1 Tuesday, 23 July 2002
2 [Open session]
3 [The accused entered court]
4 --- Upon commencing at 2.19 p.m.
5 JUDGE SCHOMBURG: Good afternoon, everybody. Madam Registrar, may
6 we please hear the case.
7 THE REGISTRAR: Good afternoon. This is Case Number IT-97-24-T,
8 the Prosecutor versus Milomir Stakic.
9 JUDGE SCHOMBURG: Thank you. And the appearances, please, for the
10 Office of the Prosecutor.
11 MR. WAIDYARATNE: For the Prosecution, Your Honour,
12 Kapila Waidyaratne, Mr. Nicholas Koumjian, and Ruth Karper.
13 JUDGE SCHOMBURG: Thank you. And for the Defence, please.
14 MR. LUKIC: Good afternoon, Your Honour. Branko Lukic and
15 John Ostojic for the Defence.
16 JUDGE SCHOMBURG: Thank you.
17 Before starting with today's witness, I have to announce the
18 result of yesterday's, let's call it, attempt. First of all, I have here
19 a memo from Peter Lawson, deputy commanding officer of the United Nations
20 Detention Unit. It reads as follows: "Following a decision in the Trial
21 Chamber this morning, a search of the cell of Mr. Stakic was carried out
22 this afternoon by two United Nations Detention Unit officers, and in the
23 presence of Mr. --
24 THE INTERPRETER: Could the President please speak in his
25 microphone, please. Thank you.
1 JUDGE SCHOMBURG: The problem is that when I turn the microphone,
2 we have the strange noise. Does it help now? Okay.
3 I proceed: "In the presence of Mr. Stakic and me. Prior to the
4 search, Mr. Stakic had identified all legal documents in his cell subject
5 to attorney/client privilege. These documents were not searched. During
6 the cell search, no documents were found which matched the description of
7 the documents searched for.
8 "After the search, all legal documents were put in boxes, four in
9 total, sealed, and placed in a secure place outside of the cell of
10 Mr. Stakic, for a Judge of the Tribunal to examine at a later stage."
11 Following this, I have a memo from Judge Per Lindholm dated
12 23 July, 2002. It reads: "First, please be informed that on the evening
13 of 22 July, 2002, I, along with my associate legal officer
14 Katherine Gallagher, carried out a review of four boxes of documents
15 belonging to the accused Milomir Stakic at the United Nations Detention
16 Unit in order to identify and seize, if identified, originals of eight
17 copied documents I had received from the Stakic Trial Chamber.
18 "I received the boxes of documents from Peter Larsen, deputy
19 commanding officer, and Hans Brauers [phoen], principal officer. All
20 boxes were sealed with the signature of Stakic on each seal.
21 "Four, the review of documents was carried in the premises of the
22 United Nations Detention Unit with only myself and my ALO present.
23 "Five, no originals of the copied documents were identified among
24 the papers and documents contained in the four boxes belonging to
25 Dr. Stakic.
1 "Six, the four boxes with all their contents intact were returned
2 to Dr. Stakic and his cell in my presence. I informed him that no
3 documents had been removed from the boxes."
4 Signed by Judge per Lindholm.
5 Any observations by the parties as regards this issue?
6 MR. KOUMJIAN: No, Your Honour, but I'm concerned. I would like
7 the fact that there was a search done and no documents found to be part of
8 the trial record. May we consider that -- may we have that report from
9 the Detention Unit marked as an exhibit and admitted as part of the
10 evidence in this case because I think it's relevant that, in fact, a
11 search was done and none of the documents that had been returned to the
12 accused were found in the cell. It has some evidentiary value.
13 JUDGE SCHOMBURG: It was the intention for the completeness of our
14 documents to give these documents to the registry and have it as exhibits
15 under "J."
16 Are there any objections by the Defence?
17 MR. OSTOJIC: Good afternoon, Your Honour. We do not have an
18 objection to the letter from the Judge being attached. However, we
19 maintain our objection to have the provisional documents that were
20 introduced by the Office of the Prosecution as a basis for their
21 supplemental request for a subpoena. We would continue to maintain our
22 objection to those documents being a part of the record, at least a formal
23 record, for evidentiary purposes in this trial.
24 JUDGE SCHOMBURG: Thank you. I think it's fair enough. And
25 having read the transcript of yesterday, I just want to confirm that
1 indeed the document, for what purpose so ever, are admitted into evidence,
2 those that were tendered yesterday by the OTP. I'm quite sure that in the
3 future, they will form part of the one or other discussion.
4 As regards the two other documents received just a minute ago,
5 please let me know the next "J" number available is.
6 THE REGISTRAR: It would be J9, Your Honour.
7 JUDGE SCHOMBURG: J9. This is the document of Peter Larsen, and
8 J10, the document provided by Judge Per Lindholm.
9 May I ask the usher.
10 MR. KOUMJIAN: Your Honour, can we just ask for the completeness
11 of our records that each of the parties gets a copy of those documents.
12 JUDGE SCHOMBURG: No doubt.
13 Any other observations before we start with today's witness? I
14 can't see any.
15 May the usher please bring in the witness. Thank you.
16 It's my understanding that we continue in the beginning in private
17 session. Right?
18 MR. OSTOJIC: Yes, Your Honour, if I may.
19 JUDGE SCHOMBURG: But not closed session; private session is
21 MR. OSTOJIC: Correct.
22 JUDGE SCHOMBURG: And may I ask whether your client has any
23 complaints as regards the search yesterday?
24 MR. OSTOJIC: Your Honour, we discussed with our client briefly
25 those matters involving the search, and he does not have any complaints
1 and has, as usual, been treated accordingly and appropriately. Thank you,
2 Your Honour.
3 JUDGE SCHOMBURG: Thank you for this.
4 [Private session]
12 Pages 6277 to 6281 – redacted – private session.
18 [Open session]
19 JUDGE SCHOMBURG: And may I ask the OTP, objections as regards
20 this document?
21 MR. WAIDYARATNE: No, Your Honour. This was provided under 65 ter
22 as document 319, if I am correct.
23 JUDGE SCHOMBURG: Then these documents are admitted into evidence
24 as D22 A, B respectively, and D23.
25 The Defence may proceed, please.
1 MR. OSTOJIC: Thank you, Your Honour.
2 Q. Mr. Witness U, yesterday we discussed the Territorial Defence in
3 Kozarac. And I'd like to ask you a question with respect to the
4 negotiations and the meeting that you were involved with subsequent to the
5 negotiations between the representatives of Kozarac and the
6 representatives in Prijedor.
7 With respect to that, sir, can you tell me whether or not at any
8 time during that meeting there was a discussion in connection with forming
9 a new municipality in the Kozara area?
10 A. During that meeting, the meeting I attended, only the result of
11 the negotiations held by a certain group in Prijedor were discussed.
12 Q. So is it your testimony, sir, that there was not a discussion at
13 any time regarding the formation of the Kozara Municipality in connection
14 with the events that led to May of 1992?
15 A. Yes. I contend that at the meeting I attended, there was no
16 discussion of that.
17 Q. And can you share with us, sir, if at any time prior to or
18 subsequent to that meeting that you attended, was there ever a discussion
19 by the Muslim citizens of the Kozarac area whether or not they were
20 contemplating forming a separate municipality from the Prijedor
22 A. I was never into politics, as I've said already. The only thing I
23 attended, I've already told you. But officially, I heard no such thing.
24 Q. In this meeting, sir, yesterday, you shared with us the names of
25 two individuals that spoke or of those which you recollect, namely,
1 Dr. Jusuf Pasic and a Mr. Fazlic. Correct?
2 A. Yes, that's correct.
3 Q. And you testified on page 14, line 10, yesterday that during this
4 meeting the room was packed. Can you describe for us or give us the
5 essence of how many people were present during the discussion at that
7 A. I can't give you the exact number because I don't know. But I can
8 describe the room perhaps. It's perhaps 6 by 7 metres, so between 35 and
9 40 square metres. And mainly, it was full.
10 Q. And I know it was a long time ago, sir, but can you give us the
11 best estimate as to how many people there were? Was it more or less than
12 a hundred?
13 A. I would be wrong if I said that it was more than a hundred
14 perhaps. I can only say that the room was full and some people were
15 seated and some people were standing. I was standing.
16 MR. OSTOJIC: With the Court's permission, if the Madam Court
17 Registrar would tender Exhibit Defence 17 A and B for the witness.
18 JUDGE SCHOMBURG: Please do so.
19 MR. OSTOJIC: I'm sorry, 7 A and B. Thank you. And for the
20 purposes of the record, these were previously introduced into evidence
21 which were summary meeting minutes from, we contend, citizens of the
22 Kozarac area.
23 Q. Sir, as you know, we are in open session, and so I'm going to ask
24 you a couple questions in connection with the individuals who seem to be
25 the same individuals who were present at the meeting in which you
1 attended, namely, Mr. Fazlic and Dr. Pasic. Yesterday, sir, you described
2 for us some of the comments that Dr. Pasic shared with you, and if you
3 look on page 318 of that document, sir --
4 JUDGE SCHOMBURG: OTP.
5 MR. WAIDYARATNE: Your Honour, may I make an observation here?
6 There is no specific date given by this witness with regard to the
7 meeting. And first, it may be appropriate if my -- the Defence counsel
8 asked the witness whether it was on this specific date or more particulars
9 with regard to this, as the witness may not be aware of -- this may be
11 JUDGE SCHOMBURG: Fair enough.
12 MR. WAIDYARATNE: Thank you, Your Honour.
13 MR. OSTOJIC:
14 Q. Mr. Witness U, can you tell us, in connection with the meeting in
15 which you participated in or were present at which involved Dr. Pasic and
16 Mr. Fazlic, can you tell us the time in which that meeting took place?
17 A. Of course, I can't give you the date. I don't remember the date.
18 Q. Would you be able to remember if it was during the month of May
20 A. I believe -- at any rate, I think it happened after the takeover
21 of Prijedor Municipality by the Serbian Democratic Party. I believe it
22 was immediately following that. Those may have been the first
23 negotiations to follow the takeover.
24 Q. And if I suggest to you, sir, that the takeover, for purposes of
25 our discussion here, was on or about April 30th, 1992, would it be fair to
1 say, based on your recollection, that this meeting in which you
2 participated in, in connection with the negotiations between the
3 representatives of Kozarac and those of Prijedor, occurred sometime in
4 early May 1992? Would that be a fair assumption on my part?
5 A. I couldn't give you an exact estimate.
6 Q. Would it be fair to say, sir, that based on some of the time lines
7 that we've established in this case, namely, that the takeover occurred on
8 or about April 30th, 1992, and the attack as you've described it
9 yesterday, both during your direct examination and limited
10 cross-examination, occurred on May 24th, 1992? Would it be a fair
11 assumption on my part that the negotiations in which you were present at
12 occurred in between the time period of April 30th, 1992, and May 24th,
14 JUDGE SCHOMBURG: OTP, please.
15 MR. WAIDYARATNE: Another observation, Your Honour. I don't know
16 whether it was a mistake on the part of the Defence counsel. It says he
17 never took part in the negotiations. This reads, as in the transcript,
18 "Would it be a fair assumption on my part that the negotiations in which
19 you were present at occurred..." There were no negotiations that he took
20 part. It was a discussion and the results. The witness was very clear on
21 that point, that these people came and spoke to them with regard to the
22 negotiations and the results as to what took part in Prijedor.
23 MR. OSTOJIC: If I may restate the question, Your Honour.
24 JUDGE SCHOMBURG: Please do so.
25 MR. OSTOJIC:
1 Q. Mr. Witness U, in connection with your presence which followed the
2 negotiations by the leaders or representatives of the Kozarac area between
3 the Kozarac area representatives and those of Prijedor representatives,
4 you participated in a meeting in which the representatives of Kozarac
5 informed you of the results of one meeting in which they participated in.
7 A. Yes, that's correct.
8 Q. In connection with that, sir, understanding that you were not one
9 of the negotiators at those meetings between the Kozarac representatives
10 and the Prijedor representatives, is it true that the meeting in which you
11 participated in occurred in between April 30th, 1992, and May 24th, 1992?
12 A. I'm afraid I can't say. I can't confirm this if I just simply
13 don't know.
14 Q. Well, let's see if we can confirm it in a different fashion, sir.
15 Do you recall if, in fact, the meeting that you took place occurred after
16 the attack on Kozarac?
17 A. After the attack on Kozarac, I had been in the camp for two or
18 three days already.
19 Q. So is it logical or may I assume, sir, that in fact this meeting
20 in which you participated or took place in or were present at, occurred
21 sometime prior to May 24th, 1992?
22 A. Yes, prior to that. Certainly.
23 Q. Now, at that meeting, sir, do you remember whether or not
24 Dr. Pasic discussed any issue in connection with insignia that the Bosnian
25 Muslims were preparing to create and put on the individual police officers
1 and Territorial Defence members for that area?
2 A. No. At the meeting, I did not hear any such thing.
3 Q. Let me ask you, sir, yesterday during your direct examination, you
4 shared with us that Dr. Pasic, in essence, said, and please correct me if
5 I am wrong, "We are occupied. The aggressor imposes its authority on us.
6 We can either accept it until some better times, or get in to war."
7 JUDGE SCHOMBURG: For the purposes of the transcript, please,
8 where did you quote from? What page?
9 MR. OSTOJIC: Quite frankly, Your Honour, it's a summary. It's
10 not from the transcript. It's specifically from page 318 of Exhibit D7A.
11 JUDGE SCHOMBURG: Please continue.
12 MR. OSTOJIC:
13 Q. Is that, sir, the sum and substance of the recollection you have
14 of Dr. Pasic's statements that you shared with us yesterday?
15 A. I told you the essence yesterday, and I can repeat it for you
16 today and you can cull from it whatever you like.
17 Q. I appreciate that. Perhaps to be more specific, on page 14 of
18 your transcript yesterday, line 7 through 20, you identify Dr. Pasic. And
19 specifically at page 10 and 11, you state as follows: "So, Jusuf Pasic
20 perhaps simplified the matter a bit, and this is literally what he said.
21 He said: 'As negotiators,' and I am referring to the group who had gone
22 to Prijedor to negotiate, `we are in an unequal position as a negotiating
23 team to negotiate our terms, and you must be aware of that.' He was
24 referring to us who were listening, `they,' and I am here referring to the
25 Prijedor municipal authorities, `are the occupation force.' That's what
1 he said."
2 You proceed to tell us: "And they tell us what to do. And they
3 are not asking us what we thought was done. They are not requesting our
4 proposals. This is something you must understand. That's what the
5 situation is like," he said. Ending on page 14, line 20.
6 Is that, sir, what your testimony was as to your recollection of
7 what Dr. Pasic said at that meeting?
8 A. Yes.
9 Q. Are you aware, sir, that during that meeting, someone specifically
10 took minutes of the various speakers that were present at that meeting,
11 including Dr. Pasic?
12 A. You mean that particular meeting that I attended?
13 Q. Sir, we're discussing only that particular meeting in which you
14 were present, correct.
15 A. I didn't notice anyone taking any sort of minutes.
16 Q. Do you recall, sir, during that meeting at any time whether or not
17 there was a discussion of the provocation by the Muslim citizens of
18 Prijedor against the Serbs and the Serb military in May of 1992?
19 JUDGE SCHOMBURG: You wanted to say "a provocation," and not "the
20 provocation." Right?
21 MR. OSTOJIC: Correct, Your Honour. Thank you.
22 A. At that meeting, other relations were not discussed. And I'm only
23 referring to the meeting where the negotiations were held, and that was
24 the only thing I heard. Maybe other stories were told there but this is
25 the only thing I still recollect. And probably the meeting was longer and
12 Blank page inserted to ensure pagination corresponds between the French and
13 English transcripts.
1 probably contained more than what I have been able so far to recollect and
2 recount for you here. But if anyone was taking minutes, perhaps you can
3 produce that. I don't myself remember any further details.
4 Q. Let me ask you, if I may, sir, with respect to that meeting,
5 refresh your recollection or probe, and I understand that you don't recall
6 a discussion regarding the insignia or a provocation. Do you recall, sir,
7 a discussion specifically by Dr. Pasic where during the time he stated
8 that "The aggressor imposes its authority on us," he proceeds to tell the
9 people who were present during this meeting: "They claim that the army
10 will not interfere." Do you recall specifically Dr. Pasic ever informing
11 the citizens during that meeting of the result of the negotiations between
12 the Prijedor representatives?
13 A. I did not hear any such thing. I would like to add something, if
14 I can. This list does not include the people who were present at that
15 meeting. It is not that delegation.
16 Q. Would you be kind enough to identify, in addition to Mr. Fazlic
17 and Dr. Pasic, who were present at the delegation of negotiators, who else
18 in connection with the meeting that you were present at was the so-called
19 delegation that met with the representatives in Prijedor?
20 A. The surname "Fazlic" is correct, but not the first name. On the
21 other hand, I don't see the surname "Pasic" here anywhere.
22 Q. If you would be kind enough, sir, on your Exhibit D7, which is the
23 B/C/S version of the document, on page -- on the top right-hand corner,
24 339, if you can turn to that page.
25 MR. OSTOJIC: And for the Court, it appears on page 318 of D7A.
1 JUDGE SCHOMBURG: Would you please be so kind and -- do you have a
2 copy for us?
3 MR. OSTOJIC: I do not, Your Honour. It's an exhibit, so I
4 assumed obviously incorrectly, that --
5 JUDGE SCHOMBURG: Apparently it causes some difficulties, and
6 maybe we are discussing different meetings. And as far as the witness has
7 stated until now, he can't recognise the meeting you are referring to as
8 the meeting he has participated in.
9 MR. OSTOJIC: Yes, Your Honour, I understand that. And that is
10 the purpose for which I asked the following question, so that he can read
11 to himself the full context of the statement that's attributed to Pasic in
12 connection with that. And based on his testimony yesterday on direct
13 examination - although perhaps somewhat argumentative - it seems to be
14 parallel and, therefore, we're making the assumption that that was the
15 same meeting, although there were quite a number of other meetings within
16 a group Exhibit 7 A and B which were recorded. So perhaps if the witness,
17 with the Court's permission, is given one last opportunity to review that
18 short paragraph, then he can tell us whether or not that was the meeting
19 in which he was present. And I'm prepared to move on.
20 JUDGE SCHOMBURG: As you correctly stated, it's an assumption
21 only, and finalise this line of questioning.
22 MR. OSTOJIC: Thank you, Your Honour.
23 Q. Mr. Witness U, would you be kind enough to review the paragraph
24 and section on page 338 that's before you, which are the comments and
25 statements attributed to Dr. Pasic. 339, sorry.
1 A. Unfortunately, the only thing I can see here is words. I mean,
2 there are just several words that I can read here. The rest is illegible.
3 Q. Fair enough. If I may move on, but still on this same line of
4 questioning, sir, do you know how many meetings subsequent to the one that
5 you participated in or knew about were held between the representatives of
6 the Kozarac area and those of the Prijedor --
7 JUDGE SCHOMBURG: Sorry to interrupt. The witness can't answer
8 this question because evidently he was not present in all the meetings.
9 MR. OSTOJIC:
10 Q. Are you aware, sir, of any meetings between the representatives of
11 the Kozarac area and those of the Prijedor area?
12 A. I've already mentioned this piece of information after the meeting
13 that I attended.
14 Q. I understand. Are you aware, sir, of any meetings that occurred
15 between those representative groups --
16 JUDGE SCHOMBURG: This question has been answered.
17 MR. OSTOJIC: Thank you, Your Honour.
18 Q. Sir, you state on page 14 of your transcript yesterday, in
19 connection with this meeting, line 23: "But probably the result of those
20 negotiations was precisely the attack of the Serb force on the 24th and
21 25th of May, 1992."
22 In connection with this statement, sir, are you aware of the fact
23 that there was an announcement made on or about May 22nd, 1992, by the
24 federal and/or Republic Yugoslav military that requested that the Muslim
25 citizens and the checkpoints that existed on the main Prijedor/Banja Luka
1 Road were to be removed 100 metres from the road so that the military
2 convoy can pass safely and securely through both Kozarac and Prijedor?
3 Are you aware of that, sir?
4 A. I am not aware of that, nor do I know that there were checkpoints
5 in these locations. I believe I said yesterday that the checkpoints were
6 100 to 200 metres away from the main road. Where they were on the 23rd, I
7 don't know.
8 Q. Are you aware, sir, that on or about May 24th, prior to the attack
9 by the military in the Kozarac area, the military were ambushed and
10 actually sustained casualties and injuries, the very first truck of that
11 convoy, as it was passing through the area of Jakupovici through the
12 Prijedor/Banja Luka main road?
13 A. I'm not aware of any such thing. I've never heard of that until
15 Q. Are you aware, sir, that two days prior to this attack on Kozarac,
16 in an area called Hambarine, on May 22nd, 1992, there was an attack by
17 Muslims against a Serb military officer passing through a checkpoint?
18 A. What happened there, I didn't know. Two or three nights prior to
19 the attack on Kozarac, I had heard artillery fire in that direction.
20 Q. To this day, sir, and I understand that it has been ten years
21 approximately and more since the date of that May 22nd, 1992, incident,
22 can you tell us if you are aware of any incidents of provocation by the
23 Muslims against the Serbs following the takeover of Prijedor on or about
24 April 30th, 1992?
25 MR. WAIDYARATNE: Your Honour, this is a general question. He is
1 asking for opinion from the witness. He is asking to generalise things,
2 not a specific question put to the witness.
3 JUDGE SCHOMBURG: Sustained. Probably the question may be
5 MR. WAIDYARATNE: Thank you.
6 MR. OSTOJIC: Thank you, Your Honour.
7 Q. Sir, are you aware, in May of 1992, a Serb police officer was
8 killed in the town of Prijedor, in the municipality of Prijedor,
9 immediately after the takeover of Prijedor Municipality by the Serbs? Are
10 you aware of that?
11 A. No, I'm not.
12 Q. Are you likewise, sir, unaware that on May 30th, 1992, there was a
13 group of paramilitary or Muslim forces that attacked the town of Prijedor?
14 A. I couldn't comment or answer that question. I simply was not able
15 to know everything, what kind of paramilitary groups there were. All I
16 can say is I don't know.
17 Q. Are you familiar, sir, with the paramilitary group called Ramiz's
19 JUDGE SCHOMBURG: Sorry, I think following the line of questions,
20 the witness clearly has indicated that he is not familiar with what
21 happened in the surroundings. And I think it even doesn't assist the
22 Chamber when you proceed with this line of questions. We have covered
23 this already in the past.
24 MR. OSTOJIC: Thank you, Your Honour.
25 Q. Sir, is it fair to state as you've stated previously in your
1 statement of March 13th and 14th, 2000, that you did not hear any
2 particular propaganda programme on the radio or TV during the period of
3 April through August 1992?
4 JUDGE SCHOMBURG: Could counsel be so kind and quote the page.
5 MR. OSTOJIC: Yes, page 2 of the witness statement of March 13th,
6 14th 2000, specifically paragraph number 4, which is a one-line paragraph
7 on Bate stamp 00935047.
8 JUDGE SCHOMBURG: Thank you.
9 MR. OSTOJIC: If I may, with the Court's permission, just restate
10 the question for the witness. I'm not sure if I received an oral
11 response, Your Honour.
12 JUDGE SCHOMBURG: Please do so.
13 MR. OSTOJIC: Thank you.
14 Q. Mr. Witness U, is it fair to state that you "did not hear any
15 particular propaganda programme on radio or TV" during the period of April
16 through August of 1992?
17 JUDGE SCHOMBURG: I don't think the --
18 A. I said that I did not listen to such programmes. I may have heard
19 them, but I didn't pay much attention to that. I didn't consider those
20 programmes to be interesting for me.
21 MR. OSTOJIC:
22 Q. Just one more question on this, sir, and I can appreciate that.
23 Is it fair to say that you have no recollection as to who the speakers may
24 have been at that time or the contents of the material which was provided
25 on those programmes? Correct?
1 A. Yes.
2 Q. Now, sir, prior to April of 1992, did Serb soldiers return from
3 Croatia and pass through the municipality of Prijedor? Do you remember
4 that event happening?
5 A. Yes.
6 Q. Can you tell us, sir, if these were soldiers who were under the
7 auspices of the federal government, the republic government, or any other
8 entity that you may be aware of?
9 A. Convoys were passing, and according to what I knew, they were from
11 Q. Let me direct your attention, if I may, sir --
12 THE INTERPRETER: Microphone, please.
13 MR. OSTOJIC: Pardon me.
14 Q. If I direct your attention to your statement of May 13th, 14th,
15 2000, and I will quote it because unfortunately I do not have a copy for
16 you. But bear with me on this. It's on paragraph 5 of page 2 of that
17 statement, as follows: "When Serb soldiers were returning from Croatia,
18 they passed through our villages, and they shot all around. It was common
19 knowledge that Serbs armed themselves."
20 Is it your testimony, sir, now that these Serb soldiers that
21 you're referencing actually came from Serbia or Croatia, or was your
22 answer, in fact, that the Serb soldiers that you reference were part of
23 the federal government of the Former Yugoslavia?
24 A. At that time, I think that the Yugoslav People's Army still
25 existed. I am not familiar with the various formations of the army at the
1 top. As for the people that I spoke about, those who passed through our
2 village in convoy, both ways, coming and going, they did shoot from their
3 trucks and other vehicles as they were passing through our villages. That
4 is correct.
5 As for this second sentence, the last one that you mentioned, that
6 it was common knowledge that Serbs armed themselves, it's actually -- it
7 was actually my knowledge. I was aware of that.
8 Q. We'll take one at a time, if I may. Is it not true, sir, that
9 when you state the Serb soldiers who were shooting were actually shooting
10 in the air and did not shoot at individual citizens in the area of the
11 Prijedor Municipality, including the village in which you resided at that
13 A. I didn't say that they were shooting at citizens. I said that
14 they were shooting in the air as they were passing through our villages.
15 Had they shot at us, they would have killed us.
16 Q. And sir, with respect to the second comment or issue that we were
17 dealing with, it being your personal common knowledge of the Serbs arming
18 themselves, can you please explain to me how you became aware of this?
19 A. Well, there are several versions as to how I came to know that.
20 As an example, having passed through the town of Kasnice in the vicinity
21 of Banja Luka, on the Banja Luka/Prnjavor Road, I came across
22 a -- I had to stop on the bridge. There were several other vehicles ahead
23 of me. There was a convoy of soldiers passing by coming from the
24 direction of Bihac, members of the air force, which I presumed were
25 leaving the area at the time. It's also possible that these soldiers were
1 going on leave. I'm not sure. But anyway, this convoy was stopped by a
2 military vehicle. It was actually a military police vehicle, olive-grey
3 in colour. I don't know what the purpose of this stopping was, but an
4 argument ensued. And after about two hours, because we were also ordered
5 to stop and form a blockade on the road while they were arguing and
6 discussing, so at that moment, I saw that all civilians, all men, had
7 come out and that they were all armed. Every one of them had a weapon. I
8 don't know how many of them there were at the time. But I realised that
9 the local people, local individuals there, were armed. They all had
10 weapons at their homes. I could see that for myself, and this is what I
11 based my statement on.
12 Q. Thank you. Sir, are you aware at any time prior to your detention
13 on May 26th, 1992, at the Trnopolje camp, at any time prior to that, sir,
14 whether or not the Muslim population, whether it was within your village
15 or any other villages you may have some common knowledge of, whether they
16 were also armed?
17 A. It is probable that they were armed, but then one would expect
18 that I would be armed. I don't know why they would leave me out.
19 Q. Specifically, sir, you stated yesterday on page 16 of your direct
20 examination, line 15, in describing the attack on Kozarac and the Kozara
21 area, that you saw for yourself, "a shell land on a roof, and the house
22 just fell apart, and the roof started burning." Specifically for the
23 record, line 15 through 16, Your Honour.
24 A. Yes, that's what I said.
25 Q. Based on your albeit limited military experience, having been in
12 Blank page inserted to ensure pagination corresponds between the French and
13 English transcripts.
1 the reserves or having served, do you know what effect a grenade would
2 have if it would implode on a home?
3 A. My knowledge about the effect of grenades and similar detonations
4 is rather modest. I merely told you about what I had seen.
5 Q. Well, with respect to the shell that you saw that hit the roof of
6 a house and subsequently destroying the house, causing the roof to burn,
7 do you know what that shell was?
8 A. No idea.
9 Q. Is it not true, sir, that in fact you witnessed and saw grenades
10 hit houses, plural as opposed to singular, as you testified to yesterday?
11 A. Grenades hitting houses, I don't know. I said that when the
12 shells started to fall, I did not actually see them. I just felt pieces
13 of houses, rubble of the surrounding houses, falling all around me. I
14 took shelter in the garage. And because there was no door at the front, I
15 could not directly see all of these houses. I could only indirectly see
16 one of them. And when the shell hit this house, everything started
17 falling around. And after that, I saw the blaze.
18 Q. Isn't it true, sir, that during the time in which you drove this
19 wounded individual to the hospital in Kozarac, that in fact you saw plural
20 grenades hit plural houses? Isn't that true?
21 JUDGE SCHOMBURG: Sorry, I think the witness has clearly answered
22 first the question as regards the one house he saw, and then on your -- on
23 the basis of your leading questions, he answered the question as regards
24 to similar and other houses. I think the question has been answered.
25 MR. OSTOJIC: Thank you.
1 Q. Then, Mr. Witness U, if you can reconcile this for me. In your
2 statement on March 13th, 14th, 2000, specifically paragraph 8, which is
3 the second-to-the-last paragraph, on page 2 of your statement, in the
4 middle of the statement, you state: "During the driving, I could see that
5 grenades hit houses."
6 A. During the driving, I said that I was holding this man. The truck
7 was covered with canvas. And during the ride, the canvas flapped and
8 billowed as a result of the wind. And throughout that ride, I was not
9 able to see all of the houses. But at those moments when the canvas was
10 lifted, I could see that some of the houses had been hit. I couldn't
11 observe everything. I didn't see everything.
12 Q. Thank you. Could you identify with respect to this hospital in
13 which you took this wounded man, can you give me the name of that hospital
14 in Kozarac?
15 A. I don't know the name. I don't know whether it had a name. We
16 simply called it a hospital, although it did not admit bedridden
17 patients. It was just a medical centre. But we called it the hospital.
18 It was probably a department of the central hospital in Prijedor.
19 Q. I recognise, sir, you do not remember the name of the hospital.
20 But do you remember, sir, if this facility in which you brought this
21 wounded man was actually created and set up immediately after April 30th,
22 1992, by the citizens of the Kozara area, and that it was only a temporary
23 facility in anticipation of perhaps some sort of confrontation or battle?
24 A. The facility had been functioning for years already. I don't
1 Q. Just one last question, if I may, with respect to the shelling
2 that you saw during the May 24th through 26th, 1992, period. On page 20,
3 sir, of your testimony yesterday, line 15 specifically, you state, just so
4 that you may have it in context: "Ever since the very beginning of the
5 shelling and my departure from that area, rounds kept falling almost all
6 the time, but sporadically, with intervals." Ending on line 17 of page 20
7 of your transcript. Can you with any more precision, sir, explain or
8 describe for me what you mean by both the words "sporadically, with
10 A. I don't think I can be more precise as to the intervals. The
11 breaks, the lulls, probably lasted half an hour, maybe one hour. There's
12 nothing more I can tell you about these intervals. It's just that one
13 couldn't hear the shooting all the time. It was sporadic. But it lasted
14 from the 24th until the 26th of May, at intervals, sporadically.
15 Q. Are you aware, sir, of any resistance by the citizens of that area
16 against the military convoy that was passing through on or about May 24th,
18 A. I did not see any convoy passing through at that time, although I
19 stayed very close to the road. I don't know where they could have
20 possibly have passed without me seeing them. So I didn't see any such
21 convoy. Whether anyone was putting up resistance, I don't know.
22 Q. Would it be fair to state, sir, that the sporadic shooting or
23 shelling that you heard, you are unaware from whom that sporadic shooting
24 was being started by?
25 A. I'm not sure about the shooting. I don't know. I only know that
1 at 2.00 on the 24th, shells started falling from heavy artillery weapons,
2 which means that it wasn't infantry weapons being used, which I was
3 familiar with from my days in the military, unlike with the artillery
4 weapons. And this is all I can say. But how it all started and who was
5 involved, I really don't know.
6 Q. A couple questions briefly on a different issue, sir. Are you
7 aware prior to April 30th, 1992, of an influx of Serbian refugees from
8 Croatia in the Prijedor Municipality?
9 A. No, no, I've never heard anything about this so far.
10 Q. Are you aware, sir, that during the period prior to April 30th,
11 1992, that the Muslim citizens, some Muslim citizens in the Prijedor
12 Municipality, actually left the area or left the municipality in light of
13 the tension and atmosphere that was being created both politically and
14 militarily in the region of the republic or the former Republic of
16 A. I did not know of any such citizens.
17 Q. Are you aware, sir, since my question prior to that was for the
18 period prior to April 30th, 1992, are you aware that subsequent to April
19 30th, 1992, whether there was ever a convoy of Muslim citizens who decided
20 to leave the Prijedor Municipality voluntarily and on their own?
21 MR. WAIDYARATNE: I object to that question, Your Honour. Earlier
22 it was prior to the 30th of April, but there have been many convoys after
23 that. Your Honours have heard many witnesses talking about people
24 leaving: Muslims, non-Serbs leaving Prijedor area. So if my learned
25 friend could restrict or say a specific time period, that would be much
1 appropriate. Thank you, Your Honour.
2 JUDGE SCHOMBURG: Sustained. Probably you may rephrase.
3 MR. OSTOJIC: I will, Your Honour. Thank you.
4 Q. Sir, from the period of April 30th, 1992 through May 26th, 1992,
5 approximately the time in which you were detained in the Trnopolje
6 Detention Centre, were you, sir, aware of any Muslims voluntarily leaving
7 the Prijedor Municipality?
8 A. While I was still detained, the 26th of May, you said? I'm sorry,
9 I didn't quite follow.
10 Q. My learned friend from the Office of the Prosecutor wished me to
11 put a time limitation, so the period in which I'm interested to know if
12 you obtained any information or knowledge is specifically from the period
13 of April 30th, 1992, up until, but not after, May 26th, which is the date,
14 as you've testified, sir, yesterday, the date in which you were
15 incarcerated and placed in the Trnopolje Detention Centre. For that
16 limited 25 days, are you aware or do you have any information, sir, in
17 connection with Muslims in the Prijedor Municipality, including the
18 villages in which you were at, whether or not they were voluntarily
19 leaving the area?
20 A. In my village where I lived, in that period, I didn't notice
21 anyone leaving. And I think everyone was in their homes when the war
22 broke out.
23 Q. And can you tell me, sir, what date you attribute to the "war
24 breaking out"?
25 A. The 24th of May.
1 Q. If I may now, sir, turn to the time period that you spent in the
2 Trnopolje camp. And just so that we're talking about specifically the
3 right time frame, you testified yesterday that from May 26th, 1992,
4 through October 1st, 1992, you were detained in the Trnopolje Detention
5 Centre. Correct?
6 A. Yes, that's correct.
7 Q. During the time that you were there, sir, specifically on May
8 26th, 1992, can you tell us whether or not there were barbed wires that
9 surrounded the entire Trnopolje camp?
10 A. The entire duration of my stay there, no.
11 Q. Sir, I'm asking you initially, during your incarceration on
12 May 26th, 1992, was there a barbed wire fence at the Trnopolje camp that
13 surrounded the Trnopolje Detention Centre or school?
14 A. Barbed wire fence, there never was one around the school building.
15 They put one up outside the cinema building, that is, actually behind the
16 cinema building, the cultural centre, and around it for a while. But not
17 on the first day. No, it wasn't there on the first day as far as I can
19 Q. Help me with this, sir. When you say, "They put one up around the
20 cinema building, or behind the cinema building, the cultural centre," who
21 is the "they" that you are referring to, sir?
22 A. I am referring to persons who probably - actually certainly -
23 following orders by someone from the military, took up -- by orders from
24 the camp command or some other command, they brought the barbed wire over
25 there and put it up there.
1 Q. Well, tell me, sir, if you would be kind enough to tell me what
2 period of time this occurred?
3 A. Unfortunately, I can't specify the period of time. That was not
4 right at the very beginning; it may have been -- please, don't take this
5 too literally, but I think probably after a month. I really don't know. I
6 couldn't specify.
7 Q. And when, according to you, sir, were these barbed wires removed?
8 A. I don't know when they were removed. The front side, I think it
9 remained. I think so, but I can't say with certainty. The lower side,
10 there's an open field leading to a football pitch. For a day or two, they
11 placed there a sort of a metal net, netting, and posts were driven into
12 the ground. And this lasted for a day or two, I think. And then the same
13 people came back. Probably, they had orders by someone who had brought
14 them there. They just pulled this net down to the ground, and that's how
15 it then remained.
16 Q. Is it fair to say, sir, during the period in which you were at the
17 Trnopolje Detention Centre, from May 26th, 1992, through October 1st,
18 1992, that the population within that Detention Centre was both mixed in
19 age and gender?
20 A. Yes, that sounds fair.
21 Q. So it's fair to say that there were women at the camp, sir, as
23 A. Yes, temporarily.
24 Q. How temporarily were they there, sir? Do you remember?
25 A. When they were expelled from their homes, from the surrounding
1 villages, they would drive them as far as the cinema building or the
2 school building, or wherever there was room to put them up. And sometimes
3 they would stay there for two or three, sometimes even seven days, up to
4 the day of their transport by rail in a direction I did not know at the
5 time. I could not tell where these people were being taken off to.
6 Q. Is it fair to state, sir, that from May 26th, 1992 all the way
7 through August 15th, 1992, the Trnopolje Detention Centre actually had
8 within its facilities both men and women at all times?
9 JUDGE SCHOMBURG: The question was already answered.
10 MR. OSTOJIC:
11 Q. Sir, can you tell us for the period of time that you were at
12 Trnopolje camp whether or not there were any German shepherds that were
13 purportedly manning the camp?
14 A. I didn't see them. But I did see soldiers, individuals, with such
15 dogs who would enter the camp.
16 Q. Can you tell us, sir, with respect to the Trnopolje Detention
17 Centre, whether or not there were any land mines in the surrounding area?
18 A. I don't know. I didn't check.
19 Q. With -- pardon me? You may finish. I'm not sure if you finished
20 your answer, sir. I interrupted you. I apologise.
21 A. Land mines, how am I supposed to know? I really don't know.
22 Q. Well, sir, during the period in which you were detained at the
23 Trnopolje Detention Centre, do you recall having gone across the street to
24 obtain water for yourself, and perhaps for others, within the Trnopolje
1 A. Yes.
2 Q. Is it fair to say that in order for you and others to obtain this
3 water, that you actually had to leave the Trnopolje facility as it was
4 identified by you yesterday, both with the school, the cinema, and the
5 cultural centre? Correct?
6 A. If we drew a line, where the line was passing what was the camp
7 and what was outside the camp, I couldn't determine really because even in
8 front and behind the guard posts, so anywhere within the range of the
9 weapons the guards were carrying was camp for me.
10 MR. OSTOJIC: I'm not sure if the Court -- I have a couple of
11 other questions on the camp itself but it may be a convenient time, or if
12 the Court wishes, I may proceed.
13 JUDGE SCHOMBURG: The time is appropriate for having a break, but
14 the Trial Chamber has decided to impose a time limit of only further 30
16 The trial stays adjourned until 15 minutes past 4.00.
17 --- Recess taken at 3.46 p.m.
18 --- On resuming at 4.16 p.m.
19 JUDGE SCHOMBURG: Please be seated.
20 Please continue.
21 MR. OSTOJIC: Thank you, Your Honour.
22 Q. Witness, Mr. U, with respect to the Trnopolje camp, before the
23 break, we were specifically discussing water. I'd like to now turn to the
24 topic of food. Is it fair, sir, and correct, to state that in fact food
25 was provided to the detainees in the Trnopolje camp from the beginning of
12 Blank page inserted to ensure pagination corresponds between the French and
13 English transcripts.
1 your stay throughout the period of time in which you were at the Trnopolje
2 Detention Centre?
3 A. We were not provided food.
4 Q. Is it true, sir, that in fact the Red Cross provided the detainees
5 within the Trnopolje Detention Centre bread on a daily basis?
6 A. Yes, during the first days.
7 Q. Is it true, sir, that during the time in which you were at the
8 Trnopolje Detention Centre, namely, May 26th through October 1st, 1992,
9 that there were people, specifically women, who were permitted and allowed
10 to go outside the camp and bring food for the people who were in the camp
11 during the period of time in which you were there?
12 A. Women who went out to fetch food for the people in the camp, later
13 those women were from the surrounding villages. They had not been
14 expelled from their homes. And because they were in a position to, they
15 brought food.
16 Q. Describe for me, if you will, how often these women in the
17 surrounding areas would come into the Trnopolje Detention Centre and
18 provide food for the people within the Trnopolje Detention Centre.
19 A. Firstly, this was not an organised thing. They did it of their
20 own free will. Whoever had food brought some to the camp.
21 Q. How often, sir?
22 A. Probably, if they had any relatives and whatever they had to bring
23 from their homes.
24 Q. Did this, sir, also happen after the purported barbed wire was
25 placed on or around the area of the Trnopolje Detention Centre?
1 A. I can't specify the date when the last village in the surroundings
2 of the camp was evacuated and, therefore, I can't give you the exact date.
3 Q. Can you give me an approximate date, sir?
4 A. This lasted until, perhaps, the first days, the early days, of
5 August. I think, up to that point, there had been large convoys taking
6 the women and children away. So in the course of August, this aspect of
7 assistance ceased to exist.
8 Q. Can you tell me, sir, the type of food that you yourself received
9 from May 26th until the beginning of August, 1992?
10 A. In the first days, as I've mentioned, the food we received
11 consisted of slices of bread, two slices each. We would queue up, and we
12 each got two slices of bread within 24 hours.
13 Q. And subsequent to that, sir, with respect specifically to the
14 women who were bringing the food to the camp, do you remember what type of
15 food they were bringing into the camp?
16 A. They mainly brought whatever they had. Personally, I did not
17 receive food from anyone myself, as an individual. But colleagues who
18 were there with me had relatives who brought them food, so I shared some
19 of their food.
20 Q. Tell me, sir, how, if you know, were these women allowed to gain
21 access to the Detention Centre if there was a barbed wire that surrounded
22 the camp, to come on whatever basis it is that you recall they came into
23 the Detention Centre to provide for the members within that Detention
25 JUDGE SCHOMBURG: I think the Trial Chamber has been tolerant
1 enough during the last hour on this question, and it was quite clearly
2 stated and there is no remaining doubt. So I would ask you to stop this
3 line of questions.
4 MR. OSTOJIC: Fair enough. I do have one more question, with
5 respect. It doesn't include, Your Honour, if the Court permits, with the
6 food issue, as the witness testified specifically on page 53 subsequent to
7 the women in August being, as he put it, removed from the camp, how the
8 detainees within the Trnopolje Detention Centre were able to have access
9 to food. If I may just inquire on that issue.
10 JUDGE SCHOMBURG: One single question, yes, please.
11 MR. OSTOJIC: Thank you, Your Honour.
12 Q. Sir, yesterday during your direct examination on page 53,
13 specifically, line 7 through 8 of your testimony, you stated that after
14 these women no longer provided food to the Detention Centre, that, in
15 fact, on line 8: "They would allow us to go and forage for food in the
16 surrounding areas." Again, line 8, page 53 of yesterday's transcript.
17 Can you tell me, sir, how often and what type of food would you bring back
18 to the camp?
19 A. Allowed us, this doesn't mean that we could all go out within the
20 time span of one day and then all come back within the span of one day.
21 This was an individual thing and was only on account of the goodwill of
22 the guards who were there and who allowed individuals to go out.
23 Q. A couple more questions, if I may, sir, with respect to the
24 Trnopolje camp, unrelated to food, of course. With respect to any
25 beatings at the camp, is it fair to say, sir, that you did not personally
1 see any beatings at the Trnopolje camp during the time in which you were
2 there, namely, May 26th through October 1st, 1992?
3 A. Yes. I did not see with my own eyes that anyone was beaten up
4 inside the camp.
5 Q. Is it also, sir, true that you did not at any time during the time
6 in which you were at the Trnopolje Detention Centre from May 26th through
7 October 1st, 1992, that you, sir, did not witness any killings in the camp
9 A. I did not witness any such thing personally.
10 Q. Also, sir, with respect to the women that were at the camp, I note
11 on page 53 of yesterday's direct examination, specifically, line 22, you
12 state: "As far as harassment of women is concerned, during my stay, I did
13 not notice any such cases." Specifically, lines 22 through 23 of page
14 53. My question -- and then you proceed, sir, in all fairness to give us
15 something that I think you either heard or were aware of. But my question
16 to you, sir: Is it fair to state that you also did not see either males
17 or females being harassed at the Trnopolje camp during the stay -- during
18 your stay there, from May 26th through October 1st, 1992?
19 A. When I said I did not see, that meant I did not personally witness
20 any such acts. I only personally saw the consequences of such acts, or I
21 heard about them.
22 Q. And sir, is it also true that the camp commander as you've
23 identified him to be a Major Slobodan Kuruzovic, correct, of the Trnopolje
24 Detention Centre?
25 A. Yes.
1 Q. Can you tell us, sir, how often you would see Mr. Kuruzovic or
2 Major Kuruzovic in the camp during the period in which you were there?
3 A. Almost on a daily basis.
4 Q. Do you know, sir, if you would ever see Major Kuruzovic at the
5 camp in the evenings?
6 A. Yes.
7 Q. How often?
8 A. Not too often.
9 Q. Sir, you described a situation in which you overheard
10 Major Kuruzovic state, once he was confronted by the female detainees at
11 the Trnopolje Detention Centre in connection with an incident that
12 occurred perhaps a night or two prior relating to rapes or assaults on
13 women, that Major Kuruzovic, in fact, stated that "This must not happen
14 again." Correct?
15 A. Yes, that's correct.
16 Q. If I may turn to another issue, sir, in the limited time that we
17 have. Are you aware at any time during the period at issue, namely, April
18 1992 through September 1992, whether or not there was a Crisis Staff in
19 the Kozarac area?
20 A. Yes. Between April 1992 and September 1992.
21 Q. Just for the record, Your Honour, it's not on the transcript --
22 oh, here it comes. Thank you.
23 Just so that I'm clear, and I apologise for having to perhaps
24 re-ask the question, was this Crisis Staff in Kozarac, would you know who
25 the members of this Crisis Staff were?
1 A. I did not say there was any such Crisis Staff in that period. As
2 to who the members were, I don't know.
3 Q. Prior to April of 1992, do you know or are you familiar with any
4 of the residents or citizens of the Kozarac area forming a Crisis Staff?
5 A. I don't know. I did not know.
6 Q. It may just have been an error on line 17 of page 40 of today's
7 transcript wherein it was given that you answered in the affirmative, but
8 thank you for clarifying that.
9 In connection, lastly, with respect to Crisis Staff, are you
10 familiar, sir, at any time whether or not there was a Crisis Staff that
11 was formed in the Kamicani area?
12 A. I can only say that if there had been a Crisis Staff in the
13 Kozarac area, probably the municipal -- the local commune authorities
14 could have done that. But I cannot say whether they had, in fact, set up
15 any such bodies and whether those bodies were in function.
16 Q. Thank you. Briefly, right before your arrest and detention into
17 Trnopolje camp, you stated that you took your truck and went towards the
18 area of the woods opposite in which your family were going towards
19 Trnopolje, so you were going in the opposite direction. And I believe
20 that you said that there was a group of you. Can you tell me the number
21 of people who were with you, who were going in the direction of the woods,
22 on or before May 26th, 1992?
23 A. First of all, I did not go on a tractor, and second, probably all
24 of the population who happened to be at the bottom of the hill went in the
25 direction of the woods to seek shelter there. My family was not that
1 close, I mean, they had already gone in the opposite direction, and that
2 is the reason why I subsequently decided to join them.
3 Q. Thank you for that clarification. So how many people were there
4 that went in the direction of the woods?
5 A. I assume that everybody left, but people were not in a group. So
6 it was not possible for me to see them as a group going towards the woods.
7 But my assumption is that all of the residents who were in the area, in
8 view of the fact that the woods were very close, went there to seek
9 shelter. At least, that was my idea.
10 Q. Do you know, sir, if any of the people who were going towards the
11 woods that you may have seen, whether or not any of them were armed?
12 A. I told you a moment ago that I had not seen a group of people
13 going there. I couldn't see that, at least, people moving in a group. I
14 wanted to go there because it was some kind of natural shelter because of
15 the nature of the terrain, and it is only my assumption that all of my
16 neighbours had also set out in the same direction.
17 Q. Thank you, Witness U.
18 MR. OSTOJIC: Your Honour, if I may be permitted to ask two
19 questions in private session which directly relate to some of the
20 testimony that was elicited by my learned friends at the Office of the
21 Prosecutor yesterday, also in private session.
22 JUDGE SCHOMBURG: Private session, please.
23 [Private session]
11 Page 6318 – redacted – private session.
12 Page 6319 – redacted – private session.
12 Blank page inserted to ensure pagination corresponds between the French and
13 English transcripts.
8 [Open session]
9 JUDGE SCHOMBURG: Thank you. Are there any questions in
10 re-examination, please?
11 MR. WAIDYARATNE: One question, Your Honour, in which to clarify a
12 certain point which transpired during the cross-examination.
13 Re-examined by Mr. Waidyaratne:
14 Q. Witness, when you were in the Trnopolje camp, you were clear
15 enough and said that you didn't see any beatings, beating of prisoners or
16 detainees who were in the Trnopolje camp. But did you see those people
17 who were in the Trnopolje camp, the prisoners or the detainees, with
19 A. Yes, that's what I said. I didn't see it with my own eyes but I
20 could see the consequences of the beatings on these people.
21 Q. Could you explain as to how and when these people sustained the
23 A. Well, they would show up with a list. Sometimes they would just
24 call out names and surnames and take detainees to the building of a
25 catering facility which was right across the street from the building
1 where the commander was, where the commander was staying. And according
2 to my knowledge, that is where they were beaten up and mistreated. And it
3 was from there that they returned wounded and injured. And I was able to
4 see them when they came back.
5 Q. When you were at the Trnopolje camp, were you beaten or harassed?
6 A. I don't think I can say that I was beaten, but they did hit me.
7 MR. WAIDYARATNE: Thank you, Your Honour.
8 JUDGE SCHOMBURG: Thank you. May I just add one question.
9 Questioned by the Court:
10 JUDGE SCHOMBURG: Earlier this afternoon, you told us that indeed
11 you were never interested especially in politics. But tell me one thing:
12 With a view to the map Kamicani, the area you lived in, it seems to be
13 relatively far away from Prijedor. Did you, before being arrested the
14 26th of May, 1992, ever hear the name of Dr. Stakic?
15 A. No.
16 JUDGE SCHOMBURG: Thank you for this clear and precise answer.
17 Judge Fassi Fihri, please.
18 JUDGE FASSI FIHRI: [Interpretation] Witness, you helped in the
19 burial of nine persons that you had found in this basement you told us
20 about. Were there any women amongst these nine individuals?
21 A. Eight people, and there were women amongst them.
22 JUDGE FASSI FIHRI: [Interpretation] How many?
23 A. Let me think. Three. Three women.
24 JUDGE FASSI FIHRI: [Interpretation] Thank you very much. I have
25 another question for you, Witness: While you were in Trnopolje, did
1 anyone die? Were there any deaths during that period of time?
2 A. Yes.
3 JUDGE FASSI FIHRI: [Interpretation] A lot, many? How many? Do
4 you know? Do you have an idea of the number of such cases?
5 A. I believe I indicated one such case, the one that I eyewitnessed.
6 People died during my stay there but I don't know the causes of their
7 deaths, whether this was as a result of an illness or something else.
8 There were cases that I know about, that I knew about, people whose bodies
9 were carried out to a nearby cemetery, where they were eventually buried.
10 JUDGE FASSI FIHRI: [Interpretation] Who transported these bodies,
11 detainees, people like you, or soldiers?
12 A. Well, I think it was with the assistance of the guards. But I
13 don't think that it could have been done without the assistance of the
14 guards, but it was actually done by the detainees.
15 JUDGE FASSI FIHRI: [Interpretation] Were there many such cases,
16 fatal cases, these dead people?
17 A. As far as I know, not many people died inside the camp itself.
18 JUDGE FASSI FIHRI: [Interpretation] Thank you.
19 JUDGE SCHOMBURG: Thank you. Judge Vassylenko.
20 No further questions. Any questions emanating from the questions
21 of the Judges?
22 MR. OSTOJIC: No, Your Honour, thank you.
23 MR. WAIDYARATNE: No, Your Honour.
24 JUDGE SCHOMBURG: Thank you. This then concludes the testimony of
25 Witness U.
1 Witness U, I have to thank you very much for not only coming here,
2 but also to go through this line of important questions and answering
3 really with a huge amount of tolerance. And we all know it's very
4 difficult for you to go through these questions, sometimes from your
5 point of view, indeed, difficult to understand. But believe us, you
6 really assisted us in coming closer to the truth and we are extremely
7 grateful for this. Thank you for that.
8 The witness may be brought out. Thank you.
9 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Thank you, too.
10 JUDGE SCHOMBURG: May I ask the OTP, the next witness should be
11 number 42, the witness is available immediately?
12 MR. KOUMJIAN: I believe so.
13 JUDGE SCHOMBURG: What kind of protection?
14 MR. KOUMJIAN: No protective measures.
15 JUDGE SCHOMBURG: No protective measures. Okay.
16 [The witness withdrew]
17 MR. KOUMJIAN: Could the usher before in the next witness?
18 JUDGE SCHOMBURG: Please do so immediately.
19 MR. WAIDYARATNE: May I be permitted to address Your Honour? Your
20 Honour, there was a document which I said I would indicate whether we have
21 a full translation of that document. I have been informed that we have
22 not a full translation of that document.
23 JUDGE SCHOMBURG: This was Document D22.
24 MR. WAIDYARATNE: Yes, Your Honour.
25 JUDGE SCHOMBURG: Thank you.
1 MR. WAIDYARATNE: Thank you.
2 JUDGE SCHOMBURG: Then we proceed with the testimony of Witness
3 42. The estimated time of the examination-in-chief will be?
4 MR. KOUMJIAN: I would estimate about three hours, two or three
6 JUDGE SCHOMBURG: Thank you. And we have the proofing notes. The
7 Defence also has the proofing notes?
8 MR. OSTOJIC: Yes, Your Honour, we do.
9 JUDGE SCHOMBURG: Any additional exhibits to be expected?
10 MR. KOUMJIAN: No. I just anticipate using one of the maps that
11 we have.
12 JUDGE SCHOMBURG: Thank you. Then the witness, no protection, we
13 can use the name. Witness Mr. Poljak may be brought in, please.
14 [The witness entered court]
15 JUDGE SCHOMBURG: And the usher can already open the blinds when
16 we have heard the solemn declaration.
17 Mr. Poljak, good afternoon. You can understand me in a language
18 you understand?
19 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Yes, I can.
20 JUDGE SCHOMBURG: Thank you. Could we please hear your solemn
22 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] I solemnly declare that I will speak
23 the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.
24 JUDGE SCHOMBURG: Thank you. Please, sit down. And in the
25 meantime, we can start the examination-in-chief. And may I ask the usher
1 to open the blinds because we don't need any kind of protective measures
2 in this case.
3 WITNESS: SAMIR POLJAK
4 [Witness answered through interpreter]
5 Examined by Mr. Koumjian:
6 JUDGE SCHOMBURG: Mr. Koumjian, please start.
7 MR. KOUMJIAN:
8 Q. Sir, would you please tell the Court your name?
9 A. My name is Samir Poljak.
10 Q. And Mr. Poljak, when were you born?
11 A. I was born on the 1st of April, 1973.
12 Q. Where were you born?
13 A. I was born in the village of Jakupovici, which is part of the
14 Kevljani local commune and the municipality of Prijedor.
15 Q. Which is the bigger unit? Is Kevljani part of Jakupovici, or
16 is -- which is bigger?
17 A. That's a good question. We belong to the Kevljani local commune,
18 but I think that Jakupovici is actually larger than Kevljani because it
19 consists of three hamlets, Gornja Jakupovici, Srednji Jakupovici, and
20 Donja Jakupovici.
21 Q. Mr. Poljak, what is your ethnicity?
22 A. I became a (redacted).
23 MR. KOUMJIAN: I just ask that the citizenship be redacted.
24 JUDGE SCHOMBURG: Please redact the citizenship on the previous
1 MR. KOUMJIAN:
2 Q. In 1992, did you -- were you a Muslim and considered yourself a
4 A. Yes, yes, I was.
5 Q. In 1992 - you said you were born in 1973 - were you 19 years old
6 then, from April 30th of 1992, and May and thereafter in 1992?
7 A. Yes, I was 19.
8 Q. What were you doing in the spring of 1992 before the conflict
9 broke out? Did you work or go to school?
10 A. I attended secondary school. I was about to complete the fourth
11 form of the secondary school. My school was technical school in Prijedor.
12 Q. Was it in the town of Prijedor?
13 A. Yes, it was.
14 Q. Sometime that spring, did you stop going to classes, and if so,
15 can you explain what happened?
16 A. When Serb authorities took over the municipality, I stopped going
17 to school as of that day because my parents thought that it was better for
18 me not to continue going to school for my own safety, to have a break and
19 then to continue when the time comes. So I stopped going to school at
20 that time.
21 Q. Prior to the armed conflict breaking out in 1992 in Prijedor, had
22 you had any military training? Had you served in the Yugoslav army or the
24 A. No. I had not served in the JNA. I had not completed any kind of
25 military service or training.
1 Q. Did you live at home in May of 1992?
2 A. I lived with my parents at our family house throughout that period
3 of time, up until the outbreak of the war.
4 Q. What was your father's name?
5 A. Zihad.
6 Q. What was your father's occupation?
7 A. He worked for the forestry most of his life, cutting wood, things
8 like that.
9 Q. Did anyone else live in your house at that time besides you and
10 your parents?
11 A. My brother and his wife, with their son, who at the time was six
12 months old.
13 Q. Do you recall the events that happened on the 24th of May, 1992?
14 A. I do.
15 Q. Tell us in your own words what you remember about that day.
16 A. That day, the situation was really tense, should I say the whole
17 day, since early in the morning.
18 Q. First, let me ask you: Where were you that day, let's say up
19 until noon that day?
20 A. I was at home.
21 Q. And starting from the pertinent events that happened that day from
22 the morning, from noon on, tell us what you recall about what happened.
23 A. I remember clearly, around 1.00 in the afternoon, I was sitting in
24 my house, I was having lunch. On the table, we had a radio set, tape
25 recorder. How should I say that? I was listening to Radio Prijedor. At
1 that time, they had news on the radio, and they carried a piece of news
2 which really scared me in a way. They said that unless the barricades
3 were removed from the Banja Luka/Prijedor main road, Kozarac and the
4 surrounding area would be attacked.
5 MR. KOUMJIAN: Your Honour, could we have the map put on the ELMO
6 that is Exhibit S51, 5-1.
7 Q. Mr. Poljak, looking at this map, is it correct that this shows the
8 area of Kozarac from the right of the eastern, southeastern side, Omarska,
9 through Kozarac and Kozarusa, and then up north to the Kozara mountain
10 area and the Benkovac area? Do you recognise the area?
11 A. Yes, Kozarac, Omarska, the Banja Luka/Prijedor main road. The old
12 road, I recognise the old road.
13 Q. Can you point on the map to where the village or area that your
14 house was at in 1992?
15 A. I think it was here somewhere.
16 Q. Did you actually live in Kevljani?
17 A. No.
18 Q. So you're pointing to an area between Gornja Jakupovici and Donja
19 Jakupovici, is that correct?
20 A. Yes.
21 Q. How far was it from where you lived to Kozarac? In kilometres,
22 how far was it from your house to Kozarac?
23 A. Approximately seven.
24 Q. And how many kilometres would it be from your house to the town of
12 Blank page inserted to ensure pagination corresponds between the French and
13 English transcripts.
1 A. Around 20, I'd say.
2 Q. In the map, we see a red line that appears to be a principal road.
3 Was there a road that went from Omarska to Prijedor, passing through
4 Kozarac and Kozarusa, or next to them?
5 A. Can you please repeat the question?
6 Q. Sure. We see the red line on the map. Was there a road that went
7 from Omarska passing through Kozarac on into the town of Prijedor?
8 A. There was the Banja Luka/Prijedor Road, the principal road, the
9 one that was usually used, and then the road forked off to Omarska. You
10 can see it here. And there was a rail line here from Banja Luka for
11 Omarska through Prijedor.
12 Q. And also, if you were travelling from Omarska to Prijedor, would
13 you take that road through Kozarac to get to Prijedor?
14 A. Yes. The bus went from Omarska through Jakupovici, Kamicani,
15 Kozarac, and then on to Prijedor.
16 Q. Okay. On that day, you said you were at home, and the
17 announcement was that if the -- that the checkpoints had to be removed
18 from the road, the Banja Luka Road. Is that correct?
19 A. Yes, that's correct.
20 Q. What did they say would happen? What else do you remember about
21 the announcement on the radio? What would happen if the checkpoints were
22 not removed?
23 A. As far as I can remember, they said that unless these barricades
24 were removed on the road, they said that they would apply military force
25 to remove them.
1 Q. Was there a checkpoint or a barricade in Jakupovici on the main
2 road that you were aware of?
3 A. Yes.
4 Q. Were you a member of any armed group defending that area?
5 A. No. I was not a member of any of the armed groups.
6 Q. Did you have a weapon?
7 A. No, I did not have a weapon.
8 Q. How about your father? To your knowledge, was he a member of an
9 armed group, did he participate at that checkpoint or barricade?
10 A. He wasn't there at the barricade. At the moment when the attack
11 was carried out, he was not there.
12 Q. Where was he at that time?
13 A. He was at a neighbour's place. The name of the neighbour was
14 Ahmed Colic. That may have been perhaps a hundred metres from our house.
15 Q. After you heard the announcement on the radio, what happened?
16 A. I was still at home, having lunch, as I've said, and then I went
17 out, and as neither my mother nor my father were at home, I was alone. So
18 I went to my aunt's house, where I found my mother. And I'm not sure how
19 much time elapsed, but then the shooting began. And when the shooting
20 began, I was really scared because shells started falling. Nothing like
21 that had ever happened to me previously.
22 I found my mother there, and there were a number of other women
23 there and my relations. Some were there in my aunt's basement. Not much
24 time elapsed before my father came, too, and then after perhaps 10, 15, 20
25 minutes, my cousin, my two cousins, Sakib Poljak and Sabid Poljak,
1 arrived, and some other neighbours. And they said that we had to run,
2 leave the village, that the army attacked the barricade and that a tank
3 drove through the barricade in the direction of our houses. They said we
4 had to leave the basement and run towards Kozarac because they hoped that
5 there, it would be safer. This was all happening very quickly.
6 No one really managed to collect any of their belongings. We just
7 took off for Kozarac. We didn't use the road. We went off the road
8 towards Gornja Jakupovici and then across fields and through forests. We
9 gradually tried to reach Kozarac.
10 Q. Thank you. I want to stop and go back and ask you some questions
11 about what you've just told us. You said that shooting started and
12 shelling. Can you describe to us exactly what you heard and saw.
13 A. That was -- how should I put it? Suddenly, the shooting came, and
14 then shells started falling, the shelling began. You had the impression
15 they were coming from all possible directions. They fell on fields and on
16 houses. It all happened at once. So you heard the sounds of shooting,
17 and then the shelling began. And I don't think the shelling stopped
18 before Wednesday. Shells were falling all the time.
19 Q. We're talking now about the 24th of May, and do you remember what
20 day of the week that was?
21 A. Sunday.
22 Q. When you say that the shells were coming and falling everywhere,
23 how much time was there between, on average, to your best estimate,
24 between when you would hear the explosions of shells?
25 A. Well, every two or three minutes. I don't know. I can't remember
1 exactly. I just know that shells were falling all the time.
2 Q. What was being shelled? Did it seem to you that any particular
3 area was targeted? What was there to be hit?
4 A. They targeted everything, even when we started to run across the
5 fields. There were no houses there, but still also those areas were being
6 shelled. The forest, too. Maybe they were watching us with binoculars,
7 but they were shelling all the areas. I had the impression that shells
8 were falling literally all over the place. So we retreated slowly, and as
9 soon as we heard a shell whistle by, we would just run for shelter.
10 Q. Now, you said that you were at your aunt's house, I believe. How
11 far was that from the barricade that you talked about?
12 A. About 800 metres, approximately, a kilometre perhaps.
13 Q. You said someone came and told you that you had to retreat, that
14 the army had attacked. I think you said it was your cousin. Is that
16 A. Yes, that's correct.
17 Q. You didn't yourself see what happened at the checkpoint or
18 barricade. Is that correct?
19 A. That's correct. You couldn't see it from my house because there's
20 a forest, a grove, between. So it was impossible to see. You had to be
21 standing very close, perhaps 200 or 300 metres from the barricade, to be
22 able to see it.
23 Q. Did anyone who was present at the barricade tell you at any time
24 what happened there?
25 A. When we were retreating, we reached a forest, and we paused to get
1 some rest. There was a creek there. And the place was quite sheltered.
2 And my cousin told me there what had happened.
3 Q. What did he tell you had happened at the checkpoint?
4 A. They were there, and suddenly, a tank drove up from the direction
5 of Omarska. And in the spot where the barricade was, perhaps two or three
6 hundred metres from there, there is a creek and a forest. And as the tank
7 drove across the bridge, it was followed by a group of soldiers who then
8 lined up beside the tank, and they started shooting. The shooting began.
9 Q. Did your cousin tell you whether the people at the checkpoint or
10 barricade fired back at the tank or at the soldiers that were coming from
12 A. Yes, they did fire back a bit. And then they fled, that is.
13 Q. Did he say why they fled after just firing back a little bit?
14 A. They had to. They ran to save their lives.
15 Q. Okay. You said that you ran out of your aunt's house and went to
16 the woods. What happened then?
17 A. We got some rest in the forest and then gradually and very slowly,
18 we kept on retreating because we no longer knew -- the area was not safe.
19 It had mixed population. There were Serb houses there and Muslim houses,
20 too. So slowly we reached Kamicani. My mother, my father, and I split up
21 from the remaining part of the group, our neighbours, and we went to
22 Brdjani, to the house of my sister-in-law's father.
23 Q. And is this still Sunday? Approximately what time was it when you
24 got to Brdjani? What time of day, afternoon or evening?
25 A. When we reached Kamicani, it was already evening. The sun was
1 beginning to set. I'm not sure what time it was exactly.
2 Q. So did you and your parents go to your sister-in-law's father's
4 A. Yes, that's correct.
5 Q. And you said that was in Brdjani. Is that shown on the map? Can
6 you point to it?
7 MR. KOUMJIAN: I don't know if it's possible to focus that a bit.
8 A. [Indicates]
9 MR. KOUMJIAN:
10 Q. You've pointed to the first blue dot, basically to the right, to
11 the east of Kozarac.
12 How long did you stay in Brdjani?
13 A. We stayed in Brdjani until Tuesday afternoon, I think.
14 Q. During that time, was -- the area of Brdjani, could you still hear
15 explosions? Was there shelling in that area?
16 A. Yes, there was shelling. We stayed in the basement for the whole
17 time. A young man I know, he's one year younger than I am - he went to
18 primary school with my cousin - he was hit in the face by a shrapnel.
19 They kept shelling the whole time.
20 Q. When you say he was hit in the face, was his wound serious?
21 A. It was not a serious wound.
22 Q. What happened after the two days?
23 A. Someone arrived. The basement was full of people seeking shelter.
24 I didn't know most of those people. They were from that area. They came
25 over. Someone came over and said that Kozarac had fallen and that an
1 order had been issued to go towards Kozarac in a convoy and to surrender
2 to the Serb authorities there.
3 Q. What did the people in the house that you were staying in do then?
4 A. They went out to the road, where many people had already
5 assembled, and then they took off for Kozarac.
6 Q. When you say, "they took off," the way it was translated, how
7 did you travel to Kozarac? Were the people using vehicles, on foot, or a
9 A. I did not go to Kozarac from Brdjani myself. But those people,
10 they walked from the house.
11 Q. What was the ethnicity of those people?
12 A. Muslim.
13 Q. Why didn't you go with that group?
14 A. I was scared.
15 Q. Did your parents go with the other people?
16 A. Yes, my parents left. My father did not want to be separated from
17 my mother and my sister-in-law who had a baby then who was six months old,
18 a son.
19 Q. So what did you do?
20 JUDGE SCHOMBURG: I think it's appropriate to have a break now for
21 20 minutes. We resume at quarter to 6.00.
22 --- Recess taken at 5.25 p.m.
23 --- On resuming at 5.48 p.m.
24 JUDGE SCHOMBURG: Mr. Poljak, may I ask, do you feel better now?
25 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Yes, I do.
1 JUDGE SCHOMBURG: And please, let us know in any event if you have
2 some problems. Don't hesitate to tell us immediately because we are aware
3 how difficult it is for you to give us your testimony. But I think we can
4 proceed. Is it correct?
5 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Yes, we can.
6 JUDGE SCHOMBURG: Please, Mr. Koumjian.
7 MR. KOUMJIAN: With the consent of my learned colleagues, I'm
8 going to ask the next question in a leading manner.
9 Q. Mr. Poljak, at that time, did you say goodbye to your parents and
10 decide to try to make your way with a smaller group to Croatia?
11 A. That's when I decided to say goodbye to my parents and to my
12 sister-in-law's brother, too. Actually, I decided, with my
13 sister-in-law's brother, to try to go to Croatia.
14 Q. Okay. Did the two of you, then, set out towards trying to travel
15 on foot to Croatia?
16 A. That was our aim.
17 Q. Going back to the map that's on the machine to your left, can you
18 just show us, when you left Brdjani, generally where you headed at that
20 MR. KOUMJIAN: If you could go in a little bit more towards
21 Brdjani, focus in a little bit more towards the centre.
22 A. We set out towards Kozara, straight towards Kozara.
23 Q. And Kozara is the mountain, Kozara, is that correct?
24 A. Yes, that's correct.
25 Q. What is the area like? What's the topography there? Is it wooded
2 A. Yes.
3 Q. And tell us about that journey. What happened when you set out
4 with your sister-in-law's brother?
5 A. We set out. I separated from my parents on the road and we set
6 out towards Kozara. There were people there all over, women, children,
7 elderly people. It was very chaotic. Some started out in columns.
8 People didn't know what to do or where to go. I didn't know the area
9 because I had never been to that area previously. I went with this young
10 man. At nightfall, in the woods -- because that was not very far from
11 those villages, from Brdjani. If you head down from Brdjani, very quickly
12 you reach the foot of the Kozara, of Mount Kozara, and the woods there at
13 the foot of it.
14 At nightfall, there were many people there. So we simply spent
15 the night in the woods. You could still hear sounds of shooting and
16 shelling through the night. In the morning, when we woke up, there was
17 another group of people assembled there and they had the same intention as
18 we did, so we joined this group, the two of us. And I'm not sure who the
19 leader of this group was, who led the way, who was the guide. I didn't
20 know. We started out slowly. I didn't know where I was going. We were
21 in the woods and the area was unfamiliar to me. So we just walked on, and
22 we followed those other people there. We slowly made our way.
23 Q. This group of people that you joined with in the woods, was it a
24 military group? Was it all men? Can you describe the group that you
25 joined to travel with?
12 Blank page inserted to ensure pagination corresponds between the French and
13 English transcripts.
1 A. There were armed persons, too, in that group. There were a number
2 of women, children, elderly people, some young people, too, persons aged
3 15 or 16.
4 Q. What happened then? Where did the group go?
5 A. We went to Croatia through the woods. I didn't know the way. I
6 just followed. That young man and I, we joined the group and we just went
8 Q. What happened when the group was passing, going up the mountain?
9 A. We woke up in the morning. It was early. And the group started
10 out. Several young men walked ahead of everyone else, reconnoitring the
11 area. I remember that we crossed the road to Mrakovica. I remember
12 clearly that we passed a memorial fountain from World War II. It was some
13 sort of a fountain and it had a plaque on it. I can't remember what it
15 Q. Was that memorial on Kozara mountain to the partisans from World
16 War II, if you know?
17 A. Yes, yes, indeed. We sat down, and there was a forest path
18 nearby. And whoever wanted to drink, drank water there at the fountain.
19 So we sat down and we rested. And then some distance from us, we heard a
20 shot. And five minutes later, someone came over and said: "Don't be
21 afraid. It was just an accidental shot."
22 Q. Let me ask you about the group you were in. Can you give us a
23 rough estimate about the number of people that were in that group.
24 A. I don't know. Eighty, perhaps a hundred people. Yes,
1 Q. And again, I want to ask you, did you have a weapon, or in that
2 group did anyone give you a weapon?
3 A. I did not have a weapon. There were a couple of armed people
4 there, too.
5 Q. What happened after you received this report that the one shot was
7 A. Before long, we were sitting there by the path, and down there,
8 there was a creek, some sort of a creek. And then the other side of the
9 creek, someone started shooting. Shooting began. We were just resting
10 there and everything was silent, and suddenly, we heard sounds of
11 shooting in several places at once. And we started running. I turned
12 around, and everyone started running up the hill. They didn't take the
13 path. They just started running straight into the woods, scared by the
14 shooting. So I started running, too. And we reached some sort of a
15 plateau or a path. I can't remember exactly. So we stopped there, and
16 the shooting stopped. And then someone started speaking through a
17 loudspeaker. It must have been a military commander of sorts. And the
18 voice said: "Do not resist. You are surrounded. Surrender immediately.
19 We guarantee your personal safety."
20 Q. When the shots were being fired, do you know if anyone in your
21 group was hit by any of the shots?
22 A. I didn't see anyone being hit. It took place in the morning,
23 around 10.00 approximately. Everything was quiet and silent, and all of a
24 sudden, this shooting occurred, and people scattered around. I didn't see
25 anyone open fire. The people who were walking ahead were some kind of
1 scouts, and it is possible that they saw what happened. I didn't.
2 Q. When you heard the announcement, could you see the people that
3 were indicating for you to surrender?
4 A. Yes. They were calling out over the loudspeaker, telling us to
5 surrender, and that we had been surrounded and that they would guarantee
6 our personal safety.
7 Q. And who were those people, if you saw them? Were they wearing
9 A. At that moment, we couldn't actually see anyone. We didn't see
10 where they were, who they were. We didn't know whether we were indeed
11 surrounded or not. We couldn't see them. We could only hear them over
12 the megaphone.
13 Q. So what did you do? What happened then?
14 A. This young man I was with at that time said: "What should we do?
15 We have been surrounded. I think we have to surrender." And at that
16 moment, people started surrendering, going down towards the creek. And it
17 was at that moment that we saw Hamid Hodza, Ekro and Eno Alic. All of
18 these people were in our group. We saw them going down towards the creek
19 and surrender. So the two of us decided that we should also surrender.
20 We said, "Well, since the two of them are surrendering, I think we better
21 surrender, too."
22 Q. Those two people that you mentioned, the first you said Ekro Alic,
23 why were you -- who was he? Why did his surrender have significance to
25 A. He had a business of his own. Actually, both of them, Ekro and
1 Eno, did have a shop. They were one of the wealthiest people in Kozarac.
2 They are some distant relatives of mine. My mother's maiden name was
4 And then there was Hamid Hodza, as well, whom I knew and who was
5 living in Jakupovici for a while, in the area of Gornji Jakupovici.
6 Q. Hamid Hodza, was he a hodza? Was he a religious official?
7 A. Yes, a hodza. That's what we called them in Bosnia. He was a
8 kind of priest.
9 Q. Did you walk down to the creek and surrender?
10 A. Yes. Almost all of us started going down towards the creek, and
11 when we came out on to the other side of the creek, we came across a
12 path -- actually, it was a dirt road, where we were ordered to lie down on
13 our stomachs and put our hands behind our heads.
14 Q. And who were the people that were ordering you to do that? Can
15 you describe them?
16 A. The military, armed soldiers.
17 Q. Were they wearing army uniforms, police uniforms, could you tell?
18 A. I remember that there were camouflage uniforms. Some wore old JNA
19 military uniforms, the olive-green uniforms of the former JNA. As far as
20 I could observe, there were two or three different kinds of uniforms.
21 Q. After you were ordered to lie on the ground, what happened?
22 A. We were at the end of the column, at the back of the column, and
23 we were amongst the last who came down to the creek. When I lay down on
24 the ground, somebody kicked me or hit me on my shoes or sneakers - I don't
25 know what I was wearing at the time - and told me to stand up. And he
1 said: "The three of you should come with me." They wanted -- he wanted
2 us to collect the weapons that had been discarded in the woods, which is
3 what we did. We got up and followed this man.
4 When we got there, we saw that a group of soldiers had already
5 inspected those weapons. They had emptied the clips. They had taken off
6 the clips. So we collected those weapons. The man who escorted us, a
7 soldier, was actually very friendly. He said something to the effect,
8 "This is a very nice country, a very nice area. Why did this have to
9 happen? Why did you do this? You didn't stand a chance to defend
10 yourselves." He then said: "Don't you know what forces attacked you?"
11 And I remember he mentioned special units from Belgrade and Knin. He
12 personally was from Bosanska Gradiska.
13 So we spent some time talking to him and collected the weapons
14 that we found. And after that, we went down again. But while we were
15 collecting the weapons, we heard a shot coming from the direction of the
16 road. After we finished collecting weapons, we went down to the road and
17 lay down on the ground again. And I remember that they were passing
18 behind our backs and shouting that we should turn over all the jewellery,
19 money and gold that we had, and to put them all on one pile, which is
20 what we did again. So we spent some time lying on the ground like this.
21 I don't remember exactly how much, but at one point in time, they ordered
22 us to get up and place our hands behind our heads. I don't remember how
23 we marched down, whether it was in a single file or in two-by-two column.
24 But as we were going down, I saw traces of blood alongside the road. And
25 all of a sudden, I saw a body of a man who was obviously dead, who had
1 been shot in his eye. He was -- his face was covered with blood.
2 Q. Did you -- did anyone tell you, who had remained in the group when
3 you went to collect the weapons, what had happened to the man who was shot
4 in the eye?
5 A. Well, obviously, we couldn't talk. It was not until we reached
6 Benkovac where we were detained in the premises there, including the
7 bathroom there, that people told us that apparently a Croatian passport
8 had been found on this young man, and they said that he was a member of
9 the ZNG, that he had come from Croatia to fight there, and that's why they
10 executed him.
11 Q. So where did the soldiers take you in the files? Where did you
13 A. For a while, we walked along this dirt road until we reached the
14 Kozara/Mrakovica Road. When we got there, they put us on to the trucks
15 and drove us to Benkovac.
16 Q. I'd like you now to turn to the map for a moment. And can you see
17 on the map where the Benkovac barracks are? And can you point to those.
18 A. [Indicates]
19 MR. KOUMJIAN: The witness has indicated the area marked
20 "Benkovac" on the map.
21 May the witness be shown two photographs, Exhibits S15-29. Perhaps
22 I'm going to show him later but you can bring to him S15-26.
23 Q. While that's happening, Mr. Poljak, can you tell us, what was
25 A. Benkovac used to be a training ground for young men who did not
1 attend secondary school. For example, my sister didn't go to the
2 secondary school, and she spent 15 days in training there.
3 Q. Okay. Now showing you what has been marked S15-29. Do you
4 recognise this photograph?
5 A. No, I don't recognise it like this when I'm looking at it.
6 Because I had never been to Benkovac before that. We were simply brought
7 there in trucks and...
8 Q. Thank you. Thank you for that answer. When you got to Benkovac,
9 what happened?
10 A. They took us out of the trucks and lined us up in front of a huge
11 stage, in three lines, actually.
12 MR. KOUMJIAN: If the witness could now be shown S15-26.
13 Q. And again, we appreciate you being honest with us. Do you
14 recognise or can you recognise this photograph?
15 A. No, I cannot.
16 Q. Okay. Thank you. The stage that you're talking about, was that
17 indoors or outdoors?
18 A. The stage was outdoors. It was an ordinary stage.
19 Q. What happened then?
20 A. This is where we were lined in three rows and where we remained
21 standing, with our hands behind our heads. It was very hot. It was
22 summertime. Some people came up on to the stage, walked around a little,
23 probably looking for someone. And at one point, five or six people were
24 singled out from this group. I remember clearly that they had taken out
25 Ekro Alic. Well, he was the only one I knew personally out of the six
1 people that had been singled out from the group. So I remember him very
3 We had to remain standing. We were turned, facing the stage, but
4 still with our hands behind our heads. He was taken out and brought to a
5 nearby building outside this building. So they probably started beating
6 him up because we could hear his screams. We could hear him shout:
7 "Don't do this to me. Better kill me." And this is all we heard. And
8 after that, there was silence.
9 Q. Now, you talked about the group being taken to Benkovac. You said
10 that in your group, that it was mixed, that there were men, some women and
11 children. Were the women and children also brought to the barracks?
12 A. Not to the barracks, no. The women were not brought to the
13 barracks. There were a few underaged men who had been brought there.
14 Q. You said that when Ekro Alic was taken out, you heard his screams,
15 and then silence. Before the silence, did you hear anything else?
16 A. They took him out. They started beating him. We could clearly
17 hear that. I remember very well that he said: "Don't do this to me.
18 Better kill me." I remember this quite clearly.
19 Q. And then what happened?
20 A. Silence.
21 Q. Did you hear a shot?
22 A. Yes, I did.
23 Q. When did you hear the shot?
24 A. I beg your pardon?
25 Q. When you did you hear the shot?
1 A. Well, as soon as he uttered those words: "Don't do this to me,
2 better kill me," at the same time -- almost at the same time, we heard a
4 Q. You said that several other people were taken out from the group
5 at the same time. Do you have any information about what happened to
7 A. The several people who had been taken out of the group never
8 returned. None of them ever came back.
9 Q. What did they do with you after being placed in these rows in
10 front of the stage?
11 A. We stayed there in front of the stage for quite some time.
12 Various people climbed on to the stage, walked around, and observed.
13 There were many soldiers all over the place. They were shooting, singing,
14 roasting a lamb on a pit. I don't remember what else they were doing.
15 But at any rate, after a while, maybe one, two, or three hours later, they
16 told us -- they allowed us to sit down. So we sat down. Somebody, I
17 think, brought us water. And after we had been sitting like that for a
18 while, we were transferred to some sort of bathroom or toilets, toilet
19 area. The toilets were on the right and the bathroom was on the left, and
20 this is where we were put up.
21 Q. In the room that you were in, can you describe the dimensions by
22 either giving us the metres or showing us the area in this room that would
23 be equivalent to the area that you were detained in in the bathroom?
24 A. Two by three, perhaps, or a bit larger.
25 Q. How many people were detained in that room with you?
12 Blank page inserted to ensure pagination corresponds between the French and
13 English transcripts.
1 A. I don't know the number but I remember that the room was full.
2 Q. When you say it was full, how many days did you spend in that
4 A. Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday.
5 Q. Were you able to lie down and sleep in the room?
6 A. We could lean a little bit to the side but we couldn't lie down.
7 Some people leaned against the wall or next to each other. But there was
8 not enough room for us to lie down normally.
9 Q. What were the conditions like during those three days that you
10 were there as far as food and water and other normal necessities?
11 A. They threw in some bread from time to time. A couple of times,
12 they threw in small packages of jam into the room. It's not like they
13 brought us breakfast, lunch, and dinner regularly, of course. But I
14 remember that a couple of times they came and threw in some bread and
15 these small packages of jam. That's what I remember. I think that we
16 were given water in jerry cans. I don't remember that there was any
17 running water in those taps.
18 Q. Was anyone taken out of the room?
19 A. I remember very well that Hamid Hodza had been taken out a couple
20 of times. He was severely beaten up. Once he returned, he wasn't even
21 put back into the room. He remained on a small -- sitting on a small
22 chair in the corridor. He didn't have any clothes on from the waist up.
23 He didn't say anything. He didn't speak. He just sat quietly on the
25 Q. What did his body look like from the waist up that you could see?
1 A. It was all black and blue, even purple. He was all covered in
2 black bruises.
3 Q. After the three days, what happened?
4 A. Then one day, they came and told us that we should draft a list of
5 those who were underaged. So somebody compiled such a list, and these
6 people were picked up and taken in a bus somewhere. It was later that I
7 heard that they had been transferred to Trnopolje because a cousin of mine
8 was with this group of young men. That night, the rest of us were loaded
9 on to the buses and transferred to Omarska.
10 Q. Before we leave the Benkovac camp, you talked about the hodza
11 being called out and coming back with bruises. Was he the only person
12 that you know of that was called out or were others also called out and
13 apparently beaten?
14 A. There were five or six other people who were subsequently captured
15 and brought there, but I don't know their names. I mean, I don't know
16 them. I remember that there was a young man whom they called Sova. That's
17 all I remember, that they called him Sova. Actually, they called him out
18 very often: "Come over, Sova." They would take him out of the room, beat
19 him up and then bring him back again. There were a couple of people who
20 were taken out and beaten up, but they were all subsequently returned.
21 Q. During those three days, did you remain all that time in the
22 bathroom or were you allowed to go out?
23 A. Only those who were taken out and beaten, only these people went
24 out. I don't remember anyone else leaving the toilet area. We stayed
25 there all the time.
1 Q. So Friday -- you said the 24th of May was a Sunday, so Friday
2 would have been the 29th of May. Is that correct?
3 A. Yes, that's correct.
4 Q. What happened that day?
5 A. They came and they told us to go, to go away, that they would
6 transfer us from there. We didn't know where we were going or anything.
7 It was late in the afternoon. There was still some daylight. They came
8 with a list of first and last names; and as they called out our names, we
9 went outside. They made us lift three fingers in the air and shout
10 "Serbia, Serbia." They stood on the side. Soldiers, the military, stood
11 there. They were hitting us with whatever they had, with the rifles. I
12 remember that a couple of lads fell down, that they were beating them. I
13 received several blows myself, but nothing really very bad. I could run
14 into the bus. And then we were all loaded on to those buses. I remember
15 there was a driver in the bus and there was another armed soldier. They
16 forced us to sing songs.
17 Q. The people who were guarding the camp at Benkovac, could you tell
18 if they were army, police, or what units they belonged to?
19 A. As far as I can remember, it was the army.
20 Q. When you got on the buses, was it the same guards? Was it army
21 soldiers who were escorting you?
22 A. I can't remember. We were not allowed to look very much in those
23 bathrooms. We were isolated and we couldn't see what was happening
24 outside or who there was. I'd never seen that man before. He was a
25 soldier wearing camouflage uniform, so I don't know who that was. For me,
1 he was just an unknown man.
2 Q. When you're talking about the man you're talking about now, who
3 was that? The driver of the bus?
4 A. No, the soldier who stood next to the driver, holding a rifle.
5 Q. Was the bus loaded fully? Was there the same number of passengers
6 as seats?
7 A. I'm not sure. I was sitting at the back of the bus. I think they
8 ordered us to bow our heads down. We were not supposed to look.
9 Q. What happened then?
10 A. We rode on the bus. We didn't know where we were being taken to.
11 Then the bus pulled over at some point. I can't remember how long we had
12 been riding for up to that point, Benkovac, where the buses stopped. The
13 bus was there for a while, and they made us get off the bus one by one. I
14 was sitting at the back of the bus. When I came to the door to get off, I
15 saw around ten soldiers. When I say, "soldiers," I'm referring to people
16 wearing camouflage uniforms. I saw them beating a man. I just ran over
17 very quickly and entered a garage. And there I mingled with the other
18 people who were already there.
19 Q. Did you learn at that time where you had arrived, the name of the
21 A. I think we didn't know where we were that evening. It was after
22 nightfall, and as far as I can remember, no one really knew where we were.
23 Q. And later, did you learn and can you tell us now, where had you
25 A. Later, we learned that the place was Omarska, the mine, the iron
1 ore mine Omarska.
2 MR. KOUMJIAN: I'd like to go back to the map for a moment, S51, I
4 Q. When you were travelling on the bus, were you able to look out the
5 window or not?
6 A. There were blinds on the window so we couldn't see anything. I
7 didn't see anything.
8 Q. Did you, through your senses, your sense of the direction of the
9 bus, your sense of smell, other senses, did you gain some belief as to
10 where you had travelled to get to Omarska, of how you had gone?
11 A. Well, in those moments, at that time, I did not really myself
12 think about the time because I was so scared and I had no idea what was in
13 store for us. How much time had elapsed, I don't know. But at the time
14 we set out, there was still daylight. And by the time we arrived, it was
15 night. Whether it was an hour or more, I really couldn't tell.
16 Q. Looking at the map, S51, is there a road to Omarska, coming down
17 from the mountain, that goes through Kozarac?
18 A. Yes, there's a road which you can take to go from Kozarac to
19 Mrakovica. Mrakovica is a memorial centre from World War II.
20 Q. When you were travelling on the bus, did you smell anything?
21 A. It was hot, with heavy rainfall, so the weather was quite volatile
22 in those days. I can remember a strong smell on the bus, a strong smell
23 of fire having been extinguished by water, a fire drowned out by water.
24 So that was soon after we left Benkovac, and I assumed that we were
25 passing through Kozarac. You could feel the strong smell of a fire
1 drowned out.
2 Q. When you got to Omarska, you said that there were soldiers there
3 when you got out of the bus. How were the soldiers lined up or how were
4 they positioned, and what did the prisoners who left the bus have to do?
5 A. When we got off the bus, we had to do the same thing as when
6 getting on to the bus. We ran directly from the bus into the garage where
7 they put us up.
8 Q. And while you were running, were the soldiers doing anything?
9 A. The soldiers were lined up on the sides, and they kept hitting us.
10 So we ran as fast as we could, to avoid being hit. I remember that a man
11 who was running ahead of me fell. He stumbled, and they started
12 hitting him. I ran as fast as I could, and that was the only thing I
13 could catch sight of. And then somehow he managed to reach the garage,
14 too. And once we were all inside the garage, they closed the door.
15 Q. Can you tell the Judges what the conditions were like in that
16 garage that you were kept in in Omarska.
17 A. It was just an ordinary garage, as far as I could notice, for cars
18 to be kept in, and that's where they put us, all of us. There must have
19 been around 150, 160 of us, or thereabouts. So there was not enough room
20 inside this garage for us to sit down. We were all standing from that
21 moment on, like sardines, packed like sardines.
22 Q. How many days did you spend in that garage with the group of about
23 150 men?
24 A. I spent about ten days there. Ten days.
25 Q. What was that like?
1 A. It was dreadful. When they shut us up inside, it was very hot.
2 There wasn't enough air. I remember that within half an hour or one hour,
3 I was soaking with sweat. Everything I was wearing, my shirt, my
4 trousers, it was all soaked in sweat. It was unbearable. I remember that
5 I pressed my hand against the wall, and I saw that the paint on the wall
6 began to melt. The ceiling was full of drops of sweat. Sweat was
7 dripping from the ceiling. And then someone asked to have the window
8 opened. I think someone did. I have no idea. But I remember that
9 someone jumped up and smashed a window in order to get some air inside the
10 room. But that didn't improve the situation because even after that, it
11 was very stuffy and very hot.
12 We asked for water because we were parched. And they said:
13 "Okay, we'll give you some water but first you have to sing a song." So
14 we sang at the top of our voices. And then a jerry can filled with water
15 was brought to us, and then people started fighting over the jerry can.
16 It was awful. It was a fight to survive, as simple as that. No one
17 really cared about the person next to them. We fought like animals over
18 the water they had brought us. It was really awful.
19 I remember the first evening, two young men suffocated. I
20 remember them very well. They were just lying there on the floor. They
21 were dead. No one flicked an eye. No one paid any attention. That was
22 the state we were in. And everyone just looked after himself. No one had
23 any sympathy for the dead body lying there. Until a day ago, we had still
24 talked to each other, and now this person was dead. But it made no
25 difference. It was really awful.
1 Q. During those ten days, were you fed?
2 A. We arrived on Friday, and they gave us nothing until Sunday. They
3 only threw jerry cans of water into the room. And then on Sunday, I
4 remember clearly they opened the door and threw in some bread. And then
5 there was chaos because people started struggling for that bread.
6 Everyone was trying to get to it.
7 Q. What happened to the two bodies of those that had died the first
8 two days?
9 A. The bodies were taken out and put on the grass there. I remember
10 the following day, or perhaps after two days, they gave permission to go
11 out to that lawn one by one so we could take a leak. And when I came out,
12 I saw one of those dead lads lying there on the grass. How many days had
13 elapsed in the meantime, two or three days perhaps. I can't remember.
14 But I saw his body there on the lawn. I remember clearly what he looked
15 like. He was bigger than me. He was quite tall, and he had curly hair.
16 Q. You said you arrived Friday night. When was it that you were let
17 out of the room for the first time to urinate on the grass?
18 A. I don't know whether it was the next morning, but it was -- it was
19 either Saturday morning or Sunday morning. I can't remember.
20 Q. Do you remember what you felt like when you were out there and saw
21 the grass?
22 A. It was perhaps 9.00 or 10.00 in the morning. It was a sunny day.
23 I felt wonderful. The smell of the air was somehow pleasant, and the
24 sunshine. It was nice. It's beyond words. It was a wonderful feeling.
25 That was something, it's stuck in my memory, the morning and the grass,
12 Blank page inserted to ensure pagination corresponds between the French and
13 English transcripts.
1 the smell of fresh air.
2 Q. How had your life changed from one week earlier?
3 A. Unimaginably.
4 Q. How long were you in the Omarska camp?
5 A. I'm no longer clear about the dates, but the last group to leave
6 Omarska, I was in that last group. We were transferred to Manjaca from
8 Q. In the Omarska camp, did you see any relatives?
9 A. I met my father, my uncle, my two cousins, my father's cousin,
10 some neighbours.
11 Q. Can you tell us about meeting your father.
12 A. After about ten days, my name was called out. I went out, outside
13 the garage, and they told me that I would be going for an interview.
14 After the interview, they transferred me to a room, and my father was in
15 that room.
16 Q. Did your father get called out of the room?
17 A. No. They showed me into the room and then I came in and saw that
18 my father was there. I didn't even know that he was there.
19 Q. What happened to your father at Omarska?
20 A. We were together in that room, for how long, a month, month and a
21 half maybe. I can't say. They took him many times for questioning and
22 they beat him many times. One day, they came, they called him out around
24 Q. Would you rather finish this tomorrow? We have just a few more
25 minutes today. Perhaps it would be a good time.
1 JUDGE SCHOMBURG: I think it's appropriate. The trial stays
2 adjourned until tomorrow, 9.00.
3 --- Whereupon the hearing adjourned at
4 6.53 p.m., to be reconvened on
5 Wednesday, the 24th day of July, 2002,
6 at 9.00 a.m.