Former chief of the Zadar criminal investigations division began his evidence today at the trial of Croatian generals Gotovina, Cermak and Markac by renouncing parts of his statements to OTP investigators. He claims he never described Croatian soldiers after Operation Storm as 'very cocky and confident'’; what he said was they were ‘happy and proud’ and there was a mistake in the translation

Ive Kardum, witness in the Gotovina trialIve Kardum, witness in the Gotovina trial

After he decided to testify without protective measures, Ive Kardum, former chief of the criminal investigations division in Zadar, appeared before the court today and began his evidence. Kardum renounced parts of the statements he gave to the OTP investigators in 2004 and 2007 where he described how he and his subordinates investigated crimes against Krajina Serbs.

The witness objected that the true meaning of some parts of his statements was distorted ‘due to errors in translation’. He was granted permission to highlight the controversial paragraphs. This has already happened before the Tribunal, most recently in the case of the Serbian Radical Party Vojislav Seselj and at the trials of Haradinaj, Limaj and other KLA leaders. In those cases, prosecution witnesses would renounce their previous statements, claiming they never said what was written in the statements they signed.

Apart from a large number of less than relevant details – such as correcting his title from ‘section chief’ to ‘division chief – Kardum corrected parts of his statements where he said things that do not favor the accuses generals. First, Kardum denied ever having said that it was ’difficult to deal with soldiers’ because after the military victory they were ’very cocky and confident’. Today the witness maintained that he said, or at least meant to say, that the soldiers were ’happy and proud’, not ‘very cocky and self-confident’. This was a case of ‘bad translation’ of his statement.

Saying what he knew about the crime in the village of Grubori, where five elderly Serb civilians were killed on 25 August 1995, Kardum told the investigators that he had learned about the incident from General Ivan Cermak’s address on TV. He was not officially notified as he should have been as the chief of the criminal investigations division. ’Somebody in authority obviously decided’ to take the CID off the case, he said in his statement. Today Kardum explained that he had said ’somebody’, not ’somebody in authority’ adding that ‘the authorities had nothing to do with it’.

Ivo Kardum continues his evidence tomorrow.