Vladimir Gojanovic, president of Croatian Association of Demobilized Veterans from the Croatian Homeland War, testifies at the Trial of generals Gotovina, Cermak and Markac about the crimes the Croatian forces committed during Operation Storm in August 1995

Vladimir Gojanovic, witness at the Gotovina, Cermak and Markac trialVladimir Gojanovic, witness at the Gotovina, Cermak and Markac trial

At the trial of Ante Gotovina, Ivan Cermak and Mladen Markac today the first Croatian insider witness began his evidence. Vladimir Gojanovic is a former member of the Croatian Army who took part in Operation Storm in August 1995. He was in the 113th Sibenik brigade.

At the beginning of his evidence prosecutor Prashanti Mahindaratne read a brief summary of the statements Gojanovic gave to the OTP investigators in 2005 and 2008. In August 1995, Gojanovic witnessed the crimes such as the burning of houses and looting of property, abuse of civilians and killing of one of the two prisoners of war that had surrendered to his brigade. During Operation Storm, he and other members of the 113th Sibenik Brigade were not ordered to stop looting, burning houses and committing other crimes. Reserve troops were not given instructions on how to treat civilians and prisoners of war. Gojanovic was not aware if any members of his brigade were punished for the crimes committed in the course of Operation Storm.

As she examined Vladimir Gojanovic, the prosecutor quoted other excerpts from his statement where he described the incidents he had witnessed. In the village of Djevrske, Gojanovic prevented a group of soldiers from the Sibenik brigade from setting on fire a house with an old lady inside it. In Kistanje, he saw soldiers going from house to house taking TV sets and other items that, he noted, ‘the soldiers didn’t need’. In his estimate, between 35 and 40 percent of the houses in Kistanje were burned down. When asked what led him to conclude that the houses had been set on fire by soldiers, Gojanovic replied that he couldn’t remember what had made him reach that conclusion. When the prosecutor asked him some follow-up questions, he said he didn’t remember if he had seen any civilians that day in Kistanje. The town was under military control, he added.

The prosecutor indicated she would need some twenty more minutes tomorrow to finish Gojanovic's cross-examination. The first Croatian insider witness will then be cross-examined by the defense teams of Gotovina, Cermak and Markac.