Witness Vladimir Gojanovic submitted to the Trial Chamber documents that, he alleges, ‘confirm that he was a member of the 113th Sibenik Brigade’ and that he participated in Operation Storm. As his cross-examination continued today, Ante Gotovina’s defense counsel again challenged his claims

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

Before Ante Gotovina’s defense counsel continued his cross-examination of Vladimir Gojanovic, former member of the Croatian Army, the witness asked for permission to address the Trial Chamber and note the fact that ‘his family is under pressure and under police protection’. Gojanovic also brought several documents that would, as he said, defend his ‘honor and dignity’. Last Friday, in the first part of his cross-examination, Gotovina’s defense counsel Luka Misetic put it to Gojanovic that he had not been a member of the 113th Sibenik Brigade at all. Furthermore, Gojanovic didn’t even participate in Operation Storm, Misetic said, and could therefore not have seen the burning down of houses, looting of property, abuse of civilians and murder of a prisoner of war he described in the statement he gave to the OTP investigators.

Over the weekend, Gojanovic managed to obtain copies of military ID booklets that, in his words, ‘confirm his participation both in the 113th Brigade and in Operation Storm’. He also submitted a letter he received as the president of the Croatian Association of the Demobilized Veterans of the Croatian Homeland War from the former chief prosecutor Carla Del Ponte. Gojanovic wanted to read a part of the letter he found particularly important, but presiding judge Orie cut him short, saying that the Trial Chamber would read it. The public thus didn’t learn the details from the correspondence between the prosecution witness and former chief prosecutor of the ICTY.

Following a brief examination about the origin of these documents, defense counsel Luka Misetic showed Gojanovic two new statements that, according to the defense, confirm the witness was not a member of the 113th Sibenik Brigade during Operation Storm. Both soldiers Gotovina’s defense interviewed say they are ‘positive that Gojanovic was not with them’.

Gillian Higgins, representing General Ivan Cermak, contested a part of the statement Gojanovic gave in 2005 where he said that all the money from looting a factory in Kistanje ‘went to the generals’ while the fighters who ‘liberated that territory were dishonored’. ‘Cermak came, chased the soldiers away and then roped off the factory. He then started loading the equipment on army trucks’, Gojanovic said in his statement. The witness clarified that he ‘made a mistake’: he meant Cermak’s men, not Cermak himself.

In September 2004, in an interview for the Vjesnik daily, Gojanovic accused ‘the Croatian government of being responsible for the genocide’ in the villages of Varivode and Gosici. Goran Mikulic, the defense counsel of Mladen Markac, challenged this, showing a transcript from a session of the Croatian government in October 1995, where the interior minister reported the murder of nine elderly civilians in the village of Varivode. The minister went on to report that the police ‘has taken all measures’ to identify the perpetrators. According to the transcript, the ministers agreed that ‘this is serious, organized crime, that ‘it is understandable there is revenge and violence’, but this ‘should be discussed with the president who is the only one with power over the army staff’. Gojanovic said he was ‘not aware of this political view from a public session of the government’.

In his re-examination, the prosecutor showed a document from the Sibenik military recruitment office stating that Gojanovic started his military service in Sinj in February 1994 and was last assigned to a unit designated as 9125. The witness explained that this code stood for the 113th Sibenik Brigade. The prosecutor showed the witness the ‘demobilization order’ signed by Danijel Kotlar, commander of the 113th Brigade, on 30 August 1995. This document certifies that Gojanovic was in the Croatian Army from 3 August to 7 September 1995.

As today’s hearing drew to a close, former UN military observer Alexander Tchernetsky started his evidence. It will continue tomorrow.