Tribunal Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia

Page 1389

1 Tuesday, 18 September 2001

2 [Open session]

3 [The witness entered court]

4 [The accused entered court]

5 --- Upon commencing at 11.36 a.m.

6 JUDGE MUMBA: Good morning. Would the registrar please call the

7 case.

8 THE REGISTRAR: Good morning, Your Honours. This is case number

9 IT-95-9-T, the Prosecutor versus Blagoje Simic, Milan Simic, Miroslav

10 Tadic, and Simo Zaric.

11 JUDGE MUMBA: Today the Trial Chamber has started the proceedings

12 at this hour because the Trial Chamber was informed that it was not

13 possible to provide the services required by Mr. Milan Simic in time

14 because of other administrative problems. So that's why we are starting

15 at this time, and we are going to sit for the normal hours up to 1300

16 hours.

17 The Prosecution is on its feet, unless there are other matters to

18 be raised; otherwise the Prosecution continues.

19 MR. DI FAZIO: Thank you, Your Honours.


21 [Witness answered through interpreter]

22 Examined by Mr. di Fazio: [Continued]

23 Q. Mr. Tihic, I just want to be clear about the evidence that you

24 gave yesterday regarding events at the police station, in particular,

25 beatings. Do I understand you correctly that you were beaten initially

Page 1390

1 when you arrived at the police station, that you were then taken to the

2 radio station for the announcement that you had to make or were told to

3 make, then you were brought back and beaten again? Now, is that a correct

4 sequence?

5 A. Yes, that is the accurate sequence of events. And I also got a

6 blow with a truncheon on the way when I was climbing the stairs.

7 Q. Do you mean when you first arrived at the police station and were

8 going up the stairs; is that what you mean?

9 A. No. That was on my way back from the Samac radio station.

10 Q. Just cast your mind back to the time when you first arrived at the

11 police station. Did you see any of the defendants at the police station?

12 JUDGE MUMBA: Before the witness answers, I just want to remind

13 him that he's still under oath.

14 MR. DI FAZIO: Yes. Thank you.

15 JUDGE MUMBA: As we are continuing each day, he's still under

16 oath.

17 MR. DI FAZIO: Yes.

18 Q. Do you understand what Her Honour just said, and of course each

19 day you remain under oath?

20 A. Yes.

21 Q. Thank you. Now, what I was concerned about was this: When you

22 first arrived at the police station, before you were taken off to the

23 radio station, were any of the defendants present? Did you see any of

24 them?

25 A. Yes. I saw Simo Zaric.

Page 1391

1 Q. What was he wearing?

2 A. He was wearing a military uniform. I saw him in the room of the

3 duty service where I was brought into.

4 Q. Can you comment any further? Can you provide any more details

5 about what he was wearing other than that he was wearing a military

6 uniform? Any features that you noticed?

7 A. As far as I remember, there was Crni, and around him there were

8 members of the special units, as we call them. There was Simo, and Simo

9 was trying to approach Crni to address him, but he couldn't. There was a

10 misunderstanding of some sort. And Crni, I believe, had a white strip

11 somewhere on the shoulder or on his sleeve. I think it was a

12 multicoloured uniform.

13 Q. This white strip you have already described in your evidence, did

14 anyone at the police station have any sort of white strip or armband or

15 however you care to describe it, anyone at all that you can remember?

16 A. No. I can't remember. Around me were mostly people who came from

17 the outside. They didn't have that. Maybe somebody I saw in passing,

18 maybe Lazar Stanisic, an acquaintance I met there. Maybe him. I'm not

19 sure.

20 Q. Is it your position that the only person that you can recall who

21 had a white strip when you first arrived at the police station was Crni?

22 No, you can't recall anyone else with a white strip?

23 A. No, not Crni. I think it was Simo Zaric.

24 Q. All right. Now, where was it worn? Where? On the arm? On the

25 shoulder? Where?

Page 1392

1 A. I think it was behind the epaulette or maybe here on the sleeve.

2 I don't know. It's been a long time. Or it was tied to the epaulette.

3 Either that or on the sleeve.

4 Q. Thank you.

5 JUDGE SINGH: Excuse me, please, witness, do you understand now

6 what the white strip means?

7 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Even now I'm not sure about the

8 meaning of that white strip, but before the -- the night before the attack

9 on Samac, Dragan Lukac told me that this white strip is some sort of

10 additional sign for soldiers in Vukovar, for instance, a distinction that

11 helped them differentiate between their own troops and other soldiers,

12 because the attack took place during the night. At the same time, when I

13 was at Boro's place, I believe one of the persons present there said that

14 whoever had a white strip on the door of their apartment will not have

15 their apartment searched. That's how it was.


17 Q. I don't want to mislead you, but am I correct that yesterday you

18 said that you saw white strips on people who were going about the town

19 during the night, involved in the takeover, the soldiers that you saw? If

20 I didn't ask you that, I ask you that now. I'll just make it plain. Did

21 you see any such white strips on anybody going around the town when you

22 were looking through your window and in the early hours of the morning,

23 any similar white strips?

24 A. I seem to remember that I saw it on Fadil Topcagic and members of

25 the 4th Detachment, but please don't take me up on this.

Page 1393

1 Q. All right. Thank you very much.

2 A. I can't say I really remember very well.

3 Q. Thank you for your assistance on this topic.

4 Let's go back to the police station now. You've said that

5 Mr. Zaric was present and that he may have had a white -- some sort of

6 white strip on his shoulder. And you've said that you were beaten at the

7 police station initially, before being taken off to the radio station.

8 When you were beaten, was -- where was Simo Zaric during this initial

9 beating?

10 A. I don't know. I'm not sure where he was, because that meeting was

11 before the beating. Whether he had left the building in the meantime, I

12 don't know.

13 Q. Thank you. You then gave evidence yesterday that you went on to

14 the -- off to the radio station and returned and that you were then beaten

15 again, and that I think you said that a man named Lugar participated in

16 that second beating at the police station.

17 A. Yes.

18 Q. What were they using to beat you?

19 A. This time there were truncheons, police truncheons.

20 Q. Did Lugar himself participate?

21 A. Yes.

22 Q. Was it just him, or did others participate?

23 A. That evening, upstairs, there were two men. One of them was Lugar

24 and another one. They asked questions like who was on the presidency of

25 the SDA. They wanted a list of people. But that was not a secret. They

Page 1394

1 didn't need to ask that, really. It was just an excuse to hit me. One of

2 them made a phone call to Serbia, Sabac or somewhere, and somebody at the

3 other end of the line said, "What is this friend of yours doing?" And

4 then he pointed the receiver at me while the other one was hitting me, and

5 my moans to be heard on the telephone.

6 Q. You also said yesterday that Todorovic was coming in and out and

7 occasionally winking at people when admonishing them not to beat you. Was

8 this episode of Todorovic coming in and out and winking only during the

9 second beating when you'd been taken back from the radio station?

10 A. He was there during the second beating and between the two

11 beatings, when I had asked a guard to take me to Todorovic, and the guard

12 did take me downstairs to the ground floor. I was downstairs in the

13 hallway, I addressed Todorovic and told him that Blagoje Simic had told

14 Simo Zaric that after the interrogation I would be released. Todorovic

15 swore and told me to get lost, and I started to climb the stairs, and this

16 other guy, who was standing beside Todorovic, hit me on the head with a

17 truncheon, and I ran up the stairs. That was before the second beating.

18 That was an occasion when I saw Todorovic as well. And I also saw

19 Todorovic after coming back from the Samac radio station. So that makes

20 three times that day.

21 Q. Thanks. Were you bleeding as a result of these beatings, or was

22 it -- were they -- was your skin not cut? In other words, was it just

23 bruising?

24 A. This time, I only had bruises.

25 Q. I take it the beatings came to an end. What happened after that?

Page 1395

1 A. Then they transferred us across the road to the premises of the

2 Territorial Defence headquarters in a storage place of some sort. When we

3 got in, there was myself, [redacted], Bicic brothers, Hasan and Mohamed.

4 When we got in, we found 40 or 50 people already there who had already

5 been arrested. They were mainly Muslims, and there were a couple of

6 Croats from Samac. There, they gave us some sort of cardboard boxes to

7 sleep on and they gave us a number of blankets as well. However, nobody

8 could sleep, of course, because the whole night those people from special

9 units, those outsiders from Serbia, came in all the time and beat people.

10 While they would beat one person, the rest of us were forced to sing

11 Chetnik songs. Those were various songs filled with hatred for other

12 nations and celebrating their Serb heroism in their battles. We would

13 stand in a circle, singing, and they would sing aloud, people, one by one,

14 and beat them up out of that circle, and that lasted the whole night, with

15 a few breaks.

16 Q. Did the beatings take place inside the room in which you -- in

17 which the men were assembled, or were the men selected and taken out

18 somewhere else and beaten?

19 A. That evening, the beatings took place in that room, and we all

20 watched that. The next day, there were cases when they picked out people

21 and beat them up in the courtyard or elsewhere, wherever they saw fit.

22 Q. When people were being beaten in the courtyard, could you actually

23 see it or hear it?

24 A. When I was inside the TO headquarters, I couldn't see outside.

25 But once when I was in Simo Zaric's office in the SUP building, from that

Page 1396

1 office, through the window, I could see, and Simo could see it too,

2 Ibrahim Salkic being beaten.

3 Q. Thank you. I'll get on to that episode in due course, but at this

4 stage I'm still dealing with the period of time when you've just been

5 taken to the TO. I'd like to show you the photographs again, if I may.

6 MR. DI FAZIO: Can the witness be given Exhibit P14?

7 Can I also ask the Chamber if I could leave the photographs with

8 the witness? I'm going to refer to them from time to time in his

9 evidence, and it might be easiest if the exhibit just stays there.


11 MR. DI FAZIO: Thank you.

12 Thank you, Mr. Tihic. You have the photographs there.

13 I don't need the ELMO at the moment, if Your Honours please, since

14 we all have the particular photographs.

15 JUDGE MUMBA: Yes, we all have the photographs, so you can just

16 call their numbers out.


18 Q. Could you look at photograph F2. You've just described beatings

19 in a courtyard. Is the courtyard depicted in that photograph?

20 A. Yes, precisely. This is where the beatings took place.

21 Q. Thank you. Turn over and look at F3, please. Does that also

22 depict part of the courtyard?

23 A. Yes. Yes. That's further off, because the courtyard is a single

24 entity. This is only a continuation here, this one here.

25 Q. Thank you. Just pausing there, if you look at that photograph as

Page 1397

1 well, there appears to be a second -- a building in the background with

2 two storeys, and there's some washing hanging off the lines in that

3 photograph. Do you see that? Do you see that?

4 A. Yes. Yes. That's an apartment building.

5 Q. That's right.

6 A. That's where people live, that is.

7 Q. Yes. Would people living in that apartment have had a view into

8 the courtyard?

9 A. Well, they could possibly see from the windows.

10 Q. Thank you. Again, if you just quickly look at F4, does that also

11 depict part of the courtyard?

12 A. Yes. Yes, it also depicts it. But it's a bigger picture, so to

13 speak, wider.

14 Q. And would you now just cast your eye over F5, F6, and F7, please.

15 A. All of that -- I mean, F5 is the entrance into these premises

16 where we were detained. There's this door too, the metal door. That's

17 the door through which one entered. And then we were detained in this big

18 room behind.

19 Q. Thanks. So --

20 JUDGE MUMBA: Counsel for the Prosecution, on the photographs, we

21 were wondering whether the accused can have a view. I don't know whether

22 they have the copies of the photographs. If they don't, then can we have

23 it on the ELMO?

24 MR. DI FAZIO: I believe that -- well, the first point is that the

25 photographs have, of course, been supplied to Defence counsel. I don't

Page 1398

1 know if they've got them out there at the moment, but if they would prefer

2 to have it on the ELMO, then I'm quite happy to deal with this on that.

3 They should have the photographs, though.

4 JUDGE MUMBA: Yes, I'm aware that the Defence counsels have, but

5 for the sake of the accused following the proceedings, it's better for

6 them to view the photographs on the ELMO.

7 MR. DI FAZIO: I see. Yes. I hadn't given that thought. I'm

8 sorry. Thank you. I take Your Honour's point. Thank you.

9 If the ELMO could be used. Thank you. We were looking at

10 photograph F5. If that could be placed on the ELMO, please.

11 Q. Now, you referred to the door. Just to be clear, the door with

12 what appears to be corrugated iron on the right-hand side of the

13 photograph, adjacent to which is the rear of an ambulance --

14 A. Yes.

15 Q. -- is that the door that you refer to?

16 A. Yes, that's the door I'm referring to. Yes, that was the entrance

17 into the area where we were detained.

18 Q. Okay. Flip over, please, or rather, can you now look at

19 photograph F6.

20 MR. DI FAZIO: If that could be placed on the ELMO.

21 Q. If you look at that particular photograph, can you assist the

22 Court by indicating where that door would be in the photograph, or if it's

23 not shown at all in the photograph, at least the direction of it.

24 A. I'm pointing at it right now. You can't really see it, but this

25 is where the door is. I think that's it.

Page 1399

1 Q. Thank you. And F7, please. That photograph isn't the clearest of

2 photographs, but have you any idea of what it depicts? If you don't know,

3 just say so.

4 A. This is probably firewood.

5 Q. Okay. Thank you.

6 A. All of that is within the headquarters, in that courtyard.

7 MR. DI FAZIO: Thank you. Perhaps the photographs can now be

8 left. I shan't refer to them any longer at this stage.

9 Q. You were arrested, taken to the TO. You spent the night there

10 singing Chetnik songs and being beaten or watching people being beaten.

11 Did you remain the next day in the TO, in that room?

12 A. Yes. Yes. It was a Sunday.

13 Q. Did the beatings --

14 A. It was Christmas. No, Easter, Easter. I think it was Easter on

15 that day, and we remained in those rooms, all of us.

16 Q. Did the beatings continue?

17 A. Yes. Yes, they continued beating people, and they were bringing

18 others in, things like that. The same scenario: just sing, sing, sing as

19 loud as you can. Later, people from Samac said that this could be heard

20 far away from the actual premises, this singing of ours.

21 Q. Were men bleeding from the beatings?

22 A. There were all sorts of things going on, bleedings, and also they

23 were making people beat each other. Then two brothers, for example, they

24 made them beat each other, and then they would beat them in turn. They

25 were really taking it out on everyone, humiliating people, things like

Page 1400

1 that. It was a problem to go to the toilet, too, you see. It was a

2 problem to wash your face in the morning and to go to the toilet. By the

3 time you reached the toilet, it's a problem because somebody is going to

4 hit you with a truncheon, and of course, it was very hard to relieve

5 oneself. There was no possibility to pass a stool. And also, I think

6 that they set up something like a barrel so that people could urinate in

7 that. There was also a problem of water. You could barely get water to

8 drink. Things like that.

9 Q. What about food? Were you provided with food?

10 A. They did bring something, you see. There were people who were

11 from town and who were in this 4th Detachment. I don't know. Also people

12 from villages who knew us. Then they brought bread and tins, and they

13 handed out a pack of cigarettes or two. But on Sunday, this had not been

14 organised yet. These people simply felt that we had to be given something

15 to eat. Perhaps they did it at their own initiative. I know that

16 Topcagic was there, Stanisic, people who knew us from town, and they

17 brought this to us.

18 Q. Topcagic, what did he do to assist you?

19 A. I think that Fadil brought bread, loaves of bread. Not only to me

20 personally; this was given so that it could be distributed among the

21 inmates. I think cigarettes as well. He distributed a few packs of

22 cigarettes so that people could smoke.

23 Q. So I take it from your answer that Mr. Topcagic was in a position

24 to fully observe and see what was going on inside this building, inside

25 this place?

Page 1401

1 A. I know that Fadil and Lazar Stanisic actually condemned these

2 beatings when they were with us. They said that this was wrong and that

3 this was done by the people from Serbia and that they won't be there for a

4 long time, things like that.

5 Q. I see. They knew how long they would be there, did they? Is that

6 what you -- is that the thrust of your evidence, that they said to you

7 that they wouldn't be there long?

8 A. They said that these people would stay for two or three days and

9 that then the regular authorities would be in charge and that our

10 treatment would be better. I don't know exactly which day they mentioned,

11 but they said that it was a matter of a couple of days and that then these

12 people would leave and then that our regimen in this prison would become

13 more favourable, that we would be released, things like that, that a

14 number of people would be released.

15 JUDGE MUMBA: Counsel, I just want you to be very cautious with

16 this evidence, because that is the evidence which you need for your

17 counts, torture, persecution, inhumane treatment, cruel treatment. So

18 it's important to get the witness to give the details so that we don't

19 have vacuums.

20 MR. DI FAZIO: Yes. Thank you.

21 Q. Thinking back, what was the ethnic background of most of the

22 people who were imprisoned with you inside that room at the TO?

23 A. They were Muslims, perhaps 80 per cent at the beginning, and about

24 20 per cent were Croats. That's it.

25 Q. Did you remain in the TO building for that Sunday?

Page 1402

1 A. Yes. I remained all of Sunday at the TO building, and only Monday

2 I was taken across the street to the police station in order to be

3 interrogated; so that is to say that this was the 20th.

4 Q. You've described on the evening of what must have been Saturday

5 night and also on the Sunday people being beaten. Were you also beaten

6 during that period of time; that is, after you were taken to the TO

7 building?

8 A. No, no. I was not beaten then.

9 Q. You say that on the Monday, you were taken across the street to

10 the police station for an interrogation. About what time was that? Was

11 it in the morning or in the afternoon? Can you recall?

12 A. I think it was in the morning, perhaps around 10.00 or 11.00.

13 Q. Who took you over there?

14 A. One of the guards took me across the street to the police

15 station. They called out my name and a few other people on that occasion,

16 and then when we came to the police station, I was interrogated by Simo

17 Zaric, and other people were by Vlado Stanisic, and then Simo Zaric

18 interrogated yet others.

19 Q. I want you to take us step by step in sequence and in detail from

20 the time you first arrived across the street and were walking into the TO

21 building. Can you tell us what you observed and saw?

22 A. You mean when I entered the police station coming from the TO

23 building?

24 Q. Yes.

25 A. In the street, I noticed a lot of military men, people in

Page 1403

1 different uniforms. I entered the police station. They took me upstairs

2 to a room, and Simo started interrogating me straightaway there.

3 Q. Can I just interrupt you here? Was he already in the room; in

4 other words, apparently waiting?

5 A. I can't remember exactly whether he was in the room, but he was

6 nearby, so I didn't really wait for any particular amount of time. I

7 think we started immediately.

8 MR. DI FAZIO: Will the Chamber just bear with me? I just want to

9 check something in my notes, if I can.

10 Q. The room, did it have a window? If so, did it have a view? If

11 so, what was the view?

12 A. There were windows there, because the room was an office. And in

13 front of the SUP building, there was the street and there was the yard of

14 the TO building. You can see that on one of those photographs. I could

15 indicate which offices these were on F2.

16 Q. Thank you. Would you please get F2 and indicate - if it could be

17 placed on the ELMO - show us the room that you were taken to for your

18 interrogation.

19 A. [Indicates]

20 Q. Thank you. I think you've depicted the window immediately above

21 the doorway of the police building, on what appears to be the first

22 floor.

23 A. Here. This is where I was. This is where I was interrogated.

24 Later, I was taken to this room and to this room here during the course of

25 that day, and this is where I gave my statement.

Page 1404

1 Q. Thank you. While you've still got the photo there, that doorway,

2 or rather, that -- rather, that gate, the gate at the end of the

3 courtyard, did it have -- did it have gates, gates there, blocking off the

4 courtyard from the rest of the street?

5 A. Yes. There was a door. I think there was a metal door, as far as

6 I can remember.

7 Q. Could you tell the Court if it interrupted the view into the

8 courtyard from the room in which you were taken for interrogation?

9 A. No, it did not. If you can see the middle of the courtyard, but

10 not further off here, this other part of the courtyard, because the window

11 is pretty high up.

12 MR. DI FAZIO: Thank you. I'm finished with the photograph.

13 Q. Let's get back to the interrogation. You've said that you were

14 taken upstairs into that room and that Simo Zaric was there. What

15 happened at that point?

16 A. Simo interrogated me.

17 Q. What was the general thrust of the interrogation? What sort of

18 topics was he interested in?

19 A. He was interested in things starting with the party, from the time

20 I was elected, and then he was particularly interested in weapons, then

21 patrols, then the roadblocks that had been placed, who did that. I know

22 that he made some kind of a record, perhaps four or five pages. Often the

23 interrogation was interrupted because somebody kept phoning Simo all the

24 time, so we actually completed the record only some time in the

25 afternoon. Actually, Simo asked me about things that were pretty well

Page 1405












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13 and the English transcripts.













Page 1406

1 known, perhaps, and then weapon procurement, and the roadblocks were

2 perhaps the thrust of his questions. And the interview took about six or

3 seven hours, with interruptions.

4 Q. What sort of condition were you in? What did you look like at the

5 time of this interrogation with Mr. Zaric?

6 A. Well, what did I look like? Perhaps I had a bruise here.

7 Q. I think the witness --

8 A. The one inflicted by Beli when he hit me with the head [as

9 interpreted]. Perhaps that could have been seen.

10 MR. DI FAZIO: Just pause there. I think the witness indicated a

11 bruise on his cheek, his left cheekbone, if Your Honours please.



14 Q. Please continue. Just describe yourself.

15 A. My right cheek. The interview went on with the objective of

16 releasing me after the interview. That's what I was told, that I had to

17 be interviewed and then I could be released, and the two others who were

18 being interrogated by the two other investigators would be released as

19 well. That's what we had been told.

20 Q. Who told you you would be released? Who told you that?

21 A. Well, let me tell you. First of all, I think that it was either

22 Lazar Stanisic who said this to us as he was bringing us in, and I think

23 that Vlado Stanisic and Simo Zaric also said this in some way. You know,

24 I knew Vlado as well for a long time. He was an inspector, and we were

25 co-workers, friends in a way even. I think that he also said that, that

Page 1407

1 this procedure should be carried out and that then we would be released,

2 it would seem. It's not that I had done something for which I should be

3 detained but that others would have to be detained. That's what was said.

4 Q. Who said that? Who said that others would have to be detained?

5 A. Well, I think that Vlado said that and that Simo said that,

6 because I talked to them, you see. Although I was in this camp, our

7 relations, our acquaintance, our friendship was still there. It could not

8 be changed overnight. So in spite of my position, I could still talk to

9 them that way, and they accepted that, that kind of way of talking. With

10 Vlado, I was a judge; I was a prosecutor. We cooperated. So I could ask

11 him whether I would be released and when I would get out, and he answered

12 me; and Simo also.

13 Q. Did you make any admissions as to arms trafficking or supplying of

14 weapons, setting up barricades, preparing military units, anything of that

15 nature at all?

16 A. Well, let me tell you. Then, and today, and also beforehand when

17 I gave statements, I always spoke the truth; I spoke of things that

18 exactly happened. So as far as my interview with Simo was concerned, I

19 also told him about the quantity of weapons and about the roadblocks and

20 everything exactly the way it was. I only kept silent about the fact that

21 I knew that Alija Fitozovic was in Samac, and he did not really ask me

22 about this at all. He did not insist. And as for the rest, I told him

23 exactly the way things were and how things happened. Because then and

24 now, I have never been ashamed of the things that were done. I don't

25 think that there was anything that was aimed against a particular

Page 1408

1 individual or a particular ethnic group.

2 Q. Was any effort made to secure your release during this

3 interrogation?

4 A. Yes. It was getting dark, and during the interview with Simo, I

5 insisted that he make it possible for me to talk to Blagoje Simic, because

6 Simo said to me that he could not release me, that Blagoje Simic had to

7 approve as well.

8 It was already dark by then, and Simo phoned Blagoje. At that

9 time he was at the agricultural farm, at the building of the agricultural

10 farm company, as far as I understood it, and Simo talked to him. I

11 understood the conversation to mean that he was suggesting that they

12 release me, that this would have a pacifying effect on the public in

13 Samac. That was the gist of it. And then I inferred from the way the

14 conversation was evolving that Blagoje did not want this, and then I asked

15 Simo to make it possible for me to talk to Blagoje on the telephone. I

16 talked to Blagoje and I pleaded with him to have me released. Blagoje

17 said something indecisive, that it couldn't take place then, and then he

18 asked to speak to Simo again. And now, I don't know whether he told me or

19 Simo that Simo, Stevan Todorovic, and I should come to see him at the

20 agricultural farm, that we agree on this, actually.

21 Q. Thank you. Can I ask you just to pause there, please. You said

22 that Simo Zaric told you he couldn't release you, Blagoje Simic had to

23 approve your release. Did he ever provide any reason as to why he, Simo

24 Zaric, couldn't or didn't have the authority to release you? Did he ever

25 explain why he personally couldn't do it, why he had to go to Blagoje

Page 1409

1 Simic?

2 A. I think he couldn't do it at the time because the chief of police

3 was Stevan Todorovic. I don't know exactly what he said, but from the

4 tone of the entire conversation, I understood that there was somebody

5 above him who had to approve my release. Simo did release two men that

6 day, the two who had been with me, because perhaps they did not hold the

7 same rank politically, they were not so important. But as for my release,

8 he had to ask Blagoje Simic but because -- also because Stevan Todorovic

9 seems to have been against it.

10 Q. How do you know he was able to release two men? What makes you

11 say that? What did you see?

12 A. I know that he released those two men, that they were free to go.

13 They left the building. One of them, Jusufovic, and the other one was

14 nicknamed Suklja; Fadil Sabanovic was his full name. The two of them were

15 released.

16 Q. I'm not actually so much interested in the two men but the fact of

17 release. How -- what did he do or say that now makes you tell the Chamber

18 that he, Simo Zaric, released two men? Did he give orders? Did he speak

19 to someone? Did you overhear a conversation? What can you tell us about

20 that?

21 A. I concluded that from a conversation I had with this Fadil, the

22 one who was released, and probably also from my conversation with this

23 Sarkanovic, who kept the record, but I remember that I understood it was

24 Simo Zaric's decision. That man was arrested in the first place just

25 because he was a Muslim. He had never been a member of the SDA, nor was

Page 1410

1 he part of the guard detail. He wasn't an important person in any way.

2 Q. But in your case, he didn't have the authority to release

3 apparently and had to go through Blagoje Simic?

4 A. That's the way it was represented to me.

5 Q. Thank you. Now, I'd like you to continue your account of the

6 events. You spoke of the role of -- or the role of Todorovic in this

7 process. Can you pick up where you left off?

8 A. When my interview with Blagoje Simic -- when my conversation with

9 Blagoje Simic was over, Simo sent one of his associates to get Stevan

10 Todorovic, head of the police, and ask him to come up and reach an

11 agreement about going to see Blagoje Simic. Todorovic wasn't coming for a

12 while, so Simo sent somebody again, once, twice, three times, but

13 Todorovic still wasn't coming. And then finally, he showed up. He was

14 apparently -- he had apparently been sleeping, and he was awakened to come

15 there, and when he came, he said, "There is no way you're going to be

16 released. You Muslims screwed us on Kosovo Polje in the first Balkan war,

17 the First World War, Second World War. Now you're pissing together with

18 the Pope." I'm sorry I have to use these expressions. That's what he

19 said.

20 My mouth was dry at that moment. I couldn't conceive that a

21 person could talk this way. He left the room. I was given some water to

22 drink, and somebody, I think it was Vlado, who said that they couldn't

23 take me back to the headquarters because I had been interrogated and I

24 couldn't be allowed to communicate to those whose interrogation was still

25 pending. So they took me downstairs to a cell, which was perhaps one

Page 1411

1 metre 20 by one metre, and there were seven, eight, or nine of us there.

2 There was only one bench. You couldn't sleep. You couldn't sit down

3 inside that cell.

4 Q. Thank you.

5 A. Small as it was.

6 Q. We will get on to that cell in just a moment. But before we leave

7 the interrogation, when Todorovic came in and made his pronouncements

8 about the Second World War and so on, was that in the presence of Simo

9 Zaric?

10 A. Yes. There was Simo there, I think Vlado, and perhaps two of

11 their assistants. I remember Lazar Stanisic was there, Milos Savic.

12 Q. Was there any reaction by Simo Zaric to the utterances of

13 Todorovic?

14 A. As far as I remember, there wasn't, not while he was there. But I

15 remember Simo was trying to get me released. But when Todorovic left, I

16 don't think Simo said anything, because he said it so arrogantly and

17 turned his back and left.

18 Q. Who issued the instructions for you to be taken down to the cell?

19 A. I think it was Simo and Vlado. One of them said that I was going

20 to that cell because I couldn't be together with those detainees in the

21 headquarters of the Territorial Defence because I had gotten to know them

22 already. Simo had to be aware of that. It's either him who said it or

23 Vlado, or the two of them together.

24 Q. Throughout the interrogation that afternoon or that day, did the

25 man Vlado Stanisic, I think his name was, and Simo Zaric remain together?

Page 1412

1 In other words, were they both in there throughout the time that you were

2 being interrogated?

3 A. Most of the time Simo questioned me. Vlado was there also most of

4 the time, but he was coming and going, and he was there in the evening.

5 Vlado Stanisic used to be a client of mine, so we knew each other from

6 before, from the times when I was a lawyer. He was a party in the

7 proceedings where I was a judge, and he was a client of mine when I was a

8 lawyer, so we had known each other for quite a while.

9 Q. Now, obviously you found yourself in a predicament, given the

10 events of the last few days. Did you make any appeal for assistance to

11 either of these two men, Mr. Simo Zaric or Vlado Stanisic?

12 A. Well, let me tell you. I did, of course. All the time I pleaded

13 with them to release me.

14 JUDGE MUMBA: Yes, Mr. Pantelic?

15 MR. PANTELIC: Just a small intervention, Your Honours. It might

16 help our friends from the Prosecutor. It is not Vlado Stanisic because

17 now it's a combination of family name Stanisic and Sarkanovic. And now,

18 due to maybe loss of concentration, we are getting into the construction

19 that the person in question is combination of the two family names. And

20 for the matter of qualification here, we are speaking about, I suppose,

21 Vlado Sarkanovic, and Lazar Stanisic is the other person previously

22 mentioned. So just to help our friends from the Prosecution.

23 JUDGE MUMBA: Okay. I'm sure the Prosecution will clarify this

24 through the witness.

25 MR. DI FAZIO: Thank you. I do apologise if I've confused the

Page 1413

1 names.

2 Q. Give us the full name of the gentleman who was with you conducting

3 the interrogation in company with Simo Zaric, please.

4 A. I also noticed that at a certain point you got the names

5 confused. The investigator, the inspector, who conducted the questioning

6 was Vlado Sarkanovic.

7 Q. Okay.

8 A. Lazar Stanisic, on the other hand, was a person who was also

9 working together with them there.

10 Q. Thanks. Go back to the -- an answer you gave earlier, you said

11 that, "All the time I pleaded with them to release me." Were those pleas

12 made during that afternoon that were you being interrogated?

13 A. Well, if I may put it that way, ever since Samac was attacked, I

14 had been trying to reach Simo Zaric to get him to help me to leave Samac.

15 From the time when I was arrested, I had been trying to get him to release

16 me, and I asked him to release me several times that day, especially when

17 it grew dark, the night -- night had already fallen.

18 Q. What response did you get?

19 A. Simo replied that if it was up to him, and if it was only a matter

20 of the case, he would release me, but he couldn't make such a decision

21 without Blagoje Simic and also without Stevan Todorovic. And I believe

22 that he wanted to release me at that time, he personally. That's what he

23 said to Blagoje Simic when he talked to him on the phone.

24 Q. Right. Thank you. Now, you said that were you taken downstairs

25 to a cell. What floor was that on?

Page 1414

1 A. The cell was on the ground floor. It's a room which has two such

2 cells inside it, sized one metre by one metre 20, one metre 30 perhaps.

3 They had iron doors which were locked. There was a corridor between the

4 two cells. They were unfit even to find yourself in for a longer while,

5 let alone for spending time there. The toilet facilities were also a

6 problem. You couldn't get to a lavatory. There was a problem with food

7 as well. Anybody

8 could -- whoever came in would question me, beat me, take out their anger

9 on me.

10 Q. How long did you remain in that cell?

11 A. I remained there until my transfer to the Brcko barracks. While I

12 was there, I was beaten up several times. I was forced to sweep the

13 street outside the municipality building and the SUP building. There were

14 shards of glass there, and I had to sweep the street while being watched

15 by all the passers-by.

16 Q. We'll get into all of these details in due course, but the fact is

17 that remained your cell until the transfer to Brcko some days later?

18 A. Yes.

19 Q. Now, let's get a description more -- a better description of this

20 cell. How many people were normally kept in it?

21 A. That number varied between seven and nine perhaps, in both cells;

22 in each of the cells, that is. Not everyone could sit on the bench. Some

23 people had to stand. It was impossible to sleep there. There were no

24 proper conditions for that either. In the corridor, there was a light

25 bulb, but there was no light inside the cell. And if you wanted to go to

Page 1415

1 the lavatory, you had to leave the cell, get out into the corridor, and

2 there the problems started. There were people wearing uniforms there, and

3 as soon as they saw you, they would hit you with a truncheon. You

4 couldn't stay in the lavatory very long. You could only urinate, nothing

5 else.

6 Q. Were men inside the cells beaten? Perhaps I should rephrase

7 that. Were men who were inside the cells beaten there actually inside the

8 cells?

9 A. Usually the people came into the cell already beaten up. Those

10 fellows came and beat people up mainly outside the cell, in the corridor.

11 When passing by, they would give two or three blows with truncheon to

12 anyone they could lay their hands on, and some people were taken out into

13 the courtyard of the police station and beaten up there. All the time

14 somebody was coming, questioning, beating. Those were not real

15 questionings; somebody would just come.

16 Q. I want to ask you about the appearance of the men inside the cells

17 with you. Were they bleeding or did they have blood on them?

18 A. Yes, they had blood on them. They had wounds, cuts. Blows were

19 inflicted at the outset with police truncheons. But after a while, the

20 truncheons were broken. They couldn't last long. And they started

21 hitting us with chair legs, clubs, any object which inflicted wounds that

22 would later bleed. After two or three days, they were out of truncheons.

23 All of them had cracked because they were overused. A truncheon was a

24 sort of privilege because there were so few of them.

25 Q. The clothes that you were arrested in remained the clothes that

Page 1416

1 you wore throughout this period of time; is that correct?

2 A. Yes. I remained with the suit I was wearing. In the meantime, I

3 got two T-shirts sent to me from home.

4 Q. How did you manage that? How did you manage to get two T-shirts?

5 A. My brother brought them to the building. He recognised one of the

6 policemen standing outside, and this policeman brought them to me. But he

7 also said to my brother, "Go away quickly, because if you take your time,

8 you'll be arrested too." My brother had to leave Samac the next day, had

9 to flee, so that he was not arrested.

10 Q. Were your clothes dirty? Did they become dirty --

11 A. Naturally, because we slept in the same clothes on that cardboard

12 box covered with dust. You know how it is: If you wear the same shirt

13 for two days, it gets dirty, let alone wearing clothes in those conditions

14 which were completely unhygienic.

15 Q. What about food? Were you given food?

16 A. From time to time they brought us a slice of bread, sometimes a

17 can of food, and several times we were taken to the Hranaprodukt factory,

18 to their canteen, where we had lunch. I don't know how many days after

19 our detention that happened, but I remember they put us on trucks, drove

20 us there, and brought us back after that lunch.

21 Q. Where is the Hranaprodukt factory?

22 A. From the police station building, it was no more than a kilometre

23 away.

24 Q. Did you ever see any of the defendants at the Hranaprodukt

25 factory?

Page 1417

1 A. Yes. I saw Blagoje Simic once. I remember that because I was

2 beaten that day and I had blood on my face, and Lazar Stanisic took me to

3 the lavatory there to wash my face. I saw him when I was getting out of

4 the vehicle, and he saw us too, but he went the other way and we were

5 taken to another door because we had to queue. The line was formed

6 immediately as we got off the truck. Lazar took me out of that line to

7 wash my face because I was soaked with blood because I had just been

8 beaten up by one of those guys.

9 Q. Where was Blagoje Simic when you saw him and you say that he saw

10 all of you? How far away, for a start?

11 A. It was right by the entrance. We were coming in and he was going

12 the other way, sort of. He could have seen us. I don't know if he saw me

13 in particular, if he noticed that I was covered with blood.

14 Q. What about the appearance of the other men who were with you, the

15 other prisoners who were with you?

16 A. They looked much the same way that I did, because there were few

17 of them who hadn't been beaten up. When we came to the barracks and the

18 policemen were getting ready to beat us, one of them later said, "When we

19 saw you, when we saw the way you looked, we were sorry. We decided not to

20 beat you." If they were sorry, then that says enough. I think if we had

21 been there for another couple of days we would have all died, we would

22 have all perished, because we were at the end of our tether, we were

23 exhausted to the limit. There was no sleep at night. We were forced to

24 sing those songs constantly. We lived in constant fear of somebody coming

25 again and beating us. Those were no longer truncheons they beat us with.

Page 1418

1 They beat us with anything they could lay their hands on: clubs, sticks,

2 anything.

3 Q. Were you given any sort of decent food at this -- at the

4 Hranaprodukt factory?

5 A. I think the meals were decent there. That's the food that was

6 prepared for the employees, and we were given those same meals.

7 JUDGE SINGH: Witness, can you give us some sense of time? How

8 long has elapsed when you went up to this factory to have your meals since

9 you first were detained?

10 A. Perhaps it was the fourth day after my detention. It might have

11 been Saturday. I'm not sure. It could be the third day or the fifth. I

12 don't know. I don't know when the arrest was. Monday or Tuesday. It was

13 Tuesday. I think it was the 20th or the 21st. I'm not sure.


15 Q. How many times altogether did you go to the Hranaprodukt factory

16 for lunch?

17 A. Maybe three or four times, because I was in Samac until the 26th,

18 and then I was taken to Brcko. Perhaps I skipped a day or two, but almost

19 every day we were taken to that canteen.

20 Q. So you were taken there almost every day?

21 A. Yes.

22 Q. When you were being beaten and other men were being beaten, were

23 there screams being uttered?

24 A. Naturally, people screamed from the blows, cried.

25 Q. Can you comment on how loudly?

Page 1419

1 A. It depended on the impact of the blow and where it hit you.

2 Certainly if somebody was being beaten in the courtyard of the TO

3 headquarters, it could be heard as far as the SUP. Songs were certainly

4 heard. Those of us who were in the police station could hear the songs

5 being sung in the TO headquarters. Some cries were heard. Some screams

6 were heard. Others were not. I heard from people in Samac that people

7 couldn't sleep, especially in that residential building you showed in the

8 picture a moment ago. People couldn't sleep from those moans and the

9 songs.

10 Q. I'd like to show you some photographs and --

11 MR. DI FAZIO: Does the Chamber wish me to continue at this

12 point? I notice it's a little past 1.00.

13 JUDGE MUMBA: It's 13 hours, it's a little after 1.00, and we are

14 adjourning until tomorrow morning at 9.30 hours.

15 MR. PANTELIC: Your Honours, excuse me for a second, please. It

16 came to our attention during today's hearing, our learned colleague from

17 the Prosecutor's bench to some extent mixed the examination-in-chief and

18 cross-examination, using some leading questions. So given the fact that

19 we have a delay today and also given the fact that our learned colleague,

20 Mr. Tihic, appearing here as a witness but being above all the victim, we

21 didn't want to interfere and to make objections with respect of all these

22 facts, but we kindly and respectfully ask this Trial Chamber to take note

23 about that and that we are in a situation to inform you that as of

24 tomorrow, we shall act on each of these cases, and then inevitably, it

25 will have some effect to the trial proceedings. Thank you.

Page 1420

1 JUDGE MUMBA: Yes. Counsel is always urged to object if there is

2 anything to object about, leading questions and other matters, so that the

3 proceedings are properly conducted, and also so that the record and the

4 Trial Chamber notes that you are following the proceedings. I'm sure

5 counsel for the Prosecution takes note of what counsel for the Defence has

6 said.

7 MR. PANTELIC: Yes, Your Honours, but given the fact that we are

8 here appearing before the International Tribunal, which is rather

9 different from the jurisdictions from where my learned colleague from the

10 Prosecutor came in, we too -- we are very sensitive to that issue, not to

11 follow our standards, although we European lawyers are less familiar with

12 these rules than our colleagues from the common law system, and that I

13 think they will resolve that issue. Thank you so much.

14 JUDGE MUMBA: Thank you. Any other matters?

15 The Court will rise.

16 --- Whereupon the hearing adjourned at

17 1.04 p.m., to be reconvened on Wednesday

18 the 19th day of September, 2001, at 9.30 a.m.