DAY OR NIGHT, ON SUPERIOR’S ORDERS
In his cross-examination at the trial of Gotovina, Cermak and Markac, the man who commanded the Croatian special units’ operation in the village of Grubori maintained that he never doubted his superiors when they told him that the civilians from that village had been killed in cross-fire. He put this in his report although he knew that there had been no clashes at all. The presiding judge asked him if he would have followed his superior's order if he were told to put in his report that it was a nighttime operation even though it was actually daytime
Josip Celic, witness in the Gotovina trial
At the end of the five hours of evidence, former deputy commander of the Lucko special police unit Josip Celic, faced a surprisingly brief cross-examination by Mladen Markac’s defense. In some 30 minutes Markac's defense counsel asked about the witness's claim that Zeljko Sacic, chief of the Croatian Special Police Staff, first ordered him to draft a new report in Mladen Markac’s presence and then, in private, went on to dictate his version of the attack on the village of Grubori on 25 August 1995 in which five Serb elderly persons were killed. Sacic and Markac were not satisfied with Celic's original report which stated that the Lucko Unit didn't encounter any resistance in the village. They then ordered him to draft a new report saying that the civilians were killed in cross-fire.
As the cross-examination drew to a close, Markac's defense counsel Goran Mikulicic asked the witness if he had ever heard that the accused police general had ever taken any measures to cover up the incident in the village of Grubori. 'No, quite the contrary was the case’, Celic replied. The defense counsel briefly dealt with the witness’s claim that he had put things into the report that he had not in fact seen because he had been under pressure to do so, and Markac had known about it. According to the prosecution, this was an attempt to cover up the crime. The defense was pleased to hear Celic say that it was not Markac who told him to change the report, but Sacic, who personally told him to change it in the presence of Markac. Sacic then went on to dictate to Celic the details to be included in the report in private. Mladen Markac is charged with crimes committed in Krajina during and after Operation Storm, together with Ante Gotovina and Ivan Cermak.
Celic agreed with the defense counsel that the civilian police had to launch an investigation into the crime in Grubori, not the special police. The defense then tendered into evidence several documents showing that the Sibenik crime investigations division had been investigating the case in 2001.
The witness did change his evidence; he no longer claimed that at a meeting in Knin on 27 August 1995, in Cermak's presence, he said that there had been no clashes with the remnants of the Serb fighters in the village of Grubori. In his examination-in chief, Celic had said that Cermak had been there in the room where Celic and Sacic had been discussing it. Today he said that he was not so sure about that anymore.
When defense counsel Cayley asked him why he agreed to put Sacic's claims in his report when he knew they were false, the witness repeated that he had no reason to doubt what his superior had told him. Celic avoided giving answer to the question of the presiding judge who wanted to know if Celic would have followed his superior's orders and written in his report that the operation was conducted in nighttime even though if it had been daytime.
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