Goran Stoparic, who was to testify at the Slobodan Milosevic trial but never did, testifies at the trial of the six former political, military and police officials from Serbia, charged with the crimes in Kosovo in the first half of 1999

Goran Stoparic, witness in the trial of the six former Serbian political, miltary and police officialsGoran Stoparic, witness in the trial of the six former Serbian political, miltary and police officials

Former Scorpion Goran Stoparic testified today at the trial of six former Serbian officials about how four of his comrades in arms killed 19 Albanian civilians, including twelve children under 14. The killings took place in Podujevo on 28 March 1999.

This is the third time Stoparic has testified about this crime. The first time, at the trial of Sasa Cvjetan in Prokuplje in 2002, he gave false testimony. He had been persuaded to do so by the Scorpions commander Slobodan Medic. The testimony had been scripted by the defense counsel for the accused.

The second time, at Cvjetan’s retrial in Belgrade in 2003, Stoparic told the truth, despite Medic’s threats and attempts to bribe him. The truth was that Cvjetan and three other members of his unit had killed those people and that he, Stoparic, had seen them come out of the yard in which the crime had been committed. When the prosecutor asked him what had prompted him to tell the truth, Stoparic today said, “Sir, I would like you to have witnessed the killing of twelve children, and then to ask you what prompted you to speak out about it. It was the children, of course. The innocent children.”

As Stoparic testified today, the Scorpions were disbanded after the Erdut agreement in late 1995. In March 1999, they were all summoned to gather again by their commander Medic for a new mission, the “Kosovo mission”. This time they were to be part of the Special Anti-Terrorist Unit (SAJ) of the Serbian Interior Ministry (MUP). the Scorpions left for Kosovo in a group of 120 volunteers from Sid. Half of them had no previous military or police experience at all. Stoparic was amazed, as he said, to see “inexperienced people become part of an elite unit” of the Serbian police.

Stoparic should have testified at the trial of Slobodan Milosevic, but the Chamber rejected the motion for the additional prosecution evidence to be called. In the introductory part of his testimony today, Stoparic confirmed all the basic arguments about the Scorpions that were relevant for the Milosevic case, according to the prosecutor. He said that the Scorpions had officially been part of the Serbian Army of Krajina (SVK), but that they had been “under the influence” of the Serbian State Security Service and that Medic had received his orders from Milorad Ulemek a/k/a Legija, Frenki Simatovic and Jovica Stanisic. The main unit of the State Security Service were the Red Berets. The Scorpions, Arkan’s Tigers and a few other units were “a kind of satellites”. During the war in BH they fought in Bihac, Velika Kladusa and Treskavica. Stoparic heard from Srdjan Manojlovic, the man he said was the second-in-command in the Scorpions, that “an order came from the Serbian top that 60 percent of the men in the unit should be from Krajina and Bosnia, and 40 percent from Serbia, so that the top leaders from Serbia could deny all ties with the Scorpions…”