In the cross-examination of prosecution military expert Reynaud Theunens, General Gotovina's defense tried to contest the findings in his report about who was in command of the HV military police in Krajina after Operation Storm

Reynaud Theunens, witness in the Gotovina, Cermak and Markac trialReynaud Theunens, witness in the Gotovina, Cermak and Markac trial

In his cross-examination of the prosecution military expert Reynaud Theunens, defense counsel Luka Misetic tried to contest Theunens’s allegation that during and after Operation Storm – in August 1995 – the military police was under the command of Ante Gotovina, as the Split Military District commander, and of Mate Lausic, military police administration chief. According to Theunens, the military police was one of the instruments which could be used to prevent crimes against Krajina Serbs and their property; the military police could also identify the perpetrators of crimes that generals Gotovina, Cermak and Markac are charged with.

In order to show that the 72nd Military Police Battalion was not subordinated to Gotovina, his defense counsel showed a document dated 16 August 1995, where Mate Lausic orders this unit to report only to him in the future, and not to the commander of the Split Military District. Based on that document, Theunens replied, one could say that ‘there was a divergence from the standard procedure’. However, it had nothing to do with subordination. As far as Theunens is concerned, the double chain of command existed nevertheless.

The witness claims Gotovina issued daily orders to the military police following the ‘operational chain of command’ and then Lausic, as the highest ranking officer in the ‘professional chain’ issued instructions how to implement Gotovina’s orders. When the defense counsel showed Theunens an operational order Lausic issued on 9 August 1995 calling for the transfer of elements of the 72nd Battalion to another part of the liberated area, Theunens replied that in that particular case the chief of the military police administration overstepped his authority.

Because Theunens claims in his report that Gotovina was told about the crimes against Serbs and their property in Krajina, the defense counsel asked him if he had found evidence in the Croatian Army documents showing that the accused general had received information about the murders of Serb civilians. Theunens said he had not, adding however that murder was not the only crime and that Gotovina received reports about the looting and destruction of abandoned Serb property. Also, Theunens noted, commanders have to actively enquire about the situation in the area controlled by their units and not wait for the reports to come in.

Reynaud Theunens's cross-examination continues tomorrow.