Skip to main content
November 20, 1995
. Vreme News Digest Agency No 216
A Reporter's Diary

Vukovar - Tale of Blood

by Jovan Dulovic

Vukovar, November 13, 1991, 17:30

Seselj and his entourage arrived. There is no real frontline here. The part of Vukovar I'm in is mainly Serb populated and has suffered very little destruction. Only locals, territorial defence men, know which streets to use to get close to the center. But even that isn't safe. Snipers are active all the time. Seselj called a meeting with JNA and territorial defence commanders and volunteers. He is in a camouflage uniform with a submachine gun on his chest. His stone faced body guards are trying to note any potential danger. It's all actually funny. Seselj and the officers and the other commanders with beards, royal army insignia and bayonets. All standing at attention and saluting him.

"We are all one army," Seselj said. "But whose?" Captain Sasa Bojkovski asked. Seselj ignored the question and continued. "No plundering, alcohol or incidents..." I can see he trusts his volunteers who handed him those lies. It's dangerous to go out into the streets at night because everyone is drunk and shooting. One night Seselj's men went drinking and threw a whole case of hand grenades out of the window.

"Your fighters are excellent," a Lt. Colonel said. "They're not my men, we're all one army," Seselj replied and continued: "This war is a great test for the Serbs because whoever gets through it wins. We have a lot of traitors so don't let your men desert unpunished. Lies are being spread about the army, traitor parties are at work. We just arrested Canak who was inciting the Hungarians in Vojvodina." Everyone listens to him carefully. Major Veselin Sljivancanin, Captain Miroslav Radic and a few more officers. Seselj speaks in half truths and explains "We accepted the concept of a Yugoslav army, not a Serb army. That's so there's no legal basis for foreign powers to interfere because this is the federal army fighting against rebel Croatians." He ends with a message: "No Ustashi can leave Vukovar alive." To most of the volunteers and para-militaries every Croat is Ustashi. I'm afraid no one is going to be able to stop them.

That evening at 18:35, Bojkovski told me that some 20 soldiers left a street they captured and that they would have to fight for it all over again. Territorial defence commander Stanko Vujanovic also complained: "We are the first to go in and capture an area, followed by others who look into every cellar and attic to see if any Ustashi are left. But they only look to see what they're going to take from the houses. They're actually a mob." "They're great cleaners," Bojkovski interrupts. "They looked into every drawer and closet."


November 14 1991, 4:30

Two bombs fell from the sky tonight just 100 meters from the house I'm in. We spent the night in the basement. Sljivancanin said Croatian light planes dropped two boilers filled with explosives which does not sound convincing because I was awake all the time and didn't hear anything except Toma Peternek snoring. Later a missile crewman told us our soldiers launched missiles at Vukovar but missed.

I'm completely confused about some units, I don't see who's in command, who obeys who. Everything is done under agreement. In one company for example, there are very few JNA soldiers and a lot of volunteers and territorials and other scum. So who can order a group of semi-drunk volunteers with blood in their eyes and guns in their hands to do anything? I saw them abusing two JNA officers the other day. They almost killed them. No one is accountable for murder here and they attack only when everyone agrees. Alcohol is obligatory. It's more than certain, at least in regard to units in the Nova Street, that their only motive for being there is robbery. There have been killings over plunder.


November 20 1991, 11:30

Horror! Hundreds of women, children, sick, wounded and the elderly are leaving Vukovar hospital. There's a scent of death and rot in the air. Across the street from the hospital are some 100 dead civilians. The bodies of the wounded who died in hospital. They dragged them out at night. Reporters hound the 10 or so nuns carrying new born babies. The nuns refused to say a word. Major Sljivancanin used the opportunity to play warrior. Two days ago he took us to a part of town where hundreds of local people left their cellars for the first time in three months. Sljivancanin stood in front of foreign reporters and used his radio to call the Croat commander of Vukovar Mile Dedakovic to a duel. First a cup of coffee before they grab their weapons. This time he held a speech in front of the hospital: "Gentlemen, we are trying to help our people and stop the killing." He didn't allow doctors from the International Red Cross into the hospital even though they had permits. "There are about 100 people in the hospital who aren't sick or wounded and they're heavily armed," Sljivancanin told the doctors. They insisted but he wouldn't allow them in. "This is a war zone and anyone can die if they don't follow the rules. We want to help everyone," Sljivancanin shouted but few listened.


November 21 1991, 8:00

Something fierce happened last night. Almost everyone is talking about the mass shooting of captured Croats and wounded from the hospital. "We killed them from seven in the evening to one in the morning on Ovcar and Petrova Gora," a big bearded man from Smederevo said over his morning coffee. "On the day of my patron saint, Archangel Gabriel. You should have heard them beg and cry and claim that they didn't shoot or kill anyone."

Dragica from Novi Sad was much more descriptive. But she told me she was worried because everyone in the firing squads on Ovcar was bragging about it. The bodies were buried with bulldozers. The killers carefully plundered their victims' bodies: rings, chains, watches. Everyone says Sljivancanin killed several prisoners to see how his new Ak-47 worked. Captain Miroslav Radic and the other company commanders agreed that a big mistake had been made, that the prisoners should have been killed with more discretion. "I didn't have enough of my own men to do this and I had to bring in drunken volunteers. Now they'll blab and this won't come out good," a territorial defence company commander said. Interestingly, none of them fear a trial but all are afraid of Croat revenge. Actually, many of them told me they weren't sure the Croats won't come back one day.

© Copyright VREME NDA (1991-2001), all rights reserved.