Zdravko Janic, commander of the Croatian MUP special police, claims that he didn’t know about the killing of Serb civilians in the village of Grubori in Krajina on 25 August 1995 despite the fact that he was the coordinator of the mop-up operations in that area. Mladen Markac, the commander of the special police, never asked Janic to report on the events in Grubori, Janic says

Zdravko Janic, witness at the Gotovina, Cermak and Markac trialZdravko Janic, witness at the Gotovina, Cermak and Markac trial

In early August 1995 Zdravko Janic, a high-ranking officer in the Croatian MUP, was in command of a key axis of attack launched by the Croatian special police in Operation Storm. In the months that followed, Janic was coordinating the mop-up operations in the liberated territory in Krajina. As he contends, it was not ethnic cleansing but ‘security terrain search operations’. The prosecution contends that a number of incidents happened during those ‘search operations’, when many villages were burned down and dozens of civilians killed. Janic’s evidence today focused on the incident in the village of Grubori where, as alleged in the indictment against generals Ante Gotovina, Ivan Cermak and Mladen Markac, five Serb civilians – three men and two women – were killed on 25 August 1995.

In the statement he gave the OTP investigators in January 2004 the witness said that six special police units participated in the mop-up operations in the Plavno Valley. The Lucko Anti-terrorist Unit was tasked with going to the village of Grubori. According to Janic, during the action and afterwards he didn’t receive any reports on incidents. It was years later that he read in the Feral Tribune magazine about what had happened in Grubori.

In 2005 Janic was interviewed by the OTP investigators as a suspect. This prompted him to go through police archives where he found the report drafted by Josip Celic on 25 August 1995. In the report, Celic recounts how he and his soldiers clashed with the remnants of the Serb forces. A few civilians were killed in the exchange of fire, including some elderly women. According to the witness, Celic gave him a completely different report after the action in Grubori: he didn’t mention the exchange of fire and civilian casualties at that time. When the prosecutor asked him if he discussed with Celic this major discrepancy between the document in the archives and Celic’s verbal report, Janic said he had no ‘internal need to do so’. He was not asked by Markac or by any other person from the police to draft a special report on the events in the village of Grubori.

The prosecutor tendered into evidence several dozens of police reports on the incident in Grubori, but their contents were not made public. Janic was given an opportunity to read to himself long excerpts from those orders and reports, and then he briefly noted when, if at all, he had learned about them.

Janic’s examination-in chief will be completed tomorrow and then he will be cross-examined by the defense teams of the three accused.