AnteGotovina.com's London Columnist, Brian Gallagher
Hague Prosecutor: Milosevic Planned Abandonment of 'Krajina' in 1995
by Brian Gallagher
16 March 2002
The Gotovina indictment, alleging that General Gotovina 'deported' Serbs from Croatia, has been made a mockery of by Hague Prosecutor Geoffrey Nice at the Milosevic trial. In the Prosecution's opening statement, on 13 February, Nice informed the court that one witness that will appear is a Serbian military intelligence officer who was aware of Milosevic's plan to abandon 'Krajina' in 1995. Not only that, but this witness claims that Milosevic forcibly "funneled" Serbs leaving Croatia to Kosovo. All this to improve Serb demographics in Kosovo.
The relevant extracts from the Trial are as follows:
"As a post script and a further link back to Croatia, this small detail: A witness before you will testify that as a member of the military intelligence, he was aware in 1995 of the accused's intention to stop supporting the Krajina and to allow it to fall back into the control of Croatia. Well, whether his measure of control is exactly as substantial as that, something the Prosecution assert, is, of course, for the Tribunal to establish on all the evidence. But the witness can help us further. He and thousands of other Serb refugees crossed into Serbia."
"They were prevented from leaving the highway by police officers who funneled the fleeing Serbs down to Kosovo* where they could affect the Serb populations in areas in a minority; all part of an overall plan."
This is amazing stuff; Nice is confirming that Milosevic had indeed planned the Serb evacuation from Croatia. This completely contradicts the Gotovina indictment which alleges that General Gotovina, Franjo Tudjman and others did it. Not only that, but it seems that Mr Nice has an important witness for the Gotovina defence team. What an obliging fellow.
Of course, Nice is not the only Office of the Prosecutor (OTP) employee who has made such statements. Current OTP spokesperson Florence Hartmann - and possible Gotovina defence witness - in her 1999 book on Milosevic devotes an entire chapter to examining in quite some detail the Milosevic plan.
Indeed, Nice's comments fit in well with Hartmann's book. Earlier in the opening statement, he mentions how Mile Mrksic - indicted for crimes at Vukovar - was sent by Milosevic to take over the Krajina Serb military. Although he does not say why Milosevic sent him there - to organise the 'Krajina' Serb retreat - it does show the OTP appears to be following much of what Hartmann related in her book.
Hartmann stated how 'Krajina' Serbs ended up in Serb held areas of Bosnia-Herzegovina. It is well known that Serbs also ended up in Kosovo as well. The Milosevic strategy was clear; remove Serbs from Croatia to shore up the Serb position in Bosnia-Herzegovina and Kosovo.
It appears that the OTP has realised the value of relating how Milosevic cleansed Croatia of many of its Serbs; it demonstrates his control there and thus his responsibility for the horrifying crimes carried out against Croats in Croatia.
What is disturbing however, is that the evidence of the Milosevic/'Krajina' leadership plan has been around for years. Of course there was Hartmann's book, but there was more. In 1995, the Belgrade daily 'Politika' published Martic's evacuation orders. The Croatian government notified the United Nations of this. A General in the 'Krajina' Serb military, Milisav Sekulic, wrote a book entitled "Knin fell in Belgrade" relating how it all happened. Even the notoriously pro-Serb British Foreign Office tells us on their website that the Serbs were "encouraged" to leave by their leadership.
And let us not forget another reason why so many 'Krajina' Serbs were keen to leave: The mass slaughter of thousands of Croats during the Serbian invasion and occupation. Over 3,000 corpses of murdered Croats have been exhumed in the formerly occupied areas.
How was all of this ignored by the OTP when it came to formulating the Gotovina indictment? Serbian propagandists, their sympathisers and anti-Americans have done a good job in in the media of falsely portraying Croatia's 1995 Operation Storm as an ethnic cleansing operation of Serbs to the point where many honest people are taken in. The truth, that Operation Storm recovered occupied territory and that the Serbs left under orders of their leaders, has been obscured. Perhaps the OTP hid behind this propaganda in forming the Gotovina indictment, hoping no one would ask too many questions. If so, it was mistaken assumption - as they have found out.
As it stands, we now have a situation where a senior OTP Prosecuter has stated in open court that the evacuation of Serbs from Croatia was part of a Milosevic plan, and that he has a witness who will testify to this. This turns the Gotovina indictment on its head. Are there two factions in the OTP?
And let us not forget the reference the OTP gave to the Serb group 'Veritas' whose head was an official of the 'Krajina' government, and who wishes to restore that product of a joint criminal enterprise as defined in the Milosevic indictment. The Veritas head boasts of his involvement with the OTP in providing evidence of alleged crimes against Serbs by Croats. Fair trial for General Gotovina? Or General Ademi, for that matter? Doubtful.
An independent inquiry into the Veritas/OTP link is urgently needed. It may provide us with many answers.
The phrase "you couldn't make it up" could have been invented for all this.
*In the original transcript Nice erroneously said Croatia rather than Kosovo. He corrected this a few lines on.
The transcripts of Geoffrey Nice's opening statement to the court on 13 February can be found at the following link. The relevant passages are on pages 133/4.
(c) Brian Gallagher
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