WELCOME TO IWPR’S TRIBUNAL UPDATE No. 527, November 23, 2007

TUDJMAN TRANSCRIPTS SOUGHT AS EVIDENCE  Observers say without these documents, 
the wartime events in Croatia and Bosnia cannot be fully understood.  By Enis 
Zebic in Zagreb

frustrated with the slow pace, tribunal officials claim Bosnian courts are 
doing a good job.  By Brendan McKenna and Denza Dzidic in Sarajevo

disclosure so that Serbia’s role in the Bosnian war can be assessed 
objectively. By Merdijana Sadovic in Sarajevo


accused Croat generals try to shift blame between the defendants.  By Goran 
Jungvirth in Zagreb

trial of seven former high-ranking Bosnian Serb officers described how the 
transport of captured Bosniaks was organised after the fall of Srebrenica.  By 
Simon Jennings in The Hague

RE-TRIAL FOR OVCARA MURDERS GETS UNDER WAY  The proceedings start amid rumours 
that a testimony from a Serb officer already acquitted by the Hague tribunal 
may be central to the case.  By Aleksandar Roknic in Belgrade


JOKIC PLEAD NOT GUILTY TO CONTEMPT  Bosnian Serb had refused to give evidence 
on two occasions.  By Simon Jennings in The Hague


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Observers say without these documents, the wartime events in Croatia and Bosnia 
cannot be fully understood.

By Enis Zebic in Zagreb

International war crimes prosecutors may need Zagreb’s permission to admit as 
evidence transcripts that they say prove Croatia’s ex-president was intimately 
involved in an attempt to create a “Geater Croatia”.

The prosecutors are seeking to demonstrate official Croatian involvement in war 
crimes committed by the leaders of Herceg Bosna, a Croat statelet carved out of 
neighbouring Bosnia in the early 1990s.

Jadranko Prlic, Bruno Stojic, Slobodan Praljak, Milivoj Petkovic, Valentin 
Coric and Berislav Pusic were senior political and military leaders of the 
self-proclaimed state and face 26 charges relating to the expulsion and murder 
of Muslims.

The requested documents detail the conversations of then Croatian president 
Franjo Tudjman and seem to show Croatian officials believed the West supported 
them in their undercover bid to prevent a Muslim state being created in Europe.

“If they want to include those documents as evidence they must seek government 
approval,” said Goran Granic, ex-deputy prime minister of Croatia. 

In 2002, he agreed with the war crimes prosecutors at the Hague tribunal that 
they could use the transcripts but only to help their investigation, not as 

It was not clear if the Croatian government had received a request for the 
documents to be used, and the judges are yet to rule on the matter, but defence 
lawyers in the case said they would oppose their submission.

“The main question is whether the prosecutors at the Hague tribunal have the 
right to propose these transcripts as evidence in this case,” said Vesna 
Alaburic, lawyer for Petkovic, a defendant who was a general in Herceg Bosna.

She added the protocol for the submission of transcripts, signed in 2002 by 
chief prosecutor Carla Del Ponte and Granic, clearly states that these 
transcripts are submitted to help only in the investigation of facts. 

 “We think that all the procedures, necessary for the transcripts to be 
included as evidence, have not been satisfied,” she said.

The six defendants are also accused of being part of a joint criminal 
enterprise to politically and militarily subjugate and ethnically cleanse 
Bosnian Muslims and other non-Croats from parts of Bosnia and to join this 
territory to a Greater Croatia.

Experts on the crimes say that, although the transcripts do not prove 
individuals’ involvement in the atrocities, they do show a government-created 
atmosphere that encouraged such acts.

“These transcripts reveal one complete political strategy that at least 
silently approved on different levels some operations which were later 
classified as war crimes,” said Jasna Babic, a journalist of Slobodna Dalmacija 
who has written a book about war crimes.

“I really don’t know what their legal standing is, but as a journalist I think 
these transcripts are of the utmost importance, because they show full 
awareness of government leadership, their plans, their intentions and their 
agreements. Therefore I think this is something without which the events of the 
war in Croatia and Bosnia cannot be understood.”

Most of these transcripts have already been admitted in part or in full as 
evidence in other trials held at the Hague tribunal.

Several of the transcripts allegedly record how Tudjman ordered regular 
Croatian troops to be secretly sent to Bosnia to set up checkpoints and to 
support the Croats living there.

“The Hague prosecution wants to prove there was an international armed conflict 
in Bosnia and Herzegovina, meaning that the Republic of Croatia was involved… 
In that respect it is clear that the transcripts of President Tudjman's 
conversations about the war with key people in Croatia and Bosnia are of utmost 
importance,” said Anto Nobilo, who acted as a defence attorney in The Hague for 
a number of years.

“According to what I read, and I have read lots of those transcripts, specific 
atrocities were probably not discussed. In respect of proving specific 
atrocities those transcripts cannot be used. However, they can be used in 
establishing the political context in which the atrocities took place.”

He was confident that the transcripts would be accepted as evidence, since, he 
said, their authenticity is beyond doubt.

“There was something which is colloquially called parallel systems, including 
parallel chains of command and parallel politics. One kind of politics was used 
for the international arena and the other kind for us inside. Therefore to 
establish the complete truth the transcripts are very important,” he said.

“However, how much weight these transcripts will have and to what extent the 
court will rely on them are completely different questions.”

Enis Zebic is a reporter with Radio Free Europe and IWPR contributor in Zagreb.


Although victims are frustrated with the slow pace, tribunal officials claim 
Bosnian courts are doing a good job.

By Brendan McKenna and Denza Dzidic in Sarajevo

In April, Bakira Hasecic was about to testify to the War Crimes Court in 
Sarajevo when she had a flashback, the past returned in all its terrifying 

Hasesic, who was raped in the town of Visegrad during the war in Bosnia, had 
been called to testify in the trial of Zeljko Lelek, who is accused of abusing 
Bosnian women like her, but found herself unable to speak.

“All of 1992 came back to me. All of the crimes and how they pushed me into the 
police station in Foca,” Hasecic told IWPR.

The judges agreed to give her a break, but while she waited for hours, no one 
asked if she was hungry or thirsty. She eventually asked court staff for 
something to eat and they brought her both sandwiches and the bill.

It was perhaps a small insult when added to the threatening phone calls and 
letters urging her not to testify but Hasecic said it illustrated the problems 
facing courts in Bosnia and Herzegovina as they attempt to bring justice for 
the war crimes of the past.

Hasecic, who heads the Association of Women Victims of the War, has also known 
women who have fainted, suffered health problems and even killed themselves as 
the painful memories of the war come back when they tell their stories to 
prosecutors or testify at trials.

“There needs to be a change in the mechanism of witness protection itself,” she 

But the Bosnian court system is overwhelmed by the aftermath of the 1992-5 war 
which killed 100,000 people and displaced a million. 

The courts will take decades to process all the allegations of war crimes that 
have been made, while many suspects can protect themselves by the simple 
expedient of going to Serbia or Croatia.

Vesna Tancica of the state prosecutor’s office told a conference in Sarajevo 
this week that the system lacked staff and resources to investigate cases and 
try accused war criminals, struggled to obtain military documents, and battled 
against the rights of people with dual citizenship who can flee across borders 
to avoid prosecution.

“Due to the politicisation in Bosnia and Herzegovina and neighbouring countries 
[some] perpetrators of war crimes are still seen as war heroes,” Tancica told 
the gathering. 

“There is no consensus that perpetrators of war crimes need to be punished 
regardless of who they are and the positions they hold.”

Bosnia’s state prosecutor Marinko Jurcevic said the country needed a 
streamlined process to secure more plea bargains and to take the pressure off 
the courts, but added that prosecutors should be more decisive when it came to 
dropping or continuing with cases.

So far prosecutors have lacked the courage to dismiss cases where they simply 
have no concrete evidence, he said, adding that cases could always be reopened 
when and if witnesses come forward and evidence is produced.

“Prosecutors have not done enough,” Jurcevic told the conference. “If there is 
no evidence, the charges should be dropped. … But no one wants to undertake 

Nevertheless, most observers agree that the legal system is making progress in 
its battle to bring justice to Bosnia’s many victims.

Since its inception in March 2005, the special department for organised crime 
of the prosecutor’s office has issued 38 indictments against 63 suspects, and 
taken up nine cases handed down by the International Criminal Tribunal for the 
former Yugoslavia, ICTY.

The courts have issued sentences ranging from five to 34 years imprisonment – 
the longest going to Gojko Jankovic for raping captured Bosniak women in Foca.

The special department has 312 active investigations ongoing against more than 
830 people - including an unspecified number which were passed over by 
prosecutors at the Hague tribunal who won’t have time for the trials before the 
court is closed down in 2010.

And so far the ICTY is very pleased with the results, said Refik Hodzic, the 
ICTY’s outreach coordinator for Bosnia and Herzegovina.

“The cases that have been transferred were tried according to the highest 
international standards,” he told IWPR. 

And the state court, though lacking the resources of the ICTY and the ability 
to relocate protected witnesses to other countries, has become one of the best 
in the region at witness protection, he added.

However, the sheer scale of the crimes committed during the war in Bosnia means 
that local courts will have to shoulder much of the burden of prosecutions, 
while alternative systems need to be discovered to deal with some of the crimes.

“There has to be an understanding that if all the courts in Bosnia work only on 
these cases, with all the resources in the world, we would need 30 or 40 years 
to get through 10,000 people,” said Hodzic.

“It has to be understood in the country here that this is a process that will 
go on for years and decades.”

But the local courts would struggle to take work from the War Crimes Chamber in 
Sarajevo, because they lack staff, money, equipment and experience, said Nerma 
Jelacic, Bosnia country director for the Balkans Investigative Reporting 
Network and a veteran war crimes trial watcher.

“I don’t know of any local court that applies witness protection,” she said. 

“They don’t have the capacity to deal with more than one or two war crimes 
cases at a time. … They’re completely under-equipped especially in terms of 
investigative ability. The situation before these courts needs to come to 

Many of the local prosecutors at the conference echoed that complaint and 
called for more resources from the government.

However, Hodzic noted that some of the obstacles to war crimes trials will have 
to be tackled at a higher level. Croatia, Serbia and Montenegro all have legal 
or constitutional measures barring extradition, meaning suspects can flee 
across the border to avoid prosecution in Bosnia.

“It is something that the governments need to deal with,” said Hodzic. 

“It would be tragic if we were to see that just a simple act of crossing a 
border can protect someone from a court order which deals with possible 
responsibility for war crimes and crimes against humanity.”

Hasecic agreed that things are improving, but she’s frustrated with the slow 

“It has improved from last year to this year, but at this rate it will take 600 
years,” she said, adding that the perceived impunity and the fact that many 
perpetrators are in police forces - having secured their positions as veterans 
of the war - is a major obstacle for those displaced by the war to return home.

But frustrated as she sometimes is, Hasecic also sees hopeful signs. Her 
organisation collects victim and witness statements for the prosecution and 
encourages witnesses to come forward.

And because of their work, and the courage many women have shown in testifying 
about being raped, she is starting to see men overcome their shame by admitting 
to having been sexually abused in detention during the war.

“They stated that when they saw how brave the women were, they thought that 
they should come forward and stop the silence … and look the war criminals in 
the eyes,” she said. 

Brendan McKenna and Denza Dzidic are IWPR reporters.


Academics say they want disclosure so that Serbia’s role in the Bosnian war can 
be assessed objectively.

By Merdijana Sadovic in Sarajevo

A group of international scholars, legal experts, and rights activists have 
signed an open letter demanding that the minutes from wartime meetings of 
Serbia’s Supreme Defence Council, SDC, be made public.

The letter, which has been signed by 50 scholars, legal experts, human rights 
activists and journalists, was sent to the Serbian government, as well as the 
presidents of the International Court of Justice, ICJ, the International 
Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, ICTY on October 10.

In the letter, the group are demanding the minutes be disclosed to the public 
so that Serbia’s role in the 1992-95 Bosnian war can be assessed objectively. 

In February this year, the ICJ handed down its verdict in Bosnia’s lawsuit 
against Serbia, acquitting Serbia of direct involvement in genocide in the 
plaintiff country.

During this case, the Bosnian team requested that an uncensored version of all 
SDC documents be made available to this court and accepted into evidence. 

The documents - which Serbia handed over to the ICTY prosecution so that they 
could be used in the case of former president Slobodan Milosevic - have been 
marked as confidential and are still not available to the public.

On receiving the documents, the ICTY is thought to have promised not to 
disclose them to the ICJ. 

This decision followed a deal between chief ICTY prosecutor Carla Del Ponte and 
Serbia’s ex-foreign minister Goran Svilanovic, outlined in a letter she sent to 
him in May 2003, in which she agreed not to challenge Serbia’s right to protect 
its national interests in relation to the documents.

However, ICJ judges refused to demand these transcripts from the ICTY or to 
order Serbia to hand over the uncensored minutes of the SDC meetings, saying 
they had enough evidence to make a judgement in this case.

Signatories of the letter are now saying that this was a politically motivated 
decision which may have altered the outcome of the ICJ case - and prevented the 
country being found guilty of genocide. 

“We, members of the international academic community, believe that this 
decision - reached without a review of all the available evidence - amounts to 
a miscarriage of justice and a betrayal of the principle that international 
criminal law should act to prevent and punish the crime of genocide,” said the 

There has been much speculation that the SDC documents could have been valuable 
for Bosnia’s ICJ case against Serbia, and could have helped prove the link 
between Belgrade and Bosnian Serb forces.

This may also explain why Serbia has been so reluctant to reveal them in full.

“It is reasonable to surmise that, had the uncensored minutes of SDC meetings 
been put before the ICJ, the verdict might have gone differently and Serbia 
might have been found guilty of genocide,” continued the letter.

“The fact that the court decided not to ask for these minutes leads us to 
believe that the court's conduct of the case, as well as its verdict, was 
influenced by political considerations.”

The signatories blame both the ICJ and the ICTY for failing to uphold the 
principles of international law. 

According to them, the ICJ made a huge mistake by not demanding these documents 
from Serbia - a request which could not have been ignored.

On the other hand,  “the ICTY's concession to Serbia was the result of a 
political agreement reached by Chief Prosecutor Carla del Ponte with the 
Serbian government, and is therefore evidence again that the international 
courts have allowed politics to interfere with the legal process”, they claim. 

“As representatives of the academic community from all over the world, we 
demand that the international public be told the whole truth. We therefore 
request that the full and uncensored minutes of the SDC meetings be made 
public, so that the role of the Serbia in the 1992 to 1995 Bosnian war can be 
assessed objectively.”  

Signatories of the letter include historians Noel Malcolm and Marko Attila 
Hoare; former ambassador to the United Nations and chairman of the Security 
Council Diego Arria; French publicist Sylvie Matton; award-winning British 
journalist Ed Vulliamy; and human rights activist Sonja Biserko.

Merdijana Sadovic is IWPR’s Hague programme manager.



While lawyers for two accused Croat generals try to shift blame between the 

By Goran Jungvirth in Zagreb

A military engineer this week told a Zagreb war crimes court how men in 
Croatian army uniforms wantonly demolished Serb-owned villages when they were 
forced to retreat from the “Medak Pocket” in 1993.

Jozo Nenadic accused the top commanders in the government and the army of 
having ordered the demolition, saying it only happened after then-interior 
minister Ivan Jamjak toured the area.

He was addressing the trial of Generals Mirko Norac and Rahim Ademi, who are 
accused of being in command of troops that killed at least 29 Serb civilians, 
many of them women and elderly people, during the operation. The indictment 
also alleges that five Serb prisoners of war were killed.

Croatia sent troops in 1993 to seize the Medak Pocket, a Serb-held patch of 
land that they feared could provide a launch pad for Serb forces wanting to cut 
Croatia in half.

“If the 9th brigade wanted to destroy houses, they had a military justification 
to do it during the incursion, because there were no houses without weapons, 
and the concept of nationwide defence made every house a bunker. They took 
guns, and cases of ammunitions out of almost every house,” said Nenadic.

But he said he had been shocked to see houses being destroyed during the 
retreat, which was forced on Croatia by the United Nations.

“People in Croatian Army uniforms conducted the demolition and the arson [of 
houses] after the action, but I do not know who they were because I had never 
seen them before,“ said Nenadic.

But Nenadic had words of comfort for Ademi, who nominally commanded the troops 
on the ground. He said the then head of the army Janko Bobetko had led the 
operation himself, and often issued orders bypassing both then-defence minister 
Gojko Susak and commanders in the field.

“Bobetko wanted to have the main role in every operation, from Operation 
Maslenica to Operation Storm, and always found a way to communicate with the 
executors of the action. This meant the chain of command leading through 
Minister Susak was often skipped,” he said.

He described a meeting in the hotel Velebno after the battle, when Bobetko even 
mocked Ademi for his Albanian surname.

“When Ademi tried to say something, Bobetko told him that he did not have 
anything to do with it and did not even know Croatian well,” recalled Nenadic. 

A standard tactic of the defence teams has been to try to shift the blame 
between the two defendants, and a defence witness for Norac did more of the 
same this week. 

On November 21, Croatian Secret Service operative Luka Jagic told a completely 
different story to Nenadic, saying that Ademi had been in charge of the 

“The action was commanded by Ademi who issued a written command about the 
attack which was delivered on the field after a few days, and later he gave a 
spoken command for the retreat,” said Jagic, who said “all the commands came 
from the headquarters commanded by Ademi”.

Jagic said Sector 1, which was controlled by Norac, existed only on paper, 
despite Bobetko having decided to create it.

Ademi disputed the witness’s testimony, saying he was not in command of the 
operation. He also denied the order to attack was delayed, and said the order 
to retreat had not just been verbal.

Earlier this week, the trial heard from a Serb who had been part of a group of 
around 50 Serb soldiers sent to bolster the defences in the Medak Pocket a few 
days before the Croatian forces attacked.

He said the village of Divoselo, where he was based, was mainly occupied by 
aged civilians, although a number of them were armed. The Serb Territorial 
Defence Forces were meant to provide a sense of security for the civilians 
although in the end they did not fire a single round, he said.

After the Croatian forces started shelling the village, he along with around 
seventy civilians and soldiers escaped on foot, walking for three days and 
nights. He thought the Croatian soldiers must have seen them, and decided to 
let them pass.

The trial of Ademi and Norac this week also heard testimony from Željko Karan, 
the chief of the department for forensic medicine in the Bosnian Serb-held town 
of Banja Luka. He examined corpses that the Croatian forces handed over to the 
Serbs, as well as those found by the United Nations.

He said that several of the victims showed the “characteristic body positions” 
of people who had been burned alive, but he did not find any signs of torture, 
sexual abuse or mutilation on the 72 bodies he examined.

He concluded that most of the people died during military operations, although 
one body had two stab wounds in the chest and one dead woman had cut fists and 
burns over more than a third of her body.

The trial will resumes on November 26.

Goran Jungvirth is an IWPR reporter in Zagreb.


Witnesses at the trial of seven former high-ranking Bosnian Serb officers 
described how the transport of captured Bosniaks was organised after the fall 
of Srebrenica.

By Simon Jennings in The Hague

A former military policeman told the Hague tribunal this week how Bosniaks from 
Srebrenica were crammed into buses that took them away to be shot.

Mile Janjic told the court that he had been counting the men as they were 
“evacuated” from Potocari, the village were civilians had gathered to seek 
shelter from the United Nations base, on July 12 and 13, 1995.

He said members of the military police were escorting buses to Bratunac. The 
buses were only designed to hold 52 passengers, but police forced more people 
onto them.

“You had the seats and you had the isles. 15 to 20 people could fit there,” he 

Recalling how the number of Bosniaks around the UN base increased over the two 
days, the witness explained, “When the number of buses increased there was a 
crowd and it became compounded by the process of separating the men from women.”

Janjic was testifying at the trial of seven high-ranking Bosnian Serb military 
and police officials - Ljubisa Beara, Vujadin Popovic, Ljubomir Borovcanin, 
Vinko Pandurevic and Drago Nikolic - who face genocide and war crimes charges,  
as well as Radivoj Miletic and Milan Gvero, who are accused of blocking aid and 
supplies to Srebrenica. 

Another accused from the same indictment, Zdravko Tolimir, will be tried 
separately, because he was arrested only after the trial of the other seven 
accused had already started.

The prosecution  alleges that the indicted officers planned and participated in 
the “separation” and the “forced movement of the population” at Srebrenica and 
that they planned and ordered the execution and burial of Bosniak men and boys 
in the enclave after it fell to Serb forces in July 1995.

At least 8,000 Bosniaks were killed in the massacre, the largest act of mass 
murder in Europe since World War Two. 

The Bosnian Serb army’s records show that up to 9,000 people were transported 
away from Potocari by bus or truck on the two July days in 1995. 
Large trucks carried up to 140 people, mostly women and children, said Janjic.  
He estimated that on July 12 between 10 and 15 busloads of Bosniaks left 
Potocari and that on the following day there were as many as three times this 

According to Janjic, members of the special police, rather than of the military 
police, were in charge of separating the men from their families. 

“I was present throughout the two days…The military police did not participate 
in separating able-bodied men from women,” he told the court.

Both the military police, including defendants Ljubisa Beara and Drago Nikolic, 
and the special police stand accused of removing the Muslim population from 
Srebrenica and planning the murder of all able-bodied men. 

Janjic has already given evidence twice. In February, he testified at the trial 
at the Bosnian war crimes court in Sarajevo of four of his colleagues from the 
Bratunac brigade military police. His testimony is being used and re-examined 
as evidence in the current case against the military officers.

He also testified as a defence witness at the trial of his former commander, 
Vidoje Blagojevic, before the Hague tribunal. Blagojevic was sentenced to 15 
years on appeal in May this year for his role in the Srebrenica massacre.

On November 21,  another witness, Dragan Jovic, described how prisoners at the 
school in Rocevic were lying on the floor of the gym which was three quarters 
full of civilians and soldiers.  According to Jovic, the prisoners were then 
transported in trucks to gravel pits in the area of Kozluk, about three 
kilometres away.  

Jovic was a driver for the commander of the Bosnian Serb army’s second 
battalion and transported military police for the operation.  He said he was 
sent to ask a Bosnian Serb who had recently lost his brother “whether he would 
like to come and execute the people from Srebrenica as revenge”, but the man 
did not agree to do so.

On arrival at Kozluk, the prisoners were unloaded and taken away and must have 
been shot, Jovic told the court. However, he said he “hadn’t seen or heard 
their execution”.

“It was none of [my] business, so I didn’t look,” he said.

Simon Jennings is an IWPR reporter in The Hague.


The proceedings start amid rumours that a testimony from a Serb officer already 
acquitted by the Hague tribunal may be central to the case.

By Aleksandar Roknic in Belgrade

A second re-trial of 17 Serbs accused of war crimes in Croatia started this 
week in Belgrade, their previous trials having collapsed over procedural 

The 17 individuals, who are ex-paramilitary troops and former members of the 
Territorial Defence, TO, force, are accused of killing around 200 Croat 
prisoners at Ovcara farm in eastern Croatia. 

The massacre came after the Yugoslav army captured the town of Vukovar in 
November 1991, and is one of the most notorious crimes of the wars that 
followed the break-up of Yugoslavia.

Serbia’s supreme court controversially overturned the Belgrade District War 
Crimes Chamber’s verdict last year, saying it had failed to prove the case 
indisputably and had violated its own procedures. A first re-trial was halted 
when a new judge had to be appointed.

The new case may hinge on the willingness of two ex-Yugoslav army officers to 
testify. One of them, Miroslav Radic, who was earlier this year acquitted of 
responsibility for the Ovcara massacre,  may have to be forced to speak at this 
new trial.

“The commander of the Vukovar Territorial Defense, Miroljub Vujovic, and his 
deputy commander Stanko Vujanovic, ordered the killings of some of the 
prisoners of war. They ordered that groups of 30-40 captives be loaded onto a 
trailer and transported in 5 or 6 batches to the execution site at Grabovo, 
located approximately 1 km away from Ovcara,” said the indictment.

“The remaining captives were taken out in groups of 7 to 8 and lined up in 
front of a previously dug pit, where the accused Vukovar TO members approached 
the shot persons who were still showing signs of life and killed them by 
gunshots to the head. Subsequently, the corpses were buried in the pit and the 
earth flattened over by a bulldozer.”

All 17 men, of whom 15 were convicted and sentenced to between five and 20 
years at the previous trial and two acquitted, plead not guilty.

Judge Vesko Krstajic, the president of the court, said he may call ex-officers 
Miroslav Radic and Veselin Sljivancanin, who were also tried for involvement in 
the massacre, to testify. Radic was acquitted by the ICTY, while Sljivancanin 
received five years in prison. Alongside Mile Mrksic, who was sentenced to 20 
years, they made up the notorious “Vukovar Three”.

But Borivoje Borovic, who defended Radic at the ICTY, told IWPR his client 
would not give evidence.

“He doesn’t owe anything to anyone and he doesn’t know anything about the 
Ovcara massacre,” he said.

“It is impossible for Radic to go to the court and give testimony. In Croatia, 
an indictment against Radic is still in force. I don’t think this indictment 
has any legal strength, but it still exists. His statement can’t help anyone in 
this case. No civil, military or paramilitary structure helped Radic defend 
himself in the Hague tribunal. So, he doesn’t owe anything to anyone.”

But lawyers for the defendants were prepared to insist on his appearance, 
according to Rajko Jelusic, the lawyer for Miroslav Djankovic, who was 
sentenced to 20 years in prison the first time round.

“We expect and we are certain that Miroslav Radic will testify at this trial,” 
said Jelusic. 

Meanwhile, pressure is growing in Serbia for officers to be put on trial for 
war crimes, since the Vukovar Three case largely acquitted the Yugoslav army of 
responsibility, and passed it onto paramilitary and local volunteer forces.

”The Hague tribunal’s verdict in the Vukovar Three case has contributed to 
minimising the army’s part in Ovcara and the domestic war crime prosecutor’s 
office has been discouraged in their attempts to shed some light on the army’s 
role in the massacre,” said the Belgrade Humanitarian Law Fund, FHP, in a 
statement issued recently. 

Lawyer Dragoljub Todorovic, who represents the families of the victims of 
Ovcara, told IWPR that army officers must bear responsibility for what 
happened, since they had created the conditions that allowed local forces to 
commit war crimes. He hoped the retrial would help bring that about.

“I disagree with the tribunal’s verdict in the Vukovar Three case and I think 
that Sljivancanin was responsible for the Ovcara massacre. Now that the Ovcara 
case has started again, I think the indictment is stronger then ever,” he said.

A spokesman for the war crimes prosecutors, meanwhile, said any trial of 
officers would have to wait until after this new trial had been completed.

Most senior officials have denied any knowledge of the killings and blamed them 
on their subordinates - a position repeated this week by ex-defence minister 
Veljko Kadijevic. Croatian police have issued an arrest warrant for the former 
minister, but he is currently safely under the protection of the Russian 

He said in an interview with Serbian state television that the army’s security 
commander, General Aleksandar Vasiljevic, did not tell him about the massacre. 

“Maybe you won't believe me, but the first time I heard about Ovcara was when I 
had retired,“ he said.

Vasiljevic, who testified as a prosecution witness at the Slobodan Milosevic 
trial in The Hague,  said he too found about the massacre only two years after 
it happened, in 1993. He said Kadijevic had been informed of the crime by the 
chain of command leading from Mrksic, who was the commander of the troops in 

Aleksandar Roknic is an IWPR reporter in Belgrade.



Bosnian Serb had refused to give evidence on two occasions.

By Simon Jennings in The Hague

Dragan Jokic, former chief of engineering of the Zvornik brigade of the Bosnian 
Serb army, VRS, has pleaded not guilty to the charge of contempt of court at 
the Hague tribunal this week.

Jokic, who was sentenced by the court to nine years’ imprisonment for aiding 
and abetting atrocities committed during the Srebrenica massacre, was charged 
with contempt of court after refusing to testify at the trial of seven 
high-ranking officers of the Bosnian Serb military and police.

Ljubisa Beara, Vujadin Popovic, Ljubomir Borovcanin, Vinko Pandurevic, Drago 
Nikolic, Radivoj Miletic and Milan Gvero are charged with crimes allegedly 
committed at Srebrenica and Zepa in 1995.

On two occasions when Jokic was called to give evidence - on October 31 and 
November 1 - he declined to read the solemn declaration or answer questions, 
claiming he was not “mentally fit” to testify.

As a result, the tribunal judges indicted him for contempt of court, saying he 
had “knowingly and willingly interfered with the administration of justice”.

Jokic is currently being held at a detention unit in The Hague, awaiting 
transfer to an as yet unspecified country to serve the rest of his sentence for 
his involvement in the killing, extermination and expulsion of Bosniaks from 
Srebrenica in July 1995. 

His refusal to testify came despite a subpoena issued by the trial chamber last 
month ordering him to do so. His identity was also to be protected, while his 
entire testimony was to be heard in closed session. 

Following the plea, the counsel for the defense, Branislava Isailovic, 
requested the trial be postponed by three weeks in order to allow her more time 
to prepare her case. 

Her request was based on the need to call upon one witness and one expert and 
provide written statements that needed translation. 

The trial chamber granted her request and set the trial date for December 10.

Simon Jennings is an IWPR reporter in The Hague.

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