In his additional examination at the trial of generals Gotovina, Cermak and Markac, commander of the HV artillery during Operation Storm Marko Rajcic contends that in August 1995 the artillery fired on specific military targets, although the prosecution showed him documents specifying ‘wider areas’ of various towns and villages as targets

Marko Rajčić, svjedok na suđenju Gotovini, Čermaku i MarkačuMarko Rajčić, svjedok na suđenju Gotovini, Čermaku i Markaču

Marko Rajcic, HV artillery commander during Operation Storm, returned to The Hague at the request of the prosecution to be additionally examined about the documents admitted into evidence after his testimony at the trial of generals Gotovina, Cermak and Markac in February 2009. Today, as when he gave evidence for the first time, Rajcic’s answers were more favorable to his former commander Ante Gotovina than to the prosecution that had called him to testify.

In an effort to prove that the Croatian artillery shelled Krajina towns and villages randomly during Operation Storm to scare the civilians into fleeing, the prosecution showed Rajcic’s order of 9 August 1995. In that document Rajcic ordered that 36 shells be fired on ‘the wider area’ of the village of Srb. In the course of the prosecution case, the prosecutors alleged that all such attacks targeted civilians – in this case refugee columns streaming through Srb from the beginning of the HV attack. Rajcic ordered the shelling of the main crossroads in the village, he explained today, as the Krajina Serb artillery was retreating through the crossroads. Rajcic’s artillery shelled the enemy positions from which the HV units were attacked, he contends.

When a judge asked Rajcic if anyone was injured or killed on either side in those conflicts, the witness said that two Croatian soldiers sustained minor injuries; Rajcic was not told about any losses on the other side. Rajcic didn’t have any information whether each round hit its intended target. However, when he flew over the area of Srb in a helicopter that day, he saw some craters on the main crossroads that had been targeted.

The prosecution showed a document entitled List of artillery targets Jagoda listing a number of targets in the Benkovac, Obrovac and Gracac area, without their exact coordinates. When Judge Orie asked the witness if there was any way to interpret the document other than it meant that whole areas instead of particular military facilities were to be targeted, the witness replied that in addition to the list there was supposed to be additional information with the exact coordinates of the targets. Not all the targets identified on the list were actually shelled, the witness explained. In Benkovac, for instance, only the barracks were shelled although the list contains targets such as the Glinica factory.

The presiding judge asked the witness as his evidence drew to a close to explain the chronology of his contacts with the OTP. The witness said that he had been called by the prosecution four times to testify. He told them that he had already ‘made himself available’ to Gotovina’s defense. The witness only agreed to testify when the Trial Chamber issued a subpoena.

The trial of Croatian generals charged with crimes against Serbs during and after Operation Storm continues on Wednesday with the pre-defense conference. On Thursday, the Cermak and Markac defense teams will deliver their opening statements. The first witnesses will be called on 2 June 2009 by Gotovina’s defense.