. And a exhumation of a mass grave. What happened to the corpses
6 that were disinterred, if you know?
7 A. A number of bodies were dug out and a large number was extracted
8 from the pit where they had been thrown. Two months after the event, the
9 bodies were taken out and that was done by the district court in Sibenik
10 under the observation of the UNPROFOR, the ICRC, and the monitoring
11 mission of the European community. After the extractions of the bodies,
12 the bodies were turned over to our side which identified them, but the
13 bodies were in such a far stage of decomposition and unrecognisable that
14 a number of them are still unidentified. They are in the cemetery under
15 our control and the control of the Croatian authorities.
16 Q. And did you receive any documentation about the state of the
18 A. We did, I would say, receive all the necessary documentation.
19 Through the UNPROFOR, we received records of the exhumation from the pit
20 where the bodies had been thrown. Then on our side when the bodies had
21 been turned over to us, the bodies were examined by our pathologist, but
22 we also received the record made by a Croatian court accompanied by the
23 findings of their pathologists. So on our Serbian side we have complete
24 documentation including photographs that were made during the hand-over.
25 MR. GOSNELL: May we have 1D2350, please, which is Defence
1 tab 13.
2 Q. Are these some of the photographs to which you just referred that
3 were made during the hand-over?
4 A. Yes, yes. My organisation Veritas produced a publication in
5 which we singled out a number of mortal remains and these are the
6 photographs you've just shown me. The Veritas file contains all the
7 other photographs, and we have made the complete dossier available to the
8 Office of the Prosecutor of this Tribunal.
9 Q. And were the circumstances surrounding the massacre, including
10 the condition of the bodies, publicised? Did it become known?
11 MR. GILLETT: Objection, Your Honour. It's a leading question.
12 It could have been asked in an open way.
13 JUDGE DELVOIE: Overruled.
14 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] As I said, we published this, and I
15 mentioned a moment ago the publication that we printed somewhere in
16 Chicago, a Serb emigre in Chicago helped us publish this, and I know that
17 the OTP has had it in their archives for at least 15 years. I know when
18 they came to us, I handed it over personally.
19 As far as the massacre is concerned, it's noteworthy that the
20 captured Serbs threw the bodies of the Serbs who had been killed into the
21 pit on orders of the Croatian army and police. Those captives, at least
22 some of them, were later killed. Others were exchanged. And those who
23 were exchanged told us what had happened and we also published that --
24 their statements in the same publication.
25 Last September, convictions were pronounced for two Croatian
1 soldiers who had killed one of the captive Serbs who were throwing the
2 Serb bodies into the pit. They were convicted by a Croatian court.
3 MR. GOSNELL:
4 Q. Did these events become known at the time in Krajina to the
5 public at large? And by "at the time," I mean in 1992.
6 A. Well, it was known. There is a whole communication between the
7 authorities of Krajina and UNPROFOR who conveyed these messages to the
8 Croatian side. There was intensive pressure on the Croatian side to
9 exhume these mortal remains and get them out of the pit. Otherwise, it
10 would not have been done so speedily. It was done relatively quickly for
11 war time. It was within two months that the mortal remains were exhumed
12 and turned over to the Serbian side.
13 I also have to say that the Croats filmed this whole operation at
14 the Miljevac Plateau, including the killing of those soldiers, and out of
15 that video footage, they made a film that was rented out in video rentals
16 throughout Europe. It's one of the most horrible horror movies that I've
17 ever seen.
18 Q. And did that video become available in the Krajina region in
19 1992? Was it seen?
20 A. We did not get it in 1992 but we got it in 1993. I received it
21 in 1993 through some friends who live in Europe, and I still have it in
22 my archive. Nowadays you can find at least a part of that material on
23 Veritas's web page and certainly on YouTube but also here in the archive
24 of the OTP.
25 MR. GOSNELL: I tender this document, Mr. President.
1 JUDGE DELVOIE: Admitted and marked.
2 THE REGISTRAR: As Exhibit D244, Your Honours.
3 JUDGE DELVOIE: Thank you.
4 Mr. Gosnell, I want to come back to Mr. Gillett's objection to
5 your question. I was probably a little bit too quick to overrule it. As
6 I see now you -- that you qualified the incident in your question as a
7 massacre, and I take it that was, Mr. Gillett, the object of his
8 objection. But he is not listening.
9 MR. GOSNELL: Unless I'm very much mistaken, Mr. President, and I
10 may well be, and perhaps I should wait to hear what the Prosecutor has to
11 say as to the basis to the objection.
12 MR. GILLETT: Thank you, Mr. President, for your observation and
13 the term "massacre" did jump out at me and I was somewhat slow in
14 responding and my objection then did come out following the question
15 about the publicisation of this document. I apologise again for raising
16 slowly and somewhat belatedly, but in relation to this exhibit, the
17 Prosecution is having difficulty --
18 JUDGE DELVOIE: Just one minute, Mr. Gillett. Just for the
19 objection because that's what I came back to. Your objection was based
20 on the qualification "massacre"?
21 MR. GILLETT: The specific objection I made was after the
22 question relating to the publication and I understand that in the
23 witness's statement there is a reference to the word "massacre." So
24 although the word did jump out at me, my objection is not specifically
25 related to that word, Your Honour.
1 JUDGE DELVOIE: Okay. So now we are -- yes, Mr. Gosnell.
2 MR. GOSNELL: It's not just in the witness's statement, it's at
3 line 7 of page 50 which is exactly why I used that word in the next
5 JUDGE DELVOIE: Line 7, page 50, you say.
6 MR. GOSNELL: Line 7, page 50, yes, Your Honour.
7 JUDGE DELVOIE: But did you -- you used it in a question before
8 that. That was the first time that the word was used, unless I'm wrong,
9 in --
10 MR. GOSNELL: I apologise. That's correct. It is after the
11 potentially leading question.
12 JUDGE DELVOIE: Yeah. Okay. This being clarified and
13 Mr. Gosnell having understood that he has to be a little bit more
14 cautious about the qualification of incidents, Mr. Gosnell, we are now at
15 the stage of admitting this document. Do you have a problem with that?
16 MR. GILLETT: The Prosecution indeed does object to the admission
17 of this document on the basis that it is simply tu quoque evidence that,
18 as Your Honours are well aware, cannot constitute an excuse for crimes
19 within the jurisdiction of this Tribunal. The document discusses events
20 at Miljevac Plateau, crimes that ostensibly appear to have been committed
21 according to this documentation against Serbs, and the Defence simply
22 hasn't explained the relevance and has not provided a sufficient basis
23 for this to be admitted onto the record in these proceedings.
24 And I note, Your Honour, this affects a large number of documents
25 related -- in fact, a considerable proportion of this witness's evidence
1 is pure and simple tu quoque evidence.
2 JUDGE DELVOIE: Mr. Gosnell.
3 MR. GOSNELL: Two points.
4 One, is the word "massacre" is actually used at paragraph 25 and
5 26 of the witness's statement. I just wanted to put that on the record.
6 Second point is this is not tu quoque. The purpose of adducing
7 this evidence is understand the nature of the fears of people, in
8 particular, at the time of the 1993 Maslenica attack which occurred six
9 months after the Miljevacki Plateau attack. There were consequences of
10 the Miljevacki -- of the Maslenica attack that are directly relevant to
11 charges in the indictment and getting to the bottom of why that happened
12 is important. At the very least, it's important context.
13 MR. GILLETT: Well, if I could just add one word. Your Honours,
14 the witness's statement discusses these fears in detail of the Serb
15 population in the RSK. This document adds nothing to that except for
16 images and additional detail that is purely tu quoque evidence. And,
17 Your Honours, in relation to my learned friend's submission, a lot of
18 water passed under the bridge in between Miljevac and then Maslenica in
19 1993 at least six months later. Many events occurred and so it is a
20 somewhat tenuous connection to draw.
21 [Trial Chamber confers]
22 JUDGE DELVOIE: The document is admitted and marked; Judge Hall
24 [Trial Chamber and Registrar confer]
25 JUDGE DELVOIE: So the document admitted and marked, and a number
1 will be assigned.
2 MR. GOSNELL: Thank you, Mr. President.
3 Q. Mr. Strbac, at paragraphs 29 and 30, you describe the attack on
4 Maslenica bridge and its environs, and you describe 10.000 Serb refugees
5 having fled those areas that were targeted or taken over by Croatian
6 forces and that 348 soldiers and civilians were killed on the Serb side
7 during this attack. And we don't need further details on that. It's in
8 your statement. But can you tell us over what period of time this attack
9 took place? How long did the fighting continue in relation to this
11 A. The attack began on 22nd January 1993, and the fighting went on
12 for the whole year of 1993 in the area of Ravni Kotar. It was covered
13 all by the operation called Maslenica. Croatian soldiers and members of
14 the Croatian special police raided that territory and Serbs were being
15 killed throughout that year, but, of course, most of them perished in the
16 first four or five days. I, as chairman of the commission for exchanges,
17 both of the living and the dead, later took over most of those bodies
18 from the Croatian side and counted them.
19 MR. GOSNELL: May we have 03146, which I believe should now have
20 a Defence exhibit number, if I'm not mistaken, since this is an
21 associated exhibit.
22 THE REGISTRAR: It will be Exhibit D240.234, Your Honours.
23 MR. GOSNELL: Thank you very much, Mr. Registrar. And that's
24 Defence tab 64.
25 Q. This is a document which is entitled: "Memo of the meeting held
1 on 27 May 1993," under the letterhead "RSK government, State Committee
2 for Relations with UNPROFOR." Were you a member of that committee?
3 A. Yes, in addition to the fact that by that time I was already
4 secretary of the government, I was also a member of the State Committee
5 of the Republic of Serbian Krajina for relations with UNPROFOR. And I
6 attended the meeting that produced this record, as can you see from the
7 content of the record.
8 MR. GOSNELL: If we can turn, please, to page 3.
9 Q. We see what appears to be the attachment to the cover letter,
10 which is the memo itself, memorialising the meeting that you just
11 referred to.
12 MR. GOSNELL: And I'd like, please, to go to page 10 in the
13 English and page 5 in the original.
14 Q. It says at the second-last paragraph in the English:
15 "To us, these are imperative issues that we cannot repudiate.
16 The ?prospect of living together in the RH after this bloody war is over,
17 which resulted in the third genocide in the last 75 years, gives us the
18 right to present these facts in the way we did."
19 Now can you explain, Mr. Strbac, what is meant here by this
20 reference to "living together in the RH"?
21 A. Well, all these representatives of different international
22 organisations who were in the Republic of Serb Krajina, and most of them
23 were in Knin as it was the capital of the Republic of Serb Krajina were
24 telling us, Serbs, that we had to live in the Croat state with Croats and
25 our answer to them was that two are required for co-existence. The other
1 side has to be willing and ready as well. Since they had killed us, over
2 here, it says three genocides, the First World War, the Second World War,
3 and also what preceded this meeting, that was the Miljevacki Plateau and
4 Maslenica and Nos Kalik, and many other things that happened in 1991 and
5 that are not referred to in my statement. We were assuring them and this
6 document also says that this kind of co-existence is impossible in this
7 situation because the Croats basically did not want us. If they had
8 wanted us, they wouldn't have been persecuting us and killing us as they
9 did. So just like for marriage, it takes two for co-existence to work as
11 Q. And just now in your answer you've twice used the expression
12 "co-existence." What do you mean by co-existence?
13 A. Well, I have been using the word "suzivot," and I don't know how
14 they've been interpreting that. Now I heard the word "koegzistencija."
15 Now I don't know whether that's a mistake in the interpretation. I did
16 not mention the word "koegzistencija," I just used "suzivot."
17 THE INTERPRETER: Interpreter's note: Co-existence, living
19 MR. GOSNELL:
20 Q. Well, leaving aside the exact word used, can you help us
21 understand what these words mean and, more importantly, how you meant
22 them as they're set out in this document?
23 MR. GILLETT: Your Honours, the witness has insisted that he used
24 the word "suzivot," and so I think he should be asked about what he meant
25 by that word, "suzivot," not two different words.
1 MR. GOSNELL:
2 Q. Can you explain, Mr. Witness -- perhaps I could move to a
3 different question. What is the difference in meaning between these two
4 words, if you had to explain it?
5 A. Well, I don't see any substantive difference. I just wanted us
6 to stick to the term that we had used. I don't see any substantive
7 difference. Probably the content should be the same within these two
8 concepts the way I understand them. I tried to explain what "suzivot"
9 means. Before the war, in Tito's Yugoslavia we did have this "suzivot"
10 where we all lived together, all the peoples of the former Yugoslavia in
11 some brotherhood and unity, if I can put it that way. At least that's
12 how I felt. I don't know about others but that's how I felt.
13 I worked and lived among Croats, I worked as a judge, and I tried
14 all irrespective of ethnicity, and now all of a sudden, we were in a
15 position to be expelled from work. They asked me to sign some kind of
16 statements of loyalty to the new state. Many others were asked to do
17 even worse things. Yet others were not asked for anything. They were
18 simply kicked out of the police or other authorities or different
19 companies. I know that because I defended quite few of people as a
20 lawyer. There were different proceedings involved, disciplinary,
21 et cetera, so this is no longer any kind of life together or
22 co-existence. As I've said, both sides have to be willing and ready to
23 live together. The Croat people obviously as the majority people did not
24 feel that way because had they felt that way, they wouldn't have done
25 what they did to us.
1 Q. But in this document that's in front of us, are you using the
2 terms -- I should first ask you is the word "suzivot" or "koegzistencija"
3 used in the original?
4 A. We used precisely that word "sazivot." That is the Serbian
5 version of "suzivot." So that would be the that.
6 Q. And were you expressing, by using this word, any view about where
7 people of a particular ethnicity could live?
8 A. Well, no. When I accepted to be secretary of the government in
9 the Bjegovic government, that was towards end of April 1993, that is to
10 say, after the Maslenica operation, of course, we did talk and we tried
11 to reach agreement. I did know about Bjegovic's programme and the
12 government programme. We had had enough of a war. We needed a life in
13 peace, to develop the economy. We did not want to expel anyone from the
14 Republic of the Serb Krajina; that is to say, that we wanted to create a
15 state of our own where, I mean, people could live, irrespective of
16 religious or ethnic affiliation.
17 Q. And this word "suzivot" and the agenda that you've just described
18 as being reflected in that word, did you express that and did your
19 colleagues on the state committee express that on other occasions to
20 UNPROFOR officials?
21 MR. GILLETT: Your Honours, that is a leading question.
22 JUDGE DELVOIE: Mr. Gosnell.
23 MR. GOSNELL: I don't believe so.
24 MR. GILLETT: Well, Your Honours, the question contains the
25 suggested and hoped for answer. So it's, by definition, leading, and
1 there isn't a foundation in the lead-up of questions to put it in such a
2 narrowly leading way. It could have been asked in a broader way as to
3 whether it had been used on other occasions and then asked, with whom.
4 JUDGE DELVOIE: I'll allow the question.
5 Please continue, Mr. Gosnell.
6 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Well, we were talking about
7 everyone and these were meetings that were held every day at all levels.
8 When I was present at some joint meetings with the prime minister, I
9 listened to how this was discussed. When we attended meetings of this
10 committee for relations with UNPROFOR, when I chaired meetings or when I
11 led delegations of the Republic of the Serb Krajina, I talked about that.
12 So once again "suzivot," it pertained to two already separated states:
13 The Republic of the Serb Krajina that hadn't been internationally
14 recognised but obviously it was recognised as an entity because
15 resolutions were passed concerning it in the United Nations; on the other
16 hand, there was the Republic of Croatia that was a recognised state. We
17 were at war and we said that it was impossible for the Republic of
18 Serbian Krajina and Croatia to become one again. As for "suzivot" with
19 Croats and everybody else in the Republic of Serbian Krajina that was
20 never brought into question.
21 THE INTERPRETER: Interpreter's note: Could the witness please
22 be asked to slow down for the record and for interpretation. Thank you.
23 MR. GOSNELL:
24 Q. Mr. Strbac, could you please just slow down a little bit so that
25 the interpreters and transcribers can get your words down accurately
2 MR. GOSNELL: Could we move now, please, to page 17 of the
3 English of this document. Page 8 of the B/C/S.
4 And can I go back and ask you now, Mr. Strbac, do you remember
5 that you did participate in formulating or writing this memo?
6 A. I believe that I did participate. It's hard to remember given
7 the time distance. But I am fully familiar with the content which means
8 that I took part in the preparations as well. Well, this happened every
9 day, these meetings. It was war time. This state committee, the
10 government, we were in permanent session, as we say, and it's not that
11 just two or three people got together and compiled a document and handed
12 it over to these officials from UNPROFOR. Rather, quite simply this was
13 discussed every day, day in, day out, for months, and this is the result
14 of all of these discussions and debates.
15 Q. But you say that "this was discussed every day, day in, day out,
16 for months." Were you referring to the state committee's contacts with
18 A. I'm also referring to the state organs of the Republic of the
19 Serb Krajina, the government, this committee, and all these other organs,
20 because there had to be frequent communication. Also there was daily
21 communication with different representatives. Knin and Krajina were full
22 of these international representatives. You could not walk down the
23 street without bumping into one of them.
24 Q. It says here at point 6 that:
25 "The RSK requests a definitive answer to the question whether the
1 Vance Plan is still in existence. As far as we are concerned, it is
2 still a legally valid document, regardless of the resolutions adopted
4 Do you remember what lay behind this question? Why was this
5 question posed, whether the Vance Plan is still in existence?
6 A. The Serbs from the Republic of Serb Krajina had difficulty in
7 accepting the Vance Plan. There were divided views on this. Finally the
8 Vance Plan was signed because it did not prejudge a political solution of
9 the conflict. However, when the Vance Plan was accepted, when UNPROFOR
10 arrived, things became troublesome for the Serbs. Aggressions of the
11 Croat army started. We mentioned some of them today: Nos Kalik in
12 March when UNPROFOR was being deployed, and then we also mentioned the
13 Miljevac Plateau in June, and then Maslenica in 1993, in January. It
14 seems to me that the Security Council would pass a resolution for each
15 and every one of these occurrences, and these resolutions somewhat
16 deviated from the Vance Plan. It became obvious that this political
17 solution was being prejudged in a way and that they were returning us to
18 the Croatian state.
19 And that is why --
20 JUDGE DELVOIE: Mr. Witness, Mr. Witness, I am convinced and very
21 sure that the interpreters can't follow you properly. You are speaking
22 way too fast. So please slow down.
23 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Well, they're not complaining.
24 MR. GOSNELL: Might be time for the --
25 JUDGE DELVOIE: I beg your pardon?
1 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Well, now I've lost my train of
2 thought, it seems ...
3 JUDGE DELVOIE: I think that last intervention of you,
4 Mr. Strbac, is totally inappropriate. I asked you to slow down. So
5 please slow down.
6 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Okay.
7 MR. GOSNELL: Mr. President, I see the time.
8 JUDGE DELVOIE: And I indeed see the time.
9 We'll take our first break, 30 minutes -- or the second break,
10 sorry, 30 minutes, Mr. Witness, and we'll be back at 12.45.
11 Court adjourned.
12 --- Recess taken at 12.16 p.m.
13 [The witness stands down]
14 --- On resuming at 12.46 p.m.
15 [The witness takes the stand]
16 JUDGE DELVOIE: Please proceed, Mr. Gosnell.
17 MR. GOSNELL: Thank you, Mr. President.
18 Q. Mr. Strbac, just before the break, you were referring to
19 "Security Council resolutions that deviated from the Vance Plan in a way
20 that they were returning us to the Croatian state."
21 Now just very specifically, can you recall what measures being
22 adopted by the Security Council were raising doubts as to whether the
23 Vance Plan was still applicable?
24 A. Well, for example, as far as I can remember, after the Maslenica
25 operation, a resolution was passed according to which the Croats were
1 supposed to withdraw, the Croatian forces were supposed to withdraw from
2 the area that had been taken. The Serbs were supposed to return weapons
3 into the arms depots under this double lock, double key. The Serbs did
4 not return their weapons as the Croats did not withdraw. It seems to me
5 that some other resolutions were also passed which refer to some customs
6 law or something like that, namely, that all exports and imports should
7 go through Croatia for the Republic of the Serb Krajina, which was
8 mind-boggling, especially at a time of war and when hostilities had
10 So people came from these international organisations, they
11 talked to us about how within Croatia we would have autonomy like, I
12 don't know, southern Tyrol in Italy and then the Aland Islands in
13 Finland. They took our people to seminars in different places in the
14 world. So all this implied we should go back to Croatia, whereas we were
15 staying that political issues had to be resolved, that the Vance Plan did
16 not prejudge any political solution, and the Croats were not exactly in
17 favour of the Vance Plan.
18 MR. GOSNELL: May we have 01594, Defence tab 77, please.
19 Q. Unfortunately, we only have this document, Mr. Strbac, in English
20 uploaded, but it is an outgoing cable from Wahlgren to Annan dated the
21 19th of April, 1993. So approximately a month before the memorandum of
22 your meeting with Mr. Stoltenberg. And the subject line reads:
23 "Consequences for our mandate in Croatia of recent Security Council
24 resolution on sanctions meeting with prime minister designate Bjegovic of
25 the RSK."
1 Can I first ask you, do you recall hearing about any meetings
2 from Mr. Bjegovic that he may have had with Mr. Wahlgren around this
4 A. I heard that he held meetings with UNPROFOR and all other
5 representatives of international organisations as prime minister
6 designate, and he talked to them as he talked to me when he was trying to
7 talk me into joining his government as secretary or some minister. I did
8 not want to be a minister. I heard about this type of discussion,
9 namely, that we would join this government, take over this government,
10 and create a normal state, but that that is impossible if the
11 representatives of international organisations are not on our side.
12 Q. And this document says at point 1:
13 "We are increasingly concerned over the disparity between actions
14 being taken in New York and realities on the ground. We find -- we had
15 already expressed our grave concern with regard to paragraph 12 of the
16 new Sanctions resolution ... in the hope of averting a major setback to
17 our mandate in Croatia."
18 MR. GOSNELL: And then, please, if we could turn over to page 3.
19 Q. At the bottom of paragraph 6, after referring to some
20 resolutions, it says:
21 "The new resolution made it clear that the basic tenets of the
22 Vance Plan were being brushed aside. This was a further step to impose
23 Croatian authority on them."
24 And at the bottom the very last sentence on this page:
25 "Does the Vance Plan still exist? We do not know, nor do we know
1 by what it has been replaced, except a lot of anti-Serb huffing and
2 puffing which damages us much more than them."
3 Did you hear from Mr. Bjegovic whether he heard from any UNPROFOR
4 officials whether they were in doubt as to whether the Vance Plan was
5 still in effect?
6 A. I cannot remember right now. I cannot give just a yes or no
7 answer to this. But I think that I have responded earlier on when I said
8 that Bjegovic was saying that he had meetings as prime minister designate
9 with all the representatives, all representatives of all international
10 organisations, and that the basic topic of discussion with all of them
11 was precisely the Vance Plan.
12 You must understand that throughout Krajina there was an UNPROFOR
13 presence, inkblots, and I already said that we Serbs found it hard to
14 accept but --
15 Q. Sorry for cutting you off, Mr. Strbac, but I just want to try to
16 refocus you back on my question, if I may, and proceed in this way. How
17 did Mr. Stoltenberg respond when the -- when the issue was raised of
18 whether the Vance Plan was still in effect during your meeting in
19 May with him?
20 A. As far as I can remember, they didn't know either, whether this
21 plan was in existence or not. And I assumed that that is why they wrote
22 such letters, that they were not sending to us. They were sending these
23 letters to their superiors in New York and wherever because they
24 themselves were perplexed over the situation on the ground. We have the
25 Vance Plan that we accepted. We have peacekeeping forces on the ground
1 and something else is being decided in New York. We can all see, they
2 can see, we can see, under our pressure, that they are asking their
3 superiors, they're asking the Security Council to respond and say what's
4 going on. Does the Vance Plan still exist? How should they behave on
5 the ground? They don't know, and how could we know then?
6 MR. GOSNELL: May I tender this document, Mr. President.
7 JUDGE DELVOIE: Admitted and marked.
8 THE REGISTRAR: As Exhibit D245, Your Honours.
9 JUDGE DELVOIE: Thank you.
10 MR. GOSNELL:
11 Q. Now, at paragraph 63 of your statement, you described meeting
12 with Mr. Bjegovic and being offered and taking the position of secretary
13 of the RSK government.
14 Can you ask you, first of all, to describe briefly, if you can,
15 your duties as secretary of the government?
16 A. First of all, the secretary of the government is not a member of
17 the government. It is ministers who are members of the government, as
18 well as the prime minister. So I was there in a technical capacity.
19 That meant that I had a few people there in the secretariat, I also had a
20 deputy, I also had various clerks. And we were supposed to prepare
21 government meetings and we were supposed to record government meetings,
22 write up all the decisions that were reached at meetings of the
23 government. We did not transcribe meetings at the time. We just wrote
24 up brief conclusions from the taped material and that would become part
25 of the record that would be approved at the following session if there
1 were no objections.
2 So all of this material, all these decisions, would be submitted
3 to the Official Gazette as well because, for the most part, they were
4 published in the Official Gazette. All the ministries provided us with
5 material for government sessions and we would then include in the agenda
6 things that were submitted to us by the ministries. That would be it in
7 the briefest possible terms.
8 I was secretary of the government and also the president of the
9 government commission for the exchange of prisoners and mortal remains.
10 I did that before I became secretary of the government. Once I became
11 secretary of the government, I established a commission for the entire
12 Republic of the Serb Krajina. Before that there were different
13 commissions at municipal, local levels, regional and so on, military,
14 civilian, et cetera. Once I became secretary of the government, I
15 managed to establish a single commission for the entire Republic of the
16 Serb Krajina. Soon I also founded an NGO, Veritas, and --
17 Q. Yes, and that's -- and those subjects are covered in your
18 statement, Mr. Strbac, so I won't go into all of those. But I would like
19 to ask you how frequent were your contacts as the secretary of the
20 government with Prime Minister Bjegovic and the other ministers?
21 A. The prime minister mostly because our offices were right next
22 door to each other. So my people did all the work that was required by
23 the prime minister, my people from the secretariat. He just had one lady
24 who was his secretary and I wasn't her boss. All the rest was done by my
25 people. We worked for the prime minister. I've already said that these
1 were contacts or, rather, preparations. And after all, there was a state
2 of war there, and we were constantly in session so there were no special
3 working hours. We worked day and night. Our people went out into the
4 field, but we communicated, we talked a great deal. We were close, he
5 and I, because I had other prime ministers that I was not that close to,
6 but I was close to him and we shared a lot. Perhaps some things that one
7 would not exactly expect between a prime minister and the secretary of
8 the government, who was, after all, not an elected official.
9 Q. And after you assumed the position of secretary of the
10 government, what percentage of government sessions did you attend, would
11 you say?
12 A. Well, it was a rare session that I did not attend. I remember
13 several times it was more important for me to go to exchanges of
14 prisoners. That could be the only reason why I didn't go to a meeting,
15 to a government session. When exchanges had already been agreed with the
16 Croatian side, not only with Bjegovic but others too, because I remained,
17 until the very fall of Krajina, that would be the only times that I
18 didn't attend the government sessions.
19 Q. And how were judicial appointments made in the RSK?
20 A. Well, we had the regular way, when there was no imminent threat
21 of war and no state of war was declared, appointments were made by the
22 assembly. And during the imminent threat of war and the state of war, I
23 remember but I also refreshed my memory with some documents, the
24 president of the republic exercising his constitutional powers, because
25 in times of the state of war or imminent threat of war, he assumed the
1 powers of the parliament and transferred them to the government. So
2 while I was secretary of the government, I remember that the government
3 appointed judges and prosecutors but that was when a state of imminent
4 threat of war or state of war was declared. That is to say, after the
5 Maslenica operation.
6 MR. GOSNELL: May we have P3093, please. Defence tab 67.
7 Q. And before that comes up, did that method of appointment that
8 you've just described apply to all judicial positions?
9 A. Yes. Yes, as far as I remember.
10 MR. GOSNELL: The number again is P3093.
11 [Defence counsel confer]
12 MR. GOSNELL:
13 Q. Now these appear to be the minutes from the --
14 A. 16.
15 Q. -- government session of the 16th of September, 1993, in Knin.
16 And if we go over now to the very last page of this document, whose is
17 the last name there on that attendance list?
18 A. It's my name. Number 17.
19 MR. GOSNELL: And if we could back, please, one page in both
21 Q. There are a series of decisions on the appointment of judge,
22 jurors at the Vukovar Supreme Court, on the appointment of a judge at the
23 Knin Municipal Court, of a judge of the Knin District Court, relieving
24 the president of the Okucani Municipal Court, and an appointment of the
25 judge at the Slunj Municipal Court.
1 How were the appointees decided upon, if you know?
2 A. The proposal came from the competent ministry, in this case, the
3 Ministry of Justice, and the government decided, based on the
4 presidential decree from sometime in January, and the president
5 transferred his own powers and the powers of the assembly to the
6 government. This government session took place while the Medak pocket
7 operation was still under way.
8 It was always the competent ministries that suggested
9 appointments within their field of work, but the government had to
10 formally approve it at their sessions.
11 Q. Now, at paragraph 66 of your statement, you say:
12 "As far as I know, Goran Hadzic hardly ever came to Knin during
13 the time that I was secretary of the government. During my tenure as
14 secretary, he perhaps came to Knin three times, and he never attended any
15 government session, nor was he expected to under the constitution or for
16 any other reason."
17 I'd like to ask you now generally what role, in practice, based
18 on your direct observation or any conversations with the prime minister
19 or other ministers, what role did Mr. Hadzic have in government
21 A. Well, as far as I remember, none. I came in end April 1993, and
22 in January he already left his position as president, so it was a very
23 brief period that we coincided, but I don't remember that any materials
24 came from the president in preparation for government sessions. It says
25 here in this paragraph that there was a proposal to dismiss certain
1 ministers, and perhaps that's the only time when a proposal by
2 President Hadzic was discussed at government sessions.
3 Q. To your knowledge, were ministers giving any reports to
4 President Hadzic?
5 A. I don't know that. I'm certain that it was not done through the
6 secretary of the government or the secretariat. They may have had
7 another channel along military lines or different lines, but whether they
8 used it, I don't know.
9 Q. You've described having a close relationship with Prime Minister
10 Bjegovic. Did he tell you that he reported to President Hadzic?
11 A. Again, I have to say that he did not, through the secretariat or
12 the secretary of the government. I don't know if he had a personal
13 communication with him, he never told me about it. And government
14 sessions discussed more than once, especially during the state of war and
15 the aggression by Croatia, that the president, the head of state, should
16 appear in Knin where all the authorities were, except for the
17 Supreme Court. Only the president and the Supreme Court were in the
18 eastern part, in Vukovar. All the other state bodies were in Knin, and
19 it was logical for the president to come where all the others were. It
20 was a time when the Medak pocket operation and Maslenica operation were
21 still going on.
22 But he didn't show up at government sessions, and it was never
23 written anywhere that he had to. I believe there are even some minutes
24 and documents where I saw that Prime Minister Bjegovic said that six
25 different invitations had been sent to him and the president always said
1 that he could not come because of something that was going on in
2 Banja Luka.
3 To be quite clear, from Vukovar to Knin, he could not travel
4 across RSK territory because the eastern part where he worked and lived
5 was physically cut off from the western part, from Knin, and since he
6 didn't dare travel through Croatia, he could only travel part of the way
7 through Serbia and part of the way through Republika Srpska. At the time
8 of the Medak pocket operation, there was some sort of insurgency in
9 Republika Srpska and almost as if it had been agreed with the Croats, it
10 coincided with the Medak pocket action. It started on the same day and
11 ended on the same day. Both of them began on the 9th of September and
12 ended on the 17th.
13 Q. Mr. Strbac, since you've raised it I'll ask you about the six
14 invitations that you just described to President Hadzic by Prime Minister
15 Bjegovic. Were those invitations all in respect of something particular
16 and over what time-period were those invitations made?
17 A. Since this Bjegovic government came after the Maslenica operation
18 and the Medak pocket and that event that required the president to be
19 with the other organs in Knin, that is the Medak pocket operation of the
20 9th of September, and I believe those invitations were during the state
21 of war. From 9 to 17th September was this operation and it lasted
22 exactly the same time as the Serbian insurgency. Several hundreds troops
23 and officers with tanks blocked all access roads to Banja Luka, and
24 Hadzic, as the head of state, since this insurgency was a rebellion
25 against the corruption in the leadership of Republika Srpska, they were
1 not able to pass too, and Hadzic was not allowed to pass because people
2 made some connection between him and the leadership of Republika Srpska,
3 probably because of his very office.
4 MR. GOSNELL: Let's please turn back to page 2 of the English in
5 this document. And in B/C/S it may be page 2. Perhaps we could just
6 turn back to the previous page in the B/C/S. Sorry, we did need page 2,
7 after all. Thank you.
8 Q. Now just at the top the page there in B/C/S and in English in the
9 second paragraph, there's a -- some words attributed to Prime Minister
10 Bjegovic, he describes what is happening around Divoselo.
11 Is Divoselo related to the Medak pocket operation that you've
12 been describing?
13 A. The Medak pocket operation targeted three villages, and one of
14 them is Divoselo. Among the Serbian people, Divoselo is held as a symbol
15 of suffering, both in the Second World War and in the last war, and many
16 people, instead of referring to the Medak pocket, they say Divoselo.
17 Q. And it goes on to say:
18 "As for the conclusions from the session held on 13 September, it
19 is my duty to inform you that letters have been sent to the prime
20 ministers of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, Serbia, and Montenegro.
21 We sent President Hadzic six invitations to appear in Knin, but he
22 replied that could not come due to the situation in Banja Luka."
23 Does that correspond to what you were describing earlier about
24 Mr. Hadzic being blocked at Banja Luka?
25 A. Precisely. Precisely. Nobody could pass through during those
1 days. Banja Luka was surrounded by tanks, not enemy tanks but Serb
2 tanks. It was a rather notorious mutiny of Serb troops and officers who
3 were angry about the corruption and the crime, from 9 to 17 September,
4 that is to say, the same period as the Medak pocket, and there was
5 absolutely no chance for anybody to pass through, especially not the
6 president of the Serbian Krajina.
7 MR. GOSNELL: May we have P1914, please, which is Defence tab 58.
8 Q. Now, these are the minutes of the 44th RSK government session
9 dated 4th of May, 1993.
10 MR. GOSNELL: May we please turn to the last page.
11 Q. Whose signature, if you can read it, appears at number 18?
12 A. It's my signature. You can see very well, Savo Strbac, and my
13 signature. It's under number 18.
14 MR. GOSNELL: And if we could please go back to page 6 of the
15 English and page 3 of the B/C/S. I apologise, we'll have to go back to
16 page 3 of the English. And it should be page 4 or 5 of the B/C/S. Just
17 under item 1. Yes, we'll have to go back one more page, I think, in the
18 B/C/S. I'm afraid it must be back further.
19 Well, to make this easy, let's go back right to the beginning
21 Q. Now here we have a set of agenda items, Mr. Strbac. Can I first
22 ask you, just reviewing this -- these agenda items, do they fall within
23 the purview of the government's responsibility as you understood it and
24 as you observed it?
25 A. All this falls within the agenda and the purview of the
1 government. Not all of this is about making decisions. One part are
2 decisions but there are briefings and all sorts of reports and
3 information. The government can always deliberate on various issues and
4 take up positions. It's different when decrees and decisions are made.
5 This we see under number 3. All this fell within the purview of the
6 government, as far as I can see.
7 MR. GOSNELL: May we just go back one page in English because
8 it's not showing agenda item 1. Or perhaps scroll up. Yes.
9 Agenda item 1, discussing documents relating to resolving the
10 relations with the Presidency of the FRY, Serbia and Montenegro. And
11 then if we turn to the page and go to the very bottom of the second page
12 in English, we see there - very bottom - a heading saying: "Item 1."
13 And then if we can turn the page in English one more, that's
14 where I'd like to stay for a moment. In B/C/S, if we can go forward to
15 the next page. There it is.
16 Q. Now, am I correct that this initial discussion which you see in
17 front of you concerns item 1, discussing documents relating to resolving
18 relations with the Presidency of the FRY, Serbia and Montenegro?
19 A. You're right.
20 MR. GOSNELL: Now, if we can just go to the end of this section,
21 which is page 6 of the English and page 3 of the B/C/S.
22 Q. Now this appears at the bottom of the discussion by the members
23 of the government and there's a decision. And the decision says:
24 "Prepare a cover letter for these topics, which would have to be
25 signed by President Hadzic."
1 Now, can you explain why it is that the government is asking --
2 on what basis is the government asking for this letter to be signed by
3 President Hadzic?
4 A. Because the letter is sent out to other states, and a state is
5 internationally represented by the head of state, not the head of
6 government. This is not an order to the president that he has to sign
7 something. It's simply his constitutional responsibility to read the
8 document and sign it. If he believes -- if he finds that he shouldn't
9 sign it, he will not.
10 Q. Do you remember what constitutional provision is relevant here?
11 A. If I can think of it off the cuff, I believe it would be
12 Article 78, para 1, item 3. I'm speaking off the top of my head, but it
13 must be easy to check the documents.
14 MR. GOSNELL: May we have L3. Defence tab 65, page 23 of the
15 English, and page 7 of the B/C/S. Now I am afraid --
16 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] I was wrong. It's item 4. But it
17 is, indeed, Article 78, paragraph 1. Item 4.
18 MR. GOSNELL:
19 Q. So is it your understanding that it was on that basis that
20 Mr. Hadzic was asked to sign the letter?
21 A. Only that.
22 MR. GOSNELL: May we have P3803, please, which is Defence tab 59.
23 MR. GILLETT: I wonder if my learned friend means 3083, tab 59.
24 MR. GOSNELL: That is quite right. I thank my friend.
25 Q. Now this is another set of minutes of the government of the RSK,
1 Mr. Strbac. This is the 46th Session held in Knin on the 13th of May,
3 MR. GOSNELL: If we could turn, please, now to page 23 of the
4 English and page 11 of the B/C/S.
5 Q. This section reads:
6 "Before reading out the government's standpoint on an all-Serbian
7 Assembly, Prime Minister Bjegovic stated that no one from the Republic of
8 Serbia had issued an official order to have goods from the RSK sent back
9 from the border."
10 Do you see that?
11 A. Yes, 12, yes.
12 MR. GOSNELL: Now if we turn, please, to page 25 in the English
13 and it should be the next page in B/C/S.
14 Q. "Conclusion," and this follows the discussion by various
15 ministers, including Martic, Kuzet, Arbutina, and so forth. The
16 conclusion is:
17 "The final text of the RSK government standpoint on an
18 all-Serbian Assembly shall be drafted by the RSK Ministry of Justice and
20 Now given Article 78, 4, which is supposed to confer authority on
21 the president to carry out duties regarding relations with other
22 countries, why is this being taken up by the government without any
23 apparent reference to the authority of the president of the RSK?
24 A. Well, there can be several reasons. First of all, this is the
25 position of the government, not a decision by the government. A position
1 can be taken by the parliament, by the head of state. The question is
2 now who makes the final decision, but at any rate, the government can
3 take positions on all matters, including this all-Serbian Assembly.
4 Secondly, the president wasn't really asked a lot about things
5 like this.
6 MR. GOSNELL: Now I'm done with this document. Thank you.
7 Q. Now, at paragraph 66 of your statement, and you've already
8 referred to this previously in your testimony, concerning the issue of
9 the president's power to remove government ministers, and you say:
10 "I believe that could only be done on the order of the prime
11 minister upon a vote of the RSK Assembly."
12 Do you remember whether there was any constitutional provision
13 applicable to the removal of ministers?
14 A. In the article that we looked at, Article 78 of the constitution,
15 there is some reference to the powers of the head of state when there is
16 an imminent threat of war and when a state of war is declared. As far as
17 I can remember, what is written there is that in that situation, the
18 president can also change the powers and composition of all institutions
19 in the state, including the government; therefore, ministers included.
20 That was my understanding of it.
21 MR. GOSNELL: Well, let's have a look at L3, please, again;
22 page 27 in the English and this should be page 8 in the B/C/S. And we're
23 looking for Article 87.
24 Q. It says that:
25 "The president of the Republic of Serbian Krajina can propose the
1 dismissal of some of the members of the government."
2 Does that jog your memory as to the nature of the president's
3 power in relation to removing ministers?
4 MR. GILLETT: Your Honours, the witness gave an answer as to
5 which powers he thought the president could remove ministers under and
6 the reference to this article has clearly been used in a leading way, in
7 fact, the Defence counsel expressly said: "Does this jog your memory."
8 So I just note for the record that this was framed in a leading way.
9 JUDGE DELVOIE: It's on the record.
10 MR. GOSNELL:
11 Q. Did you hear my question, Mr. Strbac?
12 A. Yes. There are two situations.
13 One is when it happens in peacetime and I think that this
14 pertains to peacetime, 87; whereas Article 88, some paragraph there,
15 speaks of the powers of the president when an imminent threat of war is
16 declared or a state of war. That is the only way in which I can
17 interpret that.
18 Q. And otherwise the removal of ministers is governed by that
19 provision in front of you; correct? In Article 87?
20 A. Yes, in peacetime.
21 MR. GOSNELL: And if we go back, please, to page 19 of this
22 document and page 6 of the B/C/S, item 10.
23 Q. Does that have any relevance to the issue?
24 A. Well, yes. It says here elects and -- it has to do with
25 peacetime, yes, the assembly.
1 MR. GOSNELL: If we go, please, to page 27 of this document,
2 which, again, Article 87, and it's B/C/S page 8.
3 Q. The very first line reads:
4 "The government and every member of it are responsible for their
5 work to the president of the republic and the assembly."
6 Now, did this provision reflect the reality in respect of the
7 president? Were the members of the government responsible for their work
8 to the president of the republic?
9 A. While I was in the government, I would not say -- well, we had
10 this one situation that we discussed. There was this proposal concerning
11 the state of war or imminent threat of war. That was in the immediate
12 aftermath of the Medak pocket and then in 1993 when the president
13 withdrew that proposal of his.
14 As for these other peacetime situations, between these different
15 actions that called for a state of war, I don't think that, in practice,
16 he interfered with the work of the government.
17 THE INTERPRETER: Microphone, please.
18 MR. GOSNELL: May we turn to page 23 of the document; page 7 of
19 the B/C/S.
20 Q. This is under Article 78, under the president of the Republic of
21 Serbian Krajina, and item 7 reads:
22 "Under his initiative or under the government's proposal, during
23 the state of war or immediate threat of war, adopts acts about issues
24 from the assembly's jurisdiction and is required to submit them before
25 the assembly as soon as the assembly is able to meet."
1 Do you remember that provision, Mr. Strbac?
2 A. I do. I mean, that is a provision that is studied even in law
3 school. I'm a lawyer myself. It's nothing new. It's nothing special,
4 just from the constitution of the Republic of Serbian Krajina. Every
5 country has that in its constitution.
6 Q. And was that provision applied in practice in 1993, to your
8 A. I do not recall that the president used this right, except for
9 that one attempt that I referred to, that is part of the record of one
10 government session, that could be considered as being under this article,
11 when he did not agree to have two ministers replaced.
12 Q. I'm not sure I understand your answer, Mr. Strbac, because you
13 refer to this being as a right that appears to be conferred on the
14 president whereas this provision is referring to a requirement, obliging
15 him to submit acts to the assembly as soon as the assembly is able to
16 meet; isn't that right?
17 MR. GILLETT: Your Honours, this sounds --
18 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Absolutely.
19 MR. GILLETT: -- more like cross-examination than direct
20 examination. Quoting from the provision and attempting to force the
21 witness to agree with that is purely leading. So, again, I'd put that on
22 the record. The answer is now out but I would put that on the record.
23 MR. GOSNELL: Mr. President, I recall what you said the other
24 day, that during the Defence case, it certainly ought to be within our
25 latitude to present matters that are at the core of the Prosecution's
1 case to witnesses to hear their comment. I really don't know how else to
2 present an issue for the witness's comment other than the manner in which
3 I did it. I do regret having used that rather forceful, those forceful
4 words at the end, but the witness's answer was ambiguous, and I think it
5 was legitimate to seek a clarification.
6 JUDGE DELVOIE: You may proceed.
7 MR. GOSNELL:
8 Q. Now before you were cut off, you said: "Absolutely."
9 Did you wish to say anything further, Mr. Strbac?
10 A. This is what my answer would be: Well, what is written here is
11 quite clear, what this provision says, that is. I said that as far as I
12 can remember, the president, President Hadzic did not use these powers
13 except in one particular situation. However, since these persons were
14 not replaced, then it wasn't necessary for him to turn to the assembly
15 and to ask for approval. That is it, to the best of my recollection.
16 Q. Thank you.
17 MR. GOSNELL: I'm done with this document.
18 Q. Now, Mr. Strbac, at paragraph 55 of your statement, you
19 describe -- and surrounding paragraphs, you describe the process for
20 authorising the departure of civilians from the area of the RSK, and you
21 say there that:
22 "The process was more or less modelled on exchange of prisoners
23 in the sense that EUMM, UNPROFOR, UNCIVPOL, and/or the Red Cross were
24 always involved in these movements."
25 Now can I ask you, did they encourage contacts with the --
1 between the two sides on this issue?
2 A. Well, the answer would be yes. All these international
3 organisations cared a lot about the protection of human rights, the
4 protection of human lives on all sides. Since I was in charge of this
5 commission of the Republic of Serbian Krajina for exchanges of the living
6 and dead, sometimes we called it the commission for humanitarian issues,
7 sometimes for the exchange of prisoners, I had daily communication with
8 all of them. Sometimes even several times a day with the same people. I
9 helped people get the necessary permits as I used or abused the powers
10 that I had as secretary of the government so that I could reach all the
11 state organs. It was easier for me that way than if I did -- had not
12 held that position. So, you see, it wasn't that easy to -- to cross the
13 line of separation or the front line, whatever you wish to call it.
14 Always certain permits had to be obtained regardless of who it was that
15 was carrying out the exchange.
16 Q. Now what criteria did you apply, if any, for determining whether
17 someone should be given the necessary permits?
18 A. Well, the first and basic thing was that people would make these
19 communications. My colleague, Mr. Kuzetic [phoen] and I used to have a
20 law office before the war together, and when there was no communication
21 between Croatia and the Krajina except through sights on weapons, as
22 people say, we had this communication and we were helped by the
23 international organisations, and we used their communications with the
24 other side. And when somebody would come to us, for example, a Croat,
25 and if he'd say that he is afraid, that he feels insecure, that he is
1 receiving threats, that he has relatives on the other side, sons, anybody
2 that he wished to cross over, then we would try to grants their wishes.
3 Again, there were some objective situations like, say,
4 Miljevac Plateau, not to mention everything that happened. There were
5 many, many Serb refugees from Croatia. And there was this objective
6 danger looming over Croats because people had come from the other side
7 and then people would reach agreements amongst themselves. They would
8 say: Well, why don't you give me the property that you left behind, and
9 I will take over your property here. And then we tried to let this
10 happen. And then there were people who wanted to cross to the Serb side.
11 Just like Croats in the Krajina, Serbs in Croatia felt threatened. So
12 that's why I'm saying that all of this happened on the basis of a system
13 for exchange of prisoners.
14 It's not that we ever handed over anything to the Croats without
15 asking for something in return because objectively this happened on both
16 sides. There wasn't any major difference. I can tell that you, in 1993,
17 there were 130.000 refugees registered, those who had fled from
18 Croatian-controlled territory. That perhaps doesn't sound like a lot,
19 but if all of Krajina had a population of about 400.000, that -- then
20 that is a lot.
21 Q. Were there any -- were there any time-periods when departures
22 were more frequent or more numerous than others?
23 A. Yes, yes. After these operations, we were saying that in the
24 Maslenica operation about 10.000 Serbs were expelled. They came to the
25 municipality of Benkovac and Knin, and there were still quite a few mixed
1 villages there, Croat/Serb. Then people went there on their own and they
2 were trying to find places where they could stay.
3 At that time, since this is in my area where I lived, the
4 municipality of Benkovac, Maslenica actually included my municipality as
5 well, so I know a lot of these people who were fleeing from their
6 villages. And for this Crisis Staff of Benkovac where I worked, we
7 managed to find accommodation for some people in places that were
8 collective centres, like the elementary school and other places. There
9 weren't very many such locations. Others were staying in the villages.
10 They were milling about. It was hard to keep masses of people under
11 control because 10.000 people is a lot, their families, and once they
12 would get to a village, then -- well, the Croats would say: Well, I'm
13 not under threat now, but I see how many of them keep coming in, and
14 somebody is going to come tomorrow or the day after tomorrow and ask me
15 to leave and it's better for me to leave now rather than lose my property
16 and lose my life.
17 Q. Did you try to encourage these people to stay where they resided
18 at the time?
19 A. As much as possible, we were saying this will not go on for a
20 long time, this is temporary. However, people knew best what they felt
21 and how they felt. They would say to us that they wanted to leave until
22 all of this blows over. We were encouraging others, saying that all of
23 this was temporary, that it was important to save people's lives, and
24 that property can be resolved easily.
25 MR. GOSNELL: May we have 1D3786, please, which is Defence
1 tab 75.
2 Q. How would you characterise the nature of your relationship with
3 your counterparts on the Croatian side in this enterprise of facilitating
4 departures of civilians, from each side to the other?
5 A. I wrote about that and spoke about that in public over the years.
6 We who were involved in these humanitarian affairs could just take
7 people's word for it, and they could just take my word for it. We did
8 not sign any documents, and, if we did, it happened very seldom. Because
9 there was the problem of state recognition. For instance, I would like
10 every document to say that I am a representative of the Republic of the
11 Serb Krajina, and the Croats would say: Well, we don't recognise that
12 state, and then there would be a problem. Well, then we took everybody's
13 word for it. Recognition is a formality but let us get the job done.
14 Let these people get out of prison. Let us get the deceased to their
15 families so that they can bury them properly. As for those who wished to
16 leave, well, they were saying that they wanted to save their lives so
17 they should leave on time. And once the war is over - we all knew that
18 one day the war would be over - then they should return to their property
20 Q. Now at paragraph 47, you're talking about prisoner exchanges, not
21 civilian departures, and you describe there the difference between a
22 one-for-one system of exchange and other grounds for exchange. And is it
23 true that the one-for-one exchange system was applied for prisoners of
24 war, or combatants?
25 A. We had two rules. One was one for one; and the other one was all
1 for all.
2 When everybody agreed to all for all, again, it would boil down
3 to one for one. Because the other side was always asked for more than
4 what the other side had admitted to having. They were asking, say, for
5 people who were no longer among the living or who went abroad and so on.
6 So it would always be that number. We'd always have to compile lists in
7 advance. Regardless of what we call the principle, we would have to
8 compile a list of these persons who would be exchanged, and an exchange
9 would hardly ever take place if everybody was not present, unless there
10 was a very strong reason for someone not being there. If one proceeds
11 from that principle, one for one, then what I described in my statement
12 would happen. Namely, at first, in 1991, 1992, and even in 1993, the
13 Serbs always had more Croat soldiers in their prisons than the Croats had
14 Serbs, so then when you say one for one, then Croats would start
15 arresting civilians and then they'd bring them to the exchange and they'd
16 say: Well, there you go, one for one. That's why I was against that.
17 Then civilians would get arrested and they would show up there as
18 prisoners to be exchanged for soldiers.
19 MR. GOSNELL: Mr. President, I thought I would have had time to
20 complete the document, but perhaps it would be best to finish it
21 tomorrow, with your leave.
22 JUDGE DELVOIE: Okay, Mr. Gosnell.
23 Mr. Strbac, this is -- 2.00 is the end of the -- today's hearing.
24 We expect you to be back at 9.00 tomorrow morning.
25 In the meantime, you remain a witness and you remain under oath.
1 In this system, this means that you are not allowed to speak with anybody
2 about your testimony, not even to your family back home, and also that
3 you are not allowed to have contact with any of the parties, as long as
4 you are under oath and on the witness stand.
5 Do you understand?
6 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Yes.
7 JUDGE DELVOIE: Thank you.
8 Court adjourned.
9 [The witness stands down]
10 --- Whereupon the hearing adjourned at 2.00 p.m.,
11 to be reconvened on Thursday, the 16th day of
12 October, 2014, at 9.00 a.m.