THE HAGUE | 08.03.2012.

WITNESS: ‘IF SOMETHING IS SECRET HOW CAN I KNOW OF IT?’

The witness called by Franko Simatovic’s defense agreed it was possible that some people involved in the attacks on Brcko and Bosanski Samac and some of the Krajina Serb police officials were in fact agents of the Serbian State Security Service; he didn’t know it because it was a secret

Franko Simatovic’s defense called as its witness Petar Djukic; he first served in the JNA and the Bosnian Serb army as a security officer and later in the Krajina Serb police. Djukic denied that the Serbian State Security Service was involved in the attacks on Brcko and Bosanski Samac and that it had penetrated the military and police structures of the so-called Republika Srpska Krajina. Prosecutor Marcus today confronted Djukic with the evidence showing that the key players in those events did indeed collaborate with the Serbian secret service and its chiefs Jovica Stanisic and Franko Simatovic. The two men are on trial for the crimes the police and paramilitary units committed in the wars in Croatia and BH.

In his war notebook, Ratko Mladic wrote about the meeting with the Serb leadership in Samac on 7 December 1992. He learned from the local police chief Stevan Todorovic that he had sent 18 of his men for training in Ilok. In April 1992, those 18 men and another 30 volunteers from Serbia were brought into Samac by helicopter. They took part in the operation to seize the town. The prosecution contends that the Serbian State Security Service ran a training center in Ilok; this group was sent to Samac on Franko Simatovic’s order. The witness confirmed that the group did indeed arrive by helicopter, but said he didn’t know on whose orders or where they had come from. The witness claims that he didn’t know Simatovic at the time. Djukic only heard Simatovic’s name ‘from braggarts’ who claimed they worked for Simatovic in order to appear as heavy-weights.

The prosecution alleges that Simatovic’s key men in the attack on Samac were Srecko Radovanovic Debeli, Dragan Djordjevic Crni and Slobodan Miljkovic Lugar. The witness admitted that they participated in the attack on Samac but denied any links were connected with the Serbian State Security Service. According to the witness, those men had ties with Seselj’s Chetniks and the JNA. The prosecutor put it to the witness that he reached this conclusion simply because nobody told him that they were agents working for the Serbian secret service. The witness confirmed this to an extent. In a bid to prove the involvement of the Serbian secret service in the attack on Brcko, the prosecutor showed a post-war video recording of a ceremony of the Special Operations Unit, which was run by the Serbian State Security Service, in Kula. In the footage, Simatovic confirmed that the unit participated in the operation. The witness thought that the secret service chiefs in the video were only ‘boasting in front of President Slobodan Milosevic’.

In May 1993, Djukic was transferred from the Republika Srpska army to the RSK police, where he worked side by side with high-ranking police officials Ilija Kojic and Rade Kostic. The prosecution alleges that Kojic and Kostic were agents of the service and that the two accused used them to control the police and paramilitary units responsible for crimes against Croat civilians. When the prosecutor showed the witness a Serbian State Security Service decision dispatching Kojic to Eastern Slavonia, the witness remarked angrily that he would never have worked with Kojic if he had known that Kojic ‘received money from Serbia while we worked for miserable wages’. Kojic really ‘wasn’t fair’, Djukic complained. As he explained, the decision indicates that Kojic was ‘a Serbian secret agent infiltrated into the Krajina ranks’. The witness allowed the possibility that Kostic and other Krajina military and police officials worked for the Serbian secret service. ‘If something is a secret, how can I know of it?’ the witness concluded.

The trial of Jovica Stanisic and Franko Simatovic continues next week.