Milan Miladinovic testified as a prosecution witness at the trial of Goran Hadzic. Miladinovic described the events in Dalj in the fall of 1991: the detention, beatings and murder of non-Serbs after the Serb forces seized power in the village. The witness was ordered to bury the bodies of five Croats killed by Zeljko Raznatovic Arkan as he (Arkan) was on his way to Vukovar

Milan Miladinovic, witness at the Goran Hadzic trialMilan Miladinovic, witness at the Goran Hadzic trial

A witness who testified under the pseudonym GH 021 did so in closed session. The trial of Goran Hadzic, former prime minister of the Serb Autonomous Region of Eastern Slavonia, Baranja and Western Srem, continued with the testimony of Milan Miladinovic. In 1991, Miladinovic worked at the agricultural complex in Dalj.

It was difficult to follow the witness’s evidence today. The prosecution and the defense counsel had the witness’s statement in front of them, and were able to examine him quoting from it. For everybody else, it was difficult to determine what they were talking about based on the quotes. According to the document supporting the prosecution’s request to admit Miladinovic’s statement into evidence, Miladinovic’s testimony pertains to the capture of Dalj on 1 August 1991, the establishment of the Serb Territorial Defense, the restrictions of movement imposed on non-Serbs and detention of civilians from Vukovar in prison facilities in Serbia. According to the document, Miladinovic also testified that Miodrag Stricevic, security chief in the local Territorial Defense in Dalj was in charge of interrogating the detained villagers in a make-shift prison in the Culture Hall. The witness described today that the prisoners were beaten during the interrogation: it was ‘just like the war between Serbs and Croats’. According to the prosecution’s pre-trial brief, Miladinovic also claimed that in August1991 local police units were established in Dalj and Erdut with Hadzic’s blessing.

In his statement to the prosecution Miladinovic said that the Territorial Defense commander in Dalj ordered him to bury the bodies of Croats killed in September or October 1991 in Trpinjska Road. According to the witness, these people had been killed by Zeljko Raznatovic Arkan en route to Vukovar. The witness was also tasked with burying Croats from Vukovar whose bodies were ‘strewn around’ the farm in Lovas. Those men were part of a group brought to Dalj in ‘about 10 buses’, the witness said. Men and women were separated and placed in four hangars of the agricultural complex in Dalj. After a night in the hangars, most of the detainees were taken to Novi Sad in Serbia.

According to the prosecution’s pre-trial brief, some of the witness’s evidence relates to the murder of 35 non-Serbs from Dalj on 20 November 1991. Victims were arrested on Hadzic’s orders, accused of taking part in the military operations in Vukovar. As they were interrogated, many of them were beaten; 35 persons were killed.

In the cross-examination, the defense put it to the witness that the Croatian National Guard and the Croatian police were involved in moving the population from Dalj to Osijek. The witness didn’t know anything about that. Miladinovic also claimed that the Serb Territorial Defense controlled all aspects of life in the village: it was the ‘authority and was in charge of everything’ including the police and the villagers. Later the JNA took over control of the area but the Territorial Defense remained the ‘main authority’, the witness said in response to the defense counsel.