Why the UN war crimes tribunal for the former Yugoslavia acquitted Gotovina and Markac in spite of the iron-clad evidence against them?
by Andy Wilcoxson
On November 16th the appeals chamber of the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY) in The Hague acquitted and ordered the immediate release of Ante Gotovina and Mladen Markac.
Markac was the Assistant Minister of the Interior and Operation Commander of the Special Police in Croatia. Gotovina was a Colonel General of the Croatian Army. In 1995, he was commander of a military offensive known as “Operation Storm”.
The military operation, which took place during August of 1995, lasted 84 hours and was the largest European land offensive since World War II and resulted in the largest single movement of refugees in Europe since the USSR crushed the Hungarian uprising in 1956. According to the UNHCR, 200,000 Serbs were displaced from the Krajina region of Croatia and hundreds of civilians were killed during the operation.
According to the press release issued by the Tribunal, the appeals chamber ruled that the original trial chamber had “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” and “ordered the immediate release of Mr. Gotovina and Mr. Markac.”
In spite of the Tribunal’s finding to the contrary, “the permanent and forcible removal of Serb civilians from the Krajina region” was absolutely the goal of the Croatian government.
On September 12, 1993, Croatian President Franjo Tudjman told his cabinet that “Croatia must resolve the [Krajina] problem by war, contrary to international norms, meaning by ethnically cleansing the Serbs from Croatia.”
In fact the permanent and forcible removal of Serb civilians was Croatia’s goal even before the war started. From October until December of 1990, the 12th department of the KOS (Yugoslav military counter-intelligence) secretly videotaped Croatia’s Defense Minister, Martain Spegelj and Croatia’s Interior Minister, Josip Boljkovac.
Speaking about Knin, a Serb-inhabited city in the Krajina region, he says: “Their Knin will never be Knin again.” He tells Boljkovac that “We are going to resolve Knin in that way, slaughter. We have international recognition for that and then we slaughter them.”
Aleksandar Vasiljevic, the KOS agent who filmed the video, testified for the Prosecution in the Slobodan Milosevic trial. He told the Tribunal, “There’s absolutely no doubt that this is absolutely trustworthy material because I filmed it myself and I had it in my own possession.”
Gotovina and Markac personally participated in the planning of Operation Storm, and the transcript of the meeting where Tudjman and in generals discuss it is in evidence at the Tribunal.
At the meeting, President Tudjman lays out the goal. He says, “We have to inflict such blows that the Serbs will to all practical purposes disappear.” He says, “it is important that those [Serbian] civilians set out, and then the army will follow them, and when the columns set out they will have a psychological impact on each other.”
Gotovina, whom the Tribunal would now have you believe is innocent, is clearly in favor of the plan saying, “if we continue this pressure, probably for some time to come, there won’t be so many civilians just those who have to stay, who have no possibility of leaving.”
Tudjman discusses the propaganda that should accompany the operation. He says leaflets should be given to Serbian civilians saying, “We are appealing to you not to withdraw, we guarantee — this means giving them a way out, while pretending to guarantee civil rights etc…”
In addition to “pretending to guarantee civil rights” for Serbs, Tudjman wanted to make it look like the Serbs had provoked the attack. He said, “every military operation must have its political justification” and so the Serbs “should provide us with a pretext and provoke us.”
Chief of staff Zvonimir Cervenko suggests, “We should ask Markac to do that.”
Markac, who the Tribunal also says is innocent, responds by suggesting that “We accuse them of having launched a sabotage attack against us and of heading towards Maslenica, of intending to go over Mt. Velebit to the road from Karlobag to Starigrad, that they want to cut it off, and that’s why we were forced to intervene.”
At that point the Croats begin to discuss false flag operations whereby they stage a fake “Serbian attack” in order to give themselves a pretext to attack the Serbs. Gen. Davor Domazet says, “I think it would be best to do it in the following way. They are using Udbina airport, we can organize an explosion as if they had struck with their air force and in this manner we can disguise all our axes.” and so on.
Tudjman explains in the planning meeting with his Generals that he will agree to send a delegation to the Z-4 peace negotiations in Geneva “as a mask.” He says, “I am going to Geneva to hide this and not to talk … I want to hide what we are preparing [so] we can rebut any argument in the world about how we didn’t want to talk.”
It is difficult to see how the ICTY appeals chamber can credibly deny the “existence of a joint criminal enterprise whose purpose was the permanent and forcible removal of Serb civilians from the Krajina region” when they have the President of Croatia on record literally saying, “We have to inflict such blows that the Serbs will to all practical purposes disappear” and when they have a videotape of the Croatian Defense minister saying that “Serbs in Croatia will never be there again for as long as we are there.” How much more obvious can it be?
Yesterday’s acquittal of Gotovina and Markac exposes the ICTY for what it truly is, an instrument of political propaganda operating in the service of its paymasters.
During the 1999 NATO bombing campaign against Serbia, NATO spokesman Jamie Shea boasted about NATO’s special relationship with the Tribunal. He said, “NATO countries are those which pushed for this Tribunal to be established under a UN Security Council Resolution. We are the countries that overwhelmingly support this Tribunal, finance this Tribunal. The United States supplies the President, Canada supplies the Chief Prosecutor and NATO countries provide many of the other judges and officials of the Tribunal.”
On another occasion Shea told reporters that “Without NATO countries, there would be no International Court of Justice nor would there be any International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia, because NATO countries are in the forefront of those who have established these two tribunals, who fund these tribunals, and who support on a daily basis, their activities.”
During the meeting where Tudjman was discussing Operation Storm with his generals he said: “We have a friend, Germany, which consistently supports us.” He told his generals that Germany’s foreign minister “[Klaus] Kinkel has promised that Germany will support us.”
When Tudjman met with American officials after Operation Storm was completed he was told by U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Richard Holbrooke that “We said publicly, as you know, that we were concerned, but privately, you knew what we wanted.”
Germany and the United States are both members of NATO. In 2006 Gotovina’s lawyers told the Croatian newspaper Globus that Gotovina prepared Operation Storm together with former CIA chief George Tenet at the Sepurine military base in southern Croatia. According to the report, Tenet and at least 12 American military experts worked with Gotovina to plan the operation.
Reports of US involvement were also corroborated by US government sources. According to The Navy Times, a magazine published by the US Navy, American warplanes bombed the Krajina-Serbs’ missile defense systems during Operation Storm.
It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that the Tribunal acquitted Gotovina and Markac because the people who pay for the Tribunal and support it were themselves complicit in the crimes that were the subject of the trial.
The “UN” tribunal is, in reality, bought and paid for by NATO. NATO bombed the Serbs, and it supported the Serbs’ opponents in the Balkan wars of the 1990s. That’s why the tribunal convicts Serbs of “genocide” when there’s no evidence to support such a finding, and why it acquits NATO’s Balkan proxies even when the evidence against them is overwhelming. That’s why the tribunal convicted Bosnian-Serb General Dragomir Milosevic of a war crime for attacking TV Sarajevo during the Bosnian war, but did not indict anyone from NATO when they deliberately bombed Radio Television Serbia in Belgrade and killed 16 civilians. The tribunal has yet to explain why it’s a war crime for the Bosnian-Serbs to attack a TV station in Sarajevo, but it’s not a war crime for NATO to attack a TV station in Belgrade. The double standard employed by the Tribunal is plain to see, and it’s plain to see why it exists.