In his evidence at the trial of Gotovina, Cermak and Markac Ambassador Peter Galbraith says he thought the expulsion of Serbs from Krajina was not the objective of Operation Storm, but it was its consequence, one that Tudjman did want, one that made him ’happy’

Peter Galbraith, witness at the Gotovina, Cermak and Markac trialPeter Galbraith, witness at the Gotovina, Cermak and Markac trial

In his replies to Ante Gotovina’s defense counsel, former US ambassador to Croatia Peter Galbraith said he believed the expulsion of Serbs from Krajina was not the objective of Operation Storm, but it was its consequence. Croatian president Franjo Tudjman actually did want that to happen, Galbraith added, saying that the Serbs’ exodus made him ’happy’.

Defense counsel Kehoe played an audio recording of a conversation Galbraith had with Tudjman on 1 August 1995. In it the US ambassador says his administration has not green-lit the attack on Krajina, but was aware it might be launched. That is why it saw the treatment of civilians and prisoners of war as crucial for the future US-Croatian relations. If he had thought at that time that Serbs would be expelled from Krajina, he would have urged his country’s government to ‘red light’ the operation.

The defense counsel went on to show several documents from August 1995. In them, the defense minister Susak, interior minister Jarnjak and the commander of the Split Military District Ante Gotovina demand that the looting and destruction of Serb houses be prevented, and order that the civilians and prisoners of war be treated in accordance with Geneva conventions. ’Yes, pity it was not implemented in practice’, Galbraith said in his reply. When the defense counsel insisted that such orders implied the state tried to prevent crimes, the witness said he had ‘enough experience’ with both Serb and Croatian officials to know that they could issue orders and give promises...without fulfilling them.

The defense played an audio recording of a meeting on 19 October 1995 where Tudjman is trying to convince a US delegation that the police has solved the murder of 41 civilians and arrested 13 perpetrators. As Tudjman says, ‘Serbs, criminals and drug addicts’ were among those arrested. In his brief comment, Ambassador Galbraith said Tudjman’s statement was ‘absurd and incorrect’. The witness didn’t challenge the defense counsel’s argument that by 8 August 1995 civilian police was deployed throughout ‘the liberated territory’, adding it was obvious they didn’t do anything to protect the Serbs that remained in the area and the property of those who had fled.

Defense counsel Kehoe will complete his examination tomorrow, and then the witness will be examined by the defense counsel for General Ivan Cermak and General Mladen Markac.