The indictment alleges that five elderly Serbs were killed in the village of Grubori on 25 August 1995; in an effort to contest the allegation, Markac’s defense today showed a report drafted by the accused himself. In his report, Markac says that the Croatian special police clashed with the remaining Serb soldiers in the village. One armed Serb and four elderly people were killed in the clash. Former special police commander from Zagreb Zoran Cvrk didn’t want to comment on the document. According to Cvrk, he didn’t know the details about the events in Grubori

Zoran Crvk, svjedok odbrane Mladena MarkačaZoran Crvk, svjedok odbrane Mladena Markača

Mladen Markac's defense continues with its case: today the court heard the evidence of a former special police commander from Zagreb, Zoran Cvrk. In Operation Storm, in 1995, Cvrk was the commander of an ‘auxiliary axis’ of attack; the objective was to secure the flanks of the main police force. Generals Gotovina, Cermak and Markac are on trial for crimes against Krajina Serbs during and after Operation Storm.

Describing the attack, Cvrk said that between 4 and 8 August 1995, on the orders of the HV Main Staff, the special police advanced 60 to 80 km, liberating the territory from Velebit Mountain to the BH border at Kulen Vakuf. For the most part, Cvrk recounted, they passed through uninhabited parts of Krajina. When they entered towns and villages, the civilians had already fled. According to Cvrk, approximately 2,200 to 2,500 members of special police under Mladen Markac’s command took part in Operation Storm. Describing their arrival in Gracac and Donji Lapac, the witness said that the facilities he considered to be legitimate military targets had been damaged by shells. He also saw bullets holes on civilian houses in the outskirts of Gracac. The witness claims that the local hotel was set on fire in Donji Lapac.

When Operation Storm ended, the Croatian special units started the clean-up, on the orders of the HV Main Staff. The first clean-up operation was carried out in the Petrova Gora region from 10 to 20 August 1995 and other operations followed soon in other parts of the liberated territory. The defense tendered into evidence several reports General Markac sent to the Main Staff. In those reports Markac notes that special forces took care of the civilians they encountered while searching and cleaning up the area; Markac also says there were sporadic clashes with the remaining Serb fighters.

According to Markac’s report, one such clash happened in the village of Grubori on 25 August 1995, when the special police confronted ‘eight to ten enemy soldiers’. A Serb man by the name of Djuro Karanovic, armed with a sniper, was killed and Stevan Karanovic, another Serb, was arrested. The latter had an automatic rifle. Markac didn’t go into any details, merely noting in his report that two unidentified females and two elderly men – Milos and Jovo Grubor – were killed that same day in Grubori.

The witness didn’t want to comment on the document, saying he heard there had been ‘action’ in the village of Grubori; he himself didn’t know any details. The prosecution contends that the special police action had nothing to do with a military clash: it was a crime against elderly Serb civilians and their property because the village was later burned down.

As Cvrk’s examination-in chief drew to a close, he spoke about Markac’s character. Highlighting Markac’s immense credit for the work of the special police, the witness noted he believed Markac was an honorable man.