Trial for the war crimes against the war prisoners
War Crimes Chamber of the District Court in Belgrade, Serbia
9 March 2004 The presiding judge warned the defendants to listen carefully to what was being said in the courtroom and informed them of their right to comment. After that, he informed those present that he had been informed, by telephone, that one of the defendants, Mirko Vojinović, had passed away in the Novi Sad Medical Center. The war crimes prosecutor suggested that the proceedings against Vojinović be separated, which his defense attorney, Perković, agreed with. After that, the Trial Chamber brought a decision on the separation of the proceedings against Vojinović from the proceedings against other defendants.
The prosecutor read the indictment, stating the names of 192 victims, exhumed and identified in the area of the Grabovo mass grave near the Ovčara agricultural farm and the defense attorneys presented their defense.
The prime defendant Miroljub Vujović said that the charges against him were pure fabrications. He suggested to the court that the investigative judge, Miroslav Alimpić, be invited as a witness in connection with their conversation at the time of questioning in the investigation. In his words, Alimpić had told him then that he, Alimpić, had known then that defendant Vujović had not been the commander of the Territorial Defense (TD) and that that particular formation did not exist, but that that fact had not been entered in the minutes of the questioning. The defendant, Vujović, called the attention of the Trial Chamber to the map of Vukovar, pointing out that Petrova Gora was just an ordinary street in Vukovar of which somebody would now like to make a TD unit Petrova Gora. The defendant stressed that in October 1991, a Guards brigade of the Yugoslav National Army (YNA) had come to Vukovar, with its four companies which automatically included the members of TD. In his words, he was sent to the company of the YNA captain Milan Radić, which was deployed in Petrova Gora street, while the second defendant, Vujanović, was in the company of the YNA captain Bojkovski. Defendant Vujović said that he had been wounded in the battles near Bogdanovci, whereupon he was transported to the Military Medical Academy (MMA) where he stayed until 14 November 1991, and had to report for a medical check-up on 19 November.
In connection with the circumstances relating to the end of the armed conflict in Vukovar, defendant Vujović pointed out that, on 18 November, somebody told him that Vukovar had been "liberated" and that everybody had surrendered and that he, too, together with the others, had started toward the hospital. Defendant Vujović said that the crime at Ovčara (an agricultural farm near Vukovar) had been committed on 19 November, not on 20 November 1991 as stated in the indictment. The defendant said that he had visited Ovčara only once and said that he could not remember whether that day he first went to the barracks or to Velepromet assembly point, but he was certain that the prisoners were in the barracks and that he had remained in each of those places no more than 15 minutes or half an hour. Defendant Vujović said that he had seen two, three or four buses near the barracks, with soldiers standing in front of them, and that he had gone home from there only to come back to the barracks again. In his words, there were no more buses there, no soldiers, no inhabitants of the place and volunteers, and Milan Vojnović (not the defendant) told him that the prisoners of war had been moved to Ovčara.ere no more buses there, no soldiers, inhabitants of Vukovarnly to come back to the barracks again.han 15 m After having the stitches from his wounds removed at the hospital, he had gone to Ovčara with an intention of seeing who it was who had been warring against them. Once he got to Ovčara, around 16:30 hours, he saw several empty buses and some people in the hangar where it was impossible to enter because of the soldiers who stood there. He was armed with an automatic rifle, but he could not fire. He remained at Ovčara about half an hour when he saw, in the center of the hangar, a table with a soldier in a grey-olive uniform sitting at it and making an inventory. In front of the hangar there were many people, the inhabitants of the place and volunteers, but he saw no women among the prisoners of war. Defendant Vujović pointed out that he had heard about the crime in Vukovar only after some ten days had passed. He said that some people, who had remained longer, had said that the locals and the volunteers had gone into the hangar to identify the prisoners and that they had seen a tractor or a truck. In his words, on 21 November, together with Mrkšić, he had attended a reception organized by Veljko Kadijević (the Chief of the General Staff of YNA) in Belgrade. He thought that he had been invited to the reception because he had suggested an efficient approach to the liberation of Vukovar. A couple of days after his return from Belgrade, Radovan Stojčić Badža, the Chief of the Public Security Department of the Republic of Serbia) came to Vukovar and it was then that he had been suggested for the position of the commander of TD.
Observers’ remarks The initial stages of the trial of Miroljub Vujović and associates for the war crime against the prisoners of war committed at Ovčara farm received great attention of both the general public and the professional circles. 10 March 2004 Defendant Vujanović Stanko denied in their totality the charges from the indictment and stated that he had been charged with being the deputy commander of TD, although TD had not existed prior to 1992. He stressed that he had not killed ten persons in front of the hangar at Ovčara, nor had he seen any pits, and that it was only after the end of the war in 1992 that he had become the deputy commander of TD. Defendant Vujanović said that at the beginning of the armed conflict in Vukovar, Dušan Jakšić was coordinating the activities of the members of TD and the YNA. In the words of Vujanović himself, captain Radić's headquarters were situated in his house and members of TD, volunteers and soldiers, used to come there. He himself spent the least time in the house as he was a guide to the members of YNA. Speaking about defendant Vujović, Vujanović pointed out that at that time he seldom met him, maybe two or three times, at the meetings with Tešić, and added that Vujović had been wounded twice, once in combat and the second time after the cease fire. Defendant Vujanović pointed out that he had been to Ovčara farm only once, on 19 November 1991, around 2 or 3 o'clock in the afternoon and, on the basis of this, he drew the conclusion that the crime had been committed on that day. In his words, he went there with Steva Zorić, aka Ćevo, and Željko Petrović. Ćevo asked him to give him a lift to Ovčara to search for his relatives and friends and rescue them from going to Sremska Mitrovica. Vujanović emphasized that he had remained at Ovčara an hour or two and added that he had been wearing battle fatigues given to him by a YNA major, Šljivančanin, and had a hat on his head which he took off from time to time, and that he had been armed with a scorpion. Defendant Vujanović said that at Ovčara he had seen members of YNA, civilians, members of TD, prisoners of war in the hangar, as well as three or four empty buses. The door to the hangar was open and the prisoners were on the left and right hand side. Defendant Vujanović pointed out that in the middle of the hangar there was a table with an officer and a soldier sitting at the table and taking an inventory. In his words, most prisoners wore civilian clothes, although some of them were in military uniforms. Contrary to his statement given to the investigative judge, defendant Vujanović now stated that he did not go into the hangar because members of YNA did not allow him to do so. In his words, among the prisoners of war he recognized Bora Janjić, who had been beaten up and to whom he threw a pack of cigarettes, and a certain Siniša, who used to work for Radio Vukovar. Defendant Vujanović pointed out that he had then returned to Vukovar together with Željko Petrović, while Ćevo remained at Ovčara. At the end the defendant said that he had not seen any of the defendants at Ovčara, and that someone had told him that defendant Vujović had been there.
Defendant Jovica Perić denied the charges from the indictment and said that he had nothing to do with the crime at Ovčara. The defendant then went on to say that he was not going to change his statement given during the investigation with a note that it was not true that he had seen defendant Vujović and defendant Vujanović arguing with someone, as stated in a paragraph of his statement, because he had never seen them together. Defendant Perić said that he had returned to Vukovar on 18 November and not on 16 or 17 November 1991, as he had stated in the investigation. In his words, on 14 September 1991 his brother was wounded and he went with him, by a helicopter, to Belgrade. The defendant pointed out that by 14 September, when he had left Vukovar, TD had not existed. Speaking about his visit to Ovčara, defendant Perić said that he had gone there in search of his sister-in-law’s parents, Ante and Boja Rajić, and added that he did not remember whether that had happened on 19 or 20 November, but that he was certain it had been around 5 or 6 o’clock in the afternoon and that he had remained there between 30 and 40 minutes. In his words, he had no problems entering the hangar and seeing the prisoners there, standing on the left and the right hand side, fenced in with a rope. Defendant Perić pointed out that he had recognized some of them and had spoken with his ex-colleague, Zlatko Blažević. The defendant said that the majority of the prisoners had yellow boots and civilian or semi-civilian clothes and that nobody was in uniform. In his words, in the hangar he saw a table and an officer sitting at it and making a list of prisoners. He pointed out that he had seen the defendants Vujović and Vujanović in front of the hangar at the time of his arrival to Ovčara, but he had not noticed them issuing any orders. In front of the hangar there were many soldiers in battle fatigues and regular grey-olive uniforms. There also were some military policemen, with white harnesses, and a tractor parked on the apron in front of the hangar.
Defendant Ivan Atanasijević denied that he had committed the criminal act he was charged with and pointed out that he was going to present his defense up to a certain point only. Then he said that everything that had been happening was a conspiracy against him and that his statement given to the investigative judge was false as he had given it while under the influence of medication and added that his mail had been blocked for almost eight months. In his words, the court appointed defense attorney had shown him a paper stating that he had already been sentenced to a 40 year prison term. Defendant Atanasijević pointed out that following his arrival at Vukovar he had gone to Petrova Gora and had, on 14 November, joined the volunteer unit commanded by Milan Lančužanin, aka Kameni. In his words, the unit was made up of a number of groups and he was assigned to the one commanded by Milojević, nicknamed Kinez. Speaking about the events following the liberation of Vukovar, the defendant pointed out that on 19 November, at Velepromet, somebody had told him that his brother was in the hospital among the prisoners and that he had agreed with Goran Mugoša, whose brother was also in the hospital, for the two of them to go there and try to rescue them. The following day, in the morning of 20 November, he and Mugoša started for the hospital. Since the road was blocked, he started on foot and, on the way, saw a column of buses (5-6 or 7-8), two of them military. His brother was in the second bus and he followed the buses which were on their way toward the barracks. With the help of Steva Zorić he managed to rescue his brother and take him home. When he learned, from his brother, that his friend, Stanoje Čaplina, was also among the prisoners, defendant Atanasijević went to Velepromet where he learned that the buses had gone to Ovčara. Following that, in the evening hours, with three unidentified men, he went to Ovčara. When they arrived there, he went into the hangar without a problem where he saw between 200 and 300 prisoners and volunteers. Since he failed to locate Čaplina, after half an hour, he returned to Vukovar. Defendant Atanasijević pointed out that he had not seen anyone making a list of prisoners in the hangar and added that among the prisoners there were quite a number of civilians and wounded persons with bandaged wounds and casts. Also, among the prisoners, he saw Ružica Makrobašić who was pregnant. The defendant pointed out that he had not seen any of the defendants at Ovčara, except the late Mirko Vojinović, and added that he had noticed a group of some 30 prisoners being taken from the hangar.
11 March 2004 Defendant Predrag Madžarac denied that he had committed the criminal act he was charged with in the indictment. He pointed out that at the time of the armed conflict he had been in his uncle’s house in Petrova Gora street in Vukovar. He was wounded in September 1991 and spent some time in the hospital in Negoslavci before returning to Petrova Gora. When the condition of his health was somewhat improved he joined the people charged with sentry duty in the street. This was his only task until the middle of December 1991 and in all that time he did not leave the street. Defendant Madžarac pointed out that Ilija Galović was some sort of a commander in Petrova Gora street and added that TD of Vukovar did not exist at that time. After the end of the war in Vukovar he met Nikola Dukić, aka Gidža, with whom he had no quarrel nor was he in conflict with. Madžarac pointed out that that was why he was very much surprised when he saw a document where it was written that Dukić had seen him in Grabovo, as he had not gone anywhere at all. The defendant said he was certain that Nikola Dukić must have mistaken him for somebody else. He pointed out that in the minutes of his questioning by the investigative judge it was erroneously written that he had not been seeing Milan Bulić, aka Bulidža, then and there, at Ovčara, and in the town, as he had not been at Ovčara at all so he could not have seen Bulić there..
Defendant Milan Vojinović denied the charges from the indictment and pointed out that he was not present at the time the crime was committed, nor had he killed anyone. In his words, he, as an inhabitant of Vukovar, during the war, was assigned to guard duty in the unit of the YNA captain Zirojević, with Pera Miljanović scheduling the guard duty. At that time, TD of Vukovar did not exist, and he added that they had been posted in an outlying street at the outskirts of the town which, together with some other streets, was known as Petrova Gora. When he was shown a part of his statement given before the investigative judge, where he had said that on 14 December 1991 he had received the mobilization call and that he had been assigned to a TD unit, whose commander, in a way, had been Pera Miljanović, Vojinović said that the unit was called TD because all of its members were from its territory. Following the cease fire in Vukovar, on 18 November 1991, he began searching for his daughter who was taken prisoner in the center of Vukovar. He pointed out that in the morning of 19 November, at Velepromet, he had learned that the buses with the prisoners had gone to the barracks. When he arrived to the barracks, a soldier did not let him search for his daughter so he returned home. In the evening hours his neighbor, Rade Bakić, visited him and told him that people from the barracks had been moved to Ovčara whereupon the two of them went there. In the words of the defendant, at the very entrance to the hangar, there stood one military policeman and two in front of the hangar who let him enter the hangar. The defendant pointed out that along the right hand side of the hangar there were prisoners and on the left hand side the soldiers. Since he failed to find his daughter, defendant Vojinović returned to Vukovar after 15 to 20 minutes. According to the statement of the defendant, the prisoners were in white overcoats, battle fatigues and civilian clothes and he saw no women or children. He said that armed persons at Ovčara wore battle fatigues and added that he had not seen any of the defendants there. Finally, Vojinović said that he had seen some YNA officers there as well as a white van parked nearby.
Court examination of evidence 28 April 2004
Witness Slobodan Ciganović said that he would stick by what he had said in the investigation. In his words, he was mobilized and sent to a unit where his superior was Jovica Kresojević. The witness Ciganović pointed out that his task was guard duty and added that at the time the crime at Ovčara had been committed he did not drive the Ult bulldozer. The witness then said that of all the indicted persons he knew Vujović by sight, Madžarac and Vujanović. He said he did not believe that TD existed from the moment a YNA Guards brigade arrived to Vukovar. Together with Milan Vojnović he went to Ovčara to get the Ult bulldozer and picked it up after a month from the then director Luka. He said he did not know what the Ult bulldozer was used for at Ovčara and added that he had learned about the shooting that had been performed there only a month or two after the fall of Vukovar. When he was shown a part of the statement from the investigation where he had said that the defendants Vujović and Vujanović had been the commanders of TD, witness Ciganović said that he had not given such a statement.
In the beginning, witness Dragan Cvijanović pointed out that he knew all the indicted persons and that he was related to the defendants Vujović and Madžarac, and, as there were no grounds for him to be excused from the duty of a witness, because of his kinship with the defendants, his questioning began. The witness Cvijanović said that he had been wounded at the very beginning of the combat activities, which is why he had gone to Serbia and had returned to Vukovar only on 19 November, a day after the end of the fighting. In his words, there did not exist TD Vukovar or TD Petrova Gora. The witness said that he had gone to Ovčara on 19 November, around 18:00 or 19:00 hours and that he had spent about half an hour there, looking for the members of his family. In front of the entrance to the hangar he saw a military vehicle, a Pinzgauer or an armored combat vehicle, and one or two members of the military police, and in the hangar itself, a table and a large number of people. Witness Cvijanović pointed out that there were soldiers in different uniforms and added that he, too, had a uniform and was armed. The witness then said that among the prisoners of war in the hangar he had seen Siniša Veber and Šindilj and that he had, immediately after his talk with them, gone away. Veber and Šindilj had not been injured, but he did not remember the way they had been dressed. He denied the part of the statement given to the investigative judge where he had said that the persons he had spoken with had been civilians and that some of the prisoners had bandages on their heads. He pointed out that he had not seen any of the defendants, nor the tractor, and that he had heard about the shooting only after half a year or a year.
Witness Darko Fot stated that he knew all the defendants. In his words, during the combat activities in Vukovar, he had been the commander of the 3rd platoon of the 4th Vukovar company whose commanding officer had been his brother Siniša. The witness said that the company had some 110 persons and added that it had been a part of TD of Vukovar headed by Duško Jakšić and had been under the command of YNA. The remaining companies, in the words of Fot, were led by the late Pejić, Miroljub Vujović and Stanko Vujanović, while, later on, a unit of volunteers of the Serbian Radical Party was formed and was commanded by Milan Lančužanin, aka Kameni. Fot then said that on 18 November he had been at Velepromet where there were a lot of people and children, rescued from the cellars. The prisoners were across the street, at the cooperative, and some people from the hospital were among them. He saw Karlo Crk and spoke with him. The witness pointed out that men had been separated from women, that they had been searched for arms, that they had been questioned concerning their participation in the crimes so as to determine who was to be released and who was to be sent to the prison in Sremska Mitrovica. In his words, major Šljivančanin had said that all of them should be imprisoned, investigated and tried the way it was done in Nuremberg so that a camera could record what had happened in the town.
Witness Fot pointed out that, after the cessation of hostilities, he had found at Velepromet a copy of Mrkšić’s order containing his appointment to the position of deputy commander of the municipal headquarters of civilian affairs and training and the appointment of Miroljub Vujović to the position of the commander and Stanko Vujanović to the position of the chief of staff of Vukovar TD. At the end, the witness said that he had not been at Ovčara and that he had, later, heard about the shooting of the prisoners of war carried out there.
Witness Dragan Dukić said that he knew no one of the defendants and added that he had been wounded after three days and took no part in any other combat activities.
In the beginning, witness Borislav Bogunović said that he knew some of the defendants. In his words, he had been, from the end of June or the beginning of July 1991, the Minister of the Interior in the Government of the Serbian Autonomous Area Krajina whose president had been Goran Hadžić. Witness Bogunović pointed out that TD had existed, that at the beginning it had been self-organized, and that later on, at the meetings, its leaders had been elected. With the coming of YNA to the area of Vukovar in September 1991 TD was under the authority of YNA and its commander at that time had been Dušan Jakšić. The witness said that he had been present at the meeting of the Government of the Serbian Autonomous Area Krajina which took place at Velepromet but he pointed out that it had been only a visit to Vukovar which lasted for an hour. In his words, it was then announced that Jakšić and Antić were no more members of TD and that the positions of the commander and the deputy commander were to be filled with Miroljub Vujović and Stanko Vujanović respectively. Bogunović added that the decision was brought by major Šljivančanin who attended the meeting for a short time. As far as the witness remembers, the meeting was held on 19 November and was attended by Goran Hadžić, Miodrag Crnogorac, Slavko Dokmanović, Vojin Šuša. Also present was Željko Ražnatović, aka Arkan. The witness said that at the moment of their coming to Velepromet, five or six civilian buses were leaving Velepromet. At the end of his testimony, the witness pointed out that suggestions were heard at the meeting for the war crimes trials for the crimes committed in Vukovar to be conducted on the territory of Slavonija and Baranja, but the representatives of YNA rejected the suggestions.
Witness Dušan Jakšić pointed out that he knew the defendants. In his words, with the outbreak of hostilities in Vukovar, the local inhabitants of the Serb nationality organized themselves in the part of Vukovar known as Petrova Gora. Witness Jakšić pointed out that TD had existed even before the war and that he himself had been the head of its security. Before the liberation of the barracks Mile Uzelac established the headquarters of TD under the authority of YNA. In his words, there had been 170 members in the unit, and the citizens of Vukovar decided for him to be the commander of TD. In the beginning there were three companies while later on the fourth one was established. The first, most numerous company was commanded by Miroljub Vujović, the second by Stanko Vujanović and the third by Siniša Fot. From 2 October, TD was under the authority of YNA Guards brigade and from that date on he received orders directly from the command headquarters of the Operations Group Jug. TD activities were coordinated with the activities of the 1st storm troopers detachment of YNA whose commander was major Tešić and his deputy Sijaković. The witness stated that before the combat activities were ended, at the command headquarters of the storm troopers detachment, major Šljivančanin had decided for Miroljub Vujović to become the commander of TD of Vukovar. At the end of his testimony, witness Jakšić pointed out that he had not seen the prisoners of war from the Vukovar hospital as he had not been there, and added that the he had heard about the shooting at Ovčara later on.
29 April 2004 Witness Ilija Galović pointed out that he knew most of the defendants. In his statement, witness Galović spoke more about the difficult situation of the Serbs from Vukovar in 1991 than about the subject matter of the trial itself. In his words, at the time of the fighting in Vukovar he had been in the background together with the defendants Milan Vojnović and Predrag Madžarac and had no direct superior. He pointed out that on 19 or 20 November, when he had gone to visit the father of defendant Madžarac, he had seen the defendant at home there. It was only some eight to 10 days later that he had heard about the shooting at Ovčara.
Witness Milan Filipović stated that he knew well the defendants Miroljub Vujović and Stanko Vujanović. In his words, he had come to Vukovar with a group of volunteers who were assigned to the command of captain Radić whose commander, in turn, was Milan Sofronijević, aka Guto. Witness Filipović pointed out that he did not know which unit the defendants Vujović and Vujanović were in, but he knew that they were under the command of captain Radić whose headquarters were in Vujanović's house. He remarked that he did not believe that Vujović and Vujanović were in command and added that he was glad to have met them. In his words, the group of volunteers he was a member of was returned home to Smederevo on 21 November. The witness pointed out that he had asked captain Radić, whom he had found at the headquarters, for a transport, and then said that, before leaving for home, they had checked in their automatic rifles. At that time, nobody even mentioned Ovčara. He said that he did not know where Ovčara was and, in the end, he added that today even the parrots know what had happened there.
Witness Stevan Miščević stated that of all the defendants he knew Miroljub Vujović and Stanko Vujanović. In his words, on the day of the liberation of Vukovar, on 18 November 1991, he was in Borovo Selo, where he had gone to fetch his wife and children. The witness said that he had returned to Vukovar on 19 November and added that more than 10,000 persons were at Velepromet, at the agricultural cooperative, at Modateks and at Ovčara. In his words, those people, among whom there were women, children and the elderly, were coming out of the cellars once the fighting had stopped. They were guarded by the army and they were waiting for the buses which drove them to Serbia or Croatia. He pointed out that he thought that on 20 November, at about two or three o'clock in the afternoon, he had gone to Ovčara to look for his aunt and her son. In his own words, he had gone to Ovčara dressed in civilian clothes. There he saw four or five civilian buses, military vehicles, a big, green truck, many cars and many people and soldiers. Two soldiers stood at the entrance to the hangar, but they did not forbid people to enter the hangar. It was very dark in the hangar so that one could not see much there. Along the right hand wall of the hangar there were soldiers, while along the left hand side there were civilians. In the hangar he saw former municipal inspector, Emil Čakalić, who asked him "where are we going", whereupon the witness answered him that he did not know, but he had heard that some of them would be taken to Croatia, some to Serbia. Beside Čakalić, he saw Vladimir Dudas. In his words, he spent some 20 minutes at Ovčara and saw there Stevo Zorić and Pero Miljanović, while he did not know other uniformed persons. The people inside the hangar had been tortured and there were women and children among them. The witness pointed out that he had received the first piece of information about the shooting at Ovčara in April 1992, from the chief of police, Dragan Đukić, although there were all types of rumors in Vukovar even before that.
In the beginning, witness Jovan Radan said that he knew all the defendants, except Jovica Perić. Speaking about his participation in the fighting, Radan pointed out that, after ten days at Petrova Gora, he had been moved to Velepromet to a security detail. In his words, he stayed at Velepromet until the end of the fighting when, at Velepromet, there were between 10,000 and 12,000 civilians coming out of their cellars and driven away in buses. The defendants Vujović and Vujanović were company commanders and he used to see them from time to time at Velepromet. The witness pointed out that after five, six or even ten days he had heard about what had happened at Ovčara. In the end, Radan pointed out that, at Velepromet, men were separated from the women and children and added that it was the suspected ones that had been separated. The separation was carried out by the security personnel, including Žigić.
In the beginning, witness Siniša Lakić said that he knew all the defendants and that the mother of defendant Vujović was his aunt. In view of the fact that that was not a degree of kinship which would free him from the obligation to testify, the trial chamber began questioning him. The witness stated that he had come to Vukovar with a group of some 20 reservists at the beginning of October 1991. There they joined captain Radić's company where their immediate superior was a person whose name was Đorđe. After that, the witness said that defendant Vujović had been in the same company with him and that, being well familiar with the terrain, he had been a coordinator at the headquarters. He added that Vujović had not been the commander of any of the units there. The witness pointed out that at the time the fighting in Vukovar was ended, he had been in Petrova Gora and added that he had learned of the events at Ovčara half a year later Toward the end of his testimony, witness Lakić said: "The only thing I know is that in some other, patriotic countries, major streets of the cities are named after people like these here (referring to the defendants), and here, this."
At the beginning of his testimony, witness Goran Valjarević, aka Džo or Mali Džo, said that he knew all the defendants and added that he was pleased and honored by this fact. In his words, he had gone to Vukovar as a volunteer, through the organization of the Serbian Radical Party, and joined the "Leva supoderica" detachment commanded by Milan Lančužanin, aka Kameni. In the detachment there were between 140 and 150 persons and the detachment took part in the fighting together with the army. Valjarević said that he was wounded on 17 November and transported first to Negoslavci and then to Belgrade, to return to Vukovar at the beginning of December 1991. In the end, Valjarević pointed out that what he knew about the events at Ovčara he had learned from the newspapers and then added that he had no knowledge of the defendants Vujović and Vujanović having any command responsibilities.
In the beginning, witness Mihajlo Katalina said that he knew all the defendants and that they were his good friends. Katalina pointed out that on 19 November 1991 he had gone to Belgrade to fetch the members of his family and added that he had heard about the events at Ovčara only in 1992 or at the beginning of 1993. Katalina then said that he knew Goran Ivanković, aka Džo, who now lives in Canada and who was spreading rumors against the defendants. After he was shown his statement given to the members of the Ministry of the Interior, where he said that he had heard about the shooting of the prisoners of war for the first time in 1994, from Goran Ivanković who told him that he, Goran, was not going to report anyone who gave him 1,000,000 German marks. Katalina pointed out that he had heard about it in Novi Sad, possibly from Ivanković as well.
Witness Ranko Madžarac, an uncle of defendant Predrag Madžarac, renounced his right not to give testimony, in view of the fact that he was a close relative of the defendant. The witness pointed out that his brother Milan and defendant Predrag had been in his house in Petrova Gora street until the fall of Vukovar. In his words, defendant Predrag Madžarac was in the guard detail and, when he was wounded in the arm and the leg, he had to go to the hospital to have his wounds dressed every day. The witness emphasized that Milan and Predrag Madžarac had remained in his house even after the fall of Vukovar and performed their guard duty, and after two or three days they went to check on their house and returned in tears because the house had been completely destroyed. At the end of his testimony, the witness pointed out that he had not been at Ovčara and that he had learned about the events at Ovčara in 1992.
Observers’ remarks Witnesses whose testimonies were heard at the trial on 28 and 29 April 2004 spoke very little about the crime committed at Ovčara. Their expositions were, first of all, focused on the events in Vukovar before 18 November and on the events at Ovčara. In the course of the trial so far the parties in the proceedings used to pose the same question to the witnesses several times, while the presiding judge intervened by pointing out the fact that these questions had already been asked and by repeating the answers given to the questions. Qualifications of certain events were striking. Not only the witnesses and the defendants, but also the prosecutor and the presiding judge, often used the term "liberated Vukovar”. Defense of defendants 29 June 2004
Before presenting his defense, defendant Milan Lančužanin, aka Kameni (the commander of a volunteer unit composed of the members of the Serbian Radical Party) informed the trial chamber that he had suffered a stroke seven years ago and that his ability to move has been impaired, so the presiding judge allowed him a chair to sit on. Speaking about the charges from the indictment, Lančužanin pointed out that "except for being at Ovčara, everything else was fabrication” and added that he would stick by the statement given in the investigation. In his words, upon his arrival to Vukovar on 18 October 1991, he became the commander of the "Leva supoderica” unit and every evening went to major Tešić from the YNA Guards brigade to report. Defendant Lančužanin said then that all the units in Vukovar were under the authority of the YNA Guards brigade and that the immediate superior of defendant Vujović and of himself was captain Radić. The defendant then said that Vujović was in command of the group, while Vujanović headed a smaller group of fighters together with captain Bojkovski. In his words, Dušan Jakšić was the commander of the TD detachment Petrova Gora. The defendant pointed out that on 19 November 1991 he had been in Belgrade and upon his return in the evening of the same day he saw the order commanding him to go to Ovčara. In his words, he had no idea that the prisoners had been taken to Ovčara and he went there by car, a Passat, together with Mare, Ceca and Kinez and another person, as they were in charge of his security. When they arrived there, they found many inhabitants of Vukovar and soldiers, and the defendant personally took out five or six persons to return them to Velepromet and conduct an investigation, while there were some persons he wished to rescue. Replying to a question whether he had let anyone know he was there, Lančužanin said: "If it were Miroljub, I let him know I was there”. The defendant pointed out that the prisoners who were in civilian clothes and white, hospital uniforms were sitting in a semi-circle in the hangar and added that nobody was barring entry into the hangar. Defendant Lančužanin said that a regular officer or a reservist was sitting there at the table, taking inventory. In his words, while he was speaking with Miroljub and Stanko at the entrance to the hangar, an officer with the rank of a colonel or lieutenant colonel said: ”Go out, all of you” whereupon the prisoners left the hangar and climbed into a tractor trailer, while Boro Krajišnik said: "Here, everybody must go”. The defendant pointed out that someone of the people who were there said: "Come, Kameni, follow the trailer” so he, together with the already mentioned four persons, started after the tractor. Lančužanin said that he had not asked anyone where the prisoners who were in the tractor trailer were being taken and added that he had known that something bad was going to happen. When the tractor, after some 150 meters turned left, the car got stuck in the mud. After three or four minutes the defendant, with the already mentioned persons, managed to pull the car out of the mud and then they drove to Vukovar. Lančužanin said that before his return he had reported to defendant Vujović who was left behind at Ovčara. When he was shown a part of his statement given during the investigation, the one where it was written that one of the defendants had told him: "No, Kameni, you cannot go now”, Lančužanin pointed out that it had been Vujović who had told him so. In the opinion of the defendant, all this took place around 20:00 hours, on 19 November 1991, and not on 20 November as stated in the indictment. To corroborate his claim, Lančužanin stated that he remembered that on the evening in question, upon the return from Ovčara, together with Mare, Kinez and Ceca, he had gone to his aunt Radojka.
In the beginning, defendant Marko Ljuboja, aka Mare, said that he had understood the indictment, that he denied that he had committed the criminal act he was charged with, that he denied any criminal responsibility in view of the fact that he had no connections whatsoever with the crime at Ovčara. In his words, on the day the crime was committed, around 17:30 hours, he had gone to look for defendant Lančužanin. Defendant Lančužanin told him that he should, as a member of his security, go to Ovčara, so that he, together with Kinez, Ceca and Lančužanin, went there by car. Ljuboja pointed out that at the time of the investigation he had erroneously said that together with them, in the car, had also been Goran Valjarević, aka Mali Džo. On the way back from Ovčara, in the words of the defendant, one more person was in the car. Ljuboja then continued and pointed out that they had stayed at Ovčara some 15 minutes and that he had seen many prisoners there, among whom there were women and children and that he had been in the hangar all the time but that he had not seen that any prisoner had been abused earlier or while he was there. Then he added that many armed persons in battle fatigues were there. He went into the hangar in order to see the members of the Croatian army that they had warred against as he had heard that among the prisoners there were some members of the Croatian elite units. After that, defendant Lančužanin had appeared and had said: "We are leaving here". Ljuboja emphasized that, when he had left the hangar, he had not seen any column, nor a tractor with a trailer. They drove the car some 100 meters forward and then got stuck in the mud. After some time, they managed to pull the car out of the mud and drove toward Vukovar. On their way back they stopped at the hangar at Ovčara where Kameni had a heated argument with somebody, but he cannot remember who it was. While they were driving back, someone in the car said something like "trouble is brewing" and Ljuboja said he was not quite sure whether anybody had said something like "they'll kill them". He pointed out that he had said then that there existed the Geneva conventions and that many will be held responsible for that. Thereafter Ljuboja said that he had heard a story about a quarrel between his commander, Kameni, and the defendants Vujović and Vujanović. Finally, he pointed out that, in the warden's office in the Novi Sad prison, a certain official had told him to solve his problem and suggest someone who would make a deal and testify for the prosecution. Besides, he added that, at the time he was questioned in the course of the investigation by the investigative judge, a certain person had told his wife that he would spend 40 years in prison if he failed to make a deal and cooperate.
30 June 2004 Defendant Predrag Milojević, aka Kinez, said that he had understood the indictment, but he denied that he had committed the criminal act and refused any criminal responsibility. Defendant Milojević said that he had known that the investigative judge and the warden had exerted pressure on a certain person to make that person accuse him (Milojević) and added that for two months he did not know who it was that had accused him and connected him with this crime. He expressed hope that truth would be uncovered during the proceedings and that those truly responsible would have to pay for the crime. Also, he said that the presence of the representative of the plaintiffs, Nataša Kandić, would help with uncovering the truth. In his words, during the fighting in Vukovar, he had been a member of "Leva supoderica”, the detachment with the largest number of volunteers from the Serbian Radical Party, but also people from Vukovar, Hungarians, etc. Defendant pointed out that the crime at Ovčara was not committed on 20 November, but on 19 November 1991. In the evening of that particular day, he had started toward Ovčara together with Kameni, Mare and Ceca. There they saw a large number of people most of whom defendant did not know. Although he did not enter the hangar, he saw the prisoners inside, sitting, and many local inhabitants. Defendant Milojević pointed out that he had not seen major Šljivančanin, captain Radić and captain Mrkšić at Ovčara, nor had he seen anyone from the YNA Guards brigade. In the words of the defendant, they had stayed between 30 and 40 minutes at Ovčara. On the way back from Ovčara, a certain person joined them and returned with them to Vukovar. Before leaving, judging by the gestures, he saw his commander, Kameni, arguing with the defendants Vujović and Vujanović. After the argument, Kameni told them: "Let’s leave here, jump in”. In Milojević’s words, there was a tractor with a trailer in front of their car, with the trailer full of prisoners, with the soldiers all around. The people "loading” the trailer with prisoners were the civilians whom defendant Milojević had seen then for the first time and whom he had not seen afterwards. After they had followed the tractor and covered some 100 meters, they got stuck in the mud while the tractor turned off the road. In the words of the defendant, they managed to pull themselves out of the mud after 10 to 15 minutes, turned around and returned to the headquarters. Defendant said that the atmosphere at Ovčara had been hellish and unpredictable. There were some 100 soldiers there, with white harnesses, and the defendant further said that he could not believe that what had happened would happen. Defendant further said that upon their return from Ovčara, around 19:00 hours, they went to his aunt Radojka for dinner where they saw captain Radić. On the occasion, captain Radić told them not to worry about what would happen at Ovčara as the army was there. When he saw captain Radić the following day, he was cursing and shouting: "I’ve guarded him all the time, and he has blooded his hands”, thinking of the first protected witness. Speaking of the functions of the defendants Vujović and Vujanović, defendant Milojević pointed out that they had been company commanders and added that Vujović was under the command of captain Radić, while Vujanović was under the command of captain Bojkovski. Defendant then spoke about his contacts with other defendants and the first protected witness. In his words, he met twice with defendant Lančužanin and the protected witness, while once, together with the protected witness, he went to Marko Ljuboja. He said that he had known the protected witness since 1991, that they did not go into action together and that he did not seen him at Ovčara. He added that the protected witness was suffering from a "persecution mania and believed everybody was informing on him”. Upon the publication of the text "The truth about Ovčara”, the protected witness came to him and told him that he was not involved with the crime, but that he was afraid of the inhabitants of Vukovar and thought they were going to frame him. Then he said to the defendant that "one should drown all the inhabitants of Vukovar, Stanko, Nada, Miroljub, Kresojević and the rest of them”. He also told him that "he will revenge himself should Stanko agree to talk”.
Defendant Predrag Dragović, aka Ceca, said that he understood what he was charged with, but he said that there was nobody who could corroborate the charges from the indictment against him. Dragović said that he had gone to Ovčara together with Ljuboja, Kinez and Lančužanin and that he had spent some 10 to 15 minutes in front of the hangar there. Because he was wounded he stayed in the car and left it only to light a cigarette and to urinate. In his words, there were soldiers in different uniforms there and that, after 10 to 15 minutes, Lančužanin told them to leave, so they left after the tractor with a trailer, but that their car got stuck in the mud. There was a tarpaulin on the tractor trailer so he could not see whether there were people in it, and a man was sitting on the left hand mudguard. The person who had come with them went out of the car and started in the direction the tractor had gone in order to ask someone to help them pull the car out of the mud. Defendant Dragović pointed out that he had gone after him although he did not know why. Then a volley from automatic rifles was heard and the said person asked: "What are we going to do now?” After they had pulled the car out of the mud they returned to Vukovar. Defendant pointed out that he had not seen the defendants Vujović and Vujanović at Ovčara and added that he was aware of the fact that his commander, Lančužanin, had had an argument with Vujanović. Defendant then said that at Ovčara he had not seen any of the YNA officers and added that he knew that major Šljivančanin had issued an order prohibiting the shooting of any of the prisoners because of the intelligence that could be gotten from them. In the end, defendant Dragović pointed out that he had immediately, after only a day or two, learned about what had happened at Ovčara.