In the cross-examination of Sergije Veselinovic, former RSK minister for culture and religion, the prosecutor suggested that Croats were ‘killed, abused or robbed only because they were Croats’. ‘Those were isolated incidents. Surely those things did not happen to Croats at a collective level’, Veselinovic countered

Sergije Veselinovic, defence witness at Goran Hadzic trialSergije Veselinovic, defence witness at Goran Hadzic trial

Before Goran Hadzics defense witness Sergije Veselinovic left the courtroom yesterday, presiding judge Guy Delvoie gave him a warning, reminding him that he was not to discuss anything, not even the weather,and particularly not the testimony, with either of the parties in the proceedings or with anybody else in the hotel and in town’.

Veselinovic however decided that the prohibition didnt apply to his wife. Last night Veselinovic called her to ask if in 1993 Goran Hadzic intervened with relevant authorities to have him releasedfrom the detention. Veselinovic was arrested under suspicion of extortion. The judges reprimanded Veselinovic who apologized for havingmisunderstoodthe ban on communication. The witness was then allowed to continue with his evidence.

Prosecutor Lisa Biersay today pursued the same line of examination, noting that in September 1993, at the time when Veselinovic was the president of the Obrovac municipality and minister for culture and religion in the Republic of Serbian Krajina, he was suspended on suspicion of extortion.

In the examination-in-chief Veselinovic claimed that Croats left the territory under Serb control out of greedhoping that they would get Croatian pensions. Prosecutor Biersay showed Veselinovic the documents from November 1992 and March 1993 which show that people were scaredand they left their houses to live in the fields and woodsin fear of rogue local Serbs. The witness replied that there were isolated murders. As he explained, I assume that they were motivated by financial reasonsexcept in one case, where the motive was motivated by 'personal revenge. Veselinovic noted that there is no police force that would be able to control all the criminals. The person who did that [the crimes] deserves the gravest punishment, Veselinovic said.

The prosecutor then put it to the witness that Croats were killed, abused and robbed only because they were Croats. Those were isolated incidents. Surely it did not happen to Croats at a collective level., said Veselinovic.

The prosecutor also presented a document drafted by the SVK 7th Corps Command in January 1993. The document notes that the Serbian Radical Party volunteers participated in combat. Veselinovic confirmed that they spent some brief time thereadding however that they did more harm than good. When those volunteers refused to place themselves under the SVK command, they were made to go back to Serbia. Unlike them, Arkans men were disciplined, trainedand under the SVK command. Commenting of the recording in which Arkan indicated he would betaking on Zadar, Veselinovic said that Arkans unit wasvery small. Arkan could 'never have beaten 10,000 Croats manning the Zadar frontline, not even 'with Gods help. The trial of Goran Hadzic continues next week.