According to testimony of Sarlota Foro at the Vukovar Three trial, about 120 civilians from Mitnica, a Vukovar suburb, were "evacuated" to prison in Sremska Mitrovica, Serbia, on 18 November 1991. They were supposed to have gone to parts of Croatia not affected by war

"Vukovar three" in the courtroom

The first evacuation of civilians from Vukovar was organized on 18 November 1991, after the National Guard Corps troops in the Mitnica suburb surrendered their weapons. They did so, as Sarlota Foro testified today, "when it became clear to them they could no longer resist the JNA".

The surrender of arms was agreed at talks where the JNA was represented by Major Veselin Sljivancanin. It was also agreed that the civilians from Mitnica would be evacuated to parts of Croatia not affected by war that same day. The soldiers who laid down their arms were to be treated as prisoners-of-war, in accordance with international conventions.

The evacuation of the civilians from Mitnica, the witness claims, was carried out under the command of Major Sljivancanin. A group of civilians were bused in the direction of Serbia or Croatia, while those who had their own cars – about 120 of them – followed the JNA vehicles in the direction of Ovcara. When they reached Ovcara, they were ordered to leave their cars, place their keys on the front seats and board the buses. Before they did so, Major Sljivancanin addressed them, saying that Vukovar had been "liberated" and that the "citizens of Vukovar were killing his young soldiers". Apart from JNA troops, there were paramilitaries at Ovcara. The witness claims the accused Sljivancanin commanded them too.

From the hangar at Ovcara, they continued their journey by bus through villages with mostly Serb population. According to the witness, they were "completely undamaged, as if there had been no war there, although they were just a few kilometers away from Vukovar".

Sarlota Foro and about 120 civilians from Mitnica ended up in the Sremska Mitrovica prison. The witness remained in prison until 5 December 1991, when she was exchanged. When she reached Zagreb, she found a job in the Missing Persons Bureau.

The Bureau, she said, did not have a list of persons who had been taken away from the Vukovar hospital on 20 November 1991. On the basis of reports filed by the families of the missing, a list containing about 300 names was complied. The list grew shorter, she explained, as the fate of some of the missing became known. When the prosecutor asked her what had happened to the rest, Sarlota Foro replied that 200 from the list of persons missing from the Vukovar hospital had been found – exhumed from the mass grave at Ovcara.