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

Martic Witness Details Croatian War Casualties

TU No 448, 13-Apr-06
Colonel Ivan Grujic told the court that over 12,000 people were killed, of whom 6,788 were confirmed as having been members of armed forces, while 4,508 were civilian casualties.

Prosecutors say Martic, who held various positions in the breakaway Serb Krajina region during the conflict, was responsible for groups – including a police force known as Martic’s Men – who were to blame for torture and countless killings and rapes. Martic is also charged in connection with the shelling of Zagreb in 1995, allegedly in retaliation for a Croatian military operation which captured territory from the Serbs.

Grujic told the court that 3,568 bodies have so far been exhumed from mass graves in Croatia. He detailed the discovery of sites in Saborsko, Bacin, Nadin and other places mentioned in the indictment against Martic as the locations of alleged atrocities.

Grujic also went into further detail about the methodology used in investigating mass graves in Croatia. And he broke his statistics down to reveal details such as the personal data of victims, the locations where the remains of particular victims were found and his conclusions about the circumstances under which people had been detained and murdered.

In addition to those who died during the war, the witness added that over 7,500 Croatians passed through prisons in the Serb-held Krajina region, in the Republika Srpska in Bosnia, and in Serbia. He also said that 220,000 Croatians were displaced by Serb forces.

Given the chance to cross-examine Grujic, Martic’s defence counsel Predrag Milovancevic sought to discredit him by suggesting that his membership of the Croatian military was enough to implicate him in Operation Storm, the Croatian offensive in 1995 during which tens of thousands of Serbs were driven from their homes.

The witness replied that from 1993 onwards, his only role was to collect data on those who had gone missing or had been detained during the conflict. Presiding judge Justice Moloto dismissed Milovancevic’s arguments as irrelevant.

Towards the end of the week the prosecution also called Davor Strinovic, a medical expert who was a member of the same government commission as Grujic. Strinovic told the court that most of the victims exhumed from mass graves in Croatia were found to have died from gunshot wounds, while most of the others were killed by explosions or beatings.

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