15085 Monday, 6 June 2011
[The accused entered court]
--- Upon commencing at 2.16 p.m.
JUDGE FLUEGGE: Good afternoon to everybody. Is the next witness ready to go, Mr. Vanderpuye?
MR. VANDERPUYE: Yes, good afternoon, Mr. President, he is. Good afternoon, Your Honours.
JUDGE FLUEGGE: The witness should be brought in, please.
[The witness entered court]
JUDGE FLUEGGE: Good afternoon, sir. Welcome to the courtroom. Would you please read aloud the affirmation on the card which is shown to you now.
THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] I solemnly declare that I will speak the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.
WITNESS: SREDOJE SIMIC
[Witness answered through interpreter]
JUDGE FLUEGGE: Thank you very much. Please sit down and make yourself comfortable.
THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Thank you.
JUDGE FLUEGGE: As you know, first, the Prosecutor will conduct his examination-in-chief and will put questions to you. Mr. Vanderpuye.
MR. VANDERPUYE: Thank you, again. Mr. President and good afternoon to everyone. 15086 Examination by Mr. Vanderpuye:
Q. Good afternoon to you, Mr. Simic.
A. Good afternoon.
Q. Mr. Simic, I know you've testified before, and I just want to remind you that if there is anything I ask you that is unclear, to let me know so that I can restate it in a way that we can better understand one another and just to try speak a little bit more slowly than you would normally so that the interpreters have a chance to translate, interpret what you say accurately to the parties.
Let me start by asking, do you recall testifying in the case of Prosecutor versus Vujadin Popovic et al, on 1st of June, 2007?
A. In 2007.
Q. And have you had an opportunity to review your testimony before coming to court today?
Q. And having reviewed that testimony, do you stand by it?
A. Yes, of course.
Q. And does it fairly and accurately reflect what you would say, were you to be examined here today and asked the same questions?
A. Yes. There is nothing to add or subtract to what I said when answering the questions that were posed to me then.
MR. VANDERPUYE: Mr. President, I would offer into evidence, Mr. Simic's prior testimony as 65 ter 6588.
JUDGE FLUEGGE: It will be received.
MR. VANDERPUYE: In addition to that, Mr. President -- 15087
JUDGE FLUEGGE: One moment, please.
MR. VANDERPUYE: Sorry.
THE REGISTRAR: Your Honours, 65 ter 6588 shall be assign the Exhibit P2266.
MR. VANDERPUYE: In addition to that, Mr. President, I would offer into evidence the exhibits that were admitted through the witness in the prior proceeding. And those are 65 ter 6589, 6590 and 454.
JUDGE FLUEGGE: All three associated exhibits will be received.
THE REGISTRAR: Your Honours, 65 ter document 6589 shall be assigned Exhibit P2267.
65 ter number 6590 shall be assigned Exhibit P2268. And 65 ter number 454 shall be assigned Exhibit P2269. Thank you.
MR. VANDERPUYE: Mr. President, I have a brief summary of the witness's prior testimony I'd like to read into the record.
JUDGE FLUEGGE: Yes, please do so.
MR. VANDERPUYE: Thank you. Mr. Simic was born in 1952 in the village of Vrsac, Vojvodina, in the Republic of Serbia. He attended the University of Zagreb, earned a law degree and began his career in journalism in March or April 1975. Except for relatively brief periods, he worked continuously as an journalist.
In 2002, Mr. Simic worked for weekly Belgrade publication called "Svedok." On 29th of October of that year, he published an article in "Svedok" featuring an interview with VRS Colonel Ljubisa Beara. 15088 A few months before Colonel Beara's indictment was made public, Mr. Simic considered interviewing him, particularly in light of his role and position at the time of the Srebrenica operation. Mr. Simic, who was then in charge editorially of army and security matters for "Svedok," used his connections to put him in contact with Colonel Beara, as he did not previously know him. After the indictment was made public, Mr. Simic intensified these efforts, and, through an intermediary was able to set up an interview with Beara, who agreed to it on three conditions: 1, that Mr. Simic come alone to the interview location; 2, that no photos were to be taken; and, 3, that Mr. Simic promise not to reveal the location of the interview. Mr. Simic interviewed Colonel Beara for about two hours, some two or three days after the indictment was made public. He used roughly 45 to 55 per cent of the interview material in the article, which included all the information Beara provided concerning the Srebrenica events, which, of course, was Mr. Simic's focus.
Mr. Simic testified that he kept the article as authentic as possible, leaving Beara's responses as is, save for removing some filler words and repetitions. At its conclusion, Colonel Beara deadlined Mr. Simic's invitation to review the interview and Mr. Simic did not see Colonel Beara again. However, following the article's publication, the intermediary who had initially placed him in contact with Beara informed Mr. Simic that Beara was extremely satisfied with the article and had no objections to its content.
Although during the course of the interview, Colonel Beara 15089 claimed, among other things, that he was not around during the Srebrenica events, that the VRS did not commit any mass crimes in Srebrenica, stating that this was "nonsense," and that he, Beara, was not -- was, rather, "convinced" that Srebrenica was engineered by the Muslims for propaganda purposes, Mr. Simic testified that it was his impression that Beara had been truthful during the interview.
Mr. Simic also noted that, while he recorded the full interview, he was not able to locate or retrieve the tape, which may subsequently have been discarded or destroyed.
This concludes my summary. And I do have some additional questions for Mr. Simic, Mr. President.
JUDGE FLUEGGE: Yes, go ahead, please.
MR. VANDERPUYE: Thank you, Mr. President. I would like to have in e-court, please, P2269. This is the interview statement -- or, rather, the interview by Mr. Simic.
Q. First of all, Mr. Simic, do you recognise what we have here on the screen in e-court?
A. Yes, this is the title page of the issue of "Svedok" in which the interview with Mr. Beara was published.
Q. I'd like to go to page 2 in the B/C/S. And we'll stay on the same page in the English, please.
And can you tell us what we have here in this second page in the B/C/S language?
A. That is one of the two pages containing the interview with Mr. Beara, as the interview was published on two pages of the newspaper. 15090
Q. All right. I'd like to go to page 7 in the English, and I think we'll have to go to page 3 in the B/C/S. And I have just a few questions regarding this.
I'm sorry, for the English, we'll have to start at page -- no, we've got the right page.
Towards the bottom of the page, you'll see a question that you put to Mr. Beara where you ask him:
"Are you trying to say that the VRS did not commit mass crimes in Srebrenica?"
Do you -- do you see that question?
Q. Okay. And in relation to that question, Mr. Beara, Colonel Beara responds at that they didn't, meaning the VRS didn't. And that The Hague allegedly had a list of mass grave locations. He says: "That they report there are 800 bodies in one grave, 2.000 in another, 3.000 in another."
And he says: "They claim that they are primarily and secondary graves, alleging we moved the bodies."
He says, "What nonsense." And that:
"It is not possible to carry out such killings on a mass scale in the presence of UN representatives, even if someone had such an insane idea."
And then he says: 15091 "In order to kill so many people in such a short time, one would need to engage a brigade?"
Now, in terms of just that answer you recorded, was that essentially in the words of Mr. Beara?
A. Yes, quite certainly. Because, as can you see, the answer is very sensitive, and I do not think that Mr. Beara would not react and use the possibilities of the Public Information Act in Serbia if I had stated something wrongly or if I had interpreted his words wrongly.
Q. And you're aware now, of course, that Colonel Beara was convicted of certain crimes in relation to these killings; are you not?
A. Yes, I am. But I'm not sure if the verdict has really come into force, if it's final or not.
Q. And you also are aware, are you not, that members of the Zvornik Brigade, in particular, have also been convicted in relation to their respective roles in the killings, mass killings of Muslims, regarding the Srebrenica events; are you not?
Q. I'd like to take you to page 8 in the English of this article. And I'd like to focus you, if I could, on Mr. Beara's response to your question where you asked him:
"Does it mean that Srebrenica was, in fact, engineered by the Muslims for propaganda purposes."
Do you see it in the B/C/S?
A. Yes, I can see that.
Q. And in response to that question, he says, as you've written in 15092 your article:
"I am convinced it was. I don't know what the reason was, but it is monstrous to kill one's own people in order to spite someone." Then he talks about that that was the case in Markale. Do I understand from your article correctly that Colonel Beara's suggesting that the killings that occurred in relation to the Srebrenica events were perpetrated by the Muslims against their own?
A. Well, as far as I remember, I did this interview with Mr. Beara in 2002, so that was eight or nine years ago, and I believe you understand that I cannot remember everything. But what I do remember, and what my impression was, are two things: Firstly, that Mr. Beara claimed that, at the relevant time, when the events in Srebrenica occurred, he was not in that location but, rather, in the Bihac area; and, secondly, he wanted to say, or prove, though he couldn't, but he kept insisting and claiming, and several times I omitted that because he kept repeating that everything had been engineered for the purposes of propaganda by the Muslims themselves. And if I can interpret him freely now, he said that there were some victims, but that the numbers were not at all the ones that were broadcast by the Muslim media and some international media in Europe and elsewhere in the world.
Q. When you say "victims," do you mean victims of the VRS; or when you say "victims," do you mean victims in the sense that the Muslims perpetrated the crimes against Muslim -- against Muslims?
A. No, no. As far as I understood him, he said that there were victims but that their numbers were much fewer than the media claimed. 15093 And it is also true one can see that from the interview, I think that there is Mr. Beara's claim which is repeated twice in the interview, that the Muslims, or the Bosniaks, the members of their armed forces, came into mutual conflict and, as far as I remember, I think he also offered some proof of that and that that came, as far as I can tell, from a highly ranked French officer. He offered proof - that's what he told me and what I had published - that the Muslims, the members of their armed forces, had argued among themselves, had started fighting amongst themselves, and that there were some victims, as a result of that.
Q. At the time that he told you this, during the course of the interview, was that your understanding of the events that had occurred back in 1995?
A. Well, I cannot say how the events had developed because I was not in the area at the time. I had some information about events in Srebrenica, Zepa and Bratunac, and that part of Bosnia-Herzegovina, but it came from media, what I saw on TV or read in the press. I had no reason not to trust Mr. Beara, especially as he seemed quite convincing. I could see that the accusations against him voiced by General Krstic, Vojislav Seselj, and some Muslim media were something that hit him really hard. And I remember that when he went away from his apartment that, on this occasion, he wanted to say his truth and his point of view about everything that occurred there.
Q. All right. Let me take you to page 6 in the English. And we can see a question at the very bottom of page 6 in the English which is: "You participated in the operation of the Serbian forces entering 15094 Srebrenica?"
Is a question. And we'll find the answer on the top of page 7 which is, I think in part, what you were just referring to were Colonel Beara's answer to you is:
"No." And he says:
"Nor did I know that it was being prepared," that is the operation of the Serbian forces entering Srebrenica. "My assignment was not to participate in preparing military operations. The operations Department of the Staff is in charge of that. I was involved in intelligence work. I was a counter-intelligence officer. When that operation started, I was on the Bihac front."
Which is what you referred to; right? You'll have to answer for the record.
A. Yes, yes.
Q. He then says: "I returned when it was over," and says, "one day when I was taking mail to General Mladic, I saw a large number of buses on the road leading from Bratunac to Zepa and Srebrenica."
And he says that: "The vehicles were sent from all over Bosnia to transfer the Muslims to Tuzla via Kalesija."
He says: "An UNPROFOR convoy was providing security."
And then he says: 15095 "Stories immediately started circulated in the press, even our own papers, of a crime and of mass killings of the Muslims." In relation to that, let me ask, first, did you ask him about his knowledge of the transfer en masse of these Muslims from Srebrenica? Did you ask him about that during the course of the interview?
A. No, I did not ask him such a question.
Q. Is that because you considered the transfer of these individuals, of these people, en masse, from Srebrenica after the army had entered the enclave to be separate and apart from the Srebrenica operation, or for some other reason?
A. Not for that reason. When I look at the question and Mr. Beara's answer now, and that was also obvious when I testified in the Popovic case, I obviously did not do my work professionally, and I should have asked him an additional question when he said "one day." And it's not really clear what day it was when he saw those trucks or buses, whatever he mentioned.
As for the transfer of these people in the convoys, I watched that on television. I know that that happened. Mr. Mladic was also there, as far as I can remember. And he guaranteed to the civilians, the women and children that nothing would happen to them. I can still see that picture in my mind because it was broadcast in the electronic media many times. However, it is obvious that Mr. Beara somehow disrupted my attention because I asked him where he was at the time, and he briefly responded that he was at the Bihac front and then he said that he had seen the buses and trucks. I did not sufficiently insist on that, for 15096 him to clarify that for me, when he was there. He said that he was carrying mail. He should have told me when he was carrying mail. That remained unclear.
Q. Did he share with you what he knew about this transfer of these individuals from the enclave? Did he tell you how it came about or who was involved in that, independently of you asking him about it? Voluntarily, so to speak.
A. No. As far as I recall, he didn't try to explain in any detail how those people were transferred. The women, the elderly, and children from Srebrenica to other locations. He didn't explain that.
Q. Did he say anything about the men that weren't transferred with those people, with the women and the children and some of the elderly? Did he tell you about what happened to the men that were also in the enclave and why they weren't transported out, together with the women and the children and some elderly? Did he mention that?
A. No. He did not discuss it in that way. I think that part of the interview was published, where Mr. Beara asserted that the unit of Naser Oric practically pulled out of Srebrenica and that they captured a Praga of theirs with a crew. He stated that the Bosniak officers asked to be let through so that the crew would not be harmed, and they were Serbs.
I think he mentioned a corps, saying that that unit managed to get out of the encirclement. And he also said that General Delic himself inspected that unit in Tuzla following the withdrawal. I believe I mentioned that in the interview. It would mean that most of the 15097 able-bodied men who had arms managed to get out, and that was his assertion.
Q. All right. Now you can see in your article, itself, you, yourself, have written down that Colonel Beara said that:
"Stories immediately started circulating in the press, even our own papers, of a crime and of mass killings of the Muslims." And you, yourself, mentioned just a moment ago that you were aware of some of these stories?
JUDGE FLUEGGE: Could we please move to that relevant part you are referring to.
MR. VANDERPUYE: Yes, Mr. President. It is actually right on the screen. It's the last sentence --
JUDGE FLUEGGE: Oh I see it.
MR. VANDERPUYE: -- of the first paragraph.
JUDGE FLUEGGE: Thank you very much. Now I see it.
Q. I'd like to show you a couple of articles. We'll start with 65 ter 7418.
This is an article, Mr. President, that was not part of the Prosecution's original 65 ter list but is responsive, obviously, to the issues, both in the article itself and as per the witness's testimony because it concerns events that were published concerning the -- concerning the Srebrenica events.
JUDGE FLUEGGE: Mr. Gajic. 15098
MR. GAJIC: [Interpretation] Mr. President, as you could probably see in our estimate we would need for the cross-examination of this witness, we reserved our right to place an objection for the OTP's request to include documents 65 ter 7416, 7418, and 7419 on the list. There is a number of reasons why we object. Before that, I just wanted to remind you that you are well aware of the practice of this Defence not to object to any new documents being introduced, in spite of the fact that some of them may not have been on the original 65 ter list. However, these are newspaper articles by Mr. Block and we see no basis due to which these documents should be put to this witness. First of all, there is no mention of them in the 65 ter summary of the Prosecution that they intended to use these articles. This witness's testimony is limited only to the circumstances under which Mr. Beara provided the interview and nothing more than.
This witness's testimony in the Popovic case --
JUDGE FLUEGGE: Mr. Gajic, I have to interrupt you. I would like to ask the accused, Mr. Tolimir, if he objects, and he may request that you address the Chamber. This is a bit beyond the normal proceedings, if you are raising such an objection.
Mr. Tolimir, do you object to the addition of these three documents to the 65 ter exhibit list by the Prosecution? You may do that. This is your right. You can ask the Chamber to allow Mr. Gajic to address the Chamber.
What is your position?
THE ACCUSED: [Interpretation] Thank you, Mr. President. I'd like 15099 to greet all those present, and may these hearings be concluded in accordance with God's will and not my own. I would like to greet Mr. Simic. And I would kindly ask that no propaganda be admitted, and the witness testified to that effect.
Now the Prosecutor is trying to have that admitted. If you believe it is necessary to have such material admitted, we could present a lot of Muslim books which also speak of events in Srebrenica, and we might ask for them to be admitted as well. I believe my legal assistant should be permitted to explain our Defence's position.
JUDGE FLUEGGE: just to clarify, we are not discussing the question, if these documents would be admitted into evidence. At the moment, we are discussing the request of the Prosecution to add them to their 65 ter exhibit list, which is a different matter. I understand your last sentence as a request to allow Mr. Gajic to address the Chamber on this topic; is that correct?
THE ACCUSED: [Interpretation] Yes, it is, Mr. President. Thank you.
JUDGE FLUEGGE: Mr. Vanderpuye, do you have a position to that?
THE ACCUSED: [Interpretation] Please allow him to conclude his remarks.
JUDGE FLUEGGE: Mr. Vanderpuye, in relation to the position of Mr. Gajic to address the Chamber, do you have a position.
MR. VANDERPUYE: Yes, I do, actually. I think is entirely appropriate to add these exhibits to the 65 --
JUDGE FLUEGGE: No, I asked you if have a position to the request 15100 of Mr. Tolimir to allow Mr. Gajic to address the Chamber.
MR. VANDERPUYE: I'm sorry. No, I have no problem with that. If that's what he requires and would like, I would welcome it.
[Trial Chamber confers]
JUDGE FLUEGGE: The reason why I asked you, Mr. Tolimir, was the decision of the Chamber of the 28th of April, 2010. The Chamber decided that day that the audience of Mr. Gajic, the right of audience, is limited to addressing the Chamber on legal issues that arise during the proceedings upon a specific request for such, by the accused being granted by the Chamber.
This is the reason why I interrupted Mr. Gajic, and the Chamber is of the view that Mr. Gajic should address the Chamber on this topic. I would like, first, to give Mr. Gajic the floor to continue with his objection. And then you may respond, Mr. Vanderpuye. Mr. Gajic.
MR. GAJIC: [Interpretation] Mr. President, I'd like to apologise first for not having followed the prescribed procedure completely. In addition to what I've already said concerning the 65 ter summary for this witness, it is not clear from it that this witness was about to testify about the events in question.
Another thing I wanted to object to is the following: Mr. Robert Block is neither on the witness list, nor can this witness, at least to the extent of our information, tell us anything about Mr. Robert Block, who authored the three articles that the OTP is now seeking to add to their 65 ter list. In our view, those articles have no 15101 probative value for the simple reason that they often refer to unidentified sources and they are nothing more than media reports published as such.
Therefore, their probative value is basically none. I would conclude my arguments, having said that, and I hope I have sufficiently explained why we believe these documents should not be included on the 65 ter list at this stage.
JUDGE FLUEGGE: Thank you very much, Mr. Gajic. Mr. Vanderpuye.
MR. VANDERPUYE: Thank you, Mr. President. The first thing is that these documents are clearly relevant and probative of material issues arising out of the indictment. They are relevant and probative in respect of the fact that they were published. It's appropriate to put the fact of a journalistic publication about the events concerning Srebrenica to a journalist who, himself, authored such a publication, albeit many years after the fact, but throughout the period of time -- but worked as a journalist throughout that period of time up until the present day. It is entirely an appropriate issue to put to this witness.
The second thing is that the fact of publication or the information that was available in the media during and around the time of the events in question is directly referred to in his article. It's referred to in the paragraph that I just read into the record, where, during the course of the interview, Colonel Beara, himself, makes reference to media reports concerning crimes and other events related to 15102 the Srebrenica operation.
Not only that, but the witnesses, himself, said during the course of his testimony today that he, himself, was aware of certain reports concerning the Srebrenica events at the time. And so I think it is appropriate in these circumstances to put these documents to the witness: First, to see whether or not the witness is aware of the fact that these documents -- that these stories were published; and, secondly, as to the content. That is, what was published. It doesn't go necessarily to the truth of the matter that this fact happened or that fact happened, but what it goes to is the question of what was being reported about Srebrenica, true or untrue. That is of relevance to this witness's testimony and also of relevance to the accused's knowledge of these facts, to the general knowledge in the VRS about these facts. Remember, we have witnesses who have testified here ranking as high as the chief of -- of intelligence in the VRS who have claimed not to have any knowledge of three events. And so it is a salient issue of relevance to these proceedings and entirely appropriate to put to this witness as is mentioned in his article and is the subject matter of his testimony today.
Mr. Gajic says that this was not part of the 65 ter summary, in particular. But what is part of the 65 ter summary, undoubtedly, is the article itself that he wrote. And what is part of that article, indisputably, is that he reported that Colonel Beara said that there were media reports concerning the Srebrenica events as he wrote down in the article, so it is an entirely appropriate avenue to pursue. 15103 And that's the reason why I think it is appropriate to add it to the 65 ter list, to show it to the witness. Ultimately, the Trial Chamber will determine whatever weight to give it, if it decides to admit them.
JUDGE FLUEGGE: To understand your position better, I would like that ask you: All the three articles were published in "The Independent" newspaper; is that correct?
MR. VANDERPUYE: That's correct, Mr. President.
JUDGE FLUEGGE: And all three articles were published in July 1995?
MR. VANDERPUYE: That's correct.
JUDGE FLUEGGE: And you are saying that you want to show, by using these documents, that there have been -- yes, some news articles about the Srebrenica events at the relevant time?
MR. VANDERPUYE: That's correct, Mr. President.
JUDGE FLUEGGE: Mr. Gajic.
MR. GAJIC: [Interpretation] Mr. President, I would briefly touch upon one thing that the Prosecutor said.
Namely, the article that is the core of this witness's testimony is an interview, basically, which understands recording the words of another person; in this specific case, of Mr. Beara. In the article, there is no comment made by the witness. He did not go into analysing those events or anything that had to do with Srebrenica. This was simply conveying information uttered by someone else.
When making your decision on our objection, I would kindly ask 15104 you to bear that in mind as well.
JUDGE FLUEGGE: Judge Nyambe.
JUDGE NYAMBE: Just as a clarification from you, Mr. Vanderpuye, where is the journalist, Robert Block; do you know?
MR. VANDERPUYE: I don't know off the top of my head. I think he is in the United States.
JUDGE NYAMBE: Thank you.
MR. VANDERPUYE: You're welcome, Your Honour.
[Trial Chamber confers]
MR. VANDERPUYE: Mr. President, I did want to add one thing that I think may be of --
JUDGE FLUEGGE: [Overlapping speakers] ... please.
MR. VANDERPUYE: The first thing is that I've -- I've learned, since you've started debating the issue, that Mr. Block is in Florida in the United States.
The second thing I should point out to you, I think, which is important is that these are public documents. In other words, if you type in his name in the Internet, you'll get these articles. A number of these documents have been disclosed already to the Defence, despite the fact that they're public, as late as April of 2010. So this is not a surprise to the Defence or inaccessible to the Defence. Indeed, when I was preparing the binder for this witness, I was able to find these articles on the Internet, as recently as a couple of days ago, Thursday or Wednesday of last week. So it seems to me that this is not something that the Defence could not have reasonably anticipated, particularly in 15105 view of the fact that the article itself mentions publications soon after the Srebrenica events.
So as a matter of notice, it seems to me that the Defence is clearly on notice of this issue, certainly if not specifically to this accused, then more generally in the case. And it has arisen, as I mentioned before, with respect to the knowledge of these events, as has been testified to by other witnesses in this case, including, intelligence officers and security officers, as well as people that were actually on the ground. And can I point to the transcript in respect of this issue, specifically with relation to one witness, if the Trial Chamber would like to -- to develop that or like me to elaborate on that further.
JUDGE FLUEGGE: To clarify the matter, I would like to ask the witness: I just checked the transcript and your answers you were -- have given to the Prosecutor, do you remember having seen on TV or in the media any reports about the events in Srebrenica in July 1995 in Serbia? Did you -- did you say anything about that during your examination today?
THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] I have to clarify one thing about 1995.
I started working as a journalist in Serbia in May of -- or April of 1995. That is to say, a month and a half before Operation Flash in Croatia. I had not worked for over two and a half years prior to that. I was in Vrsac staying with my uncle for private reasons which are irrelevant for my testimony. 15106 Now, whether, in 1995, and in what month I heard or saw or read anything about Srebrenica is difficult for me to say. But I need to say the following: As time went by, there was more and more information by way of newspaper articles, broadcast programmes and content in the electronic media, depending on the source. The case of Srebrenica was very interesting for all of us living in western -- western Balkans; that is to say, in the successor states of the SFRY. There were such texts authored by Zagreb editorial rooms and Bosniaks had their own view. The Serb media in Bosnia-Herzegovina had their own; whereas, for Serbia, the media were divided. One club reported on the issue of Srebrenica one way, and the other in another way.
There was much confusion. I saw many programmes about Srebrenica and read many articles, but I can't tell you who wrote what and in what newspaper. That would be very difficult.
JUDGE FLUEGGE: Thank you very much for that explanation. Mr. Vanderpuye, Mr. Tolimir, Mr. Gajic, the Chamber has considered your request to add these three documents to the 65 ter exhibit list, but the Chamber is not persuaded that the -- that you have laid a good foundation, a convincing foundation for this request. We -- in the past we had several occasions when you requested such an addition to the 65 ter exhibit list. There was no objection by the Defence and, therefore, in most cases, we granted this addition. Today, the Defence put the objections to the Chamber, and the Chamber is of the view that we don't see a connection to the current witness, the witness here present in the courtroom. 15107 There may have been quite a lot of articles in the world. These are three articles in "The Independent" newspaper, published in another state and not in the region. The witness can't testify about these articles. He just explained further what he said earlier on page 8, lines 10 to 12, that there were different media at the relevant time, even in the region, but with different sources and different information. The Chamber is not of the view that this witness is the right witness to put additional media articles from another part of the world and to testify about the existence of these articles or of the content of these articles.
This is the reason why we will, in this case, not grant your motion.
MR. VANDERPUYE: Thank you, Mr. President. I do understand -- I understand the Court's point of view. I do have -- nevertheless, I do have an article that has already been admitted in this case by the same author, whom I think it would be appropriate to put questions to this witness concerning the content of this article.
There are a couple of issues. One is to establish whether or not --
JUDGE FLUEGGE: Please indicate which article you are referring to.
MR. VANDERPUYE: I have P1254.
JUDGE FLUEGGE: Which -- through which witness did you tender it and we have received it? 15108
MR. VANDERPUYE: Just a moment I'll find out for you.
[Trial Chamber and Registrar confer]
[Prosecution counsel confer]
JUDGE FLUEGGE: I was told it was a protected witness.
MR. VANDERPUYE: That's correct, Mr. President. PW-063, for the record.
JUDGE FLUEGGE: This article on the screen is in evidence, as P1254. You may put it to the witness.
[Trial Chamber and Registrar confer]
[Prosecution counsel confer]
Q. Mr. Simic what we have here is an article, as can you see that is written by -- I'm sorry.
MR. VANDERPUYE: Mr. President?
JUDGE FLUEGGE: Please continue.
MR. VANDERPUYE: Thank you, Mr. President.
Q. What we have here is an article, Mr. Simic. It's dated 25th July 1995. And it's entitled: "River killings shed light on scale of horror after the fall of Srebrenica." And it says, "By Robert Block, Loznica, Serbia."
In the first paragraph of this article, we see some discussion about an individual who Mr. Block writes is a person by the name of Resid Halilovic and he talks about this individual throughout the article.
In the second paragraph, it says that: 15109 "On the 15th of July, four days after Bosnian Serbs overran Srebrenica, Mr. Halilovic was discovered lying in the shallow water of the Bosnian side of the Drina river," and he was badly bleeding and screaming for help.
First, have you heard about what we've gone through so far? Did you hear about that in or around July 1995?
A. I cannot answer that question, because I actually do not remember. This first and last name seemed to exist in my subconscious, but I cannot place them anywhere specific.
Q. Okay. Throughout the article, you will see that this individual was apparently treated in Serbia.
MR. VANDERPUYE: And if we go to the next page. And I think we'll have to go to the second page in the B/C/S as well. It may be the last -- second-to-last paragraph in the B/C/S, but it reads that: "The officials of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees in Belgrade say they are aware of several cases of Muslims from Srebrenica who fled across the Drina to Serbia only to be handed back to the Bosnian Serbs and an uncertain fate. Thousands of men from Srebrenica were taken prisoner by the Bosnian Serbs after their 'liberation' of the Muslim enclave on 11 July. Some estimates of prisoners executed are as high as 4.000."
Now, you can see that this was reported from Loznica, Serbia. It also refers to officials of the UNHCR in Belgrade who make these statements.
And my question to you is: Were you aware of the facts and 15110 circumstances as reported in this article in or around July 1995.
A. No. Certainly not in July 1995. Because I already said in 1995, in March or April, I started working in Belgrade. For three years before that, I was unemployed and was not working as a journalist at all. Later on, in some newspapers from Sarajevo, or excerpts from these articles and from these media which were quoted by some Belgrade papers, I saw such stories. Namely, that the Bosniaks who had crossed the Drina into Serbia were sent back. Even that some of them were provided with medical assistance, if they were injured, at the medical institutions in Serbia. I was reading about that for years, but I did not really investigate that or pay special attention to it. So I really cannot say anything specific about it.
Q. Let me ask you one other question.
MR. VANDERPUYE: If we can go back to page one of this document and the fourth paragraph of the document.
Q. It says that: "In the days after Srebrenica fell, residents reported seeing 'truck loads' of men being brought to shallow pits dug on the other side of the river bank and shot by Bosnian Muslim [sic] soldiers. 'Dozens of people stood on a hill here and watched this,' said one Serb from the area who did not want to be identified. 'Last week I saw, with my own eyes, 50 men shot as they were forced to jump off the back of a truck into a pit.'"
And my question is the same to you: Were you aware of the facts and circumstances as reported in this article back in July of 1995? Is 15111 this among the stories that you heard about?
A. It seems similar to one of the stories which I read in the Bosnian and partly also Croatian media. But what was really happening, what the truth was, that is something I do not believe I am an adequate witness to answer.
Q. Yes. I'm just interested to know what you heard about, or what you heard was reported around that time. And you've indicated - and correct me if I'm wrong - that this is, or these represent some of the things that you heard about in July of 1995?
A. As for the events in Srebrenica, Zepa, and the area along the Drina in Bosnia and Herzegovina, that was something that the Serbian media reported little about in 1995; and when they did, it was rather brief. Later on, as time went by, and as some non-governmental organisations and individual media dealt more seriously with the truth about Srebrenica and began to investigate it, there were many more articles published in the press.
From Serbian, Bosnian and even some Macedonian and Montenegrin sources, many articles were published which also dealt with crimes against the Serbs; also in Bosnia and in the vicinity of both Srebrenica and Zepa. It happened more than once that in a newspaper, you would have an article on half a page, or even a full page, discussing what happened to the Bosniaks from Srebrenica; for example, quoting sources from the Zagreb or Sarajevo media. And on the other page; for example, on the right page, would you have a whole page including the testimony of a Serb who suffered or whose family perished or a report about the perishing of 15112 Serbs in villages surrounding Srebrenica. So in one and the same newspaper, there were both kinds of articles.
I did not really deal much with the crimes committed in Bosnia and Herzegovina, just a little about what happened in Croatia because that was where I used to live before the war. But as for this subject, Srebrenica, and, in particular, this period that you insist on, Mr. Prosecutor, I mean 1995, a lot of time has passed since, almost 15 years, and at the time I was just beginning to work again as a journalist, and I had all kinds of problems. So perhaps I could say that, at the beginning, in 1995, 1996, 1997, I didn't really pay that much attention to Srebrenica and what was reported about it because there was so much information. This happened, that happened. Then a fortnight ago, it would turn out that it wasn't true. They would report that somebody had gone missing or had been killed, and then he would appear later on and it would turn out that he was alive.
On the other hand, I was more focussed on Croatia, because many of my family members stayed there. My brother, who is now in Slovenia, was wounded at the time and because of that, I also had to leave Croatia. So I was preoccupied with some other private problems and did not deal with this too much.
Q. Mr. Simic, I ask you --
JUDGE FLUEGGE: Mr. Vanderpuye, I think the witness repeated now several times what kind of knowledge he had at the relevant time. You received the answer he could provide you with, and you should move to another topic. 15113
MR. VANDERPUYE: That's where I'm going, Mr. President.
JUDGE FLUEGGE: Very good. Go ahead, please.
Q. Mr. Simic in your answer you represented, or you said, rather, that you considered Serbian media in respect of the issues that I've asked you about. And my question to you is -- and you can hopefully answer it directly, is: Did you consider other sources of information concerning the events in Srebrenica besides Serbian media? And you can answer yes or no and that probably ought to suffice.
A. Yes, of course.
Q. Now, did you consider any of this media in respect of the interview that you conducted with Mr. Beara in 2002, in order to prepare for it, for example?
A. Yes, I did.
Q. And so when Mr. Beara made the reference to stories that circulated immediately after the Srebrenica operation, do you have any idea what he was referring to, what stories and from what sources?
A. I'm not sure if I did not understand Mr. Beara properly or if you have not understood me properly.
Mr. Beara said that he was surprised when General Krstic linked him to Srebrenica, not only him but some other officers of the VRS. However, he said -- yes?
Q. I'm referring to what Colonel Beara told you about crimes and mass killings of the Muslims, that you refer to in the English of page 6 and 7 of your article, where you say that Mr. Beara said that stories 15114 immediately started circulating in the press "even our own papers," which I take it to mean Serbian papers, "of a crime and of mass killings of the Muslims."
What did you take that to mean? What papers, what press, and what sources?
A. Well, there, he talked about the Serbian newspapers and the Serbian media, as far as I understood him. At the time, in the 1990s, up until the 5th of October, some of the newspapers were state-owned and were under direct control of the regime. When crimes or incidents occurred, they were rather weary and they offered only selective information. However, already at the time, there were many independent privately owned media which reported much more freely. They would use more sources, and sometimes even quoted or took over reports of other media from the region. So that when Mr. Beara said that the first number of the victims that was mentioned was 14- to 16.000 men and boys, he probably meant that the Serbian newspapers reported about that. And that is true, what he said at the time, that all sorts of information was published. But it is also true that as time went by, the number was diminished, and then, most often, the one that was mentioned was 7.000 people.
Q. So the reports of crimes that were circulated immediately after the Srebrenica operations was information that you, yourself, were aware of at that time; is that right?
A. Yes, I was aware of it in 1995, 1996, 1997, and as time went by, I knew more and more because more information became available even to 15115 ordinary people and, in particular, to the journalists. But I have to say that confusion reigned at the time. For two or three months, one information was reported about. Then, on another occasion, there would be some different information or a third piece of information, depending on the source, and it created confusion among the people. The people did not really what was actually happening. And even us, the journalists, we didn't know what the truth was or what happened at some points.
Q. I take it that you're aware that Colonel Beara was convicted concerning his involvement in the murders of thousands of Muslim prisoners in July 1995 following the Popovic trial in which you testified. Yes?
JUDGE FLUEGGE: This question is already answered, if I'm not mistaken, Mr. Vanderpuye.
Mr. Simic added that he is not sure about, if this is the final sentence.
MR. GAJIC: [Interpretation] Mr. President, I'm not certain if it is an error, I'm looking at the record just now, I think that Mr. Vanderpuye was translated as if he said that the judgement against Mr. Beara was final. But Mr. Vanderpuye didn't say that because, as we know, the appeals proceedings are underway in this case at the moment.
JUDGE FLUEGGE: I don't see the word final in the transcript. Mr. Gajic.
MR. GAJIC: [Interpretation] Mr. President, that was how it was 15116 interpreted into Serbian, and as it was a question that the witness was asked, I had to intervene because the witness, himself, said that he was not sure whether the judgement was final or not, so I just wanted to make sure that this is clear in the Serbian language as well.
JUDGE FLUEGGE: Thank you very much for that. Mr. Vanderpuye.
Q. Knowing what you do now, Mr. Simic, and given Mr. Beara's conviction, do you still believe that he told you the truth during the course of your interview with him in 2002?
A. Well, I still believe what I believed then. He made an impression on me as a man who was speaking the truth. Especially as regards several occasions that, at the relevant time, he was not in the Srebrenica area but, rather, in the Bihac area; that he had great difficulties only after Mr. Vojislav Seselj had publicly attacked him in the media; that he had many problems and was concerned about his family; and that after 35 or -6 years as serving as a honourable officer, as he said, that this all hit him hard and considering all the circumstances, the impression he left with me was that he was saying the truth.
Q. Thank you very much, Mr. Simic. I don't have any questions for you.
MR. VANDERPUYE: That concludes my direct examination, Mr. President. Thank you.
JUDGE FLUEGGE: Thank you very much, Mr. Vanderpuye. Now it is your turn, Mr. Tolimir, to commence your 15117 cross-examination. Would you prefer to start immediately or would you like to have the break now and then commence your examination after the break? It's up to you.
THE ACCUSED: [Interpretation] Thank you. We can take the break so that we do not disrupt the continuity of questions and answers. Thank you.
JUDGE FLUEGGE: That's fine. Sir, we must have our first break now, and we will resume after approximately half an hour. I think five minutes past 4.00 should be convenient.
--- Recess taken at 3.39 p.m.
--- On resuming at 4.09 p.m.
JUDGE FLUEGGE: Yes, Mr. Tolimir. Now you may commence your cross-examination. You have the floor.
THE ACCUSED: [Interpretation] Thank you, Mr. President. Once again, I wish to greet everyone present and I hope that this day ends in accordance with God's will rather than with my wishes. Cross-examination by Mr. Tolimir:
Q. I wish the witness a pleasant stay among us and a pleasant return back home.
A. Thank you, General.
Q. During the cross-examination [as interpreted], on page 71 [as interpreted], and the towards the end on page 31, you were asked whether you know -- on page 71, whether you know that Beara was convicted for crimes that have to do with these killings. And on another page you 15118 say:
"Knowing that Beara was convicted, do you still believe that he was telling the truth?"
My question is this: Do you know that Beara has been convicted only from the media, or do you have any specific information or proof on the basis of what he was convicted, or do you know this only from the media?
A. That Mr. Beara was convicted, but I said I'm not sure whether it is final or not. I have heard that from the media, that is to say, from an agency, piece of news, because there are two news agencies which reported about this in Serbia, "Beta" and "Tanjug," not just about Mr. Beara but everyone who was in the preceding.
JUDGE FLUEGGE: Mr. Tolimir, you made a reference to page 71 of today's transcript, but we have only reached page 33. I think that was slip -- yeah. You made a mistake. I think you were referring to page 31; is that correct?
MR. GAJIC: [Interpretation] Mr. President, the first reference mentioned by Mr. Tolimir was 7, page 7, but the line was 1 or 2. And after that, I think it has been recorded properly. After that, page 31 was mentioned. So these are two separate references.
JUDGE FLUEGGE: Thank you very much. Go ahead, please, Mr. Tolimir.
THE ACCUSED: [Interpretation] Thank you, Mr. President.
MR. TOLIMIR: [Interpretation] 15119
Q. On page 7, in line 19, the question was this: Does that mean that you know that Srebrenica was Muslim propaganda?
On page 7, 24, you said Beara was the one who said it was all Muslim propaganda, that there were some victims, but that the numbers were not those reported by the Muslims in their media, more or less. I'm paraphrasing now what you said.
This is my question: Was it during a long period that this was the media image created by the media, as the one that Beara talked about here in three different ethnic communities.
A. It was roughly as Mr. Beara put it. There's Serbian media, the majority of them at least, not all, though, not all, claimed -- or, rather, hinted that this was Muslim propaganda. Whereas, the Muslim and some of the Croatian media claimed that this was a crime without precedent.
Q. Thank you. On page 8, line 12, you said: "He said that there were some victims but much fewer than reported in the media. He said that the Muslims had argued among themselves and fought among themselves and that there were some casualties as a result of that and that he offered information about this to French officers."
Was that so? Thank you.
A. Yes, that was what Mr. Beara said.
Q. This is my question -- I apologise to the interpreters. My question is this: Did the Muslim media also contribute to this view an opinion on the Serbian and Muslim sides by their reports 15120 about the number of casualties and how they were offered that some Muslims should be killed so there would be an intervention? Did you have sort of information and was something like that circulated in the public? Thank you.
A. The Muslim, that is to say the Bosniak media, let me say, insisted on the story about genocide, crime, and a huge number of casualties. That was accepted by many non-governmental organisations, even in Serbia. And a greater part of the international public also referred to Srebrenica as a crime. It's something that was final, that the crime occurred there.
Q. Can we now please see 1D53 so that we can first see how the Muslim side reported about this in June 1998. Once we have a look at this, I will ask you my question. Thank you.
This is an interview with Hakija Meholjic, who was a member of the War Presidency of the Srebrenica, and at the same time he was the president of the SDP for Srebrenica. It's the second strongest party. And he says: "500 [as interpreted] Muslim lives for military intervention." He published that in newspapers in Sarajevo, in Bosnia, called "Dani" on the 22nd of June 1998. And he says, the journalist asks him:
"In your accusations of the state leadership, and particularly of President Izetbegovic, over a share of the Bosniak blame for the Srebrenica tragedy, the departure of the Srebrenica delegation to Sarajevo in September 1993 for talks on the fate of this enclave cannot be avoided?" 15121 I have read the introductory question which the journalist asked. Now I will only read a part of what Mr. Meholjic said in the fourth line from bottom up.
JUDGE FLUEGGE: Mr. Tolimir, just to have a clear record, on page -- I don't know if it is a translation issue or if you made a mistake. On page 35, line 14, you are recorded as having said, "500 Muslim lives for military intervention." If you look into -- on to the document on the screen, you see in the document we see the figure of "5.000 Muslim lives for military intervention."
If you would agree to that, then you should continue, please.
THE ACCUSED: [Interpretation] Thank you, Mr. President. It is as you said, and is as it says here in the English version. And Meholjic then says in the first paragraph - I'm reading from the bottom - the last five lines, what is under quotation marks. I quote:
"What do you think about the swap of Srebrenica for Vogosca? There was a silence for a while. And then I said, Mr. President, if this is a done thing, then you should not have invited us here, because we have to return and face the people and personally accept the burden of that decision."
This is my question: Was there any information in the public, both ours and the Muslim ones, that Srebrenica was to be swapped for Vogosca and that the swapping was -- or had been announced since 1993, as Meholjic says here. Were you aware of that or not?
A. One could hear such rumours, especially in the then-opposition papers or from opposition leaders in Serbia as well as among certain VJ 15122 officers. I heard such stories a number of times in different versions, one of which is was the one you have just referred to. I can't specify what year exactly it was, though. In any case, I know of that option, although I don't know how accurate or true it is. I didn't see this interview before, although I know this Hakija and I know the editorial staff of this newspaper.
Q. Yes. It seems that in the "Dani" newspaper it is stated that he refused Izetbegovic's offer, and then I quote his answer: "We rejected it without any discussion. And he said, you know, I was offered by Clinton in April 1993, after the fall of Cerska and Konjevic Polje, that the Chetnik forces enter Srebrenica, carry out a slaughter of 5.000 Muslims and then there be will be a military intervention."
My question is this: Did you also hear such stories in the media on both sides, and did you know that -- gave an interview, this Mr. Meholjic gave an interview to the "Dani" newspaper?
A. I don't know whether any Bosniak media reported on this. It is the first time I see it. I don't remember any Belgrade papers carrying this interview unless I missed it.
Q. Let's going to be page 2 of the interview. Let's see what Meholjic says further about Srebrenica in 1995. He was a War Presidency member:
"When Srebrenica fell in 1995, you had a chance to address President Izetbegovic?"
That was the journalist's question. 15123 And in the second paragraph, Meholjic answers:
"I requested then that a state commission be formed to examine the responsibility of the international community, the president, the Army General Staff, the 2nd Army Corps, our responsibility. The people are missing, he (President Izetbegovic) asked me what I would achieve by doing that. Rasim Delic tried to say something too. But nobody gave him a chance to speak."
Did you hear or did you know that the Muslims demanded political responsibility and accountability by their state leadership for the events in Srebrenica? Did you know anything about that from the media?
A. The Serb media reported that, quoting some media from Germany, I believe, or German language newspapers in any case, as having mentioned such requests. The problem was that such information was not always taken seriously; at least that was my feel of things in Belgrade.
Q. Thank you. When you said that Beara mentioned those clashes between the Muslims, the Prosecutor asked you whether, indeed, events took such a turn. And then you stated:
"I had no reason to distrust Beara, and I believe the accusations levelled against him were the reason why he decided to give me an interview."
My question is this: When we read these articles today, could we form the same conclusions you did at the time? That is to say, that Beara was personally accused of something that even the Muslim media blamed on some Muslims as carried by the Serbian media?
A. When I tested in the other case, I said the same thing. It was 15124 my impression, as a human being not as a journalist, that Mr. Beara was bitter because of everything that was going on. Perhaps it may be important to say that when the Law on Co-operation with The Hague Tribunal came into force in Serbia, a list of indictees was published for Srebrenica. At the time, Mr. Beara was not on the list. His name appeared subsequently, and he constantly claimed that that was because he had come into conflict with paramilitary formations of Mr. Seselj in Montenegro concerning a barracks which was within his area of responsibility. At the time, he did not allow for something to take place. There seems to have been an incident there. In short, it seems he did not allow those paramilitary members to kidnap -- or, rather, to -- to seize military combat vehicle.
Following that, Mr. Seselj kept attacking Beara in the media, stating that he was a liar and it bothered him a lot. It also bothered him what the Bosniak media wrote about him, stating that he was basically the -- a brain behind everything that took place in Srebrenica.
Q. Thank you.
THE ACCUSED: [Interpretation] Could we please have this admitted and then move to another document.
JUDGE FLUEGGE: How many pages does this document have? Mr. Tolimir?
THE ACCUSED: [Interpretation] Thank you, Mr. President. This document contains four pages. Not even four. But, yes, half of the fourth page.
JUDGE FLUEGGE: Thank you. It will be received as an exhibit. 15125
THE REGISTRAR: Your Honours, 65 ter document 1D53 shall be assigned Exhibit D277. Thank you.
THE ACCUSED: [Interpretation] Thank you. D268, please.
MR. TOLIMIR: [Interpretation]
Q. We will see that even the authorities of Bosnia-Herzegovina published documents mentioning a high number of victims. For example, let's look at this document from the Ministry of the Interior of the Republic of Bosnia-Herzegovina and its State Security Service; its Tuzla sector. Let's took at paragraph 7 where it says:
"In further conversation, Enver stated that when the 285th and 282nd Brigade came out at around 10.00 on the same day, a Chetnik paramilitary formation opened artillery fire on the remaining brigades and civilians who happened to be at Buljin. In his estimate, around 1.000 civilians and soldiers were killed there."
[Microphone not activated]
THE INTERPRETER: Microphone, please.
MR. TOLIMIR: [Interpretation]
Q. "... so according to his estimate, some 1.000 soldiers and civilians were killed there."
Without referring to some other statements which mention these events involving some suicides and murders, my question is this: Can we see from it that there were also casualties during combat, en masse? There are five statements in total which refer to the same location; and was there any information in the public that there were numerous casualties sustained by the units attempting to break through? 15126
A. I think I have partially answered it when responding to the Prosecutor's question.
Mr. Beara said as well that a number of Muslim fighters were killed in mutual conflict or in mutual fights. This was not the first time I heard of it. Such information were in circulation even before he told me that.
Q. Thank you. Let's look at D269, which refers to the same event.
JUDGE FLUEGGE: [Microphone not activated] ... now it works. The last document and this one don't have an English translation yet. They are both marked for identification, pending translation. Please continue.
THE ACCUSED: [Interpretation] Thank you.
MR. TOLIMIR: [Interpretation]
Q. We see another document by the authorities of the Republic of Bosnia-Herzegovina from its state security sector. They received a statement from a specific person whose name I won't mention. It was marked as state secret and forwarded to their leadership. Let's look at page 2 of the document.
Let's look at line 12: "The source states that, on that occasion, some 1.000 soldiers and civilians from the column were killed. After the crime, the Chetniks invited the people to surrender or to negotiate. On that occasion, Ejub Golic talked to the Chetniks, asking that the shelling be stopped. They, indeed, did so. They stopped shelling the columns of civilians and soldiers. After the shelling stopped, the 284th Brigade gathered in the 15127 nearby woods and continued en route to the free territory." Can we see from these two statements that they actually refer to this location at which around 1.000 soldiers and civilians were killed in combat; and did you know that all these victims and all other combat casualties were counted as people who were executed by firing squad?
JUDGE FLUEGGE: Mr. Vanderpuye.
MR. VANDERPUYE: Yes, Mr. President. I think the last part of General Tolimir's question gravely misstated the evidence before this Trial Chamber. I don't know exactly why he would ask a question like that, given the evidence we have here. Maybe he has something else in mind. But there's been no evidence in this case that these thousands of individuals that are referred to in this document, or any other document, were counted among the victims of the mass killings or in mass graves in this case. There's just no evidence of that. In fact, to the contrary. We've heard the evidence of Mr. Janc who carefully and conscientiously explained exactly how these victims were counted or considered in terms of the overall victim population concerning the Srebrenica events. So I'd ask General Tolimir to either restate that question or ask a different one because it unfairly misleads this witness and mischaracterises the evidence.
JUDGE FLUEGGE: Mr. Tolimir, can you give us a reference to that statement you gave in the last question when asked the witness: "Did you know that all these victims and all other combat casualties were counted as people who were executed by firing squad?" To whom are you referring? Who was counting them as victims of 15128 executions? What do you mean by that?
THE ACCUSED: [Interpretation] Thank you, Mr. President. I'm looking for the reference to which Mr. Janc referred to when he said that they were all considered genocide victims. All those in the various mass graves were considered as genocide victims.
By your leave, I will find it. I can go back through my notes and provide you with an exact reference. If you want me, I can do that now, or I can forward it to you later.
In any case, Mr. Janc said during his testimony that he considers all such victims, genocide victims.
JUDGE FLUEGGE: Mr. Tolimir, in your question, you didn't refer to mass graves. Now you are referring to those found in mass graves. This is different.
I propose that you rephrase your question and we can overcome this difficulty.
THE ACCUSED: [Interpretation] Thank you, Mr. President.
[Defence counsel confer]
MR. TOLIMIR: [Interpretation]
Q. Mr. Babic [sic], did you know that 7.000 people were -- are believed to be the victims of genocide and this is something you also referred to in your testimony, I believe?
A. Yes --
JUDGE FLUEGGE: Mr. Tolimir, this is not Mr. Babic but Mr. Simic. Please provide us with your answer.
THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Yes. Well, it's no problem. 15129 There were different pieces of information in circulation among the public. I don't know which one is correct. And I don't know whether the victims were actually ever counted in the area of Srebrenica. In Serbia at least, and in its neighbourhood, there are different NGOs who came forth with certain numbers that were carried by the media. In Serbia, in any case, such figures are usually in the area of 7.000 civilian casualties.
MR. TOLIMIR: [Interpretation]
Q. Thank you. I apologise for calling you Mr. Babic, Mr. Simic. Let us now please look -- as we will not be discussing this anymore, I just wanted to provide an example as to how everything is subsumed under victims of genocide.
Can we now please see the document D176. While we're waiting for it to appear on the screen, we'll say -- here it is. It's a document from the Army of Bosnia-Herzegovina, their 2nd Corps command from Tuzla, which talks about the chronology of events --
JUDGE FLUEGGE: Is there an English translation? There should be one. Thank you.
THE ACCUSED: [Interpretation] That's right, Mr. President.
JUDGE FLUEGGE: Now we have it on the screen. Please continue.
MR. TOLIMIR: [Interpretation]
Q. This is a document from the 2nd Corps command of the Army of Bosnia-Herzegovina issued on the 27th of July 1995; that is to say, 15130 immediately after the events. And the title is: "Chronology of events surrounding the break-through by the 28th division." Sent to -- it was signed by Sead Delic, brigadier, commander of that corps. On page 12, line 2, you said, and I quote your words: "Beara claimed that Naser Oric's unit had pulled out, that they had taken a Praga and that this unit was reviewed and that most of them managed to leave the area."
That is what you said on page 12, line 2. Let us see what the Muslim sources say about this. So can we please show page 7 in the English version of this document.
THE INTERPRETER: Can the accused please repeat the page references.
JUDGE FLUEGGE: Could you please give us, again, the page reference. You said page 7 in English. And what is it in B/C/S?
THE ACCUSED: [Interpretation] Page 5 in B/C/S. Thank you.
[Microphone not activated]
THE INTERPRETER: Microphone, please.
MR. TOLIMIR: [Interpretation]
Q. Mr. Simic, if we look, the second paragraph from the bottom, which begins with:
"The hours 430 hours on the 16th of July," then we skip that paragraph and look at the next one, "The first group went through at about 1300 hours."
It is the fourth paragraph in the English version: "The first group went through at about 1300 hours and people 15131 continued going through" --
Now I've lost the text. I don't know whose mistake that was. Thank you:
"People continued going through in the afternoon and during the night on 16 and 17th of July, 1995, and small groups are still passing through. For example, 33 members of the 28th Division of the KoV came through the corridor during the night of the 19th and 20th of July, 1995."
"According to a rough estimate and our intelligence, a total number of," text missing. Can we please move on to the next page in the B/C/S. Thank you.
Text missing. But we'll move on to the next passage, "In combat operations" -- but let me ask the question first: Is that what Beara talked about, that a unit broke through and passed through the defence lines of the VRS towards Kladanj and Tuzla? Did he tell you about that?
A. He told me, he actually claimed, that the majority of Naser Oric's forces had pulled out and that this unit was reviewed in Tuzla. He didn't talk in such detail as we can see in this report, but he probably had members of that unit in his mind. I cannot remember which unit he was talking about and whether Naser Oric commanded these units or some others.
Q. Thank you. We'll return to the previous page to see that Naser Oric did command them. But now I will quote the first paragraph that we can see on the page which is now in front of us. It says: 15132 "In combat operations with the 28th Division and the 24th Division of the KoV, the aggressor suffered significant losses. Twenty bodies of enemy soldiers stayed behind in our territory, and according to aggressor's reports intercepted by the PEB," that is counter-electronic struggle, "they took 30 bodies back to the Zvornik hospital. Six people enemy soldiers were captured as well as a self-propelled gun and a tank which were immediately introduced in combat against the aggressor. Another self-propelled gun and ammunition depot were set on fire in Baljkovica village."
Can we see from this that there was really fighting going on in the place for which Beara said that they had pulled through -- that they broke through and pulled through, the majority of them, to the territory that was under their control?
A. Well, not even the Muslim media denied that fighting was going on. As far as I understood, they say when they quote their military commanders -- I believe that even Naser Oric said in an interview that they pulled out and fought along the way. Now what exactly the fighting implies, I wouldn't know. I cannot talk about something if I wasn't there.
Q. Thank you, Mr. Simic. This is why I won't be asking anything else about that. I just told you that I would show you a part which shows that Naser Oric was involved in this and that he commanded a part of the units which were going from Tuzla. I cannot find that at the moment, so, in order not to waste time, I will ask my assistants to find that. It is not even so relevant because you said you cannot know 15133 something if you haven't been somewhere.
Can we now please see 1D55 [as interpreted]. Thank you.
THE INTERPRETER: Can the accused please repeat the reference, because we are not certain about the document number. Thank you.
JUDGE FLUEGGE: Mr. Tolimir, are you referring to D155 or to 1D55?
THE ACCUSED: [Interpretation] D155. Thank you.
JUDGE FLUEGGE: This is correct. This is on your list of documents.
THE ACCUSED: [Interpretation] This is also a document from the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina, dated the 16th of July, 1995, "Report on the situation in Srebrenica." It was submitted after the fall of Srebrenica to President Alija Izetbegovic.
Can we please see page 4 in English and page 3 in Serbian. We'll only look at one page of this document and read out one paragraph. We can see it now. In Serbian, it's the last paragraph on page 3. It's marked here as paragraph 3. And it reads: "Units of the 28th Division of the KoV are pulling out of Srebrenica while still fighting. They have remained compact. They have scored success after success in the temporarily occupied territory. They have inflicted great losses on the aggressor. So far, they have eight Chetniks (alive) in captivity. Units of the 28th Division of the KoV have linked up with the infiltrated units of the 2nd Corps. Their joint forces have continued fighting in the temporarily occupied territory. It is expected that they will fully link up with these units. Activities 15134 are underway to exploit the success of units carrying out the break-through."
And now can we just please show the last page of this document - it is page 5 in this document - so we can see the signature. Thank you. We'll see a signature soon, both in English and Serbian version. It says "Commander, Army General Rasim Delic."
MR. TOLIMIR: [Interpretation]
Q. As you have now seen what the Muslims said about this, did Beara lie to you when he said that the majority managed to break through? Do the Muslim reports from the time say the same thing?
A. I have no reason not to trust official documents, especially when they were signed by the general of an army.
Q. Thank you.
THE ACCUSED: [Interpretation] Can we now please show D38. Thank you.
We can see the document now.
MR. TOLIMIR: [Interpretation]
Q. On page 10, that is to say, 11, line 22, the Prosecutor asked you whether he told you what happened with the men and why they were not transported together with the women, the elderly, and the children. Mr. Tokaca says here in the title of this document, "We found 500 people from Srebrenica who are alive, although they were listed as missing."
My question is this: During last year and this year, were there many articles in the press about what Tokaca said at press conferences in 15135 the territory of Republika Srpska, rather than in the Muslim territory; and do you know anything about that?
A. Yes. Some news agencies carried this information. It was brief from a press conference, I think the "Beta" news agency carried it, but I don't remember the numbers. As for those who have been found alive, fortunately, there was a lot of talk about that in the media in connection with election lists because in Bosnia-Herzegovina, names of people who had been declared killed and perished in the Srebrenica operation figured on some of these lists, and it created quite a negative impression on the people.
Mr. Beara also talked about it in a brief section of the interview, if my memory served me well.
Q. Thank you. Let us now look at the third paragraph of the article which we see in front of us. It says:
"The biggest problem in BH is the perfidious monopoly on information, Tokaca said, pointing out that the IDC wanted to break this monopoly by compiling the Bosnian crime atlas."
This is my question: When Tokaca mentioned this information that 500 people from Srebrenica who were alive but had been listed as missing, was that his attempt to break this monopoly? And do you know anything about this monopoly over information in Bosnia and Serbia because you, yourself, said a while ago that one would report one thing and others would report other things. Thank you.
JUDGE FLUEGGE: Mr. Vanderpuye.
MR. VANDERPUYE: Thank you, Mr. President. I think, 15136 Mr. President, that there is evidence in this case with respect to this article, in the form of either a retraction or a correction, that Mr. Tolimir has not put to this witness as making representations concerning what Mr. Tokaca -- what has been attributed to Mr. Tokaca, with full knowledge of the fact that there is such information in the record. I think the questions as put to this witness are therefore misleading, and to the extent that General Tolimir -- I understand that it is P1370. And to the extent that Mr. Tolimir, or General Tolimir, wishes to pursue this line of questioning, I think it is only fair and appropriate that he put to the witness what, in fact, the record shows concerning what Mr. Tokaca has said about these missing individuals.
JUDGE FLUEGGE: This document on the screen, if I'm not mistake, was gained from the Internet. It was published at the 31st of March, 2010. It's not a very long time ago.
Mr. Simic, have you ever seen this article in the Internet or somewhere else? Did you read it?
THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] No. I just know that several times from Banja Luka, and from Bijeljina, I'm not sure, there is an association of veterans in Republika Srpska. In their organisation, searching for the missing persons, they provided information that they managed to find some people who had been considered dead. But who it was, I haven't read this article.
JUDGE FLUEGGE: Mr. Tolimir, you should take into account that testifying about this article, the witness has no knowledge about it. Please continue. 15137
THE ACCUSED: [Interpretation] Thank you, Mr. President. I asked the witness if he, as a journalist, felt he had a monopoly on information, and whether such monopolies are still in place in the different ethnic communities and on different sides which had waged this war.
THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Well, can I only speak of Serbia and Montenegro for a while, while we were still in a common state. There was a monopoly in place. In certain situations, it was so strong, it was terrifying. Fortunately, there is less and less of it now, and many things surface much more easily. I don't think the monopoly is as strong as it had been, if you have in mind the monopoly of certain political structures and the media that is used to cover up facts about events, et cetera.
JUDGE FLUEGGE: We have a technical problem again. The transcript in e-court doesn't work. It stopped at page 51, line 5, but LiveNote is still working. Just for the record.
You may continue, Mr. Tolimir. We will not lose anything on the record, but it may be problematic and difficult to look at a document and, at the same time, on the transcript.
THE ACCUSED: [Interpretation] Thank you, Mr. President.
MR. TOLIMIR: [Interpretation]
Q. On page 29, you said: "That is true, what he said. That figure was gradually reduced to the figure of up to 7.000 people because they started off with 15138 14.000."
That is why I asked you whether, even today there is a certain monopoly in place which prohibits the public from knowing the exact number of victims in Srebrenica?
A. I can't say that certain monopoly toys with that figure of 7.000 people having been killed there. But it is a fact that there are individuals who openly doubt that figure. Of course, I still had no occasion to see any proof on which anyone would say that there were less than 7.000 victims. Many documents are still not available to the public.
[Trial Chamber and Registrar confer]
JUDGE FLUEGGE: I was informed by Mr. Registrar that there are, indeed, at the moment some technical problems with e-court. If you don't have a problem with that, Mr. Tolimir, you may continue. Otherwise, to re-start the whole system during the break, we need a break. Otherwise, it can't be set up again in a proper way.
We could have our second break now to re-start the system, if that would be convenient for both parties. But you may continue as well. It's your decision. We have the full transcript, of course, in LiveNote.
THE ACCUSED: [Interpretation] Thank you, Mr. President. I have only one question left, so it will be as you please. Following that question, I will conclude my examination of the witness.
MR. TOLIMIR: [Interpretation]
Q. Mr. Simic, you said that you saw no proof of that figure of 7.000 or less. Did you see any proof of any other figure? Or is this a 15139 brush-stroke figure that figures in the media?
A. Well, what amounts to proof? If my opinion is relevant in any way here, such proof ought to be put forth by a competent commission. Perhaps an international commission which would come up with the list of all those who were killed.
It is a fact that different figures were in circulation. Even the Sarajevo media occasionally reported on people surfacing who had been considered missing or killed or buried in one of the mass graves. Those people showed up and voted. I remember such reports a few years ago in a Belgrade paper.
Maybe there is such a list somewhere, but I have never seen it. I'm not aware of its existence.
Q. Thank you, Mr. Simic, for having come here to The Hague Tribunal to testify. Thank you for everything. I wish you a safe journey back home, and may you live a long and happy life.
A. Thank you.
THE ACCUSED: [Interpretation] Your Honour, this concludes our examination of this witness. We have no further questions.
JUDGE FLUEGGE: Thank you very much, Mr. Tolimir. Mr. Vanderpuye, your re-examination.
MR. VANDERPUYE: Thank you, Mr. President. I would ask if we could take the break now. I just want to review something very quickly in the transcript. And I'm afraid that if e-court is not running, I may not be able to do what I need to in redirect examination.
JUDGE FLUEGGE: That's fine. We understand that we should 15140 adjourn for the second break and resume 20 minutes before 6.00.
--- Recess taken at 5.08 p.m.
--- On resuming at 5.42 p.m.
JUDGE FLUEGGE: Yes, Mr. Vanderpuye, your re-examination please.
MR. VANDERPUYE: Thank you, Mr. President. I only have one question.
Re-examination by Mr. Vanderpuye:
Q. Good afternoon, Mr. Simic.
A. [No interpretation]
Q. You stated in response to General Tolimir's last question to you that you had heard various figures for the number of individuals that had been killed, recovered from mass graves, different figures from different sources. And you said:
"Well, what amounts to proof?" And, "If my opinion is relevant in any way here, as [sic] such proof ought to be put forth through a competent commission. Perhaps an international commission which would come up with the list of all those who were killed." If you recall that answer.
Let me ask you: Have you heard the figure of 5.777 individuals recovered from mass graves and identified by the International Commission of Missing Persons through DNA analysis? Has that number come up? Have you heard that reported?
A. Yes, I heard of that figure. And that is why I said that such a list ought to be compiled. In spite of the fact that this official figure was published, still, in certain circles, in certain broadcasts on 15141 TV, we hear different numbers coming from NGOs or organisations. Nobody says 5.777. People usually go up to 7-, 7.500. So this official data is not frequently referred to. That's what I was trying to say. I didn't mean to say that there is no definitive list. I know there were exhumations, DNA analyses, et cetera. But even though this figure of 5.700 [as interpreted] exists, frequently, other figures appear, such as you could see in the media surrounding Mladic's arrest, and there they mention 7- up to 7.500 victims. And it is no laughing matter. It's not a game that one could play. Even a single victim is one too many, let alone 7.000. Out of respect for those victims, we should have a set figure that everyone should always refer to.
Q. Of course, you understand that the identification through DNA testing is an ongoing process, and the number I have given you is as of February 2010. So you might imagine that that number would increase over time?
A. Yes, certainly.
Q. Thank you, Mr. Simic.
MR. VANDERPUYE: I have no further questions. Thank you, Mr. President.
[Trial Chamber confers]
JUDGE FLUEGGE: Mr. Simic, this concludes your examination here in this trial. The Chamber would like to thank you that you were able to come to The Hague again and provide us with your knowledge. Now you are free to return to your normal life and normal activities. Thank you very much again. 15142
THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Thank you as well.
[The witness withdrew]
JUDGE FLUEGGE: Good afternoon, Mr. Thayer. While you are preparing yourself for the next witness, the next witness should be brought in, please.
[The witness entered court]
JUDGE FLUEGGE: Good afternoon, sir.
THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Good afternoon.
JUDGE FLUEGGE: Mr. Mitrovic, welcome to the courtroom. Please read aloud the affirmation on the card which is shown to you now.
THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] I solemnly declare that I will speak the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.
WITNESS: LJUBOMIR MITROVIC
[Witness answered through interpreter]
JUDGE FLUEGGE: Thank you very much. Please sit down and make yourself comfortable.
The Prosecutor, Mr. Thayer, is now conducting his examination-in-chief.
Mr. Thayer, you have the floor.
MR. THAYER: Thank you, Mr. President. Good afternoon to you Your Honours. Good afternoon to the Defence. Good afternoon, everyone. Examination by Mr. Thayer:
Q. Good afternoon, sir.
A. Good afternoon.
Q. Would you please state your name for the record. 15143
A. My name is Ljubomir Mitrovic.
Q. Can you tell us when you were born, please.
A. On the 27th of September, 1939.
Q. And please tell us where you were born and raised.
A. The village of Malesevci, the municipality of Ugljevik. I was raised in the village of Brodac, in the municipality of Bijeljina, and in Sremska Raca which is in the municipality of Sremska Mitrovica. I was an orphan and I lived in different orphanages.
Q. And sir, where do you live now, please?
A. In Bijeljina.
Q. You testified in this very courtroom, I believe, in July 2008, as a witness for the Beara Defence. Have you had a chance recently to listen to that testimony, sir?
A. Yes, I have.
JUDGE FLUEGGE: Mr. Gajic.
MR. GAJIC: [Interpretation] Mr. President, I believe the witness's answer, whereby he stated where he resides now, is not in the transcript. It should be immediately following line 10 on this page, but there is answer.
JUDGE FLUEGGE: That's correct. Mr. Thayer.
Q. I think we all heard it. I assume it will be picked up, but I can ask it again for the sake of the record.
Sir, the record, for technical reasons, doesn't reflect your 15144 answer to my question earlier which simply was, where do you live now?
A. I live in Bijeljina.
Q. Thank you, sir. Turning back to your --
A. You're welcome.
Q. Turning back to your testimony in 2008. Is there anything you'd care to correct, add, or subtract from it before we move on to your testimony in this case?
A. Perhaps there is an need to correct something. In the record, there's a mention of the 38th Brigade which ought to be the 38th Partisan Division.
Also, something needs to be clarified in that testimony when it comes to the work of the commission prior to my appointment as president. There is a difference in that the former president of the exchange commission was answerable to the corps commander, and he submitted his proposals to him. Then such proposals were forwarded to the Main Staff. When I arrived, the corps commander delegated some authority to his chief of security. And I was part of the security department. Therefore, I no longer had to communicate with the corps commander as my predecessor did. I communicated with the chief of security, who then forwarded information to the commander along the command and control lines, and then on to the Main Staff. That is the difference. There was another thing that was not clear enough. As regards the events in Batkovici before the 15th of March, that is to say, prior to my arrival and after, they are two different periods. I cannot address specifically the issue before my arrival. Probably, the 15145 situation at the beginning was not the same as the one that occurred yesterday --
THE INTERPRETER: Later on, interpreter's mistake.
THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] There was something else that I wanted to add, but perhaps we can get to it later when we discuss someone getting in touch with someone else. But we can clarify that later.
Q. Okay. Thank you, sir. That is very helpful, and we will -- we will get to all those issues before too long.
What I'd like to do for a few moments is review with the Trial Chamber a little bit about your educational, professional and military background.
Could you tell the Trial Chamber a little bit about your education and the type of work you did, up until the beginning of the war. And then we'll pick it up from the point that the hostilities began.
A. I completed two years of high school in Bijeljina, and then I completed high school for teachers in Bijeljina and the teaching academy in Belgrade. I have lived in Bijeljina since 1953. For two years, I worked as a teacher, then eight years as a teacher in high school, two years as a school director. And then I left education altogether. I joined the state security.
I was an operative in the service. I was in that position for a few years. Then I became an independent inspector in the public security domain. And in 1986, I was transferred to the TO as a commander because 15146 there some standing issues there that needed to be resolved. In the meantime, I became eligible for retirement from the Ministry of Interior. I could choose, and it was better for me to join the TO as commander for the next four years, following which I would be allowed to return to the Ministry of the Interior. We had an agreement in place about that, and things remained as such until 1991, when my tenure expired. I was sent to Sarajevo for a medical examination which I passed, and in keeping with a written agreement, I was supposed to go back to the ministry. However, those higher up, the Muslim and Serb authority, that is to say, the SDS and the SDA, agreed to divide the managerial positions amongst themselves. Therefore, only someone from the Serb Democratic Party or someone from the Muslim Democratic Action Party could occupy such a position. Given the fact that I was not a member of any party once the league of Communists ceased its existence, I told my superiors in the staff that I'd rather stay alone than choose the wrong parties, and I was a non-party member until there was a movement for the unified Yugoslavia. Then the Staff suggested to me that I should join it. However, it was too late to do anything, and that party was unable to do anything. It only caused further problems for the JNA. JNA officers had grave problems in Bijeljina because many districts voted for the Movement for Yugoslavia, and I was eligible for retirement by that time. This was supported by the municipality, and I eventually retired at the time.
Q. And just so we have a clear understanding, sir, your service as an operative in state security and the public security was where, sir? 15147 Where did you perform that service? Was it in Bijeljina or was it somewhere else?
A. In state security, it was the Tuzla centre, the Bijeljina department. Around as for public security, I worked for them in Bijeljina.
Q. And, again, just so we have it clear, the TO which you referred to, which TO was that, sir?
A. It was the municipal staff of Territorial Defence, which is managed by the commander. There was also a republican and district staff, but during war operations, it is a military unit. The JNA military unit which arrives there is the one to which the TO unit is then resubordinated.
Q. I'm sorry, my question was not as clear as it should be. It was actually much more simple. Where was the TO located that you were referring to before?
A. In Bijeljina. The seat of the municipal staff and the units belonged territorially to Bijeljina. There were several units with a total of about 10.000 members, who were in zone staffs, detachments, brigade, and so on.
Q. Okay. I think you had brought us up to sometime in 1991, sir. Can you just bring us along through the beginning of the hostilities and where you served after that.
A. Yes. In 1991, when there was a reception for me on the occasion of my retirement, it was attended by the representative of the District Staff, the deputy commander because the commander was away. 15148 There was also the commander of the communications regiment in Bijeljina and the commander of the 38th Partisan Rocket Brigade. With these officers from Bijeljina, I had very good co-operation while I was the commander. So we knew each other well. The commander of the 38th Division, in brief conversation, because there were other guests, hinted at the need to man his division with commanding officers. Ethnic Muslim and Croatian officers had left the command so that only several officers remained. However, I told him that I had not even taken any rest. I was also aware that I would be engaged somewhere because war was looming ahead, but I did not wish to be a member of security. Several days passed and he called me for an interview, and he offered me to be the assistant commander for morale, which I accepted in the 38th Light Partisan Division. However, as there was no chief of security, I was in the situation to discharge both duties. I then asked that someone be found for one of the two positions so that I would discharge only one of the duties. As it was easier to find an assistant commander for morale, I took that on myself, and I selected an operative from the municipal TO staff that was a professor of defence, Ivanic. I nominated him for this position, that was accepted. And at the time when I got there, war operations had not yet begun in the territory of Bosnia-Herzegovina. The corps was located in Tuzla in 1991. In February 1991, I was in Tuzla and I took a platoon of soldiers to be trained as military policemen. I brought them back, and it was only on the 1st of April that combat operations began in Bijeljina. In order to have a clearer picture of certain issues, let me say 15149 the following: In this area, which, in the Second World War put up strongly resistance to fascism, almost everyone was on the side of the People's Liberation Army. Now in peacetime, officers were highly esteemed, officers of the JNA, regardless of their ethnicity. However, at the outbreak of the war, as in some villages that were economically strong, and one side lost the elections, there was this negative feeling towards the JNA. And therefore some officers were removed from their positions. Politicians were appointed. And then at the beginning of the war, some of them were returned. This was reflected on the lives of these officers, because the political circles called them cowards or traitors because they had withdrawn from Croatia and Slovenia, and so. And I want to say that it was very difficult -- a very difficult time for active personnel. A division commander went with me wherever I was going, and I was saying, Wait a minute. I am a reserve officer. I am a man just like you. And I wanted to say that it was not true that anyone had betrayed his own people, and so on and so forth.
JUDGE FLUEGGE: Mr. Gajic, I waited for the conclusion of this lengthy answer.
MR. GAJIC: [Interpretation] Mr. President, on page 62, line 1, the 38th Partisan Rocket Brigade is mentioned. And on the same page, in line 12, the 38th Light Partisan Division.
THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Infantry division, yes. There's no brigade. There's no rocket. It's just a division.
JUDGE FLUEGGE: I would kindly ask you to wait until you get the 15150 floor. It is difficult for the record if everybody is talking at the same time.
THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Excuse me.
MR. GAJIC: [Interpretation] I would ask Mr. Prosecutor to clarify the issue, because it seems that there was wrong interpretation. It seems that it was the 38th Light Partisan Brigade.
JUDGE FLUEGGE: Mr. Thayer.
MR. THAYER: Thank you, Mr. President. Now that we've come to the end of the answer, I will follow up with a couple of brief questions.
Q. Sir, in -- in your initial answers to my questions about whether you had any corrections or changes to make to your prior testimony, you mentioned that there was a brigade that you referred to which was actually a division. Can you tell us, you referred to a 38th Partisan Unit, in which you served. Can you tell us what exactly that unit was? It's been interpreted a couple of ways. If you could just tell us, for the record, what that unit was, please.
A. The 38th Light Partisan Infantry Division.
Q. Now, before we move a little bit further, again, I don't know if you've finished telling us about the exact role in which you served in the 38th Light Partisan Infantry Division. But can you tell us exactly what your position was, and did the division change its name at some point; and, if so, did you stay with it?
A. In the 38th Division, I was initially the assistant commander for morale, and I discharged also the duties of chief of security. After 15151 perhaps two months, I was appointed chief of security, because I found another suitable person who was appointed the assistant commander for morale.
As the command of the Yugoslav People's Army had sent a dispatch in April - I'm not certain about the exact date - it was addressed to all subordinated commands in Bosnia and Herzegovina to the effect that all active-duty officers who wanted to leave Bosnia and Herzegovina should do that. I think the date mentioned was the 20th of May, 1992. The division commander showed me the dispatch, but officers were not informed about it immediately. It was rather only several days before the deadline expired, so that the few remaining active-duty officers left the division. There was only one warrant officer who remained. Others left for Serbia. The division ceased to exist, and therefore the corps officially disbanded it. I was transferred to the 17th Partisan Brigade. After two or three months, it was renamed as the 1st Semberija Brigade. I was also chief of security in that brigade. The brigade went to Majevica mountain, where it had a zone of responsibility. At the time, relations between the Tuzla Brigade and our 1st Semberija Brigade were very good. Combat operations were rare, perhaps a few provocations. When I say the relations were good, I mean that the soldiers from the Federation, the Muslim units and soldiers, would meet the Serbian soldiers between the lines, and sometimes with a bottle of an alcoholic drink they would talk about the new times. There was also the case where two battalion commanders from our army, the Serbian army, and from the Muslim army, also met between the combat 15152 lines.
Several times it happened that some special units came to the area and carried out provocations against our forces, so as time went by, the friendship disappeared, and the situation was disrupted. I was discharging this duty in this brigade until the 15th of March, 1993. On that date, I was transferred to the corps; that was the Eastern Bosnia Corps. And I was transferred to the Department of Security as a security clerk. That was my duty. I was told that I was sent to the department but that my main duty would be the exchange of prisoners of war as a member of the commission. I was supposed to ensure that everything would be done properly, that there should be no trade, no deceit, or nothing of the sort. I also needed to check how our security conducted themselves because they were sometimes willing to trade. I had to ensure that everything would be carried out properly. At the very beginning, I was told to go to Batkovici, where the collection centre was located. I was supposed to see what the situation was like in Batkovici, to review the documents and files, to make a sketch of the facilities where persons were accommodated, and the whole area. I did that. I reviewed documents and files for several days. I made an Official Note. And I noted some shortcomings which I observed and which had existed prior to my arrival. Namely, some people were allowed to leave to visit their relatives but it was not mentioned who the relatives were, what was their address. There were cases when individuals would take certain groups away from there and exchange them privately because these were not soldiers, even though everything that 15153 happened at the time was ascribed to the military. Even if civil persons did some dishonourable things, they did it in uniform, but the army did not participant in that. The army did not take part in such incidents when people were killed.
Q. Let me stop you right there, if I could, sir. And we'll talk about the Batkovici collection centre in a little while. Let me go back just a little bit. You told us that in March of 1993, you were transferred to the security department of the Eastern Bosnia Corps. Did you, in fact, have a -- an office or a desk in the Eastern Bosnia Corps Command when you began serving there, sir?
A. At the security department, I did not have a separate office. There was one room where the communications centre of the department was located. People who needed to see the chief were received there. I did not have a separate room, but I had a safe in which I could keep certain documents.
Q. And during your service in the security department of the Eastern Bosnia Corps, you referred to this communications centre of the security department.
Where would you report for duty when you were serving in the department?
A. I reported to the department, which was separated. The corps was not situated in one building but in a number of buildings. There was a privately owned building where the security department was. So it's called the communications centre. The communication was there, but it was a room where the officer on duty was and he actually discharged some 15154 duties through the main communications centre.
Q. And to whom would you report, sir?
A. I reported in the morning, at 7.00 a.m., and as the office of the chief was right across, a little before 7.00, or at 7.00, the chief would invite us to his office to brief us if there was something that was common. And then, individually, he would brief individuals about what was necessary, and we would most often drink coffee during the briefing, and we would agree about the following documents that needed to be discharged.
Q. And when you referred to the chief, who is that, sir, if you could tell the Trial Chamber the chief's name, please.
A. On my arrival, it was Lieutenant-Colonel Pero Jakovljevic. He was retired as lieutenant-colonel. And when the war broke out he rejoined the service. He served in security structures in the army earlier.
Q. And at some point, did Lieutenant-Colonel Jakovljevic leave the Eastern Bosnia Corps and be replaced by somebody else?
A. Yes. I don't know, I don't remember when exactly that happened. I think it was in late 1993. He left, or, rather, was retired again, and an active-duty officer replaced him. It was also a lieutenant-colonel, Milenko Todorovic. He had worked for security earlier. One could maintain excellent co-operation with him, as opposed to this Jakovljevic, who was rather stiff and did not often have much understanding. At one point when I said that if anyone was beaten in Batkovici that I would not be the chairman of the Commission for Exchange and told 15155 him that he would go to Majevica, I was told that I was crazy, that people lost their lives there. But I really had a mind to leave. But from my arrival there and while he was chief of security, no one was maltreated there. It didn't happen. I occasionally went there. While he was the chief, I would talk one-on-one with individuals to see how they were treated, to check that money was not taken from prisoners, that they did not have to pay higher price for anything, because, for example, they would buy cigarettes for prisoners if they had any money, and generally how the guards treated them.
These persons did not treat the prisoners properly. And I reported on that. Why didn't they do that? Because some persons were hidden there. They were party favourites so that they wouldn't go to war. They wanted to represent themselves as big Serbs and patriots, but once these problems were noted, I think it was when Todorovic was appointed, the police took over the charge of Batkovici and then the treatment was quite different because the duties were then discharged in the true military fashion.
Q. And, sir, when you refer to the police, are you referring to the military police taking over the charge of Batkovici or the civilian police? Just so that we have a clear record.
A. Yes, yes, military police.
Q. And just two final questions on this topic before we move to your work on the POW Exchange Commission.
The first is when Colonel Todorovic arrived to replace Colonel - and forgive me for my pronunciation - Jakovljevic, did you report to 15156 Todorovic as you had to his predecessor?
A. It was like this: I always informed them when I needed to go to exchange. I informed them how the exchange proceeded, what was agreed, and the chairman of the commission, while I was just a member, had to inform the Main Staff and the chairman of the state commission by a dispatch about the outcome of the talks and also the subject of the talks.
Q. Okay. And, again, we'll get to that in just a moment. My last question to you, sir, and it may sound like an obvious one, but in -- from 1993 through 1995 and the end of war, did you wear a uniform to work every day?
A. Since the end of 1991 to the 30th of April, 1997, whenever I went, and I went all the time, sometimes I would get a day of leave, I went there in a uniform. For two years, it was M77, which was the JNA uniform. Others wore the camouflage uniforms, but they didn't have one for me. And it was all the same to me which one it would be. I also attended the exchanges and negotiations with the uniform showing my rank, while I was a member of the commission and when I was the chairman. As for my predecessor, he sometimes went to these meetings in civilian clothes.
Q. And in July of 1995, sir, do you recall what your rank was?
A. In July? Which year?
A. I think I was a lieutenant-colonel.
Q. Okay. You've already spoken a little bit about your service on 15157 the commission for the exchange of prisoners of war. Can you tell the Trial Chamber, please, how the commissions were set up, how you became appointed a member, and, later president, what the structure was, and so forth? And I may stop you every now and then to ask you for some more details. But if you just give the Trial Chamber an idea of how these commissions operated, please.
A. With the beginning of combat operations, the Eastern Bosnia Corps had one active-duty officer who held the rank of major and who was in charge of this. There was no commission. He was in charge of contacting the other side so that they would resolve the problems of prisoners of war and those who had lost their lives. I'm not sure when in 1992 the commission was set up.
When I was in it in 1993, it was set up by the corps commander who issued an order to that effect. The president of the commission did not have other duties. According to establishment, he was the president, and he directly reported to the corps commander. The members of the commission were a secretary, who did not have any other wartime deployment. That was her wartime position. And three of us members were from the units. If you need to hear the names, I can provide them.
Q. That's okay. Thank you, sir. You told us that the corps commander issued an order to set up the Eastern Bosnia Corps Commission. Who selected the various members to serve on -- on this commission?
A. I don't know who nominated the members of the commission. For example, one person was from the Engineers Corps; the other from the logistics; I was from the security branch; there was another person from 15158 the Brcko who was a civilian working in the armed forces. He was there with the JNA and then stayed with the army later on. I don't know who proposed those members. I don't know whether it was someone from the morale department or the security department, or maybe together. Maybe the morale department proposed and then the other department agreed. In any case, such proposals were sent to the commander on the nomination for the different members of the commission.
Q. Okay. So just so we have an absolutely clear record, it sounds like, from your answer, that the nominations and the decision were made essentially by the army and not a civilian body. But please tell us if a civilian body was involved in making these final decisions about who would serve or not.
A. It was a military commission. Occasionally, some civilian structures did have an influence when the serving civilians rotated. For example, the Tuzla Commission was a mixed commission, which had some 15 members from the different municipalities. They were in charge of both civilian exchanges, soldier exchanges, and the exchange of dead bodies. At the time of my arrival, given that my predecessor was familiar with the people from Tuzla, they also engaged in civilian exchanges, as opposed to some previous exchanges that were arranged by individuals on both sides, and then there were reactions to it on both sides.
Q. And when you refer to the Tuzla Commission, sir, is it fair to say that the Tuzla Commission was a commission on the Muslim side or Bosniak side, on the other side, so to speak, from your side, which was part of the -- connected with the VRS? 15159
A. Yes. The Tuzla Commission was also a military commission of the Tuzla canton. All of their members were Muslim, save for one Croat, because there is Croatian population in that area as well. In other words, it was a Federation commission in charge of the Tuzla canton.
Q. And within the VRS, can you tell the Trial Chamber whether other corps had POW Exchange Commissions similar to the Eastern Bosnia Corps' commission, on which you served?
A. Yes, they did. The 1st Krajina Corps did, the 2nd Krajina Corps, the Drina Corps, the Herzegovina Corps, and the Sarajevo-Romanija Corps. I don't know when they had their commissions set up, but when I started going to negotiations, those commissions were already in existence.
Q. And in addition to these corps-level commissions, was there a state-level commission as well on the Serb side and/or on the Muslim or Bosniak side?
A. Yes, there were. There was a state-level commission. Both sides had such commissions. They merged the competencies of both the military and civilian part.
Q. And on your side, sir, so to speak, was there somebody who was the head of the state commission? And, if so, what was that person's name?
A. The head of our, or RS commission, was Bulajic. I forgot his first name. The Muslim state commission, or the Muslim Croat or the Federation Commission was headed by Amor [Realtime transcript read in error "Amir"] Masovic, who is still at the helm of the institute for 15160 missing persons.
Q. And --
JUDGE FLUEGGE: Mr. Gajic.
MR. GAJIC: [Interpretation] Mr. President, line 73 [as interpreted] line 22, we have an incorrect name in the transcript. And it should be Amor Masovic.
JUDGE FLUEGGE: That is what I heard in the interpretation. Thank you. But it was not line 73, but page 73.
Thank you. Mr. Thayer please carry on.
MR. THAYER: Thank you, Mr. President.
Q. And Mr. Bulajic, was he military or civilian, sir?
A. He was a civilian. He was in civilian clothes. He was a bad chairman.
Q. At some point during your service on the commission, did you become president of the Eastern Bosnia Corps Exchange Commission? And if you can remember approximately when that was, if it, indeed, happened, please.
A. On the 12th of April, 1994.
Q. Okay. I must say you've got my curiosity peaked a little bit. If you can tell the Trial Chamber, since you mentioned it, Mr. Bulajic, you noted that he was a bad chairman. And I don't want to spend too much time unless you think it's pertinent to your testimony. But if you could share with the Trial Chamber why you said that. I'm just following up. As I said, you've kind of piqued my curiosity with that comment. However much detail you are comfortable providing us. 15161
A. It was my impression, and I believe it was correct from the outset, that he was a man of politics who was more interested in -- in individual private exchanges than in what the Serb people needed. This proved to be correct later on in some exchanges. Once he was removed, he became a wanted person. The Serb side wanted him, but he fled. When I became president, I no longer sent my requests or proposals to the president of the state commission. Instead, I sent them to the command of the Main Staff. Before that happened, my proposal was checked and discussed by the chief of the security. Next, we sought approval from the corps commander, and then it was sent up the security chain. As far as I was informed, they always sent a copy to the president of the state commission though.
He never assisted any of our exchanges. And when an important exchange was to occur, I advised him not to show up. We managed to do our best, given the circumstances, in order to alleviate the suffering on both sides, to have people brought back to their dearest and nearest. There was some mutual understanding and discussion. At the outset, things didn't work out that well. For example, sometimes they would use pejorative terms for the Serb soldiers. They would say Serbian Chetniks. And I always steered clear of such names for the Muslim side, so I referred to them as Muslim soldiers or fighters.
The other members of that commission attacked their president because he did it in such a way. For example, there was an attack on a Serbian settlement when the list came with the determination aggressor, Serb soldiers, I said that one cannot be an aggressor in one's own 15162 territory. It was a Serb territory inhabited for Serbs for centuries. Such methods then were stopped, and from that moment on, our relationship was a fair one without insulting. There were no longer any attempts to play tricks, and I believe the people of Bosnia and Herzegovina would be far happier if they had such politicians nowadays. We didn't -- we never turned a blind eye. We always tried to do our best, and I must say that they had people up their chain as we did, too.
I always prepared three different drafts of documents for exchanges. There was always the original list and then lists with potential changes, if the other side refused the original one. And it was usually approved by those superior to me. I tried to save as much time as possible by doing so, by making such proposals on the spot, and it usually worked.
If you're interested in what the documents say, the exchanges took place between the front lines. There would be a cease-fire on both sides, and then we moved into no man's land. We were frequently accompanied by ICRC representatives who were always interested in those exchanges as well as in Batkovici. We had an exceptionally good co-operation, mutual co-operation. They helped us with medical supplies in our reception centre. They also provided toiletries, et cetera. And they were basically there on a weekly basis. They were never prohibited from coming, unless someone was absent. Then we would always talk about a later date. We also visited each other.
When I was appointed commission chairman, I had my office in town. That is to say, my predecessor had an office in town, so that he 15163 wouldn't be challenged on the street by those who had their relatives missing. They always had to go through their respective commission presidents.
Irrespective of the fact that the civilian authorities disliked me because I had been a Communist, or, rather, a member of the party, there came such a time when the Municipal Deputy Speaker, Mr. Simic, the late Mr. Simic, came to the municipality asking that I be in charge of civilian exchanges as well, because some things that were happening did not amount to proper exchanges. There were many shortcomings. And he and the municipal president went to see the corps commander. They came back to me then, stating that the corps commander agreed to their proposal. However, I rejected it by saying that I was a soldier, and that I would only exchange soldiers, my soldiers for other soldiers. I also said that if I were to take up this other task I would be unable to deal with my first duty properly, and I suggested to find someone else.
JUDGE FLUEGGE: Judge Mindua has a question for the witness.
JUDGE MINDUA: [Interpretation] Witness, I have a precision question. I would just like to clarify something you said. You said that there were exchanges of prisoners, and this would take place on -- between the front lines, so in the no man's land. And this is when the -- when there was a cease-fire.
The procedure seems to me to be a little odd, because usually the exchange of prisoners usually happens after a battle. So, in your situation, where you were exchanging prisoners, was there a clause, for instance, in your agreements which stipulated that exchanged prisoners 15164 could no longer fight, or were they free once they would go back to their side to take the weapons and to go back to the front line?
THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] It was well-known that they were not to fight anymore, although I'm not sure it was always honoured. There were probably deviations from that rule on both sides. There were such individual cases.
JUDGE MINDUA: [Interpretation] Yes, I understand. Because you said that, in fact, you were only dealing with the exchange of soldiers. So if I understand correctly, soldiers would go back, would take the weapons and would go back to fight on the front line?
THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] It was not their obligation. On the contrary, after exchanges, they would be released to go home. However, there were individuals who still wanted to fight alongside their friends from their units.
JUDGE MINDUA: [Interpretation] Thank you very much, indeed.
JUDGE FLUEGGE: Judge Nyambe has a question.
JUDGE NYAMBE: Thank you, I just need a clarification. At page 74 of today's transcript, line 23, you are quoted as having said:
"It was my impression, and I believe it was correct from the outset, that he was a man of politics who was more interested in individual private exchanges than in what the Serb people needed." Then once you -- you continued to say:
"Once he was removed, he became a wanted person. The Serb side wanted him, but he fled." 15165 Can you explain why he was wanted by the Serb side?
THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Well, twice I attended meetings of the state commissions at Sarajevo airport, during which we agreed about nothing. Once his arguments with Masovic stopped, it was up to them to agree whether this or that group of five would be exchanged or not. So it was their private conversation. It was my impression that it had nothing to do with the army. And in my personal contacts with him, I was given the same impression. Most of the people in charge and a number of officers were aware of the fact that he was not the kind of person who could exercise his duties properly. He was set -- they told him as much when he was removed.
Instead of him, another man was appointed who was a honourable man who had been a judge, and during one of the meetings he told me, Let's talk about anything, but do not mention him to me, because I know a lot of things about him. There's no need to discuss that in any detail right now.
JUDGE NYAMBE: Thank you.
THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] You're welcome.
JUDGE FLUEGGE: Mr. Thayer.
MR. THAYER: Thank you, Mr. President.
Q. The judge who succeeded Mr. Bulajic, what was his or her name?
A. If I manage to recall his name, I'll tell you tomorrow. Later on, he became president of the constitutional court. After a short while at that position with the commission, he became president of the constitutional court of the RS. Yes, Rosic. 15166
Q. Just a couple of quick follow-up questions in the few minutes we have left tonight, sir.
The prisoners from the Army of Bosnia and Herzegovina who were in the VRS's custody in your area of responsibility, where were they held? What facility?
A. The prisoners captured by the units of the East Bosnia Corps were held in the collection centre at Batkovici. However, there weren't many. Very few were captured.
Q. And, again, we'll get to that a little bit more tomorrow, sir. And can you tell the Trial Chamber where the VRS soldiers who hailed from the East Bosnia Corps area of responsibility who were captured by the Army of Bosnia and Herzegovina -- where those soldiers were typically held, in your experience, prior to these exchanges that you've been telling us about?
A. In the prison in Tuzla. A unit which managed to take our soldier prisoner, usually held that prisoner for a while, while they interrogated him, following which, such people were turned over to the former district prison.
Q. And just to help us with the time-line a little bit, you mentioned at some point Branko Simic requesting that you also participate in exchanges of civilians. Can you just give us a year in which that happened?
A. It was in 1994, when I was appointment the president of the Commission for Exchanges. The military commission, that is.
Q. And my last question for this evening: You told us how you 15167 reported to the communications centre of the security department in your -- in your corps; first to Colonel Jakovljevic and then to Colonel Todorovic. Did you also have an office in connection with your duties on the POW Exchange Commission? And, if you did, where was that located?
A. No, I did not. I wanted to clarify something. It was one thing per
establishment that I was in the military security service, and another in the role of -- in the commission. I was no spy. My task was to take care of those people who were involved in negotiations on our side and those escorting them, so as not to contravene some military rules and principles. That was my task. And it basically had nothing to do with the security aspect.
Q. Okay. Again, I'm sorry, I -- I asked a poor question. The -- my question simply was: In your role as, first a member, and then as president of the Eastern Bosnia Corps Exchange Commission, did you have an office somewhere in which you would meet with, for example, parents or relatives of prisoners, of VRS prisoners?
A. Yes. There was an office in town, even before my appointment as chairman. In Filipa Visnjaca Street in Bijeljina. I think the number was 14, though I cannot remember exactly. It was three or four buildings from the building where the ICRC was located. It was a suitable building because it used to be a cafe restaurant, so it had an entrance from the street. And someone was always there; if not me, then the secretary who provided information to the interested parties. Civilians would come 15168 too. Muslims came because they wanted to cross over to the other side. She was open to everyone.
Q. Thank you, sir. I think we're a little bit beyond the break for the evening.
JUDGE FLUEGGE: Thank you very much. We have to adjourn for the day. Sir, I have to inform you that you are not allowed to have any contact with either party about the content of your testimony during the break.
We adjourn and resume tomorrow in the afternoon for -- 2.15 in this courtroom, number III.
[The witness stands down]
--- Whereupon the hearing adjourned at 7.02 p.m., to be reconvened on Tuesday, the 7th day of
June, 2011, at 2.15 p.m.