Former public prosecutor from Sibenik, Zeljko Zganjer, contends that by 2001, the Croatian investigators had not received any information helpful for the investigation of the murders in the village of Grubori in Krajina from general Mladen Markac and his deputy Zeljko Sacic. Markac and Sacic, according to Zganjer, stubbornly claimed that the five elderly people had been killed in a clash between the Croatian special police and remnants of the Krajina Serb army

Zeljko Zganjer, witness in the Gotovina trialZeljko Zganjer, witness in the Gotovina trial

According to official MUP reports, five elderly people were killed in the incident in the Krajina village of Grubori on 25 August 1995, in an exchange of fire between the special police and the remaining RSK soldiers. There was no official police investigation before March 2001, when Zeljko Zganjer, public prosecutor from Sibenik, ordered a preliminary investigation of the crime. This is what Zganjer said in his evidence today at the trial of generals Ante Gotovina, Ivan Cermak and Mladen Markac. The three generals are charged with crimes during and after Operation Storm in August 1995.

In the three statements Zganjer gave to the OTP investigators until 2005, he said he received first reports about the Grubori murders in the spring of 1998 from the Croatian Helsinki Committee and Amnesty International. Over the next three years, Zganjer contends, he managed to get some ’more physical evidence’ and in 2001 he was able to issue an order to the police to do preliminary interviews with the relevant witnesses. Among them were several villagers of Grubori and special police commanders, Mladen Markac and his deputy Zeljko Sacic.

No information helpful to the investigation was obtained in their interviews, Zganjer said today. They only spoke about the ’purported conflict’ between the special police and the remnants of the enemy troops. Zganjer was unclear as to whether Markac and Sacic claimed the elderly persons had been killed in the crossfire or that they had been killed by the Serb soldiers when they refused to help the soldiers fight back the special troops.

In his evidence in September 2008, Josip Celic, who was in charge of the clean-up operation in the Plavno Valley, said that Markac and Sacic told him the day after the operation in Grubori that they didn’t like his report. In his report, Celic said there had been no fighting in the village. Soon afterwards, Celic contended, Sacic took him to a room where he dictated a new report, describing the exchange of fire with the remaining Serb soldiers.

Since there was no investigation by 2001, the public prosecutor’s office in Sibenik had little physical evidence related to the Grubori murders. This led Zganjer to try to establish what weapon was used to fire the bullet whose shell he had seen on the UN TV recording. The shell lay beside the body of an old man ’who had been killed in his own bed’. In December 2001, Zganjer submitted a request to the special police, seeking information about the use of weapons in the clean-up operation in the Plavno Valley. Zganjer waited for an answer for nine months and never got it; in September 2002, he was transferred to a new post.

According to the prosecution, Zeljko Zganjer’s examination-in chief should be completed in the first half hour of the hearing tomorrow. Zganjer will then be cross-examined by the defense counsel of the accused generals.