Who Gave the Order? - Scorpion Trial 2

Author: Jasmina Tesanovic
Uploaded: Tuesday, 14 February, 2006

Eyewitness account from Belgrade courtroom by one of the Women in Black

Day 1, 23 January 2006

The fifth indicted Scorpion hardly speaks. When he does, one cannot understand him, in this small courtroom where the Scorpion trial continues today. It is minus 11 degrees here in Belgrade, it snows, we still have our Russian gas heating on, but for how long?

He mumbles, groans, and shakes his head while the severe judge woman interrogates him. From behind, I see his thick neck and body, distorted as if in pain. He is a couple of metres away from me. He is asked to speak louder, but he has nothing to say really; he pleads not guilty. Until recently his defence was silence. Today the few words extorted from him by the impatient judge are I DON'T REMEMBER, I DON'T KNOW... He twitches and his eyes are-directed to the patch of floor in front of him. He was the chauffeur who took the six Muslim prisoners to the meadow where they were executed. He had a Kalashnikov, he had a pistol, and he claims he didn’t shoot. He saw them being executed but he says: my eyes were blinded by sudden darkness, I know nothing.

For five hours he tells this story. He was the driver, supposed to bring bread to his fellow soldiers, but brought them prisoners and then death. They shot first only four prisoners, and then made the other two take the bodies to a house nearby, where they shot them too. Lawyers and judges are interrogating him. He has nothing to say.

Finally one other indicted member of his paramilitary group comments that he was the one who shot the last two prisoners in the house. Then he screams: of course I shot, we all shot... Again, he lost his temper. Night blinded his sight. The judge is angry with him. She says: all this time you claimed another thing! He recoils... hustle in the courtroom. ‘I saw the film for the first time on TV and I think the film was manipulated, some people who were there are missing...’ Who is missing? The victims, the Bosnian officers, his paramilitary friends... again he knows nothing. The trial is adjourned.

We are silent, we Women in Black, together with friends of the victims who came again to Belgrade. The brutality and banality of the killer's coming-out has sucked away my sense of morality. If he has no regrets, nothing to say, is there anything at all to say in this world?

Day 2, 24 January 2006

Day of maps and confrontations. Today, hardly anybody mentions bodies or guns. It is a day of military jargon and display. If one didn’t know the trial was about the Scorpions, one could even get interested in their discourse. All of them have inflated egos and high self-esteem: now they are sitting in front of each other, and clashing in front of the judge, with their varying versions of who said what, who was responsible for what, who was where... Ten years ago, that very day when innocent civilians were executed in cold blood.

That is not their main issue. Their topics are loyalty, the silence of omerta, honoring their hierarchy and sacred military duties. They are relatives, kin, godfathers to each other and to their children. One of them is married to another's sister. The judge asks him to explain their family ties. He replies: why do you think that being in bed with a woman makes me closer to her than to her brother?

He is the number one indicted, obviously responsible for the execution, but he is playing it tough, denying everything, waving his long hair in arrogance and showing off his built-up body as if he were a gay model. He despises the court, the judges and the audience. He answers only to himself, and to Serbian honor, and he lies. He lies all the time, denying everything.

His subordinates are deluded. They are heavily disappointed and sad. They are spilling the beans, revealing what they think they know, but the deeper truth is coming out. Even the arrogant top guy didn’t give the ultimate orders. He got his orders from somebody else, from some proper Serbia authority, from the secret police, from the regime.

Tell the court who gave the order. YOU tell, if you know. They are fighting each other. The name hovers in the air. Nobody is saying it. Their pledges of sympathy and innocence have nothing to do with reason or politics.

The courtroom was packed up, the press hustled from our media centre room so that they could not get a proper insight. Another parallel trial is going on, the trial of the murder of our late Prime Minister Zoran Djindjic. Not the trial of the Scorpion paramilitaries, but the trial of the Zemun Clan mafia.

We all meet on the coffee shop. We stare at each other during the recesses. A sinister guy from a mafia family hisses at us: Women in Black! When the Radical Party gets into power, you will be DONE!

I heard that many judges who presided firmly and justly against the clan power-structures were put aside afterwards. Who rules in Serbia today? Who pulls the strings and gives the orders, six years after Milosevic left for The Hague?

Day 3, 25 January 2005

After days on end of war criminals and their lawyers, the victims appear on the podium. These are the grieving survivors. We no longer have the actual victims, for they are not only dead, but, as DNA tests proved, their scattered bones were dissipated into several mass graves. Some pieces are still missing. Is there hope to restore the identities of the missing?



Reprinted from JUSTWATCH-L archives, January 2006 ( International Justice Watch Discussion List), 26 January 2006

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