Dokmanovic Trial

Tribunal Update 63: Last Week in The Hague (February 9-13, 1998)

Dokmanovic Trial

Tribunal Update 63: Last Week in The Hague (February 9-13, 1998)

Friday, 13 February, 1998

Dokmanovic is accused alongside three officers of the former JNA, of participating in the massacre of at least 200 people who were taken away from the hospital in Vukovar, on November 20 1991 and killed on the nearby farm Ovcara.

During an earlier part of the trial (see Update 62), two witnesses had identified Dokmanovic as one of the participants in heavy beating of inmates in the hangar in Ovcara, which preceded their execution. Dokmanovic was not mentioned by any of six witnesses who testified last week.

The prosecution first tried to strengthen its argument concerning the widespread and systematic attack on non-Serb residents of the municipality of Vukovar, which it must prove for the crime in Ovcara to be qualified as crime against humanity. This is why "the voluntary exodus" of some 12-15,000 people, mainly Croats, from Ilok, a small town near Vukovar (See Update 60) besieged by the JNA forces, was brought up.

One of last week's witnesses also spoke about the attacks by the JNA and its paramilitary allies from Serbia on the Croat villages in the vicinity of Vukovar, as well as about the maltreatment to which the inhabitants of those villages were exposed. The witness also described how the detained civilians were made to cross minefields and how several people were killed during such "de-mining".

Two former members of ECMM (European Community Monitoring Mission) spoke about what they saw in the Vukovar hospital on 20 November 1991. Dr Jan Schou from Denmark and Peter Krypt from the Czech Republic set off, together with the ICRC representatives, for the hospital with the intention to supervise the agreed evacuation of the patients, the wounded, and the hospital staff.

On the bridge, at the entrance to the town, they were stopped by JNA soldiers, whose commander, the accused Major Veselin Sljivancanin told the ECMM and ICRC representatives that they had to wait until the bridge was de-mined. They waited there for more than two hours, and reached the hospital shortly before 11 a.m. There they found only a handful of wounded civilians who told them how the JNA had taken away all those they suspected as having participated in Vukovar's defence.

According to earlier testimonies, JNA soldiers under the command of Major Sljivancanin arrived at the hospital and took away six buses and one truck full of people between 8am and 10.30am - precisely the period when the ECMM and ICRC representatives were waiting for the "de-mining of the bridge."

The protected witness "A" was supposed to talk last week about what happened to them. At the time of the crime - as a soldier of a unit of the JNA guards - he was the courier of the two accused officers: Major Sljivancanin and Captain Miroslav Radic.

"A", however, appeared before the judges, ill with flu, and high fever, so that he only introduced himself and said he confirmed the statement he gave on March 27 1996 about the crime in Ovcara during the hearing concerning the Vukovar indictment that was conducted in accordance with Rule 61 (Procedure in Case of Failure to Execute a Warrant).

Since the Defence did not have an objection, the Court accepted that so that the statement of the witness "A" was included in the material evidence of the Slavko Dokmanovic trial.

In the statement he gave two years ago, "A" claimed that he was in the Vukovar hospital with Major Sljivancanin and Captain Radic on that November day and that he saw the wounded being taken out through a side exit, loaded on several buses and one truck, and driven off. He heard about the Ovcara crime, he said, the very same evening, from his colleagues - the guards who talked in front of him how all the wounded and the civilians taken from the hospital were killed.

According to witness "A", Captain Radic must have heard what they were saying as he was in the room next-door, but that evening he was "extremely nervous, so that he could not be talked to." When asked by the Prosecutor if he knew whether anyone was punished because of the massacre in Ovcara, witness "A" had replied: "They could have only be rewarded".

The trial of Slavko Dokmanovic will continue in March and the Prosecution announced that the presentation of his evidence would be finished within the five days envisaged for the trail.

The Defence announced that it would reduce the list of its witnesses so that this case will in all likelihood end already in April.

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