Croatian Serb Leaders: Serb War Crimes Suspects Should Be Handled Delicately!

Croatian Police arrest 12 Serbs suspected of war crimes in Trpinja - Photo: Davor Jovanovic/Pixsell

Croatian Police arrest 12 Serbs suspected of war crimes
in Trpinja – Photo: Davor Jovanovic/Pixsell

Croatian Vecernji list reports that compelling and credible evidence – witness statements etc – points to mass murders committed by (from September to the end of November 1991)members of rebel Serb led “territorial defence” for the self-proclaimed Serbian autonomous region Krajina (SAO Krajina) within the sovereign borders of Croatia, in Trpinja near Vukovar. It is alleged a number of Serb rebels had illegally arrested, mentally and sexually abused and killed some 14 Croatian civilians and 60 members of Croatia’s defence forces, at the time.

On Thursday 11 July a joint operation by the Osijek and Vukovar police had seen swift arrests of 12, out of 15, Croatian Serbs suspected of having participated in committing the above war crimes. Trpinja was a village of intense Serb aggression against Croatia in the early 1990’s. Court in Osijek had Saturday 13 July ruled a one month investigative remand for those arrested, thus enabling further investigations and preventing witness tampering.

All this is good! Right?

War crimes suspects must be arrested any which way! Right?

Not when it comes to Serbs – it seems. Such firm handling and justice doesn’t seem to figure in their reaction to the above arrests.

Belgrade, Serbia, based Novosti news portal wasted no time in securing and publishing statement by a joint council of ethnic Serb refugees which suggests that Croatia is, via these arrests, intimidating Serbs, driving fear into them and that the suspects should have been sent a letter of invitation for questioning in regards to these alleged war crimes!

Yeah right!

Novosti reports that “the police arrested people in their homes, even on their farm fields, where they were working, at their places of employment and that the Trpinja residents (Serbs) were upset by the police ‘Phantom – like’ uniforms and weapons in their hands”.

It’s a matter of intimidating the Serbs. This spectacular action by Croatian police brought fear into the village near Vukovar where Serbs live,” Novosti was told at the SDSS (Independent Democratic Serb Party) office in Vukovar, Croatia.  The SDSS is led by Vojislav Stanimirovic, who was very active in the Yugoslav People’s Army during it’s brutal aggression against Vukovar in 1991).

Chairman of the Serb National Council in Croatia, Milorad Pupovac, also voiced concern last Thursday over the manner in which the arrest of the Serbs from the village of Trpinja near Vukovar was carried out, emphasising that there were elements of force and intimidation.

It certainly cannot be that both Stanimirovic and Pupovac are not aware as to how arrests by police occur in the democratic world. Raids, surprise elements, physical force are often crucial to securing arrests of suspected criminals.

And, as far as these latest arrests in Croatia of suspected war criminals are concerned it seems the Croatian police authorities might have learned a lesson from the recent past when even convicted ethnic Serb war criminals (rapists) fled Croatia (Vukovar) into Serbia, thus avoiding prison and punishment for their crimes.

As for Croatian Serb leaders Stanimirovic and Pupovac, if any one of them actually lodges a complaint about the manner of the above arrests with Croatia’s president Ivo Josipovic, then the best reply to this complaint would be to send these two appalling politicians on a seminar or short workshop of demonstrations of police arrest techniques in some “Western” democratic country. No mercy there! And rightly so!

The victims of the above war crimes certainly did not get any mercy when they were arrested (without even being suspected of any crimes, but because they were Croats), raped, and murdered. Ina Vukic, Prof. (Zgb); B.A., M.A.Ps. (Syd)

Croatian Generals Gotovina and Markac: ICTY prosecutor seeks interference with justice

Croatian Generals Ante Gotovina and Mladen Markac

The ICTY prosecutor has, as expected, filed August 10 briefs to the Appeal Chamber as to alternate modes of liability the appeal should result with in Ante Gotovina and Mladen Markac appeals.

In short, the prosecutor submits that if the Appeal Chamber upholds the Generals’ appeals and finds against joint criminal enterprise and unlawful artillery shelling during Operation Storm (which according to the prosecutor defines the joint criminal enterprise/ persecuting -causing fear by excessive artillery shelling – and, hence, deportation of Croatian Serbs) then the Appeal Chamber should find the generals guilty of aiding and abetting persecutions, deportation, murder, wanton destruction and plunder, other inhumane acts and cruel treatment, even though the Trial Chamber did not in April 2011 find the generals guilty of these crimes. I.e. the Trial Chamber only focused on convictions of joint criminal enterprise that was, according to Trial Chamber, evident in unlawful artillery shelling.

Furthermore, the ICTY prosecutor did not appeal any of the Trial Chamber’s decisions in any shape or form.

The prosecutor further states that the Trial Chamber found (in April 2011) the fear instilled by the shelling attack during Operation Storm was the primary and direct cause of the mass flight of more than 20,000 Serb civilians from Krajina and that the Croatian Army committed deportation.  The prosecutor states that Croatia’s president Franjo Tudjman and other senior figures shared the intent to drive the Serb civilians out of Krajina and used the army to implement their criminal intent through Operation Storm. That Gotovina knew of this intent…

According to the prosecutor Gotovina knew of this criminal intent and sent his troops into Operation Storm knowing that these crimes would probably occur and therefore aid and abetting should be found!

The prosecutor is telling the world that Gotovina was a mind reader – could read minds of individual soldiers – and that he, therefore, could predict the future.

The fact that Operation Storm occurred and was mounted in order to bring about liberation of occupied territory, to stop further bloodshed, to ensure that the homes of the Croatian and non-Serb people in Krajina deported from Krajina prior to Operation Storm remained the homes belonging to those people (and not rebel Serbs) does not factor in the prosecutor’s brief.

So the prosecutor maintains that even if the Appeal Chamber finds that there was no joint criminal enterprise via unlawful artillery shelling (for which the prosecutor originally said was the culprit in frightening the Serb civilians to flight), persecution and deportations were committed, anyway!

During the Trial the prosecutor insisted that persecutions and deportation of Serbs (joint criminal enterprise) occurred through excessive/unlawful artillery shelling. Now that at the Appeal it seems that there may not have been excessive/unlawful shelling during Operation Storm the prosecutor introduces “intent” by Croatian leaders (half of whom are dead and have not contributed to the evidence) to persecute and deport Serb civilians as specific crimes.

Basically, in simple words, the prosecutor says that since it might not have been a case of violent or excessive artillery shelling then the crimes were in the heads (thoughts) of Croatian leaders. To “evidence” the potency of the unknown and un-provable beyond reasonable doubt the prosecutor enumerates things such as Peter Galbraith’s (US Ambassador) statements (or should I say whimsical ramblings?) that Tudjman saw Serbs as a threat to Croatia.

Excuse me Mr Prosecutor, Serbs were a threat to Croatia and they executed their threats. They attacked Croatia, they ethnically cleansed 1/3 of Croatian territory of Croatians and non-Serbs, they murdered and plundered Croatian homes, they occupied Croatian territory. But in no way was Operation Storm an instrument to persecute and deport – it was an instrument of liberation of occupied territory without plans to deport Serbs, who, by the way, were guaranteed safety and asked by Tudjman not to leave their homes.

While the prosecutor admits that Gotovina issued clear orders to prevent crimes, they say that Gotovina failed to implement follow-up measures to ensure compliance with his orders by soldiers or subordinates. Therefore, the prosecutor maintains, Gotovina should be found guilty of aiding and abetting these crimes.

So, Gotovina, according to the prosecutor, gave orders to subordinates not to commit crimes, knew in his head that they would commit crimes regardless of his orders and failed to install follow-up measures on compliance with his orders!

What would have been any reasonable measures of follow-up as procedure in the circumstances of war and in the days that followed Operation Storm when Gotovina went on to lift Serb siege of the town Bihac, preventing an another Srebrenica genocide, has not been tested in court. In fact, many of the bits and pieces from the original trial that the prosecutor submits qualify for a conviction of aiding and abetting crimes have not, as far as I can ascertain, been properly tested in court neither in favour nor against such criminal conviction.

Regardless of that and regardless of the fact that the prosecutor’s brief is nothing more than a preposterous premise (just as joint criminal enterprise riding on supposed unlawful shelling was), untried to acceptable standards of evidence in criminal proceedings, the prosecutor wants the Appeal Judges to find Gotovina guilty of aiding and abetting crimes and Markac of aiding these crimes. In the mind of the prosecutor all this aiding and abetting amounts to joint criminal enterprise because “they knew that crimes may occur”.

Oh, for God’s sake!

The prosecutor wants the Appeal Chamber to convict Gotovina and Markac of crimes they have not been specifically and beyond reasonable doubt convicted of in the original trial. The prosecutor is, thereby, asking the Appeal Chamber to take on the role of the prosecutor (given that the prosecutor failed to insist in original trial on exhaustive evidence for alleged crimes in original indictment) and to act as judges at the same time without any further reference to any defence that would come under due process. The prosecutor is asking the Appeal Judges to act with grave bias and injustice against appellants’ right to due process. The prosecutor wants the Judges to interfere with justice of due process and with natural justice.

The full truth, both real and from the original trial, is that Generals Gotovina and Markac never personally ordered or tolerated the commission of any crimes.

The full truth is that the orders to evacuate the Serbian population from the liberated by Operation Storm Krajina region came from Belgrade and we do not know yet whether the Appeal Chamber will allow filing of additional evidence sought by Gotovina’s defence that reportedly proves that real truth. One would think that now the prosecutor has asked the Appeal Chamber to find Gotovina and Markac guilty of aiding and/or abetting crimes of deportation the Appeal Chamber has no choice but to allow the additional evidence that actually points to the facts of Serbs leaving Croatia not out of fear for their lives but out of politically installed orders from Belbrade in August 1995 or thereabouts. Ina Vukic, Prof. (Zgb); B.A., M.A.Ps.(Syd)

Gotovina defence asks ICTY Appeals Chamber to admit additional evidence

General Ante Gotovina

NEWSFLASH FROM daily.tportal.hr

The defence team for Croatian General Ante Gotovina has asked the appeals chamber of the UN tribunal in the Hague to allow the introduction of new evidence which his lawyers believe challenges a conclusion of the trial chamber’s judgment that local Serbs fled central and southern Croatia due to excessive shelling of Knin by the Croatian Army during the liberating operation “Storm” in August 1995 when the Croatian forces retook those areas from Serb insurgents, the tribunal reported on Wednesday 1 August.

Those are documents that were not available to the defence teams during the trial, as the prosecution of the UN-run International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) failed to disclose them in timely manner. 

Gotovina’s lawyers also believe that those five documents “could have impacted the Trial Chamber’s verdict.”

The lawyers say that the new evidence show that Serb civilians were evacuated on the order of local Serb rebel authorities who prepared a plan for evacuation and even asked the United Nations personnel “to facilitate the evacuation of 32,000 civilians”.

The contents of another four documents have not been disclosed as they are marked as classified documents.

The defence also proposes the addition of a statement by British artillery expert Timothy Granville-Chapman who also contests the trial chamber’s conclusion about excessive and indiscriminate shelling by the Croatian forces.

Link to the ICTY motion filed and Observations by Sir Timothy Granville-Chapman , General, UK Army regarding artillery shelling of Knin in Croatia’s Operation Storm (1995), comparisons with today’s advances and reality in warfare  

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