Prosecution witness contends 120 bodies were brought to the Knin Hospital on the first day of Operation Storm. According to the Croatian MUP document presented by the defense, there were sixteen dead bodies in the hospital morgue when the Croatian forces entered the building on 5 August 1995

Mira Grubor, witness in the Gotovina, Cermak and Markac trialMira Grubor, witness in the Gotovina, Cermak and Markac trial

In August 1995 Mira Grubor was a lab technician in the Knin Hospital. Today she told the Trial Chamber she was ‘a police officer from New Zealand’. The statements she gave to the OTP investigators in 1998 and 2007 were tendered into evidence at the trial of Ante Gotovina, Ivan Cermak and Mladen Markac. They are indicted for crimes committed in the course of Operation Storm and its aftermath.

In her brief examination-in chief, the prosecutor read out a summary of her statements, where she claims that on 4 August 1995, the day Operation Storm was launched, about 120 bodies were brought to the Knin Hospital, including 30 to 40 civilians. Some 160 to 180 injured persons were also brought in, a third of them civilian. The witness described several shelling incidents involving civilian victims. In her words, she was either an eyewitness or heard of them from her hospital colleagues. When Croatian soldiers entered the hospital in the morning of 5 August 1995, she was hiding in the basement shelter. She claims she heard shouts, gunshots and explosions. After that, she ran away to the UN headquarters.

The defense of Ante Gotovina and Mladen Markac challenged the evidence given by Mira Grubor by video footage taken in those days in the Knin Hospital. It shows no damage to the hospital building. What is also seen is that the new hospital administration, established on 6 August 1995, took on a group of Serb doctors and medical personnel who decided to stay, and continued to treat Serbian patients that had not been evacuated to the UN base. The defense showed footage of surgeon Dr Torbica who made two statements describing the conduct of the Croatian soldiers who had entered the hospital first on 5 August 1995 as ‘very correct’.

According to the defense, the large number of injured Mira Grubor mentioned in her statement is a consequence of the fact that the Knin Hospital was the only medical facility in that area with an operations room. All the injured persons from Sector South were transferred there. The witness confirmed this. The defense contested Grubor’s claim that there were about 120 bodies with a document issued by the Croatian interior ministry listing only sixteen bodies in the hospital morgue on 5 August 1995. Despite the fact that she didn’t go to the morgue in person, she remained adamant that she heard from the personnel that often went to the morgue that there were more than a hundred bodies there and that they ran out of storage space.

The trial of generals Gotovina, Cermak and Markac continues tomorrow with the evidence of a former UN military observer in Sector South in Krajina.