Witnesses called by the defense of JNA General Pavle Strugar, who stands accused of the shelling of Dubrovnik in December 1991, claim that the Croatian forces opened fire from mortars and other artillery weapons from the Old Town

Jovan Drljan, witness in the Strugar caseJovan Drljan, witness in the Strugar case

Retired JNA officer Jovan Drljan claims that on 6 December 1991, from his position at the Zarkovica hill (about 2,500 meter above the Old Town of Dubrovnik), he saw two men pull out a mortar from a doorway of a house on Stradun street, fire a round and then withdraw the mortar inside. The JNA artillery, Drljan added, returned accurate fire on the position from which the mortar had fired.

Through the testimony of Captain Drljan and other officers of the former JNA who had participated in the Dubrovnik operation, the defense of Pavle Strugar is trying to prove that the Croatian forces turned a UNESCO protected city into a “legitimate military target”, by using the Old Town as a basis for opening harassing fire and for launching attacks from there. Apart from a mortar in the doorway, Drljan claims to have seen on that day several flashes from behind Orlando's pillar, also at Stradun. According to him, the flashes were the result of "fire being opened from a weapon", but he was unable to see what kind of a weapon it was.

In the cross-examination, the prosecution tried to challenge Drljan's claims about fire being opened from the Old Town, referring among other sources to the combat log book of the JNA Forward command post at Kupari, which does not contain any entries referring to fire being opened by Croatian forces from the direction of Dubrovnik on 6 December 1991.

The prosecution protested several times during this testimony, claiming to have been "ambushed" by the defense calling this witness. In the written summary of the testimony of Jovan Drljan disclosed to the prosecution in accordance with the Rules of Procedure and Evidence, there is no mention of a mortar at Stradun or flashes from behind Orlando's pillar. The defense admitted its failure to disclose these details and tried to justify that “mistake” by claiming that the witness was proofed a day before his taking the witness stand. Although, as the presiding judge Parker said, the testimony of this witness could well have been stricken, the Chamber decided to admit it into evidence and to reprimand the defense for not proofing its witnesses and for not disclosing the contents of their testimony to the prosecution on time.