1 Monday, 27 January 2003
2 [Open session]
3 [The accused entered court]
4 [The witness entered court]
5 --- Upon commencing at 9.05 a.m.
6 JUDGE MAY: Yes, Ms. Uertz-Retzlaff.
7 MS. UERTZ-RETZLAFF: Your Honour, the witness has to take the
9 JUDGE MAY: Yes. We will -- let the witness take the oath, and
10 let me have a copy of the summary. I don't have one. Yes. Let the
11 witness take the declaration.
12 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] I solemnly declare that I will speak
13 the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.
14 JUDGE MAY: If you'd like to take a seat.
15 WITNESS: PETAR KRISTE
16 [Witness answered through interpreter]
17 JUDGE MAY: Yes, Ms. Uertz-Retzlaff.
18 MS. UERTZ-RETZLAFF: Thank you, Your Honours.
19 Examined by Ms. Uertz-Retzlaff:
20 Q. Good morning, Witness. Can you hear me?
21 A. Yes, I can.
22 Q. Please state your name and date of birth.
23 A. Petar Kriste, Dubrovnik, on the 5th of January, 1936.
24 Q. You are a Croatian citizen?
25 A. I am.
1 Q. What is your profession?
2 A. I'm an economist.
3 Q. Were you the Minister of Defence of the government of Croatia for
4 several months in 1990; and if so, during which time exactly?
5 A. Yes, I was. From the 30th of May until the 24th of August, 1990.
6 Q. Given your professional background and not being a professional
7 soldier, why were you elected into a position of Minister of Defence?
8 A. Croatia, in those days after the first multi-party elections, was
9 constituted as a democratic republic, and it was generally believed by the
10 leadership of Croatia that it was normal for a civilian to head the
12 Q. Thus at that time while you were the Minister of Defence, did you
13 expect any violent developments within the former Yugoslavia?
14 A. I personally feared that that could happen. However, Croatia did
15 everything to avoid it. What is more, after the peaceful transition of
16 power in the top leadership, the conviction spread that violence could be
18 Q. When were you replaced and by whom?
19 A. I was replaced on the 24th of August by General Spegelj.
20 Q. Was there a particular reason for doing this at that time,
21 replacing you as a civilian with a general?
22 A. Yes. On the 17th of August, there were large-scale disturbances
23 or, rather, a rebellion in the area of Knin and a part of Lika. Actually,
24 citizens of Croato-Serbian ethnicity put up barricades, stopped vehicles,
25 searched them, and a larger-scale rebellion was instigated.
1 Q. You continued to be -- did you continue to be a member of the
2 government; and if so, in which period and what function?
3 A. I was a member of the government right up until the 15th of April,
4 1992, and I performed the duties of Trade Minister.
5 Q. What was the situation regarding the TO, in particular TO weapons,
6 when you took up the duty of Minister of Defence? Did you have any
7 control over weapons at that time?
8 A. When I took over duty, the Territorial Defence had already been
9 disarmed. Actually, the Yugoslav army had taken the decision after the
10 first round of the elections that the Territorial Defence in Croatia,
11 Slovenia, and Bosnia-Herzegovina should be disarmed. And this was carried
12 out, the formula being that the warehouses were unsafe where the weapons
13 of the TO had been stored until then and that it should be placed in safer
14 warehouses, that is, under the full control of the Yugoslav People's Army.
15 Q. In your time as Minister of Defence, did you make suggestions for
16 changes in the TO; and if so, what kind of changes?
17 A. Yes. The Territorial Defence, according to the constitutional
18 system that was in force, was simultaneously a component part of the armed
19 forces of Yugoslavia, but it was also the territorial army within the
20 jurisdiction of the republic. That territorial component of the armed
21 forces, according to the constitutional provisions that were in force and
22 enshrined in the constitution of Yugoslavia and of Croatia, the republic
23 took care, prepared, organised and commanded the Territorial Defence.
24 However, when the party that won at the multi-party elections took over
25 power, the commander of the republic Territorial Defence Staff refused to
1 cooperate with the new leadership, and my proposal was that he be replaced
2 and that the Territorial Defence be adjusted to the constitutional
3 frameworks that were in force or, rather, that it should be placed under
4 the control of the Republic of Croatia.
5 Q. And was your suggestion followed?
6 A. No, it was not accepted. President Tudjman wanted at all cost to
7 avoid any conflict, and he especially wanted to avoid a conflict with the
8 Yugoslav People's Army. So that was the reason why he did not accept my
9 proposal at that time.
10 Q. Did you try to get control over weapons? Did you do anything in
11 relation to TO weapons?
12 A. We asked the federal minister of -- no, of national defence, that
13 is, Mr. Veljko Kadijevic himself, and also through General Novoselic, who
14 was commander of the republic staff of the TO in Croatia, that the weapons
15 be returned. However, those weapons were never returned.
16 Q. Did you, in your time as the Minister of Defence, did you purchase
18 A. No.
19 Q. After General Spegelj replaced you, did he purchase weapons; and
20 if so, when and what kind?
21 A. As far as I know, the Ministry of Internal Affairs, while I was
22 the minister, had requested from the federal authorities additional
23 weapons to arm the police, the regular and reserve force of the police,
24 which had been increased somewhat. However, the federal authorities
25 rejected that request as they did the request for returning the weapons of
1 the TO. After that, as far as I can know, but I did not take direct part
2 in this and I don't have any precise information, but a certain quantity
3 of light infantry weapons was procured.
4 Q. And do you know when, approximately?
5 A. This was at the end of 1990.
6 Q. Did General Spegelj also make suggestions for preparation of a
7 defence, an effective defence, and if so, how did President Tudjman deal
8 with it?
9 A. I know that General Spegelj drafted three plans for the defence of
10 Croatia. However, those plans were not discussed at cabinet meetings, so
11 I do not have detailed insight into the -- what actually happened with
12 those plans. But judging from what Mr. Spegelj himself told me, as well
13 as some other colleagues, President Tudjman rejected all three defence
14 plans prepared by Spegelj.
15 Q. And why did he do that?
16 A. I think the reasons were the same as when he refused my proposal
17 for changes in the Territorial Defence. He wanted, at all cost, to avoid
18 the war and conflicts primarily with the Yugoslav People's Army.
19 Q. After -- during the time in the government now as the Trade
20 Minister, did you get information that in the course of 1991 Mr. Tudjman
21 and Mr. Milosevic met and negotiated?
22 A. Such information was never received officially by the government.
23 However, in the Croatian press, there was a brief report at the end of
24 March 1991 that Mr. Tudjman and Mr. Milosevic had met in a frontier
25 location between Serbia and Croatia.
1 Q. Is that Karadjordjevo?
2 A. Yes. Yes. Later, it was learnt -- I think that that note itself
3 did not mention Karadjordjevic, but subsequently, it was learnt that it
4 had taken place in Karadjordjevo.
5 Q. Did you have a brief conversation with Mr. Susak that related to
6 this meeting in Karadjordjevo in March 1991?
7 A. No. I did not have a direct conversation with Mr. Susak about
8 that meeting.
9 Q. Did you have -- did you meet Susak or did you come across Susak at
10 that time period, and did he tell you something?
11 A. Shortly after that, ten or 15 days later, I couldn't say exactly
12 when, I met Mr. Susak. He was in a rather good mood. And when I asked
13 him for the reason of his good mood, he told me that a decision had been
14 taken, or wording to that effect, that Herzegovina should be annexed to
16 At the emotional level, I could understand that, because Mr. Susak
17 was a native of Herzegovina, and it was natural for me that he should be
18 glad if that part of Croatia were to be part of the Republic of Croatia.
19 But on the other hand, such a report disturbed me.
20 Q. Did he indicate who made such a decision?
21 A. No, he didn't tell me who had taken the decision. He just said,
22 "I'm coming from the leader and such a decision has been taken." This
23 could not have been a formal decision. My understanding was that this was
24 an informal discussion during which such an agreement had been arranged or
1 Q. And this reference to the leader, does that mean President
2 Tudjman? Was he referring to Tudjman?
3 A. Yes, certainly.
4 Q. Mr. Susak, at that time, was he the Minister of Immigration?
5 A. Yes, he was.
6 Q. And was he close to President Tudjman?
7 A. Yes, he was.
8 Q. Did you discuss with colleagues what was the topic of meetings
9 with Milosevic -- between Milosevic and Mr. Tudjman?
10 A. We were all surprised by this news report itself that Mr. Tudjman
11 and Mr. Milosevic had met, and of course it aroused a great deal of
12 interest, and there was a lot of talk as to what could have been the
13 content of that discussion. Though we did not have any confirmation from
14 official sources, we thought that it could have been a kind of bargain
15 struck between Serbia and Croatia taking into account certain divisions
16 within Bosnia-Herzegovina.
17 Q. Let's now move on to Dubrovnik. Before and during the war, did
18 you yourself focus on what happened in the region of Dubrovnik?
19 A. I did. During the war, I was in Dubrovnik just before the
20 beginning and during the beginning of the war, then on three other
21 occasions during the blockade and occupation of the region around the
22 town, and once immediately after the withdrawal of the Yugoslav People's
23 Army from the area of Dubrovnik.
24 Q. By the end of September, beginning October, were you present in
25 Dubrovnik; and if so, which dates?
1 A. I was in Dubrovnik from the 26th of September until the 5th of
2 October. That was the period I spent there and that was when the actual
3 heavy attack on Dubrovnik itself started.
4 Q. Why were you -- why did you go to Dubrovnik on the 26th of
5 September? Was there a particular reason?
6 A. There was. We had received quite reliable information that an
7 attack on Dubrovnik was forthcoming. And also in view of the forces, and
8 we knew exactly how strong they were and what their distribution was, what
9 their deployment was, that they were ready for an attack to Dubrovnik, and
10 our assessment was that our forces were absolutely weak and that they
11 needed to be reinforced, especially with weapons, because there were
12 enough personnel in Dubrovnik itself ready to defend the town and Croatia.
13 Q. Did General Marinovic request weapons or other support from the
14 Croatian government?
15 A. General Marinovic, who was then lieutenant colonel, asked for aid
16 in weapons, and he addressed a fax to that effect to Zagreb, and my
17 colleagues from Dubrovnik advised me to do my best to have the request
18 sent by General Marinovic fulfilled.
19 Q. Was the -- what did General - or Colonel then - Colonel Marinovic
20 request, and did he get what he requested?
21 A. I did not have insight into the actual list, because in his fax he
22 had specified exactly what was essential for the necessary defence. But I
23 do know that I and my colleague Jurica, who also was a deputy in the
24 Assembly and who was also a native of Dubrovnik, like me, we didn't bring
25 even a part of what he had asked for. Actually, we didn't bring any
1 weapons. We brought a truckload of mines and explosive devices, which
2 were certainly useful and necessary, but General Marinovic was concerned
3 and worried because there was a shortage of infantry weapons and
4 especially there was no heavy weapons.
5 Q. Why didn't he get that? Was it not available, or do you know?
6 A. Croatia was not prepared for war. I already said a moment ago
7 that Croatia wanted to avoid the war at all costs. But at one point in
8 time, it even believed that this would be possible. For this reason, and
9 also because every conflict wanted to be avoided with the JNA, the
10 necessary preparations failed to be made, and especially the procurement
11 of certain quantities of weapons or their manufacture in our own
13 In view of this, when the attack on Dubrovnik started in Croatia,
14 there really were not available the quantities of weapons necessary to
15 meet General Marinovic's request, but my impression was - this may be
16 subjective and a subjective impression - that as much as could have been
17 done was not done probably because the organisation was lacking as the
18 preparations for defence had not been made in time.
19 Q. And when you arrived in Dubrovnik, what did you find in terms of
20 defenders? How many people were there to defend and what kind of people?
21 A. When I arrived in Dubrovnik, I found some 300 defenders on the
22 outside, and these were the members of the regular police force. There
23 was a small unit of the National Guards Corps, and people who until then
24 had been civilians and who, as soon as the threat of an attack occurred,
25 reported themselves and wanted to take part in the defence. There were
1 quite a number of these people, but there was a shortage of weapons for
3 Q. In regard of professional soldiers and policemen, how many
4 policemen, can you say approximately, and how many soldiers, National
5 Guard? If you could say. If you don't know, then --
6 A. I can't give you an exact figure.
7 Q. You spoke about the citizens that -- how many -- did they have
8 uniforms? Those citizens that took up arms, did they have uniforms?
9 A. No. At that time throughout Croatia, very few people actually had
10 uniforms. Those who had uniforms were policemen. They were the only
11 ones. And some of the members of the Croatian National Guards Corps. The
12 young men went around in sneakers and civilian clothing, and that's how
13 they fought, all those who were able to get any weapons. And they, of
14 course, were included into the organised defence.
15 Q. You said that they actually -- did they volunteer to help, to
16 defend the town, or were they compelled to do that? I'm speaking of the
17 young men.
18 A. Yes, I understand. They were volunteers. They came forth quite
19 freely. And let me repeat that far more reported for duty than we could
20 take in because there were just enough -- not enough weapons to go around.
21 Q. And what kind of weapons did these people have?
22 A. Mostly they were infantry weapons; ordinary rifles and a few
23 automatic rifles of the Kalashnikov type.
24 Q. You mentioned that you had information about the other side, of
25 the troops of the other side. What was that information? How many
12 Blank page inserted to ensure pagination corresponds between the French and
13 English transcripts.
1 soldiers were on the opposing side?
2 A. General Marinovic in Dubrovnik, according to a previous agreement,
3 had arrived from Trebinje, where he was the commander of the Trebinje
4 garrison of the JNA, and he had exact facts and figures about the troops
5 that were directed against Dubrovnik. And according to what he told us,
6 in the first squadron there was about 5.000 men with 105 artillery pieces.
7 Q. Did you visit the --
8 A. They had the support of tank units and the air force from Mostar
9 and from some other places. So they were in the first echelon.
10 Q. Did you visit the village of Brgat, together with ECMM observers,
11 on the 27th of September; and if so, why?
12 A. On the 26th of September, when we arrived in Dubrovnik, we
13 received information that at the borderline between Montenegro and
14 Bosnia-Herzegovina there were -- there had been a number incidents taking
15 place and that the attack had in fact already begun, and particular
16 mention was made of Konavle and the boarder with Montenegro and the access
17 towards Trebinje. And it was for this reason that we decided to go to
18 Konavle straight away on the 26th, when we arrived, to see what was going
19 on there, especially Molunat because people said that an invasion was
20 being prepared there. And we arrived there, as I say, on the 26th.
21 First of all, we took the road to near Molunat and we really did
22 see that there were two naval ships belonging to the Yugoslav navy, but
23 they were not anchored there, they were cruising along the coast. When we
24 approached Molunat itself, gunfire was opened -- they opened gunfire and
25 attacked our vehicles and so we withdrew towards Grude. Mortar fire and
1 grenades followed us from the surrounding hills. And it was due to these
2 onslaughts, rather even before we arrived in Dubrovnik, the villagers of
3 Molunat were displaced and were put up in the hotel at the Babin Kuk area.
4 Q. Let me interrupt you. I actually didn't ask you to go into that
5 many details, but just one side question: Did you travel in a civilian
6 car or was it military?
7 A. In a civilian car.
8 Q. And my question was: Did you visit the village of Brgat together
9 with ECMM observers and why?
10 A. Yes, the next day. On the following day, which was the 27th of
11 September, we did visit Brgat, yes, because we had also received
12 information that up there at Brgat several grenades had been fired. So we
13 went there together with the ECMM monitors to visit the village. And we
14 did come across some -- a few houses that were partially damaged. One of
15 them was completely damaged. And according to a soldier, he said that
16 this -- the shell had come from the Bosnia-Herzegovina area, and Brgat --
17 Brgat is right near the border.
18 MS. UERTZ-RETZLAFF: With the help of the usher, I would like to
19 show the witness the Exhibit 337. It's -- in the atlas you cannot see the
20 place Brgat. The witness can -- should point it out on the ELMO because
21 on this atlas you can't see it.
22 JUDGE MAY: We seem to be having some trouble with it.
23 MS. UERTZ-RETZLAFF:
24 Q. We have actually indicated the place Brgat with a red tab. Is
25 that correct?
1 A. Yes, that is Brgat.
2 Q. Is there a connecting road to Trebinje?
3 A. Yes, there is. Brgat is right on the road running from Dubrovnik
4 to Trebinje. It is just one kilometre away from the BH border.
5 Q. This place Brgat, did you expect -- the defenders and you, did you
6 expect an attack coming through this road?
7 A. Yes, an attack was expected. And as I say, from the eastern side,
8 from the Montenegrin area, it had already begun earlier on. And we
9 expected it to spread along this road too, because in fact that is the
10 only road along the Trebinje-Dubrovnik axis. So we were expecting an
11 attack, and as I have already said, there were certain military operations
12 under way, that is to say, several projectiles had already hit when I
14 Q. And was there also a Croatian defence in Brgat? Do you know that?
15 A. At that point in time when we were there, we didn't notice
16 anything of that kind, any other military units. We just saw the damage
17 that had been done, and the villagers told us that the damage was done
18 during the shelling.
19 Q. Yes. Thank you. That's enough. We don't need the map any more.
20 At that time, did the Croatian authorities or the Croatian
21 population in Dubrovnik region endanger the Serbs in the region?
22 A. No. There was no threat to the Serbs in the region. And let me
23 also say that there's a relatively small percentage of Serbs living in the
24 region. Approximately 5 per cent. And they lived under normal
25 conditions. There were never any incidents on that basis, ethnic.
1 Q. Did they - I mean the Croatian authorities, Croatian population,
2 Croatian defenders - did they pose a threat to the JNA at that time?
3 A. No, no threat whatsoever, and that for two reasons: First of all,
4 because Croatia did not want a war. It wanted to avoid a war at all cost.
5 And it was would be ludicrous that with the forces it had at its disposal
6 that the Dubrovnik defence should engage in any offensive operation
8 Q. Did the Croats shoot or shell into Montenegro or
9 Bosnia-Herzegovina? Do you know that?
10 A. I know quite certainly that there was no shelling of that kind.
11 The situation was quite the reverse, as I have described it; from
12 Montenegro into Konavle and from Bosnia-Herzegovina onto Brgat and the
13 Dubrovacka-Zupa area.
14 Q. Had there been any incidents at the border between Croat and Serb
15 or Montenegrin forces? I mean on the 26th, 27th of September.
16 A. At that time in that border region, there were very few of our own
17 forces there to begin with, a few policemen, and they did not open fire at
18 all, nor did they resist any kind of resistance. And at that point in
19 time, the enemy couldn't be seen. He was across the border and was
20 opening fire onto this area here along the border in Konavle.
21 Q. When this shooting and shelling started, did the Croatian
22 population flee their villages along the border?
23 A. From the village of Vitaljina, which is right along the border
24 with Montenegro, the population fled to Dubrovnik or, rather, they had
25 gone to Dubrovnik before we arrived. And on the 26th, when we were in
1 Konavle, people from the other villages had also withdrawn and gone to
2 Grude in large groups, in Konavle, and they were getting ready to move on,
3 to continue their journey towards Dubrovnik, and there were some ten
4 policemen accompanying them.
5 Q. Did the local authorities try to make contact with the JNA to
6 avoid the war at that time? We don't need many details, just a yes or no
8 A. With representatives of the JNA, no, I don't think there was any
9 contact, but the local authorities did contact the local authorities the
10 other side of the border, in Trebinje and in Herceg-Novi.
11 Q. Did the JNA or political authorities that you just mentioned in
12 Serbia or Montenegro, did they make any demands to the authorities of
13 Dubrovnik that could have avoided the war? Did they make any demands,
14 what the people in Dubrovnik should do?
15 A. As far as I know, there were no explicit demands made of any kind,
16 and I can say that mostly they said that matters would quieten down, that
17 everything would be settled and that an attack would not take place. At
18 least, that's how I understood the people who entered into contacts of
19 that kind say.
20 Q. What about the state level in Croatia? Were any demands made in
21 relation to Dubrovnik at that time? I mean, on the state level; Croatia,
22 Yugoslavia. Were any demands made in relation to Dubrovnik that the
23 government of Croatia did not comply with?
24 A. There were no such demands. Had there been, I would certainly
25 have known about them.
1 Q. Why was Dubrovnik attacked? Do you know about that?
2 A. Dubrovnik was attacked within the complex of a general plan of
3 attack on Croatia, which was an expression of Greater Serbian politics.
4 And according to that plan, Yugoslavia was to be re-centralised, or the
5 second variation, which had been completely accepted at that time, was to
6 change the internal borders within Yugoslavia, rather, to push the borders
7 of Serbia further towards the west so that, as they used to say on the
8 Serb side at that time, that all the Serbs would be living in one state,
9 in a single state. So that, by and large, would be the
10 Virovitica-Karlovac-Karlobag line and in that area or, rather, to the east
11 of that area was Dubrovnik, and so within that general operation,
12 Dubrovnik was therefore attacked.
13 The fact that this was part of the plan was testified by Kadijevic
14 himself in a book, in his book, and he explicitly states the units that
15 were to attack Dubrovnik and from which axes, to join up with the forces
16 on the Neretva River and continue their advance towards Split.
17 JUDGE MAY: Now, Mr. Kriste, beyond what is in the Kadijevic book,
18 what are your other sources of knowledge, would you tell us, as to this
19 attack being part of a broader plan.
20 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] I know, as a man who was active in
21 the sphere of politics before the democratic changes in Croatia and
22 Slovenia, I paid attention to what was going on on the broader Yugoslav
23 level, and these demands for a change in the constitutional order or,
24 rather, with the overthrow of the constitution dating back to 1974, in
25 Serbia, we had clear-cut views, and it was along this line that the
1 leaderships were toppled in Vojvodina and Kosovo and also in Montenegro.
2 The autonomous state of Vojvodina in Kosovo was rescinded. Everything was
3 organised along the lines of mass meetings, mass rallies of allegedly
4 jeopardised Serbs in Kosovo, and rallies of this kind were being organised
5 in Ljubljana --
6 JUDGE MAY: Forgive me interrupting. These, I take it, are
7 matters of general knowledge and part of your experience and conclusions
8 which you've drawn from what happened. But can you help us more
9 particularly as to any particular source of knowledge - anything anybody
10 said to you or any meetings you had or anything of that sort - in which
11 you gained further knowledge that there was such a plan.
12 Do you follow? We need to have specific evidence, if we can, on
13 that sort of topic.
14 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Specific evidence of that kind I do
15 not have. All I can say is that we discussed it at closed government
16 meetings and that similar arguments were put forward, of the type that I
17 have just stated. But a document testifying to that, I did not see.
18 JUDGE MAY: When you say discussed it, this was amongst yourselves
19 on the Croatian side, is that right, that you came to that --
20 A. Yes. Yes, that's correct. That's right.
21 JUDGE MAY: Thank you.
22 MS. UERTZ-RETZLAFF: With the help of the usher, I would just like
23 to put page 135 in the B/C/S version to the witness. It's from the book
24 of Veljko Kadijevic entitled "My View of the Break-up --" "My view of the
25 Break-up, an Army without a State."
1 Q. First of all, Mr. Kriste, did you read that book? You referred to
2 the book. Did you read it?
3 A. Yes, I have read it. I have it here with me, actually.
4 Q. You mean the book? You have the book with you?
5 A. Yes. That's right.
6 Q. Would you please put the English version on the ELMO.
7 On this page, there was a paragraph where General Kadijevic speaks
8 about the creation of a new Yugoslavia made of nations -- up of nations
9 which so desire, and he also refers to the -- how the JNA would assist and
10 the principal ideas in relation to the JNA, and I would like to quote to
12 "The task of deploying the JNA in this phase of the war in Croatia
13 was: To protect the Serb people in Croatia in such a way that all regions
14 with a majority Serb population would be completely freed from the
15 presence of the Croatian army and the Croatian authorities; to pull the
16 JNA out of Croatia by first ensuring that the above task was completed; to
17 carry out the continued country-wide transformation of the JNA into the
18 army of the future Yugoslavia, focusing on its internal national and
19 organisational structure and its territorial location."
20 And he further on that same page then writes about the principal
21 ideas, the "total defeat of the Croatian army if the situation so allowed,
22 and certainly to the degree that would enable fulfilment of the set goals;
23 full coordination with the Serb insurgents in the Serbian Krajina;
24 completion of the pull-out from Slovenia of remaining JNA forces; full
25 awareness that the role of the Serb nation in Bosnia-Herzegovina would be
1 instrumental to the future of the Serb nation at large. The location of
2 JNA forces were to be adjusted accordingly.
3 And actually, at the end of the page, there is the mentioning -- a
4 mentioning. It says: "The directions of offences -- offensives of the
5 main forces of the JNA directly connected to the liberation of Serb
6 regions in Croatia and JNA garrisons deep inside Croatian territory. To
7 this end cut Croatia along the following lines: Gradiska-Virovitica;
8 Bihac-Karlovac-Zagreb; Knin-Zadar; Mostar-Split."
9 And in relation to Dubrovnik, it continues: "At the same time,
10 strong forces from the Herceg Novi-Trebinje region would be used to block
11 Dubrovnik from land and break out into the Neretva valley, thus linking up
12 operations with forces working along the Mostar-Split line."
13 Did you see that the JNA did accordingly, or what did you see
15 A. Well, the JNA did act according to this plan.
16 Q. Thank you. That's enough. Thank you.
17 But let's return to the Dubrovnik region. Was it attacked on the
18 1st October -- the 1st of October, 1991?
19 A. Yes, it was. In the early morning, at around 6.00 a.m., was when
20 the area of Dubrovnik proper was attacked.
21 MS. UERTZ-RETZLAFF: Your Honour, I have just overlooked -- we
22 would like to put this as the first exhibit for this witness, and we have
23 not yet an exhibit number, and this would be tab 1.
24 THE REGISTRAR: Prosecutor's Exhibit number 370.
25 MS. UERTZ-RETZLAFF: Yes.
12 Blank page inserted to ensure pagination corresponds between the French and
13 English transcripts.
1 Q. And did the JNA troops subsequently take over the region around
2 Dubrovnik town?
3 A. The forces of the JNA went around Dubrovnik, blocked it off,
4 encircled it, and almost reached the Neretva River. That is to say, the
5 border with Bosnia-Herzegovina, where Bosnia-Herzegovina comes out onto
6 the sea at a place called Neum from the Dubrovnik side. And I can't tell
7 you about the other axes. But the town itself was heavily shelled already
8 on the first day, that is to say the 1st of October, and in the first
9 onslaught, the power station was destroyed, 11035, via which the Dubrovnik
10 area received its electric power. The waterworks, the water pipelines
11 were also destroyed, and there was an air attack on Srdj and the
12 transmission stations there, so that Dubrovnik was left without any
13 electricity, without any water, without any telephone communication and
14 all other communication as well.
15 Q. Witness -- Mr. Kriste, I do not want to go into all the details of
16 the attack because we have other witnesses to come. Therefore, I would
17 like to just ask a few specific questions in relation to what happened.
18 In which place did actual fighting between -- in this time where
19 you were there, in which places did actual fighting take place between
20 Croatian defenders and the opposing army? Do you know?
21 A. In those first moments of the attack, there was no actual combat,
22 no actual fighting, because it was from the border regions that the JNA
23 and other forces working with it launched a heavy shelling attack on the
24 town itself and other areas from their own territory. So there was no
25 defence because our side did not have the necessary artillery pieces.
1 Later on, when I left Dubrovnik, the attacks were mostly launched on the
2 eastern flank, and our forces put up as much resistance as they could
3 along the axes ranging from Herceg-Novi or, rather, the border with
4 Montenegro towards Dubrovnik.
5 Q. Did fighting take place in Brgat in the beginning of the war? Do
6 you know?
7 A. As far as I know, the fighting took place there somewhat later.
8 Q. To your knowledge, did the JNA suffer severe losses in that time
9 period while you were there until the 5th of October? Do you know?
10 A. No, it did not. It did not suffer heavy losses.
11 Q. During the takeover of the region around Dubrovnik, were Croatian
12 settlements or property deliberately destroyed? Do you know?
13 A. Yes, I do know about that. The Croatian settlements were razed to
14 the ground. Houses were set fire. What was left standing was destroyed
15 by grenades, shells, and the whole area was looted extensively. I was
16 able to see that throughout the region, the region that was under the
17 occupation of the Yugoslav army, once it had withdrawn, immediately after
18 its withdrawal, in Konavle, in Ston, and the Dubrovnik-Primorje area. I
19 was able to see that for myself.
20 Q. During your stay in Dubrovnik in beginning October, was the old
21 town targeted? Just this brief period.
22 A. Not at that time, no.
23 Q. Did you visit Dubrovnik at the end of October together with the
24 president of the SFRY, Mesic?
25 A. I did, yes.
1 Q. And to get to Dubrovnik, did you have to request permission of the
2 JNA command in Belgrade to do so?
3 A. We couldn't get to Dubrovnik because in -- we were blocked in the
4 Mljet canal by the Yugoslav navy, by five or six boats, and we spent the
5 whole day there, trying to negotiate with the command in Belgrade that it
6 allow free passage to the convoy.
7 Q. And who finally allowed your proceeding to Dubrovnik?
8 A. No explicit permission was actually granted because Mr. Mesic, who
9 was formally at that time the commander of the Yugoslav navy, did not
10 manage to get in touch with anyone except with, I think, Admiral Brovet.
11 So after spending a whole day there in the Mljet canal, we left during the
12 night quietly, and we travelled slowly, and in the morning we reached
13 Dubrovnik. So I think there must have been some kind of a tacit
14 permission given, because there were no armed attacks against the convoy.
15 Q. I do not want to go into any details of this visit which lasted
16 only for one day, is that right?
17 A. One day. Yes, that's right.
18 Q. Did you, together with two other members of the Croatian
19 government, go to Dubrovnik again at the end of November 1991 to get
20 involved in negotiations?
21 A. Yes, I did.
22 MS. UERTZ-RETZLAFF: With the help of the usher, I would like to
23 put to the witness tab 2 of Exhibit 370. And it is, actually, a decision
24 made of the 30th of November 1991 to send you, Minister Cifric, and
25 Minister Rudolf to Dubrovnik, and it gives also your tasking; that is,
1 establishing and keeping contact with the international organisations,
2 negotiations with the JNA command, organising the return of the temporary
3 immigrated population, and some other tasks. Is that a document that
4 relates to your mission?
5 A. Yes, it is.
6 Q. There is also a reference made to the Crisis Staff, the Crisis
7 Staffs in certain villages, including the town of Dubrovnik. What kind of
8 Crisis Staffs were they? Were these civilian organs, military organs?
9 Can you say?
10 A. Crisis Staffs were civilian organs, and their purpose was, in
11 those exceptionally difficult circumstances, to organise the life of the
12 population and to provide logistic support to the defence forces.
13 Q. In order to get access to Dubrovnik, did you get permission by the
14 JNA command to go there? I mean the headquarters in Belgrade.
15 A. Without such permission, we could not legally enter by naval or
16 ground routes.
17 Q. Who gave the permission? Do you know that? Who in person?
18 A. Admiral Brovet.
19 Q. Did you, on your way to Dubrovnik, did you spend a day in Split
20 and got involved in negotiations between the Split authorities and the
21 commander of the JNA military naval district, General Nikola Mladjenevic
23 A. Yes, yes, we did. Mladenic, I think his name was.
24 Q. And these negotiations, were they related to the withdrawal of the
25 JNA from the region, and what was it?
1 A. Yes, they were related to the withdrawal of the navy and the JNA
2 from the Split area, from Lora harbour, of the navy in the immediate
3 vicinity of Split, and on the return of the weapons of the Territorial
4 Defence. So these two issues were linked together in those negotiations.
5 Q. And was an agreement reached?
6 A. Yes, it was.
7 Q. After your arrival in Dubrovnik, did you attend negotiations on
8 the 5th of December in Cavtat?
9 A. I did.
10 Q. Besides you and the other two ministers, Croatian ministers, who
11 was present?
12 A. Admiral Jokic and Captain -- Frigate Captain Sofronije Jeremic.
13 Q. In what capacity did Admiral Jokic take part?
14 A. In the capacity of a representative of the Supreme Command.
15 Q. Did he say that?
16 A. That is how we had prepared the agreement, and also the agreement
17 that we signed, both in the signature and the heading, it says that the
18 negotiations are being conducted between the Croatian government and the
19 Supreme Command, represented by Admiral Jokic.
20 Q. What function did Captain Jeremic have, and did he actually get
21 very much involved?
22 A. Jeremic.
23 Q. Did he actually participate much in the negotiations?
24 A. He did not participate. He was just physically present at the
1 Q. What did your delegation request? And how -- can you describe how
2 the negotiations went.
3 A. We requested, first of all, that there should be a serious truce.
4 Then we requested the lifting of the blockade of Dubrovnik and the Gruz
5 harbour. Then we also requested that the JNA allow electricity and water
6 supply systems to be repaired so that the population - and there were
7 about 40.000 inhabitants at the time - could receive power and water. And
8 generally, we wanted to supply the population -- to ensure for the
9 population of the city somewhat better conditions of life.
10 Q. How did General Jokic respond to this? What did he say?
11 A. General Jokic said that we could discuss this as well as the
12 possible withdrawal of the JNA to some more distant positions only on
13 condition if Dubrovnik was freed of all our forces. And he said there
14 were 15.000 such forces and described them as Ustashas and mercenaries.
15 Q. How did you respond to this? Can you tell us about the exchange
16 that you had with Jokic.
17 A. Of course we could not accept such a request. First of all, there
18 were no such forces in Dubrovnik. And secondly, the withdrawal of our
19 forces would mean allowing free passage for the JNA into Dubrovnik. That
20 is why we said that in Dubrovnik there really weren't 15.000 armed men but
21 that there were 5.000 well-armed men who were ready for battle, that these
22 certainly were no Ustashas or mercenaries but mostly citizens of Dubrovnik
23 who were prepared to defend their city and Croatia; that we would not pull
24 out those forces because we cannot do that because in that case, the
25 Yugoslav army would immediately enter Dubrovnik. The admiral angrily
1 responded, asking us don't we trust the word of honour of a Yugoslav
2 senior officer. Our answer was no, because a short while ago, we had had
3 a similar case. At previous negotiations, which were attended by
4 representatives of the local authorities in Mocici near Cilipi, the
5 Dubrovnik airport, the JNA had promised that it would not move forward its
6 lines towards Dubrovnik but that it certainly wouldn't enter Cavtat. And
7 as soon as our negotiators had left - they hadn't even left Cavtat to
8 reach Dubrovnik - when the Yugoslav People's Army walked into Cavtat.
9 Jokic stopped for a moment, but then he asked another question:
10 "Do you think that the Yugoslav People's Army doesn't have the strength in
11 spite of the forces you have in town to capture the town and place it
12 fully under its control?" Our answer was: "Yes. Your forces are far
13 superior, and in the final analysis, you could achieve that. But as long
14 as our forces are there, you wouldn't do that, for two reasons: First of
15 all, you would have to destroy the town itself, and you won't do that
16 because, after all, you are afraid of the reaction of international public
17 opinion. And secondly, you would have to count on every street and every
18 destroyed building being turned into a bunker, and you would have very
19 heavy losses in manpower, and you can't do that on account of your own
20 public opinion. And that is why, for as long as the defenders are in
21 town, we can be sure that you won't enter it."
22 After that, he made a short break and then he made various
23 suggestions to us, various options; that our forces should be formally
24 disarmed, that we take -- that this be recorded, that they needed that for
25 their own public, and then that those same forces could return to
1 Dubrovnik via a route that was still operational across the islands of
2 Dubrovnik, and then that we should issue a joint declaration in which we
3 would say that we would disarm and withdraw our forces, which would
4 unpublished in Serbia and Montenegro to appease public opinion there,
5 which of course we couldn't accept because we realised that these were
7 Finally --
8 Q. Let me interrupt you. You mention -- what you just described, his
9 suggestion, is that more or less a sort of fake withdrawal so that the JNA
10 wouldn't lose its face, or what does it mean?
11 A. Yes, approximately that is what it meant. The JNA, because of its
12 own public opinion - that is what he told us - cannot make concessions to
13 our side without achieving its main goal, and that was the withdrawal and
14 disarming, complete disarming, of our forces and their departure from
15 Dubrovnik. They couldn't do this because of their own public opinion, and
16 that is why he made these propositions which we realised or understood as
17 being a trick, actually a fake withdrawal.
18 Q. And one more question: You mentioned 5.000 people that could
19 fight the JNA in the town. Did you actually have 5.000 people or why did
20 you say it?
21 A. We didn't have that many people. We had a far smaller figure,
22 around 300, maybe 400, up to 500 men perhaps. But we had to mention this
23 figure because if we were to reveal the true state of affairs, the army
24 would have no reason to negotiate with us but would -- could simply enter
25 the town. We were actually negotiators of the Croatian government rather
1 than informers for the JNA, so we didn't provide accurate figures.
2 Q. Was an agreement reached, finally, on that day?
3 A. Yes, an agreement was reached which we considered to be quite
4 favourable, because the regime of the sailing of ships in and out of the
5 Gruz harbour was improved, and also the repair of electricity and water
6 supply systems was envisaged as well as the road to Cavtat, which had been
7 completely closed for the past two months.
8 MS. UERTZ-RETZLAFF: With the help of the usher, I would like to
9 put to the witness an exhibit that is already tendered in evidence and was
10 used --
11 JUDGE KWON: Ms. Uertz-Retzlaff, before removing the previous
12 exhibit, which is tab 2, I wonder if the witness is able to tell us who is
13 Dr. Franjo Greguric who is referred to as president at the end of the
14 document. Second page. Was he the president of the government of the
15 Republic of Croatia?
16 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Yes. Yes. He was the president of
17 the government of the Republic of Croatia.
18 JUDGE KWON: Thank you.
19 MS. UERTZ-RETZLAFF:
20 Q. In relation to this document that is now in front of you, this is
21 actually the agreement signed on the 7th of December, 1991. But if you
22 look at the agreement, at the articles in this agreement, was that
23 actually the state of affairs that you had reached on the 5th?
24 A. Yes. Actually, it was the agreement reached on the 5th. All
25 these points had been agreed on the 5th of December. However, at the end
12 Blank page inserted to ensure pagination corresponds between the French and
13 English transcripts.
1 of the discussion on the 5th of December, Mr. Jokic did not wish to sign
2 this document, claiming that he doesn't have the authority to do so from
3 the superior command and that he needed consultations, and that is why he
4 proposed that we meet again the next day to sign the document.
5 Q. Yes. Thank you.
6 MS. UERTZ-RETZLAFF: You can leave the document for a while with
7 the witness.
8 Q. What -- on the -- when you returned, when you returned to
9 Dubrovnik, on your way to Dubrovnik, did you actually think now an
10 agreement is reached and the war would be over in Dubrovnik?
11 A. We were satisfied with the contents of the agreement reached.
12 However, we were concerned that Mr. Jokic had not signed the agreement.
13 Nonetheless, we reckoned that the following day the agreement would indeed
14 be signed and that thereby far more favourable conditions of life would be
15 ensured for the population of Dubrovnik.
16 Q. When you came back to Dubrovnik, did you have a conversation with
17 Colonel Marinovic; and what did he tell you?
18 A. Returning to Dubrovnik, we informed the local leadership and
19 Commander Marinovic as to what we agreed, and we reported to him on the
20 meeting in Cavtat. Mr. Marinovic did not share our optimism, and he
21 informed us that, during the day, movements of the Yugoslav army had been
22 observed at Bosanka and Zarkovica and that he feared that an attack would
23 be launched. This certainly affected us too so that our optimism suddenly
25 Q. On the 6th of December, did an attack on Dubrovnik occur starting
1 with an attack on the Croatian position on Mount Srdj very early in the
3 A. Yes.
4 Q. Did you observe what was going on from the Hotel Argentina?
5 A. From the Hotel Argentina, already around 6.00 when the attack
6 started, we could see that the Srdj fortress overlooking the city, that
7 firing with artillery weapons was being done and that tanks were on the
8 move. A little later, the fire moved towards the town itself, including
9 the hotel that we were in, but especially the fire was targeting the old
10 city nucleus.
11 Q. While this was ongoing, were you in contact with Commander
12 Marinovic, Colonel Marinovic?
13 A. Yes, we were. We had contact with Colonel Marinovic.
14 Q. Did Colonel Marinovic try to assist his men on Mount Srdj by
15 firing from any position within the town and, if so, do you know where the
16 position was?
17 A. Mr. Marinovic informed us that an attack by strong forces of the
18 Yugoslav People's Army was being launched against the Srdj fortress and
19 that the crew could not prevail without support, and he said that he would
20 assist from positions in the still unoccupied part of the Dubrovnik area.
21 The exact deployment of those mortar batteries that our defence had at its
22 disposal I am not familiar with, but I do know that in the old town itself
23 and its immediate vicinity, there were no artillery weapons nor any
24 military installations or facilities.
25 Q. When did the shelling of the old town start and what did he end?
1 Do you know that?
2 A. The shelling of the old town started around 7.00, and it lasted
3 intensively up until 1.00 p.m., and then it resumed early evening but of
4 lesser intensity.
5 Q. Are you in possession of a tape showing this shelling, actually a
6 tape made from the Hotel Argentina?
7 A. Yes, I am. I have this tape, and the shelling of Dubrovnik was
8 filmed by an amateur, a receptionist at the Hotel Argentina, so I was able
9 to see him filming it. Actually, the filming was done from the same
10 position from which we were observing what was going on in town. Of
11 course, what can be seen on film, on tape, is not as impressive as what we
12 saw with our own eyes, because this went on all day and projectiles of
13 various types flew over our heads.
14 Q. How did you receive the tape and what else is on the tape besides
15 this, what the amateur filmer made?
16 A. On this tape, in addition to the shelling of the town on the 6th
17 of December 1991, there is footage also of the town after the shelling,
18 filmed the next day - that is on the 7th of December, 1991 - and also a
19 few clips from Television Belgrade and Television Montenegro's programmes.
20 The shots of the appearance of the town after the shelling were
21 taken by this same amateur, and the footage from Television Belgrade and
22 Montenegro were something that he added on to his own tape, and these were
23 broadcast on the 7th of December on Croatian television, namely, Croatian
24 television received the signals of Belgrade television and Montenegro
25 television and taped some of their programmes and then rebroadcast them in
1 a programme called TV Isbor or TV Selection, and this programme was aired
2 on the 7th of December, 1991.
3 Q. And how did you get the tape? Who gave it to you?
4 A. I was given this tape as a gift by a policeman of ours who was in
5 our escort while we were in Dubrovnik.
6 MS. UERTZ-RETZLAFF: Your Honour, the witness has actually
7 provided this tape to us and we have it here as tab 3, and a transcript of
8 parts that we would like to play, the transcripts belong to this tab 3.
9 The tape as such is quite long. It's 45 minutes or even more than that.
10 We only want to use five minutes of it. Not the damage part but about
11 three minutes of the actual shelling observed from the Hotel Argentina and
12 a few clips of what was said on the TV in Belgrade and on the TV in
13 Montenegro. Altogether, it's approximately five minutes, and I wonder
14 whether we should play it before the break or after.
15 JUDGE MAY: If it's ready to be played, we'll play it now. If
16 not, we'll take the break.
17 MS. UERTZ-RETZLAFF: It is ready.
18 JUDGE MAY: Very well, we'll play it now.
19 [Videotape played]
20 MS. UERTZ-RETZLAFF:
21 Q. Witness --
22 MS. UERTZ-RETZLAFF: Your Honour, they made small breaks between
23 the sequences that are on the tape.
24 Q. That would be your view? That would have been your view,
25 Mr. Kriste?
1 A. Yes.
2 Q. Do you know what is burning there?
3 A. Probably cars that were parked on the corner. And now these are
4 boats burning.
5 Q. Is that actually the boat that you were using for the
7 A. One of the two boats was used to go to the negotiations the
8 previous day, to Cavtat.
9 You can hear the explosions.
10 MS. UERTZ-RETZLAFF: And, Your Honour, you can see here the time.
11 Q. Is that the time actually the tape -- the time that we saw on the
12 tape, was that the time when it was filmed?
13 A. Yes.
14 MS. UERTZ-RETZLAFF: We would now have to hear the voice. You
15 have --
16 THE INTERPRETER: [Voiceover] "And you are clearing the way for
17 those who are 20 to 30 kilometres ahead of you. Have you been doing it
19 "Well, successfully. So far, quite successfully. You can see
20 yourself how fast we have gone through it. We hope that we are going to
21 be even faster. Now we have taken this territory, next week we are maybe
22 going to take some other territory.
23 "At the same time, we have reliable information that Ustasha
24 formations, especially foreign mercenaries who don't care about Dubrovnik,
25 are preparing the scenario of its destruction in order to accuse the JNA
1 of that act of vandalism. It is being reported in a communique from the
2 information service of the Federal Secretariat for National Defence.
3 "Because the needs of both the current and the possible future
4 tasks require stronger concentration of forces, mainly of means of support
5 and artillery means, in order for our soldiers, through the use of
6 artillery, to be exposed as little as possible during the operations
7 regarding the taking over of particular buildings and the breaking of ZNG
8 and MUP forces on the lines used by units.
9 "All information presented to our public regarding the JNA using
10 artillery on Dubrovnik is not true and is pure fabrication. It is being
11 reported in a communique of the information service of the Military-Naval
12 Sector Boka. In its operations carried out so far, the JNA has not fired
13 a single shell on Dubrovnik.
14 "It has been reported that Dubrovnik suffered damages. Is that
16 "Reports that Dubrovnik was shelled or damaged or hit are not
18 "Are they trying to mine the old town or a part of the old town?
19 "That is part of the scenario they have been preparing since the
20 beginning and which is now being carried out. While they were trying to
21 accuse the JNA of not respecting cultural monuments nor world cultural
22 heritage which the old town of Dubrovnik represents. They were and still
23 are preparing mines in the old town itself which they later activate, and
24 they then give reports that the JNA is hitting the old town.
25 "There are another two kilometres to Dubrovnik from here. That
1 means that we are almost in Dubrovnik.
2 "Behind the hill. From there you can see Dubrovnik. We have
3 stopped here. We won't go further. But if they continue to open fire
4 from their side, then we're going to go further. But they are encircled
5 from the other side and all around Dubrovnik so that their MUP members are
6 surrounded and they have nowhere to go. We are now just waiting for the
7 order to advance towards them in order to disarm them."
8 MS. UERTZ-RETZLAFF: So that's the tape. Thank you, Your Honour.
9 JUDGE MAY: Very well. That's a convenient moment. We will
10 adjourn now.
11 Mr. Kriste, in this adjournment and any others there may be, could
12 you remember not to speak to anybody about your evidence until it's over,
13 and that does include the members of the Prosecution team. Could you be
14 back, please, in twenty minutes.
15 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] I understand, Your Honour.
16 --- Recess taken at 10.34 a.m.
17 --- On resuming at 11.00 a.m.
18 JUDGE MAY: Yes, Ms. Uertz-Retzlaff.
19 JUDGE KWON: Ms. Uertz-Retzlaff, let me get back to the question I
20 asked during the first session. I couldn't follow, frankly, the answer of
21 the accused. Was Mr. Greguric another name for Mr. Tudjman? The witness
22 said that Mr. Greguric was the president of Croatia.
23 MS. UERTZ-RETZLAFF: No, of the government, not --
24 JUDGE KWON: Of the government. At the end of the tab, Greguric
25 is the president of government. It's different from the president of
1 Republic of Croatia. Could you explain, please.
2 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Yes, Your Honour. Greguric was the
3 Prime Minister. He wasn't the president of the state. And that is not
4 another name for Mr. Tudjman, no.
5 JUDGE KWON: That seems to tell all. Thank you.
6 MS. UERTZ-RETZLAFF: Yes.
7 Q. Mr. Kriste, given the limited -- the technical limitations of --
8 in this courtroom, in the original tape that is now also as a copy with
9 Your Honours, could you actually see the shells hitting, coming in, flying
10 in and hitting the buildings on the original tape?
11 A. Yes, you could see them.
12 MS. UERTZ-RETZLAFF: Your Honours, you couldn't see it here in the
13 courtroom, but if you review the tape, it's very visible.
14 Q. And from where did the shells come in? Who was doing it? I mean,
15 land forces, sea forces, air? Who did it?
16 A. On that particular day, the ground forces were taking part as well
17 as the navy, but predominantly it was the ground forces from the land.
18 Q. And we heard, in the comments from the -- from officers, there was
19 one allegation made by one of the officers and he said on the TV that the
20 Dubrovnik representatives would prepare mines that they would activate and
21 then report it as shells from the JNA. Did that happen? Was that done?
22 A. That is a pure fabrication and part of the propaganda which was
23 supposed to justify what the JNA did in Dubrovnik.
24 Q. To your knowledge, were tyres burned to give the impression that
25 the town was burning, or was it actually burning?
1 A. It was actually burning. And on that particular day, nine houses
2 were completely burnt down to the ground, and about 600 projectiles of
3 different sorts fell on the town. Tyres were not burnt, however, tens of
4 cars were on fire, parked behind the city calls, and as the cars were on
5 fire, of course their tyres had to be burning as well. And the cars were
6 set on fire with the shells that fell.
7 MS. UERTZ-RETZLAFF: With the help of the usher, I would like to
8 put to the witness tab 4 of the Exhibit 370, and that's actually a map
9 showing the old town.
10 Q. Witness, this kind of map -- are you familiar with this map, and
11 can you tell us who produced the map?
12 A. Yes, I am familiar with this map. I have a copy of it. And it
13 was compiled by the expert services of the municipality of Dubrovnik in
14 cooperation with the corresponding UNESCO services.
15 Q. You mentioned that nine buildings were totally destroyed. Are
16 they indicated with this total black -- could you maybe point, use the
17 pointer and show us how they are indicated on this map.
18 A. These buildings are marked in black on this particular map.
19 Q. And these other little triangles, what does this indicate?
20 A. They are the hits, direct hits with different projectiles. It
21 ranges -- there are dots and triangles. I'm not quite sure what the
22 difference is between the dots and the triangles, but on my copy of the
23 map, all the direct hits are marked with dots. So they were probably
24 direct hits and the damages caused by indirect hits. I don't know. I
25 can't really say.
12 Blank page inserted to ensure pagination corresponds between the French and
13 English transcripts.
1 Q. That's actually --
2 JUDGE KWON: Ms. Uertz-Retzlaff, why don't ask you the
3 interpreters to translate the legend for us. Show them first.
4 MS. UERTZ-RETZLAFF: Yes. Could the interpreters just tell us
5 what the dots and the triangles mean. You should -- actually, I just --
6 I'm just told that you have a translation, and I also overlooked it. We
7 have a translation, actually, given --
8 JUDGE KWON: I found it.
9 MS. UERTZ-RETZLAFF: Yes. Also I overlooked it. We actually have
10 the explanation what the legend means. So, yes. I think that --
11 Q. Witness, I want to ask you one more thing in relation to this map.
12 Could you indicate on this map where the car parks -- where the car parks
13 were that you just mentioned that cars outside were burning. Could you
14 point out where the car parks would be.
15 A. The car parks would be on the northern side of the ramparts, of
16 the wall, in this area here. There are several parking spaces, parking
17 lots, and they're all interconnected, and it's this general area here and
19 MS. UERTZ-RETZLAFF: The witness is pointing --
20 A. On the outer side of the wall.
21 MS. UERTZ-RETZLAFF: The witness was pointing at the top of the
22 map where there are square -- square places behind the walls, on the other
23 side of the walls.
24 Q. Yes. Thank you. In addition --
25 MS. UERTZ-RETZLAFF: That's enough. Thank you.
1 Q. How many -- how many people were killed on that day? Do you know
3 A. Nineteen civilians were killed and about 60 others were wounded.
4 Q. In addition to the old town, were residential areas also targeted,
5 in particular hotels with refugees?
6 A. Yes, that's right. They were targeted. Actually, the whole of
7 the town was targeted. It was shelled all over, both residential
8 buildings and hotels in which the refugees had been put up. And there
9 were about 15.000 of them altogether in Dubrovnik.
10 Q. Were any military targets or positions in the old town on that
11 day? Did you see any outgoing fire from the old town?
12 A. No, not from the old town. There wasn't a return of fire, any
13 outgoing fire from the old town. And not only the old town but in the
14 immediate vicinity of the ramparts, the walls. And we, from the hotels,
15 were not able to see any point from which they opened fire, from which
16 there was a return of fire. And of course, you can see the old town quite
17 well from the hotel where we were put up.
18 Q. Did the Croatian side provoke the shelling in the first place?
19 A. No. The Croatian side did not provoke any shelling. Quite the
20 reverse; the Croatian side expected a secret truce to be signed and the
21 agreement that we had agreed upon on the previous day in Cavtat.
22 Q. While the shelling took place, did you reach Admiral Jokic on
23 several occasions?
24 A. Yes. As soon as the shelling started, we tried to get into
25 contact with Admiral Jokic. However, we weren't able to reach him to
1 begin with, and then later on, with the help of a satellite telephone, we
2 were able to set up connection with him and able to talk to him on several
4 Q. When did you speak to him for the first time and what did he say?
5 A. We spoke to him for the first time somewhere after 8.00 and he
6 first said that there was no shelling, that he didn't know about any
8 On the second occasion, which took place half an hour or an hour
9 later, he said that he did know that there were clashes going on but that
10 it was our side which was to blame because it had attacked the JNA units
11 in the Zarkovica and Bosanka area. We relayed this on, and we, of course,
12 said that that was not true.
13 On the third occasion, he admitted that there had indeed been an
14 unfortunate incident, as he put it, and he apologised for it, claiming
15 that it wasn't his order that led up to it.
16 Q. After that third telephone call, when was it approximately?
17 A. Well, it could have been sometime around 12.00 or a little after
18 12.00. Between 12.00 and 1.00. I can't give you an exact time, but it
19 was after 12.00.
20 Q. Did you believe what he said, that he didn't order it?
21 A. No, we didn't, of course, believe him, because an operation of
22 that sort cannot be conducted by anybody, any subordinate, on their own
23 bat. It could only have come from the Supreme Command, which was embodied
24 in the person of Admiral Jokic.
25 Q. And when -- when he said that he didn't order it, did he promise
1 to stop it or did you talk about how to stop it?
2 A. Yes. And we agreed, first of all, that the cease-fire would take
3 place at 11.00. However, even after 11.00, there was still shooting until
4 dusk, although it is true that, after 1.00 p.m. in the afternoon, it was
5 of lesser intensity.
6 Q. And do you know where Admiral Jokic was when you reached him in
7 the morning on these three occasions?
8 A. We assumed that he was somewhere in the Bay of Kotor, but I don't
9 know the exact location.
10 Q. Did you try to reach him in Kotor? Is that where you tried to
11 find him, or why do you think he was there?
12 A. We tried to reach him in Kumbor, in Herceg-Novi and all these
13 other places, I think in Kotor, the town of Kotor as well. Now, where we
14 actually found him, I can't say, or where he contacted us from, I really
15 don't know.
16 Q. Did you try to reach him another time after the shelling
17 continued? You said on the third occasion you actually expected it to
18 stop. Did you try to reach him another time?
19 A. We received later on, sometime around 2.00, 1400 hours, a
20 radiogram, in fact, in which Jokic informed us about the fact that an
21 attack had taken place contrary to their own will, and he apologises and
22 says that General Kadijevic had ordered an investigation into the whole
23 matter. And he also said that during -- in the course of the afternoon,
24 he would have to travel to Belgrade so that we would not be able to have a
25 meeting, the meeting that had been arranged in the course of the morning
1 for that particular day. But we couldn't bring about the meeting because
2 of the continuous bombardment.
3 MS. UERTZ-RETZLAFF: Could the Exhibit 361, tab 45, please be put
4 to the witness. It's already in evidence.
5 Q. Witness, is this the fax message that you were talking about? And
6 it's actually in English language. Do we have a B/C/S? No? Okay. Maybe
7 we put it on the ELMO. It's --
8 Do you recall that it was a message in English?
9 A. I think we received this fax in Croatian. I had the text of this
10 fax in Croatian. I don't know whether the original might have been in
11 English or not and then translated, but I had the Croatian version myself.
12 But I do recognise it. Yes, I recognise the document.
13 Q. Can we put it on the ELMO, and could the translation -- the
14 translation booth just read the first paragraph message, starting with,
15 "Your Excellency," so that the witness can confirm it.
16 THE INTERPRETER: "Your Excellency, I express my sincere regret
17 for the difficult and unfortunate situation that has been created. This
18 was not our order, neither was it close to my sanity to opt -- to act like
19 this. General Kadijevic has sent a message to you and the ECMM in
20 Dubrovnik on undertaking energetic investigation on our responsibility and
21 the guilty ones for this event. At the same time, we expect to find out
22 the responsibilities on your side for the sake of a thorough clarification
23 of all circumstances in regard with the events from last night and this
24 morning. General Kadijevic has invited me to Belgrade at 1400 hours, so
25 today I will not be able to continue the negotiations with you. I suggest
1 the following..."
2 MS. UERTZ-RETZLAFF: Yes. We can stop here.
3 Q. Is that what you received?
4 A. Yes. Yes. That is the content.
5 Q. Are you -- are you aware whether an investigation actually took
6 place and whether any officers were ever charged or disciplined for any
7 unauthorised actions in Dubrovnik?
8 A. I don't know that anybody was charged or disciplined because of
10 Q. And after receiving this fax, I understand from your statement the
11 shelling continued but to a lesser extent?
12 A. That's right, yes. The shelling continued, and you can see that
13 from the footage. It went right on until 1600 hours, when it became dark,
14 and that's when the shelling stopped. But the buildings were still on
16 Q. We have already now seen the document the agreement of the 7th of
17 December, 1991. Were the same persons present, that is you - the three
18 ministers - and Admiral Jokic and Jeremic?
19 A. That's right, yes. The same persons on both sides.
20 Q. And did you protest against the shelling, or anyone else?
21 A. At the beginning of our talks, the representative of the observer
22 -- European observer mission protested. And after that, we launched our
23 protest, too.
24 Q. And what was Admiral Jokic's reply?
25 A. Admiral Jokic repeated what he had said the previous day; that he
1 was sorry that the event had taken place but that it was not pursuant to
2 any order of his. And he also informed us that on the previous day, he
3 had been to Belgrade where he had talks with Mr. Kadijevic and that during
4 the night, the representatives of all the western embassies had lodged
5 their protests with the Supreme Command because of the bombardment of
6 Dubrovnik and that, for that reason, Mr. Kadijevic was very angry himself.
7 Q. And this agreement, then, was signed in the way as it was already
8 agreed upon on the 5th; is that correct?
9 A. Yes, that's right.
10 Q. Did the JNA film the damage done to the old down the following
11 day? Do you know that?
12 A. I do know about that. At the end of this conversation, the talks
13 we had with -- on the 7th of December, Mr. Jokic asked us to secure a
14 television crew of three or four persons which would come to Dubrovnik to
15 convince themselves of the damage that had been done and that was talked
16 about, so that that could serve as evidence in the investigation to be
17 conducted by General Kadijevic. And indeed, they came the next day. I
18 didn't meet them, but I do know that the crew did come and did film the
19 damages around town.
20 Q. The agreement of the 7th, was it complied with? Did the shelling
21 then stop?
22 A. On the 7th, there was no shelling already on the 7th, and for
23 quite a long time there was relative calm in Dubrovnik. It was only
24 later, in 1992, that there was shelling on several occasions once again.
25 Q. When did the JNA, or then the VJ, withdraw from the region?
1 A. I think it was in June or July that the JNA withdrew, but I'd have
2 to check that out. But they withdrew from the western part of the
3 municipality and reached Cavtat, the vicinity of Cavtat, and they stayed
4 there until the middle of October 1992. They finally left the entire
5 Dubrovnik region in October 1992.
6 MS. UERTZ-RETZLAFF: Your Honours, these are the questions that
7 the Prosecution has.
8 JUDGE MAY: Yes, Mr. Milosevic.
9 Cross-examined by Mr. Milosevic:
10 Q. [Interpretation] Mr. Kriste, at the beginning of your
11 examination-in-chief, you explained how you became the Defence Minister of
12 the Republic of Croatia after the elections in 1990, and you said that
13 because of the development of democracy, it was decided that the Minister
14 of Defence should be a civilian. How was that possible that the
15 development of democracy lasted for such a brief period of time, just
16 several months, and then General Spegelj was appointed to that post
17 nonetheless later on?
18 A. I have already said that in August 1990, there was a rebellion on
19 the part of the Serbs in Croatia and that it was a large rebellion, and
20 then it was assessed that it wouldn't progress as smoothly as we thought
21 without clashes and conflict as we had expected at the beginning, right
22 after the democratic elections had taken place. So the rebellion had --
23 was on such a broad scale that already at the beginning over 25 per cent
24 of Croatian territory was outside the control of the Croatian authorities,
25 and we expected that the rebellion would spread, of course with the
1 support of the JNA and Serbia.
2 Q. And what was the reason for that rebellion? You mentioned the
3 events in Knin and the barricades that had been set up. So what came
4 prior to those events? What happened before that?
5 A. What happened before that were rallies that were held in Knin in
6 1989, as early on as that, and then at the beginning of 1990 as well. And
7 they followed the pattern of the same types of rallies that were held in
8 Vojvodina and Montenegro at which slogans were being shouted out, saying,
9 "This is Serbia," and, "Give us arms."
10 Q. All right. And tell me, if that is so, if the rallies were of
11 this nature, for example, in that area, Lika, Banja, Kordun, in that
12 general region and so forth, the region -- and you considered them to be
13 nationalistic, did you not?
14 A. Yes.
15 Q. How, then, was it possible in that region with very few examples
16 of four municipalities, the Serb population had a majority vote for
17 Racan's party, the SK of Croatia, the League of Communists of Croatia, and
18 it later on changed it name. You know the election results, you're aware
19 of them. And in Western and Eastern Slavonia, the vast majority voted for
20 that particular party and 21 Serbs became members of the Croatian Sabor or
22 A. Well, this was a well thought out, organised activity, directed
23 from Serbia and which endeavoured in every possible way to turn the
24 Croatian Serbs against the newly established authorities that were
25 proclaimed -- they proclaimed it to be Ustasha authorities without any
12 Blank page inserted to ensure pagination corresponds between the French and
13 English transcripts.
1 reason at all.
2 Q. All right. Was there any reason for the Serbs to be upset in view
3 to the -- with regard to the events that took place, the log revolution
4 that came before? Do you know anything about how the Serbs were excluded
5 from the constitution of Croatia as a constituent peoples? I'm sure you
6 know about this, you're aware of that; you were a minister in the
7 government. So do you happen to know that an order was issued to disarm
8 the police stations, the majority of which were Serbs? Because the
9 majority population in those areas were indeed Serb so it was quite
10 logical for the policemen in those places to be Serb policemen too. Was
11 there good reason for them to be upset and afraid?
12 A. Well, there weren't any serious reasons for them to be upset. The
13 truth is that there were changes to the constitution, in the formulations
14 of the constitution, but the Serbs did not substantially lose anything.
15 In fact, according to the new constitution, they were treated first and
16 foremost as a national minority, which -- or, rather, just like all the
17 other parts of the population living in Croatia, as is defined in the
18 legal systems of other countries as well. And they were also guaranteed a
19 high level of autonomy in the local community.
20 Now, as far as disarmament is concerned, the disarmament of the
21 police stations, what I can say on that score is the following: The
22 police stations in those municipalities were not disarmed. The surplus
23 weaponry was taken away from those police stations and was taken over by
24 the Ministry of the Interior. And the police -- the Serbs in the police
25 were not in the majority in those particular municipalities, and in the
1 Internal Affairs Ministry too there were far more Serbs. That is to say
2 the ratio of Serbs was greater than the ratio of Serbs in the population
3 of Croatia. And I can also say that the same situation was reflected in
4 the Ministry of Defence. In the Ministry of Defence itself, when I
5 arrived, I found 48 per cent Croats there, working there, and out of the
6 total population the Croats make up 79 per cent. At that time, they made
7 up 79 per cent of the total number of inhabitants. There were 32 Serbs,
8 and the other 12 per cent were declared as Yugoslavs, and nothing happened
9 to any of these people.
10 Q. And do you know anything about the dismissal of Serbs from the
11 police, from the public administration, even health institutions, en
12 masse? Do you know anything about that?
13 A. Serbs in Croatia, while Yugoslavia lasted, was over-represented,
14 as I have just illustrated with this example from the Ministry of Defence.
15 And the situation was similar in the Ministry of Interior. However -- so
16 some changes were necessary. And I personally believed that the balancing
17 of the national composition of the employed with the composition of the
18 population should be done gradually. The ministry should have been
19 expanded with the employment of new staff and then things would be brought
20 into harmony. But in some cases, different measures were taken and there
21 were some rhetorical remarks that were not acceptable. But all of this
22 could not have been a reason for the Serb rebellion. It was just a
23 mitigating circumstance that helped the Serbian police to win over as many
24 Serbs as possible for the uprising.
25 Q. And did the Republic of Serbia have any influence over the
1 structure of the police, the public administration, the Defence Ministry
2 that you inherited from your predecessor after the change of government?
3 Did Serbia have any influence over that situation or was that the normal
4 order of things in the Republic of Croatia up until then?
5 A. Serbia did not have any direct influence, but the overall
6 situation in Yugoslavia was such that the Serbs were preferred and that
7 via facti they were over-represented everywhere; in the economy, in the
8 health service, in the administration, and especially in the sensitive
9 areas such as the defence and the police.
10 Q. Who preferred them, as you put it?
11 A. The overall climate that prevailed in Yugoslavia at the time in
12 which Serbia dominated.
13 Q. And so you're claiming that Serbia dominated in Yugoslavia up
14 until 1990.
15 A. That's right.
16 Q. And do you know that for several decades since the war there was
17 only one president of the federal government or the federal executive
18 council who was from Serbia, whereas throughout the rest of the period
19 they were mostly from Croatia and also some from Bosnia?
20 A. Key positions in the army, the police, in financial institutions
21 that were all concentrated in Belgrade were nevertheless held by Serbs.
22 Now, whether there were more Prime Ministers from one or other republic, I
23 would not be able to say.
24 Q. And these key institutions that you are referring to were located
25 in Belgrade, I assume, because Belgrade was the capital of Yugoslavia and
1 that's where the federal government was based, the central bank was based
2 there, and all the other ministries were based there. And do you know
3 that the structure of the federal government, the composition, and of the
4 central bank and other key institutions mostly reflected the structure --
5 the ethnic structure of the population of Yugoslavia at the time?
6 A. The top leadership mostly, yes, but the key operational positions
7 were held by people from Serbia. And even the Presidency of Yugoslavia,
8 which consisted of eight members representing the republics and the
9 provinces, it operated in that way only briefly. And after you took over
10 power in Serbia, then something very strange happened. You revised the
11 constitution, abolishing in fact the autonomy of the provinces of
12 Vojvodina and Kosovo but you retained the representatives of those
13 provinces in the Presidency and in other federal bodies. Similarly, by
14 overthrowing the legally elected government in Montenegro, you acquired a
15 fourth representative. So out of the total of eight members of the
16 Presidency, Serbia actually controlled four.
17 Q. And did Serbia take part in the changes of government in
18 Montenegro at the time?
19 A. It must have.
20 Q. Well, who, for instance?
21 A. It is well known how the change of government occurred in
22 Montenegro. The so-called endangered Serbs from Kosovo travelled like a
23 circus around Yugoslavia, organised rallies, street demonstrations, and
24 provoked dissatisfaction; and in doing so, they were undermining the
25 government. Obviously, they couldn't do that on their own, that this was
1 organised by the secret services, because tens of thousands of people
2 cannot be moved by one person, nor can they do it spontaneously. And
3 behind all that was Serbia's policy.
4 Q. How do you know all that? On what ground are you claiming that?
5 Do you have any data, any information?
6 A. You never certified a statement to that effect but that was quite
7 obvious. You didn't do anything to stop this wave of rallies across
8 Yugoslavia, but instead you supported it. And when such a rally was
9 scheduled in Ljubljana and on the way back it was due to be held in
10 Zagreb, and when the Slovenian government prohibited such a rally, the
11 Serbian government broke off all economic relations with Slovenia and
12 Croatia. Actually, it started a merciless economic war in which it
13 completely destroyed the unified Yugoslav market, the monetary system, the
14 customs system. So all this happened even before the outbreak of the war
15 in response merely to this decision to prohibit the rally. It caused real
16 chaos in the Yugoslav economy.
17 Q. Don't you remember to what extent the Serbs were endangered in
18 those days? Do you know that 40.000 left Kosovo under pressure and threat
19 and murders and torchings only in the period between 1980 and 1990, and
20 that they were protesting why no one was protecting -- protesting why no
21 one was protecting them. And they appealed for understanding from all the
22 other Yugoslav peoples for the suffering they were exposed to and for the
23 pressure and terror that they were suffering. Don't you remember that?
24 A. I do remember how all that looked in Yugoslavia in those years. I
25 know what I have said, that you say 40.000 were expelled. Forty thousand
1 people cannot be spontaneously organised. And what were they to do in
2 Novi Sad, Titograd, Ljubljana, Zagreb? Nothing else than what they did
3 do, that is, to cause disorder which was meant to undermine the existing
4 authorities and bring to power your supporters.
5 Q. Don't you know that there were only a hundred, couple of hundred
6 of them who went to other parts of the country to inform the people and
7 the authorities of the terrible conditions under which they were living
8 and to appeal for them -- to them for solidarity. There was no violence,
9 as you know. No one was hurt. Even the newspapers reported that not a
10 single flower was trampled upon in those demonstrations and rallies.
11 These were rallies of solidarity with those who were suffering in Kosovo.
12 Don't you remember that?
13 A. I remember that as part of Serbian propaganda.
14 Q. Very well, Mr. Kriste. I see that you have your stereotype
15 opinion in that respect, which is not really customary for an intellectual
16 who I see has published two books here.
17 JUDGE MAY: Now, Mr. Milosevic, let us refrain from these sort of
18 comments. It's not going to take us any further. Yes.
19 MR. MILOSEVIC: [Interpretation]
20 Q. Tell me, please -- we'll come to that. You quoted here from
21 Kadijevic's book. You said that you have it. True enough, it wasn't you
22 that quoted from it, it was the lady opposite who quoted from it.
23 A. I have the book here on me.
24 Q. And what's the name of the book, please?
25 A. "My View of the Break-up," if I'm not mistaken.
1 Q. Tell me, please, as far as I know from those days --
2 A. "My Understanding of the Break-up," yes.
3 Q. In those days, the JNA spoke about only two goals that it had in
4 those days; to protect those endangered, regardless of their ethnicity;
5 and secondly, to protect its own units that were blocked all over Croatia.
6 So answer my question now, please, since you are talking about this axis,
7 Virovitica-Karlovac-Karlobag, then the Neretva River valley that Kadijevic
8 refers to, were these movements of forces to enable the pull-out of the
9 units that were blocked, as you know well, in a large number of towns
10 where they had been stationed for decades - that is the garrisons in
11 Croatia - or was this some kind of conquest of territory in favour of some
12 sort of a Greater Serbia?
13 A. In Kadijevic's book, there is reference to an aggressive strategic
14 operation which clearly determines its goals; to cut Croatia along the
15 mentioned axes, including this breakthrough from the south, this advance
16 from the area of Trebinje and Herceg-Novi which was to have linked up with
17 the forces on the Neretva, and to continue towards Split. I don't know
18 who they were liberating and who they were protecting, that is, the
19 soldiers of the JNA in the territory of Dubrovnik, Dalmatia, and in all
20 these other areas. Do not forget, Mr. Milosevic, in that area which the
21 JNA was liberating or protecting the Serbian population, in 1991, there
22 were about 2.200.000 people, out of which 1.600.000 were Croats and about
23 400.000 Serbs. Who were they protecting?
24 Q. We'll come to this area around Dubrovnik later, because there's a
25 great deal of confusion there, Mr. Kriste. I don't know whether you're
1 aware of that fact, but you were explaining that you didn't talk to
2 representatives of the JNA, but you spoke to local leaders on the other
3 side of the border in Montenegro and Herzegovina. And then the lady
4 opposite asked you, And what was the outcome of those talks with the
5 authorities in Montenegro and Serbia? and you then explained that these
6 were normal discussions. You failed to hear that she mentioned whether
7 you spoke to anyone in Serbia.
8 Did you speak to anyone in Serbia?
9 A. I didn't say that I had talked to representatives of the local
10 authorities in the neighbourhood of Dubrovnik, in Bosnia and Montenegro.
11 I said that such discussions were conducted by representatives of
12 Dubrovnik municipality. And I also said that no direct requests to the
13 effect, "You do this, otherwise we will attack Dubrovnik," that no such
14 statements were made as far as I know.
15 Q. Yes. But will you answer my question: Did you ever in those
16 conversations have occasion to talk to any representative of Serbia?
17 A. I personally did not.
18 Q. Did any delegation of Dubrovnik talk to any representative of
19 Serbia? Does it appear to you rather logical -- logical for anyone in
20 Serbia or Serbia to have aspirations to take control of Dubrovnik?
21 A. It doesn't seem to be as illogical and senseless as you would want
22 it to appear. It is well known that Serbia always had aspirations towards
23 Dubrovnik, that in Serbian cultural circles Dubrovnik was referred to as
24 the Serbian Athens; and the attack on Dubrovnik was certainly part of a
25 broader plan, as I have said, the ultimate aim of which was to move
1 forward the borders of Serbia to the west.
2 Q. Are you claiming that Serbia had aspirations to capture
3 territories such as Dubrovnik and so on over there?
4 A. Yes.
5 Q. On what grounds?
6 A. On the grounds of everything that happened. Because the Yugoslav
7 army, especially after the war in Slovenia, acted fully in cooperation
8 with the Serbian leadership, in fact under the direct leadership of you
9 and Boro Jovanovic -- no, Jovic. His surname is Jovic but that doesn't
11 Q. But where did you get this idea that Serbia and I personally could
12 have given orders to the Yugoslav People's Army? There was a conflict
13 between your paramilitary formations and the JNA and not between Serbia
14 and Croatia. Are you aware of that? You were the Minister of Defence.
15 A. On your behalf, the work was done by the Yugoslav People's Army,
16 which was fictitiously used as a pretext to protect the Serbs, or even a
17 more neutral wording, the separation of the parties to the conflict, but
18 actually always upheld the positions of the rebellious Serbs in Croatia.
19 It armed them, gave them the command personnel, and whenever there were
20 difficulties or dangers of war, it would stand up to the Croatian forces
21 and prevent them from restoring the situation as it was before.
22 Q. Very well, Mr. Kriste. You said it had even more neutral
23 explanations. And this neutral explanation, as you call it, was it not
24 correct that the army was trying to separate the parties to the conflict,
25 the warring parties, and at the same time to preserve and save its own
12 Blank page inserted to ensure pagination corresponds between the French and
13 English transcripts.
1 units? Because Kadijevic talks about the pulling out of units from that
2 territory. If somebody wants to occupy a territory, he doesn't plan how
3 to pull them out but, rather, how to deploy them in that territory.
4 A. Kadijevic says that once Croatia is completely broken, then he
5 would pull out his units, but not from the whole of Croatia. That is what
6 can be inferred from the context. He would withdraw it from the part of
7 Croatia that would be west of the mentioned line, which would have been
8 the western border of Serbia.
9 Q. You really have no factual evidence to corroborate this, but I
10 will not dwell on Kadijevic's book. You can believe me that I haven't
11 read it. I just heard what you quoted, and you misquoted from it.
12 Tell me, please, to save time, you say that for political reasons
13 you were not allowed to get a doctorate, a Ph.D. Who were the political
15 A. That has nothing to do with the war in 1990. Actually, I was a
16 member of the Croatian Spring, if that is what you're interested in. And
17 after that, I was persecuted by the police in various other ways for 18
18 years. Among other things, I was prevented from getting a doctorate, a
19 doctoral degree which was already about to be granted.
20 Q. As a representative of the Croatian Spring -- I'm sorry. I'm
21 hearing the French interpretation. I don't know why. Oh, fine.
22 Who persecuted you as a representative of the Croatian Spring; the
23 Croatian police or was it perhaps the Serbs?
24 A. I was persecuted by the Croatian police. Of course within the
25 composition that it was in. But I must say there was no difference there
1 between the Serbs and the Croats. But within the frameworks of the
2 Yugoslav policy that was adopted at the well-known Presidency in that
3 fateful Karadjordjevo in the year 1971 in conformity with that policy.
4 Q. All right. Karadjordjevo was the residence of president Tito at
5 that time, and that is where the Central Committee plenary session was
6 held. It could have been held anywhere else.
7 A. Yes, it could have.
8 Q. So Karadjordjevo hasn't any importance in that context. There was
9 the Brioni Island Congress as well, and we don't consider them to be
10 fateful or any geographic point, for that matter.
11 Now, do you agree, as you say that you were a participant in the
12 Croatian Spring movement, it was a mass movement, that it was in fact an
13 anti-Yugoslav nationalist movement in Croatia at the time and that to all
14 intents and purposes its objective was for Croatia to secede from
15 Yugoslavia? And actually, what happened later on in continuity, a full 20
16 years later. Is that right or isn't it?
17 A. No, it's not. That's not right. The Croatian mass movement, or
18 the Croatian Spring movement, had quite different goals which,
19 unfortunately, proved to be an illusion. The two basic goals that the
20 Croatian Spring movement had are the following: First, the realisation of
21 socialism, as we used to call it, with a human face. That's how we
22 referred to it. And secondly, to turn Yugoslavia into an equitable part
23 of all the republics and ethnic groups within it.
24 Q. Do you wish to say that Croatia was not on a footing of equality
25 with all the other republics in Yugoslavia?
1 A. Well, less equal than Serbia, although Serbia, especially after
2 the death of President Tito, kept saying that it was in jeopardy most in
4 Q. Wasn't it divided into three parts under tutorship of some sort
5 all the time? Was Croatia divided? Was Macedonia? Was Slovenia divided?
6 Was any other republic divided except Serbia?
7 A. Serbia had, with its history, with its historical background, it
8 had two separate provinces, and it was logical to ensure a certain amount
9 of autonomy for those provinces. It had the province of Vojvodina and the
10 province of Kosovo.
11 Q. And do you know that according to the new constitution of Serbia
12 for which you say rescinded autonomy of these, that pursuant to that
13 constitution it says that two autonomous provinces exist, the autonomous
14 province of Vojvodina and the autonomous province of Kosovo and Metohija.
15 Before, it just said Kosovo, now it's referred to as Kosovo and Metohija.
16 And because it was Kosovo and Metohija from the very beginning, that was
17 the original name of the province. Somebody found fault with that, I
18 assume, in the course of things.
19 JUDGE MAY: Now, Mr. Milosevic, let's try and deal, if we can,
20 with something to do with the witness's evidence. You can, of course, ask
21 him about the time that he was Minister of Defence, and we allow you some
22 latitude, but I think we're getting some way from the point.
23 THE ACCUSED: [Interpretation] Very well, Mr. May. You're quite
24 right. I do wish to be rational and to use my time rationally.
25 MR. MILOSEVIC: [Interpretation]
1 Q. Mr. Kriste, you cooperated very well with Tudjman from the 1960s,
2 from the latter years of the 1960s, revolving around the Matica Hrvatska.
3 You attended meetings of the Matica, for example, in Metkovic in 1971 when
4 a rally was held when a monument to Radic was unveiled. You were the
5 principal guests there, you yourself and Tudjman; isn't that right?
6 A. That's right.
7 Q. However, that's not the point either. It was a sort of regular
8 activity, political activity of yours. You knew Tudjman very well. You
9 cooperated with him very well. You became the first Defence Minister in
10 the government formed by him after his advent to power in 1990, et cetera.
11 Isn't that right?
12 A. Yes.
13 Q. Later on, you spoke about how Tudjman in 1989 already, way back in
14 1989 -- so nothing was happening in Yugoslavia then, there were no upsets,
15 no disruptions, especially not Serbo-Croatian tensions. That already in
16 1989, he had planned the borders of Croatia along the Drina River. That
17 is to say, within the borders that Croatia existed as a quisling creation
18 during World War II, that is to say incorporating Bosnia-Herzegovina as
19 well. So it is within these fascist borders of the fascist NDH,
20 Independent State of Croatia; isn't that right?
21 A. I didn't say nor did I write that Tudjman had planned the borders
22 of Croatia along the Drina River. All I said was that, in a conversation
23 we had and when discussing -- we discussed the issue and that at that time
24 Mr. Tudjman considered that the Muslims were Croats and that in view of
25 this fact and in view of the historical circumstances, it would be logical
1 for that border to be drawn in that way. However, Mr. Tudjman,
2 operationally or in any other political sense, ever undertook anything in
3 order to put that idea of his into practice. It was a sort of historical,
4 philosophical thinking on the subject.
5 Q. So what you were doing was in fact a philosophical, historical
6 thinking on your part; right? And the upshot of the historical political
7 thinking was that you disarmed the Serbs, you dismissed them from their
8 jobs, and they had recollections of World War II, what happened to them;
9 and of the Independent State of Croatia, they did not have any historical
10 political thought, but they were criminals, looters, and so on and so
12 A. That's what you say.
13 Q. Mr. Kriste, I have here your own interview. I assume you
14 recognise it. Here it is. It is in your magazine the Nacional. It is
15 printed in Zagreb. I can't see the exact date of this particular issue
16 but we'll find it easily. This is the title page. I'm sure you recognise
17 the interview and know about it.
18 A. Yes, I do.
19 Q. The title of the interview -- first of all, you have your
20 photograph here and then your book entitled "Shadows Over Freedom," and
21 then a quotation by you. Here it is. It says: "Tudjman already in 1989
22 planned the borders along the Drina River." That's what you claim, and
23 that appeared in the title of this magazine. Now you're claiming
25 Now, I'm going to read this because this is a quotation and in
1 fact your answer to questions put to you by a journalist from your own
2 Zagreb paper, and this is what you say. You say the following:
3 "Somewhat earlier on, the HDZ sent a proclamation to the Croatian
4 people in which I didn't like the portion --" so you were critical towards
5 this proclamation. I'm not quoting you in a negative light here. You
6 say, critically: "I was bothered by a portion speaking about Croatia in
7 its historical and natural boundaries, borders. It was quite clear to me
8 at the very start that it was -- implied borders along the River Drina
9 which had existed only during the time of the Independent State of
10 Croatia. I asked Tudjman that very morning --" and then you have a colon
11 and inverted commas -- "Do you think that the eastern borders of Croatia
12 should be along the Drina River? His answer to me was briefly --" once
13 again under quotations -- "Yes."
14 "I warned him that this was impossible, because in BiH - that is
15 to say Bosnia-Herzegovina - there are only 17 to 18 per cent of Croats
16 living there. His answer was that all the Muslims were Croats, in fact,
17 which was sufficient reason for the entire neighbouring state to be
18 annexed to Croatia. I was surprised because I knew Tudjman very well, and
19 I knew his impassioned idea and affiliation to the Banovina of Croatia."
20 The interpreters have asked me to read a little more slowly, so I
21 shall do so. I will read the last sentence: "I was surprised because I
22 knew Tudjman very well and his impassioned idea and affiliation to the
23 idea of the Banovina of Croatia."
24 Therefore, what kind of Serb militancy, Mr. Kriste, are you
25 talking about when already way back in 1989 --
1 JUDGE MAY: Let us deal with this in a logical way.
2 First of all about the quotation, Mr. Kriste. Do you remember
3 roughly when that was printed?
4 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] I'll tell you. The interview was
5 conducted about two or three months ago.
6 THE ACCUSED: [Interpretation] It says the 3rd of December, 2002 is
7 the date. The 3rd of December, 2002. That is the date on every page of
8 this magazine.
9 JUDGE MAY: Very well. Now, then, since a lengthy excerpt has
10 been played to you -- or read to you, rather, if you want to comment on
11 that, you can. Then the accused can ask you some questions about it.
12 First of all, does it represent what you said?
13 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Yes.
14 JUDGE MAY: Is there anything you want to say about it before
15 you're asked any questions?
16 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] What I can say is this: It wasn't
17 an official body or official meeting of any kind. It was a conversation
18 in which I put forward somewhat different views and assessments than those
19 of Mr. Tudjman, and so our opinions diverged there.
20 JUDGE MAY: Yes. Yes, Mr. Milosevic. What is it you want to ask?
21 THE ACCUSED: [Interpretation] Very well.
22 MR. MILOSEVIC: [Interpretation]
23 Q. Well, I was precisely asking him this: Because these aspirations
24 are quite clear - and we'll get to the other point later on, the other
25 area and its functions according to yourself - what kind of Serb militism
1 are you talking about when you bear in mind the fact that it was precisely
2 this new Croatian power and authority that had the aspirations of
3 reconstructing the former NDH, the Independent State of Croatia, and to
4 annex Bosnia-Herzegovina?
5 A. I think this has been completely erroneously interpreted to the
6 effect that the new authorities aspired to reconstruct the NDH. This was
7 only a discussion about one particular element related to a border issue.
8 The second point that I wish to stress is that it was not the new
9 Croatian authorities at that time, because the League of Communists of
10 Croatia was still in power at the time in Croatia, and the new Croatian
11 authorities did not take any practical steps along the lines of
12 implementing this kind of idea, nor did it ever become part of the
14 Q. All right. Tell me this, Mr. Kriste, and we're going to digress
15 here a little way: You said that the new Croatian authorities never had
16 any aggressive actions towards -- or ideas towards Bosnia-Herzegovina. Do
17 you know, are you aware that the first instance of violence, the first
18 shooting that took place, the first killings of civilians, unfortunately
19 Serbs, which took place were perpetrated by the Croatian National Guard
20 Corps who had crossed from Croatian territory onto the territory of
21 Bosnia-Herzegovina into the territory quite specifically of the Bosanski
22 Brod municipality and slaughtered the entire civilian population in the
23 village of Sijekovac, and up until that time there was complete peace in
24 Bosnia-Herzegovina, complete peace reigned there. So do you know about
25 the presence of those formations, of those Croatian National Guard units,
1 the way in which they stormed Bosnia-Herzegovina territory and killed in
2 their masses or, rather, perpetrated the whole -- the liquidation of an
3 entire Serbian village in the Bosanski Brod municipality where there had
4 been no conflicts or clashes or national tensions up until then and
5 nothing that had been going on before that. That was the first armed
6 conflict on the territory of Bosnia-Herzegovina which was caused by your
7 own army, the Croatian National Guard Corps, on the territory of a
8 neighbouring republic. Are you aware of that? Do you know about that?
9 A. Well, this is the first time I'm hearing of that here and now.
10 That that actually happened -- that had that actually happened, I would
11 probably have known of that beforehand. That is why I consider that to be
13 Q. All right. Fine. There are a lot of documents about that, a lot
14 of documents, and a lot of witnesses to testify to it. I haven't got them
15 all here with me, although I did present them during one of the
16 testimonies here. I think it was the 108th Brigade of the Croatian
17 National Guard Corps, and even some of their certificates and
18 confirmations when they opened brothels and arrested Serb women who were
19 going home during the day and so on.
20 Now, tell me, it is true - because you were a close associate of
21 President Tudjman yourself - that he relied on right-hand political
22 parties which based their entire political programmes on the past, on
24 A. Right-wing parties. Ah. I wanted to clarify what is meant by
25 right-wing political parties, what I imply, what I mean by them, because
12 Blank page inserted to ensure pagination corresponds between the French and
13 English transcripts.
1 in our areas where we live, right-hand or left-wing and right wing has not
2 been precisely defined.
3 So I mentioned that in part that they relied on forces, that is to
4 say those forces which were more based on the past, rather than having a
5 clear-cut vision of a modern, democratic Croatia. And that was just one
6 segment of the factors, just some of the factors which represented the
7 real life of the people and trends at that time.
8 Q. All right. But, Mr. Kriste, in this interview, the one that I've
9 been quoting from, you say that one of his mistakes was the following:
10 That he made a number major mistakes. And then I go in to quote you in
11 this interview, and you say: "First and foremost, it was his reliance on
12 right-wing political parties, political forces, whose political programmes
13 and platforms were based on the past." Those are your words. That's what
14 you said. I assume that you're not challenging that.
15 A. That is a free interpretation. I didn't dictate the interview.
16 The formulation that I used and that I consider to be correct is what I
17 explained and said a moment ago, that they were forces which were turned
18 towards the past rather than being forward-looking and having a clear
19 vision of a modern, democratic Croatia. And they were not exclusively the
20 forces that were there, that found themselves there, they were just a
21 segment of the overall forces that existed on the Croatian political
23 Q. You also criticised him --
24 A. Well, it would have been better had that not happened.
25 Q. Ah. You say it would have been better had that not happened.
1 Well, then I assume that none of this would have happened had that not
3 A. Ah, no, Mr. Milosevic. Had there had not been your policies and
4 your politics --
5 Q. Well, that's the thesis being put forward here by the opposite
6 side, and it's going to fall through, but tell me this: Is it true that
7 he tried to divide up, to carve up Bosnia and that was something that you
8 criticised him for?
9 A. Yes. We did have information, pieces of information that were
10 never official, and they said that you and Mr. Tudjman had had talks about
11 the structuring of Serbo-Croatian relations in order to find a middle way
12 to satisfy each of your interests on the territory of Bosnia-Herzegovina.
13 However, I was not present, I did not attend your talks, the talks you two
14 had, nor was I there when an official piece of information was published
15 which I myself could see, which would be accessible to me.
16 Q. Mr. Kriste, if you had had access to it, then all that Tudjman
17 could have said to you was that my position had always been that I see the
18 future between Serbs and Croats as relations of friendship and not as
19 relations of conflict and that it was the key relationship in the Balkans,
20 and he knew very well that I had even rejected offers for any kind of
21 alliance to be formed between the Muslims and the Serbs against the
22 Croats, explaining to them the same point; that we do not want to wish to
23 be enemies with the Croats but quite the opposite, friends in the
24 historical and every other sense and in the future.
25 But let me go back. You say here the next major error was the war
1 with the Muslims, the Bosniaks, and the attempt to divide
2 Bosnia-Herzegovina. Is that what you reproached President Tudjman for or
3 was this something that you remembered in December 2002 or when you
4 believe that he advocated these policies as a friend of his and a
5 long-standing associate and a person who I believe had the courage to tell
6 him what he thought, did you tell him then that you thought that these
7 were mistakes?
8 A. I never discussed these matters with President Tudjman directly,
9 but if such policies were to be pursued, I thought they would be
11 Q. But you said that those policies were pursued and that they were
13 Very well. Tell me, is it true that Tudjman, like Susak - and you
14 mentioned that a moment ago - he thought at least that Herzegovina should
15 be annexed to Croatia?
16 A. That is also something I never discussed with Mr. Tudjman, but the
17 information that this was discussed I obtained in an informal conversation
18 with Mr. Susak.
19 Q. Allow me to quote you from this interview. Nacional asks you:
20 "Gojko Susak convinced you that the leadership of the HDZ had decided to
21 divide Bosnia-Herzegovina." Your answer, and I'm quoting it verbatim:
22 "Correct. Sometime in March 1991 at the Assembly steps, I met Mr. Gojko
23 Susak. He was in a good mood, and I asked him for the reason, and he
24 answered, 'I'm coming from the old man, or the leader, and we've just
25 agreed that at least Herzegovina should be joined to Croatia.'"
1 That is what you said a moment ago, isn't it?
2 A. Yes, more or less.
3 Q. Now, tell me now, what has that got to do with the meeting between
4 me and Tudjman in Karadjordjevo? You say they went to that meeting of
5 theirs and they agreed to join Herzegovina to Croatia. How could you have
6 linked that meeting with this story when they have nothing in common?
7 A. You know best what you discussed. I wasn't present during those
8 discussions in Karadjordjevo. But after that talk, there were rumours to
9 the effect that the substance of those talks related to Bosnia and
11 Q. If you may be -- if you're interested, the talks --
12 JUDGE MAY: That may be a convenient time. Mr. Milosevic, just
13 bear this in mind: That you are asking questions, not giving evidence at
14 the moment. There have been some fairly lengthy statements from you.
15 Yes. We will adjourn now, 20 minutes. You can have, after the
16 adjournment, another hour, if you want it, with this witness for
17 cross-examination. We'll then sit until 2.00 in order to try and finish
18 the witness today.
19 THE ACCUSED: [Interpretation] I'm afraid one hour is too little,
20 Mr. May, and I would kindly ask you to consider the possibility of giving
21 me a little more for this witness.
22 JUDGE MAY: We will -- it depends how we get on, what use you make
23 of that time.
24 Yes, Mr. Nice.
25 MR. NICE: I'll want about one or two minutes in private session
1 before the end of the morning.
2 JUDGE MAY: Very well. We will adjourn now. Twenty minutes.
3 --- Recess taken at 12.16 p.m.
4 --- On resuming at 12.40 p.m.
5 JUDGE MAY: Yes, Mr. Milosevic.
6 MR. MILOSEVIC: [Interpretation]
7 Q. To continue with what we were discussing a moment ago, can we
8 conclude that Tudjman and Susak had agreed to at least join Herzegovina to
9 Croatia, so, by force, to take alien territory. Is that right or not?
10 A. They most probably did discuss Herzegovina, judging by what
11 Mr. Susak told me.
12 Q. Fine. But the relationship of the new authorities in Croatia
13 towards Muslims is best reflected in the example that you mentioned when
14 Susak said that from Prozor their units would start against the Muslims
15 and that there would be no prisoners of war there. So let me remind you,
16 quoting from this interview of yours, you speak of him and you say: "I
17 knew that he was au courant, and I said, 'Gojko, can anything be done to
18 ease the tensions between Muslims and Croats?' And he answered
19 coldly: 'Of course. A strong unit of ours is heading from Prozor and it
20 will take no prisoners of war.' I was appalled because I realised that
21 Susak was conveying to me the official decision as to what the future
22 Croatian policy would be towards Muslims and Bosniaks." Is that right,
23 sir, Mr. Kriste?
24 A. Yes. More or less so. Actually, I did not authenticate that
25 interview. It was a conversation with a journalist but the wording was
1 compiled by the journalist.
2 Q. But the substance is there?
3 A. Yes.
4 Q. With regard to Dubrovnik, the offensive led by Bobetko was no
5 offensive to deblock Dubrovnik but was an attempt to divide Bosnia and
6 capture Herzegovina; is that right?
7 A. Bobetko, on the sudden battlefield, went there when, according to
8 the Vance Plan, JNA was supposed to leave that part of Croatia.
9 Therefore, it was really to monitor the pull-out rather than a real war
10 operation to liberate that part of Croatia. At least, that was my
11 understanding of those facts.
12 Q. But you say quite explicitly in this interview of yours -- and let
13 me quote verbatim: "By opening the southern theatre of war with strong
14 forces under Bobetko, this was obviously an attempt to take part in the
15 conquest of Herzegovina and partly -- and a part of Bosnia and only
16 partially Dubrovnik."
17 A. Nobody could have had the aim of conquering Dubrovnik. The only
18 aim could have been to liberate Dubrovnik. So, yes, my estimate was that
19 those forces were there in a sense to carry out -- in the event of certain
20 developments that could have taken place in the area of Herzegovina and
21 Central Bosnia. Yes, in Central Bosnia.
22 Q. Very well, then. The events on the Dubrovnik theatre should be
23 viewed in the context of those activities of the Croatian army; isn't that
25 A. This was happening in 1992. The main operations of the Yugoslav
1 People's Army were carried out in 1991. The open attack on Dubrovnik
2 started on the 1st of September, and the occupation of that area by the
3 Yugoslav People's Army and Territorial Defence forces, volunteers or
4 reservists, however they like to call themselves, from Montenegro and the
5 Serbian part of Bosnia and Herzegovina were -- had been there for all of
6 eight months.
7 Q. Yes, but as you are talking about a period when the SFRY still
8 existed as a state and was the only subject of international law, the JNA
9 had every right to be all over the territory of that country, including
10 Croatia, and that was its constitutional duty.
11 A. Its constitutional duty was not to wage war against individual
12 republics or nations in Yugoslavia. Its constitutional obligation was
13 quite different; to defend the external borders from a possible external
14 aggressor. And in Dubrovnik, it didn't come there to walk around the
15 Dubrovnik area, it was waging war in Dubrovnik to capture certain
16 territories and place it -- place them under their control against the
17 will of the citizens of Croatia and Yugoslavia.
18 Furthermore, in the spring of 1992, Croatia was internationally
19 recognised and admitted to the United Nations.
20 Q. Yes. But you're talking about 1991.
21 A. You're talking about 1992, because Bobetko was in 1992.
22 Q. Yes, of course. But in the context of these aspirations towards
23 Herzegovina and Central Bosnia. Is there any dispute that the JNA had the
24 duty of defending the territorial integrity and constitutional order of
25 SFRY and to prevent a civil war breaking out in the territory of SFRY? Is
1 that right or not?
2 A. What civil war? No one from Croatia was attacking any one. Not a
3 single soldier, or rather, not a single person with a rifle in his hand
4 did not cross the Serbian or the Montenegrin border. The war was being
5 waged in the territory of Croatia. And in view of the rebellious Serbs
6 and with the assistance of the JNA, there were certain Serbia paramilitary
7 units there; the Seselj's men, Arkan's member, Dragan - I don't know what
8 his name was - the White Eagles, and I don't know what. All of them were
9 waging war in collaboration with the Yugoslav People's Army against the
10 Croatian people on Croatian territory.
11 Q. And this brigade of the National Guards Corps that crossed into
12 Bosnia and Herzegovina and committed a massacre in Sijekovac, that was not
13 an armed formation of Croatia that did that.
14 JUDGE MAY: The witness has dealt with that. He says he knows
15 nothing about it. It's your allegation.
16 THE ACCUSED: [Interpretation] Very well.
17 MR. MILOSEVIC: [Interpretation]
18 Q. And is it true that JNA units on the theatre of war in Dubrovnik
19 had the duty to keep under control their installations, their warehouses,
20 their bases that they had there?
21 A. The JNA didn't have any facilities of its own in Dubrovnik. No
22 warehouses, no bases. It didn't have anything. It just had a rest home,
23 a vacation centre in Kupari where, I think, you spent your holidays.
24 Q. Yes, I did. For many years, in fact. Tell me, please, do you
25 know -- since I have a video recording of that but because of the
1 briefness of time I can use it with the next witness, perhaps, showing
2 fire being opened from Dubrovnik at the warehouse in Zarkovcia being blown
3 up, which was blown up. Wasn't that a JNA warehouse? And was it not
4 blown up with fire from Dubrovnik?
5 A. I don't know of that particular case, but in Zarkovica, before the
6 1st of October, 1991, there was no weapons depot of the JNA. It could
7 have got there only after that date. So after the Yugoslav army had
8 entered the territory of Croatia in wartime formation and brought with it
9 weapons and ammunition with which to fire on Dubrovnik.
10 So if that happened, it could have happened only much later, after
11 the 1st of October, after the first attack on Dubrovnik, when the Yugoslav
12 army took control of Bosanka and Zarkovica.
13 Q. Is it true that JNA units in the area consisted of members of at
14 least four Yugoslav republics?
15 A. I don't know. I was not a personnel officer in the JNA. I just
16 know that in Croatia, the Yugoslav People's Army was being abandoned
17 especially after the conflict in Slovenia. It was being left by members
18 of all ethnicities, including Serbs from Serbia. Mothers came to take
19 their sons home. We provided them protection and created conditions for
20 them to return to their homes, and they simply left the JNA of their own
21 free will.
22 Q. Do you know that the JNA in those days had control of the area
23 near Slano, Mostar, Capljina and Stolac and that not one of these towns
24 was destroyed or damaged while the JNA was there?
25 A. I know what was happening in the area of Dubrovnik. I couldn't
12 Blank page inserted to ensure pagination corresponds between the French and
13 English transcripts.
1 claim anything regarding Bosnia and Herzegovina. However, this area that
2 you have mentioned, and the Yugoslav army went further from Slano, it
3 reached almost as far as Neum, and wherever it went to, everything was
4 more or less destroyed.
5 You mentioned Slano. There was hardly a single house or hotel
6 that was left intact. Everything was destroyed and razed to the ground
7 and this was done by the JNA.
8 Q. Are you absolutely sure that it was the JNA?
9 A. Absolutely, because I visited on the 4th of October. Slano was
10 intact and it was then that the JNA entered.
11 Q. Is it true that dozens of years before these events, that there
12 were facilities for the defence from the sea and that this whole area had
13 its headquarters in Trebinje, but Dubrovnik and its immediate environs had
14 no military facilities?
15 A. Yes. That is precisely what I said. There were no military
16 installations in Dubrovnik and environs.
17 Q. Therefore, this area could have been described as a completely
18 demilitarised area?
19 A. Correct.
20 Q. Why did you militarise it then, by organising yourself internally
21 and provoking the army, opening fire at the army?
22 A. There was no provocations from our area against the army, nor was
23 fire opened against it. That is completely untrue. We, quite naturally,
24 had a very, very small unit there of the National Guards Corps before the
25 attack, and unfortunately, after the attack too those forces remained of
1 the same size, and we had the police.
2 I repeat, neither of these did ever provoke or attack the JNA.
3 The opposite is true. The JNA attacked citizens, and only then, if they
4 could and to the extent they could, they stood up in defence of the
5 territory and the citizens.
6 Q. And are you aware of the decision of the General Staff? I quoted
7 its number here and -- which states explicitly not to capture Dubrovnik,
8 nor should it be shelled from land, sea, or air?
9 A. I don't know if any such decision exists. I don't know of it, but
10 I do know the fact, and the fact is that units of the Yugoslav People's
11 Army attacked and shelled both the town and the whole area of Dubrovnik
12 municipality from the land, from the air, and from the sea.
13 Q. Do you know that Dubrovnik at that time was in a blockade,
14 according to explanations that have been provided? And we saw something
15 on these screens here, the television footage that was shown with the aim
16 of showing that the barracks were blocked throughout, JNA barracks
17 throughout Croatia were blocked, that soldiers were killed, that it was
18 impossible for the soldiers to be pulled out, to be evacuated from those
19 areas, and so on and so forth. Is that something you know about?
20 A. I know that no kind of possible evacuation of the Yugoslav
21 People's Army from Croatian territory was ever prevented. Quite the
22 contrary. On several occasions, the Croatian side even lent its men to
23 ensure that the technical goods that the Yugoslav army had there could be
24 taken out of the area when the Yugoslav army decided to do so.
25 And even if it were correct that a garrison was blocked in
1 someplace, are you -- are we responsible for blocking a town in which
2 there were 55.000 inhabitants along with it, all the civilians, and then
3 to target them mercilessly to the end?
4 Q. Well, I'm not talking about that because Serbia has nothing to do
5 with that whole Dubrovnik affair. So I can't answer that question of
7 However, tell me this, please: As you yourself stated here, that
8 at the end of 1990 weapons were procured, that is to say before the
9 clashes and conflicts began - and during the examination-in-chief, that's
10 what you yourself said - were those weapons procured illegally and
12 A. Croatia needed weapons to strengthen its defence within reasonable
13 limits, that is to say to the extent to which it considered that it was
14 under threat and needed to defend itself. Before that, it had been
15 completely disarmed by the Yugoslav People's Army.
16 Let me also mention in this regard that in municipalities where
17 the Serbs were the majority population, the Yugoslav People's Army did not
18 withdraw the weapons of the Territorial Defence but left it. And those
19 were the weapons used in the rebellions. So that's how it was.
20 And also let me mention that Croatia had to step up its police
21 force in those very unstable times when it was quite obvious that the
22 unrest was spreading from the east towards the west and that sooner or
23 later it would reach Croatia, which in fact happened -- was happening in a
24 sense already through the rebellion itself. And so it asked the federal
25 authorities, the military and police authorities, to supply it with a
1 certain quantity of weapons for those units. The federal authorities
2 refused to do that, just like they refused to return the Territorial
3 Defence weapons it had seized which nota bene had been purchased by the
4 Republic of Croatia. So there was no other way out but to procure weapons
5 in the way in which -- it was in the only possible way.
6 Q. All right, Mr. Kriste. I'm going to quote just one more sentence
7 form this interview of yours, in which you state the following: "The
8 stories that Bobetko liberated the south of Croatia is not true. All he
9 did was accompany their withdrawal with greater or smaller military
10 activity. Therefore, the JNA had withdrawn from the region."
11 A. Yes, it had withdrawn from the region but only in the month of
12 October 1992, which means a full year after having held that territory
13 under its occupation on the basis of the Vance Plan this followed.
14 Q. So the JNA respected the Vance plan, did it?
15 A. Yes, but it withdrew one year later, having held that area under
16 occupation in completely inhumane living conditions, and left it
17 destroyed, looted, and burnt.
18 Q. Well, that is war. That is the war that should never have been
20 And then you say here, when asked, you were part of the so-called
21 leadership: "Did you have any information as to the liquidation of the
22 civilians in Pakrac, Poljana, Gospic and elsewhere when Croatia violated
23 war law?" Your answer was: "No. Let me repeat that the national unity
24 government never discussed Gospic and Pakrac, Poljana and any operations
25 in which war crimes were perpetrated. That something was going on was
1 something reached us through private channels on the basis of contacts.
2 However, I did not know that it was of the scale of which we are seeing it
3 shown today." Isn't that right? Did you say that?
4 A. Yes. It's true that at that time we had no information about
5 those events. Later on, of course, the media put out information of this
6 kind from the first, second, or third areas. Of course it will be up to
7 the Trial Chamber to ascertain the truth, but I consider that any crime
8 committed, regardless of the side committing the crime, should be
9 sanctioned and punished.
10 I should also like to say that it is true that on the Croatian
11 side we didn't just have saints and angels. But, Mr. Milosevic, what your
12 people did in -- on the territory of Croatia is something that only demons
13 could have done.
14 Q. We're not talking about individual crimes here, and of course we
15 can agree that there were crimes committed on all sides. That is without
16 doubt the fact. But I'm sure you know that in Croatia there was not only
17 unlawful, illegal arming, and you spoke about arming in 1990, but that
18 there were paramilitary formations and units as well.
19 A. No, there weren't any paramilitaries in Croatia. Within the
20 frameworks of the police force, the Croatian National Guard Corps was
21 established, which was a legal military formation.
22 Q. Could you comment the following, then, just briefly, please: The
23 decision that was published in the Narodne Novine, issue 32 of the 6th of
24 August, 1990, the rules and regulations as to how to keep records for the
25 members of volunteer youth units of Civil Defence, signed by you as the
1 Minister of Defence.
2 A. Yes, I am aware of that decision.
3 Q. I have a photocopy of the decision, if you'd like to see a copy.
4 JUDGE MAY: Yes. Let the witness see a copy.
5 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Yes. Those are the rules and
6 regulations. But this does not relate to the formation of any
7 paramilitary units. As we can see from the document, they are volunteer
8 youth units who were supposed to work within the frameworks of the Civil
9 Defence or civilian protection system, to come into effect when there were
10 fires. And I must say that there were more fires that broke out in
11 Croatia than there had ever been since 1971.
12 MR. MILOSEVIC: [Interpretation]
13 Q. So do you not consider this proof of the formation of paramilitary
15 A. These were not -- the Civil Defence units were completely legal
16 organisations within the frameworks of the constitutional and legal system
17 that was in force at the time. And these units were just a part of that
18 system, and they were there to help with elemental disasters, as I said a
19 moment ago, for which the Civil Defence units were set up in the first
21 Q. So as we have pinpointed the goals that you spoke about yourself
22 and the presence of the --
23 JUDGE MAY: Before we go on, do you want those regulations
25 THE ACCUSED: [Interpretation] Yes, you can exhibit them.
1 JUDGE MAY: Yes. And while we're on the subject, do you want the
2 interview which you quoted from exhibited?
3 THE ACCUSED: [Interpretation] I can give you the interview too.
4 Here it is, the entire magazine.
5 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Your Honours, may I be allowed to
6 make a comment?
7 JUDGE MAY: Just one moment. Yes, Mr. Kriste.
8 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] The Croatian public knows that I am
9 critical towards some aspects of policies pursued by President Tudjman.
10 This is quite evident from this interview too. However, what I consider
11 to be errors in that policy were reflected first of all -- had an adverse
12 effect on our defence preparations, first and foremost, and our subsequent
13 development with respect to privatisation and the development of the
15 However, in no case was it the cause of the outbreak of the
16 conflict on the territory of Yugoslavia. Croatia was attacked. Croatia
17 defended itself, and not a single Croatian soldier crossed the borders
18 into Serbia or Montenegro. And the fact remains that not only the
19 Yugoslav People's Army but the paramilitary units from Serbia and
20 Montenegro did penetrate deep into Croatian territory.
21 JUDGE MAY: Before we go on, we're going to have numbers for those
22 two exhibits.
23 THE REGISTRAR: Your Honours, the magazine dated December 3, 2002
24 will be Defence Exhibit 77, and the decision will be Defence Exhibit 78.
25 JUDGE MAY: Thank you. Yes, Mr. Milosevic.
1 MR. MILOSEVIC: [Interpretation]
2 Q. As the JNA was a regular, legal, and lawful armed force for the
3 entire SFRY, let's leave it aside for the time being. Are you claiming
4 that a Serb soldier of any kind stormed into Croatia and that some kind of
5 Serb units encroached Croatian territory? And what kind of units, Serb
6 units, would these be that crossed over into Croatian territory?
7 A. Well, different allegedly volunteer units, for example, which were
8 led by Seselj, Arkan, men of that kind. And these units were called the
9 White Eagles, Beli Orlovi, or different names, led by, for example,
10 Captain Dragan, a case in point, et cetera.
11 Q. So you consider volunteer units to be regular forces of the
12 Republic of Serbia, do you? Is that it?
13 A. Serbia did not prevent their activities, their incursion and
14 crossing of the Serbian and Croatian border. On the contrary, those units
15 cooperated, collaborated, worked together with the units of the Yugoslav
16 People's Army.
17 Q. Tell me, please, in view of what we have just taken note of, the
18 goals and objectives of the forces that you said were highly numerous
19 under Bobetko, up towards Herzegovina and Central Bosnia and so on, this
20 whole situation then on the Dubrovnik and Herzegovina theatre of war, can
21 it only be viewed from the aspects of those broader operations that were
22 carried out or can they be viewed as - how shall I put this? - isolated
23 cases which merit special treatment, taken out of context, out of the
24 context of everything that was going on at the time?
25 A. I'm afraid I didn't follow your question.
1 Q. What was going on in the Dubrovnik and Herzegovina theatre of war,
2 is that only part of the overall idea of taking over occupying Herzegovina
3 and the breakthrough to Central Bosnia by these numerous forces? You said
4 they were numerous forces and that Bobetko was in command of them.
5 A. I don't know what the tasks exactly were of those forces, of those
6 troops. What I was saying was based on my free interpretations in the
8 Q. Well, could you give us your own free interpretation of the
9 following: I have here a letter given by the service of the Federal
10 Secretariat for Information. It says that it was authorised to publish a
11 letter of the Federal Secretary, General Veljko Kadijevic, addressed to
12 Lord Carrington, and I'm just going to read several quotations.
13 "JNA units are not attacking the old town of Dubrovnik. They have
14 explicit orders which they are adhering to to the letter not to open fire
15 on the town."
16 I've been asked to read slower. Yes, I'll do so.
17 Second: "The effects of the JNA units in the Dubrovnik region
18 were triggered off by actions and provocation on the part of the armed
19 formations of the Republic of Croatia."
20 And third: "One of its strongholds from which they opened fire at
21 the JNA units, the armed formations of the Republic of Croatia, were
22 located in Kupari, which is a place five kilometres away from Dubrovnik in
23 which there are several military facilities that had previously been taken
24 over and taken control of by the armed formations of the Republic of
25 Croatia, to deblock the military facilities in Dubrovnik on the 25th of
12 Blank page inserted to ensure pagination corresponds between the French and
13 English transcripts.
1 this month have put a cessation to further operations in the region."
2 Is all that correct, what Kadijevic is writing to Carrington?
3 A. What you have just read out is not correct because the Yugoslav
4 Army was active from the 1st of October, and I repeat this for the
5 umpteenth time, and on several occasions shelled the town of Dubrovnik and
6 the old town centre, the old part of the town without any provocation
7 whatsoever on the part of our own defenders.
8 Apart from that, from Kupari, I don't know how anybody could
9 attack the JNA from the town of Kupari unless it was already on the
10 territory of the Republic of Croatia, in its war operations.
11 Q. Well, they were army facilities in the first place for peacetime
12 use which had previously been taken control of.
13 A. They were holiday homes, and it was quite natural that when the
14 army launched its attack on Dubrovnik, that our forces then used all the
15 facilities and resources it had at its disposal, including these holiday
16 homes in Kupari. Now, to what extent, I don't know.
17 JUDGE MAY: One moment. Yes, Ms. Uertz-Retzlaff.
18 MS. UERTZ-RETZLAFF: Your Honour, can we have the date of the
19 letter so it is maybe easier for the witness to answer what allegations
20 are put in the letter and whether they're correct?
21 JUDGE MAY: Yes. What's the date of the letter, Mr. Milosevic?
22 THE ACCUSED: [Interpretation] I quoted the date. It was the 26th
23 of October. And in the letter itself, it says: "Today, on the 26th of
24 this month, I sent a proposal to the president of the Republic of Croatia,
25 Dr. Franjo Tudjman, to affect the demilitarisation of Dubrovnik under the
1 control of the European Community." That's what he wrote. And then he
2 adds: "At the time of writing this, I have been informed that the armed
3 formations of the Republic of Croatia in Vukovar opened fire, opened
4 mortar fire on the barracks of that town for the umpteenth time." Then he
5 goes on to speak about the wounding of people there, et cetera.
6 MR. MILOSEVIC: [Interpretation]
7 Q. So is this information all correct, the information that the
8 federal Defence Secretary General Kadijevic sets out in his letter to Lord
9 Carrington or was he misleading Lord Carrington and the entire Yugoslav
10 public and the Croatian public and all of them together?
11 A. Quite obviously he was misleading all of them, because on the 26th
12 of October, it was 26 days after the attack launched by the JNA on
13 Dubrovnik and acted quite contrary to these assertions. It attacked all
14 civilian facilities and destroyed all the installations necessary for the
15 normal life of the community, the civilian population.
16 Q. Very well. Is it true that the aims regarding those operations,
17 judging by what I have in this information, because I only have subsequent
18 information, Serbia has nothing to do with Dubrovnik or that operation?
19 I'm asking you is it true that the targets were only those facilities from
20 which fire was opened against the JNA and which thus became military
21 targets? Is that right or not?
22 A. That is not right. First of all, JNA units opened fire before any
23 kind of firing on the part of our forces. I told you that earlier on.
24 Even before the 1st of October in Konavle, Brgat, and Komolac. And then
25 on the 1st of October, the JNA and its units also opened fire without any
1 kind of conflict or any kind of resistance on the part of the Croatian
2 side. And it fired on all buildings. It shelled the city centre, even
3 hotels in which refugees were accommodated from Konavle and other parts of
4 Croatia who had previously, especially from Eastern Croatia and Eastern
5 Slavonia, had come to Dubrovnik; but military targets, there weren't any.
6 Only much later when the Yugoslav army had got so close to the town there
7 may have been a few points, but they were always in the open space,
8 outside civilian buildings, and above all, outside the city centre itself.
9 Therefore, those allegations are not truthful.
10 Q. Then how do you explain that on the 15th of October, according to
11 what I have here, the JNA entered Cavtat, and in Cavtat nobody fired at
12 the JNA, there was no fighting, and Cavtat did not suffer the least
13 damage. Is that true or not?
14 A. That is true. Cavtat did not suffer any damage. But all the
15 villages around Cavtat - Zvekovica, Cilipi, Bocici - were destroyed
16 completely. And as I already said, Cavtat entered -- was -- the army
17 entered Cavtat on the basis of a trick. They claimed that they wouldn't
18 go any further than the airport at Cilipi, and as soon as our negotiating
19 team withdrew and went to Cavtat and from there to Dubrovnik, the Yugoslav
20 army entered Cavtat.
21 Q. Very well. Tell me, please: This conflict between the army and
22 your paramilitary formations is something that is completely outside the
23 political context of what was happening in Yugoslavia in those days. You
24 were a politician. You were a Minister. Is there a single official
25 statement or decision or procedure on the part of any organ of authority
1 of the SFRY, the Republic of Montenegro, which is a neighbouring republic,
2 or ruling political structures in SFRY or Montenegro who denied the
3 notorious fact that Dubrovnik belonged to the Republic of Croatia and that
4 there were no territorial pretensions towards it or any other part of
5 Croatia? Is there any single statement on the part of anyone from the
6 level of the federal state of Montenegro or Serbia reflecting any kind of
7 aspirations towards any territories outside Serbia or Montenegro, or in
8 this specific case, I'm asking you about Dubrovnik.
9 A. It would not be logical for such aspirations to be publicised, but
10 they did realistically exist, and military units followed in implementing
11 those aspirations.
12 Q. Very well. Tell me, please, is it true that on the 21st of
13 January, 1991, so many months before all of this, that as part of this
14 militarisation, which was completely unnecessary in Dubrovnik, that the
15 first quantity of ammunition arrived which had been procured for the needs
16 of your units in Dubrovnik?
17 A. No weapons arrived at Dubrovnik airport. That's quite for sure.
18 Q. On the 24th of January, 1991?
19 A. At least, I have no information about that. But if it had
20 arrived, that quantity of ammunition and weapons would have been in
21 Dubrovnik when the attack started.
22 Q. And was the staff of Dubrovnik municipality formed on the 6th of
23 September, 1991? What date did you say?
24 A. The 6th of September. There was a Territorial Defence Staff.
25 Q. And is it true that a whole pattern, plan, project existed for
1 planting mines around Dubrovnik?
2 A. That project could have been designed later when it became quite
3 obvious that an attack on Dubrovnik was forthcoming, when we had firm
4 proof of that.
5 Q. And is it true -- what kind of firm proof did you have when that
6 powerful army which was around you didn't capture the city? And it could
7 have if it had wanted to.
8 A. It tried to. On the 6th of December was the last attempt to
9 capture the city. And since that attempt was unsuccessful and as it
10 provoked very sharp reaction on the part of the international community,
11 such attempts to capture the city itself were not continued. But I must
12 say that the whole area of Dubrovnik was captured by the Yugoslav army.
13 The only part that remained free and unoccupied was the city town -- the
14 town itself from Sustjepan to the Belvedere Hotel. This could amount to
15 10 kilometres or so. Everything else was controlled by the army and
16 occupied for a whole year.
17 Q. And was the reason for this the formation, in this world renowned
18 tourist centre, the formation of armed units which were a threat to the
19 peaceful life of the population?
20 A. Those formations did not represent a threat to the population.
21 Q. And what was their purpose when no one had intention -- no one
22 intended to capture the town?
23 A. And who is telling you that no one had such intentions? The facts
24 point to the opposite. Attempt was made to capture it, and most it was in
25 fact captured. One could assume that that would happen with a great
1 degree of probability, just as it was possible to assume that the war
2 against Croatia would be launched, and it did start very early on in 1991,
3 and that it would be waged in order to move forward the borders of Serbia
4 towards the west.
5 Q. You know of the constitutional declaration of SFRY on the 27th of
6 April, 1992, that it had no aspirations, that the Federal Republic of
7 Yugoslavia had no aspirations towards any republics after Slovenia,
8 Croatia, and Bosnia-Herzegovina had been recognised?
9 A. Yes, but -- I beg your pardon. I am not aware of that
10 declaration, but it is a fact that in those days, about 30 per cent of
11 Croatian territory was under the control of paramilitary units, Serb
12 rebels, and the Yugoslav army.
13 Q. So you mean the part of the territory in which the Serbs were the
15 A. I already said that the Serbs were not the majority in that area.
16 There were more Croats there.
17 Q. I'm not talking about Dubrovnik.
18 A. I'm speaking of the whole of Croatia too. The line to which the
19 United Nations Protected Areas were formed that were out of reach of the
20 Croatian authorities covered almost half of Croatia if you take into
21 account the space between those UNPAs because they cut up Croatia into
22 several parts.
23 Q. And tell me, who determined the borders of those United Nations
24 Protected Areas? Was it the UN?
25 A. The United Nations simply accepted the existing state of affairs.
1 They kept the borders up to which the Serbs, the rebel Serbs, with the
2 help of the army and these military -- and these paramilitary units had
4 Q. And they formed the UN Protected Areas to confirm the distribution
5 of the Serb population which was in jeopardy in Croatia; isn't that right?
6 A. No. This was not in accordance with the territory inhabited by
7 Serbs as the majority population. I've already said that. The Serbs in
8 Croatia, though there were inappropriate statements and acts on an
9 individual basis, they were not in danger. I can state that with
10 certainty. Croatia's policy was not to endanger anyone, and therefore,
11 not the Serbs in Croatia either. That there was a state of rebellion was
12 the result of the very active activities of secret services and agents
13 like Seselj and others who came mostly from Serbia.
14 Q. Very well, Mr. Kriste. So you're claiming that there was no
15 militarisation of Dubrovnik before the event that happened precisely in
16 order to provoke and expel the JNA from Croatia.
17 Let us see just a very brief clip of a videotape, please. Just a
18 very short clip, please. I hope the technical booth is ready for it.
19 It's very brief.
20 [Trial Chamber and registrar confer]
21 THE ACCUSED: [Interpretation] If it's not ready --
22 JUDGE MAY: It's not ready for the minute, but I think it can be
23 made ready soon. Yes, let's go on a bit, Mr. Milosevic, and we can come
24 back to it.
25 THE ACCUSED: [Interpretation] Very well.
1 MR. MILOSEVIC: [Interpretation]
2 Q. Is it true that on the 19th of September, 1991, there was
3 additional arming of Dubrovnik which had already been armed?
4 A. Dubrovnik was not armed earlier or later. Dubrovnik managed to
5 get hold of some 300 pieces of infantry weapons up until the 1st of
6 October when the invasion occurred. On the 19th of September, there was
7 no arming -- no arms arrived in Dubrovnik.
8 Q. And do you know that we had here evidence by certain witnesses
9 from your own Dubrovnik who were indicating the positions of mortars,
10 anti-aircraft guns and so on that was moving around and opening fire from
12 A. This could have happened only after the 1st of October.
13 Q. And is it true that on the 29th of September, an order was issued
14 for movement towards the line of separation, towards the border of
15 Montenegro, some 700 metres long, and that as you know, at the beginning
16 of October there was a commemorative service for soldiers who had been
17 killed on the territory of Montenegro by fire opened on them from the
18 territory of Croatia? Do you remember that? There was an Assembly
19 meeting. The leadership of Montenegro held a session in that connection.
20 It was on television.
21 A. The killing of Yugoslav soldiers or Montenegrins killed by Croatia
22 did not occur then or later. It could have been published in your
23 newspapers. Anything could have been published in your newspapers. But
24 it is quite certain that there were no military activities along that
25 border on our part. Those activities started quite a bit earlier on, that
1 is, towards the end of September, and they started from the Montenegrin
2 side. I still have friends in the Bay of Kotor. I go there every summer.
3 And what you're now saying no one ever mentioned to me over there.
4 Q. I wasn't there, I have this information which has been confirmed
5 from many sides. Tell me, is it true that on the 30th of the September
6 that military - I don't know how to put it - line, combat line, was
7 established, 700 metres long, stretching from Brgat to the St. Barbara
8 hill and that, from those positions, fire was opened jointly by members of
9 the Croatian guards, the police, armed civilians, and so on? They were
10 organised into platoons. Is that right or not? Just tell me no if you
11 think that it's not true so that we can move on.
12 A. I don't know the exact deployment our forces, but on the 29th of
13 September, that was the day prior to the attack by the Yugoslav army on
14 Dubrovnik. That attack, as I said, was expected, and we had reliable
15 information from a man who came from the Trebinje garrison, and we knew
16 exactly how things were developing. And since that village, Brgat, is on
17 the road, on the Trebinje to Dubrovnik road, and this was the direction
18 from which an attack could be expected, I do not exclude the possibility
19 that certain of our forces were deployed to that village. But in view of
20 the total forces available on our side, the number you mentioned was
22 Q. Since neither you nor I appear to be familiar with this, and I
23 have here a note, that is the order of the -- precise order of the JNA
24 General Staff, 11-71 of the 4th of the October, 1991, the 4th of October,
25 1991, in which it says: "Dubrovnik is not to be conquered, nor should
12 Blank page inserted to ensure pagination corresponds between the French and
13 English transcripts.
1 artillery or air force fire be opened on it."
2 So you're not familiar with that order?
3 A. I'm not familiar with that order, but I am familiar with the fact,
4 because I was present in Dubrovnik on the 1st of October. Four days prior
5 to that order being issued, I know that the Yugoslav army in the territory
6 of Dubrovnik carried out an attack on Dubrovnik from the land, from the
7 sea, and from the air. In that context, I am not interested that four
8 years later the General Staff or I don't know who -- four days later,
9 sorry, may have issued such an order, because Dubrovnik was attacked on a
10 continuing basis from the 1st of September on.
11 JUDGE MAY: Mr. Milosevic, I'm going to interrupt you to tell you
12 that the tape is now ready if you want it. If you want us to hear it, we
13 need to know what it is. Where does the tape come from? What is it?
14 THE ACCUSED: [Interpretation] The tape was filmed in Dubrovnik
15 itself by their people, and it shows the oath being taken by these men.
16 You will see and you will be able to assess its value yourself. It is
17 very brief.
18 JUDGE MAY: You got it, then, from the Prosecution, did you?
19 THE ACCUSED: [Interpretation] No, I didn't get it -- I got it from
20 my associates.
21 JUDGE MAY: You mean the Croatian side. It was filmed by them.
22 THE ACCUSED: [Interpretation] Of course.
23 JUDGE MAY: Very well.
24 THE ACCUSED: [Interpretation] The Serbs were not present there.
25 [Videotape played]
1 THE INTERPRETER: [Voiceover] "This, this is the oath: I swear by
2 all that is holy that I will abide by the Ustasha principles and be guided
3 by the regulations and carry out all orders by the poglavnik or the
4 leader, and I will keep all secrets. I will fight in the Ustasha ranks
5 for the Independent State of Croatia and do everything the leader orders.
6 I swear that I will defend the independence of Croatia within Ustasha
7 ranks. If I violate this oath, I am aware of the consequences and the
8 punishment of death awaits me. May God help me."
9 MR. MILOSEVIC: [Interpretation]
10 Q. What would be your comment of this? Because it doesn't quite
11 appear to be in accordance with the positions that you expressed in this
12 interview and generally.
13 JUDGE MAY: Well, Mr. Milosevic, you can only ask the questions
14 which are fair. All you've shown us is a picture of some not very
15 military-looking people taking some sort of oath in a public house or a
16 cafe. Now, you can ask the witness to comment on it, of course, but
17 you'll have to point out some way you say it's relevant to his evidence
18 and how it contradicts it, because I must say it's not clear to me.
19 Perhaps the witness, having -- the thing having been played, can make some
20 comment on it if there's any.
21 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] No, I cannot make any comments.
22 This is a clip I have never seen. It's obviously a group of young people.
23 Now, where it was filmed -- it could have been filmed anywhere.
24 In any event, this was not a part of Croatian policy, nor was it
25 an official act.
1 MR. MILOSEVIC: [Interpretation]
2 Q. So it's not a part of Croatian policy. This was an Ustasha oath,
3 wasn't it?
4 A. This could have been filmed even in Belgrade.
5 Q. Oh, very well. Fine. I need no further comment. If this was
6 filmed in Belgrade --
7 A. I didn't say it was. I said it could have been taken anywhere.
8 And as for Ustasha slogans in Croatia, individuals made them who
9 were secretly in contact with the Yugoslav UDBA and the
10 counter-intelligence service with KOS, and those ideas were intended to
11 compromise the idea of Croatian independence.
12 Q. So I see. This is a montage of the secret service outside
14 A. I am not claiming anything definitely. I'm just saying that I do
15 not see that this could have -- by anything that this could have been in
16 Dubrovnik, nor that it could have been organised by any official body.
17 Q. Fine. So you're not aware of the order of the 4th of October,
18 prohibiting any fire being opened on Dubrovnik.
19 JUDGE MAY: Mr. Milosevic, I'm going to stop you because you've
20 put that a number of times and the witness has said he doesn't know about
21 it. Now, your time is almost up. Are you asking for more time with this
23 THE ACCUSED: [Interpretation] Yes, I am. I am asking for more
25 JUDGE MAY: Well, how long is it you want?
1 THE ACCUSED: [Interpretation] Well, I'll tell you in just a
2 moment. I have - let me see - about 40 more questions which I have made a
3 note of here.
4 [Trial Chamber confers]
5 JUDGE MAY: Mr. Tapuskovic, have you any questions of this witness
6 or can you perhaps get on without it this time, try and finish the witness
8 MR. TAPUSKOVIC: [Interpretation] Your Honours, I think that there
9 are a lot of things here that could be of use to the Trial Chamber. I
10 don't know what else Mr. Milosevic plans to ask, but as we stand now, I
11 will need some time for my questions, but I'd like to see what Mr.
12 Slobodan Milosevic is going to ask next. I think that there are some very
13 important matters that are important with respect to Dubrovnik and the
14 entire testimony, points that have not been clarified for you to be able
15 to gain full insight into the subject matter.
16 [Trial Chamber confers]
17 JUDGE MAY: Quarter of an hour more, Mr. Milosevic.
18 THE ACCUSED: [Interpretation] Just a quarter of an hour more?
19 JUDGE MAY: Yes.
20 THE ACCUSED: [Interpretation] Very well.
21 MS. UERTZ-RETZLAFF: Your Honour, also I would like to mention
22 that I need about five minutes because I think there is one error here
23 that needs to be clarified.
24 JUDGE MAY: Very well. I'm afraid Mr. Kriste is going to have to
25 come back tomorrow to conclude his evidence.
1 Yes, Mr. Milosevic.
2 MR. MILOSEVIC: [Interpretation]
3 Q. Do you know that already on the 8th of October, that is to say
4 four days after this order, that lack of discipline on the part of JNA
5 members was sanctioned?
6 A. I don't know about that, no.
7 Q. And is it true that on the 17th of October there was intensive
8 action on the part of the Dubrovnik forces using mortars against the JNA
9 positions in the surrounding areas? Do you know about that?
10 A. No, I don't know about that. And I don't believe that it is a
11 valid piece of information.
12 Q. And do you know in what hotels the Croatian National Guard Corps
13 members and the MUP members were put up? The Tirenja President [phoen],
14 the Revelin Tower, where ammunition was stored, did you have information
15 about that?
16 A. As to the hotels you just mentioned, there were mostly refugees
17 accommodated there.
18 Q. Do you know that the JNA commanders, via radio Herceg-Novi - and
19 the reception of that radio station is very good in Dubrovnik - that they
20 launched an appeal precisely to the people in Dubrovnik not to open fire
21 on the members of the JNA and that unless they abide by that rule -- and
22 that if they do not do so, there will not be a single shot fired from the
23 other side. This was a call for surrender.
24 Q. Was I clear when I said that via radio Herceg-Novi they asked that
25 nobody should shoot at the army and that not a single bullet would be
1 fired by it if nobody attacked the army?
2 A. Well, nobody fired until the army began firing at the defenders.
3 The Croatian side just responded when there was firing from the opposite
5 Q. And were the JNA members targeted not only from around the town of
6 Dubrovnik but from the old town itself, using artillery pieces? You don't
7 know about that?
8 A. Not only do I not know about that but it never happened. There
9 was never a truck with weapons in the old part of Dubrovnik, the old town.
10 Q. Do you know that fire was opened from the positions, for example,
11 by the Neptun Hotel where there were the Croatian National Guard Corps and
12 Medarevo, which is where the artillery weapons were from, Lapadska Glavica
13 and that area where there were artillery weapons, and Gorica too. Gradac,
14 the Ploce beach, artillery pieces there too, the Belvedere and Libertas
15 hotels, which is where persons who were armed and uniformed were located,
16 members of the Croatian paramilitary forces. Do you know anything about
18 A. From some of those positions, the position that you mentioned,
19 there might have been some military action but only much later on when the
20 Yugoslav army and the attending units closed off -- closed the
21 encirclement, the siege of Dubrovnik. From the Ploce beach side, there
22 was certainly no shooting. And of the hotels that you mentioned, one of
23 our units was only in the Belvedere Hotel because it was our last
24 stronghold or -- rather, it was our last defence point on the eastern side
25 of town.
1 Q. Is it true that on the 14th of September, at Debeli Brijeg,
2 Vitaljina was the village, that the Zengas or Croatian National Guard
3 Corps had set up mines all over the place and that 200 ZNG members were
4 located in the village of Prsecina at Debeli Brijeg?
5 A. Well, the Croatian defence never had that many members and,
6 therefore, was not able to deploy them at all these points, whereas Debeli
7 Brijeg is on the Croatian side. It is this side of the Croatian border.
8 Q. Well, it is both on the Montenegrin and Croatian side.
9 A. They were not on the Montenegrin side.
10 Q. But I'm talking about the frontier. Do you know that on the 23rd
11 of September, for example - this is another point - that members of the
12 Croatian National Guard corps in Vitaljina set up mortars and guns,
13 cannons, and launched provocations on the JNA firing from that side
14 precisely on Montenegrin territory?
15 A. That piece of information is incorrect. Otherwise, I would know
16 about it if it were correct. At that time, Vitaljina, due to an attack
17 from the eastern flanks, the population had left this area and were put up
18 at the hotels in Babin Kuk.
19 Q. Tell me what happened on the 24th of the September in the Ivanica
20 region. On the 24th of September.
21 A. Only the 24th of September in the region of Ivanica, the only
22 thing that could happened is this: There could have just been shooting at
23 Brgat, because I arrived on the 26th myself, I got to Dubrovnik on the
24 26th of September, and upon my arrival, I was informed that from the
25 Ivanica area Brgat and Komolac were fired at, were targeted. The next
1 day, I visited these two places and saw that the information was indeed
2 correct, because several buildings were damaged, some of them were
3 completely destroyed.
4 Q. Tell me, please, is Ivanica on the territory of
6 A. Yes, it is.
7 Q. Was Ivanica razed to the ground?
8 A. When? When do you mean?
9 Q. When was Ivanica razed to the ground? Did the Serbs raze it to
10 the ground?
11 A. At Ivanica in 1991, there was quite certainly no Croatian
12 operations. Not a single roof tile was damaged, let alone house. Not a
13 single house was razed to the ground until the end of 1991. I don't know
14 what happened later on when the JNA started its withdrawal or, rather, in
16 Q. All right. You say you were in Dubrovnik before the JNA launched
17 an attack on the area. Now, where did the attack come from?
18 A. The attack came from two directions; from Montenegro at Konavle,
19 and the main attack on the town itself was launched from this line, the
20 Ivanica line and further along the road towards Dubrovnik and the border
21 which, unfortunately at that particular location is so close to town that
22 you can target the place from the border itself, and it was from Komolac
23 that the town was targeted and, as I said, the infrastructure was
24 destroyed, all the facilities providing the town with electricity and
25 water were destroyed, and planes on that same day knocked down the relay
1 stations on Srdj Hill and transmissions, so those lines were down too.
2 Q. So the destruction of these pipelines, is that something the JNA
3 did or did the local forces effect that?
4 A. It was probably the JNA with Vucurevic's volunteers.
5 Q. Why do you say "probably the JNA"? Do you know whether this was
6 done by the JNA or not?
7 A. The JNA launched the attack. Now, who was working with the JNA in
8 the attack, I don't know.
9 Q. Do you know that the leadership of the Croatian National Guard
10 Corps, with Spegelj at its head, and the leadership of Croatia sent, on
11 the 30th of July, 1991, a message saying that the JNA should be removed
12 from Croatia, that this was the official policy and an official plan, to
13 remove the JNA from Croatia? In 1991, July.
14 A. That was July 1991. At that time, yes, Spegelj did put forward a
15 plan for Croatia's defence. The details of that plan I'm not familiar
16 with myself, but I wish to remind you that it was one month after the JNA
17 had attacked Slovenia and been vanquished in Slovenia. So it was after
18 this that it looked towards Croatia with even greater force.
19 Q. Do you know, for example, that with this attack on Slovenia, even
20 the Slovenian leadership itself, in my presence, said that it had nothing
21 to do with Serbia? We didn't even know about it. Are you aware of that?
22 Is that something you know about?
23 A. Well, I don't know what the Slovenian leadership could have told
24 you. All I know is that the Yugoslav People's Army attacked Slovenia and
25 that there was a war on for several days, after which the Yugoslav
12 Blank page inserted to ensure pagination corresponds between the French and
13 English transcripts.
1 People's Army withdrew.
2 Q. Yes. It attacked soldiers that had no ammunition, did it?
3 A. Well, I wouldn't say that, no.
4 Q. Do you remember that the dynamics of Spegelj's plan envisaged
5 attacks on warehouses and barracks of the JNA, airports, taking over all
6 army facilities within the space of four days? Do you recall that plan?
7 Do you remember it?
8 A. Well, should, after Slovenia, the JNA launch an attack on Croatia,
9 it would be quite logical for a plan to have been devised on the basis of
10 which the Croatian side would come by the means and resources it needed
11 for its defence. But let me also mention that Spegelj's plan was not
13 Q. But that was what was done, even if the plan was not adopted.
14 A. No. That was not what was done at the time. Some barracks or,
15 rather, some military warehouses were taken control of later on through
16 the will of the local units - of the Crisis Staff, that is - and that was
17 the only way in which to procure the resources necessary for Croatia to be
18 able to defend itself and stand up to a far superior adversary, which was
19 at the time the JNA.
20 Q. Do you remember that there was an agreement reached in Igalo in
21 which it stated that it was of imperative importance that the forces on
22 the theatre of war be separated in order to guarantee a complete and
23 secure safe -- cease-fire and that paramilitaries be disbanded and
24 irregular units and to demobilise the irregular forces of the Croatian
25 National Guard Corps and that the JNA should withdraw to the barracks?
1 Was that what happened or not?
2 A. I know that there were several agreements. I'm not quite sure now
3 about the contents of the Igalo agreement, but I also know for a fact that
4 the Yugoslav People's Army, for the most part, did not respect those
5 agreements, the agreement reached. What it did was in the areas where
6 armed groups of Serb rebels existed, it would incite their activities and
7 would then take the middle ground and stand up to the Croatian forces.
8 Q. Mr. Kriste, I have shown you footage of a talk between Tudjman and
9 Kadijevic in which Kadijevic insists upon the fact that Croatia should
10 adhere to the letter of the agreement signed with Carrington and that
11 attacks on barracks be ceased, and he highlighted the attack in -- at the
12 Sibenik barracks, which was under way at the time.
13 A. Mr. Tudjman believed Mr. Kadijevic when he said that Croatia would
14 not be attacked, and he did indeed take all necessary steps to prevent any
15 kind of action on the Croatian side which could be seen to be some sort of
16 preparation for war. Therefore, in the first half of 1991, Croatia did
17 not import any weapons, and all domestic manufacture of weapons was put a
18 stop to. But despite all this, Croatia was nonetheless attacked and was
19 covered in blood.
20 Q. Do you know that at the time the then Secretary of National
21 Defence, General Kadijevic, wrote out a written request for
22 demilitarisation of Dubrovnik under the control of the European Community,
23 that the JNA units should be removed from the area and that a life --
24 normal conditions should be brought back to the town, and this was not
25 accepted by the Croatian side. Do you happen to know about that?
1 A. Well, the Yugoslav army had nothing to do there because there were
2 no military facilities in Dubrovnik. And this talk about the
3 demilitarisation of Dubrovnik, if it came from Mr. Kadijevic, is
4 ludicrous, because to demilitarise Dubrovnik is something that only the
5 Yugoslav army could do because the Yugoslav army had militarised it in the
6 first place.
7 JUDGE MAY: Mr. Milosevic, your time is now finished but you can
8 ask another question.
9 THE ACCUSED: [Interpretation] Well, it's very difficult for me now
10 to select one final question from all the ones I have here, but let me
11 take a look. I have quite a number of questions left, in fact.
12 MR. MILOSEVIC: [Interpretation]
13 Q. All right. Let me just ask you this in connection with the
14 allegations in General Bobetko's book: That it was precisely in
15 Dubrovnik, in the space of 20 days, that you destroyed 18 enemy tanks
16 without any losses of men on your side. And that is on page 124 of his
17 book. And then on page 125, he says that he selected tactics which
18 comprised of the fact that he should attack the weakest flank of the
19 enemy, which was the infantry, and that they did this night and day, and
20 then you go on to say that he did not throw out the JNA but just witnessed
21 the JNA's withdrawal, as you yourself say in your interview, the interview
22 from which I quoted.
23 So where is the truth there? What is the truth in all of this,
24 Mr. Kriste?
25 A. Well, I can't say. I haven't got the text. I haven't got the
1 excerpt from Mr. Bobetko's book, and it would be very difficult for me to
2 comment and to say on what particular page of his book he wrote what.
3 But what I can say is how many tanks were actually destroyed and
4 how successful his operation was in the southern reaches of Croatia, all I
5 can say is that all this happened in the second half or, rather, from May
6 1992 onwards. And in the most difficult part of the war for Dubrovnik and
7 for Croatia in general in 1991, there was no question of us having been
8 able to destroy such large forces on the Yugoslav side.
9 JUDGE MAY: We must bring this -- we must bring this to a close.
10 Mr. Tapuskovic, now, have you some questions you want to ask?
11 MR. TAPUSKOVIC: [Interpretation] Your Honours and Your Honour
12 Judge May, it is very difficult for me to complete this in a couple of
14 JUDGE MAY: Very well. Tomorrow morning.
15 MR. NICE: Your Honour, may I have two minutes in closed session
16 after the witness has withdrawn? Nothing to do with him.
17 JUDGE MAY: I'm sorry. Mr. Kriste, I'm afraid we must ask you to
18 come back for a few minutes tomorrow morning to conclude your evidence.
19 Could you be back, please, at 9.00 tomorrow.
20 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Yes, I will.
21 JUDGE MAY: If you'd like to go now.
22 [The witness withdrew]
23 JUDGE MAY: We'll go into private session.
24 [Private session]
14 --- Whereupon the hearing adjourned at 2.00 p.m.,
15 to be reconvened on Tuesday, the 28th day of
16 January, 2003, at 9.00 a.m.