Edmond Vanderostyne, reporter for Belgian daily Standard, recounted that he saw members of the Croatian armed forces looting and setting on fire houses in Krajina a few days after Operation Storm. In his words, he saw Croatian soldiers behave as Serbian soldiers did in other parts of the former Yugoslavia he visited as a reporter

Edmond Vanderostyne, witness at the Gotovina, Cermak and Markac trialEdmond Vanderostyne, witness at the Gotovina, Cermak and Markac trial

On 8 August 1995, several days after the Operation Storm was launched, Edmond Vanderostyne, a journalist for the Belgium daily Standard, took off with his colleague, a photographer, on a tour of Krajina. In his today’s evidence at the trial of generals Ante Gotovina, Ivan Cermak and Mladen Markac he repeated what he said in a statement given to the OTP investigators in 2005 describing his observations from that period. The prosecutor presented several photographs taken by Vanderostyne’s colleague who traveled with him.

According to Vanderostyne, in a 50 km stretch from Gospic to Gracac, all the houses were burned down and destroyed. Smoke from fires was rising high above the whole area, he added. In Gracac he met a group of fifty to a hundred members of the Vinkovci MUP special units, called ‘Delta’. While he talked to their commander he saw some special unit members looting houses in the center of Gracac. Others were celebrating the victory, drinking and listening to music. Concluding his examination-in chief, the witness said that he had seen ‘large-scale looting and destruction of houses’ in Krajina on 8 August 1995. He had seen that before, when he was reporting from Sarajevo and Vukovar, only then it was done by Serb soldiers.

[IMAGE]3456[/IMAGE]Only the defense counsel of General Markac, former commander of the Croatian MUP special police cross-examined the witness. He argued that the witness had actually encountered members of the Delta unit in Gracac as they were getting ready to go home and were just packing their stuff, TV sets, computers and boxes with documents. According to the defense counsel, the witness misinterpreted this as looting. In that case, the Croatian special troops wouldn’t have been so ‘hostile’ towards his colleague who was taking photos of the ‘packing’, Vanderostyne added. A photo showing a Croatian special unit member loading onto a truck a ‘box with Croatian MUP documents’, as the defense described it, or ‘war booty’, as the witness said, was tendered into evidence. The prosecutor showed several photos depicting a special unit member hot-wiring a civilian car. Delta, the name of the unit, was written over it. Markac’s defense counsel didn’t have questions about those photographs.

The trial of Gotovina, Cermak and Markac continues tomorrow with the evidence of Canadian general Alain Forand, UN commander in the Sector South.