1 Monday, 28 June 2004
2 [Open session]
3 [The accused entered court]
4 --- Upon commencing at 2.21 p.m.
5 JUDGE PARKER: Good afternoon. We commence this afternoon the
6 Defence case. It was indicated on Friday there would be an opening
7 address. Is that to be, Mr. Rodic, or Mr. Petrovic?
8 MR. RODIC: [Interpretation] Good afternoon, Your Honour. Good
9 afternoon to my colleagues of the Prosecution. The Defence is opening its
10 case today, presenting its case, and I would like to give the opening
12 The indictment of the Prosecutor of the International Tribunal, or
13 the indictment of the Prosecutor of the International Tribunal, against
14 General -- Colonel General Pavle Strugar charges him with violating the
15 customs and laws of war through six counts of the indictment. Over a
16 period of five months, the Prosecution presented its case, trying to prove
17 that one man, General Pavle Strugar, is responsible for the events in and
18 around Dubrovnik in the autumn of 1991. The Prosecutor of the
19 International Tribunal attempted to present the events that are the focus
20 of this trial outside of its historical, social, and military context in
21 force at the time.
22 The Prosecutor attempted to present these events outside of the
23 framework of the time period and the space in which one state was being
24 broken apart by a secessionist armed rebellion in the republics of Croatia
25 and Slovenia in the period of 1990 to 1992, which actually represents the
1 peak of the destructive relationship towards the state community of the
2 Yugoslav communities in the twentieth century.
3 The context of the events from 1991 is possible to be presented
4 only by taking into account the history of the Yugoslav state, starting
5 from its emergence in 1918, the events in World War II, followed by the
6 period of Communism, until the illegal secession carried out contrary to
7 the constitution of the SFRY. The Yugoslav state was created after
8 World War I, in 1918, with the unification of two, up until then,
9 independent states of Serbia and Montenegro and the territory of the
10 former Austro-Hungarian monarchy, which was inhabited by southern Slav
11 peoples: Serbs, Croats, and Slovenes.
12 The Yugoslav state was a unitary state, founded on the state
13 concept of one nation, or one people, and three entities: Serbs, Croats,
14 and Slovenes. The state was divided into banovina, which did not
15 represent a territorial division according to the ethnic principle, but
16 were divided in accordance with the administrative principle.
17 The kingdom of Serbs, Croats, and Slovenes, later the kingdom of
18 Yugoslavia, from its very creation, was burdened by numerous antagonisms.
19 These antagonisms were a consequence of various mutually exclusive state
20 and national programmes of the Yugoslav peoples. The Croatian political
21 elite felt that the Yugoslav state was a kind of transitional period in
22 its process of state and national independence.
23 The first attempt to create an independent Croatian state was made
24 in 1941, under German sponsorship, with the forming of the Ustasha
25 Independent State of Croatia. With the victory of the allies in World
1 War II, a Yugoslav state was again created, according to the federative
2 model, comprising six republics. The rule of communists was established
3 in 1945, and it forcefully suppressed ethnic hatreds, myths, and
4 stereotypes. The concept of brotherhood and unity represented a universal
5 formula for the resolution of the national question in socialist
6 Yugoslavia. However, the unresolved national question represents the key
7 reason for the breakup of the second Yugoslav state covered Croatian
8 separatism, which exists in various forms, and existed throughout the
9 period of existence of the Yugoslav state, culminated in the illegal
10 secession, contrary to the Yugoslav constitution.
11 With the arrival of the Croatian Democratic Community to power in
12 the spring of 1990, the last step was taken in the breakup of the SFRY.
13 In preparation for secession from Yugoslavia, Tudjman's HDZ assessed that
14 in order to achieve such a goal, a conflict with the Yugoslav national
15 army was inevitable. That is why immediately upon the setting up of the
16 authority of the HDZ, it decided and forcefully embarked on, number one,
17 an enormous strengthening of the police forces; under two, forming, at the
18 same time, party paramilitary formations, specifically the Croatian
19 National Guard, as the corps of a future army; and under 3, weakening as
20 much as possible the power of the units of the JNA, which was stationed in
21 the territory of the Republic of Croatia.
22 The decision by Franjo Tudjman, president of the Republic of
23 Croatia, which was the strongest political party in power in Croatia, the
24 Croatian National Guard's corps was officially promoted as a military
25 formation at a rally held on the 28th of May, 1991, in Zagreb. At that
1 point in time, Croatia had about 60.000 soldiers and conscripts under
2 arms, as well as 30.000 police officers. Of course, these numbers
3 indicate the preparations that were being carried out at the time in
4 Croatia for an armed secession, because in accordance with the peacetime
5 establishment, since the Croatian National Guard's corps is not a legal
6 formation, the Ministry of Internal Affairs, in the period prior to that,
7 had a much smaller number of police officers than these numbers, which
8 went as high as 30.000 in 1991.
9 However, prior to that, in the course of November 1990, the
10 Presidency of the SFRY was informed about the considerable import of
11 weapons and materiel from Hungary for the needs of the paramilitary
12 formations in the Republic of Croatia. Because of that, on the 9th of
13 January, 1991, the Presidency of the SFRY reached conclusions and issued
14 an order on the disarming of all armed formations which were not part of
15 the united armed forces of the SFRY or organs of the Ministry of Internal
16 Affairs and whose organisation was not established and was not in
17 accordance with federal regulations.
18 The Presidency of the SFRY issued a deadline for the
19 implementation of this order, which amounted to ten days. However, the
20 Croatian leadership, after requesting an extension of this deadline by 48
21 hours, on the 21st of January, 1991, raised the combat readiness of the
22 entire composition of the forces of the Ministry of Internal Affairs and
23 the Croatian National Guard's corps. In view of such a response by the
24 authorities of the Republic of Croatia, subsequent three orders of the
25 Presidency of the SFRY on the disarming of paramilitary composition, or
1 paramilitary forces, were not implemented.
2 Contrary to that, the whole world saw the photograph of the
3 strangling of a soldier in an armoured transporter on the 6th of May,
4 1991, in the situation when the command of the Military Naval District in
5 Split was under blockade, and on that occasion, soldier Sasa Gesovski was
6 killed while another soldier and officer were wounded. Since that time,
7 until the 25th of July, 1991, there were 126 cases of violent acts against
8 the staff and facilities of the JNA in Croatia. In that period, six
9 members of the JNA were killed and 87 were wounded.
10 This was followed by a blockade of the barracks throughout the
11 entire territory of the Republic of Croatia, which was implemented by
12 cutting off water, electricity, telephone lines, food supplies, with the
13 assistance of paramilitary units, also all exits and entrances to the
14 barracks were blocked. Also, during one of the numerous signed truces in
15 the period from the 2nd to the 11th of September, 1991, 115 armed attacks
16 were registered, resulting in 11 deaths and 40 injuries of members of the
18 In such circumstances, following numerous violations of the truce
19 and evasion by the Croatian side of obligations that it had signed on to
20 on the demobilisation of the paramilitary formations, something that was
21 witnessed by observers of the European Community and the European
22 Commission, the headquarters of the Supreme Command reached a decision to
23 use the activities of certain military units to exert pressure on the
24 Republic of Croatia to deblock the garrisons and the barracks where JNA
25 units were stationed in the territory of this republic.
12 Blank page inserted to ensure pagination corresponds between the French and
13 English transcripts.
1 The military leadership quickly had to create and make operational
2 the armed forces that would be carrying out the operations against the
3 paramilitary formations, and also the task of the military leadership was
4 to form the military territorial component which would control the rear of
5 the fronts, ensure that life went on in one way or another in the
6 territory which at the time was mostly inhabited by a hostile population,
7 or on the territory from where the population had moved out or had fled,
8 out of fear of the consequences of military operations.
9 One of these temporary formations was the 2nd Operational Group,
10 which was established towards the end of September 1991, headed by its
11 then commander, General Jevrem Cokic. Numerous problems are linked to the
12 establishment of this temporary military group. We had the opportunity of
13 hearing about this during the Prosecution case, that in the mentioned
14 period, the 2nd Operational Group changed three commanders within a short
15 span of time. After General Cokic, after he was wounded, General
16 Ruzinovski came to head the 2nd Operational Group. And then, on the 13th
17 and 14th of October, Colonel General Pavle Strugar came to head the
18 2nd Operational Group. At that time he was the lieutenant colonel
20 The establishment of the 2nd Operational Group did not mean that a
21 command was to be established, first and foremost, and that then this
22 command should go to a post that was assigned to it as a command post, to
23 familiarise itself with its area of responsibility, and only then bring in
24 and deploy units that were intended for it, which would have all been in
25 keeping with military rules. What happened was the exact opposite of
1 that. The units were already either in that area of responsibility or
2 geared towards it or were supposed to appear there only after mobilisation
3 and a march.
4 The command of the 2nd Operational Group arrived only after the
5 General Staff issued an order, and it was only the General Staff of the
6 armed forces that all of a sudden informed them that certain units came
7 under their command. All the orders issued by the personnel
8 administration of the General Staff regulating appointments of officers
9 within the 2nd Operational Group contained a clause stating that these
10 appointments were temporary rather than for an indefinite period of time.
11 So it is not being contested that the 2nd Operational Group was a
12 completely new and temporary formation, or rather, part of the temporary
13 composition of the armed forces of the SFRY. Within the group at that
14 time were parts of the 37th Corps, headquartered in Uzice. This corps
15 otherwise belongs to the 1st Military District.
16 Then, within the 2nd Operational Group were parts of the 2nd
17 Corps, headquartered in Titograd, now Podgorica. This corps belonged to
18 the 3rd Military District, that was headquartered in Skopje, in Macedonia.
19 Then the 9th Military Naval Sector, with its headquarters in Kumbor, which
20 otherwise was an integral part of the forces of the Military Naval
21 District, whose headquarters were Split. Then parts of the 4th Corps,
22 with its headquarters in Sarajevo, a brigade was active from that corps
23 and it became part of the 2nd Operational Group. And all together, it
24 belonged to the 1st Military District, whose headquarters were in
1 When all of this is taken into consideration, one thing is
2 striking, and that is that only the forces of the 9th Military Naval
3 Sector were within their original zone of responsibility and that all
4 other units were brought in from their respective zones and deployed in a
5 completely foreign zone of responsibility unknown to them.
6 When speaking of the area of responsibility of the 2nd Operational
7 Group, one has to bear in mind the fact that this is a very big territory,
8 because the zone stretched through the territory of eastern Herzegovina to
9 the border between Bosnia-Herzegovina and Serbia, republics of the SFRY at
10 that time; then Bosnia-Herzegovina and Montenegro. It included that
11 border too. On the north and north-west, the area of responsibility of
12 the 2nd Operational Group spread all the way to the Neretva River Valley,
13 and on the west to the Adriatic Sea, including the hinterland and the
14 islands in the broader area of Dubrovnik and the peninsula of Peljesac.
15 When speaking of the composition of the 2nd Operational Group, it
16 is important to point out that mobilisation was carried out as a military
17 exercise, because the then state leadership had not declared a state of
18 war. In such circumstances, mobilisation of units was almost entirely
19 reduced to the principles of voluntariness, because when a state of war is
20 not declared, it is not possible to apply strict legal rules, in case
21 someone does not respond to a call-up for a military exercise, or rather,
23 The level of training and mutual cohesion and solidarity of
24 officers and soldiers, then officers amongst themselves and commands and
25 units, was virtually non-existent, with all the negative implications
1 entailed by such a situation in terms of the overall combat readiness of
2 the units and the entire personnel.
3 As I've already pointed out, these were units that were put
4 together in haste, as were their commands. There was a lack of proper
5 training, and they were never trained, never trained, for tasks that lay
6 in store for them, particularly not in the territory where these
7 operations would eventually take place.
8 The officers that were assigned to the command of the 2nd
9 Operational Group had never carried out such duties until then. These
10 were officers from the chief inspectorate of the national defence in
11 Belgrade, then the centre of higher military schools in Belgrade and the
12 school of reserve officers from Bileca. And all of this took place only
13 some ten days prior to the commencement of combat activities.
14 All of this constituted a major problem. Over a short period of
15 time, these people had to be re-channelled from duties that were based on
16 command, staff, teaching, and inspection, to command and operative duties,
17 without a single day of psychological and professional preparation and
18 reorientation. Such a fluid situation and the fact that the newly
19 established command of the 2nd Operational Group was not familiar with it
20 at all beforehand led to very frequent changes within the internal
21 organisation and establishment to re-subordinations and attachments that
22 took place practically every day, and also units were taken out of the
23 group almost on a daily basis as well.
24 Finally, when bearing in mind the period that we discussed rather
25 extensively here, that is, the period from the 1st of October until
1 December 1991, the above-mentioned problems I referred to led to the fact
2 that parts of the 2nd Operational Group did not carry out practically a
3 single stage of any operation with the same personnel involved.
4 When speaking of the role and task of the 2nd Operational Group,
5 they can only be viewed in the context of the situation in the Neretva
6 River Valley and the broader area of Dubrovnik, and the importance that
7 this area had for the defence and preservation of the common state, and
8 which was still considered to be a possible and realistically attainable
9 goal by the then political and military authorities of Yugoslavia.
10 The region of Dubrovnik, the town itself, including the
11 surrounding area and its closer and farther approaches on both sides of
12 the Adriatic highway, had a central position at the border between
13 Montenegro and Bosnia-Herzegovina that were still in the SFRY and the
14 Republic of Croatia, which in that year, 1991, had already taken the path
15 of secession to a considerable extent. Control over that area was of
16 vital geostrategic importance for yet another reason. This was an area,
17 including the water body, through which routes led, both by land and sea,
18 that were relevant for the relocation of the equipment, and particularly
19 personnel, of the Military Naval District, primarily the navy, the
20 equipment and units that were still deployed in the territory of the
21 Republic of Croatia, to the only safe port and naval base in the Adriatic,
22 and that was the Bay of Boka Kotorska and the Montenegrin coast.
23 Therefore, it was of special importance to ensure that the
24 paramilitary forces of Croatia do not use that area for their military
25 needs. The Neretva River Valley divides the western and eastern part of
12 Blank page inserted to ensure pagination corresponds between the French and
13 English transcripts.
1 Herzegovina, and in the lower part of the Neretva River, there were very
2 important military localities of the then JNA, notably, major military
3 warehouses in Gabela and Dretelj, as well as Mostar airport, and the
4 teaching centre in Capljina. Mostar at that time was the only air base in
5 the territory of all of Bosnia-Herzegovina from where it was possible to
6 give air support to the withdrawal of war technical equipment from the
7 northern and central Adriatic to Boka Kotorska.
8 All of these were reasons why the JNA, the Yugoslav People's Army,
9 could not allow, under any circumstances, to have the Mostar airport and
10 the Neretva River Valley get out of their control. Also, it is a
11 well-known fact that the town of Dubrovnik and the broader area
12 surrounding it was vacant from a military point of view. That is to say
13 that not a single military unit had been based in it or in that area from
14 the late 1960s. That is precisely what the government and Yugoslav
15 People's Army had made possible in the late 1960s, with a view to the
16 further development of Dubrovnik and the importance it had from the point
17 of view of tourism, culture, and history. It is for that reason that
18 precisely during those years, the Yugoslav People's Army relocated from
19 Dubrovnik, its naval landing brigade of the military sector of Boka, and
20 the brigade was relocated to Trebinje.
21 Contrary to this kind of position taken by the state leadership
22 and the Yugoslav People's Army, and of course their behaviour and
23 practice, we see that Dubrovnik was once again armed. On the basis of
24 available documents, which we have at our disposal, both the Defence and
25 the Prosecution, it is possible to establish that already at the beginning
1 of 1991, in the police administration of Dubrovnik, the number of reserve
2 policemen was increased, a wartime organisation set up, and the reserve
3 police force trained. And the police administration of Dubrovnik sent out
4 regular reports about the situation in defence preparations to the sector
5 for defence preparations within the Ministry of the Interior of the
6 Republic of Croatia. That means we are now speaking about the beginning
7 of 1991.
8 There are also documents in existence from which we can see that
9 the Ministry of the Interior of the Republic of Croatia issued orders to
10 all police administration units to step up the reserve force of the
11 Croatian National Guard's corps by 70 per cent members of the reserve
12 police force and 70 per cent of the newly procured weapons for different
13 purposes. And according to the documents, this meant infantry weapons, it
14 meant weapons for anti-aircraft defence, anti-armour defence, and mines
15 and explosives.
16 Furthermore, at the process of wartime preparations on the
17 territory of the Dubrovnik municipality was started very much before the
18 actual war events took place - and I should especially like to stress
19 before the preparations began on the part of the JNA for launching an
20 operation on the Herzegovina-Dubrovnik battlefield - can be borne out from
21 the documents of the supervision service and information service of the
22 Republic of Croatia, the centre for Dubrovnik's information. And the
23 Defence will, of course, during its defence case be presenting that
24 document to the Honourable Trial Chamber.
25 From this document, we can see that the work of this information
1 centre and monitoring centre began on the 1st of May, 1991, and already up
2 until that date, all reconnoitring stations and observation stations on
3 the territory of the municipality had been put in place. The task was to
4 monitor - that was the basic task, to monitor and control all movement on
5 the part of the units of the Yugoslav People's Army in the area.
6 From all this, we can see that it was a case of clear-cut
7 preparation on the part of the Republic of Croatia for war against
8 Yugoslavia in the territory of the city of Dubrovnik, that same city
9 which, in the 1970s of -- in the '70s of the last century, in fact, became
10 a protected area, a protected town by UNESCO as a cultural heritage of
11 prime importance.
12 One of the main tasks of this centre was to monitor and inform and
13 alert the people of the JNA's movements, and a particularly prominent
14 indicator of the militarisation of Dubrovnik, militarisation of Dubrovnik,
15 I say, is linked to the presence and existence of the ZNG Brigade, whose
16 headquarters was precisely in Dubrovnik, as well as its main force,
17 deployed in the town. And in addition to those forces, in Dubrovnik we
18 saw the paramilitary forces being based there and operative from there,
19 and they were centred around the certain Crna Legija, or black legion,
20 which originated from western Herzegovina. And this Trial Chamber has
21 heard mention of that -- another paramilitary formation that we call the
22 HOS, the HOS, which belonged to a political party in the Republic of
24 As a cultural and historical heritage site, Dubrovnik was used by
25 the Croatian side and abused for political purposes through the media. By
1 not accepting demobilisation, that is to say, by not accepting the status
2 of an open town, without any military presence, Dubrovnik, in that year of
3 1991, found itself in the zone of combat operations, the goal of which was
4 to regain control of the territory of southern Dalmatia, until the final
5 political solution to the Yugoslav crisis was reached and to reach the sea
6 and take control of the approaches to Dubrovnik, both those in its
7 vicinity and those further afield as well.
8 This objective and goal required, necessarily, a blockade of
9 Dubrovnik, both from sea and from land, and in this instance, the town of
10 Dubrovnik itself, in no plan of the 2nd Operational -- command of the 2nd
11 Operational Group, or any command above and below that level, was ever the
12 target of operations, nor the object of attack. However, the very fact
13 that Dubrovnik had been militarised and that the military -- there was
14 military presence in Dubrovnik and that the military presence acted from
15 Dubrovnik, the Croatian forces attacked the JNA forces, who suffered
16 casualties, and the JNA was the sole legitimate force on the territory of
17 the SFRY at that time. Regardless of the number of casualties, this could
18 have been sufficient reason to merit taking control of Dubrovnik and
19 establishing full military control over it.
20 However, in order to avoid all the consequences that an operation
21 of this kind would imply - it would, first of all, mean large losses and
22 destruction to the civilian population and the buildings and facilities -
23 the Supreme Command of the armed forces of the SFRY and the command of the
24 2nd Operational Group never had as its goal the control of Dubrovnik and
25 taking over of Dubrovnik. The maximum goal envisaged by the JNA, the
1 Yugoslav People's Army, was to achieve the town's demilitarisation, and we
2 were able to see this through the Prosecution case and the evidence
3 provided, the numerous documents calling for normalisation of life in the
4 town, to have life and work returned to normal in Dubrovnik.
5 However, when that was not accepted, through the will of the
6 Croatian authorities, the goal that was then set was Dubrovnik's blockade,
7 a blockade from land and from sea.
8 When we speak about the crux of the indictment and if we focus on
9 the event of the 6th of December, 1991 as the focal point, then that event
10 should be viewed within the context as we have presented it. We should
11 particularly like to emphasise that not even then, on the 6th of December,
12 1991, justice had not been the case before either, the goal of a concrete
13 military operation and all other military operations that took place was
14 not to take control of Dubrovnik at all, nor to inflict any kind of
15 intentional damage to the cultural and historical monuments, or indeed the
16 population of the town of Dubrovnik. Having said that, the Defence will
17 show through the defence case, by calling witnesses and presenting
18 material evidence in the form of documents, prove the following: The Old
19 Town, as a cultural, historic monument, protected by UNESCO, during the
20 period that the operations took place on the Dubrovnik-Herzegovinian
21 battlefront, was abused and used for military purposes, and all this was
22 done in such a way that the paramilitary formations made use of the Old
23 Town and its positions in its immediate vicinity for purposes of
24 provocation and for opening fire and targeting the units of the Yugoslav
25 People's Army who were found in the Dubrovnik blockade.
12 Blank page inserted to ensure pagination corresponds between the French and
13 English transcripts.
1 The provocations and firing from the Croatian forces' positions at
2 Mount Srdj and at other positions were intensive and daily, and this fact
3 will be proved during the defence case.
4 Next, the Defence will move to prove that the signing of the
5 agreement on a truce after the negotiations that took place with members
6 of the Croatian government was supposed to take place on the 6th of
7 December, at noon, 12.00, noon, as Admiral Jokic indeed informed the
8 Superior Command of the 2nd Operational Group.
9 Furthermore, the Defence will move to prove during its defence
10 case and the presentation of evidence that the operation, or rather, the
11 attack on Srdj and the elevation there, and the attack was launched by the
12 3rd Battalion of the 472nd Trebinje Brigade on the 6th December, that that
13 operation was a planned operation with the knowledge of and encouraged by
14 the command of the 9th VPS, Military Naval Sector.
15 Furthermore, the Defence will move to prove that in the
16 preparations for that operation, it was agreed to have the support of the
17 3rd Motorised Brigade of the 5th Partisan Motorised Brigade, which at that
18 time was commanded by Lieutenant Colonel Miroslav Jovanovic, and support
19 of the cannon battery of the 130-millimetre calibre, which was stationed
20 at the airport at Cilipi.
21 Furthermore, the Defence will move to prove during the defence
22 case that the command of the 2nd Operational Group was not informed about
23 the military action of the 3rd Battalion of the 472nd Motorised Brigade
24 which was launched at Srdj on the 6th of December, 1991.
25 Furthermore, the Defence will prove that on the 6th of December,
1 1991, during the attack on Srdj and during the duration of that military
2 operation, up until the withdrawal of the units of the 3rd Battalion of
3 the Trebinje Brigade to its initial positions, the command of the 9th VPS,
4 Military Naval Sector, did not inform the command of the 2nd Operational
5 Group at all about what was going on.
6 Similarly, the Defence will prove that the commander of the 9th
7 Military Naval Sector, Vice Admiral Miodrag Jokic, did not stop the attack
8 of the 3rd Battalion of the 472nd Motorised Brigade at Srdj, as he
9 testified before this Honourable Trial Chamber.
10 The Defence will also show that the JNA did not fire at the fire
11 positions deployed in the town of Dubrovnik itself until there was
12 counter-firing from those positions and until serious losses were
13 inflicted on the combat groups of the 3rd Battalion, which during that
14 military operation had reached the fortress at Mount Srdj.
15 In its presentation of its case, the Defence will show that on the
16 6th of December, 1991, the Old Town was abused, as well as the immediate
17 vicinity of the Old Town of Dubrovnik, through military operations from
18 there against the forces of the JNA at Srdj, Zarkovica, and other
19 locations where units of the JNA were situated. The Defence will show
20 that those forces, operating from the Old Town or its immediate environs,
21 inflicted heavy losses to units of the JNA at Srdj.
22 The Defence will further show that on the 6th of December, 1991,
23 there was direct communication between the commander of the 9th Military
24 Naval Sector, Vice Admiral Vokic and the military leadership in relation
25 to the attack on Srdj.
1 The Defence also believe that the evidence that it plans to
2 present will entirely illuminate the role of Vice Admiral Miodrag Jokic in
3 relation to the events of the 6th of December, 1991 and the following
4 days, as well as the fact that General Pavle Strugar was excluded from
5 those events because there was direct communications and there were orders
6 which the military leadership of the JNA issued to Vice Admiral Miodrag
8 These briefly delineated topics in our opening statement will be
9 dealt with in the course of the presentation of our case. We will also be
10 dealing about other significant circumstances. These -- or this evidence,
11 overall, makes the Defence convinced that it will persuade this Honourable
12 Trial Chamber that there is no responsibility on the part of General Pavle
13 Strugar for the events that he is being charged with.
14 Your Honours, I have now concluded my opening statement.
15 JUDGE PARKER: Thank you very much, Mr. Petrovic -- Mr. Rodic, I
16 beg your pardon. That's probably a good time, then, to have a break.
17 We'll resume after the break with the commencement of evidence.
18 --- Recess taken at 3.22 p.m.
19 --- On resuming at 3.50 p.m.
20 [The witness entered court]
21 JUDGE PARKER: I see the first witness is waiting. Good
22 afternoon. Would you please take the affirmation card that is handed to
23 you now and read the affirmation.
24 WITNESS: SLOBODAN NOVAKOVIC
25 [Witness answered through interpreter]
1 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] I solemnly declare that I will speak
2 the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.
3 JUDGE PARKER: Please be seated.
4 Mr. Rodic.
5 MR. RODIC: [Interpretation] Thank you, Your Honour.
6 Examined by Mr. Rodic:
7 Q. [Interpretation] Sir, could you please introduce yourself to the
8 Trial Chamber. Could we have your first and last name.
9 A. I am Slobodan Novakovic.
10 Q. Could you tell us the date of your birth and where you live.
11 A. I was born on the 17th of May, 1952, in Dubrovnik, and I'm living
12 in Herceg-Novi.
13 Q. Could you please tell us what is your profession.
14 A. I'm an electronics professional. I have my own workshop where I
15 carry out my trade.
16 Q. Were you ever convicted in a court of law?
17 A. No.
18 Q. I would just like to ask you the following thing, since we are
19 both speaking the same language, in order for what we are saying to be
20 translated, could you please make a little pause after the question,
21 before you start your answer, so that we do not overlap.
22 Could you please tell us where you were living in 1991, where you
23 lived and where you worked?
24 A. In 1991 I was living in Herceg-Novi, where I live today, and this
25 is also where I have my TV repair business.
1 Q. Could you please tell us: In late summer of 1991, what was the
2 situation in Herceg-Novi, which is on the border of the Republic of
3 Montenegro and the Republic of Croatia? So could you please tell us what
4 the situation was in that bordering area.
5 A. The situation was beginning to become complicated. When Tudjman
6 came to power in 1991, tension began to grow. I will give you one
7 example. In 1991, in midsummer, for example, in July, I was going to
8 Dubrovnik with my wife and two daughters, and halfway there, when we were
9 passing through Konavle, I was stopped by two police officers. One of
10 them stopped in front of my vehicle. He placed his leg or his foot on the
11 hood of my car, and he pointed an automatic rifle at me and at the
13 The second police officer stood next to the door, and he told me
14 to come out of the car and to open the trunk of the car, which is what I
15 did. He took the rifle and rifled through the things that were in the
16 trunk of the car and said that I could leave.
17 That is just one example. I was told by my local citizens in
18 Herceg-Novi that similar things were taking place quite often.
19 Q. Was the situation like that only when you were going to Dubrovnik
20 or did it happen in other places?
21 A. Well, as it happens, I was born in Dubrovnik. Both of my
22 daughters were born in Dubrovnik. So that we were living in Herceg-Novi
23 would go to Dubrovnik once a month or maybe more often. So we felt
24 Dubrovnik was almost the same as Herceg-Novi. After my hometown,
25 Dubrovnik was the first closest town. There were also some other towns in
1 Montenegro, Kotor or Podgorica, but we mostly had connections with
3 Q. In that period, in late summer 1991, in view of the events in the
4 country, in Yugoslavia at the time, and the socio-political events, could
5 you please tell us what was the mood of the Dubrovnik citizens in relation
6 to the situation in the country.
7 A. Every day on the media we would hear that all the water was cut
8 off and the electricity to all the barracks in Croatia, that they were
9 surrounded by irregular forces, the so-called Zengas, ZNGs, the Croatian
10 National Guard's corps, so that the Yugoslav army found itself, the
11 Yugoslav People's Army found itself in quite a difficult situation. This
12 reflected on all of us. We felt that tensions and fear were growing from
13 day to day.
14 Q. Did you know who these armed formations were in the Republic of
15 Croatia at the time?
16 A. Yes. Those forces, the Croatian National Guard corps, because
17 Herceg-Novi borders on Dubrovnik -- I don't know the exact number of those
18 forces, but I do know that quite a sizeable unit took up the border on the
19 Croatian side, facing the Montenegrin side. So tensions increased each
20 day, and then this culminated -- I don't exactly know what day this was,
21 but I know that it was in December [as interpreted] when the Croatian army
22 fired eight mortar and cannon shells to the -- into the village of Malta,
23 that is, the village that is closest to Croatia, and I saw personally on
24 two or three trees the scars from these shells that were fired.
25 Q. For the record, I would just like to say that this -- in the
1 transcript it says that this happened in December. Could you please tell
2 us whether this was in December or in September when you're talking about
3 this shelling, these mortar and cannon shells?
4 A. These eight were the cause, not only that, but this happened
5 slightly to the north, but more to the south, in Prevlaka.
6 Q. Could you please tell us the time frame. Which month was this?
7 When did this happen? In which month? I heard you say September, but in
8 the transcript it says December. So could we clarify that, please.
9 A. How could it be December? That is not clear to me.
10 Q. Well, then it's a mistake in the transcript. We're talking about
12 A. Yes, September.
13 Q. And --
14 A. Well, yes, possibly it could be October.
15 Q. And what were the legal armed formations in the SFRY at the time?
16 A. The only legal military formations were the Yugoslav People's
17 Army. All these other units were irregular units, because Croatia at the
18 time was not an internationally recognised state.
19 Q. Thank you. In 1991, were you perhaps summoned or called up into
20 the army? And if you were, how did this happen? In what way?
21 A. In 1991, in August, I was summoned to an exercise which I think
22 lasted for about ten days, and this was in Kamena, just above Herceg-Novi.
23 And during those ten days, there was an incident in Herceg-Novi. I've
24 forgotten exactly who was involved. It was a foreigner. I don't know
25 from which country. And he tried to set off an explosive device, and
1 probably planted somewhere on the beach or some other place. And in the
2 Stjepo Sarena Street in Herceg-Novi, when his vehicle went over the
3 waterworks grid, the vehicle shook and the wires on the device were
4 tripped, so there was an explosion. So this was the first incident that
5 took place in Herceg-Novi in 1991.
6 Q. Did you ever receive -- were you ever called up to the reserve
7 forces in that period?
8 A. Yes. In 1991, approximately on September 21st, I was summoned to
9 a military exercise, and I reported to Kamena, to the assembly point. I
10 actually went there a month before that, in August, for an exercise.
11 Q. And after you were summoned to go in August, did you return home
12 and then were called up again, or were you on the military exercise the
13 whole time?
14 A. I was at the exercise for about ten days, and I returned home, and
15 then around the 21st of September I again was called up for a military
17 Q. Could you please tell me what your duties were when you were on
18 military duty and which unit were you in?
19 A. I'm an electronics expert, and that is how I was recruited, to be
20 a radio technician in the JNA. At the time, I was a member of the
21 Territorial Defence of the Herceg-Novi municipality, and I was a mechanic,
22 a radio mechanic, attached to the main radio station of the municipal
23 Territorial Defence. We had a large radio station there in one vehicle.
24 And we had several smaller mobile transmitter radio stations, and they
25 were of the RUP-12 type.
1 Q. Could you please tell us: This TO unit of yours from Herceg-Novi,
2 was it part of a larger military formation that it belonged to?
3 A. The Herceg-Novi Territorial Defence were part of the Kumbor
4 Military Naval Sector. Ilija Martinovic was the TO commander, my TO
5 commander, and the commander of the military naval sector was -- I think
6 he was a captain of a military ship. His name was Krsto Djurovic. And
7 unfortunately, in the first few days of the war, the helicopter that he
8 was in crashed, and that is how he was killed.
9 Q. And who succeeded Krsto Djurovic as commander of the naval
10 military sector?
11 A. He was succeeded by Miodrag Jokic. He was our commander after
12 Djurovic was killed, until the end of the war.
13 Q. Could you please tell me if your TO unit left the territory of
14 Montenegro, and if it did, when did it do so, where, which direction did
15 it go in?
16 A. The first mobilisation was at Kamena. This is a village which is
17 about five kilometres from Herceg-Novi. From Kamena we moved to the
18 Porobici village, and from that village, we moved to the Konjevici
19 village, and from that village we crossed the border into Croatia, and our
20 first landing point was the village of Mikulici, above Cavtat, in the
21 Dubrovnik municipality.
22 Q. Could you please tell us if your unit took up any positions
23 outside of the Mikulici village, in some other places?
24 A. Our unit of the Herceg-Novi TO was stationed in Mikulici for some
25 seven, eight, to ten days. I don't know exactly the deployment.
1 Q. Well, the precise date is not important. Just the locations.
2 A. The location was around Mikulici. Our units were deployed around
3 there. But we stayed there very briefly and then we moved to Grude. This
4 is a larger village in the Dubrovnik municipality. We were billeted in a
5 private house, and that's where the TO Herceg-Novi command was. Next to
6 us was the army command.
7 Q. Could you please tell us how long were you in the Dubrovnik
8 Herzegovina front?
9 A. I received my summons on the 21st of September. We were in
10 Kamena, Porobici, Konjevici villages for about ten days. I cannot
11 remember now the exact date when we crossed the border, because this was a
12 long time ago.
13 Q. Let me just interrupt you. I'm asking you for how long were you
14 on the front? When did you return home?
15 A. I returned home in late November, or maybe even on the 1st or 2nd
16 of December. But that was more or less the time.
17 Q. Did you return your military equipment right away?
18 A. No. Because I was a driver of this vehicle with the radio
19 station. I still had the vehicle. It was parked in front of my house
20 until December, perhaps until late December.
21 Q. Thank you. Could you please tell us: While you were at the front
22 with your unit, what were your specific tasks? What did you do?
23 A. As a radio technician or mechanic, it was my duty to be near the
24 main radio station at all times, the radio station of the Herceg-Novi TO.
25 My other task was to supply all our radio stations out in the field with
1 batteries and to repair them if there should be a malfunction.
2 Q. Tell me, please: Before returning from the front line, as you
3 said, at the end of November or beginning of December 1991, did you spend
4 any other time at home? Did you spend any other day or two at home?
5 A. Could you please repeat your question.
6 Q. You were at the front line from September until the end of
7 November or beginning of December. In that time period, did you perhaps
8 stop by at home at some other time? Were you in Herceg-Novi?
9 A. I came home quite often. When I would take the used-up batteries
10 from the field, then I would bring these batteries back to Kumbor, to the
11 military barracks there. We'd have them recharged there, and then, on the
12 following day, I would take a group of batteries, I would take these full
13 batteries, take them out into the field, and that's what my daily work was
14 like. I would take advantage of the situation. I'd stop by at home, take
15 a shower, change.
16 Q. Tell me, please: In your TO unit, in that period of time that we
17 are discussing, were there any losses in terms of human lives?
18 A. Well, yes. The major losses, those that affected us, the people
19 of Herceg-Novi, the most were incurred on the 8th of November, 1991. On
20 that day, it was very peaceful. As a matter of fact, a few days before
21 that, there were no actions whatsoever. And I asked the commander of the
22 TO, Ilija Martinovic, to let me go home to get a bit of rest, to refresh
24 I arrived home around 5.00 in the afternoon, about 1700 hours, and
25 just as I lay down to get some rest - I was still in uniform - a colleague
1 of mine telephoned me, a colleague who came together with me, who was on
2 leave as well. And he told me that men from our TO unit, the so-called
3 Platoon of Specials, had some casualties at Bosanka. Some men were killed
4 and others were wounded and that I should urgently go to the military
5 hospital in Meljine it to see what we should do.
6 Q. You go to the military hospital in Meljine then? And what did you
7 hear there? What did you see there?
8 A. I immediately went to the military hospital in Meljine. I went to
9 the surgical ward, which is the ground floor, the right-hand side. I
10 found a few of my comrades there who had been wounded. I talked to them
11 for a few minutes.
12 Q. I'm sorry to interrupt. Do you remember the names of these
14 A. Marko Poznanovic. He was wounded in the leg. Then Savo Gojkovic.
15 He had a finger wounded, either on his right or left hand. Then there was
16 Mandic. Mandic - I can't remember his first name right now - he was hit
17 in the collarbone, and the bullet went into the body, down into the body.
18 So it's the three of them.
19 Q. Was anybody killed on that occasion?
20 A. They told me that our comrade from the unit, Dusko Pusic, was in
21 the operating theatre right then, on the top floor of the surgical ward of
22 Meljine hospital. I went upstairs and I waited in the waiting room to see
23 what the outcome would be. A few minutes later, the surgeon walked out.
24 His name is Bato Lakicevic. And I asked him, "Is Dusko alive?" He was
25 silent. I asked him, "Is Dusko dead?" And he nodded, meaning yes. When
1 I received this information, I went down to in front of the surgery ward
2 and a group of people had already gathered by then, and they said that a
3 dead man from the Yugoslav People's Army was supposed to be brought then,
4 but we didn't know at that moment who this was.
5 I turned around and I saw behind me the deputy commander of the
6 TO, Djordje Radovic, and I said to him, "Djoko, let's go to Brgat to see
7 what's going on with our men."
8 However, tears streamed down his face and he said, "They are
9 bringing my Baja now." That is his brother. Obren Radovic was his name;
10 his nickname was Baja. He was in Niksic. He got killed as he was trying
11 to pull men out from Bosanka.
12 Q. Tell me, please: After the body of Obren Radovic was brought, did
13 you stay in Meljine or did you go somewhere?
14 A. How should I put this?
15 Q. If you could just try to be a bit more succinct.
16 A. Since there were vehicles of the TO from Herceg-Novi that were
17 there with their tyres punctured, they asked me to take my own car to take
18 Djordje Radovic, the uncle of the late Baja, to go to Niksic to tell his
19 parents what happened.
20 Q. Is that what you did?
21 A. I said that I had no fuel, so that somebody else would do it
22 instead of me, so that I could go to Brgat to see what happened to my
23 comrades. However, they immediately brought two jerrycans of fuel. They
24 filled up my car. And I had no choice but to get into my car and to
25 travel via Risan and Grahovo, and during the night we arrived in Niksic.
1 This was an exceptionally difficult night.
2 I knocked at the door. The neighbours went out -- came out and
3 the parents and Baja's grandfather. That is one of the hardest nights I
4 ever had in my life when I told them what had happened.
5 Q. Mr. Novakovic, I will have to ask you to give shorter answers,
6 more succinct answers. Time is precious to us.
7 Tell me: After Niksic, where did you go and what did you do?
8 A. During the night, we got into another car, another car from Niksic
9 joined us, and then, with two cars, we returned to the Meljine hospital.
10 We arrived in Meljine, say, around 6.30 or 7.00. I brought them
11 to the morgue. And when I took them into the morgue, I didn't even say
12 goodbye to them. I just turned around and I ran to the gate of the
13 Meljine hospital, in order to go to Brgat to see what had happened to our
15 Q. What is the reason for that? Why did you go to Brgat? All the
16 soldiers who were wounded, were they all taken out on that day?
17 A. Well, no. On that day, they only brought the people that I
18 mentioned: Those who were at the surgery ward on the ground floor of the
19 hospital, and Dusko Pusic, who passed away in the operating theatre. Our
20 other dead and wounded were at Bosanka. And Brgat is the closest feature
21 to Bosanka, and that's why I wanted to go to Brgat as soon as possible, so
22 that we would get organised and see how we can get them out, out of that
23 difficult situation.
24 Q. All right. When you came to Brgat, what did you do in relation to
25 this assistance that you rendered to your wounded comrades?
1 A. When I came to Brgat, the situation was extremely difficult.
2 People were very sad. There were even tears. And to tell you quite
3 frankly, people were afraid too. I said, "Men, let's go." And I see
4 nobody wanted to go. And then I said, "Give me the keys of the vehicle."
5 And the captain of the TO from Herceg-Novi, Nikola Brajevic, threw me the
6 keys of the TO vehicle that was a Niva, and I went from Brgat to Zarkovica
7 and then along the asphalt road from Zarkovica to Bosanka.
8 About halfway, I came across a JNA truck which bore the body of
9 Bogdan Popovic. Slobodan Radovic, nicknamed Kruso, from Herceg-Novi was
10 driving the vehicle, and Nesvet Gasal sat next to him. He was an employee
11 of the Ministry of the Interior of Montenegro. For a while he was chief
12 in Herceg-Novi.
13 Q. Let's slow down, please. We don't need all these details. Can
14 you just stick to absolutely essential matters.
15 You said that on that truck was the body of the late Bogdan
16 Popovic. Was he then transferred to Meljine too?
17 A. Yes. Bogdan Popovic was transferred on that truck to the hospital
18 in Meljine.
19 Q. Very well. Tell me, please: Was there anybody else who had
20 stayed at the position, I mean the wounded persons, at this position?
21 A. Yes. There were some dead and wounded who were still at Bosanka.
22 There were two groups there. There was one group of about eight men, if a
23 squad is ten men. They were up towards the repeater at Srdj. And that's
24 where Budo Zarubica was. He was wounded. Then another wounded person was
25 Golub Mijovic. And together with them was a dead man, Vojica Pejovic.
1 And also, Minjo Golub, another one of our soldiers who was a physical
2 therapist by training, he got these two men out of a dangerous zone, a
3 zone that was endangered by the Croatian fighters. He came and went
4 twice, and then when he brought Pejovic he said he passed away. He can no
5 longer be saved.
6 Q. Can you tell me, please: Why it was a problem to get these people
7 out, the dead, the wounded? Why was it a problem to bring in the bodies?
8 A. Bosanka is actually a hunting area above Dubrovnik, and there are
9 a lot of tangerine trees growing there, and it's a very difficult terrain
10 to negotiate. It was very hard to do this.
11 Q. Where were there any other dangers involved in relation to getting
12 these men out?
13 A. Yes. There was a road between Bosanka and Srdj, but we didn't
14 dare use the road because we would have been hit by Croatian soldiers from
15 the Srdj repeater, and also perhaps from Dubrovnik or Bosanka. It
16 depended on the actual situation.
17 Q. While these soldiers that you mentioned a few minutes ago were
18 being taken out, were there any other casualties who -- among those who
19 were trying to get the wounded and dead out?
20 A. When Bogdan Popovic was being taken out, Marko Komarica went to
21 get him and Bajkovic, Obren Bajkovic. It's not Obren; I've forgotten his
22 first name. We called him Baja, at any rate, and he came from Bar.
23 So it was the two of them who lifted Vlado, but there was a rifle
24 by Vlado's head, and Bajkovic told him to get the rifle. Komarica leaned
25 over to fetch the rifle, and at that time a bullet came and killed him.
1 He got into his head [as interpreted] and actually ruptured a blood
2 vessel, which is very important.
3 Q. Who was it who was doing the shooting?
4 A. It was the Croatian army from Bosanka. Bogdan Popovic and Vlado
5 Zarubica, Bogdan was wounded lethally. They were both hit by Croatian
6 troops from Bosanka.
7 Q. All right. Tell me: Did you yourself take part in carrying some
8 of these soldiers out, getting them out?
9 A. As for Bogdan Popovic, I only came halfway, and we brought them
10 to -- him to Brgat and sent him to the hospital in Meljine. Then when we
11 sent Bogdan Popovic, then I started going towards Bosanka, but Gaso
12 Mijatovic said to me, "Slobo, Savo Vidakovic is in the woods with a kombi
13 van," and he brought him and Kruso to go looking for the two Pejovics by
14 car for as long as you could go.
15 Q. Please tell me who is Gaso Mijatovic, very briefly.
16 A. Gaso is a MUP employee who lives in Herceg-Novi.
17 Q. Why did he go to Bosanka?
18 A. He was a personal friend of Vojica Pejovic, and he came to get him
19 out of there. When he came to the area of Zarkovica, he went to the
20 command at Zarkovica, to Colonel Garvo Kovacevic.
21 Q. Why? What was the reason he went to Zarkovica?
22 A. The reason was that he came to get Vojica out. And he went to see
23 Gavro Kovacevic because he wanted him to explain the situation in the
24 field to him so that he could try to get his friend out. Colonel Gavro
25 Kovacevic said to him that in Bosanka there are over 70 armed soldiers.
1 And he said to him: "See, I have a helmet on my head, and the situation
2 is extremely difficult here. I'm exposed to mortar fire all the time.
3 They are shooting at me from Dubrovnik. Even a mortar is targeting me.
4 It is mounted on a vehicle." This mortar was targeting him from the Old
5 Town and kept changing positions. So Gavro Kovacevic was in a rather
6 difficult position. And when he finally asked him, when Gaso Mijatovic
7 finally asked him, "Where is Vojica Pejovic, wounded or dead?" He just
8 turned his back to him and Gaso said, "I was so taken aback that I simply
9 walked out."
10 And then he went to look for Vojica, and he came across the troops
11 of Lieutenant Sikimic, with his soldiers. They found Bogdan Popovic, and
12 they put him on a military truck. This military truck was taken over by
13 Slobodan Radovic, Kruso, and Gaso Mijatovic. It was two sergeants from
14 Herceg-Novi that took this truck and, as I said, they brought it to Brgat
15 and from there they went to Meljine.
16 Q. I have to interrupt you. What you've just told us linked to
17 Colonel Gavro Kovacevic at Zarkovica, how do you know about all that? Did
18 you personally talk to anybody or did you receive the information from
20 A. When I went to Zarkovica for the second time and Bosanka, Gaso
21 Mijatovic did not allow me to go alone. He went -- got into the jeep, the
22 Niva jeep with me, and when we reached Zarkovica, we went on foot to lock
23 for Savo Vidakovic's van, and on the way there I asked Gaso, "How come
24 you're on the battlefield?" Because he was a MUP employee and he
25 shouldn't have been there in the first place, establishment-wise. So he
1 came privately to try and save --
2 Q. Mr. Novakovic, would you please listen to my questions and try and
3 give us as succinct answers as possible. And I had a very short question
4 for you. A moment ago, you told us something and you mentioned that
5 Colonel Kovacevic explained something, that he said that there were over
6 70 Croatian soldiers at Bosanka, for example, and that he was exposed to
7 fire from -- mortar fire from Zarkovica, that he was being targeted, and
8 that he was being targeted with a mortar and a mobile truck from the Old
9 Town. So my question to you was: How come you know that? Did somebody
10 tell you?
11 A. Gaso Mijetovic.
12 Q. Thank you. Tell me now, please, but once again, briefly: Did you
13 take part, and if so, how did you manage to pull out Vojica Pejovic when
14 he was killed?
15 A. Gaso and myself tried together with Lieutenant Sikimic's soldiers
16 to do that. After now, we realised that we didn't know the terrain at
17 all. It was getting dark and we didn't know what to do and couldn't
18 proceed in that fashion. So we decided to get a military transporter and
19 to try and do it that way. So we went back to Brgat.
20 Q. Now, was the reason -- you were looking for a transporter, you
21 say. Was the reason because you were being targeted at, fired at?
22 A. Yes, that's right. They were firing at us from Dubrovnik
23 non-stop. And when I was in the Niva jeep going to Bosanka, where we --
24 where I met Kruso and Gaso carrying the body of Bogdan, higher up above me
25 there were bullets flying by. So I had to extinguish my lights. Had I had
1 my lights on, it would have been the end of me.
2 Q. All right. And as you weren't able to pull your fellow comrade's
3 body out, you mentioned a transporter. What did you actually do with that
5 A. We went to Brgat and our TO commander, Martinovic, and Gaso
6 Mijatovic, they went to a house across the road where Lieutenant Colonel
7 Licanin [phoen] was, he was a signalsman, and he called Admiral Jokic to
8 provide him with a transporter. Jokic said there was no transporter at
9 Kumbor and that the naval military district did not have one, did not
10 possess a transporter. Somebody then said there was a transporter to be
11 had in Trebinje. So I went off in the 128 vehicle belonging to the TO of
12 Herceg-Novi, with three of my colleagues. We went to Trebinje.
13 Q. Now, in Trebinje, in the barracks or wherever --
14 A. Yes. To the Trebinje barracks, which is where my friend Zdravko
15 Radakovic was. I don't know how, but he managed to find an army
16 transporter, and he said, "It's coming very quickly and will arrive there
17 when you arrive." And that's what happened. The transporter got to Brgat
18 very quickly, and Colonel Jovanovic and seven or eight of us got into the
19 transporter and we reached Zarkovica, and Colonel Jovanovic --
20 Q. Could you tell me who Colonel Jovanovic is?
21 A. Colonel Jovanovic, we called him Kurd, and he came from Serbia,
22 from somewhere in Serbia. At least that's what they told me.
23 Q. Could you tell me whether you managed to use the transporter to
24 pull out the body of the late Pejovic?
25 A. We managed to get through as far as we were able to go and then
1 Gaso Mijatovic and Gojko Pejovic, who worked in the MUP, both of them,
2 they managed to establish connection via a radio station, and they called
3 the station up, or rather Colonel Jovanovic called him and I listened in
4 to the conversation, where Gojko Pejovic, he was in a forest with Budo
5 Zaropovic [phoen] who was wounded and Govo Mijovic, and another
6 reconnaissance man from Kotor and he was very cold-blooded and said,
7 "Don't try and get through to us from Bosanka because Bosanka is full of
8 Croatian soldiers. You won't have any chance of doing that. But come in
9 the morning and take the opposite side, take the northerly route and try
10 and pull us out that way."
11 Q. Very well. Now tell us how long this operation of pulling them
12 out lasted.
13 A. Well, at about 1.00, 2.00, we returned to Brgat and the
14 transporter went back to Trebinje. At dawn the next morning, we were
15 supposed to pull the people out. However, the transporter did not return,
16 as they had promised to do. So we had to organise two routes, took two
17 paths. One group went to try and pull out the wounded, that is to say,
18 Budo Mijovic and Gojko Pejovic and Milic, and I went back to Trebinje to
19 fetch the transporter.
20 We returned one or two hours later, and nine of us got into the
21 transporter and we reached Zarkovica. From Zarkovica, we went down to
22 Bosanka, because at that point in time, Bosanka actually fell and we were
23 informed of this by captain of the warship Zec. Anyway, they informed us
24 that Bosanka was free.
25 Q. Could you tell us what date that was?
1 A. Well, they were killed on the 8th, so that was the 9th.
2 Q. Tell us, please: When did that operation of pulling out the
3 bodies end?
4 A. On that day, we did our best. We went towards Srdj. We took the
5 forest route.
6 Q. Mr. Novakovic, I have to interrupt you to tell you that time is
7 very precious, so please don't go into the details. Just give me brief
8 answers to my questions. And my question was: Do you remember whether
9 the pulling-out operation of the two men ended?
10 A. On that day, that same day, we reached Vojica Pejovic that day.
11 He was dead. We picked him up and tried to carry him. But the team of
12 men weren't able to finish the job. So we had to cover the body with
13 blankets and we hid him in a bush. And the next day, in the morning, we
14 organised another team of men to go out and try and collect up the body.
15 And we succeeded the next day. We pulled the body out.
16 Q. Tell me, please: From that first day, and you said it was the 8th
17 of November, I believe, when you learnt about the death and wounding of
18 your colleagues, how many days went by until you were able to finish the
19 operation and pull out the bodies, the bodies of the killed and the
21 A. That all went up to the 11th. On the 10th, we had the well-known
22 event that took place in Herceg-Novi, in Kumbor, in front of the military
23 barracks there. There were demonstrations that were held on the part of
24 dissatisfied Herceg-Novi inhabitants and their families. They all rallied
25 there in front of the barracks and were critical of why things were
1 progressing so slowly and in such an unorganised fashion, as they said,
2 why everything was going so slowly.
3 Q. Were you yourself present there?
4 A. No, I wasn't. I just heard this from some of my friends because
5 the previous days I was at Bosanka and I was busy pulling out the dead and
7 Q. What about some of the men from your unit? Did they take part in
8 those protests?
9 A. Well, I can't really say. I can't remember. I don't know. All I
10 do know is that it took place, but who was there, I can't say.
11 Q. Could you tell me, please: You mentioned the name Komarica, the
12 name of a soldier called Komarica who assisted in the operation of pulling
13 out the wounded fighters from your unit. Could you tell us who that is?
14 A. His name is Marko Komarica and he was a soldier of the well-known
15 3rd Battalion. He was a young guy of 18 at the time. And during the
16 pulling out operation of Vlado Zarubica when nobody dared to pull him out,
17 many refused to do so, didn't follow orders, he took it upon himself to do
18 that and he demonstrated great courage in pulling the body of Vlado
19 Zarubica out. And he became very popular in Herceg-Novi and that's how I
20 came to meet him in the first place. And until the end of his military
21 service, we were on very good terms and good friends.
22 Q. You mentioned the 3rd Battalion. Which 3rd Battalion do you mean?
23 You said that Komarica was a member of the 3rd Battalion.
24 A. He was a soldier in the 3rd Battalion.
25 Q. Yes, but what 3rd Battalion? Who commanded the battalion? Do you
1 know under whose command Komarica was?
2 A. The commanding officer was Vladimir Kovacevic, nicknamed Rambo. He
3 was Komarica's commander.
4 Q. After these events and after the operation of pulling out the
5 killed and wounded, did you see Komarica after that?
6 A. Yes, I did. I saw Komarica several times after this operation,
7 and after that courageous act on his part. I visited him several times.
8 He was up at Bosanka. That's where his unit was stationed. So I went to
9 see him several times.
10 Q. Very well. Tell me this now, please: Where were you exactly on
11 the 6th of December, 1991?
12 A. On the 6th of December, 1991, I was already at home, but I hadn't
13 returned the jeep that I had been issued, nor my personal weapons. So on
14 that day, I listened to the Herceg-Novi news at 3.00 p.m. and heard Radio
15 Herceg-Novi which broadcast that there was a battle at Srdj by Dubrovnik
16 on that day and that there were two men killed. And as soon as I heard
17 that, I got into the jeep and drove as fast as I could to Brgat.
18 Q. I do apologise for interrupting you, but listen to my question,
19 please. Tell me why you, who were in Herceg-Novi, when you heard the
20 news, why you set out for Brgat. What was the reason?
21 A. Well, my unit had withdrawn several days prior to that from that
22 area, but I had a lot of colleagues there, Komarica being one of them,
23 this 18-year-old man Komarica, who was so brave. So I went mostly for his
25 Q. Were you worried about him?
1 A. Yes, I was worried about him. I was anxious. And when I drove
2 the jeep along the Cavtat road, where you come to the hairpin bends and
3 the canyon, you could see the repeater at Srdj very well, and I noticed
4 that every two or three minutes a shell would fall on Srdj, and there was
5 a strong wind blowing on that day and I could see the wind blowing around
6 the smoke from the shell.
7 Q. Let me ask the questions, please. And my next question is this:
8 So this was on the road, you say, to Brgat. Now, on the way, when you
9 reached Brgat, did you stay there for any length of time? Briefly,
11 A. I went via Brgat and Zarkovica and reached Bosanka. When I
12 reached Bosanka, I noticed a house which was still under construction.
13 And I noticed several soldiers standing round that house. I parked the
14 jeep, got out, and went inside, into the house. The house was full of our
15 soldiers, and among those soldiers I think there was frigate captain Jovo
16 Drla [phoen]. I think that was his rank.
17 Q. And what was he doing there?
18 A. Well, it was a very difficult situation there because the army,
19 the soldiers, were angry and nervous after five of their comrades had been
20 killed, and Jovo was in charge of conveying to them orders from the
21 command that they had to relinquish an attack on Srdj, the attack on Srdj.
22 Q. I apologise for that. Tell me now, please. You say that Jovo
23 Drlan [phoen] explained to the soldiers that the command did not allow
24 them to march on Srdj. What was the soldiers' reaction to those words of
1 A. The soldiers reacted by swearing. They used derogatory language
2 to speak about Zec and Jokic. And when I heard this swearing going on, as
3 I wasn't interested, I left the house and asked the soldiers standing
4 outside where Marko Komarica was.
5 MS. MAHINDARATNE: Your Honour, may I interrupt. There is a name
6 missing. Zec and name missing. Perhaps if the witness can repeat.
7 Page 40, line 16: "The soldiers reacted by swearing. They used derogatory
8 language to speak about Zec and," somebody else.
9 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Admiral Jokic.
10 JUDGE PARKER: Thank you.
11 MR. RODIC: [Interpretation]
12 Q. As we're correcting the transcript, there was something else that
13 wasn't introduced into the transcript. So would you repeat. On the 6th
14 of December, how did it come about that you drove off to Bosanka? What
15 happened? What happened to make you set out for Bosanka?
16 A. I listened to Radio Herceg-Novi and heard that there had been
17 military -- a military confrontation at Bosanka and that there were two
18 men killed. That's what Radio Herceg-Novi broadcast.
19 Q. Tell us when that was.
20 A. That was on the 6th of December, exactly at 1500 hours over
21 Herceg-Novi Radio, the news bulletin.
22 Q. Thank you.
23 MS. MAHINDARATNE: [Previous translations continues]...
24 interrupt. I think the witness had already responded and his previous
25 comment was that there was a battle on Srdj, but my learned friend asked
1 the question again and got -- led the witness to say Bosanka. I think
2 this is very inappropriate.
3 MR. RODIC: [Interpretation] Perhaps I was misunderstood but it
4 doesn't matter. We're not challenging that there was fighting at Srdj.
5 What I asked the witness was what the reason was that he set out
6 from Herceg-Novi towards Bosanka. Because it wasn't recorded in the
7 LiveNote that he had listened to the news bulletin at 1500 hours, during
8 which he heard that two soldiers were killed at the fighting at Srdj, in
9 the fighting at Srdj. So I wasn't leading the witness towards Bosanka.
10 He set out towards Bosanka, because there wasn't fighting at Bosanka.
11 Q. Mr. Novakovic, did you -- after what you have described to us,
12 hearing and seeing at Bosanka, did you afterwards learn where Marko
13 Komarica was, the soldier Marko Komarica?
14 A. They told me that the killed and the wounded were in Trebinje. I
15 got into my vehicle and went to Trebinje. In Trebinje, I went to the
16 military medical centre or hospital - I don't know what it's called - and
17 I asked them where the mortuary was. I went there, and I saw five people
18 who were killed on that day at the Srdj repeater. And they are Mesaros,
19 Divjan, Tasovac and two other people whose names I've forgotten because it
20 was many years ago.
21 Q. Very well. At the hospital in Trebinje, did you find Marko
23 A. No. Marko Komarica, I was told there at the hospital that he was
24 wounded lightly and that he was transferred to the Meljine hospital. So I
25 got into my car and went to Meljine. In Meljine --
1 Q. Could you please tell us: Did you find Marko Komarica in the
2 Meljine hospital?
3 A. Yes. I found him in the military hospital in Meljine, with his
4 friends, Svetislav Rakovic and Bodiroga - I don't know his name - from
5 Trebinje. All three of them were wounded. Bodiroga was injured in the
6 spine because he was carrying Mesaros's dead body from Srdj. Marko
7 Komarica had a face wound. Rakovic was also wounded, but I don't remember
9 Q. Could you please just answer briefly. These wounds of Komarica
10 and Rakovic, were they serious?
11 A. No. These were light wounds, light facial wounds. I took them to
12 my house.
13 Q. Did Komarica and Rakovic, were they supposed to stay in the
14 hospital or were they supposed to go back to their units?
15 A. They were lightly wounded, and they were supposed to perhaps spend
16 the night in the hospital and return to the unit in the morning. And
17 Bodiroga was supposed to stay there for a couple of days. So I took the
18 two of them back to my house so that they could spend the night there, and
19 then -- so that I could take them to Brgat the next day.
20 Q. When you took the soldiers Komarica and Rakovic to your house on
21 the 6th of December, did you talk with them about their operation in Srdj,
22 what happened, how it happened? Did you hear from them what happened, how
23 they were wounded and did you hear anything about the operation?
24 A. Yes. When we got to my house, I asked them what happened, and
25 they told me, Komarica and Rakovic, that on the 5th of December, they were
1 assembled somewhere - I don't know where - and that the warship captain
2 Zec asked them who was brave enough to get those grannies out of Srdj.
3 There was a silence, and after a few seconds, Bodiroga put his hand up
4 first and he said, "I will do it."
5 Q. Are we talking about Bodiroga who was in the Meljine military
7 A. Yes. That's the Bodiroga who was wounded when he was bringing
8 out -- he was the one who carried Mesaros most of the way from of Srdj.
9 Q. Very well. And did anybody else volunteer except for Bodiroga?
10 A. Komarica, Marko volunteered and Svetislav Rakovic, Mesaros also
11 volunteered and a few other men whom I never saw before.
12 Q. And did they tell you anything else about that 5th of December?
13 A. They told me that on the 5th of December, they agreed that there
14 would be an attack early on the 6th on the Srdj repeater. They were
15 promised safety vests and shock bombs. They didn't receive the flak
16 jackets, but only the shock bombs, which were taken by the platoon or unit
17 commander Bodiroga.
18 Q. During the Srdj operation, did anybody from that group that
19 included Rakovic and Komarica get killed?
20 A. Yes. They went to attack Srdj early in the morning, and there was
21 one person who was killed first, Mesaros. He was a private first class.
22 Q. Was he a regular private?
23 A. Yes. That's correct. And when they came to my house after
24 staying at the Meljine hospital, they said that it was Mesaros's and mine
25 last day of military duty. Had Mesaros survived that day, the next day he
1 was due for a discharge so that he could return home back to his parents.
2 Q. Thank you. Did they tell you anything about how the operation on
3 Srdj proceeded?
4 A. Yes. They told me that when they arrived almost to the top of the
5 Srdj repeater, they were fired at from Dubrovnik, from mortars. There was
6 fierce mortar fire and they had casualties. There were five of their
7 comrades who succumbed. Komarica Marko was lucky. Rakovic told me that
8 wherever Komarica was, five seconds after that a shell would drop there.
9 But he was lucky and each time he managed to escape, and he ended up with
10 just superficial scratches.
11 Q. Did Komarica and Rakovic perhaps tell you how long they were at
12 Srdj and what happened as long as they were there?
13 A. They were on Srdj during that day. It's December; the days were
14 short. So when I came -- I left Herceg-Novi at 3.00, so I got there at
15 3.40 p.m. it was already all over. We didn't go into too many details,
16 but they had already returned from Srdj earlier. The wounded and the dead
17 were taken to the hospital.
18 Q. Because you went to Bosanka yourself on the 6th, did you see Srdj?
19 Did you see if there were any JNA soldiers at Srdj at that time?
20 A. When I got there, there were no soldiers at Srdj. The soldiers
21 were at Bosanka, in a house which was still being built. It wasn't
23 Q. Jovan -- did Komarica tell you where he withdrew to from Srdj?
24 A. They pulled back around that house somewhere and that's where the
25 sanitation took care of them and took them to the various hospitals.
1 Q. Komarica and Rakovic spent the night between the 6th and the 7th
2 at your house; is that correct?
3 A. Yes, it is.
4 Q. And then on the 7th of December, did you drive them and go with
5 them to the unit or did they return by themselves?
6 A. No. I put them in my car and took them to Brgat, to their
7 commander, Vladimir Kovacevic, called Rambo, and they asked him to let
8 them go to the funeral of their friend, Mesaros.
9 When we came into the hall of the command where Rambo was, I came
10 close to the door and I heard the warship captain Zec tell Rambo
11 Kovacevic, "Young man, now you will go for a longer holiday." Then we
12 waited for a while and then Rakovic and Komarica went in to see Rambo
13 Kovacevic so that he would give them permission to go to Subotica. He
14 made that possible for them. And while I was waiting for them in the
15 hall, in the corridor, I went outside for a little bit.
16 Q. Let me just interrupt you for a bit. You said that you heard
17 someone saying, "Young man, you are going to go on a longer holiday."
18 Could you please tell us who that was?
19 A. It was Admiral Zec. We were good friends. I knew him well, so I
20 could recognise him.
21 Q. What was his rank?
22 A. At the time he was a warship captain. Later he became an admiral.
23 Q. How did you know that it was war captain Zec who was saying that?
24 A. Because I spoke to him several times and I know his voice very
25 well, and I'm sure that it was he who told Rambo Kovacevic, "Young man,
1 you will be going on a longer holiday."
2 Q. Did you enter the office?
3 A. No. I was standing in the corridor.
4 Q. Just take it easy, please. How do you know whose office it was
5 from where you heard that voice?
6 A. I was brought there by Rakovic and Komarica to that door because
7 that was the door of the office of their commander, Vladimir Kovacevic.
8 So it was logical for him to be saying that to Vladimir Kovacevic,
9 especially because it was known that there was some problem there, because
10 I could see reservists from Trebinje or from someone in Herzegovina who
11 were standing around the building and from the conversation with them. I
12 could hear that they had heard that the army wanted to replace Rambo
13 Kovacevic and they were not allowing that to happen. So they prevented
14 him from being replaced.
15 Q. Did you talk with these soldiers?
16 A. Yes, I did. I just spoke with them informally, and I could see
17 that they were resolute in their support for their Captain Kovacevic.
18 Q. Did they explain why?
19 A. Well, it's known what happened that day, and they were standing by
20 their captain, the unit commander.
21 Q. What were the soldiers saying? What were they explaining?
22 A. They said that they knew that there was an operation to attack
23 Srdj and then another order came later, that this operation should be
24 stopped. So soldiers, as soldiers are, were unhappy because things were
25 being done this way and because they wanted to replace a person who was
1 not to blame for anything. He was just trying to protect his soldiers.
2 Q. Tell me: Did Komarica and Rakovic get permission from their
3 commander to be absent from the unit?
4 A. Yes. Within a minute or two, he signed their permits for them. I
5 put them in my car, took them to the bus station in Herceg-Novi, saw them
6 off to the bus for Subotica, because they were going to the funeral of
7 their comrade Mesaros.
8 MR. RODIC: [Interpretation] Your Honours, I have completed my
9 examination-in-chief. Thank you very much. Thank you, sir.
10 JUDGE PARKER: Ms. Somers.
11 MS. SOMERS: Thank you, Your Honour. Ms. Mahindaratne will
12 conduct the cross-examination.
13 JUDGE PARKER: Thank you very much.
14 Cross-examined by Ms. Mahindaratne:
15 Q. Good afternoon, Mr. Novakovic. My name is Ms. Mahindaratne and I
16 will ask you questions on behalf of the Prosecution. So what's your
17 ethnic origin?
18 A. I am a Serb by ethnicity.
19 Q. Now, you said that you were mobilised around 20th of September,
20 1991. That is correct?
21 A. That's correct.
22 Q. Were you mobilised to participate in the Dubrovnik operation?
23 Were you informed that you would be mobilised to participate in the
24 Dubrovnik operation?
25 A. No. I was just called up for a military exercise, which started
1 in Kamena. This is a village which is five kilometres from Herceg-Novi.
2 Q. Now, at the stage you were mobilised, what military training had
3 you received in terms of weapons training or duration of your training?
4 Just a brief response would do.
5 A. I was called up into the reserves several times for exercises.
6 This one lasted a couple of days.
7 Q. Have you had any form of training in weapons at that stage, or was
8 your task going to be mainly with regard to operation of radios?
9 A. My main task was to take care of the radio communications, and I
10 was also familiar with personal weapons.
11 Q. In September 1991, you said that your Territorial Defence unit of
12 Herceg-Novi was subordinated to higher command. What was the name of that
14 A. The higher command was called Military Naval Sector of Kumbor. I
15 perhaps did not give you the correct name, but ...
16 Q. And where were you based once you were deployed to participate in
17 the Dubrovnik operation? Where was your unit based, the Territorial
18 Defence unit?
19 A. First we were summoned for a military exercise and not for an
20 attack on Dubrovnik. We went to Kamena. This was approximately on 21st
21 of September. We spent about seven or eight days in Kamena and then we --
22 Q. [Previous translation continues]... interrupt you, Mr. Novakovic.
23 If you could just respond. Once you were deployed to participate in the
24 Dubrovnik operation, where were you based? You don't have to go to the
25 time before that. Once you were deployed towards the attack, where were
1 you based? Where was your unit based?
2 A. First we came to the village of Mikulici. We spent a couple of
3 days there. From Mikulici we were transferred to Grude, and that is where
4 our unit was stationed for a while. That was the TO unit from
5 Herceg-Novi. That's where the command was. I was always with the command
6 because that's where the radio station was. I had to be on standby in
7 case of a malfunction or something, so that I could fix it.
8 Q. So your assignment or your base was at Grude right through the
9 time you were deployed in the Dubrovnik operation; is that correct?
10 A. That's correct.
11 Q. How far is Grude from Dubrovnik?
12 A. Grude is halfway between Herceg-Novi and Dubrovnik, about 20
13 kilometres away.
14 Q. And how far is Grude from Brgat?
15 A. It's about 22 to 23 kilometres from Brgat.
16 Q. So how is it that you seem to have been present at Brgat
17 constantly, despite the fact that your base, your duty station, was Grude?
18 MR. PETROVIC: [Interpretation] Objection, Your Honour. The
19 witness did not say at any point that he was stationed at Brgat all the
20 time. Could my learned friend please pay attention to what has been said
21 so far.
22 MS. MAHINDARATNE: My question was not that he was stationed at
23 Brgat. My question was:
24 Q. How is it that you seem to have present in Brgat constantly when
25 your duty station was -- Grude, Grude. Perhaps my learned friend should
1 pay attention to my question.
2 JUDGE PARKER: Thank you, Ms. Mahindaratne.
3 MS. MAHINDARATNE: Thank you, sir.
4 JUDGE PARKER: Please be seated, Mr. Petrovic. Do you have an
5 answer to that question?
6 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] I do have an answer. My task, as
7 the radio mechanic, was to supply the radio stations out in the field with
8 charged batteries. One of the radio stations was with the special unit
9 that happened to be stationed at Brgat. So I went every day or every
10 other day, depending on when they called me, when they used up their
11 batteries, so that I could take the spent batteries and give them a
12 charged one. So that is how I happened to see them every day.
13 MS. MAHINDARATNE:
14 Q. What was this place or command or unit in Brgat that kept calling
15 you to replace their batteries? What was at Brgat?
16 A. It was a unit of the TO of Herceg-Novi. I belonged to this
17 Territorial Defence of Herceg-Novi. This was a platoon of this unit of
19 Q. Are you also aware that the command post of the 3rd Battalion of
20 the 472nd Motorised Brigade was also in Brgat?
21 A. I did not know that.
22 Q. When you went to the post of Herceg-Novi Territorial Defence unit
23 that was in Brgat, were you aware that there were other command posts or
24 other military installations of the JNA in Brgat?
25 A. Well, I assumed that there were others, but I did not know about
1 anybody else. I only knew about my own unit. My only duty was to charge
2 and replace the batteries of my TO unit from Herceg-Novi, but I did not
3 know otherwise who belonged to which unit. I just knew about this
4 Komarica, who was a friend of mine, that he belonged to Rambo's unit. As
5 for the rest, I had no idea.
6 Q. And you know that Rambo, or Captain Vladimir Kovacevic, was the
7 commander of the 3rd Battalion?
8 A. I did not hear this properly. Could you please repeat your
10 Q. Do you know that Captain Vladimir Kovacevic, or Rambo, was the
11 commander of the 3rd Motorised Battalion of the 472nd Motorised Brigade?
12 A. Yes. Yes, I knew. Perhaps not at the very outset, but later on,
13 when I spoke to Komarica, I found out that he was a soldier of that
14 3rd Battalion and that his commander was Vladimir Kovacevic, nicknamed
16 Q. And your friend Komarica belonged to the 3rd Battalion?
17 A. Yes.
18 Q. So did you not visit him at his base when you visited Brgat?
19 A. Yes. I was, as I said, out there to visit for a few times.
20 Whenever I'd go to Brgat, I'd always take advantage of that and go and see
22 Q. And so as such, you do know that a unit of the 3rd Battalion was
23 in fact based in Brgat, contrary to what you said earlier on? You said
24 that you did not know that the command post of the 3rd Battalion was in
25 Brgat. But you visited your friend at his post in Brgat?
1 A. Things are a bit more complicated than what you said. His command
2 was probably at Brgat, but he was at Bosanka, halfway from Bosanka to
3 Srdj, underneath a wall. That's where his little tent was, an improvised
4 tent, and that is where he was on guard duty. I did not ask him, "Where
5 is your command," or whatever. I was not interested in that. I was just
6 interested in whether he was alive and well, whether he was healthy, how
7 he was doing. I never asked him about his command or his commander or
8 things like that.
9 Q. So you did not know where his command post was at all?
10 A. No. I had no idea where his command was. Only on the day when I
11 brought them so that they could go to Subotica, it's only then that I
12 found out that that was the command post.
13 Q. Mr. Novakovic, what was the name of your unit commander, the
14 territorial unit -- Territorial Defence unit?
15 A. The commander of the Territorial Defence of Herceg-Novi was Ilija
17 Q. And you were directly subordinated to him?
18 A. That's right.
19 Q. Was he a good commander in that did he have command and control
20 over his subordinate units in that did you and your colleagues comply with
21 the orders issued by him?
22 A. I follow the orders issued by the commander.
23 Q. And he, in turn -- did he seem to -- did he comply with the orders
24 issued by his higher command? Were there any allegations that he did not
25 comply with orders?
1 A. I, as a plain soldier, did not know who issued orders to him or
2 whether he was carrying them out. I just knew that I was carrying out the
3 orders that he issued to me.
4 Q. Now, you testified in examination-in-chief that when there was a
5 move to replace Captain Kovacevic, his subordinate soldiers stood by him
6 and insisted that he should not be removed. Did you ever learn, perhaps
7 from your friend Komarica, that Captain Kovacevic had control over his
8 subordinate units and that they in fact complied with the orders issued by
9 Captain Kovacevic?
10 A. Well, I knew from Komarica and from the others there that Rambo
11 Kovacevic was in total control of the situation in his unit. In his unit,
12 he was an exceptionally good officer.
13 Q. And is there anything that was perhaps repeated to you by your
14 friend Komarica or anyone else which would give one to draw the conclusion
15 that Captain Kovacevic may act in contravention of his superior orders,
16 that he may not comply with orders issued from his higher command?
17 A. Well, when talking to Komarica and others, I could not understand
18 in any way that Kovacevic was not carrying out the orders issued by his
20 Q. Now, you said you were -- your Territorial Defence unit was
21 subordinated to the 9th Naval Sector. Were you ever made aware when you
22 and your unit was being deployed in the Dubrovnik operation that your unit
23 was being attached to a specially established or specially created
24 command, namely, the 2nd Operational Group, which had been assigned to
25 carry out the Dubrovnik operation? Were you made aware of that?
1 A. I was not aware of that. I thought, and knew, that I was only
2 subordinated to Ilija Martinovic, commander of the TO of Herceg-Novi and
3 that we were within the military naval sector of Kumbor, it was called
4 Boka. I didn't know anything else. I just knew that we had an army
5 commander. I don't know who it was exactly who was in Belgrade. I can't
6 remember. A general, most probably. I can't remember his name now. But
7 that was it.
8 Q. Have you heard of the term "2nd Operational Group" before?
9 A. Well, I haven't.
10 Q. Have you heard of General Strugar, General Pavle Strugar, the
11 accused in this case?
12 A. I first heard of General Strugar and heard of him when I was a
13 member of the Municipal Assembly of Herceg-Novi. When our army withdrew
14 to the borders, then we had an extraordinary meeting of the Municipal
15 Assembly of Herceg-Novi, and General Pavle Strugar took part in this
16 meeting. I did not meet him personally then, but that's when I saw him.
17 Q. Did you know that General Strugar was in fact the former commander
18 of the Territorial Defence of Herceg-Novi? Did you know that -- I beg
19 your pardon. Of Montenegro. Did you know that? You were yourself in the
20 Territorial Defence, so did you know that your commander, commander of the
21 Territorial Defence in Montenegro, was General Pavle Strugar?
22 A. Well, unfortunately, I did not know that.
23 Q. So it is your position that you did not know that General Strugar
24 was in any way involved in the Dubrovnik operation? That is what you're
25 saying today?
1 A. Yes. Yes. I never saw him at the Dubrovnik theatre of war.
2 Q. My question was not whether you had seen him, but did you know
3 that General Strugar commanded the Dubrovnik operation.
4 A. I did not know that. I thought that the Dubrovnik operation was
5 led by Krsto Djurovic until he got killed and from then on Miodrag Jokic.
6 I had never heard of Strugar. I first saw him in Herceg-Novi. I actually
7 thought that Rambo Kovacevic and his unit were all within the navy in
9 Q. Were you made aware of the fact that one of the objectives of the
10 war you fought in was to maintain a naval and land blockade around
11 Dubrovnik? Did you know that?
12 A. Well, I was not very well versed in that. I'm just an ordinary
13 soldier. But what I roughly knew was that our objective was never to
14 attack Dubrovnik. Had that been our objective, we could have shelled it
15 every day.
16 Q. I shall be grateful if you would confine your response to my
18 Now, judging by what you said, your understanding was that the
19 naval activities around Dubrovnik were being conducted by the 9th Naval
20 Sector and that you were not aware that the 2nd Operational Group command
21 had any role to play in those activities? Is that a correct assumption?
22 A. I certainly did not know about that. Now, whether that is right
23 or not, you can be the judge of that. But I had no idea that we were
24 subordinated to anybody else.
25 [Prosecution counsel confer]
1 MS. MAHINDARATNE:
2 Q. Sir, you talked about -- I beg your pardon. You talked about
3 attending a municipal meetings, Municipal Assembly meetings. Were you a
4 member of the Municipal Assembly?
5 A. Yes. I was a member of the Municipal Assembly in 1991 and 1992,
6 something like that, maybe even 1993.
7 Q. And what political party were you affiliated with?
8 A. Well, I belonged to the League of Communists of Yugoslavia, which
9 precisely in that period, between 1991 and 1992, was turned into the
10 Democratic Party of Socialists of Montenegro. But I never became a member
11 of that party. I was only a member of the Municipal Assembly. I
12 completed my term of office. But I remained a member of the League of
13 Communists and I did not take a party membership card of the democratic
14 party of socialists of Montenegro.
15 Q. That is a party known as SDS?
16 A. No. That is the Democratic Party of Socialists. Its president
17 used to be Momir Bulatovic, and now its president in Milo Djukanovic.
18 Q. Sir, do you have any relationship to Mr. Predrag Bulatovic?
19 A. I personally know Predrag Bulatovic, but I was speaking about
20 Momir Bulatovic.
21 Q. I know what you were speaking about. So my question to you was,
22 the vice-president of Mr. Momir Bulatovic, the president of Montenegro,
23 the vice-president, Predrag Bulatovic, was he in any way related to you?
24 I'm asking about relationship. Aren't you his nephew or don't you have a
25 close relationship to him?
1 A. Predrag Bulatovic and I are not related at all. Since I'm a
2 member of the Communist Party of Yugoslavia, my party was in a coalition
3 with his party, so we just know each other from these inter-party
4 contacts, that's all.
5 Q. Sir, were you -- when you -- your -- the learned Defence counsel
6 asked you as to whether you had any convictions; you responded in the
7 negative. Were you not charged with the murder of a woman sometime in
8 1992 or 1991, or even perhaps later on?
9 A. I'm going to tell you where the confusion lies. The nephew of
10 Predrag Bulatovic has the same name and surname as I do, Slobodan
11 Novakovic. I've never seen him in my life and we are not related. And I
12 found out this by accident by Nenad Vulevic, who happened to serve a
13 prison sentence together with him in Spuz. So I did not have a criminal
14 record at all, and I have never seen this Slobodan Novakovic ever in my
15 life. I just heard about this.
16 Q. You said you do not have a criminal record at all, but were you
17 not charged for larceny in the lower courts of Herceg-Novi, a crime, an
18 offence committed while you were a member of the Territorial Defence unit
19 of Herceg-Novi? Were you not charged with larceny, the offence of
20 committing larceny?
21 A. No. In Tivat, I was asked to appear before a court of law. A
22 reservist - I cannot remember his name right now - was charged with
23 something, and he asked me to testify to the effect that I saw that he did
24 not take part in any thefts. So that is what I did. I went there and
25 testified that he did not take part in any such thing.
1 JUDGE PARKER: Is that a convenient time, Ms. Mahindaratne?
2 MS. MAHINDARATNE: Yes, Your Honour.
3 --- Recess taken at 5.30 p.m.
4 --- On resuming at 5.53 p.m.
5 JUDGE PARKER: Yes, Ms. Mahindaratne.
6 MS. MAHINDARATNE: Thank you, Your Honour.
7 Q. Sir, just before the break, I asked you a question as to whether
8 you were charged for the offence of aggravated larceny before the
9 Herceg-Novi lower court, and you said no. Now, I put it to you that you
10 were in fact charged for committing the offence of aggravated larceny and
11 you were charged on 12 February 1992. Is that correct, or is that wrong?
12 How do you respond to it?
13 A. It's wrong, because, as I said, I was a witness. I testified for
14 a reservist soldier. I think his name Zika Milosavljevic, who was accused
15 and charged with some things, and they called me in to testify and I
16 testified at the court in Tivat, not Herceg-Novi, but the military court
17 in Tivat, where I gave a statement and said that I did not see
18 Milosavljevic engaged in any looting or anything like that.
19 Q. Okay. We move on. Now, your main task was to attend to the radio
20 communication that was taking place around Dubrovnik with regard to the
21 Dubrovnik operation. What was the state of the radio system or the
22 communication system of the JNA forces at that time? Was there an
23 efficient system? Was it in good working order?
24 A. Well, during that time, it was efficient, quite efficient. We
25 worked in the TO of Herceg-Novi and we were able to communicate with all
1 our units. So that was within my area of expertise. Now, what they did
2 in other units, I really can't say. I don't know.
3 Q. And in examination-in-chief, you said that your base in Grude was
4 next to an army command. Which army command were you referring to? Was
5 it the army command of the 3rd Battalion or -- I beg your pardon. Which
6 army command were you referring to there?
7 A. Well, it was the command of the military naval sector, and that's
8 where the commander of that unit was, if that's what he was. He had a
9 rank at the time. I think he was captain first class. And his name was
10 or is -- and he's here together with me just now in The Hague. We're in
11 the same hotel. His name is Gojko Djurasic. And at the time, Gojko
12 Djurasic was there, yes, that was the name, and I think that he held the
13 rank of captain first class at the time.
14 Q. And so being based just next to where Captain Djurasic was during
15 the time, you got to know him very well; is that correct?
16 A. Well, he was next to us, but we were the TO of Herceg-Novi, and I
17 just happened to know the man personally, because as a mechanic I went to
18 see to his TV set. There was something wrong with it. So I went to his
19 house. So that's how I knew him. He was up at the battlefield. He had
20 his command, I had mine, so we didn't have any points in common up at the
21 front at all.
22 Q. Your testimony was that you went back home, you returned to
23 Herceg-Novi, on -- at least late November or early December. You said 2nd
24 or 3rd. So which means you were certainly not privy to what happened on
25 the 6th of December morning in and around Dubrovnik.
1 A. Yes, correct.
2 Q. And you heard about what was going on only through the radio?
3 A. Correct. I heard it over the radio. And at my own initiative, I
4 got into my car, switched on the engine, and drove towards Bosanka.
5 Q. What time was it when you heard the radio news about what was
6 going on in Dubrovnik?
7 A. [No interpretation]
8 Q. I beg your pardon, Your Honour. I don't get any interpretation.
9 I don't know whether something has happened to the system.
10 A. [No interpretation]
11 MR. PETROVIC: [Interpretation] [No interpretation]
12 JUDGE PARKER: We have no interpretation.
13 THE INTERPRETER: Can you hear the English channel? Can you hear
14 the English interpretation?
15 JUDGE PARKER: We can now. We did not hear.
16 THE INTERPRETER: The witness said he heard it in a news bulletin
17 broadcast over Radio Herceg-Novi. That was the answer to the question.
18 MR. PETROVIC: [Interpretation] Your Honour, unfortunately we're
19 not getting the interpretation on channel 6 into B/C/S.
20 JUDGE PARKER: I don't know what has gone on. If there could be a
21 check made of what is happening.
22 It is now functioning again. Thank you.
23 MS. MAHINDARATNE:
24 Q. Could you respond to my question again, Mr. Novakovic. My
25 question was: At what time did you hear the news about what was going on
1 in Dubrovnik over the radio? What was the time?
2 A. On the 6th of December, 1991, at 1500 hours, I listened to the
3 local news bulletin, and the broadcaster in the news bulletin said that
4 there was fighting at Srdj, near Dubrovnik, and that two men had been
5 killed. And on my own initiative, I left the house, switched the engine
6 of my jeep on that I hadn't returned, and, as fast as possible, drove to
8 Q. So at 1500 hours on 6 December 1991, from what you heard over the
9 radio news bulletin, there was combat action going on in Dubrovnik at that
10 time? That was what you heard?
11 A. Yes, that's right. That's what I heard.
12 Q. And where did you drive to from your home? What was the first
13 place -- location you drove to?
14 A. I drove straight from Herceg-Novi to Bosanka.
15 Q. And how long did it take you to drive to Bosanka?
16 A. About 35 to 40 minutes.
17 Q. And you said in examination-in-chief that when you drove to
18 Bosanka, you drove via Brgat, Zarkovica, and then to Bosanka. Is that
20 A. Yes, that's correct.
21 Q. And as such, when you drove by Zarkovica, you would have noticed
22 the combat activity that was being carried out on Zarkovica?
23 A. No. When I passed by Cavtat, at exactly the spot that there's the
24 plaque saying Cavtat, you have a good vision all over the area and you can
25 see the repeater at Srdj. And at that point in time, I saw three or four,
1 let's say, or five to six, shells falling on the repeater at Srdj, and as
2 there was a strong wind blowing from north to south, from the sea, I saw
3 the wind carrying the smoke from the shells that fell, not from Zarkovica
4 but from Cavtat.
5 Q. My question to you was: When you passed Zarkovica, did you notice
6 any combat activity or had it ceased by that time?
7 A. Everything had ceased by that time.
8 Q. And what time was it when you passed Zarkovica?
9 A. Well, if it took me 45 minutes, I just spent three minutes --
10 three minutes before that I was at Zarkovica, because it takes three
11 minutes from Zarkovica to Bosanka.
12 Q. Why did you take that road? Is that the normal route that one
13 would take going to Bosanka, or what was the reason for you to drive by
15 A. Well, I didn't have any reason to stop at Zarkovica, because
16 Komarica, the man I was going to visit --
17 Q. Mr. Novakovic, my question to you was: Why did you take that
18 particular road, that is, Brgat, Zarkovica, and Bosanka? What was the
19 reason for you to take that route? Is that the usual route one would take
20 going to Bosanka, or was there any special reason that you had for you to
21 drive by Zarkovica? That's my question.
22 A. From Zarkovica to Bosanka, there are two routes. There's the
23 asphalt road, which is the short route, and there is the hairpin bend
24 road, which is not an asphalt road, which takes longer. So I took the
25 shorter road.
1 Q. And you said the day after the event you went to the command post
2 of the 3rd Battalion of the 472nd Motorised Brigade. Where was that
4 A. It was at Brgat.
5 Q. How did you know this was the command post of the 3rd Battalion?
6 A. Well, I did not know that the command post was there, but in the
7 vehicle there was Komarica Marko and Svetislav Rakovic, who brought me to
8 their command, and it was only on that day that I actually learnt that
9 their headquarters were there and that they weren't subordinated to the
10 military naval sector but that they were attached to the second army of
11 General Strugar.
12 Q. And who wasn't subordinated to the 9th Naval Sector by General
13 Strugar? Who told you that? How did you learn that these persons you're
14 speaking of were not subordinated to the 9th Naval Sector but to General
15 Strugar? Who told you that?
16 A. Well, as I was saying, this unit of Rambo Kovacevic's, that unit
17 was in a way on our territory, on our terrain. So I didn't know that they
18 were subordinated to General Strugar. So that means when everything was
19 over, and when we came to ask permission for these two soldiers to go to
20 Subotica, that was when I came to realise that the unit of Marko Komarica,
21 in actual fact, belonged, if I could put it that way, to the 2nd --
22 whatever you call it, to General Strugar, not the naval military sector.
23 Because as an ordinary soldier I didn't go into those details, who
24 belonged to whom. That wasn't what I was interested in.
25 Q. So what was it about going to Subotica that made you realise that
1 the particular unit was within the command of the -- of General Strugar?
2 What was it that made you realise it? Could you explain it better.
3 A. Now that I give it some thought, I can tell you that even at the
4 time, I didn't actually realise -- or rather, towards the end I came to
5 realise this they weren't actually under -- because captain of the warship
6 Zec told Kovacevic, "You're going to have a longer holiday now." And when
7 I left the building, I saw the reservists, from Herzegovina, who said,
8 "We're not going to let Rambo be replaced," and all the other things they
10 So later on I came to understand that Rambo's unit was not under
11 the same command as I was, but that it was under the command of General
12 Strugar. But I realised that only later. Because I couldn't have known
13 that they were Strugar's men and not our men, that is to say, belonging to
14 the military naval sector of Boka.
15 Q. So what you're saying is their conduct and the manner they behaved
16 at that stage made you realise that they were, to use your own term,
17 words, Strugar's men and did not really belong to the military naval
18 sector. That's what you felt?
19 A. Yes. I asked them where they were from, and they said some were
20 from Trebinje, some were from Bileca. And then I realised, only then,
21 from these ordinary soldiers, reservists, I realised that they weren't in
22 fact linked to the military naval sector of Admiral Jokic, but that they
23 were in fact up there. And I didn't know that General Strugar was their
24 commander at all. All I knew was that they belonged to somebody else.
25 So at the time, I didn't realise that Strugar was in fact their
1 commander. I hadn't heard of Strugar.
2 Q. And when you say "them," are you referring to members of the
3 3rd Battalion, 3rd Motorised Battalion of the 472nd Brigade? Is that what
4 you're referring to when you say "them"?
5 A. Yes. The 3rd Battalion, commanded by Rambo Kovacevic, had regular
6 soldiers as well as reserve soldiers. And from the regular soldiers on
7 that day, I spoke to Komarica and Rakovic Svetislav. I never asked
8 Komarica, "Who is your commander?" I just simply thought that those units
9 from Herceg-Novi [as interpreted] and us were at the same level. We were
10 not above them. I thought that we were all subordinated to some command
11 from Belgrade.
12 MR. PETROVIC: [Interpretation] Your Honours, the transcript,
13 line 65 -- page 65, line 20, is should -- it says from Herceg-Novi, but it
14 should actually state from Herzegovina. That's the correct term.
15 MS. MAHINDARATNE: May I be permitted to ask that again, Your
16 Honour? My understanding was that it was Herceg-Novi.
17 Q. Sir, could you just repeat what you just said. Did you say: I
18 just simply thought that those units from Herceg-Novi and us were the same
19 level, or did you say those units from Herzegovina and us were at the same
20 level? Which of these did you --
21 A. Units from Herzegovina, not from Herceg-Novi. There's no logic to
22 them being just from Herceg-Novi. So units from Herzegovina.
23 Q. And when -- you said Captain Zec said something to the effect of,
24 "Young man, you have to go on a long vacation," or something to that
25 effect, was it your understanding, or did it seem to you that the 9th
1 Naval Sector was trying to have him removed and replaced? Is that what
2 you understood, how you understood that statement to be?
3 A. Yes. I thought, even then, and I had confirmation, that Rambo
4 Kovacevic and his unit was subordinated to the military naval sector,
5 because the warship Captain Zec told him, "You will be going for a longer
6 holiday." So that made me think that he was ours and not from the
7 Herzegovina part.
8 Q. But you changed your view about it, something that happened?
9 A. Well, I cannot change my position. I know that very well. Perhaps
10 there was a mistranslation. You can repeat it and I will tell it to you
12 Q. No. My question to you was: When Captain Zec asked -- indicated
13 to him, "You have to go on a long holiday," did it seem to you that he was
14 being removed or an attempt to remove him or replace him or how did you
15 understand that statement to be?
16 A. I understood the statement to mean that he would have to, that in
17 the opinion of captain of the warship Zec, he had made some mistakes and
18 that he would be removed from the unit, that he would be punished, in a
19 way. Even then, I thought that Rambo Kovacevic was subordinated to Zec
20 and that Zec was subordinated to Jokic.
21 Q. But having spoken to some other members of the 3rd Battalion, you
22 realised that, to use your own language, they were Strugar's men, you
24 A. That's correct. When I saw the members of the reserves who had
25 come to surround the command building and who were not allowing Rambo
1 Kovacevic to be replaced, and when I understood that there was nobody
2 there from Herceg-Novi or Boka, that all the people there were people from
3 Herzegovina, then I understood that these were some other units. But even
4 then, I didn't know that Strugar was commanding those units.
5 Q. So when did you know that Strugar was commanding the units? Was
6 it on the 7th of December that you got to know? When did you find out?
7 When did you realise this? You just said earlier on that you realised
9 A. Yes. I only understood that after I spoke with these members of
10 the reserves, when I saw how resolute they were to defend him. Then I
11 understood that things were not perhaps what I thought and that Rambo was
12 not subordinated to the Boka naval military sector but to somebody else,
13 to somebody from Herzegovina. And now I understand that he, his brigade,
14 was part -- or the 3rd Brigade was part of the units commanded by Strugar.
15 So I only understood that now. Well, when there were -- there was talk
16 about the trial, about two years ago, or perhaps on some programmes on
17 television, that's when I really understood it, and now I'm just trying to
18 help you.
19 Q. Yes. And if I understand you well, what you're saying is you felt
20 that there was some form of resistance amongst the reservists belonging to
21 the 3rd Battalion towards the officers of the naval sector, and
22 therefore -- and there was some evidence that indicated they had authority
23 from another higher command. Is that how you understood it?
24 A. No. They didn't receive their orders from any command, but on
25 their own initiative they wished to defend their commander Kovacevic, and
1 they opposed the decision of the Boka Military Naval Sector. Admiral
2 Jokic and warship Captain Zec. And with their presence, by the fact that
3 they surrounded the building, they prevented him from being replaced. So
4 that Rambo Kovacevic remained the commander of that unit. They succeeded
5 in their objective.
6 Q. Moving on, Mr. Novakovic. You said that you found out that the
7 3rd Battalion troops had arrived at the top of Srdj when the mortars -- or
8 when fire was opened on them from the city of Dubrovnik. And when I
9 say "city," I'm talking about the wider area of Dubrovnik and not the Old
10 Town. What time -- did you find out what time it was when those units had
11 reached the top of Srdj?
12 A. I don't know exactly. They set out early in the morning and they
13 arrived sometime during the day. I don't know exactly what time it was.
14 Q. Do you have any information as to what time the two members were
15 killed? You said you found out that they had arrived at the top and then
16 there was fire at them from Dubrovnik and two members were killed.
17 A. Yes. They said over Radio Herceg-Novi that there were two dead,
18 but when I got to Bosanka, I heard, and later I saw them at the morgue,
19 that there were five dead. And most of them were killed by mortar shells
20 which came from the direction of Dubrovnik.
21 Because those who were at the repeater were not able to defend the
22 repeater any more. They asked for assistance from Dubrovnik, and these
23 people were fired at from certain spots in Dubrovnik, the people of Rambo
24 Kovacevic, and five of them were killed. In order to protect his
25 soldiers, he fired at Dubrovnik, and what happened, happened.
1 Q. And when you say "repeater," what you mean is the Croatian forces
2 at the facility in Srdj sought assistance from their positions in the
3 wider area of Dubrovnik, and they opened fire on those JNA soldiers who
4 had managed to approach Srdj? That's what you're saying?
5 A. They were not in the general sector of Dubrovnik. We were in the
6 general sector of Dubrovnik. They were in Dubrovnik and they fired from
7 certain points. I remember that Rakovic and Komarica told me from which
8 spots, but I forgot what they were. It was next to certain hotels. So
9 these men were shot at from Dubrovnik, and that's how they were killed. I
10 know that the fire came from the central area of Dubrovnik.
11 Q. And when you say "central area," if I give you certain names, such
12 as Babin Kuk, Lapad, Dubravka, are those the areas you're talking about?
13 A. Perhaps not Dubravka, but Lapad, perhaps Babin Kuk. There's the
14 Medarevo hospital there, and there were mortars behind the hospital.
15 There were positions. I don't know whether this was the case in this
16 operation, but I know that when I was in the Dubrovnik front, mortars were
17 positioned exactly behind the Medarevo clinic, maternity clinic, and I
18 don't know whether these were neutralised or not. But I do remember that
19 their weapons were positioned behind Medarevo in Dubrovnik.
20 Q. And Medarevo is outside the Old Town, towards the west of the
21 Old Town?
22 A. [No interpretation]
23 Q. And you were informed about -- at least, you said that you learnt
24 that on the 5th there had been a meeting where the plan to attack Srdj was
25 approved. I'm sorry. I think what you said was Captain Zec had asked
1 certain officers to volunteer, or certain soldiers to volunteer to attack
2 Srdj on the 6th. Who told you that?
3 A. Komarica Marko and Svetislav Rakovic told me that in my house when
4 I brought them from the Meljine hospital to spend the night at my house so
5 that I could take them where I was taking them in the morning.
6 Q. Now, who had been present at this meeting where Captain Zec had
7 asked them to volunteer? Were there other soldiers apart from these two
9 A. Bodiroga was there for sure, and Mesaros, and the rest I didn't
10 know. I've never seen them before. I only know what these two men told
11 me, that the captain of the warship Zec asked that unit that was assembled
12 there who was brave enough to drive those grannies from Srdj. And they
13 told me that there was a silence for a couple of seconds, and Bodiroga
14 volunteered first, and when he did that, then his section, Komarica,
15 Rakovic, Mesaros all volunteered. So that was the section. One of the
16 squads. Because I think there were attacks from several points. I only
17 know about this one. I don't know about the others.
18 Q. I beg your pardon for that interruption. Mr. Novakovic, the
19 people that you spoke of who were killed in the November operation where
20 you had to evacuate the casualties, to which command or to which units did
21 they belong to?
22 A. This was the Herceg-Novi Territorial Defence. Those who were
23 killed were from the Herceg-Novi TO. And as they were being pulled out,
24 Baja Bajkovic from Bar was killed, as well as Baja Radovic from Niksic.
25 These were two men who were not from the Herceg-Novi TO but they were
1 killed while they were pulling out our men. Also three of our men were
2 killed and maybe seven, eight, to ten other men were wounded.
3 Q. And they were wounded in the course of conducting certain
4 operations in the time period 8 November to 13th November, isn't it? They
5 were killed in the course of combat activity; isn't it?
6 A. Yes. Yes. The specials unit from Herceg-Novi were breaking
7 through in the Dubac-Brgat sector, and in the afternoon they came to Brgat
8 and they went to one house, and Colonel Jovanovic, called Kurd, came to
9 them and suggested that they go on reconnaissance with him, and they did
10 that. But in fact, he brought them into direct combat on the 8th of
11 November in Bosanka.
12 Q. Now, are you aware that the 3rd Battalion participated in the
13 operations conducted in November? Do you know that in the combat
14 operations conducted by the JNA, the 3rd Battalion, the 3rd Motorised
15 Brigade of the 472nd Motorised Brigade also participated? Do you know
17 A. I wasn't aware of that. As I said, out of that whole battalion, I
18 only knew Marko Komarica. I wasn't -- I didn't ask him which unit he was
19 in. I just accepted him as a young soldier who had taken part in rescuing
20 some of my friends from Herceg-Novi. Some people from Herceg-Novi did not
21 have the courage to pull out the dead and the wounded, and this Marko
22 Komarica was brave enough to do that. So I never really asked him about
23 any of his military tasks and so on.
24 Q. But he was involved in that even evacuation. This person was
25 present in the course of the operations; isn't that correct?
1 A. Yes. He was there during the operation, but I was not. So
2 simply, I'm a radio mechanic, and my job is completely different. So
3 other than my Herceg-Novi TO, I wasn't really paying much attention about
4 which units were there, who belonged to what. I would be distributing the
5 batteries to the radio stations, and I really didn't have too much
6 information about who was doing what.
7 Q. I don't mean to be rude, but would you please confine your
8 response to my questions.
9 My question is: The fact that your friend who belonged to the
10 3rd Battalion was involved in the combat operations should indicate to
11 you, as a person with a military background, that the 3rd Battalion was in
12 fact involved in the naval operations; isn't that the case?
13 A. I only know for sure that the 3rd Battalion participated in the
14 attack on the 6th of December on Srdj. As far as the Bosanka attack is
15 concerned, I didn't even know that attack would take place. I had no idea
16 who was attacking, why it was being attacked. And even that day, I had
17 asked the commander to let me go home so I can have a shower and so on.
18 So when I got home, I received a phone call informing me that there were
19 wounded and killed, and that is when I went to the hospital.
20 Q. And do you know that the casualties, those wounded and killed, was
21 due to firing from the Croatian positions in areas such as Lapad,
22 Babin Kuk, you know, what we discussed earlier on? Was it from the same
23 positions that they were fired at?
24 A. Bosanka was full of Croat soldiers at the time. They were fired
25 at from Bosanka, and perhaps from some other locations that I don't know
1 about. I didn't take part in those battles.
2 Q. Mr. Novakovic, you mentioned one Colonel Jovanovic. Do you know
3 his first name?
4 A. I don't know. I know we're talking about Colonel Jovanovic, and
5 his nickname was Kurd. I know that there were three Jovanovics. I know
6 he came from somewhere outside the area, because out of these other two, I
7 know one, Tomislav Jovanovic, he's a colonel from some other army branch
8 dealing with road construction. I know him personally. I even had a
9 small conflict with him at Brgat, so I know exactly who we're talking
11 Q. And whom did you have a conflict with? Was it with Colonel
12 Tomislav Jovanovic or the other colonel that you're referring to?
13 A. I just had a conflict with Colonel Jovanovic, nicknamed Kurd, not
14 with Tomislav Jovanovic. And there was yet a third Jovanovic. And also,
15 Tomislav Jovanovic is here in The Hague with me, and I often referred to
16 this other Jovanovic. I saw there were two. And he says no, there were
17 three. So there were three Jovanovics.
18 Q. So did you discuss or did you have opportunity to speak with
19 Colonel Tomislav Jovanovic here in The Hague?
20 A. Yes. We're in the same hotel. I talked to him and I mentioned
21 this Colonel Jovanovic to him. Because he was a special kind of man.
22 Q. And did you also discuss or speak to -- I think you said Colonel
23 Djurasic, is also present at the moment in The Hague. Did you also speak
24 to him? Can you speak up a little, Mr. Novakovic? I didn't hear you.
25 A. Not Djurisic. Djurasic. He's in the same hotel where I am here
1 in The Hague. And during this week, he will most probably appear here
2 before you.
3 Q. Yeah. My question to you was: Did you also speak with him about
4 these issues? Did you have the opportunity to talk to him while here in
5 The Hague at the hotel?
6 A. Well, no. No. We didn't discuss that subject. Because we have
7 nothing to discuss with regard to these subjects. He did a different
8 thing. He was in Grude and I don't know where. And I went my own way.
9 So I really don't know Gojko Djurasic. We just socialised at the hotel,
10 talked about other things. We talked about the Dubrovnik theatre of war
11 least of all because we have nothing in common there. We were not in the
12 same operation at any point in time. So there.
13 Q. Mr. Novakovic, you said you went home on 2nd or 3rd December, but
14 were you at any stage informed that on the 5th there had been some
15 negotiations to conclude a comprehensive cease-fire on the 6th? Were you
16 ever informed of that at any stage, either before or after the 6th
17 December incident?
18 A. I never heard of that. This is the first time I hear about it
19 from you, that there was such a possibility.
20 Q. So were you anticipating being -- were you expected to go back to
21 the front to get involved in combat activity when you went back home on
22 the 2nd or 3rd?
23 A. We did not expect either. We were simply sent back home, and we
24 were waiting to see what the higher command would decide. The higher
25 command decided that we should return our things and that we should go,
1 and that's what happened.
2 Q. Now, you testified that Colonel Kovacevic, Colonel Gavro
3 Kovacevic, had informed one of your friends that there was a mortar firing
4 from the Old Town on a truck. This you heard from a friend you spoke to
5 after the incident in November?
6 A. That night, when I returned for a second time from Brgat to
7 Zarkovica so that we could try to go towards Bosanka to find Savo
8 Vidakovic and to try to find other people who were wounded or dead --
9 Q. If I may interrupt. My question to you is: Your friend, Gaso
10 Mijatovic - and pardon me for mispronouncing that name - informed you that
11 Colonel Kovacevic said something to the effect that there was a mortar
12 firing from a truck from the Old Town, and this was in November. My
13 question to you is: You heard this from a friend Gaso Mijatovic; isn't
14 that the case?
15 A. Yes. That's what Gaso Mijatovic told me. He heard that from
16 conversations when he went up to Zarkovica to find out what was going on
17 so that he could find Vojica Pejovic, who was dead. Then Gavro Kovacevic
18 said to him --
19 Q. If I may just interrupt. We are under time constraint. And how
20 did Gaso Mijatovic find this out? Who told this to Gaso Mijatovic?
21 A. Colonel Gavro Kovacevic said that to Gaso. He was there wearing a
22 helmet and in a very serious situation, because all day he was under
23 mortar fire from the Old Town, and he said, "I was even targeted by a
24 mortar called Charlie from Dubrovnik mounted on this little truck," and
25 this mortar was firing at him.
1 Q. And this was told to you by Gaso Mijatovic?
2 A. Yes.
3 Q. And this was in November, in the course of the November operation?
4 A. That's right.
5 Q. Now, where did Gaso Mijatovic say that Colonel Kovacevic was at
6 the time he spoke with Colonel Kovacevic? Where was Colonel Kovacevic at
7 the time?
8 A. Colonel Kovacevic was at Zarkovica, in his command house, and then
9 Gaso Mijatovic entered that house to ask him what the situation was like
10 at Bosanka, where his friend Vojica Pejovic was. He gave him all these
11 answers correctly. And when he asked him where his friend was, then he
12 turned his back to him and then Gaso Mijatovic walked out and then -- I
13 told you what happened then. I mentioned that in my statement.
14 Q. So this statement of Colonel Kovacevic was in the spirit of
15 sending Gaso Mijatovic, was asking him for a favour, asking Colonel
16 Kovacevic to help withdraw his friend from difficulty, when he asked him
17 that, Colonel Kovacevic said, "I can't help this, but in fact I myself am
18 under fire from the Old Town." It was in a sense of dismissing Gaso
19 Mijatovic that he said this; is that correct? Do I take that as a yes?
20 A. Well, perhaps it could be put that way, somehow.
21 Q. And from Zarkovica, there is an unobstructed view into the Old
22 Town; isn't it?
23 A. That's right.
24 Q. Which also goes to indicate that obviously from the Old Town,
25 there is a view into Zarkovica?
1 A. That's right.
2 Q. And at this time when Gaso Mijatovic spoke to Colonel Kovacevic,
3 were they standing on Zarkovica itself, in clear view of the Old Town?
4 A. In this house in Zarkovica. They cannot be seen. The entrance is
5 from the eastern side.
6 Q. So did your friend Gaso Mijatovic tell you that while he was there
7 at Zarkovica, this so-called mortar from the vehicle Charlie fired at
8 Zarkovica, or was it the case that he merely conveyed to you what Colonel
9 Kovacevic said?
10 A. He just told me what Colonel Kovacevic had said to him, that
11 throughout the day, on several occasions, he was exposed to mortar fire
12 from Dubrovnik.
13 Q. Mr. Novakovic, have you yourself seen the Old Town?
14 A. Yes.
15 Q. Would you agree with me if I said that the only place in the Old
16 Town where a truck could move around is the Stradun? Would you agree with
18 A. That's right.
19 Q. So if there was in fact a vehicle on Stradun, it would be in clear
20 view of Zarkovica, the position at Zarkovica, isn't it?
21 A. Stradun is long. It's hard for me to recall all of this, but
22 there must be points on Stradun, and in other streets, where it could be
23 tucked in and where it could not be seen from Zarkovica.
24 Q. Mr. Novakovic, the streets, the other streets, are little alleys
25 on other side of Stradun, isn't it? You have Stradun going from east to
1 west across the Old Town, and on either side, going towards north to
2 south, you have little alleys in behind very high walls. Do you agree
3 with me?
4 A. That's right.
5 Q. And the alleys on the side facing Srdj consist of steps. There
6 are steps going up those alleys, alleyways; correct?
7 A. Yes. There are streets with steps, and there are streets with
8 cobblestones, or stone pavement, whatever the word may be.
9 Q. The streets with the cobblestones are to the south of the Stradun,
10 while the streets with the steps are to the north of the Stradun; isn't
12 A. That's right.
13 Q. So clearly, it's needless to say that it would be impossible to
14 have a truck in any one of those streets on the northern side, since they
15 consist of steps. You agree with me?
16 A. That's right.
17 Q. And the little alleyways on the south to the Stradun are extremely
18 narrow. Wouldn't it be -- isn't it logical to contemplate a truck going
19 in any one of those narrow alleyways?
20 A. Well, it's not a question of logical or illogical. I wasn't
21 watching that, you see. Because that day, when I was between Zarkovica
22 and Bosanka, when this killing took place at 3.00 on the 6th, nobody was
23 operating then. I just saw plumes of smoke coming from a few different
24 places in Dubrovnik, but that was it.
25 Q. No. I didn't suggest that you saw this. My point was that since
1 you have some background knowledge of the area, Dubrovnik and the Old
2 Town, my question was: Wouldn't you agree with me if I put it to you that
3 it would be logical to have a truck going down any one of those alleyways,
4 due to the width of those streets. The transcript reads would be
5 illogical but it should be logical -- illogical.
6 A. Well, you see, I'm not a military expert. Military experts should
7 be asked whether there are localities in the Old Town where such a vehicle
8 could move and fire at Zarkovica and other places. I personally think
9 that there are such places, because it is a well-known thing how a mortar
10 shell travels. So that can be explained very nicely.
11 Q. Mr. Novakovic, in your -- in the period that you served in the
12 Dubrovnik operation, did you ever receive any orders or instructions with
13 regard to the protected status of the Old Town? Were you ever told that
14 the Old Town was a protected site and it should not be fired upon?
15 A. Nobody told me that, but that goes without saying. Whenever I was
16 nearby, I did not see, ever, any attack by our artillery against
18 Q. No. My question to you was not that. I'm sure that you
19 personally are aware that it's a protected site. But my question was:
20 Did you receive any orders or instructions from your higher command,
21 saying: Do not fire on the Old Town? Or that the Old Town is a protected
22 site, so you should not fire upon it? Did you receive any orders to such
24 A. I'm an ordinary soldier. Nobody had any need to issue me that
25 kind of order. I'm a mechanic. I do my own job.
1 Q. Could you just indicate as to what the distance between the Old
2 Town and Zarkovica is.
3 A. I don't know exactly.
4 Q. Is it possible from Zarkovica to see a vehicle and also identify
5 what type of weapon is placed on the vehicle? My question is: Is it
6 possible from Zarkovica to see a vehicle in -- which is supposed to be
7 located in the Old Town? And also identify the type of weapon that's on
8 the vehicle?
9 A. Well, you know what? From Zarkovica, that can be seen. Probably
10 even with the naked eye. But military people have binoculars and
11 different other equipment with which they can establish exactly what is
13 [Prosecution counsel confer]
14 MS. MAHINDARATNE:
15 Q. Mr. Novakovic, when did -- did you learn that the Old Town was
16 shelled in the course of the 6 December attack? And if so, when?
17 A. I learnt that when I came at 1540 hours, for instance, when I came
18 from Zarkovica to Bosanka. From Zarkovica I saw that Dubrovnik had
19 suffered some damage because I saw plumes of smoke arising from some
20 localities in Dubrovnik.
21 Q. I'm asking specifically with regard to the Old Town. Did you see
22 smoke coming from the Old Town?
23 A. Yes. I saw smoke from the Old Town.
24 Q. And did you inquire from your colleagues in the 3rd Battalion as
25 to what had happened, whether they fired on the Old Town? Did you have
1 any such conversation?
2 A. I did not have that kind of conversation. I just came to see what
3 was going on with Komarica, whether he was dead or alive, whether he was
4 wounded or not. That was the only thing I was interested in. No one made
5 any comments. It was just obvious that something had happened there.
6 Q. And do you know that in fact it was units of the 3rd Battalion
7 that shelled the Old Town on 6 December?
8 A. Well, this is how it was: In talking to Rakovic and Komarica, I
9 understood that when their five comrades were killed, fighting for the
10 peak, the repeater at Srdj, and when they reported it to the command that
11 they had five men killed, then they tried to shoot at the points from
12 which they were targeted when their four fellow soldiers were killed. And
13 that's the information I got from Komarica.
14 Q. Did Komarica tell you that they shelled the Old Town on 6 December
15 or they attacked the Old Town?
16 A. Well, no. Komarica didn't tell me that they had attacked the Old
17 Town because Komarica, or rather his detachment had the assignment of
18 taking control of the repeater at Srdj and that was Bodiroga's group from
19 Trebinje, and they volunteered and that was their assignment to take the
20 repeater at Srdj. He had nothing to do with Dubrovnik that day actually.
21 Q. Did he tell you that other units of the 3rd Battalion shelled the
22 Old Town? Not his unit perhaps but other units of the 3rd Battalion.
23 A. Well, no. We didn't discuss that. They just told me how their
24 five fellow soldiers were killed and Rakovic told me that Komarica was in
25 a very difficult situation on several occasions, and it seemed that they
1 were targeting him because whenever he moved, a shell would fall in the
2 spot he had previously been. So he did all -- it was by chance that he
3 came out alive, being targeted that way.
4 [Prosecution counsel confer]
5 MS. MAHINDARATNE:
6 Q. Mr. Novakovic, do you know as to whether Captain Kovacevic was
7 present at the meeting on 5th December, when Captain Zec had asked your
8 friends to volunteer? Was Captain Kovacevic of the 3rd Battalion present
9 at the meeting?
10 A. I don't know about that specific detail. I know that those guys
11 were present and that captain of the warship Zec was present. Now,
12 whether Kovacevic was there or not, I can't say. It would be logical that
13 he was, but I really can't say.
14 Q. And what time was it when you heard from your friend Komarica that
15 five soldiers were killed on Srdj? At what time had they been killed in
16 the course of the attack on 6 December?
17 A. The attack began early in the morning, and they were killed when I
18 arrived at 1540 hours. Everything was over by that time. They were all
19 killed and wounded and sent to hospital. So when I arrived at Bosanka,
20 there wasn't a single person there, either killed or wounded.
21 Q. No. My question is: Do you know at what time they were killed or
22 wounded on Srdj, these five people? Do you know? Did your friend
23 Komarica tell you at what time they were killed?
24 A. Well, he wasn't specific about the time. All he said was that
25 when they reached the top where the repeater at Srdj was, that this was a
1 plateau and that the shelling was terrible and that the wind was very
2 strong that day. So they tried to do what they could, but they couldn't
3 actually do anything, so they returned, went back.
4 Q. Do you know that after this incident Captain Kovacevic of the 3rd
5 Battalion was promoted? Are you aware of that?
6 A. I'm not aware of that.
7 Q. How would you describe the discipline in the units with which you
8 worked and in your unit? Was there a lot of looting, arson, drinking,
9 unauthorised opening of fire by individual soldiers?
10 A. In my unit, up until the 8th of November, until our fellow
11 soldiers were killed, we had a high level of discipline. There were no
12 great problems. Perhaps drinking a little bit of alcohol, because Konavle
13 is well known for its brandy and wine. So there was brandy and wine.
14 People did drink. But the command was in control of the situation and the
15 terrain and there were no serious problems.
16 Now, after the 8th, the problems started, because the soldiers no
17 longer had -- could place their trust and confidence in their officers.
18 So the protest Kumbor took place and the situation was somewhat different
19 at the end of it all.
20 Q. And how would you describe the military police units that you may
21 have observed in the course of the Dubrovnik operation? Did it seem to
22 you that they were conducting their investigations, charging people, or
23 did you see any form of shortcomings in the -- amongst the military units?
24 I'm talking about -- I'm sorry - military police units.
25 A. Well, as to the military police, I didn't come across them much,
1 so I really can't say. I can't tell you anything about that. Perhaps I
2 came across them once or twice. But they were mostly people working in
3 the field rather than the military police.
4 Q. Haven't you seen military police units checking ID cards and
5 carrying out guard duty at checkpoints on the roads? You have seen
6 military police units?
7 A. At Debeli Brijeg, which is the border between Herceg-Novi and
8 Dubrovnik, or rather, Croatia and Montenegro. That's where the military
9 police was. And every -- all the vehicles were searched, going out and
10 coming in, on both sides. And there was a checkpoint somewhere along
11 there, I think by Cavtat, or the airport at Cilipi. I'm not quite sure,
12 because a lot of time has gone by. There was a checkpoint. But as to the
13 checkpoint at the border crossing, that was a very strict checkpoint,
14 whereas the others weren't as strict.
15 [Prosecution counsel confer]
16 MS. MAHINDARATNE:
17 Q. Do you know how many reservists were involved in the protests or
18 demonstrations in front of Kumbor that you spoke of, you know, where --
19 after the November operations, they protested in front of the 9th VPS
20 command post or headquarters in Kumbor. And do you know how many
21 reservists were involved?
22 A. I really don't know how many reservists were there. I wasn't
23 there, actually. I was busy pulling out the dead below the repeater at
24 Srdj. So I really don't know. All I know is that it took place, it
25 happened, but I don't know how many of them there were.
1 Q. And do you know, in fact, that the demonstration was an attempt
2 calling upon the 9th VPS command to pursue the war energetically? Wasn't
3 that the reason for the protest? In fact, they were protesting that the
4 9th VPS did not come through as pursuing the war more energetically, and
5 you in fact said that they considered the 9th VPS to be weak or something;
6 you used some word to such effect?
7 A. No. Quite simply, they were angry because their fellow soldiers
8 were killed at Bosanka and that they hadn't been taken care of quickly
9 enough. So that was the reason. But I wasn't actually there myself, so I
10 can't really make a judgement which would be 100 per cent correct. But
11 that's how it was, generally speaking.
12 MS. MAHINDARATNE: That concludes cross-examination, Your Honours.
13 JUDGE PARKER: Thank you. Mr. Rodic.
14 MR. RODIC: [Interpretation] Your Honour, in view of the time,
15 namely, we just have a minute left, may I be allowed to continue tomorrow,
16 but for just 15 minutes or so, just briefly, not more than that?
17 JUDGE PARKER: Certainly, Mr. Rodic. We will adjourn now for the
19 Mr. Novakovic, if you would be kind enough to return tomorrow
20 morning. The hearing will continue at 9.00 in the morning. Thank you.
21 --- Whereupon the hearing adjourned at 7.00 p.m.,
22 to be reconvened on Tuesday, the 29th day of June,
23 2004, at 9.00 a.m.