Ivan Cermak and Mladen Markac are accused of taking part in a "joint criminal enterprise" – together with the late president Franjo Tudjman and the fugitive general Ante Gotovina – in the course of and after the Operation Storm.

Ivan Cermak i Mladen MarkacIvan Cermak i Mladen Markac

Former commander of the HV Knin garrison, Ivan Cermak, and former commander of the Croatian Special Police, Mladen Markac, have been accused of participation, together with Ante Gotovina and Franjo Tudjman, in a "joint criminal enterprise" the common purpose of which was the forcible and permanent removal of the Serb population from the Krajina region. This is alleged in the indictment against the two Croatian generals, which was made public today. It is virtually identical to the new amended indictment against General Ante Gotovina, the highest ranking HV commander in the southern Krajina at the time relevant for the indictment, i.e., in the course of and after Operation Storm.

The accused are charged with persecutions of the Serb population in the southern part of "Krajina" in the period between 4 August and 15 November 1995. The persecutions, it is alleged in the first count of the indictment, were conducted through systematic plunder and destruction of the property of the Krajina Serbs, murder, inhumane treatment, humiliation and deportation and forced displacement of the population.

After they were alleged as constituent elements of the crime of persecution on political, racial and religious grounds, all these acts were realleged in a total of seven specific counts. In count 2, which relates to murder, it is stated that between 4 August and 15 November 1995, "Croatian forces murdered at least 150 Krajina Serbs, by means of shooting, burning or stabbing". A schedule attached to the indictment lists the names of 30 persons murdered in the Knin municipality, one person killed in the Benkovac municipality and one in the Korenica municipality.

The third count of the indictment deals with "systematic plunder of houses, barns and livestock in the towns, villages and hamlets in the municipalities of Benkovac, Donji Lapac, Drnis, Gospic, Gracac, Knin, Korenica, Obrovac, Sibenik, Sinj and Zadar.”

In the same period –4 August to 15 November – the Croatian forces, the fourth count alleges, "systematically set fire to or otherwise destroyed " villages and homes of the Krajina Serbs in the above-mentioned municipalities in southern Krajina.

According to the indictment, the acts of violence against the Serb population were intended to "discourage and prevent those who had already fled the area, either immediately before or during Operation Storm, from returning to their homes". "The consequence of these violent and intimidating acts was the deportation and/or displacement of tens of thousands of Krajina Serbs to BH and Serbia," counts 5 and 6 conclude. The accused, "acting individually and/or in concert with others, including Franjo Tudjman", planned, instigated, ordered or committed deportations and forced removal of Krajina Serbs.

“Inhumane treatment, humiliation and degradation by beating" are listed in the last count of the indictment, charging the former commanders of the Croatian forces in the area for "inhumane acts".

Generals Cermak i Markac are charged in five counts with both individual and command responsibility, while in two counts, murder and inhumane acts, they are charged only with command responsibility: for failing to prevent or punish the crimes. Persecutions and deportations are qualified as crimes against humanity, while murder, plunder, destruction and inhumane acts are qualified as violations of laws and customs of war.

The amended indictment against Ante Gotovina was made public together with the indictment against Cermak and Markac. The difference between the initial indictment from June 2001 and the present one is the introduction of the new form of criminal responsibility – participation in a joint criminal enterprise – and has thus been brought into line with the Cermak and Markac indictment factually and legally. Unlike the initial indictment, where murder was qualified as a crime against humanity and violation of laws and customs of war, the new indictment leaves out the first qualification. Finally, the number or Krajina Serbs who were deported or forcibly displaced has been changed: while the initial indictment estimated the number to be "between 150,000 and 200,000", the new indictment refers to "tens of thousands" of refugees.

According to some indications from Zagreb, generals Cermak i Markac will surrender to the Tribunal this week, while General Gotovina is still at large.