The defense contests the allegations that on 19 and 20 November 1991 Hadzic was in the primary school in Borovo Selo and that before the conflict he visited the husband of witness Samira Baranjek in his atelier. Witness Samira Baranjek contends that Hadzic visited her husband and they would ‘look at paintings and read poetry’. The defense counsel put it to the witness that she had mixed Hadzic up with a man by the name of Kovacevic who was physically similar to the accused

Samira Baranjek, witness at the Goran Hadzic trialSamira Baranjek, witness at the Goran Hadzic trial

In a sharp exchange with witness Samira Baranjek, Goran Hadzic’s defense counsel tried to contest her claims. Baranjek contended she saw the former Croatian Serb leader and spoke with him in the primary school in Borovo Selo on 19 and 20 November 1991. The witness was brought to the primary school together with her two children and husband. She saw her husband for the last time just before he was taken to be interrogated in a school room. She learned that her husband’s body had been taken out of the interrogation room wrapped up in a ‘bloody blanket’.

In the examination-in-chief Baranjek claimed that Hadzic asked three times about her husband. The witness claimed she heard Hadzic say ‘euphorically’ in a conversation with Belgrade ‘Mladjo, send in the reservists, Vukovar fell, tomorrow we can go on to Osijek’. According to the defense, it ‘is strange’ that the witness could remember such details 21 year after the events, yet she never mentioned some of them in her previous statements to the OTP investigators. Baranjek replied it was ‘only natural I could remember many details because it was important for me whether I and my children would survive’. After so much time, the witness said, ‘I have no reason to lie’.

After the defense counsel’s many attempts to contest her evidence, the witness at one point started crying. She said that the things that happened couldn’t fit into ‘two paragraphs’ of the statement. Baranjek added that nobody ever asked her ‘how I and my children felt’. There were other people in the primary school, she said: they also saw and heard Hadzic. The defense counsel put it to the witness that there were negative ‘sentiments and opinions’ about Hadzic in the Croatian public. The witness replied that she didn’t watch TV, read newspapers and didn’t care if Hadzic would be convicted or acquitted. ‘I don’t have my husband’, the witness concluded.

The defense counsel also contested the witness’s claims that the accused would sometimes visit her husband’s atelier ‘to look at paintings and read poetry’. Baranjek claimed earlier that Hadzic wrote poetry that was read on the Vukovar radio. According to the defense, Hadzic never wrote or published any poems, he was not part of a poetry circle and never spoke to the witness’s husband. As the defense counsel suggested, the witness probably ‘mixed Hadzic up’ with Branko Kovacevic who looks somewhat similar to the accused, who worked with her husband and was a poet. Baranjek dismissed the suggestion.

In the re-examination, the prosecutor argued that before the arrest Hadzic boasted that he had read a poem to mother.