1 Monday, 6 March 2006
2 [Open session]
3 [The accused entered court]
4 --- Upon commencing at 2.20 p.m.
5 JUDGE PARKER: Good afternoon. I understand there is a matter
6 counsel wish to raise. Mr. Vasic.
7 MR. VASIC: [Interpretation] Good afternoon, Your Honours, good
8 afternoon to all.
9 Thank you very much. In actual fact, what the Defence teams want
10 to do is answer the issues raised by my learned friend, Mr. Moore, on
11 Friday, during our last session on Friday, in relation to two specific
12 matters. One is an answer to your question about agreed facts and facts
13 that are still in dispute. The other issue is about the dead-lines for
14 any documentation concerning witness interviews conducted by either party.
15 As for agreed facts and facts still in dispute, what I wish to
16 say, Your Honour, is that we have held a number of informal meetings with
17 our learned friends from the OTP. The result was the fact that I informed
18 you about back in January. We succeeded in agreeing on 34 points. That
19 agreement was reached in January this year. We also confirmed our
20 agreement to our learned friends at OTP in writing, upon which Mr. Moore
21 sent us a request in addition -- in relation to another fact concerning
22 the location of the Grabovo exhumation site.
23 We informed the OTP that as far as the facts concerning Grabovo
24 were concerned, we had already agreed to two substantial theories that we
25 were able to. But the way the Prosecution framed a possible agreement
1 concerning the fact was unacceptable to the Defence because it is even
2 outside the scope of the indictment itself.
3 As for the location itself, that of Grabovo, the Defence agreed
4 when the location was first found that everything was done in a
5 professional and impeccable manner. We did not challenge the identities
6 of certain persons found there whose bodies were autopsied and identified
7 in accordance with the rules and standards governing DNA analysis. I
8 believe that even as early as late January the situation was ripe for all
9 this information to be submitted to the Trial Chamber.
10 I believe we, the Defence teams, have done our best to make
11 progress. We are still willing to continue our conversation was our
12 friends from the OTP throughout this trial concerning any facts that
13 emerge, and we shall make an effort to agree on as many facts as possible.
14 I do believe, however, that most of the agreed facts can now be submitted
15 to the Trial Chamber because as a matter of fact these facts have been
16 agreed. There may be additional matters in the course of this trial
17 resulting from our future conversations, and these matters may in turn
18 result in an additional agreement.
19 As for the other matter concerning dead-lines, my learned friend,
20 Mr. Moore, put forward his proposal that both parties should submit any
21 documents to be used in examination within 24 to 48 hours. What you said,
22 Your Honours, about the substance of what cross-examination really means
23 and the objective of any cross-examination as part of a defence, if one
24 agrees to have the fundamental orthodox rule changed that the Defence has
25 no obligation to serve any documents on the OTP, but rather that the OTP
1 is the only party to have this obligation to serve documents upon the
2 Defence, I think the practice that has been used so far, the 24-hour
3 dead-line, will be quite sufficient in view of the fact that the objective
4 is, at least in my understanding, the objective of having this dead-line
5 at all, is to leave the parties sufficient time to possibly challenge the
6 authenticity of certain documents. I believe that to be the essence of
7 this dead-line issue and also in order to have sufficient time to prepare
8 our cross-examination.
9 The established practice so far during this trial, I believe, has
10 shown that no major problems occurred about this, and the trial went as
11 smoothly as we all hoped it would. It is for this reason that I still
12 believe that the 48-hour dead-line proposed by my learned friend,
13 Mr. Moore, to be too long, and I believe such a long dead-line would
14 affect the effectiveness of our cross-examination, especially in the light
15 of the fact that the Defence happens to be in a position concerning some
16 aspects of our cross-examination in such a position that we depend on what
17 the witness may or may not say during certain stages of
19 Bearing this in mind, a 48-hour dead-line would be impossible to
20 deal with, since as we all know, the Defence only gets to cross-examine a
21 witness once the OTP has finished. Furthermore, the Defence believes that
22 all 65 ter documents should be exempt from this rule, all such documents
23 as have been [Realtime transcript read in error "Vujic being"] served on
24 us by our friends from the OTP. These are documents that they are
25 familiar with and with which they find no fault. This also happens to be
1 the main purpose or objective for setting any dead-lines at all.
2 As for the Rule 68 documents that have been served on us, the same
3 applies as set out in my previous conclusion. These documents were known
4 to my learned friends in good time. They served the documents on us, and
5 they had sufficient time to check the authenticity of any documents
6 included in that set.
7 Your Honours, that is all I have to say about these two issues.
8 Thank you very much.
9 JUDGE PARKER: Thank you very much, Mr. Vasic.
10 Mr. Lukic, I was about to ask whether Mr. Borovic wanted to add
11 anything. I will do that.
12 MR. BOROVIC: [Interpretation] Thank you very much, Your Honour.
13 I just wish to keep up good relations with the Trial Chamber and
14 keep my own position from perhaps becoming a little too aggressive as was
15 the case the last time around.
16 Thank you, Your Honour.
17 JUDGE PARKER: A new week, Mr. Borovic, yes.
18 Mr. Lukic.
19 Oh, Mr. Vasic.
20 MR. VASIC: [Interpretation] Your Honour, I have nothing to add,
21 but there is something I need to say about the transcript. Page 3,
22 line 21, [In English] "Vujic being served."
23 I think I was talking about 65 ter documents, those served on us
24 by our learned friends from the OTP. I never mentioned Mr. Vujic at all.
25 THE INTERPRETER: Interpreter's note, nor did the interpreters.
1 JUDGE PARKER: Well, everybody is disclaimed so far.
2 Mr. Lukic.
3 MR. LUKIC: [Interpretation] Just a couple of words.
4 THE INTERPRETER: Could counsel please speak closer to the
6 JUDGE PARKER: You're asked to speak closer to the microphone,
7 Mr. Lukic. We're going to have to get you shorter legs or a higher
8 microphone; I'm not sure which.
9 MR. LUKIC: [Interpretation] I was much happier in Courtroom III
10 with the long-stalk microphones, I do have to say that.
11 There is an order concerning the dead-lines which we are now
12 discussing, and I wish to say right at the outset for the Defence it's
13 perfectly all right to have these served in electronic form. The Defence
14 has no doubt that this is the very spirit of the order concerning
15 electronic disclosure. However, if we accept the rules of the game, and
16 we may well be in a position tomorrow or sometime in the future to have
17 our own documents submitted as 65 ter documents, having accepted these
18 rules, we know that the other party will be familiar with our own 65 ter
19 documents and will have the right to use them without previously informing
21 This is precisely what I wanted to point out. As the trial has
22 evolved so far, at one point in time there was a problem involving the
23 authenticity of a certain document and verification of its authenticity.
24 I may believe the document to be beyond challenge, but if the opposite
25 party wishes to use one of my own 65 ter documents, they needn't even
1 inform me in that case.
2 It seems that I am going too fast. I will just say one very brief
3 thing. We believe that if documents are on the 65 ter list of whichever
4 party is tendering the document, the other party should not be expected to
5 announce that they are going to use the document. If on cross-examination
6 I, for example, decide to challenge the authenticity of the document,
7 well, then, this is pretty much regular procedure. But we do accept such
8 rules because one of these days when we are dealing with our own witnesses
9 and when we have our own 65 ter list, I accept that if the Prosecution
10 does not wish to use the document in their cross-examination, they needn't
11 necessarily inform us previously. What is beyond challenge is that all
12 the documents need to be in electronic form.
13 Thank you.
14 JUDGE PARKER: Thank you, Mr. Lukic.
15 Now, Mr. Smith, this was something that your friend, Mr. Moore,
16 set running. Are you wanting to deal with it now, or have him put
18 MR. SMITH: I think I'm happier to deal with it now.
19 JUDGE PARKER: Thank you.
20 MR. SMITH: Your Honour, I think the main concern of Mr. Moore was
21 that perhaps once the case starts to get a little more complex in terms of
22 the numbers of documents like military documents, if a number of documents
23 were to be used either by the Prosecution or the Defence, then obviously
24 the -- the time -- the time gap to check the authenticity, et cetera,
25 becomes quite reduced per document.
1 So I think that was his concern more not so much about the past,
2 but in relation to the future. So perhaps the Prosecution's position
3 would be at this stage, I agree with Mr. Vasic, I think the cooperation
4 between both parties has been good. I don't think there's been many
5 difficulties as far as disclosure. That perhaps at this stage, until the
6 documentation starts to become an issue in terms of the large numbers,
7 perhaps both for the Prosecution and the Defence, that we revisit it, the
8 48-hour rule, at some later point once we get into the military
9 witnesses. But at this stage I'd say --
10 JUDGE PARKER: You're speaking of a 48-hour rule. What rule is
12 MR. SMITH: I think that was the rule that Mr. Moore was
13 proposing, that 48 hours --
14 JUDGE PARKER: There is a procedural indication from the Chamber
15 of 24 hours. Have we ever reached 48 hours?
16 MR. SMITH: No. But I believe that's what Mr. Moore was trying to
18 JUDGE PARKER: He was trying to ease it out 24 hours, yes.
19 MR. SMITH: That's right.
20 JUDGE PARKER: Yes.
21 MR. SMITH: But perhaps if we could revisit that, if complications
22 do arise in terms of the numbers of documents.
23 As far as Rule 68 is concerned, the Prosecution obviously takes
24 that seriously, and whenever information is discovered we will disclose.
25 And in relation to the agreed facts issue, there was an
1 outstanding issue that the Prosecution wanted to resolve with the Defence
2 and that was namely when the grave at Ovcara was discovered by the, say,
3 international community -- or discovered. I think that point,
4 unfortunately, has been -- well, there's disagreement on that point. And
5 I would say now that the -- we would be in a position, as Mr. Vasic has
6 said, to file a document on the agreed facts that we have reached and we
7 will do that this week.
8 JUDGE PARKER: It was my understanding from what Mr. Moore put
9 that there had been some matters tentatively orally agreed, and this seems
10 to have been indicated by Mr. Vasic as well. But Mr. Moore thought there
11 was scope for one or two further matters, and if they could be discussed
12 as a matter of some priority, then it would seem that agreement could be
13 reached formally about a further number of facts, and they could be the
14 subject of formal agreement. Could I ask that that be pursued now between
15 counsel with a view to having those facts agreed and that agreement
16 recorded in the record, as has been done with the earlier agreed facts.
17 MR. SMITH: Your Honour, we will pursue that vigorously this week,
18 and we understand that it needs to be resolved.
19 JUDGE PARKER: Don't forget Mr. Borovic's words this morning; not
20 too much vigor.
21 Now, that's for the matter of the agreed facts. With respect to
22 disclosure, the submissions have confused together, perhaps, more than one
23 issue. It is clear that there are disclosure obligations on the
24 Prosecution under both Rule 66 and Rule 68. They are different in nature.
25 The first of them is essential and must be disclosed at an early time.
1 That is documentation which is part of the Prosecution case on which they
2 rely. Rule 68 is documentation or other material which may be of
3 relevance to the Defence of which the Prosecution is aware. So that there
4 they can be sure that the Defence has had an opportunity to look at all
5 the material which may be exculpatory in nature as they present their
7 Their disclosure obligations, and a time comes when similar -- not
8 similar, but different disclosure obligations fall upon the Defence, that
9 is as part of their pre-defence brief, which is a time away yet; we
10 haven't reached that time. Quite separately from that, under the e-court
11 regime, to physically allow the electronic court system to cope, there is
12 a time obligation on each party who intends to use a document, either in
13 the course of evidence in chief or in the course of cross-examination, to
14 give to the registry notice of the document to enable it to be readied on
15 the system and to give to the opposing party notice of that document.
16 Now, there are occasions when a party only realises the need to
17 use a document, having heard evidence in chief which raises some new
18 point, or having -- the witness having been cross-examined and something
19 new comes out of the cross-examination, the party calling the witness,
20 whether it be Prosecution as at the moment, or Defence later on, may, in
21 their re-examination want to put a document to the witness about the
22 matter that has emerged in cross-examination.
23 Now, all of that is subject to a procedural direction under the
24 e-court rules. The present direction requires 24 hours prior notice to
25 the other side. In the case obviously of some real surprise, that is not
1 possible, but it has to be real surprise and the Chamber watches to ensure
2 that people aren't failing to comply with the 24-hour requirement.
3 Given what counsel have submitted at the moment, the Chamber is
4 not presently minded to change the present direction that there be at
5 least 24 hours notice. That will remain for the moment. But it's a rule
6 of practical convenience. It's not a matter of greater significance in
7 the trial. And if that proves not long enough because, say, of the volume
8 of material that has to be used during evidence of a witness, then there
9 may be reason to expand that to 48 hours, perhaps. I know that some
10 Chambers order even longer, but for the moment we will continue with
11 24 hours and watch whether that proves adequate in practice, as it seems
12 to have to date. But it's a matter of courtesy and convenience and not
13 games, and clearly if you can give the other side and the other counsel,
14 that is the other Defence teams and the Prosecution, if it's Defence all
15 of the three Defence teams, if it's Prosecution, just to give them the
16 opportunity of knowing what's coming in time enough to look at it, to see
17 whether there is any question of authenticity which should have been dealt
18 with already, if it's already on a 65 or 66 list, perhaps not so on a 68
19 list. Then -- and it's also a matter of just allowing reasonably
20 practical working conditions for counsel. If you want to keep counsel up
21 and out of their beds 24 hours a day, you give them notice of 500
22 documents just 24 hours before. But that's playing silly games, as you
23 would understand.
24 So I hope you will realise there are two separate issues here:
25 One is formal disclosure; the other is the practical running of the trial
1 so that people have an opportunity to identify and look at documents
2 before they're actually used. So that if they need to put something in
3 response to it or question its authenticity, they can.
4 So, with all those words, we stay with 24 hours for the procedural
5 order at the present time, and if that proves impractical, well, then, we
6 will make some other order. And the Prosecution and Defence counsel will
7 look at the formality of agreed facts.
8 Thank you for that. They being the matters to be raised, we might
9 now bring in the witness. Thank you.
10 MR. SMITH: Thank you, Your Honour. I think we have the same
11 problem, the frozen screen, in relation to the transcript. I think the
12 Defence have that problem as well.
13 JUDGE PARKER: Time stands still.
14 [The witness entered court]
15 MR. SMITH: I have been advised, Your Honour, if you open it
16 through e-court it will work.
17 JUDGE PARKER: Somebody can attend to that while I'm attending to
18 something else. We haven't the capacity to do that.
19 Good afternoon, sir. Would you please take the card that is given
20 to you and read aloud the affirmation.
21 WITNESS: HAJDAR DODAJ
22 [Witness answered through interpreter]
23 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] I solemnly swear that I will speak
24 the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.
25 JUDGE PARKER: Thank you. Please sit down. Now Mr. Smith will
1 ask you some questions.
2 Yes, Mr. Smith.
3 MR. SMITH: Thank you, Your Honour.
4 Examination by Mr. Smith:
5 Q. Good afternoon, Witness. Could you state your full name, please,
6 and your age?
7 A. My name is Hajdar Dodaj, and I was born on the 21st of September,
9 THE INTERPRETER: Interpreter's note, the witness said "1991."
10 MR. SMITH:
11 Q. Witness, you look relatively young, but I don't think you're as
12 young as you've just said.
13 A. 1972, I'm sorry. 1972, I misspoke.
14 Q. And unfortunately, Witness, the questions are going to get a
15 little harder as we go along.
16 Witness, you lived in a village in Croatia in your childhood; is
17 that correct?
18 A. Yes.
19 Q. But initially you were born in Kosovo and you are of Albanian
21 A. Yes.
22 Q. But your schooling was primarily in Croatia?
23 A. Yes.
24 Q. And when you reached the age of 19, did you undertake your
25 national service?
1 A. No, not all the way, not until the end.
2 Q. And when did you start your national service with the Yugoslav
4 A. On the 18th of March, 1991.
5 Q. And where did you do that training?
6 A. Petrovac Na Mlavi.
7 Q. Is that in Serbia?
8 A. Yes.
9 Q. And could you tell the Court which unit you trained with and the
10 type of training you particularly undertook?
11 A. I was a member of the 2nd Detachment of the 2nd Company of an
12 armoured mechanised unit. That constituted most of my training. I was
13 trained to operate an armoured vehicle, a BVB. It was a type of gun, and
14 I was a gunner. The barracks where I served belonged to an armoured
15 mechanised unit. There were tanks there and transport vehicles.
16 Q. And you did your training at Petrovac. And at some point in time
17 did you decide to leave the JNA of your own accord?
18 A. Yes. After three months of military service I fled the barracks.
19 Q. And why did you decide to flee the barracks? I assume it was
20 compulsory that you continue your training there?
21 A. The reason was I didn't believe the -- that this army was the
22 Yugoslav People's Army, as I had been told. And I did not believe that
23 everybody there had equal rights. I soon cottoned on to the fact that
24 this was not the army that people had told me about and that's why I
25 decided to leave. I just didn't want to go on serving in a Serb army.
1 Q. Now, I would just like to ask you a couple of questions about
2 that. Why did you not believe it was the Yugoslav People's Army anymore?
3 What was different about it when you were there as to what you thought it
4 was meant to be?
5 A. Well, you see, the army had already left Slovenia, had withdrawn
6 from Slovenia, and -- I'm not sure how to put this. Essentially the JNA
7 at Petrovac Na Mlavi had already mobilised the reservists. For the
8 reservists to go there. However, they didn't have, or rather some of them
9 were wearing caps, some had the five-pointed stars, some had the Yugoslav
10 flag, and some had cocks on their heads. And then all sorts of things
11 happened. The JNA started withdrawing from some parts of some towns in
12 Croatia, and that's why I decided to flee, because I no longer considered
13 this to be the army that I had taken an oath for to the effect that I
14 would be preserving the integrity of Yugoslavia as country. The moment
15 they had withdrawn from Slovenia, it ceased to be the army that I had
16 taken an oath for.
17 Q. When you say ceased to be the army that you had taken the oath
18 for, had the composition of the ethnic groups of the soldiers in the army,
19 had that changed? Did you hear the question?
20 MR. VASIC: [Interpretation] Your Honours.
21 JUDGE PARKER: Mr. Vasic.
22 MR. VASIC: [Interpretation] I believe this is a leading question
23 by my learned friend, especially bearing in mind the witness's previous
25 JUDGE PARKER: It's borderline, Mr. Vasic, because it is asking
1 about one particular aspect, and not suggesting what the answer should be
2 about that aspect. But I realise you are sensitive -- your sensitivity
3 about that one issue; hence, I say it's borderline.
4 You've got away with it this time, Mr. Smith.
5 MR. SMITH: Thank you, Your Honour. In any event, I think I'll
6 approach it in a different way.
7 Q. Witness, you said you didn't want to serve in a Serb army anymore.
8 What do you mean by that?
9 A. What I mean is that there were about 15 of us from Croatia there,
10 and as soon as the reservists came to the barracks the number of ethnic
11 Serbs increased, the reservists. And then I believe that I no longer had
12 any reason to be there. You see, we were given political guidance,
13 speeches every morning by the barracks commander who kept telling us that
14 there was an Ustasha army being established in Croatia and that an Ustasha
15 regime was now in power, that was the sort of thing we were being told,
16 and he would also say that the JNA would survive, despite the fact that
17 the Croats now wanted a different army, that sort of thing.
18 Q. You said the numbers of the Serbs increased in terms of the
19 reservists that were coming to the barracks. What about other ethnic
20 groups? Were there reservists from other ethnic groups joining up within
21 that three months that you were at the barracks?
22 A. No.
23 Q. You said you escaped or left the barracks. Where did you go and
24 what happened to you? Just briefly.
25 A. I went from Petrovac to Pozarevac. I and Lorenc Dohanaj walked
1 for about 40 kilometres, then we got on a train and went to Zemun. We
2 reached Zemun sometime at daybreak the next day, and the train official
3 got off at the railway station and turned us in to the civilian police
4 unit there. He said there were two soldiers deserting.
5 At this point in time a number of civilian police officers came in
6 a car. I remember the car; it was a Zastava 101. They came up to me and
7 asked to see my military booklet and my permit to leave the barracks and
8 go into town. I told them that I had neither on me. And then the
9 policeman asked me if I was a deserter fleeing the ranks of the JNA, and I
10 said this was the case.
11 He asked, "Where are you going?" And I said, "I'm going home, I'm
12 going to Zagreb." And then he said, "What, you're going to be joining
13 Tudjman's army there, right?"
14 And then he handcuffed me, they put us in that car, and took us
15 straight to the police station in Zemun, Lorenc and myself. We only spent
16 as many as four hours there in detention, and then the military police
17 came for us and they took us to Topcider. We gave a statement about where
18 we were going and why we were running. We were taken from Topcider to
19 Pozarevac and from Pozarevac back to Petrovac Na Mlavi, and I was
20 punished. I was sentenced to 60 days of military detention, and they told
21 me that there would be an extension of my military service amounting to 21
22 days. It proved to be a great deal more, eventually.
23 Q. Thank you. And I think I -- we missed on the transcript the name
24 of the person that you left with.
25 A. That person's name is Lorenc Dohanaj.
1 Q. And how much of the -- you said you were sentenced to 60 days of
2 military detention. How much of that did you actually serve?
3 A. 35 days.
4 Q. And can you tell the Court why you didn't finish the full 60 days?
5 What happened after you served your 35 days?
6 A. I didn't for one reason, because we were sent out into the field
7 from my barracks, a group. I think a unit, the 2nd Mechanised Unit was
8 transferred to Bogojevo. We were deployed in an area near Bijelo Brdo,
9 close to Osijek.
10 Q. And were you told the reason for your deployment, why you were
11 being sent there?
12 A. No, no, we weren't. They just said we were going out into the
13 field, but they didn't tell us why we were being deployed there.
14 Q. And how did you get to Bijelo Brdo? Did you bring equipment with
15 you or not?
16 A. We only had light weapons and combat rucksacks with us. We were
17 stationed at Bogojevo. That is where we were issued with ammunition. And
18 then from Bogojevo we were transferred via the Bogojevo bridge to Bijelo
20 When we got to Bijelo Brdo, we were there to replace another
21 unit. I don't know where that unit was from. I know that they had tanks,
22 multiple rocket launchers and self-propelled guns and also an infantry
23 transporter vehicle. We were stationed there for two or three weeks. I
24 really don't know exactly how long we were there. The tanks, the armoured
25 vehicles and the rocket launchers were there in order to fire at Dalj,
1 Erdut and Sarvas.
2 Q. About how many from your unit left Petrovac Na Mlavi and went to
3 Bijelo Brdo?
4 A. I think that there were about 40 of us, 40 to 60. Actually, I
5 think there were about 40. That's how many of us fitted into the bus.
6 Q. And when you got there what was the role of your unit?
7 A. Our role was -- actually, those who were picking the targets in
8 the tanks, they were firing at Sarvas and Dalj. We were in the infantry,
9 we were supplying them with ammunition and providing guard duty around
10 that area where we were stationed. The tank crews were deployed in the
12 Q. Witness, if you could just slow down a little bit in order that we
13 can record the names on the transcript of the places that the unit was
14 ordered to fire at.
15 You said Dalj, and what were the other places?
16 A. Erdut, Sarvas.
17 Q. And for the time -- for the time that you were there, how often
18 were these places being fired at?
19 A. We mostly fired at night or twilight, when it just started to get
20 dark. But there was shooting every night. Far be it that we didn't shoot
21 every night. The multiple rocket launchers were also deployed there, and
22 they would be used frequently in the dark.
23 Q. And were you told or did you know what was being fired at? I mean
24 you said those villages, but what within those villages were being fired
1 A. The officers said that there was a number of Ustashas stationed
2 there and that we had to destroy that. We didn't see anybody there.
3 However, you could see the villages, but we didn't see any people there.
4 We couldn't see if anybody was there, whether there was civilians or not.
5 The important thing that fire was directed at those villages.
6 Q. And what about return of fire? Was there any return of fire from
7 those villages?
8 A. During the days that I was there, fire was not returned once from
9 the Croatian side.
10 Q. Were you able to see if any damage was caused in these villages,
11 or any casualties?
12 A. No, I didn't see that. But you could see fire, especially if it
13 was dark, you could see if things were burning. I didn't see any dead
14 bodies, however.
15 Q. You said you stayed at this location for two or three weeks. When
16 you left, where did you go?
17 A. After that I was returned to Petrovac Na Mlavi. I was placed in
18 detention once again until a reserve member of staff was brought to the
19 barracks and he was put in detention with us.
20 Then I requested to go and see my captain, and I asked that he
21 release myself and Zlatko from prison, which was what he did. He then
22 returned us to the dormitory where we were, and then about 10 days later,
23 I'm not exactly sure how many days it was, 15 of us soldiers were picked.
24 However, the captain then told me that he would give me another chance to
25 escape, because he said that I had the will to escape. So 15 of us
1 soldiers were picked, buses came to get us, they told us we were going to
2 replenish the units in Smederevo. However, we reached Pozarevac, where we
3 picked up several other soldiers, and then we were transported to
4 Sremska Mitrovica.
5 We formed a unit there, we were issued with tanks, armoured
6 vehicles, ammunition, and we were stationed there for three days. After
7 that we were -- we went to Sid, all the way to Sid with the tanks and the
8 armoured vehicles. We were in Sid for another two days. After two days,
9 we were transferred to Negoslavci.
10 Q. Thank you. If I could just stop you there for a moment. When you
11 said that you went to Sremska Mitrovica and you were issued with tanks and
12 armoured vehicles, ammunition, et cetera, about how many tanks were issued
13 to your unit?
14 A. I think that we were issued with five or six, and these were 55
15 and 84-typed tanks and we received the --
16 THE INTERPRETER: The interpreter did not hear how many armoured
18 MR. SMITH:
19 Q. How many armoured vehicles did you receive? If you could speak
20 just a little slower, thank you.
21 A. I don't know if it was five or six. We received five or six
22 armoured vehicles, something like that.
23 Q. And for those people that may not understand what a T-55 and a
24 T-84 tank is, can you explain what type of ammunition is fired out of
25 those tanks?
1 A. For example the T-55 is an old model tank and it has
2 100-millimetre calibre. T-84 is a modern tank, and it uses ammunition of
3 120-millimetres calibre.
4 Q. Of the -- thank you. Of the armoured vehicles that were issued to
5 your unit, was there any weapons attached to those vehicles, and if so,
6 what type of weapons?
7 A. A tank has a machine-gun mounted at the top. The machine-gun is
8 called a PAT, P-A-T. Both the models of tanks have machine-guns, and they
9 also have something called a PKT barrel.
10 Q. Thank you. And now I'm not talking about the tanks but the
11 armoured vehicles, would they have any weapons attached to them or not?
12 And, if so, what were they?
13 A. Yes. They have a 20-millimetre gun attached to it, as well as a
14 PKT, as well as a Malutka rockets mounted at the top.
15 Q. And did you also receive infantry weapons at Sremska Mitrovica or
16 did you bring them with you?
17 A. We did have light weapons from the barracks. We only got
18 ammunition there.
19 Q. Were you told in Sremska Mitrovica what your task was to be?
20 A. They lined us up in Sremska Mitrovica, and an officer, I think he
21 was a lieutenant-colonel, he addressed us and he said, "Soldiers,
22 comrades, you're going to war in the direction of Vukovar. You know that
23 we don't have anything against the Croatian people, but we're going to
24 Vukovar to destroy about 20.000 Ustashas."
25 Q. And what did you think when you heard that?
1 A. I knew that this wasn't true. I personally knew that this was not
2 true, that -- as far as there were any Ustashas in Vukovar. I mean, I
3 can't speak about Vukovar, but I knew that there weren't any in Croatia.
4 I knew that there were no Ustashas there.
5 Q. And when you say "Ustashas," what do you mean by that?
6 A. On the Croatian side. I don't know what to answer to that.
7 Q. Do you mean Croatian fighters?
8 A. Yes, Croatian fighters. The Yugoslav People's Army would say for
9 any man that they saw that it was an Ustasha, regardless of whether these
10 were police officers, guards members, civilians, regardless of who they
11 actually were. As far as they were concerned, they were Ustashas.
12 Q. Now, before you got to Negoslavci, you said that you stopped at
13 Sid. Why did you stop there and what did you do there?
14 A. We were waiting for orders to continue towards our positions. We
15 were just waiting for the moment when they would tell us that we were
16 supposed to move on. I mean, we rested up a little bit there.
17 Q. Now, when did you arrive in Negoslavci, approximately, what month?
18 A. I think that this was in late August or early September. Early
19 September 1991.
20 Q. And did you stop in Negoslavci? Did your unit stop there, or did
21 you proceed through?
22 A. No, we stopped over in Negoslavci. We spent an hour or two there,
23 and as we were passing by Negoslavci there was a Serbian flag flying there
24 and a Yugoslav flag. Serbian flag, not a Yugoslav flag. There were lots
25 of other soldiers who were stationed there. I saw tanks that were
1 situated in Negoslavci. I even think that the JNA had its command there
2 in Negoslavci. That was where they were issuing some instructions from.
3 Q. And why did you think that the JNA had its command there when you
5 A. There was one house where most of the officers were staying,
6 lieutenant-colonels, colonels, majors, captains. Our captain was with us
7 and he went to that house. He was invited for some agreements or
8 something. I don't know what they were talking about. After that we set
9 off for Dubrava. This is a neighbourhood close to Vukovar.
10 Q. And you said there were some other soldiers that you believe were
11 stationed there. What other soldiers are you referring to?
12 A. They seemed, by the way they looked, as reserve soldiers, they're
13 volunteers also. The White Eagles that were wearing white cross belts.
14 There were people in camouflage uniforms with cockade insignia on their
15 heads. There were people dressed in military clothing. There were Serbs
16 also from that place who were dressed in Serbian army clothes. Some were
17 wearing insignia with Yugoslav flags on it, some had cockade insignia on
18 their hats.
19 Q. And then you said that you went to Dubrava after Negoslavci?
20 A. Yes.
21 Q. And what did you do there?
22 A. We spent one night there, I think, and we were waiting for the
23 order to move to our positions. We rested a little bit and so on.
24 Q. And did you receive that order to move to your positions?
25 A. Yes. They told us to move to our positions, that we were going to
1 cut off the road between Vukovar and Vinkovci.
2 Q. And apart from that order to cut off the road between those two
3 towns, did you receive any other general orders as to what your role was
4 to be, what your unit's role was to be in Vukovar?
5 A. We just received the order that we were to cut off this road, so
6 that the Ustashas would not be able to escape from Vukovar to Vinkovci.
7 Q. And if you could remind us, how many people were in your unit that
8 went to this location?
9 A. Around 70 or 80. Perhaps 75 or 80 people, I can't really give you
10 the exact figure, but I know that there were many more soldiers in
11 Dubrava. I'm only speaking about my own unit that was sent from
12 Sremska Mitrovica to Negoslavci. We actually encountered a large number
13 of soldiers once we got there.
14 Q. And was it only your unit that was formed in Sremska Mitrovica
15 that went to this location to cut off the road, or did other people join
16 your unit and undertake that task as well?
17 A. Next to us were the reserve forces.
18 Q. When you say "reserve forces," are you referring to men that have
19 been mobilised into the JNA, or are you talking about some other type of
21 A. I think that these were people who were mobilised from the ranks
22 of the JNA, but these people were from Serbia, who had come to Vukovar.
23 Q. And this group that was next to your position, what types of
24 clothing were they wearing?
25 A. Military uniform of olive-drab colour. They wore the same uniform
1 that I wore.
2 Q. Your Honour, I ask that if we can call for Exhibit 156, please.
3 And, Witness, there is a map that I would like you to pin-point
4 the location in which your unit was placed at this time.
5 And if we can enlarge it about two levels, please. I think
6 that's -- I think one will suffice.
7 Witness, looking at the map -- thank you. At the map in front of
8 you, do you see any villages that were close to the position where you
9 were located?
10 A. You could see Bogdanovac. That's the road towards Vukovar that we
11 cut. And you can see Luzac on the left side.
12 Q. Are you able to put a marking, say a circle, in the general area
13 where your unit was positioned?
14 A. We were here, more or less.
15 Q. We have a slight technical problem. I think we can get back to
16 that later, Your Honour.
17 Witness, we'll look at that map a little later. But is it the
18 case that your unit was placed between those two villages, attempting to
19 cut off the road between Vukovar and Vinkovci?
20 A. Yes.
21 Q. And the unit that was positioned there, was this the unit that was
22 comprised of about six tanks, six APCs and about 70 to 80 men?
23 A. I don't know exactly how many of them there were, but I know that
24 there were many. They also had armoured vehicles, they had tanks. I
25 don't know the exact number of soldiers, though. We didn't really have
1 too much contact with them.
2 Q. And you mentioned a reserve group that was in front of you, in
3 front of your position. Were they closer towards Vukovar or further away?
4 A. They were not in front of us; they were next to us. They were
5 closer to Vukovar than we were.
6 Q. And can you tell the Court what the size of this group was?
7 A. Well, you could say that it was between 60 and 70 men, let's say
8 it was that -- that many. It was hard to say exactly how many of them
9 there were, because they were along to the side, stretched out, so it was
10 very hard to tell how many of them there were exactly.
11 Q. And these reservists, do you know whether they were of Croat or
12 Serb or any other ethnicity?
13 A. I think that they were all Serbs.
14 Q. Now, when you arrived at this position, I think it's about early
15 September, as you've testified, what was going on in Vukovar at that time?
16 A. Before we were stationed at that position we received an order to
17 open fire from all available weapons, before we even took up the position,
18 before we cut off the road. And I believe that for about an hour or an
19 hour and a half, we were firing. There were some cornfields in front of
20 us; to the right of us there were houses. You could see the town on the
21 right side and we opened fire. After an hour and a half we ceased
22 firing. We dug in the tanks. We received an order to dig in on the
23 tanks, to dig the trenches. The transporters were also dug in to the
24 ground. The order was to the effect that we should cut off the road so
25 that the Ustashas from Vukovar would not be able to escape towards
2 Q. And in which direction was the unit firing from all their
3 available weapons?
4 A. We were firing towards the town, towards Vukovar. There was also
5 firing towards Bogdanovci. We were firing in front of us also. These
6 were the directions of fire.
7 Q. Did you receive -- or are you aware of any instructions as to what
8 particular places should be fired at?
9 A. No.
10 Q. Was there any other fighting or weaponry being fired in the town
11 other than what your unit was doing when you first arrived?
12 A. I didn't understand this question.
13 Q. You said that when you first arrived your unit was firing their
14 weapons. Were there any other units firing at the same time in and around
15 Vukovar; do you know?
16 A. Well, there probably were. Since the reservists were there, they
17 were probably firing. It's difficult to tell just by the sound of firing
18 when a tank fires. When a shell is fired, it's very difficult to hear
19 inside one of the vehicles, because we were in one of the vehicles when
20 the firing started against those positions.
21 Q. And how long did you stay in this position with the unit for? For
22 about how many days?
23 A. I think about 24 days.
24 Q. And during those 24 days, did you become aware of the positions of
25 any other units in and around the town of Vukovar, any other JNA units?
1 A. There were other units there. For example, in Negoslavci you had
2 guns and tanks and multiple rocket launchers dug in. There were soldiers
3 there, and later on Serb volunteers arrived. They came after us and they
4 were stationed at Dubrava. There was firing from all sides. I am talking
5 about my own unit in which I spent 24 days. There wasn't a single day
6 without firing.
7 Q. When you say "there wasn't a single day without firing," is that
8 firing from your unit or from other units that you've just mentioned?
9 A. Our unit.
10 Q. And you mentioned that you had tanks in your unit, APCs. What
11 were they doing during that time? Were they firing?
12 A. Yes.
13 Q. Perhaps if we can talk about the tanks. In those 24 days that you
14 were there, how often were they firing? Just talking about the tanks now.
15 A. You see, there wasn't a single day there without firing, both
16 day-time and night-time firing. Night-time firing, most of all. There
17 was a cornfield right in front of us, and then whenever the wind rose,
18 even if they just heard sounds of children's voices [as interpreted], they
19 would fire from combat vehicles from tanks and from all available weapons.
20 Q. When you say there was firing from the tanks every day, can you
21 give an approximate number of shells that were fired from these five or
22 six tanks - are you able to say - per day?
23 A. If you take into account both day-time and night-time firing, I
24 would say over a hundred shells.
25 Q. And what about firing from the weapons on the APCs? Were they
1 being fired every day?
2 A. Yes.
3 Q. And during this time, what was your particular job? During this
4 24-day period what were you specifically doing?
5 A. I was in a trench. Zlatko Zlogledja and I were together in a
6 trench. We had been given an order to watch for the Ustashas because they
7 might come running out of the cornfield in our direction, although I
8 myself was certain that we would not be attacked. I did not use up a
9 single bullet in those 24 days. Not me, not Zlatko Zlogledja. And
10 whenever the other soldiers went looking for ammunitions, Zlatko and I did
11 not go looking at all. Once the captain called us and said, "How come
12 you're not using up any ammunition? Are you firing or what?"
13 And then I answered, "Well, I can't see anybody to fire at. Who
14 am I supposed to be firing at if I can't see a soul."
15 Q. If I can stop you there, I think my friend has a comment to make.
16 JUDGE PARKER: Thank you, yes, Mr. Vasic.
17 MR. VASIC: [Interpretation] Thank you, Your Honour.
18 There is something in the transcript. It's page 27 and the line
19 is 25. When the witness was speaking about the shooting and then there
20 were various sounds being referred to, but the transcript says children's
21 voices. I don't think this was said. And if my colleague can raise this
22 with the witness, just to clarify the matter, please.
23 JUDGE PARKER: Thank you.
24 MR. SMITH: Thank you.
25 Q. Witness, you just -- it appears on the transcript that you
1 mentioned that children's voices could be heard. Is that correct or not?
2 A. No. No, just the rustling of the corn-stalks.
3 Q. And during this time that the tanks and the APCs were firing, do
4 you know which direction they were firing in?
5 A. The water-tower, the town itself, Bogdanovci. There were houses
6 in front of us. I think that position is known as Luzac. They were
7 firing at those houses too. But for the most part, the barrels were
8 trained on the town itself.
9 Q. Did you receive any instructions as to how you should distinguish
10 your firing or how you should aim and what you should be shooting at? Any
11 particular instructions from your commander?
12 A. No.
13 Q. Are you aware of the gunners and the tanks, and in the APCs, are
14 you aware of whether they received any instructions about where to direct
15 their fire?
16 A. Well, for example, the men operating the tanks and the gunners, I
17 talked to those lads, and they were told to train their guns on the town
18 itself. And when they were told to open fire, they were supposed to do
19 so. The same applied to the combat vehicles there. The gunners had a
20 20-millimetre gun and they fired at the houses. They were not given any
21 particular positions. They weren't told that those were police positions
22 or guards positions. They were just told to fire in that direction, and
23 that was that.
24 Q. And is this what you learned from the conversations that you had
25 with them, the gunners?
1 A. Yes.
2 Q. Whilst this firing was going on during the 24 days that you were
3 in this position, what were those reserve forces doing, that Serb reserve
4 force that you talked about that was closer towards Vukovar?
5 A. They were firing at Vukovar too.
6 Q. Did that reserve force and your unit, did they communicate at all;
7 do you know?
8 A. There were Serb soldiers who went there, talked to them,
9 socialised. I myself didn't go.
10 Q. And I would now like to talk about whether or not there was any
11 return fire returned on your position that you were located at for those
12 24 days.
13 A. Well, you see, between the 14th and the 16th when the JNA started
14 heavy shelling there were tanks firing from our position, there were
15 mortars firing, and the entire town was virtually ablaze. And then they
16 said that we should expect a rather severe attack, counter-attack by the
17 Ustashas and that we had to be prepared. However, they fired only three
18 or four shells, perhaps 60 millimetre shells, I think, and not more than
19 that. And that was the extent of it. Sometimes they would open small
20 arms fire, but that was minute in comparison to the fire-power that we
22 On that day, three civilians surrendered. They surrendered to the
23 army because they did not trust the reservists. They went to the army to
24 ask for help, but it was all the same, really, whether they surrendered to
25 the reservists or to the soldiers. When they surrendered to us, one had a
1 Kalashnikov, an automatic rifle, and they asked them, "Where are you
2 headed?" And they said that there was chaos in town, mayhem, and that you
3 could no longer stay there because of the heavy shelling. It was totally
4 incredible, they said. And they said they fled in the army's direction to
5 save their lives.
6 However, these soldiers tied their hands behind their backs and
7 left them outside for the whole night. There was a planted tree grove
8 next to our position, and they were left there for the night with their
9 hands tied.
10 The next morning I went there to talk to them. I told
11 them, "Don't be afraid, I'm from Bjelovar." I'm sorry. They seemed a
12 little happier, but that didn't last long because they were then taken to
14 Q. Now, these three civilians, do you know whether they were -- do
15 you know what ethnicity they were?
16 A. No, I didn't ask. But I imagine they were Croats because later
17 on, once I had escaped, I heard these men had been killed.
18 MR. SMITH: Your Honour, I think that might be a good time to
20 JUDGE PARKER: Very well, Mr. Smith. We will adjourn now for the
21 tapes to be rewound and resume at five minutes past 4.00.
22 MR. SMITH: Thank you.
23 --- Recess taken at 3.43 p.m.
24 --- On resuming at 4.13 p.m.
25 JUDGE PARKER: Yes, Mr. Smith.
1 MR. SMITH: Thank you, Your Honour.
2 THE INTERPRETER: Microphone for counsel, please.
3 Q. Thank you. Witness, before the break you said that between
4 the 14th and the 16th of September there was heavy shelling by the JNA and
5 the town of Vukovar was ablaze. Was -- during that time period, was the
6 town attacked in any other way?
7 A. It's not that it was attacked, it was being shelled, but that day
8 was the worst shelling.
9 Q. And you said that you were in -- in this position for about 24
10 days. Why did you leave that position and what did you do?
11 A. On the 24th of September I decided to try and escape with four
12 other soldiers. How should I put it? Lorenc Dohanaj was from somewhere
13 close to Marinci. He couldn't believe that we were destroying the town
14 for no reason at all, just because we had been told that about 20.000
15 Ustashas were stationed there, Kurds, Romanians, mercenaries, and that's
16 why we decided to try and escape.
17 We escaped at about midday on that day. We met some civilians who
18 gave us a lift and took us to where the guards were stationed. And the
19 guards then took us to the police administration building in Vukovar. We
20 were in a cellar there, they put us in a cellar. They asked us where we
21 were from, who we were, what we were doing there. They checked our
22 addresses, the addresses that we had provided and after that they released
23 us. It was some form of detention, I guess.
24 On that same day members of the MUP captured three soldiers from
25 the same position that we had been at. They were also taken to the police
1 administration building, and they seemed happy to have escaped from the
3 Q. You said that they seemed happy that they -- they had escaped from
4 the army, these other three, but a moment ago you said they were captured.
5 Did these other three get captured or did they escape?
6 A. They were captured, actually. They were captured but they were as
7 happy as if they had escaped.
8 Q. And if you could --
9 A. They were happy to be out of the JNA.
10 Q. And if we could just go through the four names of the people that
11 escaped with you, if you could mention them slowly, and just say who they
12 were and what ethnicity they were, the four that escaped with you.
13 A. Zlatko Zlogledja, he's from around Kostajnica, an ethnic Croat.
14 Lorenc Dohanaj, from around Marinci, I think. That's near Vinkovci. He's
15 an ethnic Albanian. Samir Hrkic from Zavidovici. There's a village
16 nearby called Hrkici. I think he's an ethnic Bosnian, a Muslim. And
17 Srecko Ravlija from Visoko, an ethnic Croat.
18 As for those three that they captured, Petar Kuscevic, I think
19 he's an ethnic Croat from around Split. Rasid Adzibegovic, I don't know
20 where he's from, but he's from somewhere in Bosnia. And I think he, too,
21 is a Bosnian or a Muslim. Marko Kobas from around Brcko or Orasje. I
22 think he's a Croat, but I'm not sure.
23 Q. And when you arrived at the police station, you said you were
24 placed in the cellar. How long were you placed in the cellar for whilst
25 they checked your addresses?
1 A. Between three and five days.
2 Q. And you said that you were released by the police, it seems, some
3 three or five days later. Why were you released and what was discussed
4 with you and the police?
5 A. They wanted to take us to Vinkovci. They knew I was from around
6 there, and those other lads were from their own places, the ones I have
7 mentioned. They wanted at all costs to take us across to Vinkovci because
8 we had fled the JNA. We had deserted. They were looking for ways, but
9 there just was no way to leave Vukovar at the time. And then a police
10 chief told us he was very sorry, but there was no way to leave because
11 Vukovar was besieged and it was only a question of time when Vukovar would
13 Q. At that stage did you want to leave Vukovar, once you were
15 A. Yes.
16 Q. And what about the other three men that were captured? Were they
17 released as well? Can you explain?
18 A. Yes.
19 Q. And when were they released, relative to when you were?
20 A. The same day.
21 Q. You said that someone from the police station said that there was
22 no way that you could leave Vukovar. Were you offered to do anything, did
23 he offer you to do anything?
24 A. They -- they were thinking about which road was still open so they
25 could get us to Vinkovci, but they didn't ask us about where we wanted to
1 go. They just asked us whether we wanted to go or stay. And we all asked
2 to go. And they seemed certain that they would be able to take us across
3 to Vinkovci, but eventually they weren't able to.
4 Q. And who was the police chief that spoke to you, what was his name?
5 A. Stipe Pole.
6 JUDGE PARKER: Mr. Smith, we've had altogether seven names. It's
7 not clear to me at least which are the four that were with the witness and
8 which were the other three. Could that be clarified?
9 MR. SMITH: Yes, Your Honour.
10 Q. Witness, can you just state again which were the four JNA soldiers
11 that escaped with you. Just their names, please.
12 A. Zlatko, Lorenc, Srecko, and Samir. I'm not sure if you want their
13 last names too.
14 Q. I think that's --
15 JUDGE PARKER: That's enough.
16 MR. SMITH:
17 Q. -- fine for the moment. And the other three were the ones that
18 were captured; is that correct?
19 A. Yes.
20 Q. So you explained that the chief of police said that you couldn't
21 get out of Vukovar, so what did you decide to do? What happened next?
22 A. I myself asked to join the police administration, the MUP.
23 Zlatko, Lorenc and I. They gave us back the weapons that we had on us
24 when we arrived. We were given police administration uniforms, and we
25 stayed with them in the cellar. We later moved to a different place
1 because of safety reasons, because the police administration building was
2 being shelled on a daily basis as well as the area around it.
3 Q. And what about Srecko, what did he do? Did he join as well?
4 A. Not long after, Srecko's leg was blown off. A mortar shell landed
5 in the courtyard of the police administration building and his leg was
6 blown to bits. We carried him to the hospital and that was where he
8 Q. And you said that you asked to join the police administration.
9 What -- what did you expect that you were going to do? What was your
11 A. I didn't expect to be given any tasks. They didn't even ask us to
12 go to any positions where there was firing, where would be exposed to
13 firing. Although it didn't make much difference if you were at the front
14 line or right there in the middle of town. The shelling was the same all
15 over. It was for our personal safety that we kept those weapons that we
16 had brought along. They didn't ask us to do anything else. They didn't
17 give us any specific tasks to go somewhere. It was more of our own free
18 will that we accepted this.
19 Q. And if they didn't give you any specific task, did they give you
20 any general tasks that you were to do or not?
21 A. No.
22 Q. And what did you do from that point forward?
23 A. The police building had been subjected to so much shelling that
24 eight of us from the police moved to a different cellar near the Danube.
25 We stayed there, and at nightfall we would stand guard to make sure none
1 of the passers-by chucked anything into our cellar. Sometimes we watched
2 our town being shelled from across the Danube. You could see guns there,
3 tanks, multiple rocket launchers. We spent most of our time watching
5 Q. And why did the -- why did the police give you a uniform?
6 A. They didn't give us a uniform; we asked to be given uniforms. We
7 got rid of the JNA uniform, and they didn't have any civilian clothes to
8 give us.
9 Q. With your JNA weapon that you had whilst you were at the position
10 outside of Vukovar, what did you do with that? Did you still have that
11 when you joined the police?
12 A. Yes, yes.
13 Q. And you stayed in Vukovar until what date? When did you -- when
14 did you leave Vukovar?
15 A. When I left the hospital on the 20th of November, 1991.
16 Q. So could you explain a little bit more, just in a little more
17 detail for that, say, two months that you were with the -- with the police
18 what your duties were, just a little more. You have explained that you
19 were guarding the cellar that you were staying at?
20 A. Well, the first thing that I wanted after I had escaped from the
21 JNA was to see where those 12 -- 20.000 Ustashas were stationed that
22 they'd told us about. However, once there I noticed the police forces, I
23 noticed civilians carrying some sort of weapons, but - I'm not sure how I
24 should put this - it wasn't an organised army, sufficiently organised to
25 resist the kind of force that was being used to advance on the town. What
1 I really wanted to know, whether there were any Blackshirts in Vukovar, or
2 Ustashas that they told us about in the JNA. But all I saw when I got
3 there was people defending their homes, their neighbourhoods, and members
4 of the police.
5 My personal task, my personal assignment, sometimes we would go to
6 the shops in the area, get canned food or something like that and bring it
7 to civilians. Whenever we opened a shop, all the civilians would come out
8 of their cellars to go to the shop and try to see if they could lay their
9 hands on some food. People were hungry and thirsty and unable to move
10 about because of the shelling. Everybody was afraid of the shelling. It
11 wasn't like dozens of shells were falling every day, more like hundreds.
12 So that was what I saw when I came there. And that's what my
13 assignment was. And we also stood guard where I said, facing the Danube,
14 to see if the army was perhaps about to start crossing the Danube.
15 Q. And if the army -- or did the army cross the Danube whilst you
16 were in that position over that period of time?
17 A. No, no.
18 Q. And what would you have done if, in fact, the army had crossed the
19 Danube? What would -- what did you believe you were expected to do, if
21 A. You mean if they crossed the Danube towards us? We would probably
22 have opened fire at them.
23 Q. And for about how long did you stay in the police station?
24 A. I can't really say how long we stayed there. A month, less than a
25 month, two or three weeks. I don't know. I stayed until -- well, I
1 really can't say how long I was there. Maybe 20 days or -- I can't really
2 tell you with any certainty how long it was.
3 Q. And then about how long did you stay in this other place, this
4 other place that you moved to?
5 A. Vukovar fell on the 17th; on the 17th we withdrew. I think that
6 we withdrew to a shelter where there were many, many civilians, a large
7 number of civilians. Some people managed to get out of Vukovar, some
8 stayed behind. Some tried to make a kind of break-through, but they
9 didn't succeed. Lorenc and I, even though later he stepped on this
10 device, which shattered his heel, we returned him to the hospital, so I
11 was in the hospital until the army came.
12 Q. You said that you were provided -- or you still had your weapon
13 when you were working with the police or had the police uniform. About
14 how many other men in town had weapons that you saw in the two-month
15 period that you were in town?
16 A. I saw police officers and guardsmen when they would come to get
17 the food for the police; that's what I saw. I took off the uniform after
18 20 or 30 days. I found some civilian clothes. It was dirty. You can't
19 really spend a month in one uniform. Later the entire police
20 administration burned down. Only the walls remained. Everything that was
21 inside burned down.
22 Q. Were you aware of other Croats defending the town of Vukovar
23 whilst you were there?
24 A. I don't understand the question, I'm sorry. Did I know any other
1 Q. Were you aware whether there were any other Croats, whether you
2 knew them or not, defending the town of Vukovar whilst you were there?
3 A. Yes, there were. People were defending their own town. I mean,
4 who wouldn't?
5 Q. And from what you saw, about how many people did you see defending
6 the town, from your experience in that two months?
7 A. I can say how many people there were as far as the police
8 administration was concerned. I think there were about a hundred people
9 that I saw. I don't know whether there were more or not. I really can't
11 Q. Did you see whether there were any weapons being used other than
12 small -- other than rifles or that type of weapon being used to defend the
14 A. The police only had light weaponry.
15 Q. What about tanks and mortars?
16 A. They didn't have tanks. I think at one time the army left tanks
17 behind in a certain part of town and a soldier who was a tank driver
18 actually went to get this tank and he brought it over. It was from a
19 workshop or something. There was something wrong with it. They were
20 trying to make it operational. But then a shell fell somewhere there, so
21 that the mechanics were killed inside, and that's where it stayed. I even
22 think that they did fire one or two shells in that tank that were left.
23 They managed to fire them. They tried to make the tank work. I don't
24 know whether it was short of fuel or something. I know that there was
25 something wrong with it.
1 Q. And what about mortars? Did you know whether they were being used
2 to defend the town?
3 A. I didn't see mortars.
4 Q. About what date did you arrive at Vukovar Hospital?
5 A. I think this was on the 18th. I cannot be 100 per cent sure, but
6 I think it was the 18th. I think that I spent one or two nights, I don't
7 even know myself how many nights.
8 Q. Can we talk about the day that you left Vukovar Hospital. You'd
9 stayed there the night before. Can you tell us what happened the next
10 day, on the 20th?
11 A. On the 20th, well, the day before they told us that those who
12 wanted to go to Zagreb could go to Zagreb. I cannot be quite certain
13 about this, but I think that there were lists of people made who wanted to
14 go to Zagreb, who wanted to go to Belgrade, those who wanted to stay could
15 stay. However, on the 20th we were ordered to leave the hospital, that we
16 had to leave the hospital. At that point in time, women and children and
17 the elderly were separated to one side. We were lined up in front of the
18 hospital in a single file.
19 Q. Who ordered you to leave the hospital?
20 A. The people who worked at the hospital told us that we had to leave
21 the hospital, that they were ordered that they had to leave the hospital.
22 Q. And where were you when you were told that, what part of the
24 A. I was in the cellar. I was closer to the exit door of the
25 hospital. I was in the cellar of the hospital. We were the ones who left
1 first, those who were not wounded; and then after that, the wounded were
2 brought out.
3 Q. And what happened when you left the hospital, when you left
4 through the exit? What happened next?
5 A. We were lined up there, as I said. Then Major Sljivancanin was
6 standing in front of the hospital who said that -- he introduced himself
7 as Major Sljivancanin, that no one would be harmed, that the Yugoslav
8 People's Army liberated the town, and that as of today, that day, Vukovar
9 was a free town, and he ordered the Belgrade guards to search us. They
10 didn't have anything to confiscate from me. I had a watch, they took the
11 watch. When they searched the people he said, "Let's go, soldiers, we're
12 not going to be here until tomorrow."
13 Buses were waiting outside. They ordered all of us to board the
14 buses. We boarded them one by one. Everybody had to sit down in the
15 buses. I was in the bus before last. And Zlatko Zlogledja was in the bus
16 before last, as well as Petar Kuscevic, as well as Samir Hrkic; he was
17 also in the bus before last. I was sitting with a man called Horvat. He
18 was a police officer in Vukovar. He was born in Vinkovci, by the way.
19 And he himself told me that, "We will never see Zagreb."
20 The buses set off and they went to the Vukovar barracks.
21 Q. If I can just stop you there for a moment and ask you a couple of
22 questions as to how you left the hospital. You said that Major
23 Sljivancanin introduced himself. Did you ever know -- did you know that
24 person's name before that day?
25 A. I think that Dr. Vesna Bosanac was negotiating from the 19th
1 because the army entered the hospital already on the 18th. On the 18th
2 you could no longer enter or leave the hospital. I don't know exactly
3 what time they arrived. Inside in the barracks an officer of the JNA came
4 to the hospital with a camera and he filmed or took photos of the interior
5 of the hospital. Major Sljivancanin was walking along the corridor with
6 Dr. Bosanac inside the hospital. That's when I saw him inside. And then
7 when they photographed everything, then they left. I think later, on
8 the 20th, they were standing outside. There were people from the
9 international community. I remember a gentleman. He was wearing an
10 earring, he was wearing white, his pants were torn. However, they were
11 not allowed any access to the hospital. They were standing next to the
13 Q. If I can just stop you for a minute. When was the first time that
14 you saw Major Sljivancanin, on what day was that?
15 A. I think that it was on the 19th. The 19th.
16 Q. After you left Vukovar and after you got back to Croatia, did you
17 ever see Major Sljivancanin again in any way?
18 A. Yes, on television. He often appeared on television.
19 Q. And in what context did he appear on TV? What was the story
21 A. When I was in Serbian prison they presented him as a hero who
22 liberated the town, while the Croat side presented him as a criminal who
23 had inflicted damage on Vukovar.
24 Q. Thank you. And you also mentioned that the Belgrade guards
25 searched you as you left the hospital. How do you know they were the
1 Belgrade guards, and what were they wearing?
2 A. They had multi-coloured bullet-proof vests, also helmets, and
3 jackets. And it was camouflage uniforms. There were wounded inside the
4 hospital who were being treated by the hospital doctors, and they were
5 negotiating with Commander Raseta - I think he was in Zagreb - to stop
6 shelling the Vukovar Hospital.
7 However, later when the army reached the hospital they were
8 standing at the exit to the hospital, the people who had been treated
9 there, and they were showing or pointing out people who had been
10 mistreating them or abusing them in the hospital. However, nobody had
11 been mistreating them. They were guards posted outside of their hospital
12 room doors. No one had mistreated them.
13 Q. You said that you got on to a bus. About how many other buses
14 were there at the front of the hospital?
15 A. I don't know whether there was six. I know that I was in the bus
16 before the last; there was a bus behind me. There were five or six buses,
17 I can't really remember the exact number. But I know that I was in the
18 bus before last.
19 JUDGE PARKER: Yes, Mr. Lukic.
20 MR. LUKIC: [Interpretation] A correction, or just an addition to
21 the transcript. On page 44, the witness, after having described -
22 line 4 - the uniforms worn by members of the guards brigade, described
23 and said that they were in the hospital. Sergeant and a -- and two
24 soldiers in the hospital. Those words were not recorded in the
25 transcript. And then after that it says they were wounded inside the
1 hospital, and he actually meant this sergeant and the two regular soldiers
2 who were in the hospital.
3 JUDGE PARKER: Thank you.
4 Mr. Smith, if you want to follow that up.
5 MR. SMITH: Thank you, Your Honour.
6 Q. Witness, you said that -- sorry, firstly, where did the buses go?
7 A. To the barracks.
8 Q. And what happened at the barracks?
9 A. When we boarded the buses, these were civilian buses, a JNA
10 soldier was standing in front of us, he was armed. The bus driver also
11 had a weapon. They had automatic rifles with collapsible butts. They
12 took us to the barracks, they stopped there. The captain entered the bus
13 that I was in, he read out some names, names of some people, and the
14 people who were inside, and those people went outside, and as a person
15 descended from the bus they were beaten. They were beaten with handles,
16 rifle-butts. They were going around the bus shouting, they were cursing
17 our Ustasha mothers. "You wanted your own state, where is Europe now?
18 Where is Tudjman now?" And things like that. That's what they were
20 Q. About how many people were called off your bus?
21 A. I think some 10 names were read out. I cannot be quite sure. I
22 was in a panic, and I was afraid, so in that kind of state you can't
23 really hear everything very well. I know that about six people descended
24 from the bus, five or six people.
25 Q. And you said that a captain came on the bus and called out the
1 names. Can you describe the uniform the captain was wearing?
2 A. Uniform of the Yugoslav People's Army, olive-drab colour. He was
3 a slim man, and he had a darker complexion. I know the Chetniks who were
4 there wanted to board the bus, but he ordered them to get off the bus.
5 Q. And about how tall was he, and what colour was his hair, and how
6 old was he? This captain.
7 A. He had black hair. As for how old he was, I don't know. He was
8 about 180 or 1.75 metres tall. He weighed perhaps 90 kilograms, 80 to 90
9 kilograms. He had a dark complexion. I can't really say how old he was.
10 Perhaps between 35 and 40 years of age.
11 Q. When you said that the people from the bus were being beaten. Who
12 was doing the beating?
13 A. There were people in the barracks courtyard wearing camouflage
14 uniforms. There were also some who were wearing military uniforms. There
15 were people with white bands. There were people from the Territorial
16 Defence of theirs. There were people who wore cockade insignia on their
17 caps. I don't know, there were a lot of soldiers.
18 Q. About how many soldiers did you see, approximately, at the
20 A. I can say that I saw more than 50. I don't know exactly how many
21 there were.
22 Q. And did you see how many soldiers were involved in the beating of
23 these men that were taken off the buses?
24 A. Four of them would be beating one man. There was a tank parked at
25 the Vukovar Hospital, there were armoured vehicles, military trucks.
1 There were many soldiers in the hospital compound.
2 Q. Now we are just discussing what was happening at the barracks, and
3 you've referred to there was a tank being parked at the Vukovar Hospital.
4 What vehicles were actually at the barracks when you arrived?
5 A. There were tanks also in the barracks compound.
6 Q. You mentioned that some of the soldiers there were from the
7 Territorial Defence, and you also mentioned some soldiers had cockades on
8 their hats, on their caps, and you also mentioned there were soldiers in
9 camouflage uniform and had military uniforms on as well. Can you describe
10 what groups these other soldiers belonged to other than the Territorial
11 Defence, if you know?
12 A. The ones that had the cockades on their caps were Chetniks, then
13 you had the White Eagles who also had the cockades, but they also wore
14 white ribbons or bands, and then you had the reserve officers who were
15 wearing the JNA uniforms, and then you had the regular army. The
16 difference between the reserve and the regular army members was their age.
17 All of them were in the compound.
18 Q. You said that you believe there were approximately about 50
19 soldiers there. About how many of them appeared to be from the regular
20 JNA at the barracks?
21 A. I don't know. I really couldn't tell you with 100 per cent
22 certainty. There was probably more than 50 soldiers. I don't know how
23 many members of the JNA there were. I know that we were guarded by a JNA
24 soldier when we were on the bus.
25 Q. Can you provide the Court with -- is it possible to provide the
1 Court with a minimum number of the JNA soldiers that you saw there at the
3 A. I really couldn't say. Perhaps there were 10, more than 10, less
4 than 10. I really couldn't give you a number.
5 Q. And what about the Territorial Defence. Is that the same
6 situation there; it's difficult for you to give a number?
7 A. It's also difficult for me to give a number of soldiers of one
8 kind and of another kind.
9 Q. Can you tell the Court what the atmosphere was like when you were
10 sitting on the bus and these men were being beaten up? What was the
12 A. On our side when we were in the bus, it was terrible to watch,
13 because we all knew that that's what would happen to us, too, when we saw
14 them beating these people. The person next to me took a photograph out of
15 his wife and two children and he said to me, "I will never see them
16 again." I told him, "Well, don't worry, we're going to go
17 home." And then he said, "Well, can't you see what they're doing to these
18 people that are leaving the bus?"
19 As far as they were concerned, they were cheerful that they had
20 arrested and captured so many Ustashas. They were cheerful because they
21 could beat so many people without telling them why they were beating them
22 up. I mean, talking about savages, you can't even imagine how severely
23 they were beating these people once they left the bus. They were kicking
24 them, hitting them with rifle-butts. When a person fell down, they would
25 be kicking them. It was a terrible thing to see. They had pointed their
1 rifles at us in the bus, "We will kill you all. There's nothing that can
2 save you now," and so on. We were not indifferent to that, we were all
4 Q. How long did your bus stay at the JNA barracks for?
5 A. About an hour or two hours. It seemed to me as if I were there
6 for two years.
7 Q. And did you have a watch on you at the time?
8 A. No. I'm giving you a rough idea when I say between one and two
9 hours. But it's difficult to say.
10 Q. And what happened then? What happened after you left JNA
11 barracks? Can you explain how you left and where you went?
12 A. After that the buses drove on to Ovcara. There is a farm there,
13 stables, and a hangar. When we arrived, the soldiers followed us. Some
14 walked ahead of us to welcome us there. And as each of the buses pulled
15 over, they would open the door and order everybody to get off the bus.
16 There was the hangar door, and they formed a gauntlet with 15 people on
17 either side. These people were forced to run the gauntlet. They would
18 beat them, break their arms, and some were even unable to walk. And when
19 the time came for the people from my bus to run the gauntlet, Petar
20 Kuscevic was the first off the bus. A Chetnik hit him with a rifle-butt
21 over the head. He fell down and he said, "Don't hit me, I was captured by
22 the Ustashas, I am a JNA soldier."
23 There was a captain standing near the bus, I think it was the same
24 captain who had previously been reading names from that list. They pulled
25 him back up and they asked him, "Is there another JNA soldier among you,"
1 and so he pointed at me, Zlatko and Hrkic as the JNA soldiers and we were
2 then taken to one side.
3 Next to the hangar there were two JNA officers. They were
4 lieutenant-colonels, perhaps, but they called us over and they asked us
5 questions such as where we were from, who we were, what we were doing
6 there. And then the officer said, "How come there's not a single Serb
7 amongst you?" And he motioned with his hand. He said, "Do you see those
8 fields over there? That's where my son fought hand to hand with the
9 Ustashas. We'll see who got away and who was captured. You, you are
10 deserters. You escaped from the JNA." And we said, "No, we did not
11 escape, we were captured." And then we watched those people being
13 I remember this one man in particular. He called him by his name
14 and said, "Ivan, are you a Croat or a Serb?" This person had a bandage on
15 his arm. He didn't know what to say, so he cracked him over the arm.
16 This was beating, pure and simple. An act of horror, chaos.
17 And until they'd emptied all the buses, there was this soldier or
18 a reservist, he climbed on top of a bulldozer, a yellow bulldozer that was
19 parked next to the hangar, switched on the ignition and left it running.
20 But at this point in time, a JNA officer came in a Puch, P-u-h [as
21 interpreted] vehicle, he had a personal driver who drove him there. He
22 left the vehicle, walked up to the hangar, had a look, he was talking to
23 the soldiers there about something, and he came up to us and he ordered us
24 to get on that -- to get into that vehicle. The four of us got into the
25 vehicle and were taken to Negoslavci.
1 Q. If I could stop you there for a moment. Thank you for that. Can
2 you just tell the Court again who the four people were that got into that
3 vehicle with the JNA officer?
4 A. Zlatko Zlogledja, Petar Kuscevic, Samir Hrkic, and myself.
5 Q. Now, it's correct that you all fought with the JNA, is that right,
6 in Vukovar?
7 A. I don't understand the question, I'm sorry.
8 Q. All of you, the four of you in -- initially in the JNA unit in
9 Vukovar; is that right?
10 A. Yes, yes.
11 Q. Why do you think you were selected to go into that vehicle and not
12 placed in the hangar? Are you able to say?
13 A. Well, because Petar Kuscevic told them we had been captured by the
14 Ustashas, something like that, that's how we managed to save our lives.
15 Q. And if we can just go back to when you first arrived at the
16 hangar. About how many buses actually arrived there, including your own
17 bus, or the bus you were in?
18 A. Five or six. I know that I was in the penultimate bus, and I
19 watched the other bus being emptied. It's difficult to say, five or six,
20 I can't say. Between five and six.
21 Q. You said when you left the hospital that there was a JNA soldier
22 as a guard on the bus. What happened to that JNA soldier?
23 A. Well, he came to Ovcara with us. Then he left the bus and I have
24 no idea what became of him later on. But he was in front of the hangar
1 Q. About how long did you stay at the hangar from the time that you
2 arrived on the buses until the time that you left in the vehicle with the
3 JNA officer?
4 A. Between one and two hours, thereabouts. I know that it was a
5 sunny day, a beautiful day.
6 Q. And you may have said it in your testimony already, but can you
7 tell the Court about how many people were involved in the beatings of the
8 men as they came off the buses?
9 A. There were about 30 people making up the gauntlet, 15 of them on
10 either side. About 30 people altogether. Although there were people
11 milling around the buses too.
12 I remember when we were talking to those lieutenant-colonels and
13 other JNA officers, I know that at one point a Chetnik walked up to us, he
14 said that there was a Serb inside the hangar who was entirely blameless
15 and asked to be released and allowed to leave the hangar. He said he knew
16 this man personally. And this other one told him that he could go ahead
17 and release that person, and eventually they let him go.
18 Q. Do you know what groups or group these men belonged to, the ones
19 that were beating up the detainees as they came off the bus? You've
20 talked about Chetniks, you've talked about Territorial Defence, you've
21 talked about reserve soldiers, you've talked about regular soldiers. Can
22 you give us an idea as to who these people were?
23 A. When they were calling out names, those people I think were Serbs
24 from Vukovar. But there were reservists there too. Those doing the
25 beating were natives, local people. You could say that.
1 Q. And when you say that there were reservists there as well, what
2 were they wearing?
3 A. JNA uniform.
4 Q. You said that there were about 30 people involved in the beatings,
5 but there were also some other people there as well. In total about how
6 many people were present whilst these men were being beaten, including the
7 ones that were doing the beating?
8 A. It's difficult for me to give you an exact figure. There were
9 people behind the bus, people in front of the bus. It was difficult to
10 say at the time, but there were quite many of them. Quite many, over 50.
11 Q. And can you tell the Court what the atmosphere was like when you
12 arrived at the front of the hangar and then these men were being beaten?
13 What was the atmosphere like there?
14 A. We were gripped by an enormous fear, and they seemed happy to have
15 an opportunity to beat people. They were happy because they had liberated
16 Vukovar. They were happy -- they were happy; that was it. They were
17 furious with the Ustashas. That's what the atmosphere was like.
18 Q. You said that you were questioned by two JNA lieutenant-colonels,
19 you said perhaps they were lieutenant-colonels. Can you describe what
20 they were wearing and describe their age and their height and their build?
21 A. As tall as I, olive-drab uniform, a military windcheater,
22 olive-drab, hair greying, crew-cut, neat and orderly, clean. Their age,
23 over 40, I would say. That's what I reckon at least. I know that they
24 were important people there, because when this Chetnik came along to ask
25 for that man to be released and they gave him approval, if they were in a
1 position to grant approval in relation to this particular individual, they
2 probably would have been able to have everyone released if they'd wanted
4 Q. And what about the build of both of them? Were they thin, fat,
6 A. Stoutish.
7 Q. And you said that they were about the same height as you are.
8 It's hard to tell how high you are, sitting down, but what's your height?
9 A. To tell you the truth, I don't know exactly, but they were about
10 170 centimetres tall, or thereabouts.
11 Q. You also said that there was a -- actually, I have forgotten what
12 you actually said. You said there was an excavator or a digger or
13 something like that turned on. I haven't got the word right, but there
14 was some vehicle that was turned on. Can you describe what that was?
15 A. We call it an ICB. It has a bucket in front, it's usually called
16 an excavator. There is a mechanic arm at the back for digging trenches.
17 It was yellow, it had tyres, all four tyres equal in size. It has a cabin
18 on top.
19 Q. And did it have anything at the front, any piece of machinery at
20 the front of it?
21 A. Yes. A bucket for shoving earth, for loading earth and gravel,
22 that's what it's used for. I think the capacity is about two cubic metres
23 of pebbles or gravel.
24 Q. And did you see that vehicle, I think you referred to it as a
25 yellow bulldozer, did you see that go anywhere?
1 A. No. I didn't. I just saw a soldier jump on it, switch the
2 ignition on, and it was left running.
3 Q. You said that you were taken -- I may have interrupted you, but I
4 think you said that you were taken to Negoslavci by this JNA officer; is
5 that right?
6 A. Yes.
7 Q. Can you tell the Court what happened when you got to Negoslavci,
8 where you went?
9 A. We got to a house in Negoslavci, we were blindfolded on our way
10 out of the vehicle and our hands were tied. They took us to the cellar.
11 There was a bench or a plank where we sat down. I heard that there were
12 other civilians inside who were locked there. There was a police officer
13 from Varazdin who had been wounded. He was lying on a stretcher. JNA
14 soldiers guarded us inside. One was from Cacak. There was another from
15 Karlovac. I don't know about the others.
16 Q. About how many JNA soldiers were guarding you inside?
17 A. They would come in shifts, three or four men. Sometimes three,
18 sometimes four.
19 Q. And how long did you stay in this house in Negoslavci?
20 A. I think I spent two nights there, three, possibly.
21 Q. And you said that you heard that there were other civilians inside
22 who were locked there when you arrived. Did you ever get to see any other
23 people inside that house other than the four of you and the JNA soldiers?
24 A. People came and went, Chetniks did. I remember this particular
25 person from Varazdin. He was being beaten. One of them asked
1 him, "You're from Varazdin, what are you doing here in Vukovar?" And he
2 said he had been sent there or told to go there. This man produced a
3 knife and beat him in the eye with it so much that the handle of the knife
4 broke. If this man is still alive, I don't think he can -- he has
5 probably lost the use of his eye.
6 And the other people were being beaten by the JNA soldiers. They
7 would play some music, dance to it, and kick these people with their
8 boots. They were taken from the cellar before we eventually left. I
9 don't know where they took them to, or what they did to them.
10 As for Negoslavci, we were being interrogated by JNA officers in
11 that cellar, security officers. They were asking questions like, "How
12 come the Ustashas got hold of you, captured you?" And then Petar Kuscevic
13 said that he and Samir Hrkic had been captured, although Samir Hrkic had
14 escaped with me, and that Zlatko and I had deserted. So they stepped up
15 the interrogation in relation to the two of us and there was some
16 rough-and-tumble. We were beaten, after which we were taken to Topcider,
17 the barracks at Topcider. We were there for 14 days.
18 Q. If I can just stop you there. You said that this man from
19 Varazdin was being beaten. And you said others were being beaten as well.
20 About how many people in that house did you see with your own eyes being
22 A. I think about 20 civilians. Most of them elderly people, not
23 really young. People aged over 40. I don't think a single person there
24 was under 40 years of age.
25 Q. And can you explain to the Court what the severity of the beatings
1 was like? Were they light beatings or were they more severe? Can you
2 give more explanation as to the nature of them?
3 A. I'm not sure how to describe that, but imagine a military boot,
4 when you kick somebody, if you toe punt them with the tip of the military
5 boot, that is not a slight blow, it's more like a severe blow, and the
6 pain it causes is quite severe. People were breaking down crying and they
7 would pull them back up to hit them more.
8 Q. You said that JNA soldiers were doing the beatings. Do you know
9 which unit they were from?
10 A. I don't know which unit.
11 Q. Do you know how far this house was from the headquarters that you
12 believed were in Negoslavci when you first arrived?
13 A. I don't know. There's a grocery store in Negoslavci, I remember
14 that, a shop. So this house was closer to Vukovar. But I know that there
15 was a shop there. That was during our time at Negoslavci. At around 6.00
16 or 7.00 a.m., there would be a change of guard. This soldier from Cacak
17 would come, and he would tell us and his fellow soldiers there, "I have
18 news for you, you know what happened at Ovcara, our Chetniks killed about
19 600 Ustashas there."
20 We were dumb-struck and were shocked at how they could have killed
21 so many people. And then Zlatko said, "Those were probably the people
22 from the bus. They killed them all."
23 Q. You said that this soldier from Cacak told his fellow soldiers as
24 to what had happened. What uniform or, if anything, what was this person
1 A. The JNA uniform. He was a regular soldier. I think he might have
2 joined the army in March, the same time as I, I think.
3 Q. And why do you think that?
4 A. Well, we talked and he asked which barracks we had been in and
5 when we had joined the army. And then he said we were the same
6 generation, all recruited in March. He said something about that.
7 Q. And the civilians that you saw were beaten, are you able to say
8 what ethnic group they belonged to?
9 A. I think they were Croats, because they were swearing and cursing
10 their Ustasha mother, and that led me to believe that they were Croats.
11 Q. And you said after being in this house for a few days you were
12 taken to Topcider. Where is that?
13 A. Topcider is in Serbia. It's a large barracks near Zemun, I think.
14 Q. And who took you there? How did you get there?
15 A. We were taken away in a military paddy wagon. The military police
16 drove us to Topcider in a military paddy wagon.
17 Q. And can you remind us who were the people with you that were taken
18 to Topcider?
19 A. Zlatko Zlogledja, Petar Kuscevic and Samir Hrkic.
20 Q. Now, you said you were taken to Topcider for about 14 days. Can
21 you very briefly explain what happened there?
22 A. All hell broke lose at Topcider. We were interrogated by
23 soldiers, how many Serbs we killed, how many Serbs we slit the throats of,
24 why did you desert from the JNA, they beat us. They broke all my ribs.
25 On the right-hand side of my body, all my ribs were broken. My spine was
1 damaged, my arm was smashed.
2 It's difficult to describe the severity of the beatings. We would
3 fall down, we would lose consciousness. Zlatko Zlogledja was beaten so
4 badly that I had to carry him to the toilet. He was no longer able to
5 stand his own two feet. We were beaten by regular JNA soldiers most of
6 the time. Sometimes the reservists came in to join the beating.
7 Q. About how many times in that 14-day period were you beaten?
8 A. Every day.
9 Q. Did you provide a statement to any of the people at Topcider in
10 relation to what you did in Vukovar?
11 A. Yes, he was a sergeant, I believe. But you see, this was my
12 second time at Topcider. Because I had escaped from the barracks and then
13 they brought me there, I gave a statement there, and now they realised
14 that I was there for the second time, and that made matters even worse
15 for. They asked us questions about what we had been doing, what our
16 assignment had been in Vukovar, why did you desert, do you think Croatia
17 will ever become an independent country, why did you join Tudjman's army,
18 that sort of thing.
19 Q. I thought the first time that you escaped from -- from the
20 barracks you went to Zemun. Am I incorrect about that, or did you go to
22 A. You see, the barracks is near Zemun, the Topcider barracks. And
23 this was the second time I was there. The first time when I had escaped
24 from the barracks at Petrovac, and this time around when I was brought
25 over from Vukovar. But it's in the same area, it's near Zemun, the
2 Q. And did you give a statement on this time, the second occasion
3 that you were at Topcider, or not?
4 A. Yes. To the same sergeant who interrogated me the first time. It
5 was a pure coincidence that I provided the statement to the same person.
6 Q. And the second statement, was that a truthful statement that you
7 gave as to what you did in Vukovar?
8 A. No, it wasn't truthful. I said that I actually was captured, but
9 as a matter of fact, I escaped. I was afraid to speak the truth. I
10 didn't want to risk my life. Somebody could kill me or something. I
11 tried to get out of it in every possible way.
12 Q. And after Topcider, where did you go?
13 A. After Topcider I was transferred to the Belgrade military
14 investigative prison.
15 Q. And do you know what that -- what date that was, approximately?
16 A. I don't know. I remember that I marked the New Year's Eve in
18 Q. And how long did you stay at the Belgrade military prison for?
19 A. I stayed there for about seven months. Because I was convicted at
20 the Belgrade military investigative prison to a sentence of five years
22 Q. And what were you convicted of, just briefly?
23 A. I was convicted for deserting from the JNA, stealing weapons from
24 the JNA, for armed insurgency, and also for not respecting the
25 constitution of the SFRY. After -- I actually served a year of that
1 five-year sentence, because I was never before that convicted or had any
2 kind of criminal record.
3 Q. Do you know what date you were released from prison?
4 A. Around the 20th of November, 1993. I was released in 1993.
5 Q. So, in fact, you served two years of that prison sentence,
7 A. Two years.
8 Q. And once you were released did you go back to Croatia?
9 A. Yes.
10 Q. Did you seek treatment for any of the beatings that you received
11 at Topcider?
12 A. Yes, I did. I went to the institute for medical research in
13 Zagreb. I spent about three weeks at the hospital. They X-rayed
14 everything. They found that my ribs had been broken. My hand was
15 X-rayed; there are fractures in my hand. They found that I had had a mild
16 concussion, some nerve damage. They didn't really conduct all the tests
17 properly, because subsequently I had a serious operation and I pulled
18 through by a hair. I had blood clots and different things. When I go
19 back, I have to have an operation on my knee. There's increased acidity
20 in the lower extremities, so that I suffer from excess water in that part
21 of my body. And all of this is thanks to the Yugoslav People's Army.
22 Q. Witness, if we could just go back. You said you served seven
23 months at the Belgrade military prison. The remainder of your two-year
24 sentence, where was that served?
25 A. Yes. I was transferred to the central prison in Serbia from the
1 investigative prison, I spent some time there. After that, I was
2 transferred to the Valjevo correction centre, and that's where I served
3 the rest of my sentence, and that's where I was released from.
4 Q. Thank you. Witness, I'm just going to ask you to look at now a
5 couple of documents that will appear on the computer screen. And the
6 first one I would ask that be shown is Exhibit 103, which is the eastern
7 Croatian map. This is not 103, but we can do this one now and then go
8 back to the 103. If we can just enlarge it a couple of sizes, please.
9 Witness, this is Exhibit 156. Do you recognise that map on the
10 screen in front of you?
11 A. Yes, I do. Bogdanovci, Vukovar, Luzac, yes.
12 Q. With the pen which I believe will work now, can you put a red
13 ring, or whatever colour is in it, around the village of Bogdanovci, and a
14 ring around Luzac?
15 A. [Marks].
16 Q. And approximately could you put the position that your unit was
17 located in for that 24 days that you were with the JNA army? Just the
18 approximate area.
19 A. [Marks].
20 MR. SMITH: I seek to tender that, Your Honour.
21 JUDGE PARKER: It will be received.
22 THE REGISTRAR: Your Honours, that will be Exhibit 233.
23 MR. SMITH: And if I can ask for exhibit number 103, please. And
24 if that could be enlarged one more level from that point, please. Thank
25 you. Perhaps if it can move to the left. And then -- that's fine. Thank
2 Q. Witness, do you see this map in front of you?
3 A. Yes, I do.
4 Q. You mentioned that when you first went to Croatia with the JNA you
5 went to a place called -- near Osijek called Bijelo Brdo. That location
6 doesn't appear on this particular map, but you also gave testimony that
7 the unit that you were with fired on a few villages. Can you circle the
8 villages that your unit fired on, please, with the pen?
9 A. [Marks].
10 Q. Thank you. And you have circled Sarvas, Dalj and Erdut. Although
11 Bijelo Brdo doesn't appear on this map, can you put the approximate
12 location where that village is. If you can't, that's fine.
13 A. [No interpretation].
14 Q. You are unable to do that?
15 THE INTERPRETER: The interpreter was unable to hear whether the
16 witness said yes or no.
17 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] I think the Bogojevo bridge should
18 be somewhere around there. I don't know where the bridge is, but it's
19 from the direction of Vojvodina, I think Bijelo Brdo could be somewhere
20 here, approximately, but I can't tell you exactly where it was. More or
21 less, I'm not sure if it's there or not.
22 MR. SMITH: Thank you. Your Honour, I seek to tender that map.
23 JUDGE PARKER: It will be received.
24 THE REGISTRAR: Your Honours, that will be Exhibit 234.
25 MR. SMITH: And if I can ask for Exhibit 170, please.
1 Photograph 11.
2 Q. Witness, looking at this photograph in front of you, do you
3 recognise it?
4 A. Yes.
5 Q. And what is it a photograph of?
6 A. This is the entrance to the hospital. This is the wall where we
7 were lined up. I think that this is the emergency service entrance.
8 Q. Can you draw a line on the photograph showing where you were lined
9 up with the others?
10 A. In this direction.
11 Q. The -- how many people were in the line?
12 A. I don't know how many. We were lined up all along the wall
13 practically to the exit. There were a lot of people lined up in a long
15 Q. Can you draw an arrow in the -- depicting the direction that you
16 left to go towards the buses?
17 A. [Marks].
18 Q. Thank you.
19 MR. SMITH: I seek to tender that, Your Honour.
20 JUDGE PARKER: It will be received.
21 THE REGISTRAR: Your Honours, that will be Exhibit 235.
22 MR. SMITH: And the last exhibit, 65 ter, 228. And the photo
23 number 22 of 26, please. Thank you.
24 Q. Witness, do you see the photograph on the computer screen in front
25 of you?
1 A. Yes.
2 Q. Do you recognise it?
3 A. Yes.
4 Q. You said that detainees were taken off the buses and placed into
5 the hangar. Do you know which hangar they were placed into?
6 A. The first one.
7 Q. Can you draw a ring around that hangar, please?
8 A. [Marks].
9 Q. And with a cross, can you mark the entrance to the hangar that you
10 saw the detainees taken into?
11 A. Mark it with what?
12 Q. A cross, an X.
13 A. [Marks].
14 Q. And you said that you saw a soldier start a yellow bulldozer. Are
15 you able to say, in relation to that hangar, where that bulldozer was
16 started up?
17 A. Here.
18 Q. And if you can mark that with an A, please, just next to it, the
19 letter A.
20 A. [Marks].
21 MR. SMITH: Might be my glasses again, Your Honour, but I assume
22 it's a it's a letter A.
23 Your Honour, that's the questions for the Prosecution.
24 JUDGE PARKER: Do you tender this?
25 MR. SMITH: I seek to tender that.
1 JUDGE PARKER: It will be received.
2 THE REGISTRAR: Your Honours, that will be Exhibit 236.
3 JUDGE PARKER: We will adjourn now and resume at 10 past 6.00.
4 --- Recess taken at 5.48 p.m.
5 --- On resuming at 6.13 p.m.
6 JUDGE PARKER: Mr. Domazet.
7 MR. DOMAZET: Thank you, Your Honour.
8 Cross-examination by Mr. Domazet:
9 Q. [Interpretation] Mr. Dodaj, good evening. I am Vladimir Domazet,
10 one of the Defence counsel for Mr. Mrksic. I am going to be asking you
11 questions, and I would ask you to make a little pause before you begin
12 answering because we are both using the same language and if we don't make
13 a break, it will be more difficult for the interpreters to interpret
14 everything that we are saying.
15 A. Good evening to you as well.
16 Q. Mr. Dodaj, as a witness you provided statements to different
17 police and judiciary institutions several times.
18 A. Yes.
19 Q. Do you recall who you gave the statements to about all the things
20 that you discussed here today?
21 A. I gave a statement to the police administration in Bjelovar; in
22 Zagreb, I think that I also provided a statement; in 1998 I provided a
23 statement here in The Hague; in 2004 in Belgrade; and then once again
25 Q. Thank you. I would like to remind you, and you will tell me
1 whether you recollect that and whether that is correct, we will see if
2 there is perhaps a statement that I don't know about or a statement that
3 you do not recall. You mentioned Bjelovar. You provided a statement at
4 the MUP in Bjelovar; do you recall that?
5 A. Yes.
6 Q. According to my information, this was in 1994.
7 A. Yes, I think so.
8 Q. After that you provided a statement to the investigators of
9 The Hague Tribunal. This was sometime in April 1996. Do you remember
11 A. Yes, I think that that was so.
12 Q. Was that the only statement provided to The Hague investigators
13 until you came here now, on this occasion?
14 A. I think also I provided a statement in 1998 in the Dokmanovic
16 Q. Do you remember that that same year, 1996, you provided a
17 statement to a court in Bjelovar?
18 A. Yes, I think that I did.
19 Q. Do you remember which case that was?
20 A. I think it was a case -- the case against Veljko Kadijevic and
22 Q. Thank you. You mentioned that you gave a statement in Zagreb in
24 A. No, I didn't say in 2004.
25 Q. Go ahead.
1 A. I gave a statement in Belgrade in 2004. I was questioned by
2 investigators from Belgrade in Zagreb. I don't know whether this was one
3 month before. I can't really be sure about the date, but it was in 2004.
4 Q. Yes, I was going precisely in that order. The statement that you
5 provided to the investigators in Zagreb was before you testified in
6 Belgrade; is that correct?
7 A. Yes.
8 Q. According to my information, you testified in Belgrade in October
9 2004 at the trial itself; is that correct?
10 A. Yes.
11 Q. What you mentioned in Zagreb as having taken place before that,
12 you said that you gave a statement to investigators. Am I right when I
13 say that this happened to be in the district court in Zagreb itself, and
14 that you were questioned by the investigating judge there?
15 A. Yes, that is correct, it was the investigating judge. But the
16 gentlemen were from Belgrade.
17 Q. Yes. Do you remember that there was a judge from Belgrade present
18 as well as a prosecutor? Is that correct? In any case, there were a
19 number of people who attended this interrogation of yours or deposition?
20 A. Yes.
21 Q. Except the statement in Zagreb when people from Belgrade were
22 present, did you provide any other statements in Zagreb?
23 A. I don't think that I did.
24 Q. Very well. I would like to ask some questions about your
25 particulars, which were not covered in the questions put earlier. Based
1 on the information available, you were born in Djakovica. Djakovica is in
2 Kosovo; is that correct?
3 A. Yes, in Novoselle.
4 Q. Near Djakovica?
5 A. Yes.
6 Q. However, from your early childhood you were -- have been living in
7 Croatia; is that correct?
8 A. Yes.
9 Q. Do you remember the year, because there is some information that
10 this was from 1978. Can you confirm this?
11 A. Yes, from 1978.
12 Q. So you were about six years old then?
13 A. Yes, six years old.
14 Q. I assume that at that time your whole family moved to Bjelovar; is
15 that correct?
16 A. My mother, father, brothers and sisters, yes.
17 Q. You had one sister and four brothers who lived with you; is that
19 A. Yes.
20 Q. I assume that your father supported you, your parents supported
21 you. What did your father do?
22 A. For a while he worked in the farming business, then he got a job
23 at the road maintenance company. He spent some time working in
24 Switzerland as well. And now he's a farmer.
25 Q. You have your own house where you lived and where you still live?
1 A. Yes, we bought a house in 1978. Although I have my own house now.
2 Q. You said that sometime in March 1991 you went to serve your
3 military term of duty in the JNA. Based on the information you provided,
4 I assume that you were recruited in Bjelovar; is that correct?
5 A. Yes, in the defence department in Bjelovar.
6 Q. That's where you were recruited and you passed all the medical
7 examinations and other tests required and then you were sent to serve and
8 the first place that you served was Petrovac Na Mlavi; is that correct?
9 A. Yes.
10 Q. And Petrovac Na Mlavi, where you began your military term of duty,
11 you talked about what was happening there a few months later. But when
12 you just arrived, the unit that you were in, am I right if I say that at
13 that time it was a multi-ethnic unit, that it comprised soldiers from
14 various ethnic groups from the former Yugoslavia?
15 A. Yes, you could say that. They were from Croatia, Bosnia,
16 Macedonia. There was nobody from Slovenia though.
17 Q. Do you know why there were no soldiers from Slovenia? Was it
18 already a question of Slovenia not sending its people there or something
20 A. There was one Slovenian in the barracks, so when the JNA withdrew,
21 he was allowed to leave.
22 Q. Thank you. But I understood that in your generation there were no
24 A. That's correct. There were no Slovenians in my unit.
25 Q. Your commander at the time, which ethnic group did he belong to?
1 A. The section commander was Esad Halilovic, the commander of the
2 2nd Company was Captain Majtan Mihajl. The barracks commander was First
3 Class Captain Radenko Jovic. I think that that was his name.
4 Q. Thank you. This captain, Majtan, if I recall the last name
5 properly, I think you discussed him in your statements you. Said that he
6 was Hungarian. Am I right?
7 A. Well, I understood by his last name that he was Hungarian. I
8 think that's his -- that was his ethnic group.
9 Q. Did he ever say anything in conversations with you about that or
10 did you just get the impression that he was an ethnic Hungarian?
11 A. Well, that's what the soldiers who were from Vojvodina told me.
12 There were some Hungarian, ethnic Hungarian soldiers who said that this
13 last name was Hungarian.
14 Q. And this Esad you mentioned, where was he from?
15 A. I think that he was from Novi Pazar.
16 Q. Do you know his ethnicity?
17 A. I don't know his ethnicity, but I think he was a Muslim by
19 Q. Thank you. When you spoke about what I will call your first
20 attempt to leave the JNA, you gave us an account of how you reached Zemun
21 by train and then a train official turned you into the police. Were you
22 travelling in uniform or in civilian clothes?
23 A. In uniform, the JNA uniform.
24 Q. Did you not have your civilian clothes with you?
25 A. Yes, back at the barracks I did.
1 Q. Just for the benefit of the Chamber, they may not be that familiar
2 with the subject, at the time soldiers serving their military term with
3 the JNA were entitled to have their own civilian clothes with them and to
4 wear these when on leave or when away from the barracks?
5 A. Yes, that's right, but not in their own lockers. There was a
6 different room where the civilian clothes were kept. And when, for
7 example, you would leave the barracks to go to town, you would sign for a
8 set of civilian clothes. At the time when I fled the barracks, I was not
9 able to retrieve my civilian clothes, so I escaped in uniform.
10 Q. Did you carry any weapons or anything?
11 A. No, I didn't. I was without weapons.
12 Q. This train official, how did he learn who you were? Did he tell
13 you something, did you ask him something, or did he just have suspicions?
14 Did you give him a reason to believe that you were deserters?
15 A. Yes. When we got off the train at Pozarevac, we first wanted to
16 buy a ticket for Belgrade. We didn't realise that the train was only
17 going as far as Zemun. It was on the train when we started talking to the
18 train official that we found out if the train was going as far as Zemun
19 and he said, "Well, are you going to Belgrade or to Zemun?" And then we
20 said, "We're going to Zemun," and that probably betrayed us, and he
21 started having suspicions about who we were.
22 Q. So you were first taken to Topcider and then to Petrovac Na Mlavi?
23 A. First Pozarevac and then Petrovac.
24 Q. You -- disciplinary steps were taken against you. You didn't face
25 a court-martial or anything?
1 A. No. This is military remand, because that was after 60 days.
2 Anything over 60 days you are summoned before a military court.
3 Q. I'm waiting for the interpretation. We must slow down for the
5 So no charges were pressed against you or your friend. You were
6 just punished and that was that, the 60 days?
7 A. Yes.
8 Q. I assume it was then that you were sent to serve your punishment?
9 A. Yes. They had a remand facility inside the barracks, and we were
10 detained there.
11 Q. It was the same barracks where you served your military term?
12 A. Yes.
13 Q. You said that you left after 35 days. Was it because --
14 A. I didn't say after 35 days. It was a total of 35 days that I
16 Q. So the total before and after. What about before you left?
17 A. Perhaps 28 days, just under a month.
18 Q. My understanding was you were released from prison in order to go
19 and take up this new mission that you described?
20 A. Yes, we went towards Bijelo Brdo.
21 Q. Bijelo Brdo?
22 A. Yes.
23 Q. What about the other soldier? Did he leave with you in the same
25 A. Yes.
1 Q. I suppose -- or, rather, maybe you can tell me, did the whole unit
2 go or just part of the unit?
3 A. A busload of soldiers. About 40 people from the 2nd Company.
4 Q. Not the entire unit, just 40 people, right?
5 A. Yes. A handful of soldiers from the 2nd Company remained.
6 Q. You told us today that upon your return you -- you continued to
7 serve the punishment that you had received, right?
8 A. Yes.
9 Q. You probably remember the day you left for that position in
10 Vojvodina, or across the Danube somewhere, right?
11 A. It was in late July, I know it was very hot. We were wearing
12 shirts. Late July, early August, give or take a day or two. It might
13 even have been August.
14 Q. Very well. You spent about two weeks there and then you went
15 back, right?
16 A. Yes, you could say that. Between two and three weeks, I think.
17 Q. Once you were back you got on with your punishment, the punishment
18 that was imposed, both you and your friend, right?
19 A. Yes.
20 Q. But you did not serve the entire length that was imposed, right?
21 A. No, we didn't.
22 Q. What was the reason for this, that your term of punishment was
23 interrupted or cut short?
24 A. A reservist came along who had allegedly killed one of his own
25 while standing guard. He was visibly under the influence the evening that
1 he was brought there. There was a lieutenant on duty that night. The
2 military police searched him, and he had a small knife for opening cans on
3 him. We had a small bed in that cell, and when they brought him to the
4 cell he said that from this evening on he would be using that bed and we
5 would be using the mattresses that were down there on the floor. And I
6 said, "You can't use that bed, that's my bed. I sleep on it."
7 So there was an altercation, and he pulled out this small knife.
8 I banged as hard as I could with my fist against the door, and then the
9 lieutenant came. First the duty soldier came, he unlocked the door, and I
10 said, "You didn't search this man, he has a knife on him." And then the
11 duty officer came and he cracked him over the head with a pistol. And he
12 said, "Didn't I tell you not to touch these lads?" And then I asked him
13 to send us back to the room, because we would not be in the same cell as
14 that man. And then he sent us back to the dormitory.
15 Q. Aside from this, were there any other conversations or any
16 promises made about what you were to do later on, how you would behave?
17 Was anything said about your future behaviour? Was that one of the
18 reasons that your punishment was cut short?
19 A. You see, I was more a model soldier than a hooligan in the army
20 and the officers took a liking to me. Captain Mihad [as interpreted]
21 called me and said, "Listen now, I'll give you another chance to escape
22 from the army, because I see you have no desire to stay at all." And that
23 was why the captain sent me to Vukovar.
24 Q. You said in one of your statements, but do you think the captain
25 meant this seriously, or was he just pulling your leg, in a way, or did he
1 mean it seriously and that was why he sent you there?
2 A. Once I was selected to go, I took that to mean that he had been
3 serious about this. At the time when he said it, I took it more as some
4 sort of a joke.
5 Q. Thank you. Once you were on your way to Sremska Mitrovica, only a
6 small part of the unit left, right?
7 A. Yes, about 15 soldiers. But then the bus was filled to capacity
8 at Pozarevac and that's how we drove on to Sremska Mitrovica.
9 Q. When giving your statements your accounts did not quite tally on
10 this. You said you were on your way to Sremska Mitrovica, you said there
11 were no stopovers. You mentioned Smederevo -- please just let me complete
12 my question for the transcript. Do you remember exactly how you went
14 A. We were lined up and were told that we were on our way to
15 reinforce some units at Smederevo, only we arrived in Pozarevac not
16 Smederevo. And that was where the bus was filled with the remaining
17 soldiers and then the bus drove to Sremska Mitrovica.
18 Q. Thank you. But for the benefit of the Chamber, can we agree that
19 Pozarevac is actually on the way to Smederevo somewhere along the road.
20 You just needed to drive on from there?
21 A. No, but we were not in Smederevo.
22 Q. You say that the unit was reinforced with reservists.
23 A. No, I never said, did I?
24 Q. Your unit was not reinforced with reservists, was it?
25 A. The unit that were sent to Smederevo, those were all active duty
1 soldiers, and the reservists had been mobilised in the barracks. Unless
2 you mean the reinforcements that may have been carried out in the barracks
4 Q. Which barracks are you talking about?
5 A. Petrovac Na Mlavi.
6 Q. That's my question. Were there any reservists around in the
7 barracks, because I believe you testified in chief that reservists had
8 been mobilised and sent alongside with you, right, dispatched?
9 A. No, they weren't sent with us to Sremska Mitrovica. They remained
10 the barracks.
11 Q. Fair enough. There was one question that my learned friend asked
12 about the reservists and their ethnicity and you said that most of them
13 were Serbs or all them were Serbs, something along those lines, right?
14 Sir, these reservists, you probably know this, I believe we can
15 agree, were people living in that town or in the immediate vicinity of
16 that town, and that's how they received their wartime assignment and are
17 mobilised. Am I right?
18 A. Yes.
19 Q. Petrovac Na Mlavi is a place in Serbia where you served your
20 military term, right?
21 A. Yes.
22 Q. What about its population? Did the Serbs predominate, or were
23 there other ethnicities around?
24 A. I'm not sure if there were other ethnicities, but most of the
25 population were Serbs.
1 Q. We can probably agree the logical conclusion is that the
2 reservists were Serbs based on their wartime assignment because they were
3 Serbs from Petrovac Na Mlavi, right?
4 A. Yes.
5 Q. Let's move on to your arrival in Sremska Mitrovica and your
6 departure for Vukovar. You spoke about the position of your unit. You
7 also spoke about the fact that aside from you there were regular JNA
8 soldiers but recruited from the reserve forces, right?
9 A. Yes, that's when we got to the positions, when we arrived there.
10 Q. Is this a unit that belonged to your own unit or was this a
11 different unit?
12 A. They were a different unit. They weren't part of our unit.
13 Q. When you spoke about these reservists, were these the same kind of
14 reservists as those at Petrovac Na Mlavi, they were JNA, according to
15 their wartime assignment, they joined their unit and went there to take up
16 positions, right?
17 A. Yes.
18 Q. So this unit was no TO unit. They were not TO people. The TO
19 people were organised in a different way?
20 A. No, these people were reservists.
21 Q. Your unit and the other unit, the adjacent unit, who did they
22 belong to? Because I think your unit had first been organised in
23 Sremska Mitrovica. What was the unit's name?
24 A. I don't know what its name was, but we were an armoured mechanised
25 unit. I don't know the exact name. We were an armoured mechanised unit,
1 that's all.
2 Q. But you don't know who it belonged to?
3 A. Our commander was a captain.
4 Q. Your captain, the one you talked about, you said there was a
5 Macedonian person there, but they changed over time, didn't they?
6 A. No, the Macedonian was in Sremska Mitrovica. He told us that we
7 would be off to war, that our assignment was to destroy 20.000 Ustashas
8 that we had nothing against the Croatian people as such, but were on our
9 way to liberate the town of Vukovar and the people in it. That's what he
11 Q. He was your superior at this point in time, right?
12 A. Yes, at Sremska Mitrovica.
13 Q. What about this term "Ustasha," what did you take that to mean?
14 All those who were fighting the JNA or those that the JNA was fighting?
15 A. You mean me?
16 Q. You and those who were telling you about these Ustashas.
17 A. They probably meant those people fighting the JNA. That's what I
18 understood that to mean back then. All those fighting the JNA were
19 Ustashas and the Croatian government was an Ustasha government.
20 Q. At the time when you were serving your military term you probably
21 knew this because you had arrived from Bjelovar, Croatia, did you know if
22 Croatia had a regular army other than the JNA? Was there another army
23 that existed at the time?
24 A. I don't know. I know there was the police. I don't know if they
25 had another army. I know Croatia had its own police force. They were
2 Q. I understand. That was the police force, right? That was the
3 only thing that there was. There weren't two distinct police forces in
4 Croatia, were there?
5 A. No. Or at least not that I knew of.
6 Q. Have you ever heard the term National Guards Corps?
7 A. National Guards Corps, yes.
8 Q. What was that, what sort of unit?
9 A. The Croatia army.
10 Q. Did it exist at this time when you were outside Vukovar and when
11 the fighting was underway in the area?
12 A. They told us about the National Guards Corps, the ZNG, that's what
13 they called them. And they said there was a police presence there too.
14 Q. Mr. Dodaj, when you say "they told us about this," I suppose it's
15 your superiors who told you about this, that the ZNG were waiting for you?
16 A. They said the Ustashas.
17 Q. Yes. But you say yourself a while ago, the National Guards Corps
18 and the police, right?
19 A. Let's try to make this clear. The JNA officers made no
20 distinction between the ZNG and the police. They were all Ustashas for
21 them. Paramilitary units, Ustashas, ZNGs, they wanted to create their own
22 country and secede from what was then Yugoslavia. That's the gist of it.
23 Q. Yes, I believe you answered the same thing earlier. The
24 term "Ustasha" implied the enemy. This included the ZNG, the Croatian
25 police force, right?
1 A. Yes.
2 Q. You say that the ZNG, for you, the National Guards Corps, was
3 Croatian's army, right?
4 A. Yes.
5 Q. Did the JNA where you served believed the ZNG to be a paramilitary
7 A. I don't know. I can't say. For as long as I was in the JNA
8 because, you see, back in the Serbia where I was serving my military term,
9 I wasn't able to listen to any Croatian radio stations. It was no longer
10 compulsory to watch the news in the evening. All that we were told, we
11 were told by the barracks commander, and I said a while ago what the
12 barracks commander had told us, that this was an Ustasha government and
13 that they wanted to break away from Yugoslavia.
14 Let me tell you something. When I escaped and then was
15 subsequently returned to the barracks, I was told to stand up on that
16 stage there, and people were saying, "These deserters, they have deserted
17 from the JNA, they wanted to join Tudjman's army to -- they wanted to join
18 the Ustasha army. Such people were shot during World War II, and they
19 should be shot and beaten with wooden poles."
20 Q. You said they were saying stuff like "these people wanted to join
21 Tudjman's army," you said a while ago yourself that Croatia did not have
22 an army as such and you said that the National Guards Corps was some sort
23 of an army, right?
24 A. Yes.
25 Q. Can we agree that this was not a recognised military unit and was
1 believed to be a paramilitary unit at least as far as the JNA was
3 A. Yes. The JNA believed them to be paramilitary units. The
4 Croatian side believed them to be Croatia's army. The JNA considered them
5 to be paramilitary units. But what I don't understand is how come they
6 didn't believe Chetniks to be paramilitary units.
7 Q. I apologise, it's something for the transcript. In one of your
8 answers you were talking about being forced to stand on that stage and the
9 person who was saying -- was saying that during World War II you would
10 have been shot?
11 A. Yes, the barracks commander.
12 Q. All right. That's all I wanted to hear.
13 You probably remember this, Yugoslavia was still in existence,
14 right, who was the president of Yugoslavia's presidency at the time?
15 A. The president of the presidency?
16 Q. Yes.
17 A. I don't remember. I don't know what Stipe Mesic was at the time,
18 what his role was.
19 Q. That precisely is my question. Do you remember that back in 1991
20 Stipe Mesic was president and continued to be president of the Yugoslavia
21 presidency until the end of that year?
22 A. I don't know exactly. He may have; he may not have. I know who
23 Croatia's president was.
24 Q. Do you remember who was the president of the federal government?
25 A. I don't know. I really don't remember.
1 Q. If I were to jog your memory and tell you that it was Ante
2 Markovic, would you agree?
3 A. Perhaps. I think you probably know better. I really don't know.
4 Look, I wasn't really interested in politics back then.
5 Q. But you do know that both these persons that I have mentioned,
6 Mr. Markovic and Mr. Mesic, were Croats, right?
7 A. They are probably Croats, yes. Mesic is today's president of
8 Croatia, I suppose that means he's a Croat.
9 Q. Not necessarily. Even a non-Croat can become president.
10 A. Yes. Based on special merit, I suppose.
11 Q. But he is the elected president of Croatia today, right?
12 A. Yes, a legally elected president.
13 Q. When you spoke about the fire-power that your unit had at the
14 time, the tanks and the combat vehicles, I think you provided different
15 figures. First you said four tanks, then you said eight tanks, and today
16 you said five or six. Let me just finish my question, please. Were you
17 only talking about your own unit or the adjacent unit? When you spoke
18 about this, were you speaking about your own unit that came, that was
19 reinforced, and established, or were you talking about a different unit?
20 A. I never said eight tanks in any of my statements. About six,
21 perhaps seven. Five or six combat vehicles, but it's difficult to say
22 exactly. It's a ballpark figure.
23 Q. Do you remember when you set out for Vukovar, did you encounter
24 any obstacle or barricades anywhere along the road that you had to remove?
25 A. There was a forest there with oak trees and there were some
1 obstacles, but there was a tank driving ahead of us removing the obstacles
2 and burning down any barricades. However, we did not come under fire at
3 any point in time. When we entered the forest, we were given orders to
4 fire and we did.
5 Q. So you did encounter obstacles and barricades, you used tanks and
6 other vehicles to remove these barricades, but you met no resistance on
7 the way except for the fact that you had to remove a number of barricades?
8 A. Yes, that's true.
9 Q. What about any booby-traps or mines anywhere?
10 A. No, none.
11 Q. You said your assignment was to cut off the road between Vukovar
12 and Vinkovci. A road that had been open and used for traffic up until
13 this point in time?
14 A. Yes.
15 Q. You say you completed that task. You eventually did cut off the
16 road, right?
17 A. Yes.
18 Q. In what way?
19 A. We arrived in Negoslavci. We first came to Dubrava. It was from
20 Dubrava that we went to those positions. As soon as we approached the
21 road, we opened fire. But there was no strong resistance of any kind. We
22 just came there with our tanks and we dug in right there. That was that.
23 Q. Near the road, right?
24 A. We crossed.
25 Q. You crossed the road?
1 A. Yes. By the roadside in front, behind, beside. It wasn't really
2 a straight line.
3 Q. Thank you. But one thing is certain, it was near the road, you
4 set up your positions near the road with your tanks and your combat
5 vehicles, and you effectively closed the road for all practical intents,
7 A. Yes.
8 Q. Is this the position where you remained throughout the 24 days
9 that you spoke about? You never left that particular position throughout
10 this period of time?
11 A. No, we didn't.
12 Q. Can you please just allow me to finish my question? I believe
13 it's been recorded properly this time around, but just to avoid any
14 problems in the future.
15 You carried small arms, right, or light weapons? You were not
16 really there as a gunner operating a tank. You were just there providing
17 security for your unit. You said you were with that fellow soldier of
18 yours in the trench, and you watched for anybody coming your way?
19 A. Yes, that's right.
20 Q. This place where you dug in the tanks, the combat vehicles, and
21 where you stayed for 24 days, you said there were no attacks. You were
22 not attacked throughout this time. You said there was only this one
23 situation that you came under fire. You were targeted by mortars and
24 small arms, right?
25 A. Yes. And that's when the captain was seriously wounded.
1 Q. Do you know how exactly he was wounded? Did you see or hear about
3 A. I saw a 60-millimetre shell land, and he was standing up there on
4 the road. It landed right near him and shattered his side. They put him
5 in an APC and took him to Negoslavci, and from Negoslavci by helicopter to
6 the military academy hospital in Belgrade. There was another soldier who
7 was injured by a bullet. A bullet shattered his knee, I think.
8 Q. And the captain who was injured there, that's the main road we're
9 talking about, the Vukovar-Vinkovci road, I assume, and he was taken to
10 the military academy hospital, and I think you said he eventually died,
12 A. I think so, but I'm not certain. That's what I heard.
13 Q. You heard from someone in your unit?
14 A. Yes, from one of my fellow soldiers.
15 Q. I believe my learned friend asked you to mark the positions on the
16 map. In purely visual terms, what were you able to see from there?
17 A. Just ahead of us.
18 Q. You were dug in there. How far could you actually see?
19 A. For example, we had a very clear view of the water-tower. We had
20 a clear view of the houses right in front of us, as well as the
21 cornfield. The houses were to my right, as it were. That was the kind of
22 view that we had.
23 Q. These houses that you have mentioned, how far were these houses
24 from your positions?
25 A. You might say about 300 metres, thereabouts.
1 Q. Was this a populated area, a settlement, that you were looking at,
2 so the houses were the first row, as it were?
3 A. There were large houses, new houses, but they weren't inhabited at
4 the time. We would sometimes nip over to one of the houses to get
5 something from the houses.
6 Q. Which village did these houses belong to? Were they part of a
7 settlement or a village?
8 A. This was a suburb of Vukovar. I'm not sure if that was a village.
9 Q. You said you would sometimes go to these houses, they were
10 abandoned houses, and you would get underwear from the houses?
11 A. Yes.
12 Q. Because that wasn't recorded in the transcript.
13 A. I don't think it's that important, really.
14 Q. Thank you. What do you reckon? You say you could see the
15 water-tower from there. So as the crow flies, how far was Vukovar from
16 your position?
17 A. I really can't say how far we were from the town itself. It's
18 difficult to say, to judge the distance, but there was a clear view. A
19 tank's range is 30 kilometres, for your information.
20 Q. Yes, but I didn't ask that.
21 A. I know you didn't. I'm still saying it.
22 Q. But what about your position?
23 A. There was a very clear view of the water-tower from our position.
24 Q. You spoke about the instructions and orders that were given to the
25 gunners in the tanks. My understanding is you personally were in no
1 position to hear these orders, it was hearsay. You heard later from these
2 soldiers about the orders?
3 A. Yes, that's correct.
4 Q. That was because you were outside the tanks and combat vehicles.
5 You were actually in a trench that was nearby, right?
6 A. Yes.
7 MR. DOMAZET: [Interpretation] Your Honours, I have just finished
8 one set of questions, and I believe it's about time to call it a day. And
9 we can pick up tomorrow morning.
10 JUDGE PARKER: Thank you, Mr. Domazet. It is a convenient time.
11 We resume tomorrow at 9.00 in the morning. So we will adjourn now
12 until then.
13 --- Whereupon the hearing adjourned at 7.00 p.m.,
14 to be reconvened on Tuesday, the 7th day of March,
15 2006, at 9.00 a.m.