1 Thursday, 16 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 Madam Registrar, could you call the case, please.
8 THE REGISTRAR: Good morning, Your Honours. This is case
9 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. GILLETT: Good morning, Mr. President, Your Honours. It's
14 Matthew Gillett, together with Senior Trial Attorney, Douglas Stringer,
15 and legal intern Nika Jurkovic for the Prosecution.
16 JUDGE DELVOIE: Mr. Zivanovic, for the Defence.
17 MR. ZIVANOVIC: Good morning, Your Honours. For the Defence of
18 Goran Hadzic, Zoran Zivanovic and Christopher Gosnell.
19 JUDGE DELVOIE: Thank you.
20 [The witness takes the stand]
21 JUDGE DELVOIE: Good morning, Mr. Strbac.
22 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Good morning to you.
23 JUDGE DELVOIE: May I remind you that you are still under oath.
24 Mr. Zivanovic, please proceed. Sorry, Mr. Gosnell.
25 MR. GOSNELL: Good morning, Mr. President. Thank you.
1 WITNESS: SAVO STRBAC [Resumed]
2 [Witness answered through interpreter]
3 Examination by Mr. Gosnell: [Continued]
4 Q. Good morning, Mr. Strbac.
5 A. Good morning. Good morning.
6 MR. GOSNELL: May we have the witness's statement, please, on the
7 screen. It's 1D3652. And if there is a hard copy, that would be
8 appreciated for the witness.
9 Q. Now, Mr. Strbac, in the very limited time remaining, I just want
10 to ask you about two remaining issues, the first arising from
11 paragraph 47 of your statement in which you describe the Croatian side
12 arresting individuals in order to make up enough numbers to make a
13 one-for-one exchange for the Croat prisoners held by the Serb side, and
14 you describe here in paragraph 47 a particular way in which they were
15 doing that; namely, arresting civilians on the Croatian side.
16 Were there other ways that they increased the numbers of
17 prisoners that they had to exchange?
18 A. I mention in my statement, and I will repeat it now, that most
19 often these civilians were said to be snipers, especially in 1993. There
20 were many elderly people and even women about whom we asked when they
21 were brought for exchange. They told us that they had been shooting from
22 their apartments and houses, from windows, at soldiers and even
23 civilians, men, women, and children. When they brought elderly people
24 for exchange, I asked why, and they told me, They are snipers. So that
25 was a bit ridiculous.
1 Q. I apologise for interrupting. My question was whether there were
2 other ways, aside from arresting elderly people who were civilians, were
3 there other ways that they increased the numbers to be exchanged?
4 A. Well, yes. They arrested, for instance, ex-officers, retirees.
5 I remember there was some Pavle Osanica [phoen] in Zadar, born in Serbia
6 but then moved to Croatia and stayed in Croatia because his wife was
7 Croat and he had children there. Twice they brought him for exchange and
8 twice he returned to Zadar. The third time they arrested him and we are
9 still looking for him today. He didn't come to the Serbian side, but his
10 family received information that he had been on his way to Zagreb when he
11 reached Mount Velebit, and there he went missing without a trace. We are
12 still looking for him.
13 There were other arrests of shepherds, for instance. The
14 Croatian army would raid these peripheral areas and they would arrest
15 people who were tending to their sheep and cattle. We have such
16 information. There are three ongoing tries. Croats are trying people
17 who tortured people in jails. There were rapes. There were many arrests
18 of civilians, shepherds, women, elderly men. I wrote a lot about that
19 and published several books.
20 MR. GOSNELL: May we have 1D3786, please, which is Defence
21 tab 75.
22 Q. This is a wire report apparently from Reuters, the 5th of
23 November. At the top there's an indication it's 1993. It says:
24 "United Nations and Serb officials have accused Croats of
25 abducting rebel Serbs from Croatia's breakaway Krajina enclave. They say
1 that those seized are used by the Croats to swell the numbers in prisoner
2 exchanges. A UN official said abductions began at the end of last May.
3 Abduction of Serb settlers by Croats in bordering villages in Sector
4 South of the UN protected areas is becoming almost a regular practice,
5 Heather Felsinger, a humanitarian officer with the UN Protection Force,
6 told Reuters."
7 And then you're quoted down at the bottom as saying:
8 "We did not want to talk a lot about this problem as we didn't
9 want to endanger the exchange of POWs."
10 Now, can I just ask you this question, Mr. Strbac: How were
11 these abductions possible given that they were in areas that were
12 supposedly protected by the United Nations?
13 A. Well, very simple. I explained yesterday that the UN was not
14 deployed along borders. They only had a few check-points along borders.
15 They were deployed in Krajina along the principle of ink spots -- inkblot
16 pattern, so they were scattered all over.
17 As for UNPROFOR, as far as UNPROFOR is concerned, the Croats
18 could get in freely, the Croat army, police, et cetera. The Serbs were
19 guarded by UN soldiers, which didn't offer much protection. I told you
20 yesterday about Mirlovic Polje where seven elderly people were killed,
21 including four women. This happened in the end of May, when in the
22 village of Donji Baljci, Drnis municipality, they arrested seven
23 shepherds, including two women, and I believe it was on 18 September that
24 convictions were pronounced against some Croats, including one man called
25 Jakovlovic, for torturing and raping the women. The verdict has not been
1 written out yet.
2 Q. Were you aware and were other Serb officials aware that these
3 abductions were occurring at the time?
4 A. We were aware of them all. Sooner or later we'd find out.
5 Q. If I can just go to my next question. Why didn't the Serb police
6 or other forces stop them from occurring?
7 A. There were not enough people. You must realise the length of the
8 border between Republika Srpska Krajina and Croatia, I don't believe
9 there is a longer border for such small countries, such small regions.
10 We did not have enough personnel to protect, to defend, every metre of
11 the border.
12 MR. GOSNELL: I tender this document, Mr. President.
13 JUDGE DELVOIE: Mr. Gillett.
14 MR. GILLETT: Mr. President, Your Honours, we do object on the
15 basis of what this document goes to. Again, this goes to tu quoque
16 evidence. It's about the purported abduction of Serbs. Now, the
17 jurisprudence here at the Tribunal says that in general tu quoque
18 evidence is not admissible, but there are exceptions where it has been
19 shown there is a specific geographic and temporal link to crimes alleged
20 in the indictment or the responsibility of the accused for those crimes.
21 And I'm referring, for example, to a decision from the Prlic case of 17
22 August 2009, and can you see that on page 10, paragraph 23, of that
24 The Defence has not demonstrated how these purported border
25 abductions have any impact on the crimes alleged against Mr. Hadzic.
1 JUDGE DELVOIE: Mr. Gosnell.
2 MR. GOSNELL: Let's step back and think about some of the
3 evidence that was presented by the Prosecution in this case concerning
4 the mission of the United Nations, whether and how they were able to
5 defend certain areas, and the reasonableness and the explanation for the
6 Serb side not disarming. There was a tremendous amount of evidence heard
7 about that issue, and it is more than reasonable and perfectly relevant
8 to present evidence suggesting that there was a real threat, firstly,
9 that was not being responded to by the UN forces; that the RSK forces had
10 good reason and the RSK government had good reason not to disarm in these
12 And, furthermore, in addition to this, the capacity of the Serb
13 police and the Serb forces even to guard against infiltrations by Croat
14 forces and to prevent crimes in the same areas where the Prosecution is
15 arguing that those same forces could have prevented crimes against Croats
16 and didn't do so for the deliberate purpose of encouraging their
18 Now, these matters are relevant, and I would suggest if this type
19 of document, if this information is deemed irrelevant, as the Prosecution
20 seems to wish, then Your Honours will be left with an extremely
21 distorted, partial and incorrect view of the situation and the reasons
22 for decisions by the RSK government.
23 MR. GILLETT: And just one additional note. If the Defence is,
24 indeed, conceding that there was a policy on the part of the RSK
25 authorities not to disarm their forces, then we would withdraw the
1 objection to the admission of this document.
2 [Trial Chamber confers]
3 JUDGE DELVOIE: Objection overruled. The document is admitted
4 and marked.
5 THE REGISTRAR: Your Honours, 1D3786 will be Exhibit D246.
6 JUDGE DELVOIE: Thank you.
7 MR. GOSNELL: May we have 1D2845, which is Defence tab 32.
8 Q. Mr. Strbac, just to be clear from the outset, I don't intend to
9 go into the substance of this document with you in any detail. I simply
10 want to ask you this: Are you familiar with the contents of this report
11 in front of you?
12 A. Yes. I published it several times. I made it public.
13 Q. When did you receive it?
14 A. I think a few days after it was drafted, and if I remember well,
15 it was written in October 1993. I received it directly from
16 representatives of UNPROFOR. As I told you, I was part of the
17 authorities. In addition to being secretary of the government, I was
18 also chairman of that humanitarian commission of Krajina, or whatever you
19 want to call it, commission for the exchange of prisoners, commission for
20 the exchange of mortal remains, commission for humanitarian issues. In
21 any case, I co-operated with representatives of international
22 organisations and they insisted that after such a heinous crime such as
23 the one in the Medak pocket, on at least making available to us the
24 documentation they were able to collect if they were not able to protect
1 Q. And are the contents of this report generally accurate, based
2 upon what you know about the events at Medak pocket?
3 A. I would say that basically, yes. If we went into detail, I could
4 tell you about certain things that were different, but basically 99
5 per cent is correct.
6 MR. GOSNELL: Mr. President, I tender this document.
7 MR. GILLETT: For the record, again, we'll put our objection
8 about the tu quoque nature. And just do I understand correctly that the
9 witness reads English as we've just seen an English version of the
11 MR. GOSNELL:
12 Q. Mr. Strbac, is there a Serbian translation of this document?
13 A. Yes. The UNPROFOR made it and provided it. But I understand
14 English enough to know that it concerns the Medak operation, and I know
15 this document very well. I published it several times, both in English
16 and in Serbian.
17 MR. GOSNELL: Mr. President, again, I tender this document. I
18 will undertake to attempt to obtain the B/C/S version as well so that can
19 be uploaded, for what it's worth.
20 [Trial Chamber confers]
21 JUDGE DELVOIE: Admitted and marked.
22 THE REGISTRAR: Your Honour, 1D2845 will be Exhibit D247.
23 MR. GOSNELL: That concludes my direct examination,
24 Mr. President.
25 Thank you, Mr. Strbac.
1 JUDGE DELVOIE: Thank you, Mr. Gosnell.
2 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Welcome.
3 MR. GILLETT: If I could just take a minute to rearrange my
5 JUDGE DELVOIE: Take your time. Let us know.
6 Cross-examination by Mr. Gillett:
7 Q. Good morning, Mr. Strbac. As you're probably aware, my name is
8 Matthew Gillett. I'm representing the Prosecution. I'm going to ask you
9 some questions. If any of them are unclear, please ask me to clarify,
10 and I'll endeavour to do so.
11 Now, firstly, yesterday you spoke about the powers of the RSK
12 president under the constitution, and at transcript page 12460, you said
14 "In times of the state of war or imminent threat of war, he
15 assumed the powers of the parliament and transferred them to the
17 Do you recall saying that?
18 A. Well, that's roughly it, essentially. Maybe there are some
19 nuances, but basically that's it. Perhaps I could tell you in which way
20 he transferred those powers.
21 Q. We will get to the nuances. My question was whether you recall
22 saying that, that portion that I quoted from the transcript.
23 A. I said, yes, roughly, that's it. Basically that's it.
24 MR. GILLETT: Could we get L3, page 23 in the English, on the
1 Q. And so this is the RSK constitution which you were shown
3 Now, Hadzic, he assumed the powers of the assembly in accordance
4 with Article 78, paragraph 7, of the constitution, as I understand, and
5 I'll read this paragraph. It says:
6 "Under his initiative or under the government's proposal, during
7 a state of war or immediate threat of war, adopts acts about issues from
8 the assembly's jurisdiction and is required to submit them before the
9 assembly as soon as the assembly is able to meet. Acts adopted during
10 the state of war may limit certain human and civil rights and liberties
11 and change the organisation structure and authority of the government and
12 its ministries, courts and public prosecutor's offices."
13 That is the provision under which he assumed the powers of the
14 assembly in a state of war or imminent threat of war; correct?
15 A. Yes.
16 Q. And the government acted pursuant to the authority that Hadzic
17 delegated to it. For example, as you said in a decision in
18 September 1993 concerning the appointment of judges in the RSK, that was
19 based on his presidential decree from January; correct?
20 A. Yes.
21 Q. And the presidential decree you were referring to was the one of
22 22 January 1993 proclaiming a state of war; is that correct?
23 A. Yes.
24 MR. GILLETT: For the record, that's P2742.
25 Q. Do you recall that after the Miljevac Plateau incident in June
1 1992, the RSK declared an imminent state of war?
2 A. I really can't remember. I didn't see that document during
3 proofing. I allow the possibility that it is so, but I can't be
4 positive. If you have the document, please show it to me.
5 Q. Is it fair to say your recollection of events in June 1992 is
6 somewhat faded?
7 A. Well, concerning that document that you're asking me about, I
8 really can't remember. It faded in my memory. But as for the other
9 question, every year my organisation and I organise memorial services for
10 all these events, including the Medak pocket. And we have published a
11 lot of documents, although I can't remember this particular one. I'm
12 inclined to think that it was not published because we have a decree from
13 January 1993, and it would have been logical - although I can't remember
14 precisely - that the imminent threat of war had not been proclaimed then.
15 MR. GILLETT: If we could get P2742, and this is the presidential
16 decree of 22 January 1993, on the monitor, please.
17 Q. And, sir, if we look at point 1, we see that he says: "I declare
18 a state of war throughout the state territory of the RSK." And then at
19 point 2, he says: "I order a general mobilisation according to the
20 Defence plan." And do you see his signature there on the document?
21 A. Yes.
22 Q. And this was sent out to the Main Staff of the Army of the RSK,
23 the prime minister of the RSK, and the minister of interior; correct?
24 A. Yes.
25 Q. Now, while Hadzic delegated some of the assembly powers to the
1 government under his war powers, he still issued decrees himself;
3 MR. GOSNELL: Objection. That assumes facts not in evidence.
4 The characterisation has been made about -- well, I'll withdraw that
5 objection, Mr. President.
6 MR. GILLETT: Thank you.
7 Q. Sir, could you answer my question.
8 A. This was adopted on the 22nd of January. I believe it's the same
9 date as the decree we just discussed. So it was the same day that both
10 documents were passed.
11 Q. Sorry to cut you off, and there was an exchange back and forwards
12 so I'll repeat my question, which is: While Hadzic, as president,
13 delegated some of the assembly powers to the government pursuant to his
14 war powers, he still issued decrees himself after and on 22 January 1993;
16 MR. GOSNELL: I do object to that one, Mr. President. That does
17 assume a fact that is not in evidence because the proposition embedded in
18 the question is that some powers of the assembly are being exercised by
19 the president and that he is issuing decrees in those areas, and that's
20 not been put to the witness. That particular aspect has not been put to
21 the witness first.
22 MR. GILLETT: Your Honours, given that the witness is a lawyer
23 and former judge, if we're going to discuss this in further detail, and
24 given that it appears that he does understand some English, I would have
25 to ask him to leave the courtroom.
1 But to put my answer succinctly, I would say that the preceding
2 questions did, indeed, establish the basis for this question, and beyond
3 that, this is cross-examination. So I'm entitled to put whichever
4 proposition is based on the provisions that we're seeing in front of us.
5 JUDGE DELVOIE: The objection is -- sorry, Mr. Gosnell.
6 MR. GOSNELL: I just wanted to say, Mr. President, that even
7 though it's cross-examination, there still is a need to establish the
8 predicates to questions. That's still a requirement and that's the basis
9 of the objection.
10 JUDGE DELVOIE: The objection is overruled.
11 MR. GILLETT:
12 Q. So I'll repeat my question again. While Hadzic, as president,
13 had delegated some of the assembly powers to the government, he still
14 issued decrees pursuant to his war-time power; correct?
15 A. Well, I don't know. I saw some documents. I cannot remember
16 right now. I've already told you that this document bears the same date
17 as that decree transferring powers. Of course, the president could,
18 formally speaking, always take back the powers that he transferred to
19 someone else. I don't remember that, though. If you have a document to
20 that effect, I can tell you, as a lawyer. I'll do my best.
21 MR. GILLETT: Okay. Could we get P998. And this is tab 25, page
22 62, please.
23 Q. And, sir, while this is coming up, I note that you referred to
24 the removal of the RSK prime minister, Zdravko Zecevic, and his
25 replacement by Bjegovic in your statement. And this occurred at the same
1 time that you became secretary of the government; correct?
2 A. Yes.
3 Q. Now, what we have coming up on the screen are the minutes from
4 the extraordinary session of the RSK Assembly of 17 -- 27 March 1993.
5 And on this page, we see Hadzic's decision as president of 17 March 1993
6 which is read out. This has been read out by chairman Mile Paspalj and
7 the decision says: "The current prime minister of RSK, Zdravko Zecevic,
8 MA, is hereby removed from office, effective 17 March 1993."
9 That's correct, that Hadzic removed Zecevic on 17 March 1993;
11 A. According to this document, that seems to be it. A month later,
12 I became the secretary of the government. The government itself appoints
13 the secretary. So once the government was formed, they appointed me
14 secretary. That was a month after this.
15 Q. Thank you. You've answered the question.
16 Hadzic's decision that we see of 17 March 1993 was a war-time
17 decree; correct?
18 A. It seems to be that way because a state of war was declared in
20 Q. Now, if we could move to page 59 of the English in this, and this
21 is page 49 of the B/C/S on the right-hand side, we see the debates
22 concerning Hadzic's decision to remove Zecevic and we see that one of the
23 assembly members said the following:
24 "Zecevic perhaps wanted to introduce order. I may not even agree
25 with the president of the republic, but inside this assembly, I have to,
1 because ultimately Mr. Hadzic is president of the republic."
2 This member stated that he was compelled to accept the decision
3 of Mr. Hadzic because of his office of president; correct?
4 A. Well, I'm trying to find it. Where is that?
5 Q. In the English, it is the second-to-bottom paragraph. In the
6 B/C/S -- do you see it now?
7 A. If this is it, so Zecevic is not the one who was supposed to
8 resolve everything and within that context even the president of the
9 republic and the president of the assembly are guilty --
10 Q. Sorry, sir. It's the --
11 A. Oh, is it this?
12 "Perhaps Zecevic is the least guilty of all. Only time will
13 tell. Zecevic perhaps wanted to introduce order. I may not even agree
14 with the president of the republic, but inside this assembly, I have to,
15 because after all Mr. Hadzic is the president of the republic."
16 Well, in Serbian, this doesn't sound as if he has to vote for
17 Hadzic's proposal. In Serbian, it doesn't sound that way. He says:
18 "I may disagree with the president of the republic, but I have to
19 agree in this assembly because, after all, Mr. Hadzic is the president of
20 the republic."
21 From this, we only see that he respects that high office and
22 nothing else.
23 Q. Sir, you never met Hadzic, as far as you recall, correct, face to
25 A. As far as I can remember, during the war, certainly not. After
1 the war, we went our separate ways as refugees. Of course, I'd recognise
2 him anywhere in the world because I saw him in the media a lot, and he
3 probably saw me quite a bit, too. I do not remember meeting him,
4 encountering him, exchanging greetings, saying hello, hello. I don't
5 even remember speaking to him on the phone.
6 Q. And you do not know what interactions he was having with other
7 members of the RSK government, do you?
8 A. I don't know. What did not go through me as secretary of the
9 government or through Savo Strbac as a personality, I really don't know.
10 How could I know?
11 Q. So you don't know what influence Hadzic was having on government
12 decisions, do you?
13 A. No. That would not be right. I was secretary of the government,
14 and if something would arrive through official channels, then I'd have to
15 know about that. If you are now trying to ask me whether indirectly he
16 called one of the ministers and influenced him in order to have this or
17 that decision reached, I don't know. I really do not know, and I cannot
18 answer that kind of question because, after all, that's a hypothetical
20 MR. GILLETT: Could we now get P999 on the monitor, please. And
21 this is tab 33. If we could get page 26 of the English, and this is
22 B/C/S pages 56 to 57.
23 Q. Sir, in your statement and in your evidence, you've described
24 some problems that the RSK government had and you mention this in
25 multiple places. The document that's coming up in front of us is the
1 record of the 1st Session of a Conference of the Assembly of the RSK on 9
2 October 1993, and I'm interested in a portion where Milan Martic
3 describes some of the problems in the RSK. His speech starts at page 21,
4 but looking at page 26, we see, and I quote, starting from, "On the
5 whole," which is in the middle of the page:
6 "On the whole, the Serb Krajina republic's president,
7 Goran Hadzic, stayed in Krajina for one hour every two months, and he
8 could hardly bear even that one hour so had to run back saying that he
9 did not have a place to stay there. I told him that we had rented a
10 house for him. We were a paying the rent for six or seven months for
11 nothing. The government paid simply because he could not be in Knin."
12 And then if I skip further:
13 "The reason that the government has not been competent is that it
14 was being obstructed by President Hadzic and the group around him. It
15 was not the government that has had the Serb Krajina republic's financial
16 resources at its disposal but the group around President Hadzic."
17 That is one of the reasons for the RSK government's problems, to
18 the extent there were problems, correct, the behaviour of Hadzic and his
20 A. Well, that's the opinion of Mr. Martic who, at the time, was
21 minister of the interior, as far as I can remember, in Bjegovic's
22 government. So, as for his opinion, I really have no comment on that,
23 except that's the opinion of a minister. And Hadzic rarely went to Knin;
24 there's no denying that. Everybody knows that. I spoke about that, too.
25 Q. I'm interested in your opinion. Is it true that the misbehaviour
1 of Hadzic and his associates was a cause of the problems of the RSK
3 A. The Bjegovic government, no. As far as I can remember, it was an
4 excellent team, if I may say so. In, say, 90 per cent of all cases,
5 decisions were made unanimously. However, Hadzic was president before
6 that as well during the Zecevic government, so -- well, Martic was in the
7 Zecevic government, too, so perhaps something from that period. I mean,
8 he could have presented his views.
9 As far as I can remember, there were ministers from the eastern
10 part, from Eastern Slavonia, where Hadzic lived and worked, but these
11 ministers were very devoted to Prime Minister Bjegovic. I knew them
12 personally. They were a very good team and they became even closer
13 because of war and all the trouble that followed. So in my opinion,
14 there was nothing that would indicate that Hadzic was exerting any kind
15 of pressure on any minister.
16 Q. Sir, that's not the question that I asked. You've referred to
17 the prior period during the Zecevic government, but this statement comes
18 from the period during the Bjegovic government. Are you saying that it
19 is not true that Hadzic's and his associates' behaviour had a negative
20 impact on the functioning of the RSK government during that period?
21 MR. GOSNELL: Objection.
22 JUDGE DELVOIE: Mr. Gosnell.
23 MR. GOSNELL: Objection; vague. But now not only is it all
24 behaviour being referred to but also all associates, and that's a very
25 wide range, Mr. President.
1 JUDGE DELVOIE: Could you rephrase, Mr. Gillett.
2 MR. GILLETT: Indeed.
3 Q. Mr. Strbac, are you saying that Martic's claims here at the
4 assembly in October 1993 that the conduct of Hadzic and the group around
5 him was having a negative impact on the functioning of the RSK government
6 is not true?
7 A. I'm just saying that I did not notice any influence over the
8 members of the government while I was there, that is to say, from April,
9 I mean when this session was held. Now, whether Hadzic influenced some
10 other structures of authority -- there's the army, there's the police,
11 like in any other country. It's not only the government. They're not
12 only ministers who are members of the government. There are other
13 structures as well. Whether objectively he could have exercised any
14 influence, in all sincerity, I don't think so. I don't think that
15 Karadzic could have influenced anybody or anything.
16 Q. You said Karadzic. I believe you mean Hadzic; correct?
17 A. Hadzic, Hadzic, Hadzic. I'm sorry, it was a slip of the tongue.
18 Q. Sir, prior to this quote I've just read from minister of the
19 interior Milan Martic, Martic said about Hadzic: "He is surrounded by a
20 group so deep into crime that he could absolutely never get away from
21 it." That's correct, isn't it?
22 MR. GOSNELL: Objection. Objection, Mr. President. It's vague
23 as to whether what's being asked is that that's what said or is that the
24 way it was. That needs to be clarified.
25 MR. GILLETT:
1 Q. I'm asking him whether that's the truth.
2 A. You're right.
3 Q. Okay.
4 A. If Martic said that, if that is what is written here, then that
5 was it. I did not attend this session, this assembly, I think. I don't
6 know whether Martic said it, but you and I and anybody else can read
7 this. If it's written in the record, then it's written in the record.
8 But it's a different matter whether that is what actually happened in
9 real life, in reality.
10 Q. That isn't my question. Is that true, in reality, or is it not,
11 or do you not know?
12 A. I don't know. I know that nobody brought criminal charges
13 against him during the war, and I know that he was not relieved of the
14 duties of president because of some crimes. I know that where he was a
15 candidate when he ran for the Presidency, he lost, but nobody prosecuted
16 him for crimes. Both he and I lived in Serbia. I would have known had
17 criminal charges been brought against him.
18 As for rumours, I've already said that. After the war I heard
19 these stories that Hadzic was linked to some kind of trade oak wood,
20 whatever, in Slavonia. This is really just rumours. You said a moment
21 ago that I'm a lawyer, that I was a judge for many years, and I cannot
22 rely on rumours.
23 Q. Sir, as secretary of government, your purview did not
24 specifically relate to military affairs; correct?
25 A. No, no. I was an administrative person in the government. I did
1 not have any ministry of my own. I was supposed to prepare sessions of
2 the government, and then when a decision was made by the government, we
3 should prepare everything to have such a decision published. And before
4 that, I headed the government commission for humanitarian affairs, and
5 that included the exchange of prisoners, the exchange of mortal remains,
6 and exchanges of civilians, too, and also talking to all international
7 organisations and --
8 Q. You've answered my question. Thank you, sir. You don't know
9 whether Hadzic issued military orders to the RSK forces, do you?
10 A. I don't know. I really don't know. I did not hear of that.
11 Q. Could we --
12 A. And at government sessions, that was never brought up, that he
13 had issued any orders like that.
14 MR. GILLETT: Could we get P182. This is tab 15, please.
15 Q. Now, this is an order by Hadzic dated 20 May 1993, so that's
16 while you were the secretary of the government, and it's an order to
17 expand the authority of supervising officers at the level of brigade and
19 Do you see the order on the monitor in front of you?
20 A. Yes.
21 Q. This is an exercise of Hadzic's war-time powers; correct?
22 A. On the basis of this, that would seem be to the case.
23 Q. Sir, turning to a new topic, you've mentioned your work as a
24 lawyer. And you were working as a lawyer in 1991 and 1992 and thereafter
25 in the RSK; correct?
1 A. Yes.
2 Q. One of your previous clients was a Nikola Gagic; right?
3 A. Yes.
4 Q. And he was convicted of murdering two Croats in Prizren, near
5 Benkovac, in November 1991 at first instance; right?
6 A. The wife was a Serb and the husband was a Croat. My friends. I
7 knew them personally. While I was a judge at the municipal court in
8 Benkovac, that man was a lay judge, and while I worked in a company, the
9 son of the woman was the director of that company. It was a second
10 marriage for both of them. I'm speaking about the victims, of course. I
11 knew them very well. And, yes, I defended Gagic.
12 JUDGE DELVOIE: Mr. Gosnell.
13 MR. GOSNELL: Mr. President, a correction for the record. The
14 last document is not from 1993 but from 1992, and it was represented to
15 the witness --
16 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] You're right, yes, 1992.
17 MR. GOSNELL: -- represented to the witness ...
18 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Yes, yes. I see it now.
19 JUDGE DELVOIE: Mr. Gillett, does that change anything to your
20 assertion that this document was from the time Mr. Strbac was secretary
21 of the government?
22 MR. GILLETT: Thank you for the clarification. It does affect
23 the fact that he was secretary of the government. If we could get the
24 document again back on the monitor, and indeed this is from 1992. This
25 is P182, please.
1 Q. Now, would you agree nonetheless that that this was an exercise
2 of Hadzic's war-time powers?
3 A. Yes. But at that time a state of imminent threat of war or a
4 state of war had not been declared. That happened only later in
5 January 1993 when he transferred his powers to the government. So that
6 is a significant difference in respect of what you tried to make me say,
7 that it was 1993.
8 Q. Are you saying that Hadzic could exercise his war-time powers in
9 May 1992 even before the declaration of a state of war?
10 A. Well, it seems to be that way. Well, now, we'd have to take a
11 look at this together, what Article 78 says, whether it pertains to a
12 state of war only or is it part of his regular powers, because the powers
13 of the president of the state are defined in Article 78. We can go back
14 to paragraph 12 and then we can take a look at this together.
15 Q. And you'll agree with me that this order says:
16 "In order to eliminate the threat for the vital interests of the
17 Republika Srpska Krajina and the interests of the Serb people on the
18 whole by the fact of the state of war present in Republika Srpska
19 Krajina, I issue the following ... order."
21 A. So that the vital interests of the RSK would not be jeopardized.
22 This can be interpreted in legal terms, that there was a war going on,
23 but that does not mean that necessarily there had been a state of war
24 declared. It is a fact that there was a war, that war was being waged,
25 starting in 1991, but that does not mean that a state of war had been
1 declared. Why would then somebody declare a state of war in January 1993
2 if it had been declared before that?
3 Q. And as you mentioned, the order refers to Article 78(12),
4 clause 12, Hadzic could exercise this power even in the absence of a
5 formal declaration of a state of war or an imminent state of war;
7 A. We'll agree on that, yes. But that's a completely different
8 thing compared to what you asked me before.
9 Q. Thank you for clarifying that. If we could go back to the Gagic
10 case, you were brought in as the defence counsel on the appeal; correct?
11 Together with a Goran Majstorovic.
12 A. Yes. As far as I can remember, yes.
13 Q. And the first-instance conviction of Gagic was overturned and
14 sent back to be re-decided, and then the case was transferred back to the
15 public prosecutor in Knin in July 1993. Are you aware of that?
16 A. Knin? I'm not sure. But the appeal was successful and a retrial
17 was granted, but I'm not sure whether it was in Knin or Banja Luka.
18 Q. So you don't know whether the case was transferred back to the
19 RSK courts.
20 A. It certainly wasn't transferred back to the RSK. Those were
21 military courts, both the lower and the higher. Up to May 1992, military
22 courts held trials for crimes committed by soldiers, both in Serbia, in
23 BH, and in RSK, and the military courts deferred cases to civilian courts
24 after the army withdrew.
25 I know that case very well, and the Croats cited it a million
1 times. And I know what you're going to ask, so please go ahead.
2 MR. GILLETT: Well, first, could we get P3024 - and this
3 is tab 93, page 6 - on the monitor, please.
4 Q. And, sir, this is a letter from the military court in Belgrade
5 explaining the cessation of the military courts in Zagreb, Split and
6 Sarajevo. On page 6, at point number 5, we see a reference to the Gagic
8 Firstly, do you see that it says, in relation to the victims,
9 "Miletic Kuzman and his wife Djuka, that they were civilians of Croat
10 ethnicity ..."
11 It's what it says there; correct?
12 A. Yes, I told you they were my friends. She was a Serb. I know
13 her entire family. This was their second marriage. They had no children
14 in common.
15 Q. Sir --
16 A. It can say whatever it wants. I know what I know. Djuka is a
17 typically Serbian name.
18 Q. If I may then ask you, it says that the case was forwarded to the
19 RSK public prosecutor in Knin after the military court in Belgrade was
20 proclaimed incompetent. So you were not aware of that, were you?
21 A. No. I don't know on what grounds. You told me a moment ago that
22 the conviction was repealed and the case was sent back for re-trial. It
23 doesn't say that here. It says the case was forwarded to the public
24 prosecutor in Knin after the court, the military court, pronounced itself
25 incompetent. Why? I don't know. All I know is that the judgement was
1 repealed and that at the re-trial I did not represent the Gagics.
2 Q. Sir, it's correct that the first-instance judgement was
3 overturned and subsequently there was no re-trial because it was referred
4 back to the public prosecutor in Knin.
5 If we look now to the decision that you've mentioned by the
6 Belgrade Supreme Court - this is 1D2523, which is tab 87 - and this is
7 the decision of 7 May 1992.
8 While this is coming up, does that date sound correct for the
9 appeal decision that you were the defence counsel on?
10 A. All right. 19 May 1992 is the day when military courts lost
11 jurisdiction in the RSK. It fits in, as far as dates are concerned.
12 MR. GILLETT: If we could go to page 2 of the English, in the
13 middle of the first paragraph on page 2, it's listing the arguments of
14 the defence in this case. If we could go to page 2 of the English.
15 Sorry, this is page 3 of the English, and the first -- middle of the
16 first paragraph, and this is page 3, third paragraph, in the B/C/S.
17 Q. And as this comes up, it says:
18 "Defence counsel considers that the conduct" -- this is about
19 halfway down the first paragraph:
20 "Defence counsel considers that the conduct of the accused was
21 not unlawful because he committed the crime against persons whom he
22 rightfully considered to be members of the other party to the conflict
23 and a soldier is never held responsibile for killing an opponent. It is
24 inconsequential that the injured parties had the status of civilians
25 because we are talking about a civil war and enemy territory."
1 Do you stand by that argument, that it's permissible to kill
2 civilians in enemy territory during a time of war?
3 A. You see, this is just as -- the supreme military court took
4 something out of context from my appeal, which was several hundred pages
5 long. But this was a statement wherein I, as a lawyer, as a human being,
6 condemned during the war the makers of that war. I condemned in my
7 appeal those who brought that young man, Gagic, who was just doing his
8 military service, who brought him to the front line and told him, All of
9 what you see in front of you are enemies. This young man was painted in
10 camouflage, went to the other side, killed people, playing some Indian
11 dance, shouting yoo hoo hoo, and then he was locked up by the Ustashas.
12 I condemned those who brought that young man to the front line and told
13 him, All you see facing you from the other side are enemies.
14 THE INTERPRETER: Could the witness please slow down.
15 JUDGE DELVOIE: Mr. Witness, the interpreters ask you, once
16 again, to slow down, please.
17 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] I will try.
18 MR. GILLETT:
19 Q. Sir, my question was: Do you stand by the proposition that it's
20 permissible to kill civilians during a time of war. Yes or no?
21 A. It's one thing when you are in the role of defence counsel and
22 another thing if you are a human being. My view is that it's not
23 acceptable to kill anyone, let alone civilians. I dealt with
24 humanitarian work but I was also a defence counsel. I defended people
25 the best I could. Ultimately, you can see that the Supreme Court - and
1 the Supreme Court is not just anyone - accepted my arguments and returned
2 the case for re-trial. This is taken out of a broader context.
3 I repeat: I'm against wars, against the killing of both soldiers
4 and civilians. If I had any decision-making power, I would never send
5 anyone to war. I lost a 10-and-a-half-year-old son during the war. I
6 know what I'm talking about.
7 Q. You don't mention the Gagic case anywhere in your evidence or
8 your statement, do you?
9 A. Why would I mention him? I defended him. At one point, as a
10 lawyer, I had 35 clients in Krajina who were murderers. They were all
11 ongoing cases. I didn't mention any case in which I acted as defence
12 counsel. There was never any mention of it. I wasn't holding anything
13 back. I wasn't concealing that I worked as a defence lawyer throughout
14 the war, and I can even tell you that I had the honour of being a member
15 of the bar association of Croatia and then the Republic of Serbian
16 Krajina, and later of Serbia, and then the Federal Republic of
17 Yugoslavia. So, yes, I worked as a lawyer in many states.
18 MR. GILLETT: I'd tender this judgement, 1D2523.
19 JUDGE DELVOIE: To what end, Mr. Gillett?
20 MR. GILLETT: Credibility.
21 [Trial Chamber confers]
22 JUDGE DELVOIE: We will not admit the document, Mr. Gillett.
23 MR. GILLETT: Thank you, Mr. President.
24 THE WITNESS: [No interpretation]
25 MR. GILLETT:
1 Q. Sir, you mentioned that this topic came up in the International
2 Court of Justice proceedings. Serbia was so concerned about your
3 reliability in these proceedings that it disavowed you as a witness;
5 A. Who disavowed me?
6 Q. The Republic of Serbia.
7 A. You are misinformed. It is the Croats who didn't want to hear
8 any witnesses from the Serbian side. The Serbs put me forward and
9 insisted. It was at the proposal of the Serbian side that eight
10 witnesses were supposed to be heard. The Croats didn't want to hear any
11 of them, and we still don't understand why the Croats didn't want to hear
12 them. And they had special objections to my appearing as a witness
13 because I was supposed to be an expert witness who collected documents
14 and made a statement. My whole statement was admitted. I testified
15 because my statement was relayed by a lawyer from the Serbian side. The
16 Croats could have cross-examined me but they did not wish to for reasons
17 only they know.
18 It's not the Serbs who gave up on me. The Serbs built their
19 cases primarily on the information that I provided, and it was included
20 in the closing arguments and it was referred to throughout the trial. So
21 you are misinformed, seriously misinformed.
22 MR. GILLETT: Could I get 65 ter 6712, and this is tab 64, page 3
23 in English.
24 Q. Now, sir, this is available on the ICJ website. It is the
25 rejoinder memorial of the Republic of Serbia, dated 1 November 2011,
1 volume 1. If we go to page 3, we have the excerpt, and this is
2 paragraph 592. And here's what Serbia said after discussing the Gagic
3 judgement that we've just discussed:
4 "Even if the military court interpreted the defence submission
5 precisely, it should be noted that Mr. Strbac is not a witness, nor an
6 expert witness, nor defence counsel in this case. He is merely the head
7 of an NGO. It is the organisation and not Mr. Strbac personally that has
8 collected evidence of the Serb victims in Croatia."
9 So it's correct that Serbia disavowed your evidence and
10 effectively dropped you as a witness, isn't it?
11 A. What are you talking about, man? That's not the way it was.
12 They can write anything. When this was written -- I don't know if you
13 saw the rest of the material. The Croats appealed, we counterappealed,
14 and then the Croats responded with the same arguments as you read out in
15 the Gagic case and they wrote -- I mean, the Serbs then wrote what they
16 wrote. After that, witnesses were proposed.
17 So the Serbs are responding to Croat objections, Croat arguments.
18 I don't see where you draw the conclusion from that they disavowed me. I
19 think it was on 13 or 14 March - you can open the records of the
20 International Court of Justice - where my statement was presented before
21 the court by Counsel Lukic --
22 Q. Sir, if I could --
23 A. You can look at that --
24 Q. -- just cut in here. Sorry.
25 A. -- so we don't waste any more time on this.
1 MR. GILLETT: We would tender this as it goes directly to the
2 witness's credibility, Your Honours.
3 [Trial Chamber confers]
4 MR. GILLETT: Apologies, I see that we're not ready for the
6 JUDGE DELVOIE: Yes, Mr. Gosnell.
7 MR. GOSNELL: I object, Mr. President. I think that this passage
8 has been mischaracterised by the Prosecution. There isn't sufficient
9 context to understand precisely what's being said here, absolutely no
10 indication that the witness was being effectively dropped, so this has no
11 impeachment value.
12 MR. GILLETT: Your Honours, we included the context, Serbia's
13 argument concerning the Gagic issue, and where my learned friend says
14 there is no indication he has been dropped, we would say that's
15 contradicted by the express terms "Mr. Strbac is not a witness, nor an
16 expert witness, nor defence counsel in this case," which are abundantly
17 clear on their face as to what Serbia is saying.
18 MR. GOSNELL: Mr. President, that's quite different from saying
19 that someone has been dropped as a witness. It's a factual statement
20 about the status of a person who, for example, could be submitting an
21 amicus brief, a report, something akin to a Brandeis brief. And the
22 reason for his status at that stage could have been decided for reasons
23 that have nothing whatsoever to do with his credibility, such as - and
24 this is what the witness has said - that there was no objection
25 apparently to tendering of his report, or there was no need for
1 cross-examination. So there's not a sufficient basis for this to have
2 any impeachment value.
3 MR. GILLETT: Just as a note, Your Honours, this is why I said
4 "effectively dropped," and the context in these surrounding pages makes
5 it abundantly clear what Serbia is doing and the reasons for which it is
6 doing this.
7 [Trial Chamber confers]
8 JUDGE DELVOIE: The objection is sustained.
9 MR. GILLETT: Thank you.
10 Q. Mr. Strbac, you were a member of the Benkovac TO Staff in late
11 1991; correct?
12 A. From 1977, I was a member of the Benkovac TO Staff. 1977.
13 Q. And you were still a member in late 1991; right?
14 A. Yes.
15 Q. And you were an intelligence officer in the Benkovac TO Staff;
17 A. Yes.
18 Q. Zoran Lekic was the commander of the Benkovac TO Staff; right?
19 A. Lakic. Zoran Lakic. Right.
20 Q. And the volunteers in the Benkovac TO Staff were headed by Zoran
21 Tadic; right?
22 A. Possibly. Possibly. It must have been a short period of time.
23 There was somebody called Zoran Tadic. We have a lot of Tadics in
24 villages around Benkovac. I don't know if he was a volunteer or a local.
25 But during those days of war, there was some Zoran Lakic who appeared at
1 the staff or was attached to the staff. I don't know if he received any
3 MR. GILLETT: Could we get 65 ter document 6720. This is tab 72.
4 And could we get page 2 of this document.
5 Q. Now, if we look at number 26, that's you; correct?
6 A. Yes.
7 Q. And then if we look number 28, that's Zoran Tadic; right?
8 A. Yes. It says here that he was a commander. I told you, there
9 was one Zoran Tadic. Whether a local or an outsider, I don't know.
10 There are many people called Tadic in my village as well.
11 MR. GILLETT: We would seek to admit this document 6720, please.
12 JUDGE DELVOIE: Admitted and marked.
13 THE REGISTRAR: Your Honours, 6720 will be Exhibit P3317.
14 JUDGE DELVOIE: Thank you.
15 MR. GILLETT:
16 Q. The chief of the public security branch in Benkovac was Bosko
17 Drazic; correct?
18 A. Yes.
19 Q. And in November 1991, the 180th Motorised Brigade of the JNA was
20 operating in the area of Benkovac; correct?
21 A. Probably. I think that's what it's called. Traditionally there
22 was a large military presence there from pre-war times.
23 Q. Now, Benkovac is close to the village or town of Skabrnja;
25 A. Relatively. About 20 kilometres.
1 Q. And Skabrnja is close -- 3 or 4 kilometres from your home town
2 where you were born of Rastevic; right?
3 A. Rastevic. About 10 kilometres. If there's 10 kilometres from
4 Benkovac and 6 from my village, then it must be between 10 and 15. But
5 there are two villages in between, Zagradina and then Skabrnja.
6 Q. And Nadin is also close to Benkovac; right?
7 A. It's all relative, yes. And it belonged to Benkovac
8 municipality, Nadin did. And Skabrnja belonged to Zadar municipality.
9 Q. Now, pre-war Skabrnja had about 2.000 inhabitants and was large
10 majority Croat ethnicity; right?
11 A. There were Croats but I don't know how many. Since I didn't
12 belong to Benkovac municipality, I don't know.
13 Q. Do you dispute that Skabrnja was an overwhelming majority Croat
15 A. I told you, they were 99 per cent Croat.
16 Q. Serb forces attacked Skabrnja and Nadin on 18 October 1991;
18 A. Yes. The JNA led the operation, as far as I heard. I wasn't a
20 Q. The Benkovac TO was involved in the operation as well; correct?
21 A. Some parts. It's a very broad concept. Do you mean that these
22 members of the staff participated? Maybe some of them did, but the
23 majority didn't.
24 Q. The Serb forces killed several Croat civilians during the attack
25 on Skabrnja and Nadin on 18 October 1991 and thereafter; correct?
1 A. Yes. I turned over the mortal remains to the Croatian side.
2 MR. GILLETT: If we could get P2647 - this is tab 12 - on the
4 Q. And this is a report from Lieutenant-Colonel Simo Rosic of the
5 180 Motorised Brigade concerning the killings of civilians in Skabrnja
6 and Nadin. Now, if we look at page 1, second paragraph, he says that:
7 "All the collected data shows that the killings were committed by
8 members of the Benkovac TO Staff special units, or units that fought
9 under their command. These were volunteers from Serbia and Opacic's
10 group composed of combatants from the area."
11 Who is the Opacic that he is referring to?
12 A. As far as I remember, there were several Opacics but you probably
13 mean Goran Opacic. He was a policeman before the war - I don't know in
14 which place - and he came to Benkovac, as many others who had been
15 expelled from Croatia did. And allegedly a group of people gathered
16 around him, tough guys mostly.
17 Q. At page 2 of this report --
18 A. Let me tell you straight away. I thought you were going to ask
19 me something else. In relation to Skabrnja, there were many, many
20 trials, and it was established that Opacic and his group did not take
21 part in that action. So much for the authenticity of this document. I'm
22 talking about verdicts by Croat courts, Croatian courts.
23 Q. So are you sure that this is Goran Opacic that is being referred
24 to? Are you now sure of that when you're referring to this document?
25 A. No, there was no other Opacic group, apart from the Goran Opacic
2 Q. Now, at page 2 of the report, it notes that a Gjindic mutilated
3 the body of one of the Croat victims by cutting off the ear and was
4 showing this in cafes in Benkovac. You're aware of that, right?
5 A. I don't know, but I don't rule out the possibility because there
6 were lunatics on all sides.
7 Q. Sir, you don't mention anywhere in your statement or evidence the
8 killing of Croat civilians by the Serb forces in Skabrnja and Nadin, do
10 A. Why would I mention it? I didn't take part in that operation. I
11 turned over the mortal remains. I was already involved in exchanges by
12 that time. I believe there were 48 sets of mortal remains to the Croats,
13 and the Territorial Defence members pulled out villagers out of that
14 village because the fighting was fierce. Over 100 women and children
15 were brought to Benkovac in two buses, and the next day I turned them
16 over to Croats --
17 Q. Sir --
18 A. -- after we had arranged that exchange by telephone. And I don't
19 see why I would tell what happened in Skabrnja in this case.
20 Q. Sir, I see the time. As a final question, you weren't involved
21 in the Medak pocket operation or the Miljevac operation either, but you
22 choose to mention them in your evidence. And I put it to you that you
23 don't mention the killing and mistreatment of Croat civilians because
24 you're attempting to minimise the suffering of Croats and exaggerate the
25 suffering of Serbs. That's correct, isn't it?
1 A. That is absolutely wrong. In many other places, I spoke about
2 that publicly, and I wrote about victims on the Croat side. I never said
3 before but I'm telling you now that I turned over at least 48 victims to
4 the Croats. So the Croats knew about all this. I arranged the hand-over
5 with them. That is very well known. And all these civilians, women and
6 children, I also turned them over one or two days after the operation.
7 MR. GILLETT: Thank you.
8 JUDGE DELVOIE: Mr. Strbac, we'll take the first break, 30
9 minutes, and we will come back at 11.00.
10 Court adjourned.
11 --- Recess taken at 10.32 a.m.
12 [The witness stands down]
13 --- On resuming at 11.01 a.m.
14 JUDGE DELVOIE: Mr. Stringer, we hear that you have a preliminary
15 matter to raise.
16 MR. STRINGER: Yes, thank you, Mr. President. Good morning to
17 you and Your Honours.
18 Just a housekeeping matter related to the previous witness.
19 We've been informed by e-mail this morning that the Defence agrees that
20 we can replace Exhibit P03081 with 65 ter 1597.2, and so we're requesting
21 that now P3081 be replaced by 65 ter 1597.2.
22 JUDGE DELVOIE: Is that the amalgamated document we were talking
23 about yesterday with Mr. Olmsted?
24 MR. STRINGER: That's correct, Your Honour, yes.
25 JUDGE DELVOIE: Okay. That can be done.
1 [The witness takes the stand]
2 JUDGE DELVOIE: Please proceed, Mr. Gillett.
3 MR. GILLETT: Thank you, Mr. President.
4 Q. Mr. Strbac, you were still a member of the Benkovac TO in
5 March 1992; correct?
6 A. Formally, yes.
7 Q. Are you aware of a visit to this area by Goran Hadzic,
8 Zdravko Zecevic, Milan Martic, and Arkan Raznjatovic around 13
9 March 1992?
10 A. No, no, I cannot remember, especially not that they came that way
11 together. No, I really don't know.
12 Q. I'll now turn to a new topic which is events in Ovcara in 1991,
14 Now, sir, you're aware that the Serb forces killed over 200 Croat
15 victims on 20 November 1991; right?
16 A. That's not right.
17 Q. Which part of that is not correct?
18 A. Well, that I knew that they were killed then, in 1991, 1992.
19 It's not correct that I knew that.
20 Q. That wasn't my question, but we'll move on.
21 Sir, the Republika Srpska Krajina had a policy of not recognising
22 responsibility for events occurring prior to the formation of the RSK;
24 A. Not correct. Quite frankly, I don't understand that question of
1 MR. GILLETT: Could we get 65 ter 6684, and I note that this is
2 an article that is also contained in Defence document 1D2697. It's
3 tab 56.
4 Q. And, sir, this is an article from November 1993 in Vecernje
5 Novosti. And at page 2 in the second-last paragraph, near the bottom -
6 this is the middle column in B/C/S - there's a quote from yourself and
7 it's concerning the events in Ovcara. Among other reasons, you say, "Our
8 young state cannot be held responsible because it was still not formed at
9 that time."
10 You are referring to Republika Srpska Krajina here; correct?
11 A. Where is that? I cannot see that actual quote.
12 Q. It should be the middle column in B/C/S.
13 MR. GOSNELL: May I request that the column be expanded.
14 MR. GILLETT:
15 Q. Now --
16 A. Under my photograph, I don't know whether this has been
17 translated. Do you see what I'm saying? It says "Our interlocutor
18 claims that --" well, I don't know. You're trying to get me so say
19 something about something that I don't know.
20 Q. Sir, it's the column which is now to the left in bold --
21 A. All right.
22 Q. -- and starting:
23 "'Until 3 January 1992,'" it says, "'at the time that the
24 Sarajevo agreement was signed and the decision adopted for the arrival of
25 the Blue Helmets to the former Yugoslavia, the fighting was going on
1 between the JNA and the Croatian army. For anything happening at that
2 time, our young state cannot be held responsible because it was still not
3 formed at that time, nor did it have its own army,' added Strbac."
4 Did you state this?
5 A. Yes. And read out the next sentence in bold as well.
6 Q. Sir, you've answered my question.
7 MR. GILLETT: If we could now get -- and I will come back to this
8 article. But, first, could we get P2249.2168.1, and this is tab 45.
9 Q. While this is coming up, this is a report from UN CIVPOL from
10 November 1992, and at this time the Ovcara grave had been located and the
11 internationals were attempting to get approval from the RSK authorities
12 to carry out the exhumation.
13 If we turn to page 2, and this is page 1 in B/C/S. On page 2 of
14 the English, we see that it says, the sentence starting:
15 "On the 28th October 1992, the local police told CIVPOL they were
16 instructed not to investigate any matters which occurred prior to the
17 establishment of the Serbian Republic of Krajina."
18 That's in line with your comments in the previous article that we
19 just saw; correct?
20 A. You cannot see it on this page of mine, so have them place the
21 second page there as well.
22 MR. GILLETT: This is at the bottom of the page in B/C/S.
23 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Yes, yes, but then it continues on
24 the next page.
25 MR. GILLETT: Thank you.
1 Q. So this statement that the local police were instructed not to
2 investigate anything which occurred prior to the formation of RSK, that's
3 consistent with what you said publicly, that the RSK could not be
4 responsible for events prior to its formation; correct?
5 A. Well, what was I then in 1992? If you think that somebody drew
6 such conclusions on the basis of a public statement of mine, I mean, I
7 really see no connection between the two.
8 MR. GILLETT: Could we now get P3065. This is tab 20.
9 Q. Now, this is a letter from Milan Ilic who was the president of
10 the SBWS regional council of RSK, and it's a letter of 28 October 1992
11 responding to the internationals' requests to exhume Ovcara.
12 Now, if we look at page 1, the second paragraph of this letter,
13 he says that the attempts to investigate, and I'm paraphrasing, Ovcara
14 were an attempt to "Satanise the Serbs."
15 Then at point 2, if we jump down to point 2, he says:
16 "The information is from part of the Croatian armed forces
17 Ustasha who committed murder" --
18 A. No translation. No translation. Now it's there.
19 Q. Let me repeat that quote. He says:
20 "The information is from part of the Croatian armed forces
21 Ustasha who committed murder against civil inhabitants who have not been
22 suitable for them till 17 October 1991 (till the fall of Vukovar), and
23 buried them at this location willing now to push under our side better
24 say the Serbs, their monstrous crime."
25 He is suggesting that the crimes, the victims at Ovcara were
1 victims of the Croatian side, isn't he?
2 A. I have no idea. Believe me, I have no idea what he is suggesting
3 here. What does this have to do with me?
4 Q. Sir, this letter concerns the attempts to exhume Ovcara. Are you
5 disagreeing that Ilic's words here suggest that it was the Croats who
6 were responsible for this? Do you disagree with that?
7 A. Many people lost their lives on both sides in Vukovar. What he
8 meant is something that he should be asked or whoever it was that drafted
9 this. Many Serbs and Croats lost their lives in Vukovar. In 1991, the
10 bloodiest war was waged precisely in the Vukovar area. There are many
11 missing persons to this day. There were many killings that were
12 committed, Ovcara and other ones. I didn't know about Ovcara people.
13 We're referring to some kind of Ovcara but nobody knew whether it really
14 existed and what it was all about.
15 In 1997, a Serb was convicted for a killing and Ovcara was marked
16 in a completely different place --
17 Q. Sir --
18 A. -- in a different place and --
19 Q. -- we've gone somewhat off track, so we've gone somewhat off
20 track here.
21 You also said that the Croatian requests and the international
22 attempts to exhume Ovcara were an effort to Satanise the Serb side, and
23 you suggested that this was actually a Croatian conspiracy, didn't you?
24 JUDGE DELVOIE: Yes, Mr. Gosnell?
25 MR. GOSNELL: Mr. President, if this is a quotation --
1 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] I don't know what this is.
2 MR. GOSNELL: If this is a quotation from the newspaper article
3 in which the witness is quoted, I would say that that should be put on
4 the screen for him to review, to see.
5 MR. GILLETT: Mr. President, I was first giving the witness a
6 chance to see if he was willing to recall it off his own memory and then
7 was going go to the specific quote and read out the quote.
8 Q. So first I'd like to ask the witness whether he agrees that he
9 also alleged the attempts to exhume Ovcara were an effort to Satanise the
10 Serbs and were part of a Croatian conspiracy. Do you recall saying that?
11 A. I've just said that I don't know about Ovcara. People were
12 talking about some Ovcara. When I say that I didn't know about Ovcara, I
13 didn't know what it contained - Serbs, Croats. People talked and then
14 Ovcara means that there are some sheep there, and then people were saying
15 that there were some dead sheep there. I mean, I didn't know what this
16 was all about at this Ovcara.
17 Q. Sir, if I may interrupt. If I may interrupt, you're not
18 answering my question. My question is whether you recall making public
19 statements that the efforts to exhume Ovcara were an attempt to Satanise
20 the Serbs and part of a Croatian conspiracy. Do you recall that or do
21 you not recall that?
22 A. I do not recall that. I do not recall that, really, that
23 anything was said in that sense.
24 MR. GILLETT: If we could go back to 6684, and again this is
25 1D2697 but 6684 is the shorter version. Page 2, right at the bottom.
1 Q. In the preceding paragraph, it identifies yourself. It says:
2 "Our interlocutor claims that the government committee was not
3 aware whether the Ovcara grave contains what the Croatian propaganda is
4 claiming. If there are bodies in it, they could also be bodies of Serbs
5 because at least 97 Serbs are still missing from those territories.
6 Speaking about the Vukovar tragedy, he said that the people in Krajina
7 are convinced that this was a great trick against the Serb nation that
8 had been directed by the military and state leadership of that time in
9 order to Satanise the Serb nation in the eyes of the outside world."
10 So you did state that Ovcara was an effort to Satanise the Serbs,
11 didn't you?
12 MR. GOSNELL: Objection. Objection, Mr. President. You'll
13 notice that the formulation of the -- by the witness has now been changed
14 and subsumed under the word "Ovcara" by the Prosecutor's question. And
15 there are many facets of that and so therefore that's not been put
16 precisely to the witness.
17 JUDGE DELVOIE: Can we have the next page in English on the
18 screen, please.
19 MR. GILLETT: Yes.
20 Q. Sir, if we look to the final paragraph, it says:
21 "Leaving the possibility open that Ovcara might contain bodies,
22 Strbac pointed out that the Serb side will still have a lot to offer to
23 the international committee and that International Justice Tribunal
24 because the Croatian side had shown the face of genocide in this war."
25 JUDGE DELVOIE: Mr. Gosnell?
1 MR. GOSNELL: The column really should be expanded so the witness
2 can be reading along.
3 MR. GILLETT:
4 Q. Now, I'll put it to you again, sir, that you did state that the
5 efforts to exhume and to investigate the crimes at Ovcara were an effort
6 to Satanise the Serbs.
7 A. If it was literally translated, you could see what was said in
8 the previous paragraph. I'm saying what people were talking about.
9 That's what I'm saying. Talk. This, that the Croat side saw --
10 demonstrated its genocidal face, well, before the International Court of
11 Justice, we had a case where we tried to prove that.
12 MR. GILLETT: Your Honours, we would tender 6684 into evidence.
13 JUDGE DELVOIE: Admitted and marked.
14 THE REGISTRAR: Your Honours, 6684 will be Exhibit P3318.
15 JUDGE DELVOIE: Thank you.
16 MR. GILLETT:
17 Q. Now, sir, in your evidence, you've mentioned -- and in your
18 statement various Croat actions that we've discussed, and you've argued
19 that these jeopardized the Vance Plan. It was also the Serb side's
20 actions that jeopardized the success of the Vance Plan; correct?
21 A. Yes, I agree. It came from both sides. Who was the first and
22 who was not, we could discuss that for days. It is a fact that after the
23 Vance Plan, Croatia was always the first one to carry out these
24 aggressions, Maslenica, the Miljevac Plateau, the Medak pocket, and then
25 after that, Flash and Storm. Those are facts.
1 MR. GILLETT: Could we get P2870. This is tab 21, please.
2 Q. Now, sir, this is a cable from Satish Nambiar to Marrack
3 Goulding - these are UN representatives - dated 8 November 1992 regarding
4 implementation of the Vance Plan. And at page 1.1, he says:
5 "It is amply clear that notwithstanding all their assurances of
6 co-operation and support for the Vance Plan and other associated Security
7 Council resolutions, the Serb authorities in the UNPAs have implemented
8 only those aspects of the plan that suited them and have blocked progress
9 of further implementation to gain time for furtherance of other political
10 and military objectives."
11 That's correct, isn't it? That's correct, that that was actually
12 happening in fact. I'm not asking you if it's correct that that's stated
13 there. I'm just --
14 A. That's what's written there. You are showing me things that are
15 written and then you're asking me whether that is written there and then
16 we see that that is written there. Now, if you're asking me for my own
17 comment in this regard, then that that is completely different.
18 Q. It is correct, in fact, that the Serb actions were pre -- they
19 only implemented the aspects of the Vance Plan that suited them and they
20 were doing so to gain time for the furtherance of political and military
21 objectives; correct?
22 A. Generally speaking, one could put it that way, but I explained to
23 you yesterday. For example, after the Maslenica operation, Croatia did
24 not carry out the Security Council resolution to go back. And Serbs also
25 reacted in the following way: They did not want to return weapons to
1 arms depots, that is to say, those that were under double lock where the
2 Serb side and UNPROFOR had keys respectively. And then it could not be
3 defended. That is one aspect. There are hundreds of others. We could
4 go on and on enumerating all of that. It cannot be a mere yes or no
6 Q. During the conflict in Croatia, you stated that the RSK Serbs
7 refused to live together with Croats in any form whatsoever; correct?
8 A. Not correct. Not correct.
9 Q. Can I --
10 A. My statement is different. My statement is -- well, we should
11 take a look at it and I know what the essence is, and I have been saying
12 that all the time. It was a question of living together. Remember we
13 talked about "suzivot" yesterday and the willingness of both sides is
14 needed. We could not force the Croats to love us and live together with
15 us. They were trying to expel us in every conceivable way. And we said
16 many times that we could not live in the same state with Croats because
17 they did not want to live with us. And that is the essence of my entire
18 political work, if I can put it that way --
19 Q. Sir --
20 A. Croats and Serbs can live together in the Republic of Serbian
21 Krajina but we cannot live together in the same state.
22 THE INTERPRETER: Interpreter's note: Could the witness please
23 be asked to speak at a normal pace, slower. Thank you.
24 MR. GILLETT:
25 Q. If I could ask you to speak at a slower pace. Thank you.
1 So do you confirm that you did state - and we'll get to the
2 reasons behind this - but do you state -- you confirm that you did state
3 that the Serbs refused to live together with the Croats in any form. You
4 publicly stated this; correct?
5 MR. GOSNELL: That's asked an answered, Mr. President.
6 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] I did not say "refused." I never
7 said "refused." I never said that we refused that and --
8 JUDGE DELVOIE: Mr. Strbac, if and when a counsel rises to put an
9 objection on the record, please wait with your answer until the objection
10 is resolved in one way or the other. That will be helpful.
11 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] I apologise, really. I was facing
12 the Prosecutor and I didn't see the other side. I'm sorry. I am aware
13 of that rule.
14 JUDGE DELVOIE: Thank you.
15 MR. GOSNELL: It's page 46, lines 18 to 20.
16 MR. GILLETT: Your Honours, perhaps if we go to the article now
17 to speed things up and to go to his quote that I want to put onto the
19 If we could get 6705. This is tab 57, page -- if we could turn
20 to page 2. Now, this is an article in the "New York Times" dated 13
21 January 1995. And if we go to page 2, first line. And in B/C/S this is
22 page 1, fourth paragraph.
23 Q. The first line we see:
24 "'We don't want to be in Croatia in any form,' Savo Strbac, a
25 minister in the self-styled government of the Krajina region, said
1 recently. 'Our wish is to live with the other Serbs of the former
2 Yugoslavia as we did for the past 70 years.'"
3 You made that statement; correct?
4 A. Yes, yes.
5 Q. And, sir --
6 A. I assumed that they conveyed it -- well, yes, the essence is what
7 I talked about a moment ago. There is no reference to any kind of
8 refusal whatsoever. We did not refuse.
9 Q. If we could now go to 65 ter 6711.
10 MR. GOSNELL: Mr. President, I apologise. I haven't interrupted
11 until now because there were a series of questions, but there are two
12 transcript issues.
13 At page 45, line 13, there was a fourth or at least there was a
14 place mentioned that wasn't recorded on the transcript.
15 And then at page 47 --
16 JUDGE DELVOIE: Let's do it case by case, Mr. Gosnell.
18 MR. GOSNELL: 13.
19 JUDGE DELVOIE: 13.
20 MR. GOSNELL: I believe that there was one more aggression that
21 was mentioned.
22 MR. GILLETT: Shall I attempt to clarify with the witness?
23 JUDGE DELVOIE: Yes, please do, Mr. Gillett.
24 MR. GILLETT:
25 Q. Sir, in answer to a previous question, you referred to Croatia
1 carrying out aggressions to, and you mentioned, Maslenica, Miljevac
2 Plateau, the Medak pocket, and then after that Flash and Storm. Was
3 there any additional aggression that you wanted to mention?
4 A. Before that, I mentioned Nos Kalik 2nd March 1992. Smaller than
5 all the rest but it was the first one. Nos Kalik, it's a place against
6 which an aggression has been committed after Krajina was placed under
7 military protection.
8 MR. GOSNELL: The second one, Mr. President, is 47, line 2 -- 47,
9 line 1. There is a place name mentioned there that was not mentioned by
10 the witness.
11 MR. GILLETT: Again, shall I attempt to clarify?
12 JUDGE DELVOIE: Please do.
13 MR. GILLETT:
14 Q. Mr. Witness, in answer to another question, you said, "We could
15 not force the Croats to" and it's written "Lovas" "and live together with
16 us." Was there a place name that you mentioned when you said that?
17 A. I never mentioned "Lovas." No, I didn't mention a name at all.
18 What does it have to do with anything? There's no logic to it.
19 JUDGE DELVOIE: I remember the -- the interpreter, the
20 interpretation, where it is written "Lovas," it sounds a little bit
21 similar in English but, of course, in B/C/S, the witness will not have a
23 MR. GILLETT: Could it mean to leave us?
24 JUDGE DELVOIE: No, love us, to love us. That's what the witness
1 MR. GILLETT: I believe this will be cleared up when the
2 transcript is cleared up, and if not we could always review the tape.
3 JUDGE DELVOIE: Yes, indeed.
4 MR. GILLETT:
5 Q. Sir, if we could go now to another statement that you made
6 publicly, and if we could get 6711. This is tab 63 on the monitor. And
7 page 2, third paragraph. Now, this is from Agence Presse France, and I
8 apologise we only have the English, but I'll read to you what it says:
9 "'We have no choice,' insisted Savo Strbac, government secretary
10 in the Serb Republic of Krajina proclaimed unilaterally in 1991 following
11 an eight-month armed conflict with Croatia. 'It is out of the question
12 for us to return to Croatia. Our final goal is union with other Serbs'
13 (in Bosnia and the Republic of Serbia)."
14 Do you remember making that statement?
15 A. Yes. It's probably my statement. I keep repeating all the time.
16 It says here for us to return to the state of Croatia. If you ask me
17 why, I'll answer.
18 Q. We will get to the reasons that you're giving for why.
19 MR. GILLETT: We would tender these two articles, 6705 and 6711,
20 Your Honours.
21 JUDGE DELVOIE: Admitted and marked.
22 THE REGISTRAR: Your Honours, 6705 will be Exhibit P3319 and 6711
23 will be Exhibit P3320.
24 JUDGE DELVOIE: Thank you.
25 MR. GILLETT:
1 Q. Now, sir, in your statement on this topic, you acknowledge
2 stating that the Serbs and Croats could not live together, and you claim
3 that this meant they could not live in a single state. You said that you
4 advocated from the statement "a predominantly Serb entity" but that this
5 did not imply ethnic cleansing. Now, the predominantly Serb entity you
6 were talking was the RSK either on its own or joined with other Serbian
7 territories; correct?
8 A. Yes, I meant primarily the RSK at the time.
9 Q. To maintain a predominantly Serb entity, you would have to have a
10 Serb majority ethnically in that territory, wouldn't you?
11 A. Yes, it existed.
12 Q. Now, the pre-war population in SBWS - Slavonia, Baranja, and
13 Western Srem - was majority Croat ethnicity, was it not?
14 A. I don't believe so. I don't remember all the data because that
15 was not my area. But in the district where I lived, Krajina, Banja, Lika
16 Kordun and Dalmatia, Serbs were dominant before the war.
17 Q. Would you accept that in SBWS the Croats had a relative majority,
18 not an absolute majority but a relative majority population-wise, and
19 that Serbs were a considerable lesser per cent of the population. Would
20 you accept that in the pre-war -- according to the pre-war 1991 census?
21 MR. GOSNELL: That's asked and answered, Mr. President. We got
22 the same answer again.
23 MR. GILLETT:
24 Q. So you dispute that. Okay. Well, I'm going to put it to you
25 that was the case and --
1 A. I'm not disputing anything. Please do not put words in my mouth,
2 words that I didn't say. I said I didn't live there and I cannot, off
3 the cuff, remember the numbers. That's my answer.
4 MR. GILLETT: Could we get P2016. This is tab 35, page 9,
6 Q. Sir, I'll translate for you here. We have a table. It is on the
7 B/C/S as well. And we can see that in Eastern Slavonia, this is the
8 table at the top, Croats - and this is according to the pre-war
9 composition - were 91.756, whereas Serbs were 67.742, and that equates to
10 the Croats having approximately 46 per cent of the population. So do you
11 accept that they did have a relative majority of the population,
12 according to that census?
13 MR. GOSNELL: Objection. I don't know what the question is.
14 It's vague. Is the question that the witness is expected to say his
15 comment on what's on this page?
16 MR. GILLETT: I'm testing whether the witness, having been shown
17 the statistics, is willing to accept this or whether he still disputes
18 this. That's my question.
19 JUDGE DELVOIE: Do you still dispute --
20 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] I did not dispute anything. I
21 haven't disputed anything so far.
22 MR. GILLETT: I should have put that in the reverse, whether he
23 would accept that those are the correct figures.
24 JUDGE DELVOIE: That's a question you may put to him.
25 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Now you would have to explain that
1 to me.
2 MR. GILLETT:
3 Q. Would you accept, seeing this table of the statistics, that the pre-war
4 population of Eastern Slavonia had a relative majority of ethnic Croats?
5 A. I accept only what I see here with my own eyes. Whether it's
6 true or not true, I'm not a demographer, an expert, to tell you whether
7 it was accurate or not. There were many manipulation with the censuses
8 and there were problems about defining Eastern Slavonia. Was it just the
9 area held by the Serbs or was it something broader? In some places, UNPA
10 areas were broader than what the Serbs held. It's difficult to say I
11 accept or not. I can only accept that there were so many Serbs and so
12 many Croats as is written here.
13 Q. If these figures are correct, then, in order to maintain your
14 Serb-dominated entity in so far as SBWS is concerned, you would have to
15 remove members of the ethnic Croat community; correct?
16 A. These are such logical answers. How shall I put it? I'm not an
17 idiot. If you have one majority that you want to turn into a minority in
18 order to create a different majority, then what you say is the only way.
19 Unless you suddenly get the birth-rate of the Serbs to spike very fast,
20 all of a sudden, to make them the majority and you have the Croats
21 disappear, if this data is accurate.
22 Q. Now, sir, I'm going to ask you some questions about your NGO,
24 MR. ZIVANOVIC: Sorry, Your Honours, the last sentence of the
25 witness was not transcribed.
1 THE INTERPRETER: Interpreter's note: The witness has, so far,
2 not been responsive to any of our pleas to slow down.
3 JUDGE DELVOIE: Did you hear that remark from the interpreters,
4 Mr. Strbac?
5 MR. GILLETT:
6 Q. Sir, I was going to ask a question about your -- a series of
7 questions about your NGO, which is Veritas. You're the head of that NGO;
9 MR. ZIVANOVIC: Sorry, if the witness could repeat his last
10 sentence on the previous answer, if he can recall.
11 JUDGE DELVOIE: And if he could answer my question, that would be
12 helpful as well.
13 Did you hear my question, Mr. Strbac?
14 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] I did. I don't hear what is said
15 in English.
16 JUDGE DELVOIE: Do I take it, then - and that's not a question
17 for you, Mr. Strbac - that the interpreter's remark is not translated
18 into B/C/S?
19 Could I have an answer from the booth?
20 THE INTERPRETER: Well, the English interpreter said what she
21 said, and we don't know if our colleagues interpreted it for the witness.
22 JUDGE DELVOIE: Okay. What the interpreters said, Mr. Strbac -
23 just one moment - is this: "The witness has, so far, not been responsive
24 to any of our pleas to slow down."
25 So they really have a problem. And I should think that, as a
1 former professional judge, and even as a lawyer, you would -- you would
2 be experienced in this kind of exercise, and you would be able to slow
3 the pace of what you are saying, even if sometimes - and then I could
4 understand - you're taken away by what you are trying to convey to us.
5 But, in general, you should be able, as a professional, to slow the pace
6 of what you are saying so that interpreters and court recorders can do
7 their job efficiently.
8 Now, Mr. Zivanovic, where is it that the witness -- that a
9 sentence of the witness or a phrase of the witness has been lost in
11 MR. ZIVANOVIC: It is in -- at page 54, line 6. The whole
12 sentence was not transcribed, or -- or maybe not -- not translated.
13 MR. GILLETT: I can clarify with the witness, if you'd like,
14 Mr. President.
15 JUDGE DELVOIE: Yes, I think you should re-read the entire answer
16 he gave.
17 MR. ZIVANOVIC: Anyway we'll ask the correction of official
19 JUDGE DELVOIE: That's perhaps even easier.
20 MR. GILLETT: As Your Honour pleases.
21 JUDGE DELVOIE: So now you may continue, Mr. Gillett.
22 MR. GILLETT: Thank you.
23 Could we get 65 ter 6710 - that's tab 62 - on the monitor,
25 Q. And, sir, this an is interview with Globus in March 2005. If we
1 start by showing the front page, you recognise the person shown; correct?
2 A. A little, yes. That's a younger me.
3 Q. Do you recall giving this interview to Globus in 2005?
4 A. I don't know. There were hundreds of interviews. I probably
5 gave one to them, too, at some point, but it's my photograph, so I
6 suppose I did talk to them.
7 Q. If we could turn to page 3 of the English and B/C/S under the
8 heading "Manipulation," you were asked whether you'd thought about
9 registering crimes against Croats as well as crimes against Serbs, and
10 your answer is:
11 "Crimes against Croats were no secret in the first place. The
12 cases of the suffering of Croats across the area of Knin were being
13 followed by international teams, organisations ..."
14 Do you recall saying that?
15 A. I stated something like this many, many times, so I suppose I
16 said it to them as well.
17 Q. Then if we turn to page 6 in the English, and this is B/C/S page
18 4, third column, on page 6 there's a heading "Croatian Policy 's
19 Conscience" in the middle of the page. And at the end of your answer to
20 that first question, it says: "Do not attack me - because I have never
21 provided a single incorrect piece of data."
22 Now, that's not correct, is it, that your claim that you never
23 provided an incorrect piece of data is not true, is it?
24 A. Never intentionally.
25 Q. In fact, your organisation, Veritas, has and continues to convey
1 incorrect information, including in terms of the list of Serb victims of
2 Croatian crimes; correct?
3 A. We provided information such as we have with the best intention
4 of providing correct information. However, mistakes occur, and even
5 today, we've made hundreds of mistakes. You cannot turn these mistakes
6 into a rule. If a name is repeated, it could be a technical slip. You
7 can't take it as intentional as was done in the International Court of
8 Justice when two names were repeated out of 135, two names were
9 duplicated, if that's what you mean.
10 Q. It was more than two names in that specific proceeding that were
11 raised. There were at least five examples that were given of persons
12 listed as Serbs killed by Croatian forces who were not, in fact, killed.
13 That's correct, isn't it?
14 A. Croats objected to two duplicated names in the trial in
15 March before the International Court of Justice on a list of 7.135 names.
16 In preparation for the trial, in these appeals and counter-appeals and
17 responses and replies, a total of ten more objections were made on the
18 Croatian side. The question was whether they were killed by Croats, by
19 the enemy, or they got killed in the mutual settlement of scores or
20 killing each other. Croats turned out to be right and we corrected that.
21 At the same time, analysing their lists containing a thousand
22 more names, there were 100 names actually less than -- 100 mistakes.
23 Q. In fact, you were correct that Croatia pointed out some errors,
24 but some of these continue to feature on your list of Serb victims and
25 I'll mention, for example, Mirko Rajsic. Now, he's still listed as
1 there. He was killed in front of a tavern on 16 October 1993 in a
2 traffic accident while driving his bicycle; correct?
3 A. Well, if I knew that, that he was killed on a bicycle outside a
4 cafe, I would have certainly placed him somewhere because our list is
5 divided between direct and indirect victims. That's what we did in
6 Veritas, and we were forced to do that by Croat objections in preparing
7 for the International Court of Justice.
8 Not all the victims are victims of genocide. There are victims
9 of war, casualties of war, people who could have been killed while riding
10 a bicycle, going to the front line or coming back from the front line,
11 and such people are to be found in all lists - in Croatian lists,
12 Serbian, Bosniak, and all sides. We have direct and indirect casualties.
13 I can tell you what we presented to the ICJ; namely, that about 10
14 percent of indirect victims --
15 Q. You've answered my question, that your list includes not just
16 victims killed by the Serbs -- by the Croats, sorry, but you also include
17 people who died, as you say, as a indirect cause of war.
18 Now, you said before that you cannot turn --
19 A. Exactly. We are no different than other lists in the regions.
20 We are even better, more precise.
21 Q. If you'd let me ask a question, you said before you cannot turn
22 these mistakes into a rule.
23 MR. GILLETT: Could we get 65 ter 6726. This is tab 78.
24 Q. Now, sir, this is a chapter called "Storm JCE," and it's a
25 chapter in a publication that you wrote, correct, "Storm JCE"? It's
1 called -- in fact, the full title is "Storm Joint Criminal Enterprise,"
2 and this chapter is "Aggression, Scorched Earth Policy." You wrote this,
3 didn't you?
4 A. Correct.
5 Q. Thank you. If we can go to page 5, heading 2.2.2, and this is
6 page 6 in B/C/S.
7 Now, if we look at heading 2.2.2, the last paragraph under that
8 heading says:
9 "Analysing Croatia commission's list, Veritas established that
10 there were five living people among those identified as killed (meaning
11 that other persons were buried under their names). Such a large
12 incidence of mistaken identity throws doubt on the entire identification
13 process by Croatian official organs of those who were killed in Operation
15 Sir, in relation to your own list, you said that you could not
16 turn these errors into a rule, but when it comes to the Croatian list, in
17 fact, you said the opposite, that they undermine the credibility of their
18 entire processes; correct?
19 A. Yes, I have to explain to you here that for the first time during
20 Storm and Flash operations, protocols were submitted. Croatia did that
21 under the pressure of the international community and submitted them to
22 the Serbian side. The protocols contained a photograph of the person
23 killed, a description, a description of clothing and footwear, and where
24 the person died.
25 In such precise protocols, we find five people who were still
1 living. You have a photograph and then you mark it completely
2 inaccurately. It's a very specific, very emphatic situation. We showed
3 these photographs to the families, and the person is standing there
4 alive. And he says, It's not me. And I answer, Well, if it's not you,
5 it's somebody else. This is an idiosyncrasy of the protocols that the
6 Croats gave us from that operation. That was not done previously in any
7 other operation; that is to say, they did not earlier provide us with
8 such protocols.
9 And as for the JCE, I consulted the OTP, people from your own
11 Q. Sir --
12 A. They indicted Croatian generals for Operation Storm.
13 Q. -- you've gone beyond the question that I asked. The JCE issue
14 goes beyond my question.
15 Sir, the Office of the Prosecutor has never called you as a
16 witness here at the Tribunal, has it?
17 A. No.
18 MR. GILLETT: Okay. Your Honours, that completes my questions.
19 I would tender the Globus article, 65 ter 6710, for evidence.
20 JUDGE DELVOIE: Admitted and marked.
21 THE REGISTRAR: Your Honour, 6710 will be Exhibit P3321.
22 MR. GILLETT: Thank you very much.
23 JUDGE DELVOIE: Mr. Gosnell, re-direct?
24 MR. GOSNELL: I do have some re-direct, Mr. President. Could I
25 request the Court's indulgence to take the break now, in particular, so I
1 can print out the transcript and have it to hand so I can make specific
3 JUDGE DELVOIE: And how long would your re-direct take,
4 Mr. Gosnell?
5 MR. GOSNELL: I certainly will not go beyond the end of the day
6 as regularly scheduled, Mr. President.
7 JUDGE DELVOIE: The end of the day, minus 15 minutes for Judges'
8 questions so that we can finish the witness --
9 MR. GOSNELL: Certainly. Certainly, Mr. President.
10 JUDGE DELVOIE: Thank you.
11 Mr. Strbac, we will take the break a little bit early. Still 30
12 minutes. So we will be back by 12.30.
13 Court adjourned.
14 --- Recess taken at 12.00 p.m.
15 [The witness stands down] 3100
16 --- On resuming at 12.31 p.m.
17 [The witness takes the stand]
18 JUDGE DELVOIE: Mr. Gosnell.
19 MR. GOSNELL: Thank you. Thank you, Mr. President.
20 May we have P998, please. Prosecution tab 25.
21 Re-examination by Mr. Gosnell:
22 Q. And, Mr. Strbac, you were shown this document coming up on the
23 screen of the minutes of the extraordinary session of the RSK Assembly in
24 March 1993.
25 If we could now turn to page 62 in the English and page 64 in the
1 B/C/S, you were shown this ...
2 [Defence counsel confer]
3 MR. GOSNELL:
4 Q. You were shown this decision, and the Prosecutor asked you or put
5 to you:
6 "Hadzic's decision that we see of 17th March 1993 was a war-time
7 decree; correct? It seems to be that way because a state of war was
8 declared in January."
9 Now, reading the first line of this excerpted decision in the
10 minutes, it says:
11 "Pursuant to Article 78, paragraph 1, item 1, of the constitution
12 of the RSK, makes the following ..."
13 Now, is Article 78(1)(i) of the RSK constitution the provision
14 concerning war-time powers?
15 A. Well, if we look at the constitutional provision, we will see
16 that that is not the case, that it speaks of peacetime.
17 MR. GOSNELL: At this point, then, could we have L3, page 22 of
18 the English and page 6, going over to 7 of the B/C/S.
19 "The president of the Republic of Serbian Krajina, one, nominates
20 candidates for the government members having heard the opinion of the
21 majority in the Assembly ..."
22 Now, having seen that, does that affect your opinion about the
23 basis on which this particular decision was issued?
24 A. No. I've already said that this has to do with peacetime.
25 Q. And given that there's a specific reference to this provision, do
1 you think that's relevant to understanding the basis on which it was
3 A. Well, I think that it was logical to refer to this article
4 because - how do I put this? - it would too much if the head of state
5 would appoint the prime minister-designate and the entire government even
6 though there is a state of war on. I think that, in that way, all
7 branches of government could not be functioning properly. Although it
8 was war-time, after all, one should behave at least some moments as if
9 were peacetime.
10 MR. GOSNELL: May we return now to P998, please.
11 Q. And, again, Mr. Strbac, these are the minutes from March 1993 of
12 the assembly session.
13 MR. GOSNELL: May we now have page 66 in the B/C/S and page 66 of
14 the English.
15 Q. Now, this is in reference, Mr. Strbac, to a question that was put
16 to you by the Prosecutor at page 10, and the question concerns Article
17 78(7) of the constitution. And then it says at line 4, this was the
18 question to you, Mr. Strbac:
19 "And the government acted pursuant to the authority that Hadzic
20 delegated to it. For example, as you said in a decision in
21 September 1993 concerning the appointment of judges in the RSK, that was
22 based on his presidential decree from January; correct?"
23 And your answer was yes.
24 A. Yes.
25 Q. Now, first of all, looking at this section of the minutes from
1 the assembly meeting, it says:
2 "Moving on to the third item on the agenda, adoption of decree
3 laws passed in time of war."
4 And then at the bottom, in English anyway, it says:
5 "Pursuant to Article 78, paragraph 7, of the constitution of the
6 RSK, president of the republic shall pass the decree ..."
7 And then if we could turn over the page in English and in B/C/S.
8 And Article 1 concerns territorial jurisdiction of the courts and so
10 Now, is this decree relevant to the applicability of the
11 president's decree that was made in January?
12 A. Obviously not. I was explaining when I was responding to the
13 Prosecutor's question that when somebody transfers his powers to someone
14 else, he can at any point in time withdraw them. At least that's what I
15 think. I'm not an expert. I mean, I'm not a theoretician as far as
16 constitutional law is concerned. But by the very logic of things, that's
17 the way it seems to be. It's like when you retain a lawyer to represent
18 you. You can still give up on that and you can withdraw power of
19 attorney, and so son.
20 Q. Do you know whether this assembly meeting in March 1993 was the
21 first assembly meeting after January 1993, when Operation Maslenica was
23 A. I really don't know. I don't know. I wouldn't want to
24 speculate. But if you're asking me this, since it has to do with
25 territorial jurisdiction of courts, that really does not involve war-time
1 subject matter, the jurisdiction of courts in a state. Had it not been
2 war-time, had there not been a state of war, somebody, I mean, would have
3 to set the jurisdiction of courts.
4 Q. Let's just turn over to the next page, and there it says:
5 "Who votes for this decree passed by the president of the
6 republic on the basis of a declaration of war? Does anyone mind? Does
7 anyone offish acknowledging that the decree laws in a time of war are
8 adopted by the assembly?"
9 Now, does this procedure --
10 MR. GOSNELL: We need to turn the page, please.
11 MR. GILLETT: Yes, can I just get a page reference in English?
12 I'm trying to find it.
13 MR. GOSNELL: In English, it's page 70 now. Page 70.
14 MR. GILLETT: Okay.
15 MR. GOSNELL:
16 Q. Now, you will remember, Mr. Strbac, and we discussed it, that
17 Article 78(7) of the constitution says that:
18 "Under his initiative," "his" being the president, "or under the
19 government's proposal, during the state of war or immediate threat of war
20 adopts acts about issues from the assembly's jurisdiction and is required
21 to submit them before the assembly as soon as the assembly is able to
23 A. Meet, yes. You asked me whether there were any assembly sessions
24 from the decree in January until this, and then I told you that I didn't
1 Q. I hadn't actually come to my question yet, Mr. Strbac, and the
2 question is simply this: Does this procedure that you see in the minutes
3 accord with what appears to be prescribed and that you confirmed was
4 prescribed by Article 78(7)?
5 A. It seems to that be that way. If this is the first session - I
6 assume it is, and I don't know whether there were any sessions in
7 between - and precisely on the basis of what was done through this decree
8 declaring a state of war, everything he did as far as courts were
9 concerned, he gave to the assembly for their confirmation. That is shown
10 by these minutes.
11 MR. GOSNELL: Thank you. I'm done with this particular document
12 now, Mr. President.
13 Q. Now, at page 17 of today's transcript, you were asked some
14 questions about allegations made by Mr. Martic against Mr. Hadzic in
15 October 1993.
16 Now, may I ask you: Was there any political background that you
17 can recall that may have been relevant to those remarks? What was the
18 political context, if any, of those remarks?
19 A. I said that Martic from the very outset was within the structures
20 of the Krajina government. In a way, I mean, he is a founder -- one of
21 the founders of the Republic of the Serb Krajina, what was called the SAO
22 Krajina at first. And it seems to me that he did not like it, the fact
23 that Hadzic was appointed president of the state because now he became
24 his superior, at least in terms of the office held; whereas Martic
25 thought -- well, he'd succeed him later on because you could see that he
1 had these aspirations to be the person in charge. I believe that there
2 were some -- I mean, well, that it wasn't smooth sailing between the two
3 of them, that Martic simply expressed that at this assembly and once or
4 twice I think at government sessions when he said, Ah, they are not going
5 to come to your sessions, to Knin, I mean from the eastern part.
6 [Defence counsel confer]
7 MR. ZIVANOVIC: Sorry, in line 7, it is said I think -- "I think
8 at government sessions when he said, Ah, he is not going to come to your
9 sessions, to Knin ..." It seems that he said differently.
10 MR. GOSNELL:
11 Q. Mr. Strbac, I presume you had the intervention of my colleague
12 translated. Was there something that you would wish to correct, having
13 heard that intervention?
14 A. Would not come. Martic was also a member of that government, I
15 think. It was sort of like that, that's what he said, that he would not
16 come to Knin. He would not come to Knin from the eastern part. That's
17 what I said.
18 MR. GOSNELL: May we have 1D2523, please.
19 Q. Mr. Strbac, you were asked questions about this document on page
20 26 and 25 of the transcript. Now, first of all, can you identify what
21 this document is and who is its author?
22 A. The supreme military court. Its seat was in Belgrade and it was
23 a court that dated back to the times of the SFRY. It was in Belgrade
24 then and it was in Belgrade now. They were involved in proceedings
25 against soldiers who had committed crimes in the area of the Republic of
1 the Serb Krajina all the way up until 19th May 1992 when they officially
2 left the area of the Republic of the Serb Krajina. Then the
3 authorities -- I mean, well, then UNPROFOR came. That was part of the
4 Vance Plan.
5 Q. And you said in response to the question by the Prosecutor at 26,
6 line 16, "Do you stand by that it is permissible to kill civilians during
7 a time of war?" And then your answer was: "This is just as the supreme
8 military court took something out of context from my appeal, which was
9 several hundred pages long."
10 Now, can I first ask: Is it right that this, then, is a summary
11 of --
12 A. No, not thousands, not thousands. Not even hundreds. No. Tens
13 of pages. That's how appeals are written.
14 Q. Okay. And is it right that this is a summary of the arguments
15 that you made in those other documents?
16 A. Well, some of that. I've explained that in this appeal, I mean,
17 that it was a passivist document. And I attacked the makers of war, the
18 initiators of war, because in this case we can see who the victims are.
19 Civilians are the victims. And these young people, soldiers, like this
20 Gagic, he had just done his regular military service. And I said that if
21 I could decide against wars and therefore against killings of soldiers
22 and civilians and anyone else, after all, life is more valuable than
23 anything else. But I acted as defence counsel there as well.
24 Q. Mr. Strbac, you said in your answer while being cross-examined by
25 the Prosecutor that the court took something out of context. Now, as you
1 sit here, can you think of any comment -- context that would be relevant
2 to the issue of whether it is lawful to target civilians? What context
3 or circumstances might be relevant to that, as you sit here?
4 A. If I remember this case correctly, this young soldier was brought
5 to the front line, and his superiors told him, Everything that is on the
6 other side is your enemy. This soldier crossed the front line himself
7 and whoever he found there, this elderly married couple, he killed them.
8 And he returned, running, shouting, yoo hoo hoo, I've just killed two
10 You see, I asked for a psychiatric evaluation to see whether he
11 was competent at all when he committed that crime, and you see that that
12 was also accepted by the court, and they ordered that this evidence be
13 adduced at re-trial.
14 Through my appeal, I defended all of these young people who were
15 forced to shoot and kill somewhere. I wanted then, and that is my wish
16 to this day, that those who forced them to wage war and kill be brought
17 before courts of law. That was the essence of my appeal.
18 Q. At page 53 today, you were asked some questions about the pre-war
19 ethnic composition of the territory that subsequently became the RSK.
20 And I should correct myself. You were actually asked about the SBWS
22 Now, first of all --
23 A. Yes.
24 Q. -- can you say whether the pre-war population of the RSK, taken
25 as a totality, had more Serbs or more Croats?
1 A. I didn't quite understand. Do you mean the entire Republic of
3 Q. No. The question was just about the RSK. And whether or not
4 taking --
5 A. On the whole, the RSK had more Serbs, which could be seen from
6 that table that was produced here.
7 Q. And you were asked a hypothetical about the majority in a
8 particular region, if they are of a particular ethnicity, about the means
9 of changing that composition. Does it also depend on how you define the
10 geographic entity?
11 A. Yes, that's what I tried to explain. I think that I succeeded in
12 saying that there were different interpretations as to what a certain
13 region represents in territorial terms, and then everyone paints their
14 picture and then, of course, one has to take into account the population
15 as well.
16 I know Western Slavonia rather than Eastern Slavonia, and I know
17 that according to the Vance Plan, twice as much territory was supposed to
18 be there rather than was actually in the hands of the Serbs. My counting
19 was that there were only 15.000 in the area that was held under Serb
20 control rather than 30.000. I did not deal with Eastern Slavonia, and I
21 cannot tell you about that right now because I didn't deal with it. But
22 I'm giving you the figures at the time of Operation Flash.
23 MR. GOSNELL: That concludes my examination and re-direct,
24 Mr. President.
25 Thank you very much, Mr. Strbac.
1 JUDGE DELVOIE: Thank you, Mr. Gosnell.
2 [Trial Chamber confers]
3 Questioned by the Court:
4 JUDGE DELVOIE: Mr. Strbac, I have one question; perhaps a few
6 At the beginning of your testimony, you told us that the Croat
7 authorities, and I quote, "... asked me to sign some kind of statement of
8 loyalty to the new state and even worse things were asked," indicating
9 that asking from a judge for a statement of loyalty to the new state is a
10 bad thing.
11 Could I ask you, who appointed you judge of the municipal court
12 of Benkovac in 1977?
13 A. The Municipal Assembly of Benkovac.
14 JUDGE DELVOIE: Okay. And when you took that position in 1977,
15 were you asked to make some sort of statement of loyalty to the state or
16 to the entity within which you were to function as a judge?
17 A. Not in that form. One only took the solemn oath, a solemn
18 undertaking that I would enforce the law, the kind of oath that exists in
19 every country before the president of the assembly.
20 Let me just add that when I became a judge of the district court,
21 then it was the National Assembly of Croatia that appointed me to that
22 position. It all depended on the ranking of the court.
23 JUDGE DELVOIE: Okay. That would have been my next question
24 about, indeed, the district court. So it's the National Assembly of
25 Croatia. And then a similar kind of statement or oath?
1 A. It was an oath. The president of the assembly would call however
2 many we were who were appointed, and after that appointment, we made in a
3 chorus a solemn declaration that I will honourably comply with and
4 enforce the laws, et cetera. But this was something quite different.
5 The authorities changed. There were new elections. And they foisted it
6 on us Serbs, only Serbs - at that time I had been a judge for two and a
7 half years - at that time they foisted on us who were of Serb ethnicity a
8 declaration that we would be loyal to the state of Croatia. So it was
9 not asked of everybody. Just of the Serbs.
10 JUDGE DELVOIE: Okay. Now, in the same session and today as
11 well, you told us about the fact that the RSK - and that is either the
12 assembly or the government - also appointed judges. You remember that,
13 do you?
14 A. Yes. We discussed the minutes of the sessions of the government
15 and the assembly.
16 JUDGE DELVOIE: Now, my question is: Did these new-appointed
17 judges have to pledge their loyalty to the newly established RSK.
18 A. Not in that way and not with that document. It was done in the
19 way we worked. Whoever elected you or appointed you, you would take a
20 solemn oath only in the sense that you would, in the best possible way,
21 to the best of your ability and honourably, perform your judicial duties.
22 JUDGE DELVOIE: Thank you very much.
23 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Welcome.
24 JUDGE DELVOIE: If there are no follow-up questions, Mr. Strbac,
25 we thank you very much for coming to The Hague to assist us. This is the
1 end of your testimony. You're now released as a witness, and we wish you
2 a safe journey back home. The court usher will escort you out of court.
3 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Thank you.
4 [The witness withdrew]
5 JUDGE DELVOIE: If there's nothing else, court is adjourned for
6 the week.
7 --- Whereupon the hearing adjourned at 1.07 p.m.,
8 to be reconvened on Monday, the 20th day of
9 October, 2014, at 9.00 a.m.