Croatia: Ante Gotovina – A Bright Star In Fighting For Justice

Ante Gotovina

Ante Gotovina

On 16 November 2012 the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY) acquitted Ante Gotovina (and Mladen Markac) of war crimes.

Several years of the path to that justice were filled with injustice, lies, false allegations, suspected perjury, gossip, and hearsay… against Ante Gotovina. “Innocent till proven guilty” was not the order of the day when it came to Gotovina from countless sources, many of which were a political play to equate the victim (Croatia) with its aggressor (Serbia and its rebel offshoots in Croatia). It was more like “guilty till proven innocent”.

I’m sure you’ve heard the adage, “Throw enough mud at the wall, some of it will stick.” The origin of this proverb is “possibly based on a technique of building wattle and daub walls by throwing daub (mud mixed with straw) at the wattle throwing hard enough that some obtained a good key and remained in place, (compare slapdash, a pebbledash effect produced by throwing pebbles at a rendered wall). Sense 2 is probably influenced by throw dirt enough, and some will stick”.

Applied today this proverb translates into:
1.    Try the same thing (or similar things) often enough, and, even if the general standard is poor, sometimes one will be successful.
2.    If enough (perhaps false or reckless) accusations are made against a person (or organisation), his reputation will suffer, whether or not this is deserved.

There is no need to state the obvious here: once a person has been accused of a crime mud flies from many directions. Of course, every action attracts a reaction and in Gotovina’s case the throwing of mud against him (blacklisting him) even reached the U.S. Treasury Department in 2003 – more than two years before his ICTY trial even commenced. On 29 May 2003 Ante Gotovina’s name was added to the US Treasury Department list as a Specially Designated National, subjecting him to economic sanctions. His name still remains on this list even though the reasons due to which he was included on it no longer exist!

Mud sticks!

The US President Executive Order (Number 13304) under which Gotovina’s name was added to the list includes the following “criteria”:

“Persons designated by the Secretary of the Treasury, in consultation with the Secretary of State, because they are determined:
(A) to be under open indictment by the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, unless circumstances warrant otherwise, or
(B) to have committed, or to pose a significant risk of committing, acts of violence that have the purpose or effect of threatening the peace in or diminishing the stability or security of any area or state in the Western Balkans region, undermining the authority, efforts, or objectives of international organizations or entities present in the region, or endangering the safety of persons participating in or providing support to the activities of those international organizations or entities, …”

It is a matter of self-respect to insist on removing mud from one’s reputation when the mud keeps on sticking.

Last Monday, 6 January 2014, Ante Gotovina filed a lawsuit in the US federal court in the District of Columbia seeking his removal from that list. He filed that civil complaint against the US Department of Treasury (Office of Foreign Assets Control/OFAC) and two of its officials.

This lawsuit comes after Gotovina had reportedly sought, to no avail and no reply, the removal of his name from that blacklist since April 2013.

“…While it’s unclear what could have led to this alleged lack of response from OFAC, the office faces an increasing workload amid tight
budgets as sanctions continue to dominate U.S. foreign policy”, says ‘The Wall Street Journal’ (WSJ).

“The sanctions that accompany being on the list have caused Mr. Gotovina ‘severe harm,’ the complaint says. For one, the designation
has hampered his business endeavors, a person close to Mr. Gotovina said,” The WSJ article also says.

One would expect that the removal of Gotovina’s name from that blacklist will be and should have been straightforward. After all, it’s evident that the criteria in the said US Presidential Executive Order for having ones name on the list in the first place no longer fit any part of Gotovina’s being.

But mud is a devil of a thing to get rid of; sadly, if not rage provoking, there will always be those who will try and make mud stick. And so my attention has been turned to an article awkwardly and inappropriately entitled “The Never-Ending Balkan Wars Continue In Court”, posted on an internet portal, which purports to be maintained and contributed to by legal or law professionals.

The distressing thing about this article posted (?written) by a lawyer is that it clearly attempts to haunt Gotovina for the ICTY Prosecutor’s formulation of charges against him (illegal or indiscriminate shelling of Croatian territory occupied by Serbs) and blames, begrudges, Gotovina for defending himself. Furthermore, the article suggests that OFAC is not bound by the ICTY Appeal Tribunal decision, exonerating Gotovina of the crimes he was charged with and that it could “have evidence that Gotovina has committed war crimes … and that these threaten the stability or security in any area of Western Balkans …” – and therefore, keep Gotovina’s name on the blacklist!

What drives a person or persons to suggest that even if OFAC has placed Gotovina’s name on the blacklist because of ICTY indictment it is not bound to remove him from the list once that ICTY indictment has failed in court?  Nothing pleasant, I think.

It would further seem that the article’s author accepts rather easily that evidence allegedly pointing to perpetration of crimes does not necessarily need to be tested in court for the perpetrator to be labeled as a criminal!  Furthermore, the author of this article would like, it seems, for OFAC to disregard the judgment of ICTY Appeal Tribunal and continue considering Gotovina guilty because, in their minority, some judges differed in their opinion to the majority judges one!

Mud sticks! And with people like the author of this article around no wonder Gotovina found it necessary to file a complaint in the court, seeking for his name to be taken off the blacklist and, I dare say, to get as far away as possible from people who think like the article author seems to think. The best lesson the world is learning from Gotovina is that justice is slow and often the path to it – cruel – and only the very best and the very strong endure all the way to its glorious dawn. Ina Vukic, Prof. (Zgb); B.A., M.A.Ps. (Syd)


  1. I believe my friend I have missed the opportunity to wish you A Happy New Year. I’m glad I caught your post. Huge hugs. Belinda

  2. Yes, “mud sticks” – two words that describe what history is very often made of: “If enough (perhaps false or reckless) accusations are made against a person (or organisation), his reputation will suffer, whether or not this is deserved”. Gotovina was “guilty till proven innocent”. The whole nation celebrated when he was proven innocent without any doubt. And now this!

    • Yes Vesna, and now this … let’s hope it’s just bureaucratic sluggishness at OFAC (and his name will get taken off the list just as fast as it got put on it) and not the work of dark political forces in pursuit of equating victims with aggressor.

  3. therealamericro says:

    Being it is a new year and all the best wishes go to all people, I really, truly hope Denis McShane is enjoying his prison TV and shower.

  4. I wrote three different replies to the author of that article, none of which have been acknowledged. The caption under the picture of Gotovina in the article says, “ABOVE: Ante Gotovina from Croatian Propaganda Poster. ” This is offensive and misleading. Should I conclude from this author that every official picture or any picture used by a government, military and even NGO is propaganda; is every picture of the US President then propaganda. The author of the article is a lawyer specializing in export law. However is engages in highly political, controversial opinions that are clearly biased and openly anti Croatian. How could clients ever trust such a biased person? The author’s betrayal of the truth is to put it gently disturbing.

    • Yes Sunman, the author of that article in export law, to which I refer in my post, is biased and truly mean – one senses that political twisting of facts and justice are the driving force behind his words.

  5. After all the lies against him he has no hatred towards anyone. His Catholic faith got him through those unnecessary years he was in The Hague wrongfully. He was always innocent in our minds. Now The Hague and the world know this which is why all charges have been dropped and he is a free man. Truly a National hero and patriot who can enjoy the freedom he and his people worked tirelessly against all odds for.

  6. Hi Ina,
    Are you aware the if the Scholar Initiative on the Transconflict website – very biased anti Croatian site from the quick scan of articles -
    Why are so many people blinded from the truth? How could anyone in good conscious support what the Serbs did and their objective of creating a ethnically pure Greater Serbia?

    • Yes I am aware of its existence and pro-Serbia make-up etc, Sunman – sadly there are those who support Greater Serbia expansion just as there were around Worlds War I when Serb-led Kingdom that became Yugoslavia – the writings are very transparently biased so many in the world will see that and turn away. People ion general I think are not blinded from the truth, they just choose to ignore or deny the truth in these matters of politics, war, state etc.

    • therealamericro says:

      Sunman, you’ll see my comments on the Prlic et. al. article.

      In terms of, look at who funds them and who writes for them and is on their board, and what they did and do for a living, and everything will be clear as day.

      I read the Scholar’s Initiative, seen here:, and it has its positives and negatives.

      One positive, for instance, is that they correctly state that there was no “ethnic cleansing” during Operation Storm.

      Perusing the names of the scholars initiative, however, one sees that the bulk are Serbian. Not to say that is an automatic disqualification of their arguments, but many of their arguments, especially on Croatian “nationalism” and on Croatian policy in and towards BiH, are not just flawed and statistically innacurate (if the written policy is one thing and is put into practice, and if the actual nationalist parties never crested seven percent the duration of the war, there is no “widespread nationalism”), but entirely discredited by the actual chronological order of events, voting trends, political events, and order of battle.

      One of the head members of the Scholar’s Initiative, Dr. Sabrina Ramet, has written quite extensively on Croatia / fmr. YU, and I would have to say that in Balkan Babel and her other book Nationalism and Federalism in Yugoslavia 1962-1991 were desite my criticisms, overall excellent works.

      The statistics regarding SRH and the favored position of ethnic Serbs within it, as well as economic exploitation figures, and the post-SANU media war, were the best I have come across to date.

      Unfortunately, Dr. Ramet too falls into the fallacy of Tudman’s “nationalism,” though not to the obsessive degree most leftist Western scholars do. I did not read The Three Yugoslavia’s entirely, though much of what I read was was correct but again, equating Tudman and HDZ with either Milosevic and SPS or any other 1990s Serbian political leaders or parties is a fallacy, as is the equating of “RSK” and HRHB, as HRHB saved B&H as a state and Bosniaks from physical extermination. If you are looking to separate and create an ethnically pure Croat state of HRHB, you don’t take in 220,000 Bosniak refugees into the territory of HRHB and fed, cloth, and shelter them, and train and arm their male population for battle against the JNA-VRS.

      Ramet’s Three Yugoslavia’s however did point out, and was the first major western piece of scholarship to do so, the entirely duplicitous policies of Alija Izetbegovic and the Bosniaks vis a vis the war in Croatia in 1991, as well as towards their saviors the HRHB Croats’ in BiH 1992-on. Also some very fun facts were provided in regards to Sarajevo’s anti-Croatian propaganda campaign long before the ABiH’s first probing attacks in Central Bosnia in the fall of 1992, in addition to the use and abuse of the clueless Don Quijote, Stjepan Kljuic, by Izetbegovic and his inner circle (made up almost entirely of KOS operatives and JNA officers who participated in Serbia’s / the JNA’s genocidal aggression against Croatia in 1991).

      It goes without saying that many of the English-language fmr. YU related or new covering organizations have a very open agenda, due to certain states’ own two-faced, hypocritical policies during the 1990s that need to be whitewashed. If everyone is “equally guilty,” then no politicians in the west has to be held accountable, obviously never in court, but publicly in the media and in scholarship.

      Also, taking into consideration Croatia’s EU entry and Germany’s pressure to finally slay the UDBa / KPH-KPJ Leviathan that robs and misrules Croatia and runs nearly every aspect of cultural, media and political life, with the UDBa / KPH-KPJ Leviathan generously financed the duration of the 1990s and put into power repeatedly since 2000 through very untransparent and undemocratic financing from foreign centers of power, certain foreign centers of power fear that not only will their legacies be tarnished with Croatia’s absolute military victory and Gotovina and Markac’s acquittal, but that Croatia will re-integrate into Central Europe, which ruins plans for a Serb-dominated fmr. YU sphere.

      This is why the Prlic et. al. trial was such a monstrous farce and exercise of illogical, contradictory verbal gymnastics that would have driven Orwell and Kafka to suicide.

      The fact that Karamarko was the ONLY Central European opposition leader present at Merkel’s re-election party speaks volumes, as does the financing sources and staff of (and Balkan Insight, for that matter – both are funded by either the UK government, or both US and UK governments). and BI are a continuation of the attempt at self-absolving via Pavlovian repetitions of cliches in print of very unethical, immoral and downright criminal foreign policy in the 1990s information warfare campaign by the western centers of power who were at best duplicitous in their cheerleading for Milosevic and Serbia.

      The language is nuanced and subtle, the primitive open hate speech of the 1990s is gone and political correctness has been adopted, but the messages – all sides are guilty, a key element of Milosevic’s own propaganda and that of his western leftist apologists in media and academia, “Croats were baddies too,” dormant “Croatian nationalism” – is the same.

      As soon as the UK government or NED are financing anything in the Balkans, then you know exactly what time it is.

      At least with, those people are mostly outsiders, save Savo. In terms of BI, especially with their “Croatian” writers: Boris Dezulovic, Boris Pavelic, Drago Pilsel and Drago Hedl, these guys were spewing discredited enemy propaganda during and since the war.

      If they were in the US repeating Al Qaida’s propaganda, they would have ended up in Guantanamo or died under questionable circumstances. In “Tudman’s dictatorship,” they pranced around freely spewing their hate speech and received money from hostile governments and were never charged with aiding and abetting the enemy nor treason despite being paid by foreign governments directly via front NGO’s.

      Today, BI’s editors tone down the language to make it appear somewhat neutral, somewhat legitimate, but the lies, deliberate misrepresentations, suppression of evidence, etc., remain the same.

      As an American it sickens me because via BI, basically the NED is financing a softer English language version of Serbia’s ultranationalist information war to revise the truth and justify past misdeeds and potentially a future conflict.

      Sadly, the useless incompetants in Croatia’s government have yet to date to finance and market solid English-language reporting on Croatia / the wider region to counter this bizarre, and self-defeating Anglo-American initiative (seriously the fear and obsession with Germany, the most efficient economy and democratic state in Europe, is idiotic) to grey everything.

      Instead of subverting Croatia they could themselves demand via their embassies that Lustration is needed immediately in Croatia and that Perkovic and the UDBa clique need to be put on trial, and make a point to invest in Croatia directly in slower sectors of the economy and get Croatia and the Croatian public on their side.

      Subsidizing the likes of Pavelic, Dezulovic, Pilsel and Hedl only enrages people and sows the seeds of mistrust indefinately.

      • Thanks for the excellent reply. I noticed some of your commentary (or least I thought it was yours) on the site which gave me hope that there was an intelligent counter argument based on facts and truth. Keep writing the truth. Thanks again.

  7. The problem with me in something like this — besides not understanding the geopolitical issues — is that I have come to the point where I don’t truly trust anyone. Noam Chomsky being about the only exception. Indeed, I have come to believe that Vladimir Putin is more honest than US politicians, which isn’t necessarily saying much for Putin.

    Do you like Joseph Conrad, the author? I’ve been reading his works, and he’s become my favorite. He isn’t all that popular except for “Heart of Darkess” and a couple of other stories, but all of his writings seem to be top-notch.

  8. This author needs his lawyer license revoked. How can such biased, uninformed, intentionally misleading assholes ever be given such positions?

    • I agree Kat to the point that his motives are clearly politically biased as to whether it is true or not that OFAC is not bound by official court decisions needs to be looked into – am researching that as a matter of interest and I think the court case will reveal whether there’s more to its inaction in this case than meets the eye at this stage.

    • therealamericro says:

      I’ll give the dummy the bennefit of the doubt and say that it was simply poor research.

      Though all he had to do was go on youtube and listen and read the English subtitles to the shadow author of the Gotovina et. al. indictment itself, Savo Strbac, stating on RS TV on 7 August 1995 that there was no “ethnic cleansing,” and that the war criminal “RSK” leadership, which included the ICTY’s darling, “Krajina” Secretary Savo Strbac with whom it was working with in a blatant conflict of interest since the spring of 1993, ordered Serbs to evacuate:

      ; – )

  9. Good morning !

  10. therealamericro says:

    I have to say that it is quite ironic that Gen. Gotovina was put on that list because of the ICTY indictment itself, and now the argument is that even though the ICTY found him and Gen. Markac not guilty on all counts, it is not obliged to take him off the list.

    Any word on the fascist greater Serbian lobby’s obscene, racist, historically pornographic lawsuit against L3 Communications and by default, the Croatian government, in Chicago? I’m surprised the “lawyer” who crapped out the post didn’t mention that perverse monstrosity that openly argued Croats’ intellectual and genetic inferiority since it too was premised on the ICTY indictment and initial ruling.

  11. therealamericro says:

    While on Gotovina, BI has put an article online regarding the firing of Nada Prkacin.

    Note the nuanced language and baseless insinuations.

    I commented on it, though don’t know if my comments will be uploaded. I encourage you all to do so as well.

  12. therealamericro says:
  13. therealamericro says:

    I would have to add though that transconflict did have one excellent piece, The End of the Lagumdzija-Komsic Affair, which called them out on their electoral engineering and how that is the root of the problem of the so-called Federation.

  14. Incredible article ,There is always those who sell themselves to the devil ,politic is one dirty.aspect in our days.Regards.jalal

  15. This is off topic of Gotovina, but it is important. Ruza Tomasic is asking Croatians to help her as a MEP to comment and have a position on Serbia’s entry into the EU. This is a great opportunity to send messages to Ruza. Some things to consider:
    Serbia must first satisfactorily:
    -settle all war claims – missing persons, missing cultural artifacts and other ‘booty’ they stole from Croatia and BiH (Pusic’s condition of dropping the genocide case if Serbia provides information on missing persons is a farce, she can insist on this as part of EU negotiations)
    -settle all boundary issues with Croatia and BiH
    -renounce permanently the Greater Serbia ideology and territorial ambitions – this means no territory union, no political, monetary or economic union with areas of Croatia and BiH that would constitute defacto union with Serbia;
    not to support or encourage or accept any political aspirations of Serb minorities to ‘break away’ territory or disrupt Croatian and BiH sovereignty – essentially tell/send he message to Serbs in Croatia and BiH that they are citizens of their respective countries, that they must accept this and be loyal to their respective countries and work within their laws, traditions, culture – they are croatian citizens and should act accordingly
    -Pay a rightful amount for war reparations to Croatia and BiH as states and to all victims of Serb aggression
    -settle all Yugoslav dissolution issues – assets, financials etc.

    I am sure there is more, but I hope that you and the your audience will respond to Ruza.

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