1 Thursday, 23 February 2006
2 [Open session]
3 [The accused entered court]
4 [The witness entered court]
5 --- Upon commencing at 9.02 a.m.
6 JUDGE ROBINSON: Mr. Nice, please continue.
7 WITNESS: MARKO ATLAGIC [Resumed]
8 [Witness answered through interpreter]
9 Cross-examination by Mr. Nice: [Continued]
10 Q. Mr. Atlagic, I'll return to your views on Seselj later. We'd
11 reached the beginning of 1990. I'm not going to trouble the Chamber to
12 remind themselves with the view of the Slovenian and Croatian walkout of
13 the 14th Congress. But can you just help me with this on the rejection of
14 Slovenia's amendments. What was the amendment, if you can remember, that
15 was the last proposed amendment before the Slovenians walked out?
16 A. I don't remember.
17 Q. Was it something that had to do with doing away with torture in
18 Yugoslavia, and that was the amendment that was proposed and that was
19 rejected? Is that right?
20 A. I don't think it was about any kind of torture.
21 MR. NICE: Am I the only one whose LiveNote isn't working at the
23 Q. We've seen approach of Raskovic at tab 2 already -- not tab 2 but
24 at a document we looked at yesterday. But let's move on in 1990. On the
25 27th of June, amongst the municipalities that declared themselves for
1 independence was Benkovac; correct? We can look at the document, if
2 necessary, but you should be able to remember this.
3 A. I don't recall that because I was not a member of the Municipal
4 Assembly of Benkovac. However, I think it was not about independence. It
5 may have been about association at the level of an association of
7 Q. Well, we've got the document. It's 351, tab 8. But I want to
8 know this, please: By this time, which is June of 1990 - that's why we're
9 looking at things chronologically - there had been no violence, had there?
10 A. No, that's not correct. There had been violence. In my previous
11 responses, I have already said that throughout Croatia, monuments sacred
12 to the Serbs had been attacked. I mentioned Split and other places, and
13 this was all before June. Even in 1989, a Politika kiosk in Osijek was
14 blown up. International newspapers reported this.
15 Q. You see -- pause -- pause --
16 A. It had started earlier.
17 Q. We've seen, of course, already the development of hate talk on
18 both sides. You've told us about what the Croats said, and I don't deny
19 that they said terrible things, and we've started to see what was being
20 said on your side. What I want to know is had killings or anything of
21 that sort started or are we dealing at this stage with a different level
22 of civil disturbance?
23 A. In 1990, as regards murders, there had been pressure, and in early
24 1991 there was a murder. In 1990, however --
25 Q. [Previous translation continues] ...
1 A. -- there were attacks but not murders.
2 Q. [Previous translation continues] ... responsive to the question.
3 We're dealing with events by June 1990.
4 MR. NICE: Your Honours, I don't have time to look at it. It's
5 351, tab 8 is the document which is the Association of Municipalities.
6 Q. So, what I'm going to suggest to you is that there was a
7 determination, led by whoever we'll discover, but there was a
8 determination to have ethnic separation well before significant violence
9 happened. Do you accept that?
10 A. No, I don't. I don't accept it because there had been violence.
11 You haven't allowed me to finish my response. On the 18th of May, 1990,
12 in Benkovac, there was an attempted murder of Miroslav Mlinar. He had
13 been stabbed with a knife. And you're saying there hadn't been any
14 attacks. Well, this is an evident example. As far as I know, the Serbian
15 Democratic Party suspended its relations with the Croatian parliament and
16 did not attend the parliamentary sessions.
17 Q. You see, what we heard --
18 JUDGE BONOMY: Mr. Nice, I find that question ambiguous. When you
19 talk about a determination to have ethnic separation well before
20 significant violence, do you mean on the part of the Croats or on the part
21 of the Serbs?
22 MR. NICE: On the part of the Serbs.
23 JUDGE BONOMY: That's the way the witness understood it, however I
24 must say I didn't immediately understand it in view of the evidence we've
25 been listening to. Thank you.
1 MR. NICE:
2 Q. So let's move on, if we may. But Babic has given evidence in this
3 court. You know that, don't you?
4 A. I have heard about that, yes, from the media.
5 Q. And he explained to us that he sought and got support both from
6 Jovic and from this accused. Have you heard about that?
7 A. No, I haven't. I think that is an untruth.
8 Q. [Previous translation continues] ...
9 A. Babic is not a reliable man. He's a man who would say anything if
10 it was in his interest.
11 Q. I see. So you make that point. What do you say is in Jovic's
12 interest to have explained that he was given support -- in Babic's
13 interest to say he was given support by Jovic and Milosevic?
14 A. As far as I know -- I don't know him well, but as far as I know,
15 he never said that before, and I don't know what kind of help he would
16 have got in 1990. He was in power in Knin. He had been elected as a
17 member of the SDS, as far as I can recall.
18 Q. And this is, again, chronologically interesting or significant and
19 I want your help with it. He has told us that it was on the 13th of
20 August that he went, Babic went, to the accused and got his support. It's
21 a matter of considerable detail what he's told us about it, but he told --
22 he told us he would have the support of the accused, and that's what he
23 was told by the accused.
24 Now, you tell us something about the so-called log revolution.
25 Whose idea was that?
1 A. I didn't talk about the log revolution. Let me tell you about the
2 13th of August. You put your question and then you move on to something
3 else. Mr. Babic said that he had been to see the accused. I don't see
4 any reason for that. The SDS had its deputies in the parliament. I don't
5 know what sort of help he would have wanted.
6 As for the so-called log revolution, it was not a log revolution.
7 As I said yesterday, after the 17th of August, that is after the arrival
8 of the Croatian paramilitary formations and the first attack from Korenica
9 in the direction of Benkovac, the people of Lika put logs across the
10 roads, and that's all. The people were attempting to defend their homes
11 from the illegal paramilitary formations. They were trying to protect
13 Q. Pause for a minute --
14 A. They were armed. They had personnel carriers and, of course --
15 Q. Babic has told us that at that meeting on the 13th, he was told by
16 the accused that he'd have the support of the army and that he was advised
17 by the federal minister of the interior to erect barricades, so the
18 business of erecting barricades, logs, came from Belgrade. Do you accept
20 A. No, I don't accept it.
21 Q. Well --
22 A. I think Mr. Babic had never said anything like that before or
23 thought anything like that. Why he's saying that now, well, that's up to
24 him, but the log revolution started or, rather, barricades were put up
25 because the Croatian paramilitary formations had attacked the Serbian
1 people. And you have an example of this in Benkovac. I don't believe
2 anyone from Belgrade, especially the army, told him to do it.
3 Q. [Previous translation continues] ... do you accept at all -- no,
4 let's go back. You've said that Babic is unreliable.
5 A. I think, Mr. Nice, that the truth has to be established here.
6 It's not time that's at stake but the truth.
7 Q. Mr. Atlagic, you choose to say that Babic is unreliable. Let me
8 just tell you a couple of things. He's pleaded guilty on the basis of
9 facts set out by the Prosecution at a public hearing. Included in the
10 facts set out and on the basis of which he pleaded guilty are indeed that
11 he went and saw this accused on the 13th of August, got the offers of
12 support that he was -- he told us about in evidence, and he explains how
13 there was then a parallel structure comprising members of the Ministry of
14 the Interior and the state security supporting events in the Krajina.
15 He's gone on to explain about the different position of him and Martic -
16 you may have heard of this in the press, I don't know - and he's explained
17 how there was an objective called a joint criminal enterprise -- or he
18 pleaded guilty on this basis, the purpose of which was the forcible
19 removal of the majority of Croats from non-Serb population. So he's given
20 evidence, he's pleaded guilty on that basis, and he's been sentenced to a
21 long period of imprisonment.
22 Now, what is it that you can point to before we look at the next
23 piece of evidence that says that Mr. Babic is incorrect when he says that
24 Gracanin advised him to set up barricades?
25 A. Mr. Nice, it's my opinion that his whole testimony is incorrect.
1 Why? In 1990, Mr. Nice, there were no parallel organs of authority.
2 Mr. Babic was in power. He had been legally elected in the Municipal
3 Assembly. Nobody was setting up a new parallel government. Mr. Zecevic
4 was in Benkovac as a member of the SDS. He had been elected quite
5 lawfully. So what kind of parallel authorities would there be? The MUP
6 was operating quite normally. The only problem was that the Croatian
7 paramilitary formations, the so-called Zengas, tried to attack Serb
8 villages and disarm police stations where the Serbs were in the majority.
9 JUDGE BONOMY: Is it fair to cut him short when your question is
10 twice as long as the answer so far?
11 MR. NICE: Well, Your Honour --
12 JUDGE BONOMY: The witness seems to me to be giving relevant
14 MR. NICE: Very well.
15 Q. Carry on, Mr. Atlagic.
16 THE INTERPRETER: Microphone, Mr. Nice. Microphone, please.
17 MR. NICE:
18 Q. The inquiry is why Babic should not be believed, why he's
20 A. Because, as far as I know, and to the extent of my previous
21 contacts with him, which were not extensive, he's a person who would do
22 anything if he even had a small interest in doing it. He is a person whom
23 you cannot trust.
24 Q. I see.
25 A. To be quite frank, I think Babic is saying this either because
1 someone told him to say it or because he's been blackmailed, because none
2 of it is true.
3 Q. I see. I want you now, please -- we'll distribute them, a short
4 passage from the film called "The Death of Yugoslavia."
5 MR. NICE: Your Honours, we've had problems with, as we know, the
6 transcripts provided and the text put on the screen, so if the
7 interpreters are able to assist us with an interpretation of the language
8 as they hear it, I'd be very grateful.
9 Now, we've all got the transcript. It's a Sanction, if the booth
10 would deal with it for us, please.
11 Q. This is the man Gracanin, described as a federal police minister
12 in the text that we have, and I'd like you to listen to what he said about
13 this part of the history.
14 Play it, please.
15 [Videotape played]
16 THE INTERPRETER: "[Voiceover] To put up barricades. I taught
17 them to do that, and to keep guard at night with any weapons they had.
18 They had hunting weapons at least. They had to keep guard. The villagers
19 had to be constantly vigilant in order to prevent an incursion by the
21 "The promises given by Mr. Jovic I felt would be helpful in some
22 way. I thought they could help us somehow.
23 "Armed with more than advice, the Serbs from Knin organised
24 roadblocks. Belgrade Television was quick to play on the fears of their
25 Serb brothers in Croatia.
1 "3.30. We are at a position where guard is being kept. The
2 people are scared."
3 MR. NICE: That will be enough, thank you.
4 Q. Two points, please: Starting with the last part of that clip, did
5 you see television broadcasts showing people being stopped at roadblocks,
6 expressing their fears?
7 A. First let me say that what I saw on the footage, I don't know what
8 time it was filmed, I mean the part with Mr. Gracanin, but if it was after
9 the 17th of August, 1990, then it was quite logical for barricades to be
10 put up, because the policemen had already attacked by then, especially in
11 September when more than one municipality had been attacked by illegal
12 formations who are attacking the Serbian people. So people even took
13 hunting weapons to defend their homes and their hearths. There is no
14 doubt about that.
15 Q. [Previous translation continues] ... the last part. We'll come
16 back to the first part. Were broadcasts of people expressing fear at road
17 -- at checkpoints put out by the media?
18 Did you hear the question?
19 A. I'm not getting interpretation.
20 JUDGE ROBINSON: Well, try again, Mr. Nice.
21 MR. NICE:
22 Q. Were broadcasts of people expressing fear at checkpoints put out
23 by the media?
24 A. What I saw on television, of course there was fear when there were
25 roadblocks. Both Serbs and Croats were afraid, but they were afraid of
1 the policemen. The barricades were close to Serbian villages in order to
2 provide protection from the paramilitary forces.
3 Q. Coming back to the first part of that clip, do you have any reason
4 to doubt now what Babic has said about being advised by Gracanin and
5 taught, indeed, as Gracanin puts it, to use roadblocks in the log
6 revolution so-called?
7 A. I doubt that Gracanin told him that at the time. Logs were put up
8 later, after the attack of the Croatian policemen on the rally in
9 Benkovac. That very night the Serbs from Lika put up barricades to
10 prevent armed special units with three vehicles coming into Benkovac
11 against those people. I don't believe Gracanin said that. I can't
12 believe that.
13 Q. I see.
14 JUDGE KWON: Mr. Nice.
15 MR. NICE: Yes?
16 JUDGE KWON: Can I be clear about what Mr. Babic has allegedly
17 promised to -- I'm sorry, Mr. Jovic is allegedly to have promised to
18 Mr. Babic? In the transcript we received in written form, it says -- it's
19 about Mr. Babic's order: "We did not get a specific promise, but I was
20 left in no doubt that Belgrade would help us."
21 MR. NICE: Yes.
22 JUDGE KWON: But our transcript says otherwise.
23 MR. NICE: Your Honour, yes, we know from these -- these
24 experiences with this film that what appears on the screen should be
25 disregarded and we should rely on what is said by the interpreters. And
1 what they provided us with, "The promises given by Mr. Jovic I felt would
2 be helpful in some way, I thought they could help us some way, armed with
3 more than advice --"
4 JUDGE KWON: That's narrative, but --
5 MR. NICE: Yes.
6 JUDGE KWON: But it's substantially different.
7 MR. NICE: Yes, it is. But it's the first part that's the most
8 important part for this witness.
9 JUDGE BONOMY: You still believe it's a film you ought to be
10 relying on, do you, in view of the tendentious nature of much of the
12 MR. NICE: Where there is -- I certainly do. Where somebody is
13 speaking directly to the camera and giving his account, like Gracanin does
14 on this occasion, it's extremely valuable, because there is no reason to
15 doubt that he said it.
16 JUDGE BONOMY: Yes, but it's edited, Mr. Nice. You have to wonder
17 about how it's been put together and what's been selected.
18 MR. NICE: We still rely on it and seek to do so. And on this
19 occasion, of course, it fits with the evidence that has been given by the
20 witness Mr. Babic.
21 Can we move into private session to deal with a protected
22 document, please.
23 JUDGE ROBINSON: Yes, private session.
24 [Private session]
11 Pages 48684-48685 redacted. Private session.
22 [Open session]
23 THE REGISTRAR: We're back in open session.
24 MR. NICE:
25 Q. Isn't the truth that the log -- by the time of the log revolution
1 on the 17th of August, 1990, again there had been no substantial violence
2 committed in terms of deaths and killings on either side and that this was
3 the first act of force used in the dispute between Croatia and the Serbs
4 living in Croatia? This is the first act of force, isn't it?
5 A. Well, it was the first act of violence, although there had been
6 attempts at violence before. It's like you were not listening to me or
7 you don't want to hear it.
8 On the 18th of May, 1990, in Benkovac, Miroslav Mlinar, who was a
9 member of the SDS, was stabbed, and the president of the SDS froze their
10 party relations with the Croatian Assembly, after which they did not
11 appear in the Croatian Assembly for another month. They started
12 participating again only a month later. So there have been assaults even
13 before that. I've spoken about it.
14 Q. [Previous translation continues] ... adequately this witness.
15 I'll change my system. Hearing this witness adequately.
16 I'm going to suggest to you -- sorry?
17 A. I can repeat if Mr. Nice hasn't heard me.
18 Q. [Previous translation continues] ... screen.
19 JUDGE ROBINSON: There is no need to repeat it. Mr. Nice has it
20 on the screen and he has read it.
21 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] I have another piece of information
22 that is relevant to 1990. That is in November policemen Goran Galavanja
23 [phoen] was killed in place called Karince [phoen], so that was another
24 assault. He was killed in that village, and I think there was a --
25 JUDGE ROBINSON: [Previous translation continues] ... 1990.
1 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Yes, it is after August 1990. But
2 before August, in my area, there was only the case of Miroslav Mlinar who
3 was stabbed.
4 JUDGE ROBINSON: Yes, we have that point. Yes.
5 MR. NICE:
6 Q. You see, I'm going to suggest -- I'm going to suggest to you one
7 way and another that the Serbs in Croatia, in seeking ethnic separation,
8 were in part or whole responding to the agendas of others even if you
9 didn't know it at the time, and discovering yourselves erecting barricades
10 on the advice from Belgrade may be one example of it. Do you accept that
11 you may have been responding to agendas coming from Belgrade unknown to
13 A. No, I can't accept that. I can't accept what you're trying to
14 insinuate. As for ethnic association among Serbs, it was the Croats who
15 sought ethnic separation before. And I told you about the documents of
16 the Croatian Democratic Union and their political platform and their
17 election campaign even before the election. The Croats separated from
18 Yugoslavia and from Serbia even before they were elected. And my
19 colleagues of Croat ethnicity told me this after the victory of the HDZ,
20 "We are no longer brothers or friends." And when the amendments were
21 passed, they told me we haven't been friends ever since the amendments.
22 It was a process, the separation of Croatia from Yugoslavia, and
23 in parallel the Serbs were also trying to exercise their right to separate
24 from Croatia because they were not managing even to gain cultural autonomy
25 that they sought through the parliament, for instance. You can look at my
1 contributions in the work of the parliament.
2 I was saying that Serbs were seeking autonomy, and as --
3 Q. [Previous translation continues] ... my question.
4 A. -- the developments continued, the ambitions of the Serbian
5 Democratic Party also developed.
6 MR. NICE: I know that there are audibility problems in the newly
7 designed courtroom. I'm doing my best to accommodate the interpreters
8 today by change of the way we're working. I'm going to try it with both
9 microphones and ask them if that helps. Apparently it does.
10 Q. Let's move on to 1991. The declaration of the RSK occurred in
11 steps starting in December -- being completed in 1991, but let's just look
12 at you, Mr. Atlagic.
13 In 1991, groups developed of Serbs who were absolutely opposed to
14 violence and to the war option. That's correct, isn't it?
15 A. As for Serbs, they were in general opposed to the war option.
16 They resisted it. They were not trying to cause war. It was the Croat
17 paramilitary formations who caused war, and of course peace was more in
18 their interest, not war.
19 Q. But the specific groups, one was the Serb Democratic Forum, and in
20 1991, it's right, isn't it, that you initially attended some of their
21 meetings? You never joined up, but you attended some of their meetings.
22 A. I don't rule out the possibility that I attended, just like I
23 attended meetings of the HDZ in Benkovac when Mr. Tudjman spoke to them,
24 et cetera. However, I'm not really familiar with the activities of the
25 Serb Democratic Forum in 1991. I don't remember that, and I don't know
1 who led the forum.
2 Q. Mr. Pupovac, a much respected and continuing elected politician in
3 Croatia would have been there, for one, and he and his colleagues
4 maintained throughout the position -- sorry? Go on.
5 A. I think -- in fact, I'm 100 per cent sure that I didn't see
6 Mr. Pupovac in 1991 at any meeting in the area of Serb Krajina. As far as
7 I know, he never came there. Dr. Zarko Puhovski was the only one who came
8 and who organised these meetings and spoke against the war, and that is
9 where I had been. As for Mr. Pupovac, I don't know if I ever met him in
10 1991. Maybe at some meeting or other but I'm not sure that the Serb
11 Democratic Forum even existed at that time.
12 Q. However, you can confirm that Mr. Pupovac and his colleagues have
13 maintained the peaceful Serb position within Croatia and remain, in his
14 case, an elected member of parliament today, pressing forward the
15 principles of Serb integration and cohabitation. Am I not right?
16 A. No, you're not right as far as Mr. Pupovac is concerned. I have
17 to remind you that with the voice of Mr. Pupovac in the Croatian
18 parliament, Serbs became even less than a national minority. He was
19 saying things like, "I hope the Croat people will know how to reward
20 this." Once Mr. Pupovac came to see me in Zagreb, but only to say that
21 before the constitution is amended, I should say something like the Serbs
22 were a national minority. I think he was a spy of Mr. Franjo Tudjman's.
23 I don't even think that it is true today, because the Serbs are being
24 harassed today as they were then. They have no human or national rights.
25 Let Mr. Pupovac return to me and all the others their apartments
1 and their property. Let the Croatia return that if it is really a
2 democratic country. I haven't heard of Mr. Pupovac or Mr. Mesic
3 advocating something like that.
4 For instance, there is also the foreign currency savings that
5 haven't been paid back to Serb people.
6 Q. [Previous translation continues] ...
7 A. They have been paid back to Croats, though.
8 Q. Even if you don't remember going to meetings of the Serb
9 Democratic Forum, would it be fair to say that in 1991 your affiliation
10 moved towards Babic?
11 A. No. As far as Mr. Babic is concerned, he was only on my horizon
12 from 1993 onwards. In 1992, I still wasn't a member of any political
13 party and there was no need for me to associate with Mr. Babic or anybody
15 Q. [Previous translation continues] ... I must go back to one thing
16 that I wanted you to look at. Perhaps we'll play a short extract of some
17 speeches by Jovan Raskovic. It's part of a documentary called
18 "Neighbours," which is an independent production. We got it from -- we've
19 got a transcript for it, but I would be grateful again if the interpreters
20 would -- it's Sanction as well -- if the interpreters would help us with
21 the actual language used.
22 And when it's going to be played, the first extract is from near
23 Benkovac, your town, on the 17th of August.
24 If you can play it, please.
25 [Videotape played]
1 THE INTERPRETER: "[Voiceover] We will kill Tudjman! We will kill
3 "We will kill Ustashas! We will kill Ustashas!
4 "Thank you. Thank you. Do not ask me for weapons. Do not ask
5 weapons from me, but if weapons should be necessary, I hope somebody will
6 be found who will give them to you.
7 "Jovo Serb, Jovo the Serb.
8 "It is a good thing that planes are flying above us. It is a good
9 thing that our Yugoslav army is present. These planes that have just
10 flown over are a message from the skies, and everybody knows that the JNA
11 is a peaceful army, that it will not raise its sword against anyone!"
12 MR. NICE: Can we pause there, I think.
13 Q. Were you present at that meeting in or near your hometown on the
14 17th of August of 1990. Do you recall?
15 A. Mr. Nice, that happened on the 17th of August, 1990, the day after
16 the police forces or, rather, members of the Zadar police station seized
17 weapons from the reservists, from police reservists. But that very
18 morning there was a rally before the Municipal Assembly of Benkovac where
19 deputies in the Municipal Assembly spoke and asked for the weapons to be
20 returned. That rally continued. And I addressed the rally and asked the
21 people not to attack the policemen themselves for giving up the weapons in
22 the first place.
23 However, this rally you just showed on this video clip took place
24 in Vukovic in late afternoon, and I attended that rally, although I didn't
25 speak --
1 Q. [Previous translation continues] ...
2 A. Just let me finish. That rally took place that afternoon. It was
3 organised by the Serbian Democratic Party. I was not a member of that
4 party, but as an MP I attended the rally.
5 Q. You see, what we can see quite clearly is that despite the lack of
6 pre-existing personal violence of the type I've identified, the crowd is
7 already, responsive to Raskovic or on its own volition, shouting, "We will
8 kill Tudjman." There was extreme language used and generated on both
9 sides in this conflict, wasn't there, at an early stage? Or do you think
10 those observations by the crowd were justified?
11 A. Since I was there, please allow me to try to explain very briefly.
12 It is true that the crowd cried and shouted, "We will kill Tudjman," but
13 that was after the police paramilitary units were sent the night before
14 from Korenica to act against unarmed people. And there had been a
15 previous peaceful rally before the Municipal Assembly of Benkovac.
16 This crowd shouted out of fear, after those police forces had been
17 sent from Benkovac -- sorry, from Korenica to Benkovac. And they were
18 afraid. Those were unarmed people.
19 The same shouts could be heard in the Bukovic village. You have
20 to know that around 3.00 three helicopters were sent against those people.
21 It was an armed attack. And you know that the army did not take any
22 action, even after that meeting where Raskovic spoke. As an MP I was
23 interested and I couldn't be everywhere at the same time, but from where I
24 had been I think I was able to assess the situation quite objectively.
25 JUDGE BONOMY: Mr. Atlagic, did you join in these chants?
1 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] No.
2 JUDGE BONOMY: Why was it so easy for you to resist that sort of
3 -- why was it so easy for you to resist that sort of behaviour and yet the
4 vast majority of the crowd seemed to be engaging in that sort of
5 behaviour? What distinguishes you from them?
6 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Well, I will tell you, Mr. Bonomy.
7 It wasn't easy even for me. I must tell you that I was -- I had never
8 been afraid in my life as I was afraid then, but can you imagine those
9 people? Their level of educational attainment isn't that high. The
10 police had been sent to kill them all. And I can understand those chants
11 on their part.
12 In addition to that, in 1990, I think it was March, the HDZ was
13 set up in Benkovac.
14 JUDGE BONOMY: Remind me of the basis on which you say the police
15 had been sent to kill them all.
16 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Well, the basis is the later
17 development of events that made it clear: An assault against Serbs to
18 serve as an alibi for secession from Yugoslavia.
19 JUDGE BONOMY: But we're at the 17th of August. There's been one
20 murder, according to you. There's been the removal of arms from the
21 police. That's not a basis for saying, "The police are coming to kill us
22 all." So what is it these people are really demonstrating about and what
23 has caused it?
24 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] What caused it are earlier events in
25 the pre-election campaign and elections, but also what happened on the
1 previous day when the MUP of Croatia sent three vehicles full of armed
2 men, and the people were informed about it the next morning. And this
3 crowd is responding to that. They see it as struggling for survival.
4 MR. NICE:
5 Q. It's right, isn't it, that Knin was cut off from Croatia as of the
6 17th of August? Is that right?
7 A. Well, that's not what I know.
8 Q. Very well. Let's move on to Exhibit 352, tab 36. Again, you'll
9 understand I'm doing things chronologically and for a purpose. This is a
10 document that we looked at before.
11 MR. NICE: Your Honours, I should have asked: Can that last clip
12 please be admitted? The witness says he was present at the rally.
13 JUDGE ROBINSON: Yes.
14 THE REGISTRAR: Your Honours, that will be Exhibit 953, along with
15 the transcript.
16 MR. NICE:
17 Q. This is a document, I imagine you'll be familiar with it in some
18 way or other. It's dated the 1st of April, 1991. So back in 1991. And
19 it's a decision on the joining of the Serbian Autonomous District of
20 Krajina to the Republic of Serbia. Serbian Autonomous District of Krajina
21 joins itself to the Republic of Serbia. "By this decision's entry into
22 force, the territory of the Serbian Autonomous District of Krajina becomes
23 a constituent part of the unified state territory of the Republic of
25 Now, your regions were part of Croatia. Do you believe you had
1 any constitutional right suddenly to declare yourselves part of another
3 A. As for this decision, I haven't seen it before, but I know this:
4 It's the 1st of April, 1991, as it says here, however, already back in
5 1990, the Croatian Assembly passed a decision separating the Republic of
6 Croatia from Yugoslavia, and the Serbian Democratic Party followed up by
7 exercising that same right on behalf of the Serbian people who were
8 entitled to join others. Just as the Croats had that right, Serbs had the
9 same entitlement, according to the constitution. That is not in dispute.
10 But since I didn't follow these decisions, I was not really organised into
11 those parliaments or districts or whatever they were called, but I believe
12 that later, as far as I remember, although I can't be sure, this decision
13 was made null and void or it wasn't approved or something. But according
14 to the constitution, the Serbian people in Croatia had the same rights as
15 the Croat people. The Serbian Democratic Party organised itself to follow
16 up --
17 Q. [Previous translation continues] ...
18 A. -- on the actions of the Croatian Assembly.
19 Q. If there is a constitutional law issue that arises of significance
20 it will be dealt with, of course, by others and not you because you're not
21 a lawyer and I'm not asking you to.
22 JUDGE BONOMY: Have a look at the question you asked, though,
23 Mr. Nice.
24 MR. NICE: Yes, I said did he believe personally and he's given
25 his expression.
1 Q. But I now come to the next point, which is perhaps more
2 substantial, and it's this: Isn't it clear that before any eruption of
3 real violence, because this is the 1st of April, the Serbs in Croatia have
4 gone through the process of seeking effectively ethnic separation by the
5 declaration of the RSK, and they've already sought to join Serbia before
6 the eruption of any real interpersonal violence?
7 A. No. As far as the rights of both sides go, I'm not lawyer myself,
8 but as Mr. Bonomy said, I can say that that right is something that is
9 enjoyed equally by both Serbs and Croats. Now, what you say before 1991
10 or, rather, in 1990 as well, that there had been no violence, is not true,
11 because in 1991, we had violence throughout Croatia already. We had
12 Opacic, Ogulin, Zagreb, Gospic, the Drava and Sava rivers, Western
13 Slavonia, et cetera. So these processes had already been started.
14 Now, as far as the Republic of Srpska Krajina was concerned, it
15 just followed the proceedings in the Croatian parliament. Everything the
16 Croatian parliament did with respect to rights and forceful secession from
17 Yugoslavia, the Serbian Democratic Party, which was organised in --
18 availed itself of that same right that was accorded to the Serb people
19 pursuant to the constitution, and you see that the Republic of Srpska
20 Krajina in fact lagged behind those events because, if I have to remind
21 you of this, that in October already we had -- in 1990, that is, or,
22 rather, 1991, October, the government of the Republic of Croatia had
23 already proclaimed that the army was illegal on the territory on Croatia.
24 Terrible things, in a legal state. I ask you, if that had taken place in
25 your country, what would your countrymen have done? What would their
1 reaction have been?
2 Q. It was following this particular decision that we have the most
3 famous opening incidents of violence; Borovo Selo, Pakrac, and at about
4 the same time Plitvice. I may have time to go back to look at the detail
5 of those, but do you accept that those are the events May -- April, May of
6 1991, they were the first incidents of significant interpersonal violence
7 on your territory?
8 A. Well, I don't know events about Borovo Selo and that area, but
9 although Plitvice is outside my own constituency, I think that Plitvice,
10 that the situation there's quite clear: The Croatian paramilitaries
11 stormed the area and launched an onslaught on the people and property in
12 the area.
13 Q. I'm not in a position to accept that and I'm not in a position to
14 go into it in the time available.
15 JUDGE ROBINSON: Mr. Nice, what is your case, that the first
16 incidents of violence started in August or in April, May? Because earlier
17 you'd put August, I think.
18 MR. NICE: If I said August -- no, it's April. It's in March,
19 April, May. Plitvice, Pakrac, and Borovo Selo. Pakrac on the 1st and
20 Borovo Selo on the 2nd of May.
21 Q. Now, if we move on in time, you mentioned Kijevo, I think. What
22 can you say about Kijevo in a sentence?
23 A. Well, I don't know much, but I do know that the police forces
24 stationed in the village of Kijevo -- rather, the MUP of Croatia opened a
25 new police station there, and I know that the surrounding Serb inhabitants
1 were there and this was an attempt to provoke them. Now, what happened
2 later and how Croatia was separated from Yugoslavia has become common
4 Q. Kijevo was a critical place for communication, wasn't it? It's an
5 important road.
6 A. Well, I don't know the village very well, but I assume there is
7 something like that.
8 Q. And to that extent, as we're going to discover, it matches in the
9 interests of the RSK the position of Skabrnja, which is also on a critical
10 road. Do you accept that? Critical line of communication.
11 A. I can't claim 100 per cent, but I don't think so. Skabrnja is a
12 bordering village between the -- the municipality of Benkovac and Zadar.
13 And on the other side, towards Zadar, you have Croatian territories,
14 whereas on the other side, towards the Benkovac municipality, you have
15 Serb territory. I don't know that Kijevo was in that same situation or,
16 rather, perhaps I don't know the villages well enough, but I don't think
17 so. It's this borderline where on the one side you have ethnic Croats and
18 the other side ethnic Serbs.
19 Q. Can we look at a second clip, again from "The Death of
20 Yugoslavia," but with two people talking about what happened at Kijevo.
21 And again I'm interested in the exact language of Mladic and Martic.
22 We'll distribute the transcripts that we have. And this is
23 Sanction as well.
24 [Videotape played]
25 THE INTERPRETER: "[Voiceover] In the service of the homeland of
1 the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia with my brother officers and
2 I --"
3 THE INTERPRETER: The verb was lost.
4 [Videotape played]
5 THE INTERPRETER: "[Voiceover] In the service of the fatherland of
6 the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia with my brother officers and
7 everybody from all the nations and nationalities and with my units.
8 "The Croats didn't find the colonel as evenhanded as he claimed
9 when he --"
10 JUDGE ROBINSON: Just a minute. Yes, Mr. Milosevic.
11 THE INTERPRETER: Microphone, please. Microphone. Microphone.
12 THE ACCUSED: [Interpretation] This is once again the same thing,
13 an incorrect translation, which we see in the written translation of the
14 English. He says that he is serving his country - I'm paraphrasing him
15 now - with his comrades from amongst the ranks of all the nations and
16 nationalities, and he's saying that he is serving his country with his
17 comrades from the ranks of all the nations and nationalities. That's what
18 he said.
19 MR. NICE: Your Honours, we --
20 THE ACCUSED: [Interpretation] Whereas the translation here was he
21 was that he was protecting or defending, I don't know.
22 MR. NICE: [Previous translation continues] ...
23 JUDGE ROBINSON: Mr. Milosevic, pay more attention to the -- to
24 the actual interpretation.
25 MR. NICE: Press on, please.
1 [Videotape played]
2 THE INTERPRETER: "[Voiceover] Kijevo is Croatian but it -- behind
3 the village were Serb villages which were blocked. The Croats did not
4 allow through Kijevo that any supplies should reach those Serb villages.
5 When I decided to make an ultimatum, put an ultimatum to Kijevo --
6 "To the Kijevo police, who were Croats like the rest of the
7 villagers. It demanded that the police quit their post. When they
8 refused, Colonel Mladic ordered the regular Yugoslav army into action. It
9 was the first time they had brazenly fought for the Serb cause. They
10 pounded the Croatians into submission.
11 "[Interpretation] In Kijevo, every house was fired on with all --
12 all weapons of the unit. We did not destroy a single house simply for the
13 sake of it.
14 "[In English] Once the army was done, the local Serbs walked in.
15 "[Interpretation] I think that we were far superior to the Croats.
16 Of course a few houses in that clash was set fire to as things go, by the
18 "[In English] The Yugoslav flag was raised as the army seized
19 Croat town after Croat --"
20 MR. NICE:
21 Q. Forget the commentary. I'm not interested in the commentary.
22 Just listening to the words of Mladic and Martic, is it right as we look
23 at the development of things in your part of Croatia, is it right that
24 Kijevo was an all-out attack involving Mladic and Martic on a small
25 village? Is that your understanding of the position?
1 A. I don't know what year that was. Can you tell me, please, what
2 year? I can't remember when this took place.
3 Q. Kijevo was August 1991.
4 THE INTERPRETER: Microphone for the witness, please.
5 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Would you repeat the question again,
6 please? I apologise.
7 MR. NICE:
8 Q. Certainly. Is it right that in your part of Croatia Kijevo was
9 the first instance of an all-out attack involving both Mladic and Martic
10 on a small village?
11 A. I don't remember that Mladic took part. We saw the footage. But
12 I do know that as far as Kijevo is concerned, every inhabitant was really
13 armed, and I knew that humanitarian -- I know that humanitarian aid
14 couldn't be driven through the village. It was 1995, and that there were
15 Croatian paramilitaries stationed there. It wasn't the regular police.
16 They were the "Redarstvenici," as they were called. And as far as I
17 remember from the press, the president of the municipality, or the
18 Executive Council perhaps, I think his surname was Betal [phoen], Veljko
19 Popovic was provoked when he passed through and tried to calm the
20 situation down. I think he was attacked, along with somebody else whose
21 surname I can't remember now.
22 It's not the Croatian police force here. It was illegal police
23 forces which were not within the police system that had come to block the
24 passage through the village, as far as I remember. I think that's what
25 happened. The irregular police.
1 JUDGE BONOMY: The transcript refers to 1995, but you're talking
2 about 1991, aren't you?
3 MR. NICE: Yes, Your Honour.
4 JUDGE BONOMY: You are talking about 1991?
5 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Yes, 1991.
6 MR. NICE:
7 Q. Still staying with 1991, can we look at -- 643, tab 4. Trying to
8 get the development of things in your area --
9 JUDGE BONOMY: Mr. Nice, just before you leave that. How do we
10 know -- or are you suggesting that that filming was done at the time of
11 the action or is that just odd film to illustrate the commentary?
12 MR. NICE: Of course my understanding is that the film relates to
13 the time of the action indeed. I'm principally interested in the words of
14 the actors Mladic and Martic. And I would ask for that clip to be
16 JUDGE ROBINSON: Yes.
17 THE REGISTRAR: Your Honours, that will be Exhibit 954.
18 MR. NICE:
19 Q. Can we look now please at this document --
20 JUDGE BONOMY: Without the transcript because these transcripts --
21 JUDGE ROBINSON: The transcripts are not very helpful so without
22 the transcript.
23 MR. NICE:
24 Q. This is a document that you have. It's already an exhibit, 643,
25 tab 4. You can see that it's a source of military information from the
1 Federal Secretariat for National Defence, Milorad Boskovic, and it deals
2 with somebody called Captain Dragan, also known by his name of Daniel
3 Snedden, and it explains, if we would be good enough, please, Mr. Nort, to
4 go to the second page, about how this man had come to the Krajina - second
5 page - and had indeed operated as a trainer, as an instructor. Do you
6 know anything about Captain Dragan?
7 A. No, I do not. I really don't. His activities are not something
8 that is known to me.
9 Q. Have you never heard of him?
10 A. Well, I heard of him from the press, that's all.
11 Q. Yes. Did he have a training camp near your area or indeed in your
13 A. I don't remember his training camp, but from the press I learnt
14 that he did have some training camp somewhere.
15 Q. But in your area, in the Krajina there?
16 A. From reading about it in the papers, it said that he was training
17 volunteers somewhere.
18 Q. Can we just go back to the first page, Mr. Nort. We'll see that
19 it refers to: "By mid-June security organs gathered the initial
20 information on Captain Dragan engaged in the training of the special unit
21 of the SAO Krajina in the village of Golubic near Knin." Does that ring
22 any bells for you? Golubic would be about, I suppose, 50 kilometres, as
23 the crow flies, from Benkovac in a north-easterly direction or in an
24 easterly direction, wouldn't it? Did you know about his training camps?
25 A. No, I don't. I was never in Golubic nor did I pass through it. I
1 know that it's on the territory of Knin municipality, though.
2 Q. Did you know anything about the establishment of the Red Berets in
4 A. No, I didn't know about their establishment but I had heard of the
5 existence of the Red Berets.
6 Q. In 1991?
7 A. Well, I don't remember the year. I can't remember the year.
8 Q. Let's move on, then, given your position as a politician, to see
9 matters that you may know a little more about. Do you remember that it
10 was on the 17th of August, oddly enough, a year after the log revolution,
11 the 17th of August of 1991, that something called the Belgrade Initiative
12 was launched? Do you remember that initiative?
13 A. No, I don't. I'm not aware of it.
14 Q. In which case we'll move on to The Hague conference. Were you
15 aware of The Hague conference starting in September of 1991?
16 A. Possibly, but I didn't follow the activities of The Hague
18 Q. Not at all, even as a person interested in politics locally?
19 A. Well, perhaps I read something about it at the time, but I don't
20 know what you're referring to now. Remind me.
21 Q. Well, the conference lasted some time and offered confederation
22 and was refused by this accused. Were you aware of none of that?
23 A. No, I didn't know about any of that.
24 Q. While I was going to come to it later, since you asked me, I'll
25 just help you with this: Were you aware that in the course of The Hague
1 conference, or in its development, consideration was or would have been
2 given to giving your parts of Croatia something called special status with
3 a very high level of autonomy for the Serbs? Were you aware of that?
4 A. I don't know whether that was The Hague conference or not, but
5 everything that the international community, and in this case I don't know
6 about The Hague community -- conference, whether it was the European
7 Community or not, they were not legal matters. The international
8 community as me, Atlagic, in 1995 protected me from the paramilitaries,
9 but it brought me -- well, you see where; here and in Belgrade. So that
10 was all -- it wasn't the Croats that forced me out. It was the
11 international community. That was my legal protector in 1995, whereas it
12 cleansed me, along with 500.000 other inhabitants of the Serb area of
14 Q. [Previous translation continues] ...
15 A. So the most important thing, Mr. Nice, would be -- the most
16 important thing is that Dr. Franjo Tudjman already in 1990 accepted to
17 talk to the deputies - that would have been the most important thing, had
18 he accepted to talk to them - where there were Serb members. He never
19 wanted that. I was the initiator, but he didn't accept my offer. The
20 only person who wished to talk and negotiate was Dr. Vlado Vasenica
21 [phoen] from a party whose name I can't remember now, but he wasn't even
22 allowed to come into the area.
23 Q. [Previous translation continues] ...
24 A. They didn't allow him, the HDZ and paramilitaries didn't allow him
25 to come into the area to negotiate.
1 Q. It sounds as though you're saying that you were completely unaware
2 that consideration was given to your areas having special highly
3 autonomous status within Croatia if The Hague proposals had been accepted.
4 Were you completely unaware of that?
5 A. Possibly. I have forgotten what all that was about. But I do
6 know that the Serbs in Krajina at that time followed in the steps of what
7 the Croats were doing. When the Croats did something, they did something;
8 when the Croats seceded from Yugoslavia, then Republika Srpska Krajina
9 seceded from Croatia, pursuant to the same constitution that was in force.
10 So they sought the same rights as the Croatians enjoyed. That's the only
11 thing I remember.
12 Q. What I want to explore with you is this: Before those proposals,
13 as I must suggest to you, were rejected, we should deal with developing
14 violence in your area. Let's look at this map, which is part of Exhibit
15 336, just to remind ourselves of where everything is. We can see
16 Benkovac. I've highlighted a few areas. We can see Benkovac. Then to
17 the east we can see Golubic, where the training camp I suggested was. And
18 then between Benkovac and Zadar we can see Skabrnja and Nadin. Skabrnja,
19 thank you.
20 A. Yes.
21 Q. And Nadin. And it's clear, isn't it, that Skabrnja lies between a
22 railway line and a major road into Zadar. Yes?
23 A. Yes. Skabrnja is along the railway line, in fact, between
24 Benkovac and Zadar.
25 Q. Now, you offered some --
1 A. It's a village, and there's a train station in the village.
2 Q. You offered some information on the basis of a source of
3 information who spoke to you - don't name him - some time ago; is that
5 A. Yes.
6 MR. NICE: May we go into private session, please?
7 JUDGE ROBINSON: Yes, private session.
8 [Private session]
11 Pages 48709-48712 redacted. Private session.
23 [Open session]
24 THE REGISTRAR: We are in open session.
25 JUDGE BONOMY: I wanted to express personal concern about the use
1 of time, because we did make an order about how time should be divided,
2 and for various reasons which we don't need to explore at the moment, that
3 order is not being adhered to as far as the Prosecution is concerned. I
4 quite accept that it's not a mandatory or obligatory order in the sense of
5 others that the Trial Chamber issues, but if this practice continues, then
6 there's no way it's ever going to be met within the time scale allocated
7 for the Defence case, and I'm concerned that you do not appear to be
8 taking any steps to try to bring your use of time within that time scale.
9 MR. NICE: I'm making every effort I can. When witnesses come and
10 give wide-ranging evidence, it's, if I may say so, easier said than done,
11 to apply the test to ourselves, simply to select those items that will fit
12 the allotted amount of time.
13 JUDGE BONOMY: Mr. Nice, I understand that, but -- and I
14 understand also that it's a legitimate exercise of cross-examination to
15 expand the Prosecution case, but what we're trying to do is be fair in the
16 allocation of time, and you had your opportunity to present the
17 Prosecution case, and it may be that continuing to do that rather than to
18 challenge what's being presented by the Defence is what's causing this.
19 And while, as again I emphasise, it's a legitimate thing to do, in the
20 overall context of the timing in this case, it may not be the appropriate
21 way to proceed in fairness to everyone involved.
22 MR. NICE: I understand Your Honour's concern. Can I answer it in
23 this way: What I've been doing this morning is in fact challenging his
24 evidence, because the evidence given is of two types, specific where he's
25 dealt usually by hearsay with particular events, but also general and
1 specific where he's dealt with themes. And to challenge those themes - if
2 Your Honour will indulge me - to challenge those themes and to show that
3 they are false and therefore to put the Prosecution's case, which is my
4 other duty, I'm afraid sometimes needs an exploration of matters from many
6 I'm quite -- I hope to finish by the end of this morning's session
7 for a range of reasons, and I may decide to go almost no further after the
8 session when I've summarised things.
9 JUDGE BONOMY: So you don't misunderstand my position, Mr. Nice, I
10 fully appreciate that in relation to every witness you could make exactly
11 the same point as you've just made. That doesn't deal with the overall
13 MR. NICE: No.
14 JUDGE BONOMY: The point is there was to be an overall use of time
15 and now that you've got into this predicament, I would suggest something
16 has to be done to resolve it.
17 MR. NICE: Yes. The only thing that I can do to resolve it --
18 take this witness. I don't know that the witness needs to be in here
19 while we discuss it, but I don't mind his being here.
20 I could, I suppose, have simply taken the one or two pieces of
21 evidence that might have seemed to be concrete, Skabrnja and Bruska --
22 JUDGE BONOMY: You're not dealing with my point, because I accept
23 all that. I think there is no answer to the point except for you to
24 review your position, and I'm simply encouraging you to do that.
25 MR. NICE: Very well.
1 JUDGE ROBINSON: We are adjourned for 20 minutes.
2 --- Recess taken at 10.39 a.m.
3 --- On resuming at 11.06 a.m.
4 JUDGE ROBINSON: Where is the witness?
5 MR. NICE: Your Honour, I asked for the witness to be kept out.
6 JUDGE ROBINSON: No. We are going to move on, Mr. Nice, with the
8 MR. NICE: Very well. I was only going to seek your assistance
9 but I can do it in the presence of the witness, or I can do it after the
10 witness is concluded.
11 JUDGE ROBINSON: Let the witness be brought in.
12 [The witness entered court]
13 MR. NICE: May we return briefly to private session to conclude
14 what I was --
15 JUDGE ROBINSON: Private session, yes.
16 [Private session]
11 Page 48717 redacted. Private session.
11 [Open session]
12 MR. NICE:
13 Q. One point that I omitted to get correct is that even if he'd
14 started or was at sometime at Golubic, the man Dragan's camp was actually
15 at Bruska, very near to Benkovac, wasn't it?
16 A. Bruska is near Benkovac, yes.
17 Q. And he had his camp there?
18 A. I don't know whether he had it in Golubic or there. I really
19 don't know anything about the activities of that man.
20 JUDGE BONOMY: Mr. Atlagic, were you living in Benkovac at the
22 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Throughout the time from 1990 to
23 1995, I lived in Benkovac.
24 JUDGE BONOMY: And you didn't know about these activities?
25 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] I didn't, but I heard the name of
1 Captain Dragan.
2 JUDGE BONOMY: All right. Thank you.
3 MR. NICE:
4 Q. Can we look, please, and I'm now going to turn very rapidly to
5 Skabrnja, could we look at Exhibit 352 tab 166. Your Honours, this is a
6 document that contained a letter from Martic with his own English version
7 of it. It is only that English version that has been admitted. There is
8 now another English translation but I better rely on the English version
9 that is in evidence, and if Mr. Nort would place that on the overhead
11 Mr. Atlagic, on the 28th of September, and you've got the
12 original, I hope, B/C/S version, and we'll put Martic's own English
13 version on the overhead projector, Martic said on the 28th of September:
14 "We have surely information that on the 29/30 ... of September, by force,
15 immigration of the population is planned for Skabrnja, Novi Grad and
16 Pridraga. In the view that the Croatian side knows very well our
17 attitude, it means that the immigration of population confirms a special
18 commission of the RSK Government, therefore should exist suitable
19 conditions, we inform you that we will be forced to present by force
20 arrival on the territory of Republic Serbian Krajina. We have opinion
21 that the prevention of the arrival in the RSK, Croatian side will use as a
22 motive for the offensive actions ..."
23 So he's threatening or offering the use of force. Do you remember
24 this incident being a forerunner to what happened at Skabrnja? Sorry,
25 after. No, sorry, it's ... No. Very well. I'll come back to that
1 letter because -- can I deal with Skabrnja in a different way and very
3 MR. NICE: The Court will remember or will be reminded that there
4 are many exhibits dealing with Skabrnja and I'll list them: Exhibit 387,
5 tab 33, Exhibit 387, tab 34; Exhibit 387, tab 35; and Exhibit 475, tab 4.
6 Time means I'll just take tab -- Exhibit 475, tab 4, and we'll look at
8 Q. Mr. Atlagic, there are a number of reports that are available to
9 the Court on what happened in Skabrnja, and I'm only going to rely or
10 refer you to one of them.
11 So if we look at this document, you can see that it comes from
12 Simo Rosic. Did you know him?
13 A. No, but before showing me this document, you showed me another
15 Q. [Previous translation continues] ...
16 A. The one from Milan Martic. Can I just say that you say this
17 preceded what happened in Skabrnja, whereas this document is dated 1992.
18 Q. [Previous translation continues] ... we'll come back to that in a
19 second. Please concentrate on this -- please concentrate on this
21 Now, this document is an Official Note coming from Simo Rosic.
22 It's dated the 8th of March of 1992, and it says, second paragraph --
23 well, he's conducted interviews with personnel, and he says: "As the
24 collected data shows that the killings -" this is in Skabrnja and Nadin -
25 "were committed by members of the Benkovac Territorial Defence special
1 units, or units that fought under their command. These were volunteers
2 from Serbia and Opacic's group composed of combatants from this area.
3 "Volunteers from Serbia committed murder in Skabrnja village,
4 while, according to unconfirmed data, Opacic's groups killed members of
5 the Odzakovic family (the Boxer) in Nadin and killed three people captured
6 from Skabrnja village in Smilcic."
7 He then goes on to give matters of detail of something that
8 happened in Skabrnja. Do you accept on the basis of this official report,
9 prepared at the time by the Lieutenant Commander Rosic, that in fact the
10 killings in Skabrnja were committed by people from Serbia in a group
11 headed by Opacic at least in part?
12 A. I don't know this group that is referred to here, this Opacic's
13 group, but as for the group in Serbia, I doubt it, especially since
14 Colonel Stefanovic got killed. I don't know why a group from Serbia
15 needed to come there if there was the Territorial Defence from Benkovac
16 plus the army acting as a buffer. I don't believe that anybody from
17 Serbia did these things.
18 And as for this other group, I really don't know. Maybe somebody
19 else knows more about it.
20 Q. We had evidence in this court which I want you to deal with in
21 light of your account that it was all, as it were, innocent on the Serb
22 part, from Marko Miljanic, a Croat, and he gives an account of the -- a
23 detailed account of how the attack was mounted and spoke in terms of not
24 only what he saw but of overhearing a conversation between Mladic and a
25 Lieutenant Colonel Cecovic in a communications room. He overheard a radio
1 communication. Do you know Lieutenant Colonel Cecovic?
2 A. No. No. I really don't know anything about these military men as
4 Q. Because the suggestion is, and you claim to have information of a
5 reliable kind coming from this area close to your town, the information is
6 that there was the sound of an ammunition truck or something exploding.
7 Cecovic proposed withdrawal and Mladic told him that if he withdrew he'd
8 shoot him, and he stayed on. The evidence goes on to speak about
9 helicopters arriving. That's the evidence before this Court. Did you
10 know anything about a loud explosion? It's in your area. Did you know
11 anything about helicopters arriving with troops that then entered
13 A. No, I'm not aware of that. I'm hearing it for the first time now
14 from you.
15 Q. You see, that evidence was given in this court by an eyewitness.
16 He didn't know what other evidence there might be. We've now had evidence
17 in things called Supreme Defence Council records. I haven't got the time
18 to go to them, but one of them shows that the man Cecovic was rewarded by
19 promotion, inter alia, for preserving the western borders of the RSK. In
20 seizing Skabrnja which lay between the railway line and an important road,
21 what he was doing was preserving the -- the western borders, wasn't he?
22 That would be a proper interpretation of what you're doing.
23 You're preserving the western borders by taking Skabrnja.
24 A. No. No. You should link up these events in a slightly broader
25 context. Before Skabrnja, again in November, you have the expulsion of
1 Serbs from Western Slavonia. The same things are happening at the same
2 time. Skabrnja is coordinated with Western Slavonia because Croatian
3 forces attacked Serbs in Western Slavonia. They're doing the same thing
4 in November in Skabrnja. And already on the 16th of November -- sorry,
5 16th of October, 1991, the government had by that time already ordered
6 the army to withdraw, and immediately afterwards these attacks on Serbs
8 The order had been given on the 16th October, 1991, to the army to
9 withdraw, and at that time the army was already under attack in all areas
10 of Croatia, especially barracks. You didn't allow me to tell you this
11 yesterday, but Spegelj is now saying himself that the attacks on barracks
12 were carried out on his orders.
13 Q. I'm not sure that you've answered my question but I'm going to
14 move on to this: First of all, the man Cecovic, who you say you don't
15 know, was actually the commander of the Benkovac Brigade. Are you sure
16 you didn't know this man, if you were there and a politician in a town of
17 the size of yours?
18 A. I will try to be specific and answer you truthfully. I don't know
19 this man. And you keep emphasising that I was a politician. I was just a
20 representative who by that time was not even recognised by the Croatian
21 authorities. You know how much politicians can do when conflicts have
22 already started.
23 I was not even a politician of the Serbian Democratic Party and
24 did not engage in their activities, so I was not in a position to know all
25 these things --
1 Q. Very well --
2 A. -- that were organised by them.
3 Q. [Previous translation continues] ... extract was drawn is 666, tab
4 37, the minute of the 13th of June of 1995.
5 Further, in relation to Skabrnja, again given in live evidence
6 without necessarily access to these documents, the witness Milan Babic
7 explained that the man -- he had heard that the man Goran Klempo Opacic
8 had been involved in the killings, and he also explained that General
9 Vukovic had told him that this village had to be taken before the winter
10 so that he could make the lines, that's the lines of the Yugoslav People's
11 Army's occupation, straight, and that the Croat villages disturbed -- of
12 Skabrnja and Nadin disturbed that line.
13 Now, that's in material before this Court. Thinking back and
14 remembering how much you actually did know or you did experience, or how
15 little, isn't the truth that Skabrnja and Nadin were taken for
16 specifically territorial reasons?
17 A. No, that's not right. Nobody intended to take Skabrnja or Nadin.
18 The case is that Croatian paramilitary formations staged daily
19 provocations against Serb population. You know that Skabrnja happened in
20 November, whereas before that, the 16th of October, 1991, the Croatian
21 government issued an order that the army should withdraw from Croatian
22 territory, and attacks started immediately against the army. Two soldiers
23 were killed very early on.
24 You are trying to represent these incidents as something organised
25 by the local people and incursions from people from Serbia. You have
1 heard the testimony of Mr. Mesic here. Everybody knows what was done by
2 those people who were trying to break up Yugoslavia.
3 Q. To finish this point and to try to come to a rapid end, the man
4 Opacic, known as Klempo, was honoured and rewarded as a Red Beret in a
5 ceremony in 1997 - we don't have time to look at it in detail - for his
6 work in this area, and I am suggesting to you that the man Opacic was
7 rewarded for his work in the Supreme defence Council.
8 We've seen what is said about Martic's connection outside the
9 area. Isn't the reality that something like the taking of Skabrnja was
10 put in place by people including people from Serbia or from outside the
11 area and probably directed from outside the area? Looking back, isn't
12 that the truth?
13 I got the names wrong. Yes. It was Cecovic who was rewarded in
14 the Supreme Defence Council.
15 A. No. No, that's not true. Skabrnja would never have been taken,
16 and Serbs never took anything or launched aggression against anything.
17 They just defended their homes and fields. And if you talk about
18 Skabrnja, nobody attacked that place until the situation in Serb villages
19 close to Skabrnja became unbearable because of daily attacks. And you
20 have this decision of the Croatian government of the 16th of October,
21 1991, that the army must withdraw by November, and the army from that time
22 on was constantly under attack in all areas of Croatia. And I'm not aware
23 of this man being decorated in 1995. I really don't know about it. And
24 if you are talking about the evidence of a particular witness that you
25 heard here, these witnesses have a particular relationship to those
1 persons, so you can't trust them.
2 Q. One of your exhibits, tab 13, please, I suggested at an earlier
3 stage that the Chamber might have found this an interesting document to
4 read and I don't know if it took up my invitation.
5 You will have heard me express my concerns yesterday about
6 extracts being taken from documents, and let my make it quite plain,
7 although my objection to extracts being used doesn't necessarily mean I
8 suggest the authors are unreliable, for example, I'm just informing the
9 Court really, through you, the man Puhovski is a man who features in human
10 rights reports on which we might well rely if we had time. But this one,
11 Exhibit tab 13, is we've got in context. We looked at only the first two
12 sentences, but if we look at the rest of it, under the heading "Can geese
13 save the city?" I want your comments on some of the things he says. He
14 speaks of intellectuals, and this is in December 1991 -- put it on the
15 overhead projector, bottom of the page: "Serbian and Croatian nationalism
16 were considered to be dangerous while, for example, the ethnic sentiments
17 of Macedonians and Muslims were flattered. All this was subordinate to
18 the principles of the communist dictatorship. The roots of this
19 dictatorship were deeper here than elsewhere, because the communist system
20 was not introduced to Yugoslavia at the end of foreign bayonets. The
21 Yugoslav revolution had its own social and national sources, and Tito was
22 its genuine hero. The dispute over the responsibility for Titoism has
23 continued to the present day. The Serbs claim that they suffered
24 discrimination in the Yugoslavia run by the communists. The Croats claim
25 that Yugoslavia was simply a different version of Serbian domination over
1 other nations. And both are right to an extent. This is how they accept
2 reality and consciousness about reality as an important part of the same
4 And then this about this accused: "This is not the place to
5 explain the unusually complex Serbo-Albanian dispute over Kosovo. Let us
6 say only this: Slobodan Milosevic, the Communist leader of Serbia, has
7 succeeded in winning over a large swathe of public opinion with the slogan
8 of defending the Serbs in Kosovo."
9 Now, this is a Polish intellectual of great repute writing at the
10 end of 1991. So at that stage development of violence was limited. Do
11 you agree with him that by the end of 1991 this accused had won over
12 swathes of public opinion with the slogan of "defending the Serbs in
14 A. If we talk about the accused, Slobodan Milosevic, he did not win
15 anybody over. There is a large number of Serb people standing behind him
16 to this day. I don't know what the purpose of this reading is at all. If
17 you take the Serbian approach to Kosovo, you are not going to tell me, are
18 you, that Kosovo doesn't belong to Serbia. It does.
19 JUDGE ROBINSON: Okay. Thank you.
20 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] It's the same thing as asking you
21 whether England is part of some other territory.
22 JUDGE ROBINSON: [Previous translation continues] ...
23 MR. NICE:
24 Q. The paragraph continues about defending the historic tradition of
25 Serbia, seeing a natural ally in this accused, and yet he was -- same page
1 -- he was also supported by the intellectuals who for years fought with
2 the Communist apparatus. "They believed that Milosevic would destroy
3 communism by giving back the Serbs their identity, and that they would be
4 his intellectual and executive apparatus. This alliance was an illusion
5 about the road to broad support, an illusion about the road to power, one
6 to which intellectuals frequently succumb in their belief that their ideas
7 will become a material force at the moment the masses accept them."
8 And he goes on, and this is the last part I want, although I'd
9 like the Chamber to read the whole of the document: "Milosevic was the
10 embodiment of a variant of national communism familiar in other countries
11 too. In Romania those ideas were represented by Ceaucescu, in Poland by
12 Moczar, although Milosevic was a far more intellectual and skilful
13 incarnation. He used this to conquer the Serbs and seduce a number of
15 JUDGE ROBINSON: What is your question in relation to this,
16 Mr. Nice?
17 MR. NICE:
18 Q. Does this witness agree with this?
19 A. Of course I don't agree with this passage. You cannot compare
20 Milosevic to Ceaucescu or Yugoslavia to Romania. This is child talk.
21 Serbia has its own specific road, and if you talk about President
22 Milosevic, he was in favour of Yugoslavia as a federal state based on
23 equality of all peoples. Everybody knows that. If you are going to claim
24 that --
25 JUDGE ROBINSON: [Previous translation continues] ...
1 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] -- he broke up Yugoslavia, those who
2 broke up Yugoslavia sat in my witness box at one point.
3 MR. NICE: On a matter that was dealt with in private session
4 yesterday, very briefly in private session today, and then I shall try and
5 be done.
6 [Private session]
11 Pages 48730-48734 redacted. Private session.
17 [Open session]
18 MR. NICE: Your Honours, I'm not -- I simply don't have time to do
19 more than to note that in the document I showed earlier to this witness,
20 the Martic letter of September 28th --
21 Q. It's right, isn't it, that the letter we were looking at first - I
22 got it out of order - shows the reaction of Martic to the possible
23 repopulation of this area by Croats. Is that right?
24 A. No, that's not my understanding of it. I don't understand it like
25 you do, Mr. Nice. It says reliable information that in 1992, et cetera,
1 et cetera, that forcible repopulation of the area in Skabrnja, et cetera,
2 et cetera. But listen, this is 1992 now. We're talking about 1992 now,
3 and the events took place in 1991. So that it is highly unpopular later
4 on to re-populate the border belt by anyone, because there is the threat
5 to the population there, anybody coming up to the front line. Of course,
6 I'm not a military expert myself, but I'm following logics here. And I
7 don't think Martic ever strove for the forcible repopulation of or
8 re-establishment of any population. At least, I don't know about that.
9 Q. And then finally, because you remained a politician, you remained
10 in Benkovac right through from The Hague conference through the various
11 other negotiations that you may have heard about, through the Vance Plan,
12 the Cutileiro Plan, the Washington Agreement, the Contact Group plan --
13 well, that's for Bosnia -- the Z-4 plan for Croatia, we will explore this
14 maybe with other witnesses but I want your comment on this: All
15 international proposals that were made were one way or another rejected by
16 the Serbs in Croatia for whom they were in part aimed to benefit. Am I
17 not right?
18 A. No, that is not right. Not all the proposals were rejected by the
19 Serbs. For example, I'm not aware of although I don't know about this
20 later period that much, but I don't know that the last agreement was
21 rejected by the Serbs in Croatia because the -- it was Mr. Babic who
22 signed the agreement, the Z-4 agreement. Mr. Babic signed it before the
23 exodus took place. However that agreement, the Z-4 agreement, regardless
24 of the fact that Babic signed it, the Croatian Sabor or parliament never
25 adopted it. Croatia did not wish to have any Z-4 agreement. So when
1 we're looking at this, you must look at it in relation to the Croatian
2 government and the steps it took when it came to politics, regardless of
3 whether -- what the Serbs did. Well, in 1990 the Serbs offered autonomy.
4 Raskovic was a Serb. The Croatian authorities did not accept that, and
5 Babic is somebody who you've been referring to for the past two days and
6 he was the one who signed the Z-4 plan. The greatest exodus in history in
7 the past 200 years took place, and as a representative of the
8 international community I would like to see you strive for the population
9 going back to their territory. I'd like to go back to my own apartment,
10 for instance.
11 Q. My last question to you is this: The truth that is your evidence
12 and your behaviour at the time was motivated by overwhelming desire,
13 without violence driving it, for separation from the Croats and indeed for
14 joining to Serbia. Isn't that right?
15 A. Whose statement, Mr. Nice? What are you talking about?
16 JUDGE BONOMY: Can you give an example of the behaviour of this
17 witness that you're relying on as a foundation for that question?
18 MR. NICE:
19 Q. Yes. First of all, let me make it quite plain to you,
20 Mr. Atlagic, your evidence insofar as it seeks to exculpate the Serbs at
21 every turn is evidence, I must suggest to you, is coloured and not
22 accurate. You've given evidence that is exculpatory of the Serbs: No
23 offences committed by them, innocent at Skabrnja, innocent at Bruska, and
24 I suggest to you that that evidence is coloured and not accurate.
25 JUDGE BONOMY: With respect, Mr. Nice, you're not dealing with my
1 point when you say that. I'm asking you if there's an evidential
2 foundation for saying that this witness's behaviour - and by that you're
3 not referring to his evidence, because you dealt with that separately -
4 his behaviour indicated that he wanted the objective that you refer to;
5 separation from the Croats.
6 MR. NICE: In which case I must withdraw the word "behaviour," and
7 it's his evidence.
8 JUDGE BONOMY: Thank you. Thank you.
9 MR. NICE: It was, I think, what I intended and I don't -- I don't
10 -- I wasn't --
11 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Well, there isn't any of that.
12 Q. Very well.
13 A. Mr. Nice, you are a very strange man because you're insinuating
14 that I said something I didn't and that doesn't stem from my testimony and
15 evidence. Now, as far as my behaviour is concerned and I myself was
16 concerned, I am an honourable man, a decent man, and that is how I behave
17 towards both the Croats and the Serbs. And the Croats know that full
18 well, and I'm very pleased to say -- see that they are attending these
19 proceedings, so don't insinuate anything. Now, as far as the Serb
20 responsibility is concerned, I didn't say that there were no -- there was
21 no individual responsibility when it comes to crimes, but you cannot
22 justify a state which was formed on the basis of crimes against the Serb
23 people. How are you going to justify that because it was violent in your
24 position as Prosecutor? Listen here, Mr. Nice, we are -- you're
25 attempting to try Mr. Milosevic here and you are trying me here, you're
1 trying yourself here, and the Trial Chamber, the Court here.
2 JUDGE ROBINSON: That's enough.
3 MR. NICE:
4 Q. Since you asked those questions, you have described this Court as
5 a monster Court and your favoured politician of all is still Vojislav
6 Seselj, isn't he? You believe him to be a great adornment.
7 A. No, I did not describe him that way. Don't insinuate something
8 that you wish to hear from me. That is not what I said. I didn't say he
9 was monstrous. When it comes to the Court, I have my opinion and you know
10 what my opinion is, but don't link up Vojislav Seselj in this context.
11 When it comes to Vojislav Seselj, I speak about him with pride. I don't
12 know why you are linking me with Vojislav Seselj at all. He's an
13 honourable, decent man, democratically prone, Europeanly -- prone for
14 Europe and civilisational trends and so on.
15 JUDGE ROBINSON: Mr. Nice, I take it you have concluded. Yes.
16 Mr. Milosevic, any re-examination?
17 THE ACCUSED: [Interpretation] Mr. Robinson, I told you yesterday
18 that I didn't feel well, and you refused to accept that. Let me repeat:
19 I do not feel well.
20 JUDGE ROBINSON: Now, how can you say I refused to accept that?
21 There is absolutely no basis for that. I gave specific instructions to
22 the Court deputy and the Registrar to see that you would be examined
23 yesterday afternoon. It's an absolute falsehood to say that I did not
24 accept that you are not well.
25 What is your position now?
1 THE ACCUSED: [Interpretation] The same as yesterday.
2 [Trial Chamber confers]
3 JUDGE ROBINSON: Mr. Kay, are you in a position to re-examine?
4 MR. KAY: There is one matter I'd like to ask about which I hope
5 the witness can deal with. I'm not sure that he can, but it may be of
6 importance. I'll try and find the reference.
7 Questioned by Mr. Kay:
8 Q. You were referred to a document from the Prosecution exhibits
9 which originated from Milan Babic, and it concerned his decision that the
10 RSK should declare themselves as a part of Serbia on the 1st of April of
11 1991. That was an exhibit at 352 of the Prosecution collection, tab 36.
12 Do you remember that evidence?
13 A. Yes.
14 Q. You referred to it as having been ruled null and void. Are you
15 able to give any more details about the rejection of that declaration as
16 to what party rejected it and when?
17 A. Well, I can't do that now. If you were to give me more time, then
18 I'd look into it. That wouldn't be the problem. I seem to remember
19 hazily that somebody did reject it, not only reject it in Krajina but I
20 think in Serbia as well. So it never took effect, and the events that
21 followed speak about that.
22 Q. Yes. You were a politician there at the time. Were you aware of
23 the declaration by Milan Babic that the RSK would be a part of Serbia from
24 the 1st of April? Were you aware of that at the time?
25 A. Well, I wasn't aware of that, but I know it on the basis of some
1 general events, that there were rumours going round among the ordinary
2 folk. But I didn't know the specific move. But there was always mention
3 made that Krajina would be Krajina but within the composition of
5 Q. You referred to it being rejected. Are you able to give any
6 information about the rejection from Serbia of that declaration?
7 A. Well, as far as I remember, there was never any mention in Serbia
8 about that, this joining. None of the officials talked about that, and
9 not the citizens, certainly, that Krajina would be a part of Serbia, so I
10 really don't know about that.
11 Q. It's being put to you, you see, that this was a step, part of a
12 series of steps that were being taken by the Serbian government to annex
13 or otherwise take control of the Krajina. You understand that?
14 A. Yes.
15 Q. As far as you were aware from your role in politics, was that the
16 motivation that was coming from Serbia? Was that what the Serbian
17 government was directing to you or your party?
18 A. As far as I was concerned, the Serb government from Belgrade nor
19 my party was doing that. The Government of Republika Srpska Krajina,
20 starting with the 1990s when the municipalities were established, was
21 constituted itself, and it had a political party, the Serbian Democratic
22 Party, which never allowed anybody to become involved from outside. The
23 late Raskovic would not have allowed Serbia to get involved, or even
24 Mr. Milosevic to get involved, never. And I think that is common
25 knowledge to one and all. So I don't believe in this. Now, whether the
1 decision was passed or not, I really can't say. I have my doubts about
2 this piece of paper because it wasn't the wish of the people. The wish of
3 the people was to defend themselves but it wasn't Serbia's desire, on an
4 official level or unofficial level, as far as I know.
5 Q. Just dealing with some other -- other matters. November 1991, you
6 were still officially a deputy of the Croatian Assembly; is that right?
7 A. Yes. You said November 1991. I don't think so, not in November.
8 Officially I was, yes, but there was an interruption in communications, so
9 physically I wasn't able to attend.
10 Q. Yes. That's what I put to you, that officially you were, but were
11 you able to take part in any of the activities of the Sabor at that time?
12 A. Well, my activities were linked to my evidence yesterday and
13 statements yesterday, but many others that you didn't have a chance of
14 hearing. But later on the Croatian government never sent me any material
15 or documents for the sessions, because they saw me as a liability because
16 I asked the right questions in the right place. But I wasn't allowed to
17 say yesterday, the Prosecution didn't permit me to say, it went on to
18 other things, but I was physically attacked in the Croatian parliament. I
19 was physically attacked in the Sabor by the deputies, and I went home, I
20 sent in a letter of protest, because I asked that the government of
21 Croatia take responsibility for what had happened on the ground, and I put
22 it -- wanted to put it on the agenda. Three men came up to me and swore
23 at me, saying that I was a Chetnik, that I went to Belgrade, and so on and
24 so forth, and that I had nothing to do there, it wasn't my place to be
1 JUDGE ROBINSON: Thank you. That was a bit off course. Yes.
2 MR. KAY:
3 Q. In November 1991, what was your connection with the region of
4 Skabrnja or the area, the village of Skabrnja, the area around there?
5 Were you in the location at that time?
6 A. Well, no, I wasn't in the location, not in Skabrnja, no. It's a
7 different municipality, and that's where the separation line was. So it
8 was very difficult to be there up at the line, and I had no need to go
9 there either.
10 Q. How far away at that time were you from Skabrnja?
11 A. Well, Benkovac, Skabrnja, that's a distance of not more than 15 to
12 20 [Realtime transcript read in error"50"] kilometres. But I was even
13 closer. For example, I passed through the village of Biljana, which was
14 shelled almost on a daily basis. It was shelled every day, and that's a
15 regional road running from Benkovac to Biljana and Zadar. Benkovac,
16 Biljana and Zemunik, that's another Serb place. So the cars were targeted
17 all the time, so I was close by but not that close.
18 Q. But were you in a position in November 1991 to have been close
19 enough to Skabrnja to be able to understand what was happening around that
21 A. Well, I was in Biljana Donja. That's the closest point. I passed
22 through that area. And I went to see some local municipal officials that
23 I happened to know from earlier on, because I was president of Benkovac
24 municipality earlier on in the 1980s, and it's not that far.
25 MR. KAY: Thank you. That's all I ask.
1 JUDGE ROBINSON: Thank you, Mr. Kay.
2 Mr. Atlagic, that concludes your evidence, and we thank you for
3 coming to the Tribunal to give it, and you may now leave.
4 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Thank you too.
5 [The witness withdrew]
6 JUDGE ROBINSON: Mr. Nice?
7 MR. NICE: Page 64, as I have it, line 2, it says no more than 50
8 kilometres. I think he said 15, and in any event the map shows it's 15.
9 He said 15 to 20, according to Ms. Tromp, who was -- Yes, so 50 is wrong.
10 JUDGE ROBINSON: 50 is wrong. Yes.
11 MR. NICE: It's clearly wrong. It's 15 to 20.
12 JUDGE ROBINSON: Yes.
13 MR. NICE: Before the next witness comes in, I don't know whether
14 the Chamber would find it helpful to discuss further the time problem.
15 JUDGE ROBINSON: No, I'm not going to hear any submissions on that
16 now. The Chamber will consider that matter and, if necessary, invite
18 Mr. Kay, are you in a position to lead the next witness?
19 MR. KAY: No. Perhaps if we took the break now, because we're
20 nearly at that stage, maybe to half past, just to see how things develop
21 until then.
22 [Trial Chamber confers]
23 JUDGE ROBINSON: We will adjourn for 25 minutes.
24 --- Recess taken at 12.12 p.m.
25 --- On resuming at 12.42 p.m.
1 JUDGE ROBINSON: Mr. Milosevic, may I inquire whether you are in a
2 position to continue now?
3 THE ACCUSED: [Interpretation] Mr. Robinson, I certainly intend to
4 examine my witness. Nobody else can do it. Therefore, if you feel that
5 we must go on now, I will examine.
6 [Trial Chamber confers]
7 JUDGE ROBINSON: Very well, Mr. Milosevic. We will continue.
8 Just to rehearse what happened: Your earlier statement that I did not
9 take account of your illness yesterday I consider to be demonstrably and
10 mischievously false. I ordered yesterday that you should be examined by a
11 competent doctor. I regret that that was not done.
12 I have to say that on the information which I now have, you will
13 be examined today by a specialist, either at 3.30 or at 6.00 p.m. We have
14 just about an hour to finish, so let the witness be brought in.
15 [The witness entered court]
16 JUDGE ROBINSON: Let the witness make the declaration.
17 THE WITNESS: I solemnly declare that I will speak the truth, the
18 whole truth, and nothing but the truth.
19 JUDGE ROBINSON: You may sit.
20 WITNESS: JAMES BISSETT
21 JUDGE ROBINSON: And you may begin, Mr. Milosevic.
22 Examination by Mr. Milosevic:
23 Q. [Interpretation] Good afternoon, Mr. Bissett. Please introduce
25 A. My name is James Bissett. I am a citizen of Canada and former
1 Canadian ambassador to the former Yugoslavia from October of 1990 until
2 June of 1992. I'm here on my own behalf. That is to say I'm not
3 representing my government, and I'm not representing any organisation or
4 group. I am here because I was asked by Mr. Milosevic's Defence to appear
5 and give evidence on his behalf. I was -- so I've come here on my own
6 free will and as an individual citizen of Canada now.
7 JUDGE ROBINSON: What's your background, Mr. Bissett?
8 THE WITNESS: I spent 36 years in the Government of Canada as a
9 public servant, serving in the Department of Foreign Affairs and in the
10 immigration service. I was the head of the Canadian immigration service
11 from 1982 to 1985. I was then appointed High Commissioner to Trinidad and
12 Tobago in 1982 and I served there until 1985 with the Department of
13 External Affairs. I was then brought back to Canada and exchanged to the
14 Immigration Department, to be the head of the Canadian immigration
15 service. I did that job for five years and then was appointed ambassador
16 to Yugoslavia in 1990.
17 I retired in 1992 when I left Yugoslavia, and I went to Moscow for
18 five years as the head of an international organisation headquartered in
19 Geneva, called the International Organisation for Migration. We were
20 trying to help the Russians deal with large numbers of Russians who were
21 returning to the Russian Republic after the collapse of the Soviet Union.
22 I retired -- I left Moscow in 1997 and returned to Canada and have been
23 retired since then.
24 JUDGE ROBINSON: Thank you.
25 Yes, Mr. Milosevic. Please continue.
1 MR. MILOSEVIC: [Interpretation]
2 Q. Mr. Bissett, as you have said, you were ambassador to Yugoslavia.
3 In view of the fact that you were the ambassador of a very large country
4 who is a NATO member, how did it come about that you wish to testify on my
5 behalf? Why?
6 A. I wish to testify on your behalf because while I was ambassador in
7 Yugoslavia, during those two critical years, I found that in my dealings
8 with you you seemed to be doing everything you could do at the time to
9 keep Yugoslavia united. And I have followed closely the events in
10 Yugoslavia since I left, and I find it strange that the one leader of the
11 Yugoslav Republic that wanted to keep the country together and did
12 whatever he could when the violence started to indeed cooperate fully with
13 the international agencies to bring peace to Yugoslavia is now -- is now
14 the accused at the court.
15 Your actions while I was there would have indicated that there are
16 others who are more deeply involved trying to break up the country and who
17 were inciting the bloodshed and violence that you were doing your best to
19 For those reasons, I felt that the Tribunal should at least hear
20 my views.
21 Q. Mr. Bissett, after you were no longer the ambassador to Yugoslavia,
22 you continued to take an interest in events there, as you yourself have
23 said. What were the sources of your information and how did you follow
24 the events in Yugoslavia thereafter?
25 A. Well, I followed the events there as closely as I could by reading
1 the newspapers, watching television, and taking a close interest in -- in
2 the Balkans, as I always have done. I know the history well, and I
3 followed the events there as closely as I could. I also had former
4 diplomatic colleagues of mine that I often discussed the situation there.
5 So basically, by reading and being alert and taking an abiding interest.
6 Q. You personally spoke up in public and wrote about your knowledge;
7 is that correct?
8 A. Yes, that is correct. I was shocked and, quite frankly, appalled
9 when I heard that my country, Canada, was joining with the NATO forces in
10 the bombing of a sovereign Yugoslavia without going anywhere near the
11 United Nations, which was in direct violation of the UN Charter. I was
12 also -- I could describe myself as an old Cold War warrior, a strong
13 admirer of NATO, fully aware that it had protected all of the Western
14 countries from possible Soviet invasion, and I was very proud of that.
15 But I was also aware that NATO was a treaty among countries, and Canada
16 was one of the founding countries. And Article 1 of the NATO constitution
17 made it very clear that NATO would not use violence in the settlement of
18 international conflicts. Indeed, Article 1 went further and said NATO
19 would never even threaten to use the use of force, and yet in March of
20 1999 it began to bomb a country that was a sovereign country, that was no
21 threat to its neighbours, that didn't possess weapons of mass destruction,
22 and was simply doing what any other sovereign state would do in the
23 circumstances, was trying to suppress an armed rebellion by an
24 organisation that had the year before been described by the State
25 Department as a terrorist organisation.
1 I thought that the use of violence --
2 JUDGE ROBINSON: That's the United States. What State Department?
3 THE WITNESS: The United States State Department.
4 JUDGE ROBINSON: United States. Okay.
5 THE WITNESS: I thought that the use of violence to settle that
6 minor difficulty in terms of world events was an appalling act to -- at
7 the end of the 20th century, and unfortunately meant that we would enter
8 into the 21st with the idea that violence was still acceptable in the
9 settlement of international disputes. For that reason I opposed the
10 bombing and went on a speaking tour from coast-to-coast and wherever I
11 could to speak out against it and also to write articles about the
13 MR. MILOSEVIC: [Interpretation]
14 Q. Mr. Bissett, in the documents that I presented along with your
15 statement, in tab 2 there is a book by the Lord Byron Foundation for
16 Balkan Studies. I don't want to deal with it in its entirety, I only wish
17 to ask you a few questions about your contribution. Only the article
18 authored by you is included here. I did not seek to tender the other
19 parts of the book.
20 Is this your article, Mr. Bissett?
21 A. Yes, it is. The article entitled "New Diplomacy, Old Agenda."
22 Q. I'll put only a few questions to you in connection with what you
23 wrote here. You said in the first paragraph of your article: "[In
24 English] There were a number of reasons why Yugoslavia was torn apart, but
25 one of the primary causes of the tragedy were the failure of Western
2 [Interpretation] Why did you write this?
3 A. Because it is my belief that that was one of the primary causes of
4 the tragedy. When Croatia and Slovenia had expressed their wishes to
5 separate from Yugoslavia, there was still ample time for the Western
6 European countries, the European Community, to step in and ensure that if
7 the people in those countries wished to secede, that they do so in a
8 peaceful manner and in a manner that would do justice to the other part of
9 the equation, which was the remaining part of Yugoslavia.
10 Unfortunately, that did not happen, and it wasn't until Slovenia
11 used violence to seize the custom posts along the Austrian border that the
12 federal government of Yugoslavia ordered the Yugoslav national army to go
13 into Slovenia and restore order. Unexpectedly, the Slovenes put up a
14 fight and the war, as we know, spilled over into Croatia and the violence
16 It seemed to me that there was many times before the actual
17 violence occurred where the European Community could have mediated this
18 dispute and, with its influence, urged the leaders of Croatia and Slovenia
19 to arrange to secede within the constitution and in a lawful manner
20 without using violence. They failed to do that.
21 In addition to that, some members of the European Community - and
22 I will name them: Germany in the forefront - I think it's clear
23 encouraged and supported the separation of Slovenia and Croatia. We know
24 that arms were being shipped into Croatia and Slovenia from some of the
25 central European powers, Hungary, for example, and armed militia was being
1 formed in those countries. There was ample notice to the international
2 community that trouble was brewing in Yugoslavia, but nothing was done to
3 try and prevent the violence from spreading or to mediate the dispute
4 until it was too late. So that's why I describe it as a failure of
5 Western diplomacy.
6 I might amplify on that. I think part of the problem was that
7 these were -- these were events that were taking place in the shadow of
8 the Maastricht Treaty, the collapse of the Soviet Union, the fall of the
9 Berlin Wall, and countries were preoccupied with other things and were
10 ignoring Yugoslavia and the events that were taking place there. That's
11 one part of it. The other, however, was I think a deliberate attempt on
12 the part of Germany to encourage separation of Croatia and Slovenia.
13 I call that a failure of diplomacy because I believe there was
14 time, and there could have been interest in trying to ensure that the
15 break-up of Yugoslavia, if it was to occur, could have been done with
16 peace and, as I said, in a lawful fashion.
17 JUDGE ROBINSON: Thank you, Mr. Bissett, and we would be grateful
18 if your answers could be shorter.
19 MR. MILOSEVIC: [Interpretation]
20 Q. To go a step further, Mr. Bissett, in the third paragraph of your
21 article, speaking of Yugoslavia, you say: "[In English] The ethnic
22 differences have been frequently exploited by outside powers and used by
23 them to divide the nation and tear it apart with ethnic hatred and
25 [Interpretation] Can you comment on this?
1 A. Well, I put that in the content of the history of the Balkans.
2 The history of the Balkans has always shown that when outside powers
3 intervene, the local inhabitants become involved in the struggle and it
4 results in religious and ethnic violence. This is not something new in
5 the Balkans. It's been going on for many centuries. The Ottomans, the
6 Austro-Hungarian Empire, the Nazis in the Second World War, the communists
7 after the war, and more recently, NATO's involvement in Yugoslavia. These
8 foreign powers often intervene there for -- not with any interest in what
9 local problems are but with an effort to try and satisfy their own foreign
10 policy objectives by involving themselves in the Balkan politics. It's
11 been going on for many, many years, and it's just too bad that it occurred
12 again in the 1990s.
13 So that's what I mean, the history shows that outside interference
14 often --
15 JUDGE ROBINSON: Mr. Milosevic, that's enough for the history and
16 background. You should now lead the witness to evidence that's more
17 directly related to the period under consideration.
18 MR. MILOSEVIC: [Interpretation]
19 Q. Mr. Bissett, on page 2 in the third paragraph from the bottom, you
20 mention the premature recognition of Slovenia and Croatia by the European
21 Union. I hope you can find that passage. "[In English] The premature
22 recognition of Slovenia and Croatia by the European Union ..." You can
23 read it out yourself. Please read it for yourself.
24 A. I can't find it. I'm sorry --
25 JUDGE KWON: Page 56.
1 JUDGE ROBINSON: Number four, fourth paragraph from the top.
2 THE WITNESS: "The premature recognition of Slovenia and Croatia
3 by the European Union, extended under intense German pressure in
4 Maastricht in 1991, was a guarantee that the break-up of Yugoslavia would
5 not be resolved by peaceful means. Once again, Western intervention had
6 exacerbated and complicated a serious Balkan problem."
8 MR. MILOSEVIC: [Interpretation]
9 Q. Before you reply, the time you are referring to is the time when
10 you yourself were in Yugoslavia at the heart of these events, because you
11 were the Canadian ambassador to Yugoslavia at the time.
12 A. That is correct. What I mean by that passage is that the German
13 insistence on recognising the independence of Slovenia and Croatia was
14 premature because once Croatia and Slovenia had gained recognition, of
15 course they lost any interest in sitting down and negotiating with other
16 parties about the separation. It had become a fait accompli. Therefore,
17 there was no interest in their leaders of getting back around the
18 bargaining table to try and resolve the violence that was occurring,
19 settle the national debt, the sharing of property, and all of those things
20 that happen when a country separates from a union.
21 I'm not the only one who has considered that Germany's pressure on
22 the European Community for premature recognition was a guarantee that
23 violence and bloodshed would continue in Yugoslavia. There are a lot of
24 other observers who have made that comment.
25 Q. Mr. Bissett, you arrived in Yugoslavia when it was already in
1 crisis. According to your experience and knowledge, what were the key
2 elements of that crisis?
3 A. Well, I think the crisis was that it was very clear that
4 Yugoslavia was breaking apart and that Slovenia, certainly Croatia,
5 possibly Bosnia, were aspiring for -- to break apart and form independent
6 countries. That was -- that was the crisis. Following that, the
7 additional crisis was that there was the potential for dreadful violence
8 to take place, because in all of the republics paramilitary organisations
9 were forming, arms were being distributed to the people. In some parts of
10 Yugoslavia civil authority was breaking down and people were frightened.
11 So the build-up was occurring when I arrived. It was evident to everybody
12 that there was potential here for a dreadful tragedy, but it was very
13 difficult to -- to get the European Union particularly, and the United
14 States, involved in trying to resolve this problem, to step in and ensure
15 that the violence did not continue.
16 Q. When you arrived and during your stay there, what was your
17 assessment of the status of the Serbs in Croatia? I'm referring to the
18 time period of your arrival in Yugoslavia.
19 A. Well, it was very worrisome. I mean, with the election of
20 Mr. Tudjman and his party, when they won the election and declared
21 essentially that they wanted to break away from Yugoslavia. He even had
22 said that he would like to restore the old, historical Croatian
23 boundaries, which included good parts of Bosnia. This -- his return of
24 the old Ustasha symbols, the chequered flag, his actions in dismissing
25 many of the Serbs from public jobs, public service, this frightened the
1 Serbs in the -- that were living in Croatia, the 12 per cent of Serbs.
2 There was, I think, very few of them who had not had their fathers or
3 grandfathers subject to Ustashi genocide 50 years before, and it worried
4 them to think that the events of April and early summer of 1941 could be
5 repeated in -- in 1991. So they were frightened and very deeply
6 concerned. And as we know, many of them took up arms and decided that if
7 Croatia separated, that they did not want to do so.
8 Q. When you arrived in Yugoslavia and during your stay there, you
9 spent most of your time in Belgrade, I assume, because that's where your
10 embassy was and where you resided. Did you observe in Belgrade and in
11 Serbia any kind of ethnic discrimination against anybody?
12 A. No, I can't say I did. Belgrade was a modern, cosmopolitan city,
13 with large ethnic groups of Albanians, of Muslims, of Romans, Gypsies. I
14 certainly didn't notice any -- any discrimination or prejudice.
15 Q. We'll take a look a few things now having to do with the -- what
16 is called here the Kosovo indictment. In paragraph 75, it says that:
17 "During the 1980s, Serbs voiced concern about discrimination against them
18 by the Kosovo Albanian-led provincial government, while Kosovo Albanians
19 voiced concern about economic underdevelopment and called for greater
20 political liberalisation and republican status for Kosovo. From 1981
21 onwards, Kosovo Albanians staged demonstrations which were suppressed by
22 SFRY military and police forces of Serbia."
23 Now, to the best of your knowledge -- that's the end of that
24 quotation. According to your knowledge and according to the information
25 you had and what you knew about the situation - you spent two years there
1 - are these allegations correct?
2 JUDGE ROBINSON: Well, there are several -- several allegations.
3 Let's take them one by one, Mr. Milosevic. The first one, it seems to me,
4 is that the Serbs voiced concern about discrimination against them by the
5 Kosovo Albanian-led provincial government.
6 THE WITNESS: Yes. I was aware of that. I didn't witness it
7 personally, but I was aware that there had been complaints generally
8 throughout the 1980s that the Serbs were, in effect, being pushed out of
9 Kosovo by the actions of Albanians and that they felt threatened.
10 JUDGE ROBINSON: And the second one is that the Kosovo Albanians
11 voiced concern about economic underdevelopment and called for greater
12 political liberalisation and republican status for Kosovo.
13 THE WITNESS: Yes. I was certainly aware of that. I mean, Kosovo
14 was one of the poorest republics in the federation. I don't know what the
15 per capita income was, but it was very low compared, for example, with
16 Croatia and Slovenia. And on the other hand, I recall vividly going to
17 visit Slovenia and meeting with the leader there who told me that they
18 wished eventually to separate, and one of the primary reasons were they
19 were fed up with having to spend all of their money subsidising Kosovo.
20 I think that there's no question that the economic development of
21 Kosovo was -- was, as I said, underdeveloped, but on the other hand, I
22 would also suggest that the standard of living that was existing in Kosovo
23 in the 1980s was probably better than is existing now, but that's a
24 personal comment.
25 JUDGE KWON: Ambassador, you didn't comment on the republic status
1 of Kosovo, and I'm afraid you said it was one of the republics.
2 THE WITNESS: Yes, it was. The republican status, it was always a
3 desire on the part of the Albanians in Kosovo. They had been given, as we
4 know, autonomous status, and in effect that was almost the same as being a
5 republic but it wasn't quite a republican status, and they had always
6 desired to be a republic of Yugoslavia. Their leader at the time,
7 unofficial leader, Rugova, who unfortunately has passed away last month,
8 as you know, was interested, I think, in not so much in becoming a
9 republic but in becoming an independent country, and that was his -- his
10 goal and his aim. But it was his goal and aim to do it by peaceful means.
11 JUDGE ROBINSON: And the last allegation is that after 1981,
12 Kosovo Albanians staged demonstrations, and these demonstrations were
13 suppressed by the SFRY military and police forces of Serbia.
14 THE WITNESS: Yes. Again, I wasn't there at the time, but
15 certainly whenever there was violence occurring, either in Kosovo or
16 anywhere else in Yugoslavia, the security police would do their best to
17 repress that and to stop it. And that was often done, as many observers
18 have pointed out, with some degree of brutality.
19 JUDGE BONOMY: Your comment there is recorded as whenever there
20 was violence occurring.
21 THE WITNESS: Yes.
22 JUDGE BONOMY: But the question was staged demonstrations, and
23 these demonstrations were suppressed by the police forces and military.
24 THE WITNESS: True, but often these demonstrations took a violent
25 turn. I was in one myself in the middle of Belgrade in 1991, and the
1 demonstrations in -- in the Balkans were not always peaceful, with people
2 walking with placards. They also involved throwing stones and pavement
3 and burning and pillaging and rioting. When that occurred, the police
4 stepped in with considerable force.
5 I've also seen demonstrations in Belgrade that were peaceful, by
6 students who were walking with placards and demonstrating peacefully, and
7 the police were not intervening.
8 JUDGE ROBINSON: Yes, Mr. Milosevic.
9 MR. MILOSEVIC: [Interpretation]
10 Q. Mr. Bissett, you as the future ambassador to Yugoslavia in part of
11 your mandate, term of office, you were appointed ambassador to the
12 neighbouring country of Albania; is that right?
13 A. Yes, that's right. I was also the ambassador -- Canadian
14 ambassador to Albania, credited to Albania but situated in Belgrade.
15 Q. But you had an opportunity of becoming acquainted with Albania and
16 to travel around Albania; is that right?
17 A. Yes, that's correct.
18 Q. Did you ever make any comparison with respect to the situation in
19 Albania and the situation in Kosovo? I'm not talking about Yugoslavia
20 now, just the situation in Kosovo and Metohija. So when we're talking
21 about Albanians primarily.
22 A. Well, one could not help but make comparisons. Albania at that
23 time was extremely poor, I would think almost 90 per cent unemployment.
24 On my first visit to Tirana, no one was working in the fields. The state
25 farms had been abandoned, the machinery was rusting. In Tirana thousands
1 of young men had nothing to do but walk about and hope they could get out
2 of the country and to Italy.
3 In comparison, Kosovo, of course the Albanians in Kosovo were very
4 much better off and very often you would see Albanians from Kosovo in
5 Albania driving their cars, quite well dressed, and spending their money.
6 They were the envy, of course, of Albanians. Their standard of living,
7 the ones in Kosovo, by Slovenian standards, were very low, but the
8 Albanian standard compared to the Kosovo Albanians was equally bad.
9 Q. In paragraph 79 of the Kosovo indictment, among other things, it
10 says the following: "In early 1989, the Serbian Assembly proposed
11 amendments to the constitution of Serbia which would strip Kosovo most of
12 its autonomous powers including ..." et cetera, et cetera, control of the
13 police, education, and economic policy and choice of official language, as
14 well as its veto powers over further changes to the constitution of
16 To the best of your knowledge, is that correct? On the basis of
17 what you knew about what your colleagues in the diplomatic corps knew
18 about, are these allegations correct?
19 A. Well, the allegation is correct that Kosovo lost its veto power
20 over legislation in Serbia, but my own experience at the time in 1990 was
21 that the Albanians had chosen as a result -- as a protest to losing their
22 autonomy or their veto power, to withdraw from the federal institutions.
23 They refused to pay their income tax, they were running their own
24 educational and health services to a degree. They were still getting
25 their social services and pensions, the ones that had -- deserved them
1 from the federal government, but basically there was an impasse. They
2 simply did not wish to participate any more in the elections that were
3 held or to attend the parliamentary sessions. They simply withdrew and
4 set up their own parallel organisations.
5 The fact of the matter is that the Yugoslav federation authorities
6 also in effect withdrew. They did not bother with them very much. There
7 was very little interference, while I was there, from federal
8 institutions, other than keeping law and order in the province. But there
9 was certainly very little violence occurring, if any, and it wasn't really
10 until 1998, long after I had left, that the KLA emerged when the violence
11 in Kosovo began to take place.
12 Q. Let's just stay on this issue for a moment. In paragraph 87, it
13 says: "At the end of the 1990s -- throughout late 1990 and 1991,
14 thousands of Kosovo Albanian doctors, teachers, professors, workers,
15 police and civil servants were dismissed from their positions."
16 Now, you were there at the time. Is that correct?
17 A. To my knowledge, they were not dismissed. They simply voluntarily
18 withdrew from their positions. Continued to do the work but under a sort
19 of underground parallel government.
20 JUDGE ROBINSON: What was your knowledge -- what was your
21 knowledge based on?
22 THE WITNESS: Reports that I would get from our officers who would
23 go to Kosovo to talk to people, my own discussions with some Albanian
24 delegations who would come to Belgrade, conversations with fellow
25 diplomats. And that's essentially how I would find out about it.
1 JUDGE ROBINSON: And of course you would have been sending to your
2 headquarters reports on the situation --
3 THE WITNESS: Yes.
4 JUDGE ROBINSON: -- In Kosovo.
5 THE WITNESS: Yes, indeed.
6 JUDGE ROBINSON: And the reports that you would have sent would
7 have borne this out.
8 THE WITNESS: I can't remember how many were sent but they would
9 try to describe the situation as it was -- occurred, definitely.
10 MR. MILOSEVIC: [Interpretation]
11 Q. Mr. Bissett, in paragraph 91, it says that: "Slobodan Milosevic
12 had control over the federal government as well as the republican
13 government and the individuals with whom the international community
14 negotiated ..." and so on and so forth.
15 Now, at the time that you yourself were in Belgrade, who was the
16 Prime Minister of the federal government? Can you remember?
17 JUDGE ROBINSON: Just a minute, Mr. Milosevic. In putting that
18 paragraph, you omitted the word "de facto." I think if you're going to
19 put it, you should put it fully. The allegation is that you had de facto
20 control over the federal government as well as the republican government.
21 THE ACCUSED: [Interpretation] Very well.
22 MR. MILOSEVIC: [Interpretation]
23 Q. I was president of the Republic of Serbia at that time, as you
24 know, Mr. Bissett, and it says here that I exercised de facto control over
25 the federal government.
1 Now, you were there yourself in Belgrade at that critical time.
2 Is that true? Did I have de facto control of the federal government?
3 A. Well, I mean what does "de facto control" mean? As far as I'm
4 concerned, I saw no evidence of that. I think the -- if you take the
5 example of the federal army, I think the federal army was -- was under the
6 control of the federal authorities.
7 As far as I was concerned as an ambassador - and I think most
8 other ambassadors believe this - we followed the rules and we dealt with
9 the federal authorities when we were dealing with federal issues
10 concerning the army, and we dealt with the presidents of the various
11 republics when we were dealing with issues that concerned them. That
12 began, I must say, later on when the fighting broke open and there was
13 disintegration of many of the federal functions. That was a changing
14 situation. And it was sometimes difficult to know who was in control, if
15 anybody was, of some of the functions that were being carried out by
16 government in Yugoslavia. But at the time that I was there, certainly
17 there was a clear distinction between the federal authorities and the
18 republican authorities.
19 Q. Mr. Bissett, the other side over there, in keeping with their
20 rules, provided me with some of your telegrams, and they are marked in the
21 materials. There's an attached letter, cable from Canadian Ambassador
22 James Bissett, Canadian government, regarding meeting with Milosevic.
23 Unfortunately before I ask you this question, Mr. Bissett, I received only
24 three telegrams in actual fact. Just tell me for comparison purposes,
25 roughly speaking -- I know you can't give an exact number, but roughly
1 speaking, how many telegrams did you send during your term of office in
2 Yugoslavia from the end of 1990 until mid-1992 when you left the country?
3 A. Well, I sent a lot of telegrams. Certainly more than three. I
4 can't even make an estimate. It was the custom in our embassy, of course,
5 for the political officers to send telegrams. They sent the bulk of the
6 telegrams. I did not sign them. It was usually customary, if there was a
7 very important event or issue or where I had gone to visit an important
8 official or make a demarche, as they say in diplomatic language, that I
9 would write my own telegrams and sign them, but how many, I would think
10 three or four, maybe, a week or something along that nature. It also
11 depended a good deal, of course, on staff at the embassy, holidays and
12 that sort of thing.
13 Q. Very well. But that would be three or four a week, would it,
14 roughly, that sort of thing?
15 A. Yes. And that would vary from week to week, but ...
16 Q. All right. Now throughout your period here, your term of office,
17 we only have this very limited number, but I will try, from what you wrote
18 there in the telegram -- and you can find the telegram in tab 1 among your
19 documents, the ones you have before you.
20 Have you found it, Mr. Bissett?
21 A. Yes.
22 Q. Very well. Now, in your telegram, you say what I did for a short
23 time before the meeting. You said: "... in the early hours of the
24 morning [In English] affixed his signature to the EEC declaration
25 permitting EEC observers to operate in Croatia and agreeing to an
1 international conference on Yugoslav political crisis."
2 [Interpretation] What declaration was this? What agreement that
3 you mention here in your telegram with respect to me?
4 A. This was a declaration calling for the disarmament of the Serbian
5 forces that were fighting in Croatia against the Croatian forces. Calling
6 for disarmament and withdrawal of Croatian forces from the parts of
7 Croatia occupied by the Serbs, a withdrawal of the fighting forces, and
8 the storing of arms, as I recall, under a shared key arrangement, and a
9 cease-fire, of course.
10 Q. And what was the purpose of the European observers coming in -
11 because at the time it was still the European Community - on the
12 territory, or what territory did they come into and what was their task?
13 Do you remember that?
14 A. Yes. Well, as I recall, the European observers, it was part of
15 the declaration to have European observers in the Serbian populated areas
16 of Croatia, to offer them protection and to ensure that they were not
17 engaging in conflict with their Croatian opponents.
18 Q. Now, you say that you express satisfaction, and I quote what
19 you've said here, what you wrote in your telegram: "[In English] That
20 Serbia had, along with other republics and Yugoslavia federal government,
21 agreed to terms of EEC declaration."
22 A. Yes, that's right.
23 Q. Therefore, Mr. Bissett, you mention here the other
24 republics. You mention the federal government. Now, I should like to
25 remind you of the paragraph that I read out to you a moment ago and a
1 portion of that paragraph, saying that I exercised de facto control of the
2 federal government as well as the republican government and was the person
3 with whom the international community negotiated a variety of peace plans
4 and agreements related, et cetera. So you say that the EC declaration,
5 that Serbia took part and the federal government took part. Does this
6 agree with what I read out and what you wrote in your telegram? Is that
7 the same thing?
8 A. Well, as far as I can see, yes.
9 Q. Who was it, then, that took part in the adoption of the
10 declaration? Was it just Serbia, or did all the republics take part on an
11 equal footing, including the federal government? Did Serbia have any
12 separate or special position in that regard or did it take part on a
13 footing of equality with the other republics, and does the federal
14 government appear there as the federal power and authority?
15 A. Well, in the case of the federal government, of course they were
16 there in that capacity as still Yugoslavia existed at the time, and as --
17 to my knowledge, all of the other republics participated, but I cannot
18 swear to that.
19 Q. You go on to speak in your telegram of our talk, and I'm going to
20 quote the next portion. You say that I pointed out the misunderstanding
21 by EEC "[In English] of differences dividing Serbs and Croatians and
22 apparent decision by EEC misunderstanding."
23 A. Next page.
24 Q. So what reasons did I give you for what I said about this
25 misunderstanding? You say here "... misunderstanding by the EEC about
1 differences dividing Serbia and Croat and apparent decision by EEC
3 A. Well, I think it's explained further in the telegram that your
4 concern was that the EEC representatives had oversimplified the situation
5 that was taking place and the conflict that was going on in Croatia
6 between the Serb and the Croatian population there, and that they had from
7 the beginning taken a position that Serbia was to blame for this. And
8 that, I think, was your concern, that already the EEC, who had stepped in
9 to mediate in an objective fashion, were already showing that they were
10 biased against Serbia and the federal government. And you also expressed
11 concern, particularly about the Germans, that their foreign minister at
12 the time, Genscher, would not listen to any of the points of view or
13 positions presented by the Serbian side.
14 So you were telling me at the time, as I recall, that you had
15 signed the document in the interests of helping negotiate a peaceful
16 settlement there and an end to the fighting but you were not entirely
17 happy that the European Community seemed to be blaming Serbia for
18 everything that was going wrong there.
19 Q. And tell me this: In view of your experience and the knowledge
20 you had of those times, according to that knowledge and information, did
21 oversimplification of media presentation of events actually exist, et
22 cetera? Is that something that actually existed?
23 A. I think it definitely did exist, and I think it was part of the
24 problem that was going to ensue throughout the negotiations in Yugoslavia.
25 Right from the beginning, from the time the federal army was sent by the
1 federal Prime Minister into Slovenia, the major news media around the
2 world interpreted that as the big bullying Serb-led army is attacking poor
3 Slovenia. And I think from the outset the media presentation of events in
4 Yugoslavia presented the Serbs as the villains and the others as the good
5 guys, and it was an oversimplification designed, of course, for the modern
6 media, television, which can present a minute and a half at the most of
7 presentation of extremely complicated events, and there's a tendency to do
8 it in very stark terms of good guy, bad guy. I think that was an
9 oversimplification from the beginning and it haunted Yugoslavia from that
10 day on in terms of trying to get objective mediation between the
11 quarreling parties.
12 Q. Mr. Bissett, do you say that there was a general direction or an
13 original point from which this media oversimplification to the detriment
14 of the Serbs came?
15 A. Well, I mean, it's my personal view, but I remember watching the
16 television presented by CNN at the outbreak of hostilities in Slovenia,
17 and I think very clearly, even though James Baker, the Secretary of State
18 at the time, had told the federal Prime Minister - who was a Croatian, by
19 the way - Markovic, that if the Slovenes did break away, there was -- and
20 he sent the army in to try and resolve the issue, that the United States
21 would not -- would not condemn them. This is hearsay evidence, I'm
22 afraid, but I've heard it from the US ambassador at the time,
23 Mr. Zimmerman. But despite that, the television presentation in the
24 United States clearly from that -- from the first two or three days,
25 presented it as basically as a Serb-led federal army invading poor little
1 Slovenia, and that was -- that was the public perception from there on in,
2 I'm afraid.
3 Q. And what was the understanding of these events that you mention in
4 your telegram which were the subject of discussion between you and me at
5 the time and which related to Croatia?
6 A. Well, I mean, I think what you mean there is that you had pointed
7 out that the oversimplification was taking place and without a full
8 knowledge of the history of the Balkans and the history of what had
9 happened in Yugoslavia during the Second World War. And we discussed
10 that, that part of the problem was that a lot of the negotiators who had
11 come in to mediate peace were not aware that genocide had in fact taken
12 place in Croatian during World War II when -- the figures are disputed,
13 but minimally 700.000 Serbs, Jews, and Gypsies had been subject to death.
14 And it was, therefore, of great concern to you that the international
15 mediator should be aware of the sensitivities these historical events had
16 and the impact they had on the psychology of the Serbs who were living in
17 Croatia, and you felt that there was not that clear understanding and that
18 it wasn't a question of Serbs wanting to join Serbia, it was a question of
19 Serbs being very frightened by the idea that Mr. Tudjman's regime might
20 repeat what had happened in 1941.
21 Q. Mr. Bissett, is it your view, based on your experiences at the
22 time, that the way all these events were reported in the media was
24 A. Yes. It is clearly my view that they were distorted. Not only in
25 the media but the European Community that was coming in to mediate this
1 dispute had also threatened sanctions against Serbia and the federal
2 government. There was no mention of sanctions against Croatia; the
3 sanctions were going to be applied to Serbia. And I think from the outset
4 there was this -- this bias and this distortion, and it made the situation
5 in attempting to achieve peace much more complicated.
6 JUDGE ROBINSON: Mr. Milosevic, last question before we break.
7 THE ACCUSED: [Interpretation] Very well.
8 MR. MILOSEVIC: [Interpretation]
9 Q. Mr. Bissett, according to your knowledge, what was the cause and
10 origin of this kind of partial and distorted media reporting?
11 A. Well, I mean that's a very difficult question. I think I tried to
12 explain it. In the media reporting, it's simply that today's journalists
13 do not have time to go into the history of the Balkans. Most North
14 American media hadn't the slightest idea where Kosovo was and had never
15 heard of some of these places that were suddenly in the news. They had a
16 very short period of time to report events, and they did it very quickly,
17 and so it was an oversimplification. I don't think that -- necessarily
18 blaming them but they don't have time to do historical research before
19 they put the TV programme on.
20 THE WITNESS: Can I --
21 JUDGE ROBINSON: Thank you, Mr. Bissett. Mr. Milosevic -- yes.
22 THE WITNESS: I just want to say that I was not aware until I
23 arrived in The Hague that these telegrams were here, but -- I mean, I
24 might not have chosen these ones, there may have been others I would have
25 chosen, but they were supplied, I imagine, by my former bosses in the
1 Foreign Ministry.
2 JUDGE ROBINSON: You may have a chance later to refer to them.
3 THE WITNESS: No, don't misunderstanding me, I now have a copy of
4 them, I've read them.
5 JUDGE ROBINSON: No, the others that are not here.
6 THE WITNESS: Oh, I see.
7 JUDGE ROBINSON: Mr. Milosevic, do you wish to tender tabs 1 and
9 THE ACCUSED: [Interpretation] Yes, certainly.
10 JUDGE ROBINSON: They are admitted.
11 THE REGISTRAR: Your Honours, the collection of documents for the
12 witness will be Exhibit D335.
13 JUDGE ROBINSON: Thank you. We are adjourned until tomorrow at
14 9.00 a.m.
15 Mr. Milosevic, I am to inform you that the appointment with the
16 doctor has now been fixed for 5.00 p.m. today.
17 --- Whereupon the hearing adjourned at 1.46 p.m.,
18 to be reconvened on Friday, the 24th day
19 of February, 2006, at 9.00 a.m.