1 Monday, 21 August 2006
2 [Open session]
3 [The accused entered court]
4 --- Upon commencing at 2.15 p.m.
5 JUDGE MOLOTO: Good afternoon, everybody. I'm sure you're
6 surprised why we asked the witness to excuse us for a short while.
7 May we please move into private session.
8 [Private session]
11 Pages 6788-6791 redacted. Private session.
17 [Open session]
18 THE REGISTRAR: Your Honours, we are back in open session.
19 JUDGE MOLOTO: Thank you very much.
20 May the witness be brought into court, please.
21 [The witness entered court]
22 JUDGE MOLOTO: Good afternoon, Witness. Before we begin, let me
23 just remind you that you are bound by the oath -- rather, the declaration
24 you made on the first day of appearance that you will tell the truth, the
25 whole truth, and nothing else but the truth.
1 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] I understand, Your Honour.
2 JUDGE MOLOTO: Thank you very much.
3 And secondly, let me just apologise for asking that you get out of
4 court. We just had some logistical issues to deal with which were
5 required to be dealt with without the presence of a witness in court.
6 Thank you so much.
7 Mr. Milovancevic, you are still busy with the witness. Thank you
8 very much. The witness is yours.
9 MR. MILOVANCEVIC: [Interpretation] Thank you, Your Honour.
10 WITNESS: WITNESS MM-096 [Resumed]
11 [Witness answered through interpreter]
12 Examination by Mr. Milovancevic: [Continued]
13 Q. Good afternoon, sir.
14 A. Good afternoon.
15 Q. We are still continuing with the examination-in-chief. I would
16 just like to remind you that the protection measures are still in force,
17 so please do not mention the post you were at, and if this is necessary we
18 can always move into private session when talking about information that
19 could reveal your identity.
20 Once again, I would like to draw your attention to something that
21 applies to me as well, and that is between my question and your answer we
22 need to pause so that the interpreters could do their job. Thank you very
24 At the end of the day on Friday, we came to a topic that relates
25 to the situation in Drnis and the -- the refusal of members of that police
1 station to obey orders. So we will continue with this topic. Can you
2 please tell us briefly why they did that.
3 A. Members of the public security station in Drnis refused to obey
4 orders because that evening they received an order to break up the
5 barricades using weapons that were located on the border between the Knin
6 and Drnis municipalities. That was the first task. They refused to obey
7 that order and said that they did not want to resolve the problem in that
8 way during the night because implementation of that assignment could cause
9 a lot of casualties, that it would have been much simpler to deal with
10 this matter in the day-time, through negotiations and talks without
11 bloodshed, because bloodshed would then lead to a deterioration of the
12 situation on a broader area and that would in turn reflect on the overall
14 Q. Thank you.
15 MR. MILOVANCEVIC: [Interpretation] Your Honours, for you to be
16 able to orient yourself more easily, if you look at the atlas that we all
17 have, Drnis is on page 25, quadrant E3. It's at the very bottom to the
18 right of page 25 of the atlas. It's just below Knin.
19 Q. And since I have pointed out to the Trial Chamber where Drnis is
20 on the map, can you please tell us how far apart Knin and Drnis are.
21 A. Drnis is about 25 kilometres from Knin. The distance between
22 those two towns is about 25 kilometres.
23 Q. Can you please tell us what the composition of the Drnis police
24 station staff was, as far as the ethnic composition actually is concerned.
25 A. As far as I know, even though I'm not all that familiar with that
1 because I didn't actually work there, but as far as I know the ratio
2 between Serb and Croat policemen was more or less equal, and then there
3 were also a few Muslims in the service.
4 Q. In your answer when you explained that the policemen refused to
5 obey the order to remove the barricades by force using weapons, can you
6 please tell us who actually issued such an order?
7 A. From what I heard later, from most of the employees of the Drnis
8 police station and from what was written in the press, the order was
9 issued by the SUP secretary, Ante Bujas.
10 Q. Can you remind us again of which SUP was Mr. Ante Bujas secretary?
11 A. Ante Bujas was secretary of the Sibenik SUP, which means that he
12 was the immediate superior both to the Knin and Drnis public security
14 Q. One more question on this topic and this incident. You say that
15 the Drnis public security station was ethnically mixed. Can you please
16 tell us who it was who refused to obey the order. Was it the policemen
17 belonging to one ethnic group or can you please tell us what the situation
19 A. All the employees refused to implement this order except the chief
20 of the public security station. Both Serbs, Croats, and Muslims,
21 regardless of which group they belonged to did that. And then the reserve
22 forces also were called in from the area who were deployed at the station
23 as reserve policemen; they also refused the order to go to break up the
24 barricades by using weapons. Everyone except for the chief and one or two
25 other staff members refused to carry out that order in the public security
1 station in Drnis.
2 Q. Thank you. Can you tell us again what the date was or at least
3 the time period when this incident took place?
4 A. This incident in Drnis happened on the 20th or the 22nd of August,
6 Q. Other than the situation that you described in Knin and the
7 situation in Drnis, do you know if there were any similar events in some
8 other areas?
9 A. Later I heard information that there was also an attempt planned
10 to remove the barricades from Sinj in the direction of Drnis. This was in
11 the village of Civljani or Cetina. And there was some firing, shooting
12 there, but I think there were no casualties, no one was killed or wounded.
13 There was shooting and police gave up their attempt to remove that
14 barricade. This was the police from Sinj.
15 Q. When you say the Sinj police abandoned their attack on the
16 barricade, can you please explain who was actually manning the barricades
17 and who issued the orders for the police to carry out such an action?
18 MR. WHITING: Excuse me --
19 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] The barricades --
20 MR. WHITING: I have an objection about foundation with respect to
21 a number of these questions.
22 The witness has testified about where he was and what his duties
23 were at this time. And I'm just wondering if before eliciting testimony
24 about what was happening in other places there could be a foundation laid
25 about how he knew -- if, first of all, he knew and then how he knew. He
1 says: Later I heard information, and we're about to hear questions about,
2 well, who gave the orders and so forth without any establishment of the
3 basis of this testimony.
4 JUDGE MOLOTO: Mr. Milovancevic.
5 MR. MILOVANCEVIC: [Interpretation] Your Honours, my idea was to
6 dwell on this as briefly as possible. I do think, however, that the
7 Prosecutor's objection is quite appropriate. I will ask the witness how
8 he learned what he has just shared with us about Sinj and Cetina. I did
9 previously fail to clarify that with the witness, and I entirely agree
10 with the Prosecutor's objection in as far as it was an objection.
11 JUDGE MOLOTO: Thank you, Mr. Milovancevic. Then you can carry on
12 and correct that mistake.
13 MR. MILOVANCEVIC: [Interpretation] Thank you.
14 Q. Witness, Civljani and Cetina -- or, rather, Civljani you say
15 either one of those, how far are those two from Knin?
16 A. The settlements of Cetina and Civljani are also about 25
17 kilometres from Knin in the general direction of Sinj. These are the most
18 distant places still under the jurisdiction of the Knin public security
19 station. These two places are near Sinj and they were under the Knin
20 public security station. They were in charge of those two towns.
21 Q. Thank you very much.
22 MR. MILOVANCEVIC: [Interpretation] For your reference, Your
23 Honours, this is page 25 of our map and the quadrant number is E3. It's
24 the lower right corner of the page. You will find the villages of
25 Civljani, Kijevo, Cetina and Vrlika right there. A bit further up on the
1 right-hand side still is Knin.
2 Q. Witness, you say you heard about this later. Who was it that you
3 heard this from, about the move on Civljani or the move on Cetina?
4 A. We received calls from citizens to the station. They explained
5 the situation. They said there was shooting. They said an attack had
6 been launched, and this was also how I learned about this situation. Some
7 of the police officers in my station were natives of those areas working
8 in the Knin police station. Later on when they came to work, they
9 explained about an attempted attack; that's how they referred to it.
10 There was shooting against the barricade held by civilians, and then the
11 policemen who had been sent out from Sinj later returned. This was also
12 something you could read in the press at the time. I also heard about
13 this from my former colleagues in Split, which is where I used to work
14 previously. Units had been organised that were eventually sent to Sinj
15 and then on to Cetina and Civljani in order to crush those barricades and
16 help normalise traffic along those roads. There were several different
17 sources for this information. It's a well-known fact. It's no secret
18 information at all. It was a well-known fact, generally known.
19 As for Drnis itself, I am far more familiar with the detail of
20 that situation, the reason being I heard everything about Drnis being a
21 member of the police committee in the Sibenik SUP. Most of the employees
22 of the Drnis public security station which was soon after disbanded were
23 sent to work at the Knin public security station, which is where I was.
24 That was my station, the station where I worked, and they told me about
25 what had occurred.
1 Q. Thank you very much. You say that the Drnis station, after these
2 events which occurred on about the 20th of August, the acts of
3 disobedience was disbanded. Who was it that disbanded the station and who
4 sent the police officers to the Knin public security station?
5 A. I don't know where the order came from to disband the Drnis public
6 security station. I'm not sure if it was sent from Zagreb or from
7 Sibenik. Be that as it may, the station was legally disbanded.
8 Now, what do you mean when I say "legally disbanded"? At first
9 there was a questionnaire asking the officers if they wanted to leave the
10 station and saying that they would be allowed to go to a different town
11 where they would continue to work with the police forces, and saying that
12 all those who wished to remain would be allowed to remain. Based on all of
13 this, most of the employees declared that they wanted to go to Knin. Some
14 ended up going to Gracac and some to Sibenik, and so on and so forth.
15 The official decisions on their transfer from Drnis to other
16 places in Croatia were I think signed by Ante Bujas, who was the chief of
17 the Sibenik SUP, and this police station was under their jurisdiction as
19 Q. Regarding these events between the 17th of August, 1990, the
20 events sometimes referred to as the log revolution, do you know if
21 Mr. Martic had anything to do with these events? How did he become famous
22 in connection with this date? Do you know anything about that? How did
23 he become the public figure? I'm having some trouble phrasing my
25 A. Several days after the weapons were taken from the police station,
1 there was the regular news programme on Croatian TV and a report was read
2 out that Mr. Martic, along with three other policemen of the Knin public
3 security station, Nikola Mamovic [phoen], Zelenbaba Milenko, and Celic
4 Mirko, were suspended. This was hushed up at the time, and no specific
5 reason for this was stated, but something along the lines of indiscipline
6 was implied. The idea behind this probably referred to events surrounding
7 the petition signed in July 1990.
8 Immediately after this was aired on the TV news, the people of
9 Knin and its surroundings started assembling. Rallies were organised to
10 protest against this decision that was announced on TV that evening. I
11 was in town myself, and I realised that people were gathering outside the
12 police station. I went there to see for myself what was going on.
13 At this time, a lot of people had already assembled outside the
14 police station, quite a crowd. So I went straight in. People were
15 swearing and protesting. They wanted to get into the police station, and
16 they wanted to demolish this station. They were furious about the
17 decisions. I wanted to calm the crowd. There was a megaphone inside the
18 station, which I grabbed in order to address the people outside the
19 station. I told them to stay calm. There was no reason for them to mount
20 this rally. I said everything would be resolved by legal means, as any
21 acts of suspension within any police force usually are, that this would be
22 resolved by the relevant court.
23 As I was trying to address the crowd, people started chanting and
24 voicing their discontent. There were catcalls for me, describing me as an
25 Ustasha. (redacted)
2 THE INTERPRETER: Somebody switched their mike on.
3 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] I had only just started working
4 there, so the treatment I received from the locals was anything but
5 favourable, and they clearly were hell-bent on expressing that sentiment.
6 Dr. Dusan Zelenbaba and Jovan Opacic, deputies in the Croatian
7 Assembly from Knin, also addressed the people assembled outside the
8 station. There must have been between 3.000 and 4.000 people there. They
9 addressed the crowd with their political speeches, telling them to stay
10 calm, that the Serbs would not be attacked, and that they would defend
11 them, something along these lines. But the crowd yelled for Milan Martic
12 to address them, to tell them himself what he felt about the suspension of
13 himself and his colleagues.
14 Something else that I should say is that the situation was
15 difficult in a more general sense because there were several people inside
16 the police station who failed to sign the July petition, the petition that
17 was put forth in July 1990. The crowd started calling for their heads.
18 They wanted to lynch those Serb police officers because they had not
19 signed the petition. There was a real danger that the crowd would try to
20 break into the station in order to get to those people and kill them.
21 There was such a turmoil, in fact, that one of the police officers got
22 sick. Someone stepped in to help him, but those officers that I spoke
23 about escaped through the back door.
24 There were journalists there, Croatian journalists, and foreign
25 journalists, foreign correspondents as well. There was a lot going on,
1 and I know that Martic eventually addressed the crowd. Soon after he did
2 this, minutes after, perhaps, I'm not sure what it was exactly, but I
3 heard him speak. I heard him addressing the crowd. Someone spread the
4 news that an attack had been launched against Knin by Sinj. I'm not sure
5 what exactly had occurred, but people soon dispersed. Everybody went home
6 to get their weapons or simply to try to escape. So the meeting or the
7 rally reached an end.
8 The next day, in the afternoon, since Knin was the focus, not only
9 of Yugoslav attention but of the world attention you might say, this was
10 in the middle of the summer season and the armed conflict that was
11 beginning to erupt caused a great amount of disruption to the traffic and
12 along the Adriatic road, so news about this soon spread throughout the
14 The next day there was a Croatian TV crew on the scene; more
15 specifically, a lady a journalist called Heni Erceg and her cameraman Edo
16 Picevic [phoen]. They asked to speak to me. They asked to take pictures
17 inside the station, specifically the room in which our weapons were
18 stored. They wanted to see what exactly had occurred and they wanted to
19 speak to the eye-witnesses. I wasn't in the station myself, but near the
20 station they probably grabbed hold of Milan Martic, who told them that as
21 long as he was in charge of the police the chequerboard would never get
22 inside Knin. The cameraman had disconnected his camera and he was
23 shooting by holding the camera in his hand. This was aired on the evening
24 news that day and this was a very important thing, because this was the
25 first time that Mile Martic appeared on national television and in grand
1 style, if I may say.
2 Several days later at a meeting, the decision was taken to lift
3 the suspension of the other three police officers, and it was resolved
4 that they should go back to work as soon as possible. However, Milan
5 Martic's suspension was not lifted, was not revoked.
6 Q. Thank you very much.
7 JUDGE MOLOTO: Sorry, Mr. Milovancevic. Just a few
9 Witness, at the beginning of your answer you said: "Several days
10 after the weapons were taken from the police station," are you referring
11 to the weapons that were taken from Knin police station that you testified
12 about last week?
13 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Yes. Yes, Your Honour.
14 JUDGE MOLOTO: Okay. Thank you. I don't want a long
15 explanation. I just want to be clear. Then you said a little
16 later. "Officers that I spoke about escaped through the back door."
17 Which officers are these that you are talking about? This is at
18 page 15, line 15, starting from line 14.
19 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Your Honour, I said that several
20 police officers escaped from the station. I am referring to those police
21 officers who had not signed the petition back in July 1990. Several
22 persons are involved, the eight Serbs who failed to sign the petition, and
23 the persons that I am referring to are three or four out of those eight.
24 JUDGE MOLOTO: Thank you so much.
25 Lastly, to you, Mr. Milovancevic, you realise the witness's answer
1 was very long. I don't expect you were expecting such a long answer. Can
2 I suggest that you try to control your witness and get him to be concise
3 and to the point.
4 MR. MILOVANCEVIC: [Interpretation] Your Honour, thank you for your
5 guidance. I am perfectly aware of the length of the last answer. The
6 only reason is, if I may provide a brief explanation, the fact that this
7 event was much publicised and much used by the OTP. I just wanted to give
8 the witness a chance to tell us undisturbed what he knows about this. The
9 remaining answers will no doubt be shorter and I will try to make sure
10 they are.
11 Q. Witness, what about police stations, public security stations,
12 according to their regular job description, so to say, did they give
13 permits to citizens for any weapons that these citizens possessed?
14 A. Yes. Police stations had the authority to issue such permits to
15 citizens, for citizens to obtain, carry, and keep a fire-arm. Most
16 frequently these were pistols or revolvers. This also included the
17 purchase of hunting rifles and carbines, two different categories.
18 Q. Thank you very much. For anyone in the former Yugoslavia, not
19 just in Knin, to legally possess a weapon, what would this person have to
20 do? Who would he have to address in order to obtain a permit?
21 A. For anyone to be legally in possession of a fire-arm, at the time
22 there was the law on fire-arms and each of the republics had its own law.
23 There had to be an application to a body of the internal affairs. There
24 had to be a request as well as a reason stated for possession, why
25 possession was necessary, and why this person was applying to get a
1 permit. Usually this was for personal safety or for professional reasons.
2 Merchants, cashiers, for example, or people who were political figures and
3 there was some danger involved, these people would frequently apply for
4 such permits. And these applications would then be considered. In the
5 case of hunters, that goes without saying, they often applied to have
6 hunting rifles and carbines.
7 Q. You say an application would be submitted and then this
8 application would be considered. This means it was at the police's
9 discretion to decide who would and who would not be allowed to own a
10 weapon. But there was some discretion involved by the relevant body of
11 the SUP, wasn't there?
12 MR. WHITING: Objection, leading.
13 JUDGE MOLOTO: That's -- yes, Mr. Whiting.
14 MR. WHITING: I'm sorry. My objection is that the question was
16 JUDGE MOLOTO: Mr. Milovancevic.
17 MR. MILOVANCEVIC: [Interpretation] I withdraw the question, Your
18 Honour. Indeed, it was a leading question.
19 Q. Who decided on the issuing of these permits?
20 A. Organs of the interior. There were two stages, so to speak.
21 First an application was submitted by a citizen. The relevant person in
22 the relevant department would then submit this for processing. What did
23 that mean? Police inspectors on the ground would then run a check, a
24 background check, on the person submitting the application. They would
25 check whether this person was, by nature, aggressive or prone to misuse
1 the weapon. They would check for any previous form, previous convictions,
2 in which case the person would automatically be ruled out from receiving a
3 permit. There was a more general background check to vet the person for
4 mental illnesses, mental illnesses that he suffered from or someone in his
5 family. So this was the general background check.
6 Once this was done, a committee would sit in Knin in order to
7 consider all these applications and requests. At a meeting of this
8 committee, decisions were made in relation to each of these applications.
9 Whenever applications were granted, a list would be drawn up of the
10 persons who received permits. This list would then be forwarded to Knin
11 along with the entire case file and to the Sibenik SUP, and then there
12 would be another meeting to discuss these same applications.
13 Q. So who had the final say?
14 A. It was one of my colleagues from the Sibenik SUP. There was a
15 special committee. So the secretary and his associates, members of the
17 Q. At the time, did the Sibenik SUP normally stick to the law when
18 granting these applications?
19 A. There were lots of applications and requests being submitted at
20 the time, but at this point in time there was an inflation even greater
21 than would have been normal of such requests and applications. It wasn't
22 only the Knin area, it was the Drnis area, the Sibenik area as well.
23 Everybody would bring their weapons, and they all brought certificates
24 certifying that they had taken an exam and that they knew how to use the
25 weapons. Applications were piling up. I'm sure one of the items on the
1 agenda for the committee was to review these applications for fire-arm
3 At the beginning it was easy when the applications were still few,
4 but later problems mounted because the situation in Drnis, Knin, and
5 Sibenik became more and more complex. In our meetings we discussed this
6 with increasing frequency. Normally the last item on the agenda would be
7 the review of these applications. I once spoke to the Knin secretary
8 about these and he said: We'll talk about that next time. A week later I
9 was there again. We went through the agenda and reached the same item
10 again, and I asked him what we would do with the weapons because the
11 citizens were submitting all these applications, and we were bound by the
12 law to provide some kind of reply, positive or negative. We were bound by
13 the law to provide an answer within 30 days of the application, and he
14 said: If it's a Serb, don't grant it; if it's a Croat, go ahead and grant
15 the application. I was in the minority at that meeting, and the situation
16 was not very pleasant. It would have been meaningless for me to stand up
17 to this because anything I said would not have changed anything.
18 Q. Thank you very much. At the time, were people trying to obtain
19 weapons by illegal means?
20 MR. WHITING: Objection.
21 JUDGE MOLOTO: Yes, Mr. Whiting.
22 MR. WHITING: I think the question is vague. What -- I'm not sure
23 what it means.
24 JUDGE MOLOTO: Mr. Milovancevic.
25 MR. MILOVANCEVIC: [Interpretation] Your Honour, we heard about the
1 legal means of obtaining weapons. When I say "illegal," I mean anything
2 else that wasn't legal. Were I to suggest anything else, the question
3 would be a leading one. I'm asking about obtaining weapons illegally and
4 what this witness, as a member of the SUP, knew about this. He should be
5 in a position to know. That's what my question was about.
6 JUDGE MOLOTO: Shouldn't you perhaps be asking how the people on
7 the ground went about to obtain these weapons, rather than suggesting to
8 him that there could have been illegal ways of doing it?
9 MR. MILOVANCEVIC: [Interpretation] Your Honour, the problem is
10 there is only one way to get weapons, that being the legal way.
11 Everything outside that qualifies as illegal. It's a broad concept. I do
12 know that, and that's why I was trying to cast the net as wide as
13 possible. But if you think that's a more proper way to ask the question,
14 I can rephrase my question.
15 JUDGE MOLOTO: I think so, in the light of the objection that it
16 is vague.
17 MR. MILOVANCEVIC: [Interpretation] I'll rephrase, then.
18 Q. In addition to the legal ways of obtaining weapons, do you know
19 about any other ways of obtaining weapons? At the time, of course. I'm
20 referring to August 1990, August and September.
21 A. Throughout August and September 1990, weapons were the main thing
22 everybody was talking about, and everybody was bending over backwards in
23 order to get weapons. Nobody was thinking about buying a car at the time.
24 That was ancient history. Weapons were the in thing to get.
25 I remember several break-ins by unidentified perpetrators. They
1 would break into trains leaving Split on their return to other towns in
2 Yugoslavia. At the railway station in Kosovo near Knin and in Knin
3 itself, these trains were broken into. The army were sending
4 dysfunctional or old weapons to a special office in Hadzici where these
5 were mended. Hadzici is near Sarajevo. They were sending these weapons
6 there for this department to mend the weapons.
7 There were two such cases where the train was broken into and the
8 weapons were taken away. In the first case there were about ten rifles
9 involved, and in the next case five or six, I think. This theft was
10 reported, so I and a couple of people from the military security
11 department went around the area trying to talk people into returning these
12 weapons. There were several anonymous calls throughout this period of
13 time to the police station providing information as to the whereabouts of
14 these weapons. It took us no more than a couple of days to get these
15 back. There was one case where we realised who the perpetrator was. We
16 discovered the perpetrator. We sent him to the Split court, and he was
17 tried there. People also illegally traded weapons from World War II, old
18 weapons, German and Italian rifles, and other kinds of weapons left over
19 from World War II.
20 Another way to obtain weapons was for people to forge weapon
21 permits. Whenever we granted these applications, we would always use a
22 special form in the process. People got hold of these forms somehow or
23 other, I don't know, and they would just fill them in. These were forged
24 permits, and they would use these forged permits to get weapons. Weapons
25 were sold in civilian shops. There was no one supervising the purchase.
1 These permits would then be sent back to us to file them away and to
2 inform us that a weapon was purchased under such and such a number.
3 Q. Thank you. You gave us a detailed answer to this question. Can
4 you please give us your opinion, your impression, what was the reason for
5 such a situation? You said that nobody bought cars, nobody bought other
6 things, the only thing that people sought to buy were weapons.
7 A. People were living in fear for their lives and for their property.
8 The situation was becoming more complex. The legal newspapers that were
9 coming to Knin from all over, from Belgrade, Split, Zagreb, had
10 information about facilities being blown up, apartments, business premises
11 owned by Serbs or companies that had their headquarters in Serbia which
12 were blown up in areas of Croatia on the coast or in Zagreb. Newspapers
13 were burned from other regions; for example, in Zagreb newspapers were
14 burned that came from Belgrade. So this also had an effect on the
15 situation in Knin. Explosives were planted in kiosks owned by companies
16 in Zagreb or Split.
17 The situation was becoming more complex. People were beginning to
18 be afraid and they wanted to obtain weapons, hunting weapons, a pistol, in
19 order to at least have some degree of security.
20 Q. Very well. Thank you very much. We will continue.
21 MR. MILOVANCEVIC: [Interpretation] Your Honours, I think it is
22 time for a break -- oh, I think that I still have some time. I thought
23 that I had gone over the time for the break, so I was a little bit too
25 JUDGE NOSWORTHY: Mr. Milovancevic, may I please ask a question of
1 Mr. Witness at this stage, thank you, you'll get a little break this way.
2 Mr. Witness, you spoke about guns having been removed from trains.
3 Were these trains public trains or army trains, freight trains, what?
4 Were there no guards accompanying the transportation of this -- these
6 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Your Honour, these were trains that
7 were just regular trains. They were mostly freight trains, and many
8 people who lived near the rail tracks worked for the railways. So they
9 know what the Hadzici depot was. That was a place where weapons were
10 being repaired. So if the military post in Split was sending weapons for
11 maintenance or repair, they knew where this went. Before, nobody ever
12 touched this because it was dangerous to do that. Weapons were not
13 needed. But now with this situation that was beginning to be created,
14 people would break in or get in there, knowing that that is where they
15 could find rifles.
16 I think that's the answer. Later in our actions we returned all
17 of those rifles, the automatic weapons, and we handed them over to the
19 JUDGE NOSWORTHY: Very well. There's another question which I'd
20 like to pose to you. At the time that we're speaking about, based on your
21 own knowledge, would you say at the time that the number of weapons
22 illegally secured in the hands of citizens, as known to the police and to
23 you, would have outweighed those which were issued legally through the
24 authority of the police and the regular way?
25 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Yes, there were a lot of weapons
1 circulating. As I said, there was even a quantity of weapons left over
2 from World War II. People also began to make very simple bombs. They
3 would take fuses from training bombs, they would take the chargers, and
4 then they would -- whatever they could find.
5 And you even had accidents. People got hurt. There was even a
6 case that a person was killed in a field. They were trying to light a
7 fire and happened to hit on a incendiary device that had been thrown away.
8 People would also use trophy weapons, all kinds of weapons. People were
9 not trained properly. The weapons were outdated. There were all kinds of
10 different calibres. It was chaos, but mostly nothing could be done. We
11 couldn't take measures to confiscate all of the weapons because that would
12 pit us against the population. The situation was such that we could not
13 confiscate weapons and get on the bad side of the people. Even the higher
14 command was unable to take away all these weapons.
15 JUDGE NOSWORTHY: So at that time would the people who you could
16 not have disarmed in your own discretion, would they have had more arms
17 than were -- than would have been in the hands of the police and the
18 regular authorities then? Is that the scenario you were faced with?
19 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Your Honour, at that time the police
20 carried military weapons, an automatic rifle, hand-grenades; they had all
21 those things at their disposal. But we could not embark on the
22 disarmament or disarming of those people manning the barricades because
23 that would have led to a very difficult situation. I or any of my police
24 officers or any of my superiors did not wish to disarm the people in that
1 We believed - and I still believe the same thing now - that at the
2 time the only thing that was possible was to act politically. The policy
3 could have been devised to resolve the situation and to call on the people
4 to return the weapons, to help to restore safety and peace. Because those
5 people who had weapons concealed dating back to World War II, they never
6 used those weapons or abused them, but they felt that the time had come to
7 get those weapons out again from wherever they were keeping them in secret
8 places. For 40 or more years the weapons were concealed, and now they
9 were being brought out again so they could show them. They brought their
10 weapons out, but I believe that this could only have been resolved
12 The military weapons that were taken from the railway trains was
13 not something that we found out about with classic investigation methods.
14 We didn't return the weapons in that way by going and searching from house
15 to house, questioning people and so on.
16 We actually managed to convince the people that they should return
17 the weapons, that there was no need for them to have weapons, it was
18 dangerous, it was a punishable act to take military weapons. So we did
19 manage to solve two of such incidents. And through some channels, we got
20 information about what had happened. And out of the two incidents that
21 weapons were taken, only one case was actually prosecuted.
22 JUDGE NOSWORTHY: I want to thank you very much, Mr. Witness.
23 Thank you.
24 MR. MILOVANCEVIC: [Interpretation]
25 Q. In response to her question Her Honour Judge Nosworthy, you said
1 it was advisable in such a situation to act politically. In the second
2 half of 1990, were there attempts to calm the situation by using political
3 means? Were there any delegations that came? Were there talks? Was
4 there any other way tried to resolve the situation?
5 A. I remember a situation - I don't know whether this was in late
6 September or early October 1990 - when a high-ranking delegation came to
7 Knin consisting of the vice-president of the federal government,
8 Aleksandar Mitrovic, and some other government members, federal government
9 members, that also included members of the republican government from
10 Zagreb. And I remember that the minister of the internal affairs of the
11 Republic of Croatia was also part of the delegation; that was Josip
12 Boljkovac. And they had talks with the representatives of the Knin
13 political authorities at the Knin fort. And I think that the meeting was
14 organised with the objective of reducing the tensions. There were talks
15 to dismantle the barricades, to resolve the situation. I did not take
16 part in these meetings in either delegation. I heard about it.
17 My task was to make sure that the meeting proceeded as it should,
18 that they -- the participants arrived and leave the fort safely, and so
19 on. But it's possible that more could have been done. There were no
20 sincere calls to negotiations by either side to attempt to calm down the
22 Q. At the time you said that the European athletic championships or
23 competition was taking place - this was in September 1990 - do you -- in
24 Split. Do you know anything about the security measures in relation to
25 Knin and that area that were perhaps carried out?
1 A. Remembering that period, I know that there were two sports events
2 held close to Knin, one was the Sinj Alka, traditional Alka games, and the
3 other one was the mentioned athletic competition.
4 The Sibenik SUP issued a directive to try to calm down the
5 tensions and the situations at the barricades, to try to keep the
6 situation as it was and not to make it any worse with the people manning
7 the barricades. The Croatian authorities did not wish to mention that
8 there were any unrests or that any incidents were taking place at the time
9 when so many sportsmen from all over the world and athletes were there.
10 They didn't want to aggravate the situation. They wanted us to maintain
11 the situation and the calm in our territory. They didn't want us to make
12 it any worse.
13 At the end of the European swimming championships in Split,
14 Sibenik asked me to allow the police from Zagreb that was deployed as
15 security at the Split championships to pass through Knin because Split
16 was -- the Split-Zagreb road passed through Knin. So they wanted a unit
17 to be able to pass through Knin without any obstruction. So I reviewed
18 the situation with my associates, the security situation on the territory
19 of the Knin municipality, and I wanted to test through our network of
20 people who cooperated with us what the situation was and would it be
21 possible for this column of police to pass. And in a few days I received
22 information back, it filtered back, that this would not be such a simple
23 thing because the population distrusted the Croatian authorities and the
24 MUP forces because they felt that this might be used as a pretext to
25 attack the Knin situation and to dismantle the Knin police station, which
1 is something that happened in Drnis.
2 Some citizens, there was some information that there might be a
3 clash. So all this information is something that I relayed to the Sibenik
4 SUP chief Ante Bujas. So then they abandoned this idea. Later, when I
5 was reading books and memoirs of various politicians from that time,
6 Vrdoljak who at the time had some sort of post in the Croatian government.
7 Later he was the president of the Olympic Committee of the Republic of
8 Croatia, and later even in Spegelj's book, who at that time was the
9 defence minister of the Republic of Croatia, it was said then that they
10 wanted to use that particular point in time and that already a plan had
11 been made to attack the Knin police station and to capture the station,
12 bring new people in, and to impose order in town, quote/unquote.
13 MR. MILOVANCEVIC: [Interpretation] Your Honours, I think we're
14 already past the time for our break, so I wanted to just thank the witness
15 and tell him that we're going to continue after the break.
16 JUDGE MOLOTO: Thank you very much. We'll take a short break and
17 come back at 4.00.
18 Court adjourned.
19 --- Recess taken at 3.30 p.m.
20 --- On resuming at 3.58 p.m.
21 JUDGE MOLOTO: Mr. Milovancevic.
22 MR. MILOVANCEVIC: [Interpretation] Thank you, Your Honour.
23 Q. Witness, I've been asking you questions about traffic on the
24 roads, so to speak, the situation along the roads in the Knin area and
25 further afield as well. Do you know anything about the rail traffic at
1 that time, in September and October 1990?
2 A. As I've already stated, the rail traffic was running through Knin
3 in different directions. At the outset, it all seemed quite normal. The
4 trains were running on schedule and regularly, but there were less and
5 less passengers. Tensions were growing and less people travelled. For
6 the most part, people decided to steer clear of the area when travelling.
7 There were some break-ins. I've spoken about those freight
8 trains, but gradually, in September I believe, cases were beginning to
9 emerge where people damaged rail tracks, smashed them, or sometimes placed
10 obstacles on the tracks so that the trains couldn't pass. Normally there
11 would be an anonymous tip-off to the police station, saying that mines had
12 been laid along a certain rail track and warning that it couldn't be used
13 for regular traffic. So trains would be stopped and traffic could not
14 proceed as normal. There were increasing problems.
15 Q. Whenever you received these anonymous tip-offs, as police officers
16 would you go there and inspect the scene?
17 A. When tip-offs of this nature were received, we did the usual
18 thing. Laying mines is a serious crime. A crime scene investigation team
19 would be set up, comprising an operative and a forensic expert who would
20 gather any traces left on the scene and take photographs. At the
21 beginning an investigating magistrate would join the team and sometimes
22 the prosecutor, but this gradually ceased to be the case and the
23 Prosecutor stopped joining these CSI teams. Facts would be ascertained
24 upon their arrival, and an investigation would be opened. A railroad team
25 would be sent to this place to repair any damage, but this kept the trains
2 Q. Were you ever successful in tracking down any perpetrators in
3 cases like these?
4 A. As far as I remember - and this was after all 16 years ago - I
5 don't think any perpetrators were ever found for these crimes. This was
6 difficult because these things always happened outside settled areas,
7 outside any areas in which people moved around a lot. There were hardly
8 any witnesses to speak of, and cases were left unresolved.
9 JUDGE MOLOTO: What is a CSI team?
10 THE INTERPRETER: Interpreter's note, crime scene investigation
12 JUDGE MOLOTO: Thank you very much.
13 You may proceed, Mr. Milovancevic.
14 MR. MILOVANCEVIC: [Interpretation] Thank you, Your Honour.
15 Q. In relation to this situation involving the railways, did you ever
16 contact the ministry, whatever ministry there was in Zagreb that was in
17 charge of these issues? Was there any serious attempt to remedy the
19 A. Following these events, we would immediately inform the railway
20 administration office in Knin itself. We kept our Sibenik SUP informed as
21 well as the MUP headquarters in Zagreb. We kept them informed about
22 everything that we did and hoped that they would then inform the national
24 At this time, however, I remember a team suddenly appeared from
25 Zagreb, a team of high-ranking railway officials, national railway
1 officials, about six or seven of them, for the most part sector managers
2 in the governing body of the Croatian national railways based in Zagreb.
3 They suddenly appeared at the police station in Knin. I was called to a
4 meeting. It was concluded that the railway traffic in the Knin area was
5 not running smoothly, and this affected the whole of Croatia. They wanted
6 to see for themselves what the situation was along the rail tracks in the
7 area. They used a train comprising about three cars and a locomotive, and
8 they headed for Zadar, for Kistanje. I gave them an escort comprising two
9 or three police officers who joined them on that train. I'm not sure what
10 the place is called, but it's about 20 kilometres from Knin. There was a
11 narrowing of the rail track and there were rocks on the rail track which
12 hindered their passage. Needless to say, the railway officials who were
13 on the train and the police officers headed for that narrowing and were
14 fired on from inside this narrowing. They did not want to run any further
15 risks and they just went straight back. My own patrol filed a report
16 based on what those directly involved in this event had reported, and the
17 experts from Zagreb, the railway experts, said the same thing. They were
18 not prepared to risk their lives, so they went straight back to Knin.
19 Soon after their inspection, soon after their own experience of
20 the situation, they concluded that no normal railway traffic through Knin
21 was possible. And I think this was when it stopped, and it was only
22 resumed after the war had ended.
23 Q. You explained about the barricades and about the instructions
24 received from the Sibenik SUP to do nothing by force, to not use force,
25 and to only react to possible incidents. You described one such incident.
1 How frequent were these incidents? Were there incidents occurring
2 anywhere else?
3 A. There were sporadic incidents, reports of barricades, people
4 crossing barricades, people not being allowed to pass. We received word
5 from Sibenik sometimes that we should go to a barricade and check what was
6 happening. I remember that once a theft was reported at one of these
7 barricades where money was stolen from a person. We tried to find the
8 perpetrators. So there were incidents occurring at such barricades
9 throughout the area. Every several days there would be something.
10 Q. What about this order or these instructions from the Sibenik SUP,
11 as far as the barricades were concerned? I mean their instructions to the
12 Knin police station.
13 A. Normally they would ask that the perpetrators be found. They
14 would request explanations, if any theft or any crime was reported, if
15 property was stolen. But they didn't press that hard. They didn't press
16 us, the police, to identify the perpetrators because they had a different
17 way of doing this through their associates, informers. That was how they
18 tried to identify any perpetrators, the intelligence services and other
19 such agencies. So they did have information on people who were manning
20 these barricades.
21 Q. Is my understanding correct: Incidents were reported to you at
22 the Knin station and your reactions were immediate. You would go to the
23 crime scene immediately, right?
24 A. Yes. As soon as a report was received, we would go there and
25 ascertain the facts to the extent that we were able to.
1 Q. Thank you. That's good enough for my purposes.
2 Witness, you said that in late July 1990, as a police station and
3 in cooperation with other police stations, you provided security and a
4 declaration was published. I want to know more about that. What about
5 the position of the state organs of municipalities, what about their
6 status? Did anything change in the way these functioned in relation to
7 the republican authorities or did the situation remain unchanged?
8 A. As far as I know, following this declaration in Srb and as far as
9 the way these bodies were organised is concerned, the situation remained
10 unchanged -- or at least we didn't notice any major changes in terms of
11 subordination, in terms of how the police was organised.
12 Q. Thank you. Between July 1990 and the end of 1990, who did the
13 Knin police station receive their salaries from?
14 A. The salaries as well as anything else that had to do with the way
15 the station was organised, including equipment and all of our other
16 commitments, were arranged by the Croatian Ministry of the Interior and
17 the Sibenik SUP. We tried to do business as usual, in a manner of
18 speaking. We received our petrol from them, all our equipment. We would
19 send requests and we would get our supplies. Everything went on as usual.
20 Our salaries were paid. There was a large increase in salaries in the
21 Ministry of the Interior, and all of this was provided by the Zagreb-based
23 Q. You described the situation concerning the railways. What was the
24 public security situation in Knin itself? You were a member of the police
25 station there. Was it better? Was it worse? Tell us something about
1 that, please, briefly.
2 A. When you have an unsettled situation in a certain area and no
3 measures are taken to remedy that situation, one thing that is certain is
4 that as time goes by the situation gets worse. In security terms, it was
5 getting worse all the time. People were getting weapons. The authority
6 of the official bodies and the police itself was gradually weakened.
7 There were acts of indiscipline. Various kinds of pressure were mounting,
8 incidents flaring up all over Croatia in towns within the Knin area and
9 those along the coast as well, which affected the situation in Knin
10 itself. The security situation was worsening and fear was encroaching
11 upon the people living there, both Croats and Serbs, Croats in particular
12 because they constituted the minority. They didn't know what would become
13 of them the next day.
14 Q. As for December 1990, we can say that the typical thing was major
15 decisions were taken, decisions that affected the future course of events
16 in the Republic of Croatia. Do you know which decisions I'm referring to?
17 A. I remember that sometime around mid-December, perhaps about the
18 20th of December, St. Nikolas Day, the decision on the setting up of the
19 SAO Krajina was announced. And the day after there was a constitutional
20 something or other in Croatia, secession, something along these lines. I
21 don't know exactly what it was, but I know this was on two successive
22 days, these two decisions, the decision on the setting up of the SAO
23 Krajina and hen soon after there was this other decision.
24 Q. Thank you very much. What about your work, your post, in the
25 public security station? Between mid-July 1990 and the end of 1990, did
1 you have normal communication, you personally I mean, with the Sibenik SUP
2 and the Zagreb-based Ministry of the Interior? Did you regularly travel
3 to both places and go to both these police institutions?
4 A. From the time I was appointed to my post to the end of 1990, I
5 would go regularly or whenever needed to both places, to the Sibenik SUP
6 and to the headquarters of the Ministry of the Interior in Zagreb. I
7 would go to meetings. I would go to briefings. I would go to submit
8 reports. I would go to collect my assignments. I would go to discuss the
9 overall situation and analyse the overall situation. So I did go
10 regularly to both places, Sibenik and Zagreb, to see my superiors and to
11 try to tackle problems with them.
12 Q. How long did you remain in your post, until when, and did any
13 changes occur throughout that time?
14 A. Sometime in December 1990, I think it was in December, there was a
15 major incident, the murder of a police officer and the wounding of another
16 who were patrolling the area around Obrovac. It was a night-time
17 incident. These people were members of the Benkovac public security
18 station. A police officer called Goran Olamanja [phoen] was murdered and
19 another was wounded. The third officer who was with them was unharmed.
20 He was on the back seat and the perpetrators probably didn't even notice
21 his presence inside the vehicle, and that was why he was unharmed.
22 As soon as the next day, I received an assignment from Zadar. Why
23 from Zadar? Because Obrovac and Benkovac, in terms of their organisation,
24 were under the Zadar administration. I was tasked with finding an ethnic
25 Serb and bringing him to the Zadar SUP because he was expect -- suspected
1 of having attacked that patrol and of having murdered Goran Olamanja, the
2 police officer who was killed, who was also an ethnic Serb.
3 We found this person. We went through the motions and took this
4 person to Zadar for further questioning and processing. There were many
5 other incidents and the situation was worsening in general, (redacted)
12 Q. Thank you.
13 MR. MILOVANCEVIC: [Interpretation] Your Honours, at the beginning
14 of the answer of the witness there is a part which might need to be
15 redacted, when he mentions that he could not carry out his job anymore and
16 mentions the post he was occupying at the time. So I don't want to repeat
17 all of that. He wanted to be relieved because he could not go on with his
18 job. Perhaps that part would need to be redacted.
19 JUDGE MOLOTO: Except that he doesn't say what his post was at
20 that time. He just says: I couldn't go on with my -- I could no longer
21 do the same job. But if -- for safety's sake --
22 MR. MILOVANCEVIC: [Interpretation] Thank you. Thank you, Your
23 Honour. The translation is such that it actually is all right in this
24 situation. But in the witness's mother tongue it sounded different, but I
25 think it will be all right for now.
1 JUDGE MOLOTO: Thank you, Mr. Milovancevic.
2 Mr. Whiting is standing up.
3 MR. WHITING: Your Honour, I'm sorry. Just out of an abundance of
4 caution, if it was said in the witness's own language and not translated,
5 it will still be broadcast in B/C/S. So it presents a difficulty in terms
6 of finding where to redact, but I think if -- if we just take the
7 indication of Defence counsel and sort of redact in that area, then we'll
8 catch it.
9 JUDGE MOLOTO: All right. Maybe if we redact page 37 from line 14
10 that -- the sentence that begins on line 14 virtually up to line 20. That
11 would cover it. Thank you very much. So it's ordered. Line 14 where it
12 says: "This caused me to feel ..." up to "late December" on line 20.
13 Okay. Thank you very much, Mr. Milovancevic. You may proceed.
14 MR. MILOVANCEVIC: [Interpretation]
15 Q. Sir, from the time that you were deployed at the Knin public
16 security station, so from mid-July until late December 1990, did you see
17 Mr. Martic around at the time he was working at the public security
18 station? What can you tell us about his position and his work?
19 A. Yes, of course I saw him around, especially up until the time he
20 was suspended. I used to see him every day. He came to work, he was
21 carrying out the tasks given to him by his superior. I occasionally also
22 gave him some assignments.
23 The period up until his suspension, so before the end of August
24 1990, from the time that I arrived until that time, I can say that he was
25 carrying out his tasks professionally. And there is nothing to be said
1 about his work. He was working very successfully. He was one of the
2 prominent inspectors working on criminal investigation assignments.
3 As for the period after he was suspended and asked to report to
4 the disciplinary court in the SUP Sibenik where there were proceedings
5 against him and he did not wish to actually respond to that summons, from
6 that time on I saw him very rarely because I was mostly doing office work.
7 I would go for meetings to Zagreb, Sibenik, and other institutions. I
8 didn't walk around town to be able to see him. I saw him infrequently,
9 and when I did see him these would be very brief encounters. We exchanged
10 the usual customary greetings mostly.
11 Q. One more question relating to this period and the Knin public
12 security station. Sir, for years you worked in the police. How can you
13 describe the activities of the public security station in terms of was
14 this regular, in terms of the application of regulations? I hope that
15 this question is not leading.
16 A. Comparing that period in Knin with the period before that when I
17 was working on more or less similar work, I can say that the tasks and the
18 work were very different. Before, I could not even imagine that I would
19 find myself in a situation where people were freely interrupting the flow
20 of traffic, they were carrying weapons, there were violations of law and
21 order without any punishment. That was the situation, though, and we felt
22 that at the time it was best for us who were employed at the public
23 security station to work in that particular way because we wanted to avoid
24 consequences that could then lead to even more serious consequences. It
25 was easy to deal with consequences that were easily put right, but the
1 problem were those that were not easily put right. So by that I mean
2 killings and things like that.
3 Neighbouring public security stations also had problems, the ones
4 in Drnis and Benkovac, Obrovac. Professional policemen in other towns of
5 Croatia also had problems because the situation was problematic there,
6 too, because of all of these events. Like I said, Serbs' cars were being
7 blown up, houses, shops, there were threatening messages, and this started
8 to happen in Knin, too.
9 What I'm trying to say is generally it was hard to be a member of
10 a different ethnic group when you were amongst another predominant ethnic
11 group. It was difficult to be a Serb in the police at coastal towns or
12 towns in the interior of the republic. It was also difficult to be that
13 in Knin. Perhaps it was justified or unjustified, but people were afraid
14 for their lives, for their property. At that time already people had
15 began to move away. There were exchanges of properties. Serbs exchanged
16 properties with Croats who were coming to Knin. There were many exchanges
17 of real estate being carried out. There were also polls whether they
18 accepted the authority of the HDZ or, rather, the Republic of Croatia,
19 because at that time the majority of the Serbian population was viewed as
20 a factor of disruption, as an enemy of the state of Croatia that would be
22 Q. Thank you very much. Now when we're talking about the position of
23 people of different ethnic groups, specifically in Knin, are you saying
24 when you're talking about this difficult position that this was a result
25 of the policy of the public security station or the policy of the
1 municipality or was it something else in question? Can you give us an
2 explanation, please.
3 A. I don't think that the serious or difficult position of Croats who
4 lived in the Knin area, in the town and the municipality, was the result
5 of the work of the public security station or the municipality or other
6 institutions because - and I can say that on behalf of the public security
7 station - we actually wanted to make the lives of those people easier. We
8 wanted to protect them from any attacks, from anything, but the actual
9 situation was very difficult. Like I said, everything that happened
10 earlier in Croatia and around would also be felt in Knin, so it would
11 appear in a different form in Knin itself.
12 Q. Sir, can you explain us what -- to us what is it that was
13 happening outside of Knin that had some sort of effect in Knin? Can you
14 clarify that a little bit.
15 A. Earlier I said that the persecution in real terms of that word
16 began of Serbs in Croatia. Property was being destroyed, there were
17 objections, open threats at work-places, at school. The overall policy
18 was reflected in the media that bombarded the people with all of these --
19 this information. The media, regardless of whether they were from Zagreb,
20 from Belgrade, from Split, always featured reports where their own people
21 would be presented as victims, and it was not said that both were victims.
22 The situation kept deteriorating day by day. People were trying to find a
23 way out of that situation, and they were moving closer to their own
24 population, going to areas where their own ethnic group was in a majority.
25 People, Croats from Knin, were going to mostly, predominantly, Croatian
1 towns, while Serbs I said before from Zagreb and other places were turning
2 to Knin and other Serbian municipalities.
3 Q. Sir, you, in view of the job that you were doing and the
4 institution where you work, were you able to control this?
5 A. I and the other staff from the public security station where I
6 work was unable to change the situation much or control it. As I said,
7 all of this was happening, prompted by the policy, by the writing in the
8 press, and so on. We were defined as an executive organ, and we were
9 acting in accordance with directives and orders from someone else. It
10 wasn't up to us to implement any kind of policy. We didn't do that.
11 Q. Thank you. What would you say was specific for early 1990? What
12 I mean is what would be characteristic for the work of the public security
13 station in Knin for that time?
14 A. As I already said, I resigned my post. I did it orally. I wanted
15 somebody to relieve me. On the 5th of January, 1991, when the Knin SUP
16 was established, is a day that I welcomed with relief. When I
17 say "relief," I mean that I had been relieved of a major responsibility in
18 terms of not being morally responsible anymore. I assumed that -- I
19 assumed where this could lead later.
20 So in early January, on the 5th of January, 1991, the Knin SUP was
21 established and the public security station Knin became part of that Knin
22 SUP. (redacted)
25 MR. MILOVANCEVIC: [Interpretation] Your Honours, this sentence
1 security station Knin and then the sentence after that, could we please
2 redact that?
3 JUDGE MOLOTO: May the sentence -- which sentence? Yeah. Line 4
4 to 5 at page 43, I guess that's what you are referring to,
5 Mr. Milovancevic? I beg your pardon.
6 MR. MILOVANCEVIC: [Interpretation] Yes, Your Honour.
7 JUDGE MOLOTO: No, I think you're referring from line 25 of
8 page 42.
9 MR. MILOVANCEVIC: [Interpretation] The last sentence, yes.
10 JUDGE MOLOTO: Okay. Okay. Page 43, lines 3 to 5, may it be --
11 may they be redacted, please?
12 Well, you can go ahead.
13 MR. MILOVANCEVIC: [Interpretation] Thank you.
14 Q. Could you please tell us who it was who made the decision to form
15 the Knin SUP, if you know; if you don't, you can just say that.
16 A. I think that the decision to form the Knin SUP was adopted by the
17 SAO Krajina government and that it was signed on behalf of the Assembly by
18 Milan Babic.
19 Q. You said that in early January 1991 the Knin SUP was formed, and
20 you also said that up until that time the work of the Knin police was
21 financed by the Ministry of the Interior of Croatia. What happened then
22 as far as financing was concerned?
23 A. With the establishment of the Knin SUP, the financing and
24 technical assistance that the MUP of Croatia provided to Knin was
25 suspended. And from that time on, its work was financed by the Knin SUP.
1 The Knin SUP also paid the employees' salaries. At the time we didn't
2 have any budget. We had no funds. I remember that at the time people
3 brought money from themselves on behalf of others, money that came from
4 local communes, municipalities, other organisations, and all of that money
5 was put into a joint coffer which went to finance our work.
6 Q. So then the SUP of Croatia stopped financing the Knin SUP once the
7 Knin SUP was established?
8 A. Yes. This is what I'm saying. Once the SUP Knin was established,
9 the MUP of Croatia stopped financing its work.
10 Q. As for the salaries, am I right when I say that the salaries were
11 paid out of donations by citizens? Is that what you said? And can you
12 just say for the transcript yes or no.
13 A. Yes. That is what I meant when I said that they were bringing
14 money. They were doing this voluntarily. They gave how much they were
15 able to. Whoever felt that they could collect some money, they did that
16 on their own initiative. They put these lists together, and they came to
17 the Knin SUP and handed the money over.
18 Q. How high were your salaries and were they regular?
19 A. It's difficult to express that, and it's difficult to remember
20 what the salaries were at the time. I believe they were on average about
21 6.000 or maybe 6 million dinars. I know that the number 6 was involved.
22 And it wasn't a very good salary to say the least, and it wasn't regular
23 either. But people had their own stocks that they kept and they hoped
24 that the situation would eventually improve. They forged ahead. They
25 kept on working in order to survive to keep their work, and they were
1 waiting for a better future.
2 Q. You say that on the 4th or the 5th of January, 1991, the Knin SUP
3 was set up. Was there any change in jurisdiction in how the work was
4 done, in terms of how the SUP was organised?
5 A. Once the Knin SUP was established, a whole number of changes
6 occurred. The Knin public security station, the Benkovac public security
7 station, the Obrovac public security station, Donji Lapac, Gracac, I
8 believe Korenica as well, but I might be wrong, now became part of the
9 Knin SUP. Their superior command was the Knin SUP, and no longer the SUP
10 officers that they belonged to earlier, Zadar, Gospic, or wherever the
11 headquarters used to be.
12 Q. Thank you very much. After these changes did the police just go
13 about their normal daily work or not?
14 A. When the Knin SUP was established - this is just to clarify the
15 situation and how it evolved - this was a decision by the SAO Krajina
16 Assembly, and Mile Martic was appointed head of the SUP. (redacted)
19 Q. Witness, I'm afraid we'll have to strike the last sentence.
20 MR. MILOVANCEVIC: [Interpretation] There is mention here of the
21 witness's new position.
22 JUDGE MOLOTO: Okay. May line 23 to 24 at page 45 be redacted,
23 please, that sentence.
24 MR. MILOVANCEVIC: [Interpretation] Thank you very much, Your
1 JUDGE MOLOTO: Thank you.
2 JUDGE NOSWORTHY: Mr. Milovancevic, please, before you go on. The
3 reference to 6.000 or 6 million dinars, is that relevant to the period of
4 a year or monthly or -- I wonder if you could clarify or have I not got it
5 quite properly understood. Thank you.
6 MR. MILOVANCEVIC: [Interpretation] Thank you very much, Your
8 Q. You spoke about the salaries, the amount you mentioned.
9 MR. MILOVANCEVIC: [Interpretation] Your Honour, I don't think this
10 will affect the answer. It was just an explanation. My question was not
11 about the amount; I was just wondering whether it was more or less than
12 before and was it enough to make ends meet.
13 Q. Still, Witness, the amount you mentioned, was that a monthly
14 amount or what was it?
15 A. Your Honour, the amount that I specified, 6.000 or 6 million, that
16 was in reference to our monthly salary, but there was the incipient
17 inflation and zeros were added or axed on a permanent basis. (redacted)
23 MR. MILOVANCEVIC: [Interpretation] Your Honours, we're facing the
24 same situation as a while ago. He mentioned his salary which he received
25 in his capacity as so on and so forth.
1 JUDGE MOLOTO: I've seen that and I'm going to ask that we redact
2 that line.
3 May we then redact page 46, line -- the line starting at line --
4 the sentence starting at line 23 with the words "I know that my ..." up to
5 the end of that paragraph, up to 47.3.
6 And while we are on this point, I just find the difference between
7 6.000 and 6 million to be too wide for anybody not to be able to remember
8 what it -- to which side it goes. If I was receiving 6 million dinars and
9 suddenly it goes down to 6.000, they've really slaughtered me, and I
10 should -- one should be able to remember.
11 MR. MILOVANCEVIC: [Interpretation] Well, Your Honour, we remember
12 this as a bad thing, because it was sometimes the case that in a single
13 day your salary would go from 6 million to 6.000, or to 6.000 to
14 6 million. It would increase, but you couldn't buy the same thing that
15 you bought for five times less some days before. There was a galloping
16 inflation and we're looking at millions in terms of how salaries changed.
17 Can get more accurate information from the witness, and it would be
18 interesting to look at the exchange rate with the German mark. But that
19 would be a mere waste of time. And I believe, Your Honour, you can take
20 my word for this. It's of no consequence, and I hope that this is a
21 sufficient explanation.
22 JUDGE MOLOTO: I take your word. I was just looking at the actual
23 amount received, irrespective of what economic factors -- what impact
24 economic factors had on it, you know. 6.000 and 6 million are just too
25 far apart. But I accept what you say.
1 MR. MILOVANCEVIC: [Interpretation] Yes, objectively speaking. But
2 for the reasons I've stated, I did not wish to go on with that, and this
3 strikes me as a logical line of reasoning. Thank you very much, Your
5 Q. Witness, a while ago you mentioned a noteworthy detail. You said
6 that everybody, all the employees at the Knin station had the same sort of
7 salary. Was this ever the case before and why was this the case now?
8 MR. WHITING: Your Honour, I would just -- it's not the first time
9 it's happened. I would just ask counsel to refrain from commenting on the
10 evidence, which is what I think the first sentence of the question is.
11 JUDGE MOLOTO: I see what you're talking about.
12 Do you understand what Mr. Whiting is saying? That first
13 sentence, not what you said in the subsequent sentence which is a looping
14 question, a looping statement, but that first sentence --
15 MR. MILOVANCEVIC: [Interpretation] Yes, I get the point.
16 Q. Why did everyone have the same salary, Witness? Briefly, please,
17 very briefly.
18 A. We all had the same salary because in order to set up a new
19 institution one needs a whole series of legal drafts and provisions that
20 do not depend on our institution. It was the job of the municipality to
21 pass a law like that to determine ways of financing all sorts of things.
22 I believe we all had the same kind of salary because those were donations
23 and we needed monthly income. Everybody at the time believed that the
24 situation wouldn't last several months perhaps, a year at most, but
25 certainly not more.
1 Q. Did the police continue to go about their work? Did they continue
2 to go about policing despite these changes in the way it was organised?
3 A. The police pressed ahead with their work. The normal business
4 that the police forces are normally involved in continued.
5 I remember a dispatch signed by Milan Martic at the time. This
6 dispatch was about cooperation with bodies under the Ministry of Internal
7 Affairs outside the SAO Krajina. As far as these things are concerned, I
8 believe he talked about continuing cooperation and communication and
9 exchange of services between public security stations belonging to the SAO
10 Krajina and police stations belonging to the Republic of Croatia. Some
11 names were no longer to be used, names that had been specifically
12 requested by Croatian dispatches previously, and the same applied to
13 information involving barricades, weapons, and other such issues. But
14 everything else, background checks on persons of interest and things like
15 that, were to be continued in terms of cooperation.
16 Q. Which legal provisions or laws were applied in the work of the
17 SAO Krajina SUP?
18 A. There was a continuing application of the Croatian laws, the law
19 on public order, which was in force at the time, as well as the Croatian
20 criminal code. There was a continuing application of all these, but in
21 peril new laws were being drafted and passed, which only applied to the
22 Krajina itself. At a later stage these new laws were passed and we then
23 started to apply these.
24 Q. What about the SAO Krajina SUP, did it cooperate with other bodies
25 of the state? Did it act in accordance with some Yugoslav decisions? Do
1 you know anything about that?
2 A. I'm not sure I understand your question. What do you mean?
3 Q. Thank you very much.
4 MR. MILOVANCEVIC: [Interpretation] Can we please look at a
5 document on our screens. It's the 65 ter number 645.
6 Before this document appears, I will just say this is an
7 SAO Krajina document. It's a Knin SUP dispatch sent to all public
8 security stations within the SAO Krajina signed by acting secretary, Milan
9 Martic. This is about to appear on our screens. And this is about the
10 return of temporarily taken weapons.
11 Q. You have this document in front of you now. The upper left
12 corner, the heading, can you tell us what the date is and whose document
13 is this?
14 A. The heading reads: "Serbian Autonomous Province of Krajina, the
15 Knin SUP, the 17th of January, 1990." I think this should read "1991."
16 Q. Thank you very much. It says "1990." Can you just tell us what
17 it says. Who is this sent to, this dispatch? Can you read who is stated
18 right there as the recipient?
19 A. "The following public security stations of the SAO Krajina, all,
20 Benkovac, Gracac, Obrovac, Donji Lapac, Titova Korenica, Glina,
21 Dvor Na Uni, Kostajnica, Vojnic, Petrinja, and Vrginmost."
22 This is about the return of temporarily obtained or taken weapons.
23 Q. A while ago you referred to the date. The date is right there.
24 It's a dispatch number and then the date, the 17th of January, 1990, and
25 you made a comment about something. What was your comment about?
1 A. I think the correct date should be 1991 as opposed to 1990.
2 Q. Thank you very much. Can you read the first two lines of the
3 document itself?
4 A. "Pursuant to an order of the Presidency of the SFRY dated the 9th
5 of January, 1991, on the return or taking of the" --
6 THE INTERPRETER: Could the counsel please turn on his microphone,
7 thank you.
8 MR. MILOVANCEVIC: [Interpretation]
9 Q. Thank you, that's sufficient. Can you just please read the last
10 line in this passage. It starts with "JNA."
11 A. "And the JNA, it is necessary that the weapons are returned."
12 Q. Is this about a reaction of the Knin SUP to an order?
13 MR. WHITING: I'm going to object. It's a leading question. I
14 mean, I think that the witness could simply be asked if he recognises this
15 document and if he knows anything about it.
16 JUDGE MOLOTO: Mr. Milovancevic.
17 MR. MILOVANCEVIC: [Interpretation] I agree. That is precisely the
18 sort of question I am about to ask.
19 Q. Witness, do you recognise this document and do you know anything
20 about it?
21 A. I know of the existence of this document, and I remember the time
22 in January when the Yugoslav Presidency adopted this order for military
23 weapons to be returned or taken away throughout Yugoslavia or, more
24 specifically, throughout Croatia. I remember that at the time in our
25 station a collection point was set up to receive weapons handed over by
1 citizens. By this time I don't remember how much time had elapsed or how
2 long the operation had gone on for, but there was this order. And soon
3 after I know that a conference was held in the Knin public security
4 station, a press conference. The conference was chaired by Milan Martic
5 and Milenko Zelenbaba in his capacity as chief. And they addressed those
6 assembled. It was demonstrated that some weapons had been returned by
7 citizens to the Knin public security station.
8 Q. Thank you. Can you please read the second passage of this
10 A. "The returning of weapons is to be initiated immediately in your
11 areas. The weapons are to be returned to local public security stations
12 or the closest units and institutions of the JNA, that is, act in
13 accordance with the order of the SFRY Presidency."
14 Q. Who signed this document?
15 A. Milan Martic. Acting secretary Milan Martic, and his signature is
16 right there.
17 Q. Thank you very much.
18 MR. MILOVANCEVIC: [Interpretation] Your Honours, I move that this
19 exhibit be admitted into evidence.
20 JUDGE MOLOTO: The exhibit is admitted into evidence. May it
21 please be given an exhibit number.
22 THE REGISTRAR: Your Honours, this will become exhibit number 891.
23 JUDGE MOLOTO: Thank you very much.
24 MR. MILOVANCEVIC: [Interpretation] Thank you. We shall no longer
25 be needing this document on our screens. Thank you.
1 Q. Witness, you said this was an in order from the Presidency given
2 in January 1991 for weapons to be taken away or returned in the Republic
3 of Croatia or for the surplus of weapons not belonging to any regular
4 military unit to be returned. Do you know if the Republic of Croatia --
5 rather, Croatian authorities acted in accordance with this order
7 A. As far as I remember, the Croatian authorities failed to act on
8 this order. No weapons were returned to any police stations or anywhere
9 else in Croatia.
10 Q. You say that the SAO Krajina SUP was established. Can you tell us
11 about how it was organised, its structure, who did what, what were the
12 posts called and what sort of authority did the employees have in relation
13 to how things used to be with any changes?
14 A. In addition to the changes I've mentioned, when I spoke about the
15 fact that these stations were now subordinated to the Knin SUP, what I
16 read a while ago, there were no other changes to the insignia, to the
17 uniforms we wore, or to the way our posts were called. The way our work
18 was organised remained virtually the same as before, as well as any police
20 MR. WHITING: Excuse me, I'm sorry to interrupt.
21 Just for the benefit of the record, I've been told that the
22 exhibit that was just admitted into evidence, number 891, that document is
23 actually already in evidence as exhibit 515 [Realtime transcript read in
24 error "513"]. It's to some extent our fault because the document I think
25 appears twice on our 65 ter list, so the Defence focussed on this one, but
1 it is already in evidence. We can leave it, we can fix it, but I just
2 wanted it to appear on the record so that there wouldn't be confusion.
3 JUDGE MOLOTO: You have no specific submission you are making as
4 to what should be done with it?
5 MR. WHITING: Frankly I think it can be left. Now it's on the
6 record, they're tied together, so they -- we know that there are -- there
7 are two -- there are two examples of this in evidence. That's all.
8 JUDGE MOLOTO: Are you happy with that, Mr. Milovancevic? Okay.
9 So be it. You may proceed.
10 MR. MILOVANCEVIC: [Interpretation] Thank you, Your Honour. Yes,
11 that's fine. Thank you.
12 I would like to see another document now. Can we have that on the
13 monitor, please. This is exhibit 611. It's a document that we have
14 already looked at. It's a list of the employees active at the public
15 security station in Benkovac. It's a document without date. Can we look
16 at the beginning of this document, the top of the document?
17 Q. It's a little bit faded, the typing, but maybe you can read it for
18 us and tell us what document this is.
19 A. This is a document of the Benkovac public security station. The
20 document is a list of active workers of the public security station in
22 Q. Can you explain to us what active workers or active employees of
23 the public security station in Benkovac are, what does that term mean?
24 A. Active, as a term in the police -- actually, two terms were used,
25 active employee and reserve employee. The term "active" indicated
1 somebody who had completed the training, went through all the schooling to
2 become a policeman, as I explained, secondary school in Zagreb, having
3 served their term of duty in the military. So that meant that somebody
4 was trained and received a certificate or a diploma to work as a
6 Q. Thank you. So this document is a list of those employees at the
7 public security station in Benkovac? Am I right, witness?
8 A. Yes. Yes, you are.
9 Q. Some headings here are underlined. Can we scroll the document up,
10 please. It says "Milicic public security station, police department
11 Karin, police station Brgud." Is this a structure of a station that is a
12 regular, normal, structure or does it seem to be an extraordinary type of
13 structure? How does that look to you?
14 JUDGE MOLOTO: Mr. Milovancevic, I think you ask the question:
15 What is this? Don't suggest what structure you think it could be and ask
16 him to comment on what you are saying. This is what the Prosecution has
17 been complaining about. It becomes a leading question when you do that.
18 Okay. Can we please try to refrain from asking leading questions.
19 MR. MILOVANCEVIC: [Interpretation] Thank you. Can we look at
20 page 2 of this document, please.
21 JUDGE MOLOTO: No. Ask your question. Get an answer to your
22 question but rephrase the question.
23 MR. MILOVANCEVIC: [Interpretation]
24 Q. Police stations in different places are mentioned here. What does
25 that indicate?
1 A. This document tells us that these police stations were part of the
2 public security station Benkovac. As for this kind of division and
3 disposition of these police station, this situation with so many police
4 stations is something that would indicate an extraordinary situation.
5 The public security station in Benkovac before the war, before all
6 these events, did not have this kind of structure. So it's an
7 extraordinary situation, and it is mentioned here by name who belonged to
8 each police station, who were the active police staff employed at the
10 Q. Thank you.
11 MR. MILOVANCEVIC: [Interpretation] Could we look at page 2,
12 chapter 7. It's called "public security station Benkovac." It's on the
13 following page under number 20 --
14 JUDGE MOLOTO: Mr. Milovancevic, my document doesn't have the next
16 MR. MILOVANCEVIC: [Interpretation] Your Honour, if I understood
17 your question properly in B/C/S there are two pages, but in the English
18 translation there don't appear to be two pages. Is that what you are
19 asking me? This is what I can see now.
20 JUDGE MOLOTO: Thank you very much. You are looking at number 7?
22 MR. MILOVANCEVIC: [Interpretation] Yes, number 7 is the public
23 security station Benkovac.
24 Q. Is that correct, Witness?
25 A. Yes.
1 Q. And what are the numbers of the employees listed there?
2 A. From what I can see, the numbers start from 25.
3 MR. MILOVANCEVIC: [Interpretation] Could we look at the next page,
4 please? Page 3 of this document up to number --
5 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Up to number 67.
6 MR. MILOVANCEVIC: [Interpretation]
7 Q. Thank you.
8 MR. MILOVANCEVIC: [Interpretation] And -- now can we go back to
9 page 2.
10 Q. And could you please read the name of the person next to
11 number 25, page 2 in the B/C/S version, the beginning of the text?
12 A. Next to number 25 it says Bosko Drazic.
13 Q. Since the document has no date, do you know which period the
14 document encompasses?
15 A. This document can refer to 1991, so it's around 1991. I'm not
16 quite sure when, but it could be the second part of 1992. It could be
17 1992, maybe until the 10th of April.
18 MR. MILOVANCEVIC: [Interpretation] Your Honour, I think that this
19 could be now the time for the break before we start with a new document.
20 JUDGE MOLOTO: Thank you very much, Mr. Milovancevic.
21 We'll then take a break and come back at quarter to 6.00.
22 Court adjourned.
23 --- Recess taken at 5.11 p.m.
24 --- On resuming at 5.44 p.m.
25 JUDGE MOLOTO: Before we proceed, it looks to me like that
1 document that has got two exhibit numbers was recorded on the transcript
2 as initially exhibit number 513 instead of 515. I'm trying to find that
3 part of the record so that we -- the record can clearly show that it was
4 515 and not 513. If anybody can help me. What page it is?
5 [Trial Chamber and registrar confer]
6 JUDGE MOLOTO: I beg your pardon. At page 54, line 7, where the
7 record shows it as 513, it should be 515. So that when we link, we
8 mustn't go and look for 513, we must look for 515 and link it to 891.
9 Okay. Thank you so much.
10 Mr. Milovancevic, you may proceed.
11 MR. MILOVANCEVIC: [Interpretation] Thank you.
12 Q. You explained that in early 1991 the Krajina SUP was formed. Do
13 you know what was the job of the secretary of the SAO Krajina SUP,
14 Mr. Martic?
15 A. I think that the job of the SUP secretary is to manage the SUP, to
16 be at its head, to make sure that the staff carries out all of their legal
17 obligations, and to conduct the affairs of SAO Krajina in accordance to
18 the law.
19 Q. And did Mr. Martic do this or not?
20 A. From this position, from this point, when I look back I think that
21 that is what he did. I think that he did carry out his duties at the time
22 and that he did carry out his task.
23 Q. At the time you worked at the public security station in Knin and
24 then the SUP Knin, what were your jobs? What were your tasks?
25 A. Specifically my work was to deal with criminal investigations, to
1 investigate crimes in the area under the jurisdiction of the Knin SUP, in
2 the Knin municipality.
3 Q. Was this responsible police work?
4 A. Yes, this was a usual police assignment and tasks. It's something
5 that existed before as well. It was done in that way.
6 Q. Did you ever receive an order that involved making a difference
7 between citizens based on their ethnic political, religious, or any other
9 A. I never received an order like that, either from Mr. Martic or
10 from other superior officials at that time.
11 Q. Does the name Vrpolje Selo and Potkonje mean anything to you in
12 the context of early 1991?
13 A. When we mentioned Vrpolje and Potkonje, then what we can say is
14 that those villages had a mixed population, but from the point of view of
15 who was in the majority it was the Croats who were the majority there,
16 although there was Serbs, too.
17 Q. Can you describe to us where these villages were? We do have some
18 maps in the atlas, but it's hard to find these villages. Obviously the
19 maps are not as detailed. Can you tell us where these villages were in
20 relation to Knin, please?
21 A. The village of Vrpolje was very close to Knin, 2 kilometres to the
22 south, a kilometre or two to the south from Knin. The houses sort of
23 continued on from Knin to Vrpolje, while the village of Potkonje --
24 THE INTERPRETER: Correction, the previous village was to the
25 north, and the other village, Potkonje, was to the south of Knin.
1 MR. MILOVANCEVIC: [Interpretation]
2 Q. And how do you know these names? Is it something that has to do
3 with your work?
4 A. Yes. In 1991 the mention of those villages is connected to
5 something that happened at the time. It was the confiscation of illegal
6 army weapons which the inhabitants of Vrpolje and Potkonje had.
7 Q. Can you please tell us who was it that directed that these weapons
8 be confiscated and what specifically did you do?
9 A. I remember that this was in the first half of May 1991 when all
10 the Knin SUP employees were told to assemble at the Golubic centre near
11 Knin. And a meeting was held when Chief Milenko Zelenbaba read a memo
12 that there had been the illegal arming of the inhabitants of Croat
13 ethnicity, that they had military weapons, mostly rifles, Kalashnikov
14 rifles, and ...
15 Q. You said that Chief Zelenbaba read a memo. He was chief of what?
16 Where was Mr. Zelenbaba chief?
17 A. Mr. Zelenbaba was the chief of the Knin SUP at the time.
18 Q. And what happened after that? Can you please briefly describe
19 what happened after that.
20 A. As I said, Chief Zelenbaba told or read this memo to all of the
21 assembled employees that the citizens had armed themselves illegally,
22 which was a violation of the legal procedure, and that there was a danger
23 that there would be a conflict between Serbs and Croats in that area. The
24 task was issued that these weapons have to be found and confiscated. The
25 policemen were divided into two groups. One group was supposed to disarm
1 the village of Vrpolje and the other one was supposed to disarm the
2 village of Potkonje.
3 Q. Can you tell us if you, yourself, joined this operation?
4 A. Yes, I was involved too. My assignment was to be involved in the
5 disarming of people who lived in the village of Potkonje.
6 Q. Did you go to that village? What exactly happened there?
7 A. At that meeting and in the village itself, subgroups were
8 appointed. Each of these groups received specific assignments and
9 specific objectives. My own group was told to enter the school in
10 Potkonje and to check the rooms inside the school building. If we found
11 any weapons or anything at all that looked as though it had come from
12 military depots or as though it could be used for attacks, we were to
13 confiscate these. We were also told to arrest anybody we found there and
14 to ascertain the reasons for their presence on those premises.
15 Q. When you set off on this task, you and your group, what exactly
16 were you wearing?
17 A. We were wearing old police uniforms as far as I remember and
18 carrying police-type weapons. We also brought rifles on this occasion.
19 Q. What happened in Potkonje once you got there? What time of day
20 was it?
21 A. It was in the afternoon that we got there. We reached Potkonje
22 from the other side of the village. We didn't take the usual road from
23 Knin to Potkonje; we travelled the long way around and we arrived in
25 Immediately upon our arrival, I think it might actually have been
1 a Sunday because people were all assembled in the centre of the village
2 playing their local game. This was where they usually met. I got off the
3 vehicle and joined my group on its way to the school building.
4 On the way there, we passed a house. Outside the house in the
5 front yard there was an elderly lady aged 60-something perhaps, and she
6 was holding a hunting rifle. She was shouting and yelling, asking us
7 where we were headed, who we were, and what we were after. My colleagues
8 and I paid her no heed at all; we just passed her on our way there in a
9 bid to complete our basic assignment to get to the school building. All
10 the others were going about their own business as they had been ordered
11 and according to their specific assignments.
12 One of my group stopped to quarrel with that woman. I had gone on
13 already, but then behind me I heard a shot. By the sound of it, it seemed
14 to me that a hunting rifle had been fired. I thought the woman had fired
15 her hunting rifle. Soon after there was more shooting, and I heard
16 barrages of fire being exchanged, short ones.
17 We soon reached the school building - when I say "we," I mean my
18 group - and found nothing there at all. Once we had completed our
19 mission, we just waited right there. We were using Motorolas that we used
20 for communication, radio stations, and we were just monitoring the
21 situation to see if anybody would appear. And we were using our
22 communications equipment to monitor the evolving situation in the village
24 Q. How long did the operation take and how did it end?
25 A. The operation took about an hour and a half, up to two hours.
1 It's difficult to say. This was all a long time ago. Eventually we found
2 weapons, automatic rifles, and we brought in a couple of people and took
3 them to the public security station in Knin. When I say bringing in
4 people, I mean people from Potkonje. One of those we took in was a young
5 man who appeared to be slightly wounded. There was a slight wound, a
6 laceration, to his arm; it wasn't anything serious, but he was brought to
7 the station, and once there I found out that the woman who had been
8 holding that hunting rifle, the lady, was this young man's mother. He
9 took an automatic rifle, came out of the house, and started firing at
10 police officers who were around. Someone fired back and shot him in the
11 arm -- or rather, the bullet grazed him. That would be more accurate. He
12 was helped and then returned to the station for an interview.
13 Q. You say that automatic rifles were found. Did you have occasion
14 to see those? What sort of reaction was there?
15 A. Overall, I think in Potkonje and Vrpolje, we seized about 60
16 different rifles and types of ammunition for these rifles. These were
17 automatic rifles of Hungarian or Romanian make. Hungarian I think,
18 Kalashnikovs, and the ammunition to go with it.
19 One thing I can say is that it wasn't straight away that all these
20 rifles were found and seized in Potkonje and in Vrpolje; it was later on.
21 And over the ensuing days interviews were conducted with the locals who
22 would then at some point give away the location or the names of the people
23 keeping these weapons. As a result we would go there, we would talk to
24 the people and bring the weapons back to the station.
25 Q. You said there was shooting in Potkonje and you described how this
1 came about. What about Vrpolje, what happened there? Did you find out
2 about that?
3 A. I wasn't involved simply because I couldn't be in two places at
4 the same time. As far as I heard, though, there were no shoot-outs in
5 Vrpolje, no exchange of fire. Weapons were seized and certificates were
7 Q. Did you ever find out who had armed those people, who had given
8 them those automatic rifles?
9 A. The people who --
10 MR. WHITING: Objection. That last question is leading.
11 JUDGE MOLOTO: Yes, Mr. --
12 MR. WHITING: I think the last question was leading. It presumes
13 somebody gave them the weapons.
14 JUDGE MOLOTO: Mr. Milovancevic.
15 MR. MILOVANCEVIC: [Interpretation] Your Honour, it's best to avoid
16 assumptions. Maybe the previous question should be: Was it ever
17 ascertained how the weapons had arrived in the village? So I withdraw my
18 previous question as long as this one is all right.
19 JUDGE MOLOTO: As I said earlier, please do try to avoid asking
20 leading questions, Mr. Milovancevic. You know, it's all very well to
21 withdraw a question, but once you have planted the answer in the mind of
22 the witness, the withdrawal is useless because now the witness already
23 knows what answer you need.
24 Mr. Witness, did you come to know how these weapons had been
25 obtained by the people that you confiscated them from?
1 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Your Honour, citizens who were
2 brought in were processed using the regular police procedure, which means
3 these persons were interviewed about the circumstances, such as how they
4 came to be in possession of those weapons. The result of this
5 investigation was that it was through HDZ activists in their own villages
6 that they had obtained those weapons. The weapons had come from Sibenik,
7 were illegally transported to the village, and subsequently distributed.
8 The time-frame they specified implied the beginning of 1990, as far as I
9 remember those statements. They said they had received the weapons in
10 early 1990.
11 JUDGE MOLOTO: And when was this --
12 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Or 1991.
13 JUDGE MOLOTO: I beg your pardon? When was this when you
14 conducted the confiscation, what year was it and what month and date, if
15 you remember?
16 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] I can't remember the date
17 specifically, but I think it was early in May 1991, and I also see in the
18 transcript I probably said 1990, but the year I had in mind was 1991.
19 Early in 1991 is when they received the weapons, according to their
20 statements at least. And we did what we did in early May 1991. So the
21 year I'm talking about is 1991 throughout.
22 JUDGE MOLOTO: Thank you very much.
23 Yes, Mr. Milovancevic.
24 MR. MILOVANCEVIC: [Interpretation] Thank you very much, Your
1 Q. What became of the persons who were found to be in possession of
2 these weapons later on? What sort of procedure did they undergo?
3 A. As far as I remember, a criminal report was filed against these
4 persons for illegal possession and for their involvement in this entire
5 operation. I think they were all eventually released. They were free to
6 go back to Potkonje where they continued to live.
7 Q. Witness, during this trial we heard a different explanation. We
8 heard that this was an operation aimed at deterring the population, the
9 population that was unprotected and unarmed. We heard that the aim of
10 this operation was to cleanse Potkonje of Croats. Did you take part in
11 any such operation yourself?
12 A. In addition to -- or given the nature of my work, ever since I
13 first started as a police officer, I can tell you that I would never have
14 agreed to take part in an operation like that, in an operation aimed at
15 driving people from their homes, homes and villages they had been building
16 for ages.
17 I'm certain that this operation was not aimed at expelling the
18 local population. Why am I certain? There are a number of reasons. In
19 Mrkonje there was no shooting at all, no clashes, no mistreatment. In
20 Potkonje there was some shooting, the reason being that young man and his
21 mother had started first. This young man opened fire at our men, causing
22 damage to one of our vehicles, one of the vehicles in which we had
23 arrived. The reason we fired back was to protect ourselves, to protect
24 our persons.
25 Under normal circumstances, this person would have been kept in
1 prison until trial and until sentencing. But given the circumstances that
2 prevailed at the time, exceptional circumstances and exceptional situation
3 where fear prevailed and people were afraid for their lives, this wasn't
4 the course of action that we took. I'm not sure if he was eventually
5 detained for any number of days, but soon after he and all the others were
6 released and they were free to continue and resume their daily lives.
7 These people remained in these villages, and the villages were populated.
8 Some of the people remained until 1995.
9 One thing that is certain is that not a single person left those
10 villages on those days, either of those villages. The operation was
11 certainly not meant to deter Croats or drive them out of those villages.
12 They simply remained there. And I'm not aware of any other major
13 incidents in those villages at the time.
14 Q. Thank you. In May 1991 there are references to two major
15 political events, two referenda. I won't be asking you any questions
16 about these. What I want to know about is the situation on the ground.
17 What if I mentioned Polace in connection with May 1991, does that
18 ring a bell? Split in May 1991. Those two places. In the briefest
19 possible terms, please.
20 A. By this time, clashes had erupted between forces of the Ministry
21 of the Interior and the Krajina police, as well as other clashes between
22 the Krajina civilians on the one hand and the MUP members on the other.
23 On the 31st of March, the Catholic Easter, units of the MUP and
24 units of the Krajina clashed at Plitvice. Two were killed. One belonging
25 to each of the sides, of the clashing sides. In May we had a situation in
1 Borovo Selo where a clash erupted between the MUP people and the local
2 Territorial Defence, resulting in 12 Croatian police officers being killed
3 and four or five of those fighting on the TO side, the Territorial
4 Defence. That was in Borovo Selo. In Polace, a young man called Vaso
5 Pecer was killed by members of the Croatian MUP stationed in Kijevo near
6 Knin. So matters were coming to a head. Tensions were seeping.
7 We have another situation the 6th of May where a soldier was
8 strangled outside the navy command in Split.
9 Another difficult situation occurred on the 2nd or 3rd of May,
10 1991, when a member of the Croatian MUP was killed in a village near
11 Benkovac. After this Croatian police officer was killed in the village of
12 Polace, Franko Lisica, that was his name, something occurred in Zadar that
13 was described as the crystal night. About 100 different flats and houses
14 as well as catering establishments owned by Serbs were demolished,
15 smashed, and destroyed. The situation had become virtually -- well,
16 virtually. It was a war. There had been bloodshed. In Zadar, catering
17 establishments were smashed and destroyed. On the 6th or 7th in Knin,
18 there was more smashing and destruction of Croat-owned property.
19 Q. You explained the situation as a war situation at the time you
20 were in the SAO Krajina SUP. Am I right?
21 A. Well, you could say that it was a war situation. There was so
22 many dead. There was bloodshed. Of course it wasn't a pre-war situation
23 because that would imply preparations for war. Once there is bloodshed,
24 when they are dead, the situation is irreversible, so it is a war
25 situation. I was a member of the Ministry for Internal Affairs of Krajina
1 at the time, yes.
2 Q. You said that during the action in the Vrpolje and Potkonje
3 villages you were wearing old police uniforms. What was the colour of
4 those uniforms?
5 A. The colour of the uniforms hadn't changed for many years. They
6 said it was light blue, but actually it was more a light grey rather than
7 a light blue, something in between those two colours.
8 Q. And were those uniforms still being used in 1991 by the SAO
9 Krajina police force?
10 A. For a while -- actually, for quite a while the old uniforms were
11 used, the ones from the previous system, because we had a lot of those
12 uniforms in our warehouses and they were used, they were worn for a while.
13 I don't know exactly until what time. But at the time it wasn't really
14 that important, that information in the context of these other events.
15 Q. Did the SAO Krajina police have camouflage uniforms?
16 A. The SAO Krajina police did have camouflage uniforms. We got them
17 later. We got the camouflage uniforms later.
18 Q. When you say "later," which period do you mean? At least can you
19 give us the year?
20 A. I think this was maybe 1991, around the summer of 1991.
21 Q. When you said it was a camouflage uniform, can you describe it?
22 Did it have any kind of insignia, markings?
23 A. As far as I can recall, the first insignia were issued then. We
24 wore them on the left sleeve. It was a semi-circular lettering saying
25 Milicija, police, and then Milicija of Krajina, Krajina police, and then
1 in the middle there was the tricoloured flag.
2 Q. Thank you. We have now come to April 1991. As a member of the
3 SUP work force, did you have your annual vacation that year?
24 Q. Can you please tell us where your village is and what was the
25 situation you found there?
1 JUDGE MOLOTO: Sorry, are we not going to need to redact that?
2 MR. MILOVANCEVIC: [Interpretation] I think, Your Honour, that we
3 don't have to, but I will ask the witness not to mention the name of his
4 village, or we can move into private session if the situation should call
5 for that.
6 JUDGE MOLOTO: May we move into private session, please.
7 [Private session]
11 Pages 6859-6867 redacted. Private session.
1 [Open session]
2 THE REGISTRAR: Your Honours, we are back in open session.
3 JUDGE MOLOTO: Thank you so much. I'm sorry about that.
4 MR. MILOVANCEVIC: [Interpretation] Your Honours, I didn't notice
5 myself. Thank you.
6 [Trial Chamber confers]
7 MR. MILOVANCEVIC: [Interpretation]
8 Q. The JNA unit left your village to help with the barracks situation
9 in Sibenik, right? What happened to your village, very briefly, how did
10 the whole thing end in October 1991?
11 A. In October 1991, our TO men decided to try to take back part of
12 the village, the hamlet and an elevation, an area which also included my
13 house. Having realised that there was no firing, no activity, in the
14 area, they took off one evening towards those houses and that elevation.
15 They met with no resistance at all and they took the area back. They
16 stayed in this area until as late as August 1995.
17 Q. Did you eventually return to the Knin station?
18 A. In October -- or rather, late October it was for purely private
19 reasons that I briefly went to Belgrade. Upon my return from Belgrade, I
20 considered the situation and realised that some of the people from my
21 village, including some of my relatives, had already been killed. Further
22 I realised that the situation would not be getting any better because the
23 war was only just beginning. I decided to go back to the police, and I
24 went back to the Knin SUP. I started working there.
25 Q. What sort of jobs, in the Knin SUP I mean, and how long did you
1 stay for?
2 A. I started working as a crime inspector for criminal processing of
3 criminality. After that, I was assigned as one of the duty officers in
4 the Knin SUP, where I stayed until April 1992.
5 Q. What was it that occurred in April 1992? What sort of change
6 occurred in relation to your personal situation or your job?
7 A. Early in April 1992, roughly speaking, it might have been on
8 the 9th or the 10th, I was appointed chief of the Benkovac public security
9 station. I remained in that post until, roughly speaking, the 1st of May,
11 Q. Witness, while describing the situation you found in the village
12 in mid-June, July, and August 1991, you said this was a war situation, but
13 I didn't ask you about the situation you found upon your return to Knin in
14 October before your departure for Benkovac. How would you describe that
15 situation, the situation that prevailed there?
16 A. That would be about October, mid-October. And until the 10th of
17 April, 1992 the situation in Knin was a full-blown war. There was
18 fighting going on, heavy casualties, a state of war, pure and proper.
19 I spoke about the pre-war situation. I spoke about what I found
20 in my village as being some sort of a prelude to a full-scale war, but
21 here the front line was much broader, casualties were heavier, and it was
22 a full-scale war.
23 Q. Witness, I have to interrupt you. You say what you found there
24 was a full-blown war. Waged by whom against whom? Who were the parties
1 A. At the time the JNA and the Krajina TO were fighting the Croatian
2 army and the Croatian MUP. One might call this an ethnic war between
3 Serbs and Croats.
4 Q. Given the situation, this war situation as you have described it,
5 early in April 1992 you are appointed --
6 MR. MILOVANCEVIC: [Interpretation] I've just created a nuisance,
7 Your Honour. We'll have to --
8 Q. You come to the public security station in Benkovac to your new
9 post, the post that you had been appointed to. What sort of situation did
10 you encounter there upon your arrival.
11 A. A full-scale war, daily fighting, daily casualties, daily burials,
12 sounds of fighting, front line shifting, something always going on,
13 shelling of the surrounding villages, the villages surrounding the town of
14 Benkovac itself, shelling, with all the familiar features of a full-scale
16 Q. You say "daily fighting." Can you be more specific about the
17 areas in which this fighting was continuing?
18 A. In the area of Benkovac municipality, most of all around the
19 Zemunik airport and along the axis roads to Zadar. There was also quite a
20 bit of fighting around Pristik, which is in the south-east of Benkovac
21 municipality. It's a border-line village.
22 Q. Thank you very much.
23 MR. MILOVANCEVIC: [Interpretation] Your Honours, I believe we have
24 reached the end of our working day. It's 7.00, so I think it's time to
25 call it a day.
1 JUDGE MOLOTO: That would be correct, Mr. Milovancevic. We'll
2 take an adjournment until tomorrow morning at 9.00, same court.
3 Court adjourned.
4 --- Whereupon the hearing adjourned at 6.58 p.m.,
5 to be reconvened on Tuesday, the 22nd day of
6 August, 2006, at 9.00 a.m.