D.I.C. Veritas

MSP: Izjava svjedoka Jele Ugarković

11. I waited a bit and then ran to our house, thinking that I could save my mother but it was already too late. The summer kitchen roof had caved in and totally collapsed. In a matter of seconds everything was a ball of fire as they torched all the rooms. I heard the animals, chickens and hens and a calf. I will never forget that moment.

12.    I also saw a group of soldiers enter the house of my late uncle in the same manner; they set fire to the house and the barn and headed towards Ondici. At one point, completely beside myself, I came out into the open and shouted to the soldiers to kill me, as well. I do not know if they saw me; probably not. I think the same soldiers who burned down our house were those who had previously torched Poljice, because they came to our house through the woods from that direction.

13.    The next day, I saw carcasses of dead livestock all over the place. As I said that livestock farming was the source of income in the village, and that some families had up to 20 cows, that scene was awful. There were a lot of dead horses and poultry. In the evening as it grew darker, I met with my father who was hiding on the hill near the house. He just asked me if my mother was burned to death, and we sat there all night long.

14.    My father asked me to go and see whether there was anyone left alive in Poljice. We knew that probably everyone who was found by Croatian soldiers was murdered. I said I would go only to Tuk which was a hamlet near Poljice. There again, I saw that three whole estates were flattened and I saw a pile of slain animals that were already bloated. When I came back I saw Janja and Soflja Pavlica from Poljice with my father and Sofija had brought some food but I could not swallow a thing.

15.    I think that Marinko Lavrnic reappeared at dusk on 13 August, who used to come occasionally out of the forest where he was hiding. We agreed with the others who were still alive that we would hide in the hills above our houses to avoid being killing. While Marinko and I were hiding on a hill near the house of Stoja Ostojic, we saw people with dogs in the valley and heard some shots but I do not know who these people were and whether anyone was killed because I was far away. I think that on 13 August or thereabouts I went down to my house and in the summer kitchen I found the remains of my mother. I was devastated and screamed out of grief. I put her remains in a frying-pan and Marinko helped me dig a hole in the yard under a plum tree, and there I buried the remains of my mother and placed the pan on top so that my brother and sisters could find it.

16.    We spent the following day also in the wood. Actually, we were always outside because we were afraid that the Croats might find us. Around 25 August, I decided to seek help from the Czech UN troops who were stationed in Klapavica. I didn't walk through the front door when I got to their base but I jumped over the wire fence and talked to the Czech soldiers. Then, when they called their commander, I told him that there were around 20 people in the woods, and so an evacuation was agreed for the next day. UNPROFOR soldiers found 18 people in my village and Poljice; I think it was the end of August.

17.    The remains of my mother were buried by my sister and brother on 10 September  1995. I know that Petar Lavrnic and his mother Sava Lavrnic were killed in the village of Komic. I heard this from Dusanka Momcilovic who found their  remains in front of their burnt-out family home. Also, six months after the operation “Storm” I was on the crime scene with the representatives  of the  Helsinki  Committee  and  the  corpses  of  Petar  and  Sava  were  still beneath their  house. The two of them still had their  clothes on and their bodies had not completely decayed probably because of the cold winter conditions. Both Petar and Sava still had their hands tied. Croatian police who saw that we came prevented us from burying them and said they had to call the investigating judge.

18.    Mika Pavlica, who was disabled, was found in/or near the debris of her house and her house was burned down on 12 August, as Stoja Ostojic told me. I heard from Pero Mrkalj of the Helsinki Committee that Staka Curcic was also found dead in the garden of her house and that Borka Opacic, who was deaf-mute and for whom I know survived 12 August, when most people were killed, has not been seen since September 1995.

19.    In Poljice, Rade Sunajko was found dead at the doorstep of his birth house, and his wife Mika Sunajko has not been seen since 12 August 1995, so I believe she was murdered then. I heard from Luka Pavlica from Poljice that Rade was killed and that he gave him burial himself. In the village of Komic which had 89 house numbers (my house number was 88 and my uncle's No. 89), about 80 percent of whole estates were burned down, and particularly the houses that were not right next to the road but rather in the hill. As for the village of Poljice which is a small village with about sixty houses, I think that 70 percent of estates were destroyed and burned.

20.    I know for sure that there was no Serbian army in the villages of Komic and in Poljice and I also know that there was no one to defend or put up resistance to the Croatian army.

21.    I gave a statement about these events in 1997 to the investigators of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, but after that I did not testify at the trial of Ante Gotovina, because they didn't call me to the stand. I also gave a statement at the police station in Titova Korenica immediately after the operation “Storm”.

I have given this statement of my free will to the Serbian legal team before the International Court of Justice and agree to appear in the proceedings before the Court as a witness. I have read the statement and accept it entirely as my own.

In Fredericia, Denmark, on 8 March 2013
Signature: (signed)

Witness statement of Jela Ugarkovic in English Language [pdf]


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