Ante Gotovina’s defense counsel claims witness Vladimir Gojanovic, former Croatian Army soldier, was not a member of the 113th Sibenik brigade and didn’t even participate in Operation Storm. The defense challenges other parts of the statement where the witness describes how he witnessed the houses being set on fire, the looting of property, the abuse of civilians and the murder of a prisoner of war during Operation Storm

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

In the cross-examination of Vladimir Gojanovic, Ante Gotovina’s defense counsel suggested that the witness had not been a member of the 113th Sibenik brigade and didn’t even participate in Operation Storm. According to Gojanovic, he was drafted to the 113th Brigade on 2 August 1995 and fought in Operation Storm.

To corroborate this claim, the defense counsel showed the witness a list of soldiers of the 113th brigade made on 16 August 1995 by its commander Danijel Kotlar. Gojanovic’s name was not on the list among more than 2,000 members of the 113th Brigade. He was mentioned in an order Kotlar sent to the military police asking that Gojanovic be brought into the Brigade because he failed to respond to the call-up.

The witness said he had ‘no explanation’ as to why his name was not on the Sibenik brigade list. After Operation Storm, he added, he was awarded a medal as a former soldier of the 4th Split Brigade for a tour of duty on the Dubrovnik front after Operation Storm; this despite the fact that he had not fought on that front. According to Gojanovic, ‘the military police never came to pick him up’ while official documents of the military recruitment office speak best of his performance in the 113th Brigade.

Challenging Gojanovic’s claims the defense counsel Luka Misetic quoted statements given by members of the 113rd Brigade who with the witness self-professedly participated in various actions. These statements were collected by the members of Gotovina’s defense team. The defense counsel showed the witness statements in which commanders of the detachments and battalions of Sibenik Brigade denied Gojanovic’s involvement in any of the actions contending that he was not under their command. Those who knew Gojanovic said that they would surely have recognized him had he been there with them in the field as he wore a specific Guards Brigade uniform and was corpulent.

Gojanovic told the OTP investigators he had witnessed the burning down of houses, looting of property, abuse of civilians and murder of a prisoner of war; he also said that before Operation Storm the troops were not given any instruction as to how to treat civilians and prisoners of war. Misetic then showed him several orders from August 1995 signed by Ante Gotovina, where he orders the soldiers to comply with the Geneva Conventions and ‘military discipline measures aimed at preventing the theft and burning of property and other improper conduct’. Furthermore, Gotovina ‘prohibits any movements in the liberated territory without the knowledge of the commanding officer’. Gojanovic however was not swayed: the members of Sibenik Brigade were not given any instructions related to Geneva conventions, he maintained.

The cross-examination of Vladimir Gojanovic, who heads the Croatian Association of Demobilized Veterans from the Croatian Homeland War, will continue on Monday. The defense teams of Ivan Cermak and Mladen Markac indicated that they would have questions for the witness.