In Vojin Susa's cross-examination, the prosecutor argued that in the SAO Eastern Slavonia and later in the Republic of Serbian Krajina, Croats were forced to move out to make way for ethnic Serbs who were resettled in the region to establish a ‘territory with a Serb majority’. Susa replied that there ‘were no significant changes in the ethnic composition'

Vojin Susa, defence witness at Goran Hadzic trialVojin Susa, defence witness at Goran Hadzic trial

At the trial of Goran Hadzic, former prime minister of the SAO Eastern Slavonia, the cross-examination of former justice minister Vojin Susa continued. Prosecutor Matthew Olmsted argued that the government policy was to force Croats to move out to make way for ethnic Serbs who were resettled in the region to establish a ‘territory’ with a Serb majority. Susa replied that ‘there was a Serb majority in the larger part of that area before the war’. The ‘ethnic composition did not change significantly’, Susa added.

The prosecutor noted that Serbs from Western Slavonia arrived in Beli Manastir, Ilok and other towns in Western Srem because accommodation and employment awaited them there. To corroborate the claim, the prosecutor presented two documents showing that even Serbs from Serbia fighting in the territory of the SAO SBZS were given Croat houses where they could live. Susa explained that the houses were made available to the refugees for temporary accommodation. Serbs from Serbia were given housing ‘probably by the army’, Susa claimed. According to the military documents showed by the prosecutor in court, the JNA ‘advised’ Hadzic’s government to establish bodies to organize the resettlement for Serb refugees from Western Slavonia in houses abandoned by Croats. Susa said that this document was a ‘political letter tantamount to a pamphlet’. At the same time, Susa explained, the JNA personnel moved people into hundreds of apartments and didn’t allow the government to do its work.

The prosecutor’s next document showed that in February 1992 the local authorities from the village of Mohovo asked the Commission for Refugees, which was a governmentbody, for permission to ‘remove Croats who are undesirable because of their ties with the Croatian National Guard troops’. In its reply, the Commission, headed by Susa, stated that the local authorities had ‘the power to decide which residents could continue to live in their local communes’. Also, the Commission noted that the SAO government didn't pass regulations allowing the expulsion of the Croats on the basis of their ethnicity. The prosecutor put it to Susa that he knew that the Croats were being expelled at that time. Also, the prosecutor noted, Susa was aware that the government ‘would be in trouble if its policy were disclosed’. According to Susa, it ‘was not a typical expulsion; people had to leave Mohovo for various reasons that sometimes were also economic’. ‘We didn’t expel anyone’, Susa said. Referring to the same document, the prosecutor noted that the government’s position was to leave it to the local authorities to decide if Croats would be proclaimed ‘enemies’ and their property would be seized. Susa claimed that it only happened in the village of Mohovo.

The former justice minister confirmed that when Croats left, their property was given to Serbs. However, Susa denied the prosecutor’s suggestion that Croats didn’t have anything to return to but ‘detention, criminal prosecution and deportation’in SAO Eastern Slavonia. Susa replied that the Croat property was given to Serbs for ‘temporary accommodation’ only to keep Croat houses ‘safe from arson’. The witness continues his testimony tomorrow.