Serbia Did Control Brutal Aggression Against Croatia

 

 

Borivoja Savic
at UN MICT Hague
Photo credit: MICT

Serb Borivoje Savic’s (a witness for the prosecution at the UN Mechanisms for International Criminal Tribunals/MICT in The Hague), 2012 amalgamated  statement (PDF) in the war crimes committed in Croatia proceedings against Goran Hadzic was, 5 September 2017, admitted by court decision as evidence in the Jovica Stanisic and Franko Simatovic war crimes retrial.

Stanisic, who was the chief of the Serbian Secret Service SDB from 1992, and his former assistant Simatovic are being retried for the persecution, murders, deportations and forcible resettlement of Croat and Bosniak civilians during the wars in Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina from 1991 to 1995.

According to the charges, they were part of a joint criminal enterprise led by former Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic, aimed at forcibly and permanently removing Croats and Bosniaks from large parts of Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina in order to achieve Serb domination.

Two former secret police chiefs – Jovica Stanisic, the former head of Serbia’s state security/SDB , and Franko Simatovic, his deputy, once held to be among the most powerful men in Serbia, went on trial Tuesday 13 June 2017 at The Hague for the second time, accused of running a lethal network of covert operations during the 1990-95 conflict in which Serbia wanted to prevent the break-up of Yugoslavia despite the fact that majority of people in states that made up Yugoslavia, except Serbia, voted to secede from communist Yugoslavia.  The ICTY/MICT prosecutors hold that the operations were intended to impose as well as conceal the wartime policies of Slobodan Milosevic, the then Serbian president. The policies that with their intent could perhaps be captured in a sentence uttered by Milosevic in 1989: “Either Serbia will be united or there will be no Serbia!” With this non-Serbs across former Yugoslavia began to tremble.

Jovica Stanisic and Franko Simatovic
Photo credit: MICT

A former Serbian Democratic party official from Vukovar (Croatia) Borivoje Savic’s appearance at the UN MICT yesterday, on Tuesday 12 September 2017, in relation to the Stanisic and Simatovic retrial strongly reiterated his former statements’ claim  that the Serbian State Security Service (SDB) played a key role, established, controlled and armed Serb forces that waged war in Croatia (early 1990’s).

He said to the court  that the plan and goal Serbia had at the time was for “all Serbs to live in one state”, and that Serbian politician Mihalj Kertes had passed that goal-related resolution as  “Serbia’s unambiguous stance” to Serbian politicians from Croatia in late May 1992. As evidenced by Savic’s testimony Kertes was “Slobodan Milosevic’s trusted man”. According to his further testimony, Kertes was a close associate to defendant Stanisic and played a key role in arming Serb forces in Kninska Krajina and Eastern Slavonia, which began in August 1990 “seemingly under the auspices of the SDS, but actually under the auspices of the Serbian SDB”.

Savic said the Serbian SDB also deployed paramilitary units controlled by Zeljko Raznatovic, alias Arkan, to the Croatian region of Eastern Slavonia in the spring of 1991. Arkan’s men committed grave crimes against Croats and other non-Serb civilians in Croatia, he testified.

As soon as they arrived in the field, they executed all the Croats and Hungarians and threw them into wells… Arkan’s guards had the role of both the law and the court,” Savic said to the court and continued, “the victims who were killed in the Croatian villages of Erdut, Dalj and Aljmas were “civilians who did not want to leave” after the Yugoslav National Army “had expelled the local population”.

Old men and women were killed,” he said, and told the court that the local Serb authorities knew about this.

Savic was clear and insisted that it was “only the Serbian SDB” who was responsible for Arkan’s actions and that “the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Serbia had nothing to do with what Arkan did”.

Given Savic’s testimony so far it somehow does not surprise, even if it does enrage and anger, that Croatian Serb politician Milorad Pupovac has been most aggressive and forceful the past week or so regarding the HOS Plaque (Croatian defence forces) in memory of the men who were killed there in 1991 defending Croatia from Serb aggression, and insisting it be taken down because, according to him and other communist liars, it represents the WWII fascist regime (which is untrue). The HOS plaque from Jasenovac was removed from its original place and relocated to a place of Novska some 9 km away.

Pupovac keeps dumping hateful material how HOS Plaque marking the place where Croatian defenders were killed in defending Croatia from Serb aggression cannot remain in Jasenovac because nearby is the WWII Jasenovac camp which marks the place of Jew, Roma, Serb and Croat WWII exterminations. Pupovac is evidently trying every way to hide the atrocity that his Serb people perpetrated against Croatians in the 1990’s. One wonders how much his heightened activities regarding that HOS plaque and likening it to fascist symbol had to do with him trying to divert attention from what was and is going on with the Simatovic and Stanisic case in The Hague. That is, Pupovac being politically active in 1990’s, promotion of Serb agenda during the Serb aggression against Croatia, was very likely one of those Serbian politicians Savic’s testimony speaks of in Croatia who knew Serbia’s plan to ethnically cleanse of Croats and non-Serbs the territory of Croatia Serbs wanted for themselves – and permitted the atrocities to occur. It is a terrible and almost an unthinkable thing to have to be placed into a situation where one is required by politics to tolerate in such important public role such people as Pupovac, who neither show remorse nor regret anything about the ethnic cleansing, mass murder, rapes, devastation Serbs in the name of Serbia committed against Croats and Croatia. Croats in Croatia are being placed in the situation where they must tolerate Pupovac; how utterly unacceptable and awful, especially for the victims of Homeland War. Pupovac is a member of the Croatian parliament representing a part of Serb minority and the feathers of his political wings have grown noticeably since the struggling HDZ took him into their coalition for governing majority in May/June 2017. Any such government that permits such political alliances that go against everything Croatian people have fought for, lost lives for…deserves to be harshly judged by the people and ousted from government if necessary. For the sake of its survival as a democratic state, removed from communism and Serbia, Croatia simply must base its existence and its principles and foundations of its existence upon the goals and achievements of its 1990’s Homeland War. Ina Vukic

 

 

 

ICTY Stanisic and Simatovic Retrial – Serbia’s Involvement On Agenda For War Crimes Against Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina

Serb war crimes suspects:
Jovica Stanisic (L)
Franko Simatovic (R)

 

Two former secret police chiefs – Jovica Stanisic, the former head of Serbia’s state security, and Franko Simatovic, his deputy, once held to be among the most powerful men in Serbia, went on trial Tuesday 13 June 2017 at The Hague ICTY (International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia) for the second time, accused of running a lethal network of covert operations during the 1992-95 conflict in which Serbia wanted to prevent the break-up of Yugoslavia despite the fact that majority of people in states that made up Yugoslavia, except Serbia, voted to secede from communist Yugoslavia.

The ICTY prosecutors hold that the operations were intended to impose as well as conceal the wartime policies of Slobodan Milosevic, the then Serbian president. The policies that with their intent could perhaps be captured in a sentence uttered by Milosevic in 1989: “Either Serbia will be united or there will be no Serbia!” With this non-Serbs across former Yugoslavia began to tremble.

Stanisic and Simatovic were acquitted of similar charges to those in paragraph above in 2013 after a three-year trial at the ICTY in The Hague. The acquittals shocked legal experts, victims’ families and survivors of the wars of Serb aggression in Croatia and in Bosnia and Herzegovina. The wars of Serb aggression in Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina during early 1990’s meant that special combat units of the Serbian secret police directed Serb paramilitary forces who burned churches and mosques and killed masses and raped civilians in village after village to drive out non-Serbs (Croats and Bosniaks and other non-Serbs). These special combat units often went into action ahead of or alongside Serb military units.

With regards to the 2013 acquittal the ICTY chief prosecutor Serge Brammertz said in an interview: “Take for example, the most recent decisions on Stanisic and Simatovic. That victims cannot be satisfied with this decision is obvious. The judges on one hand have confirmed that Stanisic and Simatovic, as responsible for the Serbian intelligence service in Belgrade during the wartime, were the ones creating those special units (Serb paramilitary groups responsible for atrocities in Bosnia and Croatia), that they were the ones supporting financially those units, and that they de facto also were the ones who had a certain control of those units. To have as a conclusion that they were acquitted because they have not specifically directed their support to a commission of crimes is, of course, a notion very difficult for victims to understand. And even at my office, we considered it as a break from the previous jurisprudence where it was sufficient to prove that somebody who was providing substantial support to a party in the conflict had actual knowledge about the commission of crimes by those groups.”

In late 2015, ICTY appeals judges ruled that they had found legal and factual errors in the first trial.

While the judges in the Trial chamber ruled that the defendants had issued no “specific direction” to commit crimes, the appeals judges said no such proof was required to prove a criminal conspiracy or the aiding and abetting of crimes. Given that two of the three original judges had left the chamber, the case could not be sent back the appeals judges issued a decision that not only overturned what had been established by the Trial Chamber back in 2013, but also ordered that Stanisic and Simatovic be retried.

This was/is particularly good news as there has been a consistent, propaganda calibre of an alarming rise of zeal among Serbian nationalist groups, politicians and other public-figure individuals who are rewriting the history of the conflicts in Croatia and Bosia and Herzegovina, denying that Serbs committed any war crimes, pushing the agenda of Serb victimhood including falsely branding the voluntary withdrawal from Croatia of some 200,000 Serbs after Croatia’s liberating military operation Storm in August 1995 as forced deportations and ethnic cleansing, banning references to the conflict from schoolbooks and glorifying convicted war criminals.

ICTY chief prosecutor Serge Brammertz, the tribunal’s chief prosecutor, told the Security Council on June 7, 2017,  that despite the large body of evidence proven in “case after case,” the denials and the refusal to accept facts, even by government officials, were “loud and clear.” (For Full address click here

Genocide is denied. Ethnic cleansing is denied,” he said.

When irresponsible officials use division, discrimination and hate to secure power, conflict and atrocities can gain a logic of their own,” Brammertz said. “That was true two decades ago when genocide and ethnic cleansing began, and it remains true today.”

On the first day of the new trial on Tuesday 13 June 2017, Douglas Stringer, a prosecutor, portrayed the two former Serbia secret police chiefs, Stanisic and Simatovic, as close to Slbodan Milosevic, who had himself gained control of the institutions and agencies of the federal government of what was then Yugoslavia.

Milosevic entrusted the two men with all the critical aspects of secret police activities leading up to and during the wars, Stringer said

The men set up clandestine training camps for paramilitary fighters and acted as chief organizers, paymasters and suppliers for those units, he said. The paramilitaries, some of whom were convicts, became notorious for their brutality and, according to ICTY prosecutor Stringer, “looted on an industrial scale.”

Far from spontaneous, the prosecutor said, the Serbian state security at first placed their operatives in positions in Bosnia and Herzegovina and Croatia that were scheduled for “ethnic cleansing.” He said these operatives were known as “doublehatters,” at once linked to the Belgrade government and also key players locally who relayed orders to the paramilitaries. All the activities “were covert to conceal the hand of Milosevic,” Stringer said.

The fate of Stanisic and Simatovic will be crucial in legally determining the role of the Serbian state in the wars in Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina that killed more than 130,000 people. After two decades of trials at the tribunal in The Hague, no officials of the Belgrade wartime government are serving sentences, only Bosnians and Croats. Should Stanisic and Simatović be found guilty in the retrial, a connection between the Serbian political cadres and the crimes committed in Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina would be established, legally sanctioning the direct involvement of the Serbian state in the 1990’s wars in Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Slobodan Milosevic, considered the war’s main architect, was facing a list of charges, including genocide, when he died in a tribunal cell in 2006 shortly before the end of his trial. His chief of staff, Gen. Momcilo Perisic, was convicted and sentenced to 27 years for aiding and abetting war crimes in Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina, but the verdict was overturned on appeal in 2013 because no “specific direction” to commit crimes had been proved. That ruling also led to disagreements among legal scholars and judges. ICTY is expected to deliver a verdict for Gen. Ratko Mladic, the former Bosnian Serb military chief, in November 2017. Ina Vukic

Croatia: Great Excitement For “The General” Feature Movie

Actor Goran Visnjic (L) General Ante Gotovina (R) Photo collage: croatiaweek.com

Actor Goran Visnjic (L)
General Ante Gotovina (R)
Photo collage: croatiaweek.com

 

It’s been about a week and much of Croatia is buzzing with excitement about the start of the filming of a new feature movie called “The General”. Most say: About time! And indeed it has great significance and potential in spreading and maintaining the truth about Croatia’s Homeland War and its Operation Storm of August 1995, which swiftly and decisively liberated the Croatian territory, occupied and ethnically cleansed of all non-Serbs by the Serb forces. This is a movie and a TV series’ filming of the long-awaited life story of Croatia’s much-loved war hero General – Ante Gotovina.

 

On August 4th, 1995, Operation Storm commenced. It was a large-scale military operation led by Croatian armed forces in order to gain back the control of Croatian territories which had been claimed by Serbs. The united Croatian forces led by General Ante Gotovina massed their troops around the occupied Croatian territory of Krajina. Croatian President Franjo Tudjman announced on the radio that the Croatian citizens of Serbian ethnicity in the occupied territories stay in their homes and not fear the Croatian authorities who will respect their minority rights. General Gotovina’s army shattered through the Serbian lines. The operation, which was documented as the largest European land offensive since World War II lasted 84 hours and liberated occupied Croatian territories, causing the end of the Serb onslaught on Bihac (Bosnia and Herzegovina), preventing a humanitarian catastrophe, and striking the ultimate blow to Serbia’s Slobodan Milosevic’s  evil Greater Serbia scheme under the pretenses of wanting to retain Yugoslavia.

 

General Ante Gotovina (L) and Croatian President Franjo Tudjman (R) August 1995 - at the Victory of OPeration Storm

General Ante Gotovina (L)
and
Croatian President Franjo Tudjman (R)
August 1995 – at the Victory of Operation Storm

Goran Visnjic, a Croatian actor who has prominently appeared in American and British films and television productions is probably the best known around the world for his role as Dr. Luka Kovac on the American NBC television series “ER”. In the movie “The General” he plays the role of General Ante Gotovina, while his well-known father in law Anton Vrdoljak directs the movie. The filming is planned to last until late July this year and the film-sets will include places that saw some of the early 1990’s fiercest battles and defence frontlines for Croatia’s independence and freedom such as Knin, Livno, Sepurine, Zadar, Prkos, Kasic, Islam Grcki, Obrovac, Skabrnja, Sljeme, Lucko, Crna Mlaka, Imotski, Split, Pag, Pirovac, Turanj, Pakostane, Peruca, Rijeka, Erdut, Dalj and Zagreb.

 

Other Croatian actors in the movie and TV series include Tarik Filipovic, Rene Bitorajac, Goran Navojec, Borko Peric, Ivo Gregurevic, Mustafa Nadarevic, Natasa Janjic, Goran Bogdan, Boris Svrtan and Zrinka Cvitesic.

Goran Visnjic during filming of the General - February 2017 Photo: mojTV.hr

Goran Visnjic during filming
of the General – February 2017
Photo: mojTV.hr

The International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) indicted General Ante Gotovina in The Hague in 2001, for war crimes allegedly committed during and after the Croatian military operation ‘Storm’ in August 1995.

He was arrested on the Canary Islands in December 2005 and transferred to The Hague to stand trial and convicted and sentenced to 24 years by the Hague Trial Chamber in April 2011.

Filming of The General, Croatia - February 2017 Photo: Press

Filming of The General, Croatia – February 2017
Photo: Press

November 16, 2012 The ICTY Appeal Chamber acquitted and set free Croatian Generals Ante Gotovina and Mladen Markac. In the end, the truth prevailed and so did justice as we are reminded from the Judgment delivered on that day by Judge Theodor Meron:

 

The Appeals Chamber of the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia, composed of Judges Theodor Meron, presiding, Carmel Agius, Patrick Robinson, Mehmet Güney, and Fausto Pocar, today reversed by majority, Judges Agius and Pocar dissenting, Ante Gotovina’s and Mladen Markac’s convictions for crimes against humanity and violations of the laws or customs of war and entered verdicts of acquittal.
On 15 April 2011, Trial Chamber found Mr. Gotovina and Mr. Markac guilty of committing crimes against humanity and violations of the laws or customs of war from July to September 1995 by participating in a joint criminal enterprise to permanently and forcibly remove the Serb civilian population from the Krajina region of Croatia. Mr. Gotovina was sentenced to 24 years of imprisonment, and Mr. Markac was sentenced to 18 years of imprisonment.

The Appeals Chamber unanimously found that the Trial Chamber erred in concluding that all artillery impact sites located more than 200 metres from a target deemed legitimate served as evidence of unlawful attacks against towns in the Krajina region of Croatia. A majority of the Appeals Chamber further concluded that the Trial Chamber erred in finding that artillery attacks ordered by Mr. Gotovina and Mr. Markac were unlawful. The majority also held that the Trial Chamber erred in finding the existence of a joint criminal enterprise whose purpose was the permanent and forcible removal of Serb civilians from the Krajina region.

Accordingly, the majority reversed all of Mr. Gotovina’s and Mr. Markac’s convictions. The majority also declined to enter convictions against Mr. Gotovina and Mr. Markac on the basis of alternate modes of liability. The Appeals Chamber ordered the immediate release of Mr. Gotovina and Mr. Markac. 

Mr. Gotovina was a Colonel General of the Croatian Army (HV). In 1995, he served as the commander of the HV’s Split Military District and as the overall operational commander of a military offensive known as ‘Operation Storm’ in the southern portion of the Krajina region…”

Croatia - The General - feature movie

Croatia – The General – feature movie

 

Besides Croatia, where scenes from Gotovina’s childhood and from his participation in the 1990s war will be filmed, some parts of “The General” will be shot in France and Africa, in order to show his life as a member of the French Foreign Legion.

 

The movie, the General, does not have a political dimension… he is an unbelievably interesting character and a separate movie no American film company could come up with could be made of each year of his life,” said the movie director Anton Vrdoljak about General Ante Gotovina, and added that Gotovina had no comments or complaints about the movie script, which was based on the book “The Warrior – an adventurer and general” written by Nenad Ivankovic. Wishing the film crew great days and great success – eagerly waiting to see the movie in 2018. Ina Vukic

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