Erik Widen, former Swedish UN civilian observer in Krajina, claims that some 50 to 100 military trucks passed by the UN base in Knin in the days following Operation Storm. The trucks were loaded with looted furniture and electronic devices. Widen rejects the defense argument that the goods were taken from the barracks abandoned by the Krajina Serb army

Erik Lennart Widen, witness in the Gotovina, Cermak and Markac trialErik Lennart Widen, witness in the Gotovina, Cermak and Markac trial

The prosecution case continues at the trial of Croatian generals Ante Gotovina, Ivan Cermak and Mladen Markac after a one-month break, with the evidence of Erik Lennart Widen, a UN civilian observer in Krajina from Sweden. In the night of 4 August 1995, Widen recounted, about eighty percent of the population of Knin fled their houses, twelve hours after the Croatian forces launched the artillery attack. Their departure was not organized, the witness said. The witness didn’t change his testimony after Ante Gotovina’s defense counsel showed him the evacuation order signed by the then RSK president Milan Martic on 4 August 1995.

When the Croatian Army entered Knin on 5 August 1995, the witness recounted, large-scale looting began and continued for the following ten days. Widen saw 50 to 100 military trucks passing by the UN base on their way out of town, loaded with furniture, TV sets and other appliances. Widen rejected the suggestion of defense counsel Kehoe that the goods might have been taken from the abandoned Krajina Serb army barracks. The chairs he saw looked more like those used in private homes, Widen said.

The prosecutor showed a report drafted by the UN civilian observers signed by the witness on 12 August 1995 indicating that the patrol he led found the decomposing bodies of one elderly and one young man in a house in Krajina. The witness today clarified that it appeared to him that the elderly man had been shot in the kitchen and left there while the young man had been shot in the room while trying to escape. Later, they talked to a Croatian police officer, and he advised them not to enter that house because there were mines there, Widen said. The police officer didn’t know that the UN civilian observers had already been there.

The name of the village where the bodies were found was not disclosed today, but in his cross-examination, defense counsel Kehoe said that the bodies belonged to Ilija and Milan Milivojevic. Kehoe went on to show the post-mortem report indicating that the cause of death could not be established with certainty. When the defense counsel alleged that Ilija and Milan Milivojevic might have been killed by Serbs ‘who were angry at them’ or Croatian civilians ‘as a revenge’, Widen was not able to provide an answer. He said that he had no knowledge of the circumstances in which persons whose bodies he had found perished and who killed them.