Tribunal Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia

Page 14223

1 Tuesday, 10 December 2002

2 [Open session]

3 [The witness entered court]

4 [The accused entered court]

5 --- Upon commencing at 9.02 a.m.

6 JUDGE MAY: Yes, Mr. Tapuskovic.

7 WITNESS: WITNESS C-025 [Resumed]

8 [Witness answered through interpreter]

9 Questioned by Mr. Tapuskovic:

10 MR. TAPUSKOVIC: [Interpretation] Thank you, Your Honours. For you

11 to be able to follow more easily, I will be addressing two points only,

12 and both are prompted by the statement given by the witness to the

13 investigators from the 10th of March to the 2nd of May, 2001. In the

14 English version, it is on page 4, second and third paragraph. I shall

15 start with the third paragraph. And in the Serbian version, it is page 3,

16 fourth paragraph. I will begin with that one.

17 Q. In this paragraph on page 4, in the second sentence, you said the

18 following: "After the first elections in Croatia in 1990, Serbs were

19 concerned that Croatia would declare independence." Did you say that?

20 A. Yes.

21 Q. And in 1990, at the end of December, the so-called Christmas

22 constitution was adopted. It was the new constitution of Croatia, even

23 though the federal state still existed, and the Republic of Croatia

24 proclaimed itself to be a national state of the Croatian people. Is that

25 right?

Page 14224

1 A. I don't know.

2 Q. So you don't know about the new constitution at the end of 1990,

3 when the Serbs were proclaimed a minority in Croatia?

4 A. Yes, I do know that they were proclaimed a minority, but I don't

5 know exactly when.

6 Q. And the concern you mentioned here, felt not only by you but the

7 people living with you in Baranja, was it exacerbated as a result?

8 A. I assume it was.

9 Q. Did you know already at that time, both you and the other people

10 living in Baranja, about the illegal import of weapons to Croatia?

11 A. In 1990?

12 Q. Yes, end of 1990 and the beginning of 1991, January of 1991.

13 A. Only after the film on Martin Spegelj was shown on TV.

14 JUDGE MAY: Let me stop you for a minute. Because of the various

15 measures, in particular the microphone, could you, when you have finished

16 your questions, turn your microphone off. Just keep it on for your

17 questions so that the witness's microphone can go on alone.

18 MR. TAPUSKOVIC: [Interpretation]

19 Q. When you mentioned Spegelj and the film, did this film provoke

20 particular fears?

21 A. Yes.

22 Q. Did anyone have any doubts at the time regarding the authenticity

23 of the film?

24 A. I think not.

25 Q. Do you know that shortly after that, paramilitary units were

Page 14225

1 formed in Croatia?

2 A. I'm not very familiar with the details regarding the beginning of

3 the formation of paramilitary units.

4 Q. Thank you. Do you know that some time in the spring of 1991, the

5 National Guards Corps was formed, that is, the army of Croatia?

6 A. Yes.

7 Q. Did this intensify the apprehensions of the Serbs?

8 A. I think it did to a certain degree.

9 Q. Is it true that the Serbs started arming themselves only in May,

10 after all this had happened?

11 A. I'm aware of this for the territory in which I lived, and that

12 happened sometime in mid-1991.

13 Q. Thank you. And was this done primarily because -- the people felt

14 this fear and took these steps primarily to protect their homes and

15 property?

16 A. I think that the majority reasoned along those lines.

17 Q. Thank you.

18 On that same fourth page, the paragraph above, the following is

19 stated that you said: "Before the war in Croatia, the TO's plans focused

20 on the possibility of an external conflict (for example, Russians coming

21 from Hungary)..." Is that so?

22 A. Yes.

23 Q. Could you tell me, please, before the events in Budapest and

24 Prague when the conflict occurred between the Russians on the one hand and

25 the Hungarians and the Czechs on the other, was there a danger threatening

Page 14226

1 Yugoslavia from the Russians in 1948 and immediately after that and never

2 again after that, since then?

3 A. I really can't talk about those issues. I was a child at the

4 time.

5 Q. But you are an educated man; you are familiar with the common form

6 of 1948 and the way that Russia blackmailed Yugoslavia.

7 JUDGE MAY: He said he can't deal with it, and I don't think

8 there's much point asking him further.

9 MR. TAPUSKOVIC: [Interpretation] I agree with you.

10 Q. And was there an external danger in 1974, at a time when in Europe

11 there was no inkling of the possibility of any conflicts anywhere?

12 A. I really don't know.

13 Q. And do you know under which circumstances, as you are a very

14 educated man, under which circumstances the constitution of 1974 was

15 adopted?

16 A. No.

17 Q. And do you know that, according to that 1974 constitution, the

18 Territorial Defence was institutionalised as an institute, it was entered

19 in the constitution as being an element of all people's defence. Do you

20 know that?

21 A. No.

22 Q. And do you know that the Territorial Defence on which stipulations

23 are entered in the constitution was adopted so that no new states should

24 be formed but that decentralisation should go to the level of the

25 municipalities and that each municipality should have its own Territorial

Page 14227

1 Defence or army. Do you know that, or not?

2 A. I am aware of the principle of the Territorial Defence as a

3 principle of the armed people. That was on what it was based.

4 Q. And what was that armed people supposed to defend itself from in

5 1974?

6 A. I said that 1974, for me, is too distant past.

7 Q. Thank you. But then, in the second part of that same sentence,

8 you say: "In mid-1991, the situation changed because the conflict broke

9 out within the country and the plans were no good." Is that right?

10 A. Yes.

11 Q. So those plans for defence from an external enemy were no longer

12 valid. I would understand if the Territorial Defence had been formed

13 along the borders of Croatia with Hungary or Serbia with Hungary, but what

14 was the point of having such a Territorial Defence throughout the

15 territory of Yugoslavia? Could you explain that or not?

16 A. I wouldn't even try to explain it. I'm not familiar with these

17 things.

18 Q. And do you know that already in 1974, there were plans for

19 internal needs?

20 JUDGE MAY: Mr. Tapuskovic, he said that he can't deal with 1974

21 and I don't think it's fair to ask him, so perhaps we could move on.

22 MR. TAPUSKOVIC: [Interpretation] Your Honour, these are some

23 matters that he himself said that in mid-1991 the situation changed

24 because the conflicts broke out within the country's borders, and there

25 was no need to defend from an enemy outside but from one inside. He said

Page 14228

1 that, and that is why I'm asking him this. Maybe he can tell me this:

2 Q. This same Territorial Defence in Slovenia, at a given point in

3 time in June 1991, did it become the armed force which attacked the

4 Yugoslav People's Army?

5 A. I think that is common knowledge, yes.

6 Q. Thank you. And did it attack?

7 A. I said yes.

8 Q. And immediately after that, was there an attack by the Croatian

9 army on the barracks and soldiers in the barracks of the JNA?

10 A. I'm not quite sure of the time period, but there were such

11 situations.

12 Q. I'm coming to an end shortly. So first of all, the JNA was

13 attacked as an occupying army in territories where for 50 years it had

14 been a guarantor of peace and official humanitarian activities. Is that

15 right?

16 A. Yes.

17 Q. And then decisions taken on independence were enforced? Yes or

18 no.

19 A. Well, can you -- I don't know about that.

20 Q. Is it true that the JNA did not invade Slovenia or Croatia but

21 simply tried to protect the attacked soldiers, their lives, their

22 property, the constitutional order, and of course, prevent a civil war.

23 Is that true or not?

24 A. I don't know whether you want my personal assessment of that.

25 [Realtime transcript omitted] I think so.

Page 14229

1 JUDGE MAY: I think ultimately this is going to be one of the

2 matters we are going to have to decide. We're going to have to decide

3 what the role of the JNA was, and I don't think it's helpful necessarily

4 to have the witness's views about it. He can deal with what he saw or

5 heard, of course. But perhaps we can move on.

6 THE INTERPRETER: Microphone, please. Sorry.

7 MR. TAPUSKOVIC: [Interpretation]

8 Q. After everything that happened --

9 JUDGE KWON: Just a minute. I think I heard some "I think so"

10 through interpretation, but I didn't see any passage representing that in

11 the transcript. Could the interpreters help us with this.

12 Mr. Witness, did you say "I think so" in your answer to

13 Mr. Tapuskovic?

14 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] To the last question? I think it

15 was linked to your question about the aggression by the TO in Slovenia.

16 You said yes. I think it was a two-fold question, so I said both, "I

17 think so," and then you repeated the second part, and I said, "Yes."

18 JUDGE KWON: Yes, please proceed.

19 MR. TAPUSKOVIC: [Interpretation]

20 Q. The Territorial Defence in 1991, 1992, and 1993, did it take up

21 arms at all? Do you know that, as a person involved in the activities you

22 were involved in?

23 A. Yes.

24 Q. In Serbia?

25 A. In 1991, members of the TO from Serbia who had been mobilised to

Page 14230












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Page 14231

1 the 36th Subatica Armoured Mechanised Brigade were within the territory of

2 Baranja.

3 Q. My question was not that. But just tell me, in Baranja, after

4 everything that happened, how many Serbs were there before all of this and

5 how many of them are left today?

6 A. I think there is a significant difference in the percentage share

7 of Serbs; a larger share left Baranja.

8 Q. And the situation remains unchanged to the present day?

9 A. Yes.

10 MR. TAPUSKOVIC: [Interpretation] Thank you. Thank you, Your

11 Honours.

12 MR. NICE: May the witness's statement which has been considered,

13 become an exhibit, be given an exhibit number.

14 JUDGE MAY: Yes.

15 THE REGISTRAR: Your Honours, it will be marked Prosecutor's

16 Exhibit 358 under seal, confidential.

17 MR. NICE: At some stage yesterday I think the accused suggested

18 to the witness that a conversation he was putting to him had been in some

19 way recorded. I simply observe that no record has been put to the

20 witness, but I'll deal with the allegations that have been made.

21 Re-examined by Mr. Nice:

22 Q. C-025, you were asked yesterday in an extended period of

23 questioning about Mr. Pekic and all sorts of other things, whether you had

24 had conversations and been given instructions at about the 24th of October

25 of this year. Do you actually remember now the day or days on which you

Page 14232

1 came to the Tribunal in the expectation of giving evidence, although your

2 evidence had to be delayed because of other reasons? Do you remember the

3 days when you came? If not, we can find other records for it.

4 A. Well, I think it was a month, the 8th, 9th, or 10th of last month

5 actually. I'm not quite sure of the dates.

6 Q. When you came here, who organised --

7 THE INTERPRETER: Microphone, please, Mr. Nice.

8 MR. NICE: Thank you.

9 Q. When you came here, who organised your travel and your movements

10 here?

11 A. Well, the investigators' team.

12 Q. Did Croatia or any other state or body of the former Yugoslavia

13 have anything whatsoever to do with your being transported here?

14 A. No.

15 Q. It was suggested to you in the course of this same extended

16 passage of questioning by the accused that you had been told what to say

17 on this occasion in October 2002 about Colonel Mijovic.

18 MR. NICE: If the Chamber would be good enough to look at page 15

19 of the statement, or perhaps first, indeed, to look at the page 1 for the

20 dates of the statement, and then at page 15.

21 Q. C-025, did you, in a statement taken on the 10th of March and the

22 2nd of May of last year, 2001, set out your account of what had happened

23 so far as Colonel Mijovic was concerned, on page 15?

24 A. Yes.

25 Q. Is there any truth in the suggestion by the accused that the

Page 14233

1 evidence you have given to this Tribunal was as a result of instructions

2 from people in Croatia or anywhere else?

3 A. No. Because my statement was given more than a year ago, a year

4 before the accused mentioned what he did.

5 Q. A few matters of detail from the cross-examination: The arming of

6 people in Baranja, but in particular, Serbs, it was suggested to you that

7 this was pursuant to laws in force at the time. You had said something on

8 an earlier occasion about the arming not being legal. Can you explain

9 whether the arming of which you spoke was, in your judgement and

10 understanding, legal or not legal?

11 A. We were talking about two types of arming; the arming of the Serbs

12 and the arming of the TO. The arming of the Serbs followed an illegal

13 fashion, and the arming of the Territorial Defence was done in a legal

14 way.

15 Q. It was suggested to you by the accused that both in fact and in

16 law, Baranja was separate from Serbia. First, did the MUP from outside

17 your area work in your area? And did the MUP from inside your area work

18 outside its area?

19 A. Yes.

20 Q. Second, if we look at indeed the top of page 15 in the English,

21 but I'll ask the witness to deal with it, it was suggested that the DB of

22 Sombor was simply gathering information. What happened to the DB in Beli

23 Manastir in 1995? Did they maintain their independence, or were they

24 taken over by someone?

25 A. The state security in Beli Manastir was taken over by the

Page 14234

1 operative in Sombor in 1995.

2 Q. You were asked about the arrest of individuals and whether they

3 were carried out by individuals rather than by specific and identifiable

4 forces. Once people had been arrested, by whom were they detained?

5 A. The police in Beli Manastir.

6 Q. And when they were transported to Dalj in the truck you've spoken

7 of, by whom were they transported; individuals or by a group?

8 A. By the police. The police transported them and escorted them.

9 That was what the transports were like.

10 Q. You were asked about the number of your visits with your boss to

11 Belgrade, and you spoke of only one. But from what you learned from him,

12 how many times or with what frequency did he visit Belgrade?

13 A. Well, he went far more frequently.

14 Q. For what purpose, as you understood it?

15 A. After his departures, we would usually have talks, discussions,

16 about the topics, the outstanding issues.

17 Q. And so what did it appear, from those discussions, had been the

18 purpose and objective of his going to Belgrade?

19 A. The objective was for us later on to have more precise guidelines

20 and the details that we were to study.

21 Q. And finally, going back to the question of the arming, you were

22 asked a question by the accused about whether arming did or didn't cause

23 anxiety amongst the Serbs. Did the illegal part of the arming that you've

24 described contribute to anxiety of non-Serbs? Did it contribute in any

25 way to their leaving the area?

Page 14235

1 A. Well, I think that this illegal part of the arming was rather a

2 conspiracy; not a lot was known at the time about it.

3 MR. NICE: Thank you. That concludes my questions in the

4 examination of this witness.

5 JUDGE MAY: Witness C-025, that concludes your evidence. Thank

6 you for coming to the International Tribunal to give it. You are free to

7 go.

8 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Thank you.

9 [The witness withdrew]

10 MR. NICE: Your Honour, while arrangements are being made for the

11 witness to withdraw and the next witness to come in, may I just withdraw

12 myself for two minutes, although I am taking the next witness?

13 JUDGE MAY: Yes.

14 MR. NICE: Your Honour, I hope the next witness can be brought in.

15 I know she has to be kept somewhere away, I think. I hope the Chamber has

16 had an opportunity to read her statement. You should have before you now

17 folders, files containing the exhibits which are referred to in her

18 statement and which I'll hope to produce quite shortly.

19 Perhaps I can just say before we forget the point, the -- I had it

20 in mind to call the investigator to prove the detail of the witness's

21 travel and circumstances of -- the last witness's travel and circumstances

22 of his coming here. It wouldn't have taken very long, and it's evidence

23 that's available, but in light of the way the cross-examination developed

24 and perhaps faded from that point and the fact that no version of any

25 conversation was in event put in detail with either a recording or a

Page 14236

1 transcript to the witness, it may not be necessary. If it turns out to be

2 necessary later, I'll revert to it.

3 THE ACCUSED: [Interpretation] Mr. May.

4 JUDGE MAY: Yes, Mr. Milosevic.

5 THE ACCUSED: [Interpretation] Mr. May, I have understood it that

6 this examination in chief is to be relatively short, as far as Mr. Nice is

7 concerned and his questions. However, we have received here a quite a lot

8 of material, extensive reports in these binders. And as the witness, in

9 addition to the statement she has submitted and the writings of the Human

10 Rights Watch, also presents a series of her own assessments, observations,

11 conclusions and so on, and I think that I should be allowed to ask all the

12 relevant questions that are necessary and linked to all this material and

13 the assertions presented in them, and I don't think you ought to restrict

14 my time and limit it to the time that Mr. Nice uses for his

15 examination-in-chief of this witness.

16 JUDGE MAY: Mr. Milosevic, we will look at all that. We will hear

17 the witness in chief, and then we will consider the question of time.

18 [The witness entered court]

19 JUDGE MAY: Yes, let the witness take the declaration.

20 THE WITNESS: I solemnly declare that I will speak the truth, the

21 whole truth, and nothing but the truth.

22 JUDGE MAY: If you'd like to take a seat.


24 Examined by Mr. Nice:

25 Q. Is your name Jeri Laber and, Ms. Laber, were you a trained Soviet

Page 14237

1 specialist, one of the founders of Helsinki Watch in 1979, and its first

2 executive director from that year?

3 A. It is, and I am.

4 Q. Did you stay in that position until 1995 when you retired from

5 that position but continuing your work and interest in the same human

6 rights field?

7 A. I did.

8 Q. You're an author of many articles and books. Helsinki Watch first

9 started monitoring human rights in the former Yugoslavia in approximately

10 what year?

11 A. 1981.

12 Q. At that time or in the early stages, what was the principal focus

13 of your interest in the former Yugoslavia?

14 A. You asked what was the principal --

15 Q. Yes, what was the principal interest?

16 A. In 1981, that was our very first visits to the region, we were

17 concerned mainly with political abuses, abuses of civil and political

18 rights and certain trials that were going on during the early 1980s of

19 people we thought were being repressed for expressing their opinions.

20 Q. Was there, in those early years, any particular region of the

21 former Yugoslavia that drew your attention more than others?

22 A. At that point, we were concerned, even then, with what was

23 happening in Kosovo. We received reports -- I didn't go to Kosovo that

24 early, but in Belgrade, I received reports about the oppression of the

25 Albanian minority in Kosovo. But we were also concerned with a very

Page 14238

1 strict situation in Croatia. I was warned not to go to Zagreb because I

2 was told that I would not be allowed to stay there as a human rights

3 investigator.

4 Q. Let's move on, then, to a visit you made in August of 1999. I

5 think it was a visit you made along with another colleague, Kenneth

6 Anderson, who was a lawyer --

7 A. Did you say --

8 Q. 1990.

9 A. 1990, yes.

10 Q. On that occasion, with Mr. Anderson, did you visit Croatia,

11 Kosovo, and also go to Belgrade?

12 A. Yes, we did.

13 Q. The stimulus for that visit at that particular time being, in

14 general, what?

15 A. At that point, there was -- the federation was still together.

16 There was talk, of course, of secession and of unrest. We went first to

17 Croatia and spoke there with political dissidents and intellectuals and

18 human rights activists who took us to various Serbian villages on the

19 whole outside of Zagreb where we saw for ourselves a situation of great

20 anxiety and I would actually call it hysteria.

21 Just before we came, there had been a referendum, an unofficial

22 Serbian referendum, and there was talk, of course, of Croatia seceding

23 from the union, and the Serb minority was in a state of panic generated, I

24 think, by both sides, by the nationalist statements of President Tudjman

25 but also from the Serbian government which was stirring up this unrest and

Page 14239












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Page 14240

1 feeling of panic that we witnessed firsthand.

2 Q. How long did you spend there on this occasion?

3 A. Well, we went to -- we were in three different republics. We were

4 in Croatia -- well, we were in Croatia and in Kosovo and in Belgrade, two

5 republics. And altogether, I can't tell you exactly, but I would say that

6 the trip was probably between ten days and two weeks.

7 Q. Did you speak to individuals on all sides; Croats, Serbs, Kosovars

8 and so on?

9 A. We did.

10 Q. Just dealing with one aspect of the Croatian police, did you form

11 a view, as a result of what you observed, as to whether the Croatian

12 police were or were not being provocative by intent towards Serb villages?

13 A. There was no question but that the Serb minority in the villages

14 that we visited had reason to be anxious. The Croatian police had gone to

15 these police stations to disarm them, to take the reserve weapons out of

16 the police stations. And although it was promoted as a general policy

17 throughout the country, they seemed to be targeting villages where the

18 population was ethnic Serbian. And some of the places where we went were

19 barricaded, villagers had chopped down trees to prevent access. We had to

20 actually get out of our car and remove the trees in order to get in. They

21 were terribly frightened.

22 The Croatian police that I met in the two villages that I went to

23 told me that they were under orders not to provoke any kind of violence or

24 unrest, that they were supposed to be as peaceful as possible. On the

25 other hand, their equipment was -- seemed overly military for the job that

Page 14241

1 they were sent there to do, and there was just the fact of their being

2 there was provocative.

3 MR. NICE: May the binder of exhibits be given a number, and we'll

4 then proceed, if this is acceptable, by tab numbers within the exhibit.

5 THE REGISTRAR: That will be Prosecutor's Exhibit 359.

6 MR. NICE: Your Honour, by oversight, I didn't prepare a spare

7 bundle for the witness. If the usher would be good enough to take the

8 Court Registry's bundle, and with his usual skill, place the appropriate

9 page on the overhead projector, we will then make a copy available to the

10 witness, so she can follow it herself.

11 If we can then turn to tab 1 of Exhibit 359 and lay the front page

12 on the overhead projector.

13 Q. Ms. Laber, did you prepare, in January 1991, a report based upon

14 your investigation, headed "Human Rights in a Dissolving Yugoslavia"?

15 A. Yes. I actually did not write this report, it was written by my

16 colleague, but I edited and collaborated with him on it.

17 Q. A few sentences, please, about the methodology of the preparation

18 of this report and of the following report to which we will come in a few

19 minutes.

20 A. Well, our methodology remains pretty stable throughout the

21 organisation: We send fact-finders to the region, they acquire

22 information by interviewing witnesses and victims of abuses, take detailed

23 notes, compare them. We interview each witness individually and try to

24 find corroborative evidence from other witnesses that tend to reinforce

25 what we get from one and as many as possible to testify to the same

Page 14242

1 events. We also look into police records, hospital records, for any

2 forensic information that's available. And of course, we investigate the

3 scenes of crimes whenever we can, ourselves.

4 Then it is compiled into a report, which is edited and which I, as

5 the director, would then bring to the attention of the governments in

6 question, to their embassies, to the press, and to anyone else that we

7 feel would be effective in bringing these issues to world attention.

8 Q. Two things before we look at this first report: This report,

9 unlike the second one, you were actually a participant yourself, you were

10 one of the officers preparing the raw material?

11 A. That's right.

12 Q. Secondly, you've spoken already of reports being provided to the

13 relevant embassies, I think, and governments. In this case, with this

14 report, did it go to the governments and embassies of the former

15 Yugoslavia?

16 A. Yes, it did.

17 MR. NICE: Your Honour, obviously I'm not going to go through this

18 or any other report in detail. They are available for consideration by

19 parties and by the Chamber in full in due course, and I will just take us

20 to a few particular points.

21 Q. The first page of the report is unnumbered, but if the usher could

22 very kindly lay that on the projector, and at the foot of the first page,

23 Ms. Laber, in the paragraph headed "Background," do we see it made clear

24 in the last two lines that: "Helsinki Watch takes no position on whether

25 Yugoslavia should or should not stay together as a country..."

Page 14243

1 Was that your position?

2 A. That was our position. That is always our position in any country

3 we deal with. It is not within the mandate of our organisation to take a

4 position on the national boundaries of any country.

5 Q. We can go now to page number - and they are now page numbered -

6 3. And the foot of that page, do we see this passage reflecting part of

7 your mission on that occasion to Kosovo: "Treatment by the Serbian

8 government of ethnic Albanians in the province of Kosovo, meanwhile,

9 continues to worsen, resulting in one of the most severe situations of

10 human rights abuse in Europe today."

11 Just pausing there, this report was prepared, of course, before

12 the conflicts in Croatia, Bosnia, and later, Kosovo occurred. So we're

13 looking back over, then, to an earlier time.

14 A. Well before, yes.

15 Q. Was that your judgement, that the human rights position, the human

16 rights abuse in Kosovo, was one of the most severe in Europe at that time?

17 A. Yes, it was.

18 Q. And in preparing your reports generally, were you aware of,

19 sensitive to, or responsive to other work by other human rights

20 organisations working in the same area?

21 A. Yes, we were.

22 Q. If you found your preliminary views out of line with, inconsistent

23 with, the views of others, would you have recorded it, responded to it in

24 some way?

25 A. Yes, we would; of course.

Page 14244

1 Q. You went on to say in this paragraph: "Ethnic Albanians in Kosovo

2 are being treated -- are being arrested en masse, beaten, and in some

3 instances tortured in prison and subject to mass firings from their jobs

4 on account of ethnicity. Serbian police units --" and we go to the next

5 page -- "repeatedly use excessive force in confronting ethnic Albanian

6 demonstrations, killing more than 50 people so far in 1990 alone." Was

7 that, as you understood it, a correct reflection of the position?

8 A. That accurately reflects our findings.

9 Q. Just to remind us, at that time, was there any existence of KLA or

10 similar on the ground?

11 A. There was no KLA to my knowledge. In fact, one of the things --

12 one of the strongest impressions I came away from after that visit was how

13 peaceful, how inexplicably peaceful the Albanian minority appeared to be.

14 There was no talk of arms, there was no talk of even demonstrations or

15 protests as we might see somewhere else, given what was happening to them.

16 They really seemed to be dependent, at that juncture, on world opinion

17 coming to their rescue and people like us -- for people like us, it was a

18 great responsibility to try to get hat story out. No one was paying much

19 attention at that point.

20 Q. Staying now on page 4 - and I'm going to deal with this passage in

21 a little more detail than others, Your Honours, simply because it's not in

22 the witness statement that I know you have had an opportunity to preread -

23 carrying on from where we were, do you say this: "Security forces of the

24 Serbian government, as discussed below, have attacked ethnic Albanian

25 villages in apparent attempts at intimidation. The Serbian government has

Page 14245

1 suspended the Kosovo parliament and other institutions of government in

2 which ethnic Albanians participated, shut down for extended periods of

3 time the main ethnic Albanian daily paper Rilindija, and taken all

4 Albanian language programming off Kosovo television and radio, has

5 embarked on a programme to disenfranchise and marginalise the ethnic

6 Albanian population in ways constituting racism, impermissible ethnic

7 discrimination, and a grave violation of the rights of ethnic Albanians to

8 free expression and equal political participation."

9 Was that your judgement and on what material did you base it?

10 A. It was definitely our judgement. It was based on many interviews

11 with journalists, members of the Albanian minority, professionals who had

12 been fired from their jobs, doctors, others who explained to us that they

13 were all out of work. There was a situation of apartheid, actually, in

14 process there where the entire Albanian population, which was not the

15 minority in that case but the majority, was being precluded from

16 participating in civil society or in professional life.

17 We also visited a village -- am I jumping ahead?

18 Q. Tell us about it and then I'll eliminate it from later evidence.

19 A. We visited a village named Polak where there had been violence, a

20 very small village that had been attacked with tanks in the wee hours of

21 the morning. Hard to imagine, given the size of the village, that a tank

22 could actually even enter, it was so small and such an egregious use of

23 heavy force. They started shelling the homes. Two young men were killed

24 in cold blood.

25 Q. I am going to stop you, not because it's not relevant, but because

Page 14246












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Page 14247

1 you can answer questions, should the accused want to ask you about these

2 matters, and it's set out in your report in writing in any event.

3 A. Okay.

4 JUDGE KWON: Ms. Laber, in terms of interviews you had at that

5 time, could you help us; how many interviews could you remember?

6 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] I would have to approximate that

7 because it was ten years ago and I don't have those notes with me, but I

8 would say that altogether probably 30 interviews in Kosovo.

9 JUDGE KWON: Thank you.

10 MR. NICE:

11 Q. Staying on page 4, if we can jump the next paragraph and the first

12 sentence of the following paragraph, we pick it up as follows: "As

13 recently as September 1989, when a joint Helsinki Watch-International

14 Helsinki Federation mission visited Kosovo province, there was at the time

15 some basis for the view --"

16 A. Excuse me, we're on page 4?

17 Q. Page 4. It's the middle paragraph, and --

18 A. I'm sorry. Okay, I've got it.

19 Q. My mistake for not checking that you were with us. "There was...

20 some basis for the view that repression by the Serbian government against

21 Albanians, who comprised some 90 per cent of the province's population,

22 was at least partly an attempt, albeit abusively carried out, to protect

23 the Serb minority in the province rather than simply an attempt to

24 subjugate ethnic Albanian identity. Serb and other minorities had, in the

25 view of Helsinki Watch and the IHF, suffered abuse in earlier years. A

Page 14248

1 year later, however, in October 1990, there is no justification for any

2 claim that the Serbian government's intervention in Kosovo aims more than

3 marginally to protect the Serbian minority."

4 That was the judgement you formed then. First of all, is it a

5 judgement by which you stand today?

6 A. Yes, it is.

7 Q. And was it built on the interviews and other inquiries you made in

8 this mission, or was it more broadly based on other material coming to you

9 from earlier missions and so on?

10 A. Well, we worked together with the International Helsinki

11 Federation which also sent a mission there previously. So this was a

12 composite of the impressions we got during this visit and also from other

13 groups that had visited with whom we exchanged materials.

14 Q. We see from this passage that you and your colleague were alert to

15 the problems facing the Serb minority and to the fact that they needed

16 protection.

17 A. Absolutely, there definitely were those problems, but the response

18 seemed way out of proportion to the problems.

19 Q. The second sentence of the following paragraph reads as follows:

20 "The Serbian government has therefore undertaken an ambitious programme to

21 resettle Serbs in Kosovo in order, in effect, to retake the province.

22 This resettlement is being accomplished by a racist policy of displacing

23 ethnic Albanians from government and so on." Was that your judgement at

24 the time?

25 A. Yes, that was our judgement.

Page 14249

1 Q. I'm going to deal with the rest of the report, though it's central

2 to the issue of Croatia, more briefly. But before I do, just at the foot

3 of this same page, page 4, you set out on how September the 2nd of 1990, a

4 delegation of the International Helsinki Federation went to Kosovo to

5 examine conditions there. The delegation consisted of four citizens of

6 Austria, Denmark, and Holland - if we go over to page 5 - and you set out

7 how the delegation were detained overnight by Serbian secret police in a

8 Pristina hotel. Members of the delegation were interrogated. One member

9 was threatened with imprisonment. I'm summarising. Their papers were

10 seized. In the next paragraph, you set out diplomatic protests and

11 nongovernmental protests were harsh, but the Yugoslavia government took

12 days even to acknowledge that the expulsion had taken place.

13 And then this: "Subsequently revealing the increasing weakness of

14 the Yugoslav federal government in relation to Serbian republican

15 government, the federal government took the view that the expulsion order

16 could be revoked only by a competent court in the Republic of Serbia.

17 After months of negotiation, the expulsion orders and persona non grata

18 stamps were finally expunged."

19 That observation about the comparative authority of Serbia and the

20 federation, the federal government, was that something you judged at the

21 time and since?

22 A. I think it was -- it did not come as a surprise. At that point,

23 it was quite clear that the federal government was very weak, almost

24 impotent, in exercising its powers.

25 Q. And if you wanted something done, to whom did you address

Page 14250

1 yourself?

2 A. The government of Serbia.

3 Q. Was that a minority view of yours or, in your experience, was that

4 a majority view of those in a similar position of yours?

5 A. I believe it was generally assumed that that was where the power

6 was.

7 Q. We then come to the passage that you refer to in your statement:

8 "The Serb minority in Croatia." You've set out the history which -- or

9 the relevant recent history which had to do with Croats seizing weapons

10 from police stations, or gathering weapons from police stations in a way

11 that would create anxiety amongst those who were not the recipients of

12 weapons, particularly the non-Croats.

13 And then on page 6, please, the first fresh paragraph, you say

14 this of the overall position. I'll omit the first sentence and move to

15 the second: "When Croatian police units arrived, generally late at night,

16 in various towns to pick up the rifles and other munitions, they were met

17 by Serb demonstrations. Serbs who suffered terribly at the hands of

18 Croatian fascists during World War II apparently believed that the current

19 arms seizures would put them at the mercy of the Croatian government, a

20 fear that was compounded by the fact that the arms seizures initially were

21 carried out by special Croat-only police units, apparently hastily

22 assembled and trained mainly in villages and towns that were predominantly

23 Serb. The Serb minority thus saw the seizures as a targeted disarmament

24 and not as a neutral move by the government on a general and nonethnic

25 basis to reduce the quantity of arms that might otherwise fall into

Page 14251

1 private hands and present a threat to public order."

2 Were you, in this report, attempting to be even-handed as between

3 the various interested parties, were you reflecting the understandable

4 anxiety of the Serb minority?

5 A. I was, in this report, attempting to be even-handed. We always

6 attempt to be even-handed in our investigations.

7 Q. We move to the end of this particular passage, which we find at

8 the foot of page 8: "Helsinki Watch does not dispute the authority of the

9 duly constituted Croatian government in the interest of public safety to

10 require that private arms be turned in or to collect reserve militia arms

11 and to use appropriate steps under rule of law to enforce such orders.

12 However, Helsinki Watch believes that excessive force was used by Croatian

13 police in, for example, the village of Dvor na Uni. There is reason to

14 believe that the intent was to intimidate the Serb population as well as

15 to bring about compliance with otherwise lawful orders to collect arms.

16 And although the collection of arms was presented as part of a general

17 programme of public safety, at least in the early part of the collection

18 programme, the burden of the government orders appears to have fallen on

19 Serb villages alone."

20 Now, with that approach to the Serb minority problem, you turned

21 - we don't need to deal with it, at page 9 - with what you saw in the

22 village of Polak in Kosovo. At the foot of page 10, you called for a full

23 investigation into that. And at the foot of page 12, the report concluded

24 that: "Helsinki Watch urged that economic sanctions be used against the

25 federal government of Yugoslavia and, when possible, against the

Page 14252

1 government of Serbia, which is involved in egregious human rights abuses

2 in the province of Kosovo. We also urge that the situation in other

3 republics of Yugoslavia be carefully monitored, especially in Croatia,

4 where there is a potentially explosive human rights situation, and that

5 economic sanctions be applied in the future to any Yugoslavia republic

6 engaged in egregious human rights abuses." And that was your conclusion?

7 A. That was our position at that time.

8 Q. And as you already explained, the report was widely disseminated,

9 including to governments and embassies of the former Yugoslavia.

10 If we now move on, please, the war erupted in mid- to late-1991.

11 Did your investigations continue?

12 A. Yes, it did.

13 Q. The same approach and methodology, save that on the occasion of

14 the next report into which we will look in a second, you weren't one of

15 the reporting officers yourself; you were the director commissioning the

16 report --

17 A. I was the director of the organisation. Our activities increased

18 in 1991 because the situation itself had become more volatile. We kept a

19 permanent staff member on the ground during 1991, and we sent numerous

20 missions. I would say -- it was hard to -- they sort of interlapped [sic]

21 with each other, but I would say perhaps six separate missions in the

22 course of that year, and issued I believe it was seven newsletters and

23 reports.

24 Q. Interlocutors included people on the ground, ordinary villagers

25 and inhabitants and so on. Did they also include representatives of

Page 14253

1 government and the army?

2 A. Whenever possible, we did meet with government representatives. I

3 believe that our staff in the field met on more than one occasion with

4 Mr. Mesic, who was then the president of the Presidency.

5 Q. Before any report of Helsinki Watch would refer to abuse, what

6 level of evidence did you regard as required?

7 A. The level of evidence depended, as I said before, mainly on

8 getting numerous written testimonies, testimonies that we wrote ourselves,

9 taking oral testimonies from witnesses and, whenever possible, victims.

10 Also investigating the crime scene itself and getting police reports and

11 hospital reports and forensic evidence.

12 Q. Would you like to put a title or label to the standard of proof

13 that you would require before labelling something an abuse or not?

14 A. We are a professional organisation. We had very high standards of

15 proof. We have been doing this now for many years in 70 countries

16 throughout the world. Our standards remain consistent throughout the

17 organisation. And our staff is well-trained in taking testimony and not

18 asking leading questions, in doing it in private, in avoiding any

19 situations where the witnesses might be not speaking their own mind or

20 exaggerating the facts.

21 Q. Let's turn to tab 2, if we can just place the title page of that

22 on the overhead projector. This is "Yugoslavia Human Rights Abuses in the

23 Croatian Conflict," and it's dated September 1991. I can deal with it

24 shortly, but it's a preamble to what happened next when you attempted to

25 put people on notice.

Page 14254












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Page 14255

1 If we look at the page number 3, in the general introduction on

2 the top of page number 3, your report - not your report, the report for

3 which you take general responsibility - reads like this at the top of the

4 page: "In many cases, there is evidence pointing to army complicity on

5 the side of the Serbian insurgents. The JNA was authorised to act as a

6 buffer between the two sides in order to prevent further bloodshed;

7 however the JNA, whose officer core is predominantly Serbian and whose

8 interests lie in the preservation of a Yugoslav state, has continued to

9 intervene in the conflict, apparently without authorisation from its

10 civilian Commander-in-Chief, the Yugoslav Presidency. These interventions

11 have had the effect of preserving territorial gains made by the Serbs in

12 Croatia."

13 That was the conclusion, and as you've explained to us, your staff

14 included in their interlocutors people such as President Mesic and other

15 government or army representatives.

16 A. That's correct.

17 MR. TAPUSKOVIC: [Interpretation] Your Honours, I should just like

18 to say that this is not an expert witness. These are things that you will

19 have to judge and draw conclusions about. We had, earlier, a

20 representative of this organisation, and he testified only about things

21 that he himself saw. However, conclusions of this kind is something that

22 is in your hands.

23 JUDGE MAY: This witness is reporting, rather than as an expert,

24 reporting on what, as I understand it, she and her organisation saw and

25 heard. Now, we'll have to hear the evidence on which these conclusions

Page 14256

1 are based, and it will be for us to decide what weight to place upon them.

2 Yes, Mr. Nice.

3 MR. TAPUSKOVIC: [Interpretation] I was just saying that I don't

4 think she should make conclusions.

5 JUDGE MAY: She is producing a report, putting it in front of us.

6 She is entitled, therefore, to give the evidence about it and to state

7 what is in the report.

8 Yes, Mr. Nice.


10 Q. On page 3, in the centre of the page but the second paragraph

11 under the heading "Positions of Serbs and Croats," the second sentence of

12 that second paragraph: "Both sides stress that the current conflict is

13 not an ethnic conflict but the result of rabid nationalist activities by

14 the opposite side. Each is willing to believe gruesome tales of

15 atrocities committed by the other but such stories can rarely be

16 substantiated. The Serbian and Croatian press exaggerate and often

17 misrepresent the news, exacerbating the fears of both Serbs and Croats."

18 Apart from the fact that that was being represented to you by your

19 staff, do you have any direct experience yourself of that sort of

20 material, either at this stage or at a later stage?

21 A. I do remember being in Belgrade and seeing some very slick,

22 well-produced propaganda material about Croatian abuses against Serbs,

23 with horrendous photographs that, it turned out, were not from the current

24 conflict at all but from the fascist Croatian regime during World War II.

25 There was a cover photograph of a man's head being severed by an axe,

Page 14257

1 things of that kind which, of course, would inflame and horrify people,

2 and it was only when you read the small print that you saw that it wasn't

3 actually happening at that time.

4 Q. We pick up --

5 JUDGE ROBINSON: Mr. Nice, I'd just like to go back to the first

6 passage on page 3 and to ask Ms. Laber to clarify the comment that, "The

7 JNA apparently intervened in the conflict without authorisation from its

8 civilian Commander-in-Chief, the Yugoslav Presidency." That's the first

9 passage that you asked her to comment on. Could she clarify that for me.

10 THE WITNESS: The pattern of JNA intervention was reported over

11 and over again to us. The army would come in, ostensibly as a buffer or

12 to stop the violence, but we received numerous reports that it sided with

13 the Serb nationalists and protected their interests. Where the -- I'm

14 afraid I cannot tell you --

15 JUDGE ROBINSON: What I'm particularly interested in is the

16 comment that they acted without authorisation of the Commander-in-Chief.

17 THE WITNESS: I cannot speak to where that information came from.

18 It's in the report. It was somehow collected by our staff who prepared

19 the report, but without going back to the people who wrote it, I

20 cannot tell you where they got that information, whether it was told to

21 them, perhaps in their interviews with the Presidency, because they did

22 meet with representatives of the Presidency, or whether it was their

23 conclusion based on what they heard.

24 JUDGE ROBINSON: All right.

25 MR. NICE:

Page 14258

1 Q. Page 3 starts the passage: "The Serbian position." And if we

2 turn over to page 4, there's only one point I really want to pick up on

3 this passage. It's the last paragraph, three-quarters of the way down the

4 page of this section. "Politically, Serbs in Croatia and elsewhere call

5 for the preservation of Yugoslavia as a strong, federal state. The Serbs

6 in Croatia have declared that they will secede from Croatia if Croatia

7 secedes from Yugoslavia, and that they will take large areas of Croatia's

8 land with them. The position of the Serbian insurgents is if the Croats

9 want to secede from Yugoslavia, good riddance to them, but if they secede,

10 they will not take one Serb or any land on which a Serb lives with them.

11 Other Serbs have called for a 'Greater Serbia', which Serbia would rule

12 all of present-day Yugoslavia except for Zagreb and its environs and

13 Slovenia."

14 This report, then, September 1991, records some people using the

15 phrase "Greater Serbia." Was that your general experience at that time,

16 or not, or are you --

17 A. My impression was that this phrase was already in common usage.

18 Many people talked about it. It was in the press, certainly in the

19 Western press, and diplomats talked about it as well.

20 Q. Turning to the Croatian position at the foot of page 4, this:

21 "Many Croats believe that the current Serbian insurrection is the creation

22 of the federal government in Belgrade whose aim is to bring about the fall

23 of the Croatian government and to reinstate Serbian and communist control

24 over its territory. They believe that Slobodan Milosevic, the president

25 of the Republic of Serbia, is manipulating the cause of human rights to

Page 14259

1 achieve an imperialist goal. A frequently cited example is Kosovo, where

2 the Serbian government justified its repression of the majority ethnic

3 Albanian population and suspension of Albania's political rights on the

4 basis of purported human rights abuses by Albanians against local Serbs

5 and Montenegrins."

6 Now, that passage, was that entirely the work of your staff? Do

7 you have any personal views on it yourself?

8 A. This passage really is explaining the attitudes that we heard.

9 This is not taking -- this is not our own position. This is an

10 explanation of the political and intellectual climate that we found, both

11 on the Serbian side where we talk about the Serb position and the Croat

12 side when we talk about what the Croats believed.

13 Q. And then at the --

14 A. This is all in terms of background, really.

15 Q. Thank you. And then on the same topic, towards the foot of the

16 page, the penultimate paragraph: "Conversely, many Croats consider the

17 Serbian government of Slobodan Milosevic to be the real cause of the

18 Serbian insurrection. Croats fear that Milosevic wants to preserve

19 Communist rule in Croatia and to create -- in Yugoslavia, and to create a

20 Greater Serbia." And then you go on and give some more detail to that.

21 Again, this is the reported views of your staff, the views reported to

22 your staff.

23 Now, I'm not going to go through the detail of any more because of

24 limitations of time and it's not necessary to do so, but if we go to the

25 conclusions here on page 27 so that we can see what your organisation's

Page 14260

1 general view was before seeing [inaudible] at the time yourself, the

2 conclusion reads: "The current conflict in Croatia between Croats, Serbs,

3 and the Yugoslav army has resulted in many civilian deaths and human

4 rights abuses. The majority of abuses committed by the Croats involve

5 discrimination against Serbs: The Croats' beating of prisoners in police

6 custody and their failure to rigorously prosecute a killing are also

7 serious violations. The abuses committed by the Serbs involve physical

8 maltreatment - including the beating and use of electric shocks against

9 prisoners - and egregious abuses against civilians and medical personnel,

10 including the use of human shields and taking of hostages. The Yugoslav

11 army is also committing serious human rights violations by attacking

12 civilian targets in coordination with the Serbian insurgents. Recent

13 examples of such attacks occurred during the week of August the 19th when

14 the Yugoslav army indiscriminately attacked civilian targets in Osijek and

15 Vukovar. The current conflict is spreading from the countryside to the

16 major cities in Croatia, heightening concern that more civilians will be

17 killed, and more abuses will be committed. Helsinki Watch condemns such

18 abuses and urges all sides to refrain from committing further violations

19 of international humanitarian law, calls upon all parties to the conflict

20 to respect their obligations under the Geneva conventions."

21 Was that indeed your organisation's position at that time?

22 A. Yes.

23 Q. And what was your objective, so that we can understand what you

24 did next? What was it your objective to achieve?

25 A. Well, I want to emphasise that at the time these reports were

Page 14261

1 being prepared, we had no notion that there would be an International

2 Tribunal or any indictments. We were trying to stop more killings before

3 they occurred, and we were appealing to the governments that were in a

4 position to do so and to international world opinion to become involved.

5 Q. And so, we can turn to tab 3, please, did you in January, on

6 indeed the 21st of January of 1992, send a letter to the accused and to

7 General Adzic?

8 A. Yes, we did.

9 Q. Just remind us, it would be the case that the previous report was

10 circulated to embassies and governments, as it was your general policy?

11 A. The previous report was also sent to the presidents of the various

12 republics, and to embassies and the press.

13 Q. Now let's look at tab 3, the letter that was sent on the 21st of

14 January to the accused and to General Adzic. And page 1 sets out the

15 matter in mind: "Helsinki Watch Committee is deeply troubled by reports

16 of serious human rights abuses by the Serbian government and the Yugoslav

17 army. Our own investigations of these reports conducted during a series

18 of fact-finding missions to Yugoslavia over several years indicate that

19 many of these reports are well-founded. We call upon you to investigate

20 the abuses enumerated in this letter and to punish those responsible for

21 them. We call upon you to take immediate measures to ensure that such

22 violations of human rights do not occur again."

23 The next paragraph, you summarise the abuses identified and the

24 interference with basic human rights. And you end that by saying:

25 "Finally, we object to the continuing persecution of the Albanian

Page 14262












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13 English transcripts.













Page 14263

1 population in Kosovo."

2 If we look at the form of the letter rather than going through its

3 detail, we see on page 2 the rules of war violations in the Croatian

4 conflict, the reference to summary executions in the Croatian conflict;

5 and then on page 3, you set out various particular incidents in Benkovac,

6 Struga, Dalj, Gracac; and then on page 4, in Pecki, Cetekovac, Siroka

7 Kula. And on page 5, you set this out in the middle of the page:

8 "Reports by the news agency Tanjug accused Croats of having committed war

9 crimes against Serbs in the areas near the town of Grubisno Polje in

10 Croatia. The allegations were investigated by members of the European

11 Community Monitoring Mission who found that Serbian forces, not Croatian

12 forces, were guilty of summary executions and destruction of civilian

13 property in the area. The Monitoring Mission's report concludes we

14 established evidence of crimes which were committed by the Serbian forces

15 during the two or three-month period that they controlled that particular

16 zone of Western Slavonia."

17 It goes on, dealing with more detail, until we come to page 7,

18 Vukovar, where the allegation was put in these terms: "The city of

19 Vukovar was under constant siege by Serbian forces for three months. When

20 the city fell on November the 18th, 15.000 people who had not fled the

21 fighting emerged from the basements in which they lived for 12 weeks.

22 After Vukovar's fall, civilians and soldiers hors de combat were beaten or

23 arrested by Serbian paramilitary groups and the JNA. On the basis of

24 interviews with displaced persons from Vukovar and foreign journalists and

25 humanitarian workers who visited Vukovar immediately after its fall,

Page 14264

1 Helsinki Watch has reason to believe that many Croatian men, both

2 civilians, and combatants who laid down their arms were summarily executed

3 by Serbian forces after Vukovar's fall."

4 On the same page, the letter dealt with Skabrnje in some detail.

5 We can go over, then, to the following pages which are -- on page 9, we

6 have Hum and Vocin. Page 11, Bruska; and then a subheading of Court

7 Martial and Execution, Torture and Mistreatment in Detention. And at page

8 13, under Disappearances, a further reference to Vukovar where you deal in

9 particular with the denial of ICRC access to the Vukovar hospital and to

10 other matters believed to have happened in the hospital at that time. On

11 page 14, you touch on Zadar. Page 15, Obrovac and Dalj. You turn to

12 hostages. We can go on, perhaps, to 17, and deal with robbery.

13 On 18, perhaps pause there on page 18, under "Forced Displacements

14 and Resettlement": "Helsinki Watch is concerned that Croats, Hungarians,

15 Czechs and others are being forced by the Serbian rebels from their homes

16 in Serbian-occupied territory in order to create purely Serbian regions in

17 areas that are otherwise of mixed population. We are concerned that this

18 non-Serbian population is being discriminated against and being forcibly

19 displaced on the illegal grounds of ethnic origin. We are also concerned

20 that displaced Serbs are being resettled in Serb-occupied territory in

21 Croatia to consolidate Serbian control over regions captured from Croats

22 and prevent the original non-Serbian inhabitants from returning." You

23 then set out some figures. That's the general allegation.

24 On page 19, you dealt with killing, assault, and harassment of

25 journalists. Page 21, forced mobilisation. And on page 23, amongst other

Page 14265

1 topics, you dealt with press restrictions. But at the foot of page 23,

2 you returned to Kosovo. "The Serbian misdemeanour law which allows for up

3 to 60 days imprisonment is being grossly abused by Serbian authorities in

4 Kosovo. Instead of prolonged detention, ethnic Albanians are being

5 imprisoned several times for short periods. Many Albanians arrested for

6 committing so-called verbal crimes such as insulting the socialist,

7 patriotic, national and moral feelings of the citzenry, insulting a public

8 official, institution, or organisation, and in conveying disturbing news.

9 In many cases, Albanians are charged with such crimes for their support of

10 Albanian nationalism, of independence from Serbia, and of republic status

11 for Kosovo or union with Albania. Those convicted are usually given 30-

12 to 60-day prison sentences, and by the time an appeal is filed and the

13 hearing is granted, an individual has already served his or her prison

14 term." And you go on to say that many have suffered multiple such

15 sentences.

16 Page 24, you give -- make reference to the banning of the only

17 Albanian language newspaper, Rilindija. And on page 25, you summarise the

18 position this way: "Dear President Milosevic and General Adzic: This

19 lengthy letter contains only a portion of the information on human rights

20 abuses compiled by Helsinki Watch. We urgently call on you to end these

21 violations. We call upon the Yugoslav army and Serbian forces in

22 Croatia --" you then set out a list of things you call on them to do:

23 Investigating reports, refraining from actions, releasing hostages, giving

24 the location of missing persons, stopping robbery and pillaging, stopping

25 the forcible displacement of people for non-war related reasons,

Page 14266

1 refraining from mobilising members of the anti-war movement, refraining

2 from interfering with freedom of Serbian press, and you call on the

3 Serbian government to investigate reports of harassment, to drop all

4 charges against Draskovic, and to cease harassment of journalists.

5 That letter was sent, was it? Did you send that letter?

6 A. We delivered that letter --

7 Q. Or did you deliver it?

8 A. -- personally.

9 Q. It may be to that that we can turn, if it's convenient, after the

10 break.

11 A. I should say we attempted to deliver it directly to President

12 Milosevic and to General Adzic but we were unsuccessful in actually seeing

13 them, although we did meet with members of their government.

14 JUDGE MAY: We're going to adjourn now for 20 minutes. Ms. Laber,

15 please remember not to speak to anybody during the adjournment about your

16 evidence until it's over.

17 THE WITNESS: Thank you.

18 JUDGE MAY: Yes.

19 --- Recess taken at 10.31 a.m.

20 --- On resuming at 10.58 a.m.

21 JUDGE MAY: Yes, Mr. Nice.

22 MR. NICE:

23 Q. The letter that we have been just been considering, Exhibit 359,

24 tab 3, was addressed not only to the accused but also to Adzic. Why to

25 him?

Page 14267

1 A. Because we felt that he was also a responsible party to the abuses

2 that we were detailing in our letter.

3 Q. Addressed, then, to the accused but not to the federal

4 authorities, for the reasons you've already given. The effort you made to

5 have it delivered, describe that for us.

6 A. I went to Belgrade accompanied by Jonathan Fanton who was then the

7 chairman of our division of Human Rights Watch. We made serious efforts

8 to reach President Milosevic and deliver the letter in person, including

9 appeals that were made by the then-US ambassador, Warren Zimmerman, who

10 also tried to use his offices to effect a meeting for us. We spent a lot

11 of time waiting, as I recall, in a number of official buildings before we

12 were finally given an audience with -- actually two separate meetings with

13 members of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and also members of the army in

14 two separate meetings, I believe, which are detailed in my notes and in my

15 witness statement.

16 MR. NICE: Yes. Your Honour, this picks up at page 10 of the

17 witness statement. And for one purpose, we'll go to the notes which are

18 at tab 4 of Exhibit 359, although they are best viewed turning the binder

19 around sideways, I'm afraid.

20 Q. If we turn to the first meeting with Pujic, and if you have any

21 inability to remember who he is, his role is given in the first page of

22 your handwritten notes on tab 4. We needn't display these on the overhead

23 projector at the moment. He was, I think -- you tell us what position

24 Pujic had.

25 A. I'm sorry I don't quite hear what you're saying.

Page 14268

1 Q. What position did Pujic hold, General Pujic?

2 A. In my notes, I have here that he was in charge of civil defence.

3 Q. And the other man whom you met on that occasion was Petkovic?

4 A. Petkovic, an assistant in the legal department, and

5 Lieutenant-General Vojvodic, head of the medical services. These are not,

6 I think, their formal titles but the way in which they described their

7 activities.

8 Q. In the course of the discussions with them, did you hand over the

9 letter that we have been reviewing?

10 A. Yes, we did.

11 Q. In the course of those discussions, did they or one or other of

12 them have something to say about Mesic and Markovic? Do you remember? It

13 doesn't matter if you don't.

14 A. I have here in my notes that they claim that Mr. Mesic and

15 Mr. Markovic were lackeys of the European community and eager to dissolve

16 Yugoslavia.

17 MR. NICE: Now as to summarise the notes, which are in

18 handwriting, the Chamber may actually find it easier to follow page 11 of

19 the witness statement for all purposes bar one.

20 Q. Ms. Laber, was their reaction to what you were saying, and indeed

21 to the letter, summarised in this way: The Croats organised terror

22 against Serb populations, that it was the Croats who used propaganda, that

23 there were no paramilitaries under the Yugoslav army, that the army would

24 investigate any crime brought to its attention, that the army was there as

25 a buffer to protect Serbs from genocide, that Croatian paramilitaries were

Page 14269

1 removing a third of the population. You were then given two examples

2 where the JNA had charged individuals for crimes. You were told that

3 300.000 Serbs had fled, of which 160.000 were in Serbia. In discussions

4 about Vukovar, you were told that Croatian soldiers were disguised as

5 doctors. You were told that the army is searching for the -- was

6 searching for the disappeared in an organised way. You were told that in

7 Dubrovnik -- we didn't look at the passage in the letter but there was a

8 specific complaint about Dubrovnik in the letter. You were told that in

9 Dubrovnik, the army had used heavy weapons, but so had the Croats; and it

10 was asserted that the Croats had received arms from Germany.

11 Were those some of the matters that were said to you in the course

12 of this meeting?

13 A. Yes. These were -- this is, I think, a very accurate

14 representation of what appears in my notes.

15 Q. There's only one additional point, that if you would turn to the

16 last page of your notes, which has got a handwritten '35' on the top

17 right-hand corner - and the Judges will be able to follow this as the last

18 entry - is there an entry in relation to Kosovo which reads as follows --

19 Perhaps you would be good enough to read it for me. I could read it but

20 it's better coming from you because it's in your hand. Starting,

21 "Increased presence of police..."

22 A. Is this page 36 of my notes?

23 Q. It should be, I think, 35.

24 A. 35, sorry.

25 Q. Bottom right-hand corner.

Page 14270












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Page 14271

1 A. Oh, yes. Yes. I was told that the increased presence of the

2 police in Kosovo was the decision of the federal government, which saw the

3 possibility of civil war there. I'm not quite sure which -- whoever was

4 speaking to me at the time said: "I'm personally against such measures,

5 but it's keeping the peace," implying that the situation there was not a

6 good one.

7 Q. How did that meeting end? With any resolution, amicably or not,

8 or with the promise of anything to come?

9 A. We ended the meeting asking them to read in detail - of course

10 they had not had a chance to at that point - the abuses that were

11 documented in our lengthy letter, and to get back to us with their

12 response.

13 Q. You then had another meeting, as you've already told us. With

14 whom was that?

15 A. We also met with representatives of the foreign ministry.

16 Q. Do you remember their names at this stage?

17 A. It's in my witness statement. I don't have it in front of me.

18 Q. If I can remind you from the witness statement, if that's

19 acceptable to the Chamber, was one a Dr. Micunovic, and second one -- do

20 you have the statement, it's on page 11 in the middle of the page.

21 A. Yes, of course. It was with a Dr. Micunovic, and a certain

22 Mr. Kostujnica. Kostujnica, I guess you would pronounce it.

23 Q. Do you know one way or another if there's any connection with the

24 -- no, perhaps not.

25 Let's move on.

Page 14272

1 MR. NICE: But before I do, the Chamber will appreciate that in

2 the statement, various passages of the letter, some the same as, some

3 different from those that I have identified, are set out. It didn't seem

4 to be helpful to duplicate material that you will have seen elsewhere

5 summarised.

6 Q. Safe to say, as I have just done, that in the letter you dealt

7 specifically not only with Vukovar and Osijek but also with Dubrovnik, I

8 think. Is that correct? Ms. Laber, you dealt also with Dubrovnik in the

9 letter?

10 A. Yes, we did.

11 Q. Very well. When you returned from these meetings, did you

12 publicise your conclusions?

13 A. The letter was released to the press in Belgrade as well as in the

14 United States, and it was very -- my recollection is that it was very

15 widely covered, I believe in Borba and, if I remember, the London Times,

16 the Washington Post, the New York Times, and probably a number of other

17 wire services and so forth. We met individually with certain

18 correspondents in Belgrade, and we also held a press conference there

19 which was very well attended at which we released the contents of the

20 letter. And also told the press that we were releasing a similar letter

21 in very short time to the president of Croatia.

22 Q. In case it hasn't yet been covered in evidence, the political or

23 philosophical orientation of the paper Borba, do you know what that was?

24 A. I believe it was the official newspaper of the government of

25 Serbia.

Page 14273

1 Q. Move on, then, to the next event: Did you receive reports in New

2 York of the execution of Croatian prisoners in Bac and Vojvodina?

3 A. Yes, we did.

4 Q. Turn now to tab 5, with the usher's assistance, and we'll just

5 place the letter concerned on the overhead projector. Did this lead to

6 your sending a letter dated the 4th of February --

7 A. That's correct.

8 Q. -- to the same two addressees, the accused and Adzic, the acting

9 Minister of Defence and Chief of Staff? And did that letter read as

10 follows -- if you've got it there in tab 5: "Helsinki Watch has received

11 reports that eight Croatian prisoners were executed in Bac, Vojvodina

12 several days ago and that five individuals were to have been executed at

13 1800 on February 3rd. We respectfully request that you investigate and

14 respond to such reports as soon as possible. Insofar as such reports are

15 accurate, we call upon the Serbian government and Yugoslav People's Army

16 to cease immediately all extrajudicial executions of prisoners and to

17 punish those responsible for such acts. Particularly concerned about the

18 fate of those who were arrested and remain missing from Vukovar.

19 International law strictly forbids the summary execution, mutilation, or

20 torture of civilians and disarmed combatants, including prisoners.

21 Helsinki Watch has documented 14 cases in which Serbian paramilitary

22 groups and Yugoslav army officers have summarily executed over 200

23 civilians and disarmed combatants. We have documented other incidents of

24 human rights violations by Serbian and Yugoslav forces in a letter which

25 was delivered to you January the 23rd. We await your response and urge

Page 14274

1 you to respect your obligations under international law."

2 So that letter went on its own account and also as a reminder of

3 the previous letter. Were you ever in a position one way or another to

4 confirm or reject the allegations that lay behind that letter, the

5 allegations of execution?

6 A. We did not personal -- we did not -- these were allegations that

7 we did not personally have the ability to confirm. We hoped to receive

8 some response from the addressees of this letters which we also copied to

9 the people we had met in our previous meeting, but we did not receive a

10 specific response to it.

11 Q. However, did you in due course receive a response? You can find

12 it on tab 6 in a particular format, but the Chamber may find it easier to

13 read on page 12 of the witness statement where it's set out in full. What

14 we are looking at, Ms. Laber, on tab 6 is a copy of a letter sent to you,

15 and it was published in a newspaper, and it just is unfortunate that the

16 original version has not been retrieved or may indeed have been mislaid

17 from your offices.

18 A. We cannot find it, yes.

19 Q. The letter comes from someone called Goran Milinovic, of whom we

20 have already heard something, the chef de cabinet of the accused. It's

21 dated the 11th of February, and it reads: "Concerning the letter sent to

22 the president of the Republic of Serbia, Mr. Slobodan Milosevic, by the US

23 Helsinki Watch committee on January the 21st, we want to inform you as

24 follows: The places in which the mentioned crimes were committed are not

25 within the territory of the Republic of Serbia, therefore, the Republic is

Page 14275

1 not competent for nor involved in such acts in any way. Consequently, the

2 Republic of Serbia cannot be responsible for that.

3 "The president of the Republic of Serbia asked the competent

4 organs of the Republic of Serbia to investigate the abuses enumerated in

5 your letter, and if any of the citizens of the Republic of Serbia

6 participated in those crimes, they will be brought to justice."

7 What did this letter reveal to you by way of receipt of your

8 letter and the authority of the accused?

9 A. Well, first of all, it revealed that the letter had been received

10 and it was a response. Secondly, it said that the Republic of Serbia

11 would take responsibility for any crimes committed by its citizens in any

12 of the territories of the Federal Republic.

13 Q. Before I move on to the next document that acknowledges receipt of

14 your letter, there's something I meant to do just before the last passage

15 of evidence in order that things could be dealt with chronologically. And

16 if the Chamber would be good enough and if you would be good enough to go

17 to tab 9, in February of 1992, and indeed, on the 13th of February, did

18 you send a letter to President Tudjman? In fact, I'm completely right

19 chronologically, but more by good fortune, and immediately follows Goran

20 Milinovic's reply. Tab 9 is the letter you sent to the president of

21 Croatia, the late President Tudjman.

22 A. That is correct.

23 Q. And the Chamber can find reference to this in the witness

24 statement, if it wishes to, at page 14. I'm not going to deal with the

25 letter in great length at all for, obvious reasons. But if we can see

Page 14276

1 from the way the letter is phrased, on the first page where he is

2 addressed, "Dear President: The Helsinki Watch committee is deeply

3 concerned by reports of serious human rights abuses by forces responsible

4 to the Croatian government and by individual extremists in Croatia. Our

5 own investigations of these reports, conducted during a series of

6 fact-finding missions to Croatia in the past year, indicate that many of

7 these reports are well-founded. We call upon you to investigate the

8 abuses enumerated in this letter and to punish those responsible for

9 them."

10 You then, going to page 2 - we can display all this swiftly so

11 that people may see it - you deal with summary executions of civilians,

12 and you identify Karlovac, and you put some names to the victims. On page

13 4, you turn to Gospic. On 6, Marino Selo in Pakrac, again identifying

14 deaths. And so on.

15 The letter concludes, on page 44 and 45, with -- 44, you're

16 welcoming the Croatian government's efforts to investigate reports of

17 human rights abuses. And page 46 -- 45 and 46, what you were calling upon

18 the Croatian government to do.

19 So in this letter, in some ways mirroring the letter to the

20 accused, were you pursuing Helsinki Watch's practice of being even-handed

21 and addressing all human rights abuses you found?

22 A. We most definitely were.

23 Q. On this occasion, although you weren't present yourself, was it

24 possible for your staff member to meet the president?

25 A. Two members of our staff did meet with President Tudjman and

Page 14277

1 delivered the letter in person. Also, with other members of his

2 government.

3 Q. With what protestations by him or his government as to future

4 action?

5 A. They said that they would look into the abuses that we detailed,

6 and in fact I believe they made specific efforts in the Karlovac case and

7 also in Gospic. Not to our complete satisfaction, but at least some

8 effort was made to find the people guilty of the crimes and to prosecute

9 them.

10 Q. Let's return chronologically to your dialogue, insofar as it was,

11 with Serbia and the accused. Tab 7, please. Did you receive from the

12 Republic of Serbia a long letter, tab 7, dated the 18th of March, 1992?

13 A. Yes, we did.

14 Q. Again, I'm simply not even going to think of going through all of

15 it or anything like, but we can see its general shape. Before we do that,

16 let's see by whom it was signed. On the last page, page 25, it's the

17 Deputy Prime Minister who provided it. Is that correct?

18 A. That's correct.

19 Q. The first page, which can perhaps go on the overhead projector,

20 addressed to your premises in New York, says: "We would like to make the

21 following comments on your report which alleges serious human rights

22 abuses by the Serbian government." Was this, as you understood it, the

23 letter that you had delivered in the way you've described?

24 A. Yes, it was.

25 Q. "While welcoming in principle," the letter says, "the endeavour by

Page 14278












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13 English transcripts.













Page 14279

1 Helsinki Watch to establish the truth about the reported violations of the

2 laws of war and humanitarian law, to which the government of the Republic

3 of Serbia wishes to make its contribution, we must at the same time

4 express surprise that you consider the government of the Republic of

5 Serbia to be responsible for such abuses in the Croatian conflict.

6 "There are no grounds for your allegations because the military

7 operations in Croatia were conducted by members of the regular Yugoslav

8 People's Army and by the local Serbian population who were compelled by

9 the actions of Croatia's secessionist government to take up arms in

10 self-defence. As you have been told during your stay in Belgrade, the

11 government of the Republic of Serbia has not been involved in any way in

12 organising volunteer units, not in the territory of the Republic of

13 Serbia, and certainly not in the territory of Croatia."

14 Pausing there, this twin defence that it was another military

15 body, nothing to do with Serbia, and/or there was no crimes because they

16 were compelled to act by a dint of Croatia's secessionist government's

17 moves, were those things you necessarily ever accepted?

18 A. Your question was were these --

19 Q. Were these defences to your letter things you accepted or not?

20 A. No, we did not accept them, and the letter does take up many of

21 the points in our letter and, of course, expresses the Serbian

22 government's position. Our impression at the time was that the Yugoslav

23 army did not operate without the cooperation, let's put it, in the

24 collaboration of the Serbian government, in particular of President

25 Milosevic, and that its role, as it says itself in many places, was there

Page 14280

1 to defend the Serb minority, not to keep the peace.

2 Q. Just look a few passages on the long letter, again it being

3 available for reading in full by the parties and by the Chamber should it

4 so decide. On page 2 - and the page numbers are at the top of these pages

5 - and what is paragraph 3, we see this assertion by the writer: "That

6 there can be no doubt that the prevention of violations of humanitarian

7 law is a sacred duty and obligation incumbent upon every honest person and

8 particularly upon members of the armed forces." And goes on to say how

9 crimes are wholly inexcusable.

10 Over the page, to page 3, paragraph 4: "One would expect an

11 international organisation with such a high reputation and experience as

12 Helsinki Watch to be aware of this, assuming that the intention with which

13 this report was compiled was to assign responsibility for abuses and to

14 prevent future violation of humanitarian law, we cannot help but be

15 surprised by the manner in which the report has been drawn up. The report

16 casts some allegations that cast serious doubt on the motives of those who

17 prepared it." So that gives something of the drift of the report.

18 If you could turn to page 5, dealing with Vukovar, and just part

19 of the way it deals with Vukovar, it says, halfway down page 5, picking it

20 up in the centre of the paragraph, to save time: "It is quite another

21 matter that perfectly healthy individuals, some of whom were even armed,

22 were discovered among the sick and wounded in the Vukovar hospital where

23 they certainly had no right to be. The claim that more than 200 members

24 of the hospital staff were captured and removed to Serbian detention

25 centres is just as unfounded. All the personnel from the Vukovar

Page 14281

1 hospital, except for the minimum number needed to care for the sick, were

2 transported at their own wish to Croatia with a group of 5.000 citizens of

3 Vukovar after the liberation of Vukovar by the Yugoslav People's Army.

4 The list of names of persons described by the Croatian side as hospital

5 staff contained individuals who have never been anything of the kind.

6 Karlo Crk, one of the directors of the Vupik company of Vukovar, took

7 refuge in the Vukovar hospital and disguised himself as a hospital

8 employee with the intention of concealing his identity."

9 Then if we move, just to get the shape of the denial letter, to

10 page 7, the first fresh paragraph deals with alleged human rights in

11 Vojvodina, and then goes on to assert that ethnic Hungarians had full

12 rights.

13 If we go on to page 10, turning to Kosovo at the foot of page 10,

14 last paragraph on page 10: "The constitution of the Republic of Serbia

15 guarantees the autonomous province of Kosovo and Metohija a form of

16 territorial autonomy in keeping with the special ethnic historical,

17 cultural and other attributes of that region. By the same token, the

18 Serbian constitution, the republic's highest instrument, ensures the

19 citizens of Kosovo and Metohija the right through their representative

20 bodies, the provincial parliament and provincial government, to administer

21 matters having to do with economic development and financing, culture,

22 education, the use of language, health, et cetera."

23 It then goes on to deal with the asserted position of Albanians in

24 Kosovo generally, and at such length that I won't read it out. But if we

25 go to page 12, the second paragraph, the assertion: "This brief

Page 14282

1 review..." Page 12, second paragraph. Thank you. "This brief review

2 clearly shows that the Albanian national minority has rights which far

3 exceed accepted international standards. It was a long time before the

4 domestic and foreign public finally realised that it is the plan for the

5 secession of Kosovo and Metohija from Serbia that lies behind the

6 dissatisfaction with ethnic Albanian national rights."

7 And a couple more paragraphs, but if we go to page 13, again, how

8 things are expressed: "The report completely overlooks the disloyalty of

9 the ethnic Albanian minority to their home state of Serbia. It ignores

10 the illegal nature of the activities and actions directed against the

11 constitutional order and against the territorial integrity and sovereignty

12 of the Republic of Serbia. The illegal proclamation of an independent

13 Republic of Kosovo receives no mention whatsoever in the report, even

14 though it is a flagrant example of the impermissible abuse of minority

15 rights for the purpose of achieving secessionist aims. The problems in

16 Kosovo and Metohija can be attributed not to a failure to acknowledge

17 human rights according to standards, but rather to the abuse of those

18 rights and systematic refusal to exercise them. The purpose of such

19 unconstitutional behaviour is to make the ethnic Albanian minority appear

20 the victim of alleged discrimination and persecution on the part of Serbia

21 in order to win over the sympathy of a foreign public opinion for

22 secessionist and separatist aims directed against the Republic of Serbia."

23 JUDGE MAY: Mr. Nice, you know, this going back to Kosovo may not

24 be very helpful at this stage in the proceeding.

25 MR. NICE: Your Honour --

Page 14283

1 JUDGE MAY: We are going back into the history of Kosovo, which we

2 spent some time during the Kosovo phase of the trial. And in fact, we

3 were restricting, if you remember, the examination on that topic about

4 events this far back.

5 MR. NICE: Your Honour, yes. But of course it has always been our

6 case that there is an integrated nature to the case as a whole, and that

7 one topic and another are helpfully to be seen one beside the other. And

8 with this witness, the witness has, of course, the experience of viewing

9 all the relevant areas - not Bosnia, but the relevant areas of Croatia and

10 Kosovo - before the conflict, and it seemed to me that her views on and

11 the material she received about Kosovo before the conflict would be of

12 value to you. But I've come almost completely to the end of what I was

13 going to say about Kosovo, apart from one particular passage which I hope

14 the Chamber would find of value, at page 20. It is -- it may be the only

15 concession made in the letter.

16 You can see on page 20 at paragraph 11 where the writer refers to

17 the allegations of abuses of the Serbian misdemeanour law and the

18 so-called verbal crimes, saying that it should be recalled that the clause

19 regulating the topic had been expunged and then does say this: "There

20 were some mistakes made in Kosovo and Metohija, as mentioned in the

21 report. This problem will be eliminated with the enforcement of uniform

22 laws throughout the Republic."

23 Q. If we can then go Ms. Laber, just to the conclusion of the letter,

24 which we find on page 24, notwithstanding -- at the foot of the page:

25 "Notwithstanding all the objections that could be made to the report,

Page 14284

1 please rest assured that the competent judicial authorities will do

2 everything in their power to do their duty and investigate the other

3 allegations contained in the report which at present, because of the

4 well-known situation in Yugoslavia, cannot be reliably authenticated. We

5 would like to mention for your information that in the meantime a decision

6 has been taken at the federal level on the creation, powers, and

7 composition of a commission to investigate war crimes and crimes of

8 genocide perpetrated against the population of Serbia and other

9 nationality during the armed conflict in Croatia and other parts of the

10 country." And it assures you, at the end, of the Serbian government's

11 intention to do everything to help.

12 This letter, then, essentially what was it? A denial of the

13 allegations that you had made?

14 A. It was essentially a denial, but it also was an acceptance of

15 responsibility and a commitment to look into the allegations we made, and

16 also to establish its own humanitarian and war crimes commission.

17 Q. We saw that it was indeed critical of your body as well.

18 A. Sorry?

19 Q. It was critical of your organisation --

20 A. It was certainly critical of our information, although it did not

21 specifically criticise the organisation.

22 Q. Were there any consequences in the form of arrests made by the

23 authorities pursuant to your lengthy and very detailed letter?

24 A. None that I know of. The main follow-up was the establishment of

25 the state commission on war and genocide crimes, which -- I'm jumping

Page 14285

1 ahead here to the next exhibit.

2 Q. Yes.

3 A. But I think this was -- I think this letter was the beginning of

4 an attempt by the Serbian government, a public relations attempt, to

5 counter its bad image that it was getting not just from our criticisms but

6 criticisms that were appearing from other organisations and in the press

7 at that time. And as was the establishment of this new commission.

8 Q. Of course, this letter that we've seen comes from the Deputy Prime

9 Minister. It's responsive to a letter that was quite specifically

10 addressed to the accused and also to Adzic and in respect of which you had

11 already received one reply from the chef de cabinet of the accused.

12 A. That is correct.

13 Q. Let's now turn to the state commission for war and genocide

14 crimes, but briefly, in tab 8, the last tab we need consider; the only

15 outstanding tab. We saw how the objectives of the commission were

16 identified in the previous letter. This letter comes, September 1992, to

17 you. And its setting can be understood in the first paragraph on the

18 first page, first and second paragraphs.

19 One, we've established -- "Since our letter, we informed you that

20 the state commission for war and genocide crimes has been established. We

21 have not had contacts with Helsinki Watch. In my opinion, exchange of

22 information between us would be mutually beneficial for the purpose of

23 establishing the true facts." And a truthful account of genocide crimes

24 in the area of Konjic, Herzegovina, to which I am referring herein, is an

25 illustrative example. And the writer, who we can see in a few minutes'

Page 14286












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Page 14287

1 time, goes on to say: "The Helsinki Watch report War Crimes in

2 Bosnia-Hercegovina, 12th of August 1992 -" which we haven't troubled the

3 Chamber with - "mentions among many other crimes that approximately 3.000

4 Serbian civilians were held hostage in a tunnel near Sarajevo by Bosnian

5 forces in late May near Konjic, noting that they have since been

6 released."

7 Now, the letter, is this right, Ms. Laber, goes on to deal with a

8 view of the suffering of those Serbs in very great detail and with

9 reference to evidence obtained?

10 A. That's correct. Actually, in this letter, he's responding to yet

11 another report of ours which deals not with the conflict in Croatia but

12 war crimes in Bosnia-Herzegovina.

13 Q. Quite, yes. As I said, the report we haven't troubled the Chamber

14 with.

15 A. Right.

16 Q. The point I want you to confirm is that this report, when it

17 concerns suffering by Serbs, is detailed and appears to reflect the

18 ability to talk to witnesses and so on?

19 A. That's correct.

20 Q. And we see on the last page of the report how it's concluded.

21 Perhaps the second-to-last page first, page 8, foot of the page, last

22 paragraph: "I believe the facts given above can give Helsinki Watch a

23 full picture of the factual situation regarding the crime of genocide in

24 the Konjic area," then a narrative of the number allegedly killed and how.

25 And then on the following page, page 9: "We are at your disposal

Page 14288

1 for additional explanations. This was an example to indicate the

2 usefulness of mutual exchange. Please send me a copy of your findings on

3 the destruction of Serb villages and offer of the facts on Western

4 Slavonia," and then signed by the secretary to the commission, Dr. Milan

5 Bulajic and copied to the UN Secretary-General, United States President

6 Special Rapporteur, and various ministers of the former Yugoslavia.

7 You accepted, did you, throughout, that crimes were committed by

8 all sides?

9 A. Did we accept that? Of course we did. But I note here that

10 although this commission was set up to investigate crimes against all

11 nationalities, the letter deals exclusively with crimes against the Serbs,

12 people of Serbian nationality. And I had several further contacts with

13 Dr. Bulajic. He came to visit me in my office in New York, and in January

14 of 1992, I went to Belgrade and interviewed victims that his commission

15 produced for us to see. They were women who had been raped in -- by

16 Croats or Muslims. I was doing an investigation of rape at that time in

17 all of the areas, and the witnesses that I interviewed in Belgrade were

18 all Serbs.

19 Q. Finally, please, from the materials we've looked at and from your

20 experience generally, what can you say about whether your reports on this

21 general conflict were seen and reviewed, taken seriously and analysed by

22 those in authority? What can you say about whether your reports were seen

23 and reviewed by those in authority in the former Yugoslavia?

24 A. It seems to me that these reports were seen and reviewed,

25 especially because we received these responses, these written responses.

Page 14289

1 It has been my experience in general, because I work in -- our work

2 covered many other countries besides the former Yugoslavia, that even when

3 we receive no response, the governments are listening.

4 Q. As to your allegations made against the accused in your letter and

5 in your reports, did you ever receive any information to indicate that

6 those complaints had been acted on in any serious way?

7 A. That it has been acted on, you say?

8 Q. Whether they had been acted on by the accused or --

9 A. I don't -- we did not see any significant response to try to

10 prevent -- either prevent future abuses from taking place or to punish

11 those who were responsible for the ones that we documented.

12 Q. Thank you very much. Wait there, you'll be asked some further

13 questions.

14 JUDGE MAY: Yes, Mr. Milosevic.

15 I think it may be just as well if the exhibits stay with the

16 witnesses, no doubt there are going to be questions about them.

17 THE WITNESS: I'm sorry, I didn't hear what you said.

18 JUDGE MAY: It's all right; it was for the usher. Yes.

19 Cross-examined by Mr. Milosevic:

20 MR. MILOSEVIC: [Interpretation]

21 Q. Mrs. Laber, at the beginning of your statement and interview

22 between the 4th and 7th of March, 2002, you said that the witnesses and

23 victims who gave statements to Human Rights Watch did so confidentially

24 and that their testimony was conveyed in the documents and that you were

25 protecting their security. Is that right?

Page 14290

1 A. In many cases, that is correct.

2 Q. In most cases, or in all the cases that you mention here? I will

3 read out to you what you wrote here. [Previous translation continues...]

4 [In English]: "Safety of victims and witnesses who have provided Helsinki

5 Watch, now Human Rights Watch, with first-hand accounts of their

6 victimisation based on their experience and/or observation, the majority

7 of witnesses have given their testimonies in confidence."

8 [Interpretation] Is that right?

9 A. That is correct. It was our policy, in order to -- these people

10 had experienced very traumatic events and were worried about their future

11 safety, and we assured them that we would not use their names, although in

12 many cases we had their names. We gave them pseudonyms.

13 Q. In that connection, does Human Rights Watch have the data on these

14 alleged victims and witnesses, and still more importantly, is it possible

15 to get in touch with those people?

16 A. The data exists in our files. I think it would not be

17 appropriate, and probably also impossible at this point, to get in touch

18 with those victims.

19 Q. Does that mean that any possibility of obtaining clarifications

20 and additional information from those persons is not possible? And does

21 that mean that this institution needs to decide and rule on the basis of

22 statements given by anonymous persons?

23 JUDGE MAY: That, I think, sounds like a matter of comment.

24 You've heard what the witness has said in answer to your question, that it

25 would not be appropriate and also impossible to get in touch with the

Page 14291

1 victims. So that's her answer, and any conclusion to be drawn from that

2 will be a matter for us.

3 If you want to add anything, Ms. Laber --

4 THE WITNESS: I can just add that there has been, as we all know,

5 a tremendous movement of peoples within the territories that we are

6 discussing, therefore to just find the people that we interviewed would be

7 probably a physical impossibility.

8 THE ACCUSED: [Interpretation] Mr. May, if it's not a question for

9 the witness, then it's a question to you: Regardless of the fact that I

10 consider you an illegal institution, do you professionally believe that

11 you can decide on the basis of statements by anonymous persons?

12 JUDGE MAY: A point you frequently make. No need to make it

13 again, we've heard you say it so often. Now, as far as the evidence is

14 concerned, you can ask the witness questions about her reports. Any

15 conclusions we draw from the reports are a matter for us. You will have

16 your chance, if you want to address us on it, what conclusions to draw.

17 Now, ask the witness some questions if you want to.

18 THE ACCUSED: [Interpretation] Very well. But the question is in

19 fact whether the witness believes, in view of the organisation she belongs

20 to, that this institution is unable to provide appropriate protection to

21 alleged victims and witnesses and preserve the confidentiality of their

22 statements.

23 JUDGE MAY: That's not relevant. You've heard the answers which

24 she has given, that it's not possible now. Now, we're dealing with

25 reports. We have that in mind, so there's no need to labour the point.

Page 14292

1 We're dealing with reports. If you want to ask the witness about them,

2 you can, but the sources of them are not available.

3 THE ACCUSED: [Interpretation] Very well.

4 MR. MILOSEVIC: [Interpretation]

5 Q. Then please tell me, Ms. Laber, who made the decision that the

6 persons that you and your colleagues informed or received information from

7 should remain anonymous? Or more precisely, is there a court ruling about

8 that, or was that an initiative on your own part or the practice of your

9 organisation, a decision that you yourself took?

10 A. Mr. Milosevic, you should understand that when these reports were

11 being compiled, we had no notion whatsoever that there would be a court,

12 an indictment, or that our evidence would be used in testimony. We were

13 trying to stop the killings that were taking place at that time, we were

14 trying to elicit the cooperation of your government and the other

15 governments involved to bring an end to this warfare and to the abuses

16 that we documented.

17 The witnesses that we interviewed at the time were in real danger.

18 Many of them were refugees, they were in camps. They had no idea where

19 their future would take them, whether they would be repatriated, taken out

20 of the country, punished for what they said. They were frightened people,

21 and the way to get them to talk was to assure them that their names would

22 not be used.

23 Q. We're talking about witnesses. As for the efforts of Serbia and

24 my own personal efforts for the war to end and peace to be restored, they

25 are well known, but that is not the subject of your testimony. My

Page 14293

1 question is if those alleged witnesses and victims are accessible. Is it

2 justifiable to violate the principle of directness of proceedings and

3 having the possibility of those victims themselves and persons --

4 JUDGE MAY: None of this is for the witness. This is for the

5 Court to determine. It's to do with the admissibility and weight of

6 evidence and it's a matter which we shall determine, as we have done.

7 Now, you can ask the witness about her reports, by all means. But ask a

8 factual and concrete question rather than these speculations.

9 THE ACCUSED: [Interpretation] I'm asking Ms. Laber precisely

10 questions related to her work, since the witness is aware of the principle

11 of direct testimony --

12 JUDGE MAY: No, Mr. Milosevic. We're wasting time here. If you

13 want to continue with this examination, you must move on to questions

14 which are relevant and admissible. So far, you haven't asked one. Now,

15 let's move on.

16 THE ACCUSED: [Interpretation] That is precisely the question,

17 Mr. May: Would Human Rights Watch, of which Ms. Laber is an executive

18 director, she is familiar with the policies of her organisation and their

19 criteria, would Human Rights Watch condemn such a practice of violating

20 the principle of direct evidence in other proceedings, in other cases and

21 situations?

22 JUDGE MAY: No, it's a question about hearsay evidence and that's

23 a matter for us. If you want to ask any questions, time is going, and if

24 you don't ask relevant questions, you'll be stopped altogether.

25 THE ACCUSED: [Interpretation] I have very many questions because

Page 14294












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Page 14295

1 very many issues have been raised here, Mr. May, as you are well aware.

2 MR. MILOSEVIC: [Interpretation]

3 Q. Ms. Laber, do you personally know well Kenneth Anderson who

4 coordinated with you the report dated January 1991, Ivana Nizich and

5 Jemima Rone [phoen], the authors of the reports of September 1991?

6 A. Yes, I do. I know them all quite well. They were all members of

7 my staff.

8 Q. And Ivana Nizich, is she an investigator of this Office of the

9 Prosecutor?

10 A. She was not at the time that she worked for us.

11 Q. Do you know whether she is now?

12 A. She is not at this time either, but she did at some point serve as

13 an investigator for the Tribunal.

14 Q. And can we then conclude that, in addition to presenting facts

15 that you yourself established through interviews that you conducted, are

16 also making assertions reached by persons you don't know well or you don't

17 know at all on the basis of their conversations with third persons,

18 alleged victims and witnesses of unknown identity to us here?

19 A. Excuse me, but I don't understand who these persons I don't know

20 well are. I just said that the three people who you mentioned by name are

21 people who worked on the staff of Human Rights Watch. I personally

22 recruited Mr. Anderson. He was a consultant to our organisation. He

23 worked with a very prominent law firm in New York City at the time. I

24 hired Ivana Nizich when she was -- had just finished her graduate studies

25 at Columbia University and had worked for no one else before she came to

Page 14296

1 Human Rights Watch. What she did after she left us is another story, but

2 at the time that she worked for us, all of her experience was gained in

3 our employ, and I personally trained her as an impartial and professional

4 investigator of human rights abuses.

5 Q. As you said, you were a specialist for the Soviet Union. You were

6 trained as such, that is, the Russian Institute at Columbia University.

7 What were the other persons who worked for Human Rights Watch, in terms of

8 their educational background, and do you know all of them?

9 A. Are you talking about the three people you named by name or the

10 entire staff of Human Rights Watch?

11 Q. No. Since I assume that those three persons were not the only

12 persons involved in all your reports. You had quite a large organisation

13 so I assume you used the services of persons that you didn't know as well.

14 A. No, I used the -- all the people who worked for me are people I

15 knew and knew quite well. The staff of Human Rights Watch, which at this

16 time is probably close to 200 people, but at that time was considerably

17 smaller, consisted of regional specialists, people who knew the language

18 and the political and cultural traditions of the country that they were

19 dealing with, many lawyers who were trained in international law and in

20 techniques of investigation, and people with writing abilities and people

21 with investigatory skills. These were the people we looked for when we

22 hired people. This is what made up our staff. Everyone on our staff was

23 someone I know, at the time that I was with the organisation, I knew

24 personally and most of them I knew quite well.

25 Q. And did each of these mentioned persons work as a judge or were

Page 14297

1 they trained for that profession? Were they qualified to take statements

2 in legal proceedings before courts?

3 A. These people were trained as investigators, not as judges. We

4 trained them -- many of them had training in law school before they came

5 to work for us, but everyone went through a training procedure within the

6 organisation. We made sure that they understood what was a violation of

7 the laws of war, what war crimes against humanity, what sorts of things to

8 look for when they were in the field, what techniques to use when they

9 were interviewing witnesses, how to corroborate evidence, how to be

10 impartial and look for crimes on all sides and not to just take one

11 person's story as being the truth.

12 And all this was pretty much standardised. We had training

13 sessions for people before they went out into the field, and we never sent

14 anyone into the field who wasn't accompanied by -- someone new into the

15 field who wasn't accompanied by someone who was professionally

16 experienced.

17 Q. But you know, according to the laws in force in your country and

18 well-established practice in other countries, attorneys and consultants,

19 counsel, do not take statements in proceedings. So my question is --

20 JUDGE MAY: Is the premise true? I've never heard of any such

21 statement. I don't know where you get it from, Mr. Milosevic. Attorneys

22 taking -- well, we'll ask the witness.

23 In your experience, Ms. Laber, do attorneys take statements from

24 witnesses in the United States?

25 THE WITNESS: I believe that's their job.

Page 14298

1 JUDGE MAY: Yes. Next question.

2 MR. MILOSEVIC: [Interpretation]

3 Q. Since you're involved in human rights, so you know what the right

4 to a fair trial means, would you say that a fair trial would be one in

5 which the authenticity of statements of alleged witnesses were to be

6 assessed not by a court but by some third party?

7 THE INTERPRETER: I'm sorry, the microphone has been switched off.

8 JUDGE MAY: Mr. Milosevic, you're going back to the same

9 questions. It's not for the witness to judge what is a fair trial and

10 what is not. It's for us. It has nothing to do with her evidence. Now,

11 we have your point and there's no need to go over it. These reports are

12 based on the statements of persons who not giving evidence. They are

13 hearsay. You know quite well we admit hearsay here. As to the weight of

14 it, it's for us to decide.

15 Now if you have no relevant questions for this witness, and it

16 sounds as if you haven't, you're examination will be stopped. Now, go on

17 to some relevant matter which the witness can deal with rather than

18 comment of this sort.

19 MR. MILOSEVIC: [Interpretation]

20 Q. All right, a very concrete question, then. Do you consider that

21 you, Kenneth Anderson, Ivana Nizich, Jemima Rone are able to assess the

22 statements of witnesses and victims in the same way as judges of legal

23 courts are able to do? Is that your assessment?

24 A. That was not our -- our intent was -- we were not conducting a

25 criminal trial when we assessed their statements. We were trying to

Page 14299

1 determine the facts of a situation that was quite horrendous, in which

2 people were being killed. And we did the best we could to put that

3 evidence together in a way that would be meaningful to the people

4 responsible. My job was to take this evidence, bring it to the attention

5 of government leaders, such as yourself, with a request that something be

6 done to stop future crimes as well as to punish the perpetrators of the

7 crimes that we documented.

8 Q. Very well. So therefore, you endeavoured to draw attention to

9 this, and this brings us to the letters that you commented a moment ago.

10 You say that when you arrived, and this is contained in your own

11 statement, when you arrived in the SFRY in order to hand over the letter

12 to me and Blagoje Adzic, that you had meetings with people from the

13 federal Secretariate of Defence and representatives, as you yourself say,

14 of the Ministry of External Affairs, and you also state that you were

15 received by Dr. Micunovic, Mr. Kostujnica, and that they presented the

16 same official stance as the representatives of the federal Secretariat for

17 National Defence had done for which you yourself say were firm and they

18 put forth some preliminary denials with respect to the fact that the army

19 did not support the paramilitary units. Is that what you said in your

20 statement, words to that effect?

21 A. Yes, it was.

22 Q. Do you know that what you set out in your statement, and you say

23 with the representatives of the Serbian Foreign Ministry and then go on to

24 enumerate those persons, and say that Kostujnica, who is now the president

25 of the Republic, and Dr. Micunovic, the present president of parliament in

Page 14300

1 Yugoslavia --

2 A. I'm not certain that these were the same people, although the

3 names are the same. I don't have first names for either of them.

4 Q. Well, at the time, they were -- there were no others. They were

5 deputies, members of parliament, but not the representatives of the

6 ministries, or rather, the Foreign Affairs Ministry.

7 A. Are you telling me that they misrepresented themselves when I met

8 with them?

9 Q. No, no. I'm not saying that they misrepresented themselves. I

10 don't believe that they would do anything like that. They were deputies

11 in the parliament. That's true. But Kostujnica and Micunovic, I don't

12 think you understood who you were dealing with. That is why I say that

13 what you present here in your statement need not be necessarily correct

14 because, for instance, this is - how shall I put it? - these are very

15 ordinary facts that you represent in a way that is incorrect because

16 neither Kostujnica or Micunovic represented the Foreign Ministry, they

17 were just popular deputies, and in the opposition party at the time at

18 that, the Democratic Party, in fact. And they were all together there in

19 that same party, Micunovic and Kostujnica, members of the same party at

20 the time.

21 So I'm not saying that they misrepresented themselves; they would

22 not do so, they would have no reason to do so. But what I'm saying is

23 perhaps that you misunderstood them and their position, and that is why I

24 am asking you whether you allow for the possibility that you understood

25 certain things incorrectly.

Page 14301

1 JUDGE MAY: Let the witness answer. Let the witness answer this.

2 First of all, is your assertion about the position of these two

3 gentlemen, and then there's the more general point.

4 THE WITNESS: Well, what their actual position in the government

5 or the party was at that time may not have been clear to me, but what they

6 said is very clear to me and what they said appears in my witness

7 statement and in the attached documents. It doesn't change in one way or

8 another what they said, nor did what they say in any way contradict the

9 general views of the government at that time, the Serbian government.

10 MR. MILOSEVIC: [Interpretation]

11 Q. Yes. But you said precisely that they put forward identical

12 stands, the same ones that you heard, the ones you heard previously. And

13 that is contained in the General Staff report where you talked to General

14 Pujic.

15 A. Mm-hmm.

16 Q. And then we're dealing with the fact, which I assume you know- at

17 least now you do - that they were the opposition party, that is to say,

18 adversaries to my policy, and that after takeover of power in the year

19 2000, it was there -- they who illegally handed me over to The Hague here.

20 So if they told you the same thing that --

21 JUDGE MAY: No, Mr. Milosevic. That's nothing to do with the

22 witness. Now what's the point?

23 THE ACCUSED: [Interpretation] If they, therefore, were the

24 representatives of the opposition, prominent representatives, precisely

25 those men who are in power now and who sent me here illegally and

Page 14302












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Page 14303

1 unlawfully at that time --

2 JUDGE MAY: No. I'm going to stop you until you ask a proper

3 question. Now what is your question?

4 MR. MILOSEVIC: [Interpretation]

5 Q. In view of the fact that you had an identical answer from them,

6 the kind of answer that you received from General Pujic that you mention

7 as well, now is that -- when we bear all this in mind, the fact that they

8 are representatives of the opposition party and gave you the same answer,

9 is that sufficient proof and evidence for you that it was a true assertion

10 that was being made because it was being made from two different opposing

11 positions? You got one and the same answer from two different sides. And

12 I'm asking you this because you are researching the facts and your

13 objective is, as you say, to uncover the truth.

14 A. I understand what you're saying now. I don't think that the fact

15 that both parties agree in representing the official Serbian government's

16 position does not in any way change the evidence that we collected on the

17 ground. I fail to see -- and this is an interesting issue for you, that

18 there was agreement on that. It also explains a few of the comments that

19 were made that were not totally within the party line about Mr. Mesic and

20 about being hand in hand with the -- anyway, there were comments that were

21 a little confusing there. But in general, the fact that the Serbian

22 government took a unified front on these issues does not change in any way

23 the evidence that we collected, nor does it indicate that any efforts were

24 made to investigate the crimes that we documented.

25 Q. All right. Ms. Laber, tell me this: Is it a logical error, this

Page 14304

1 one that you made, when you talked to two politicians and received the

2 same answers, that you ranked them straight away as being representatives

3 of --

4 JUDGE MAY: I'm going to stop this. This is your own case which

5 you're trying to argue with the witness. No error, except one you claim

6 to detect, and it seems to me we've finished this point. Let us move on

7 to another one. We've exhausted the topic.

8 Yes, Mr. Tapuskovic, what have you got to add?

9 MR. TAPUSKOVIC: [Interpretation] Your Honours, if I may just

10 explain, I think there's a slip of the tongue here. What we're talking

11 about is that possibly there was an error made along the lines that the

12 witness thought that it was -- she was dealing with representatives of

13 power and authority. They were just deputies and did not represent the

14 Ministry of Foreign Affairs. That's how I understood it and that's where

15 the mistake lay. So she thought she was talking to representatives of the

16 Ministry of Foreign Affairs whereas they were not representatives of the

17 Ministry of Foreign Affairs at the time and that is where this

18 misunderstanding lies, the roots of it.

19 JUDGE MAY: Mr. Tapuskovic, we've heard that, we understood it.

20 Now, let us move on to a new point. Time is limited. No point going over

21 the same ground over and over again. We have the point about these

22 meetings now.

23 Mr. Milosevic, it's five minutes before the break. Move on to

24 something else.

25 MR. MILOSEVIC: [Interpretation]

Page 14305

1 Q. Well, as we're dealing with such a cardinal mistake, if I can put

2 it that way, one that has been noted, do you allow for the fact that this

3 does not correspond to the actual state of affairs, the picture that you

4 wish to paint about the higher standards of exactitude in the work of your

5 organisation?

6 JUDGE MAY: Ms. Laber, if you don't wish to respond to that -- it

7 seems to me a totally pointless point which the accused is trying to blow

8 up. If you wish to respond about accuracy, of course, you can.

9 THE WITNESS: I will certainly stand by the accuracy of my

10 organisation and its investigations. And if anything that we brought to

11 your attention was inaccurate, it was your position to show where our

12 inaccuracies lay. Getting the title or the political position of people

13 we spoke to in your government incorrect, presumably -- we met with them

14 in the Foreign Ministry, I recall that, therefore we assumed that they

15 were members of the Foreign Ministry, I don't think it's a very

16 significant point especially because they said nothing of great

17 significance that changed anything that had been told to us by the other

18 people we met with.

19 MR. MILOSEVIC: [Interpretation]

20 Q. Very well, Ms. Laber. Now, you received an answer, a response,

21 sent to you by my chef de cabinet, Goran Milinovic, and you quoted it

22 here. I don't know whether you quoted the entire letter or the excerpts

23 from the letter. I'm not going to look for the letter now. But what you

24 quoted was sufficient. You say: "In connection with the letter sent to

25 the president by the American Helsinki Watch Committee," et cetera, "we

Page 14306

1 inform you of the following." First of all, the places in which the

2 mentioned crimes took place. And in your extensive letter, you go on to

3 enumerate all sorts of examples and all sorts of different places, from

4 your letter.

5 They are not on territory of the Republic of Serbia. The Republic

6 of Serbia, therefore, is not competent nor involved in any of this

7 procedure. The Republic of Serbia, therefore, cannot be responsible. And

8 the second point, the president of the Republic of Serbia has called on

9 the competent authorities in the Republic of Serbia to investigate the

10 abuses mentioned and set out in your letter, and if any citizen of the

11 Republic of Serbia was the perpetrator of a crime, he will be taken to

12 trial. And this is then signed by my chef de cabinet who sent you this

13 response.

14 Ms. Laber, do you know that in Serbia already at the end of 1992,

15 people were tried for war crimes, individuals were tried, and they were

16 citizens of Serbia and had perpetrated these crimes on the territory of

17 Bosnia and Herzegovina, for example? Are you aware of that?

18 A. I believe we're dealing with a situation in Croatia in this

19 discussion.

20 Q. I'm talking about practice now, in practice. The organs, court

21 organs, the executive power and institutions considered that if a citizen

22 of Serbia were the perpetrator of the crime, a crime regardless of which

23 laws they fall under, if they are crimes under laws which were upheld in

24 Serbia, they must be held accountable. So do you know that these people

25 were tried for war crimes in 1992, as early on as 1992, although there was

Page 14307

1 no war in Serbia at that time? But the organs, respective organs, did

2 come by information that certain citizens had perpetrated crimes and they

3 were taken to court, brought to trial. Do you know about that, are you

4 aware of that? If you don't know about it, just say you don't know and we

5 can move on.

6 A. I don't have any specific information about that at this point. I

7 believe that we are talking, in this letter, about paramilitary forces

8 that came from Serbia into the territory of Croatia, presumably with the

9 cooperation of the Serbian border guards who allowed them to enter and to

10 commit crimes on the territory of Croatia.

11 JUDGE MAY: The time has come to adjourn. It's 12.15. We'll

12 adjourn now for 20 minutes.

13 --- Recess taken at 12.15 p.m.

14 --- On resuming at 12.36 p.m.

15 JUDGE MAY: Mr. Milosevic, we've considered your application about

16 time. We bear in mind that the witness does produce a number of reports,

17 and you should have time to cross-examine on them. The Prosecution were a

18 little under an hour and 40 minutes. We'll allow you two and a half

19 hours, which means you've got two hours remaining.

20 THE ACCUSED: [Interpretation] I think that will be sufficient. I

21 shall do my best to hurry things up.

22 MR. MILOSEVIC: [Interpretation]

23 Q. In your statement on page 11, last paragraph, you say that after

24 returning to New York, that you received reports that eight Croatian

25 prisoners were executed in Bac Vojvodina, the Republic of Serbia. From

Page 14308

1 whom and when did you receive reports to that effect?

2 A. I don't think I can answer that question. The reports came to

3 members of my staff. They were -- as I said in my testimony, we had no

4 opportunity to investigate them ourselves, which is why we sent this

5 letter to you, asking for information.

6 Q. Yes, but then you go on to say that you cannot bear out the

7 assertions with regard to the alleged killing of eight soldiers. You say

8 the following: "I cannot confirm the execution as having occurred. [In

9 English] It will be revealed with further research and evidence seized at

10 the alleged incidents."

11 [Interpretation] Can we consider on that basis that this

12 assertion, this claim made cannot be understood as part of a testimony

13 which you are able to confirm?

14 A. It was a request for information, not an assertion of fact.

15 Q. And did you ever, later on, establish that a case of that kind

16 never took place, that somebody was brought into the territory of Serbia

17 and then killed there by the army, or anybody else for that matter?

18 A. I don't know that we ever were able to get to the bottom of that

19 particular assertion. But we, of course, documented many other cases of

20 killings by all sides.

21 Q. All right. As to other cases, other cases are a different matter,

22 and we can also challenge that. But what I'm asking you about is this

23 particular one. So I assume that it is clear that you cannot confirm this

24 one. Is that right?

25 A. I can confirm that we never received a response one way or another

Page 14309

1 to our request for information.

2 Q. All right. Let's move on. In the report of September 1991, your

3 colleagues state that the Serbs in Croatia were opposed to the provision

4 of the Croatian constitution of 1990, which reads as follows, and then you

5 go on to quote. In your report, it says: "The Republic of Croatia is

6 comprised as a national state of the Croatian people [In English] and all

7 minorities who are citizens of Croatia [Interpretation] and all minorities

8 who are citizens of Croatia," and then you go on to list them. And then

9 you further state the following: "Instead of that, the Serbs, as is

10 stated in that same paragraph of the report, came out in favour of the

11 following formulation," and then you say: "The Serb formulation, the

12 Republic of Croatia, is comprised as a national state of the Croatian and

13 Serbian peoples and all other nationalities," and so on and so forth.

14 That's what it says in the report. That is not disputed, isn't

15 that right, Ms. Laber?

16 A. You're right. We were just trying to express the point of view of

17 the people of the region.

18 Q. Very well. And is it correct that the second provision that you

19 say the Serbs are asking for is not an expression of any pure desires on

20 the part of the Serbs, but that it represented a provision of the

21 then-in-force constitution of Croatia and all the previous constitutions

22 of the Republic of Croatia ever since Croatia came into existence as a

23 republic, that is to say, that the Serbs in all those constitutions were

24 treated and enjoyed rights as a constituent peoples and not as a national

25 minority. Is that something you're aware of not?

Page 14310












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Page 14311

1 A. I have not studied all the constitutions. I will take your word

2 for that fact. I have no reason to dispute it.

3 Q. But since we're dealing with a question of substance here, because

4 the Serbs with the new constitution were thrown out of the constitution as

5 a peoples, as a nation, is it possible that your colleagues intentionally

6 in their report kept silent over this fact because they were professionals

7 dealing with the constitution, and if they are experts in the field, then

8 they must have read the constitution. Right?

9 A. I assume they did. I don't think they were intentionally silent

10 on the fact. They did report the grievances of the Serbs with this

11 provision. We took it seriously.

12 Q. All right. And is it possible that your colleagues intentionally

13 did so, on purpose? Although it is of fundamental importance that the new

14 Croatian constitution degraded the status of the Serbs, is it possible

15 that they didn't know about that fact and therefore did not report it, did

16 not state it?

17 A. My impression is that that report attempts and successfully

18 succeeds in presenting both the point of view of the Serb minority and the

19 point of view of the Croatians in Croatia. We were not taking a position

20 on it either way; we were trying to reflect how each side saw their

21 situation.

22 Q. Precisely in that context that you have just referred to, can we

23 consider that leaving out such a substantive fact, that is, the status of

24 the Serb people in Croatia according to all constitutions in force up

25 until then, that status was abolished, and as a result, a distorted

Page 14312

1 picture is given of the events? Can that be in conformity with the high

2 standards that you have referred to, high standards of work in your

3 organisation?

4 A. I think that this description at the very beginning of the report

5 is an attempt to set the background. It really not the purpose of the

6 report. The report was to document particular facts that we found on the

7 ground. There's a lot that wasn't said in the background section,

8 including what you say about the constitutions. I see no reason why we

9 would have left it out except perhaps for reasons of space. It is an

10 important fact, if what you report is correct, and I don't think it

11 changes in any way the sympathetic portrayal that we give of the Serb

12 position as well as of the Croat position at that time and place.

13 Q. Very well. But then in view of the fundamental importance of what

14 I have just mentioned, your organisation and you personally did not really

15 know what it was all about.

16 A. Mr. Milosevic, what seems important to you may not have seemed as

17 important to our researchers. You can go way back in history. One has to

18 draw a line at some point. We were just trying to sketch out the

19 background. If that fact was not there, I don't think it was done by

20 intent, nor do I think it was a professional incompetence in any way.

21 Q. But that's not going back into history. That's the situation that

22 was in force until that day in Croatia when the changes occurred that you

23 referred to. That was that particular moment in time when the situation

24 was changed, and the status of the Serbs deteriorated. Let us move on.

25 In the report from September 1991, in pages between 19 and 22,

Page 14313

1 there is reference to shooting at ambulances and holding medical staff as

2 hostages. End of quotation. A description is given of events in July

3 1991 which allegedly occurred in the village close to the Hrvatska

4 Kostajnica, in the region of Banija. According to this report, this

5 village should have been between Kostajnica and Dvor na Uni. Will you

6 please tell us the name of that village and what incident occurred there,

7 if you know.

8 A. I'm not the author of this report. It was compiled by my highly

9 professional and impartial staff. My job was to take their findings and

10 to bring it to the attention of responsible officials like yourself. I

11 can say that I take full responsibility for the work of my staff and the

12 people who worked under me, as I believe all leaders, including yourself,

13 should take responsibility for the people who worked for you.

14 Q. Yes, but please, Ms. Laber, will you answer my question. How am I

15 able to put a question to you in connection with the facts alleged -- not

16 facts but allegations which your colleagues Rone and Nizich got from

17 anonymous victims and witnesses if they don't even know where the event

18 they are describing took place?

19 A. Perhaps it's a little bit late for you to be responding to a

20 report that was brought to your attention in 1991. At the time, this

21 could have been a relevant discussion. At this point, I'm here not to

22 discuss or defend the details of these reports, just to bring to your

23 attention the fact that I tried to bring this to your attention as the

24 director of my organisation at the time that this was happening, and that

25 we did not get an adequate response.

Page 14314

1 Q. You are saying that this happened in Croatia, and as you know, I

2 was the President of Serbia. So what was happening wasn't happening on

3 the territory of Serbia, so therefore how could I respond to something

4 that was happening in Croatia?

5 A. Our impression at the time, and all the evidence that we collected

6 - and it was not just our organisation, but I think many impartial

7 observers of the scene - was that the events in Croatia were not just

8 supported by actually encouraged by your government in Serbia, that

9 tactics that were used there, we subsequently would see repeated in

10 Bosnia; stirring up ethnic unrest on the part of the Serbs, taking some

11 even legitimate concerns about their own safety and building it into a

12 state of hysteria, encouraging them to take up arms so that there would

13 then be reason for the Yugoslav army which for all intents and purposes

14 was under your control, at least your influence, could move in to protect

15 those Serbs and actually allow the abuses that took place to continue and

16 participate in them in certain cases.

17 Q. Those can only be assumptions on your part. As we are trying to

18 establish the facts, and you have here mentioned an area, do you know the

19 distance between Kostajnica and Dvor na Uni, and how many villages there

20 are in between?

21 A. I do not claim to be an expert on the geography of Croatia. I

22 was, however, in Dvor na Uni at one point.

23 Q. Very well. But in describing this event on page 21 of the report

24 on, in paragraph 5, it says that medical staff and the wounded were called

25 upon to surrender and were arrested by ten men, and then, in yellow

Page 14315

1 camouflage uniforms with no patch or insignia. Ten men in yellow

2 camouflage uniforms. Can you tell us which formation these men belonged

3 to, on what basis do your colleagues claim that those men were Serbs?

4 A. I cannot tell you -- obviously they did not know themselves which

5 formation they belonged to. They say that they were wearing yellow

6 camouflage uniforms with no patch or insignia.

7 Q. Very well. Do you allow for the possibility that they could have

8 been Croats? On what grounds are you claiming that they were Serbs?

9 A. My impression, reading the report - the same report that you're

10 reading - is that the testimonies of the victims said that they were

11 Serbs.

12 Q. Do you know that within the territory of the former SFRY, not a

13 single grouping wore yellow camouflage uniforms? I hear for the first

14 time in your testimony now that there were people wearing yellow

15 camouflage uniforms.

16 A. This was the evidence we received.

17 Q. Doesn't it seem to you that this fact is, to say the least, rather

18 strange, because I assume you know that yellow camouflage uniforms are

19 used in desert land? Nobody in Europe ever wore them.

20 A. I've said all I can say on that subject, I'm afraid.

21 Q. Very well. Ms. Laber, please tell me, how can we know who those

22 people were, if the story has any grounds at all, who are those people

23 wearing yellow uniforms that do not exist in the area, without insignia

24 and capturing ambulances in a village whose name is unknown?

25 JUDGE MAY: Mr. Milosevic, the witness has said that she can give

Page 14316

1 no further evidence on the topic. You could comment in due course, but

2 there's not much point going on asking her about it.

3 THE ACCUSED: [Interpretation] Very well. My question, Mr. May, is

4 whether such a large amount of imprecision and lack of clarity and

5 arbitrariness can be comparable to the highest standards of work in your

6 organisation.

7 MR. MILOSEVIC: [Interpretation]

8 Q. Because you can't answer and tell me which village is involved and

9 whether they were really wearing yellow uniforms, and we don't know -- how

10 can one know who the people without insignia are, and can an answer to

11 these questions be given by your colleagues who compiled the report or

12 perhaps the people you spoke to? You're unable to answer any one of those

13 questions. Isn't that so?

14 A. That's not quite true. I could certainly get the answer to these

15 questions from the people who compiled the report. As I made clear to you

16 before, I was not part of this fact-finding mission that went into the

17 compilation of this report. I have great faith in the competence of the

18 people who prepared it, I would assume that they would have the answers

19 for you, and I can even try to get that for you if it's appropriate, if

20 the Court considers it appropriate. I can do some research on this. I

21 did not come here to defend the specific information within the report,

22 paragraph by paragraph. My job was to take this report and try to get

23 your response to it back in 1991 at the time that it was written.

24 Q. Well, then, one wonders whether there's any point in me examining

25 you about alleged events on which you have only indirect knowledge, even

Page 14317

1 such facts as the location of the events, the participants in the events.

2 These are things you are unable to clarify. So I think we should focus on

3 what you personally established during your visits to Yugoslavia and not

4 what was found by your associates who, as you see, are alleging certain

5 things that are rather illogical.

6 A. I do not say -- I do not acknowledge that they are illogical. As

7 I say, I'm happy to get the answers to any of the questions you might have

8 about specific information in this report. These reports were compiled

9 ten years ago. We have files in our office, we have researchers who can

10 answer your questions. I can't do it offhand at this moment in time. It

11 was not the reason why I came here today. I was here to speak as the

12 director of the organisation on the issue of whether your government was

13 notified about our reports.

14 Q. That is the point, that this other side remembered 12 years later

15 to start these proceedings. Don't you think --

16 JUDGE MAY: I've stopped you Mr. Milosevic. You're getting a long

17 way from the point. You're attacking the Prosecution.

18 Now, you can ask the witness further questions if you want. But

19 rather that than comments on the Prosecution.

20 THE ACCUSED: [Interpretation] The witness, Mr. May, specialises in

21 human rights, so I assume she knows that for the other side to make such

22 allegations, it should bring those people who were eyewitnesses of these

23 events, for them to be able to be examined here regarding those events.

24 JUDGE MAY: That's up to them. And it's also up to us what

25 evidence we require. It's not up the witness.

Page 14318












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Page 14319

1 MR. MILOSEVIC: [Interpretation]

2 Q. Very well. On page 3 of your testimony, in paragraph 1, you say

3 that in August 1990 you left with a person called Anderson on behalf of

4 Human Rights Watch on an investigative mission to Croatia, Kosovo, and

5 Belgrade. Was that your only fact-finding mission linked to the war in

6 Krajina and Croatia?

7 A. My personal -- me personally, do you mean?

8 Q. Yes, yes, you personally.

9 A. Yes. My only fact-finding mission was this trip with

10 Mr. Anderson. After that, as the situation escalated, we had many people

11 going, as I said before, a more or less constant presence there during

12 1991 and 1992. I also conducted a fact-finding mission in January of

13 1992, but that concerned the issue of rape as a war crime. And in that

14 case, we -- as I mentioned before, we interviewed victims that were both

15 Serbs, Croats, and Muslims.

16 Q. Does that mean that only the visit of August 1990 was an

17 exploratory mission linked to the war in Krajina and Croatia, that you

18 took an active part in in person? I'm talking of this exploratory

19 mission.

20 A. Yes. What we saw in that mission was the beginnings of what had

21 developed into an explosive and very serious situation. And at that

22 point, I was in back in New York, sending people from New York in various

23 combinations to investigate what was going on. I believe we sent six

24 specific -- six individual missions in the course of that year, and we

25 also maintained a constant presence on the ground.

Page 14320

1 Q. Since you were in Kosovo in 1990, do you know that the presence of

2 security forces in Kosovo at the time you were there was based on a

3 decision of the federal government and the federal presidency because of

4 the very extreme jeopardy that the Serb population was in who were leaving

5 en masse under pressure of Albanian extremists? Did you learn anything

6 about that?

7 A. What I saw at that time was a very heavy employment of federal

8 troops in Kosovo. There were soldiers everywhere and roadblocks

9 everywhere, and active military manoeuvres against small towns in the

10 region. I did not see any evidence of active, armed insurrection on the

11 part of the Albanians in Kosovo at that time. It seemed like an

12 overreaction to whatever was driving the Serb minority from Kosovo.

13 Q. Very well. That is the impression you had, as you yourself say.

14 But during your mission in August 1991, which state did you go to?

15 A. Which state did I go to?

16 Q. Yes, which state did you go to in August 1991?

17 A. I didn't take a mission in August 1991. I don't know what mission

18 you're talking about. You're driving at me personally now, or the

19 organisation?

20 Q. You say that you were there in 1991, don't you?

21 A. No, I was there in 1990.

22 Q. Very well. In 1990, which country did you go to? Which state?

23 A. In 1990, I was in Croatia and in Serbia.

24 Q. Do you know that in 1990, when you were there, that the only

25 international legal entity in that area, the only recognised entity, was

Page 14321

1 Yugoslavia, which was the only one that could have been considered a

2 state?

3 A. Of course I know that. I thought you wanted to know the specific

4 republics that I visited. I know that of course I was in the Federal

5 Republic of Yugoslavia. That's what it was called at that time.

6 Q. Very well. Could the same be said in September 1991 when your

7 colleagues Nizich and Rone went on a mission? That's right, isn't it?

8 A. By September 1991, I believe Croatia and Slavonia had declared

9 their secession from the Federal Republic. Is that correct?

10 Q. Something else. But you know that the United Nations recognised

11 Croatia not before mid-1992. I assume you're aware of that?

12 A. Yes, I am aware of that.

13 Q. And linked to the discussion here, the relevant time is when the

14 United Nations recognised Croatia. And do you know that on the 7th of

15 July, 1991, Yugoslavia was still in existence and with the presence of the

16 European Community, representatives of the European Community, there was a

17 meeting on Brioni of members of the Presidency of the SFRY, the federal

18 Prime Minister, the federal Ministers of the Interior, Defence, the

19 leadership of Slovenia and Croatia, and that a joint declaration was

20 adopted on a peaceful settlement to the Yugoslavia crisis? Do you

21 remember that?

22 A. I do remember that. I don't see where it's relevant to my

23 testimony. Our organisation has never taken any position on the integrity

24 of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia nor have I personally. That was not

25 our concern; it's not within our mandate.

Page 14322

1 Q. Yes. But are you aware of it, because you specialise in rights,

2 that those decisions on the proclamation of sovereignty and independence

3 in 1991 were anti-constitutional and contrary to international law, in

4 violation of international law?

5 A. I think that's beyond my competence to discuss that question.

6 Q. But we have agreed that you yourself in 1990, and your colleagues

7 in 1991, were legally in the territory of a country that was legal and

8 internationally recognised, that is, the SFRY?

9 A. That's correct.

10 Q. At the end of both reports is the statement that the Helsinki

11 Watch, which is now a branch of the Human Rights Watch, was founded in

12 1979 in order to supervise respect on the internal and international plane

13 of human rights provisions from the declaration of 1975. This is on page

14 13, second paragraph, and in the second report on page 8, second

15 paragraph. That's right, isn't it? That's not in dispute. Does that

16 mean that you, as one of the founders and the executive director of

17 Helsinki Watch, are familiar with the contents of the mentioned acts from

18 the Helsinki conference of 1975 as well as other acts on human rights?

19 A. Yes, I am.

20 Q. Do you know, then, principle 8, paragraph 1 of the final document

21 from Helsinki, the Helsinki declaration of 1975, which reads: [In

22 English] "The participating states will respect the equal rights of

23 peoples and their right to self-determination, acting at all times in

24 conformity with the purposes and principles of the charter of the UN and

25 with the relevant norms of international law, including those relating to

Page 14323

1 the territorial integrity of states."

2 [Interpretation] So in that document, which you say you are

3 familiar with, that is what is stated in that document. That's right,

4 isn't it, Ms. Laber?

5 A. That is stated in the document, I'm familiar with the document,

6 but this is not the part of the document that we involve ourselves with.

7 As a human rights organisation. We take no position in any country on

8 questions of sovereignty or secession or national borders. This is beyond

9 our competence and it's beyond our mandate.

10 Q. But a moment ago, we established that you were founded to monitor

11 compliance with the human rights provisions of the 1975 Helsinki accords.

12 So you didn't select which rights you would engage in and which you would

13 not.

14 Do you know that Article 2.4 of the United Nations charter

15 protects the territorial integrity of states and the right to

16 self-determination of rights mentioned in the charter should be seen in

17 such a way as not to violate the territorial integrity of states. Is that

18 so or not, Ms. Laber?

19 A. I think I'm repeating myself now. That is, we are -- were and are

20 committed to protect the human rights provisions within the Helsinki

21 accords. We did not take national self-determination or national

22 integrity as one of those rights that we dealt with. We dealt with rights

23 to free expression, rights to be free of torture, rights to speak one's

24 mind, rights not to be imprisoned for one's political views; all of the

25 basic civil and political rights that are guaranteed not just by inference

Page 14324

1 in the Helsinki accords but also in the United Nations declaration, human

2 rights declaration.

3 Q. Human rights, Ms. Laber, are a comprehensive concept. One right

4 cannot be drawn out of context of the body of human rights. Are you

5 familiar with the provision of the declaration regarding the principles of

6 international law regarding friendly relations and cooperation among

7 states in accordance with the UN charter, specifically the part regarding

8 the right to self-determination which is considered a component part?

9 This is the declaration of principles of international law concerning

10 friendly relations and cooperation among states in accordance with the

11 charter of the UN. Resolution 265 of the General Assembly, dated the 24th

12 of October, 1970.

13 A. Mr. Milosevic, as I'm sure you're aware, there are many ongoing

14 discussions about human rights and categories of rights, classes of

15 rights. Different organisations, like our own, have the right ourselves

16 to choose which rights which we would protect and defend. We cannot cover

17 the entire gammut. We had our own mandate, which is very clearly spelled

18 out in internal documents which are not secret in any way, as to which

19 rights we will protect and investigate and defend. And at the risk of

20 repeating myself, the right to self-determination or protection of

21 national borders was not one of them. It's not to say that we are not in

22 favour or in favour of it, it was not part of our mandate to get involved

23 with those issues which are very complicated ones and would have taken us

24 into the sphere of politics, which we try to avoid.

25 Q. Very well. But since you're professionally involved and consider

Page 14325

1 yourself to be a human rights advocate, I assume you must know the

2 provisions of this declaration and other documents regarding the right to

3 self-determination --

4 JUDGE MAY: I think we've exhausted this topic. The witness has

5 answered, Mr. Milosevic. We're not getting any benefit from constant

6 repetition.

7 MR. MILOSEVIC: [Interpretation]

8 Q. All right. Do you know that according to the United Nations

9 charter and the declaration mentioned in other international acts, the

10 external self-determination, or rather, secession is allowed only to

11 colonies, occupied states, et cetera, and the like?

12 A. I really don't want to go -- I don't feel that it is the -- my

13 purpose in coming here was not to discuss these issues. I don't feel they

14 are relevant.

15 JUDGE MAY: Well, that's for us to say. But if you don't think

16 you can add anything to what you've said.

17 No, Mr. Milosevic, nobody is being helped by this. Now, move on

18 to some other topic the witness can deal with.

19 THE ACCUSED: [Interpretation] Well, it seems rather strange, Mr.

20 May, that when we are talking with a prominent representative of a human

21 rights organisation, that you exclude these - how shall I call them? -

22 substantive issues related to human rights.

23 JUDGE MAY: You can address us about it, and no doubt you will.

24 MR. MILOSEVIC: [Interpretation]

25 Q. And do you know of an observation made by Antonio Cassese the

Page 14326












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Page 14327

1 former president of this particular institution, and it was published in a

2 book called "Self-determination of People, Reappraisal," written by him.

3 It was published by the University of --

4 JUDGE MAY: I don't think this is going to help either. We have

5 dealt with self-determination insofar as we can. Now, you can ask some

6 other witness about it, you can present evidence about it, but this

7 witness has told you she can't help you any further. So there's no point

8 going on.

9 THE ACCUSED: [Interpretation] This witness dealt with Yugoslavia,

10 Mr. May. And this has to do with Yugoslavia. This concerns Yugoslavia.

11 And you should --

12 JUDGE MAY: I'm not going to permit any more questions on a topic

13 on which the witness cannot give you any further answers. It is a

14 pointless exercise to go on. Now just move on to something else which she

15 can deal with.

16 MR. MILOSEVIC: [Interpretation]

17 Q. Well, for me to be able to move on and ask her something with

18 respect to the report in which the witness observes in page 6, footnote

19 13, in her report of January 1991 --

20 JUDGE MAY: Just a moment. Let us find it. January 1991. Tab 1.

21 Let us find the reference. Page 6. We have got page 6. Footnote 13. We

22 have it, yes.

23 MR. MILOSEVIC: [Interpretation]

24 Q. In which it is stated that in the defence of independence --

25 Tudjman says in the defence of independence: "We would first use all our

Page 14328

1 regular forces of the Croatian Interior Ministry, and we would also invite

2 our entire people to take arms. " And this is the statement that is

3 included into your report. Now, in light of these allegations and in what

4 it says in your report, how can you comment on the fact that it is

5 precisely Mr. Cassese who says the following: "Under international

6 law --"

7 JUDGE MAY: I've ruled out what Mr. Cassese says. It sounds like

8 a legal argument which you can address to us. We'll hear all about it,

9 but it's not for the witness. Now move on or I'm bringing this

10 cross-examination to a close. It's a matter for you, Mr. Milosevic,

11 whether you want to ask further questions or not. You've heard the

12 ruling.

13 THE INTERPRETER: Microphone, please.

14 JUDGE MAY: Are you now moving on to another question?

15 MR. MILOSEVIC: [Interpretation]

16 Q. Well, do you know that with the legal norms that were in force,

17 these were illegal acts of violent secession on the part of Croatia

18 seceding from Yugoslavia? Do you at least know that? Is that something

19 you know about for you to be able to assess anybody's behaviour and

20 conduct --

21 JUDGE MAY: Ms. Laber, is that a matter that you can deal with or

22 not? It sounds like a matter that the Court is going to have to

23 determine.

24 THE WITNESS: I believe that's the case, Your Honour.

25 JUDGE MAY: Next question.

Page 14329

1 MR. MILOSEVIC: [Interpretation]

2 Q. All right, then. Following on from your report, the report which

3 need not rely on the existing legal norms, it would appear, can we

4 conclude from the report, then, that calling to arms in order to realise

5 one's independence, which Croatia is --

6 JUDGE MAY: These are matters of law. You are examining the

7 witness, not arguing matters of law with her. Now what's the next point

8 that's relevant?

9 THE ACCUSED: [Interpretation] Very well, Mr. May. I am bearing in

10 mind the fact that you have brought here a prominent representative of

11 Human Rights Watch, and such a prominent representative would have to know

12 the legal and international legal and internal legal context of the events

13 that she is testifying about.

14 JUDGE MAY: Yes. Now what's your question, rather than comment?

15 MR. MILOSEVIC: [Interpretation]

16 Q. Tell me this, please: Are you acquainted with, because you write

17 in your reports and you mention the former fascist state of Croatia dating

18 back to 1941 to 1945, which was set up by Hitler and Mussolini - I saw a

19 mention of that while I was leafing through the papers, your papers while

20 Mr. Nice was talking about it - were you acquainted with the very

21 well-known statement from Tudjman's speech at the Sabor or Assembly of the

22 HDZ party when he said that the independent state of Croatia was not only

23 a quisling creation and a fascist crime but was also an expression of the

24 historical aspirations of the Croatian people? I assume that that is

25 something you know about.

Page 14330

1 A. I don't know the specific statement to which you refer.

2 Q. Well, I am talking about and referring to the speech made in

3 Zagreb when the first general Sabor or Assembly of the HDZ was held, that

4 is to say, Tudjman's political party, and when he was elected president of

5 the party and when he said that the independent state of Croatia was not

6 only a quisling creation and a fascist crime but also an expression of

7 historical aspirations of the Croatian people. And what I am asking you

8 now is this: Do you know that on the 4th of March, that is to say several

9 days later, as a reaction to that speech that was delivered on the

10 occasion, at Petrova Gora, that is to say a mountain in the Kordun area, a

11 mass rally was held to support the territorial integrity of Yugoslavia

12 against neo-fascism which had been proclaimed at the Sabor or the Assembly

13 of the HDZ party? Is that something you know of, because you were

14 following all the events and your report was a very extensive one?

15 A. I know that there were a number of nationalist statements made by

16 President Tudjman and his government. I know that this contributed to the

17 feeling of beleaguerment that the Serb minority in Croatia experienced.

18 I'm aware of that.

19 Q. And do you know that after that, that is to say some nine days

20 after that particular rally, this was Tudjman's speech at the Sabor at the

21 end of February, there was another rally which expressed the reaction of

22 the population on the 4th of March, that was when it was held, and the

23 Croatian government, the HDZ had still not won the elections, it was still

24 the old Croatian government that was in force, sent a letter to the

25 federal government and the governments of all the republics within the

Page 14331

1 composition of Yugoslavia in which they condemned the events, both those

2 at the general Assembly of the HDZ party and Tudjman's speech itself as

3 well as the reactions of the people at the rally on Petrova Gora, and it

4 appealed for cooperation and joint action against any further infringement

5 of good neighbourly relations, interethnic relations. Do you know about

6 that?

7 A. I don't know the details. I don't recall at this point the

8 details, although I'm sure I probably knew a great deal about it at the

9 time, but your recounting of these events is consistent with my

10 impression.

11 Q. All right, then. Now, please, as in your report from the 4th to

12 the 7th of March, 2002, the statement you gave here, and you state that in

13 August 1990, you came across a state of affairs which was deep hysteria

14 among the population, especially the Serb population. And once again, I

15 quote: "As well as that rhetoric, some propaganda were made worse by the

16 Serb radio which intentionally caused panic by their biased reporting."

17 That's what you say.

18 Now, in respect of that statement of yours, I'm asking you, do you

19 consider that the Croatian government, too, that is to say the government

20 before Tudjman came into power, was also led astray by biased, prejudiced

21 information on the part of Serb radio when it condemned Tudjman's

22 statements that the independent state of Croatia, the emphasis he lay on

23 that in which about 700.000 Serbs were killed as well as Jews and Romanies

24 were an expression of the historical aspirations of the Croatian people?

25 So did the government, the Croatian government, was it led astray

Page 14332

1 by this propaganda and under the influence of Serbian propaganda put out

2 by the radio?

3 A. I can't answer for what influence -- you are talking about the

4 Croatian government before Tudjman. I have a feeling it had its own

5 reasons -- I would assume it had its own reasons for saying and it would

6 not be led astray necessarily propaganda from Serbia. When I talk about

7 the propaganda from Serbia, I'm talking about what ordinary people were

8 hearing who had very little access to other information.

9 Q. Ms. Laber, in your reports here, when you refer to the past and

10 the independent state of Croatia, you say that thousands of Serbs had been

11 killed as well as Jews and Gypsies, that's what you say, thousands killed,

12 you say. Are you conscious how far you were minimising this, speaking in

13 thousands, when the actual state of affairs is that hundreds of thousands

14 of people were killed? Do you differentiate between thousands and

15 hundreds of thousands of persons killed, several hundred thousand persons

16 killed? How is it possible that in your reports you use this kind of

17 formulation and say "thousands killed"?

18 A. Well, we're talking about a period of time in history that our

19 organisation obviously did not do its own independent investigations of.

20 In all of our writings, we tend to choose a minimum figure rather than a

21 maximum figure because we always err on the side of caution. I have no

22 doubt that there are probably many more than -- you may very well be

23 correct in your hundreds of thousands, I don't know the figures. But I

24 think in our reports we tend not to be sensational, and we try to choose a

25 lower figure rather than a higher figure.

Page 14333

1 Q. Well, did you know that just in Jasenovac itself, a concentration

2 camp, 700.000 persons were killed in Jasenovac alone; did you know

3 anything about that? Predominantly Serbs, and then there were Jews and

4 Gypsies as well, as well as some other Croats, Communists and so on?

5 A. I know that horrible things happened during that period. I'm not

6 an expert to talk about them nor is it relevant to the time frame that we

7 are talking about except for the fact that events from that period were

8 brought up and used by Serbian media and, I suspect, officials in the

9 Serbian government as well to frighten and rekindle old fears and

10 prejudices that could not lead to the peaceful relations between the

11 nationalities within Croatia.

12 Q. Very well. Fine. Now, do you consider that the Serb population,

13 after this speech with respect to the NDH, the independent state of

14 Croatia, where hundreds of thousands of their ancestors had been killed,

15 that after the call that coincides with this, sent to the Croatian people

16 to take up arms in order to form an independent state of Croatia, do you

17 consider that after all that, and under those circumstances, the Serbs had

18 no reason to panic?

19 A. I think the Serbs probably had very good reason to panic because

20 they were being baraged from both sides. I think there were many

21 unfortunate statements made by the Croatian government and very much

22 encouragement coming from Serbia for them to take up arms and defend

23 themselves.

24 I think I mentioned in my previous testimony that I witnessed some

25 of the propaganda materials in Belgrade. They were very expensively and

Page 14334

1 professionally prepared. This was not handouts from some little

2 organisation, it was something that had a lot of money and prestige behind

3 it, and they were horrendous to look at and they were preying on the fears

4 of people in the 1990s about events that had happened 50 years before.

5 Q. Ms. Laber, that is all incorrect. If you take a look at and

6 analyse the Belgrade press, you won't find anything except the facts

7 dating back to those times, and I'm sure you won't find even a portion of

8 any kind of warmongering rhetorics of the type that you could find at the

9 time in the Croatian press. The two cannot even be compared. So if you

10 would be so kind as to read about that, matters will become clear to you.

11 Of course, if you have any interest in doing so, which quite obviously you

12 do not.

13 JUDGE MAY: Mr. Milosevic, comments of that sort, jibes of that

14 sort are not -- this is not a place for them. Move on.

15 MR. NICE: [Microphone not activated]

16 JUDGE MAY: Yes, Ms. Laber, if you did want to say something.

17 THE WITNESS: I just wanted to clarify that I was not at that

18 particular moment talking about things that appeared in the official press

19 in Serbia. I was talking about publications pamphlets, and magazines and

20 brochures that were put out by someone who had a great deal -- they were

21 widely circulated and they were very professionally produced, and they had

22 only one apparent purpose, which was to terrify people living, people of

23 Serbian nationality living in Croatia, and also to exercise [sic] Serbs in

24 Serbia about their compatriots in Croatia.

25 MR. MILOSEVIC: [Interpretation]

Page 14335












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Page 14336

1 Q. All right, then, Ms. Laber, do you have any awareness as to how

2 much your organisation contributed to the media war and the anti-Serb

3 propaganda that preceded the aggression against Yugoslavia?

4 A. I would take strong exception to that statement. I do not think

5 that we contributed to anti-Serb propaganda. Certainly at that juncture,

6 we were bending over backwards to be fair to all sides. And one of my

7 instructions to my staff was that there should be equal coverage of abuses

8 by Serbs and abuses by the Croats. And as you see in the letter that we

9 presented to you and General Adzic, there was an accompanying letter, a

10 comparable letter that was delivered to President Tudjman. It was equal

11 in length. Very many of exactly the same types of abuses were documented.

12 I think we were being extremely fair and extremely impartial in our

13 coverage of that war, and I take exception to the fact that you would

14 suggest that we were contributing to anti-Serb propaganda.

15 Q. Well, that could be taken as a sort of symmetry, had it been

16 presented in the right proportions. But I suppose you assume it was not

17 the Serbs in Croatia that attacked the Croats, but that they were exposed

18 to attacks by the new Croatian government and authorities. Is that

19 something you're aware of?

20 A. I don't think it was that simple.

21 Q. Well, in your reports, you use the expression according to which

22 the Serbs occupied part of Croatian territory, or rather, you say part of

23 Croatian territory which was occupied by the Serbs. You use that term in

24 several places in your report. It is a term that you use frequently. And

25 this implies that that is so, that that is correct.

Page 14337

1 A. Please continue. I don't know what the question is.

2 Q. Well, you talk about the fact that the Serbs occupied a portion of

3 Croatian territory. You say, "On part of Croatian territory occupied by

4 the Serbs..." You use this phrase in a number of contexts within your

5 report.

6 A. At what period of time are we talking about now? You're talking

7 about before the war or during the war?

8 Q. We're talking about the time of the conflict in Croatia.

9 A. There were areas of Croatia that were predominantly Serb. That's

10 -- in population. I don't understand what your question is.

11 Q. Well, can we speak about the Serbs occupying a part of Croatian

12 territory at all? That is my question to you. Is that how we can put it?

13 A. Do you mean -- when you say "occupy," do you mean living in or do

14 you mean taking control of militarily? I'm not quite sure what your

15 question is.

16 Q. Whatever way you like to interpret it. Can we say at all that

17 Serbs occupied parts of Croatian territory? Can we use the verb

18 "occupation" of Croatian territory? That's what I'm asking you because

19 you're using that expression.

20 A. I would have to look at it in context. I think that in the course

21 of the conflict, Serb groups, insurgents, took up arms and occupied

22 certain parts of Croatian territory and the Yugoslav army also moved in to

23 protect the situation and, in effect, according to our reports, solidified

24 the Serb occupation of certain parts of Croatia.

25 Q. Very well. So you say "occupied certain parts." Now, tell me if

Page 14338

1 your compatriot is wrong when he says the following, General Charles Boyd,

2 the former deputy commander of the European command, European staff of the

3 United States forces, and this is what he writes in the Foreign Affairs

4 Journal, September 1995.

5 [In English]: "The popular image of this war is one of unrelenting

6 Serb expansion. Much of what the Croatians call the occupied territories

7 is land that has been held by Serbs for more than three centuries. The

8 same is true of most of Serb land in Bosnia, what the Western media

9 frequently refer to 70 per cent of Bosnia seized by rebel Serbs. In

10 short, the Serbs were not trying to conquer new territory but merely to

11 hold onto what was already theirs."

12 [Interpretation] Isn't he right?

13 A. Who are you quoting now? I didn't get the -- who wrote these

14 words?

15 Q. It is Charles Boyd, General Charles Boyd, former deputy commander

16 of the US European command. And he wrote this, you can find the article,

17 in the Foreign Affairs Journal, September/October 1995. It is a quotation

18 from what he wrote. So how far is that --

19 JUDGE MAY: Let the witness answer.

20 THE WITNESS: If you're asking me whether Serbs lived in these

21 various areas, I assume that is correct. If you're asking me whether the

22 Serbian Republic had a right to take over those areas which fell within

23 the borders of another republic, I have to go back to my previous answer,

24 this is not within my competence to discuss. This has to do with national

25 borders, with self-determination, with issues that I think are -- I can't

Page 14339

1 say whether it's appropriate or inappropriate for this body to discuss,

2 but it's inappropriate for me to discuss.

3 MR. MILOSEVIC: [Interpretation]

4 Q. All right. Are you then claiming that the right to

5 self-determination was a right enjoyed only by the Croatian people and not

6 by the Serb people as well?

7 JUDGE MAY: The witness has just said that -- the witness has just

8 said it's not within her competence to answer. So there's no point

9 arguing the same thing over and over again. Let's move on if there is

10 anything else you've got to ask.

11 THE ACCUSED: [Interpretation] That, Mr. May, is called contraditio

12 in adiecto, just to make a point of that. And then we can move on.

13 JUDGE KWON: Just one matter before we go on. Ms. Laber, just for

14 curiosity, in the first tab, tab 1 of this exhibit, it's on page 11, and

15 it's footnote 20, you said that you are not an expert in secession matter

16 and in some -- whether it's okay or not. But I note that you wrote an

17 article named "Why Keep Yugoslavia One Country?" What did you write on

18 that article?

19 THE WITNESS: Yes, I would like to explain that to you. I'm glad

20 that you asked that question. I wrote an article. I did not write the

21 headline of the article. The article appeared in the New York Times which

22 has a policy of writing its own headlines. And the headline writer

23 misread the context of the article so that if you just see that title, it

24 would imply that in fact we did take a position on whether or not the

25 Federal Republic of Yugoslavia should remain or not.

Page 14340

1 In the article, we advocated that the US government should use

2 economic sanctions against the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia and also, if

3 possible, against Serbia, because we felt that they were, at the time,

4 involved in severe human rights abuses, specifically in Kosovo. And we

5 recognised the fact that the federal government was powerless at that

6 point to really do very much, even if it wanted do, and that Serbia, the

7 Serbian government was calling all the shots. So our recommendation was

8 that the USA be targeted and deny to parts of the federation that were

9 abusing human rights. We never said that Yugoslavia should not remain one

10 country and, as a matter of fact, when the article appeared, I was apalled

11 at the headline, as were my colleagues at the Human Rights Watch and were

12 upset and felt it misled people until they read the article. But thank

13 you for asking that question.

14 JUDGE KWON: Thank you, too.

15 MR. MILOSEVIC: [Interpretation]

16 Q. I am very happy, too, to be able to hear here that you were a

17 protagonist of that process of imposing sanctions against Yugoslavia, the

18 sanctions that were the worst possible ones -- most brutal since the term

19 came into existence and which were a real silent sort of genocide. So how

20 come you, from a human rights organisation, advocated the imposition of

21 sanctions on Yugoslavia?

22 A. As an organisation, we very often use that as a means, short of

23 other means, to get a country to observe human rights principles. It's

24 something that we advocate in many different situations. We always try to

25 make an exception for humanitarian aid. We talk about economic sanctions.

Page 14341

1 We do not advocate sanctions that will impose hardships on people, on the

2 populace of the country but on the governments. It's one of the various

3 forms we have to try to put pressure on offending governments.

4 Q. Well, I'm sure you know that the sanctions were introduced in

5 1992, and a moment ago you said here, in response to a question put to you

6 by Mr. Kwon, that the reason was Kosovo. And the explanation was that

7 sanctions were being introduced because we were assisting Serbs in Bosnia

8 and the Serbs in Croatia, too, which was not in dispute. That we assisted

9 them is not in dispute.

10 So tell me now, please, Ms. Laber, the situation facing Serbs in

11 Bosnia and in Croatia, would it be logical, and I'm sure you know and are

12 aware of the fact that Germany and the Vatican, for example, and many

13 other countries and ultimately your own country, too, assisted Croatia and

14 the Muslims, too. And that Saudi Arabia, including the mujahedins, and

15 other countries too, sent tens of thousands of extremists to help the

16 Muslims. So is it therefore legal and logical that foreign countries,

17 some of them tens of thousands of kilometres away, should help the Croats

18 and Muslims whereas it was illogical for the Serbs to help the Serbs

19 themselves, and then this is a crime which ought to be sanctioned,

20 punished by sanctions? Is that a function of --

21 JUDGE MAY: Come to a question. If you look at the live Note, the

22 transcript as it's scrolling up, I don't know whether you feel you can

23 comment on what the accused is saying or not. He's trying to make a point

24 about countries coming to the aids of the Croats, so what he's saying, I

25 think, is why shouldn't he come to the aid of the Serbs. I think that's

Page 14342

1 the point.

2 THE WITNESS: We have gone a bit afield. At the time we were

3 advocating sanctions in this article, it was in 1990 and it was before the

4 Bosnian war. Our government did not impose sanctions at that time. Our

5 government was committed, I think, at that point to keep Yugoslavia one

6 country and working with the federal government. What you're talking

7 about is something that happened several years later when the war in

8 Bosnia began. And so I think the two issues are confused.

9 JUDGE MAY: We'll go on for another five minutes, and then we'll

10 adjourn.

11 MR. MILOSEVIC: [Interpretation]

12 Q. On page 3 in the first paragraph of your statement, from the 4th

13 to the 7th of March, 2002, you say that in 1990, and I quote: "The

14 uprising of the republics of Slovenia and then Croatia started a chain of

15 events that led to the war in the Balkans." Is that right?

16 A. On page 3 of what document?

17 Q. Page 3, first paragraph of your statement.

18 JUDGE MAY: [Previous translation continues]...

19 THE WITNESS: Yes. What was the question?

20 MR. MILOSEVIC: [Interpretation]

21 Q. Having said that, do you consider that the secession that Croatia

22 and Slovenia opted for was contrary to international law and the

23 constitutional order of Yugoslavia?

24 JUDGE MAY: It's not a question for the witness. Next question.

25 MR. MILOSEVIC: [Interpretation]

Page 14343

1 Q. Can human rights be treated out of the context of law in general

2 and the international legal order and the legal order of a particular

3 country? I don't know what is your position as an organisation, that is,

4 the position of the Human Rights Watch.

5 A. Our position is to protect human rights that you will find in the

6 covenant, UN covenant on civil and political rights. Those are the rights

7 that we protect. We are an independent, nongovernmental organisation. We

8 carefully choose the area that we cover, that we are able to cover. We

9 can't be all over the spectrum. We have our own mandate and we stay

10 within it. And the question of self-determination is not one of the

11 rights that we take up as an organisation. Other people do, but it's

12 pointless to keep asking me about it because I am -- I can't speak on

13 behalf of my organisation, and I can't even speak on behalf of myself.

14 It's not an issue that I feel comfortable discussing.

15 Q. Tell me, please, those human rights that you are referring to, how

16 can they be protected by provoking wars, by provoking civil wars, by

17 violent disintegration of a country that was developing successfully? How

18 can human rights be protected in that way, by introducing sanctions,

19 military intervention, finally by aggression and bombing? Is all that in

20 accordance with the protection of human rights that Human Rights Watch

21 advocates?

22 A. I'd like to ask you that question, Mr. Milosevic, for many years.

23 Q. Don't you think --

24 JUDGE MAY: On that note, we'll end. It's 10 to.

25 Ms. Laber, would you be back, please, at 9.00 tomorrow morning to

Page 14344












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Page 14345

1 conclude your evidence.

2 THE WITNESS: I will.

3 THE ACCUSED: [Interpretation] How much time are you allowing me

4 for tomorrow, Mr. May?

5 JUDGE MAY: 50 minutes.

6 --- Whereupon the hearing adjourned

7 at 1.50 p.m., to be reconvened on

8 Wednesday, the 11th day of December, 2002,

9 at 9.00 a.m.