The defense is trying to prove Cermak was a businessman sent by Tudjman to Knin after Operation Storm to help deal with civil affairs. Richard Lyntton, testifying for the prosecution, repeats his claim from his examination-in chief saying that the accused general was the 'military governor' of the Knin area. He was aware of only one business Cermak ran – a chain of brothels in Croatia

Richard Lyntton, witness in the Gotovina trialRichard Lyntton, witness in the Gotovina trial

At the trial of Croatian generals Gotovina, Cermak and Markac, the prosecutor completed the examination-in chief of Richard Lyntton, former UN TV producer. Lyntton began his evidence yesterday. In his description of the events he recorded with his camera on 25 and 26 August 1995, the witness said that as a journalist, he had never had a story with 'such great potential'. In the village of Grubori in the Plavno Valley he filmed burned-down houses and two of the five civilians killed in the village. He also recorded his interview with General Ivan Cermak, 'the military governor of the area'. In the interview, Cermak contested the evidence of the crimes he was showed.

In the cross-examination, defense counsel Higgins showed the witness a transcript of that interview taken on 26 August 1995. When Lyntton asks Cermak about the Grubori incident, Cermak repeatedly answers, 'I don't know'. Higgins went on to ask the witness if it would not be fairer to say that the accused general 'didn't know about' the crimes rather than that he denied them. 'No, not quite', the witness replied, explaining that during the interview he got the impression that Cermak knew what had happened, but was trying to conceal the fact.

When asked if he knew that in August 1995 Cermak held the title of 'the commander of the Knin Garrison' and not 'military governor', Lyntton said that he paid little attention to linguistic form. As he put it, it was not important to him if Cermak was called 'boss', 'commander' or 'military governor'; it was clear from Cermak's answers, Lyntton went to say that Cermak was 'in charge of security' in Krajina.

Defense counsel Higgins again contested the claim her client had any military role, asking Lyntton if he was aware of the fact that Cermak was a businessman sent to Knin by Tudjman after Operation Storm to help with civil affairs. To Lyntton’s knowledge, the only business Cermak ran before Operation Storm was a chain of brothels throughout Croatia. When asked if he had visited any of them, the witness said he did, explaining that he decided to do that when a Croatian journalist covering the story asked him to accompany him on a visit to a brothel in Velika Gorica near Zagreb. 'You are a real gentleman', defense counsel Higgins remarked ironically and the witness thanked her.

In response to the defense’s allegation that Cermak was 'not informed' about the Grubori village incident and could therefore not do anything about it, the prosecutor showed parts of an interview of 26 August 1995 where Cermak describes in detail the operations conducted by the special police forces in the Plavno Valley. Cermak promised that an investigation would follow if the reports by the military and civilian police indicated that any crimes were committed. This confirmed Lyntton’s conclusion that Cermak knew what was going on and that he had 'the role of commander' who had the power to investigate the crimes.

Lyntton’s testimony ended today and the trial of the three Croatian generals will continue tomorrow.