Institute for War and Peace Reporting | Giving Voice, Driving Change

Martic Trial Hears of Croatian Serb and Belgrade Links

(TU No 437, 27-Jan-06)
Martic, who held various leadership positions in the Serb-dominated Krajina region of Croatia between 1991 and 1995, is charged with involvement in a joint criminal enterprise to expel non-Serbs from Croatia and Bosnia during this period.

He faces ten counts of crimes against humanity and counts of violations of the laws and customs of war for crimes including murder, imprisonment, torture and the destruction of villages.

He is also accused of ordering and planning a shelling campaign targeted at civilians in Zagreb in May 1995 in retaliation for Croatian military action to retake the Krajina.

Witness Reynaud Theunens, who now works for the prosecutor's office as an analyst, was in Croatia at the beginning of war, writing reports about military activities on both Croatian and Serb sides for the UN peacekeeping force officials. At the beginning of his testimony he described links between paramilitary rebel Croatian Serbs forces and the Serbian ministry of the interior.

In support of his argument, Theunens mentioned Dragan Vasiljkovic, called Captain Dragan, who is currently awaiting extradition from Australia to Croatia on war crimes charges.

"There is documentary evidence that links Dragan, not only to the Serbian ministry of interior, but also to a training centre in Golubici, in the municipality of Knin, where special forces of the police of the Republika Srpska Krajina (Republic of Serbian Krajina) were trained," said Theunens.

If the link were proved, it would show how rebellion in Croatia was controlled from Belgrade and not by self-organised Croatian Serbs.

Theunens also provided quotes from a book by the last minister of defence in the former Yugoslavia, General Veljko Kadijevic, in which he describes how Yugoslav armed forces, the JNA, were assigned to “liberate” and then protect Serbs in Croatia, and to remove Croatian forces from Serbian territory.

He also quoted Kadijevic's statements made in a military bulletin in October 1991, in which he claims that Serbs in Croatia were in danger of neo-Nazi forces and genocide just as they were during the Second World War.

The quote reflects Serbian propaganda at the beginning of the break up of Yugoslavia, with was aimed at scaring Croatian Serbs into support for Serbian nationalist politics.

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