1 Thursday, 26 October 2006
2 [Open session]
3 [The accused entered court]
4 [The witness entered court]
5 --- Upon commencing at 9.01 a.m.
6 JUDGE MOLOTO: Good morning, sir. You may already know, but
7 nonetheless it's still my duty to remind you, that you are still bound by
8 the declaration you have made at the beginning of your testimony to tell
9 the truth, the whole truth and nothing else but the truth. Okay? Thank
10 you very much.
11 WITNESS: MILE DAKIC [Resumed]
12 [Witness answered through interpreter]
13 JUDGE MOLOTO: Yes, Mr. Milovancevic.
14 MR. MILOVANCEVIC: [Interpretation] Thank you, Your Honour.
15 Re-examination by Mr. Milovancevic: [Continued]
16 Q. [Interpretation] Good morning, Witness.
17 A. Good morning.
18 Q. The Defence will continue its examination, but may I ask you to
19 make pauses between my questions and your answers for the benefit of the
21 Yesterday, we left off discussing a topic about -- in fact, we
22 were discussing the Z-4 plan; do you remember that?
23 A. Yes.
24 Q. The Z-4 plan, in January 1995, was it taken into consideration by
25 the leadership of the Republic of Srpska Krajina? Did they discuss it?
1 A. Yes. They did consider the plan. I wasn't in the leadership.
2 And the leadership laid conditions or, rather, they said that they would
3 probably accept the plan if guarantees were issued that the UN forces
4 should remain in Krajina.
5 Q. Thank you. Now, in connection with what you've just said, at that
6 time, and we are talking about January 1995, were there any problems with
7 the UNPROFOR mission in Krajina?
8 A. As far as I remember, Croatia requested that the UN forces leave
9 the territory.
10 Q. Thank you. That will suffice.
11 Now, after this position taken by the leadership of
12 Republika Srpska Krajina, was UNPROFOR's mandate extended during 1995 at
14 A. Yes, it was.
15 Q. Thank you. Do you remember -- or, rather, do you know whether it
16 was in March 1995?
17 A. I don't remember the exact date.
18 Q. Thank you. That will do.
19 Can you tell us whether, after the mandate for UNPROFOR had been
20 extended, whether the Z-4 plan, before Operation Flash, was offered to the
21 Republic of Srpska Krajina again?
22 A. Well, I remember that it was offered to the leadership, and that
23 there was a meeting held in Knin, an Assembly session, which was supposed
24 to consider the Z-4 plan but that never came about.
25 Q. Are you referring to the situation before the mandate was extended
1 or after it was extended?
2 A. Well, I can't remember exactly when it was now.
3 Q. Thank you. You also said that on the 1st of May, or rather you
4 confirmed that UNPROFOR's mandate was extended in March 1995, and you said
5 that on the 1st of May, Croatia began its operation against the protected
6 zone in Western Slavonia?
7 A. Yes, that's right.
8 Q. Do you know whether anybody was held responsible because of that
9 attack on Western Slavonia?
10 A. I don't know whether anybody was held accountable for the attack
11 or the crimes perpetrated in the area.
12 Q. What knowledge do you have about this? For instance, do you know
13 whether Mr. Martic committed any crimes during that operation in Western
14 Slavonia, launched by the Croatian army and police?
15 A. I don't know. I didn't know Martic -- or, rather, I did know
16 Milan Martic very well but he personally -- it was never recorded that he
17 ever committed a crime. On the contrary, he was considered a brave man
18 and people like that don't kill civilians and arrest civilians. That is
19 something that the others do.
20 Q. Mr. Martic is being held responsible for killing civilians in
21 Zagreb here. That is what he is accused of.
22 A. As a research worker, scientist --
23 JUDGE MOLOTO: Mr. Black.
24 MR. BLACK: I don't believe this arises out of the
25 cross-examination. I don't think I asked him any questions about the
1 shelling in Zagreb unless I've forgotten something.
2 JUDGE MOLOTO: Mr. Milovancevic.
3 MR. MILOVANCEVIC: [Interpretation] Yes. I'll withdraw that
4 question, Your Honour. Thank you.
5 JUDGE MOLOTO: Thank you.
6 MR. MILOVANCEVIC: [Interpretation] My colleague is quite right.
7 Q. Yesterday in one of your answers you spoke about your impressions
8 and said that Mr. Tudjman and Mr. Milosevic had been agreeing about the
9 division of Bosnia; do you remember about that?
10 A. Yes, I do.
11 Q. Were you yourself present during the talks and negotiations
12 between Mr. Milosevic and Tudjman on any occasion?
13 A. No, never. I just learned about it.
14 Q. Thank you. Thank you. That's enough.
15 Now, did you see a document ever which would confirm your
16 impression that they had reached an agreement about Bosnia's division?
17 A. That is something that Croatian authors write about, that there
18 were negotiations and agreements about Bosnia.
19 Q. Thank you. So was it on the basis of the writings of Croatian
20 authors that you formed your impression that a compact of that kind had
21 existed between Tudjman and Milosevic?
22 A. Yes, that was my own personal opinion that I had formed.
23 Q. Thank you. Yesterday you spoke about a statement made by
24 Mr. Mesic to the Sabor, Croatian parliament, when, as president of the
25 Presidency of Yugoslavia, he returned to Zagreb from Belgrade. Do you
1 remember that?
2 A. Yes.
3 MR. MILOVANCEVIC: [Interpretation] May we have on the monitor, or
4 rather on e-court, the video of that statement.
5 [Videotape played]
6 MR. MILOVANCEVIC: [Interpretation] May we take just a moment?
7 This is a very brief clip. It's a very short statement which passes in
8 just a fraction of a second.
9 [Videotape played]
10 THE INTERPRETER: [Voiceover] "I think I have done my duty.
11 Yugoslavia doesn't exist anymore, and thank you very much."
12 MR. MILOVANCEVIC: [Interpretation]
13 Q. Did you hear that statement by Mr. Mesic? What did he say? Can
14 you repeat the sentence we've just heard?
15 A. "I think I have performed my task. Yugoslavia is no more," or it
16 does not exist anymore.
17 Q. Is that literally the exact words that Mr. Mesic just uttered?
18 A. Yes, that's right.
19 MR. MILOVANCEVIC: [Interpretation] Your Honour, perhaps I got the
20 order wrong or, rather, I failed to provide the Trial Chamber with the
21 exact text of that sentence which we have. I would like to ask the usher
22 to hand it round to the Prosecution and to the Bench, and I apologise for
23 not having done that straight away, and we can, if you wish, play the clip
25 JUDGE NOSWORTHY: Yes, please do.
1 [Videotape played]
2 MR. MILOVANCEVIC: [Interpretation]
3 Q. So Mr. Mesic, as president of the Yugoslav state Presidency, is
4 addressing people and says, "I think I have done my job or duty" --
5 THE INTERPRETER: The interpreters have not got the text in front
6 of them in English.
7 MR. MILOVANCEVIC: [Interpretation]
8 Q. -- "and Yugoslavia exists no more." That's what we heard on the
9 clip; is that right?
10 A. Yes.
11 Q. So the president of Yugoslavia who took the office says he has
12 performed his task and that Yugoslavia exists no more. So that was his
13 task: For Yugoslavia not to exist anymore?
14 A. Yes, that would emerge --
15 MR. BLACK: Leading question, Your Honour.
16 JUDGE MOLOTO: There have been several of them, actually.
17 Mr. Milovancevic, the objection.
18 MR. MILOVANCEVIC: [Interpretation] Yes. I accept that, Your
19 Honour. Let me rephrase that question.
20 Do I have to wait for a ruling by the Chamber? I retracted that
22 JUDGE MOLOTO: No, you don't have to wait for a ruling. You have
23 retracted the question, Mr. Milovancevic. You may proceed.
24 MR. MILOVANCEVIC: [Interpretation] Thank you, Your Honour.
25 JUDGE MOLOTO: But I just want you to understand that rephrasing
1 doesn't help because you have given the answer already.
2 Go ahead.
3 MR. MILOVANCEVIC: [Interpretation] Yes. We've dealt with that
4 topic sufficiently. I'd just like to tender that clip into evidence as a
5 Defence Exhibit.
6 JUDGE MOLOTO: And what about the translation?
7 MR. MILOVANCEVIC: [Interpretation] Yes, Your Honour, together with
8 the translation. I apologise for omitting that.
9 JUDGE MOLOTO: The video clip and the translation are accepted
10 into evidence. May they please be given an exhibit number.
11 THE REGISTRAR: Your Honours, this becomes Exhibit number 988.
12 JUDGE MOLOTO: Thank you very much.
13 MR. MILOVANCEVIC: [Interpretation] Your Honours, at this point in
14 time, I have completed my redirect, in view of the Chamber's -- or,
15 rather, may I ask additional questions that we put forward on the basis of
16 the examination-in-chief?
17 JUDGE MOLOTO: You didn't see the filing, Mr. Milovancevic, the
19 MR. MILOVANCEVIC: [Interpretation] Yes. I understood it in the
20 way I asked the question. I wasn't jumping the gun in any way.
21 JUDGE MOLOTO: I just want to know whether you saw the decision.
22 It was filed yesterday.
23 MR. MILOVANCEVIC: [Interpretation] Yes, yes.
24 JUDGE MOLOTO: You have. You may proceed.
25 MR. MILOVANCEVIC: [Interpretation] Thank you, Your Honour.
1 Q. I'm going to ask you, Witness, several questions linked to three
2 areas, three topics, and the first is this: Your talks with Mr. Tudjman.
3 Can you tell us when, Mr. Dakic, you met Mr. Tudjman at the beginning of
4 1990 and what the reason was?
5 A. We had fairly regular meetings by -- with party representatives,
6 parties in Croatia and we would usually in meet in Banski Dvori, and we
7 could discuss current issues. And I remember on one occasion, Tudjman
8 happened to be sitting opposite me, and since I knew him from before, I
9 said, "Franjo, this isn't in order, the fact that the groundwork for your
10 election campaign is the independent state of Croatia, the Ustasha
11 movement, why you're using that as a basis." And he said in front of
12 everybody, he said this, "Mile," he said, "afterwards, after the elections
13 I will be quite a different man and won't mention that anymore." However,
14 after the elections the same practice was continued.
15 Q. Thank you. You said that that was his answer to your remarks in
16 front of others. Who were those others who attended those talks?
17 A. Well, I don't remember all their names because things changed, of
18 course, after that. But there were always about ten people there from
19 different parties in Croatia.
20 I omitted to state a moment ago that I said, "Well, don't do that.
21 There will be blood up to our knees if that is put through. The Serbs
22 will not be able to accept an Ustasha movement in any of its variations."
23 Q. So those were representatives of other parties, were they?
24 A. Yes, other parties.
25 JUDGE MOLOTO: I'm sorry, I don't understand this question. When
1 you say: "So those were representatives of other parties," who are these
2 people you're talking about, Mr. Milovancevic? The people in whose
3 presence he spoke? Okay.
4 MR. MILOVANCEVIC: [Interpretation] Thank you, Your Honour.
5 Q. After the victory of the HDZ at the multi-party elections that
6 were completed in May 1990, when the HDZ came into power, can you tell us
7 what legal activities took place on the territory of Croatia?
8 A. Well, mostly there were discussions about the constitution of
9 Croatia, and in all the municipalities in Croatia, discussions and debates
10 were held on that topic.
11 Q. Thank you. That will do. Thank you.
12 The new Croatian government, within the frameworks of its duties
13 and work, enact new laws and provisions for Croatia. Do you remember
14 those that were enforced after the HDZ victory?
15 A. Well, I can't really remember them all just now, which rules and
16 regulations. However, everything was geared towards the new constitution,
17 and the new laws, regulations, provisions or whatever, were being drafted
18 but with a view to waiting for the new constitution.
19 Q. Now, if I mentioned the law on holidays and non-working days in
20 the Republic of Croatia, does that mean anything? Does it ring a bell?
21 A. Well, I do know that this law on holidays was drafted, but you
22 could feel the difference between the Catholics and the Orthodox over
23 celebrating Christmas, other religious holidays and so on and so forth.
24 The Christmas holidays for the Croats were two days long, I think.
25 Now, when the Orthodox congregations had to celebrate their
1 holidays and festivities they would have to ask in advance, and then
2 people were afraid of doing so and didn't go to these festivities. And
3 another saint day, Velika Gospa, was also celebrated and so on and so
5 Q. And Christmas, that was a Catholic holiday, was it, and observed?
6 A. Yes.
7 Q. And what about the Orthodox Christmas? Was that observed?
8 A. No.
9 Q. I'd now like to ask the usher's help to distribute a document to
10 the Bench and the Prosecution. It is the law on feast days and holidays
11 or non-working days. Thank you.
12 JUDGE HOEPFEL: Do you have an additional copy for the
13 interpreters, Mr. Milovancevic?
14 MR. MILOVANCEVIC: [Interpretation] Yes, Your Honour. It's just a
15 brief text. We are not going to quote.
16 JUDGE MOLOTO: But you do have a copy for them?
17 MR. MILOVANCEVIC: [Interpretation] Yes, yes.
18 JUDGE MOLOTO: Thank you.
19 MR. MILOVANCEVIC: [Interpretation] And one more, please, for the
20 witness. Thank you.
21 Q. You have before you, Witness, the text of the law on holidays and
22 non-working days that we mentioned. Is that the law that you referred to
23 a moment ago?
24 A. Yes. That's right. That is the law.
25 Q. Thank you.
1 MR. MILOVANCEVIC: [Interpretation] Your Honours, I would like to
2 tender the text of the law as an exhibit, tender it into evidence.
3 JUDGE MOLOTO: The document is admitted as an exhibit. May it
4 please be given an exhibit number.
5 THE REGISTRAR: Your Honours, this becomes Exhibit number 989.
6 JUDGE MOLOTO: Thank you very much.
7 JUDGE HOEPFEL: Excuse me, Mr. Milovancevic, will this translation
8 be then completed or is it intended to be this kind of fragment?
9 MR. MILOVANCEVIC: [Interpretation] Your Honours, we translated
10 just those provisions and articles which deal with feast days and holidays
11 or holidays and non-working days because that is the law. It is the law
12 on religious holidays, so we just translated those provisions, that
13 particular article which we consider relevant.
14 JUDGE HOEPFEL: Which article?
15 JUDGE NOSWORTHY: And just to follow on what Judge Hoepfel asked
16 you, what should we extract from this evidentially in relation to the
17 relevant issue?
18 MR. MILOVANCEVIC: [Interpretation] Your Honours, the witness spoke
19 about those provisions within the law regulating state holidays, those
20 dates which were considered state holidays. And from those dates, if you
21 look at them, you can see the different dates, religious holidays and
22 others, which were state holidays on the territory of the Republic of
23 Croatia and the witness gave his comment on that.
24 JUDGE NOSWORTHY: So I should extract from it that these holidays
25 were now more limited and that they were more in keeping with the Catholic
1 faith than with the Orthodox?
2 MR. MILOVANCEVIC: [Interpretation] Yes. That's precisely what the
3 witness was talking about. And it is in that sense that we provided this
4 document and article of the law, because the law lists Catholic holidays;
5 whereas for all other holidays, you need to request them, or they are not
6 listed as holidays at all.
7 JUDGE HOEPFEL: Are you now not testifying, Mr. Milovancevic, and
8 giving us additional information?
9 MR. MILOVANCEVIC: [Interpretation] No, Your Honour. I was
10 answering the question from Her Honour.
11 JUDGE NOSWORTHY: What I wanted to say, for completeness, I
12 believe you should get the witness to relate the situation to the
13 document, the contents of the document.
14 JUDGE HOEPFEL: Which I was referring to before, with my question,
15 which you could not yet answer.
16 MR. MILOVANCEVIC: [Interpretation] Thank you.
17 JUDGE HOEPFEL: Which article you're referring to.
18 MR. MILOVANCEVIC: [Interpretation] By your leave, Your Honours,
19 I'd like to put specific questions to the witness on this topic.
20 Q. Witness, you have the text of the law before you; do you see it?
21 A. Yes.
22 Q. You spoke of one provision of this law which is to do with
23 Christmas. Does the law provide for how many days you have holidays for
25 A. Yes. It provides for two days of holidays for Christmas.
1 Q. Can you tell us which article of the law regulates that specific
3 A. Law on Christmas holidays, that's Article 4.
4 Q. When you stated that Serbs had one day to celebrate Christmas,
5 which date did you have in mind?
6 A. Well, it was supposed to be on the 7th of January, but it wasn't
7 proclaimed state holiday, a national holiday.
8 Q. The fact that the Serbian Christmas, Orthodox Christmas, wasn't
9 proclaimed a national holiday, what sort of an impact did it have on the
10 Serb population? Were they able to celebrate Christmas?
11 A. Well, they were, on the proviso that the working people of
12 Orthodox faith had to announce in advance that they would not come to the
13 workplace on that date, and this evidently points to religious
15 JUDGE MOLOTO: Mr. Milovancevic, just before I forget, the witness
16 now referred at page 12, line 24 to Article 4, obviously not translated in
17 your translated exhibit. We'll have to get a translation of that, okay?
18 MR. MILOVANCEVIC: [Interpretation] Your Honour, with your
19 permission, we will have the rest of the text translated and submitted to
20 you at a later date.
21 JUDGE MOLOTO: Thank you very much, Mr. Milovancevic.
22 MR. MILOVANCEVIC: [Interpretation] Thank you, Your Honour.
23 Q. You mentioned the Feast of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary. Was
24 it envisaged as a national holiday in Croatia?
25 A. Yes. It normally falls on the 28th of August, and I mean that of
1 the Orthodox faith, but it wasn't included in the text here.
2 Q. Were you now discussing the holiday celebrated by Catholics or
3 members of the Orthodox faith?
4 A. Members of the Orthodox faith.
5 Q. Does this law envisage the Feast of the Assumption of the
6 Virgin Mary as a national holiday for the Catholics?
7 A. Yes, it does. It is contained in the law, but the one for the
8 members of the Orthodox faith is not.
9 Q. Which article of the law is that? I'm referring to the first
10 page. Is that where that particular holiday is mentioned, Feast of the
11 Assumption of the Virgin Mary?
12 A. Yes, it is. And it is mentioned here as falling on the 15th of
14 Q. Thank you.
15 MR. MILOVANCEVIC: [Interpretation] Your Honour, I wish to tender
16 this document into evidence as a Defence Exhibit, and we take upon
17 ourselves the obligation to submit the translation of the law at a later
19 JUDGE MOLOTO: Thank you, Mr. Milovancevic. On the English
20 translation as it now stands, can you please translate the words written
21 after 15th of August? Because we don't understand them. And those words
22 are exactly the same as they are on the B/C/S version. Can you give us
23 the English version of what those words mean? You have been dealing with
24 them now --
25 MR. MILOVANCEVIC: [Interpretation] Your Honour, I have to obtain
1 my copy from the witness because I gave him my copy. Otherwise, we are
2 going to encounter difficulties.
3 JUDGE MOLOTO: If you look at the English version, you'll realise
4 that the words after 15th of August are exactly the same as in B/C/S.
5 They have not been translated. If you can translate them, particularly
6 because you've dealt with them now in evidence.
7 [Trial Chamber confers]
8 JUDGE MOLOTO: Have you finished with your leading,
9 Mr. Milovancevic?
10 MR. MILOVANCEVIC: [Interpretation] No, Your Honour. I only wanted
11 to confer with my colleagues.
12 As for this date of the 15th of August, Velika Gospa, well, the
13 term is simply untranslatable. It is the name of a holiday.
14 THE INTERPRETER: The interpreter notes it's the Feast of the
15 Assumption of Our Virgin Mary.
16 MR. MILOVANCEVIC: [Interpretation] To be precise, if you want me
17 to, I can put the question to the witness.
18 Q. The 15th of August, Velika Gospa --
19 JUDGE MOLOTO: Sorry, Mr. Milovancevic, you don't seem to
20 understand what I'm trying to get. You have led this witness in evidence
21 about this date and he has testified about it, and we have been told in
22 evidence what -- by the interpreters what it relates to, okay? Now, I'm
23 saying to you, as you undertook to translate the rest of this act, the
24 rest of this law, into English, when you get to that point at the 15th of
25 August, do remember to translate the English part, because the English
1 part in this translation, against the 15th of August, you have not
2 translated. That's all I'm saying. Thank you.
3 MR. MILOVANCEVIC: [Interpretation] I apologise, Your Honour. It
4 is only now that I fully understand what you're saying. I was at a loss
6 MR. BLACK: Thank you. I apologise for the interruption.
7 Your Honours, the procedure of translating the rest into English
8 later, I have to say, is not particularly acceptable to the Prosecution
9 because then I can't cross-examine. I assumed that only the English part,
10 the part that had been translated, Article 1, was going to come into
11 evidence, and I have no problem with that coming into evidence. But, you
12 know, once there are references to Article 4, and I unfortunately can't
13 read it but I can tell that it refers to other holidays and things, I
14 would object to that coming into evidence, and I would propose that only
15 Article 1, only what has been translated into English, be admitted.
16 JUDGE HOEPFEL: Actually, Mr. Black, also Article 1 is not
17 completed translated, is it?
18 JUDGE MOLOTO: You know, Mr. Black, then you should have -- aren't
19 you late in the day? Shouldn't you have jumped at the first mention of
20 Article 4? When I referred to Article 4 and asked that it be translated,
21 there was a couple of lines after it had been referred to, I'm trying to
22 find where it was first referred to.
23 Unless you say Mr. Milovancevic must now provide you with a
24 translation of Article 4 now, to enable you to cross-examine now, and then
25 you can deal with the rest later?
1 MR. BLACK: Your Honour, I'm also trying to find the specific
3 At the time when it was tendered into evidence and became an
4 exhibit at line -- excuse me, page 10, lines 21 to 25, we hadn't -- as far
5 as I can tell, we had not gone into Article 4 and so I didn't object at
6 that point. It was only later that --
7 JUDGE MOLOTO: Yes. Then questions were raised by the Bench for
8 clarification, and then there was a complaint from the Bench that the
9 witness must explain, not him, and when he went to the witness to explain
10 Article 4 came in.
11 MR. BLACK: Right. And I didn't feel like I could object to
12 certainly not a question from Your Honours on that.
13 JUDGE MOLOTO: But you could object to the fact that he's now
14 referring to a part of the law that has not been translated.
15 MR. BLACK: Perhaps that should have been the course, Your
16 Honour. If that --
17 JUDGE MOLOTO: Now. My problem is it's now in evidence and what
18 do we do at this stage? Is the solution really not that at least you be
19 provided with a translation of at least Article 4 to enable you to
20 cross-examine and then we can get the rest of the law later?
21 JUDGE HOEPFEL: Actually, I would like to have more than just the
22 Article 4. It was my question. What article you're referring to. And
23 then can the additional question by Judge Nosworthy, and you may then have
24 forgotten to answer, but as the Article 1 is not complete, it's just a
25 paragraph 1 in the translation, we will need to have a complete
1 understanding of the law now.
2 JUDGE MOLOTO: I guess you realise --
3 MR. MILOVANCEVIC: [Interpretation] Your Honour, I apologise but I
4 have a proposal to make to the Bench in order to clarify the matter
6 Since this law on holidays you have before you has only five
7 articles, and the last article, Article 5, speaks of the date when the law
8 should come into effect, whereas the Articles 2, 3 and 4 are quite short.
9 In view of this, I'd like you to listen to the witness reading the full
10 text out. We will hear the translation. But then we will have the
11 official translation delivered to you later. So that there is no
12 confusion and in view of the fact that only Article 1 was translated.
13 We considered the Articles 2 to 5 only technical articles
14 connected to Article 1, but in order for the matter not to stop there, we
15 could proceed this way. And of course please accept my apologies because
16 we could have had the entire law translated but because of the shortage of
17 time we decided to have only one translated.
18 So my proposal is to allow the witness to read out the remaining
19 four articles of the law.
20 JUDGE MOLOTO: Mr. Milovancevic, I've got a problem with the way
21 the Defence runs its defence. For instance, now this very Article 1 which
22 the Defence knew in advance that they were going to deal with has not been
23 completely translated. Why is the paragraph after the date 25th and 26th
24 of December not translated into English? That at least should have been
25 translated. There are words in B/C/S after the dates 25th, 26th and there
1 is nothing in the English version.
2 MR. MILOVANCEVIC: [Interpretation] Your Honour, if you let the
3 witness read Article 1 and the other articles -- because I --
4 JUDGE MOLOTO: No, no, no. Don't side-step my question. My
5 question is: Why didn't you translate these last words after 25, 26th of
6 December? You knew you were going to use Article 1, and those words are
7 part of Article 1. And they are just about two lines.
8 MR. MILOVANCEVIC: [Interpretation] Your Honour, this was an error
9 in translation where one part was overlooked. This is the part of
10 Article 1 which regulates how the holidays are to be used and we will have
11 this translated.
12 JUDGE MOLOTO: Don't testify, please. Don't tell us what they
13 are. Tell us why you didn't put them or you have told us you've
14 overlooked the place. That's the answer.
15 MR. MILOVANCEVIC: [Interpretation] I'm merely trying to explain to
16 you why we failed to do that.
17 My proposal is for the witness to read out the four articles, and
18 the English translation of all the four articles -- rather, of all the
19 five articles will be submitted to the Bench. And please accept our
20 apologies for the fact that we haven't done this right away.
21 JUDGE MOLOTO: Go ahead, Mr. Milovancevic. At quarter to you stop
22 your examination-in-chief, remember. That's 30 minutes for three topics.
23 MR. MILOVANCEVIC: [Interpretation] Thank you, Your Honour. I'll
24 bear this in mind.
25 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] I'm reading the entire proclamation?
1 MR. MILOVANCEVIC: [Interpretation]
2 Q. Please read Article 1 of the text.
3 A. "Holidays in the Republic of Croatia are: 1st of January, new
4 year. 1st of May, Labour Day. 30th of May, Statehood Day. 22nd of July,
5 Day of the Anti-Fascist Struggle. 15th of August, Velika Gospa, Feast of
6 the Assumption. 25 and 26 of December, Christmas holidays."
7 Q. I apologise for interrupting you. Please now read the part of the
8 text that wasn't translated.
9 A. "Citizens of the Republic of Croatia shall not work on the dates
10 under paragraph 1 of the present article and will be entitled to
11 remuneration for those dates. If one of the dates from Article 1 -- from
12 paragraph 1 of this Article is a Sunday, the holiday will fall on the next
13 working day."
14 Q. Please now read Article 2 of the law.
15 A. "The non-working days in the Republic of Croatia, in respect of
16 which workers will be entitled to a remuneration, shall be the 6th of
17 January, 7th of January, Easter Monday, the second day of Easter, Bajram,
18 Bajram, and the 1st of November, All Saints' Day. Members of the Jewish
19 community shall be entitled to be absent from work on Yom Kippur and
20 Rosh Hashanah and shall be entitled to remuneration for those dates.
21 Muslims shall be entitled to be absent from work on greater Bajram and
22 shall be entitled to remuneration."
23 Article 3: "The government of the Republic of Croatia may decide
24 which state agencies and other public agencies, as well as legal and
25 natural persons, shall be duty-bound to work on holidays and on working
1 days in the Republic of Croatia."
2 Article 4: "With the date of enforcement of this law, the
3 following piece of legislation shall become null and void: The law on the
4 proclamation of the 27th of July a national holiday, Official Gazette
5 number 111/47. The law on celebrating the All Saints' Day, or the day of
6 remembrance of the dead, Official Gazette number 46/89. The law on
7 Christmas holidays, Official Gazette number 53/90, Article 46, paragraph 1
8 of the labour law, Official Gazette number 19/90. The words 'from
9 paragraph 1 of this article' in paragraph 2 of the same article shall be
10 deleted. With the date of enforcement of this law, the law on holidays of
11 the Socialist Federative Republic of Yugoslavia, Official Gazette of the
12 SFRY number 6/73, shall become null and void in the territory of the
13 Republic of Croatia."
14 THE INTERPRETER: Could the counsel please wait? I haven't -- the
15 interpreter hasn't finished translating.
16 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Article 5: "This law shall come
17 into force with the date of its publication in the Official Gazette,
18 number 960-01/91-01/02, Zagreb, 21st of March, 1991."
19 MR. MILOVANCEVIC: [Interpretation]
20 Q. Have you read out the entire text? Do you think it is complete?
21 A. Yes, I do.
22 MR. MILOVANCEVIC: [Interpretation] Your Honour, this is the
23 complete text of the law. It will be submitted to you as a full English
24 translation. We have only given to you so far the fraction of Article 1.
25 In light of this, I don't know if the Defence should at this point -- or,
1 rather, I'm advised by my colleague that this has already become part of
2 evidence. I will move on.
3 Q. Do you know anything about the law on Croatian arts and sciences?
4 JUDGE MOLOTO: I asked you if you read the decision yesterday.
5 The decision gave you ten minutes per topic and you started this
6 evidence-in-chief at quarter past. That's been 30 minutes already and
7 more. It's actually now 35 minutes. You are supposed to have finished
8 your examination-in-chief on the topics you wanted to lead.
9 MR. MILOVANCEVIC: [Interpretation] Your Honour, I have only one or
10 two questions and I will soon complete my examination. We have spent a
11 lot of time on these technical difficulties and I kindly appeal to the
12 Bench to take this into consideration.
13 JUDGE MOLOTO: Put the two questions.
14 MR. MILOVANCEVIC: [Interpretation]
15 Q. As president of the Commission for War Crimes in the Republic of
16 Serbian Krajina, you collected information on such incidents involving
17 Serb citizens and the suffering, as you indicated it?
18 A. Yes.
19 Q. Do you know anything about the suffering of the Serb people in the
20 territory of Slavonia, specifically Sisak, in the period of 1990 and 1991?
21 A. I know of the exodus which took place in late 1991, where the Serb
22 population had to leave the area, was forced to leave the area, and this
23 constituted a large-scale ethnic cleansing in the territory of Croatia,
24 specifically Slavonia.
25 Q. The villages of Kinjacka, Cakale, Trnjani, and the Croatian police
1 in Sisak. Do these ring any bells?
2 A. Yes. I have information even with me here, a manuscript in my
3 case here with me, that is the information about the Croatian forces
4 committing genocide on the Serbian people.
5 Q. Thank you. That's enough.
6 MR. MILOVANCEVIC: [Interpretation] I would like to distribute a
7 document to the Bench, the Prosecution and the interpreters.
8 JUDGE MOLOTO: Mr. Milovancevic, your time is up.
9 JUDGE HOEPFEL: Mr. Milovancevic, I think you asked an additional
10 question before that, and there was no answer as we then had the
11 discussion about the time you already had used.
12 So can the witness please answer the question on the law on
13 Croatian arts and sciences, please.
14 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] This is the law governing the
15 Academy of Arts and Sciences of Croatia. The academy was not established
16 under this name but it was established in 1866 in Zagreb and it was called
17 the Yugoslav Academy of Arts and Sciences at the time. In 1941, the
18 independent state of Croatia changed its name into the Croatian Academy of
19 Arts and Sciences. After World War II, it was again named the Yugoslav
20 Academy of Arts and Sciences.
21 It is a well-known scholarly academy in Croatia, and up until
22 1990, it was called the Yugoslav Academy of Arts and Sciences. At that
23 point in time, Croatia again renamed it Croatian Academy of Arts and
25 But interestingly enough, the law adopted at the time reads that
1 the Croatian Academy of Arts and Sciences shall -- or, rather, dates back
2 to the Croatian Academy of Arts and Sciences established under that name
3 for the first time during the fascist independent state of Croatia.
4 JUDGE HOEPFEL: Thank you.
5 MR. MILOVANCEVIC: [Interpretation] If the Bench does not have any
6 more questions, I wish to say that I've completed my examination-in-chief,
7 given the time constraints, and I just wish to note that the document that
8 I asked be handed down will, in this case, be tendered differently.
9 JUDGE MOLOTO: I'm not quite sure I understand what is meant by
10 "tendered differently."
11 MR. MILOVANCEVIC: [Interpretation] Your Honour, the document we
12 asked that be handed down was -- is actually moot now because in the
13 meantime it became apparent that we don't have any more time. Therefore,
14 we will seek to have that document admitted into evidence through a
15 different witness. And I would like the document to be returned to the
16 Defence team so that we spare ourselves additional photocopying.
17 JUDGE MOLOTO: Thank you.
18 [Trial Chamber confers]
19 JUDGE MOLOTO: Mr. Black.
20 MR. BLACK: Thank you, Your Honour, I hope I have very few
21 questions on this.
22 Further cross-examination by Mr. Black:
23 Q. Mr. Dakic, it's my turn now to ask you a couple of more questions
24 for a few minutes.
25 And let me start on the law on holidays which you had read out to
1 us. It's Exhibit 989. And I don't even think you need to look at it
2 again. You've talked about now on re-examination about the differences or
3 the lack of differences, in your view, between the independent state of
4 Croatia in World War II and then the Croatian government in the 1990s. I
5 think you've suggested that it was -- the government of the 1990s was an
6 Ustasha government or had an Ustasha basis. Can you explain to me, sir,
7 why one of the seven national holidays in Article 1 of this law, 22nd of
8 July, was the day of the anti-fascist struggle?
9 A. I can say that the 27th of July was celebrated in Croatia and
10 Bosnia as uprising day, and then because Croatia wanted to be different
11 from the others and to in a way undermine the struggle of the Serbian
12 people during World War II, quite simply it had the 22nd of June [as
13 interpreted] prevail when a group of communists, led by Janic Capa, fled
14 from Sisak and took refuge in a forest and that was taken as the date of
15 the day of the uprising, and that was a symbol of the separation between
16 the two nations, which means that they only took this particular day and
17 we reacted to that in no uncertain terms.
18 Q. But, sir, this is a holiday celebrating the struggle against
19 fascism, right? That's what the purpose of this holiday that we see in
20 the law. That's what its purpose was.
21 A. Yes, but that was nothing compared to what happened in Croatia on
22 the 27th of July as a massive uprising. All they did here was to take
23 Croatian communists who fled from the town of Sisak to Brezovica and took
24 to the woods there. There was no logic that that should be a state
25 holiday, the fleeing of Serbs from Sisak and that they should have taken
1 refuge in a forest.
2 Q. I think I'll move on to the next point. Thank you.
3 You referred just at the end of your testimony to a law on the
4 Croatian Academy of Arts and Sciences, and you pointed out how the actual
5 law made reference to the Croatian Academy of Arts and Sciences from the
6 World War II period. But isn't it correct that the law actually refers
7 not just to that but it says it's where -- well, let me read it out to you
8 and tell me if this accords with your memory. It says: "The academy
9 continues the work and is the legal successor of the Yugoslav Academy of
10 Arts and Sciences established in 1866 as the highest scientific body of
11 all southern Slavs. Croatian Academy of Arts and Sciences from 1941 to
12 1945, and from 1947 to 1991, again the Yugoslav Academy of Arts and
14 And that's correct, right? It referred to all those prior bodies,
15 it made itself the successor of all those prior bodies?
16 A. We had to react to that, you know, because any mention of --
17 Q. Sir, before you tell me about the reaction, that's correct, that
18 that's what the law said, right? It referred to all those bodies and not
19 just to the Croatian Academy of Arts and Sciences from World War II;
21 A. That is correct that mention is made of both, but what we found
22 objectionable was that this mention was made of it during a period when
23 crimes were committed.
24 MR. BLACK: Thank you, Your Honour. That completes my questions.
25 JUDGE MOLOTO: Thank you. Any re-examination, Mr. Milovancevic?
1 MR. MILOVANCEVIC: [Interpretation] No, thank you, Your Honour.
2 JUDGE MOLOTO: Thank you very much. This brings us to the end of
3 your testimony, sir -- I beg your pardon. So sorry.
4 JUDGE HOEPFEL: I have no questions.
5 JUDGE NOSWORTHY: I have no questions. Thank you, Judge. No
7 JUDGE MOLOTO: I have a very few questions for you, sir.
8 Questioned by the Court:
9 JUDGE MOLOTO: You have told us right through your testimony and
10 in particular yesterday that you are a historian; is that correct?
11 A. Yes, yes, that is so.
12 JUDGE MOLOTO: Have you written books on history?
13 A. Well, I wrote and published ten books so far, and my latest --
14 JUDGE MOLOTO: Are these history books?
15 A. Mostly history books, yes, but also -- I also write novels, short
16 stories, poems and so on.
17 JUDGE MOLOTO: Let's stick with the history books. What about --
18 the history of what countries or any countries did you write about? Or
19 which people.
20 A. I have written about my own people mostly, the nation to which I
21 belong, but I also write about other nations in my books, especially the
22 communality of the Serbian and Croatian people in Croatia, especially
23 during the national liberation war, when this brotherhood and unity or
24 communality came to the fore.
25 JUDGE MOLOTO: Okay. Then we will try and hone in on that.
1 This communality of the Serbian people and the Croatian people in
2 Croatia, what period does it span?
3 A. Well, I wrote a book entitled "Krajina Through the Centuries"
4 which I have here with me, and in that book I wrote about the
5 relationships and cooperation between the Croats and Serbs from the
6 Vojna Krajina establishment in the 30s of the 16th century up to the
7 present day. Krajina existed as a separate organisation under the direct
8 rule of the Austro-Hungarian empire, the Austro-Hungarian monarchy, up
9 until 1881, when the Vojina Krajina was abolished. And after that,
10 Krajina, within the composition of Austria or, rather, the Austrian
11 monarchy again but under the Hungarian crown, came into being again.
12 JUDGE MOLOTO: Have you written about the history of Croatia from
13 1990 to 1995 or covering that period?
14 A. I published a book in Knin on 1990 -- in 1990. That was the only
15 book available during the war. It is called "Srpska Krajina," Serbian
17 JUDGE MOLOTO: I'm talking about a book that would have been
18 written after 1995, at least covering 1990 to 1995.
19 A. It has been translated into English.
20 JUDGE MOLOTO: Now, I'm asking you if you have written a book that
21 was after 1995, covering that period. Whether it has been translated is
22 another matter. Have you?
23 A. I wrote the book under the title of "Krajina Through the
25 JUDGE MOLOTO: Just listen to my question so that we can be quick.
1 Have you written an account of Croatia which covers the period 1990 to
2 1995 at all? Have you? Yes or no?
3 A. Yes, I have, yes.
4 JUDGE MOLOTO: You have. And in that book, in that writing, did
5 you deal with the relationships between the Croats in Croatia and the
6 Serbs in Croatia in detail?
7 A. Well, I think I gave a completely detailed description, since
8 Vojna Krajina came into being, right up to the fall of Republika Srpska
9 Krajina at the end of the war. And chronologically as well; I attached a
10 chronology of the events.
11 JUDGE MOLOTO: And you gave a very -- did you remember the
12 incidents as you recorded them detailing the relationship between the
13 Croats and the Serbs during that period 1990 to 1995?
14 A. Yes, Your Honour.
15 JUDGE MOLOTO: And do you feel that you did -- you wrote a fair
16 historical account, without being biased at all, in favour of one of the
17 nations against the other?
18 A. Absolutely. I give a fair and unbiased account.
19 JUDGE MOLOTO: Why is it, then, that when you were being asked
20 questions under cross-examination -- let me take it a step back, when you
21 were being asked questions under examination -- in your statement, you
22 have remembered a great deal of atrocities perpetrated by Croats against
23 Serbs, and suddenly when you were asked about atrocities by Serbs against
24 Croats, your memory suddenly became hazy and foggy, you couldn't remember
25 dates, you couldn't remember incidents, you don't know anything about the
1 incidents? Why is it so?
2 A. Your Honour, I think that on the Croatian side there are also
3 historians writing mostly about the Croatian people.
4 JUDGE MOLOTO: Just hold it, just hold it. I'm not asking you
5 about other people. I'm asking you about you. I'm asking you if you
6 wrote a fair account, a historical account, and you said yes. Now I'm
7 asking you why do you show a tendency -- you were asked a question in
8 cross-examination about why is it that you remember Croat attacks on Serbs
9 and that Serb attacks on Croats you don't remember? You were asked
10 specifically that question. And you just never gave an answer. You were
11 evasive. You said that you were not in the front line so you did not have
12 this information. But you were not also on the front line but you had
13 information about attacks on Serbs. "I did not have access to documents
14 about Serb crimes against Croats." That's one of the remarks you made in
15 your evidence. Why was it so? It seems to me like you have a selective
16 memory. Am I right in saying so?
17 A. Your Honour, I don't think you're right on that score, because I
18 wrote about and collected information about all victims. But, Your
19 Honours, you cannot compare victims. We were the victims of the last war.
20 We were ethnically cleansed. We were destroyed as a people, wiped out.
21 In our houses over there, there is nobody left. It's a wasteland and a
22 great injustice was done to my people, to my nation. Yes, the Croats
23 fared badly during the war as well. However --
24 JUDGE MOLOTO: I'm sorry, I'm going to stop you. I know all that.
25 You've told us that in great detail. My problem with my question is that
1 you have made out yourself in this court to be a historian, you know, so I
2 expect you to treat the subject differently from the ordinary man who sees
3 it from a biased perspective, who sees it from the perspective of the
4 victim. I expect to you see it from the perspective of a historian,
5 victim as you may very well be. I'm asking you a very simple question.
6 And I'm not asking you about what you wrote. I'm asking you about what
7 you did in this Court. You seemed to demonstrate a selective memory. Am
8 I right?
9 A. Not selective memory, but I would say that it is a contribution to
10 historiography to write the truth about anyone. And in this case I
11 devoted my efforts to writing about my own people that suffered so
12 terribly. That does not mean that I underestimate or condemn or do not
13 blame people for the crimes committed against the Croats because with
14 crimes you don't just kill one individual. I'm somebody who writes about
15 crimes, but principally about crimes committed against my own nation. I
16 don't condemn people writing about the victims amongst the Croatian people
17 and I hold them in high esteem when they do.
18 JUDGE MOLOTO: Let me ask you this question. We now are here in a
19 court of law and we are trying to find the truth, and you are testifying
20 and telling us about crimes against your own people only and you have
21 forgotten or don't remember the crimes against other people. How do
22 you -- how would you suggest a court of law treats your account of events,
23 given the way you remember events? If you were to give this Court advice
24 on how to treat your evidence, what would you say?
25 A. The truth about my writings and myself will become apparent when I
1 publish my war diary. In my war diary, Your Honours, I write about all
2 victims. Wherever I learnt that anybody was killed somewhere, I denounced
3 that killing in all places and everywhere.
4 JUDGE MOLOTO: [Previous translation continues] ... will not be
5 available to this Bench. What was important for this Bench was your
6 testimony in this Court, and that is still the important part. Okay. You
7 don't have any answer. Or do you?
8 A. I am doing everything in my power to tell the truth, and please
9 believe me when I say that I did tell the truth during my testimony.
10 JUDGE MOLOTO: My question to you was: Do you have any advice you
11 would give to this Court on how to treat your evidence, given that you
12 remembered certain parts and not others?
13 A. The advice is that there are other sources as well. I provided in
14 my own way a description of it. There are other sources, of course, Your
15 Honour. Let it not remain the matter rest with my testimony. Take into
16 account that of others.
17 JUDGE MOLOTO: Thank you very much.
18 A. You're welcome.
19 JUDGE MOLOTO: For interest's sake, why did the papers call you
20 Captain Darda? You said the mountain Darda is the highest mountain in
21 Petrova Gora. Were you tall? Are you tall in physical stature or is it
22 tallness in societal stature?
23 A. Well, in that area, I lived in Petrova Gora, I was the director of
24 Petrova Gora, the Petrova Gora memorial, for 28 whole years, and I did
25 represent a sizeable entity. I was the most educated, perhaps, man in the
1 area. I was a writer and I saw whole lot of crimes committed in
2 Petrova Gora during World War II, and that is what led me to become a
3 historian in the first place. So yes, I was somebody of some stature in
4 the area.
5 JUDGE MOLOTO: Thank you very much. I have no further questions.
6 Any questions arising, Mr. Milovancevic?
7 MR. MILOVANCEVIC: [Interpretation] I do have some questions but I
8 think it's time for the break now, Your Honour.
9 JUDGE MOLOTO: Thank you very much. I'm very sorry. I was
10 completely oblivious of time.
11 We will take the break and come back at quarter to.
12 --- Recess taken at 10.17 a.m.
13 --- On resuming at 10.47 a.m.
14 JUDGE MOLOTO: Yes, Mr. Milovancevic.
15 MR. MILOVANCEVIC: [Interpretation] Thank you, Your Honour.
16 Further examination by Mr. Milovancevic:
17 Q. [Interpretation] Witness, I will have several questions for you.
18 You do remember His Honour, Mr. Moloto, asking you whether you gave an
19 accurate account of the events dating back to 1990 to -- from 1990 to 1995
20 in Croatia in the books you wrote. Do you remember that?
21 A. Yes, I do.
22 JUDGE MOLOTO: Sorry, I didn't say in the books he wrote. I said
23 in court here.
24 MR. MILOVANCEVIC: [Interpretation] Thank you, Your Honour, for
25 telling me that, but I was referring to one of the earlier questions.
1 Q. And there were several questions which had to do with your books
2 containing a chronology of these events; do you remember that?
3 A. Yes, I do.
4 Q. Can you tell us whether what you wrote in those books was
6 A. Yes. And in the preface to my books I said that I strived to be
7 quite truthful and consistent in writing about the events from that
8 period, and that the truth came first. I'm really sorry that the Trial
9 Chamber was -- did not have occasion to read my books.
10 Q. Were the -- were parts of your books read out in this courtroom
11 during your testimony?
12 A. They were not.
13 Q. Do you remember His Honour's question as to why you failed to
14 remember the crimes against Croats in view of what you said, that you gave
15 a fair and unbiased account?
16 A. Yes, I do.
17 Q. Can it be said, is it fair to say, that you do not recall any
18 crimes committed against Croats?
19 A. No. It isn't fair to say that. Particularly in the area where I
20 lived, in the area of Banija and Kordun, I was aware of the crimes.
21 However, the scale at which these crimes were committed cannot -- one
22 cannot even begin to compare them with the crimes that were committed
23 against Serbs in that period and in World War II.
24 Q. When you say that the crimes are disproportionate and
25 incomparable, what does that mean?
1 A. Well, specifically, this means that in the area of Krajina, about
2 7.000 people were killed in the area of Croatia. In the earlier war,
3 there were about 12.000 to 15.000 Croats living there. And if you look at
4 the makeup of the population, there is the -- the ratio is
6 Q. Were you talking about the disproportionate ratio of victims?
7 A. Yes, disproportionate in -- and I was referring to the ratio of
8 population versus victims. According to the statistics of the time, Serbs
9 constituted 12 per cent.
10 Q. You mentioned the number of 7.000 people who were killed in
11 Krajina and you mentioned 12 to 15.000 Croats. When you were giving these
12 figures, did you mean to refer to those killed?
13 A. Yes. Those killed and those who went missing and so on and so
15 Q. When you say that 7.000 people perished in the area of Krajina,
16 what was their ethnicity?
17 A. Well, I'd say that 98 per cent of them were Serbs.
18 Q. Do you recall His Honour, Mr. Moloto, asking you about the fact
19 that you didn't remember that the Serbs attacked Croats and that you were
20 prevaricating, that you were being evasive in giving your answer to the
22 A. No, I wasn't being evasive.
23 Q. Did my learned friend, Prosecutor, allow to you explain why you
24 wrote the books the way you wrote them?
25 A. Well, there was no time for me to explain that.
1 Q. Thank you. Do you recall His Honour, Mr. Moloto, putting to you
2 that you were expected to view matters from a point of view which is not
3 lopsided and he also asked you about having selective memory; do you
4 remember that?
5 A. Yes.
6 Q. Was your point of view distorted in writing these accounts and did
7 you in fact have selective memory?
8 A. I cannot at any point be accused of having a selective memory. I
9 was very much aware of crimes on either side, and I have a saying that --
10 that you don't just kill one person when you kill someone. That's what I
11 always say to people.
12 Q. Do you recall mentioning that there was ethnic cleansing in
13 Slavonia? Who were you referring to?
14 A. Well, I was referring to the Serbs being ethnically cleansed from
15 Croatia. I mentioned yesterday the Serb intelligentsia that was being
16 forced out of towns. My native area is a wasteland now. Nobody lives
17 there, you know.
18 Q. Who caused these victims?
19 A. It wasn't the Croatian people, but the Croatian policies executed
20 by the Croatian army.
21 Q. In connection with the answer you've just given, what is your
22 position and your knowledge as to the following: The Croatian victims who
23 were killed at the hands of Serbs and their policies, were there such
24 victims as well?
25 A. Well, I have to say that our units never attacked anyone. They
1 were always defensive, all the way from the log revolution up to the end
2 of the war, whereas the other side was offensive.
3 Q. Thank you. Going back to the questions put by Their Honours --
4 His Honour as to the fact that you were a historian, you completed
5 schooling, faculty of philosophy, and you had your masters degree from the
6 faculty of law. Based on this educational background, what prompted you
7 to become a historian?
8 A. Well, because, as a 11-year-old child I witnessed a terrible crime
9 at Petrova Gora, where Ustasha forces killed 194 women, children and
10 elderly, and I remember this child who came up to the dead bodies of her
11 parents, saying, "Get up, get up, we have to leave." I recall that it was
12 pinching cold outside, and I could see the steam rising from the ground,
13 and I thought at the time that those were their souls going up to heaven.
14 That was when I realised I have a vocation for history.
15 Q. Going back to the questions concerning your nom de guerre, Captain
16 Darda, and in this context the mount of Darda was mentioned, and you were
17 asked whether you were high in physical or psychological stature. Do you
18 recall that question?
19 A. Yes, I do.
20 Q. Do the physical traits bear any relevance in assessing a person's
21 character, in your view?
22 A. I don't think so.
23 MR. MILOVANCEVIC: [Interpretation] I have no further questions.
24 [Trial Chamber confers]
25 JUDGE NOSWORTHY: I beg your indulgence.
1 [Trial Chamber confers]
2 Questioned by the Court:
3 JUDGE HOEPFEL: Can I ask an additional question? Maybe starting
4 from your memory of this experience when you saw this humidity going up
5 from the ground and you were thinking of souls going to the heaven. What
6 is the All Saints or All Souls' Day in your country?
7 A. The Catholics celebrate the All Saints' Day on the 1st of
9 JUDGE HOEPFEL: Okay. But then do you also know something about
10 All Souls' Day, 2nd of November? Is that a holiday or any special day,
11 when people would go to cemeteries and visit graves of their families?
12 A. Yes. In the Orthodox Church, there are several days around the
13 year when one goes to the cemetery. That's the All Souls' Day. And for
14 the Catholics, that's the 1st of November.
15 JUDGE HOEPFEL: So may I ask some additional question concerning
16 this law we were looking at, where it didn't have a complete translation
17 but at least part of it, and so my first question would be what is the
18 difference in the legal sense, do you know that, can you answer that
19 question, between holidays and non-working days?
20 A. Well, it's a national holiday proclaimed as such by the state.
21 That's as far as the holidays are concerned. However, all the other
22 faiths, their festivities, like those of the Orthodox and the Jewish
23 communities, were given only non-working days, not holidays, and I believe
24 this to have been a grave error to make in that piece of legislation.
25 JUDGE HOEPFEL: So you mean a difference between a public holiday
1 where everything would be closed and a non-working day where members of
2 this religious group are not obliged to work; is that right?
3 A. Yes. Nobody works on holidays, on national holidays; whereas a
4 non-working day is quite something else. A Sunday is also a non-working
6 JUDGE HOEPFEL: Okay. So how was that before 1990 -- 1991? How
7 was that during the times of the Socialist Republic of Croatia? Can we go
8 through the text of this law again? Can you compare -- do you have it in
9 front of you?
10 A. No. No.
11 JUDGE HOEPFEL: Okay. I can -- maybe the usher can give that to
12 you. Thank you. Thank you, Mr. Milovancevic.
13 So what was being celebrated, either as a holiday or as a
14 non-working day, of these days, before?
15 A. Out of these days here, the 1st of January, the New Year's Day was
16 celebrated. The 1st of May was celebrated, as Labour Day.
17 JUDGE HOEPFEL: Yes.
18 A. And then as for Christmas, well, I don't remember, but at least in
19 the Orthodox community, I know that the communist authorities banned any
20 celebrations of --
21 JUDGE HOEPFEL: Pardon? The communist authorities banned any
22 celebrations of what?
23 A. Well, it wasn't a ban as such. It was a tacit ban. It was merely
24 frowned upon, persons who went to church and celebrated church festivities
25 and holidays.
1 JUDGE HOEPFEL: Okay. And then we discussed about the differences
2 between Catholic and Orthodox, but still Christian holidays, but maybe was
3 there anything like protecting Jewish holidays and Muslim holidays in the
4 Socialist Republic of Croatia?
5 A. Well, one cannot see this clearly from this law, although it seems
6 that they were all lumped together into this second category, second
8 JUDGE HOEPFEL: What do you mean by "second class"?
9 A. Simply this: None of the Muslim or Jewish holidays or Orthodox
10 holidays for that matter, were proclaimed national holidays.
11 JUDGE HOEPFEL: Okay. But taking them being mentioned in this
12 law, is that something new or was that already a tradition in the old
14 A. I don't recall the way which the earlier legislation regulated
15 these matters, but I do know that people who went to church were frowned
17 JUDGE HOEPFEL: Okay. I'm not talking of going to a church but
18 going to a temple or to a mosque now, yes?
19 Let me get back to paragraph 1 of this Article 2. As you read it,
20 it was translated but I don't really exactly remember. So you said it's a
21 non-working day or holiday in January. Which one? Which days of January,
23 A. In the month of January, 6 and 7 January; that's the Christmas Eve
24 and Christmas Day in the Orthodox faith. Therefore, it's been stipulated
25 as a non-working day and can be used by people as such but it was not
1 stipulated as a national holiday.
2 JUDGE HOEPFEL: Thank you. So that would mean, practically
3 speaking, that Orthodox Christians would have two Christmas, sort of, free
4 days, on the 25th and 26th of December, and additionally their own
5 Orthodox Christmas, the 6th and 7th of January; is that right?
6 A. Yes. They had two days just as Catholics did. They had this
7 entitlement to use it as a non-working day, but it was not stipulated as a
8 national holiday. That is what I was talking about.
9 JUDGE HOEPFEL: You know, I know that very well from my own
10 experience. I'm a Protestant in a majority-Catholic country so I had
11 always my own holidays in addition which was fine in school days, in the
12 old school days. You understand maybe.
13 Now, I think we understood that. There are no further questions
14 on that.
15 [Trial Chamber confers]
16 JUDGE HOEPFEL: As to the 6th and 7th of January, Judge Nosworthy
17 would like to ask some additional question for understanding. Yes?
18 Please. I'm done. Thank you.
19 JUDGE NOSWORTHY: Is your substantive complaint, then, that the
20 6th and 7th of January for Serbs were not proclaimed as holidays as
21 opposed to non-working days? Because under Article 2, the 6th and 7th of
22 January are mentioned, are they not, as days on which you would not work?
23 A. The gist of it is as follows: Why weren't both Christmases
24 stipulated as the national holiday?
25 JUDGE NOSWORTHY: [Previous translation continues] ... if you
1 will, please, deal with the situation as it is in the article. As it is
2 in that article, the 6th and 7th of January would have been non-working
4 A. Non-working days.
5 JUDGE NOSWORTHY: So on that day, would you have to work, or would
6 it be a day off work?
7 A. Yes. But as far as I remember, in the implementation of the law,
8 the position was as follows: Whoever wanted to have 6th -- the 6th or 7th
9 January as a non-working day had to make previous notice to his employer
10 that on the said dates he would not come to work. People avoided doing
11 this, given the war circumstances and the difficult wartimes, and ended up
12 not using those days.
13 JUDGE NOSWORTHY: But would not the effect of it have been that
14 you in fact got extra days than what Croatians got or Croats got? Or
15 Catholics got? Because you got their day as a holiday and then you got
16 your own religious days, in fact, as a working -- non-working day? So
17 would your position not have been arguably more advantageous?
18 A. Well, to persons shirking and idle would probably mean that this
19 is advantageous. However, you see the point of the matter lies in the
20 difference between a non-working day and a state holiday.
21 JUDGE NOSWORTHY: So you would have wanted it to be a state
22 holiday and to give Croats as well and Muslims that day also? Sorry,
23 sorry, I have to make it religiously based, but it was also tied to the
24 ethnic group as well. You would have preferred to have given Catholics
25 and other religious groups a holiday on your religious holiday also then?
1 A. Yes, yes.
2 JUDGE NOSWORTHY: And you resented the fact -- the Orthodox faith
3 members resented the fact that they actually had to submit an application
4 to be absent from work on those days?
5 A. Yes, Your Honour. This is what they resented the most, the fact
6 that they had to announce their absence on these dates to the employer.
7 The people were afraid of doing this, and this -- that is why the law
8 created problems.
9 JUDGE NOSWORTHY: As you may have noticed, I'm not Jewish, either
10 in appearance and I'm not in faith. So could you please educate me, what
11 days would Yom Kippur be? Are they referred to in Article 2?
12 A. It states here that Yom Kippur is a day of conciliation or
14 JUDGE NOSWORTHY: No, I'm talking about the calendar date. What
15 month, what day?
16 A. I wouldn't be able to tell you that.
17 JUDGE NOSWORTHY: Thank you very much.
18 JUDGE MOLOTO: I guess in fairness to the Defence,
19 Mr. Milovancevic, you will have to ask questions arising from Judge
20 Nosworthy's and Judge Hoepfel's questions before we let you ask your
21 questions, Mr. Black.
22 Mr. Milovancevic, any questions arising strictly from the
23 questions by Judge Nosworthy and Judge Hoepfel?
24 MR. MILOVANCEVIC: [Interpretation] No questions, Your Honour.
25 Thank you.
1 JUDGE MOLOTO: Thank you very much, Mr. Milovancevic.
2 Questions, Mr. Black?
3 MR. BLACK: No questions, thank you, Your Honour.
4 JUDGE MOLOTO: Thank you very much.
5 Mr. Dakic, this brings us to the end of your testimony. The
6 Chamber would like to thank you very much for coming to testify in these
7 proceedings, and it appreciates that you take time off from your very busy
8 schedule to come and be here. You may stand down. Thank you so much.
9 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Thank you, Your Honour. I must say
10 that I have felt the proceedings to be quite fair and correct, as was all
11 the assistance related thereto. Thank you.
12 JUDGE MOLOTO: Thank you.
13 [The witness withdrew]
14 JUDGE MOLOTO: Mr. Milovancevic.
15 MR. MILOVANCEVIC: [Interpretation] Thank you, Your Honour. I'd
16 like to call the next witness and have him brought into the courtroom.
17 His name is Zoran Lakic.
18 [The witness entered court]
19 JUDGE MOLOTO: May the witness please make the declaration?
20 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] I solemnly declare that I will speak
21 the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.
22 WITNESS: ZORAN LAKIC
23 [Witness answered through interpreter]
24 JUDGE MOLOTO: Thank you very much. You may be seated, sir.
25 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Thank you.
1 JUDGE MOLOTO: Yes, Mr. Milovancevic.
2 MR. MILOVANCEVIC: [Interpretation] Thank you, Your Honour.
3 Examination by Mr. Milovancevic:
4 Q. [Interpretation] Good afternoon, Mr. Lakic.
5 A. Good afternoon, sir.
6 Q. As you know, I am Defence counsel for Milan Martic, and I'm going
7 to be asking you questions in the first stage which is known as the
8 examination-in-chief. Since you and I speak the same languages, please --
9 same language, please make pauses between my questions and your answers to
10 give the interpreters a chance to do their job properly. I will try and
11 keep my questions short and I'd like your answers to follow suit. As I
12 said, try and speak as slowly as possible, to facilitate the work of the
13 interpreters. Thank you.
14 A. Thank you, too.
15 JUDGE MOLOTO: Just remember, Mr. Milovancevic, that you have
16 estimated him at five hours.
17 MR. MILOVANCEVIC: [Interpretation] Thank you, Your Honour.
18 Q. Can you tell us your full name and surname and where you were
20 A. My name is Zoran Lakic. I was born in Benkovac, Republic of
22 Q. Will you tell us your date of birth and what is your ethnic group?
23 A. I was born on the 12th of October, 1956, and I am a Serb by
25 Q. I'd like to remind you once again to do your best to speak slowly.
1 You can see how your words come up on the transcript on the screens, so
2 when the screen stops, that means they've finished.
3 What education have you had, Mr. Lakic?
4 A. I went to university. I'm a university graduate. I am professor
5 of electrical engineering and I'm a graduate of electrical engineering.
6 Q. Where do you live today and work today?
7 A. I live in Pozarevac, the Republic of Serbia, and I work as a
8 professor of electrical engineering in the Nikola Tesla technical school
9 in a place called Kostolac near Pozarevac.
10 Q. Have you done your military service and, if so, where and when?
11 A. Yes. I did complete my military service in Belgrade, in the
12 school for reserve officers, in 1982-1983. Half my military service was
13 spent in Belgrade, the reserve officers' school. And the rest in Samobor
14 near Zagreb.
15 Q. Having completed your military service, where did you find
16 employment first, and I'll link my next question up to this. That is to
17 say my next question is: Did you find employment in the Territorial
18 Defence perhaps?
19 A. Yes. That's right. I continued working and doing what I had been
20 doing before, working in the secondary school in Benkovac as a teacher.
21 That's how I went to do my military service, as a teacher. Then one year
22 after I had completed my military service, I worked for a brief period of
23 time as a teacher again, and in 1985, in October, I found employment as an
24 operations man or Chief of Staff in wartime of the Territorial Defence of
25 Benkovac municipality.
1 Q. When in 1985 you worked in the Territorial Defence of Benkovac as
2 chief of operations -- as an operative, could you tell us who was the
3 commander of the Territorial Defence Staff, what his name was, and who the
4 secretary was of the national defence, and which ethnic groups were there?
5 A. As far as the population of Benkovac is concerned, it is a
6 multi-ethnic community. There were slightly more Serbs than Croats. And
7 this national composition was reflected in the national cadres policy in
8 the municipality and in military and police structures as well. I was the
9 assistant commander and the commander himself was Dinko Drazina. He was a
10 Croat. And in addition to me, there was another assistant for
11 organisational and mobilisational affairs. His name was Magjan Pinter
12 [phoen]; he was also a Croat. The assistant for the rear was Ljubo
13 Kresovic. He was a Serb. And then the warehouse keeper was Mirko
14 Slavojevic but he retired very quickly. But he was a Serb. And there was
15 a clerk for general affairs, working in the administrative department or
16 whatever it was called, and his name was Zeljko Lavanja; he was a Serb as
18 The Secretariat for National Defence had a number of employees of
19 mixed ethnic group. The secretary was a Serb, Gojko Tampolja, and the
20 other employees, if you want me to give their names, I can do my best to
22 Q. Thank you. That will suffice.
23 A. Thank you, too.
24 Q. Now, this composition of the Territorial Defence Staff of Benkovac
25 you said existed at the time when you gained employment there, when you
1 became a member of the Territorial Defence in 1985. And tell us, how long
2 did that structure last? What happened after that date?
3 A. That structure existed from 1985, when I got a job there, until
4 the Territorial Defence ceased to exist, which means that the Territorial
5 Defence was established pursuant to documents dovetailed with republican
6 laws governing national defence and Territorial Defence of the Republic of
7 Croatia, and that law was fully in conformity with the national defence
8 law of the SFRY; that is to say, the Socialist Federal Republic of
9 Yugoslavia. There was the peacetime formation for those structures and
10 there was --
11 JUDGE MOLOTO: I beg your pardon. The witness is very fast. The
12 interpreter is struggling very hard to keep pace with you, sir. Can you
13 please try to keep -- slow down? Thank you.
14 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] I apologise, Your Honour. I'll do
15 my best to slow down.
16 As I was saying, the Territorial Defence, pursuant to the law on
17 national defence, was a peacetime formation up until 1991. And according
18 to the wartime plans that existed, it exists -- there was the wartime
19 formation, and the numbers were made up of the reserve force of military
20 recruits and conscripts from Benkovac municipality. When they could not
21 be deployed in the Territorial Defence of the municipality of Benkovac --
22 or, rather, nobody could be deployed there who was not recorded in the
23 files of the Territorial Defence of Benkovac municipality.
24 MR. MILOVANCEVIC: [Interpretation]
25 Q. Have I understood you correctly? Did I understand you to say that
1 it was only the inhabitants, to use simple language, that the inhabitants
2 and citizens of Benkovac could have been members of the Territorial
3 Defence within the Territorial Defence Staff for Benkovac?
4 A. Yes, that's right. That was pursuant to the law and we adhered to
5 that provision of the law.
6 Q. Thank you. Did any changes occur within the Territorial Defence
7 of Benkovac after the first multi-party elections?
8 A. Yes. For instance, the commander of the Territorial Defence in
9 peacetime and in war was Drazina, and in 1990, around the time of the
10 elections, he left the Territorial Defence Staff, and went into private
12 Q. Thank you. You said that Dinko Drazina what was a Croat, did you
13 not, and he was the commander of the Territorial Defence, he occupied that
14 post, am I right in saying that?
15 A. Yes.
16 Q. Upon his departure, at the time of those first multi-party
17 elections, who replaced him as commander?
18 A. According to all the provisions that were in force at the time,
19 legal provisions and military documents and wartime plans and everything
20 regulating the life and work of the Territorial Defence, it was the Chief
21 of Staff, which I was, during wartime automatically changed -- replaced
22 the Territorial Defence commander but this -- and this post, at one of the
23 subsequent Assembly meetings should appoint a new commander, and the
24 selection is made once again according to the prevailing rules and
1 Q. Thank you. You said that the command of the Territorial Defence
2 of the municipality was appointed by the Assembly. Can you tell us which
3 Assembly, when it comes to Benkovac, when we are talking about Benkovac?
4 Were there any other conditions for the nomination, appointment of
5 Territorial Defence commanders for the municipality?
6 A. The Chief of Staff, whom I was, and the commander of the
7 Territorial Defence, those posts and those individuals were elected by the
8 Municipal Assembly, appointed. But with agreement from the Territorial
9 Defence commander of the Republic of Croatia, which meant that I could not
10 have been deployed, I could not occupy one of those positions or appointed
11 to one of those positions, until the commander of the Territorial Defence
12 of the Republic of Croatia agreed to my appointment.
13 JUDGE MOLOTO: Slow down. Slow down.
14 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Yes, yes.
15 The commander of the territory of the Republic of Croatia,
16 Territorial Defence, at the time, was General Martin Spegelj, and he gave
17 his approval for my appointment.
18 MR. MILOVANCEVIC: [Interpretation]
19 Q. Thank you. While you were performing the function the commander
20 of the Territorial Defence of Benkovac, who was your superior command, the
21 first next superior command, up the chain of command compared to the
22 Territorial Defence of the Republic of Croatia according to the provisions
23 in force at the time?
24 A. All the municipal staffs, Dalmatia, they were under the command of
25 the zone command for Dalmatia, the headquarters of which were in Split.
1 The commander of the Territorial Defence of Dalmatia at that point in time
2 was Ante Marinov [phoen]. He was a colonel, an officer of the Yugoslav
3 People's Army.
4 The complete composition of that staff in Split was composed of
5 members and officers of the Yugoslav People's Army at that time. A
6 smaller number of workers were reserve officers, mostly from Split, so
7 that was the structure of the national defence according to the national
8 defence law of the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia and the
9 prevailing provisions.
10 Q. Thank you. How long were you in the position of commander of the
11 Territorial Defence?
12 A. Well, I performed the function of Territorial Defence commander
13 until the Territorial Defence was abolished which means up until the end
14 of November 1992. Yes, 1992. I think it was the 27th of November.
15 Q. Thank you. I'm going to ask you a few questions now linked to the
16 municipality of Benkovac itself.
17 You have already told us that it was a multi-ethnic community and
18 that the ratio of Serb inhabitants and Croat inhabitants was more or less
19 the same, an equal number. What about the town of Benkovac? How many
20 inhabitants did that have and what was the ethnic composition of its
21 inhabitants in 1990?
22 A. Well, in 1990, the municipality of Benkovac was a multi-ethnic
23 community. The overall municipality, in addition to the central town,
24 Benkovac, was also made up of 64 villages distributed over a territory of
25 some 620 square kilometres. The largest number of villages -- or most of
1 the villages, ethnically speaking, were Serb villages. A lesser number
2 were purely Croatian villages. For example, some 20 or 15 villages were
3 of mixed composition inhabited by both the Serbs and the Croats.
4 Q. Thank you. What were the interethnic relations like up until,
5 let's say, the first multi-party elections? Let's pinpoint the time
7 A. Well, in Benkovac municipality, there were good interethnic
8 relations. There might have been some minor disagreements but they were
9 very proper relations. And people, regardless of their ethnic
10 affiliation, they worked together, socialised, lived a normal life.
11 Q. Thank you. Do you know -- can you give us the percentages of
12 Croats and Serbs living in Benkovac municipality and the figures for the
13 town of Benkovac itself?
14 A. As to the town of Benkovac itself, Benkovac was located in the
15 centre of Benkovac municipality territory, and it was the Serb villages
16 that gravitated towards that centre. So in the municipal headquarters of
17 Benkovac or, rather, the centre of Benkovac, there were about -- Serbs
18 accounted for 75 to 80 per cent. And a large number of officers were
19 there too. We had a large barracks with a large number of officers who
20 were mostly of different ethnic groups.
21 Now, since the Serb ethnic group was the most numerous ethnic
22 group in the former Yugoslavia, then this ratio was reflected among the
23 officer cadres which means that they made up 75 or 80 per cent of the
24 cadre compared to 20 or 25 per cent of others; whereas in the
25 municipality, Serbs accounted for 48 per cent and Croat -- or Serbs for
1 52 per cent, I beg your pardon, and Croats 48 per cent of the population.
2 Q. To avoid any misunderstandings or lack of clarity, when you spoke
3 about the percentage of the population in Benkovac and the different
4 groups, did I understand you correctly to say that the Serbs, percentage
5 of Serb population compared to the Croat population, included the number
6 of Serb officers living in Benkovac? That went up to make that
7 percentage; is that right?
8 A. Yes, because they lived there. The officers lived there with
9 their families.
10 Q. Thank you. You said that the relationship amongst the population
11 was normal. When you say normal, normal relations, were these normal
12 relations upset at any point in time?
13 A. Yes, they were upset. In a very short period of time, they became
14 drastically upset, with the appearance of the nationalist parties or
15 rather political parties with a nationalistic stream, through the
16 information media, which were in the hands of the political parties of
17 Croatia. These relations were also disturbed through the celebrations of
18 the new year in 1990, when nobody expected to see the Croatian people,
19 especially in purely Croatian villages, that they would, with the use of
20 arms, instill fear. They would celebrate the new year festivities but
21 they instilled fear among the Serb population.
22 Q. You said that at one point, relations with disturbed and upset and
23 as an example of that you quoted the new year celebrations. Explain to us
24 why relations were upset through the new year's celebrations? Why were
25 the Serbs upset by these celebrations?
1 A. The similar celebrations were up to that point of the kind that
2 was quite normal throughout the world. At a certain point in time,
3 through certain channels, a sizeable amount of arms appeared in the hands
4 of members of the political party who were of Croat ethnicity, and I'm
5 speaking of the municipality of Benkovac. They fired shots from these
6 weapons, and they heralded the arrival of an era that would be marked by
7 insecurity and fear in the municipality.
8 Q. You said in your earlier answer that the Croatian political
9 parties upset the interethnic relations through the information media. In
10 what way was this done?
11 A. Discussions were held on the origins of the Serbs in the area.
12 Serbs on their part were of course fearful of what was to become of them
13 in light of what they had come -- gone through during World War II.
14 Chauvinistic mottoes were uttered, emblems and signs were used which
15 instilled a certain amount of fear in the people in general.
16 Q. You say that chauvinist slogans and emblems and signs were being
17 used. Can you be more specific?
18 A. These were symbols dating back to World War II which symbolised
19 fascist and nationalist Croatian beliefs. These were slogans such
20 as "Serbs should be hung from trees" and so on and so forth. And they all
21 dated back to World War II.
22 Q. The chequer-board, at the time in 1990, was it the official emblem
23 of the Republic of Croatia?
24 MR. BLACK: I apologise for the interruption. Your Honour, I let
25 this go on for a little bit. It's not in the 65 ter summary, all this
1 about emblems and symbols and the chequer-board. So at this point I
2 object to further evidence on it.
3 JUDGE MOLOTO: Mr. Milovancevic.
4 MR. MILOVANCEVIC: [Interpretation] I accept that, Your Honour.
5 JUDGE MOLOTO: Thank you very much, Mr. Milovancevic. Remember,
6 Mr. Milovancevic, we have time constraints so try to stay on what is on
7 the 65 ter. Thank you.
8 MR. MILOVANCEVIC: [Interpretation] Thank you.
9 Q. You spoke of the relations which were upset. What happened after
10 the first multi-party elections? What was the situation like? And I am
11 meaning in terms of interethnic relations.
12 A. The situation grew steadily worse. As commander of the
13 Territorial Defence, I sent every day reports to the headquarters in
14 Split. I was duty-bound to report on the political and security
15 developments and the situation in the area. The tensions escalated, and
16 the general political and security situation deteriorated.
17 Q. Does the term "barricades" ring any bells? Did you hear of them?
18 A. Yes.
19 Q. When did you hear of them?
20 A. This was in the autumn of 1990, or, rather, end of August 1990.
21 Since the Croatian people in the area of Krajina and therefore in the area
22 of Benkovac too --
23 THE INTERPRETER: Interpreter's correction: Since the Serbian
24 people in the area of Krajina had no weapons whatsoever, and the Croatian
25 side was continually arming itself, the representatives of the Serb people
1 approached the military personnel, which meant the JNA, the TO, but also
2 the police force, for protection. Since at the time there was the
3 Socialist Federative Republic of Yugoslavia and the JNA, we did not have a
4 legal basis upon which we would be able to protect the people. That was
5 why the people started organising themselves. One such form of
6 self-organisation with a view to preventing the attacks from the Croatian
7 paramilitary forces on civilians was the erecting of these barricades.
8 Q. Thank you. You've just stated in your answer that the people were
9 unarmed. What do you mean "unarmed"? What happened with the weapons held
10 by the Territorial Defence of Benkovac?
11 A. In June of 1991 [as interpreted], or I don't remember the exact
12 date, two officers from the Slobodan Macura [phoen] barracks in
13 Benkovac --
14 Q. I apologise. You mentioned officers. Can you tell us who they
15 belonged to?
16 A. The JNA officers. There were two officers; one of them was Dusan
17 Dragicevic and the Branislav Ristic. Dragicevic was a major and he was
18 the logistics officer of the brigade, assistant for logistics of the
19 brigades. Captain Ristic was the security officer. They came to my house
20 and asked that I surrender the keys to the warehouse of the TO, which was
21 situated within the Benkovac barracks.
22 Q. They asked you to hand over the keys to the warehouse, the depot,
23 in the barracks. What was contained there?
24 A. Weapons and ammunition, which, under the wartime assignment,
25 belonged to the TO Benkovac, and which was or were kept in the barracks.
1 MR. BLACK: I apologise for the interruption, but before it gets
2 too far away, there is a reference to June of 1991, at least as it appears
3 on the transcript in English, and I wonder it might have been June of
4 1990. I just wonder if that could be clarified, please.
5 JUDGE MOLOTO: Mr. Milovancevic.
6 MR. MILOVANCEVIC: [Interpretation] I wish to thank my learned
7 friend for this intervention.
8 Q. You mentioned June 1991?
9 A. Yes, June 1991. It wasn't in 1990. It was in 1991. The weapons
10 were under the JNA control. We were unable to use it or to gain access to
11 it without the consent of the JNA. It must have been an error if it
12 featured in a document differently.
13 Q. When you mentioned barricades, you said that this was sometime in
14 the end of August 1990, the multi-party elections were held in mid-1990.
15 Now, you speak of an event and you believe that it took place in the month
16 of June 1991?
17 A. Yes, definitely in 1991.
18 Q. Thank you. Let me put this question to you: As the TO commander,
19 as the acting TO commander, what were your relations like with the staff
20 in Split? Did you send reports to them? Did you receive orders and
21 instructions from them?
22 A. All the way up until the 30th of July, 1997 [as interpreted], I
23 was in constant touch with the command in Split. They knew that the
24 weapons were relocated, taken somewhere else, and this wasn't only the
25 case in Benkovac. There was the -- it wasn't -- this was the Benkovac
1 weapons that were taken away, and there were weapons taken away from other
2 municipalities as well.
3 JUDGE MOLOTO: Mr. Milovancevic, I'm sorry to do this to you
4 again. Like Mr. Black, I see there is a date 30th of July, 1997. Is that
5 a misinterpretation or a misquotation? He says: "Up until the 30th of
6 July, 1997, I was in constant touch with the command in Split."
7 MR. MILOVANCEVIC: [Interpretation] Your Honour, thank you for
8 directing our attention to this, and please do always direct our attention
9 if something like this happens again.
10 Q. Which date did you say it was?
11 A. The 30th of July, 1991.
12 Q. This was the way I heard it. It wasn't 1997, it was 1991. So --
13 JUDGE MOLOTO: Okay. Thank you very much.
14 MR. MILOVANCEVIC: [Interpretation] Thank you, Your Honour.
15 Q. What you've just said about the weapons belonging to the TO in
16 Benkovac, Obrovac and other municipalities, did I understand you correctly
17 to say that the JNA took the weapons out of the TO depots in the barracks
18 and placed them elsewhere outside of your control?
19 A. Yes.
20 Q. When you stated that you reported to the staff in Split, which
21 staff did you have in mind? You also said that you were regularly in
22 touch with them and sent reports to them.
23 A. This was the territorial staff in Split.
24 Q. Thank you. Does the mention of the 1st of May, 1991, mean
25 something to you?
1 A. Yes, it does. On the 1st and 2nd of May, and in the days that
2 followed, an armed conflict broke out in the area of Kakma and the village
3 of Polaca. This is a village in the south of the area of Benkovac
5 Q. Thank you. Can you tell us who the parties to the conflict were
6 and were there any consequences of it?
7 A. The village of Polaca was one of the larger villages in the area.
8 It was predominantly inhabited by Croats. They no longer honoured, let me
9 put it this way, or did not consider as theirs the police force that was
10 present in the Benkovac police station. And of course, the police
11 administration of Zadar set up some sort of a police station in the
12 village of Polaca.
13 Members of that police station, along the road from Benkovac to
14 Polaca and Biograd, and in the side roads there, controlled the passing
15 traffic. In controlling traffic, their main aim was to possibly find
16 weapons on Serb citizens pulled over along these roads, in order for this
17 to be an immediate cause of a conflict. There were skirmishes and
18 frictions between the members of the Zadar police station and members of
19 the SUP of Benkovac because that's what it was, SUP Benkovac.
20 There were attempts at finding a solution to the problem with
21 peaceful means. However, it broke out into a conflict, an armed conflict,
22 which lasted for two or three days.
23 Q. With regard to the conflict, you stated that the conflict broke
24 out between the Zadar police force and Benkovac police force. Before the
25 outbreak of the conflict, where were these forces situated? How did it
1 come about, the conflict?
2 A. You see, the village of Polaca is surrounded by several purely
3 Serb villages, which are located quite near to it. In these villages, the
4 police from the SUP Benkovac was present on a daily basis, because the
5 villagers there asked them to protect them from the mistreatment of the
6 Croatian police along the roads. It was these two police forces that came
7 into conflict, and it so happened that on the 2nd of May, the member of
8 these parapolice forces of Croatia was killed. His name was Branko Lisica
9 [as interpreted].
10 Q. Did I understand you correctly to say that when Franko Lisica got
11 killed at Polaca it was the police officers of Serb and the police
12 officers of Croat ethnicities who came into conflict?
13 A. You see, of course, the police force from Benkovac had mostly
14 Serbs on them but there were also Croats on the force. Whereas in Polaca
15 there were these police formations that were only recently formed. They
16 were -- they referred to themselves as "redarstvenici."
17 JUDGE MOLOTO: Sorry, Mr. Milovancevic, I know it is not
18 absolutely time yet, but at Judge Nosworthy's request may we adjourn and
19 come back a little later?
20 But before we do so, there was a reference to the 2nd of --
21 MR. MILOVANCEVIC: [Interpretation] It is the time, Your Honour,
22 yes, thank you.
23 JUDGE MOLOTO: No, no. I just want to say when we come back, can
24 we look at that date at page 59, line 16, talking about the 2nd of May? I
25 just want to know of which year. We can do that when we come back. We
1 will take a short adjournment and come back at half past 12.00.
2 MR. MILOVANCEVIC: [Interpretation] By all means, Your Honour.
3 JUDGE MOLOTO: Court adjourned.
4 --- Recess taken at 11.58 a.m.
5 --- On resuming at 12.31 p.m.
6 JUDGE MOLOTO: Yes, Mr. Milovancevic.
7 MR. MILOVANCEVIC: [Interpretation] Thank you, Your Honour.
8 Q. Mr. Lakic, before the break, you mentioned some events in which
9 Franko Lisica was killed. You mentioned the beginning of May but you
10 didn't give us the year. When was that?
11 A. 1991.
12 Q. Yes. Thank you. What happened immediately after that conflict?
13 How was that whole affair settled?
14 A. From the Croatian side, there were the Croatian forces, the Serb
15 side had its own forces, Benkovac police and the other police, they took
16 control of the hills, elevation points. And in the course of those three
17 or four days, up until the 5th or 6th of May, there was an exchange of
18 sporadic gun-fire, and life came to a standstill in the area. There were
19 absolutely no activities, nothing going on at all.
20 Q. Did you have any activities linked to those events? Just briefly,
22 A. Yes, I did. As commander of the Territorial Defence, every day
23 and not only every day but round the clock, 24 hours, I gathered
24 information and sent them on to my superior commands. I received
25 information from people who were directly included in the events in the
1 area. And the chief of police in Benkovac, I told the chief of police in
2 Benkovac, Bosko Drazic, that I was negotiating with the Croatian
3 representatives to try and solve the conflict in a peaceful way on behalf
4 of the Serbs. I was representing them.
5 Q. Was that offer accepted and what happened afterwards?
6 A. Yes, it was. My offer was accepted and after that, we came into
7 contact -- we contacted the Croatian side, the citizens from Polaca, I
8 don't know how the police in Benkovac went about this. But anyway, we
9 decided upon an exact time when the representative of Polaca, and we as
10 the representatives of the rest of the territory, and I myself as a
11 representative, to negotiate a cease-fire, and to have life and work
12 return to normal in the area.
13 Q. Thank you. And did you in fact hold these talks, and if so, what
14 happened and what agreement was reached?
15 A. Yes. I did conduct the talks. It was on the 6th of May at
16 8.00 a.m. From the Croatian side a man turned up --
17 Q. [Microphone not activated].
18 THE INTERPRETER: Microphone, please. Microphone.
19 MR. MILOVANCEVIC: [Interpretation]
20 Q. The 6th of May, what year was that?
21 A. 1991 we are talking about. The representative of the other side
22 was an esteemed citizen by the name of Bobanovic from Polaca. I think his
23 first name was Franjo but I'm not sure. And we met in Djuro Miljevic's
24 house. Djuro Miljevic was a respected citizen of the village of
25 Jagodnja Gornja. And on that day, he had some festivities, so this added
1 to the occasion. But there wasn't much to celebrate. We negotiated, we
2 talked, the man knew me, he recognised me because I happened to go to the
3 village from time to time. We cooperated with them. We had very good
4 cooperation with them before the war, and we endeavoured to continue along
5 those lines. We agreed to have the forces withdraw, that the villagers
6 could go back to working the fields and going about their daily business,
7 to ensure that traffic along the roads was normal and the man left. We
8 set a sort of deadline. We said, We will stop straight away, and you stop
9 straight away, or in a hour's time, or whatever we had negotiated.
10 Everything was normal to the benefit of both sides.
11 Q. And did they respect the agreement later on? Was it adhered to?
12 A. Well, for a short period of time, for a few days, people did go
13 back to working in the fields. However, during the night, there were once
14 again provocations using artillery weapons and so on. Now, how long that
15 went on, but let's say it went on for seven to 10 days. I don't think
16 that's important. Anyway, it was the season of working in the fields, the
17 crop season and so on.
18 Q. Thank you. Now, with respect to your local commander, the
19 commander of the Territorial Defence of Benkovac is concerned, during that
20 month of May 1991, was it the peacetime formation of the Territorial
22 A. Yes, of course. There was just me and my associates, and I worked
23 until 2.00 and we would go home as we would in peacetime. And then I
24 collected up information and sent it on to Split, reported back to Split.
25 Q. When you say that you collected information or gathered
1 information and sent that information to Split, can you tell us what you
2 mean? We can deduce what you mean, but tell us specifically what was the
3 type of information you gathered and what was it that you informed the
4 Territorial Defence, Croatian Territorial Defence about in Split?
5 A. It was of a security and military nature, information of that
6 kind, referring to what was going on in the territory of Benkovac
7 municipality. I had to establish the facts to see what the situation was,
8 to assess that information and to forward that information to my superior
9 command. That was my job and that's what I did.
10 Q. Thank you. Now, how long did this peacetime formation of the
11 Territorial Defence of Benkovac exist? When was it a peacetime structure?
12 A. Well, it existed in that form until the 15th of July. Yes, I
13 think it was the 15th of July. That would be correct. 1991, of course.
14 When we were called by the Prime Minister, I think it was, Milan Babic, to
15 attend a meeting in Knin. We, the Territorial Defence commanders, were
16 invited and the chiefs of police in the SAO Krajina municipalities.
17 At the meeting itself, which was behind closed doors, if I can put
18 it that way, we were informed about the security situation on the
19 territory of the SAO Krajina, that is to say the territory that came out
20 in favour of a certain type of autonomy that had to be given shape to
21 politically. The information we were given, and of course this was
22 followed by an order later on, that only the municipal staffs from the
23 peacetime formations according to the different branches and services in
24 the staffs and headquarters should be mobilised and come under combat
25 readiness and measures governing combat readiness, that they should be on
1 the alert for further engagement.
2 Now, since the situation deteriorated from one day to the next,
3 especially from the 15th to this key date of the 30th of July, 1991, on a
4 daily basis, and there were quite a number of us, we were numerically
5 superior, we gathered information and of course maintained contact with
6 the JNA commands.
7 Q. Thank you. You said that Mr. Babic called you to attend this
8 meeting, you as TO commander and the others, and put forward the security
9 situation. Now, can you tell us in a word what was the reason to mobilise
10 the staffs of the TO in the area?
11 A. The escalation of inter-ethnic relations on the territory of SAO
12 Krajina and in Croatia. They had come to a head. They were out of
13 control. So with a view to protecting the Serb population, mobilisation
14 and Territorial Defence.
15 MR. MILOVANCEVIC: [Interpretation] I do apologise, Your Honours,
16 for that interruption.
17 JUDGE MOLOTO: That's fine, Mr. Milovancevic.
18 MR. MILOVANCEVIC: [Interpretation] Thank you.
19 Q. What was it that happened on the 30th or 31st of July? Was there
20 reason to call for mobilisation?
21 A. On the 30th of July in the early hours of the morning, the duty
22 officer of the TO Defence Staff of Benkovac, I think it was around 5.00 in
23 the morning in actual fact, informed me that the women who were tending to
24 the cattle and sheep along the border belt towards Biograd and towards
25 Sibenik in part had noticed stepped up movement and the members of certain
1 armed formations approaching the Serb villages. In fact, these were of
2 course the paramilitary police forces of the MUP of the Republic of
3 Croatia from the direction of the village of Vuksic, moving towards the
4 Serbian villages, where an attack was launched, and the number of men was
5 the strength of a company. Some 100 MUP Croatian MUP members against
6 these villages, whereas the villages and villagers were totally unarmed
7 and going about their daily business in the village.
8 From the south axis, from the Biograd direction, towards
9 Miranje Donje and Ceranje, these villages, a terrorist group attacked
10 them. I think there were four men who attacked along that axis and from
11 the village of Priste Donje [phoen] towards the Ceranje Gornje village and
12 Ceranje Donje village there was another terrorist group that was launching
13 an attack. I came to see what this was all about. I went to see it all,
14 and there were two or three of these terrorists or they were engaged in
15 sabotage activities.
16 Q. Did a conflict break out, a clash, with those forces, the
17 burgeoning forces?
18 A. Well, this is what it was about. The MUP, Croatian MUP forces,
19 the company-strong force, marching along a broad belt, and these Serb
20 villages were scattered about the hills so it was normal that the people
21 who were standing watch at the barricades, some of them had hunting
22 rifles, hunting weapons, they stopped at these by way of a warning. They
23 wanted to issue a warning. And that was enough to these "redarstvenici"
24 to in fact stop, whereas the members of the police who were the sole
25 people to carry weapons, they had infantry weapons that they were issued,
1 they wanted to help the people because there was general panic and fear
2 among the people. So they distributed themselves around the area to help
3 the people.
4 I toured those areas. I was able to do so. So I spent some time
5 touring the areas, and the police, the Milicija, went to help the people
6 along this southern axis, but the group moving from the other direction
7 attacked a village guard, a village watch that was standing up at the
8 barricades there, and the people manning this village guard or village
9 watch started to shoot and they killed one of the members of that group.
10 We didn't know about this. We just learnt that he had been liquidated or
11 killed five days later.
12 Now, the group that was doing the attacking from the direction of
13 Pristeg [phoen] towards the Gornji and Donji villages with several
14 sabotage men in the middle of a field moved -- was moving forward and had
15 already entered the region of the Serb villages, when the villagers who
16 were on guard --
17 JUDGE MOLOTO: Slow down, please.
18 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Yes, Your Honour.
19 I was able to follow the movement of these three men engaged in
20 sabotage activities. I had some binoculars and was able to see them using
21 the binoculars. They were placed in an encirclement. They were set siege
22 to by the villagers without any command. They had makeshift weapons, some
23 sort of barrels or whatever, hunting rifles, and they surrounded this
24 group of men engaged in this sabotage activity, and the group took refuge
25 in an orchard.
1 Q. Was the group in fact stopped?
2 A. Yes, the group was stopped, during the night. So this went on the
3 whole day and the group was finally blocked during the night, and in the
4 morning hours when the members of the group wanted to break through the
5 siege, the encirclement, they were fired at and killed.
6 Q. Thank you. Now, during that time, and you said that it happened
7 on the 30th of July, 1991. So during that period in Benkovac, there was a
8 JNA barracks, was there not?
9 A. Yes.
10 Q. How many units were housed in those barracks?
11 A. It's a large barracks which was able to accommodate these two
12 large units, the size of a brigade, which means 5 or 6.000 men strong.
13 There were two, two and a half, 3.000 soldiers there all the time,
14 permanently. In peacetime, that is.
15 Q. And what was situation like communication-wise, the roads that the
16 JNA units used during that summer, the Benkovac area? Not only the
17 barracks but also members of the JNA elsewhere?
18 A. The command, the JNA command, demanded that all structures,
19 civilians, non-commissioned officers, officers and so on, should do
20 everything to keep the peace, to ensure that peace reigned and that the
21 roads were passable, that you could move along the roads. However, the
22 barricades were set up in the directions towards Zadar and Sibenik and the
23 villages but -- and these barricades would be erected during the nights,
24 because the villagers were afraid, and then they would be dismantled in
25 the morning.
1 Q. Thank you. When you say that during the night barricades would
2 appear, would be erected in the villages and that they would be dismantled
3 in the morning, in what villages did this take place?
4 A. Well, barricades would be erected between three or four Serb
5 villages. There wasn't any -- it was mostly out of fear. Those villages
6 were of the same ethnic composition. We gave orders to some companies,
7 such as the roadworks company and so on, to dismantle them.
8 Q. Thank you. When we are talking about the summer of 1991, in
9 addition to those barricades, were there any other provocations or firing
10 or disruption of traffic along the roads in any way, anything of that
12 A. As commander of the Territorial Defence, I did not directly take
13 part in any JNA activities. I wasn't able to do so. The JNA had problems
14 to de-block their barracks in Zadar and Sibenik. That was going on in the
15 autumn of 1991. And after the agreement reached between the government of
16 the Republic of Croatia and the SFRY Presidency, to the effect that the
17 JNA would be able to pull out its men and materiel from barracks in
18 Croatia, the Zemunik airport and the barracks were evacuated.
19 Q. You mentioned the agreement reached between the SFRY Presidency
20 and the government of Croatia to de-block the barricades. When did that
21 happen? You said the autumn of 1991 but could you be more specific?
22 A. The autumn of 1991.
23 Q. Thank you. Was the agreement honoured?
24 A. Well, it wasn't. The agreement wasn't honoured in the area of
25 Benkovac municipality. This is a well-known story. The action which
1 involved pulling out the equipment was obstructed by the Croatian side,
2 and they went even as far as destroying the materiel just to prevent it
3 from leaving the area.
4 Q. Thank you. Which Croatian forces obstructed the pulling out of
5 the military materiel and where was this?
6 A. These were the paramilitary forces of the ZNG, the police forces,
7 the reserve police force of the Republic of Croatia. The villages
8 involved were Skabrnja and Nadin -- or, rather, the Nadinska Gradina
10 Q. In what way was the pulling out of the JNA equipment obstructed
11 from these villages?
12 A. The obstruction consisted of artillery weapons and anti-aircraft
13 weapons. Very often they would also obstruct the sorties of cargo
14 aircraft from Udbina because they were shot at from anti-aircraft weapons
15 of 12.7 calibre.
16 Q. You mentioned anti-aircraft guns and anti-aircraft machine-guns.
17 Where were these weapons positioned and where was the fire opened from?
18 A. The main feature was Nadinska Gradina. This was an elevated
19 feature which was a fortified building dating back to I don't know which
20 century and it was practically invincible. It was from this vantage point
21 that they opened fire on the Benkovac-Zadar road which passes through the
22 area. From this hill, they also fired upon cargo aircraft which took off
23 from the airport this.
24 Q. Thank you. Can you tell us where you got this information from,
25 and I mean the information concerning the weapons and forces involved in
1 the shooting and concerning the consequences of the fire.
2 A. Well, you see, we had several sources. First of all, we observed
3 the area and then there were the JNA forces there which tried to
4 neutralise the weapons. We also had vehicles which were damaged and shot
5 at from weapons of a certain calibre.
6 Q. You stated that JNA convoys were being attacked. Is that what you
7 had in mind?
8 A. Yes. Of course. We only used the roads to pull out the
10 Q. Which sort of hardware and where was it from that the JNA tried to
11 pull out?
12 A. Well, we had the air force academy, the school system, the
13 airfield there. There were fuel depots for helicopters and aircraft there
14 that we had. So these were enormous quantities of materiel.
15 In order to avoid these obstructions and provocations, the army
16 built a new road through some fields. However, the Croatian forces opened
17 fire on that road as well. Some 15 to 20 drivers and members of the
18 escort were killed just during the period when the materiel was being
19 pulled out.
20 Q. The road across the fields built by the army, where was it
21 start -- where was its starting point and which route did it take?
22 A. From the Zemunik airport, therefore the northern side of the
23 Zemunik airport, through Smokovici village, Vocnjak, all the way up to
24 Gornji Zemunik, and then on to the village of Smilcic, across Debela Brdo,
25 toward Knin and onwards.
1 Q. Let us clarify once again why the road was built across the field?
2 A. Well, because we couldn't use the regular roads as we should have
3 been able to pursuant to the agreement between the Croatian government and
4 the SFRY Presidency. However, we were unable to because people got
6 Q. You mentioned the fact that some 15 to 20 people got killed along
7 that new road. On which side was this?
8 A. On our side. These were truck drivers, members of the army who
9 escorted the convoys. These would be people who provided security to the
10 convoy, and when the Croatian forces opened fire, they were the casualties
11 of it.
12 Q. Thank you. You mentioned Nadinska Kosa and Skabrnja. Were these
13 villages to be found in the Benkovac municipality?
14 A. Nadin, yes. Nadin was a mixed village, as far as its ethnic
15 makeup goes, but most of the inhabitants were Croats. Serbs had left the
16 area earlier on because of the presence of the Croatian paramilitary
17 forces. Only Croats stayed behind in Nadin.
18 Skabrnja is a village in the municipality of Zadar, and it is
19 economically speaking the wealthiest village, the most affluent village,
20 and it lay on the border of the Zadar municipality and Benkovac
22 Q. You stated that Skabrnja was the strongest Croatian village.
23 Where did that village get anti-aircraft machine-guns, anti-aircraft guns
24 and other weaponry they handled?
25 A. Well, I really don't know where they got the weapons from. But
1 based on reconnaissance we were able to see that they had the weapons, and
2 later on we also seized these weapons.
3 You asked me where we got the information from. Well, I was in
4 the position to listen in to a conversation between the Chief of the
5 General Staff, General Kadijevic, and General Ratko Mladic. He was their
6 general already. He happened to be in the command of the 180th Brigade,
7 and at that meeting, where I was invited also as a commander of the TO, we
8 were informed of the security situation.
9 At that point, General Mladic was called to speak over the phone
10 to the General Staff, with General Adzic, and most of the officers were
11 required to leave the conference room because they weren't allowed to
12 listen to the conversation. I stayed behind, as did all the commanders,
13 and General Adzic asked why it was that JNA aircraft landed in Belgrade
14 damaged. They obviously came under fire and became damaged. General
15 Mladic told him that he didn't have any information about it, but that he
16 was to inquire after that, after this, and that he would report back to
17 them in the General Staff in Belgrade.
18 THE INTERPRETER: The interpreter notes the name wasn't Kadijevic
19 but Adzic earlier.
20 A. In this conversation which lasted some 15 minutes, General Adzic
21 asked of General Mladic to do his best to try to establish contacts with
22 the Croatian side peacefully and to inform them of the existence of the
23 agreement concerning the pulling out of the equipment. Now what I'm
24 telling you about took place some 10 days before the armed conflict in
1 MR. MILOVANCEVIC: [Interpretation]
2 Q. Very well.
3 Do you know anything about the action conducted in the village of
4 Skabrnja in the month of November 1991?
5 A. I do. Everything that had to do with the Territorial Defence and
6 all the subsequent events in Skabrnja are well known.
7 Q. Can you tell us how you came to know this, and whether the
8 Territorial Defence had to do anything with the action in Skabrnja?
9 A. Yes. The Territorial Defence had indirectly to do with the
10 action, but let me first explain how the preparations concerning the
11 action took place.
12 In the evening hours, at about 6.00 or 7.00 in the evening, in the
13 month of November --
14 THE INTERPRETER: The interpreter didn't hear the date.
15 A. I was invited there as the commander of the TO and Drazic as chief
16 of police in Benkovac too.
17 JUDGE MOLOTO: Sorry, the interpreter didn't hear the date in
18 November. In the evening hours at about 6.00 or 7.00.
19 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] 17th.
20 JUDGE MOLOTO: Of which year? 1991?
21 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] I apologise. Yes, yes, in 1991,
22 that was the 17th of November.
23 May I proceed?
24 MR. MILOVANCEVIC: [Interpretation]
25 Q. Can I please ask you to always mention the year when indicating a
2 A. Yes, very well.
3 Q. You said that you received an invitation. Where it was that you
4 went and what did you find out there?
5 A. I was invited by the Chief of Staff of 180th Brigade,
6 Lieutenant-Colonel Momcilo Vojinovic -- Bogunovic.
7 Q. You say that this was in the evening hours on the 17th of
8 November, 1991. What did Lieutenant-Colonel Bogunovic tell you on that
10 A. Lieutenant-Colonel Bogunovic told us that an activity was being
11 prepared and that he had a task for us as the TO, in view of our abilities
12 and establishment. The operations officer at the time, Lieutenant-Colonel
13 Babic, I can't remember his first name, tabled a plan and said that the TO
14 commanders had the task of raising the combat readiness of TO units
15 opposite the separation line between Croatian and Serb forces on the
16 Skabrnja axis. To me, it meant that the village guards should refrain
17 from standing guard at the time when a JNA operation was in course.
18 Q. You mention the village guards, that they should have been
19 activated. Where were they? In which villages?
20 A. These were the villages of the western part of the Benkovac
22 JUDGE HOEPFEL: Sorry, did the witness say they should have been
24 MR. MILOVANCEVIC: [Interpretation] Your Honour, I don't know if I
25 quoted the witness properly. Let me rephrase it. I apologise if I was
1 not precise enough.
2 Q. You were given the task -- when mentioning a unit or a village,
3 please tell us what this is specifically about. Which village guard,
4 units, did you have in mind as the TO commander?
5 A. The TO squad of the local commune of Biljana Donja. This was a
6 squad of some ten people. The squad in the village of Veljane or
7 Veljanska Kosa [phoen], the squad at Milcici [phoen]. These were the
8 villages bordering the Zadar municipality.
9 Q. I interrupted you. Please tell us and describe for us what your
10 task was and what you were supposed to do.
11 A. We were informed of the fact that the Yugoslav People's Army
12 would -- was tasked to group its forces and not to have a show of force in
13 terms of opening fire, but simply by its presence in the area of the
14 village of Skabrnja that it should come into contact with the
15 representatives of the Croatian armed forces, the ZNG, or whichever other
16 force was there, and to hold talks with them. Specific officers were
17 designated who were given a list of issues upon which the discussion was
18 to take place. The objective was to warn the Croatian forces that they
19 ought no longer to open fire on the convoys and the aircraft that had
20 previously been opened fire on, that the Croatian forces should retreat
21 from the area and, pursuant to the agreement that was signed, the
22 political agreement, that they allow the road to be passable.
23 The task was, as concerns the JNA infantry, all active duty
24 officers of the JNA took part in the operation, and the unit was some 80
25 men strong. And as far as the used assets were concerned, there was
1 artillery and a mechanised unit with some eight to nine APCs. The tank
2 crews consisted solely of active-duty recruits, conscripts, who were doing
3 their obligatory military service. Officers were also active-duty JNA
4 personnel. Some of the APC crews were manned to the full strength from TO
5 ranks but not the TO Benkovac but rather from Bosnia, from Smederevo in
6 Serbia and so on and so forth, and these were people holding specific
7 specialties as -- for these APCs. These soldiers, members of the reserve
8 force, who ended up in the Benkovac area, were put up at the Smilcic
9 economy farm. They had been brought over there several days earlier.
10 I was there on the spot some four to five days before because I
11 wanted to show the commander for moral guidance of the 9th Corps the way
12 over there. It was already night-time, and I took him over to those men
13 who were supposedly there as reinforcements, and they wanted to go back
14 home because they had been mobilised for quite a long time.
15 Q. Sorry. You said that these were soldiers mobilised into the JNA?
16 A. Yes, only the JNA and they were not just from Croatia. They came
17 from all over, even from Macedonia.
18 Q. You mentioned taking this officer to see them. Who was he?
19 A. That was Colonel Mesud -- I can't remember --
20 Q. Is it Mesud Hasotic?
21 A. Yes, Mesud Hasotic. I was there when he talked to them, and he
22 told them this: Lads, in a few days time, and I didn't know which day, in
23 fact, you are going to carry out a very simple task which isn't going to
24 involve any combat, and after that you're going to go home. There is
25 nothing for you to complain about because nobody is going to get hurt,
1 nothing will happen to you. And he managed to calm them down.
2 And now let me go back to Skabrnja to the composition of the
3 forces there, including the reserve force. The commander of the forces,
4 including tanks and APCs was Miodrag Stevanovic. He was a lieutenant, an
5 active-duty officer. He had under him young lads who were conscripts, who
6 were doing their military service. His task was to use a megaphone while
7 mounted on a tank and to call upon those present in Skabrnja and to ask
8 them to turn around their barrels and not to open fire. One of the
9 soldiers was also holding a flag.
10 Q. You spoke of the officer --
11 A. Well, this is how it was planned.
12 Q. You're mentioning the JNA officer Stevanovic and the JNA soldier?
13 A. Yes, yes, member of the JNA. They are all members of the JNA. So
14 was the officer.
15 As the column went past the western part of Skabrnja --
16 Q. I'm sorry, pause there. Can you please first wait for Miodrag to
17 put the question to you.
18 So on the 17th of November, 1991, you were summoned to the staff
19 with Lieutenant-Colonel Bogunovic, and this is what was told to you. You
20 were told this on the 17th of November?
21 A. Yes.
22 Q. When was the action scheduled to begin?
23 A. On the following morning, on the 18th, at 8.00, right after the
24 orders were given.
25 Q. And what happened on the following day, on the 18th of November?
1 When did the action commence and how? Briefly, please.
2 A. The unit set off from this farm at Smilcici where the reserve
3 force were and went along the following route, Smilcic, Zemunik Gornji
4 with a view to turning over to Skabrnja. Things went and took their
5 normal course. I was in Smiljani Donji, and together with all the other
6 officers who were assigned to be there, I followed the entire operation
7 over the communications means -- devices.
8 Q. You say that the unit set off from Smilcici. Was it a JNA unit?
9 A. Yes.
10 Q. Before we move on to describing the events, tell us, please, how
11 many forces the Territorial Defence had, how many were they included in
12 that operation and where were those forces?
13 A. In addition to the forces of the local communes or those villages,
14 those 15 or 20 men whose task it was to secure -- provide security for the
15 various clinics and transformer stations and so on, it was my task, it was
16 my duty, and I was given this as an assignment in fact, to prepare for an
17 escalation. Should there be an escalation, to be prepared. But
18 everything should be done to prevent the worst from happening and to
19 protect my Territorial Defence units in those villages and the civilians
20 in the territory of Benkovac municipality.
21 In the morning, I ordered a squad of -- numbering some 12 men, an
22 anti-sabotage unit, one that existed in peacetime as well, to use a
23 minibus, a van, and relocate to Biljani Donji, and that unit was escorted
24 by two mortars, 82-millimetre mortars with crews, and this was following
25 regulations as is usually done. And as an escort with the medical corps,
1 to have an ambulance as well under the command of the commander n-- or,
2 rather, Nada Pupovac was in charge of the ambulance, and she was in charge
3 of the medical corps duties in peacetime. They came to where I was, that
4 is to say the Biljani Donji region, where the JNA officers were, who were
5 on some assignment there, and I was able to follow the whole situation
6 through our communications system.
7 Q. Thank you. You have described the forces to us. How many men
8 were there in the Territorial Defence that you had assigned?
9 A. Well, 25 to 30 men roughly. They were engaged either directly or
10 in preparation, in waiting.
11 Q. Thank you. You said that those forces were in the same locality
12 that you were in. So could you tell us again where were those forces
14 A. They were deployed at Biljani Donji, the Skoric hamlet, right next
15 to the road, next to the school building.
16 Q. How far is that from the village of Skabrnja itself?
17 A. As the crow flies, two kilometres, two or three kilometres,
19 Q. And when did that TO unit of yours, if I can call it that, those
20 25 or 30 men, when did they arrive at Biljani Donji, on what day, when?
21 A. In the morning, before 7.00 a.m., on the 18th of November, 1991.
22 Q. Thank you. You said that in the morning, the JNA unit had set
23 out. Could you tell us once again what that JNA unit was composed of, the
24 one advancing towards Skabrnja?
25 A. I've already said it was composed of mechanised infantry, eight or
1 nine transporters in all, APCs.
2 Q. Can you explain to us what a mechanised infantry means?
3 A. They are infantry men, soldiers, which are transported to the
4 battlefield, and they use the resources of an APC as technical equipment.
5 Q. Thank you. So there were seven or eight of these APCs. How many
6 tanks were there? You mentioned tanks.
7 A. There were three tanks, and they were provided just to have a show
8 of force, to show that the JNA was powerful and could use them if the need
9 arose. They had their crews.
10 Q. Now you said that they set out from their base at 7.00 in the
11 morning. How do you know that, and how do you know what route they took?
12 A. I know that because I was on the spot when they set out. I was on
13 the spot in -- at that facility, at that factory farm, and all the JNA
14 officers who were at Biljana Donji later on took a different route and
15 reached Biljani Donji in the space of five minutes. So I was there when
16 they set out, I took another route, and I was there when they arrived. I
17 didn't escort them.
18 Q. Thank you. Now, what happened to this JNA column with the three
19 tanks and seven or eight APCs that you described when they arrived in
20 Skabrnja? Which route did they take, where did they, what places did they
21 pass through, and what happened in Skabrnja, if you can tell us that?
22 A. Yes. That column reached the junction of Zemunik Gornji, Skabrnja
23 Zadar. And they set off, they took the left road through the hamlet
24 called Ambar [phoen] and they were all Croats there. We received
25 information that they waved to the army as they passed. So they were
1 moving ahead with good intentions.
2 Now, this hamlet called Ambar is a hamlet that is 300 or 400 --
3 stretches for a distance of 300 or 400 metres. Then you get to the road,
4 the main road, and you come to the entrance, the central portion, rather,
5 of Skabrnja - I call at a time central portion - linking Biljani Donji to
6 Zadar. So it's that 300 or 400 or 500 metres at most. It's that stretch.
7 Q. Now up until that point, did anybody open fire at all?
8 A. No. Everything was normal.
9 Q. Thank you. What happened next?
10 A. When the column reached the junction of Biljani Donji and Zadar,
11 the crossroads, because you can get to Skabrnja taking both those
12 directions, that was the crossroads, and the column was stopped there, and
13 according to the information I had, a Lieutenant Stevanovic got off the
14 APC he was in, took up a megaphone, and the soldier next to him got down
15 carrying a flag, because they saw some people some 50 or 60 metres in
16 front of them. Their intention was to warn them, they turned off the
17 engines and they wanted to contact the people to warn them.
18 At that point in time, somebody on the Croatian side hit the
19 lieutenant in the head or face. His name Stevanovic. Now, as that
20 happened, immediately in front of the first car, the soldier carrying the
21 flag, he was a Muslim, went up to help him but they killed him too.
22 Q. Who did they kill? Or, rather, who killed him?
23 A. The paramilitary forces of Skabrnja, the Croatian forces.
24 Q. What happened next?
25 A. Chaos erupted, and it lasted for about half an hour. There was
1 general chaos for a short time, maybe not even half an hour, during which
2 time both sides opened fire. There was shooting from both sides.
3 The JNA officers from Biljani Donji gave express orders for a
4 cease-fire straight away. They couldn't stop shooting because the
5 Croatian side started shooting more and more fiercely. At one point the
6 Croatian forces did stop firing and there was a general lull.
7 Q. You said that the firing went on for about half an hour. So after
8 that half hour of shooting from both sides, there was a lull; is that
10 A. Yes.
11 Q. What happened next?
12 A. This is how it was. The command of the brigade in Benkovac where
13 Lieutenant-Colonel Bogunovic was in command was informed, and they asked
14 the command of the 9th Corps to issue further orders, according to which
15 this unit should either return, asking whether the unit was to return, or
16 to maintain that position and -- or to advance. Those were the three
17 possibilities open to them.
18 Now, Major Djurica Janko, an active-duty officer, the commander of
19 the artillery in Benkovac, platoon in Benkovac, had probably received
20 orders from the command in Benkovac to go down there and resolve the
21 situation, to have peace and quiet return. Major Djurica sets off, and
22 there is no shooting. The talks last for 10 to 15 minutes. They await
23 further orders.
24 Now, at that moment, probably the Croatian forces had
25 consolidated, and launched an organised attack on that column of vehicles,
1 the APCs and the rest. At that moment, everybody had taken up their
2 positions in the tanks and the APCs, and there was an all-out conflict in
3 which both sides opened fire.
4 Now, as the situation escalated, contacts were being made with the
5 Croatian side to cease hostilities, and according to our information the
6 Croatian side did not want to halt hostilities and to cease fire. Because
7 of all the people who had been killed and wounded and the attacks launched
8 on the equipment and materiel, the unit continued to advance towards
10 Q. How long did that combat activity go on for on that 18th of
11 November, 1991? Do you remember?
12 A. They went on the whole day until dusk.
13 Q. Thank you. I'm going to ask you something now, Mr. Lakic, and it
14 is this: You were in another locality. You were -- how do you know about
15 all this?
16 A. I entered Skabrnja when the action ceased. Now, from my men, my
17 reserve men, became forces to enable the civilian population of Skabrnja
18 to pull out, and the ambulance pulled out, the wounded soldiers, but also
19 the civilians. The minibus or van that brought my squad in, the
20 anti-sabotage unit, pulled out women, children, the elderly from Skabrnja
21 on five or six occasions, five or six times. And when the conflict
22 subsided or rather ended at around 5.00 p.m., the Croatian forces had
23 withdrawn, and I entered Skabrnja because I thought there were still some
24 more civilians left, and I wanted to try to evacuate those civilians
25 during the night.
1 The people that we found actually had already been evacuated and
2 put up into the primary school building, the children's nursery school,
3 and various other facilities belonging to the civilian protection
4 organisation. They numbered about 120 or 30 civilians, women, children
5 and elderly. Of course, and I was personally there, I asked them what
6 shall we do with you? What's your proposal? What do you want us to do
7 with you? Their proposal was that they could cross over to the Croatian
8 side to join their people.
9 I asked the transport company of Benkovac to give us -- provide us
10 with buses and they were transported to the nearest border point leading
11 to the Croatian forces. And during the night, 7.00, 8.00, 9.00 p.m.,
12 these civilians were taken to this border belt so that they could cross
13 over on to the Croatian side.
14 Q. You said that about 100 civilians, the inhabitants of Skabrnja,
15 were evacuated by the members of the Territorial Defence --
16 A. Yes, that's right.
17 Q. -- during the fighting itself. Can you tell us how many
18 inhabitants the village of Skabrnja actually had at that time?
19 A. I can't give you an exact figure but I think over 2.000. At least
20 over 2.000 inhabitants. It's a large village covering quite a large
21 territory, so certainly some 2.000 inhabitants. But -- well, yes, I'll
22 stop there.
23 Q. You managed to evacuate more than 100 people. What happened to
24 the other civilians?
25 A. This is what happened. The other civilians, probably members of
1 the armed forces of those paramilitaries of Croatia as well withdrew
2 towards the railway station in Skabrnja, towards the fields and the
3 village of Prkos. They withdrew, they were withdrawing, leaving the
4 village. Nobody fired at them. We received information that they were
5 withdrawing but there was no artillery fire at them. So there were no
6 casualties. They were allowed to withdraw safely and securely and leave
7 the village.
8 Q. When, in -- during that afternoon, or early evening, on the 18th
9 of November, 1991, you arrived in Skabrnja, did you happen to see whether
10 there were any casualties?
11 A. I saw two or three casualties. They were conscripts, soldiers,
12 they had their military belts on them. They had some -- they were wearing
13 camouflage uniforms, and they were lying by the main road leading into
15 Q. These people in these uniforms and military belts, who did they
16 belong to?
17 A. The armed formations of the unit in Skabrnja.
18 Q. You said [Microphone not activated].
19 THE INTERPRETER: Microphone, please, counsel. Microphone.
20 JUDGE MOLOTO: Microphone, Mr. Milovancevic.
21 MR. MILOVANCEVIC: [Interpretation]
22 Q. You said that this movement of JNA units towards Skabrnja began at
23 7.00 in the morning. Before the JNA unit entered Skabrnja, was artillery
24 fire opened targeting Skabrnja?
25 A. No, not a single bullet was fired, absolutely not. Because the
1 aim was different. It was -- the aim was to resolve the problem
3 Q. Now, about these artillery units, do you know how many of those
4 artillery units there were and how many men made them up?
5 A. Well, I don't know, not much, because the JNA hadn't been planning
6 on engaging them. I know that there were some howitzer units, one or two
7 howitzers actually, and a mortar platoon, 120-millimetre mortar platoon.
8 It existed formation-wise but otherwise I haven't seen it.
9 Q. Can you tell us, give us some figures or at least an assessment,
10 of the total number of forces, how many men in total, JNA soldiers, took
11 part, including the artillery?
12 A. Well, 80 -- about 80 in the column, let's say approximately 80,
13 perhaps 20 or 30 more in those -- with those two or three vehicles and
14 equipment. I really can't say more than that.
15 Q. Can you tell us the strength of the Croatian forces in Skabrnja at
16 that time?
17 A. I think that they didn't have many men at the time. There were
18 mostly those who had been on duty during the night and that morning. But
19 the forces in Skabrnja, up to Nadinska Gradina had five companies; their
20 strength was five companies.
21 Now, the unit which provided security for those three villages in
22 that line, in that chain, was the 5th Company, known as the Skabrnja
23 Battalion, and it had the most sophisticated infantry weapons, we later
24 established that, and everything else, all the accompanying artillery,
25 armoured facilities. It was an armoured unit.
1 Q. When you say that it was equipped in that way, what did that mean
2 specifically? Can you describe to us?
3 A. Well, automatic rifles, pistols, snipers, right up to a
4 12.7-calibre weapon. Above that calibre, you have artillery weapons. So,
5 which would mean 82-millimetre mortars, 120 is artillery, anti-aircraft
6 guns. We found the Maljutka type of weapon and things of that kind.
7 Q. When you say we found Maljutkas, where did you find these
8 Maljutkas and what are Maljutkas?
9 A. Well, I didn't find them because I didn't search for them. What I
10 meant was that the JNA forces came across them, and they brought them to
11 the garrison in Benkovac and laid them out there, exhibited them, and I
12 saw them with my own eyes. So that's what we found when we got there.
13 Q. What are Maljutkas?
14 A. Anti-armour rockets of Russian origin but they were produced by
15 the JNA, or rather, in Yugoslavia, by Yugoslavia.
16 JUDGE NOSWORTHY: Sorry, what's the spelling because it seems to
17 be absent from the transcript and the record.
18 MR. MILOVANCEVIC: [Interpretation] Maljutka, m-a-l-j-u-t-k-a.
19 JUDGE NOSWORTHY: Thank you very much.
20 MR. MILOVANCEVIC: [Interpretation] Thank you.
21 Q. You stated that your task, as Territorial Defence, was to stay on
22 the side --
23 A. Yes, well, of course.
24 Q. Please wait for my question, otherwise the interpreters won't be
25 able to catch up.
1 You said that you were in Biljani Donji with your men from the TO,
2 some 25 to 30 of them. When did your men join the operation in Skabrnja?
3 You stated that your men were pulling out civilians.
4 A. Well, as soon as there were first casualties, first wounded
5 people, my men came up to me and said, We have civilians wounded. What
6 are we going to do with them? The JNA wasn't prepared for such a
8 I had that Volkswagen van and two to three people from the
9 medical corps, and a minibus, which belonged to a commercial company from
10 Benkovac, which had some 20 seats, and I ordered straight away that the
11 population be given medical assistance and evacuated in order to get them
12 out of harm's way.
13 Q. Thank you. I asked you about the composition of the units
14 participating in the action. Did they include members of the SAO Krajina
16 A. The police was given a task which was of its regular nature, and
17 that was to conduct traffic control in the area, as per normal, and
18 together with the TO to maintain law and order in these villages, and in
19 the eventuality that a sole, free agent, should appear, or anyone
20 disrupting law and order, to apply measures that were normally applied in
21 such situations.
22 Q. Thank you. When was the police assigned its tasks and by whom,
23 and which specific police force was involved?
24 A. Well, that was the police of the SAO Krajina.
25 Q. I meant the locality.
1 MR. MILOVANCEVIC: [Interpretation] I apologise, Your Honour. Go
3 JUDGE MOLOTO: Was your question answered, Mr. Milovancevic? You
4 asked: "I asked you about the composition of the units participating in
5 the action. Did they include members of the SAO Krajina Police?"
6 I'm not quite sure that what came after that answers that
7 question. If it does [Microphone not activated].
8 MR. MILOVANCEVIC: [Interpretation] I wanted, in fact, to pursue
9 the matter further.
10 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Not directly involved, no.
11 MR. MILOVANCEVIC: [Interpretation]
12 Q. The task that you were given on the 17th of November, 1991, from
13 Lieutenant-Colonel Bogunovic, in the evening hours, when was this task
14 passed on to the police force and to which specific units in which town?
15 A. The task was given to the professional police force in the public
16 security station in Benkovac, chief of police Bosko was given that
17 particular assignment on the same day I was. On the 17th of November,
19 Q. Do you know how many police officers were assigned to that
20 particular mission and did they join the JNA police on its -- the JNA unit
21 on its way to Skabrnja?
22 A. No, they did not go alongside the JNA units, nor would they be
23 allowed to. There was no need for that. The police unit did not go to
24 Skabrnja at all. They had no business there. Their business was to do
25 their regular policing duties in the area of Benkovac, where I was.
1 Q. The size of the police force in Benkovac who had to carry out
2 these duties in these villages, do you know what it was?
3 A. In my assessment, some 15 to 20 of them. These were traffic
4 patrols and regular police patrols, seeing to it that law and order were
6 Q. Thank you. You stated that at the end of the day, on the 18th of
7 November, 1991, when the hostilities ceased, you arrived in Skabrnja?
8 A. Yes.
9 Q. Can you tell us when the operation in Skabrnja ended?
10 A. The action formally ended on the 19th, but in actual fact it ended
11 on the 18th.
12 On the 19th, I was no longer in the area and there were no longer
13 any combat activities anymore. If there were, they were sporadic and they
14 did not result in any casualties. Therefore, the action took place over
15 the two days -- or, rather, the task wasn't accomplished at all, but the
16 action was halted at that point.
17 Q. Do you know the losses suffered on the JNA side and whether the TO
18 suffered any losses and what the losses were on the Croatian side?
19 A. I think that on the JNA side, there were two persons killed, the
20 lieutenant -- or second lieutenant and his soldier, and there were several
21 slightly wounded, two or three or five at most. There were no casualties
22 among the TO ranks.
23 Q. [Microphone not activated].
24 THE INTERPRETER: Microphone, please.
25 JUDGE MOLOTO: Microphone, Mr. Milovancevic.
1 MR. MILOVANCEVIC: [Interpretation] Thank you, Your Honour. I
2 apologise for the microphone. But it seems to me that we have come to the
3 end of the day. Perhaps this would be a convenient time to stop for the
4 day and continue tomorrow.
5 JUDGE MOLOTO: You don't want to ask that last question that you
6 had, for which you didn't have a microphone?
7 MR. MILOVANCEVIC: [Interpretation] Your Honour, we will have to
8 deal with this topic tomorrow as well, so there is no need to broach it
10 JUDGE MOLOTO: Thank you very much. Very well then. That brings
11 us to the end of the day today. The matter is going to stand adjourned to
12 tomorrow at 9.00 in the same court.
13 Court adjourned.
14 --- Whereupon the hearing adjourned at 1.45 p.m.,
15 to be reconvened on Friday, the 27th day of
16 October, 2006, at 9.00 a.m.