1 Day 15 Friday, 20th March 1998
2 (8.30 am)
3 (Open session)
4 JUDGE CASSESE: Would the Registrar call out
5 the case number.
6 THE REGISTRAR: IT-95-13a-T, Prosecutor v
7 Slavko Dokmanovic.
8 JUDGE CASSESE: Appearances.
9 MR. NIEMANN: My name is Niemann and I appear
10 with Mr. Williamson, Mr. Waespi and Ms. Sutherland for
11 the Prosecution.
12 MR. FILA: My name is Fila and I appear for
13 the Defence of Mr. Dokmanovic with Ms. Lopicic and
14 Mr. Petrovic.
15 JUDGE CASSESE: Mr. Dokmanovic, can you hear
16 me? Thank you.
17 As you see, we have kept our promise to hold
18 a hearing today. We were excused by our President from
19 attending our plenary session so we can work here the
20 whole day. However, we have to take account of some
21 other constraints, namely, the fact that another Trial
22 Chamber also will hold a hearing, so we agreed with the
23 Presiding Judge of Trial Chamber 1, Judge Jorda, that
24 we should stop at 1 o'clock and if we need to continue,
25 we can only resume at 4 o'clock pm so that Trial
1 Chamber 1 can hold its hearings at 2.30, from 2.30 to
2 4. I hope this is convenient to you.
3 Before we call the witness, I would like to
4 ask Mr. Fila whether he could specify a point which I
5 forgot to raise with him, namely, whether sooner or
6 later, he is in a position to tell us how Defence
7 witnesses need to be heard by means of
9 MR. FILA: Your Honour, I will provide you
10 with an answer in writing, but before that, I need an
11 answer from Mr. Niemann, whether he has accepted this.
12 One of these witnesses to be heard via video link will
13 appear. If it is shown that Mr. Dokmanovic was not at
14 all at Ovcara, he will not need to appear at all.
15 JUDGE CASSESE: In due time, we will be told
16 so that we -- I think, we hear the technicians can make
17 the necessary preparation, and also I think we need to
18 issue an Order for this purpose so therefore we should
19 know in advance.
20 I think we are now in a position to hear the
21 witness. The Prosecutor may call the witness.
22 MR. WILLIAMSON: Your Honour, the Prosecutor
23 would call Stjepan Mesic.
24 (The witness entered court).
25 JUDGE CASSESE: Good morning Mr. Mesic. I
1 would like to ask you to make the solemn declaration.
2 THE WITNESS: I solemnly declare that I will
3 speak the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the
5 JUDGE CASSESE: Thank you. You may be
7 STJEPAN MESIC
8 Examined by MR. WILLIAMSON
9 Q. Mr. Mesic, what is your nationality?
10 A. Croatian.
11 Q. And where are you from originally in Croatia?
12 A. I was born at Orahovica in Slavonia.
13 Q. In 1965, did you run for political office in
15 A. Yes, in 1965 I ran in the elections on the
16 citizen's ticket and I was elected to the Croatian
18 Q. At the same time, did you seek another
19 position or were you elected to another position as
21 A. Yes, after that, I was elected an alderman at
22 the Municipal Assembly and I was also elected President
23 of the Municipal Assembly of Orahovica.
24 Q. You indicated that you ran on a ticket other
25 than that of the Communist Party; is that correct?
1 A. Yes, that is the citizen's ticket. Actually
2 there was the legal possibility then, in addition to
3 the list of candidates which was proposed by the
4 Socialist Alliance and/or the League of Communists, it
5 was also possible for a group of citizens of 100 people
6 to have a candidate run on their behalf and that list,
7 that ticket would become official. Prior to me, nobody
8 did that. I was the first and the last one actually
9 who availed himself of that legal opportunity.
10 Q. In the late 1960s, did you become involved in
11 a movement which was known as the Croatian Spring?
12 A. That is correct. The movement called the
13 Croatian Spring was a multi-layered movement. It
14 consisted of a part of a League of Communists, the
15 progressive section of the League of Communists of
16 Croatia, the students' movement, the youth movement,
17 the movement comprising university professors and the
18 Martitska Hravadska, which is the cultural society of
19 Croatia, a cultural organisation.
20 Q. What were the participants in the Croatian
21 Spring movement advocating?
22 A. At that time, the only thing one could have
23 advocated and the thing we did advocate was the greater
24 democratisation in the society, clean accounts in the
25 state, which meant that we were supposed to ascertain
1 in Yugoslavia what was paying for what and who was
2 paying that, why was that being paid for. We advocated
3 the resolution of the foreign exchange system. We
4 advocated the democratisation of society. We wanted it
5 to be possible for people to function normally, to
6 travel normally. At that time, the possibility was
7 still constrained of travelling abroad.
8 Q. What was the reaction of Tito to the Croatian
9 Spring movement?
10 A. Initially, Tito supported us. He came to
11 Zagreb. He even encouraged the Croatian Spring
12 movement, but when the generals had deciphered Croatian
13 Spring as a nationalistic movement, then characterised
14 it as such, Tito accepted what was demanded of him from
15 the army and he asked that all those who had
16 participated in that movement be removed from politics,
17 and also that they be ousted from their professional
18 posts so that at the meeting in Kragujevac and the 21st
19 session of the League of Communists of Yugoslavia
20 started, I can freely say, the persecution of the
21 participants in the Croatian Spring, which included
22 myself and another 10,000 people and the 10,000 people
23 or even more ended in prison.
24 Q. Were you removed from your positions as
25 President of the Municipality and from your seat in the
2 A. Yes, I and everybody else were removed from
3 our positions and I was practically left in the street
4 and could not find employment for two years. Although
5 I had been admitted to the bar, I could not practise my
6 profession as an attorney. I could not hold any public
7 office for that matter, so that until the time when I
8 was to serve my prison sentence, I actually did not
9 work. I only found short term ad hoc employment until
10 they found out who I was and then I would be let off,
11 so it lasted. I was sentenced to two years and two
12 months and I spent my prison sentence in Stara Gradiska
14 Q. Upon your release, were you able to find
15 employment at that time?
16 A. No, I was not able to find employment. But
17 it so happened that an engineer, Zarko Vincek was his
18 name, he was heading a consulting firm and he had been
19 in the ranks of the partisans, together with my
20 father. He of course did not consider himself no more
21 than I did a nationalist, so that he gave me a job, so
22 in fact after he left, I got to be the manager of the
24 Q. As a result of the Croatian Spring movement,
25 were some changes made by Tito in the structure of the
1 Yugoslav government?
2 A. Yes, they were. I believe that Tito's latest
3 options were greatly influenced, in fact, by the ideas
4 of the Croatian Spring movement, but also by the ideas
5 of liberalism in Serbia, which is why he indeed
6 proceeded to amend the constitution and have a new one
7 adopted in 1974, which introduced into the Yugoslav
8 mechanism a confederal model. He intended thereby to
9 create such a system of decision-making in Yugoslavia
10 where there would be a -- at the top a Presidency which
11 would bring all the most important decisions by
12 consensus, and the Members of the Presidency would
13 rotate to hold the presidential and vice-presidential
14 functions following an automatic mechanism, and he
15 thought that after his demise and the disappearance of
16 his charisma, Yugoslavia would be able to function too.
17 Q. How many members were there in the Presidency
18 as set out in the new constitution of 1974?
19 A. According to the new constitution, there were
20 eight members of the Presidency, two representing the
21 provinces, the others representing the republics, with
22 practically that constitution making the provinces --
23 conferring upon the provinces of Vojvodina and Kosovo
24 the status of a state which was not acceptable to the
25 Serbian leadership, so that immediately after the
1 adoption of the 1974 constitution, they raised
2 objections, vociferous objections, to that particular
3 constitutional arrangement. I mean, coming from
5 Q. After Tito's death in 1981, did the system
6 function in the way that he had envisaged?
7 A. Yes, for a time the system did function by
8 virtue of its very inertia. However, more and more
9 conflicts came to the fore and were experienced because
10 of different clashing interests in the different levels
11 of development of the different republics. Some were
12 dissatisfied because they were just the raw materials,
13 the resource base and their raw materials were sold at
14 markets at lower prices than was the case at the world
15 markets. The other parts, the more developed parts
16 were not content because they had to pay for the less
17 developed parts, various contributions, which then
18 exhausted their own economies, of those republics, and,
19 secondly, the problem which was there obviously was
20 that this top-heavy mechanism of the army exhausted the
21 country, it swallowed up very extensive resources and
22 that also led to conflicts among the republics and
23 conflicts of interests among them.
24 Q. When did Slobodan Milosevic come to power in
1 A. Slobodan Milosevic assumed the power -- I
2 cannot recall the exact year, but some two or three
3 years prior to these democratic changes. He was
4 consolidated practically in his seat of power by the
5 so-called rallying of the people. The conflicts in
6 Kosovo actually threw him out on the surface, because
7 practically what he intended to do was to destroy the
8 autonomy of Kosovo, of the province which actually
9 later events demonstrated. After everything which had
10 transpired in Kosovo and Vojvodina, one could see the
11 true face of Slobodan Milosevic and his actual
12 intention which was that Serbia had to be whole and
13 could not consist of three parts and this is an idea
14 which he systematically pursued.
15 Q. What was the anti-bureaucratic revolution
16 which occurred under Milosevic?
17 A. It is hard for me to assist on that from the
18 angle of Croatia, but I believe that it was a farce, a
19 travesty. It was just a power struggle and they were
20 supposed to oust the old echelons, the Tito-oriented
21 old structuring and the pro Yugoslav echelons. New
22 structures were to be installed instead to accept
23 Milosevic's totalitarian authority and power and this
24 is what he indeed implemented.
25 Q. What was the Yoghurt Revolution?
1 A. The Yoghurt Revolution is the name given to
2 that phase of the anti-bureaucratic revolution which
3 was waged in Vojvodina that -- because in Vojvodina
4 that the leadership that was in power was in favour of
5 autonomy and it consisted of people who were not
6 burdened by any sort of nationalism and who bothered
7 Milosevic so that he brought loyal people, people loyal
8 to him, but mainly people who were not natives of
9 Vojvodina that --
10 Q. Was Milosevic also able to affect a change in
11 the leadership in Montenegro?
12 A. Yes, he was, because the Montenegrin
13 authorities, the leadership was also pro Yugoslav in
14 their orientation and when I analysed Milosevic, he was
15 really never interested in any Yugoslavia, be it
16 federal or confederal. The only thing that he was
17 interested in was a Greater Serbia and that was his
18 basic objective. Namely, the first demands raised by
19 the so-called anti-bureaucratic revolution were that
20 Yugoslavia had to be reconstructed, that Serbia had
21 only received damage within Yugoslavia and clearly that
22 the autonomies had to disappear and that only later --
23 and only later, when he implemented all of this, when
24 he had implemented all of this, he -- because of the
25 Croatian factors, was ostensibly advocating the
1 country's -- Serbia's remaining in the whole
2 Yugoslavia, whereas he was doing everything to the
3 country to dismantle it.
4 Q. You mentioned a few moments ago that
5 Mr. Milosevic had taken some steps against Kosovo. What
6 happened to the Assembly in Kosovo?
7 A. Milosevic ousted the entire leadership in
8 Kosovo. He abolished the Kosovo Assembly and this
9 travesty went so far as to have the representative of
10 Kosovo come and sit in the Presidency of Yugoslavia and
11 was elected by the Serbian Assembly to sit in the
12 Presidency, because the Kosovo Assembly never met any
13 more, never convened any more, and of course, as far as
14 I know, the population of Kosovo is 90 per cent
15 Albanian, and the rest are Serbs. Obviously he
16 disregarded this altogether and he abolished its
17 autonomy. First the federal organ started with this
18 exercise of pacifying Kosovo and then that role was
19 assumed by Serbia.
20 Q. Over time, was Milosevic able to effect a
21 change in the autonomous status of both Kosovo and
22 Vojvodina and if so, was this formalised in any way?
23 A. Yes, nobody actually asked Kosovo or
24 Vojvodina that, because ultimately, they did not
25 participate in any elections any more. The
1 constitution was adopted of the Republic of Serbia
2 which practically abolished the autonomies of both
4 Q. On June 28th 1989, Milosevic made a speech at
5 Gazimestan in Kosovo in which he spoke about Serbia's
6 relations with its neighbours. Do you recall what, if
7 anything, he said in terms of the possibility of war?
8 A. I believe that that was a turning point for
9 the entire political space of the Former Yugoslavia,
10 because Milosevic said, I do not remember the exact
11 formulation, he said that they had quarrels and
12 conflicts in the area of Yugoslavia and that those
13 battles were not yet armed ones, but that one was not
14 to rule out the possibility of armed battles being
15 waged as well.
16 Then there were great rallies of people being
17 organised throughout Serbia who were very much in the
18 mood to continue this trend which arose in Kosovo and
19 Vojvodina and the rest of Serbia to sort of have it
20 spill over to the rest of Yugoslavia, and this
21 instilled great fear throughout the country, including
22 in Croatia, and in fact resulted with the League of
23 Communists, or the top leadership of the League of
24 Communists in Croatia, deciding to hold early elections
25 so that whosoever should win those elections should be
1 supported by the people and be in a position to
2 organise a defence because those threats ceased being
3 only verbal threats. It was a threat which actually
4 made our blood run cold.
5 Q. In early 1990, when the 14th Congress of the
6 League of Communists of Yugoslavia was held, did any
7 splits develop within the Communist Party?
8 A. Yes, this Congress is especially important
9 because it marked the stop of factor of integration,
10 the existence of a factor of integration, namely,
11 Yugoslavia could exist until -- as long as it had three
12 integrated factors: first of all, Tito with his
13 charisma, the second factor was the League of
14 Communists, the Communist Party, and the third was the
15 Yugoslav Army which was also a general Yugoslav
16 entity. With the demise of Tito, two factors remained
17 and with the disintegration of the League of
18 Communists, there remained just one factor and that
19 was the Yugoslav Army, so it seems to me that it was a
20 deliberate action on the part of Milosevic to destroy
21 that factor so that he himself could assume control --
22 I mean, the second factor -- so that he in fact could
23 assume control. The third factor: the Yugoslav Army,
24 which as time showed, he gradually turned from a
25 Yugoslav into a Serbian Army.
1 Q. In the absence of a centralised Yugoslav
2 Communist Party, did the Communist Party, at the
3 republic level, increase in power?
4 A. At that point in fact the Communists in both
5 Slovenia and Croatia started thinking in a different
6 way. They started advocating a multi-party system,
7 because they felt that the monopoly of power of the
8 League of Communists was untenable and there were
9 sweeping democratic changes elsewhere in the world and
10 this also came to expression in our parts, so that soon
11 thereafter, the parties were in fact inaugurated
12 following the European model.
13 Q. You have said that the communist parties
14 particularly in Croatia and Slovenia were advocating a
15 multi-party system. Did this lead to free elections?
16 A. It is precisely that possibility, rather,
17 this lack of fear of a multi-party system is something
18 that came into being through an evolution. New people
19 came forward and they realised that belonging to
20 different parties does not mean that people are
21 enemies. It simply means that they think differently
22 about different problems. That is why they allowed
23 this multi-party system to be inaugurated. First, it
24 went very slowly, but afterwards, we got real political
25 parties, precisely due to these developments that were
1 taking place, and also the development of democratic
2 thought within the ranks of the League of Communists of
3 Croatia and Slovenia.
4 Q. In the elections which occurred in April and
5 May of 1990 in Croatia, did you participate as a
7 A. Yes, I started to work in the Croatian
8 democratic community together with Franjo Tudjman,
9 Josip Manolic, Josip Bowkovac and I was a candidate in
10 the same place where I was a candidate in 1965 and I
11 was elected to the Croatian Parliament for the second
13 Q. You have referred to this party as the
14 Croatian Democratic Union. Is it commonly referred to
15 as the HDZ?
16 A. Yes, yes. It is not called a party. It is
17 called a union, because there was a danger involved
18 that when new parties were established, the regime
19 could prevent them, forbid them, because the law
20 forbade the establishment of political parties.
21 Various interest groups could be established. Politics
22 is also a group of interests, but this was not fully
23 defined by law. So in order to avoid this legal trap,
24 the HDZ was formed as a union and that is the name that
25 remained. However, the HDZ did not fully come into
1 being as a party. It remained a movement, but a few
2 parties were established in Croatia which are well
3 defined, which have been operating and certainly
4 functioning within this political environment.
5 Q. You have indicated that you individually were
6 elected to Parliament. How did the HDZ fare overall in
7 the elections?
8 A. The HDZ won those elections thanks to the law
9 which made it possible to have a relative majority and
10 yet win the largest number of seats in the Croatian
11 Parliament. I became the first Prime-Minister
12 Designate of the first government of Croatia, so I
13 became the Premier.
14 Q. At some point in May of 1990, did you become
15 aware of the formation in Knin of an Association of
16 Serb Municipalities?
17 A. Yes. I heard about this action. I think it
18 was wrong, because the Serb population in Croatia was
19 thus put into a ghetto and I think that it was a
20 harmful decision, harmful for Croatia as a whole and
21 harmful to Serbs within Croatia as the citizens of
23 Q. Who formed this organisation, if you recall?
24 A. The political organisation SDS. The Serb
25 Democratic Party, was established by Dr. Jovan Raskovic,
1 who was the ideological leader of the party too.
2 However, I think it was Milan Babic who proclaimed this
3 community and he was President of the Municipality of
5 Q. During your tenure as Prime Minister, did you
6 ever make attempts to establish a dialogue with
7 representatives of the predominantly Serb
8 municipalities in Croatia?
9 A. Yes. As political parties developed, but
10 also as general developments took place, the SDS was
11 established with a strong nationalist feeling, but then
12 on the other hand there were also Croatian parties with
13 similar ideas. So there was tension and all of this
14 resulted in roadblocks. This was called the Log
15 Revolution later on, so Croatian roads and railroads
16 became inoperative. The economy came to a standstill.
17 Practically it was chaos, because it was impossible to
18 have the state function if roads and railroads were cut
20 In my capacity as Prime Minister, I asked for
21 talks with the Presidents of the municipalities that
22 became part of this Community of Municipalities. I
23 must say in all fairness that all the Presidents of
24 Municipalities agreed with this meeting and I was
25 pleased with that, and I said that we could meet
1 anywhere in Plitvice, in Zagreb, at the seaside,
2 wherever it was convenient for them, so that we could
3 see what the problems were and how we could together
4 work out these problems.
5 It is only the President of the Municipality
6 of Knin, Milan Babic, that did not respond to my
7 investigation. He sent his -- the Secretary of his
8 Municipality. He said that he personally accepts this
9 and he thinks that it is a good idea to sit down and
10 talk and to bring these tensions to a halt, to bring
11 all our problems to the negotiating table and to see
12 how we can resolve them, and I said, "What about
13 President Babic, the President of the Municipality?"
14 He said that he was in Belgrade and that he
15 would call me back as soon as he got back from
16 Belgrade. Because he did not call me back, I asked for
17 a meeting again within a couple of days. Again, it is
18 the Secretary of the Municipality who talked to me and
19 he said that Milan Babic prohibited all Presidents of
20 Municipalities from keeping in any kind of contact with
21 the government of Zagreb. Of course, after that, it
22 was difficult to establish communications.
23 Q. In August of 1990, did something occur
24 whereby Croatia lost control of the police station in
1 A. Yes, that is it. Part of the police force
2 abandoned the force in an organised fashion by taking
3 over the police station in Knin and cutting off all
4 contacts and all communication with the Ministry of the
5 Interior. Of course, this was an example to other
6 municipalities as well and similar things occurred
7 elsewhere too.
8 Q. Was an attempt made at any point by the
9 Croatian police to retake control of this station?
10 A. In order to retake control of the police
11 station, fast action was needed and one of the ways of
12 doing this was to establish police stations in
13 neighbouring towns and villages, so that the renegade
14 police from Knin could not operate in the entire area.
15 In Kijevo, which is near Knin, a police station was
16 established. Also, there was a proposal, an attempt
17 made to establish this kind of control. We sent three
18 helicopters with police escorts to get into Knin and
19 establish this kind of control. However, the Mig
20 aircraft of the Yugoslav Army stopped these helicopters
21 and this action failed.
22 Q. What was the rationale of the JNA in
23 intervening in this manner?
24 A. First of all, I was taken by surprise by this
25 action of the JNA, but also by their explanations.
1 Namely, it would have been logical for the army to
2 support officialdom, the Ministry of the Interior.
3 They were taking normal action to re-establish law and
4 order in the state and it only would have been natural
5 for them to support that kind of action. However, they
6 prevented that from happening and it was very difficult
7 for me to get the telephone number of General Blagoja
8 Adzic. I called him and I protested. Why are Yugoslav
9 Mig aircraft stopping the action of a legal police
10 which has to re-establish control over its territory?
11 He was very arrogant. He said that every attempt to
12 take police by helicopters to Knin would be thwarted
13 and if one Serb head were to fall, 2,000 Croat heads
14 would fall and I was really surprised to hear something
15 like that from a Yugoslav general.
16 Q. And do you know at that time what his
17 position was in the JNA?
18 A. He was Chief of the General Staff.
19 Q. In the autumn of 1990, did your position in
20 government change?
21 A. Yes. In the autumn of 1990, the Croat
22 political leadership came to the conclusion that the
23 newly established democratic government in Croatia
24 would have to have its own representative in the
25 Presidency of Yugoslavia. Until then, Stipe Suva was a
1 Member of this Presidency as the representative of
2 Croatia. I was chosen. The Croatian Parliament
3 elected me and I was sent to Belgrade, first, to be
4 Vice-President of the Presidency of Yugoslavia and
5 after that, there was an automatic change involved,
6 meaning that I would become eventually President of the
7 Presidency of Yugoslavia.
8 Q. When you entered the Presidency, who were the
9 other members at that time?
10 A. At that time, the Representative of Kosovo
11 was Riza Sapundziu; the Representative of Vojvodina
12 was Professor Zelenovic; the Representative of
13 Slavonia, Dr. Janez Drnovsek; the Representative of
14 Macedonia was Dr. Vasil Tupurkovski; the Representative
15 of Bosna-Herzegovina, Bogic Bogicevic; the
16 Representative of Serbia was Borisav Jovic and the
17 Representative of Montenegro was Nenad Bucin.
18 Q. Shortly thereafter, did some of the
19 membership change?
20 A. There was a change. Professor Dr. Riza
21 Sapundziu was replaced by Cedo Bajramovic who was
22 elected by the Serbian Assembly on behalf of the
23 autonomous province of Kosovo, namely, the Kosovo
24 Parliament never met again so the Serbian Parliament
25 recalled Riza Sapundziu and brought Cedo Bajramovic to
1 this place and I think he did not even speak Albanian;
2 at least I never heard him utter a word in Albanian.
3 Q. What about the representatives from
4 Montenegro and Vojvodina?
5 A. A representative of Montenegro was Nenad
6 Bucin. Later on, rather, when Borisav Jovic, the
7 Representative of Serbia, withdrew from the Presidency,
8 Nenad Bucin did too. He also resigned. However,
9 Borisav Jovic went back to the Presidency, but Nenad
10 Bucin kept his word and he did not go back to the
11 Presidency, so he was replaced by Branko Kostic from
12 Montenegro. I think that Zelenovic went to a post that
13 was incompatible, so to speak, so Yugoslav Kostic took
14 his place here.
15 Q. Were you aware of an initiative which was
16 undertaken by Martin Spegelj during 1990 to secure
17 weapons for Croatia?
18 A. Yes, it was not only the initiative of Martin
19 Spegelj. Croatia was fully disarmed before the first
20 democratic elections. The Yugoslav National Army took
21 all the weapons of the Territorial Defence, namely, the
22 system was such that the operative army was under the
23 command of the Presidency of Yugoslavia and the
24 Territorial Defence, its entire system, was under the
25 command of the Republic and therefore the Republic also
1 took care of the financial resources needed, so it was
2 the President of the Republic that was in command.
3 Just before the elections, all these weapons
4 of the Territorial Defence were taken. The police
5 force was poorly armed. There were 15,000 policemen
6 with small arms and the decision was that, in view of
7 all the dangers that were looming over Croatia, that
8 Croatia should, within the Ministry of the Interior,
9 set up a formation which was called the National Guards
10 Corps, the ZNG, which was like a gendarmerie, as the
11 French have, that it should involve a military set-up,
12 but they should be run by the Ministry of the
13 Interior. So in other words to carry out this kind of
14 reorganisation, the Ministry of the Interior asked the
15 federal ministry for a permit to buy weapons within
17 However, we received their answer saying that
18 there were no weapons and the factory -- the weapons
19 manufacturing factory of Zastava Crvena could not sell
20 us weapons. After that, the Ministry of the Interior
21 made a decision in keeping with the law that weapons
22 should be bought outside Yugoslavia and they were
24 Of course, not in the quantities that were
25 the subject of speculation afterwards.
1 Q. On 9th January 1991, at the meeting of the
2 Presidency, did some discussion take place regarding
3 the disarming of paramilitaries?
4 A. There was debate, because the Yugoslav Army
5 was arming Serb villages, which was a suicidal policy,
6 in my opinion, because arming 10 per cent of the
7 Croatian population that was Serb, ran against Serbian
8 interests, but unfortunately the Yugoslav Army was
9 doing that consistently. Regrettably, Croats were
10 getting arms on the other hand too. We had the ZNG,
11 the National Guards Corps, also the police force, which
12 got some more serious weapons at this stage, but then
13 there were also some groups that were outside of this
14 framework and therefore there was a discussion about
15 this, that illegal paramilitary organisations should be
16 disarmed, and the Presidency agreed with this of
18 All those organisations that were not under
19 the command of the Ministry of the Interior were
20 illegal. The ZNG, the National Guards Corps, was a
21 legal organisation, so this disarmament did not apply
22 to the ZNG and there was a conflict of opinions on this
23 particular matter, et cetera.
24 Q. On 21st January, do you recall a telephone
25 conversation you had from Sarajevo with Borosav Jovic?
1 A. Yes, I remember that I was in Sarajevo. I
2 gave a lecture there and Borosav Jovic found me there.
3 That is where I first met Radovan Karadzic, so I was
4 surprised by his views too. Borosav Jovic asked me to
5 agree to some of his proposals, but I could not agree
6 with that.
7 Q. At the 25th January 1991 meeting of the
8 Presidency, did discussion take place in relation to
9 the intervention of the JNA in Croatia?
10 A. Yes, those were actually the proposals of
11 Borosav Jovic and I voted against using the army.
12 However, the promise was that the army would not
13 intervene, that it would only appear and that by their
14 very appearance, they would stop the revolt that had
15 exploded in the streets of Belgrade, so I was against
16 this and I voted against it.
17 Q. And what was the vote within the Presidency
18 at that time?
19 A. By a majority of votes, it was accepted that
20 the army could appear, but that they could not
22 Q. I am not sure if we are speaking of the same
23 thing. I am talking about the point at which there was
24 discussion about the JNA intervening in Croatia and I
25 think this was your response, you had indicated about
1 the demonstrations in Belgrade.
2 A. Yes, yes, yes, yes. Yes, I was wrong. In
3 Croatia, the army never got the right to go out of
4 barracks, namely, this was a special situation when
5 there would be a conflict with certain renegade groups
6 that were taking larger and larger territory. It was a
7 public secret simply that on the territory of Croatia,
8 a Serb state was being established which was
9 unacceptable for Croatia, but the army was arming all
10 these groups and then when there was a conflict, the
11 Army would come out and cover the area and prevent any
12 kind of communication with the official government of
14 That is to say, that the army was already
15 outside and we could not take that army back. I mean,
16 we who were opposed to using the army, could not make
17 the army do this. We could not get a majority in the
18 Presidency which would vote in favour of this kind of
19 an order. There was a blockade. It was four against
20 four. On the one hand, there was the so-called Serb
21 bloc, Serbia, Montenegro, Kosovo and Vojvodina and on
22 the other hand, was Bosna-Herzegovina, Croatia,
23 Slovenia and Macedonia, so there was this racial four
24 to four, so we could not vote in favour of withdrawing
25 the army, but what we could pass as a decision was that
1 the army should withdraw within three months and that
2 that was the deadline by which the army would have to
3 go back to their barracks.
4 So this was accepted, I imagine, because the
5 Representatives of Serbia and the top echelons of the
6 Army thought that they would crush all resistance
7 within that three-month period and establish the kind
8 of situation they wished.
9 Q. When did that occur, that the army went out
10 for this three-month period? Was there some event that
11 preceded that?
12 A. There was Pakrac. It was Plitvice,
13 especially in Pakrac, the army was out for no reason
14 and the Presidency had not passed any decision on the
15 Army in this relation and in Pakrac, the renegades had
16 attacked the police station. The Minister of the
17 Interior had established a unit, a detachment, that
18 went there and disarmed these people who were in the
19 police station. In the police station there were some
20 policemen and after that the army came with their
21 tanks, with a large number of tanks. They came from
22 different sides and I was in Zagreb at that point and I
23 decided to go to this very place, so I went to Pakrac.
24 We had talks with the army there. There were
25 four generals, 20 colonels, a total of 70 officers and
1 after that, I had lunch with them too that day.
2 General Vasiljevic, Head of the Counter-Intelligence
3 Service, had organised this entire provocation because
4 the plan was to cut across Croatia, Virovitica along --
5 along the line between them and that is why there were
6 provocations along that particular line. He had
7 organised that particular provocation but it was not as
8 official as they had wanted it to be. People had not
9 started shooting at each other yet. Vasiljevic claimed
10 that women and children had fled, that they were hiding
11 in forests, that forests were full of people who were
12 fearful of the Croat authorities during the Second
13 World War. I was hiding in the forest too before I
14 went to Hungary. I said, I am personally going to go
15 and see all these people, because there is no reason
16 for anyone to fear anyone in Croatia.
17 Myself least of all, because, after all, 11
18 members of my family lost their lives while fighting on
19 the partisan side and then General Trifunovic, who is a
20 reasonable man, said, you know what, sir? These are
21 not people who are fleeing and hiding in the forest.
22 This is a farce. There was some shooting, but no one
23 has been wounded. No one has been killed and the whole
24 thing should calm down. It is precisely because of
25 this man and because of some other reasonable officers,
1 that I stayed for lunch with them. The next day, we
2 had a meeting of the Presidency and I informed the
3 other members of the Presidency about it.
4 Q. If I can just ask you a question very
5 quickly. This General Trifunovic that you spoke with,
6 was he a Serb?
7 A. Yes, he was.
8 Q. Now, at the meeting that followed this, did
9 you have any conversations with Borosav Jovic about the
10 casualties that had occurred in Pakrac?
11 A. Yes, as I knew exactly what was happening in
12 Pakrac and I was able to inform the Members of the
13 Presidency about what had been happening, that it had
14 been a provocation, that people were not shooting at
15 one another. There were obvious traces of shooting on
16 the buildings, but there were no casualties, no one was
17 wounded, no one was killed. Later, Borosav Jovic told
18 me at this meeting obviously that he had read in the
19 Titograd paper -- and you can imagine how far Titograd
20 is from Pakrac -- that there had been no denials of the
21 fact, but there could not have been any by that time in
22 fact, that he had read, namely, that 40 Serbs had been
23 massacred at Pakrac.
24 I told him that that was a total
25 inexactitude -- misinformation, that he was supposed to
1 believe me and not something possibly written by the
2 popular paper of Titograd which was being printed some,
3 I believe, 800 kilometres away from the scene of the
4 event and that he should not believe things that had
5 not been denied. I told him, okay, if you believe
6 that, then you can believe anything which I myself read
7 in the paper, and no one has denied it. Namely, in the
8 Mladina, the paper from Ljubljana, I read that Slobodan
9 Milosevic had schizophrenia, but I do not believe it,
10 although no one had denied it. So there was a sort of
11 a silence which ensued, confused silence if you will,
12 and then after that, my report about what was happening
13 in Pakrac was indeed accepted.
14 Q. During this time period in March of 1991,
15 February and March, who was the President of the
17 A. Borosav Jovic was the President of the
19 Q. At that point in time, was he the Commander
20 in-Chief of the JNA?
21 A. Yes, he was and I myself was the
22 Vice-President, because, according to the rules of
23 procedure and the law which regulated the operation of
24 the Presidency, there was an automatic mechanism
25 under which the previous Vice-President would take the
1 place of the former President and that was an automatic
2 mechanism, so we rotated in this way.
3 Q. A little earlier you mentioned demonstrations
4 in Belgrade. Did a meeting ensue in the Presidency in
5 early March to discuss this issue and where a request
6 was made for intervention of troops on the streets in
8 A. Yes, that is precisely why I sort of
9 contradicted myself, because it was precisely Borosav
10 Jovic who asked me by telephone whether I was in favour
11 of the army coming out into the streets and I did not
12 accept that. That decision was taken by a majority of
13 Croats, but I myself did not vote in favour of that.
14 Q. At the following meeting of the Presidency on
15 12th March, which occurred at the army Headquarters;
16 how did this come about?
17 A. Decisions of the Presidency were legally held
18 in the Palace of the Federation in the presidential
19 rooms and there were no difficulties associated with
20 that whatsoever. When we convened that particular
21 session to which I came, on the 12th, before the actual
22 session, we came there, a military bus waited for us
23 with an escort of officers there, because they told us
24 that we would have to go to the staff of the Supreme
25 Command to hold that meeting because they had all the
1 necessary maps from which we could get an insight into
2 the situation then obtaining in Yugoslavia, so, in
3 order not to take all of that material to the
4 Presidency, it would be much better for us to meet
5 there, so we did go and that was sort of a
6 construction, if you will. We came. We took our
7 winter greatcoats off, but the room in which we were to
8 hold the session was not heated, so they offered us
9 Army greatcoats to wear, to all of us, so that we were
10 turned, in a way, into soldiers, and perhaps that was
11 supposed also to have a certain influence, bearing on
12 the decision-making. The majority of us did not accept
13 that and we endured throughout the session.
14 Later, I saw the session. It was videotaped
15 and I saw it on the BBC. I am not sure how they
16 obtained that material. It was a tumultuous session
17 indeed and in a certain sense, it was a turning point.
18 Q. During this meeting in regard to discussions
19 about the JNA intervention in Croatia, was anything
21 A. I know that the army insisted and not once
22 when I saw the army, it was always the Minister of
23 Defence of Yugoslavia, Veljko Kadijevic and his Chief
24 of General Staff of the Yugoslav general staff, Blagoja
25 Adzic. They were always asking for, including at that
1 session, with all possible explanations, that the army
2 was to be given carte blanche, that it was the army
3 that should of itself decide what action to take and
4 that that should be covered by the Presidency decision,
5 but that the army should be left to decide the timing
6 and the actual action to be undertaken by the army.
7 I remember that at the entrance I met Bogic
8 Bogicevic, the Representative of Bosna-Herzegovina and
9 someone told me -- I believe it was Tuperkoski -- that
10 they had talked the whole night, that the generals had
11 talked to Bogic Bogicevic all night, and I asked him
12 how he felt after having talked so pleasantly to the
13 generals all that night and he said, "Well, fine."
14 Then I asked him, "How are we going to fare
15 at the session?" He said, "You know that I am a man of
16 principle", and when we came to the vote, we knew, more
17 or less, what the outcome would be, how the people
18 would vote, but the army thought that by exerting
19 pressure on Bogic Bogicevic because he was a Serb, they
20 would win him over to their proposal, the proposal of
21 the Serbian leadership. Borisav Jovic was so surprised
22 by the vote cast by Bogic Bogicevic, that he
23 said, "Look here, you are a Serb", but he said, "Yes,
24 but first of all, I am a Bosnian. So this decision was
25 not carried because the ratio was 4 to 4.
1 Q. When the Presidency failed to vote -- to
2 allow the army, as you said, carte blanche in Croatia,
3 what was the reaction, if any, of Kadijevic?
4 A. Kadijevic was quite nervous and although he
5 tried to pretend since the time we came, a sort of
6 intimacy, a feigned intimacy, he looked quite, shall I
7 say, well in the mood -- in a good mood, when we came,
8 but as discussions advanced, and especially after what
9 I had said, he was quite furious. Namely, after we
10 came to that session, after they had brought us to that
11 session, I had a question to ask, because I wanted to
12 know what kind of a discussion I would have to
13 conduct. The question was: was I under arrest or was I
14 not under arrest, because I had come under military
15 escort and on a military bus, so I said: if I am under
16 arrest, I have this sort of a discussion to say and
17 state, and if I am not, I will have a different story
18 to tell.
19 This infuriated General Kadijevic greatly.
20 After that, he was unable to restrain himself, to calm
21 down, and after the voting was over, he ran out of the
22 room, but he did come back and I was again surprised
23 when he said that the army would act only upon the
24 basis of the constitution and its constitutional
25 responsibilities. That the Presidency obviously --
1 that he did not want to have anything to do with that
2 Presidency, but after he came back, I am not quite
3 sure, after 20 -- 15 or 20 minutes, he said that he
4 thought that Serbia would found its own Army.
5 Q. In the following days, did there come an
6 occasion when Borosav Jovic resigned from the
8 A. Immediately, the second day after that,
9 Borosav Jovic tendered his written resignation, but he
10 spoke on television and he said that he would not be
11 coming to the Presidency any more after the failure by
12 the Presidency to take the decision demanded from it by
13 the military leaders.
14 I myself also spoke on television shortly
15 thereafter and I said that nothing special had
16 happened, that the President had resigned and that I
17 had taken over assuming all the state functions and
18 duties and that the state mechanisms would continue to
20 Q. On 16th March, did Slobodan Milosevic make a
21 public statement regarding what he saw as the status of
23 A. Yes, yes. That is a statement which I
24 believe led to a total turning point in relations in
25 Yugoslavia. Namely, Slobodan Milosevic said that those
1 were the last days of the Yugoslav agony, that Serbia,
2 as Borosav Jovic has withdrawn from the Presidency,
3 would not be delegating anyone else to the Presidency
4 of Yugoslavia, but also that Serbia would not be bound
5 any more by any decisions whatsoever of the
7 In other words, he was announcing secession
8 and that decision of his had never been revoked,
9 although after a certain period of time, Borosav Jovic
10 did appear at the session and pretended that nothing
11 had happened. However, as regards Milosevic, his
12 decision to the effect that Serbia would not be bound
13 by the President's decision was something that he never
14 publicly revoked.
15 Q. Did Milosevic at the same time make any
16 statements regarding mobilisation of the Serbian
17 Territorial Defence or militia forces?
18 A. Yes, he did. He immediately announced
19 mobilisation which clearly -- he said, total
20 mobilisation of all special forces, reserve forces in
21 Serbia, and those reserve force members later appeared
22 throughout the soil of Croatia and clearly this had an
23 effect on the homogenisation, in the defensive sense,
24 of peoples on the other parts of the Yugoslav soil.
25 Q. What was Slobodan Milosevic's position at
1 this time in March of 1991?
2 A. He was the President of Serbia and clearly,
3 on the basis of the decision of his own Assembly, he
4 was able to conduct a mobilisation. However, he had no
5 such decision of his Assembly and, regrettably, the
6 Army was also drafting people, although the Presidency
7 had never taken any decision to that effect.
8 Q. Were you able to determine if Slobodan
9 Milosevic had any influence on the manner in which
10 Borosav Jovic and the other members of the Serbian bloc
11 voted in the Presidency?
12 A. It was quite obvious that the military
13 leaders were under the influence and the direct control
14 of Slobodan Milosevic and they did not even make that a
15 secret. Namely, not a single general -- and I can say
16 that now -- not a single general of the Yugoslav Army
17 ever came to my office, to the office of his Commander
18 in-Chief, because I was not then at the helm of the
19 Presidency and thereby in a way, I was the Commander
20 in-Chief of the Yugoslav Army. So not a single one of
21 these generals ever came to see me, seeing that the
22 situation became more and more complicated, and
23 tragically so in fact, because the human casualties
24 became enormous and the devastation of property became
25 enormous, I tried to do something about it to calm
1 matters down and I sought to talk to the Minister of
2 Defence, Veljko Kadijevic. I tried to persuade him
3 that the army should not interfere in political
4 arrangements, because that was actually marring the
6 The army was actually drawing the boundaries
7 of the Greater Serbia and that obviously was their
8 mission. What I told General Kadijevic, when I asked
9 him, actually, why was he so much influenced by
10 Slobodan Milosevic, the President of Serbia, he said
11 that he did not have such a great influence, but that
12 he was cooperating with him, because everybody else was
13 greater, bigger, Chetniks, than Slobodan Milosevic and
14 he was the only one that he could contact, cooperate
15 with in Serbia, but I told him: look, can you not see
16 that Slobodan Milosevic, it is quite clear, is creating
17 a Serbian Army and that he will not be needing
18 Yugoslav, but only Serbian officers, and once his
19 mission is completed, he will leave his post.
20 Then he told me, "As long as I live", but I
21 told him, "Look, if you oppose Milosevic, you will not
22 live, because the army started dissipating and people,
23 Croats and Slovaks and Bosnians and Muslims, they were
24 all leaving the army -- Albanians were leaving the army
25 -- so that that increasingly was becoming a Serbian
2 Q. I had also asked about the influence that
3 Milosevic had in terms of the mobs of the Presidency,
4 Borosav Jovic and the other members that you described
5 of this Serbian bloc. Did he have influence over the
6 way in which they voted in the Presidency?
7 A. Yes, quite correct, Borosav Jovic was
8 controlling these two or rather three members of his,
9 the Representatives of Montenegro, Kosovo and
10 Vojvodina, whereas he himself, whenever any votes were
11 taken, would leave the room for a bit. He would go
12 outside and at the exit, I was -- I would always say to
13 him, "Borosav, give my regards to Milosevic, and
14 transact your business as quickly as possible so that
15 we can really get down to the voting." That is what he
16 actually did. He would come back then and complete his
18 Q. At the same time as Milosevic's statement on
19 16th March, did some type of declaration come out of
20 Knin in regard to the Serb-held areas?
21 A. That was obviously a synchronised exercise.
22 No one was surprised by it. Namely, Babic had
23 proclaimed his secession from Croatia and thereby no
24 longer recognised any authority of Zagreb. That was
1 Q. Earlier you had mentioned that some events
2 had occurred at Plitvice. What exactly had happened
3 there at the end of March of 1991?
4 A. What had happened was that, precisely this,
5 renegade authorities had taken control over Plitvice.
6 The Ministry of Defence wanted to return the police
7 station to this spot and to re-establish the normal
8 functioning of all authorities of all bodies, including
9 the functioning of the Plitvice compound and as well as
10 of the adjacent municipalities. It was obvious that
11 there had been no reason for an armed conflict and it
12 is obvious also because the policemen who were there
13 normally doing their routine, duties, came on a bus
14 without any special security forces. But they were met
15 there with fire from machine-guns, automatic guns. The
16 first lives were lost; Josip Jovic, a policeman, was
17 killed on that occasion. After that, the situation
18 deteriorated further.
19 Q. Were any of the Serbs who had been involved
20 in the taking of this station in Plitvice arrested?
21 A. Yes, several people were taken into custody,
22 among whom Goran Hadzic, who just happened to be there,
23 although there is actually not a single reason, there
24 was not a single reason for him to be there, because he
25 is from the Podunavlje area. I believe that later he
1 was either exchanged or liberated or he just was
2 travelling through the area and happened to be there in
3 a room with another priest.
4 Q. The Podunavlje area which you have referred
5 to, is that more commonly known as Eastern Slavonia?
6 A. Yes, Eastern Slavonia and Baranja and Western
8 Q. After Plitvice, was the JNA given some
9 latitude by the Presidency to act in Croatia for a
10 three-month period?
11 A. No, the Presidency took no decision, giving
12 any sort of powers to the Yugoslav Army. The Yugoslav
13 Army actually was in a limbo, without a decision of the
14 Presidency and it was there on a certain spot and
15 because it could not be returned, we said, "Let them
16 stay where they are", and so they did.
17 Q. Where they were at that point in time was out
18 of barracks; correct?
19 A. Yes, they were out of barracks and up to that
20 moment, they were there actually, I think, totally
21 illegally, but after that moment, they could not
22 undertake any further illegal action, but they could
23 remain for another three months where they had found
24 themselves, until the deadline prescribed.
25 Q. Also in late March, did you become aware of a
1 meeting which took place between Slobodan Milosevic and
2 Franjo Tudjman at Karadjordjevo?
3 A. Not only did I become aware of that meeting,
4 but in the end, I turned out to be some kind of an
5 organiser of that meeting, not specifically in the
6 composition which they convened; namely, I told Borosav
7 Jovic as the Representative of Serbia in the state
8 Presidency, that we had heard, that we had in fact --
9 that the garrisons of the Yugoslav armies were arming
10 Serbs with highly sophisticated weapons, not only
11 defensive weaponry, and that there was the possibility
12 that a conflict would ensue and that there was a
13 possibility that it could escalate to certain
14 proportions and that also the Croats would arm
15 themselves, that everything will get out of hand.
16 In a conflict of population of 10 per cent of
17 Serbs with the rest of 90 per cent being Croats, the
18 greatest loser, I told him, would be the Serbs in
19 Croatia. They would remain without everything. They
20 would lose their property and they would lose their
21 lives. So I asked him, "Why are you pushing people
22 into such a suicidal act when everything can be settled
23 at the table and we can take all the problems one by
24 one, address them one by one and see how to resolve
25 them at the table? Are you interested? Are you
1 interested in Serbs as citizens of Croatia and to that,
2 he told me, "We are not interested in the Serbs in
3 Croatia. They are your citizens. You do with them
4 whatever you feel like. You can impale them on the
5 stake if you want. It is not our problem. It is your
7 I asked him, "What about the territory?" He
8 told me, "We are not interested in Croatian territory.
9 We are interested in 66 per cent of Bosnia-Herzegovina,
10 that used to be Serbian, that is Serbian that will
11 remain Serbian. I told him, "If you are not interested
12 in Serbs in Croatia, if you are not interested in
13 Croatian territory and the only problem which you have
14 is Bosnia, let us then sit down at the table and try to
15 find a solution to the problems obtaining in Croatia so
16 as to calm down the tensions, ease the tensions for us
17 to start functioning normally."
18 As for the Bosnian problem, let it be
19 internationalised, let it be resolved through the
20 United Nations, but then again, let us all do that
21 without war." I also told him, "If that is as it is,
22 as you say, do you agree that Tudjman and I myself on
23 the one side, and you and Slobodan Milosevic on the
24 other side, should meet somewhere and try and make an
25 analysis of things and possibly propose a solution?"
1 He told me that he personally agreed, but
2 that he had to hear Milosevic on that score and that he
3 would get back to me in about an hour. Very quickly,
4 he told me that Slobodan Milosevic agreed to such a
5 meeting and that he was in fact proposing that the
6 meeting be held anywhere in the country or abroad.
7 With that view, I went to Zagreb on the same day and I
8 told Tudjman that these two wanted this meeting. I
9 recounted the entire conversation I had and then he
10 told me, "Okay, it is good for me to know that they
11 want to talk and I will tell you when to organise the
13 However, I was never given -- I never had
14 this occasion to organise that or such a meeting. I
15 only found out when Tudjman said that he would be
16 meeting Slobodan Milosevic, that he would be meeting
17 only Slobodan Milosevic, that the venue of the meeting
18 would be Karadjordjevo, that the reason for the meeting
19 was to see what Milosevic wanted. The reason I
20 objected to that was that there had been a meeting in
21 1971, held in Karadjordjevo after which meeting we had
22 suffered certain consequences, that many of us had
23 ended up in prison, that it was not the very best of
24 places to be chosen for a meeting with Milosevic.
25 He said, "Look, it does not matter. It is
1 really of no consequence where the meeting is going to
2 be held. I just want to see what he wants. So he went
3 there and he met him alone and he returned on the same
4 day and told me he had been given assurances by the
5 Yugoslav Army that it would not be attacking Croatia,
6 that those guarantees were not being given by only
7 Veljko Kadijevic, but also Slobodan Milosevic. That
8 Bosnia was untenable. That that was the opinion of
9 Slobodan Milosevic and that Croatia in that case would
10 be given the boundaries from 1938 when it was Banovina
11 in 1939, whereby it would nicely round off its
12 territory and that Slobodan Milosevic had also said:
13 you can also take Cazin, Kladusa and Bihac, the
14 so-called Turkish Croatian and Western Bosnia. Serbia
15 does not need it.
16 Then I said I did not find that logical for
17 Milosevic to go to war to dismember Bosnia, that we are
18 faring the best in that case without any war and then
19 ultimately, whether it was at all possible to divide
20 Bosnia without a war, and then he told me that I did
21 not know the historical forces. I said perhaps I do
22 not know historical forces, but time will tell who is
24 Q. In early May, did an incident occur in Borovo
25 Selo that you became aware of?
1 A. Yes, the entire public, both home and abroad,
2 found out about this, namely, the Croatian police was
3 following this arming of Serbian villages and a police
4 patrol was following a van that was heavily loaded.
5 They imagined that it was full of arms and they lost
6 sight of it somewhere along the road. As they were
7 looking for this van, they came to the centre of Borovo
8 Selo, fire was opened at them. One person was killed.
9 Another person was wounded -- was arrested, taken
10 prisoner, and a third person managed to escape. He
11 came to Vukovar and said what had happened. And the
12 local police command sent a bus full of policemen there
13 and of course they were not counting on any kind of
14 conflict. They thought that when more policemen showed
15 up, they would manage to restore law and order and to
16 see who was shooting, who was taking armed action when
17 there was no reason for that.
18 However, they were met with heavy fire. 12
19 policemen were killed. Many were wounded and finally,
20 it was established that many of these assailants had
21 come from Serbia, that they were well armed, that they
22 were professionals, and of course this was a tragic
23 event as far as Croatia was concerned, that people who
24 were doing their job were killed in such a barbarous
1 Q. You had been serving as the Vice-President of
2 the Presidency during this period. Was there a
3 particular date on which you were scheduled to rotate
4 into the post of President?
5 A. Yes, I was supposed to become President of
6 the Presidency according to that inertia, this
7 automatic change. It was simply supposed to be stated
8 that Croatia had sent its Representative to be
9 President, that his term as Vice-President was expiring
10 and that he was supposed to take over the post of
11 President. This was supposed to take place in March.
12 However, the Serbian bloc disagreed with this and
13 Borosav Jovic had put this to the vote. Until then,
14 everything was automatic in this respect. One person
15 abstained. The vote was four to three and Borosav, as
16 President, said that the President was not elected.
17 This created a vacuum. This is to say, that this
18 automatic change was no longer observed and Serbia
19 insisted that anyone could come from Croatia, but
20 Stjepan Mesic. This was unacceptable and offensive to
21 Croatia because in that way, Serbia would be deciding
22 who would represent Croatia in the Presidency of
23 Yugoslavia. A crisis broke out practically in these
24 overall relations, then the European Community troika
25 came in, that is to say the representatives of the
1 international community, political pressure was brought
2 to bear and they tried to force the Serbian leadership
3 and the Serbian bloc to accept this solution which was
4 not imposed upon Yugoslavia by anyone. This was part
5 of regular practice. After quite a bit of time, I
6 think it was two months, they accepted that I would be
7 President of the Presidency of Yugoslavia and I think
8 that the main role in this respect was played by Van
9 den Broek who wanted this decision to be carried
11 Q. I am not sure if this was a mistranslation or
12 not. In terms of the date when this occurred, was this
13 March or was this in May when you were supposed to
14 become the President?
15 A. I think this was the fifth -- it was May,
16 sorry. This went on for about two months. I do not
17 know exactly.
18 Q. On 25th June 1991, did something happen in
19 Croatia and Slovenia of significance?
20 A. Yes, Croatia organised a referendum. First,
21 it organised a referendum on what the citizens of
22 Croatia wanted and at that referendum, I think that 94
23 per cent of the citizens voted in favour of
24 independence. There were two options. One was to
25 remain in Yugoslavia and the other one was for
1 independence. 84 per cent voted for independence. I
2 am just trying to say that the majority of the Serbs
3 also voted for an independent Croatia.
4 Q. And was this independence actually declared
5 on 25th June?
6 A. No, after this referendum, the Croatian
7 Parliament accepted the decision taken by the
8 referendum and proclaimed independence, but I have to
9 say that this was before the proclamation of
10 independence. I mean, Croatia and Slovenia, before the
11 proclamation of independence-- tried or rather the
12 Representatives tried, myself included -- to
13 reconstruct Yugoslavia, because it was quite clear that
14 Yugoslavia, as it was, could not continue to be.
15 All the republics were dissatisfied with
16 their status. They all thought that they were losers
17 in Yugoslavia and this was a sign that this state
18 mechanism had to be reconstructed. Milosevic, as he
19 was toppling Kosovo, Vojvodina and the leadership of
20 Montenegro, he also said that Serbia was harmed by
21 Yugoslavia. He even said that factories in Serbia
22 would be dismantled as after the Second World War and
23 taken elsewhere, and various explanations were given to
24 the effect that Serbia did not need Yugoslavia. After
25 all, we saw this in his decision, that he did not
1 recognise any decisions by the Presidency of
2 Yugoslavia, but when he reinforced his power, when he
3 toppled the provinces and the leadership in Montenegro,
4 then he allegedly started working in favour of
5 Yugoslavia and then he said that Serbia was only
6 interested in a firm federation, and a firm federation
7 meant that all the other constituent elements of the
8 federation were supposed to suffer the fate of Kosovo
9 and Vojvodina and no one accepted that. That is why we
10 proposed a full confederacy.
11 However, a full confederacy, namely, that we
12 should all know what would be left at confederal level
13 and who would be paying for what, so that all the bills
14 and scores would be clean, and also this proposal
15 included a deadline that we should see whether this
16 would work within a three to five-year period. That is
17 to say, that if this model would work, then we would
18 remain in this confederation and if it did not work,
19 then we would all take our separate paths. However,
20 Milosevic did not accept this. He persistently
21 advocated what he allegedly called a modern and firm
22 federation, but in this way, he was actually showing
23 that he was not interested in any kind of Yugoslavia.
24 That he was only interested in a Greater Serbia and
25 later on, time proved this to be true. When Slovenia
1 was given the right to leave Slovenia, when the army
2 withdrew from Slovenia, all of this showed that
3 something else was taking place. Namely, that
4 Yugoslavia was being dismembered and that a Greater
5 Serbia was to take place where Yugoslavia was ravaged.
6 Q. You mentioned this about Slovenia withdrawing
7 from Yugoslavia. After Slovenia declared its
8 independence, did the JNA intervene there?
9 A. Formally, the army did not intervene because
10 Slovenia had declared its independence, but they found
11 a pretext because Slovenia had established its own
12 customs and tariffs or rather its customs checkpoints
13 at the borders. In this way, the Yugoslav customs was
14 no longer operative. So the central customs asked the
15 federal government and the Prime Minister, Ante
16 Markovic, to establish customs control and I think that
17 it was in a benign way that he asked for the assistance
18 of the army, if necessary.
19 However, the army, instead of assisting there
20 at the border crossings, they left their barracks with
21 their tanks and they started establishing their own
22 checkpoints at the borders. The Slovenians established
23 their own control. They fought back. There was a
24 conflict, a war, that that went on for 10 days and I
25 also tried to contribute to bringing these conflicts to
1 an end. I could not take the highway, so I had to take
2 some small country roads to Ljubljana and, together
3 with Milan Kucan, I talked to the top military people
4 and finally we convinced them that it would be the best
5 for the war to stop and that the Territorial Defence of
6 Slovenia and the army should go back to their barracks.
7 Q. During this time period when the JNA was
8 involved in Slovenia, on 30th June, did you issue an
9 Order relative to the JNA returning to barracks?
10 A. Exactly. There was a decision passed by the
11 Presidency previously that the army could remain
12 outside barracks for three months. Those Army units
13 were outside already, so I did not need a new decision.
14 On the basis of the already existing decision, I issued
15 orders to the effect that all the army units should
16 withdraw into the barracks. Of course, they did not
17 carry this through. This meant a military coup d'état
18 and after that, neither formally nor factually, did the
19 Army listen to any kind of Presidency. They only
20 listened to Slobodan Milosevic.
21 Q. At this time, I could like to show the
22 witness a document which we will mark as Prosecutor's
23 exhibit 102. (Handed). Can you identify this
24 document, please?
25 A. Exactly. I signed this. The date is June
1 30th and it says that the general staff should stop all
2 military action in Slovenia in keeping with the
3 agreement reached between the leadership of Yugoslavia
4 with the representatives of the European Community,
5 that all military units should withdraw, that all
6 military units should withdraw into barracks throughout
7 the country. Thirdly, I order the general staff of the
8 JNA to urgently withdraw their order on mobilisation,
9 and, forthly, I inform all federal and republican
10 authorities as well as the general public, both home
11 and abroad, that I have been compelled to take this
12 step, because of the persistent prevention of the
13 members of the Presidency of the SFRY from Serbian
14 Montenegro, from allowing the Presidency of the SFRY to
15 be constituted in keeping with the constitution of the
17 Q. And in what capacity did you issue this
19 A. I issued this Order in the capacity of Member
20 of the Presidency and Supreme Commander of the Yugoslav
21 Army, because, at that time, according to the
22 constitution, I held that post.
23 Q. And was there any compliance on the part of
24 the JNA with the Order that you issued as the legal
25 head of Yugoslavia?
1 A. No, no, they laughed. They laughed.
2 Q. Your Honour, at this time, perhaps it might
3 be an opportune time for a short break?
4 JUDGE CASSESE: Right. We will adjourn until
5 10.35, so 20 minutes.
6 (10.15 am)
7 (A short adjournment)
8 (10.35 am)
9 MR. WILLIAMSON: Mr. Mesic, we had left off
10 with this Order that you had issued on 30th June. With
11 the intervention of the EC troika, were you able to
12 formally assume the office of President of the
13 Presidency on 1st July?
14 A. Yes. As I said, this intervention took place
15 because the Presidency was not constituted. However,
16 the European troika exerted pressure on the Serb bloc
17 and finally I was elected President -- rather, I was
18 confirmed as President of the Presidency.
19 Q. On 4th July 1991, did a meeting of the
20 Presidency occur in relation to the fighting that was
21 still ongoing in Slovenia?
22 A. Yes, at that meeting, all of that that was
23 happening in Slovenia was registered.
24 Q. Was there any discussion then or any decision
25 taken about the JNA returning to barracks in Slovenia?
1 A. Yes. That was the main point, that the army
2 should withdraw into the barracks.
3 Q. On 8th July, just four days later, did a
4 meeting take place at Brijuni?
5 A. At Brijuni, a meeting was held with the
6 assistance of the European troika.
7 Q. And were Representatives of all of the
8 Yugoslav republics present at that meeting as well?
9 A. I know that we waited for the Representatives
10 of Serbia and Montenegro for a long time. I do not
11 know exactly now all who was there, but I know that we
12 had a majority and that we could pass decisions.
13 Q. What was the outcome of this meeting? Was
14 there any decision reached in regard to the situation
15 in Croatia and Slovenia and particularly in relation to
16 the independence of those two republics?
17 A. That was the main item on our agenda.
18 Namely, the European troika insisted on that, that the
19 Croatian and Slovenia decisions on independence should
20 not be implemented within a three-month period. No one
21 had objected in any way to the right of Croatia and
22 Slovenia to become independent; however, there was
23 simply this proposal to try by political means, to
24 avoid conflicts within a three-month period and to try
25 to avoid resolving problems by exerting pressure and
2 Q. Was the effect of this decision to take away
3 Croatia and Slovenia's independence?
4 A. No, no. No mention was made of that. It was
5 only the implementation that was postponed. However,
6 all the results remained because after all, that
7 decision was reached legally, both in Slovenia and in
8 Croatia, so it was quite clear that if a solution could
9 not be found within this three-month period, that these
10 decisions would remain in force.
11 MR. FILA: Your Honour, objection. I kindly
12 request that the witness does not provide expertise on
13 who becomes independent and when and how in
14 Yugoslavia. Yesterday we agreed that he would testify
15 only on his role. I heard a whole lot of insults at
16 the expense of the of my state, that he was an
17 epileptic or what have you. It seems that I am
18 defending Slavko Dokmanovic for one single day.
19 This witness was brought in as the President
20 of the Presidency to see what happened. But to
21 question him about Kosovo, about Vojvodina and I do not
22 know what all and that, we are not talking about the
23 subject at all. I have nothing against him. He is
24 answering the questions that are put to him. Now, he
25 is being asked who had become independents and how. We
1 said that this is a question for expertise. So I
2 kindly ask that he is asked only those questions that
3 he knows about, not whether elections were legal or
4 not. That is not for him to say. Thank you.
5 MR. WILLIAMSON: Your Honour, may I respond
6 to that?
7 JUDGE CASSESE: Yes.
8 MR. WILLIAMSON: First of all, the issues on
9 Kosovo and Vojvodina, all of this relates to the
10 dissolution of Yugoslavia and that is why all of that
11 is relevant to these proceedings. It goes to
12 international armed conflict and not to what happened
13 in Vukovar on 20th November, but the broader picture.
14 In terms of -- sorry. I lost my train of thought.
15 JUDGE CASSESE: The question of Croatian
17 MR. WILLIAMSON: Yes, your Honour. Thank you
18 very much.
19 In relation to this, he is not talking about
20 any legal conclusions. He is not putting forth this.
21 He is talking about decisions that were made there,
22 that he participated in, and that he participated in
23 discussions and how these decisions were reached and
24 what these decisions were. Again, the legal
25 conclusions as to the effect of those actions by the
1 participants in these conferences, that is for the
2 court and the court alone, so we are not asking a legal
3 opinion, but what more or less was discussed and what
4 discussions he participated in as an individual and as
5 President of the Presidency.
6 JUDGE CASSESE: Yes. Mr. Fila, I must say,
7 your objection is overruled, because I find what the
8 Prosecutor just said is quite appropriate. He is
9 trying to have the general picture and the background
10 to what happened with regard to the effects which are
11 before this court and it will be for the court finally
12 to make legal findings. Of course, the witness will
13 refrain as much as possible from making any legal
14 statements or giving legal definitions. Thank you.
15 MR. WILLIAMSON: Very well, your Honour,
16 thank you.
17 Subsequent to this conference at Brijuni, was
18 there a meeting on 18th July in which the issue of
19 withdrawal of the JNA from Slovenia came up?
20 A. Exactly. For me, the proposal of the top
21 people of the army and the agreement of Serbia to put
22 this on the agenda, that is the withdrawal of the army
23 from Slovenia and Croatia, all that came as a surprise
24 to me, because if the Yugoslav Army was fighting for
25 the survival of Yugoslavia, it was illogical for me
1 that it would withdraw from Slovenia. In other words,
2 I understood what it was all about. I did not vote in
3 favour of this proposal, but I presented a certain
4 proviso. If the Yugoslav Army is withdrawing from
5 Croatia and from Bosnia-Herzegovina too, then I am going
6 to vote for the withdrawal from Slovenia as well,
7 because I was afraid that this Army, parts of the army,
8 would go into Croatia and into Bosnia-Herzegovina and
9 reinforce those forces that are opposing the legal
11 Q. During the months of July and August of 1991,
12 what was happening in the Krajina region of Croatia?
13 A. In Krajina, there was also a referendum. I
14 do not know exactly what the date was. We thought that
15 it was not legal. Namely, it was not held according to
16 any regulations of the Republic of Croatia, although it
17 was on the territory of the Republic of Croatia.
18 Secondly, it was strictly a national referendum. This
19 kind of referendum is not possible because decisions
20 were to be passed on the territory. If there is any
21 kind of referendum, then all the citizens from that
22 territory would have to vote, including those who were
23 expelled from that territory. However, they did not
24 appear at this referendum and that referendum did not
25 have any legal effect.
1 Q. In the Krajina region, were more areas coming
2 under Serb control?
3 A. I would say that more and more areas were
4 coming under the control of the Yugoslav People's Army,
5 which had actually become the Serb Army. This was only
6 an excuse, that the conflict between two warring
7 parties would be resolved by the army placing
8 themselves in between. However, the army was not
9 standing between the two parties. They were covering
10 the territory that was supposed to become part of a
11 Greater Serbia subsequently.
12 MR. FILA: Objection again, your Honour.
13 These are conclusions. This is not testimony. These
14 are conclusions that a Greater Serbia is being created,
15 that the army is taking this. These are conclusions.
16 This is unacceptable. Sorry.
17 But I am not going to protest any more. You
18 decide any way you want.
19 JUDGE CASSESE: Mr. Fila, I have the feeling
20 that the witness is making statements, giving his own
21 assessments of historical facts. You may contest his
22 assessments later on, but it is a fact that he is
23 pronouncing on facts, on historical facts as seen by
24 him. So I do not know there is any impropriety going
1 MR. WILLIAMSON: If I might as well, at this
2 time, the gentleman was holding the position as
3 Commander-in-Chief of the military. Whether in fact he
4 was actually able to exert control or not, he was
5 certainly in a position to gather information and to
6 speak to persons which we will go into in more detail
7 in just a moment.
8 After these areas in Krajina and other areas
9 of Croatia came under Serb control, what was happening
10 to the Croatian civilians who were living there? Were
11 they allowed to stay?
12 A. Most of the civilians were expelled. Many of
13 them were killed too. Many villages were burned to the
14 ground and many people also remained there under very
15 difficult conditions. That is, according to the
16 information that I had received.
17 Q. During this time period, did you have
18 occasion to discuss these issues and bring these
19 particular points about civilians being killed and
20 expelled to the attention of the minister of Defence,
21 Veljko Kadijevic?
22 A. I talked about that, both to Veljko
23 Kadijevic, as the Minister of Defence, at my request,
24 in his office, and also I talked to Borisav Jovic, the
25 Serb Representative in the Presidency and I must say
1 that when the so-called Krajina asked for independence
2 from Croatia, I talked about this to Milan Babic as
3 well, the President of this so-called Krajina, and I
4 said that they were cheating him, that Borisav Jovic
5 and Milosevic were cheating him. These Croatian
6 territories would not become part of Serbia. He was
7 repeating what Milosevic had been saying, namely, that
8 all the Serbs had the right to live in the same state
9 and that they could carry out this right by way of a
10 referendum, although it is well known that the Badinter
11 Commission came to the conclusion that the republics
12 have the right to secede, not peoples, and that is the
13 way it ultimately turned out to be.
14 So I told him that it would be better for
15 them to solve their problems in Croatia rather than in
16 Belgrade. Babic did not exactly listen to me. He said
17 that both of us would live to see all of this becoming
18 Serbia and I said, "No way." It is not only that they
19 would not have Serbia in Croatia, but that he would not
20 have a dentist's office, because he was a dentist in
21 Croatia. As far as Veljko Kadijevic is concerned, I
22 asked him whether he actually saw what was happening,
23 that the army was becoming fully Serb and that they
24 were taking the territory which Garasanin and the
25 member of -- and the memorandum of the Serbian Academy
1 of Sciences and Arts had called for, namely, that a
2 Greater Serbia was being created and that he had
3 nothing to do in this context, that he was a Yugoslav
4 general and that when he completed this job, others
5 would come in, Serb generals, and there would be no
6 place for him there, just like for any other Yugoslav
7 general. Unfortunately, we could not agree on this and
8 later he published a book in which he confirmed what I
9 am claiming now, that they allegedly were defending
10 Serbs, but actually establishing a new boundary that
11 was supposed to be established.
12 Q. To your knowledge, were any steps ever taken
13 by General Kadijevic or by Borisav Jovic to stop these
14 practices of expulsions of Croatian civilians and the
15 killing of civilians during JNA military actions?
16 A. Yes, I think there perhaps were some cases
17 where the army had a, so to speak, milder treatment of
18 the population, attitude to the population, but where
19 the army did appear, there also followed some renegade
20 groups, which at the -- at the hands of which the
21 people were terrorised greatly, but the army did not
22 oppose this. When all is said and done, actually, the
23 Army was covering this entire area and the Republic of
24 Croatia was unable to establish its own control on
25 account of that Army and with the great force which it
1 had, the army was in fact protecting this renegade
2 authorities that were doing something which no state
3 can allow and accept in its territory.
4 Q. Did you ever discuss with General Kadijevic
5 the issue of how the JNA was fighting for Yugoslavia
6 after Slovenia had been let go?
7 A. Yes, I did. I had a lot of such
8 conversations as I have already indicated at my own
9 initiative, because not a single general came to see me
10 and I claim that precisely the exit of Slovenia was an
11 example, a case in point, which demonstrated that
12 neither the army nor Serbia were interested in
13 Yugoslavia, because if Slovenia was let go and Slovenia
14 was let go, because there is no autochthone Serbian
15 population in Slovenia and it was impossible to
16 organise coverage in terms of territory of all the
17 Serbs, homogenisation of the Serbs in that territory
18 for that purpose, so I claimed that precisely the
19 leaving of Slovenia was proof that nobody in the army
20 or in Serbia wanted a Yugoslavia. The mission of the
21 Army was to take as much territory as possible and, of
22 course, this is a top-heavy, huge mechanism and it had
23 to be financed, that army, and they were interested in
24 as wide as possible a territory to sustain that army.
25 It was the professional requirement --
1 request of the officers of the army personnel which
2 were supposed to find such sources of livelihood and
3 Serbia herself was interested in gaining as much space
4 as possible upon the model of an ethnic state and
5 ethnic boundaries. Kadijevic gave me this
6 explanation. He said, "Slovenia can go, but you will
7 see in a matter of years Slovenia will be applying in
8 writing to return to Yugoslavia".
9 Q. Were all of the top generals and admirals in
10 the JNA at that time Serbs?
11 A. No, not all of them were Serbs. There were
12 three generals who accepted the new relations and who
13 thought, when all is said and done, that they had been
14 with the JNA for quite a long time and had sought to
15 find their places there so that several Croats remained
16 on the opposite side. General Jurjevic, General
17 Brovet -- Admiral Brovet. There were some, but clearly
18 they had chosen another option.
19 Q. Below this very top level of leadership, did
20 any certain ethnic group or groups predominate in the
21 officer corps?
22 A. Yes, in the officer corps, there generally
23 predominated the Serbian ethnic group for quite a
24 number of years, and we actually had conflicts in that
25 corps in 1991, upon which the Croatian Spring movement
1 was actually crushed. As an example, I can use an
2 example in my own municipality, when most of the
3 population had been with the partisans during the
4 national liberation war and there was a negligent
5 number of Ustasha and when young men were sent to
6 military schools or for military training, there would
7 be written in their CVs that their parents had been in
8 the enemy's army and thereby they were eliminated.
9 They were deprived of this possibility of joining the
11 Since their parents actually had been with
12 the partisans since 1941 and 1942, they were such
13 people, but it was written in their CVs that their
14 parents had been with the enemy army, and this was how
15 they were eliminated from the ranks of the army. We
16 raised objection to this, but we did not manage to
17 shift the balance of forces because there were claims
18 by them that the Croats and the Slovenes, because they
19 were the most developed republic, did not simply wish
20 to join the army, and the Albanians, because they are
21 underdeveloped on the other hand, did not wish to join
22 the army, so that nobody but the Serbs had that
23 privilege of wanting to join the army.
24 Clearly, after the dismantling, the
25 disintegration of Yugoslavia, people went their
1 separate ways, the Croats to Croatia, the Slovenes to
2 Slovenia, the Muslims to Bosnia. The majority that
3 remained were Serbs. The Macedonians, of course, went
4 to Macedonia.
5 Q. I think there is a minor point that needs to
6 be corrected in that. I am not sure if it was a
7 mistranslation or a misstatement. But it indicated
8 after Croatian Spring in 1991. I believe that should
9 be 1971?
10 A. 1971, right.
11 Q. During the course of July, had fighting
12 intensified in Croatia? July of 1991?
13 A. Yes, it had intensified because the ranks of
14 the Yugoslav Army also joined in the fighting.
15 Q. At this time, I would like to show the
16 witness a document that we will mark as Prosecutor's
17 exhibit 103 and ask if you can identify this.
19 I must apologise to the court. We do not
20 have an English translation of this document at this
21 time. We will supplement it as soon as possible and we
22 would mark that as Prosecutor's exhibit 103A.
23 At this time, perhaps if the witness can look
24 at it and see if you can identify it, first of all. Do
25 you recognise this document, Mr. Mesic?
1 A. I do. That is a press release, a communiqué
2 of July 26th of the Presidency of Yugoslavia and it
3 contains precisely one of the decisions on a cease-fire
4 and the cessation of all hostilities, the launching of
5 talks on the modalities of that cease-fire and a
6 decision on the disarming of illegitimate paramilitary
7 formations and armed groups and also the units of the
8 Yugoslav armies should go back to barracks. It also
9 continues. That is the part where I disassociated
10 myself from the decision: "The cease-fire requires that
11 the armed forces of the Republic of Croatia are not
12 sent to the crisis areas where the population is a
13 majority Serb population." I did not accept that
14 particular segment because I -- it was my view that the
15 Croatian police and all the other mechanisms, of the
16 country of Croatia that is, had the right to function
17 throughout the Croatian territory.
18 Q. Where was the village of Kijevo located?
19 A. Kijevo is situated in the immediate vicinity
20 of Knin and the Croatian Ministry of the Interior
21 adopted, if that is what we are talking about, a
22 decision to establish a military -- a police station in
23 Kijevo because that particular area remained uncovered
24 by police protection, especially because the police
25 station in Knin had remained outside the control of the
1 Croatian Ministry of the Interior.
2 Q. What, if anything, happened to the village of
3 Kijevo in late August of 1991?
4 A. Unfortunately, that village was burnt down
5 and clearly a role in the burning down of the village
6 and the expulsion of all the villagers was played by
7 the Yugoslav Army from the Knin garrison, which at that
8 time was headed, I believe, by Colonel Ratko Mladic.
9 The burning of the village -- participating in the
10 burning of the village and the expulsion of the
11 villagers were also some paramilitary formations, but
12 also the logistics and the tank support was given by
13 the Yugoslav People's Army.
14 Q. Did you participate in a conference which was
15 held in The Hague in early September 1991?
16 A. Yes, I did. That session was held in this
17 city. It was attended by all the Members of the
18 Presidency and all the Presidents of the Presidencies,
19 i.e. the Presidents of the Yugoslav republics. That
20 was in September.
21 Q. At this conference, were any proposals
22 offered by Lord Carrington?
23 A. Lord Carrington offered very concrete
24 proposals. Most of the participants in the conference
25 agreed with him. Namely, it was quite clear the
1 conference itself -- and it was also so noted by Lord
2 Carrington -- that the former constituent elements of
3 the Federation had gained independence and that they
4 were able, each on its own, to choose their further
5 options and degree of independence and with whom they
6 wished to associate in the future, but he also said
7 that in exercising that right, one had to take into
8 consideration the need to protect collectivities, to
9 protect the rights of groups and entities whose parent
10 state turned out to be a different one from their
11 ethnic group.
12 That parent state would be entitled to take
13 care of its minorities living elsewhere, which normally
14 meant that that right would also be enjoyed by the
15 Albanians in Kosovo. However, Milosevic would not
16 accept that and I believe that he was the only one who
17 did not accept it. Even Bulatovic accepted this on
18 behalf of Montenegro and his minister, whose name I
19 believe was Samarjic, the Minister of Foreign Affairs
20 that is.
21 Q. There were a number of meetings which had
22 taken place after 25th June in an effort to broker a
23 peace, were there not?
24 A. Yes.
25 Q. At these meetings what was the role of the
1 Presidents of the various republics -- Milosevic,
2 Tudjman, Kucan -- as opposed to the Representatives of
3 the Yugoslav Presidency? What had the more dominant
5 A. The Members of the Presidency played no role
6 at all any more, because the actual situation was that
7 Yugoslavia was not functioning, that it did not exist,
8 that the republics had gained independence, so the
9 Members of the Presidency did not participate any
10 longer in any political consultations as to how to go
11 about addressing political problems that we were faced
12 with at the time.
13 Q. On 11th September, did you issue a decision
14 again calling for a return to barracks of the JNA?
15 A. Yes, I did. Then, and again invoking my
16 right from the previous decisions of the Presidency, I
17 demanded for the army to get back into barracks and
18 they informed me of their offer, the relevant factors,
19 and it was particularly worrisome that the army decided
20 to act on its own.
21 Q. At this time, I would like to show the
22 witness a document which we will mark as Prosecutor's
23 exhibit 104 and, again, our apologies to the court:
24 there is no English translation of this. One will be
25 provided subsequently. That would be marked under the
1 number of 104A. (Handed).
2 Mr. Mesic, do you recognise this document?
3 A. I do. This is my Order, where in the
4 introductory section I speak about what had transpired
5 before I passed that Order and where I mention that the
6 Army is wholly opposing Croatia -- not in fact
7 opposing, but it was bombarding Croatian towns and
8 villages, and I am mentioning the actual places where
9 that had happened. And then it culminates in the Order
10 which says that all the units are to withdraw to their
11 barracks within 48 hours and that those units which,
12 aided by renegade groupings, have seized the area of
13 the municipality of Beli Manastir should withdraw from
14 that area within 72 hours. As of the moment of the
15 disclosure of this Order in the media, all military
16 commanders who fail to heed this order and to comply
17 with it, to execute the order of the Presidency of the
18 Social Federal Republic of Yugoslavia about the
19 withdrawal of the army into barracks will be outlawing
21 The withdrawal of the JNA units into
22 barracks, the disbanding of the so-called Territorial
23 Defence, which is -- which has been illegally
24 mobilised, because it is not supported by a decision of
25 the Presidency of the SFRY, will mean creating the
1 conditions for the peaceful resolution of the crisis
2 and with a democratic dialogue between all the relevant
4 It is only by the withdrawal of the army into
5 barracks that it will be possible to ensure the rule of
6 law and the operation of all the institutions of the
7 state. I signed this on September 11th of 1991.
8 Q. Did the JNA comply with your order?
9 A. The Yugoslav Army did not execute this
10 order. Actually, their pressure only intensified and
11 their involvement only intensified; their efforts only
12 intensified in order to topple the established order in
14 Q. In this Order, you had mentioned that the JNA
15 should withdraw from the area of Beli Manastir. What
16 is the region around Beli Manastir between the Drava
17 and the Danube rivers known as?
18 A. That is Baranja. I have to explain a bit why
19 Beli Manastir was mentioned, because this entire
20 exercise, in the military sense, was undertaken by the
21 Yugoslav Army, even without any support to speak of on
22 the part of the renegade elements, because there were
23 not too many of those either there. So all this
24 devastation and the occupation itself, was in fact
25 carried out by the Yugoslav Army and I believe it was a
1 Novisad garrison.
2 Q. Was the Baranja region predominantly Serbian?
3 A. No, none of the areas, but Vojvodina and
4 Serbia had a majority Serbian population. On the
5 contrary, the population was Croatian, the majority of
6 the population were Croats, according to the last, that
7 is to say, 1991, census.
8 Q. Would it be fair to say that Baranja is
9 relatively close to Vukovar?
10 A. Yes, it is quite close to Vukovar and it is
11 more or less a similar, geographically speaking, area.
12 Q. At the end of September and into the first
13 week of October, where were you located?
14 A. I was in Zagreb.
15 Q. During that period, were there any efforts to
16 call meetings of the Presidency in Belgrade?
17 A. I wanted to call a meeting of the
18 Presidency. I got in touch with all the Members of the
19 Presidency, but I was physically prevented as the Head
20 of State. I was unable to reach the place on a plane
21 because all the airports had been blocked by the
22 Yugoslav People's Army and I could only come using a
23 vehicle of the Yugoslav People's Army or with means
24 which were in the service of the Yugoslav People's
25 Army, and therefore I could not just simply agree to
1 coming to Belgrade in any other way, except by being
2 granted free passage, and those who were sitting in
3 Belgrade then took advantage of this situation and the
4 further action escalated. Namely, they joined in the
5 military coup d'état which was in the making.
6 Q. At this time, I would like to show the
7 witness a document which we will mark as Prosecutor's
8 exhibit 105 and ask if you can identify this.
10 Again, your Honours, there is no English
11 translations. That would be marked as exhibit 105A.
12 Can you identify this document? It is
13 actually two documents, I believe.
14 A. Yes, this is a document where I inform in
15 writing Anton Stari, the General Secretary of the
16 Presidency of the SFRY in Belgrade, on September 30th,
17 that I was protesting against the convocation of a
18 session which would be convoked by anyone else and I
19 stated that I would accept if I was provided passage to
20 attend the session and I say, "Please be so kind also
21 as to inform the Members of the Presidency that the
22 President has been prevented for a long time in
23 discharging his duties, because the Yugoslav People's
24 Army is preventing him from coming to Belgrade.
25 Namely, the convoking of a Presidency session
1 at that time, though actually I was not prevented,
2 because they were invoking my -- being prevented from
3 discharging my duty as the reason for their failure to
4 convoke a Presidency session. I was not prevented. I
5 was not personally prevented because of my own
6 incapacity or illness, so I wanted that stated clearly,
7 that I informed the rest of the Presidency that if they
8 were to respond to an illegally-convoked session, they
9 would also be aligning with those who were carrying out
10 the military coup d'état. And that is what I stated
11 clearly in this communication.
12 Q. And what is indicated in the newspaper
13 article that is attached to the rear of that?
14 A. "Stejpan Mesic, according to the request of
15 the Serbian bloc, is to call a Presidency session.
16 In his statement given to the Hjena, the
17 President of the Presidency of the SFRY, Stejpan Mesic,
18 asked how he commented the day before yesterday's
19 statement, released from the session of the rump
20 Presidency held in Belgrade, in which, inter alia, it
21 was requested for a session of the Presidency to be
22 convoked as a matter of utmost urgency, 'and that if he
23 continues to be incapacitated, unable to attend, and if
24 conditions which are prescribed under the rules of
25 procedure for the convoking of a Presidency session
1 should indeed prevail, then the session should be
2 chaired by the Vice-President of the Presidency.'".
3 This is what he said:
4 "In view of the fact that the army has
5 blocked the roads and the air traffic routes, I am
6 unable to call a session in Belgrade, but only Zagreb
7 or Ljubljana or any other city, which I can reach by
9 Q. Mr. Mesic, I would like to show you now
10 another set of documents which relate to this same time
11 period and I will mark this as Prosecutor's exhibit
12 106. Again, there is no English translation. That
13 will be submitted as 106A.
14 If you can identify these documents and
15 perhaps summarise them for the court. (Handed).
16 A. The first page, the Presidency of the SFRY,
17 again, addressed to the Secretary General, Belgrade,
18 dated October 2nd 1991 and signed by me. I note -- I
19 acknowledge receipt of an invitation which convokes the
20 144th session of the Presidency and I also state in my
21 communication that I consider it an illegally convoked
23 Q. The second document?
24 A. This is the original document. It is quite
25 okay. The second document is also dated October -- no,
1 sorry. This is a copy. October 1st is the second
2 one. This is Anton Stari informing me about the
3 agenda, the session at which we were going to discuss
4 some topical question from the area of general national
5 defence. That is this convocation of session No. 144,
6 with the agenda enclosed. That is the one which I
7 distanced myself from in the previously shown document,
8 because I did not recognise the illegality of that
9 invitation and that is the invitation to that
10 Presidency session.
11 Q. I believe, just for the sake of clarity, that
12 was the third document in that group, was it not, if
13 you can look again?
14 A. Right, the third document is the agenda
15 itself and the invitation sent to me by the Secretary
16 General, but clearly under the influences of the
17 Vice-President, who assumed upon himself some powers
18 which he did not actually have.
19 Q. If you can look at the second document, the
20 middle document that was in that packet, and summarise
21 what is indicated in that one? I am sorry, I believe
22 you have indicated that that is a copy of the first
23 document; is that correct? I apologise. That was my
25 At this time, I would like to show you
1 documents which we will mark as Prosecutor's exhibit
2 107 and see if you can identify this document.
3 Your Honours, in this one, there is an
4 English copy as well as the one in Croatian.
5 A. This is an original document. There is an
6 English translation too. I am addressing the President
7 of the United States of America, George Bush. I am
8 informing him about the ultimatum issued by the
9 Yugoslav People's Army to the Republic of Croatia as
10 evidence that the army is acting autonomously and
11 extra-institutionally. I also inform President Bush
12 that the Yugoslav Federation no longer exists, that the
13 Army is preventing me from coming to Belgrade. I am
14 informing him about the continued aggression of Serbia
15 and the Yugoslav People's Army, which is no longer
16 Yugoslav, which has become Serbian. I ask for this new
17 reality in our part of the world to be recognised.
18 I also state that the Serbian regime of
19 Slobodan Milosevic toppled the Yugoslav Federation and
20 I conclude that it is only through the recognition of
21 the new entities within their boundaries that the war
22 can be stopped, as well as destruction and a war that
23 could spread to the rest of Europe.
24 Q. At this time, I would like to show you a
25 document I am going to mark as Prosecutor's exhibit
1 108, which appears to be the same letter directed to
2 the Secretary General of the UN, Javier Perez de
3 Cuellar. (Handed).
4 Can you tell me if in fact that is the same
5 letter directed to Mr. Perez de Cuellar?
6 A. Exactly. This is a letter to the Secretary
7 General of the United Nations, Mr. Perez de Cuellar, the
8 text is the same, but I must add to this that I
9 visited, as President of the Presidency of Yugoslavia,
10 the United Nations and I spoke of what was happening
11 and I said what I think would happen on the territory
12 of the former Yugoslavia. Over there, I was asked
13 whether one of the possible solutions was the
14 following, to sacrifice part of the territory for the
15 sake of peace and to cede this territory to Serbia and
16 I said, "What part of Croatia's territory?" They
17 said, "That part that borders with Serbia." I
18 explained that the majority population there was Croat
19 and that the majority Serb population is over 500
20 kilometres away in Knin and that this was impracticable
21 and impossible and that this would be a reason for
23 The situation evolved as presented here. A
24 brutal war broke out and in this letter, I informed
25 Perez de Cuellar about the results of the effective
1 non-intervention of the international community.
2 Had the international community deployed its
3 forces along the border between Croatia and Serbia and
4 the border between Bosnia and Serbia, as I had
5 proposed, there would have been no war, and a peaceful
6 solution would have been found and I concluded that the
7 international community and European and world
8 mechanisms became inoperative in our case.
9 Q. Despite these protests that you were lodging,
10 both with the other Members of the Presidency and with
11 world leaders, did the meetings of the Presidency go on
12 in Belgrade?
13 A. No, the Presidency never met again. Our last
14 two meetings were precisely here in The Hague, where we
15 all met together.
16 Q. Did a group of members within the Presidency
17 meet forming, in effect, a rump Presidency?
18 A. Yes, that is true, but this was no longer the
19 Yugoslav Presidency, according to the constitution.
20 This was the group that we had called the Serbian bloc
21 between ourselves, that is to say Serbia, Montenegro,
22 Kosovo and Vojvodina; they had proclaimed themselves a
23 relevant factor and they excluded the others. They
24 continued to operate as this rump Presidency. Their
25 decisions were not binding on anyone and they continued
1 with this illegitimate activity.
2 Q. Did this rump Presidency, to your knowledge,
3 authorise expanded action by the JNA in Croatia?
4 A. Precisely. Afterwards, the army drew
5 conclusions from the decisions that were passed by this
6 rump Presidency, but in this way, the army leadership
7 only continued their coup d'état activity, because it
8 was quite clear to them that everything they were doing
9 was only implementation of a military coup d'état.
10 Q. On 7th October 1991, were you at the
11 Presidential Palace in Zagreb, Banski Dvori?
12 A. That is yet more evidence that the army was
13 involved in a coup d'état. Namely, from Zagreb, I
14 called Ante Markovic in Belgrade who was Prime Minister
15 of Yugoslavia. I asked him to come to Zagreb so that
16 we could try to analyse the situation that had
17 emerged. The state Presidency was in a state of
18 blockade. The Executive Council, that is the
19 government, was also in a blockade and also the Federal
20 Parliament. Everyone was at a standstill and that is
21 why I invited the Prime Minister to meet with me in
23 I talked to him on the telephone. I said
24 that I would meet him the next day at 10 am. At 11 am,
25 President Tudjman would talk to Ante Markovic, and at
1 12 o'clock there was to be a luncheon. Ante Markovic
2 accepted this itinerary. We talked on the phone and I
3 simply did not take into consideration the fact that
4 the phone was bugged. Anton Markovic came to Zagreb.
5 We had a meeting. He has his meeting with Tudjman. We
6 were having lunch and an hour later, we went back to
7 President Tudjman's office and at that point, rockets
8 fell on Banski Dvori, exactly on the place where we had
9 been having lunch. My conclusion was that the army
10 wanted to kill me and, in this way, to bring the
11 Vice-President to power legally, because there would be
12 no President.
13 The murder of Ante Markovic was supposed to
14 make it possible for his Deputy Prime Minister, Aca
15 Mitrovic from Serbia, to become Prime Minister
16 legally. And if Franjo Tudjman were killed, there
17 would be chaos in Croatia because the new government
18 was not fully constituted as yet. That is probably
19 what they had in mind. However, fortunately, none of
20 this had succeeded. We withdrew from Banski Dvori into
21 shelter. A man was killed there. There was quite a
22 bit of destruction and in the shelter, we agreed on the
23 following: that I would go to the Benelux countries to
24 ask for recognition of Croatia and that Anton Markovic
25 should go to Austria and to ask the Republic of Austria
1 for the same thing.
2 I did my job and I received assurances that
3 we would be recognised. Later, all of this was
4 accelerated. It is precisely this attack on Banski
5 Dvori that speeded up the recognition of Croatia.
6 Q. Was this attack launched by a JNA aircraft?
7 A. Yes, it was done very professionally. Their
8 targeting was excellent, but, luckily for us, we were
9 not at the place where they knew that we would be
10 having lunch, otherwise I would not be here as a
11 witness today.
12 Q. To your knowledge, were any other air attacks
13 launched during this time period on the city of Zagreb
15 A. There were attacks on the city of Zagreb from
16 other areas, areas that were under the control of the
17 Yugoslav Army and Milan Martic, with his groups.
18 Zagreb was attacked several times. There were
19 casualties. There was quite a bit of destruction in
20 the streets of Zagreb and quite a few buildings were
22 Q. That was in 1995, though, that you are
23 referring to, the attack launched by Mr. Martic;
25 A. Yes, yes, yes. I just wanted to say this in
1 a sequence. That these attacks went on until 1995.
2 Q. Did there come a time in October when the JNA
3 launched an action against the city of Dubrovnik?
4 A. Yes, this was an action of the Yugoslav Army
5 after all. Some reservists from Montenegro had joined
6 in too. It was the first time in the history of the
7 city of Dubrovnik that it was attacked. Its walls were
8 there for hundreds and hundreds of years, but this was
9 the first time that it was attacked in such a brutal
10 way. In the vicinity of Dubrovnik, in Konavli, there
11 was total devastation. Many human lives were lost and
12 there was major destruction, because the Yugoslav Army
13 had completely encircled Dubrovnik, from sea and land.
14 Dubrovnik had no way out and I decided to try to break
15 through this blockade with a convoy and to bring
16 assistance to Dubrovnik.
17 Q. Did Dubrovnik have any significant Serb
18 population living there?
19 A. Serbs lived there as individuals, as Croatian
20 citizens, but there were not any Serbs that covered a
21 certain part of the territory of the area of Dubrovnik.
22 Q. Were Serbs in the majority in the population
24 A. Dubrovnik? No, no. It is insignificant in
25 terms of their presence in Dubrovnik, but in Konavli
1 that was razed to the ground, there were not any Serbs
2 at all.
3 Q. Were there any large military installations
4 in Dubrovnik?
5 A. No, no, none. This is a cultural centre with
6 major historic monuments. It is a tourist area. There
7 was no reason to attack Dubrovnik. No military reason
8 to attack Dubrovnik.
9 Q. I would like to show you a document I will
10 mark now as Prosecutor's exhibit 110 and ask if you can
11 identify this and also I would show you Prosecutor's
12 exhibit 111.
13 THE REGISTRAR: 109, you are forgetting one
15 MR. WILLIAMSON: I am sorry, 109 and 110
16 would be these two exhibits. Again, I believe it is
17 the same letter (handed) addressed to Mr. Perez de
18 Cuellar and to President Bush of the United States.
19 Both of these letters are in English. Is it possible
20 for you to identify what these documents relate to,
21 Mr. Mesic?
22 A. Both are authentic documents. It is about
23 the attack on Dubrovnik. I described what happened
24 there and of course I asked for help.
25 Q. At approximately the same time that you wrote
1 these letters, do you recall writing another letter to
2 Mr. Perez de Cuellar talking about the situation in
3 general of the war in Croatia?
4 A. Exactly, exactly. Because it is precisely
5 the United Nations that I wished to inform about the
6 escalation of the war and I wanted to show that I was
7 right when I asked for the protection of borders and
8 the prevention of war.
9 Q. At this time, I would like to show the
10 witness another document, which I will mark as
11 Prosecutor's exhibit 111. If you can just briefly
12 identify this document and then indicate to the court
13 what is said in it. (Handed).
14 A. This is a letter dated October 4th and I am
15 writing to Mr. Perez de Cuellar, Secretary General of
16 the United Nations, and I am telling him that Veljko
17 Kadijevic formally declared war on the Republic of
18 Croatia. I said that it was the survival of the
19 Croatian people and the Croatian state that are at
20 stake and the Air Force and the naval forces are
21 engaged in order to protect the Serb regime and -- the
22 annex to this letter is not here, but I sent this
23 declaration of war by General Kadijevic as an annex to
24 this letter.
25 Q. At the end of October, did you --
1 THE INTERPRETER: Microphone, please.
2 MR. WILLIAMSON: Sorry. At the end of
3 October, did you undertake an initiative in relation to
4 getting through the naval blockade of Dubrovnik?
5 A. Yes, we formed a convoy which was on a peace
6 mission with some 40 ships. The biggest one was Slavja
7 and I was on that ship. We had announced that we would
8 be going to Dubrovnik because we wanted to give
9 encouragement to the people of Dubrovnik so that they
10 would see that they were not on their own, and we also
11 wanted to bring aid to them in terms of food and
13 The army stopped this convoy; long,
14 painstaking negotiations ensued. The army, notably
15 Admiral Brovet, asked that we go to Montenegro, to
16 Zelenika, where the ships would be checked, because
17 allegedly there were cannons on the ship. I said that
18 cannons were in their heads, that this is a
19 humanitarian mission, this is humanitarian aid, and
20 that we should get through to Dubrovnik, because I
21 thought that they would not sink me and finally, after
22 a lot of wrangling, long negotiations, they let us into
24 We unloaded this aid. Some of our people got
25 killed because, at that time, yet another attack on
1 Dubrovnik had started while we were still in Dubrovnik.
2 Q. Did there come a point in December of 1991
3 when you formally resigned from the office of
5 A. Yes, the Croatian Parliament had appointed me
6 its representative in the Presidency of Yugoslavia.
7 However, since I came to the conclusion that Yugoslavia
8 no longer existed, I formally resigned in the Croatian
9 Parliament and my resignation was accepted.
10 Q. During your tenure as President and during
11 the year of 1991, did the JNA obey any of the orders
12 that you issued to it?
13 A. Regrettably, I must say that not a single
14 officer, not a single member of the Yugoslav Army --
15 did not carry out a single order of mine. If I can say
16 this with a certain degree of irony, with the exception
17 of General Vasiljevic. I told him to sit down and he
18 sat down. That is the only thing they carried out
19 during my tenure as President of the Presidency.
20 MR. WILLIAMSON: I have no further questions
21 of Mr. Mesic. I would, however, offer exhibits 102
22 through 111. I would tender those for evidence.
23 JUDGE CASSESE: There is no objection. Thank
25 MR. WILLIAMSON: Thank you.
1 JUDGE CASSESE: Mr. Fila?
2 Cross-examined by MR. FILA
3 Q. First of all, I would like to tell you
4 something. I read in a newspaper from Zagreb that they
5 showed me yesterday that I called you the guilty party
6 for the war and that that is why I asked you to come
7 here. I think that you and I have known each other for
8 long enough that you realise that I could not have said
9 something so stupid. Yes, it was in Globus. So
10 please, these last two days, could you tell me exactly
11 when the Presidency of Yugoslavia met in The Hague?
12 When was this?
13 A. This was --
14 Q. We have the document here. This was
16 A. Yes, okay and I think the beginning of
17 October if I am not mistaken.
18 Q. Is it possible that this is the 18th
19 October? I will show it to you. Your signature is
20 here too.
21 A. I do not have it here any more.
22 Q. It is here. On 4th and 5th November, were
23 you in The Hague again? Was there a meeting here
25 A. I was at the first and second session.
1 Q. And a third one?
2 A. No, I did not come to the third one.
3 Q. In Hague?
4 A. No.
5 Q. So there were three sessions?
6 A. No, but I was only at the first two.
7 Q. In what capacity were you here?
8 A. In the capacity of Member of the Presidency.
9 Q. Of the SFRY?
10 A. Yes, yes.
11 Q. But it is obvious that the next session was
12 without the Members of the Presidency. That is to say,
13 that these were negotiations held by the Presidents of
14 the Republics. However, the important thing is that
15 you were here on 4th and 5th November in your capacity
16 as President of the Presidency of Yugoslavia?
17 A. No, I was not here.
18 Q. Member of the Presidency. I am sorry. Not
19 President of the Presidency. My mistake.
20 Quite a few things have been said about you
21 and I have quite a few statements here, so, please,
22 when you say that this is true, then we are going to
23 accept that, but perhaps the rest of it is simply
24 something that was launched by journalists and which is
25 not true, like the one I referred to a few moments
2 We read that, for you, the HDZ is an
3 extremist nationalist party, a hindrance to democracy,
4 which introduced a single way of thinking and which
5 robbed the people; is that what you really meant?
6 A. You have to look at this in terms of the time
7 period involved.
8 Q. Okay, but have you said something like this?
9 A. This statement of yours calls for
10 clarification. Namely, when the HDZ was established
11 first, when I was its member, when its programme was
12 elaborated, that was a party that was in favour of a
13 multi-party system, for democratisation and a free
14 society. When the balance of political forces in the
15 HDZ changed, I left the HDZ and I became critical of
16 the policy of the HDZ.
17 Q. That is to say, that this statement is from
18 this latter period?
19 A. Yes, from this later period.
20 Q. Thank you. You spoke about the meetings
21 between Milosevic and Tudjman in Kavajorjavo. Is it
22 true that you said that after these meetings, obviously
23 there were several such meetings if I understood you
24 correctly, in that context, that Milosevic established
25 Republika Srpska and Tudjman established Herceg-Bosna?
1 A. Yes, I never claimed that this was agreed in
3 Q. I did not say that either. I said that it
4 happened afterwards.
5 A. But I did claim that Milosevic established
6 Republika Srpska and that the Croats, supported by the
7 policy of Presidency Tudjman, established Herceg-Bosna
8 on the other part of Bosnia-Herzegovina. That is to
9 say the same. Republika Srpska and Republic Bosnia, on
10 the other side, a bit later.
11 Q. In response to the establishment of Republika
12 Srpska, you said that the two of them -- I am referring
13 to Milosevic and Tudjman -- were agreeing on this
14 division of Bosnia-Herzegovina and then you testified
15 here as to what Milosevic had proposed?
16 A. Exactly.
17 Q. What did Tudjman answer? That is what I am
18 interested in.
19 A. Tudjman told us what Milosevic had proposed.
20 Q. And did Mr. Tudjman accept this?
21 A. I do not know what he did there. He said
22 that this is what Milosevic was proposing, but what
23 they agreed upon, that is something that we never heard
24 decidedly. Maybe somebody else has this information,
25 but I do not, what was specifically agreed.
1 Q. You know very well that there some kind of
2 paper napkin on which President Tudjman had made a
4 A. Yes, but this was not in Karadordevo.
5 Q. No, but this was later in London. I think
6 that is when I last saw you.
7 A. Yes, exactly. That is when this napkin
8 emerged. I have not identified it. Somebody else has
9 to do that.
10 Q. If Tudjman and Milosevic had reached some
11 sort of agreement, how come the JNA attacked Dubrovnik
12 when they were in cahoots? It is not logical?
13 A. It is not illogical because Milosevic
14 deceived everyone, including the Serbs in Croatia.
15 Namely, he just needed the Serbs as a primer cap. That
16 it was only after the Flash and Storm operations he did
17 not lift a finger to protect the Serbs who had led into
18 war in Croatia rather than against Croatia.
19 Q. So the Serbs themselves had to lift a finger
20 or two?
21 A. Yes, precisely so. He contributed to this
22 policy because Serbia, simply speaking, under the
23 leadership of its radical part, did not look for a
24 solution in Zagreb with the Croatian authorities, but
25 rather always opted for Belgrade and the Belgrade
1 authorities and their say so.
2 Q. I asked this question because if Milosevic
3 and Tudjman had reached agreement, a bargain, reached a
4 deal, at the expense of Bosnia-Herzegovina, why then
5 would the JNA attack Dubrovnik? If they were to reach
6 agreement at the expense of other people, why would
7 they attack Dubrovnik?
8 A. You know, in this aggression, this
9 disintegration of Yugoslavia, Milosevic obviously also
10 aspired after deceiving Tudjman too and taking a part
11 of Croatia, not only a part of Bosnia-Herzegovina. The
12 French say that you whet your appetite by eating. That
13 is exactly the case with Milosevic, but he bit off more
14 than he could chew.
15 Q. I have also found a statement of yours and
16 you said that Mate Boban in Bosnia-Herzegovina was in
17 fact conducting Tudjman's policy and he told you, "I do
18 not have a policy of my own. The policy that I am
19 implementing is Tudjman's policy." That is what he
20 said. I only repeated it.
21 A. Right.
22 Q. And that he said that nothing was undertaken
23 in Herceg-Bosna without the knowledge of President
25 A. Right.
1 Q. Were there at all any crimes in the territory
2 of Croatia, because it is hard to conclude that from
3 your statement.
4 A. I was not asked by anyone about that.
5 Q. I am asking you?
6 A. But to tell you very clearly, in response to
7 a question, there were crimes and people were not
8 brought to justice on time and it is a pity for Croatia
9 because there were no such trials and I do claim that,
10 had Croatia functioned as a state, observing the rule
11 of the law to the full, today we would not need the
12 Tribunal in The Hague to try our citizens.
13 Q. Who is responsible for that situation with
14 the Serbs and Muslims? For the murders of Serbs and
15 Muslims? Is it Tudjman that is responsible in Pakracka
16 Poljana, for instance, for the eviction of Serbs from
17 their apartments and dismissal from their jobs? And we
18 know that that happened.
19 A. The war was the reason why there was mutual
20 hatred, and collective recriminations were traded by
21 the collectivities. All the Muslims found all the
22 Serbs to blame for their fate and all the Croats as
23 well, and to the Croats it was all the Serbs and all
24 the Muslims that were to blame, and by virtue of things
25 and the logic of war, when it comes to the Serbs, they
1 held all the Croats and all the Muslims responsible for
2 their fate, so everybody was to blame in everybody's
4 What we needed and what we need now is to
5 individualise guilt and that is to answer your first
6 question, and I advocate the standpoint that guilt
7 should be individualised. We should not accuse anyone
8 in advance. It is up to the court to apportion the
9 blame of everyone and it is only at that point that we
10 should cease having this collective guilt and
11 recriminations and create conditions for normal
12 co-habitation in Bosnia, in Croatia, in
13 Bosnia-Herzegovina. I believe that it would be very
14 good for the Serbs also to have an individualisation of
16 Q. Okay, thank you.
17 Now, for something different, talking about
18 President Milosevic. You said that he was to blame for
19 this, for that, and so on and so forth. That he
20 eroded, undermined Yugoslavia, toppled it.
21 Can you perhaps apply the same yardstick to
22 President Tudjman when it comes to crimes against
23 Serbs, especially what followed after the Storm and the
24 Flash operations and the massacre in the Pakracka
25 Poljana and the killing of the Zec family, which was
1 never condemned. Can you say that --
2 MR. WILLIAMSON: I think we have given
3 Mr. Fila a lot of latitude, but he is asking about
4 events that happened in 1995, which are clearly
5 irrelevant to any issue which is being discussed in
6 this trial.
7 JUDGE CASSESE: Mr. Fila --
8 MR. FILA: Your Honour, excuse me, but what
9 year was the bombardment by Martic of Zagreb? It was
10 also in 1995 and you asked a question relating to
11 that. Was that not correct? Was it not in 1995?
12 MR. WILLIAMSON: In response to that, your
13 Honour, I asked and I believe if the transcript is
14 checked, I indicated during this time period, were
15 there any other bombardments of Zagreb?
16 In response to that question, Mr. Mesic had
17 indicated there were attacks launched by Martic. I
18 then clarified that and said, "That was in 1995, was it
19 not?" And then ceased any questioning on that issue.
20 JUDGE CASSESE: Mr. Fila, the Prosecutor is
21 right. Actually, this is my vivid recollection and let
22 us try to confine ourselves to that particular period,
23 1990-91, because the main problem today is whether or
24 not there was an international armed conflict.
25 MR. FILA: About Kosovo or Croatia; we also
1 talked about Kosovo this morning. That is still not
2 the territory of Croatia.
3 I asked, "In 1991, Pakracka Poljana was in
4 1991." That was when Serbs were also dismissed from
5 their workplaces. Do you believe that? The
6 responsibility of Mr. Tudjman equals that of
7 Mr. Milosevic for the persecution of those people and
8 their dismissal from their jobs.
9 A. Not with a single word did I accuse Slobodan
10 Milosevic of a single crime except for his wrong
11 policies and that wrong policy of his actually led to
12 crime and I am accusing him of planning the war, of
13 reckoning into that war, genocide, because he called
14 for an ethnically pure state, and that he called for a
15 forcible change of borders.
16 That is what I am accusing him of. As for
17 Tudjman, I am also accusing him of a wrong policy, and
18 what are the results of that policy is something to be
19 ascertained by other parties. As for the Zec family, I
20 asked for a trial to be conducted because, after all, a
21 man was killed at his own doorstep, his own yard. His
22 wife and his child were also killed. They were killed
23 in the woods near Zagreb. His wife is Marijana Mesic
24 and I had certainly reason for intervening. The case
25 had been started on and I really abhorred the way the
1 proceedings evolved, because those who had confessed to
2 their crimes, both in terms of Pakracka Poljana and the
3 Zec family were acquitted, because the attorney was not
4 present when they were making the confessions. So what
5 was up to me is I tried to do that, but the actual
6 authorities in charge were derelict in their duties.
7 Q. Mr. Tudjman said that there would only be 3
8 per cent of Serbs in Croatia after the war?
9 A. You did not hear him right. In view of the
10 concrete circumstances which prevailed and when that
11 was said, and it was in relation to a regulation which
12 was to sector the extents of the rights of the
13 respective ethnic groups, given their numbers and as
14 the Serbs were in excess of 8 per cent, they enjoyed
15 quite different benefits, because of their large
16 number. So, in that context, Mr. Tudjman -- I do not
17 know exactly why you are asking this, but perhaps he
18 should be asked -- that he just said that after this
19 war, it is to be expected that not more than 5 per cent
20 of Serbs would remain now. I do not know why. Whether
21 he thought that they would leave under duress or that
22 they would leave of their own volition. That is not
23 for me to decide. I only quoted his own conclusion.
24 Q. You talked about the rebellion of Serbs, the
25 revolution, the para-revolution, and so on and so
1 forth, in respect to Plitvice, so that some had been
2 apprehended and then released, but there is no need for
3 us to polemicise because I was their Defence counsel.
4 Be that as it may, as regards Mr. Raskovic,
5 who started this SDS creation, creating the SDS, was he
6 received by Mr. Tudjman and what did Mr. Raskovic ask of
7 Mr. Tudjman?
8 A. To my knowledge and, mind you, I also talked
9 to Mr. Raskovic, he asked for cultural autonomy for
10 Serbs in Croatia. He had a number of conversations in
11 that respect with Mr. Tudjman, which I did not attend,
12 but matters escalated to such an extent that at a large
13 scale rally of Serbs in Croatia, Jovan Raskovic called
14 them to rebellion, but not armed rebellion. However,
15 the situation deteriorated and went beyond his
16 aspirations, as it were, and we saw how he ended up in
17 the end.
18 Q. Was a conversation between him and Mr. Tudjman
19 published and publicly mocked?
20 A. I believe that that conversation should not
21 have been published, but it saw the light of day,
22 however. I believe that it is much better, anyway, to
23 conduct talks even for three years than to wage war for
24 three days.
25 Q. In 1990, the constitutional Croatia was
1 amended after the victory of the HDZ. What happened
2 then to the Serbian people? Or, to go chronologically,
3 according to the 1974 constitution, there were two
4 constituent nations in Croatia: the Serbs and the
5 Croats. What happened after these amendments to the
6 Serbian people in Croatia? As states had been created
7 and Serbia as the parent state of the Serbian people, I
8 am referring to 1990 and from 1990.
9 A. Yes, but it is quite clear that Serbia was
10 also seeking to exercise her right to independence and
11 what Croatia sought was to establish a new system. In
12 that new system, that is to say, in the constitution of
13 the Republic of Croatia, nothing is said about a single
14 one of the nations, of the peoples. There is a
15 preamble -- and most of us here are jurists. It has a
16 preamble and the binding portion of the constitution.
17 The preamble describes the inception of the Croatian
18 state and the contributions of various factors to that
19 inception of the state and the Serbs are mentioned
20 there, that, as a nation and as individuals, they have
21 contributed to the creation of the Croatian state.
22 They are not the only nations or
23 nationalities as we call them, who are mentioned there,
24 but other ethnic groups are also mentioned as having
25 contributed to the creation of the state, but the
1 binding part does not mention individually specifically
2 by name either the Serbs or the Croats or the Muslims
3 or any other nation. It says that Croatia is the state
4 of all its citizens.
5 Q. I ask you, first of all, in the 1974
6 constitution, that constitution of Croatia specified
7 two constituent nations: the Serbs and the Croats in
9 A. That is correct, yes. In 1974, that was so.
10 It was written.
11 Q. The Serbian people in Croatia and the others
12 were referred to as nationalities. What is the
13 situation according to the constitution at the Badinter
15 A. The republics, it is quite decidedly said
16 according to the constitution, had the right to
17 cessation and it was republics having that right of
18 cessation that had associated to form Yugoslavia.
19 Of course, this position was interpreted
20 differently in Serbia, that it was a right that had
21 been consummated, that the republics could no longer
22 separate. Namely, that is a durable right and a right
23 which cannot be consummated in that way, and it was a
24 right vested in the republics to seek independence
25 because they did not form Yugoslavia as nations, as
1 peoples, but only as members of the Croatian state
2 which had associated into the Yugoslav Federation.
3 Q. Mr. Mesic, the 1974 constitution speaks about
4 the right of peoples to self-determination, not
5 republics. Where? In what Article is it mentioned
6 that republics have that right?
7 A. They are the constituent elements of the
9 Q. You mean peoples?
10 A. Not peoples. They are just incidentally
11 mentioned. It was republics, but let us not dwell upon
12 this. We can go on for ever and a day discussing that.
13 Q. You say that until 5th December 1991, you
14 were relieved of office or withdrawn from the
15 Presidency of Yugoslavia by decision of the
16 Parliament. I shall read to you something from our
18 "A Croatian Saba recall the President of the
19 Presidency", and then goes on to quote Mesic: "I have
20 discharged my mission. Yugoslavia no longer exists."
21 I shall not read all of this. It is way too
22 long, of course, what was said. Zarko Domljan said:
23 "On that occasion, Mesic had kept his
24 promise. Yugoslavia is no longer."
25 I should like to ask you the following
1 question in regard to that statement of yours, "I have
2 discharged my mission. Yugoslavia no longer exists."
3 Did you say it and what does it mean?
4 A. I have to say this in response to your
5 question. I was delegated to Belgrade on behalf of the
6 Croatian Parliament as Member of the Presidency of
7 Yugoslavia. First of all as Vice-President and
8 subsequently as President.
9 Q. Right, right.
10 A. And that was the only mission that I was
11 supposed to discharge at that post. Since Yugoslavia
12 was no longer, I had no other mission. I had no
13 mission to be a Prosecutor or an attorney in Belgrade.
14 My sole task was to be a Member of the Presidency and
15 to discharge my duties as Member of the Presidency.
16 When that ceased, my task was over. I no longer had
17 anything to do in the Presidency. Only as a migrant
18 worker, perhaps.
19 Q. I was getting at something else. I wish to
20 remind you of this statement because I want to ask you
21 to explain to the court. Why there was a stop? Why
22 did you not become President of the Presidency of
23 Yugoslavia? Why did they not want to elect you
24 President? Because you had said something, right?
25 A. Look, these are speculations. These are
1 speculations of Bora Jovic and of course his mentor.
2 Allegedly, I had said that I would be the last
3 President of Yugoslavia. When I went to Belgrade, the
4 function was no long -- the Federation was no longer
5 functioning. Nothing was functioning in the state.
6 All the republics were dissatisfied with their status,
7 the provinces included.
8 I think it would also be logical if the
9 provinces got the right to say, by way of a vote, what
10 they wanted and what they did not, but regrettably they
11 did not get this right. In that situation, I was
12 getting ready to go to Belgrade where everyone sought a
13 reconstruction of Yugoslavia. I have a sane mind, so I
14 came to the logical conclusion, that in this
15 constellation, in this mechanism that was established,
16 I am probably the last President. Everyone else will
17 either come to a confederal Yugoslavia or there will
18 simply no longer be a Yugoslavia. I simply came to
19 this logical conclusion. And I was right. Not a
20 single one was elected any more. It was not through my
21 will, but through the operation of these political
23 Q. However, did you state that you would be
24 coming to Belgrade to be the last President of
25 Yugoslavia? That is my question.
1 A. No, no, no. In response to a journalist's
2 question, I said that I think I am going to be the last
3 President of Yugoslavia in this constellation.
4 Q. Because it was not functioning as you said?
5 A. Yes, yes, that is right.
6 Q. I would like to read something to you,
7 please. You wrote a book, in all fairness, "How We
8 Toppled Yugoslavia". When you say "we", it is probably
10 A. I did not. I did not contribute to that.
11 Q. We all contributed to it together.
12 A. Okay. Perhaps I can even agree to that. No
14 Q. And you said that -- I mean, you have taken
15 the oath when you came here, right? When you came to
16 Belgrade, and 18 million Yugoslavs, myself included,
17 heard you take the oath. Would you read it to me now?
18 A. No.
19 Q. Why not? Do you want me to read it to you?
20 A. Yes.
21 Q. You are going to say whether I --
22 "I state that I am going to struggle for the
23 protection of the sovereignty, independence...
24 "I solemnly declare that I am going to strive
25 for the protection of the sovereignty, independence and
1 integrity of the country and for the realisation of the
2 power of the working class and all working people, that
3 I will strive for the attainment of brotherhood and
4 unity and the equality of rights of nations and
5 nationalities, for the development of a social
6 self-management society, for the exercise of common
7 interests of the working people and citizens of the
8 SFRY, and that I will abide by the constitution of the
9 SFRY and federal laws and conscientiously discharge my
11 And you buried that state?
12 A. Well, I did not bury it. I must say that I
13 honoured my oath, my constitutional oath, but
14 Yugoslavia was no longer there; I could not help it
16 Q. Or you did not want to help it?
17 A. If a person has been drowning for three days,
18 you cannot resuscitate him. So, accordingly, no effort
19 of mine could have saved Yugoslavia. It was simply a
20 waste of time, because other factors had destroyed
22 Q. But why did you not resign? That is an
23 honourable thing to do. You deceive people. You make
24 them believe that you are going to do something.
25 A. No, that is not so.
1 Q. It is honourable to say, "This Yugoslavia is
2 falling apart and I am leaving."
3 A. No, it is not exactly that way, because then
4 somebody else would have come to my place and he would
5 not have observed the interests of the Republic of
6 Croatia or others and, after all, I had this
8 Q. I imagine that you are not the only person
9 who can protect the interests of Croatia. Probably
10 Tudjman could have protected the interests of Croatia.
11 A. I had to protect the interests of those who
12 sent me to Belgrade, and I think that I did my job
13 conscientiously. Namely, I had persistently been
14 asking for the following. That the state mechanisms
15 should function. That the army should get out of
16 political decision-making and that political problems
17 should be resolved in peace.
18 And, later on, it became obvious how, for
19 example, the Chets and the Slovacs could work things
20 out in a civilised manner. Had the JNA not been arming
21 the Serbs in Croatia, had there not been for the
22 ambition to break up Bosnia, had it not been for this
23 ambition to change borders, of course a confederal
24 concept could have been reached in peace, or the
25 country could have broken apart -- but in peace.
1 Q. For example, why did you not give cultural
2 autonomy to Vaskovic? Was it indispensable to get the
3 Serbs out of the constitution precisely at that point
4 in time?
5 A. You cannot object to me on the count of
7 Q. But this is a different matter, this is not
8 part of this process. How do you interpret the
9 statement made by Zarko Domljan? Mesic had kept his
10 promise that he would be the last President of
11 Yugoslavia. That is the promise you made as you were
12 going to Yugoslavia?
13 A. Probably Zarko Domljan did not understand
14 what I said when I went to Belgrade.
15 Q. You said, as you were speaking of Kosovo,
16 that 90 per cent of the population of Kosovo is
18 A. Yes.
19 Q. And that in Croatia, there are 10 per cent
21 A. Yes.
22 Q. More or less. The figures are not very
23 accurate, but never mind. Is Kosovo part of Serbia or
25 A. Kosovo became part of Serbia because, in the
1 Second World War, an agreement was reached between
2 Tudjman -- sorry, not Tudjman, Tito and Ilija Holja
3 that there should be an uprising in Kosovo against the
4 Italians and the Germans and that after the war, the
5 status of Kosovo would be resolved.
6 Q. But whose was Kosovo before the war? Come
7 on. What state did Kosovo belong to before that?
8 A. It was part of the unitary Yugoslavia, but in
9 the Second World War, this Yugoslavia no longer
10 existed. It was built on a different foundation. It
11 could not be --
12 Q. Well, come on. Let us go back to the First
13 World War. Was it not part of Serbia then before the
14 First World War?
15 A. Yes, before the First World War, it was
17 Q. And Kosovo was in Serbia?
18 A. Yes, of course, but new subjects came into
19 being in the Second World War. Republics were
20 established and Kosovo, as an area, because Albanian
21 insisted, because of the majority Albanian population,
22 that already in the Second World War it should become
23 part of Albania. And Tito had a different logic. Now
24 it is important to fight against the occupiers and we
25 are going to work out the status of Kosovo after the
2 Q. And, finally, after the war?
3 A. And, after the war, it was in Serbia, but it
4 got a high degree of autonomy. And that province and
5 Vojvodina practically had statehood, because they had
6 one representative in the Presidency like any other
8 Q. According to the constitution from 1974;
10 A. Yes, according to that constitution.
11 Q. You mentioned 2 million Albanians. What
12 percentage of the population of Serbia is that?
13 A. I do not know. I have not been dealing with
14 Serbia specifically.
15 Q. However, since you know so much about Kosovo,
16 you must know about Serbia too.
17 A. I imagine that Serbia has a population of
18 over 10 million.
19 Q. Okay, so that is what?
20 A. 20 per cent.
21 Q. And how many Serbs were there in Croatia in
22 1991 according to the census? What did you say? And
23 how many Yugoslavs?
24 A. I think that there were about 700,000,
1 Q. Together with the Yugoslavs, about 1 million;
3 A. Right.
4 Q. Is that 10 per cent of Croatia?
5 A. Why are you saying together with the
7 Q. You are no part of the -- Yugoslavs were
8 Croats and Yugoslavs were Serbs?
9 A. But most were Croats.
10 Q. I do not think so. They were from mixed
11 marriages; right?
12 A. No, it was not only mixed marriages. There
13 is no point in making a problem out of who the people
14 who declared themselves as Yugoslavs were.
15 Q. Okay, but you said 700,000. Is that 10 per
16 cent of Croatia's population or is it a bit more?
17 A. Okay, it is about 12 per cent.
18 Q. It is even more, but never mind.
19 Now, you talked about the success of the
21 A. The Croatian referendum?
22 Q. Yes, the Croatian referendum.
23 A. On the territory of Vukovar, was there a
24 referendum and was it successful?
25 Q. I am defending a person who has been indicted
1 for Vukovar. I do not know what will happen about
3 A. On the territory where the referendum was
4 carried out, at that referendum, 84 per cent of the
5 people who took part voted in favour of independent
7 Q. No, I asked you about Vukovar. What about
8 the referendum there? Did they have 50 per cent of the
9 people who voted or what?
10 A. I do not know.
11 Q. Who says that over 50 per cent of the people
12 involved have to vote at a referendum?
13 A. A referendum is organised as an entire state
14 territory and in some places, people do not have to
15 vote in the referendum at all.
16 Q. Yes, I agree with that. But do you know how
17 many people took part in the referendum in Vukovar?
18 A. No, I do not know exactly.
19 Q. According to the decision of the Parliament,
20 you were recalled. And why did they not discuss then
21 the recall of Kadijevic, Loncar and Markovic,
22 et cetera?
23 A. Croatia asked all their citizens after it
24 became independent, after Croatia became independent,
25 and after I left the Presidency, Croatia invited all
1 its citizens to come back to Croatia, regardless of
2 their ethnic background. Many Serbs from state
3 institutions went back to Croatia.
4 Q. I am asking about the decision passed by your
6 A. Some of these people even became ministers.
7 Q. According to the decision of the Parliament,
8 only you are being withdrawn, not Ante Markovic or
9 anyone else. I asked why.
10 A. Because, on that occasion, it is only my
11 resignation that was discussed.
12 Q. Okay, I understood that. Now my other
13 question. In view of the composition of the federal
14 authorities, the Prime Minister was Ante Markovic, a
15 Croat. Kadijevic was an officer from Croatia; right?
16 Brovet, okay, he was from Slovenia. Why are judges
17 being withdrawn and the Republic of Ukraine is being --
18 MR. WILLIAMSON: I am sorry. A couple of
19 notes have been passed us by the interpreters asking
20 that you slow down.
21 MR. FILA: I apologise to the interpreters.
22 At that same meeting on 5th December, the
23 Parliament reached a decision that the government of
24 Croatia should take steps for the implementation for
25 Croatia to sail into international waters, et cetera
1 et cetera -- only then. Why only then? That is my
3 A. I do not know. I am not the representative
4 of Croatia here. I am here --
5 Q. But you are not a representative of Kosovo
6 either, but you know all about Kosovo.
7 A. No, I am here as the former President of
9 Q. I am asking you as the former President of
10 Yugoslavia: on 5th December, why did Croatia ask for
11 the launching of such action? I am going to read this
12 to you:
13 "The Parliament of the Republic of Croatia
14 asked the Government of Croatia to start the necessary
15 procedure in keeping with the relevant legislation to
16 include Croatia into international affairs", et cetera,
17 et cetera. Why only then?
18 A. On the first occasion when I see President
19 Tudjman, I am going to ask him.
20 Q. No, this is the Parliament, the Parliament?
21 A. Okay, then I am going to ask --
22 Q. Zarko Domljan?
23 A. No, I am going to ask the current President
24 of the Parliament.
25 Q. Did Vukovar perhaps have an influence on
2 A. Why would Vukovar have an impact on this? I
3 do not see why.
4 Q. In order to speed up the decision on
6 A. There is no reason why Vukovar would have an
7 effect on this.
8 Q. I have quite a few of your signatures here,
9 you know, where you signed different decisions as the
10 President of the Presidency of the SFRY, even after
11 October 1991, on the promotion of officers, et cetera.
12 It is not clear to me why you were doing this and now
13 you are claiming that no one listened to you in that
15 MR. WILLIAMSON: If I might object. I think
16 that, in all fairness, if he is referring to documents
17 with his signature on them, that he should have the
18 opportunity to view those before he is asked to comment
19 on them.
20 JUDGE CASSESE: Yes.
21 MR. FILA: I withdraw the question. But
22 certain documents were signed. There is no question
23 about that.
24 A. Remember that I was given promotions of
25 officers and non-commissioned officers to sign, but I
1 did not sign those documents. I also know that I was
2 given documents regarding decorations of men and I did
3 not sign those either.
4 Whether I did sign something prior to those
5 events, and that was published later, I am not really
6 sure, but I do not think so.
7 Q. Do you happen to know when Messrs Loncar,
8 Markovic and Kadijevic seized the discharging of their
9 offices in the federal republic?
10 A. No, I do not know. I cannot recall exactly
11 the -- there was so many things happening.
12 Q. But was that before or after you?
13 A. After me, after me.
14 Q. Did you make a statement which has been
15 interpreted in various ways on different occasions in
16 our parts, which is that Serbs cannot believe that they
17 brought the right to the land on their peasant shoes?
18 A. That is a bit oversimplified. I shall repeat
19 it the way I said it originally. In Krajina, in the
20 so-called Krajina, they used to say and write. There
21 was graffiti and also slogans being shouted. "This is
23 What I said was that Serbs in Croatia did not
24 bring Serbia to Croatia on their peasant shoes, because
25 when they were coming, they were certainly not coming
1 in patent leather shoes. That was just by way of an
2 explanation. But I also said on that occasion that not
3 even the Croats took away Croatia to Austria on their
4 peasant shoes, because there they are citizens of the
5 Republic of Austria and they could have taken Croatia
6 there in their hearts, but that they were living on
7 Austrian soil and that they were Austrian citizens. It
8 is to that effect, in that sense, that I was appealing
9 upon the Serbs for them to comprehend the fact that
10 they were citizens of the Republic of Croatia and that
11 they were not to fight for Serbia in Croatia and
12 declare their villages as Serbia.
13 THE INTERPRETER: I did not hear the Defence
15 JUDGE CASSESE: Repeat your question,
16 Mr. Fila.
17 MR. FILA: The question is: when did the
18 Serbs come to this territory which you call Croatia and
19 I say that they came to Austria-Hungary.
20 A. First of all, I have to reply to your
21 question by saying this: Austria-Hungary was composed
22 of a number of states. The Austrian Emperor was also
23 the King of Croatia and Croatia was always a corpus
24 separatum because it was first incorporated into the
25 Kingdom of Hungary from 1052 when the Pacta Coventa was
1 signed, under which the King of Hungary became also the
2 King of Croatia, but Croatia was considered a separate
4 With the creation of the Austro-Hungarian
5 Empire, Croatia was incorporated into that, but also
6 again as a separate corpus, because the Austrian
7 Emperor was also the Croatian King, so it is was always
9 Now to answer your other question, when did
10 we have the largest arrival of Serbs, that was after
11 1697, after the penetration of Eugene of Savoy down to
12 Skoplje, when, according to the treaty, he withdrew as
13 well as did his supporters who had supported him until
14 he penetrated to Skoplje. It was after that victory
15 that 400,000 Serbs came, the largest group whichever
16 came to Slavonia, Vojvodina and other parts.
17 I have to admit that in other periods, there
18 were also large scale movements and arrivals of Serbs,
19 but not on such a large scale, because Austria was
20 creating the cordon, which is now called the Kordon,
21 and ethnically cleansing the population at the expense
22 of the Croats. So that has happened in history before,
23 as you can see, just as Catherine the Great filled her
24 lands in Greater Russia with the Cossacks, also seeking
25 to create such frontiers, such cordons, to protect the
1 boundaries of Russia. So was here Austria, on the one
2 hand, erecting this cordon to protect its boundaries
3 and, on the other side, we had the Turks also erecting
4 such protective frontiers to protect the boundaries of
5 their empire.
6 Q. I listened to you so that the Prosecutor
7 would not warn me that I was interrupting you, but was
8 Dalmatia Slovonia also part of Croatia of that period?
9 A. Dalmatia Slavonia --
10 MR. WILLIAMSON: Sorry. I hate to interrupt
11 at this point, but again, we are talking about the 17th
12 century here and it is hard to see how that has any
13 relevance whatsoever to the issues that are before us
14 today. Again, in relation to international armed
16 MR. FILA: Let me explain. Slovonia is the
17 area where Vukovar is. This is why I am asking when it
18 became part of Croatia.
19 JUDGE CASSESE: (Pause). Mr. Fila, you may
20 proceed. You can ask this question.
21 MR. FILA: So, to make things clear, I am
22 specifically interested in Slovenia because Vukovar is
23 in Slovenia and this entire area is what we are
24 interested in. When did that become Croatian?
25 A. It is well known that Croatia in the past
1 comprised the Banovina, the county of Croatia, Slovenia
2 and Dalmatia. All of that was Croatia and the legal
3 status of these provinces were different.
4 Q. As regards the boundaries, including these,
5 you are mentioning they were definitively drawn after
6 the Second World War?
7 A. After the Second World War, but I do have to
8 mention in this context, for us to be quite clear on
9 this point, during the war, during the Second World
10 War, namely, there were formed, and this was only
11 confirmed after the Second World War. These future
12 units of the future Yugoslav Federation were
14 I also have to answer a question not asked.
15 That is to question of Vojvodina. During the Second
16 World War --
17 Q. Please be so kind as to refrain your
18 answering to what I am asking you.
19 A. Vojvodina was under Croatia because the main
20 staff of Serbia did not exist. It was under the main
21 staff of Croatia. Serbia only had two parties and
22 units. It had the Kosjma detachment and the rest were
23 mainly Chetniks.
24 Q. Of course, that is your view and I could say
25 that perhaps you had a lesser number in the party than
1 since 1941. Then you said you are very wrong.
2 A. My father and his five brothers and my whole
3 family, including myself, we were all with the
4 partisans and I know that.
5 Q. But my father was Croat.
6 A. I never accused the Serbs of anything, but
7 the Chetniks, yes.
8 Q. Was your order that the army was supposed to
9 withdraw? The Croats were supposed to withdraw and not
10 attack Serbian villages. Was it honoured?
11 A. Yes, it was. The Serbian police forces never
12 actually attacked any villages. We tried to deploy a
13 system. We tried to re-establish the functioning of
14 the state.
15 Q. What state? The one that you were President
16 of for the Croatian state?
17 A. Yes.
18 Q. But you were the President of Yugoslavia?
19 A. Yes, I was, but I was also anxious to see all
20 the republics functioning properly, including Croatia.
21 Q. Of course, as part of Yugoslavia?
22 A. Of course as part of Yugoslavia.
23 Q. So, as President of Yugoslavia, you were
24 interested in seeing Croatia function properly within
25 the framework of Yugoslavia?
1 A. Yes, I was interested in seeing the whole of
2 Yugoslavia function properly, until a political
3 solution was found.
4 THE INTERPRETER: I did not hear the Defence
5 counsel. I am very sorry. This is becoming next to
6 impossible to follow.
7 JUDGE CASSESE: Mr. Fila --
8 MR. FILA: I remain in the majority, but is
9 that a valid, binding decision?
10 A. It was, it is, if I was in the majority.
11 Q. On 2nd October 1991, you wrote to Mr. Bush
12 saying that you were the legitimate President of the
13 Presidency of SFRY?
14 A. Right. I had to legitimise myself in terms
15 of who was writing to him, that he would not think it
16 was being written by the President of the Municipality
17 of Orahovica.
18 Q. Yes, I see that. And you speak about your
19 impotence as the President of that country?
20 A. Because the army had become only Serbian, it
21 could not be stopped, and that it could be stopped by
22 the recognition of the new states and the new reality
23 obtaining here.
24 Q. Yes, this new reality, what does that mean?
25 A. It meant that the federation stopped
1 functioning on the very day when the first constituent
2 elements of the federation were abolished and I am
3 referring to the two provinces. In particular, when
4 Mr. Milosevic announced that Serbia would not recognise
5 any of the Presidency's decisions.
6 Q. That was uttered by Mr. Milosevic or by
8 A. It was uttered by Mr. Milosevic, the President
9 of Serbia, who advocates its interests, obviously.
10 Q. Let me remind you of when that was actually
11 said. What I am asking you is, at that moment, why did
12 not you leave the post of the President of the
13 Presidency if it did not exist? You continued holding
14 the seat of something which did not exist.
15 A. Because the political leadership of Croatia
16 that had sent me there had not agreed to that yet. I
17 personally wanted to withdraw earlier.
18 Q. You are aware of the kind of autonomy that
19 Kosovo and Vojvodina had within Serbia?
20 A. Yes.
21 Q. And you know that the representatives of the
22 Kosovo Parliament also sat in the Serbian Parliament
23 rather than vice versa. Do you have such an autonomy
24 in the world where the central state cannot delegate
25 people to the provincial?
1 A. Yes, I think it was quite illogical, but that
2 could have been revolved in a different way rather than
3 by the war option.
4 Q. If that was done in Kosovo the way it was
5 done, why was it not possible to come to a meeting of
6 minds with the Serbs so that they could be given this
7 cultural autonomy in 1971?
8 A. I have to go back to what I have already
9 said. There were problems. The problems have to be
10 addressed in negotiations and consultations and not
11 with arms. I did ask for a meeting with all the heads
12 of all the municipalities as the Prime Minister, but
13 none of them dared respond because they would be dubbed
14 traitors. Rather, they opted to be persuaded to take
15 up arms, resolve things by arms.
16 Q. But in 1990, when the people of Raskovic
17 asked for cultural autonomy, why were they not offered
18 what they were supposed to get later? Some sort of an
19 autonomy, the kind that was offered to Knin and Glina?
20 A. If you are asking for my personal opinion,
21 they should have continued the discussions along those
23 Q. Were Serbs afraid? It does not matter
24 whether it is objective or subjective, but were they
25 afraid that the same thing would happen like that would
1 happen under Ante Pavelic?
2 A. I think there was no reason for fear, because
3 most of us who held high office then in Croatia were
4 absolutely anti-fascist and there was no reason for
5 anyone to fear us. But obviously there were other
6 ambitions involved and that fear was artificially
7 created. And I allow the possibility that it might
8 have been real fear in the case of some people, in view
9 of the actual developments taking place. However, I
10 think there was no reason for fear and there was no
11 reason to block roads and railroads and to oppose the
12 Croat Government so brutally. To say we have blocked
13 the road because we are afraid.
14 Q. But I think in 1941 tens of thousands of them
15 were killed and they did not brutally resist that.
16 A. Well, if you are asking me, in 1941, all of
17 my people, my family, went and joined the partisans.
18 All of them, literally all of them. So if you are
19 asking me, do not ask me what the independent state of
20 Croatia had done then.
21 Q. It did not have anything to do with you.
22 Thank God it does not have to do with you. I have a
23 much better opinion of you than you think that I have
24 of you.
25 If I have understood you correctly, you are
1 testifying today in relation to all these events that
2 have taken place. I have to ask you other things here
3 because I am here in a different role. Do you know
4 Mr. Dokmanovic?
5 A. Yes.
6 Q. Were you, perhaps, his guest at some kind of
7 opening ceremony or something?
8 A. Yes.
9 Q. Did you notice something about him then that
10 would be along these nationalist, chauvinist lines or
12 A. I am going to tell you, in all fairness, I
13 met Mr. Dokmanovic when I was Prime Minister and at that
14 time, he was President of the Assembly of the
15 Municipality of Vukovar. I must say that we had a very
16 fair conversation then and I cannot really draw any
17 conclusion of that kind on the basis of that
18 conversation. We even had identical views on certain
19 matters and I could not have concluded then that we
20 would have found ourselves today in these different
22 Q. In your career, you were President of a
23 Municipal Assembly too. Could you help us understand
24 the following. If you, as President of the Presidency
25 of the SFRY and the Supreme Commander of the JNA, could
1 not ensure that your orders should be carried out,
2 could somebody who was a former President of the
3 Municipality or even a current President of a
4 Municipality, order something like that and make sure
5 that his orders were carried through?
6 A. Well, I certainly could not have succeeded
7 with any kind of orders, because in the Presidency of
8 Yugoslavia, there was a special situation. I always
9 had to have a consensus if we were to make certain
10 decisions. However, I always tried to make the army
11 people say exactly what they were doing, that they were
12 acting beyond the institutions involved. I wanted to
13 bring them out into the open so that it would be
14 obvious that they were working extra-institutionally,
15 that this was a military coup. That is why I brought
16 them to that point when they finally presented their
17 own face.
18 Q. I am sorry to interrupt, but this question is
19 not really related to you personally. I am talking
20 about these particular offices, these postings. Who
21 could have affected what the JNA did with the exception
22 of Slobodan Milosevic as you said?
23 A. I do not know what Mr. Dokmanovic could have
24 done there.
25 Q. As the former President of the Municipality?
1 A. I do not know what he could have done to
2 disassociate himself. That is a specific situation
3 that I simply am not familiar with. I do not know the
5 Q. But, in principle, can the former President
6 of a Municipal Assembly have certain powers over the
8 A. Certainly not over the JNA.
9 Q. Do you know something about the Territorial
11 A. Yes, the Territorial Defence was under the
12 Presidency of a republic, so the Territorial Defence of
13 any Municipality -- Vukovar included -- could only have
14 been under the Presidency of Croatia and it could not
15 have been activated in any other way. It was only the
16 Presidency of Croatia that had such powers and the
17 situation was the same in Slovenia and in other
19 Q. I think that I will conclude my questioning.
20 I keep looking at the clock up there so that there
21 would not be an afternoon hearing too.
22 As regards Borovo Selo and the tragedy that
23 occurred there, I fully share your views on that, that
24 this should not have happened. Are you sure that
25 people did not go there to bring a flag down?
1 A. Yes, I remember -- no, I remember that there
2 was some kind of provocation of that sort. I am not
3 aware of the details, but taking off a flag is not a
4 reason to kill someone.
5 Q. However, that is where I wanted to correct
6 you. No one was killed on the first occasion, but only
7 on the second?
8 A. No, but that is no reason --
9 Q. Of course not. That is no reason. Because
10 it was the Serb flag that was supposed to be taken
11 down, not the Croatian flag.
12 A. Even if all the flags in front of the United
13 Nations were to be taken down, that is no reason to
14 kill a person. That is right.
15 Q. Something else about the Presidency. How
16 long were Mr. Bogicevic and Mr. Tupurkovski -- from when?
17 Did they come before you came?
18 A. Yes, yes, I found them there when I got
20 Q. How long did they stay in the Presidency,
21 these two republics?
22 A. I do not know which one of them left, but I
23 know that after I stopped coming, I think that they
24 stopped coming too.
25 Q. After that?
1 A. After that.
2 Q. Until then, they had been coming?
3 A. Well, it depends. The first one stopped
4 coming ... First it was Drnovsek who stopped coming and
5 then --
6 Q. Yes, yes, okay?
7 A. Mr. Tupurkovski.
8 Q. Never mind.
9 Just one more thing that I wish to ask you
10 about in order to paint a complete picture. Throughout
11 1990 and 1991, were JNA barracks attacked? Do you know
12 about the event in Split? When was that? 6th May
13 1991, if that means something to you. Were the
14 barracks attacked then and why?
15 A. I think that I fully understand the situation
16 that we found ourselves in in Croatia, because after
17 all you are asking about Croatia.
18 Q. After all, it is from these garrisons that
19 the Serb population of various municipalities was
21 A. Yes, but a Macedonian soldier was killed in
22 Split. Finally, had this been prevented, then
23 Croatia's Defence would have been ensured, because
24 Croatia was definitely disarmed. All the weapons of
25 the Territorial Defence had gone to the Yugoslavia
1 garrisons. I must say that I asked General Kadijevic,
2 Admiral Brovet, to have this returned to Croatia
3 because it was bought by Croatia's own money. These
4 arms were seized illegally and I wanted them to be
5 returned to Croatia.
6 Brovet told me that these were Croatia's
7 weapons and that we could set up a commission which
8 could go and have a look at these weapons. In order to
9 get our weapons back, of course, we had to prevent them
10 from being taken illegally and, of course, a decision
11 was passed in Croatia to block the barracks, so that
12 they would not remain in contact with the renegade
13 units that were trying to take parts of Croatia's
15 Q. Yes, okay. I just have a few more
16 questions. Within the Constitutional Court of
17 Yugoslavia, there was also a judge from Croatia; right?
18 A. Right.
19 Q. Do you know what the ruling of the
20 Constitutional Court of Yugoslavia was, and the judge
21 from Croatia attended that session too, so there was a
22 full meeting and the ruling annulled the decision on
23 the independence of Croatia.
24 A. The representative of Croatia was Vladimir
1 Q. No, no, it was not Seks.
2 A. And he voted against.
3 Q. If you know. If you are not familiar with
4 it, all right. You know, we are all jurists. The
5 ruling of the Constitutional Court does not make it
6 operative immediately. However do you know that such a
7 ruling was passed?
8 A. Yes, I recall some of it, but it is not an
9 operative ruling. The Constitutional Court repeals a
10 certain regulation and then returns it to the body that
11 passed this decision and only afterwards does a
12 decision become operative.
13 Q. All right, so you know about this ruling of
14 the Constitutional Court of the SFRY on this annulment?
15 A. Yes, yes.
16 Q. I just want to remind you of something else.
17 The Brijuni Declaration that we discussed a few minutes
18 opinions ago?
19 A. Yes.
20 Q. As far as I can remember, I may be wrong, it
21 does not postpone the decision on independence, but
22 invites all the parties to negotiate; is that right?
23 A. That is right.
24 Q. This is to say, the decision on independence
25 remains, but the implementation is postponed for a
1 certain period of time and the parties are invited to
3 A. Yes, to have talks, but this did not annul
4 the decision on independence.
5 Q. I am just trying to say that it is not
7 A. Yes.
8 Q. With the permission of the Office of the
9 Prosecutor, I have a document here, but one single copy
10 and it is in the English language. Would you identify
11 your signature here? This is annex 3 on a cease-fire,
12 18th October 1991, signed here in The Hague.
13 I am sorry, your Honour. You know how much
14 time I had to prepare myself for this, so this is the
15 only thing I managed to do, although we have been
16 working since 5.30 last night, throughout the night.
17 So if it is all right with the Prosecutor, I can have a
18 copy made, but I have one copy only, but it is in the
19 English language.
20 MR. WILLIAMSON: Your Honour, if we can just
21 view it beforehand, that is fine. It is not necessary
22 to make a copy before it is tendered.
23 MR. FILA: All right. Is this your
24 signature? That is my only question. It is very
25 simple, is it not? (Handed).
1 JUDGE CASSESE: Mr. Fila, you do not need to
2 rush. I think we need to meet again this afternoon.
3 So take your time. It is too important for you to
4 cross-examine the witness to go on, so you need more
5 time clearly and probably the Prosecutor also may wish
6 to re-examine the witness. We judges also have a few
7 questions, so in any case, after this --
8 A. Yes, this is my signature, yes.
9 MR. FILA: So is this the agreement on the
11 A. I do not know what it says before that, but
12 it is my signature.
13 JUDGE CASSESE: Mr. Fila have you got it in
14 Croatian? Have you got this document?
15 MR. FILA: No, no, no, unfortunately not. I
16 took it from here.
17 A. This is a rather lengthy text.
18 Q. No, just these three that you are looking at
19 right now, those three, nothing else.
20 Your Honour, someone can translate this from
21 English into Croat because it is this long, see?
22 JUDGE CASSESE: This could be done at
23 lunch time and then when we reconvene at 4 o'clock. You
24 could have it then. May I suggest, Mr. Fila, that we
25 adjourn now? Is it fine with you if we stop now and
1 start again at 4 o'clock?
2 MR. FILA: All right.
3 JUDGE CASSESE: Thank you. We stand
5 (1.00 pm)
6 (A short adjournment)
2 (Upon resumption)
3 JUDGE CASSESE: We apologise for the delay,
4 but we should not be blamed. It is not our fault --
5 there are other proceedings. Mr. Fila?
6 MR. FILA: Mr. Mesic, I will ask you a few
7 brief questions. (redacted)
8 (redacted) In the letter which you mentioned
9 you said attached to it is a declaration of war by
10 General Kadijevic. This is something new for me, would
11 you please explain?
12 A. He actually threatened Croatia, that he would
13 be undertaking every conceivable measure which they
14 considered necessary -- that was enclosed to that
15 document. I do not know when.
16 MR. FILA: That is one thing.
17 Your Honours, the Prosecutor told me that
18 I was asking questions without a document regarding the
19 signing of promotions for officers; because I do not
20 like things to remain unexplained, I would like you to
21 take a look at this document. It is in the Serbian
22 language. (Handed).
23 THE REGISTRAR: The document is marked D11.
24 MR. FILA: Okay, I gave you my last copy, but
25 never mind. Would you please take a look at these and
1 say whether these are your decrees on the promotion of
2 General Kukanjic and General Simonovic and when this
3 was signed?
4 A. 2 August 1991.
5 Q. And what do they represent?
6 A. Well, that is what is indicated here -- the
7 signature is mine. But I do have a feeling that
8 perhaps something else is involved here.
9 Q. But it is the eighth month -- 2 August 1991?
10 A. Possibly, possibly.
11 Q. The Chamber does not understand the Serbian
12 or Croatian at that time; would you please explain for
13 the Chamber what it is about?
14 A. Actually, the Ministry of Defence is the
15 institution which processes all military promotions and
16 it automatically comes to the Presidency and the
17 Presidency signs such documents, but when it came to
18 decorations, it meant that there had to be some merits,
19 which, at that time, were not only questionable but,
20 indeed, unacceptable, so that was no longer signed.
21 Q. Okay. I should now like to ask you,
22 Mr. Mesic, in the course of October until 4 November,
23 there were your interviews, many times, on Croatian
24 television, which you signed as the President of the
25 Presidency. For instance, on 21 October, it said on
1 television, "President of the Presidency of Yugoslavia
2 was saying that the army would be disintegrated because
3 it could not be financed by Serbia only", and you also
4 predicted that war would escalate, which was a good
5 prognosis, which is why Slobodan Milosevic was
6 withdrawing his army from Slovenia and Croatia and
7 grouping it elsewhere, probably in Serbia and that the
8 war in Bosnia would be deleterious to Slobodan
9 Milosevic and backfire and this is your prognosis?
10 A. That is exactly what is happening now.
11 Q. So, on 23 October, you said that the Serbian
12 Montenegrin representatives from the Presidency cannot
13 go to The Hague, and that Lord Carrington to provide
14 the ultimate solution and also that you were prevented
15 from using the aeroplanes, because you were -- they did
16 not provide the aeroplane with kerosene; is that
18 A. Yes.
19 Q. And there is the TV newsreel on Croatian TV
20 on 24 October, you gave an interview to the German
21 television ZDF, where you stated that as the President
22 or Presidency of Yugoslavia you were trying to
23 internationalise the war so as to arrest it and the
24 world did not perceive the fact that the war could
25 spread and that Croatia was -- not Croatia --
1 everything -- Europe -- all these were parts of Europe
2 and the world failed to understand that Yugoslavia had
3 ceased to exist and so on and so forth and the last
4 newsreel of 4 November 1991, "Franjo Tudjman and the
5 President of the Presidency of Yugoslavia, Stjepan
6 Mesic responded to the invitation of Lord Carrington
7 and will be travelling to The Hague the next day"?
8 A. Right.
9 Q. In the end, for the sake of curiosity,
10 I should like to say that you mentioned a few names of
11 very responsible people, who were then, and are now,
12 very important in the world of politics. In the event
13 that this Prosecution should indeed prosecute some of
14 these people, will you come to testify?
15 A. Whosoever should be accused by the
16 Tribunal --
17 MR. WILLIAMSON: I object to this question.
18 I do not think it is appropriate.
19 MR. FILA: I do apologise. I did say for the
20 sake of curiosity. I withdraw the question. Please,
21 strike it from the record.
22 In the end, I should like to apologise to the
23 interpreters, because I speak too fast. I do hope
24 I will not have to apologise any more. I should like
25 to thank you, your Honours, I have completed my
2 JUDGE CASSESE: Thank you. Any
3 re-examination by the Prosecutor?
4 MR. WILLIAMSON: If I could have just a
5 moment, please. (Pause).
6 I believe a redaction is required at page
7 137, lines 24 and 25.
8 Your Honour, I have no other questions at
9 this time.
10 JUDGE CASSESE: Thank you.
11 JUDGE MUMBA: I have a few questions,
13 According to the Croatian constitution, at
14 least the one in 1991, what was the procedure on your
15 referendum? If a decision was taken by the people in a
16 referendum, did it become automatically effective?
17 A. No, according to the law on referenda, such a
18 decision would not immediately come into force, but it
19 would have to be preceded by a decision of the Croatian
20 Parliament, but that decision had to take into account
21 the will of the people, expressed at the referendum.
22 JUDGE MUMBA: You were a member of
23 Parliament of the Croatian Democratic State in 1991?
24 A. I was elected to Parliament at the first
25 democratic elections, but, as I was given the --
1 elected the Prime Minister designate to form the
2 Croatian Government, I was relieved of this duty, and
3 my deputy assumed my previous office.
4 JUDGE MUMBA: According to the Croatian
5 procedure, what was the process of resignation for a
6 member of Parliament from Parliament -- what was the
7 procedure? Did you have to write a letter, or simply
8 declare orally?
9 A. The difference -- first of all, I have to say
10 between me and the position I had and the position of
11 other representatives of the Croatian representatives
12 to the Federal bodies existed and that was all other
13 members were elected in the Federal assembly -- only
14 the member of the Presidency -- in that case myself,
15 I was elected at Parliament and it sufficed for a
16 resignation either to resign orally, or to write a
17 resignation and tender it in writing, so in my
18 particular case, it was both oral and written.
19 JUDGE MUMBA: Thank you. So, in your
20 evidence, you told the Trial Chamber that, in December
21 1991, the Croatian Parliament elected you to the
22 presidency of the SFRY, the Federal Republic of
23 Yugoslavia, and at that moment you resigned from
25 A. In 1990 -- in September 1990, I was elected
1 to the Presidency of Yugoslavia, and that is when
2 I resigned my post in Parliament. No, no, excuse me,
3 I tendered my resignation after I was elected Prime
4 Minister, which is to say immediately after the
5 constituting of the assembly of Parliament, and when
6 I went to Belgrade, I was no longer a member of
8 JUDGE MUMBA: For Croatia, I mean?
9 A. Yes, yes, of the Croatian Parliament.
10 JUDGE MUMBA: When you were the President
11 of the Presidency of the former Republic of Yugoslavia,
12 I want to know whether the Presidency could act as a
13 Presidency in any other city other than Belgrade?
14 A. Yes, according to the rules of procedure of
15 the Presidency, it was supposed that sessions of the
16 Presidency were to be held in the federation building,
17 in the Presidency building, but it was not prohibited,
18 it was not ruled out that key sessions could also be
19 held elsewhere, and it did happen in practice.
20 JUDGE MUMBA: Is that the reason why you were
21 able to write these letters, Prosecution Exhibit 108,
22 107, to the UN and to the President of the USA, outside
24 A. I tried to convene a session outside
25 Belgrade, but the Serbian bloc, which I referred to,
1 did not accept that, and I myself could not go to
2 Belgrade, because the airports had been blocked and all
3 the access roads and railways leading to there had been
4 blocked, so I simply was prevented by military forces
5 from coming to Belgrade.
6 JUDGE MUMBA: Otherwise all these letters
7 you were writing in this period in October were
8 official letters, in your capacity as President of the
10 A. Yes, correct, and they were written from my
11 office in Zagreb, and it is obvious that there is not a
12 single number here, because the numbers were affixed in
13 Belgrade and I sent them from Zagreb. There is no
14 registration number apart from the date.
15 JUDGE CASSESE: I have a few questions,
16 Mr. Mesic. First of all, you said that in 1990,
17 I think, the National Guards Corps, ZNG, was set up in
18 Croatia as a sort of gendarmerie, I understand.
19 I understand, if I am correct, you meant to say that it
20 was sort of an additional police body. I think I read
21 somewhere that this guard, the Croatian National Guard
22 took part in the fighting in 1991. At that stage, in
23 1991, was it still a sort of police force, or was it a
24 sort of Croatian national army?
25 A. When the National Guards Corps was
1 established, it was established in accordance with the
2 then valid regulations. At that time, no military
3 formations could have been set up -- only a police
4 force that would have a kind of military structure, and
5 they were supposed to assist in intervention, when
6 there is some kind of rebellion, like the gendarmerie
7 or the carabiniere, like in Italy. It is only after
8 Croatia obtained its independence that it established
9 its own army.
10 JUDGE CASSESE: What about the Territorial
11 Defence, say in the area in 1991, say in October --
12 between July and November 1991; what was the role of
13 the Territorial Defence units in the area around
14 Vukovar -- first question. Second question: were the
15 members of the Territorial Defence under the control of
16 Zagreb or Croatia -- who was in command of the
17 Territorial Defence units?
18 A. Croatia did not activate its Territorial
19 Defence units, because the Territorial Defence had been
20 disarmed. Therefore, this unit was activated, the one
21 that belonged to the Ministry of the Interior.
22 However, the people who were recruited, they were not
23 recruited by the official authorities of the Republic
24 of Croatia, but the authorities of the
25 self-proclaimed autonomous regions.
1 JUDGE CASSESE: In the fighting going on
2 between August and November 1991, in the area which is
3 of relevance to us, which were the belligerents on the
4 one side and the other side -- the combatants?
5 A. On the Croatian side, it was the police, the
6 National Guards Corps and the Civilian Defence and on
7 the other side were the units of the Yugoslavia army
8 and reservists, from Serbia, and illegal groups --
9 paramilitary formations.
10 JUDGE CASSESE: Thank you. At one point,
11 you were speaking of Slovenia, and you said that in
12 1991 Slovenia set up customs checkpoints on the borders
13 between Slovenia and the other countries. I wonder
14 also in Croatia at some point in time whether such or
15 similar customs or checkpoints on the borders were
16 established by the authorities in Zagreb?
17 A. At that time we, in Croatia, did not have
18 such a situation.
19 JUDGE CASSESE: But at what stage did the
20 Croatian authorities, the central authorities in
21 Zagreb, exercise control on the borders by sending
22 their own troops or military people or police force?
23 A. At our borders in Croatia, there were not any
24 military formations. There was civilian control. It
25 is only after independence was proclaimed. I must say
1 that there was a standstill in terms of this control of
2 the borders, because Croatia agreed not to fully
3 implement its decision on independence, that is to say,
4 the three-month period agreed upon at Brijuni.
5 JUDGE CASSESE: Since you had important
6 constitutional functions, you may be in a position to
7 tell us who actually, again in this period which is of
8 relevance to us, say between July and October/November
9 1991, exercised administrative functions in Croatia --
10 the State apparatus was in the hands of the authorities
11 in Belgrade or in Zagreb? Who issued orders,
12 instructions, guidelines -- who decided on the
13 appointment of civil servants and so on?
14 A. Everything that was done within the State
15 mechanism and the territory of the Republic of Croatia
16 was decided upon by the Republic itself, even according
17 to the old legislation. The police were under the
18 Ministry of the Interior, even in the old regime -- it
19 did not belong to the Ministry of the Interior or the
20 Federation. The Federation had only a consultative or
21 advisory function -- they could not do anything
22 operative without the consent of the Republic and if
23 the Republic wanted something in a particular domain --
24 I mean, if the Republic needed assistance of the
25 Federal authorities, then she had to seek it from them,
1 but nothing of the sort could be imposed upon them.
2 Everything else was decided upon independently by the
3 Republic; appointments of ambassadors, though, and
4 foreign affairs, were matters where the Republic did
5 not have much influence.
6 JUDGE CASSESE: Thank you. Then, what about
7 these consultative functions you just mentioned which
8 were exercised centrally, I imagine, in Belgrade
9 vis-à-vis the various Republics, as from, say June/July
10 1991; were these consultative functions still exercised
11 centrally, or were they simply ignored or discarded by
12 the authorities in Zagreb?
13 A. That link practically no longer existed. The
14 Ministry of the Interior normally carried out its
15 functions -- the Ministry of Croatia, and required no
16 assistance from the Federal Ministry.
17 JUDGE CASSESE: You see now why I asked you
18 this question about borders, because borders normally
19 are within the remits of the central authority of a
20 State. I would imagine in the former Yugoslavia the
21 control of the borders of the whole State were within
22 the remit of the central authorities, so, as I said,
23 that is why, if you do not mind, I will come a --
24 A. Exactly.
25 JUDGE CASSESE: Back to this question; again
1 in this period in July to November, the control over
2 the outside borders of Croatia, this control was in the
3 hands of the Republic of Croatia, or elsewhere?
4 A. Control over the border was in the hands of
5 the Federal authorities, the Federal administration of
6 customs, various other Federal authorities, until
7 Slovenia took over its borders -- not its borders, but
8 this customs control.
9 Another thing happened, too. In Croatia, we
10 had part of our border that was external anyway, but we
11 had a border towards Bosnia and Slovenia, former
12 constituent parts of Yugoslavia, so there was an
13 external border towards Hungary, so the system fell
14 apart and Croatia established its control there.
15 JUDGE CASSESE: Thank you. Moving to a
16 different question, it was tendered in evidence this
17 morning by the Prosecutor, a document of 4 October
18 1991, a letter from you to the then UN
19 Secretary-General, Perez de Cuellar, where you say the
20 Federal Minister of Defence, General Veljko Kadijevic,
21 has declared war on Croatia. We have not been given
22 the actual declaration of war. I do not know whether
23 the Prosecutor has this document or the Defence, but it
24 would be useful for us to see this document.
25 MR. WILLIAMSON: We do not have the document
1 itself. We obtained it -- with just the cover letter
2 and the attachment was not there. Perhaps Mr. Mesic can
3 explain the contents of it.
4 JUDGE CASSESE: Yes, exactly, thank you.
5 I was wondering whether you could kindly explain the
6 contents of this so-called declaration of war of the
7 Federal Minister of Defence on Croatia; was it a sort
8 of ultimatum or declaration of war -- in what terms, to
9 the best of your recollection? Could you try to
10 describe the contents of this declaration of war?
11 A. This declaration was actually an ultimatum
12 issued to Croatia. The Ministry of Defence threatens
13 Croatia that it will use all its forces, that is to
14 say, its armed forces, if it is assessed that the
15 interests of the Yugoslavia army are imperilled anywhere
16 -- that meant war with full force against Croatia.
17 JUDGE CASSESE: So, it seems to me this
18 expression "declaration of war" was used by you in your
19 letter to the UN Secretary-General, but, actually,
20 these words "declaration of war" were not used by the
21 Federal Minister of Defence -- it was sort of an
22 ultimatum, a threat to use force against Croatia?
23 A. (Witness nods head).
24 JUDGE CASSESE: You say in this letter,
25 "I am forwarding you the declaration of war" --
1 probably we could get this document from the UN,
2 because I understand from your letter that you sent
3 attached to your letter to Perez de Cuellar, you sent
4 that so-called declaration of war?
5 A. (Witness nods head). Exactly. That is this
6 ultimatum, and we can understand this figuratively,
7 too, because that was its actual meaning.
8 JUDGE CASSESE: Again, the reason of my
9 question is that normally declarations of war are made
10 by sovereign States, and against other sovereign
12 I hope you do not mind if I ask you another
13 question -- probably you are tired, but if you do not
14 mind, I would ask you to explain to the court the
15 functioning of an institution which we have come across
16 in reading various documents. The Government of the
17 Serbian district of Eastern Slavonia, Baranja and
18 Western Srem, which I understand was probably set up
19 towards the end of 1991. Could you try to briefly
20 outline the features of this Government of the Serbian
21 district of Eastern Slavonia, Baranja and Western
23 A. In this entire territory, which was no longer
24 under the control of the Croatian Government, at the
25 last elections, normal organs of government were
1 established. They were legitimate and they were
2 legal. They were elected, but, as the so-called
3 Krajina separated itself, certain changes were made in
4 these bodies and also in the executive and this was not
5 based on the laws of Croatia, so that is why Croatia
6 considered them to be illegal and illegitimate.
7 Whatever was done was done in contravention
8 to Croatia law but on Croatian territory.
9 JUDGE CASSESE: Thank you. What sort of
10 government, was it regional government, de facto
11 government -- what we call in international law de
12 facto government in this area, performing the functions
13 of a government proper, and over which territory did it
14 exercise control?
15 A. This authority had changed its name, too.
16 Sometimes they introduced themselves as an autonomous
17 district, sometimes the Serbian Republic of Krajina,
18 although that part of the Danube region had nothing
19 to do with Krajina and was not connected to the Krajina
20 at all, so these expressions were often changed. It
21 was difficult for Croatia to follow this. However, all
22 the things that people on the outside heard about
23 elections, referendum, et cetera, that is when the
24 Croatian Government always responded, reacted, and said
25 this was illegal and illegitimate.
1 JUDGE CASSESE: Sorry to insist on this
2 point. Did this Government exercise any authority in
3 the area of Vukovar, Eastern Slavonia? Did it at some
4 point in time, say after the occupation of that
5 particular area?
6 A. This newly proclaimed autonomous Government
7 or region of Krajina, they did have under their control
8 part of the territory where the Yugoslavia army was,
9 and, also, the rebel government that did not recognise
10 the authorities in Zagreb.
11 JUDGE CASSESE: Thank you. I wonder whether
12 the Prosecutor has any questions arising out of the
13 questions asked by the Judges?
14 MR. WILLIAMSON: I have just one question,
15 your Honour.
16 Mr. Mesic, you indicated that the ZNG
17 transformed itself from a gendarmerie into the Croatian
18 army at the point when Croatia proclaimed its
19 independence. Could you clarify this a little bit and
20 be a little more specific in terms of a date when this
21 transformation occurred?
22 A. After Croatia's independence was declared, by
23 that very fact Croatia was entitled to its own army,
24 and I do not know the exact date now when this
25 occurred, but I think that it was that period of a
1 standstill of three months -- that was while they were
2 still the National Guards Corps, the ZNG, but after
3 that period that Croatia had agreed to had expired,
4 that was the period in which the decision to be
5 independent would not be implemented, it is only after
6 that that a decision was passed to set up a Croatian
8 MR. WILLIAMSON: I have no further questions,
9 your Honour.
10 JUDGE CASSESE: Mr. Fila, any questions
11 relating to the questions asked by the Judges?
12 MR. FILA: Just one thing.
13 What is the territory of Croatia that this
14 rebel Government of Republika Srpska Krajina held under
15 their control -- I mean in terms of percentage?
16 A. That portion changed -- it changed quite
17 often, but I do not know. Finally, it was about
18 5 per cent of Croat territory.
19 Q. No, but at the beginning, for example, I mean
20 about one-third, right?
21 A. No, it was not exactly one-third, but a
23 MR. FILA: Not exactly a third but a quarter.
24 Also, if the Prosecutor agrees, could this
25 document please be accepted as an exhibit of the
1 Defence, the paper I gave you?
2 MR. WILLIAMSON: No objection, your Honour.
3 I have one follow-up question in regard to that.
4 How long did these areas remain under Serbian
6 A. That part changed, so, after its all-out
7 attack the Yugoslavia army did take one quarter of
8 Croatian territory, but then it was reduced to less
9 than 5 per cent of Croatian territory, so this
10 percentage did change, that is, of Croatian territory
11 that was under occupation.
12 Q. That occurred in 1995 after Operation Storm
13 and Flash?
14 A. Exactly, that is when the largest part of
15 Croatian territory was liberated.
16 Q. Thank you -- sorry?
17 A. Yes, Storm and Flash practically completed
18 the liberation of Croatia in the largest part and the
19 peaceful reintegration of the Danube area completed
20 the process and now Croatia exercises its control over
21 its entire territory.
22 JUDGE CASSESE: Mr. Fila, you have the right
23 to the final word on this issue.
24 MR. FILA: Just one point. How many Serbs
25 are there at this moment in this 5 per cent?
1 A. I must say that an increasing number of Serbs
2 are going back. A number of them want to regulate
3 their affairs, to settle their affairs, and I think
4 that, as time goes by, the sooner responsibility
5 becomes individualised, more and more Serbs will
6 exercise their right to return to their homeland.
7 MR. FILA: The question was how many Serbs
8 have remained; what percentage of Serbs has remained?
9 A. What will happen, we will see.
10 Q. About 50,000 have gone to Norway, right?
11 A. No, not that many, but we are not going to go
12 into all those figures now. I do not know exactly. We
13 are going to know the figure when we have the next
14 census. For the time being, we have approximate
15 figures only, but I think that over 50 per cent of that
16 10 to 12 per cent that had been there originally, over
17 50 per cent had either remained throughout or came back
19 JUDGE CASSESE: I think at this point we
20 should respect the basic human rights of our witness,
21 who must be really exhausted. I assume there is no
22 objection to the witness being released?
23 Mr. Mesic, the court is most grateful to you
24 for coming here to give evidence, and you may now be
25 released. Thank you for coming.
1 Before we adjourn, let me remind you that we
2 are again going to sit on this case on 20 April.
3 However, we cannot start at 8.30 sharp, as we intended
4 to do, because we have a status conference on a
5 different case, Kunarac, from 8.30 to 10, so we will
6 start at 10 o'clock, if this is agreeable to you, 10
7 o'clock on Monday, 20 April, with Prosecution
8 witnesses, or documents.
9 MR. NIEMANN: Yes, just one day concluding
10 the Prosecution case.
11 JUDGE CASSESE: One day will be from 10 to
13 MR. NIEMANN: Whatever time.
14 JUDGE CASSESE: It is a very short day,
15 because the courtroom must be used in the afternoon by
16 another Trial Chamber.
17 MR. FILA: That is fine. I just wish to
18 inform you of the fact that I have handed in my
19 introductory statement, so, as far as I am concerned,
20 I have done everything, so it should be translated and
21 then you will receive a copy.
22 JUDGE CASSESE: Thank you so much. We now
25 (Hearing adjourned until Monday,
1 20 April 1998, at 10am)