Tribunal Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia

Page 6789

1 Monday, 28 June 2004

2 [Open session]

3 [The accused entered court]

4 --- Upon commencing at 2.21 p.m.

5 JUDGE PARKER: Good afternoon. We commence this afternoon the

6 Defence case. It was indicated on Friday there would be an opening

7 address. Is that to be, Mr. Rodic, or Mr. Petrovic?

8 MR. RODIC: [Interpretation] Good afternoon, Your Honour. Good

9 afternoon to my colleagues of the Prosecution. The Defence is opening its

10 case today, presenting its case, and I would like to give the opening

11 statement.

12 The indictment of the Prosecutor of the International Tribunal, or

13 the indictment of the Prosecutor of the International Tribunal, against

14 General -- Colonel General Pavle Strugar charges him with violating the

15 customs and laws of war through six counts of the indictment. Over a

16 period of five months, the Prosecution presented its case, trying to prove

17 that one man, General Pavle Strugar, is responsible for the events in and

18 around Dubrovnik in the autumn of 1991. The Prosecutor of the

19 International Tribunal attempted to present the events that are the focus

20 of this trial outside of its historical, social, and military context in

21 force at the time.

22 The Prosecutor attempted to present these events outside of the

23 framework of the time period and the space in which one state was being

24 broken apart by a secessionist armed rebellion in the republics of Croatia

25 and Slovenia in the period of 1990 to 1992, which actually represents the

Page 6790

1 peak of the destructive relationship towards the state community of the

2 Yugoslav communities in the twentieth century.

3 The context of the events from 1991 is possible to be presented

4 only by taking into account the history of the Yugoslav state, starting

5 from its emergence in 1918, the events in World War II, followed by the

6 period of Communism, until the illegal secession carried out contrary to

7 the constitution of the SFRY. The Yugoslav state was created after

8 World War I, in 1918, with the unification of two, up until then,

9 independent states of Serbia and Montenegro and the territory of the

10 former Austro-Hungarian monarchy, which was inhabited by southern Slav

11 peoples: Serbs, Croats, and Slovenes.

12 The Yugoslav state was a unitary state, founded on the state

13 concept of one nation, or one people, and three entities: Serbs, Croats,

14 and Slovenes. The state was divided into banovina, which did not

15 represent a territorial division according to the ethnic principle, but

16 were divided in accordance with the administrative principle.

17 The kingdom of Serbs, Croats, and Slovenes, later the kingdom of

18 Yugoslavia, from its very creation, was burdened by numerous antagonisms.

19 These antagonisms were a consequence of various mutually exclusive state

20 and national programmes of the Yugoslav peoples. The Croatian political

21 elite felt that the Yugoslav state was a kind of transitional period in

22 its process of state and national independence.

23 The first attempt to create an independent Croatian state was made

24 in 1941, under German sponsorship, with the forming of the Ustasha

25 Independent State of Croatia. With the victory of the allies in World

Page 6791

1 War II, a Yugoslav state was again created, according to the federative

2 model, comprising six republics. The rule of communists was established

3 in 1945, and it forcefully suppressed ethnic hatreds, myths, and

4 stereotypes. The concept of brotherhood and unity represented a universal

5 formula for the resolution of the national question in socialist

6 Yugoslavia. However, the unresolved national question represents the key

7 reason for the breakup of the second Yugoslav state covered Croatian

8 separatism, which exists in various forms, and existed throughout the

9 period of existence of the Yugoslav state, culminated in the illegal

10 secession, contrary to the Yugoslav constitution.

11 With the arrival of the Croatian Democratic Community to power in

12 the spring of 1990, the last step was taken in the breakup of the SFRY.

13 In preparation for secession from Yugoslavia, Tudjman's HDZ assessed that

14 in order to achieve such a goal, a conflict with the Yugoslav national

15 army was inevitable. That is why immediately upon the setting up of the

16 authority of the HDZ, it decided and forcefully embarked on, number one,

17 an enormous strengthening of the police forces; under two, forming, at the

18 same time, party paramilitary formations, specifically the Croatian

19 National Guard, as the corps of a future army; and under 3, weakening as

20 much as possible the power of the units of the JNA, which was stationed in

21 the territory of the Republic of Croatia.

22 The decision by Franjo Tudjman, president of the Republic of

23 Croatia, which was the strongest political party in power in Croatia, the

24 Croatian National Guard's corps was officially promoted as a military

25 formation at a rally held on the 28th of May, 1991, in Zagreb. At that

Page 6792

1 point in time, Croatia had about 60.000 soldiers and conscripts under

2 arms, as well as 30.000 police officers. Of course, these numbers

3 indicate the preparations that were being carried out at the time in

4 Croatia for an armed secession, because in accordance with the peacetime

5 establishment, since the Croatian National Guard's corps is not a legal

6 formation, the Ministry of Internal Affairs, in the period prior to that,

7 had a much smaller number of police officers than these numbers, which

8 went as high as 30.000 in 1991.

9 However, prior to that, in the course of November 1990, the

10 Presidency of the SFRY was informed about the considerable import of

11 weapons and materiel from Hungary for the needs of the paramilitary

12 formations in the Republic of Croatia. Because of that, on the 9th of

13 January, 1991, the Presidency of the SFRY reached conclusions and issued

14 an order on the disarming of all armed formations which were not part of

15 the united armed forces of the SFRY or organs of the Ministry of Internal

16 Affairs and whose organisation was not established and was not in

17 accordance with federal regulations.

18 The Presidency of the SFRY issued a deadline for the

19 implementation of this order, which amounted to ten days. However, the

20 Croatian leadership, after requesting an extension of this deadline by 48

21 hours, on the 21st of January, 1991, raised the combat readiness of the

22 entire composition of the forces of the Ministry of Internal Affairs and

23 the Croatian National Guard's corps. In view of such a response by the

24 authorities of the Republic of Croatia, subsequent three orders of the

25 Presidency of the SFRY on the disarming of paramilitary composition, or

Page 6793

1 paramilitary forces, were not implemented.

2 Contrary to that, the whole world saw the photograph of the

3 strangling of a soldier in an armoured transporter on the 6th of May,

4 1991, in the situation when the command of the Military Naval District in

5 Split was under blockade, and on that occasion, soldier Sasa Gesovski was

6 killed while another soldier and officer were wounded. Since that time,

7 until the 25th of July, 1991, there were 126 cases of violent acts against

8 the staff and facilities of the JNA in Croatia. In that period, six

9 members of the JNA were killed and 87 were wounded.

10 This was followed by a blockade of the barracks throughout the

11 entire territory of the Republic of Croatia, which was implemented by

12 cutting off water, electricity, telephone lines, food supplies, with the

13 assistance of paramilitary units, also all exits and entrances to the

14 barracks were blocked. Also, during one of the numerous signed truces in

15 the period from the 2nd to the 11th of September, 1991, 115 armed attacks

16 were registered, resulting in 11 deaths and 40 injuries of members of the

17 JNA.

18 In such circumstances, following numerous violations of the truce

19 and evasion by the Croatian side of obligations that it had signed on to

20 on the demobilisation of the paramilitary formations, something that was

21 witnessed by observers of the European Community and the European

22 Commission, the headquarters of the Supreme Command reached a decision to

23 use the activities of certain military units to exert pressure on the

24 Republic of Croatia to deblock the garrisons and the barracks where JNA

25 units were stationed in the territory of this republic.

Page 6794












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Page 6795

1 The military leadership quickly had to create and make operational

2 the armed forces that would be carrying out the operations against the

3 paramilitary formations, and also the task of the military leadership was

4 to form the military territorial component which would control the rear of

5 the fronts, ensure that life went on in one way or another in the

6 territory which at the time was mostly inhabited by a hostile population,

7 or on the territory from where the population had moved out or had fled,

8 out of fear of the consequences of military operations.

9 One of these temporary formations was the 2nd Operational Group,

10 which was established towards the end of September 1991, headed by its

11 then commander, General Jevrem Cokic. Numerous problems are linked to the

12 establishment of this temporary military group. We had the opportunity of

13 hearing about this during the Prosecution case, that in the mentioned

14 period, the 2nd Operational Group changed three commanders within a short

15 span of time. After General Cokic, after he was wounded, General

16 Ruzinovski came to head the 2nd Operational Group. And then, on the 13th

17 and 14th of October, Colonel General Pavle Strugar came to head the

18 2nd Operational Group. At that time he was the lieutenant colonel

19 general.

20 The establishment of the 2nd Operational Group did not mean that a

21 command was to be established, first and foremost, and that then this

22 command should go to a post that was assigned to it as a command post, to

23 familiarise itself with its area of responsibility, and only then bring in

24 and deploy units that were intended for it, which would have all been in

25 keeping with military rules. What happened was the exact opposite of

Page 6796

1 that. The units were already either in that area of responsibility or

2 geared towards it or were supposed to appear there only after mobilisation

3 and a march.

4 The command of the 2nd Operational Group arrived only after the

5 General Staff issued an order, and it was only the General Staff of the

6 armed forces that all of a sudden informed them that certain units came

7 under their command. All the orders issued by the personnel

8 administration of the General Staff regulating appointments of officers

9 within the 2nd Operational Group contained a clause stating that these

10 appointments were temporary rather than for an indefinite period of time.

11 So it is not being contested that the 2nd Operational Group was a

12 completely new and temporary formation, or rather, part of the temporary

13 composition of the armed forces of the SFRY. Within the group at that

14 time were parts of the 37th Corps, headquartered in Uzice. This corps

15 otherwise belongs to the 1st Military District.

16 Then, within the 2nd Operational Group were parts of the 2nd

17 Corps, headquartered in Titograd, now Podgorica. This corps belonged to

18 the 3rd Military District, that was headquartered in Skopje, in Macedonia.

19 Then the 9th Military Naval Sector, with its headquarters in Kumbor, which

20 otherwise was an integral part of the forces of the Military Naval

21 District, whose headquarters were Split. Then parts of the 4th Corps,

22 with its headquarters in Sarajevo, a brigade was active from that corps

23 and it became part of the 2nd Operational Group. And all together, it

24 belonged to the 1st Military District, whose headquarters were in

25 Belgrade.

Page 6797

1 When all of this is taken into consideration, one thing is

2 striking, and that is that only the forces of the 9th Military Naval

3 Sector were within their original zone of responsibility and that all

4 other units were brought in from their respective zones and deployed in a

5 completely foreign zone of responsibility unknown to them.

6 When speaking of the area of responsibility of the 2nd Operational

7 Group, one has to bear in mind the fact that this is a very big territory,

8 because the zone stretched through the territory of eastern Herzegovina to

9 the border between Bosnia-Herzegovina and Serbia, republics of the SFRY at

10 that time; then Bosnia-Herzegovina and Montenegro. It included that

11 border too. On the north and north-west, the area of responsibility of

12 the 2nd Operational Group spread all the way to the Neretva River Valley,

13 and on the west to the Adriatic Sea, including the hinterland and the

14 islands in the broader area of Dubrovnik and the peninsula of Peljesac.

15 When speaking of the composition of the 2nd Operational Group, it

16 is important to point out that mobilisation was carried out as a military

17 exercise, because the then state leadership had not declared a state of

18 war. In such circumstances, mobilisation of units was almost entirely

19 reduced to the principles of voluntariness, because when a state of war is

20 not declared, it is not possible to apply strict legal rules, in case

21 someone does not respond to a call-up for a military exercise, or rather,

22 mobilisation.

23 The level of training and mutual cohesion and solidarity of

24 officers and soldiers, then officers amongst themselves and commands and

25 units, was virtually non-existent, with all the negative implications

Page 6798

1 entailed by such a situation in terms of the overall combat readiness of

2 the units and the entire personnel.

3 As I've already pointed out, these were units that were put

4 together in haste, as were their commands. There was a lack of proper

5 training, and they were never trained, never trained, for tasks that lay

6 in store for them, particularly not in the territory where these

7 operations would eventually take place.

8 The officers that were assigned to the command of the 2nd

9 Operational Group had never carried out such duties until then. These

10 were officers from the chief inspectorate of the national defence in

11 Belgrade, then the centre of higher military schools in Belgrade and the

12 school of reserve officers from Bileca. And all of this took place only

13 some ten days prior to the commencement of combat activities.

14 All of this constituted a major problem. Over a short period of

15 time, these people had to be re-channelled from duties that were based on

16 command, staff, teaching, and inspection, to command and operative duties,

17 without a single day of psychological and professional preparation and

18 reorientation. Such a fluid situation and the fact that the newly

19 established command of the 2nd Operational Group was not familiar with it

20 at all beforehand led to very frequent changes within the internal

21 organisation and establishment to re-subordinations and attachments that

22 took place practically every day, and also units were taken out of the

23 group almost on a daily basis as well.

24 Finally, when bearing in mind the period that we discussed rather

25 extensively here, that is, the period from the 1st of October until

Page 6799

1 December 1991, the above-mentioned problems I referred to led to the fact

2 that parts of the 2nd Operational Group did not carry out practically a

3 single stage of any operation with the same personnel involved.

4 When speaking of the role and task of the 2nd Operational Group,

5 they can only be viewed in the context of the situation in the Neretva

6 River Valley and the broader area of Dubrovnik, and the importance that

7 this area had for the defence and preservation of the common state, and

8 which was still considered to be a possible and realistically attainable

9 goal by the then political and military authorities of Yugoslavia.

10 The region of Dubrovnik, the town itself, including the

11 surrounding area and its closer and farther approaches on both sides of

12 the Adriatic highway, had a central position at the border between

13 Montenegro and Bosnia-Herzegovina that were still in the SFRY and the

14 Republic of Croatia, which in that year, 1991, had already taken the path

15 of secession to a considerable extent. Control over that area was of

16 vital geostrategic importance for yet another reason. This was an area,

17 including the water body, through which routes led, both by land and sea,

18 that were relevant for the relocation of the equipment, and particularly

19 personnel, of the Military Naval District, primarily the navy, the

20 equipment and units that were still deployed in the territory of the

21 Republic of Croatia, to the only safe port and naval base in the Adriatic,

22 and that was the Bay of Boka Kotorska and the Montenegrin coast.

23 Therefore, it was of special importance to ensure that the

24 paramilitary forces of Croatia do not use that area for their military

25 needs. The Neretva River Valley divides the western and eastern part of

Page 6800












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Page 6801

1 Herzegovina, and in the lower part of the Neretva River, there were very

2 important military localities of the then JNA, notably, major military

3 warehouses in Gabela and Dretelj, as well as Mostar airport, and the

4 teaching centre in Capljina. Mostar at that time was the only air base in

5 the territory of all of Bosnia-Herzegovina from where it was possible to

6 give air support to the withdrawal of war technical equipment from the

7 northern and central Adriatic to Boka Kotorska.

8 All of these were reasons why the JNA, the Yugoslav People's Army,

9 could not allow, under any circumstances, to have the Mostar airport and

10 the Neretva River Valley get out of their control. Also, it is a

11 well-known fact that the town of Dubrovnik and the broader area

12 surrounding it was vacant from a military point of view. That is to say

13 that not a single military unit had been based in it or in that area from

14 the late 1960s. That is precisely what the government and Yugoslav

15 People's Army had made possible in the late 1960s, with a view to the

16 further development of Dubrovnik and the importance it had from the point

17 of view of tourism, culture, and history. It is for that reason that

18 precisely during those years, the Yugoslav People's Army relocated from

19 Dubrovnik, its naval landing brigade of the military sector of Boka, and

20 the brigade was relocated to Trebinje.

21 Contrary to this kind of position taken by the state leadership

22 and the Yugoslav People's Army, and of course their behaviour and

23 practice, we see that Dubrovnik was once again armed. On the basis of

24 available documents, which we have at our disposal, both the Defence and

25 the Prosecution, it is possible to establish that already at the beginning

Page 6802

1 of 1991, in the police administration of Dubrovnik, the number of reserve

2 policemen was increased, a wartime organisation set up, and the reserve

3 police force trained. And the police administration of Dubrovnik sent out

4 regular reports about the situation in defence preparations to the sector

5 for defence preparations within the Ministry of the Interior of the

6 Republic of Croatia. That means we are now speaking about the beginning

7 of 1991.

8 There are also documents in existence from which we can see that

9 the Ministry of the Interior of the Republic of Croatia issued orders to

10 all police administration units to step up the reserve force of the

11 Croatian National Guard's corps by 70 per cent members of the reserve

12 police force and 70 per cent of the newly procured weapons for different

13 purposes. And according to the documents, this meant infantry weapons, it

14 meant weapons for anti-aircraft defence, anti-armour defence, and mines

15 and explosives.

16 Furthermore, at the process of wartime preparations on the

17 territory of the Dubrovnik municipality was started very much before the

18 actual war events took place - and I should especially like to stress

19 before the preparations began on the part of the JNA for launching an

20 operation on the Herzegovina-Dubrovnik battlefield - can be borne out from

21 the documents of the supervision service and information service of the

22 Republic of Croatia, the centre for Dubrovnik's information. And the

23 Defence will, of course, during its defence case be presenting that

24 document to the Honourable Trial Chamber.

25 From this document, we can see that the work of this information

Page 6803

1 centre and monitoring centre began on the 1st of May, 1991, and already up

2 until that date, all reconnoitring stations and observation stations on

3 the territory of the municipality had been put in place. The task was to

4 monitor - that was the basic task, to monitor and control all movement on

5 the part of the units of the Yugoslav People's Army in the area.

6 From all this, we can see that it was a case of clear-cut

7 preparation on the part of the Republic of Croatia for war against

8 Yugoslavia in the territory of the city of Dubrovnik, that same city

9 which, in the 1970s of -- in the '70s of the last century, in fact, became

10 a protected area, a protected town by UNESCO as a cultural heritage of

11 prime importance.

12 One of the main tasks of this centre was to monitor and inform and

13 alert the people of the JNA's movements, and a particularly prominent

14 indicator of the militarisation of Dubrovnik, militarisation of Dubrovnik,

15 I say, is linked to the presence and existence of the ZNG Brigade, whose

16 headquarters was precisely in Dubrovnik, as well as its main force,

17 deployed in the town. And in addition to those forces, in Dubrovnik we

18 saw the paramilitary forces being based there and operative from there,

19 and they were centred around the certain Crna Legija, or black legion,

20 which originated from western Herzegovina. And this Trial Chamber has

21 heard mention of that -- another paramilitary formation that we call the

22 HOS, the HOS, which belonged to a political party in the Republic of

23 Croatia.

24 As a cultural and historical heritage site, Dubrovnik was used by

25 the Croatian side and abused for political purposes through the media. By

Page 6804

1 not accepting demobilisation, that is to say, by not accepting the status

2 of an open town, without any military presence, Dubrovnik, in that year of

3 1991, found itself in the zone of combat operations, the goal of which was

4 to regain control of the territory of southern Dalmatia, until the final

5 political solution to the Yugoslav crisis was reached and to reach the sea

6 and take control of the approaches to Dubrovnik, both those in its

7 vicinity and those further afield as well.

8 This objective and goal required, necessarily, a blockade of

9 Dubrovnik, both from sea and from land, and in this instance, the town of

10 Dubrovnik itself, in no plan of the 2nd Operational -- command of the 2nd

11 Operational Group, or any command above and below that level, was ever the

12 target of operations, nor the object of attack. However, the very fact

13 that Dubrovnik had been militarised and that the military -- there was

14 military presence in Dubrovnik and that the military presence acted from

15 Dubrovnik, the Croatian forces attacked the JNA forces, who suffered

16 casualties, and the JNA was the sole legitimate force on the territory of

17 the SFRY at that time. Regardless of the number of casualties, this could

18 have been sufficient reason to merit taking control of Dubrovnik and

19 establishing full military control over it.

20 However, in order to avoid all the consequences that an operation

21 of this kind would imply - it would, first of all, mean large losses and

22 destruction to the civilian population and the buildings and facilities -

23 the Supreme Command of the armed forces of the SFRY and the command of the

24 2nd Operational Group never had as its goal the control of Dubrovnik and

25 taking over of Dubrovnik. The maximum goal envisaged by the JNA, the

Page 6805

1 Yugoslav People's Army, was to achieve the town's demilitarisation, and we

2 were able to see this through the Prosecution case and the evidence

3 provided, the numerous documents calling for normalisation of life in the

4 town, to have life and work returned to normal in Dubrovnik.

5 However, when that was not accepted, through the will of the

6 Croatian authorities, the goal that was then set was Dubrovnik's blockade,

7 a blockade from land and from sea.

8 When we speak about the crux of the indictment and if we focus on

9 the event of the 6th of December, 1991 as the focal point, then that event

10 should be viewed within the context as we have presented it. We should

11 particularly like to emphasise that not even then, on the 6th of December,

12 1991, justice had not been the case before either, the goal of a concrete

13 military operation and all other military operations that took place was

14 not to take control of Dubrovnik at all, nor to inflict any kind of

15 intentional damage to the cultural and historical monuments, or indeed the

16 population of the town of Dubrovnik. Having said that, the Defence will

17 show through the defence case, by calling witnesses and presenting

18 material evidence in the form of documents, prove the following: The Old

19 Town, as a cultural, historic monument, protected by UNESCO, during the

20 period that the operations took place on the Dubrovnik-Herzegovinian

21 battlefront, was abused and used for military purposes, and all this was

22 done in such a way that the paramilitary formations made use of the Old

23 Town and its positions in its immediate vicinity for purposes of

24 provocation and for opening fire and targeting the units of the Yugoslav

25 People's Army who were found in the Dubrovnik blockade.

Page 6806












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Page 6807

1 The provocations and firing from the Croatian forces' positions at

2 Mount Srdj and at other positions were intensive and daily, and this fact

3 will be proved during the defence case.

4 Next, the Defence will move to prove that the signing of the

5 agreement on a truce after the negotiations that took place with members

6 of the Croatian government was supposed to take place on the 6th of

7 December, at noon, 12.00, noon, as Admiral Jokic indeed informed the

8 Superior Command of the 2nd Operational Group.

9 Furthermore, the Defence will move to prove during its defence

10 case and the presentation of evidence that the operation, or rather, the

11 attack on Srdj and the elevation there, and the attack was launched by the

12 3rd Battalion of the 472nd Trebinje Brigade on the 6th December, that that

13 operation was a planned operation with the knowledge of and encouraged by

14 the command of the 9th VPS, Military Naval Sector.

15 Furthermore, the Defence will move to prove that in the

16 preparations for that operation, it was agreed to have the support of the

17 3rd Motorised Brigade of the 5th Partisan Motorised Brigade, which at that

18 time was commanded by Lieutenant Colonel Miroslav Jovanovic, and support

19 of the cannon battery of the 130-millimetre calibre, which was stationed

20 at the airport at Cilipi.

21 Furthermore, the Defence will move to prove during the defence

22 case that the command of the 2nd Operational Group was not informed about

23 the military action of the 3rd Battalion of the 472nd Motorised Brigade

24 which was launched at Srdj on the 6th of December, 1991.

25 Furthermore, the Defence will prove that on the 6th of December,

Page 6808

1 1991, during the attack on Srdj and during the duration of that military

2 operation, up until the withdrawal of the units of the 3rd Battalion of

3 the Trebinje Brigade to its initial positions, the command of the 9th VPS,

4 Military Naval Sector, did not inform the command of the 2nd Operational

5 Group at all about what was going on.

6 Similarly, the Defence will prove that the commander of the 9th

7 Military Naval Sector, Vice Admiral Miodrag Jokic, did not stop the attack

8 of the 3rd Battalion of the 472nd Motorised Brigade at Srdj, as he

9 testified before this Honourable Trial Chamber.

10 The Defence will also show that the JNA did not fire at the fire

11 positions deployed in the town of Dubrovnik itself until there was

12 counter-firing from those positions and until serious losses were

13 inflicted on the combat groups of the 3rd Battalion, which during that

14 military operation had reached the fortress at Mount Srdj.

15 In its presentation of its case, the Defence will show that on the

16 6th of December, 1991, the Old Town was abused, as well as the immediate

17 vicinity of the Old Town of Dubrovnik, through military operations from

18 there against the forces of the JNA at Srdj, Zarkovica, and other

19 locations where units of the JNA were situated. The Defence will show

20 that those forces, operating from the Old Town or its immediate environs,

21 inflicted heavy losses to units of the JNA at Srdj.

22 The Defence will further show that on the 6th of December, 1991,

23 there was direct communication between the commander of the 9th Military

24 Naval Sector, Vice Admiral Vokic and the military leadership in relation

25 to the attack on Srdj.

Page 6809

1 The Defence also believe that the evidence that it plans to

2 present will entirely illuminate the role of Vice Admiral Miodrag Jokic in

3 relation to the events of the 6th of December, 1991 and the following

4 days, as well as the fact that General Pavle Strugar was excluded from

5 those events because there was direct communications and there were orders

6 which the military leadership of the JNA issued to Vice Admiral Miodrag

7 Jokic.

8 These briefly delineated topics in our opening statement will be

9 dealt with in the course of the presentation of our case. We will also be

10 dealing about other significant circumstances. These -- or this evidence,

11 overall, makes the Defence convinced that it will persuade this Honourable

12 Trial Chamber that there is no responsibility on the part of General Pavle

13 Strugar for the events that he is being charged with.

14 Your Honours, I have now concluded my opening statement.

15 JUDGE PARKER: Thank you very much, Mr. Petrovic -- Mr. Rodic, I

16 beg your pardon. That's probably a good time, then, to have a break.

17 We'll resume after the break with the commencement of evidence.

18 --- Recess taken at 3.22 p.m.

19 --- On resuming at 3.50 p.m.

20 [The witness entered court]

21 JUDGE PARKER: I see the first witness is waiting. Good

22 afternoon. Would you please take the affirmation card that is handed to

23 you now and read the affirmation.


25 [Witness answered through interpreter]

Page 6810

1 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] I solemnly declare that I will speak

2 the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.

3 JUDGE PARKER: Please be seated.

4 Mr. Rodic.

5 MR. RODIC: [Interpretation] Thank you, Your Honour.

6 Examined by Mr. Rodic:

7 Q. [Interpretation] Sir, could you please introduce yourself to the

8 Trial Chamber. Could we have your first and last name.

9 A. I am Slobodan Novakovic.

10 Q. Could you tell us the date of your birth and where you live.

11 A. I was born on the 17th of May, 1952, in Dubrovnik, and I'm living

12 in Herceg-Novi.

13 Q. Could you please tell us what is your profession.

14 A. I'm an electronics professional. I have my own workshop where I

15 carry out my trade.

16 Q. Were you ever convicted in a court of law?

17 A. No.

18 Q. I would just like to ask you the following thing, since we are

19 both speaking the same language, in order for what we are saying to be

20 translated, could you please make a little pause after the question,

21 before you start your answer, so that we do not overlap.

22 Could you please tell us where you were living in 1991, where you

23 lived and where you worked?

24 A. In 1991 I was living in Herceg-Novi, where I live today, and this

25 is also where I have my TV repair business.

Page 6811

1 Q. Could you please tell us: In late summer of 1991, what was the

2 situation in Herceg-Novi, which is on the border of the Republic of

3 Montenegro and the Republic of Croatia? So could you please tell us what

4 the situation was in that bordering area.

5 A. The situation was beginning to become complicated. When Tudjman

6 came to power in 1991, tension began to grow. I will give you one

7 example. In 1991, in midsummer, for example, in July, I was going to

8 Dubrovnik with my wife and two daughters, and halfway there, when we were

9 passing through Konavle, I was stopped by two police officers. One of

10 them stopped in front of my vehicle. He placed his leg or his foot on the

11 hood of my car, and he pointed an automatic rifle at me and at the

12 co-driver.

13 The second police officer stood next to the door, and he told me

14 to come out of the car and to open the trunk of the car, which is what I

15 did. He took the rifle and rifled through the things that were in the

16 trunk of the car and said that I could leave.

17 That is just one example. I was told by my local citizens in

18 Herceg-Novi that similar things were taking place quite often.

19 Q. Was the situation like that only when you were going to Dubrovnik

20 or did it happen in other places?

21 A. Well, as it happens, I was born in Dubrovnik. Both of my

22 daughters were born in Dubrovnik. So that we were living in Herceg-Novi

23 would go to Dubrovnik once a month or maybe more often. So we felt

24 Dubrovnik was almost the same as Herceg-Novi. After my hometown,

25 Dubrovnik was the first closest town. There were also some other towns in

Page 6812

1 Montenegro, Kotor or Podgorica, but we mostly had connections with

2 Dubrovnik.

3 Q. In that period, in late summer 1991, in view of the events in the

4 country, in Yugoslavia at the time, and the socio-political events, could

5 you please tell us what was the mood of the Dubrovnik citizens in relation

6 to the situation in the country.

7 A. Every day on the media we would hear that all the water was cut

8 off and the electricity to all the barracks in Croatia, that they were

9 surrounded by irregular forces, the so-called Zengas, ZNGs, the Croatian

10 National Guard's corps, so that the Yugoslav army found itself, the

11 Yugoslav People's Army found itself in quite a difficult situation. This

12 reflected on all of us. We felt that tensions and fear were growing from

13 day to day.

14 Q. Did you know who these armed formations were in the Republic of

15 Croatia at the time?

16 A. Yes. Those forces, the Croatian National Guard corps, because

17 Herceg-Novi borders on Dubrovnik -- I don't know the exact number of those

18 forces, but I do know that quite a sizeable unit took up the border on the

19 Croatian side, facing the Montenegrin side. So tensions increased each

20 day, and then this culminated -- I don't exactly know what day this was,

21 but I know that it was in December [as interpreted] when the Croatian army

22 fired eight mortar and cannon shells to the -- into the village of Malta,

23 that is, the village that is closest to Croatia, and I saw personally on

24 two or three trees the scars from these shells that were fired.

25 Q. For the record, I would just like to say that this -- in the

Page 6813

1 transcript it says that this happened in December. Could you please tell

2 us whether this was in December or in September when you're talking about

3 this shelling, these mortar and cannon shells?

4 A. These eight were the cause, not only that, but this happened

5 slightly to the north, but more to the south, in Prevlaka.

6 Q. Could you please tell us the time frame. Which month was this?

7 When did this happen? In which month? I heard you say September, but in

8 the transcript it says December. So could we clarify that, please.

9 A. How could it be December? That is not clear to me.

10 Q. Well, then it's a mistake in the transcript. We're talking about

11 September.

12 A. Yes, September.

13 Q. And --

14 A. Well, yes, possibly it could be October.

15 Q. And what were the legal armed formations in the SFRY at the time?

16 A. The only legal military formations were the Yugoslav People's

17 Army. All these other units were irregular units, because Croatia at the

18 time was not an internationally recognised state.

19 Q. Thank you. In 1991, were you perhaps summoned or called up into

20 the army? And if you were, how did this happen? In what way?

21 A. In 1991, in August, I was summoned to an exercise which I think

22 lasted for about ten days, and this was in Kamena, just above Herceg-Novi.

23 And during those ten days, there was an incident in Herceg-Novi. I've

24 forgotten exactly who was involved. It was a foreigner. I don't know

25 from which country. And he tried to set off an explosive device, and

Page 6814

1 probably planted somewhere on the beach or some other place. And in the

2 Stjepo Sarena Street in Herceg-Novi, when his vehicle went over the

3 waterworks grid, the vehicle shook and the wires on the device were

4 tripped, so there was an explosion. So this was the first incident that

5 took place in Herceg-Novi in 1991.

6 Q. Did you ever receive -- were you ever called up to the reserve

7 forces in that period?

8 A. Yes. In 1991, approximately on September 21st, I was summoned to

9 a military exercise, and I reported to Kamena, to the assembly point. I

10 actually went there a month before that, in August, for an exercise.

11 Q. And after you were summoned to go in August, did you return home

12 and then were called up again, or were you on the military exercise the

13 whole time?

14 A. I was at the exercise for about ten days, and I returned home, and

15 then around the 21st of September I again was called up for a military

16 exercise.

17 Q. Could you please tell me what your duties were when you were on

18 military duty and which unit were you in?

19 A. I'm an electronics expert, and that is how I was recruited, to be

20 a radio technician in the JNA. At the time, I was a member of the

21 Territorial Defence of the Herceg-Novi municipality, and I was a mechanic,

22 a radio mechanic, attached to the main radio station of the municipal

23 Territorial Defence. We had a large radio station there in one vehicle.

24 And we had several smaller mobile transmitter radio stations, and they

25 were of the RUP-12 type.

Page 6815

1 Q. Could you please tell us: This TO unit of yours from Herceg-Novi,

2 was it part of a larger military formation that it belonged to?

3 A. The Herceg-Novi Territorial Defence were part of the Kumbor

4 Military Naval Sector. Ilija Martinovic was the TO commander, my TO

5 commander, and the commander of the military naval sector was -- I think

6 he was a captain of a military ship. His name was Krsto Djurovic. And

7 unfortunately, in the first few days of the war, the helicopter that he

8 was in crashed, and that is how he was killed.

9 Q. And who succeeded Krsto Djurovic as commander of the naval

10 military sector?

11 A. He was succeeded by Miodrag Jokic. He was our commander after

12 Djurovic was killed, until the end of the war.

13 Q. Could you please tell me if your TO unit left the territory of

14 Montenegro, and if it did, when did it do so, where, which direction did

15 it go in?

16 A. The first mobilisation was at Kamena. This is a village which is

17 about five kilometres from Herceg-Novi. From Kamena we moved to the

18 Porobici village, and from that village, we moved to the Konjevici

19 village, and from that village we crossed the border into Croatia, and our

20 first landing point was the village of Mikulici, above Cavtat, in the

21 Dubrovnik municipality.

22 Q. Could you please tell us if your unit took up any positions

23 outside of the Mikulici village, in some other places?

24 A. Our unit of the Herceg-Novi TO was stationed in Mikulici for some

25 seven, eight, to ten days. I don't know exactly the deployment.

Page 6816

1 Q. Well, the precise date is not important. Just the locations.

2 A. The location was around Mikulici. Our units were deployed around

3 there. But we stayed there very briefly and then we moved to Grude. This

4 is a larger village in the Dubrovnik municipality. We were billeted in a

5 private house, and that's where the TO Herceg-Novi command was. Next to

6 us was the army command.

7 Q. Could you please tell us how long were you in the Dubrovnik

8 Herzegovina front?

9 A. I received my summons on the 21st of September. We were in

10 Kamena, Porobici, Konjevici villages for about ten days. I cannot

11 remember now the exact date when we crossed the border, because this was a

12 long time ago.

13 Q. Let me just interrupt you. I'm asking you for how long were you

14 on the front? When did you return home?

15 A. I returned home in late November, or maybe even on the 1st or 2nd

16 of December. But that was more or less the time.

17 Q. Did you return your military equipment right away?

18 A. No. Because I was a driver of this vehicle with the radio

19 station. I still had the vehicle. It was parked in front of my house

20 until December, perhaps until late December.

21 Q. Thank you. Could you please tell us: While you were at the front

22 with your unit, what were your specific tasks? What did you do?

23 A. As a radio technician or mechanic, it was my duty to be near the

24 main radio station at all times, the radio station of the Herceg-Novi TO.

25 My other task was to supply all our radio stations out in the field with

Page 6817

1 batteries and to repair them if there should be a malfunction.

2 Q. Tell me, please: Before returning from the front line, as you

3 said, at the end of November or beginning of December 1991, did you spend

4 any other time at home? Did you spend any other day or two at home?

5 A. Could you please repeat your question.

6 Q. You were at the front line from September until the end of

7 November or beginning of December. In that time period, did you perhaps

8 stop by at home at some other time? Were you in Herceg-Novi?

9 A. I came home quite often. When I would take the used-up batteries

10 from the field, then I would bring these batteries back to Kumbor, to the

11 military barracks there. We'd have them recharged there, and then, on the

12 following day, I would take a group of batteries, I would take these full

13 batteries, take them out into the field, and that's what my daily work was

14 like. I would take advantage of the situation. I'd stop by at home, take

15 a shower, change.

16 Q. Tell me, please: In your TO unit, in that period of time that we

17 are discussing, were there any losses in terms of human lives?

18 A. Well, yes. The major losses, those that affected us, the people

19 of Herceg-Novi, the most were incurred on the 8th of November, 1991. On

20 that day, it was very peaceful. As a matter of fact, a few days before

21 that, there were no actions whatsoever. And I asked the commander of the

22 TO, Ilija Martinovic, to let me go home to get a bit of rest, to refresh

23 myself.

24 I arrived home around 5.00 in the afternoon, about 1700 hours, and

25 just as I lay down to get some rest - I was still in uniform - a colleague

Page 6818

1 of mine telephoned me, a colleague who came together with me, who was on

2 leave as well. And he told me that men from our TO unit, the so-called

3 Platoon of Specials, had some casualties at Bosanka. Some men were killed

4 and others were wounded and that I should urgently go to the military

5 hospital in Meljine it to see what we should do.

6 Q. You go to the military hospital in Meljine then? And what did you

7 hear there? What did you see there?

8 A. I immediately went to the military hospital in Meljine. I went to

9 the surgical ward, which is the ground floor, the right-hand side. I

10 found a few of my comrades there who had been wounded. I talked to them

11 for a few minutes.

12 Q. I'm sorry to interrupt. Do you remember the names of these

13 comrades?

14 A. Marko Poznanovic. He was wounded in the leg. Then Savo Gojkovic.

15 He had a finger wounded, either on his right or left hand. Then there was

16 Mandic. Mandic - I can't remember his first name right now - he was hit

17 in the collarbone, and the bullet went into the body, down into the body.

18 So it's the three of them.

19 Q. Was anybody killed on that occasion?

20 A. They told me that our comrade from the unit, Dusko Pusic, was in

21 the operating theatre right then, on the top floor of the surgical ward of

22 Meljine hospital. I went upstairs and I waited in the waiting room to see

23 what the outcome would be. A few minutes later, the surgeon walked out.

24 His name is Bato Lakicevic. And I asked him, "Is Dusko alive?" He was

25 silent. I asked him, "Is Dusko dead?" And he nodded, meaning yes. When

Page 6819

1 I received this information, I went down to in front of the surgery ward

2 and a group of people had already gathered by then, and they said that a

3 dead man from the Yugoslav People's Army was supposed to be brought then,

4 but we didn't know at that moment who this was.

5 I turned around and I saw behind me the deputy commander of the

6 TO, Djordje Radovic, and I said to him, "Djoko, let's go to Brgat to see

7 what's going on with our men."

8 However, tears streamed down his face and he said, "They are

9 bringing my Baja now." That is his brother. Obren Radovic was his name;

10 his nickname was Baja. He was in Niksic. He got killed as he was trying

11 to pull men out from Bosanka.

12 Q. Tell me, please: After the body of Obren Radovic was brought, did

13 you stay in Meljine or did you go somewhere?

14 A. How should I put this?

15 Q. If you could just try to be a bit more succinct.

16 A. Since there were vehicles of the TO from Herceg-Novi that were

17 there with their tyres punctured, they asked me to take my own car to take

18 Djordje Radovic, the uncle of the late Baja, to go to Niksic to tell his

19 parents what happened.

20 Q. Is that what you did?

21 A. I said that I had no fuel, so that somebody else would do it

22 instead of me, so that I could go to Brgat to see what happened to my

23 comrades. However, they immediately brought two jerrycans of fuel. They

24 filled up my car. And I had no choice but to get into my car and to

25 travel via Risan and Grahovo, and during the night we arrived in Niksic.

Page 6820

1 This was an exceptionally difficult night.

2 I knocked at the door. The neighbours went out -- came out and

3 the parents and Baja's grandfather. That is one of the hardest nights I

4 ever had in my life when I told them what had happened.

5 Q. Mr. Novakovic, I will have to ask you to give shorter answers,

6 more succinct answers. Time is precious to us.

7 Tell me: After Niksic, where did you go and what did you do?

8 A. During the night, we got into another car, another car from Niksic

9 joined us, and then, with two cars, we returned to the Meljine hospital.

10 We arrived in Meljine, say, around 6.30 or 7.00. I brought them

11 to the morgue. And when I took them into the morgue, I didn't even say

12 goodbye to them. I just turned around and I ran to the gate of the

13 Meljine hospital, in order to go to Brgat to see what had happened to our

14 men.

15 Q. What is the reason for that? Why did you go to Brgat? All the

16 soldiers who were wounded, were they all taken out on that day?

17 A. Well, no. On that day, they only brought the people that I

18 mentioned: Those who were at the surgery ward on the ground floor of the

19 hospital, and Dusko Pusic, who passed away in the operating theatre. Our

20 other dead and wounded were at Bosanka. And Brgat is the closest feature

21 to Bosanka, and that's why I wanted to go to Brgat as soon as possible, so

22 that we would get organised and see how we can get them out, out of that

23 difficult situation.

24 Q. All right. When you came to Brgat, what did you do in relation to

25 this assistance that you rendered to your wounded comrades?

Page 6821

1 A. When I came to Brgat, the situation was extremely difficult.

2 People were very sad. There were even tears. And to tell you quite

3 frankly, people were afraid too. I said, "Men, let's go." And I see

4 nobody wanted to go. And then I said, "Give me the keys of the vehicle."

5 And the captain of the TO from Herceg-Novi, Nikola Brajevic, threw me the

6 keys of the TO vehicle that was a Niva, and I went from Brgat to Zarkovica

7 and then along the asphalt road from Zarkovica to Bosanka.

8 About halfway, I came across a JNA truck which bore the body of

9 Bogdan Popovic. Slobodan Radovic, nicknamed Kruso, from Herceg-Novi was

10 driving the vehicle, and Nesvet Gasal sat next to him. He was an employee

11 of the Ministry of the Interior of Montenegro. For a while he was chief

12 in Herceg-Novi.

13 Q. Let's slow down, please. We don't need all these details. Can

14 you just stick to absolutely essential matters.

15 You said that on that truck was the body of the late Bogdan

16 Popovic. Was he then transferred to Meljine too?

17 A. Yes. Bogdan Popovic was transferred on that truck to the hospital

18 in Meljine.

19 Q. Very well. Tell me, please: Was there anybody else who had

20 stayed at the position, I mean the wounded persons, at this position?

21 A. Yes. There were some dead and wounded who were still at Bosanka.

22 There were two groups there. There was one group of about eight men, if a

23 squad is ten men. They were up towards the repeater at Srdj. And that's

24 where Budo Zarubica was. He was wounded. Then another wounded person was

25 Golub Mijovic. And together with them was a dead man, Vojica Pejovic.

Page 6822

1 And also, Minjo Golub, another one of our soldiers who was a physical

2 therapist by training, he got these two men out of a dangerous zone, a

3 zone that was endangered by the Croatian fighters. He came and went

4 twice, and then when he brought Pejovic he said he passed away. He can no

5 longer be saved.

6 Q. Can you tell me, please: Why it was a problem to get these people

7 out, the dead, the wounded? Why was it a problem to bring in the bodies?

8 A. Bosanka is actually a hunting area above Dubrovnik, and there are

9 a lot of tangerine trees growing there, and it's a very difficult terrain

10 to negotiate. It was very hard to do this.

11 Q. Where were there any other dangers involved in relation to getting

12 these men out?

13 A. Yes. There was a road between Bosanka and Srdj, but we didn't

14 dare use the road because we would have been hit by Croatian soldiers from

15 the Srdj repeater, and also perhaps from Dubrovnik or Bosanka. It

16 depended on the actual situation.

17 Q. While these soldiers that you mentioned a few minutes ago were

18 being taken out, were there any other casualties who -- among those who

19 were trying to get the wounded and dead out?

20 A. When Bogdan Popovic was being taken out, Marko Komarica went to

21 get him and Bajkovic, Obren Bajkovic. It's not Obren; I've forgotten his

22 first name. We called him Baja, at any rate, and he came from Bar.

23 So it was the two of them who lifted Vlado, but there was a rifle

24 by Vlado's head, and Bajkovic told him to get the rifle. Komarica leaned

25 over to fetch the rifle, and at that time a bullet came and killed him.

Page 6823

1 He got into his head [as interpreted] and actually ruptured a blood

2 vessel, which is very important.

3 Q. Who was it who was doing the shooting?

4 A. It was the Croatian army from Bosanka. Bogdan Popovic and Vlado

5 Zarubica, Bogdan was wounded lethally. They were both hit by Croatian

6 troops from Bosanka.

7 Q. All right. Tell me: Did you yourself take part in carrying some

8 of these soldiers out, getting them out?

9 A. As for Bogdan Popovic, I only came halfway, and we brought them

10 to -- him to Brgat and sent him to the hospital in Meljine. Then when we

11 sent Bogdan Popovic, then I started going towards Bosanka, but Gaso

12 Mijatovic said to me, "Slobo, Savo Vidakovic is in the woods with a kombi

13 van," and he brought him and Kruso to go looking for the two Pejovics by

14 car for as long as you could go.

15 Q. Please tell me who is Gaso Mijatovic, very briefly.

16 A. Gaso is a MUP employee who lives in Herceg-Novi.

17 Q. Why did he go to Bosanka?

18 A. He was a personal friend of Vojica Pejovic, and he came to get him

19 out of there. When he came to the area of Zarkovica, he went to the

20 command at Zarkovica, to Colonel Garvo Kovacevic.

21 Q. Why? What was the reason he went to Zarkovica?

22 A. The reason was that he came to get Vojica out. And he went to see

23 Gavro Kovacevic because he wanted him to explain the situation in the

24 field to him so that he could try to get his friend out. Colonel Gavro

25 Kovacevic said to him that in Bosanka there are over 70 armed soldiers.

Page 6824

1 And he said to him: "See, I have a helmet on my head, and the situation

2 is extremely difficult here. I'm exposed to mortar fire all the time.

3 They are shooting at me from Dubrovnik. Even a mortar is targeting me.

4 It is mounted on a vehicle." This mortar was targeting him from the Old

5 Town and kept changing positions. So Gavro Kovacevic was in a rather

6 difficult position. And when he finally asked him, when Gaso Mijatovic

7 finally asked him, "Where is Vojica Pejovic, wounded or dead?" He just

8 turned his back to him and Gaso said, "I was so taken aback that I simply

9 walked out."

10 And then he went to look for Vojica, and he came across the troops

11 of Lieutenant Sikimic, with his soldiers. They found Bogdan Popovic, and

12 they put him on a military truck. This military truck was taken over by

13 Slobodan Radovic, Kruso, and Gaso Mijatovic. It was two sergeants from

14 Herceg-Novi that took this truck and, as I said, they brought it to Brgat

15 and from there they went to Meljine.

16 Q. I have to interrupt you. What you've just told us linked to

17 Colonel Gavro Kovacevic at Zarkovica, how do you know about all that? Did

18 you personally talk to anybody or did you receive the information from

19 anybody?

20 A. When I went to Zarkovica for the second time and Bosanka, Gaso

21 Mijatovic did not allow me to go alone. He went -- got into the jeep, the

22 Niva jeep with me, and when we reached Zarkovica, we went on foot to lock

23 for Savo Vidakovic's van, and on the way there I asked Gaso, "How come

24 you're on the battlefield?" Because he was a MUP employee and he

25 shouldn't have been there in the first place, establishment-wise. So he

Page 6825

1 came privately to try and save --

2 Q. Mr. Novakovic, would you please listen to my questions and try and

3 give us as succinct answers as possible. And I had a very short question

4 for you. A moment ago, you told us something and you mentioned that

5 Colonel Kovacevic explained something, that he said that there were over

6 70 Croatian soldiers at Bosanka, for example, and that he was exposed to

7 fire from -- mortar fire from Zarkovica, that he was being targeted, and

8 that he was being targeted with a mortar and a mobile truck from the Old

9 Town. So my question to you was: How come you know that? Did somebody

10 tell you?

11 A. Gaso Mijetovic.

12 Q. Thank you. Tell me now, please, but once again, briefly: Did you

13 take part, and if so, how did you manage to pull out Vojica Pejovic when

14 he was killed?

15 A. Gaso and myself tried together with Lieutenant Sikimic's soldiers

16 to do that. After now, we realised that we didn't know the terrain at

17 all. It was getting dark and we didn't know what to do and couldn't

18 proceed in that fashion. So we decided to get a military transporter and

19 to try and do it that way. So we went back to Brgat.

20 Q. Now, was the reason -- you were looking for a transporter, you

21 say. Was the reason because you were being targeted at, fired at?

22 A. Yes, that's right. They were firing at us from Dubrovnik

23 non-stop. And when I was in the Niva jeep going to Bosanka, where we --

24 where I met Kruso and Gaso carrying the body of Bogdan, higher up above me

25 there were bullets flying by. So I had to extinguish my lights. Had I had

Page 6826

1 my lights on, it would have been the end of me.

2 Q. All right. And as you weren't able to pull your fellow comrade's

3 body out, you mentioned a transporter. What did you actually do with that

4 transporter?

5 A. We went to Brgat and our TO commander, Martinovic, and Gaso

6 Mijatovic, they went to a house across the road where Lieutenant Colonel

7 Licanin [phoen] was, he was a signalsman, and he called Admiral Jokic to

8 provide him with a transporter. Jokic said there was no transporter at

9 Kumbor and that the naval military district did not have one, did not

10 possess a transporter. Somebody then said there was a transporter to be

11 had in Trebinje. So I went off in the 128 vehicle belonging to the TO of

12 Herceg-Novi, with three of my colleagues. We went to Trebinje.

13 Q. Now, in Trebinje, in the barracks or wherever --

14 A. Yes. To the Trebinje barracks, which is where my friend Zdravko

15 Radakovic was. I don't know how, but he managed to find an army

16 transporter, and he said, "It's coming very quickly and will arrive there

17 when you arrive." And that's what happened. The transporter got to Brgat

18 very quickly, and Colonel Jovanovic and seven or eight of us got into the

19 transporter and we reached Zarkovica, and Colonel Jovanovic --

20 Q. Could you tell me who Colonel Jovanovic is?

21 A. Colonel Jovanovic, we called him Kurd, and he came from Serbia,

22 from somewhere in Serbia. At least that's what they told me.

23 Q. Could you tell me whether you managed to use the transporter to

24 pull out the body of the late Pejovic?

25 A. We managed to get through as far as we were able to go and then

Page 6827

1 Gaso Mijatovic and Gojko Pejovic, who worked in the MUP, both of them,

2 they managed to establish connection via a radio station, and they called

3 the station up, or rather Colonel Jovanovic called him and I listened in

4 to the conversation, where Gojko Pejovic, he was in a forest with Budo

5 Zaropovic [phoen] who was wounded and Govo Mijovic, and another

6 reconnaissance man from Kotor and he was very cold-blooded and said,

7 "Don't try and get through to us from Bosanka because Bosanka is full of

8 Croatian soldiers. You won't have any chance of doing that. But come in

9 the morning and take the opposite side, take the northerly route and try

10 and pull us out that way."

11 Q. Very well. Now tell us how long this operation of pulling them

12 out lasted.

13 A. Well, at about 1.00, 2.00, we returned to Brgat and the

14 transporter went back to Trebinje. At dawn the next morning, we were

15 supposed to pull the people out. However, the transporter did not return,

16 as they had promised to do. So we had to organise two routes, took two

17 paths. One group went to try and pull out the wounded, that is to say,

18 Budo Mijovic and Gojko Pejovic and Milic, and I went back to Trebinje to

19 fetch the transporter.

20 We returned one or two hours later, and nine of us got into the

21 transporter and we reached Zarkovica. From Zarkovica, we went down to

22 Bosanka, because at that point in time, Bosanka actually fell and we were

23 informed of this by captain of the warship Zec. Anyway, they informed us

24 that Bosanka was free.

25 Q. Could you tell us what date that was?

Page 6828

1 A. Well, they were killed on the 8th, so that was the 9th.

2 Q. Tell us, please: When did that operation of pulling out the

3 bodies end?

4 A. On that day, we did our best. We went towards Srdj. We took the

5 forest route.

6 Q. Mr. Novakovic, I have to interrupt you to tell you that time is

7 very precious, so please don't go into the details. Just give me brief

8 answers to my questions. And my question was: Do you remember whether

9 the pulling-out operation of the two men ended?

10 A. On that day, that same day, we reached Vojica Pejovic that day.

11 He was dead. We picked him up and tried to carry him. But the team of

12 men weren't able to finish the job. So we had to cover the body with

13 blankets and we hid him in a bush. And the next day, in the morning, we

14 organised another team of men to go out and try and collect up the body.

15 And we succeeded the next day. We pulled the body out.

16 Q. Tell me, please: From that first day, and you said it was the 8th

17 of November, I believe, when you learnt about the death and wounding of

18 your colleagues, how many days went by until you were able to finish the

19 operation and pull out the bodies, the bodies of the killed and the

20 wounded?

21 A. That all went up to the 11th. On the 10th, we had the well-known

22 event that took place in Herceg-Novi, in Kumbor, in front of the military

23 barracks there. There were demonstrations that were held on the part of

24 dissatisfied Herceg-Novi inhabitants and their families. They all rallied

25 there in front of the barracks and were critical of why things were

Page 6829

1 progressing so slowly and in such an unorganised fashion, as they said,

2 why everything was going so slowly.

3 Q. Were you yourself present there?

4 A. No, I wasn't. I just heard this from some of my friends because

5 the previous days I was at Bosanka and I was busy pulling out the dead and

6 wounded.

7 Q. What about some of the men from your unit? Did they take part in

8 those protests?

9 A. Well, I can't really say. I can't remember. I don't know. All I

10 do know is that it took place, but who was there, I can't say.

11 Q. Could you tell me, please: You mentioned the name Komarica, the

12 name of a soldier called Komarica who assisted in the operation of pulling

13 out the wounded fighters from your unit. Could you tell us who that is?

14 A. His name is Marko Komarica and he was a soldier of the well-known

15 3rd Battalion. He was a young guy of 18 at the time. And during the

16 pulling out operation of Vlado Zarubica when nobody dared to pull him out,

17 many refused to do so, didn't follow orders, he took it upon himself to do

18 that and he demonstrated great courage in pulling the body of Vlado

19 Zarubica out. And he became very popular in Herceg-Novi and that's how I

20 came to meet him in the first place. And until the end of his military

21 service, we were on very good terms and good friends.

22 Q. You mentioned the 3rd Battalion. Which 3rd Battalion do you mean?

23 You said that Komarica was a member of the 3rd Battalion.

24 A. He was a soldier in the 3rd Battalion.

25 Q. Yes, but what 3rd Battalion? Who commanded the battalion? Do you

Page 6830

1 know under whose command Komarica was?

2 A. The commanding officer was Vladimir Kovacevic, nicknamed Rambo. He

3 was Komarica's commander.

4 Q. After these events and after the operation of pulling out the

5 killed and wounded, did you see Komarica after that?

6 A. Yes, I did. I saw Komarica several times after this operation,

7 and after that courageous act on his part. I visited him several times.

8 He was up at Bosanka. That's where his unit was stationed. So I went to

9 see him several times.

10 Q. Very well. Tell me this now, please: Where were you exactly on

11 the 6th of December, 1991?

12 A. On the 6th of December, 1991, I was already at home, but I hadn't

13 returned the jeep that I had been issued, nor my personal weapons. So on

14 that day, I listened to the Herceg-Novi news at 3.00 p.m. and heard Radio

15 Herceg-Novi which broadcast that there was a battle at Srdj by Dubrovnik

16 on that day and that there were two men killed. And as soon as I heard

17 that, I got into the jeep and drove as fast as I could to Brgat.

18 Q. I do apologise for interrupting you, but listen to my question,

19 please. Tell me why you, who were in Herceg-Novi, when you heard the

20 news, why you set out for Brgat. What was the reason?

21 A. Well, my unit had withdrawn several days prior to that from that

22 area, but I had a lot of colleagues there, Komarica being one of them,

23 this 18-year-old man Komarica, who was so brave. So I went mostly for his

24 sake.

25 Q. Were you worried about him?

Page 6831

1 A. Yes, I was worried about him. I was anxious. And when I drove

2 the jeep along the Cavtat road, where you come to the hairpin bends and

3 the canyon, you could see the repeater at Srdj very well, and I noticed

4 that every two or three minutes a shell would fall on Srdj, and there was

5 a strong wind blowing on that day and I could see the wind blowing around

6 the smoke from the shell.

7 Q. Let me ask the questions, please. And my next question is this:

8 So this was on the road, you say, to Brgat. Now, on the way, when you

9 reached Brgat, did you stay there for any length of time? Briefly,

10 please.

11 A. I went via Brgat and Zarkovica and reached Bosanka. When I

12 reached Bosanka, I noticed a house which was still under construction.

13 And I noticed several soldiers standing round that house. I parked the

14 jeep, got out, and went inside, into the house. The house was full of our

15 soldiers, and among those soldiers I think there was frigate captain Jovo

16 Drla [phoen]. I think that was his rank.

17 Q. And what was he doing there?

18 A. Well, it was a very difficult situation there because the army,

19 the soldiers, were angry and nervous after five of their comrades had been

20 killed, and Jovo was in charge of conveying to them orders from the

21 command that they had to relinquish an attack on Srdj, the attack on Srdj.

22 Q. I apologise for that. Tell me now, please. You say that Jovo

23 Drlan [phoen] explained to the soldiers that the command did not allow

24 them to march on Srdj. What was the soldiers' reaction to those words of

25 his?

Page 6832

1 A. The soldiers reacted by swearing. They used derogatory language

2 to speak about Zec and Jokic. And when I heard this swearing going on, as

3 I wasn't interested, I left the house and asked the soldiers standing

4 outside where Marko Komarica was.

5 MS. MAHINDARATNE: Your Honour, may I interrupt. There is a name

6 missing. Zec and name missing. Perhaps if the witness can repeat.

7 Page 40, line 16: "The soldiers reacted by swearing. They used derogatory

8 language to speak about Zec and," somebody else.

9 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Admiral Jokic.

10 JUDGE PARKER: Thank you.

11 MR. RODIC: [Interpretation]

12 Q. As we're correcting the transcript, there was something else that

13 wasn't introduced into the transcript. So would you repeat. On the 6th

14 of December, how did it come about that you drove off to Bosanka? What

15 happened? What happened to make you set out for Bosanka?

16 A. I listened to Radio Herceg-Novi and heard that there had been

17 military -- a military confrontation at Bosanka and that there were two

18 men killed. That's what Radio Herceg-Novi broadcast.

19 Q. Tell us when that was.

20 A. That was on the 6th of December, exactly at 1500 hours over

21 Herceg-Novi Radio, the news bulletin.

22 Q. Thank you.

23 MS. MAHINDARATNE: [Previous translations continues]...

24 interrupt. I think the witness had already responded and his previous

25 comment was that there was a battle on Srdj, but my learned friend asked

Page 6833

1 the question again and got -- led the witness to say Bosanka. I think

2 this is very inappropriate.

3 MR. RODIC: [Interpretation] Perhaps I was misunderstood but it

4 doesn't matter. We're not challenging that there was fighting at Srdj.

5 What I asked the witness was what the reason was that he set out

6 from Herceg-Novi towards Bosanka. Because it wasn't recorded in the

7 LiveNote that he had listened to the news bulletin at 1500 hours, during

8 which he heard that two soldiers were killed at the fighting at Srdj, in

9 the fighting at Srdj. So I wasn't leading the witness towards Bosanka.

10 He set out towards Bosanka, because there wasn't fighting at Bosanka.

11 Q. Mr. Novakovic, did you -- after what you have described to us,

12 hearing and seeing at Bosanka, did you afterwards learn where Marko

13 Komarica was, the soldier Marko Komarica?

14 A. They told me that the killed and the wounded were in Trebinje. I

15 got into my vehicle and went to Trebinje. In Trebinje, I went to the

16 military medical centre or hospital - I don't know what it's called - and

17 I asked them where the mortuary was. I went there, and I saw five people

18 who were killed on that day at the Srdj repeater. And they are Mesaros,

19 Divjan, Tasovac and two other people whose names I've forgotten because it

20 was many years ago.

21 Q. Very well. At the hospital in Trebinje, did you find Marko

22 Komarica?

23 A. No. Marko Komarica, I was told there at the hospital that he was

24 wounded lightly and that he was transferred to the Meljine hospital. So I

25 got into my car and went to Meljine. In Meljine --

Page 6834

1 Q. Could you please tell us: Did you find Marko Komarica in the

2 Meljine hospital?

3 A. Yes. I found him in the military hospital in Meljine, with his

4 friends, Svetislav Rakovic and Bodiroga - I don't know his name - from

5 Trebinje. All three of them were wounded. Bodiroga was injured in the

6 spine because he was carrying Mesaros's dead body from Srdj. Marko

7 Komarica had a face wound. Rakovic was also wounded, but I don't remember

8 where.

9 Q. Could you please just answer briefly. These wounds of Komarica

10 and Rakovic, were they serious?

11 A. No. These were light wounds, light facial wounds. I took them to

12 my house.

13 Q. Did Komarica and Rakovic, were they supposed to stay in the

14 hospital or were they supposed to go back to their units?

15 A. They were lightly wounded, and they were supposed to perhaps spend

16 the night in the hospital and return to the unit in the morning. And

17 Bodiroga was supposed to stay there for a couple of days. So I took the

18 two of them back to my house so that they could spend the night there, and

19 then -- so that I could take them to Brgat the next day.

20 Q. When you took the soldiers Komarica and Rakovic to your house on

21 the 6th of December, did you talk with them about their operation in Srdj,

22 what happened, how it happened? Did you hear from them what happened, how

23 they were wounded and did you hear anything about the operation?

24 A. Yes. When we got to my house, I asked them what happened, and

25 they told me, Komarica and Rakovic, that on the 5th of December, they were

Page 6835

1 assembled somewhere - I don't know where - and that the warship captain

2 Zec asked them who was brave enough to get those grannies out of Srdj.

3 There was a silence, and after a few seconds, Bodiroga put his hand up

4 first and he said, "I will do it."

5 Q. Are we talking about Bodiroga who was in the Meljine military

6 hospital?

7 A. Yes. That's the Bodiroga who was wounded when he was bringing

8 out -- he was the one who carried Mesaros most of the way from of Srdj.

9 Q. Very well. And did anybody else volunteer except for Bodiroga?

10 A. Komarica, Marko volunteered and Svetislav Rakovic, Mesaros also

11 volunteered and a few other men whom I never saw before.

12 Q. And did they tell you anything else about that 5th of December?

13 A. They told me that on the 5th of December, they agreed that there

14 would be an attack early on the 6th on the Srdj repeater. They were

15 promised safety vests and shock bombs. They didn't receive the flak

16 jackets, but only the shock bombs, which were taken by the platoon or unit

17 commander Bodiroga.

18 Q. During the Srdj operation, did anybody from that group that

19 included Rakovic and Komarica get killed?

20 A. Yes. They went to attack Srdj early in the morning, and there was

21 one person who was killed first, Mesaros. He was a private first class.

22 Q. Was he a regular private?

23 A. Yes. That's correct. And when they came to my house after

24 staying at the Meljine hospital, they said that it was Mesaros's and mine

25 last day of military duty. Had Mesaros survived that day, the next day he

Page 6836

1 was due for a discharge so that he could return home back to his parents.

2 Q. Thank you. Did they tell you anything about how the operation on

3 Srdj proceeded?

4 A. Yes. They told me that when they arrived almost to the top of the

5 Srdj repeater, they were fired at from Dubrovnik, from mortars. There was

6 fierce mortar fire and they had casualties. There were five of their

7 comrades who succumbed. Komarica Marko was lucky. Rakovic told me that

8 wherever Komarica was, five seconds after that a shell would drop there.

9 But he was lucky and each time he managed to escape, and he ended up with

10 just superficial scratches.

11 Q. Did Komarica and Rakovic perhaps tell you how long they were at

12 Srdj and what happened as long as they were there?

13 A. They were on Srdj during that day. It's December; the days were

14 short. So when I came -- I left Herceg-Novi at 3.00, so I got there at

15 3.40 p.m. it was already all over. We didn't go into too many details,

16 but they had already returned from Srdj earlier. The wounded and the dead

17 were taken to the hospital.

18 Q. Because you went to Bosanka yourself on the 6th, did you see Srdj?

19 Did you see if there were any JNA soldiers at Srdj at that time?

20 A. When I got there, there were no soldiers at Srdj. The soldiers

21 were at Bosanka, in a house which was still being built. It wasn't

22 completed.

23 Q. Jovan -- did Komarica tell you where he withdrew to from Srdj?

24 A. They pulled back around that house somewhere and that's where the

25 sanitation took care of them and took them to the various hospitals.

Page 6837

1 Q. Komarica and Rakovic spent the night between the 6th and the 7th

2 at your house; is that correct?

3 A. Yes, it is.

4 Q. And then on the 7th of December, did you drive them and go with

5 them to the unit or did they return by themselves?

6 A. No. I put them in my car and took them to Brgat, to their

7 commander, Vladimir Kovacevic, called Rambo, and they asked him to let

8 them go to the funeral of their friend, Mesaros.

9 When we came into the hall of the command where Rambo was, I came

10 close to the door and I heard the warship captain Zec tell Rambo

11 Kovacevic, "Young man, now you will go for a longer holiday." Then we

12 waited for a while and then Rakovic and Komarica went in to see Rambo

13 Kovacevic so that he would give them permission to go to Subotica. He

14 made that possible for them. And while I was waiting for them in the

15 hall, in the corridor, I went outside for a little bit.

16 Q. Let me just interrupt you for a bit. You said that you heard

17 someone saying, "Young man, you are going to go on a longer holiday."

18 Could you please tell us who that was?

19 A. It was Admiral Zec. We were good friends. I knew him well, so I

20 could recognise him.

21 Q. What was his rank?

22 A. At the time he was a warship captain. Later he became an admiral.

23 Q. How did you know that it was war captain Zec who was saying that?

24 A. Because I spoke to him several times and I know his voice very

25 well, and I'm sure that it was he who told Rambo Kovacevic, "Young man,

Page 6838

1 you will be going on a longer holiday."

2 Q. Did you enter the office?

3 A. No. I was standing in the corridor.

4 Q. Just take it easy, please. How do you know whose office it was

5 from where you heard that voice?

6 A. I was brought there by Rakovic and Komarica to that door because

7 that was the door of the office of their commander, Vladimir Kovacevic.

8 So it was logical for him to be saying that to Vladimir Kovacevic,

9 especially because it was known that there was some problem there, because

10 I could see reservists from Trebinje or from someone in Herzegovina who

11 were standing around the building and from the conversation with them. I

12 could hear that they had heard that the army wanted to replace Rambo

13 Kovacevic and they were not allowing that to happen. So they prevented

14 him from being replaced.

15 Q. Did you talk with these soldiers?

16 A. Yes, I did. I just spoke with them informally, and I could see

17 that they were resolute in their support for their Captain Kovacevic.

18 Q. Did they explain why?

19 A. Well, it's known what happened that day, and they were standing by

20 their captain, the unit commander.

21 Q. What were the soldiers saying? What were they explaining?

22 A. They said that they knew that there was an operation to attack

23 Srdj and then another order came later, that this operation should be

24 stopped. So soldiers, as soldiers are, were unhappy because things were

25 being done this way and because they wanted to replace a person who was

Page 6839

1 not to blame for anything. He was just trying to protect his soldiers.

2 Q. Tell me: Did Komarica and Rakovic get permission from their

3 commander to be absent from the unit?

4 A. Yes. Within a minute or two, he signed their permits for them. I

5 put them in my car, took them to the bus station in Herceg-Novi, saw them

6 off to the bus for Subotica, because they were going to the funeral of

7 their comrade Mesaros.

8 MR. RODIC: [Interpretation] Your Honours, I have completed my

9 examination-in-chief. Thank you very much. Thank you, sir.

10 JUDGE PARKER: Ms. Somers.

11 MS. SOMERS: Thank you, Your Honour. Ms. Mahindaratne will

12 conduct the cross-examination.

13 JUDGE PARKER: Thank you very much.

14 Cross-examined by Ms. Mahindaratne:

15 Q. Good afternoon, Mr. Novakovic. My name is Ms. Mahindaratne and I

16 will ask you questions on behalf of the Prosecution. So what's your

17 ethnic origin?

18 A. I am a Serb by ethnicity.

19 Q. Now, you said that you were mobilised around 20th of September,

20 1991. That is correct?

21 A. That's correct.

22 Q. Were you mobilised to participate in the Dubrovnik operation?

23 Were you informed that you would be mobilised to participate in the

24 Dubrovnik operation?

25 A. No. I was just called up for a military exercise, which started

Page 6840

1 in Kamena. This is a village which is five kilometres from Herceg-Novi.

2 Q. Now, at the stage you were mobilised, what military training had

3 you received in terms of weapons training or duration of your training?

4 Just a brief response would do.

5 A. I was called up into the reserves several times for exercises.

6 This one lasted a couple of days.

7 Q. Have you had any form of training in weapons at that stage, or was

8 your task going to be mainly with regard to operation of radios?

9 A. My main task was to take care of the radio communications, and I

10 was also familiar with personal weapons.

11 Q. In September 1991, you said that your Territorial Defence unit of

12 Herceg-Novi was subordinated to higher command. What was the name of that

13 command?

14 A. The higher command was called Military Naval Sector of Kumbor. I

15 perhaps did not give you the correct name, but ...

16 Q. And where were you based once you were deployed to participate in

17 the Dubrovnik operation? Where was your unit based, the Territorial

18 Defence unit?

19 A. First we were summoned for a military exercise and not for an

20 attack on Dubrovnik. We went to Kamena. This was approximately on 21st

21 of September. We spent about seven or eight days in Kamena and then we --

22 Q. [Previous translation continues]... interrupt you, Mr. Novakovic.

23 If you could just respond. Once you were deployed to participate in the

24 Dubrovnik operation, where were you based? You don't have to go to the

25 time before that. Once you were deployed towards the attack, where were

Page 6841

1 you based? Where was your unit based?

2 A. First we came to the village of Mikulici. We spent a couple of

3 days there. From Mikulici we were transferred to Grude, and that is where

4 our unit was stationed for a while. That was the TO unit from

5 Herceg-Novi. That's where the command was. I was always with the command

6 because that's where the radio station was. I had to be on standby in

7 case of a malfunction or something, so that I could fix it.

8 Q. So your assignment or your base was at Grude right through the

9 time you were deployed in the Dubrovnik operation; is that correct?

10 A. That's correct.

11 Q. How far is Grude from Dubrovnik?

12 A. Grude is halfway between Herceg-Novi and Dubrovnik, about 20

13 kilometres away.

14 Q. And how far is Grude from Brgat?

15 A. It's about 22 to 23 kilometres from Brgat.

16 Q. So how is it that you seem to have been present at Brgat

17 constantly, despite the fact that your base, your duty station, was Grude?

18 MR. PETROVIC: [Interpretation] Objection, Your Honour. The

19 witness did not say at any point that he was stationed at Brgat all the

20 time. Could my learned friend please pay attention to what has been said

21 so far.

22 MS. MAHINDARATNE: My question was not that he was stationed at

23 Brgat. My question was:

24 Q. How is it that you seem to have present in Brgat constantly when

25 your duty station was -- Grude, Grude. Perhaps my learned friend should

Page 6842

1 pay attention to my question.

2 JUDGE PARKER: Thank you, Ms. Mahindaratne.

3 MS. MAHINDARATNE: Thank you, sir.

4 JUDGE PARKER: Please be seated, Mr. Petrovic. Do you have an

5 answer to that question?

6 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] I do have an answer. My task, as

7 the radio mechanic, was to supply the radio stations out in the field with

8 charged batteries. One of the radio stations was with the special unit

9 that happened to be stationed at Brgat. So I went every day or every

10 other day, depending on when they called me, when they used up their

11 batteries, so that I could take the spent batteries and give them a

12 charged one. So that is how I happened to see them every day.


14 Q. What was this place or command or unit in Brgat that kept calling

15 you to replace their batteries? What was at Brgat?

16 A. It was a unit of the TO of Herceg-Novi. I belonged to this

17 Territorial Defence of Herceg-Novi. This was a platoon of this unit of

18 ours.

19 Q. Are you also aware that the command post of the 3rd Battalion of

20 the 472nd Motorised Brigade was also in Brgat?

21 A. I did not know that.

22 Q. When you went to the post of Herceg-Novi Territorial Defence unit

23 that was in Brgat, were you aware that there were other command posts or

24 other military installations of the JNA in Brgat?

25 A. Well, I assumed that there were others, but I did not know about

Page 6843

1 anybody else. I only knew about my own unit. My only duty was to charge

2 and replace the batteries of my TO unit from Herceg-Novi, but I did not

3 know otherwise who belonged to which unit. I just knew about this

4 Komarica, who was a friend of mine, that he belonged to Rambo's unit. As

5 for the rest, I had no idea.

6 Q. And you know that Rambo, or Captain Vladimir Kovacevic, was the

7 commander of the 3rd Battalion?

8 A. I did not hear this properly. Could you please repeat your

9 question.

10 Q. Do you know that Captain Vladimir Kovacevic, or Rambo, was the

11 commander of the 3rd Motorised Battalion of the 472nd Motorised Brigade?

12 A. Yes. Yes, I knew. Perhaps not at the very outset, but later on,

13 when I spoke to Komarica, I found out that he was a soldier of that

14 3rd Battalion and that his commander was Vladimir Kovacevic, nicknamed

15 Rambo.

16 Q. And your friend Komarica belonged to the 3rd Battalion?

17 A. Yes.

18 Q. So did you not visit him at his base when you visited Brgat?

19 A. Yes. I was, as I said, out there to visit for a few times.

20 Whenever I'd go to Brgat, I'd always take advantage of that and go and see

21 him.

22 Q. And so as such, you do know that a unit of the 3rd Battalion was

23 in fact based in Brgat, contrary to what you said earlier on? You said

24 that you did not know that the command post of the 3rd Battalion was in

25 Brgat. But you visited your friend at his post in Brgat?

Page 6844

1 A. Things are a bit more complicated than what you said. His command

2 was probably at Brgat, but he was at Bosanka, halfway from Bosanka to

3 Srdj, underneath a wall. That's where his little tent was, an improvised

4 tent, and that is where he was on guard duty. I did not ask him, "Where

5 is your command," or whatever. I was not interested in that. I was just

6 interested in whether he was alive and well, whether he was healthy, how

7 he was doing. I never asked him about his command or his commander or

8 things like that.

9 Q. So you did not know where his command post was at all?

10 A. No. I had no idea where his command was. Only on the day when I

11 brought them so that they could go to Subotica, it's only then that I

12 found out that that was the command post.

13 Q. Mr. Novakovic, what was the name of your unit commander, the

14 territorial unit -- Territorial Defence unit?

15 A. The commander of the Territorial Defence of Herceg-Novi was Ilija

16 Martinovic.

17 Q. And you were directly subordinated to him?

18 A. That's right.

19 Q. Was he a good commander in that did he have command and control

20 over his subordinate units in that did you and your colleagues comply with

21 the orders issued by him?

22 A. I follow the orders issued by the commander.

23 Q. And he, in turn -- did he seem to -- did he comply with the orders

24 issued by his higher command? Were there any allegations that he did not

25 comply with orders?

Page 6845

1 A. I, as a plain soldier, did not know who issued orders to him or

2 whether he was carrying them out. I just knew that I was carrying out the

3 orders that he issued to me.

4 Q. Now, you testified in examination-in-chief that when there was a

5 move to replace Captain Kovacevic, his subordinate soldiers stood by him

6 and insisted that he should not be removed. Did you ever learn, perhaps

7 from your friend Komarica, that Captain Kovacevic had control over his

8 subordinate units and that they in fact complied with the orders issued by

9 Captain Kovacevic?

10 A. Well, I knew from Komarica and from the others there that Rambo

11 Kovacevic was in total control of the situation in his unit. In his unit,

12 he was an exceptionally good officer.

13 Q. And is there anything that was perhaps repeated to you by your

14 friend Komarica or anyone else which would give one to draw the conclusion

15 that Captain Kovacevic may act in contravention of his superior orders,

16 that he may not comply with orders issued from his higher command?

17 A. Well, when talking to Komarica and others, I could not understand

18 in any way that Kovacevic was not carrying out the orders issued by his

19 command.

20 Q. Now, you said you were -- your Territorial Defence unit was

21 subordinated to the 9th Naval Sector. Were you ever made aware when you

22 and your unit was being deployed in the Dubrovnik operation that your unit

23 was being attached to a specially established or specially created

24 command, namely, the 2nd Operational Group, which had been assigned to

25 carry out the Dubrovnik operation? Were you made aware of that?

Page 6846

1 A. I was not aware of that. I thought, and knew, that I was only

2 subordinated to Ilija Martinovic, commander of the TO of Herceg-Novi and

3 that we were within the military naval sector of Kumbor, it was called

4 Boka. I didn't know anything else. I just knew that we had an army

5 commander. I don't know who it was exactly who was in Belgrade. I can't

6 remember. A general, most probably. I can't remember his name now. But

7 that was it.

8 Q. Have you heard of the term "2nd Operational Group" before?

9 A. Well, I haven't.

10 Q. Have you heard of General Strugar, General Pavle Strugar, the

11 accused in this case?

12 A. I first heard of General Strugar and heard of him when I was a

13 member of the Municipal Assembly of Herceg-Novi. When our army withdrew

14 to the borders, then we had an extraordinary meeting of the Municipal

15 Assembly of Herceg-Novi, and General Pavle Strugar took part in this

16 meeting. I did not meet him personally then, but that's when I saw him.

17 Q. Did you know that General Strugar was in fact the former commander

18 of the Territorial Defence of Herceg-Novi? Did you know that -- I beg

19 your pardon. Of Montenegro. Did you know that? You were yourself in the

20 Territorial Defence, so did you know that your commander, commander of the

21 Territorial Defence in Montenegro, was General Pavle Strugar?

22 A. Well, unfortunately, I did not know that.

23 Q. So it is your position that you did not know that General Strugar

24 was in any way involved in the Dubrovnik operation? That is what you're

25 saying today?

Page 6847

1 A. Yes. Yes. I never saw him at the Dubrovnik theatre of war.

2 Q. My question was not whether you had seen him, but did you know

3 that General Strugar commanded the Dubrovnik operation.

4 A. I did not know that. I thought that the Dubrovnik operation was

5 led by Krsto Djurovic until he got killed and from then on Miodrag Jokic.

6 I had never heard of Strugar. I first saw him in Herceg-Novi. I actually

7 thought that Rambo Kovacevic and his unit were all within the navy in

8 Boka.

9 Q. Were you made aware of the fact that one of the objectives of the

10 war you fought in was to maintain a naval and land blockade around

11 Dubrovnik? Did you know that?

12 A. Well, I was not very well versed in that. I'm just an ordinary

13 soldier. But what I roughly knew was that our objective was never to

14 attack Dubrovnik. Had that been our objective, we could have shelled it

15 every day.

16 Q. I shall be grateful if you would confine your response to my

17 question.

18 Now, judging by what you said, your understanding was that the

19 naval activities around Dubrovnik were being conducted by the 9th Naval

20 Sector and that you were not aware that the 2nd Operational Group command

21 had any role to play in those activities? Is that a correct assumption?

22 A. I certainly did not know about that. Now, whether that is right

23 or not, you can be the judge of that. But I had no idea that we were

24 subordinated to anybody else.

25 [Prosecution counsel confer]

Page 6848


2 Q. Sir, you talked about -- I beg your pardon. You talked about

3 attending a municipal meetings, Municipal Assembly meetings. Were you a

4 member of the Municipal Assembly?

5 A. Yes. I was a member of the Municipal Assembly in 1991 and 1992,

6 something like that, maybe even 1993.

7 Q. And what political party were you affiliated with?

8 A. Well, I belonged to the League of Communists of Yugoslavia, which

9 precisely in that period, between 1991 and 1992, was turned into the

10 Democratic Party of Socialists of Montenegro. But I never became a member

11 of that party. I was only a member of the Municipal Assembly. I

12 completed my term of office. But I remained a member of the League of

13 Communists and I did not take a party membership card of the democratic

14 party of socialists of Montenegro.

15 Q. That is a party known as SDS?

16 A. No. That is the Democratic Party of Socialists. Its president

17 used to be Momir Bulatovic, and now its president in Milo Djukanovic.

18 Q. Sir, do you have any relationship to Mr. Predrag Bulatovic?

19 A. I personally know Predrag Bulatovic, but I was speaking about

20 Momir Bulatovic.

21 Q. I know what you were speaking about. So my question to you was,

22 the vice-president of Mr. Momir Bulatovic, the president of Montenegro,

23 the vice-president, Predrag Bulatovic, was he in any way related to you?

24 I'm asking about relationship. Aren't you his nephew or don't you have a

25 close relationship to him?

Page 6849

1 A. Predrag Bulatovic and I are not related at all. Since I'm a

2 member of the Communist Party of Yugoslavia, my party was in a coalition

3 with his party, so we just know each other from these inter-party

4 contacts, that's all.

5 Q. Sir, were you -- when you -- your -- the learned Defence counsel

6 asked you as to whether you had any convictions; you responded in the

7 negative. Were you not charged with the murder of a woman sometime in

8 1992 or 1991, or even perhaps later on?

9 A. I'm going to tell you where the confusion lies. The nephew of

10 Predrag Bulatovic has the same name and surname as I do, Slobodan

11 Novakovic. I've never seen him in my life and we are not related. And I

12 found out this by accident by Nenad Vulevic, who happened to serve a

13 prison sentence together with him in Spuz. So I did not have a criminal

14 record at all, and I have never seen this Slobodan Novakovic ever in my

15 life. I just heard about this.

16 Q. You said you do not have a criminal record at all, but were you

17 not charged for larceny in the lower courts of Herceg-Novi, a crime, an

18 offence committed while you were a member of the Territorial Defence unit

19 of Herceg-Novi? Were you not charged with larceny, the offence of

20 committing larceny?

21 A. No. In Tivat, I was asked to appear before a court of law. A

22 reservist - I cannot remember his name right now - was charged with

23 something, and he asked me to testify to the effect that I saw that he did

24 not take part in any thefts. So that is what I did. I went there and

25 testified that he did not take part in any such thing.

Page 6850

1 JUDGE PARKER: Is that a convenient time, Ms. Mahindaratne?

2 MS. MAHINDARATNE: Yes, Your Honour.

3 --- Recess taken at 5.30 p.m.

4 --- On resuming at 5.53 p.m.

5 JUDGE PARKER: Yes, Ms. Mahindaratne.

6 MS. MAHINDARATNE: Thank you, Your Honour.

7 Q. Sir, just before the break, I asked you a question as to whether

8 you were charged for the offence of aggravated larceny before the

9 Herceg-Novi lower court, and you said no. Now, I put it to you that you

10 were in fact charged for committing the offence of aggravated larceny and

11 you were charged on 12 February 1992. Is that correct, or is that wrong?

12 How do you respond to it?

13 A. It's wrong, because, as I said, I was a witness. I testified for

14 a reservist soldier. I think his name Zika Milosavljevic, who was accused

15 and charged with some things, and they called me in to testify and I

16 testified at the court in Tivat, not Herceg-Novi, but the military court

17 in Tivat, where I gave a statement and said that I did not see

18 Milosavljevic engaged in any looting or anything like that.

19 Q. Okay. We move on. Now, your main task was to attend to the radio

20 communication that was taking place around Dubrovnik with regard to the

21 Dubrovnik operation. What was the state of the radio system or the

22 communication system of the JNA forces at that time? Was there an

23 efficient system? Was it in good working order?

24 A. Well, during that time, it was efficient, quite efficient. We

25 worked in the TO of Herceg-Novi and we were able to communicate with all

Page 6851

1 our units. So that was within my area of expertise. Now, what they did

2 in other units, I really can't say. I don't know.

3 Q. And in examination-in-chief, you said that your base in Grude was

4 next to an army command. Which army command were you referring to? Was

5 it the army command of the 3rd Battalion or -- I beg your pardon. Which

6 army command were you referring to there?

7 A. Well, it was the command of the military naval sector, and that's

8 where the commander of that unit was, if that's what he was. He had a

9 rank at the time. I think he was captain first class. And his name was

10 or is -- and he's here together with me just now in The Hague. We're in

11 the same hotel. His name is Gojko Djurasic. And at the time, Gojko

12 Djurasic was there, yes, that was the name, and I think that he held the

13 rank of captain first class at the time.

14 Q. And so being based just next to where Captain Djurasic was during

15 the time, you got to know him very well; is that correct?

16 A. Well, he was next to us, but we were the TO of Herceg-Novi, and I

17 just happened to know the man personally, because as a mechanic I went to

18 see to his TV set. There was something wrong with it. So I went to his

19 house. So that's how I knew him. He was up at the battlefield. He had

20 his command, I had mine, so we didn't have any points in common up at the

21 front at all.

22 Q. Your testimony was that you went back home, you returned to

23 Herceg-Novi, on -- at least late November or early December. You said 2nd

24 or 3rd. So which means you were certainly not privy to what happened on

25 the 6th of December morning in and around Dubrovnik.

Page 6852

1 A. Yes, correct.

2 Q. And you heard about what was going on only through the radio?

3 A. Correct. I heard it over the radio. And at my own initiative, I

4 got into my car, switched on the engine, and drove towards Bosanka.

5 Q. What time was it when you heard the radio news about what was

6 going on in Dubrovnik?

7 A. [No interpretation]

8 Q. I beg your pardon, Your Honour. I don't get any interpretation.

9 I don't know whether something has happened to the system.

10 A. [No interpretation]

11 MR. PETROVIC: [Interpretation] [No interpretation]

12 JUDGE PARKER: We have no interpretation.

13 THE INTERPRETER: Can you hear the English channel? Can you hear

14 the English interpretation?

15 JUDGE PARKER: We can now. We did not hear.

16 THE INTERPRETER: The witness said he heard it in a news bulletin

17 broadcast over Radio Herceg-Novi. That was the answer to the question.

18 MR. PETROVIC: [Interpretation] Your Honour, unfortunately we're

19 not getting the interpretation on channel 6 into B/C/S.

20 JUDGE PARKER: I don't know what has gone on. If there could be a

21 check made of what is happening.

22 It is now functioning again. Thank you.


24 Q. Could you respond to my question again, Mr. Novakovic. My

25 question was: At what time did you hear the news about what was going on

Page 6853

1 in Dubrovnik over the radio? What was the time?

2 A. On the 6th of December, 1991, at 1500 hours, I listened to the

3 local news bulletin, and the broadcaster in the news bulletin said that

4 there was fighting at Srdj, near Dubrovnik, and that two men had been

5 killed. And on my own initiative, I left the house, switched the engine

6 of my jeep on that I hadn't returned, and, as fast as possible, drove to

7 Bosanka.

8 Q. So at 1500 hours on 6 December 1991, from what you heard over the

9 radio news bulletin, there was combat action going on in Dubrovnik at that

10 time? That was what you heard?

11 A. Yes, that's right. That's what I heard.

12 Q. And where did you drive to from your home? What was the first

13 place -- location you drove to?

14 A. I drove straight from Herceg-Novi to Bosanka.

15 Q. And how long did it take you to drive to Bosanka?

16 A. About 35 to 40 minutes.

17 Q. And you said in examination-in-chief that when you drove to

18 Bosanka, you drove via Brgat, Zarkovica, and then to Bosanka. Is that

19 correct?

20 A. Yes, that's correct.

21 Q. And as such, when you drove by Zarkovica, you would have noticed

22 the combat activity that was being carried out on Zarkovica?

23 A. No. When I passed by Cavtat, at exactly the spot that there's the

24 plaque saying Cavtat, you have a good vision all over the area and you can

25 see the repeater at Srdj. And at that point in time, I saw three or four,

Page 6854

1 let's say, or five to six, shells falling on the repeater at Srdj, and as

2 there was a strong wind blowing from north to south, from the sea, I saw

3 the wind carrying the smoke from the shells that fell, not from Zarkovica

4 but from Cavtat.

5 Q. My question to you was: When you passed Zarkovica, did you notice

6 any combat activity or had it ceased by that time?

7 A. Everything had ceased by that time.

8 Q. And what time was it when you passed Zarkovica?

9 A. Well, if it took me 45 minutes, I just spent three minutes --

10 three minutes before that I was at Zarkovica, because it takes three

11 minutes from Zarkovica to Bosanka.

12 Q. Why did you take that road? Is that the normal route that one

13 would take going to Bosanka, or what was the reason for you to drive by

14 Zarkovica?

15 A. Well, I didn't have any reason to stop at Zarkovica, because

16 Komarica, the man I was going to visit --

17 Q. Mr. Novakovic, my question to you was: Why did you take that

18 particular road, that is, Brgat, Zarkovica, and Bosanka? What was the

19 reason for you to take that route? Is that the usual route one would take

20 going to Bosanka, or was there any special reason that you had for you to

21 drive by Zarkovica? That's my question.

22 A. From Zarkovica to Bosanka, there are two routes. There's the

23 asphalt road, which is the short route, and there is the hairpin bend

24 road, which is not an asphalt road, which takes longer. So I took the

25 shorter road.

Page 6855

1 Q. And you said the day after the event you went to the command post

2 of the 3rd Battalion of the 472nd Motorised Brigade. Where was that

3 located?

4 A. It was at Brgat.

5 Q. How did you know this was the command post of the 3rd Battalion?

6 A. Well, I did not know that the command post was there, but in the

7 vehicle there was Komarica Marko and Svetislav Rakovic, who brought me to

8 their command, and it was only on that day that I actually learnt that

9 their headquarters were there and that they weren't subordinated to the

10 military naval sector but that they were attached to the second army of

11 General Strugar.

12 Q. And who wasn't subordinated to the 9th Naval Sector by General

13 Strugar? Who told you that? How did you learn that these persons you're

14 speaking of were not subordinated to the 9th Naval Sector but to General

15 Strugar? Who told you that?

16 A. Well, as I was saying, this unit of Rambo Kovacevic's, that unit

17 was in a way on our territory, on our terrain. So I didn't know that they

18 were subordinated to General Strugar. So that means when everything was

19 over, and when we came to ask permission for these two soldiers to go to

20 Subotica, that was when I came to realise that the unit of Marko Komarica,

21 in actual fact, belonged, if I could put it that way, to the 2nd --

22 whatever you call it, to General Strugar, not the naval military sector.

23 Because as an ordinary soldier I didn't go into those details, who

24 belonged to whom. That wasn't what I was interested in.

25 Q. So what was it about going to Subotica that made you realise that

Page 6856

1 the particular unit was within the command of the -- of General Strugar?

2 What was it that made you realise it? Could you explain it better.

3 A. Now that I give it some thought, I can tell you that even at the

4 time, I didn't actually realise -- or rather, towards the end I came to

5 realise this they weren't actually under -- because captain of the warship

6 Zec told Kovacevic, "You're going to have a longer holiday now." And when

7 I left the building, I saw the reservists, from Herzegovina, who said,

8 "We're not going to let Rambo be replaced," and all the other things they

9 said.

10 So later on I came to understand that Rambo's unit was not under

11 the same command as I was, but that it was under the command of General

12 Strugar. But I realised that only later. Because I couldn't have known

13 that they were Strugar's men and not our men, that is to say, belonging to

14 the military naval sector of Boka.

15 Q. So what you're saying is their conduct and the manner they behaved

16 at that stage made you realise that they were, to use your own term,

17 words, Strugar's men and did not really belong to the military naval

18 sector. That's what you felt?

19 A. Yes. I asked them where they were from, and they said some were

20 from Trebinje, some were from Bileca. And then I realised, only then,

21 from these ordinary soldiers, reservists, I realised that they weren't in

22 fact linked to the military naval sector of Admiral Jokic, but that they

23 were in fact up there. And I didn't know that General Strugar was their

24 commander at all. All I knew was that they belonged to somebody else.

25 So at the time, I didn't realise that Strugar was in fact their

Page 6857

1 commander. I hadn't heard of Strugar.

2 Q. And when you say "them," are you referring to members of the

3 3rd Battalion, 3rd Motorised Battalion of the 472nd Brigade? Is that what

4 you're referring to when you say "them"?

5 A. Yes. The 3rd Battalion, commanded by Rambo Kovacevic, had regular

6 soldiers as well as reserve soldiers. And from the regular soldiers on

7 that day, I spoke to Komarica and Rakovic Svetislav. I never asked

8 Komarica, "Who is your commander?" I just simply thought that those units

9 from Herceg-Novi [as interpreted] and us were at the same level. We were

10 not above them. I thought that we were all subordinated to some command

11 from Belgrade.

12 MR. PETROVIC: [Interpretation] Your Honours, the transcript,

13 line 65 -- page 65, line 20, is should -- it says from Herceg-Novi, but it

14 should actually state from Herzegovina. That's the correct term.

15 MS. MAHINDARATNE: May I be permitted to ask that again, Your

16 Honour? My understanding was that it was Herceg-Novi.

17 Q. Sir, could you just repeat what you just said. Did you say: I

18 just simply thought that those units from Herceg-Novi and us were the same

19 level, or did you say those units from Herzegovina and us were at the same

20 level? Which of these did you --

21 A. Units from Herzegovina, not from Herceg-Novi. There's no logic to

22 them being just from Herceg-Novi. So units from Herzegovina.

23 Q. And when -- you said Captain Zec said something to the effect of,

24 "Young man, you have to go on a long vacation," or something to that

25 effect, was it your understanding, or did it seem to you that the 9th

Page 6858

1 Naval Sector was trying to have him removed and replaced? Is that what

2 you understood, how you understood that statement to be?

3 A. Yes. I thought, even then, and I had confirmation, that Rambo

4 Kovacevic and his unit was subordinated to the military naval sector,

5 because the warship Captain Zec told him, "You will be going for a longer

6 holiday." So that made me think that he was ours and not from the

7 Herzegovina part.

8 Q. But you changed your view about it, something that happened?

9 A. Well, I cannot change my position. I know that very well. Perhaps

10 there was a mistranslation. You can repeat it and I will tell it to you

11 again.

12 Q. No. My question to you was: When Captain Zec asked -- indicated

13 to him, "You have to go on a long holiday," did it seem to you that he was

14 being removed or an attempt to remove him or replace him or how did you

15 understand that statement to be?

16 A. I understood the statement to mean that he would have to, that in

17 the opinion of captain of the warship Zec, he had made some mistakes and

18 that he would be removed from the unit, that he would be punished, in a

19 way. Even then, I thought that Rambo Kovacevic was subordinated to Zec

20 and that Zec was subordinated to Jokic.

21 Q. But having spoken to some other members of the 3rd Battalion, you

22 realised that, to use your own language, they were Strugar's men, you

23 said.

24 A. That's correct. When I saw the members of the reserves who had

25 come to surround the command building and who were not allowing Rambo

Page 6859

1 Kovacevic to be replaced, and when I understood that there was nobody

2 there from Herceg-Novi or Boka, that all the people there were people from

3 Herzegovina, then I understood that these were some other units. But even

4 then, I didn't know that Strugar was commanding those units.

5 Q. So when did you know that Strugar was commanding the units? Was

6 it on the 7th of December that you got to know? When did you find out?

7 When did you realise this? You just said earlier on that you realised

8 this.

9 A. Yes. I only understood that after I spoke with these members of

10 the reserves, when I saw how resolute they were to defend him. Then I

11 understood that things were not perhaps what I thought and that Rambo was

12 not subordinated to the Boka naval military sector but to somebody else,

13 to somebody from Herzegovina. And now I understand that he, his brigade,

14 was part -- or the 3rd Brigade was part of the units commanded by Strugar.

15 So I only understood that now. Well, when there were -- there was talk

16 about the trial, about two years ago, or perhaps on some programmes on

17 television, that's when I really understood it, and now I'm just trying to

18 help you.

19 Q. Yes. And if I understand you well, what you're saying is you felt

20 that there was some form of resistance amongst the reservists belonging to

21 the 3rd Battalion towards the officers of the naval sector, and

22 therefore -- and there was some evidence that indicated they had authority

23 from another higher command. Is that how you understood it?

24 A. No. They didn't receive their orders from any command, but on

25 their own initiative they wished to defend their commander Kovacevic, and

Page 6860

1 they opposed the decision of the Boka Military Naval Sector. Admiral

2 Jokic and warship Captain Zec. And with their presence, by the fact that

3 they surrounded the building, they prevented him from being replaced. So

4 that Rambo Kovacevic remained the commander of that unit. They succeeded

5 in their objective.

6 Q. Moving on, Mr. Novakovic. You said that you found out that the

7 3rd Battalion troops had arrived at the top of Srdj when the mortars -- or

8 when fire was opened on them from the city of Dubrovnik. And when I

9 say "city," I'm talking about the wider area of Dubrovnik and not the Old

10 Town. What time -- did you find out what time it was when those units had

11 reached the top of Srdj?

12 A. I don't know exactly. They set out early in the morning and they

13 arrived sometime during the day. I don't know exactly what time it was.

14 Q. Do you have any information as to what time the two members were

15 killed? You said you found out that they had arrived at the top and then

16 there was fire at them from Dubrovnik and two members were killed.

17 A. Yes. They said over Radio Herceg-Novi that there were two dead,

18 but when I got to Bosanka, I heard, and later I saw them at the morgue,

19 that there were five dead. And most of them were killed by mortar shells

20 which came from the direction of Dubrovnik.

21 Because those who were at the repeater were not able to defend the

22 repeater any more. They asked for assistance from Dubrovnik, and these

23 people were fired at from certain spots in Dubrovnik, the people of Rambo

24 Kovacevic, and five of them were killed. In order to protect his

25 soldiers, he fired at Dubrovnik, and what happened, happened.

Page 6861

1 Q. And when you say "repeater," what you mean is the Croatian forces

2 at the facility in Srdj sought assistance from their positions in the

3 wider area of Dubrovnik, and they opened fire on those JNA soldiers who

4 had managed to approach Srdj? That's what you're saying?

5 A. They were not in the general sector of Dubrovnik. We were in the

6 general sector of Dubrovnik. They were in Dubrovnik and they fired from

7 certain points. I remember that Rakovic and Komarica told me from which

8 spots, but I forgot what they were. It was next to certain hotels. So

9 these men were shot at from Dubrovnik, and that's how they were killed. I

10 know that the fire came from the central area of Dubrovnik.

11 Q. And when you say "central area," if I give you certain names, such

12 as Babin Kuk, Lapad, Dubravka, are those the areas you're talking about?

13 A. Perhaps not Dubravka, but Lapad, perhaps Babin Kuk. There's the

14 Medarevo hospital there, and there were mortars behind the hospital.

15 There were positions. I don't know whether this was the case in this

16 operation, but I know that when I was in the Dubrovnik front, mortars were

17 positioned exactly behind the Medarevo clinic, maternity clinic, and I

18 don't know whether these were neutralised or not. But I do remember that

19 their weapons were positioned behind Medarevo in Dubrovnik.

20 Q. And Medarevo is outside the Old Town, towards the west of the

21 Old Town?

22 A. [No interpretation]

23 Q. And you were informed about -- at least, you said that you learnt

24 that on the 5th there had been a meeting where the plan to attack Srdj was

25 approved. I'm sorry. I think what you said was Captain Zec had asked

Page 6862

1 certain officers to volunteer, or certain soldiers to volunteer to attack

2 Srdj on the 6th. Who told you that?

3 A. Komarica Marko and Svetislav Rakovic told me that in my house when

4 I brought them from the Meljine hospital to spend the night at my house so

5 that I could take them where I was taking them in the morning.

6 Q. Now, who had been present at this meeting where Captain Zec had

7 asked them to volunteer? Were there other soldiers apart from these two

8 persons?

9 A. Bodiroga was there for sure, and Mesaros, and the rest I didn't

10 know. I've never seen them before. I only know what these two men told

11 me, that the captain of the warship Zec asked that unit that was assembled

12 there who was brave enough to drive those grannies from Srdj. And they

13 told me that there was a silence for a couple of seconds, and Bodiroga

14 volunteered first, and when he did that, then his section, Komarica,

15 Rakovic, Mesaros all volunteered. So that was the section. One of the

16 squads. Because I think there were attacks from several points. I only

17 know about this one. I don't know about the others.

18 Q. I beg your pardon for that interruption. Mr. Novakovic, the

19 people that you spoke of who were killed in the November operation where

20 you had to evacuate the casualties, to which command or to which units did

21 they belong to?

22 A. This was the Herceg-Novi Territorial Defence. Those who were

23 killed were from the Herceg-Novi TO. And as they were being pulled out,

24 Baja Bajkovic from Bar was killed, as well as Baja Radovic from Niksic.

25 These were two men who were not from the Herceg-Novi TO but they were

Page 6863

1 killed while they were pulling out our men. Also three of our men were

2 killed and maybe seven, eight, to ten other men were wounded.

3 Q. And they were wounded in the course of conducting certain

4 operations in the time period 8 November to 13th November, isn't it? They

5 were killed in the course of combat activity; isn't it?

6 A. Yes. Yes. The specials unit from Herceg-Novi were breaking

7 through in the Dubac-Brgat sector, and in the afternoon they came to Brgat

8 and they went to one house, and Colonel Jovanovic, called Kurd, came to

9 them and suggested that they go on reconnaissance with him, and they did

10 that. But in fact, he brought them into direct combat on the 8th of

11 November in Bosanka.

12 Q. Now, are you aware that the 3rd Battalion participated in the

13 operations conducted in November? Do you know that in the combat

14 operations conducted by the JNA, the 3rd Battalion, the 3rd Motorised

15 Brigade of the 472nd Motorised Brigade also participated? Do you know

16 that?

17 A. I wasn't aware of that. As I said, out of that whole battalion, I

18 only knew Marko Komarica. I wasn't -- I didn't ask him which unit he was

19 in. I just accepted him as a young soldier who had taken part in rescuing

20 some of my friends from Herceg-Novi. Some people from Herceg-Novi did not

21 have the courage to pull out the dead and the wounded, and this Marko

22 Komarica was brave enough to do that. So I never really asked him about

23 any of his military tasks and so on.

24 Q. But he was involved in that even evacuation. This person was

25 present in the course of the operations; isn't that correct?

Page 6864

1 A. Yes. He was there during the operation, but I was not. So

2 simply, I'm a radio mechanic, and my job is completely different. So

3 other than my Herceg-Novi TO, I wasn't really paying much attention about

4 which units were there, who belonged to what. I would be distributing the

5 batteries to the radio stations, and I really didn't have too much

6 information about who was doing what.

7 Q. I don't mean to be rude, but would you please confine your

8 response to my questions.

9 My question is: The fact that your friend who belonged to the

10 3rd Battalion was involved in the combat operations should indicate to

11 you, as a person with a military background, that the 3rd Battalion was in

12 fact involved in the naval operations; isn't that the case?

13 A. I only know for sure that the 3rd Battalion participated in the

14 attack on the 6th of December on Srdj. As far as the Bosanka attack is

15 concerned, I didn't even know that attack would take place. I had no idea

16 who was attacking, why it was being attacked. And even that day, I had

17 asked the commander to let me go home so I can have a shower and so on.

18 So when I got home, I received a phone call informing me that there were

19 wounded and killed, and that is when I went to the hospital.

20 Q. And do you know that the casualties, those wounded and killed, was

21 due to firing from the Croatian positions in areas such as Lapad,

22 Babin Kuk, you know, what we discussed earlier on? Was it from the same

23 positions that they were fired at?

24 A. Bosanka was full of Croat soldiers at the time. They were fired

25 at from Bosanka, and perhaps from some other locations that I don't know

Page 6865

1 about. I didn't take part in those battles.

2 Q. Mr. Novakovic, you mentioned one Colonel Jovanovic. Do you know

3 his first name?

4 A. I don't know. I know we're talking about Colonel Jovanovic, and

5 his nickname was Kurd. I know that there were three Jovanovics. I know

6 he came from somewhere outside the area, because out of these other two, I

7 know one, Tomislav Jovanovic, he's a colonel from some other army branch

8 dealing with road construction. I know him personally. I even had a

9 small conflict with him at Brgat, so I know exactly who we're talking

10 about.

11 Q. And whom did you have a conflict with? Was it with Colonel

12 Tomislav Jovanovic or the other colonel that you're referring to?

13 A. I just had a conflict with Colonel Jovanovic, nicknamed Kurd, not

14 with Tomislav Jovanovic. And there was yet a third Jovanovic. And also,

15 Tomislav Jovanovic is here in The Hague with me, and I often referred to

16 this other Jovanovic. I saw there were two. And he says no, there were

17 three. So there were three Jovanovics.

18 Q. So did you discuss or did you have opportunity to speak with

19 Colonel Tomislav Jovanovic here in The Hague?

20 A. Yes. We're in the same hotel. I talked to him and I mentioned

21 this Colonel Jovanovic to him. Because he was a special kind of man.

22 Q. And did you also discuss or speak to -- I think you said Colonel

23 Djurasic, is also present at the moment in The Hague. Did you also speak

24 to him? Can you speak up a little, Mr. Novakovic? I didn't hear you.

25 A. Not Djurisic. Djurasic. He's in the same hotel where I am here

Page 6866

1 in The Hague. And during this week, he will most probably appear here

2 before you.

3 Q. Yeah. My question to you was: Did you also speak with him about

4 these issues? Did you have the opportunity to talk to him while here in

5 The Hague at the hotel?

6 A. Well, no. No. We didn't discuss that subject. Because we have

7 nothing to discuss with regard to these subjects. He did a different

8 thing. He was in Grude and I don't know where. And I went my own way.

9 So I really don't know Gojko Djurasic. We just socialised at the hotel,

10 talked about other things. We talked about the Dubrovnik theatre of war

11 least of all because we have nothing in common there. We were not in the

12 same operation at any point in time. So there.

13 Q. Mr. Novakovic, you said you went home on 2nd or 3rd December, but

14 were you at any stage informed that on the 5th there had been some

15 negotiations to conclude a comprehensive cease-fire on the 6th? Were you

16 ever informed of that at any stage, either before or after the 6th

17 December incident?

18 A. I never heard of that. This is the first time I hear about it

19 from you, that there was such a possibility.

20 Q. So were you anticipating being -- were you expected to go back to

21 the front to get involved in combat activity when you went back home on

22 the 2nd or 3rd?

23 A. We did not expect either. We were simply sent back home, and we

24 were waiting to see what the higher command would decide. The higher

25 command decided that we should return our things and that we should go,

Page 6867

1 and that's what happened.

2 Q. Now, you testified that Colonel Kovacevic, Colonel Gavro

3 Kovacevic, had informed one of your friends that there was a mortar firing

4 from the Old Town on a truck. This you heard from a friend you spoke to

5 after the incident in November?

6 A. That night, when I returned for a second time from Brgat to

7 Zarkovica so that we could try to go towards Bosanka to find Savo

8 Vidakovic and to try to find other people who were wounded or dead --

9 Q. If I may interrupt. My question to you is: Your friend, Gaso

10 Mijatovic - and pardon me for mispronouncing that name - informed you that

11 Colonel Kovacevic said something to the effect that there was a mortar

12 firing from a truck from the Old Town, and this was in November. My

13 question to you is: You heard this from a friend Gaso Mijatovic; isn't

14 that the case?

15 A. Yes. That's what Gaso Mijatovic told me. He heard that from

16 conversations when he went up to Zarkovica to find out what was going on

17 so that he could find Vojica Pejovic, who was dead. Then Gavro Kovacevic

18 said to him --

19 Q. If I may just interrupt. We are under time constraint. And how

20 did Gaso Mijatovic find this out? Who told this to Gaso Mijatovic?

21 A. Colonel Gavro Kovacevic said that to Gaso. He was there wearing a

22 helmet and in a very serious situation, because all day he was under

23 mortar fire from the Old Town, and he said, "I was even targeted by a

24 mortar called Charlie from Dubrovnik mounted on this little truck," and

25 this mortar was firing at him.

Page 6868

1 Q. And this was told to you by Gaso Mijatovic?

2 A. Yes.

3 Q. And this was in November, in the course of the November operation?

4 A. That's right.

5 Q. Now, where did Gaso Mijatovic say that Colonel Kovacevic was at

6 the time he spoke with Colonel Kovacevic? Where was Colonel Kovacevic at

7 the time?

8 A. Colonel Kovacevic was at Zarkovica, in his command house, and then

9 Gaso Mijatovic entered that house to ask him what the situation was like

10 at Bosanka, where his friend Vojica Pejovic was. He gave him all these

11 answers correctly. And when he asked him where his friend was, then he

12 turned his back to him and then Gaso Mijatovic walked out and then -- I

13 told you what happened then. I mentioned that in my statement.

14 Q. So this statement of Colonel Kovacevic was in the spirit of

15 sending Gaso Mijatovic, was asking him for a favour, asking Colonel

16 Kovacevic to help withdraw his friend from difficulty, when he asked him

17 that, Colonel Kovacevic said, "I can't help this, but in fact I myself am

18 under fire from the Old Town." It was in a sense of dismissing Gaso

19 Mijatovic that he said this; is that correct? Do I take that as a yes?

20 A. Well, perhaps it could be put that way, somehow.

21 Q. And from Zarkovica, there is an unobstructed view into the Old

22 Town; isn't it?

23 A. That's right.

24 Q. Which also goes to indicate that obviously from the Old Town,

25 there is a view into Zarkovica?

Page 6869

1 A. That's right.

2 Q. And at this time when Gaso Mijatovic spoke to Colonel Kovacevic,

3 were they standing on Zarkovica itself, in clear view of the Old Town?

4 A. In this house in Zarkovica. They cannot be seen. The entrance is

5 from the eastern side.

6 Q. So did your friend Gaso Mijatovic tell you that while he was there

7 at Zarkovica, this so-called mortar from the vehicle Charlie fired at

8 Zarkovica, or was it the case that he merely conveyed to you what Colonel

9 Kovacevic said?

10 A. He just told me what Colonel Kovacevic had said to him, that

11 throughout the day, on several occasions, he was exposed to mortar fire

12 from Dubrovnik.

13 Q. Mr. Novakovic, have you yourself seen the Old Town?

14 A. Yes.

15 Q. Would you agree with me if I said that the only place in the Old

16 Town where a truck could move around is the Stradun? Would you agree with

17 me?

18 A. That's right.

19 Q. So if there was in fact a vehicle on Stradun, it would be in clear

20 view of Zarkovica, the position at Zarkovica, isn't it?

21 A. Stradun is long. It's hard for me to recall all of this, but

22 there must be points on Stradun, and in other streets, where it could be

23 tucked in and where it could not be seen from Zarkovica.

24 Q. Mr. Novakovic, the streets, the other streets, are little alleys

25 on other side of Stradun, isn't it? You have Stradun going from east to

Page 6870

1 west across the Old Town, and on either side, going towards north to

2 south, you have little alleys in behind very high walls. Do you agree

3 with me?

4 A. That's right.

5 Q. And the alleys on the side facing Srdj consist of steps. There

6 are steps going up those alleys, alleyways; correct?

7 A. Yes. There are streets with steps, and there are streets with

8 cobblestones, or stone pavement, whatever the word may be.

9 Q. The streets with the cobblestones are to the south of the Stradun,

10 while the streets with the steps are to the north of the Stradun; isn't

11 it?

12 A. That's right.

13 Q. So clearly, it's needless to say that it would be impossible to

14 have a truck in any one of those streets on the northern side, since they

15 consist of steps. You agree with me?

16 A. That's right.

17 Q. And the little alleyways on the south to the Stradun are extremely

18 narrow. Wouldn't it be -- isn't it logical to contemplate a truck going

19 in any one of those narrow alleyways?

20 A. Well, it's not a question of logical or illogical. I wasn't

21 watching that, you see. Because that day, when I was between Zarkovica

22 and Bosanka, when this killing took place at 3.00 on the 6th, nobody was

23 operating then. I just saw plumes of smoke coming from a few different

24 places in Dubrovnik, but that was it.

25 Q. No. I didn't suggest that you saw this. My point was that since

Page 6871

1 you have some background knowledge of the area, Dubrovnik and the Old

2 Town, my question was: Wouldn't you agree with me if I put it to you that

3 it would be logical to have a truck going down any one of those alleyways,

4 due to the width of those streets. The transcript reads would be

5 illogical but it should be logical -- illogical.

6 A. Well, you see, I'm not a military expert. Military experts should

7 be asked whether there are localities in the Old Town where such a vehicle

8 could move and fire at Zarkovica and other places. I personally think

9 that there are such places, because it is a well-known thing how a mortar

10 shell travels. So that can be explained very nicely.

11 Q. Mr. Novakovic, in your -- in the period that you served in the

12 Dubrovnik operation, did you ever receive any orders or instructions with

13 regard to the protected status of the Old Town? Were you ever told that

14 the Old Town was a protected site and it should not be fired upon?

15 A. Nobody told me that, but that goes without saying. Whenever I was

16 nearby, I did not see, ever, any attack by our artillery against

17 Dubrovnik.

18 Q. No. My question to you was not that. I'm sure that you

19 personally are aware that it's a protected site. But my question was:

20 Did you receive any orders or instructions from your higher command,

21 saying: Do not fire on the Old Town? Or that the Old Town is a protected

22 site, so you should not fire upon it? Did you receive any orders to such

23 effect?

24 A. I'm an ordinary soldier. Nobody had any need to issue me that

25 kind of order. I'm a mechanic. I do my own job.

Page 6872

1 Q. Could you just indicate as to what the distance between the Old

2 Town and Zarkovica is.

3 A. I don't know exactly.

4 Q. Is it possible from Zarkovica to see a vehicle and also identify

5 what type of weapon is placed on the vehicle? My question is: Is it

6 possible from Zarkovica to see a vehicle in -- which is supposed to be

7 located in the Old Town? And also identify the type of weapon that's on

8 the vehicle?

9 A. Well, you know what? From Zarkovica, that can be seen. Probably

10 even with the naked eye. But military people have binoculars and

11 different other equipment with which they can establish exactly what is

12 where.

13 [Prosecution counsel confer]


15 Q. Mr. Novakovic, when did -- did you learn that the Old Town was

16 shelled in the course of the 6 December attack? And if so, when?

17 A. I learnt that when I came at 1540 hours, for instance, when I came

18 from Zarkovica to Bosanka. From Zarkovica I saw that Dubrovnik had

19 suffered some damage because I saw plumes of smoke arising from some

20 localities in Dubrovnik.

21 Q. I'm asking specifically with regard to the Old Town. Did you see

22 smoke coming from the Old Town?

23 A. Yes. I saw smoke from the Old Town.

24 Q. And did you inquire from your colleagues in the 3rd Battalion as

25 to what had happened, whether they fired on the Old Town? Did you have

Page 6873

1 any such conversation?

2 A. I did not have that kind of conversation. I just came to see what

3 was going on with Komarica, whether he was dead or alive, whether he was

4 wounded or not. That was the only thing I was interested in. No one made

5 any comments. It was just obvious that something had happened there.

6 Q. And do you know that in fact it was units of the 3rd Battalion

7 that shelled the Old Town on 6 December?

8 A. Well, this is how it was: In talking to Rakovic and Komarica, I

9 understood that when their five comrades were killed, fighting for the

10 peak, the repeater at Srdj, and when they reported it to the command that

11 they had five men killed, then they tried to shoot at the points from

12 which they were targeted when their four fellow soldiers were killed. And

13 that's the information I got from Komarica.

14 Q. Did Komarica tell you that they shelled the Old Town on 6 December

15 or they attacked the Old Town?

16 A. Well, no. Komarica didn't tell me that they had attacked the Old

17 Town because Komarica, or rather his detachment had the assignment of

18 taking control of the repeater at Srdj and that was Bodiroga's group from

19 Trebinje, and they volunteered and that was their assignment to take the

20 repeater at Srdj. He had nothing to do with Dubrovnik that day actually.

21 Q. Did he tell you that other units of the 3rd Battalion shelled the

22 Old Town? Not his unit perhaps but other units of the 3rd Battalion.

23 A. Well, no. We didn't discuss that. They just told me how their

24 five fellow soldiers were killed and Rakovic told me that Komarica was in

25 a very difficult situation on several occasions, and it seemed that they

Page 6874

1 were targeting him because whenever he moved, a shell would fall in the

2 spot he had previously been. So he did all -- it was by chance that he

3 came out alive, being targeted that way.

4 [Prosecution counsel confer]


6 Q. Mr. Novakovic, do you know as to whether Captain Kovacevic was

7 present at the meeting on 5th December, when Captain Zec had asked your

8 friends to volunteer? Was Captain Kovacevic of the 3rd Battalion present

9 at the meeting?

10 A. I don't know about that specific detail. I know that those guys

11 were present and that captain of the warship Zec was present. Now,

12 whether Kovacevic was there or not, I can't say. It would be logical that

13 he was, but I really can't say.

14 Q. And what time was it when you heard from your friend Komarica that

15 five soldiers were killed on Srdj? At what time had they been killed in

16 the course of the attack on 6 December?

17 A. The attack began early in the morning, and they were killed when I

18 arrived at 1540 hours. Everything was over by that time. They were all

19 killed and wounded and sent to hospital. So when I arrived at Bosanka,

20 there wasn't a single person there, either killed or wounded.

21 Q. No. My question is: Do you know at what time they were killed or

22 wounded on Srdj, these five people? Do you know? Did your friend

23 Komarica tell you at what time they were killed?

24 A. Well, he wasn't specific about the time. All he said was that

25 when they reached the top where the repeater at Srdj was, that this was a

Page 6875

1 plateau and that the shelling was terrible and that the wind was very

2 strong that day. So they tried to do what they could, but they couldn't

3 actually do anything, so they returned, went back.

4 Q. Do you know that after this incident Captain Kovacevic of the 3rd

5 Battalion was promoted? Are you aware of that?

6 A. I'm not aware of that.

7 Q. How would you describe the discipline in the units with which you

8 worked and in your unit? Was there a lot of looting, arson, drinking,

9 unauthorised opening of fire by individual soldiers?

10 A. In my unit, up until the 8th of November, until our fellow

11 soldiers were killed, we had a high level of discipline. There were no

12 great problems. Perhaps drinking a little bit of alcohol, because Konavle

13 is well known for its brandy and wine. So there was brandy and wine.

14 People did drink. But the command was in control of the situation and the

15 terrain and there were no serious problems.

16 Now, after the 8th, the problems started, because the soldiers no

17 longer had -- could place their trust and confidence in their officers.

18 So the protest Kumbor took place and the situation was somewhat different

19 at the end of it all.

20 Q. And how would you describe the military police units that you may

21 have observed in the course of the Dubrovnik operation? Did it seem to

22 you that they were conducting their investigations, charging people, or

23 did you see any form of shortcomings in the -- amongst the military units?

24 I'm talking about -- I'm sorry - military police units.

25 A. Well, as to the military police, I didn't come across them much,

Page 6876

1 so I really can't say. I can't tell you anything about that. Perhaps I

2 came across them once or twice. But they were mostly people working in

3 the field rather than the military police.

4 Q. Haven't you seen military police units checking ID cards and

5 carrying out guard duty at checkpoints on the roads? You have seen

6 military police units?

7 A. At Debeli Brijeg, which is the border between Herceg-Novi and

8 Dubrovnik, or rather, Croatia and Montenegro. That's where the military

9 police was. And every -- all the vehicles were searched, going out and

10 coming in, on both sides. And there was a checkpoint somewhere along

11 there, I think by Cavtat, or the airport at Cilipi. I'm not quite sure,

12 because a lot of time has gone by. There was a checkpoint. But as to the

13 checkpoint at the border crossing, that was a very strict checkpoint,

14 whereas the others weren't as strict.

15 [Prosecution counsel confer]


17 Q. Do you know how many reservists were involved in the protests or

18 demonstrations in front of Kumbor that you spoke of, you know, where --

19 after the November operations, they protested in front of the 9th VPS

20 command post or headquarters in Kumbor. And do you know how many

21 reservists were involved?

22 A. I really don't know how many reservists were there. I wasn't

23 there, actually. I was busy pulling out the dead below the repeater at

24 Srdj. So I really don't know. All I know is that it took place, it

25 happened, but I don't know how many of them there were.

Page 6877

1 Q. And do you know, in fact, that the demonstration was an attempt

2 calling upon the 9th VPS command to pursue the war energetically? Wasn't

3 that the reason for the protest? In fact, they were protesting that the

4 9th VPS did not come through as pursuing the war more energetically, and

5 you in fact said that they considered the 9th VPS to be weak or something;

6 you used some word to such effect?

7 A. No. Quite simply, they were angry because their fellow soldiers

8 were killed at Bosanka and that they hadn't been taken care of quickly

9 enough. So that was the reason. But I wasn't actually there myself, so I

10 can't really make a judgement which would be 100 per cent correct. But

11 that's how it was, generally speaking.

12 MS. MAHINDARATNE: That concludes cross-examination, Your Honours.

13 JUDGE PARKER: Thank you. Mr. Rodic.

14 MR. RODIC: [Interpretation] Your Honour, in view of the time,

15 namely, we just have a minute left, may I be allowed to continue tomorrow,

16 but for just 15 minutes or so, just briefly, not more than that?

17 JUDGE PARKER: Certainly, Mr. Rodic. We will adjourn now for the

18 evening.

19 Mr. Novakovic, if you would be kind enough to return tomorrow

20 morning. The hearing will continue at 9.00 in the morning. Thank you.

21 --- Whereupon the hearing adjourned at 7.00 p.m.,

22 to be reconvened on Tuesday, the 29th day of June,

23 2004, at 9.00 a.m.