1 Wednesday, 26 June 2002
2 [Open session]
3 [The accused entered court]
4 --- Upon commencing at 9.06 a.m.
5 JUDGE SCHOMBURG: Please be seated. And good morning, everybody.
6 Could you please call the case.
7 THE REGISTRAR: Good morning. This is Case Number IT-97-24-T, the
8 Prosecutor versus Milomir Stakic.
9 JUDGE SCHOMBURG: Thank you. The appearances, please.
10 MR. KOUMJIAN: Good morning, Your Honours. Nicholas Koumjian,
11 assisted by Ruth Karper for the Prosecution.
12 JUDGE SCHOMBURG: Good to see you again. And for the Defence?
13 MR. LUKIC: Good morning, Your Honours. Branko Lukic for the
14 Defence this morning.
15 JUDGE SCHOMBURG: Thank you. We had several changes, but no other
16 change: We start with Witness 28 today?
17 MR. KOUMJIAN: Yes, but we did do a translation. I don't know if
18 Your Honour is referring to that. He gave us a statement yesterday, two
19 pages he wrote out, and there's a draft translation available to the
21 JUDGE SCHOMBURG: To be honest, I don't want to waste time with
22 this. We have to discuss the issue of disclosing material to the Bench at
23 an earlier point in time. This seems to be inevitable. But we are
24 prepared, if the Defence is prepared to work on this basis, we can
1 MR. LUKIC: We are ready, Your Honours.
2 JUDGE SCHOMBURG: Okay. Then let's -- the witness, to be on the
3 safe side, which kind of protection.
4 MR. KOUMJIAN: I rechecked with him this morning, and he is
5 requesting no protective measures in the courtroom.
6 JUDGE SCHOMBURG: And that we know before, realistic estimated
8 MR. KOUMJIAN: I think a full day for direct.
9 JUDGE SCHOMBURG: A full day for direct.
10 MR. KOUMJIAN: He is a difficult witness to estimate.
11 JUDGE SCHOMBURG: On the basis of what we only saw by the two
12 pages available for us in preparation, one could think that it will be a
13 little bit difficult. But let's not discuss this now. The witness may be
14 brought in, please.
15 So we are in open session, and only may it be possible that we
16 have to go in private session the one or other time, that we can do it in
17 one period.
18 MR. KOUMJIAN: Off the top of my head, I cannot think of any issue
19 that will require private session. But it could come up.
20 [The witness entered court]
21 JUDGE SCHOMBURG: Good morning, Mr. Karagic. Can you hear me in a
22 language you understand?
23 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Yes, I can.
24 JUDGE SCHOMBURG: And would you please be so kind and read the
25 solemn declaration.
1 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] I solemnly declare that I will speak
2 the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.
3 JUDGE SCHOMBURG: Thank you. Please be seated.
4 WITNESS: NERMIN KARAGIC
5 [Witness answered through interpreter]
6 JUDGE SCHOMBURG: And may we start with the examination-in-chief.
7 Examined by Mr. Koumjian:
8 Q. Good morning, Mr. Karagic. Can you please tell the Court, just
9 for the record again, your name.
10 A. My name is Nermin Karagic.
11 Q. Mr. Karagic, are you a Bosniak?
12 A. Yes, I am.
13 Q. Can you tell us when you were born.
14 A. 28th of September, 1974.
15 Q. Mr. Karagic, I want to discuss with you certain events that
16 happened in the spring, late spring, and the summer of 1992. Would it be
17 correct that at that time you were 17 years old?
18 A. 17 and a half.
19 Q. First I'd like you to tell the Judges a little bit about your
20 biography. Where did you grow up?
21 A. In wintertime, I lived mostly in the town. I worked on the
22 Prijedor market, also in Ljubija. And the rest of the year I would spend
23 at home.
24 Q. Could you move up a little bit closer to the microphones, because
25 your voice is soft this morning.
1 Thank you. When you say that the "rest of the year," and I guess
2 that means the spring, summer and fall, you lived at home, is that
3 Rizvanovici, one of the villages in the Brdo area?
4 A. No, the other way around. It was in summertime that I lived in
5 the town, selling fruit and vegetables, and during the winter, I stayed in
7 Q. Okay. Thank you.
8 In Rizvanovici, did you live with family? Can you tell us -- you
9 don't need to give us their names, but did you live with your parents or
10 any brothers or sisters?
11 A. Yes.
12 Q. Can you tell us who, how many brothers and sisters lived with you?
13 A. Two brothers and two sisters.
14 Q. Did you work with your father?
15 A. I did.
16 Q. Mr. Karagic, I want to go to events that happened at the end of
17 May in 1992. And just to orient you to the time I'm talking about, I'm
18 talking about the attack on Hambarine, shelling of Hambarine. Do you
19 recall where you were when you became aware of shelling of Hambarine?
20 A. I was at home.
21 Q. How did you -- tell us what your experience was. How did you
22 become aware that there was an attack on Hambarine, and what happened to
24 A. All I know was that, all of a sudden, there was shooting on the
25 road at the checkpoint.
1 Q. How far is Rizvanovici from Hambarine? Let me -- sorry, to
2 clarify my question, how far was your house from Hambarine?
3 A. Less than 4 kilometres away, perhaps 3.
4 Q. You talked about a checkpoint. Was there a checkpoint between
5 Rizvanovici and Tukovi?
6 A. Yes.
7 Q. Did you ever participate as one of the men guarding the
9 A. I did.
10 Q. How many men would be at the checkpoint and what kind of weapons
11 did you have?
12 A. Well, there were about ten of us and only one rifle, an M48.
13 Q. After the shelling of Hambarine in the next month - let's talk now
14 about June - did you stay at home in your house? Did you sleep there or
15 what did you do?
16 A. Can you repeat the question, please? I wasn't following.
17 Q. It's no problem. Anytime you don't understand or you'd like me
18 to repeat, please feel free to do so.
19 MR. KOUMJIAN: Could I ask the usher to lower the ELMO. And I
20 think Mr. Karagic, it might be a little more natural for you to look at me
21 when I ask the questions. Just have a normal conversation like we did
23 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Yeah, it's much easier.
24 MR. KOUMJIAN:
25 Q. In June, after the shelling of Hambarine, did you sleep in your
1 house, or what did you do? Where did you stay at night?
2 A. After the attack on Hambarine?
3 Q. Yes.
4 A. I spent most of the time outside the house because I was with the
5 patrol in the village.
6 Q. Did most of the men sleep outside of their homes, most of the men
7 from Rizvanovici?
8 A. I don't know. I know that a couple of us went together, went
9 around together and just slept out in the open.
10 Q. Thank you. That's exactly a very good answer. If you don't know,
11 we appreciate you telling us that.
12 I now want to move into the events in July. In July, did some
13 forces enter Rizvanovici?
14 A. Yes, after the attack on Hambarine. They used to have very
15 frequent patrols in the village, though there were not -- no major
16 incidents at the time.
17 Q. Okay. You're now talking about after the attack on Hambarine -
18 and I think you know what I'm talking about - and before the cleansing of
19 Rizvanovici. That's the time you're talking about?
20 A. Yes.
21 Q. Now, I want to talk about the time that you call the cleansing of
22 Rizvanovici. Can you tell the Judges your experience of what happened
23 during that time?
24 A. When the checkpoint in Hambarine came under attack, very soon --
25 shortly after that, an APC opened fire and we could see -- we could hear
1 bullets whizzing above our heads and that is the reason we took shelter,
2 in order to avoid getting hurt. Then a tank arrived and
3 opened fire, fired some 20 shells. After that, I don't know how soon
4 after that, but at any rate, I could see the tank from my house. I could
5 see that it fired.
6 Q. Do you know what month you're talking about now when you saw the
8 A. Well, it could have been in early July or late June. I'm not
9 sure. It was long time ago.
10 Q. Thank you. So after this tank came and fired the shells -- first
11 let me ask: Did you see what the tank was firing at? Did you see where
12 the shells hit?
13 A. It was firing at the village, at the mosque, probably in order to
14 create panic amongst the population, although at the time I was not fully
15 aware of that.
16 Q. Was there a mosque in the village of Rizvanovici?
17 A. Yes.
18 Q. Is that the mosque that you're talking about that was fired upon,
19 or was it a mosque in another village?
20 A. In Hambarine, it was the Hambarine mosque that was targeted at the
21 time of the attack.
22 Q. Do you know if the tank shells hit the mosque?
23 A. I think that they damaged the top of the mosque to a certain
24 extent, and the Rajkovac mosque was also hit.
25 Q. What about the mosque in Rizvanovici? There was one there,
12 Blank page inserted to ensure pagination corresponds between the French and
13 English transcripts.
2 A. Yes, there was. But at that time, as I told you, I didn't dare
3 move around the village; I was already hiding. But I don't think anything
4 happened at the time.
5 Q. Okay. Thank you. Did any soldiers enter Rizvanovici?
6 A. They would pass through the village in a patrol, in a vehicle. I
7 know that there were cases of looting, but mostly by night. I don't know
8 exactly about everything that was going on at the time.
9 Q. Okay. And can you explain to us, why is it you didn't know
10 everything that was going on? What were you doing during this period of
12 A. I was working and hiding. Actually, at that time, we were already
13 hiding in a basement. There were people from Hambarine staying with us,
14 including my aunt who lived in Hambarine. So -- well, we knew what was
15 going on, and it was not really a good idea to walk around, although I did
16 go out into the village from time to time, but very rarely.
17 Q. When you went out to the village, did you talk to other people
18 about what was going on when you weren't there, what the soldiers were
20 A. Everybody knew about that, because there were many refugees in our
21 village. They had been there for quite a while before the cleansing
23 Q. When you talk about your village, Rizvanovici, what was the
24 ethnicity of most of the people that lived there?
25 A. According to what I know, there was only one Croat living in the
1 village of Rizvanovici; the rest were all Muslim.
2 Q. When you talk about refugees, these are refugees of what ethnicity
3 and from what part of Bosnia or of what part of the former Yugoslavia?
4 A. Before the war started in our area, there had been about 50
5 refugees from Bosanska Dubica as a result of the war in Croatia. So we
6 were also aware of what was going there. And they were throwing shells at
7 us on purpose to make it look like it was the other side that was shelling
9 Q. Okay. I think -- are you talking about shelling that happened in
10 Bosanska Dubica or Bosanski Novi, somewhere like that?
11 A. I'm talking about Bosanska Dubica. My grandmother comes from
12 there, so I know that the town was shelled. They wanted to make it look
13 like it was the Croats who were shelling them, but it was actually them.
14 Q. Okay. These refugees, then, from Bosanska Dubica, what ethnicity
15 were they?
16 A. Muslims.
17 Q. Okay. During the month of -- so during this time period when you
18 were hiding and the patrols were coming through, did you see any damage or
19 injuries or deaths, dead bodies, that were caused by the soldiers?
20 A. I'm afraid I didn't understand your question. I was actually
21 thinking of other things.
22 Q. No problem. During the time that you were hiding around the town,
23 did you see any dead bodies, first of all?
24 A. No, not at that time.
25 Q. Did you hear from other people about any deaths or arrests that
1 were taking place, any killings or arrests that took place?
2 A. Yes, I did. I heard about a bus who was travelling to Dubica.
3 Some people were taken off that bus and killed. And I also heard stories
4 about what happened after the attack on Hambarine. I knew that there were
5 casualties already, though personally I didn't see any.
6 Q. Did you talk to somebody named Kadiric from Rizvanovici about what
7 happened in his part of the village?
8 A. I don't know. It's possible. I talked to everyone.
9 Q. I want to move on. At one point, did you and a group of people go
10 to the woods and talk about what you would do?
11 A. No. I personally -- I was personally hiding out in the field, I
12 mean before the cleansing but also sometime after the cleansing. But at
13 one point in time, we went to the free territory.
14 Q. You went to the free territory or you decided to try to go to the
15 free territory?
16 A. Yes, after the cleansing, we decided to go there, but
17 unfortunately didn't manage.
18 Q. When you say that you decided, who was it -- how many people were
19 there that talked about going to the free territory?
20 A. I didn't make the decision at all. Simply, a man arrived - this
21 man was a neighbour of mine - and he told us who were hiding in that
22 place, that they had decided to set out in the direction of Bihac toward
23 the free territory. And then we joined them.
24 Q. Okay. Thank you. That's much clearer.
25 Can you tell us, did anyone else from your family go with you in
1 that attempt to reach Bihac?
2 A. Yes. My father, my brother, my neighbour. In fact, all of them
3 were my neighbours.
4 Q. How many people do you think there were altogether that set out
5 for Bihac?
6 A. In total, I estimate that there may have been 300 or more people.
7 Q. Was this a group that was planning on travelling with vehicles or
8 were you planning on all travelling on foot to reach Bihac?
9 A. We set out on foot.
10 Q. In the group, was it all adult men or men, let's say your age, 17
11 and over, or were there any women and children?
12 A. I didn't see any women. There were some children because, later
13 on, there were children who were taken prisoner together with me.
14 Q. In that group of 300 or so people, do you know -- did you see any
15 weapons at that time or later, after you were captured?
16 A. Then I saw a few rifles, and I saw them later on as well. When we
17 were captured, there were four or five rifles in the group, or maybe
19 Q. What happened as the group started to walk to Bihac? I'm sorry,
20 let me back up a moment. Was this group travelling on the roads? Were
21 you travelling openly or were you trying to travel hiding yourselves?
22 A. Well, when I think about it, when I think of my experience, it
23 seems silly. We went through woods but also over the open hills, so that
24 everyone could see us.
25 Q. What happened to the group when you were walking?
1 A. We were resting in a village called Kalajevo, or rather it was a
2 wood called Kalajevo.
3 Q. Is this in the municipality of Prijedor, the woods?
4 A. Yes.
5 Q. What happened then?
6 A. As we were resting, there was a creek there, and we heard shooting
7 and shouting, "Stop, stop, don't run." And there was shooting so we
8 started to run. We started to flee.
9 Q. Go ahead. And what happened after that, after the group started
10 to flee? Did you all go in one direction together, or did the group break
12 A. The group broke apart.
13 Q. What happened then?
14 A. I joined a group, and as we were running, I asked, "Where's my
15 father?" So I joined that group. I think that was the bigger group.
16 Q. Was your brother in that group also?
17 A. No. My brother went off somewhere else.
18 Q. What happened to the group that you and your father were in?
19 A. We ran for a long time and then we ran into a wood, and we heard
20 shouting, saying, "You are surrounded, surrender." And then I saw people
21 hiding four rifles under the leaves and the people putting their hands up
22 and going out one by one.
23 Q. Did you see the group, the people that were telling you to stop
24 and that had earlier been shooting at you? Can you tell us who they
25 were? Not their names, but were they army, were they police?
1 A. I was not able to see them until they lined us up in a column
2 because I was at the end of the column.
3 Q. Okay. So after you had to come out with your hands up, then what
4 happened? Did they line you up at that point?
5 A. Yes. They lined us up in four lines and they counted us. There
6 were 117 of us.
7 Q. The people that you just called "they," the ones who were counting
8 you, tell us who they were. Were they men in uniform?
9 A. Yes, they were. They were in JNA and reserve police uniforms.
10 Q. After they lined you up in four rows, what happened?
11 A. They told us to empty our pockets and to throw everything on the
12 ground: our money, our watches, our documents. And then they fired shots
13 in the air to frighten us while another one went from one of us to the
14 other, searching us. He had a small pistol. There was a man who had a
15 small pistol and who threw it down on the ground with the other things,
16 and they threatened to cut his throat.
17 Q. What happened to all the things that you had thrown out from your
18 pockets, and the watches?
19 A. I'm not sure because, later on, when we were in the dom, we also
20 had to take off watches and give them to them. So I was surprised by
21 that. I don't know if some people managed to keep their watches at that
23 Q. Okay. After they had searched the 117 people in your group, what
25 A. Then they lined us up in one column and led us to the road so that
1 a vehicle could come and pick us up.
2 Q. How many vehicles arrived, if you remember?
3 A. I know only about one van which came to pick us up several times.
4 Q. Where were you taken?
5 A. We were taken to Miska Glava. When we were passing by the woods,
6 three men tried to escape. They shot one. The others managed to escape
7 but they were killed later. I heard that from a colleague. They were
8 killed in the area of Sanski Most.
9 Q. So now there's 114 of you, if my math is correct. And you said
10 you were taken to Miska Glava dom. Is that correct?
11 A. [No interpretation]
12 Q. I don't think we got your answer. Is that yes, that's Miska Glava
14 A. Yes. Yes, it said on it "Serbian Bosnia and Herzegovina cultural
15 club, Miska Glava." That's what it said.
16 Q. Can you tell the Judges, what kind of place was that? Do you know
17 what it was --
18 A. It's a village.
19 Q. What village was it in?
20 A. You mean Miska Glava?
21 Q. Yes. And what was the building used for before? Was it a
22 gymnasium, was it a school, was it offices?
23 A. I think that's how it was with us, the secretary of the local
24 commune had his offices there. Meetings were held there, meetings of the
25 local commune, and there were events. That's how it was in our village,
12 Blank page inserted to ensure pagination corresponds between the French and
13 English transcripts.
1 so probably the same happened in that village also.
2 Q. So it was common in the former Yugoslavia or at least in Bosnia to
3 have cultural centres in towns and villages called "dom" that the
4 community could have meetings in and various events. Is that correct?
5 A. Yes, at least in my part of the country. I was younger, I didn't
6 go elsewhere. But in a few villages in the Brdo area, yes, that was the
8 MR. KOUMJIAN: Perhaps we could put a map on. This map, I don't
9 believe is marked yet. It has the title over it of "Ljubija Brisevo
10 overview" and the ERN number of 01248889.
11 JUDGE SCHOMBURG: Can we please hear what is the next "S" number.
12 THE REGISTRAR: S169.
13 JUDGE SCHOMBURG: Therefore, provisional S169.
14 MR. KOUMJIAN:
15 Q. Mr. Karagic, if you could look on your right at the map that's on
16 the screen. Instead of looking at the screen, I'd like you to look at the
17 map itself. And perhaps you can take something to point with.
18 I just ask you to look now at the map. Do you recognise the areas
19 that are depicted on this map, Prijedor, Tukovi, Ljubija, et cetera?
20 A. Well, the map is not complete. But yes, I do recognise the area.
21 Q. Do you know about where the Miska Glava would be on this map?
22 A. I think it should be here.
23 Q. Okay. Indicating the upper left of the map below the
24 Prijedor/Bosanski Novi boundary, northwest of Ljubija.
25 Okay. Thank you. You can turn away from that for now.
1 What happened when you got to the dom?
2 A. They locked us up in the cafe.
3 Q. Can you describe the cafe? How big was it? Maybe you could point
4 to some -- this room. Was it bigger than this room or smaller than this
6 A. I think it was about half the size of this room, the cafe there.
7 Q. How many people were put into that room?
8 A. 114.
9 Q. Okay. Thank you.
10 MR. KOUMJIAN: And if I could just suggest, Your Honour, perhaps
11 at some time we could put in the dimensions of this room into the record,
12 since I've asked several witnesses to refer to it. I don't know if anyone
13 has measured it.
14 JUDGE SCHOMBURG: Let's try. And, of course, this brings me to
15 the point, when you bring in a map, it would be better if a scale would be
16 indicated. Sometimes it's difficult to understand. Thank you.
17 MR. KOUMJIAN:
18 Q. How long did you spend in that room in the dom? How many days and
19 how many nights?
20 A. Two nights, three days.
21 Q. When you got to the dom, at any time was -- did anyone take your
22 personal information or were there any lists made of the people, the 114
23 people, who were with you?
24 A. Yes. They listed all our names and dates of birth, and even where
25 each person came from.
1 Q. How did they do that? Did they just ask you for that information,
2 or did they check identifications? Did they check cards that people had?
3 A. I don't know. I couldn't follow what was going on outside, but
4 the list was outside and then they took people according to the list.
5 Q. Did you have an identification card, and if not, why not?
6 A. I didn't. I wasn't old enough to have one. Or I may have had the
7 right to it, but I doubt it because you had to be 18. You had to be of
8 age to have one.
9 Q. Can you help the Judges to understand what the conditions were
10 like in that dom for those -- that time period. First, can you tell us
11 how much food did you receive during the time you were kept in the dom?
12 A. In those three days, they threw a single loaf of bread in for us
13 to share, and a packet of sweets.
14 Q. For all 114 men to share?
15 A. Yes.
16 Q. Who was guarding the dom? Were there people in uniforms? Could
17 you tell who they were or what units they were from?
18 A. I think it was the Miska Glava Territorial Defence, and they were
19 wearing JNA uniforms. I didn't see any other kind of uniforms in that
20 place, although at the place where we were taken prisoner, there were also
21 reserve police uniforms.
22 Q. Just so that we're clear, when you say a JNA uniform, can you
23 describe it, what colour it is, and is it a solid colour or camouflage?
24 A. A solid colour, olive-grey. That's what we called those uniforms.
25 Q. What about the reserve police uniforms that you talked about? Can
1 you describe those?
2 A. Their uniforms seemed to be winter uniforms. They were made of a
3 heavier cloth than the other uniforms and it was easy to distinguish them.
4 Q. Was it the same -- were they the same colour, olive-grey solid, or
5 were they a different colour?
6 A. They were bluish.
7 Q. In the dom, can you tell us, did you get as much water as you
8 wanted to drink?
9 A. It was summertime. The room, as I said, was half the size of this
10 room, and perhaps even -- I think it was even smaller, perhaps. So that
11 inside, I can't describe the heat. And we were so thirsty. They did give
12 us water, but we had to earn it. We had to sing -- we had to sing songs
13 about Greater Serbia. Had they pissed in it, we would have drunk it. We
14 were so thirsty.
15 Q. Did you ever see anyone urinate in the water that you were given?
16 A. I didn't, but I assume they did. But I said this in a theoretical
17 way. Had they done this, we would still have drunk it.
18 Q. Was anyone ever taken out of the room during the time that you
19 were there?
20 A. They were taking people out all the time and beating them. They
21 would take someone upstairs, and we would hear banging, and they would
22 come back covered in blood, and then they would take someone else. And I
23 remember best when my father was taken outside. He was beaten outside the
24 building, and I could hear his moaning. When he came back, he showed me
25 what they had done. He pulled his shirt up and it was all -- his skin was
1 all black and blue. I asked him: "Father, what should I say if they take
2 me outside? What shall I tell them?" I said -- he said: "Son, tell them
3 everything you know." But they didn't take me outside.
4 Q. When they chose people to go outside, did they call them by name
5 or did they just come in the room and pick someone by sight?
6 A. For a time, they called out people by name. And then a man
7 arrived who said only: "I need a volunteer." And he would point a finger
8 at someone. He would say: "You, come out," and whoever went out never
9 came back.
10 Q. Do you know how many people disappeared like that from the dom
11 while you were there?
12 A. Ten men were taken by a man whose son was allegedly killed in
13 Rizvanovici, and a man from Cazin and another from Visegrad, so that he
14 alone took 12 men, not counting the one who called them out one by one.
15 He -- that one killed at least three.
16 Q. Okay. Thank you. Now I want to perhaps go into what you just
17 mentioned and discuss that in a little more detail. You said a man came
18 whose son was allegedly killed in Rizvanovici. Did he or someone else
19 tell you that his son had been killed in Rizvanovici?
20 A. No, he didn't say that. He just said he wanted ten volunteers
21 from Rizvanovici to go out. But the other man standing at the door, the
22 one who took people out one by one, was talking to someone else at the
23 door. And he said that the Muslims had slaughtered this man's son, gouged
24 his eyes out, cut off his ears, and that he would do the same to the men
25 he was taking away.
1 Q. Just so we're clear which persons we're talking about, the man who
2 took out, you said, at least three men one by one, can you describe how he
3 would dress? How would he dress? Was he in uniform? Did he have any hat
4 or gloves that you remember?
5 A. Yes. He had an olive-grey uniform. He was present when we were
6 taken prisoner, and then he had an ammunition belt with him. But later
7 on, he just had a knife, and he wore black gloves. And when he took out a
8 man, he would come back, and his knife and some of the fingers of the
9 glove would be blood-stained.
10 Q. Okay. Just so we're clear, when you talk about that man, we'll
11 talk about the man with black gloves so we know which one we're talking
13 Now the other man that you said came and asked for ten volunteers
14 from Rizvanovici, whose son you heard had been killed in Rizvanovici, was
15 he in uniform or civilian clothes?
16 A. I don't know. I couldn't see. Maybe I did see him, but I forgot
18 Q. Okay. When he asked for ten volunteers from Rizvanovici, or
19 someone asked for that, what did you do?
20 A. I got up when they did.
21 Q. Do you know? Can you explain to us why you got up?
22 A. Well, because of everything. Simply, it was worse watching all
23 this than being killed because it's always possible that your turn will
24 come, so it's better to get it over with.
25 Q. What happened after you stood up?
1 A. I was perhaps the seventh or the eighth. At that moment, I was
2 looking through the window. I was standing right next to the door, and I
3 watched Islam Hopovac being beaten. He kept turning around as a bicycle
4 wheel. And later, when he was brought back, he was all black and blue.
5 We could see that he had suffered a concussion.
6 Q. Who was Islam Hopovac? Did you know him from somewhere?
7 A. He was the brother of my sister-in-law.
8 Q. The people that were in your group, were they all Muslims, to your
9 knowledge, or were there other ethnicities in the group?
10 A. They were all Muslims.
11 Q. So you were standing up and you saw Islam Hopovac being beaten.
12 And what happened then?
13 A. I was ordered to sit down, and that is what saved my life, the
14 fact that they shouted at me. But when the other ten, including these two
15 men from Cazin and Visegrad went out, the doors closed, and we could hear
16 that one of them was actually being killed right outside the door. We
17 could hear his cries, and it sounded as if his head was being squashed.
18 The sound was very strange, like two pieces of metal pushed against each
19 other, plus the moans and the cries.
20 Q. Do you know why -- first, who ordered you to sit down?
21 A. I don't know. I don't know. I just heard someone shout out "sit
22 down" and I sat down. But I think it was a young man who yelled at us and
23 told us to sit down. He could have been 22 years of age, perhaps a bit
24 more. I don't know. He could have been my age now.
25 Q. Did the ten men -- ten other men, did they go out of the room, all
12 Blank page inserted to ensure pagination corresponds between the French and
13 English transcripts.
1 ten of them? There was a group that had been asked to volunteer from
2 Rizvanovici. You said that they had asked for ten volunteers. How many
3 men actually went out of the room at that time?
4 A. Twelve. One was from Cazin and one was from Visegrad. He had
5 been with us as a refugee. His father and his son were also there. Well,
6 I don't know this was his son or his son-in-law but, at any rate, he was
7 the one who went out instead of him.
8 Q. Did those people, dozen or so people, ever return?
9 A. No.
10 Q. Just briefly, in that space in the room where you were, did you
11 have enough room to lie down, all of you?
12 A. We stood on the tile floor. We were crouching. It's difficult
13 for me to show it to you now. And we were cramped next to each other.
14 Q. I can understand it's difficult to show it sitting down. So if
15 you would like, you can step up and just show us how you sat. Just do
16 that now. Take your headphones off.
17 A. Okay. I'm not going to take them off. This is the position that
18 we were in.
19 Q. Indicating with knees to chest, and arms around the legs. Thank
21 What happened when you left the dom? How did it happen that you
22 were taken away?
23 A. There was shelling going on in the vicinity, and they panicked.
24 They shouted out to each other: "Let's go fight." But some of them
25 didn't dare. At any rate, two buses came at that point to fetch us, and
1 they put us on to these two buses. What happened with the fighting, I
2 don't know.
3 Q. So all of you that remained alive in that room were put on the two
5 A. Yes. I brought in Islam Hopovac. And before we left, two of the
6 people from our group went out to bury one dead body. But I don't know
7 exactly where they buried it or who it was that was buried. These two men
8 are both dead now.
9 Q. Did those two men who went out to bury the body -- was this a body
10 near the dom? Excuse me.
11 A. They came back very quickly. I didn't see who or what, but I know
12 that the chest of one of them seemed torn open. That's what they said.
13 And they buried him.
14 Q. Thank you. And the two men who buried the body, did they get back
15 on the bus with the rest of you?
16 A. Yes.
17 Q. Where did the two buses go?
18 A. We went to Ljubija.
19 Q. Did you pass through the town?
20 A. Yes, we did, through the centre of Ljubija.
21 Q. What did you see when you were passing through Ljubija?
22 A. There were many soldiers there. The 6th Krajina Brigade was
23 there. They were wearing camouflage uniforms.
24 Q. On your buses, on the bus that you were on, did you see any
25 soldiers or police escorting you?
1 A. No. We had to keep our heads bent down and -- but I managed to
2 take a peek and that's how I saw it. But I couldn't actually observe
3 what was going on. I only know that the streets were teeming with
5 Q. After you passed through Ljubija, where did the buses go?
6 A. We went to the stadium which is located between Donja and
7 Gornja Ljubija.
8 Q. I'd like you to turn back to the map that's on your right. Do you
9 see in there, in the map, Donja or D. Ljubija and Ljubija?
10 A. I do.
11 Q. And is that the area that you're talking about, between
12 Donja Ljubija and the main part of Ljubija?
13 A. It would have been here, most probably -- I think.
14 Q. Can you push the map, then, slightly to the right. Hold on. The
15 usher will help.
16 I'd like you now to look at the pictures and tell me if you
17 recognise any of the photographs.
18 A. This is the area where we were taken. Here is the stadium. This
19 is where we were.
20 MR. KOUMJIAN: Thank you. The witness pointed to photograph
21 number 2, for the record.
22 Q. When you say that's the stadium, it's hard for us to really see
23 the stadium. Where is the playing field? Is it behind that fence that we
25 A. Yes.
1 Q. There's a white, looks like a two-storey building, white on the
2 top and cement on the bottom. Is that part of the stadium?
3 A. I cannot tell whether the fence was behind or in front of this
4 building, but at any rate, the building served as the changing room for
5 the athletes.
6 Q. When you talk about what's going to happen, I think you're going
7 to refer to a wall. Is the wall that you're going to be speaking about in
8 this photograph, or part of it?
9 A. Yes. One can see a wall, a brick wall here, but it is a very long
10 wall so you cannot really see all of it. It is as long as the stadium.
11 Q. And is the wall the -- in this picture, it begins where the
12 stream -- along the stream?
13 A. Yes.
14 Q. Okay. Thank you. I'm done with that for now.
15 What happened when the buses arrived at the stadium?
16 A. We were ordered to get off the bus. The bus driver was standing
17 at the entrance to the stadium, and we were made to run. As we passed by
18 him, he hit us. He dealt us each a blow. So we actually had to run into
19 the stadium and line up against the wall.
20 MR. KOUMJIAN: Your Honour, I'm beginning now an area that may
21 take some time. Maybe I could finish it in 15 or 20 minutes, but I'm not
22 sure. But I do not want to interrupt it.
23 JUDGE SCHOMBURG: I understand. And we should have a break as
24 soon as possible. I have got the impression that you, Mr. Karagic, have
25 already got good contact to Mr. Koumjian. Is it the first time you're in
1 a courtroom ever, today?
2 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] No. No. You know, it's about my
3 personal experience, what I personally experienced, so it's not a problem
4 for me to tell about it.
5 JUDGE SCHOMBURG: You only should know, I didn't introduce in the
6 beginning who is here. If I would be in your position, I would feel
7 totally uncomfortable in a room with people one doesn't know and then tell
8 about the own experiences. Therefore, I should introduce. You know
9 already Mr. Koumjian. He has two assistants preparing the case. Here in
10 front of the Judges, you have an usher. The lady before me is assisting
11 the Judges, and the lady sitting here is working for the registry, taking
12 care of all our paperwork and so on. And there you have Dr. Stakic, the
13 Defence counsel; and the three Judges from Morocco, from Ukraine, and from
14 Germany. And we are all human beings and, please, don't be afraid. We
15 are doing our work as human beings, as you are a human being. And so it's
16 necessary that, by tradition, that we have our gowns. It's only to show
17 that we are sitting here not in our private capacity but doing our work as
18 counsel, Judges, or in the other functions. Therefore, you shouldn't be
19 afraid when we restart. We have a break now, and feel comfortable. I
20 know it's very difficult for you to give the testimony here but you
21 shouldn't be afraid about the persons here in the room.
22 If you have any other questions --
23 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] I trust you. Well, I'm actually
24 glad that the gentleman over there can see me. But I'm sorry that he
25 should have done that -- at least, these people I'm talking about. I
1 don't know about him.
2 JUDGE SCHOMBURG: Okay. Thank you. Let's have a break of half an
3 hour. That means we stay adjourned until 10.45.
4 --- Recess taken at 10.17 p.m.
5 --- On resuming at 10.49 p.m.
6 JUDGE SCHOMBURG: Please be seated.
7 MR. KOUMJIAN: May I proceed, Mr. President?
8 JUDGE SCHOMBURG: Yes, please.
9 MR. KOUMJIAN:
10 Q. Mr. Karagic, when we -- before the break, you mentioned that the
11 prisoners all had to run out of the bus and line up along the wall. Was
12 that the prisoners from both buses?
13 A. I don't know. I wasn't paying much attention to that. I know
14 that people from my bus got off. And as we were running, I could see that
15 some of the people had already been lined up against the wall.
16 Q. When you lined up against the wall, that's the wall that was in
17 the photograph that you looked at earlier today. Is that correct?
18 A. Yes.
19 Q. And how did you stand against the wall? What were the
20 instructions given to you?
21 A. At that moment, it happened spontaneously. We were lined up in
22 two rows. I don't remember any distinct order to that effect. They may
23 have motioned to the wall. There was this man hitting us, and we were
24 made to run. And we all ran as fast as we could in order to avoid his
1 Q. The man hitting you and any of the other guards that were there,
2 can you describe, if you recall, were they wearing uniforms and what kind
3 of uniforms?
4 A. There was a major there. The one whom I saw later was wearing an
5 olive-grey uniform. A police officer was wearing a camouflage uniform,
6 and he also had a white belt on. Later on, I would see him shooting at a
7 man. I'm not sure about others. I didn't see them clearly. I didn't see
8 their faces. I wasn't paying much attention to that. But they were all
9 wearing uniforms. There was one, though, who was in civilian clothes, a
10 Vojvoda. That's what they called him.
11 Q. And Vojvoda, does that mean "duke," and is it a word that was
12 often used among Chetniks for a hero of the Chetnik forces?
13 A. I don't know. Maybe the gentleman over there could give you a
14 better explanation. It's their custom, after all. He was some kind of
15 leader. It denotes -- the word denotes some kind of leader, hero. The
16 gentleman, if he's willing, I'm sure will give you a better explanation.
17 Q. Would it be correct that the other men that you saw except for
18 this individual wore some kind of uniform, is that correct, the other men
19 with guns?
20 A. Will you please repeat your question? I missed a detail.
21 Q. Actually, I think you've already answered it, so I'm going to move
23 What happened next? After you were lined up against the wall,
24 tell us what happened?
25 A. We were ordered to take up this position, to bend down a little
12 Blank page inserted to ensure pagination corresponds between the French and
13 English transcripts.
2 Q. Thank you.
3 MR. KOUMJIAN: And for the record, the witness stood up and bent
4 forward at the waist, with his back more or less parallel to the ground.
5 Q. After you were put in that position, what happened?
6 A. Then they started kick us in this area here. At least, that's
7 where I was hit. But there was a stream of blood running along the wall.
8 MR. KOUMJIAN: For the record, again, the witness --
9 Q. Sir, you indicated you were hit, and you pointed. Did you point
10 to the bridge of your nose, is that correct? Just between the eyes, the
11 nose, at the top.
12 A. Yes.
13 Q. Do you still have a scar from that?
14 A. I had one here on the nose. There is a videotape which was taken
15 ten years ago -- excuse me, a photograph taken ten years ago, where you
16 can see the scar much better because later I had a surgery. But at the
17 time, this area here was fractured as a result of the kick. But you can
18 see the scar on this tape.
19 Q. So after you were kicked in the nose, what happened then?
20 A. After that, we stood up. Then a man was brought in, a Croat or a
21 Muslim, whom they had captured in the woods, and they asked me -- asked
22 him to point out those who had been with him in the woods. So he pointed
23 to two or three men in particular, Ismet Avdic, Ermin Kadic -- no, not
24 Ermin Kadic, sorry. Ermin was taken out in another group. Ferid Kadiric
25 or Kadic. That was his surname. His son was also there amongst us and he
1 was also killed.
2 They were singled out and taken to the other side, to the fence.
3 There was a fence next to the wall. And after an individual was pointed
4 out, he would be singled out and taken to the other side, to the fence.
5 Q. Do you know about how many people were taken to the fence?
6 A. I don't know exactly how many, but the group was almost as large
7 as ours. But I don't know how many there were. I was really frightened.
8 My mind wasn't clear. But I could see that there were a lot of people
10 Q. What happened to those who were taken to the fence, as far as you
11 saw or heard?
12 A. We were then ordered to look away, towards the wall, which we
13 did. But I managed to glance at the other side and I saw this man wearing
14 a white belt, shooting three bullets into one of the men in this group.
15 He was actually playing with his pistol. He kept turning over the
16 magazine and he shot at the man as he pleased. And then this Vojvoda,
17 this duke, came and he told him not to shoot, not to disturb the
18 neighbourhood. And he said that others would come.
19 In the meantime, those who were younger than me, although I was
20 also a child at the time, were separated and taken to another direction
21 that I pointed out on the photograph.
22 Q. They were taken towards the dressing room or another direction?
23 A. They took them to the dressing room. This is what I learned later
24 from these children when we met subsequently because, at that moment, we
25 were not allowed to watch.
1 Q. You mentioned a man with a white belt who shot at some -- one of
2 the prisoners. When you say a white belt, was he wearing a uniform with a
3 white belt or civilian clothes?
4 A. Yes, he was. But it was a multicoloured uniform, not the same as
5 the other ones. It was already getting dark as he was doing whatever he
6 was doing. He was a member of the military police. I had served in the
7 army, so I know.
8 Q. What happened after -- while you were lined up against the wall?
9 Were the soldiers there asking you any questions or asking for information
10 about anything or anybody?
11 A. The major - we had to call him "major" if we wanted to address
12 him - asked for Mirza Mujadzic, and he was looking for eminent people,
13 wealthier people, and they were questioning us about this. And I heard my
14 old man being beaten. They were probably asking him for money, asking him
15 where he had hidden money or something like that.
16 Q. When you were asked to stand against the wall, were you given any
17 instructions about how to stand against the wall?
18 A. We had to put our hands on the wall like this. The wall was like
19 this. And I don't know how tall I was at the time, but we had to place
20 our fingers on the top of the wall, and there was a man up there walking
21 over our fingers while we had to sing songs about Greater Serbia. And all
22 this time, they were hitting us from behind. I was hit in the back and I
23 hit my head against the wall. And as you can see in the photograph, the
24 wall was solid brick.
25 Q. What happened then? You mentioned that the Vojvoda said not to
1 disturb the neighbourhood with shooting. What happened then after that?
2 A. He said machines would come. They probably did, because I felt
3 something hit me in the back. It was something soft and heavy, and it hit
4 me so hard I fell down. Then I managed to get up. If I had stayed on the
5 ground, I would probably have been hit again.
6 Q. What was happening to the other prisoners at that time as far as
7 you could tell?
8 A. The other soldiers?
9 Q. The other prisoners. What was happening to other people?
10 A. Oh, the prisoners. They were beaten. We were all beaten. They
11 would go down the line and beat each one in turn. And out of the corner
12 of my eye, I saw a man next to me being killed. There were rifles there
13 as well because, when I carried that man's body later, his head was
14 missing. You could hear him dying, but he was cursing at them like a real
15 hero. I don't know who he was.
16 Q. Was there one prisoner who asked to be taken away from the group,
17 to be separated?
18 A. Yes. Yes. He said his mother was a Serb, and they did separate
19 him off. He went there to the changing rooms. I forgot to mention it.
20 And he's still alive. He's living abroad.
21 Q. What happened then at the wall during -- after this beating, the
22 beatings that you're talking about?
23 A. They beat us for several hours. It was already getting dark.
24 There were a lot of people who were dead, whose brains had been spilled
25 out. They started arguing. They wanted to kill us all there, but one of
1 them said: "Well, are you going to carry the bodies?" They didn't want
2 to have to carry the dead bodies away. So we had to collect the bodies.
3 Q. So the prisoners that were alive had to pick up the bodies of
4 those who were dead. Is that correct?
5 A. Yes.
6 Q. Did you pick up any bodies?
7 A. Yes, two of them.
8 Q. Where were the bodies taken?
9 A. To the bus, to the empty part of the bus where there were no
10 chairs. It was in the back of the bus. I don't know if there are buses
11 like that here.
12 Q. Do you know if there was one bus or two buses, or how many buses
13 are you talking about?
14 A. I'm sure there was one, so there was at least one. But I don't
16 Q. Okay. Thank you. When you placed the bodies on the bus, can you
17 describe in any way or estimate in any way, help us estimate, how many
18 bodies there were that were put on the bus?
19 A. When I was carrying the second body in, the first one did not have
20 a head, as I said. The second one had his eye hanging out and his head
21 had been smashed in, probably with a bayonet or a crowbar. Then I sat on
22 a wooden seat in the back of the bus. And although I was terrified, I
23 looked, and I saw a pile. I don't know, it was perhaps a metre high. The
24 sides of the bus were packed with dead bodies, I think maybe 15 or 20 of
25 them, but I can only guess how many there were. I didn't count them.
1 Q. The two bodies that you carried, did you think you might have
2 recognised one of them?
3 A. The first one whose head was missing, I knew who he was but I
4 didn't know his name. I mean, the one without his head. The one that had
5 no head, I thought was my father - although my arms were stiff - he had a
6 pullover on and only half his skull. But when my father was exhumed, his
7 head had been smashed in. But this might have been someone else. I can't
8 be sure whether that was my father or not. But later on, when he was
9 identified, that's how it was.
10 Q. Are you sure that your father was on the bus to the stadium?
11 A. When we were arriving at the stadium?
12 Q. Yes.
13 A. Yes, yes, yes. Just before that, they had called our names out
14 and said: "Are there any members of the Karagic family here?" Then he
15 was beaten. The man who asked this kicked him. So I saw my father
16 nodding to me, giving me a signal to keep quiet.
17 Q. What was it about the body you carried that made you think it
18 might have been your father at that time? What did you recognise? Was
19 there something in the clothing or the body itself that made you think it
20 might have been your father?
21 A. He had a pale blue pullover, and in Miska Glava he had the same
22 pullover on. However, it was warm so maybe he gave it to somebody else
23 later on. But the man whose body I carried was approximately the same
24 weight as my father; he was the same build.
25 Q. Looking back on that now, do you think that was your father? Are
1 you sure? Are you uncertain? And tell us why, if you are uncertain, why
2 you're not certain that was your father.
3 A. I'm not quite certain because when I sat on the bench in the back
4 of the bus, I looked up toward the front of the bus and I thought I saw my
5 father looking at me. I bowed my head, and after that, I didn't see him
6 any more. I may have been mistaken. I was terrified.
7 Q. When you say you bowed your head, was that an instruction that you
8 received or did you do that on your own?
9 A. It was natural in those circumstances. I don't remember whether
10 it was an order. But I know that a man raised his head in the bus, and
11 they shot him. I heard the shot. I'm not sure whether they shot him in
12 the head, but I did hear a shot.
13 Q. What happened after the bus was loaded?
14 A. They were shouting all sorts of things: "You're going to Kurevo.
15 Now you'll get your independent Bosnia." I don't know. They didn't use
16 the term "mujahedin" at that time, so they called us "Ustasha."
17 Q. Where did the bus -- did the bus start moving? Did you go
19 A. How do you mean, go?
20 Q. Did the bus drive somewhere after you loaded -- after everyone was
21 loaded on the bus, where did you go?
22 A. Oh. Well, we had to keep our heads down, and it was already dark
23 outside. I think there was moonlight, but we didn't look to see where we
24 were going. We could just feel the bus turning around. And I heard a
25 female voice on the bus. They were telling her to get out. And I'm not
12 Blank page inserted to ensure pagination corresponds between the French and
13 English transcripts.
1 sure but I thought she wanted to stay on the bus. And then they made her
2 get out. I don't know what happened to her.
3 But three or four years ago, I passed along that way and I found
4 some bones on the left side of the road. And I think they might be the
5 bones of that woman. On the other hand, she may have been a Serb. She
6 might have got off somewhere else. I can't be sure about that.
7 Q. Do you know what kind of bus you were on, whether it had any
8 markings as to the bus company or...
9 A. It was blue. In Prijedor, we had Autotransport buses. In
10 Ljubija, there were Autoservice buses. It could have been either one or
11 the other. But I think it's more likely to have been Autotransport. But
12 as I say, it could also have been Autoservice because the buses were
14 Q. Are you certain it was not a military bus? It wasn't in
15 camouflage or olive-grey?
16 A. Yes, yes. I used to travel by bus in the area of Prijedor and I
17 know that the buses were usually that colour. I'm certain it was not a
18 military bus.
19 Q. Did you recognise the driver of the bus?
20 A. I think -- you mean by name?
21 Q. No, just at that time, as you recall now, if you remember now, did
22 you -- was his face familiar to you?
23 A. I heard that he was from Volar. I know that he was in
24 Miska Glava, and that he was the one who gave us water but made us sing
25 Serbian songs in order to impress a woman who used to come there. And he
1 was the one who walked over my fingers on top of the wall. He had a
2 moustache, that driver. He was a thin man. I had the impression for a
3 while that it was another man but -- well, I know who it was. It was him.
4 Q. Do you know what his profession was before the war?
5 A. I think he was a bus driver, actually. So he was doing his job
6 and having some fun at our expense also.
7 Q. Where did the bus go?
8 A. It took us to the place here in this photograph. I think that's
9 it. The terrain looks similar. I think that's it.
10 Q. Which photograph are you talking about, the one that's on the
11 screen now?
12 A. Yes, the one that's on the screen now.
13 MR. KOUMJIAN: Indicating photograph number 4.
14 Q. Why don't you look at the map to your right and tell us if you
15 recognise any of the other photographs. If not, just tell us.
16 A. This is the place where this crime took place. And --
17 MR. KOUMJIAN: Thank you. For the record, the witness has
18 indicated photograph number 6. Thank you.
19 Q. Any other photographs that you recognise or that you wish to
20 comment on? Only if you're certain.
21 A. I would like to comment on this photograph that was just here
22 because this is not the murder spot itself. The murder happened on the
23 other side, about 150 metres further on. I was there with investigators.
24 I didn't think it was here. It was on the other side of the road, but
25 maybe later they put something here.
1 MR. KOUMJIAN: Okay. Again, the last answer, the witness was
2 referring to photograph number 6.
3 Q. Do you know -- you said it happened on the other side. Would that
4 be -- what do you mean by "the other side"? The other side of the hill
5 that's in that photograph number 6?
6 A. 100 or 150 metres from here. This is where the road begins, going
7 towards Ljubija and Rovska. It's a wide road, and I remember it well
8 because that's where I jumped out of the bus. And I remember Kipe and
9 this area. There are even some tyres here that I ran over when I was
11 MR. KOUMJIAN: If we could have photograph number 6 again, just
12 for a moment.
13 Q. Do you know this particular spot, if there was something else that
14 was -- happened there or that you found there? Did you ever go to this
15 particular spot that's in photograph number 6?
16 A. I came to this place with investigators.
17 Q. Was that when you went to the exhumation at Redak, Kipe?
18 A. No, it was long before that. I searched for that place for two
19 days. So many years had passed and I was not familiar with the terrain,
20 but I knew it was somewhere in that area. And when I found those tyres, I
21 was certain that was the place. But we couldn't pinpoint it exactly. And
22 this is probably what somebody else saw and pointed out.
23 Q. Okay. Thank you.
24 All right. The buses that you were on -- it was night-time, you
1 MR. KOUMJIAN: I'm finished. Thank you.
2 Q. Where did the buses stop? Or the bus that you were on, where did
3 it stop? Actually, I'm not worried about the photograph. Don't worry
4 about the photograph, Mr. Karagic. Just describe --
5 A. It depends from what side the road is coming from, this side or
6 that side. But the road is right next to the grave.
7 Q. Okay. Thank you. I don't need the photographs now, but just if
8 you can describe in words. The bus stopped. Did it stop on a road? Did
9 it stop in a town? Where was the area?
10 A. On the road, on the road. That's where it stopped. It stopped on
11 the road.
12 Q. Was this an area where there were a lot of houses or businesses?
13 Was it a woody area? Describe the area where the bus stopped.
14 A. It was not a woody area and there were no houses there. I think
15 that it was something to do with a mine, either a place where they
16 disposed of waste or a place where the -- a mine pit. But this was
17 overgrown. But you could see heaps of material there, so that's where
18 they dumped it.
19 Q. And did you know the name of that place at the time?
20 A. No.
21 Q. Did you later learn that this place had a name?
22 A. Later on, I met two men who escaped together with me. They were
23 older than I was. And they knew the place was called Kipe. But that was
24 not its official name; it was just how it was referred to.
25 Q. Just so that we understand what you're talking about, I'll call
1 that "Kipe," that place. When you got to Kipe, what happened on your bus?
2 A. It was night-time. The bus stopped after that woman got off. The
3 bus stopped, and they said that three men should volunteer to get off.
4 Some people got off, and they probably unloaded the dead. I didn't watch
5 that. I had my head down and I was waiting to see what would happen next.
6 Then we heard bursts of gunfire, and then they asked people to get off the
7 bus three by three. And that's how it went.
8 Q. Were you able to see whether the bus that you were on was -- every
9 seat was full? Was it half empty? Were there more people than seats?
10 How occupied, how full, was the bus?
11 A. There were more people than there were seats. The seats were
12 full and so was the aisle between the rows of seats. It was packed, but I
13 can't be sure how many people there were. And I don't know how many
14 people were in the back.
15 Q. Do you know how many people that bus would normally sit?
16 A. Ten or fifty -- I think there were fifty seats.
17 Q. Did you tell us before, is it correct that you were seated in the
18 back of the bus?
19 A. Yes.
20 Q. As the people were getting off the bus three by three, did they go
21 in any order?
22 A. I don't know because I didn't watch. I was holding my head down,
23 waiting. They were just saying: "The next three." "The next three."
24 Out of the corner of my eye, I glanced through the window and I saw the
25 bearded man saying: "Here's your independent Bosnia" and shooting.
1 Although it was night-time, I could see that.
2 Q. Tell us what happened during this process. What happened to you?
3 A. It went on for a long time, this calling out three by three. And
4 when our turn seemed to be coming, I think I raised my head at that point
5 and I saw that there were only five or six of us left. We were whispering
6 to each other. I didn't really understand what was happening. And then
7 when they said: "The next three," when I got up, I saw that the man
8 taking people off the bus had been knocked down. One of our people had
9 jumped on top of him and was holding him down together with his rifle.
10 And one of the windows was already smashed, or it was missing. It was the
11 window behind the driver's back. So I wanted to take the opportunity and
12 get out of that -- through that window. I saw bullets hitting all around.
13 The first man who jumped out was killed. Then I jumped out and I turned
14 around, and I saw that the man who was holding down the man who had been
15 taking out was being pulled by the legs by a Chetnik. When I jumped out,
16 the guard could not shoot at me because he was changing his clip.
17 And Kipe begins right there by the road, so I ran, and I fell into
18 a hole. And I lay there. It was about fifty or a hundred metres away
19 from them. And I saw two other men running past. And that's all. And
20 then I got up, too, and continued running away. No one shot after me.
21 They didn't see me. I was already far away from them.
22 Q. You said that you saw two others running past, past you. Do you
23 know who they were?
24 A. I know who they were, but I wouldn't now, for other reasons.
25 Q. Were they prisoners from your bus?
1 A. Yes.
2 Q. As far as you know, were they part of the last group of five or
3 six people that you talked about that were on the bus?
4 A. Yes. I think that one of them had even sat next to me on the bus.
5 Q. Do you know if anyone else from your bus survived?
6 A. I know, at least according to what he said, there were survivors.
7 Some of the people managed to get up and flee.
8 Q. Before we go on to talk about other things, did you attend an
9 exhumation near that location, in Kipe, near Kipe?
10 A. Once I passed by and I could see that the exhumation was going on
11 but I couldn't go there. They probably did not allow access to passersby,
12 so I just continued on my way.
13 Q. At some time, did you attend an exhumation in Redak?
14 A. That's just what I told you. When I wanted to assist, they
15 wouldn't allow me. So I had to leave the area.
16 Q. Okay. At some point, did you identify anyone who was exhumed at
17 that location?
18 A. Yes, a year and-a-half later. The bodies were probably first
19 taken to Visoko, and then from Visoko to Sanski Most where they were kept,
20 the bodies. I mean, what remained of the bodies.
21 Q. Who did you identify?
22 A. My father. Islam Hopovac. His wife came and I showed her what
23 I thought was him. And the one whom I had carried whose eye had been out
24 of its socket was also there. I could identify him. I mean, I could see
25 the injuries, the holes, made by the knife or the bayonet.
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13 English transcripts.
1 Q. Islam Hopovac is the same person that you had seen being beaten
2 when you were inside the Miska Glava dom, when you stood up and looked out
3 the window?
4 A. Yes.
5 Q. How did you recognise your father?
6 A. I found some hair, his hair. He had a similar hair to mine.
7 There was also a piece of his glasses there. He didn't have very good
8 teeth on his lower jaw. And I knew that he had had a number of fractures
9 on his legs before the war. He had had a few traffic accidents. So I
10 could tell that it was him. I even called a lady doctor who was there to
11 explain to her about his previous injuries. So I told her that, and on
12 the basis of that, she was able to help me. And later on, they did a DNA
13 analysis, which also helped, and that is how we established it was him.
14 As for the others, I could tell who they were approximately by
15 their clothes, on the basis of what they were wearing. And I also thought
16 that this could be my father because of the cloth that remained on the
18 Q. Just to be clear, you mentioned the DNA test. Did you give blood,
19 or did anyone else from your family give blood for that test to be
21 A. My aunt, she gave blood. I don't remember if I did. I think she
22 was the only one who gave blood, actually. My father's sister, yes.
23 Q. And did your family receive the results of that test indicating
24 that it was determined that that was your father?
25 A. I don't know whether we were given the actual paper but I saw a
1 list which was put up on a board there. The list contained the names of
2 the people in respect of whom a DNA test had been done, and my father's
3 name was also there.
4 Q. Okay. Thank you. Now going back, I want to talk to you about
5 what happened after you escaped the massacre at Kipe. You said you were
6 running and you fell. What happened then?
7 A. I kept falling down. I don't know how many times I fell. The
8 area is covered with material which is dumped by these large trucks, and
9 it is a very uneven terrain. I fell in a hole there. I even think that I
10 slept next to this mass grave, but I'm not sure. I know that some dumper
11 truck tyres were there, and I slept next to these tyres. I could see
12 tracer bullets whizzing over my head, but I stood motionless in this area
13 which was overgrown with some shrubbery, and I spent the night there and I
14 woke up the next morning. It is possible that I passed out.
15 Q. The next morning after you had slept or passed out and you woke
16 up, what happened then?
17 A. I think it must have been around 4.00 or half past 4.00. It was
18 at daybreak, at any rate. The night was cool, and I was probably woken by
19 the cold. I passed by this area of Kipe and I passed the truck tyres.
20 And I came up to a small wall which was bordering a little wood there. So
21 I hid there but I was afraid that my shoes were too visible because they
22 were very bright, so I covered them with my hands. Then I took them off,
23 but then I put them on again, and I almost started shouting, "Shoot at me.
24 I cannot stand it any more." I mean, I talked to myself at the time. I
25 thought that the wood was full of them. I thought that there were many
1 people hiding in the area. I was very confused.
2 I continued into the woods, and I started climbing up a hill. And
3 I heard someone shout: "Freeze." And I saw two people in civilian
4 clothes, with no weapons. They were Croats. I don't remember -- I don't
5 think that we introduced each other, that they told me their names. They
6 said that they were from Brisevo. They asked me if I had seen a group of
7 women and children because apparently, a day or two days before, cleansing
8 had taken place in their village. I said I didn't. I didn't see anyone.
9 So we talked for a while about what had happened to us. They showed me
10 the way to Carakovo, and we parted.
11 Q. Where did you go then?
12 A. I came to a lake. I don't know which lake it was. I washed
13 myself a little, but my clothes were still covered with blood. There were
14 blood stains on my clothes that I couldn't wash off. After that, I
15 started out along a road, and I ran into an old woman with whom I talked
16 for a while. I picked some fruits there and ate them because I hadn't had
17 any food for days. I asked some people again for the way to Carakovo.
18 It's very easy to get lost in that area. It is a wooded, uneven terrain.
19 And then I also didn't trust people all the time.
20 Eventually, I ended up in the village of Raljas Suljevica.
21 Q. Did you know where you were going? Did you have an objective in
23 A. Raljas is the name of the village. Well, my final destination
24 was Carakovo, although I wanted to get to Hambarine. But I thought that I
25 should first go to Carakovo and then, from there, to Hambarine. I spent a
1 lot of time there. I was very careful. I kept crawling through the woods
2 and I spent two days crawling around the area of Raljas. I remember a
3 truck passing by, carrying a group of their men who were singing songs
4 about their Vojvodas.
5 Q. Do you know whether you had any visible injuries on your face at
6 that time?
7 A. Yes, my face was disfigured. I was covered with blood from the
8 beating that I had sustained before, but also from the falls that happened
9 to me on the way. I still have some problems as a result of those
11 Q. While you were on these journeys, did you ever see or were you
12 aware of any dead bodies in the area that you were walking around?
13 A. First when I was in Raljas, I was looking for a place which
14 belonged to an old man. I don't know whether this was a mixed village or
15 not. I think that some Croats lived in the area. When I worked in
16 Ljubija, I knew a man by the name of Dragan who lived there, who repaired
17 trucks. So before the war, I had been to Raljas on several occasions, and
18 I was looking for this place. And then I ran into a man who saw me, who
19 saw my face covered with blood. I asked him for some food, but he sent me
20 off to Ljubija. Then I saw a young man wearing what looked like a
21 uniform, sitting outside a house. I don't really know what kind of
22 uniform it was. But at any rate, two days later, I ended up on the other
23 side of Raljas and went in the opposite direction.
24 So on this other end of the village of Raljas, I ran into another
25 Croat. I don't know whether this man is still alive today, but he gave me
1 some food, a piece of bread, some tomatoes. I think he even put some
2 spread on the bread. And he said: "You have to run away. If they see me
3 with you, they will kill me, too." He showed me the way, where to go, and
4 I went in the direction of the village of Vodicno. I actually passed
5 through that village in which I saw a number of dead bodies also. I went
6 up to one of the corpses, but I couldn't approach others because there was
7 this stench coming out of these bodies. I didn't stay there very long. I
8 continued to flee. Most of the time, I had to crawl. But maybe these
9 details are not important.
10 Finally, I reached Rakovcani, where some people gave me some food
11 which I ate, but I also took a loaf of bread with me. I didn't believe
12 that I would find anyone alive there, but there were some people who were
13 still alive in this village. I wanted to cross the road there, but the
14 people who were there were afraid and they told me that I better cross
15 the road further down. On my way there, I saw a woman who told me to --
16 where to cross the road. I was not -- no longer as prudent and careful as
17 I had been, and I didn't see these men. I didn't see this group of
18 people. There may have been even hundreds of them.
19 I saw this man who was working with cattle. He was trying to tie
20 a cow, and he shouted at me, but I didn't quite realise what he was trying
21 to tell me, whether to come to him or whether to get away. But at any
22 rate, I went up to him and we started to talk. I told him about what had
23 happened to me. It was an old man, maybe 70 years of age. I think he
24 died three or four years ago.
25 I saw this Chetnik on the door, but I pretended I didn't see him.
1 I just changed the subject while still talking to this old man. But he
2 told me to get out. So I got out, and he pointed his rifle at me, at my
3 head. I remember a dog started to bark at him. And then he yelled at the
4 dog, telling it to shut up. But the dog went on barking, and then he
5 killed it. Then he asked me whether I was related to this old man. I
6 think he would have killed him immediately if I had told him that we were
7 related. He asked me about my face because I had these injuries on my
8 face, and I told him that I had fallen down on a rock. Then another one
9 came and they took me outside the community centre in Rakovcani.
10 Q. Okay. I want to ask you a few questions about what you've told us
11 so far, before we go into what happened after your arrest in Rakovcani.
12 You mentioned when you were passing through Vodicno, that you saw dead
13 bodies. Were these men in uniforms that you saw, the dead bodies, or were
14 they in civilian clothes?
15 A. Civilians.
16 Q. Were they all young men or were they -- do you know, or were they
17 of different sexes or ages?
18 A. I don't know. I went up to one of the corpses. I think that the
19 man was 50 or 60 years of age. Other bodies were stinking, and I didn't
20 want to go there.
21 Q. You said that if you had told -- that you were asked whether you
22 were related to the old man that you were talking to when you were taken
23 or arrested at Rakovcani. Did you tell him that you were related to the
24 old man, or how did you answer that question?
25 A. I told him we were not related. I said I didn't even know him,
1 which was actually true. I didn't really know the man, but apparently he
2 knew me because of my grandfather.
3 Q. And you said that the man that pointed the gun at you, that
4 arrested you there, was a Chetnik. Can you describe, was he a man in
5 uniform and what kind of uniform?
6 A. Yes. It was an olive-grey uniform. He had a beard. The other
7 one who came later was wearing a uniform of the reserve police force.
8 I have to leave the courtroom for a second.
9 JUDGE SCHOMBURG: The trial stays adjourned until 12.15. Thank
10 you for telling us. If you need a longer break, please tell us.
11 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] No, just five minutes will be
13 --- Recess taken at 11.55 a.m.
14 --- On resuming at 12.19 p.m.
15 JUDGE SCHOMBURG: Please be seated.
16 Please continue with the examination-in-chief.
17 MR. KOUMJIAN: Thank you.
18 Q. Sir, I'd like you to look again at the map, if that could be put
19 on the ELMO. You've talked about various things that happened from the
20 Miska Glava dom, and then being taken through Ljubija, through
21 Donja Ljubija to Ljubija, and then Kipe. Can you see on the map where
22 Kipe is? Is that correctly portrayed?
23 A. Where it says Zune, I think it's somewhere around here, but I'm
24 not sure. I couldn't say. I think -- wait a minute. Here, near
25 Jakarina, here. What does it say here? Lake. It's somewhere around
12 Blank page inserted to ensure pagination corresponds between the French and
13 English transcripts.
1 here. It's in this area here.
2 Q. Sir, that's an English word meaning "lake." Do you see the --
3 A. Yes, I see. I see.
4 Q. Do you see the "X" below that, the two "X's"?
5 A. Yes, I do now, yes. I know that I saw the church here when I was
6 running away. I used it as a point for orientation around Ljubija. It
7 was a Catholic church.
8 Q. Since you mentioned it, was that church damaged when you saw it?
9 A. I think it was intact.
10 Q. When you went from Kipe, you said you went to some various
11 villages and one of them was Raljas. Is that correct?
12 A. Raljas is a big area. I may have been in more than one village,
13 but maybe the whole area is called Raljas.
14 Q. Okay. So when you're saying Raljas, you mean a whole area near
15 Ljubija; is that correct?
16 A. Every hamlet in the area of Raljas, I call "Raljas," all the
17 houses around here. Until you come down to this place where the built-up
18 area begins, I think it's all called Raljas. I don't know of any other
19 name for it.
20 Q. Okay. Thank you. I'm done with the map then.
21 And you were telling us before the break that you had arrived in
22 Rakovcani, and that at that point, you had been arrested by a man in
23 uniform with a beard. And what happened after you were arrested?
24 A. As I've already said, I was taken to the community centre in
25 Rakovcani. He and another reserve policeman, they had me at gunpoint.
1 There was a rifle pointed at my head, and they told me to get in the car.
2 And there were lots of soldiers around. The place was teeming with
3 them. I heard them talking among themselves and mentioning fuel, so then
4 I said: "I have some fuel." Because I thought it might be a chance to
5 escape. So they said: "Get out of the car." And I did. And they put me
6 on a tractor. And one of them pointed a pistol at my head and the other
7 one -- these are little, small narrow lanes. I can't describe it for you
8 because there's nothing like that here. I can't really describe it. The
9 road was maybe 2 and-a-half metres wide and there were houses and low
10 walls on both sides.
11 Q. When you told the soldiers that you had fuel, did you tell them
12 where you could find fuel?
13 A. I didn't tell them then, but we went to my house. I may have said
14 it was at my home. But I know I told them that I had some fuel.
15 Q. Where you were at that time, at the dom in Rakovcani, how far was
16 that from your house in Rizvanovici?
17 A. I wasn't inside the dom but outside in the car, near the dom. And
18 the distance was about a kilometre, perhaps.
19 Q. What happened then when you went on the tractor?
20 A. As I have already said, one of them pointed a pistol at my head
21 and drove. The other one who was holding the pistol was wearing a uniform
22 of the reserve police force, and they were afraid of being ambushed.
23 That's how we arrived at my house. In front of the house, there were six
24 or seven thousand bricks, blocks, because we had started building a house,
25 and it's still there, the part that we started building. I think it's 20
1 metres long and 7 or 8 metres wide. We were going to use that to store
2 fruit and vegetables during the summer, so we dug it 3 metres in the
3 ground. And the bricks I mentioned, I had concealed some fuel there
4 before. But when we arrived there, it was already gone. Somebody else
5 had already found it.
6 So I went to the low wall behind this place where I had a barrel
7 containing 20 liters of fuel. It was a 50-litre barrel but there were
8 about 20 litres of fuel hidden there. I thought I would run away then,
9 but this man had climbed up and was holding his rifle pointed at me so I
10 didn't have a chance to escape. I brought them the barrel and they poured
11 the fuel in.
12 Q. Then what happened?
13 A. I wasn't even aware of what I was doing. They poured the fuel out
14 of the barrel, and then they threw it on to the road. And I said to
15 them, as if I was crazy, I said: "Why don't you remove that barrel from
16 the road? It will be in somebody's way." They put me on the tractor
17 again. And we went back to the dom, the community centre in Rizvanovici,
18 in the same way we had come. Their headquarters was there.
19 Q. When you say "their headquarters," did it appear to be a police
20 headquarters or army headquarters, or what kind of group's headquarters?
21 A. It was the army, but there were reserve policemen among them as
22 well. I think there were more soldiers than policemen. And there was
23 also a school there where they slept.
24 Q. Was someone introduced to you as the commander?
25 A. Yes.
1 Q. Tell us about this person.
2 A. At first, at first when I had just arrived, they started beating
3 me right away. They took their belts off and they started hitting me.
4 They asked me what had happened to my face and I told them that I had
5 escaped from a shooting, from an execution.
6 Q. I understood from the answer that they took their belts off. Is
7 that correct? Did they use their own belts, or whose belts did they use?
8 A. My belt. They took my belt. They took my belt off and they were
9 pulling it, one was pulling each end. And then they hit me from all
10 sides. And one of them lay on top of me and he was pretending to hit
11 me, but I didn't know that then. In fact, he was protecting me so that I
12 would not be badly hurt.
13 Q. You made a motion with your hands about the belt, which I
14 understand, but I want to make sure it's clear in the record. What did
15 they do with your belt?
16 A. They held it to my throat and then they pulled it. They were
17 actually strangling me. And that's how they knocked me down on the
19 Q. Okay. When you said they were both pulling it, were two different
20 soldiers pulling on each end of your belt, with the belt around your neck?
21 A. Yes. Yes. They were pulling from behind, at least, that's how I
22 think it was because there were two of them doing this. And they were
23 hitting me from all sides. I think it was the two that took me prisoner
24 who were doing this.
25 Q. You mentioned the commander. When did you see or meet the person
1 who you thought was the commander?
2 A. They were beating me in front of him. He was sitting there,
3 reading a novel, and when they brought me to him and said "hello" and then
4 they started beating me right away. And there were others sitting with
5 the commander, and there were soldiers walking around. I saw a lot of
6 looted vehicles, even my father's car. They were beating me because they
7 wanted to get the car keys.
8 Q. Did this commander -- or did he tell you what he was the commander
9 of, or did anyone else give you a title for him?
10 A. He said to me that I had to call him the commander of Serbia,
11 Rakovcani, Biscani, that I had to pronounce this whole sentence
12 enumerating all the villages there. So I had to say that all these
13 villages were Serbian and that's how I had to address him.
14 Q. These villages that were part of his title you just mentioned,
15 Rakovcani and Biscani, and whatever others were in the title, were they
16 villages that before the conflict were predominantly Serb?
17 A. There were never any Serbs there.
18 Q. After the soldiers were beating you, did the commander show you
20 A. Show me? First, they took me to have lunch and then he showed me
21 something. I even asked him where he was from, and he told me he was from
22 Banja Luka. I don't know whether he was lying or not, but that's what he
24 Q. Okay. Perhaps it's better if you just tell us what happened.
25 What happened after the beating?
1 A. The Cafe Bosna was there. It was a nice place where a lot of
2 young people used to gather. They would have dances, and that's where
3 they had their canteen. The commander took me there to question me after
4 the beating. He asked me if I was hungry. And while they were beating
5 me, I had some bread, but they didn't ask me about it. Dropped the bread
6 while they were beating me.
7 I was eating, and there was a soldier to my right, the commander
8 was to my left. And the soldier kept pricking me with his knife in the
9 area of the kidneys, frightening me. The other one was questioning me.
10 And then some identity cards were brought in, a huge pile of them this
11 high. And while he was eating, they kept asking me: "Do you know this
12 one, this one?" And this man was constantly pricking me with his knife,
13 and I was afraid to eat. I said I couldn't eat any more. And then he
14 yelled at me, he said "Eat." And I said: "I can't eat because this man
15 is pricking me with a knife." I could have eaten otherwise. And he
16 said: "You see how the JNA has food, and yet you refuse to serve in the
17 JNA." But I knew that the food actually came from our houses which had
18 been looted. That's why they had so much food.
19 Q. The identity cards that were shown to you, did you recognise any
20 of the individuals who were on those cards?
21 A. I might have recognised most of these people had I not been so
22 terrified, because this man kept pricking me with his knife and I was
23 afraid he would stab me. So I managed to recognise only one, the one who
24 used to work in that cafe. He's the only one I recognised.
25 Q. If you remember now, or if you noticed then and remember now,
1 could you tell from the names the ethnicity of the people who were on
2 those identity cards?
3 A. The last one, the one I recognised, was a Muslim. I wouldn't know
4 about the others. But probably Muslims, maybe Croats, because the Croats
5 had the same problems.
6 Q. The commander that you're talking about, can you describe his
7 uniform and whether you recognised any rank on him?
8 A. It was a JNA uniform. I don't know if he had any rank, insignia.
9 I just had to call him the commander of Serbian Biscani, Rizvanovici and
10 Rakovcani. I don't remember. But I'm sure he was the commander.
11 Q. What happened after you were shown the identity cards?
12 A. I stopped eating. A soldier came along and offered a cigarette to
13 the commander. So I asked for a cigarette, too. I said: "May I have a
14 cigarette? I haven't smoked in two months." And he gave it to me. I
15 lighted it, and I asked the commander: "Is this my last cigarette?
16 That's how it usually is." And he said: "It's up to you. Will you be
17 our grave digger?" And I said: "Yes, if it meant I would stay alive."
18 And so they found a spade and a pickaxe for me to use and took me behind
19 Smail Karagic's house. Two bodies were there. There were already maggots
20 crawling out of their heads. And there were six others nearby, but I
21 managed to escape in the meantime. But I know there were six other
22 bodies, and there were female bodies among them.
23 Q. Did you bury the two bodies that you're talking about?
24 A. I dug the grave for them because of the heat. July is the hottest
25 month in our part of the world. I was very thirsty, so thirsty that I
12 Blank page inserted to ensure pagination corresponds between the French and
13 English transcripts.
1 even threw my spade down at one point and refused to dig any further. I
2 asked for water, and they yelled at me to go on digging. I again asked
3 for water, and they went on yelling. And I didn't care any more. Well,
4 it's not that I didn't care but I simply couldn't go on. Then they
5 brought me water. I had a drink and continued digging.
6 While I was digging, one of the men who had taken me prisoner shot
7 around my feet and I had to dance, the way people dance in cowboy films.
8 And then I don't know what came over me. I said to him: "Aim at this,"
9 and I was talking about the line running down the middle of the spade.
10 And he hit it. And I said: "You're a real good shot." And he laughed at
11 that, and then he fired a whole burst of gunfire at that spade. And then
12 he left, and somebody hit me with a piece of wood. I don't know, I can't
13 remember that precisely. And I was digging again, and this man climbed up
14 a tree and he was cutting some wood to make a stake, about a metre
15 and-a-half long.
16 Q. Did you actually finish burying the bodies, the two bodies?
17 A. They told me to put them in the grave and bury them. The grave
18 was knee deep by then. I tried. I pulled one by the feet, but I had the
19 feeling that his feet would come off. So I said I couldn't do it. And he
20 was yelling at me, and I was saying, "I can't." And he fired a shot, and
21 the bullet grazed me. I thought I was dead, so I started to fall down,
22 but there was nothing wrong with me. And then I said something. Then I
23 turned around, and I untied the corpses, because they were bound with
24 strips of plastic. They were bound together. So I untied the plastic and
25 I pulled them into the grave one by one. I buried them. One foot
1 remained sticking out of the soil.
2 In the meantime, the man who had made a stake called to me to come
3 to him. And while I was walking towards him to see what would happen
4 next, I asked him how much my life was worth. He said: "5.000 litres of
5 fuel." And I remembered that my uncle had 200 litres of fuel he had
6 buried. It just passed through my head. And I said: "Well, I have 200."
7 And he said: "Fuck your mother. Why didn't you say that at once?" And
8 then he started to swing the stake at me. I caught hold of one end of the
9 stake and we started tugging at it. I was terrified. I yelled
10 out: "Commander, commander," hoping he would save me. And the commander
11 did arrive. He was holding a knife in his hand. The soldiers lowered
12 their rifles, expecting him to kill me. He was playing with the knife,
13 tossing it from one hand to the other and walking towards me. I dodged.
14 And the grass was not very high. It had been mown about a fortnight
15 before, so there was nothing he could trip over except his own feet, and
16 he did trip. And I took the opportunity and started running away.
17 There was some maize growing nearby and I managed to hide in the
18 corn field so they couldn't shoot at me. And then they threw a grenade.
19 In fact, I didn't know what they were doing, but I heard a whizzing sound
20 and something thudded to the ground. It flew past me but it didn't hit
21 me. And then the grenade exploded, maybe 2 metres away from me. And I
22 had just a piece of shrapnel which hit me in the arm, and my ear was hurt.
23 And there may have been other pieces of shrapnel. But when I had an x-ray
24 taken a while ago, I found that there was a piece of shrapnel still in my
25 arm which I didn't even know about.
1 I ran to the edge of the wood and threw myself into a ditch. They
2 ran past me and went on. They probably weren't expecting me to be there.
3 And I heard them saying: "Well, he's not here. He's not here." And I
4 went in the opposite direction from the direction their voices were coming
5 from, and that's how I managed to escape. I came to an isolated house on
6 the other side of the village near the stream, where I found a piece of
7 cloth and I put it on my ear. I thought it would come off any time. And
8 this is where I spent the night. I actually didn't dare stay in the house
9 because, at one point in time, they noticed me again and opened fire. But
10 I managed to escape once again. And I reached an overgrown area.
11 Luckily, they fired tracer bullets so I could see them. I could see where
12 the shots were coming from, and that's how I managed to escape once again
13 and save myself.
14 I spent the night in the shrubs, some 300 metres away from that
15 house. I woke up the next morning because I was cold. I only had a light
16 shirt on and a pair of shorts. I was freezing. So I removed the branches
17 with which I had covered myself a little in order to warm myself up in the
18 sun. I stay there for a while and then again I set out to -- in a
19 direction of an area between Rakovcani and Rizvanovici. I approached the
20 road and again I hid in a cornfield. I was waiting for the nightfall, to
21 cross the road.
22 Sorry, do these details matter to you? I mean, I don't want to
23 waste your time if this is not necessary.
24 Q. I think you have been very helpful to us so far. But from this
25 point, can you tell us in a rather brief fashion now what you did between
1 the time of this escape and when you left on a convoy. Can you describe
2 where you were and what you were doing during that time.
3 A. Okay, I'll be brief then. I realise you don't need all of these
4 details. As I said, I waited for the nightfall --
5 JUDGE SCHOMBURG: May I interrupt. Please feel free to tell us
6 what you want to tell us and don't have the impression that any detail
7 would be not of our interest. Please, tell us all what you have
8 experienced. Thank you.
9 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Thank you.
10 So I hid in this cornfield which was near the road and waited for
11 the nightfall. I happened to find some tomatoes there, which I ate. Then
12 at one point a truck stopped near the road, and a bullet was fired. And I
13 started to run. I felt as if everybody could see me. I thought I was
14 in a sort of triangle and that they could spot me from all sides. But
15 they couldn't get me, they couldn't hit me. I found a small boundary
16 wall or a hedge, where I hid. There was a slope there, and I took out the
17 cord off my shorts, which I then tied to a tree there. And I tied myself
18 to this tree so that they wouldn't see me. I was hanging upside down,
19 actually, and they were not very far from me. They were like 3 or 4
20 metres away. They were near me. They stood there but they couldn't see
21 me. And all the while I was holding this knife that I had because I had
22 decided that I would kill myself if they saw me. They were probably
23 looking for me throughout the forest. And this is how I fell asleep --
24 well, there is a detail here that I don't want to mention. But this is
25 how I fell asleep, and I woke up like this the next morning.
1 It was about 4.00 in the morning. I got out of that spot and I
2 crawled across the cemetery, something which I wouldn't -- I would have
3 never done before. I wouldn't have dared. And I managed to find a hole
4 which my brother and I had dug out a day or two after the cleansing of the
5 village. When I got to this hole, I cried for the first time when I saw
6 that no one was left there. I stayed two days in this hole. I was alone.
7 There were some tomatoes and peppers growing there that we had planted
8 before the war. I picked those and I ate them. And then after two days,
9 I decided to go in the same direction which we had taken that day when we
10 had set out for Bihac. So it was during the second night that I left, and
11 I managed to find a group of 10 or 11 people, including my brother.
12 Two of them had rifles. There were two rifles with this group of
13 people, so that made me feel a bit safer. And we spent the rest of the
14 time together up until the 21st of August, when we joined this convoy.
15 During the night, we would forage for food. And during the day,
16 we hid. They did the other way around. They were out during the day but
17 didn't dare move around during the night.
18 Q. When you say, "They did it the other way," do you mean the
19 soldiers, the Serbian soldiers?
20 A. Yes. They were afraid. They only feel strong when they're
22 Q. You mentioned when you were hanging in the tree that you had a
23 knife. Where did you get the knife from?
24 A. I found it in this house, the same house in which I had found this
25 piece of cloth which I used to tie around my ears to keep them from
1 falling off. I didn't actually realise that my ears were all right, but I
2 was afraid because of the blood coming out.
3 Q. This was after the injury to your ear from the grenade exploding
5 A. Yes. Yeah.
6 Q. During this time that you were back in the Brdo area, I think you
7 indicated that you mainly just moved at night, but did you see any damage
8 to houses in that area?
9 A. I didn't notice any houses burnt down at the time but later --
10 actually, it was before that I had seen several houses on fire. But at
11 the time we were in hiding, no, I didn't notice any such thing.
12 Q. When was it that you had seen houses on fire?
13 A. After the cleansing, a day or two before we left for Bihac.
14 Perhaps five days after the cleansing, I mean throughout that period of
15 time, we saw houses on fire. There would always be a house on fire here
16 and there. That was actually a good sign for us.
17 Q. Why is that?
18 A. See, they had this special media campaign which was targeted
19 against us. They were saying that we were the last Turks in the area.
20 They fabricated all kinds of things. I mean, they were lying to their own
21 people, probably including this one sitting here. But this was all a lie.
22 We managed to survive. We were first disarmed. Then they did to us what
23 they did, what they wanted to do with us, but we survived.
24 Q. Tell us about the convoy in which you left the area.
25 A. (redacted)
8 decision because of this experience that I had had with them. But
9 eventually, we all decided that we should go. So we joined this convoy
10 and we mixed with a group of women and children on the 21st of August.
11 Q. Where did you get on the convoy?
12 A. In Tukovi. It is a village in the immediate vicinity of
13 Rizvanovici, on the outskirts of Prijedor town.
14 Q. When you got on the convoy, you said you mixed with women and
15 children. Can you describe exactly what you did?
16 A. Well, we once again had to go through the cornfield, cross a
17 number of -- cross over a number of farm walls and hedges. It was their
18 area. We tried to avoid them and the road, but we were successful. I was
19 actually surprised to see that they didn't react. There were many of them
20 there, wearing all kinds of uniforms. Some even had -- it's difficult for
21 me to describe it because it was not a usual uniform. It was a kind of
22 windbreaker with dots on it, a very strange kind of uniform. Bluish. The
23 man could have been a military policeman but I'm not sure. Others were
24 wearing the regular JNA uniforms.
25 JUDGE SCHOMBURG: May I please interrupt? Can please line 4 on
12 Blank page inserted to ensure pagination corresponds between the French and
13 English transcripts.
1 page 63 be redacted from the transcript, for the reasons given by the
2 witness. Thank you.
3 Please continue.
4 MR. KOUMJIAN:
5 Q. Did you get on a bus or some kind of -- other kind of vehicle at
6 Tukovi? Can you describe the vehicle?
7 A. It was a trailer truck. It may have had two trailers but I'm not
9 Q. When you got on the truck, did you in any way try to conceal
11 A. Yes, I did. I was with the first group, and I went forward. I
12 was with a woman whose name I don't wish to mention because of her place
13 of work. I mean, it's not important anyway. I sat next to this lady. My
14 brother was at the back of the bus with two other men. And the rest of
15 the passengers were all women.
16 Q. So were you sitting in a normal position on the truck?
17 A. I first sat on the board, on the edge of the trailer. And then
18 someone hit me with a rifle butt and I fell down, and I actually hid down
19 and remained in this position throughout the journey.
20 Q. What was hiding you when you were laying down?
21 A. Well, the women.
22 Q. During the convoy, do you know if the escorts, the soldiers or
23 police, ever made any demands on the prisoners, or on the people on the
25 A. Well, first of all, I didn't know, I wasn't aware of the fact that
1 there was any escort on the truck. I simply got on to the trailer. And
2 after the truck had set out, my brother shouted out at me, he wanted me to
3 come over to him. He later had problems because of that. I don't know
4 exactly where it was but it could have been in the vicinity of Kozarac. I
5 think that they picked up the people from Trnopolje on the way. We made
6 several stops, many stops, actually, but I don't remember how many. I
7 didn't count them.
8 In the meantime, the driver took my brother off the truck and my
9 brother disappeared for a while. He came back, and he had a stain on his
10 shirt when he came back. I think this driver had pointed his gun at him.
11 Anyway, my brother told me: "I have been ordered, else I would be killed,
12 to tell you that you should give them all the Serbian money because we
13 would not need it in Travnik." Actually, it was the Yugoslav money at the
14 time. So that's how it started. First they asked for the money. Then
15 after the next stop, they asked for German marks, for jewellery,
16 valuables. And whenever they found something on someone, they started
17 threatening us, always through my brother.
18 But anyway, we arrived in a village.
19 THE INTERPRETER: We didn't get the name of the village.
20 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Anyway, I was not very familiar with
21 the area. These women were crying. They were with children. And they
22 took out a number of people. They took a number of people off the
23 trailer. And this group of people remained behind. Finally, we arrived
24 at Smetovi. And they came up to me and my brother -- actually, a
25 Chetnik came close to us. There were many of them, and all of them were
1 wearing JNA uniforms. There were many soldiers in the area. Some were
2 saying: "They are not animals," things like that. One of them
3 said: "You, and you," talking to my brother, and I thought that would be
4 the end of it. But they wanted us to carry a person on a stretcher. This
5 man was apparently from Keraterm. His body was emaciated. He was very
6 thin. I don't know what happened to him later on. When we reached our
7 territory, we handed him over to our men. I don't know what happened to
8 him later on, whether he survived or not. So that's how it was.
9 Later on, I joined the 1st Krajina Brigade, and after two months,
10 I left to Croatia. Maybe a month later, actually.
11 Q. So for one or two months, you served in the army of
13 A. I did, at that time, yes.
14 Q. You mentioned seeing a skeleton at your uncle's house. Where was
15 your uncle's house?
16 A. In the area of Sredice. I don't think you can see it on this map.
17 MR. KOUMJIAN: Your Honour, I would another map which I would
18 like. I don't believe it has been used before. It is labelled "Brdo
19 region, Prijedor" and has the ERN number of 02166225.
20 JUDGE SCHOMBURG: Provisional S169. Okay, 170.
21 MR. KOUMJIAN: If it can be shown to the witness, put on the ELMO.
22 Q. Sir, I'd like you to look at the map, and first, if you can find
23 your village, Rizvanovici.
24 A. This is where the house of my uncle was, approximately. This
25 whole area is the area of Rizvanovici.
1 MR. KOUMJIAN: Okay. The witness has indicated for the record
2 just to the north-east of Rizvanovici and just lightly north-west of
4 Q. You also talked about being arrested at Duratovici.
5 A. Duratovici also forms part of Rizvanovici. It's just a hamlet,
6 the name of the hamlet.
7 Q. Thank you. And you also see the place where you were arrested,
9 A. Yes, here.
10 Q. Can you show us where -- from your house, you said you were able
11 to see the shelling of Hambarine. Can you show us where Hambarine is?
12 A. Here. This whole area here is the area of Hambarine. This is the
13 main road for Ljubija. This whole area here is called Hambarine. It
14 stretches over 2 and-a-half kilometres in the direction of Rakovcani. It
15 has about 800 houses. That's what people tell. I don't know personally.
16 Hambarine is the largest village in the area.
17 MR. KOUMJIAN: For the record, the witness indicated the road
18 above Hambarine on the map and indicated the area to the east towards
20 Q. Do you see where the convoy was that you -- where you boarded the
21 convoy on the 21st of August?
22 A. I think that it could be here. This whole area is Tukovi. If
23 this is the road for Rizvanovici, then it would be here.
24 Q. Indicating the area marked Tukovi and the area to the north-east
25 of that. Thank you.
1 Sir, in addition to your uncle, did you lose any other relatives
2 during the conflict in 1992? In addition to your uncle and your father,
3 excuse me.
4 A. I lost another uncle, three cousins, sons of my uncle, that is,
5 my father's brother. And then I lost also two cousins of my mother's
6 brother. And then, of course, my father. I'm not going to enumerate all
7 of my relatives who got killed because so many people from this area got
9 Q. Do you know if your house was ever looted?
10 A. When?
11 Q. That was going to be my next question. Was your house looted, to
12 your knowledge? And if you know, when did that occur?
13 A. Well, in the days that followed the cleansing, we knew about it,
14 all of the valuable things were taken away immediately after that, such as
15 the TV set, the tractor. So yes, I am aware of that, of the fact that it
16 was looted as early as then. Other things were taken later on. But the
17 most valuable property was taken right away. They were fighting for it.
18 Though, I know, for instance, that my uncle's combine, I know where it is.
19 But my uncle has no way of proving that it is his combine. He has no
20 documentation to that effect. I don't think he will succeed in recovering
22 Q. Thank you, sir, for your information.
23 MR. KOUMJIAN: I don't have any further questions on direct
25 JUDGE SCHOMBURG: May I ask the Defence counsel, is it your
1 intention to cross-examine the witness?
2 MR. LUKIC: Yes, Your Honour. We would have to clarify a few
4 JUDGE SCHOMBURG: You need, of course, more than the remaining 20
5 minutes. Right?
6 MR. LUKIC: Yes, of course, Your Honour.
7 JUDGE SCHOMBURG: Then for today, the witness is excused. And may
8 we ask you to come again tomorrow. There are some additional questions in
9 the same manner as we did it today. Thank you for today. And we proceed
10 a little bit --
11 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] I forgot to say something. So when
12 I am asked further questions, I may remember to add those. I think you
13 should know this in advance, some things I forgot to say.
14 JUDGE SCHOMBURG: Thank you. We will come back to these issues
15 tomorrow. Thank you for today.
16 [The witness stands down]
17 JUDGE SCHOMBURG: There were two documents tendered today, the
18 first map Ljubija, Brisevo overview. Objections?
19 MR. LUKIC: No objections, Your Honour.
20 JUDGE SCHOMBURG: As regards the second, Brdo region, Prijedor?
21 MR. LUKIC: No objections, Your Honour.
22 JUDGE SCHOMBURG: Then these two documents are admitted into
23 evidence as S169, S170.
24 Then can we hear from the Office of the Prosecutor what will be
25 the next -- what can we expect as to the next witnesses to come, and what
12 Blank page inserted to ensure pagination corresponds between the French and
13 English transcripts.
1 about our missing witness?
2 MR. KOUMJIAN: The witness who is in the middle of
3 cross-examination, my understanding is he is scheduled to return the 1st
4 of July, to be examined the 1st of July, which is Monday.
5 JUDGE SCHOMBURG: Monday afternoon. And tomorrow, the
6 cross-examination of the witness before us. And then?
7 MR. KOUMJIAN: That's all that we had scheduled, would be the
8 cross-examination and Judges' questions.
9 JUDGE SCHOMBURG: Yes. Then it may be necessary to add a Status
10 Conference tomorrow.
11 As regards the other witness, we have to go for a moment into
12 closed session.
13 Closed session, please.
14 [Closed session]
12 Pages 5281 to 5285 – redacted – closed session.
12 --- Whereupon the hearing adjourned at
13 1.38 p.m., to be reconvened on
14 Thursday, the 27th day of June, 2002,
15 at 9.00 a.m.