Croatia: Luka Misetic Responds As Serb Denials Of Crimes Take New Form

Luka Misetic Photo: Davor Puklavec/PIXSELL

Luka Misetic
Photo: Davor Puklavec/PIXSELL

Well, July was a disquieting month for justice at the UN Security Council. Serbia’s lobby with Russia had resulted in Russia’s veto on the British instigated motion to call the 1995 Srebrenica massacres genocide! And so, the verdicts delivered by the UN Security Council appointed International Criminal Tribunal for Former Yugoslavia (ICTY) officially became as valuable and as respected as a veto of one member state of the Security Council is worth! Denials can take one far these days, it seems!

In line with the appalling Serb denials of genocide and the horrendous crimes they committed in the aggression against Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina during 1990’s it was to be expected that Croatian Serbs and their wicked supporters were going to stage some outrageous display of denials ahead of the 20th Anniversary of Operation Storm that liberated Croatia from Serb occupation and aggression in August of 1995; just as they did with the 20th commemoration of Srebrenica genocide in July.

And so, it came – the ugly beast of denials, political corruption, lies and attempts to pervert the truth in the form of launching an interactive narrative named “Storm in the Hague” (webpage)! Those responsible for this launch on Friday 31 July 2015 in Zagreb, Croatia, are the Documenta association in Croatia (an organisation supposedly dealing with confronting the truth of history but in reality twists that history to promote bias and lies against Croatia), the Serbian National Council (led by Milorad Pupovac) and, as I and multitudes see it, the ultimately biased and politically corrupt SENSE Agency – Centre for transitional justice.

The ICTY concluded the following: 1.     There was no Joint Criminal Enterprise from the Croatian side.  2.     Krajina Serbs were not deported from Croatia by the Croatian  authorities but left Croatia out of other reasons  not associated with any Croatian officials'  illegal behaviour;  3.     Not only that the Croatian authorities did not permit crimes  against  Serbs and Serbs' property,  but they were actively  against those crimes;    4.   It's confirmed that 20,000 houses were not burned  after Operation Storm. The number is probably closer to 5,000,  and that, in both Sectors, North and South.      5.     The judgment has found that a total of 44 civilians  were killed by the Croatian forces, not 320 as the Prosecution claimed,  not 600 as HHO claimed and  especially not 2,000 as claimed by „Veritas“ i Savo Strbac. 6.     There were no politics of non-investigation of crimes by the Croatian  authorities.  7.     The housing laws after Operation Storm were not  in a collision with the international humanitarian law.

The ICTY concluded the following:
1. There was no Joint Criminal Enterprise from the Croatian side.
2. Krajina Serbs were not deported from Croatia by the Croatian
authorities but left Croatia out of other reasons
not associated with any Croatian officials’
illegal behaviour;
3. Not only that the Croatian authorities did not permit crimes
against
Serbs and Serbs’ property,
but they were actively
against those crimes;
4. It’s confirmed that 20,000 houses were not burned
after Operation Storm. The number is probably closer to 5,000,
and that, in both Sectors, North and South.
5. The judgment has found that a total of 44 civilians
were killed by the Croatian forces, not 320 as the Prosecution claimed,
not 600 as HHO claimed and
especially not 2,000 as claimed by „Veritas“ i Savo Strbac.
6. There were no politics of non-investigation of crimes by the Croatian
authorities.
7. The housing laws after Operation Storm were not
in a collision with the international humanitarian law.

Many in Croatia and abroad consider (rightfully) that the interactive narrative “Storm in the Hague” is an attempt to belittle and nullify the ICTY Appeal Chamber verdict of 16 November 2012 in the case of Croatian Generals Ante Gotovina and Mladen Markac, which had found that as far as the Croatian war efforts were concerned there was no Joint Criminal Enterprise, no excessive artillery shelling and no ethnic cleansing of Serbs.

I would think that the saddest thing about this twisting of the final verdict in the International Criminal Tribunal for Former Yugoslavia (ICTY) to suit the Serb denials of crimes and their aggression is that the Croatian taxpayers fund to a large extent the work of these organisations that twist the truth

Mr Luka Misetic, Ante Gotovina’s US based defense lawyer at the ICTY trial promptly addressed on his blog and in the Croatian media concerning and disquieting aspects of this launch of the interactive narrative “Storm in the Hague”. I have translated into the English language Mr Misetic’s address and here it is:

 

Today (31st July), in Croatia, there was a SENSE Agency and Serbian National Council launch of the presentation “Storm in the Hague”. As it was to be expected the presentation purposefully covers up that which the Hague Tribunal found in its judgments in the case of Gotovina (Ante Gotovina, Croatian General).

HOW DID THE HAGUE TRIBUNAL ANSWER TO ALL THESE QUESTIONS?
1. Were Serbs deported from Croatia?
2. Did the Croatian authorities purposefully permit crimes such as murders, plunder and arson in order to deny the Serbs the possibility of returning to Croatia?
3. Were there more than 20,000 homes burned after Storm in the Southern part of the liberated territory?
4. Did the Croatian forces kill more than 600 Serbs during and after Operation Storm?
5. Did the Croatian judicial authorities and the police practice the politics of non-investigation of crimes?
6. Have illegally discriminatory housing laws been introduced?
7. Finally, did the Joint Criminal Enterprise exist in Croatia?

1. WERE SERBS DEPORTED FROM CROATIA?

Firstly, we need to correct some misunderstandings regarding the Trial Chamber judgment in which General Gotovina received a 24 year prison sentence. The Tribunal had concluded that Krajina Serbs were deported ONLY from 4 towns: Knin, Benkovac, Obrovac and Gracac. So, only from those four places.

The Tribunal had concluded that Serb civilians from all other places in the so-called Krajina had left Croatia out of other reasons not associated with any illegal treatmen by the Croatian authorities. Those legal reasons for leaving were:
• “Serbian Republic of Krajina” officials had called upon the population to leave the areas (Trial Chamber judgment paragraph 1762);
• The fear of aggression usually associated with armed conflict (Trial Chamber judgment paragraph 1762);
• Generalised fear from the Croatian forces and disstrust in Croatian authorities (Trial Chamber judgment paragraph 1762); and
• The fact that other Serbs were leaving had caused the effect of some civilians deciding to leave with them (Trial Chamber judgment paragraph 1754, 1762).

Hence, the Hague Tribunal had even in its Trial Chamber judgment found that a huge majority of Serb population from the so-called Krajina had left Croatia out of its own reasons, and that the Croatian authorities were not responsible for that. Only the four said towns were questionable for the Trial Chamber.
2. DID THE CROATIAN AUTHORITIES PERMIT CRIMES:

The Trial Chamber had explicitly rejected the claims that the Croatian authorities had purposefully permitted crimes such as arson, plunder and killings in order to deny the Serbs the possibility of return:

2321. The Trial Chamber found that the common objective of the so-called Criminal enterprise did not amount to, or involve the commission of the crimes of persecution (disappearances of people, wanton destruction, plunder, murder, inhumane acts, cruel treatment, and unlawful detentions), destruction of property, plunder, murder, inhumane acts, and cruel treatment.

Moreover, the Court tribunal did not only find that Croatia did not permit such crimes, but it also found that the Croatian leadership had actively opposed the perpetration of such criminal acts:

2313. However, the evidence, in particular the statements made at meetings and in public reviewed in chapters 6.2.2-6.2.5, does not
indicate that members of the Croatian political and military leadership intended that property inhabited or owned by Krajina Serbs should be destroyed or plundered. Further, it does not indicate that these acts were initiated or supported by members of the leadership. Rather, the evidence includes several examples of meetings and statements (see for example D409, P470, and D1451), indicating that the leadership, including Tudjman, disapproved of the destruction of property. Based on the foregoing, the Trial Chamber does not find that destruction and plunder were within the purpose of the joint criminal enterprise.

3. Were 20,000 homes burned in the South Sector?

This claim was thoroughly discredited at the hearing. This hypothesis, which has constantly been repeated in the past 15 years, is based upon wrong claims made in the 1999 report by the HHO (Croatian Helsinki Committee) on Operation Storm in which HHO claimed that the Canadian General Alain Forand, UN forces chief commander based in Knin, stated that 22,000 houses were burned in the South Sector. The reality is that Forand stated that a total of 22,000 houses in South Sector were inspected, and not that they were burned. The truth regarding the number of burned houses in the liberated area is most likely closer to the report by the UN General Secretary in December 1995: about 5,000 of houses and stables in Sectors North and South were burned after Operation Storm.
4. Did the Croatian forces kill 600 civilians during and after Operation Storm?

This also is a usual claim perpetuated all the time in the media. However, the Prosecution had claimed that about 320 civilians were killed in Sector South, and not 600. The Trial Chamber had found that out of these 320, 44 were killed by members of the Croatian armed forces. The number of Serb civilians killed by Croatian forces is closer to 44 than 600.

5. Did the Croatian judicial authorities and police practice the politics of non-investigation of crimes?

The Court Tribunal had rejected this allegation, which is being repeated in the media all the time, even today, and, after the Appeal decision. In paragraph 2203 of its judgment the Trial Chamber found the following:

The evidence reviewed indicates that some investigatory efforts were made, but with relatively few results. Moreover, there are
indications in the evidence that at the political level, these efforts were motivated at least in part by a concern for Croatia’s international standing rather than by genuine concern for victims. In light of the testimony of expert Albiston, the Trial Chamber considers that the insufficient response by the Croatian law enforcement authorities and judiciary can to some extent be explained by the abovementioned obstacles they faced and their need to perform other duties in August and September 1995. In conclusion, while the evidence indicates incidents of purposeful hindrance of certain investigations, the Trial Chamber cannot positively establish that the Croatian authorities had a policy of non-investigation of crimes committed against Krajina Serbs during and following Operation Storm in the Indictment area.
These are the main findings of the Trial Chamber. As we all know, some parts of this judgment have remained disputable given that General Gotovina was sentenced to 24 years (and General Markac to 18) due to Trial Chamber’s conclusion that General Gotovina had executed illegal artillery attacks against the towns of Knin, Benkovac, Obrovac and Gracac.

That’s why we needed to wait for the final verdict by the Appeals Chamber regarding the disputed matters left from the Trial Chamber judgment, and that final judgment arrived on 16 November 2012. (Acquitting the Croatian generals of all charges).

Appeals Chamber verdict

6 and 7. Joint Criminal Enterprise and housing laws

There was no Joint Criminal Enterprise on the Croatian side. The Appeal Chamber had quashed Trial Chamber judgment on that count, concluding that the Krajina Serbs were not deported from Knin, Benkovac, Obrovac and Gracac, and with that, the Croatian authorities did not deport the Krajina Serbs nor did the Joint Criminal Enterprise involving the Croatian leadership, especially Franjo Tudjman, Gojko Susak, Zvonimir Cervenko, Ante Gotovina, Jure Radic and Mladen Markac – exist.

Furthermore, after the Appeal Chamber verdict, it can be concluded that the Croatian leadership did not pass discriminatory housing laws after Operation Storm (see firstly the Government regulation and then the Temporary assumption and administration of certain property Act/Government Gazette NN 073/1995). That is, the Trial Chamber had found that those housing laws were in breach of the international law as they were introduced after the Serbs from Knin, Benkovac, Obrovac and Gracac were deported from Croatia. However, given that the Appeals Chamber had quashed the finding that the Serbs were displaced, that is deported, the conclusion that housing laws passed after Operation Storm were in contravention of the international humanitarian law must also be quashed.

 

Croatia's Capital Zagreb  Prepares For The 20 Anniversary Of Operation Storm and Liberation From Serb Occupation Military Parade and Celebrations of Independence to be held 4th August 2015 Photo: FAH

Croatia’s Capital Zagreb
Prepares For The 20 Anniversary
Of Operation Storm and
Liberation From Serb Occupation
Military Parade and Celebrations of Independence
to be held 4th August 2015
Photo: FAH

 

TO SUMMARISE

The ICTY concluded the following:

1. There was no Joint Criminal Enterprise from the Croatian side.

2. Krajina Serbs were not deported from Croatia by the Croatian authorities but left Croatia out of other reasons not associated with any Croatian officials’ illegal behaviour;

3. Not only that the Croatian authorities did not permit crimes against Serbs and Serbs’ property, but they were actively against those crimes;

4. It’s confirmed that 20,000 houses were not burned after Operation Storm. The number is probably closer to 5,000, and that, in both Sectors, North and South.

5. The judgment has found that a total of 44 civilians were killed by the Croatian forces, not 320 as the Prosecution claimed, not 600 as HHO claimed and especially not 2,000 as claimed by „Veritas“ i Savo Strbac.

6. There were no politics of non-investigation of crimes by the Croatian authorities.

7. The housing laws after Operation Storm were not in a collision with the international humanitarian law.”

Written and Translated from the Croatian language by Ina Vukic, Prof. (Zgb), B.A., M.A.Ps. (Syd)

Comments

  1. Reblogged this on Eyes of the Mind and commented:
    Something to remember as the 20th anniversary of Operation Storm approaches.

    Like

  2. Ordinary people such as myself will never understand the rationale of politicians!!

    Like

  3. deutschtrailer says:

    Thank you very much ….💗💗💗

    Like

  4. For co-operation now, it seems important to me that each former side investigate their own actions against the other, and fully disclose any wrongdoing. That is the way to peace and reconciliation.

    Like

    • Yes that would be the thing to do, Clare, but also recognise the findings of the international criminal tribunal – there can never be complete peace and full reconciliation with such shocking standards of justice. We are taught to accept court findings even if we don’t like them regardless of the fact that some may have political twists but at the end of the day court findings are public and open to validation and scrutiny and, therefore, on the whole are based on facts presented as evidence. It’s hard for a criminal to accept his/her criminality, it’s easier to rationalise and transfer and enter into all sorts of excuses… and so we find ourselves (at least I do) repeating things like this just to make sure thugs don’t win the day in everyone’s mind!

      Like

  5. Thanks Ina. But why our government and even civil and political organizations did not respond as forcefully and factually as you and Misetic is disgraceful!. The Chetnik website stands and is now a resource of record easily referenced in on-line searches and quoted as reference material…it’s a strategic approach. Versus our tactical and at best reactive approach…our side will get lost and buried in a google search as a blog article ranked of lesser relevance and importance. 20 years of acquiescence and appeasement by all political parties and governments have sow the seeds of this terrible harvest. We let the Serbs dictate the narrative. Can’t image that SENSE (nonSENSE), Pupovac, Pusic at the rest of idiots would be so outraged had Serbia won. Gotta give it to the Serbs, they protect and guard their story with vengeance; at times it seems they want and value Croatia more than we do. How is it that the aggressor who invaded our country, committed horrendous crimes not seen in savagery and magnitude since WWII, truly expelling people and having them sign a way their property or be killed, commit mass murder and torture and terrorize Croatians and other non Serbs are now the victims genocide?? We liberate our territory in a brilliant and clean military operation; others prove that it was a justified and clean operation and validate that we did not expel anyone that it was an organized evacuation by the aggressor, that we did not committed mass murder or torture or terrorism etc. and yet get blamed for being genocidal. Well, this is simply a brilliant strategy by the Serbs and pitiful naivety and treasonous behaviour by Croatia. So upsetting.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes Sunman, you are so right. Croatia has many people in important positions that should not be there. Since that is so and now that this website is out I reckon Croatian government should reconsider it’s funding to the NGO’s responsible for this and similar moves and use the fund savings in flooding the internet with its own site – the truth – as well as contemplating lawsuits against those who take Croatia into disrepute on purpose especially its Homeland war. Stjepan Mesic started that terrible business and still rubs shoulders with those in authority with great ease – obscene!

      Like

  6. Ina, I think all the court material, word for word, and everything pertinent to the war for freedom; Croatia should publish the books and be part of the curriculum- reading and learning material in every school in Croatia. I think this would be the only way to teach-educate Croatian children what happened in the war for independence without anyone to contaminate their minds.

    Like

    • So to the point. db – thanks. Things along those lines have been happening but sadly very slim pickings of text, as if communists who want Yugoslavia back were writing it. Hopefully things will improve and signs are that they will because there is much unhappiness about this in the communities there.

      Like

  7. Reblogged this on By the Mighty Mumford and commented:
    The U.N. SECURITY COUNCIL…doesn’t provide much “security” to countries without powerful lobbyists, do they? 😦

    Like

  8. If the Serbs can have their BS website, I think it’s about time we take things further as well. While your blog is a wonderful resource, I know other commetors here have talked about the need for a website in which regular contributors discuss and dissect political happenings, politicians themselves, principles of voting/democracy, economics, the diaspora, Croatian history and the like. I think we really need something to oppose the crap spewing from the mouths of the socialist “democrats”, the Milorads, the Savos and their ilk. There’s many wonderful, intelligent, truthful articles and resources out there, but I think they need to be brought into one place and I think most importantly, they need to reach those who don’t necessarily want to engage in political discussion to see why this is so important.

    Like

    • I so agree with you, Kat,my blog had become read and shared as there was little around in the English language and often I thought of turning it into a portal but that is a mammoth task that really should be a career or part of one, I will also investigate what can be done…thanks, I love good ideas

      Like

  9. We have truth, we have honour, we have love for our fellow man and we have politicians…I know what I would rather have 🙂

    Like

  10. therealamericro says:

    SENSE Agency, like Balkan Insight (www.balkaninsight.com), is not transparent in regards to their financing sources and connections to government(s).

    I wouldn’t be surprised if they, like Balkan Insight (www.balkaninsight.com), have – and do not disclose thereby engaging in false advertising – permanent US State Department personnel of Serbian descent leading everything behind the scenes (verified by a former employee).

    Like

    • Oh both SENSE Agency and balkaninsight are certainly not there to assist the Croatian truth, the real truth and facts, therealamericro – that’s for sure. Hopefully the former permanency at State Department of the particular ex-employee won’t stay a permanent mode or wheel for perpetuating garbage and political stench such as this that can actually make real lives a misery – if allowed

      Like

  11. Reblogged this on Croatia Business Report.

    Like

  12. tHE CHARGES AND COUNTER CHARGES GO ON AND ON… 😦 but truth will out!

    Like

  13. Ina, a couple of things have come to mind recently about this crazy concept of equalization of guilt and victims. First the media has not done a good job being investigative journalists: they are either biased propaganda outlet or simply report on all sort of non sense. And second, the Serbs can’t have any victims they can only have casualties. Only Croatian can have victims…why? Well the aggressor who started the war and who aggressive and belligerent behaviour victimized Croatians can only have casualties. While the defender is truly a victim. It’s the same as a bully who starts a fight and loses… can that bully be regarded as a victim of his victim?

    Like

    • Well put, Sunman – no Serbs cannot have victims in war they started also because not only were their professional soldiers in the Yugoslav Army involved in aggression, murder, ethnic cleansing, rape… but also civilians of Serb extraction living in Croatia who turned into rebels or other forms of aggression…

      Like

  14. therealamericro says:

    Dear readers:

    Don’t forget to link these links in any discussion on any forum or article regarding Operation Storm (you might want to hyperlink these Ina):

    Savo Strbac on August 7, 1995 admitting that the war criminal SRAO “Krajina” leadership ordered a complete withdrawal: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qSRXAYeSo3M.

    Milosevic lamenting the war criminal SRAO “Krajina” leadership’s order to withdraw: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GK2L7Tmi4oE.

    The Serbs self-cleansed in August 4-8, 1995.

    For those who have time, State Department / Foreign Office strategic agitprop front Balkan Insight (www.balkaninsight.com) has three hatchet jobs on Operation Storm.

    Like

    • Thank you, therealamericro – shall indeed, very gladly – truth must be handy to find and you are a great help. Thank you!

      Like

      • therealamericro says:

        No problem Ina. Tight on time otherwise I’d respond on BI.

        In regards to BI, it is the same old antecedent denial (not one article mentions the fact that 99.5 percent of non-Serbs were ethnically cleansed at gunpoint and banned from EVER returning, that over 10,000 civilians were killed and over 30,000 disabled by the five years of sniper, mortar, artillery, rocket and air-ground fire by the JNA/VRSK) and manipulations.

        However one of the three articles mentions a rocket attack in Zirovac on the highway in BiH that allegedly killed some Serb civilians. The problem of course is that it was a VRS air force attack ordered by Karadzic himself and reported as such by BBC Translations (it of course was mysteriously removed from BBC Translations archive once the Gotovina et. al. trial began). I have it on one of my flash drives I’ll try to find it.

        Like

      • Yes, therealamericro – time gets tight but as long as our minds stay alert and sharp all is well – Serbs will run out of steam in presenting lies and playing the victim when they were the aggressor… life is like that truth will out it just gets hard waiting for it at times

        Like

    • therealamericro says:

      Mr. Misetic, if you are reading, the first link has English subtitles and would make a nice twitter response to Sven Milekic’s trolling of you regarding Serbian ultranationalist claims of “ethnic cleansing” in Oluja.

      Like

  15. This was interesting. My Grandpa came from Sweden and his family were pacifists and socialists. Thus is part of how he met my Grandma on a corner of a street handing out leaflets. She was from Germany. History and people’s stories always interest me. ♡ smiles from Robin

    Like

  16. Sounds to me like a big… no huge… no… off-the-scale cover up and ploy to avoid admission of atrocious acts. The fact is, which they overlook… it doesn’t matter if 20,000 houses were burned or 20… or even, 2. It happened, was atrocious and those who did it need to be held accountable. The same can be said for the rest… minimalism does not lend justification. If it were up to me, I’d shove red hot pokers up their arses for suggesting such trite.

    Like

    • Indeed minimalism does not lend justification, Kev and promoting numbers much much higher than what they were is done to add to the weight of an atrocity as if an atrocity needs any weight added to it – it is an atrocity as it stands alone. To deny and negate the findings of a court is a contemptible measure used as cover-up tactic

      Liked by 1 person

Trackbacks

  1. […] Well, July was a disquieting month for justice at the UN Security Council. Serbia’s lobby with Russia had resulted in Russia’s veto on the British instigated motion to call the 1995 Srebrenica massacres genocide! And so, the verdicts delivered by the UN Security Council appointed International Criminal Tribunal for Former Yugoslavia (ICTY) officially became as valuable and as respected as a veto of one member state of the Security Council is worth! Denials can take one far these days, it seems! Originally published on August 2, 2015 […]

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