In his daily report of 20 September 1995, European monitor Stig Marker Hansen noted that General Gotovina responded to reports about widespread looting and burning in Krajina with words, ‘it is only human to hate the enemy that expelled your family’. The witness took it to mean that for Gotovina ‘a certain degree of revenge was acceptable’

Ante Gotovina in the courtroomAnte Gotovina in the courtroom

Former member of the European Community Monitoring Mission in Croatia Stig Marker Hansen continued his examination-in chief at the trial of Croatian generals Gotovina, Cermak and Markac for crimes against Serbs in the summer and fall of 1995. Things Hansen saw in Krajina after Operation Storm made him conclude that there was a ‘broader plan’ to prevent the return of Serb civilian refugees. In his words, the abandoned houses were systematically burned down and looted in villages. Towns were spared for the most part, as were the villages with Croat majority.

In the three statements he gave to the OTP investigators the witness identified Ivan Cermak as person who had influence over the army and the police in Krajina. This led Cermak’s defense counsel Cayley to put it to the witness that the accused general – as the commander of the Knin Garrison – mostly focused on efforts to repair the water supply system, restore power, clear the rubble and other municipal issues. The witness agreed in part with this claim saying that he considered Cermak to be less of a soldier and more of a ‘civilian in uniform’. In his statements to the OTP investigators Hansen says that after Cermak’s intervention he was allowed to pass through military and police checkpoints and enter villages.

Describing a meeting on 20 September 1995 when he and other European monitors drew Gotovina’s attention to widespread looting and burning down of Serb houses, the witness wrote down in his diary what the Croatian general had told them: he was not against Serbs living in Croatia but it ‘is only human to hate the enemy that expelled your family’. Today Hansen noted he didn’t remember all the details from that meeting, but said it seemed to him, based on that entry in his diary, that General Gotovina found ‘a certain degree of revenge acceptable’.

In his cross-examination, defense counsel Kehoe put it to the witness that General Gotovina merely recognized the fact that Croats who had suffered a lot in the four years of occupation of Krajina wanted revenge. In his reply Hansen said that it was not controversial that many Croats had been expelled and their homes had been looted and burned and that this led to seek revenge. However, he emphasized, it is one thing to recognize such behavior, and quite another to punish it.

The trial of the three Croatian generals continues on Monday.