Defense counsel Kay has tried to prove that after Operation Storm Ivan Cermak had no legal authority to investigate crimes in Krajina and to prosecute perpetrators. Reynaud Theunens, prosecution military expert, replied that the accused general should have been ‘active’

Ivan Cermak in the courtroomIvan Cermak in the courtroom

On the last day of the cross-examination of Belgian military expert Reynaud Theunens, defense counsel Steven Kay continued his efforts to prove that General Ivan Cermak did not have any authority over the military police in Krajina in August and September 1995. The defense alleges that the Knin Garrison – Cermak was the garrison commander after Operation Storm – was unable to operate according to the law because of the difficult circumstances at the time. As a consequence, Cermak did not receive military and police reports even when rules envisaged that they should be sent to him.

The defense counsel showed a number of military police reports on the looting and burning down of houses in the summer and autumn of 1995 in the Krajina villages by Croatian soldiers. As a rule the documents were sent to the HV military police administration, to the Split Military District, to the military prosecutors and courts but not to General Cermak and the Knin Garrison. The witness repeated what he said on Friday: it would have been logical to send such reports to the commander of the Knin Garrison. However, among the military documents the witness reviewed when he was drafting his report he did not find a single one addressed to the accused general.

Defense counsel later implied that General Cermak had no legal authority to investigate crimes in Krajina and criminally prosecute the perpetrators. Contrary to that, Theunens said that according to the military rules Cermak was the person in charge of ‘maintaining order and discipline in the area’; he had to do something about the crimes he knew of. As the witness put it, Cermak was expected to ‘be as active’ in investigating the crimes as he was when he responded to the complaints he received from international observers about frequent looting and burning of abandoned Serb property, and as active as he was in his contacts with the media regarding the crimes.

As the hearing today drew to a close, General Mladen Markac’s defense began its cross-examination of the witness. Markac is on trial with Ante Gotovina and Ivan Cermak for crimes committed during and after Operation Storm in 1995.