Jasmina Tesanovic, Belgrade
First day of trial, March 13, 2006
Boca's Squad / Military Box 9189/19 Vukovar
That's how today's witness presented himself: a low-key thirty-nine-year old locksmith, grim and uncomfortable in his role. He executed his legal duty with obvious physical pain and loud moans and groans. as if barbecued slowly by the impatient woman judge, who looks every time more like a Hollywood star.
"Boca" is just a nickname here, commonly given to the nice kid round the corner, and Vukovar used to be a time-honored city in Croatia. However now, we are talking about Scorpions destroying that city, together with the Jugoslav National Army, the JNA. Recently a movie was made about that scene of the crime and bloodshed. Once again the reality show and the documentary material beat all the moralizing words of the accused war criminals.
This guy, Boca, today knows nothing. His most common words are Probably, Maybe, This, That. Again, if one didn’t know the cultural context and the body language of intentional lying , one would say that the guy is bewildered and stupid.
The judge burst out angrily: According to you NOTHING happened? In one of the worst places of the crime, he overslept the war, while wearing one of the scariest uniforms in the world. He says: all of us wore uniforms with animals: the Croatians had tigers, we had Scorpions, Wolves. Other questions, as to where whom and why, he answers NATURALLY , NORMALLY. Then he looks helplessly at his defense lawyers.
Tell us what you have to say, shouts the judge at him/ We heard you were threatening one of our chief witnesses here, the cameraman, who claimed he knows that the indicted commander gave the orders... All of a sudden the scene changes. This is not a common dumb and deaf witness under pressure. This is the gray grim guy who is threatening in the name of the incarcerated criminals. A professional criminal, he threatens and intimidates those accomplices who are not yet behind bars and are willing to speak out.
With girlfriends from Women in Black, I am munching sweets . At the break a security policeman screams at me: I will throw you out next time you eat. This is court not a cinema. Right, I say... He is shaming us and humiliating us, because, last time, one of the criminal's family made a public scene and the judge threatened us all.
At that point a man from the first rows in the audience smiles broadly at me, as if to protect me from this overbearing court security. It takes me five minutes to realize that he is a Scorpion.
We in the audience are mixing way too much. It is getting scary and unpleasant.
The witness goes on: So I talked to the cameraman and told him that I was worried for his life, since I heard death threats after he testified against the commander.
A wave of alarm runs through the courtroom lawyers. Both prosecution and defense are breaking in with questions,
Yes, says the judge, the cameraman has reported death threats to the court few days ago.
The know-nothing man knows too much. Too much to say the name of those who are still giving the orders. The relatives of the victims are sighing too. They just gave an interview to CNN. They, too, came to Belgrade for this trial, notwithstanding the death of Milosevic as the highest-ranked in the chain of responsibility.
But yes, the show does go on.
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Boing Boing editor/partner and tech culture journalist Xeni Jardin hosts and produces Boing Boing's in-flight TV channel on Virgin America airlines (#10 on the dial), and writes about living with breast cancer. Diagnosed in 2011. @xeni on Twitter. email: email@example.com.