Did former president of the Republic of Serbian Krajina Goran Hadzic say at a meeting with the UNPROFOR officials in September 1992 that the principle of ‘an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth’ would be applied to Croats and in what context?

Blandina Francis Negga, witness at the Goran Hadzic trialBlandina Francis Negga, witness at the Goran Hadzic trial

When Goran Hadzic’s defense counsel completed the cross-examination of Dusan Jaksic, former commander of the Territorial Defense in Vukovar, the prosecutor called Blandina Francis Negga. She is a former coordinator for civil affairs in UNPROFOR’s Sector East. Negga spent 14 months in Croatia, from June 1992 to August 1993.

The witness’s statement from 2012 was admitted into evidence. The prosecutor asked her a series of questions about a meeting of Serb officials from Knin represented by Goran Hadzic, who was the president of the Republic of Serbian Krajina, with the UNPROFOR officials in Croatia headed by Marrack Goulding, UN Undersecretary for Peace Operations. The meeting was held on 4 September 1992.

According to the notes taken by the witness’s assistant, Hadzic said that the main purpose of his attendance was to ‘bring the war closer to an end and to achieve peace for the Serb people’. According to the witness, this claim did not reflect the real situation in Sector East. ‘There was anarchy, there was no progress towards peace, the army and the police walked around the sector without any discipline, acting not like soldiers but like terrorists’, said the notes from the meeting.

Hadzic also said that he was ‘ashamed that the Vance Plan wasn’t implemented’. He justified the failure by saying he couldn’t implement the disarmament of the Serbs because they were under constant threat. Hadzic said that Croats ‘were the first’ to launch ethnic cleansing in Western Slavonia, and that they killed women and children and ordered Serbs to leave. ‘We will act on the principle of an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth’, Hadzic said.

Hadzic’s defense counsel put it to the witness that Hadzic’s statement was taken out of the context and most of the cross-examination focused on the issue. The defense counsel suggested that Hadzic’s statement didn’t reflect the RSK ‘state policy’.It was in fact a ‘description of what criminals do in the field’. The defense counsel argued that ‘such an important statement’ wasn’t mentioned at all in the witness’s personal notes but only in the notes taken by her assistant. Also, the defense counsel called into question the accuracy of the translation of Hadzic’s words. Finally, the defense counsel asked the witness if she could remember, without consulting her notes, what Goulding’s reaction was.

Negga replied brusquely that she suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder, adding that it ‘isn’t fair’ to ask her once again to go through the events that happened 20 years ago, even though the court had her statements and notes. The cross-examination continues tomorrow.