Judith Armatta

Witness B-129 Tells Her Story

Witness B-129 Speaks Out

I am not going to introduce myself by name as there is no point doing it because I changed my name several times. My life and life of my family has come to the point that this letter is our only hope as we have been isolated and deprived from normal life for so many years.

I testified against late Serbian president Slobodan Milošević in International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) in The Hague, Netherlands. The Tribunal has been established by United Nations in 1993 to deal with war crimes that took place during the conflicts in the Balkans`s in the 1990's. I testified in April 2003 with a pseudonym B-129 and my testimony managed to show the link between Serbian Secret Service and paramilitary forces known as Tigers, founded by Zeljko Raznatovic-Arkan. My evidence has been gathered during my work as a personal assistant to Arkan in the Headquarter of Tigers in Belgrade. Despite Lady Justicet he very significant danger to myself, I did not ask to be relocated but simply asked that measures be taken to protect my identity such as image and voice distortion. During my testimony a technician inadvertently interfered with some of the equipment and my voice has been exposed and my identity revealed. When I returned home former member of Serbian Secret Service tried to kill me. I lived without any protection for almost two months, I and my family received serious threats and as a result of this serious UN Court mistake finally I have been relocated. We left our country only with personal belongings and we started a new life from scratch without any support or help. The new life that we never wanted started with financial debt and we are still in debt on the edge of bankruptcy.

Broken Promises and Financial Crisis

After this experience I never wanted to testify again. From October 2007 I started to receive calls from Prosecutor Office through the Metropolitan Police, who is in charge for us, to testify against Mr Stanisic and Mr Simatovic, formers chiefs of Serbian Secret Service. One of the Bosses came to my house and explained to me that I have to testify or I would get subpoena and I would be in some kind of custody. The consequences for me would be that I would be far away from my children who are everything to me and my husband would have to look after them instead to work which would have a terrible effect on our finance. My problem was that I did not know what my rights are because as a protected witness you are isolated and you do not know where to ask for advice. The Metropolitan Police never offered any legal advice or legal support in this matter, for them the most important thing was to escort me to Netherlands and comply with the international demand. Finally, I accepted to testify under the condition that ICTY assist me in the sale of my property. I testified in 2010, under the pseudonym JF-057, even prior to the testimony I had a miscarriage which is probably due to the stress of the new trial. After five years my property is not sold yet.

We are in deeply debts and everyone thinks bankruptcy is the way out. But not for me and my family, first why should I be hold responsible for not be able to possess my property, why should I have a bad start in the new country.

In October 2012 I was in the Court facing eviction from my home. In November 2012 I was freezing for several hours with my hungry baby because we did not have money to buy milk and gas. Thank God we managed to sell some jewellery. Also we sold our car. When I asked Metropolitan Police what I should do, instead of helping me they have send a police patrol assuming that I would harm my baby and myself.

The Cost of Justice for a Witness

I deeply believed that everybody should tell the truth and the justice should be done, but after these ten years I regret every single day for testifying. I lost family, friends, nervous, health, money and most important thing a dignity. My children have been deprived from our family. There is no birthday photo of my children with their grandmother or grandfather. We have been so many times humiliated and bullied by the ICTY or the Metropolitan Police. Every time when we tried to do something for ourselves we have been issued with the warning letter and reminded that we are in witness protection programme. So we just kept quite as we did not know where to ask for help.

International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia has not proven the aim of its existence because failed to punish the war criminals, enable relief to the victims and dignity to the witnesses. The big paradox in my case it is, while I was in the County Court fighting the eviction from my home because of arrears, Mr Stanisic and Mr Simatovic were in Belgrade in their homes with their families on the provisional release for six months. I never been on my mother`s grave but Mr Stanisic has been escorted by police patrol on 19 December 2012 to his father`s grave, even that on that day Serbian people never go to cemetery. 19 Of December is Saint Nicholas in Serbia and there are so many homes that celebrate this Saint as a Patron Saint and receive guests in their homes.

I and my family are living the worst nightmare and I personally feel guilty to putting my family in this position because everyone has some rights except us. Every decision in our life had to comply with the ICTY or Metropolitan Police and there is always a dispute between them who is in charge. What I have done wrong to be punished this way. I just want that someone step aside and recognise my problems and help me and my family to resume a normal life.

Thank you for taking time and reading the letter.

ICTY Witness B-129 and JF-057.

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