SERBIAN ANGER AT HARADINAJ ACQUITTAL  Not-guilty verdict in case against former 
Kosovo premier provokes storm in Serbia.  By Merdijana Sadovic in Sarajevo and 
Aleksandar Roknic in Belgrade


ICTY ARCHIVE MUST BE OPEN TO ALL  Political leaders should seek full and open 
access to tribunal archive rather than debate its final resting place.  By 
Robert Donia in Michigan and Edina Becirevic in Sarajevo

SIX CROATIANS INDICTED FOR WAR CRIMES  Human rights groups say “better late 
than never”, but veterans’ associations maintain no crimes were committed.  By 
Goran Jungvirth in Zagreb

ARGUMENTS HEARD AGAINST ORIC JUDGMENT  Prosecutors say two-year sentence for 
former Bosnian army commander is inadequate, while defence demand acquittal.  
By Simon Jennings in The Hague

SESELJ “CONTROLLED” SRS VOLUNTEERS  Witness also says he recalls hearing 
defendant order them to fight in Srebrenica.  By Denis Dzidic in Sarajevo


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Not-guilty verdict in case against former Kosovo premier provokes storm in 

By Merdijana Sadovic in Sarajevo and Aleksandar Roknic in Belgrade

Hague tribunal judges this week acquitted Kosovo’s ex-prime minister Ramush 
Haradinaj and his co-accused Idriz Balaj of all charges in their indictment 
which alleged they were responsible for war crimes committed in Kosovo between 
March and September 1998.

The third accused, Lahi Brahimaj, was found guilty of cruel treatment and 
torture and sentenced to six years in prison.

The three former members of the Kosovo Liberation Army, KLA were charged with 
violations of laws or customs of war, including murder, torture, rape and cruel 
treatment of Serb civilians and the mistreatment of other civilians perceived 
to be collaborating with Serbian forces “or otherwise not supporting the KLA”.

When presiding judge Alphons Orie read the trial chamber’s decision, the public 
gallery which was packed with people, exploded with loud cheers, after which 
Orie had to intervene and demand silence in the courtroom.

Not surprisingly, the judgment caused a furor in Serbia, where one official 
said the verdict shows that “this court does not exist to mete justice", and 
will not “encourage Serbs and other non-Albanians to expect a safe and peaceful 
life in Kosovo in the future”.

Haradinaj, Balaj and Brahimaj faced charges of participation in a joint 
criminal enterprise, the aim of which “was to consolidate the KLA’s total 
control over Dukagjin area in north-western Kosovo”.

However, the trial chamber found that based on evidence presented, it was not 
satisfied “beyond reasonable doubt that there was a joint criminal enterprise 
with the objective of targeting the civilians, [and] therefore the three 
accused could not have participated in it”.

At the time relevant to the indictment, Haradinaj was a commander of the KLA in 
the Dukagjin area; Balaj was in charge of the Black Eagles Unit within the KLA; 
and Brahimaj was a KLA member stationed in the force’s Jablanica headquarters 
in the Djakovica municipality.

The three accused were also acquitted of all counts alleging crimes against 
humanity. Evidence presented by the prosecution “did not always allow the 
chamber to conclude whether a crime was committed or whether the KLA was 
involved as alleged”, Judge Orie said on April 3.

“The evidence on some of the other counts indicates that the victims may have 
been targeted primarily for reasons pertaining to them individually rather than 
as members of the targeted civilian population,” the judges found.

They also ruled that the ill-treatment, forcible transfer and killing of Serb 
and Roma civilians as well as Kosovo Albanian civilians was “not on a scale of 
frequency that would allow for a conclusion that there was an attack against a 
civilian population”. 

However, Judge Orie highlighted the significant difficulties encountered by the 
trial chamber in securing testimony of a large number of witnesses. Out of 100 
prosecution witnesses whose evidence was received, 34 were granted protective 
measures and 18 issued with subpoenas.

“The chamber gained a strong impression that the trial was being held in an 
atmosphere where witnesses felt unsafe,” he said reading the verdict. 

Since the trial began in March last year, prosecutors contended that witness 
intimidation was a major stumbling block to the proceedings.

In her opening brief at the start of the trial, then chief prosecutor Carla Del 
Ponte said that “prosecutors [would] not have an easy task in proving the 
charges” against the three.

She added that witness intimidation was a major obstacle in this case, and had 
left many reluctant to come and testify. 

After reading the verdict, the trial chamber ordered the immediate release of 
Haradinaj and Balaj from the tribunal’s custody, while Brahimaj returned to the 
detention unit.

Serbian officials slammed the judgment rendered this week.

"This decision of the Hague tribunal represents a mockery of justice and a 
mockery of the innocent victims who suffered at the hands of Haradinaj," 
Serbia’s prime minister Vojislav Kostunica said in a strongly-worded statement 
issued shortly after the judgment was announced.

Serbian president Boris Tadic said, “This verdict will not see justice done and 
it will not encourage Serbs and other non-Albanians to expect a safe and 
peaceful life in Kosovo.”

Tadic claimed that Del Ponte had told him that prosecution witnesses in the 
case were intimidated and even murdered, in order to keep silent about 
Haradinaj's alleged crimes committed in the Kosovo in 1998.

Serbian deputy prime minister Bozidar Djelic said that Haradinaj's acquittal 
was “scandalous” and a "black day for international justice". He added that 
“this verdict dealt a serious blow to the reconciliation process among nations 
in the Balkans and the responsibility lies with the tribunal”.

Serbia’s War Crime Prosecutor Vladimir Vukcevic told the Belgrade media that he 
was stunned by the verdict. However, he added that the prosecutors at the Hague 
tribunal had made a huge effort to put Haradinaj on trial and to secure an 
appropriate sentence.

However, with so many witnesses who were too frightened to testify, the outcome 
of the trial was not surprising, he added.

According to Vukcevic, “Nine very serious witnesses linked to the Haradinaj 
case were killed between 2003 and 2007, and one survived an assassination 

“It’s not surprising that so many witnesses refused to testify and had to be 
subpoenaed - their life and lives of their relatives were in danger.” 

Although it was not immediately clear whether the prosecutors would appeal the 
judgment, Vukcevic said he expected them to do so.

Merdijana Sadovic is IWPR’s Hague tribunal programme manager. Aleksandar Roknic 
is an IWPR-trained reporter in Belgrade.



Political leaders should seek full and open access to tribunal archive rather 
than debate its final resting place.

By Robert Donia in Michigan and Edina Becirevic in Sarajevo

As the tribunal moves closer to its mandated closure in 2010, a public debate 
has erupted over the final disposition of the institution’s rich archival 

In recent weeks, the three members of the Bosnian presidency have been 
deadlocked over a chorus of popular demands to house the tribunal’s archive in 
Sarajevo after the court completes its work.

They have been debating the wrong issue.

In preparing to render its final decision, the United Nations Security Council 
has asked an advisory commission, headed by former tribunal prosecutor Richard 
Goldstone, to provide recommendations by the end of this year on the final 
physical location and terms for use of the tribunal’s archive after 2010.

The commission, and almost all commentators on the issue, have addressed and 
debated extensively the ultimate ownership and location of the archive. We 
believe that, contrary to widespread popular understanding, locating the 
archive in Bosnia, or in another former Yugoslav republic, will do little or 
nothing to facilitate investigations of the region’s history or events during 
the wars of the 1990s.

On the other hand, lifting the veil of secrecy from various document 
collections within the archive would be a major contribution to fostering 
understanding of the region’s recent past.

The archive of the ICTY is a vast and invaluable collection, and its holdings 
will be indispensible for anyone researching or investigating events of the 
1990s, in any former Yugoslav republic. 

But most importantly, it is a digitised archive. Over the past 15 years, ICTY 
employees have scanned virtually every document and made many of them 
searchable, so that anyone with appropriate access to the tribunal’s computers 
can find references to a person, place, word, or topic among the millions of 
documents gathered by tribunal investigators.

But most documents, though readily findable and easily called up by identifying 
number, are not currently accessible to the public. Large portions of the 
collection have been acquired by tribunal investigators under conditions that 
eliminate or restrict their access. The many benefits of the ICTY thoroughly 
modern system of searching documents are largely nullified by complex, 
wide-ranging restrictions on their use.


The excessive secrecy surrounding the tribunal’s documents has kept victims, 
advocates, scholars, and journalists in the dark about many events during the 
recent wars. 

This was illustrated by the genocide case Bosnia brought against Serbia  at the 
International Court of Justice, in which the UN's highest court cleared Serbia 
of direct responsibility for genocide during the Bosnian war of the early 

The Bosnian legal team was prevented by tribunal secrecy policies from seeing 
the full, unredacted minutes of Yugoslavia’s Supreme Defense Council, documents 
which were used in secret and in unredacted form in late Yugoslav president 
Slobodan Milosevic’s trial at the ICTY.  

Those documents no doubt contributed to the ICTY trial chamber’s preliminary 
ruling that the prosecution’s evidence warranted retaining the charge of 
genocide. But the critical portions of these documents, redacted by officials 
from Serbia, are still inaccessible to the public.

The case of the SDC minutes illustrates that the key question is not the 
physical location, nor the ultimate ownership of the tribunal’s archive, but 
rather universal access to its documents. The collection’s gatekeepers at the 
UN are unlikely to provide universal unrestricted access, but at the very 
least, the UN should establish a mechanism for declassifying documents upon 
appeal from a potential user or a sovereign state. Every potential user should 
have the benefit both of the archive’s advanced digital search capabilities and 
access to all relevant documents.

Potential users currently have no advocate for their interests, nor even a 
rudimentary knowledge of how the tribunal’s vast collections are organised.


Over the past decade, we have both worked with small selections of the ICTY 
documentary base. We have had the opportunity to glimpse the organising systems 
that are used every day by investigators, attorneys, and judges to access the 
tribunal’s vast documentary resources.  

Information is accessed principally by computer, available internally to anyone 
with a password and a rudimentary knowledge of how the various kinds of 
documents are catalogued. 

Based on our knowledge of documents and practices, we expect that in the 
future, these resources will most commonly be used like this: an investigator 
with a computer linked to the internet, sitting anywhere in the world, will 
access a tribunal website. The user will initiate a computer search, typing in 
the topic on which he or she desires information, by defendant, date, name, 
place, topic, or evidence registry number – an eight-digit number assigned by 
the ICTY to each page of documentation it processes.

The user will then be directed to some number of documents which contain the 
search terms submitted. Such a website already exists. It contains transcripts 
of every word spoken in every trial held so far, but unfortunately these trial 
transcripts are not yet digitally searchable. They could be so within weeks if 
the appropriate technology were applied.

Only in rare circumstances will a user need to see the original document - to 
verify a stamp or signature, to evaluate the typewriter with which a given 
document was prepared - whereas an army of users will be able to search through 
millions of documents and identify each occurrence of a given word.

Indeed, a large number of documents in the tribunal archive are not originals. 
For example, tribunal researchers have withdrawn hundreds of thousands of 
documents from archives in the Bosnian federation, but only for a limited 
period of time in order to give them an evidence registry number and scan them.

Then, in most instances, researchers returned the documents to their archive of 
origin, with the exception of document seizures conducted by the NATO-led 
Stabilisation Force in Bosnia, SFOR, and other forced acquisitions. 

The tribunal archive is left holding a “verified copy” of the original, plus a 
conveniently searchable digital image of the document. To verify its 
authenticity further, an investigator will need to go to the regional archive 
holding the original.  

Here, as in most instances, the scanned, electronic copy is as good as it gets 
in the tribunal archive, and the digital image has the great advantage of being 
searchable, identifiable, and called up in seconds for the investigator’s 

But here enters the true barrier to widespread use of the tribunal’s resources. 
The investigator may be told that the document being sought is sealed, for 10, 
15, 25 years, or forever - and therefore inaccessible. Even worse, many 
documents may be withdrawn from the searchable database in the UN’s zeal to 
protect its member states from embarrassing revelations.


The huge physical bulk of the tribunal’s archives will become an enormous, 
unwieldy burden on the city or state where it ends up. 

Users seated in front of computers in New York, Vienna, Zagreb, Belgrade, 
Prijedor, and even in their homes in Sarajevo, will not want to discard the 
enormous advantages of the digital search and plow through the vast, unwieldy 
physical archives.

Meanwhile, the storage, preservation, and maintenance of this vast trove will 
impose enormous expenses on custodians of the physical holdings. A new, large 
structure must be constructed to house such a collection, complete with climate 
control and physical security required for a collection physically larger than 
any archive in Sarajevo today.

Many observers have concluded that the two most serious candidates for the 
final physical disposition of the archive are in Budapest and The Hague. 
Although the future location is not of much value to the city or state where 
the archive will ultimately reside, the interests of the institution itself 
would best be served by keeping its archive in The Hague. That city is the 
global centre of international institutions of jurisprudence, including the 
International Criminal Court, ICC, and the ICJ.

Furthermore, the new tribunal prosecutor has argued for extending the 
tribunal’s existence, in some skeletal form, to retain the capacity to try 
Karadzic and Mladic should they be turned over after 2010. The worst 
conceivable option would be to divide this extensively interwoven collection of 
documents so that no single collection would be an authoritative repository, a 
situation fraught with possibilities for falsification and the destruction of 


At present, the tribunal makes documents public only as they are accepted into 
evidence at trial or by decision of chambers or the office of the registry.  
Tribunal officials have favoured secrecy over disclosure - often with good 
reason - during the institution’s active life. That must change after the 
institution closes, but it will not change without considerable pressure from 
UN member states and potential archive users.

We hope that the political leaders of Bosnia and others concerned with the 
tribunal archive will shift their debate to become advocates of open access, 
rather than wasting their time on determining the graveyard in which the 
physical archive will ultimately rest.  

Edina Becirevic is a senior lecturer at the University of Sarajevo’s Faculty of 
Criminal Justice Sciences. Robert Donia is a professor of history at the 
University of Michigan and was an expert witness at a number of trials held at 
the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia.


Human rights groups say “better late than never”, but veterans’ associations 
maintain no crimes were committed.

By Goran Jungvirth in Zagreb

Six Croatian ex-military police were this week indicted by Zagreb prosecutors 
for war crimes committed in the Pakrac region - a move welcomed by human rights 
NGOs and opposed by veterans’ associations.

The former officers are charged with the murder of 16 Serb civilians in 1991 
near the town of Pakrac, which formed a dividing line between Croatian and 
Serbian forces during the 1991-95 war.

Damir Kufner and Dario Simic were arrested a month ago. Zeljko Tutic, Tomislav 
Poletto and Ante Ivezic were detained two weeks later, while Pavle Vancas was 
apprehended last week.

The indictment states that members of Kufner and Simic’s units entered Serbian 
houses, claiming to be searching for weapons. However, when they failed to find 
any, they nevertheless seized the occupants by force.

The men, who were attached to the 76th battalion of the Croatian National 
Guard, ZNG, are accused of then holding civilians captive in an improvised 
prison in the village of Ribnjak.

They are charged with subjecting the prisoners to physical and psychological 
abuse before killing them by the side of fish ponds, and throwing the bodies 
into the water. Media reports have suggested that guards at the ponds would 
often find bodies washed up on the banks.

Evidence shows that while Croatian police visited the scene of the crimes in 
1991, made reports and filed indictments, these were never acted upon.

The arrests are based on evidence originally gathered by the International 
Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, ICTY, during its investigation of 
Tomislav Mercep, the commander of reservist police units. 

Although he was never indicted by this court, the tribunal forwarded its 
findings to Croatia’s state attorney.

“For a few years, ICTY prosecutors have been delivering documents to local 
prosecutors in the former Yugoslavia as part of regular cooperation,” said Olga 
Kavran, a spokesperson for the tribunal. “Local prosecutors then continue the 
investigation until they believe they have enough evidence to issue an 

The documents concerned crimes against Serbs in the Vukovar and Pakrac regions 
committed by members of ministry of internal affairs, MUP, reservists under 
Mercep’s command. However, the 76th battalion was a part of ZNG and later the 
Croatian army – and so not under his command.

Five members of Mercep’s unit - Munib Suljic, Sinisa Rimac, Igor Mikola, Miro 
Bajramovic and Branko Saric - have already been convicted for other crimes in 
the Pakrac area.

War veterans say the six former members of the military police arrested 
recently are not guilty.

The powerful Croatian Disabled Homeland War Veterans Association, HVIDRA, 
protested against the latest indictment, producing a joint statement of support 
signed by ten veterans’ associations in the region.

“Our boys haven’t killed Serb civilians. They are indicted for something they 
didn’t do,” Stipan Grgic, the local HVIDRA president, told a news conference. 

But Vesna Terselic, head of the Documenta NGO, said the association was placing 
pressure on potential witnesses. “People already find it hard to testify 
because of the pressured environment in which they live,” Terselic told IWPR. 

Human rights NGOs hope that this case might give witnesses of other war crimes 
the confidence to come forward.

Terselic added that the government was also to blame for Croatia’s deficiencies 
in confronting the past, citing the case of the powerful politician Branimir 
Glavas as an example. 

Parliament allowed him to be released from custody while his six co-defendants 
remain in detention during their trial.

“But it’s not just that - [Glavas] was elected to the parliamentary board for 
human and minority rights, despite being on trial for war crimes,” added 

Terselic said there was room for optimism, “There are some changes for the 
better and this latest investigation confirms it.”

However, human rights experts are still unsatisfied with the time it takes to 
mount prosecutions, although they are pleased that crimes are not being 

“Better late than never,” Professor Zarko Puhovski, a prominent member of 
Croatian Helsinki Committee, told IWPR.

Puhovski said he expected the proceedings would lead to a reexamination of 
Mercep’s actions. However, he does not expect the commander to face any legal 
action, because he suffered a stroke last year.

 “He is currently too ill to attend any trial,” he said.

Nevertheless, Puhovski said it was important that the case should demonstrate 
how senior military officials helped create the conditions in which war crimes 
could occur. 

“Most of the war crimes in that period happened outside of official control. 
But some of them occurred when the police officers were exposed to speeches of 
hate, after which they went and committed crimes.”

Goran Jungvirth is an IWPR-trained journalist in Zagreb.


Prosecutors say two-year sentence for former Bosnian army commander is 
inadequate, while defence demand acquittal.

By Simon Jennings in The Hague

Lawyers representing Naser Oric this week rejected prosecutor’s “new theories” 
in their appeal against the former commander’s conviction for war crimes 
committed in Bosnia in 1992 and 1993.

“The prosecution are coming up with new theories all the time. It’s a different 
case we hear today from the case which was in the indictment,” defence lawyer 
John Jones told the court in his opening remarks.

Oric was sentenced to two years in prison in June 2006 for failing to prevent 
the murder and cruel treatment of Serb prisoners detained in Srebrenica between 
December 1992 and March 1993.

Shortly after the trial chamber’s verdict, both the prosecution and defence 
teams launched an appeal and this week they presented their arguments to the 
tribunal’s appeals chamber.

Oric’s trial has captivated former Yugoslavia since it began in October 2004. 
Seen by many Bosnians as a hero, Oric’s sentence sparked anger among Serbs in 
Bosnia and Serbia who saw it as highly lenient.

A Serbian blogger reacting to the trial chamber’s verdict at the time remarked 
on Belgrade’s B92 website, “If a Serb were tried for the same crimes, he would 
be sentenced to at least 20 years in prison.”

The prosecution - which sought an 18-year prison sentence at the end of the 
proceedings - this week appealed for Oric’s two-year term to be extended on 
account of its leniency and also because they allege that the commander failed 
to investigate crimes committed by his subordinates in the months before 
December 1992.

Meanwhile, Oric’s defence team argued for his acquittal on all charges.

The prosecution contends that the trial chamber made a mistake in not 
concluding that the prison guards who murdered and abused Serb prisoners were 
members of the military police and therefore under Oric’s command in the months 
leading up to December 1992. 

It further argued that even if the prison guards who committed the crimes were 
not members of the military police, they would still have been under Oric’s 

“The trial chamber was not satisfied that the guards were identified as members 
of the military police but we say it should not have stopped its enquiry 
there,” prosecutor Michelle Jarvis told the court.

“Regardless of whether these individuals were identified as members of the 
military police or not, the real question was…were they under [Oric’s] 
effective control?”

Not only does the prosecution believe that the prison guards were under Oric’s 
command but it also submits that, despite knowing about their crimes in the 
autumn of 1992, he failed to punish them. It contends that Oric, in his failure 
to act, was complicit in aiding and abetting the crimes. 

Prosecutor Christine Dahl sought to press home the trial chamber’s finding that 
Oric knew about prisoner mistreatment, by arguing that he failed to use this 
knowledge to investigate and punish the perpetrators.

“Mr Oric is liable because he had actual knowledge of sufficiently alarming 
information that triggers a duty to investigate, to further inquire,” said 
Dahl. “And when he sees prisoners beaten and bloody he knows that something is 
going terribly wrong.”

Jones responded to the prosecution submissions by branding them a “daisy chain 
of liability”. He said the defence had had to adopt a “belt and braces” 
approach in order to challenge any new theories advanced by the prosecution.

Jones contended that in terms of command responsibility, Oric was three or four 
times removed from the guards who committed crimes. He compared the 
“remoteness” of Oric’s responsibility to the line of an old English song, “I've 
danced with a man, who's danced with a girl, who's danced with the Prince of 

Addressing Dahl’s arguments directly, Jones emphasised that it was not the 
prisoner abuse that was being disputed but Oric’s responsibility.

“We did not challenge that these prisoners were beaten. It’s not a question of 
bloody faces,” he said. “It’s a question of who the guards were under and 
whether Oric knew of the measures taken.”

Jones emphasised that there was no evidence pointing to an identifiable 
subordinate under Oric who had committed the crimes.

Turning to what he referred to as the “crux of the case”, Jones argued that the 
Serb prisoners were being detained both at the police station and at a second 
facility by civilian, rather than military, police.

According to Jones, the military police should not be held responsible for the 
crimes “since mistreatment was occurring in the civilian police station that 
came under the auspices and authority and responsibility of the civilian police 
and the civilian authorities right up to the civilian war presidency”. 

Citing evidence that in his opinion was not given sufficient weight by the 
trial chamber, Jones argued that the guards were subordinated to the chief of 
the civilian police and not to Oric. 

But prosecutor Paul Rogers rebutted Jones’s argument. He pointed to an 
“abundance of evidence” including minutes of military meetings in October 1992, 
that show the guards were military police and under military control, and not 
the control of the war presidency.  

“It’s quite clear that the military were directing the operation of the 
military police,” Rogers told the court.

While the defence seeks Oric’s acquittal on all charges against him, Serbs in 
both Bosnia and Serbia hold the Bosnian commander as guilty even beyond the 
bounds of his indictment. They accuse him of antagonising Serbs in the region 
throughout the war and blame him for provoking the Bosnian Serb massacre of 
more than 8,000 Muslim men and boys at Srebrenica in 1995.

But a source of debate at trial was the Serb prosecution witnesses who 
testified in support of the defence’s arguments. Some Serb survivors from the 
prison in Srebrenica testified that Oric did not do anything wrong and even 
treated them favourably. 

Also in Oric’s favour was his cooperation with the tribunal and his youth - he 
was only 25 at the time the crimes were committed. The trial chamber ruled that 
while it would not give too much weight to his age, it could not “fail to take 
into consideration the enormous burden that was cast upon him at the age of 25 
while the situation in Srebrenica was desperate”. 

But in its appeal this week, the prosecution further challenged the trial 
chamber’s finding that the “chaos and lawlessness” in Srebrenica during 1992 
and 1993 was a mitigating factor in Oric’s responsibility for the crimes. The 
prosecution contended that in fact the opposite was true - that the situation 
in the region should have made the risk of crimes more apparent.

“It had to be clear to everybody that Serb captives could be exposed to abuse,” 
said prosecutor Jarvis.

The appeals chamber will announce its verdict at a later date.

Simon Jennings is an IWPR reporter in The Hague.


Witness also says he recalls hearing defendant order them to fight in 

By Denis Dzidic in Sarajevo

A former volunteer with the Serbian Radical Party, SRS, said its leader 
Vojislav Seselj was in charge of party volunteers in the area of Croatia where 
he is alleged to have been responsible for war crimes.

The indictment against Seselj alleges that in 1991, volunteers from his party 
committed crimes in the Croatian town of Vukovar and in Western Slavonija, a 
part of Croatia seized by Serbs and retaken by Croats in a 1995 offensive.

He is also accused of inciting Serbs to drive Bosniaks and Croats out of parts 
of Bosnia and Croatia. Prosecutors say Seselj “espoused and encouraged the 
creation of a homogenous ‘Greater Serbia’” through his inflammatory speeches 
and actions.

At the Hague tribunal this week, a protected witness, introduced only as VS033, 
described Seselj as “the boss” and “in control” of party volunteers, who were 
entitled to a salary, days off and a pension through certificates handed out by 
the SRS war staff.

The witness, most of whose testimony was given in closed session, recalled 
seeing Seselj receiving a bag of money from local Serbian politicians in 
Western Slavonija.

According to the witness, Seselj worked closely with the government in Serbia, 
too, so Serbian police knew the volunteers would be passing through the 
territory under their jurisdiction, and would merely wave their buses through.

He also said he recalled hearing that Seselj ordered SRS volunteers to 
Srebrenica to fight alongside Serbia’s paramilitary force the Red Berets.

The witness described how he joined the first group sent by the SRS to Western 
Slavonija. They traveled through Bosnia into Western Slavonija, he said, where 
they were housed by Yugoslav People’s Army, JNA, forces in a camp near the 
village of Vocin.

Witness VS033 explained that the group was under the command of Radovan 
Novacic, who was appointed by the SRS and remained in constant touch with the 
party’s war staff.

“Novacic insisted on discipline and obedience. He refused to accept drunks or 
criminals in the volunteer units and would send them back to Serbia. He had a 
lot of trouble with Seselj because of this, and Novacic even confessed to me 
that Seselj wanted him dead,” said the witness.

Seselj rejected the entire testimony of the witness, who was convicted by a 
Serbian court and sentenced to three years’ imprisonment in 1996 for several 
attacks on non-Serbs in Belgrade. Seselj called him a “terrorist” and 
challenged his credibility as a witness.

During cross-examination, Seselj produced transcripts from the trial of the 
witness which stated that he threw explosive devices into a mosque and a 
Catholic church in Belgrade, and also placed several explosives in the cars of 
ethnic Albanians living in the capital.

Although the witness accepted that the transcripts were genuine, he said that 
his past behaviour was a result of “post-war syndrome” and added that he made 
sure no one was hurt during the incidents.

“I was bitter because of everything that I saw during the war, and most of us 
volunteers were forgotten by the government. That’s why I did those things,” 
said the witness.  

Asked by the judges whether he had committed the crimes under the orders of any 
organisation, the witness replied he had been a member of the Serbian Volunteer 
Humanitarian Fund “which worked in the same building as the SRS at that time”.

Seselj denied any connection between the two organisations.

Seselj also produced a statement from a friend of the witness, Aleksandar 
Gajic, who said that VS033 had been “offered a large amount of money to lie and 
testify against Seselj” by prosecutors at the court. 

According to the statement, the witness “will say Seselj and SRS committed war 
crimes, and in turn he will be given money by Hague prosecutors”. 

The witness said his friend had been “coerced into writing the statement” and 
said it was “full of lies”. 

Seselj also said Natasa Kandic, director of the Belgrade Humanitarian Law Fund, 
FHP, put the witness in touch with Hague prosecutors and then coached him 
before he testified.

“I did meet Natasa Kandic, however I wasn’t prepared for my testimony. Also, I 
was put in touch with Hague prosecutors by Ljubisa Petkovic, commander of the 
war staff of the SRS party, not by her,” replied the witness.

The trial continues next week when the court will hear recordings of Seselj’s 
public speeches.

Denis Dzidic is an IWPR-trained reporter in Sarajevo.

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TRIBUNAL UPDATE, the publication arm of IWPR's International Justice Project, 
produced since 1996, details the events and issues at the International 
Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia, ICTY, at The Hague.

These weekly reports, produced by IWPR's human rights and media training 
project, seek to contribute to regional and international understanding of the 
war crimes prosecution process.

The opinions expressed in Tribunal Update are those of the authors and do not 
necessarily represent those of the publication or of IWPR.

Tribunal Update is supported by the European Commission, the Dutch Ministry for 
Development and Cooperation, the Swedish International Development and 
Cooperation Agency, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, and other funders. 
IWPR also acknowledges general support from the Ford Foundation.

TRIBUNAL UPDATE: Editor-in-Chief: Anthony Borden; Managing Editor: Yigal 
Chazan; Senior Editor: John MacLeod; Project Manager: Merdijana Sadovic; 
Translation: Predrag Brebanovic, and others.

w: Executive Director: Anthony Borden; Strategy & Assessment Director: Alan 
Davis; Chief Programme Officer: Mike Day.

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IWPR builds democracy at the frontlines of conflict and change through the 
power of professional journalism. IWPR programs provide intensive hands-on 
training, extensive reporting and publishing, and ambitious initiatives to 
build the capacity of local media. Supporting peace-building, development and 
the rule of law, IWPR gives responsible local media a voice.

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ISSN 1477-7940 Copyright © 2008 The Institute for War & Peace Reporting 

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