The prosecution’s insider witness denied in the cross-examination that Goran Hadzic had ties with Jovica Stanisic and Slobodan Milosevic. As he was re-examined by the prosecutor, the witness conceded his evidence at the trial of the former chiefs of the Serbian State Security was true. When he testified at that trial, Goran Hadzic was a fugitive from justice

Goran Hadzic in the courtroomGoran Hadzic in the courtroom

In the cross-examination, witness Borislav Bogunovic confirmed to Goran Hadzic’s defense that the cabinet led by the prime minister of the Serb Autonomous Region of Slavonia, Baranja and Western Srem ‘was not consulted when decisions were made’. In the re-examination, the prosecutor tried to rehabilitate the insider witness. From 1991 on, Bogunovic held various positions in the Serb Autonomous Region of Eastern Slavonia and the Republic of Serbian Krajina, from the interior minister to the deputy speaker of the Assembly.

When Bogunovic was cross-examined by the defense yesterday, he described Hadzic’s government as an insignificant body that followed the dictates of the JNA, the Serbian MUP official and the Territorial Defense commander Radovan Stojicic Badza and the paramilitary leader Zeljko Raznatovic Arkan. Bogunovic also denied Hadzic had any ties with the chief of the Serbian State Security Jovica Stanisic and tried hard to play down the importance of the contacts between the accused and Slobodan Milosevic. At the end of the cross-examination Bogunovic said that the ministers didn’t believe that prime minister Hadzic really had met with Milosevic in Belgrade because ‘nothing happened’ after the purported meeting. Hadzic is on trial for his part in a joint criminal enterprise headed by Milosevic and aimed at the forcible and permanent elimination of the non-Serbs from one third of the Croatian territory. Serbs claimed that those areas belonged to them.

As prosecutor Lisa Biersay noted in the re-examination, in his statement to the OTP investigators in 2012 the witness said that the State Security Service in the Serb Autonomous Region of Eastern Slavonia followed Hadzic’s orders. Bogunovic claimed the State Security Service staff were part of Radovan Stojicic Badza’s team and he tried to distance himself from Badza’s actions. The prosecutor noted there was a document showing that the ‘government fully trusted Badza and did not condemn him in any way’.

The prosecutor brought up Bogunovic’s testimony at the trial of Jovica Stanisic and Franko Simatovic in June 2010, reminding the witness that he told the court on that occasion that Hadzic went several times to Belgrade to meet with Milosevic. Hadzic had ‘his support and everybody knew it’, Bogunovic said in his evidence. He also said that he went to Novi Sad with Hadzic, where they met Jovica Stanisic in the Vojvodina MUP building and agreed to take receipt of the vehicles, arms, communications equipment, and uniforms for the newly formed police stations in Dalj and Borovo Selo. Although Bogunovic had been evasive in his answers up to that point, now he gave a clear and short answer: when the prosecutor asked him if that was true, he said, ‘yes’.

Although the defense complained that the prosecution was treating Bogunovic as a hostile witness, prosecutor Biersay noted, ‘I am trying to prove the defense was asking leading questions' which led to the witness giving ‘imprecise and inconsistent answers’. The aim of the re-examination was not to discredit the witness, but to allow him to ‘confirm his previous statements’. The defense counsel was nevertheless granted permission to read for the record parts of Bogunovic’s evidence at the trial of Stanisic and Simatovic that were important for Hadzic’s defense.

After the testimony of Borivoj Bogunovic, the prosecution formally rested its case at the trial of Goran Hadzic. The defense will start calling its evidence on 24 June 2014.