16.01.2006.

MARTIC OWED HIS FAME TO THE KNIN ROADBLOCKS

Prosecution witness Veljko Dzakula first heard of the accused in August 1990, when people were talking about how a police commander by the name of Martic had ordered roadblocks to be set up in Knin to prevent incursions by the Croatian police. After that, Dzakula testified, Martic became "famous"

The prosecution today called Veljko Dzakula as its first witness at the trial of Milan Martic. He is a former president of the Western Slavonia SAO /Serbian Autonomous Region/ and deputy prime minister of the so-called Republic of Serbian Krajina (RSK). The accused Martic was the interior minister in the same cabinet. He went on to become the president of the RSK.

In the first part of his testimony, Dzakula spoke about his career in the Serbian Democratic Party (SDS). He says he joined it in May 1991, after he saw that the Party of Democratic Change (SDP) "doesn’t have enough courage and feeling to solve the problems the Serbian community is facing". The majority of Serbs voted for the SDP at the first multi-party election in Croatia.

Dzakula described his political views at the time as commitment to "the dialogue with the Croatian government and political action". This led to frequent conflicts with Milan Babic and other "hard-liners from Dalmatia and Lika" in the SDS, opposed to any dialogue and negotiations with the official Croatian authorities. According to the witness, Martic, now on trial, belonged to that hard-line faction when he became politically active.

His conflict with the SDS hardliners got more intense in June 1991, after the founding of the Serbian Democratic Forum. Veljko Dzakula was among those who had launched the initiative. Knin labeled the initiative "defeatist and destructive", claiming it was "aimed against the democratic will of the Serb people not to live in the Independent State of Croatia," and banned the founders from holding the SDF founding assembly in the Krajina territory.

Dzakula irked the Knin hardliners even more when he participated in negotiations with the Croatian authorities in early 1993 and signed the Daruvar Agreement on joint commitment to the normalization of life in the five municipalities of Western Slavonia. Soon after the signing of the agreement, Dzakula was suspended from the position of the deputy prime minister in the RSK government. A few months later, he was arrested and detained for some forty days in prisons in Knin and Glina on charges of "espionage" and "subversion of the state". Although the name of the then interior minister in the RSK government, Milan Martic, is not in the documents related to his arrest, detention and investigation against him, Dzakula believes it would have been impossible to do any of it without Martic's approval.

As soon as he was released from prison in December 1993, Dzakula was notified that Martic had issued a warrant for his re-arrest. He then went into hiding, seeking shelter in various places in Western Slavonia. In February 1994, his friends persuaded him to go to Belgrade and talk about the events developments in Krajina in a TV Studio B broadcast. The very next day, he was kidnapped in downtown Belgrade by the Krajina police and transferred to Knin via Bosnia. Dzakula claims he could hear the "blows and moans of the prisoners" at night in the basement of the police station where he was kept. The abuse of prisoners in the Knin police station is among the charges levied against Martic.

Veljko Dzakula says he first heard of the accused in August 1990, after the "log revolution" as the setting up of roadblocks in Krajina was known. He learned then that a man by the name of Martic, a police commander, had ordered roadblocks to be set up to prevent the Croatian police if they attempted to re-gain control of the police stations that had broken away from the Interior Ministry in Zagreb. After that, Dzakula said, Martic became "famous". The prosecutor illustrated this part of his testimony with a video recording made in August 1990, showing Inspector Martic telling Zagreb that "the people's police would not obey the Croatian government, but only the people".

Veljko Dzakula's testimony will continue tomorrow afternoon.