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Croatia: Luka Misetic Responds As Serb Denials Of Crimes Take New Form

Luka Misetic Photo: Davor Puklavec/PIXSELL

In line with the appalling Serb denials of genocide and the horrendous crimes they committed in the aggression against Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina during 1990’s it was to be expected that Croatian Serbs and their wicked supporters were going to stage some outrageous display of denials ahead of the 20th Anniversary of Operation Storm that liberated Croatia from Serb occupation and aggression in August of 1995; just as they did with the 20th commemoration of Srebrenica genocide in July.

And so, it came – the ugly beast of denials, political corruption, lies and attempts to pervert the truth in the form of launching an interactive narrative named “Storm in the Hague” (webpage)! Those responsible for this launch on Friday 31 July 2015 in Zagreb, Croatia, are the Documenta association in Croatia (an organisation supposedly dealing with confronting the truth of history but in reality twists that history to promote bias and lies against Croatia), the Serbian National Council (led by Milorad Pupovac) and, as I and multitudes see it, the ultimately biased and politically corrupt SENSE Agency – Centre for transitional justice.

The ICTY concluded the following: 1.     There was no Joint Criminal Enterprise from the Croatian side.  2.     Krajina Serbs were not deported from Croatia by the Croatian  authorities but left Croatia out of other reasons  not associated with any Croatian officials'  illegal behaviour;  3.     Not only that the Croatian authorities did not permit crimes  against  Serbs and Serbs' property,  but they were actively  against those crimes;    4.   It's confirmed that 20,000 houses were not burned  after Operation Storm. The number is probably closer to 5,000,  and that, in both Sectors, North and South.      5.     The judgment has found that a total of 44 civilians  were killed by the Croatian forces, not 320 as the Prosecution claimed,  not 600 as HHO claimed and  especially not 2,000 as claimed by „Veritas“ i Savo Strbac. 6.     There were no politics of non-investigation of crimes by the Croatian  authorities.  7.     The housing laws after Operation Storm were not  in a collision with the international humanitarian law.

Many in Croatia and abroad consider (rightfully) that the interactive narrative “Storm in the Hague” is an attempt to belittle and nullify the ICTY Appeal Chamber verdict of 16 November 2012 in the case of Croatian Generals Ante Gotovina and Mladen Markac, which had found that as far as the Croatian war efforts were concerned there was no Joint Criminal Enterprise, no excessive artillery shelling and no ethnic cleansing of Serbs.

I would think that the saddest thing about this twisting of the final verdict in the International Criminal Tribunal for Former Yugoslavia (ICTY) to suit the Serb denials of crimes and their aggression is that the Croatian taxpayers fund to a large extent the work of these organisations that twist the truth

Mr Luka Misetic, Ante Gotovina’s US based defense lawyer at the ICTY trial promptly addressed on his blog and in the Croatian media concerning and disquieting aspects of this launch of the interactive narrative “Storm in the Hague”. I have translated into the English language Mr Misetic’s address and here it is:

Today (31st July), in Croatia, there was a SENSE Agency and Serbian National Council launch of the presentation “Storm in the Hague”. As it was to be expected the presentation purposefully covers up that which the Hague Tribunal found in its judgments in the case of Gotovina (Ante Gotovina, Croatian General).

1. Were Serbs deported from Croatia?
2. Did the Croatian authorities purposefully permit crimes such as murders, plunder and arson in order to deny the Serbs the possibility of returning to Croatia?
3. Were there more than 20,000 homes burned after Storm in the Southern part of the liberated territory?
4. Did the Croatian forces kill more than 600 Serbs during and after Operation Storm?
5. Did the Croatian judicial authorities and the police practice the politics of non-investigation of crimes?
6. Have illegally discriminatory housing laws been introduced?
7. Finally, did the Joint Criminal Enterprise exist in Croatia?


Firstly, we need to correct some misunderstandings regarding the Trial Chamber judgment in which General Gotovina received a 24 year prison sentence. The Tribunal had concluded that Krajina Serbs were deported ONLY from 4 towns: Knin, Benkovac, Obrovac and Gracac. So, only from those four places.

The Tribunal had concluded that Serb civilians from all other places in the so-called Krajina had left Croatia out of other reasons not associated with any illegal treatmen by the Croatian authorities. Those legal reasons for leaving were:
• “Serbian Republic of Krajina” officials had called upon the population to leave the areas (Trial Chamber judgment paragraph 1762);
• The fear of aggression usually associated with armed conflict (Trial Chamber judgment paragraph 1762);
• Generalised fear from the Croatian forces and disstrust in Croatian authorities (Trial Chamber judgment paragraph 1762); and
• The fact that other Serbs were leaving had caused the effect of some civilians deciding to leave with them (Trial Chamber judgment paragraph 1754, 1762).

Hence, the Hague Tribunal had even in its Trial Chamber judgment found that a huge majority of Serb population from the so-called Krajina had left Croatia out of its own reasons, and that the Croatian authorities were not responsible for that. Only the four said towns were questionable for the Trial Chamber.

The Trial Chamber had explicitly rejected the claims that the Croatian authorities had purposefully permitted crimes such as arson, plunder and killings in order to deny the Serbs the possibility of return:

2321. The Trial Chamber found that the common objective of the so-called Criminal enterprise did not amount to, or involve the commission of the crimes of persecution (disappearances of people, wanton destruction, plunder, murder, inhumane acts, cruel treatment, and unlawful detentions), destruction of property, plunder, murder, inhumane acts, and cruel treatment.

Moreover, the Court tribunal did not only find that Croatia did not permit such crimes, but it also found that the Croatian leadership had actively opposed the perpetration of such criminal acts:

2313. However, the evidence, in particular the statements made at meetings and in public reviewed in chapters 6.2.2-6.2.5, does not
indicate that members of the Croatian political and military leadership intended that property inhabited or owned by Krajina Serbs should be destroyed or plundered. Further, it does not indicate that these acts were initiated or supported by members of the leadership. Rather, the evidence includes several examples of meetings and statements (see for example D409, P470, and D1451), indicating that the leadership, including Tudjman, disapproved of the destruction of property. Based on the foregoing, the Trial Chamber does not find that destruction and plunder were within the purpose of the joint criminal enterprise.

3. Were 20,000 homes burned in the South Sector?

This claim was thoroughly discredited at the hearing. This hypothesis, which has constantly been repeated in the past 15 years, is based upon wrong claims made in the 1999 report by the HHO (Croatian Helsinki Committee) on Operation Storm in which HHO claimed that the Canadian General Alain Forand, UN forces chief commander based in Knin, stated that 22,000 houses were burned in the South Sector. The reality is that Forand stated that a total of 22,000 houses in South Sector were inspected, and not that they were burned. The truth regarding the number of burned houses in the liberated area is most likely closer to the report by the UN General Secretary in December 1995: about 5,000 of houses and stables in Sectors North and South were burned after Operation Storm.
4. Did the Croatian forces kill 600 civilians during and after Operation Storm?

This also is a usual claim perpetuated all the time in the media. However, the Prosecution had claimed that about 320 civilians were killed in Sector South, and not 600. The Trial Chamber had found that out of these 320, 44 were killed by members of the Croatian armed forces. The number of Serb civilians killed by Croatian forces is closer to 44 than 600.

5. Did the Croatian judicial authorities and police practice the politics of non-investigation of crimes?

The Court Tribunal had rejected this allegation, which is being repeated in the media all the time, even today, and, after the Appeal decision. In paragraph 2203 of its judgment the Trial Chamber found the following:

The evidence reviewed indicates that some investigatory efforts were made, but with relatively few results. Moreover, there are
indications in the evidence that at the political level, these efforts were motivated at least in part by a concern for Croatia’s international standing rather than by genuine concern for victims. In light of the testimony of expert Albiston, the Trial Chamber considers that the insufficient response by the Croatian law enforcement authorities and judiciary can to some extent be explained by the abovementioned obstacles they faced and their need to perform other duties in August and September 1995. In conclusion, while the evidence indicates incidents of purposeful hindrance of certain investigations, the Trial Chamber cannot positively establish that the Croatian authorities had a policy of non-investigation of crimes committed against Krajina Serbs during and following Operation Storm in the Indictment area.
These are the main findings of the Trial Chamber. As we all know, some parts of this judgment have remained disputable given that General Gotovina was sentenced to 24 years (and General Markac to 18) due to Trial Chamber’s conclusion that General Gotovina had executed illegal artillery attacks against the towns of Knin, Benkovac, Obrovac and Gracac.

That’s why we needed to wait for the final verdict by the Appeals Chamber regarding the disputed matters left from the Trial Chamber judgment, and that final judgment arrived on 16 November 2012. (Acquitting the Croatian generals of all charges).

Appeals Chamber verdict

6 and 7. Joint Criminal Enterprise and housing laws

There was no Joint Criminal Enterprise on the Croatian side. The Appeal Chamber had quashed Trial Chamber judgment on that count, concluding that the Krajina Serbs were not deported from Knin, Benkovac, Obrovac and Gracac, and with that, the Croatian authorities did not deport the Krajina Serbs nor did the Joint Criminal Enterprise involving the Croatian leadership, especially Franjo Tudjman, Gojko Susak, Zvonimir Cervenko, Ante Gotovina, Jure Radic and Mladen Markac – exist.

Furthermore, after the Appeal Chamber verdict, it can be concluded that the Croatian leadership did not pass discriminatory housing laws after Operation Storm (see firstly the Government regulation and then the Temporary assumption and administration of certain property Act/Government Gazette NN 073/1995). That is, the Trial Chamber had found that those housing laws were in breach of the international law as they were introduced after the Serbs from Knin, Benkovac, Obrovac and Gracac were deported from Croatia. However, given that the Appeals Chamber had quashed the finding that the Serbs were displaced, that is deported, the conclusion that housing laws passed after Operation Storm were in contravention of the international humanitarian law must also be quashed.


Croatia's Capital Zagreb  Prepares For The 20 Anniversary Of Operation Storm and Liberation From Serb Occupation Military Parade and Celebrations of Independence to be held 4th August 2015 Photo: FAH


The ICTY concluded the following:

1. There was no Joint Criminal Enterprise from the Croatian side.

2. Krajina Serbs were not deported from Croatia by the Croatian authorities but left Croatia out of other reasons not associated with any Croatian officials’ illegal behaviour;

3. Not only that the Croatian authorities did not permit crimes against Serbs and Serbs’ property, but they were actively against those crimes;

4. It’s confirmed that 20,000 houses were not burned after Operation Storm. The number is probably closer to 5,000, and that, in both Sectors, North and South.

5. The judgment has found that a total of 44 civilians were killed by the Croatian forces, not 320 as the Prosecution claimed, not 600 as HHO claimed and especially not 2,000 as claimed by „Veritas“ i Savo Strbac.

6. There were no politics of non-investigation of crimes by the Croatian authorities.

7. The housing laws after Operation Storm were not in a collision with the international humanitarian law.”

Written and Translated from the Croatian language by Ina Vukic, Prof. (Zgb), B.A., M.A.Ps. (Syd)

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Croatia: ‘ With Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic “Berlin Wall” To Finally Tumble Down ‘

In one week, on January 11, Croatian presidential candidates Ivo Josipovic and Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic face their final battle for the Office of the President. One of the more significant platforms pursued by Grabar-Kitarovic in her election campaign isthe return to where Franjo Tudjman stopped.
He (Tudjman) is a man who gathered us all around the idea of freedom and independent Croatia and, led by him, the Croatian people and all the citizens who fought for Croatia, our state was created and it’s now our duty to complete the work he started and take Croatia into prosperity,” she said in December 2014 at the 15th anniversary of Tudjman’s death.

January 4, 2015

Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic Candidate for President of Croatia

When Croatia seceded from Yugoslavia in 1991 the communist Yugoslav Secret Police (KOS, UDBA) controlled a great deal and Croatia was faced with a brutal war of Serb/Yugoslav People’s Army aggression. This was the time just after the “Berlin Wall” came down, promising freedom and democracy to Eastern European countries that had been suffocated by Soviet-led or Soviet associated communist regime for decades, since WWII.
Franjo Tudjman, announcing paths to freedom from the Yugoslav communist regime and democracy for Croatia started the tearing down of the “Berlin Wall” that had existed within former Yugoslavia since WWII. In the early 1990s Croatians, led by Tudjman, along with Slovenians and eventually Bosnia and Herzegovina and Macedonia, turned towards West (while Serbia and Montenegro, along with those organised individuals in the other aforementioned Yugoslav states wanted communism to flourish, dug their vicious pro-communist heels in) and broke their ties with Yugoslavia, which was dominated by the Serbs. Most, but not all, from the Serbian minority in Croatia tried, with the help of the Yugoslav Army, to stop Croatia’s secession from Yugoslavia. After several years of bloody armed struggle, Croatians managed to militarily defeat the Yugoslav Army and the Serbian rebel forces.
But this success of Croatian Homeland War veterans and their leadership was not to see uninterrupted the next phase that would entail putting into place all the necessary political, ideological, administrative and legislative actions within Croatia that would see Tudjman’s path for a truly democratic and prosperous Croatia in action. The viciously ardent communists, led by Stjepan Mesic, staged and aided an all-out war of vilification against Tudjman and Croatian Homeland War Generals, setting their sights on criminalising the war and equating the victim with the aggressor. As the new Croatian state was formed during the Homeland War, the former Yugoslav communist Secret Police was not dissolved, allegedly because the new Croatian leadership could not risk an ‘internal war’ with the remains of the totalitarian regime. At the time Tudjman was to support lustration – removing from higher office those who were operatives of the Yugoslav Secret Police – the chase to vilify him as an ultra-nationalist who participated in joint criminal enterprise against Serbs in Croatia picked up and constantly threw dust into the eyes of those who wanted to work on further and more profound democratic changes in Croatia. (It took 18 years for the International Criminal Tribunal of Former Yugoslavia to peel off this vilifying coat when in 2012 Croatian Generals Ante Gotovina and Mladen Markac were acquitted of crimes they were charge with as Generals of Tudjman’s army…)
By the year 2000 “reformed“ communists came to power in Croatia, both in Government led by Ivica Racan and in Presidency of Stjepan Mesic. Ivica Racan’s former Communist Party changed its name to “Social Democratic Party,” yet everything else remained the same. They kept their close relationships with the Serbian minority in Croatia and the Serbs in former Yugoslavia – with the same old communists in their respective positions of leadership. Stjepan Mesic, having been ousted as parliamentary speaker in 1994 by Tudjman on account of his vicious and vilifying attempts to oust Tudjman from power, had meandered through creating new political parties to acting as independent to stay in power and continue his work on burying the democracy Tudjman had set as Croatia’s goal.
Social Democrats and Mesic had pushed on with “drowning” Tudjman and Croatia’s Homeland War and resurrecting communist Yugoslavia’s Josip Broz Tito along with suffocating the efforts to bring communist crimes perpetrated during the times of communist Yugoslavia to justice. Croatia’s current president Ivo Josipovic had picked up where his predecessor Mesic stopped and Prime Minister Zoran Milanovic where Racan’s government had stopped. Croatia had become a battleground where values of communist Yugoslavia were elevated above those of Tudjman, Homeland War and democracy and, hence, widespread corruption that has its roots in communist Yugoslavia continued to flourish no matter which political party was in government after year 2000.
Instead of reforming the economy and cutting the government costs, Croatia continues to borrow and sell off national treasures, while increasing taxes. As of today Croatia is the EU member with the GST/VAT at 25%, and with the highest unemployment rate, especially among young professionals who increasingly seek relief from poverty and existential hopelessness abroad.
The Croatian media scene is dominated by the same people who used to glorify former dictator Tito. The current head of the national television, the “HRT,” is Goran Radman, himself the last president of Tito’s communist youth organization. This well-rehearsed team sends to jail or fires someone every week because of “corruption,” in order to distract people’s attention from the real problems. The majority of cases involve political opposition leaders.
The media is served a steady stream of “secret” witness depositions, demonstrating how the country is being robbed. At the same time the attention is drawn away from the real problems, concealing the fact that the fleecing of the country is carried out by the government itself.
Increased taxes, no investments, no encouragement for private investment projects, halting the funds earmarked by the EU – all this seems to be the hallmark of the Josipovic’ regime” writes Dan Rados of The Daily Caller in his thought-provoking article titledIs Serbia controlling Croatia by blackmailing its president”.
All that and much more seems the hallmark of the politics of those who do not want a democratic and prosperous Croatia and they are those who remain loyal to the values of communist former-Yugoslavia. One wonders how much of this pro-communist Yugoslavia outlook has stopped Ivo Josipovic visiting again the protest-camp site outside Veterans’ Affairs ministry building in Zagreb where 100% war-invalids have been rallying for changes and rights since October 2014! I.e., aloof faced, Josipovic has visited the protesting veterans on 24 October and has done not a thing then or since then in attempting to truly listen to the suffering veterans, to create or help create a constructive dialogue and seems unperturbed by and deaf at the veterans’ plights. His excuse for failing to speak to the protesting veterans since late October is that he has invited them to visit him in his office! And this is the man who tries to tell the people that he too holds that independent Croatia of today is based on the values of Croatia’s Homeland War (as well as antifascist)! The communists of today, such as Josipovic, seem brazenly and spitefully determined not to let Croatian Homeland War veterans achieve fully an upper hand they deserve.
Throughout the campaigning for the presidency of Croatia it has been so refreshing to come across a candidate like Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic who, unlike Josipovic, emanates with democratic justice, providing for citizens’ and human rights for everyone based on the law of the country, due process and fairness. She is adamant in unifying the Croatian nation into working towards the goals set by Tudjman and, unlike Josipovic and the Social Democrat led government, appears to place Homeland War veterans above any former communist or antifascist crusader. With her victory on Sunday 11 January Croatia is surely to start breathing fairness and justice once again and the “Berlin Wall” will finally tumble-down for Croatia just as it has many years ago for the other European countries adversely affected in the past by it. Ina Vukic, Prof. (Zgb); B.A., M.A.Ps. (Syd)

Published on January 04 2015 

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‘ Croatian Presidential Elections 2014: For Whom The Bell Tolls ‘

Ever since Stjepan Mesic embarked on his attack (initially covertly then overtly) against Croatia’s first president Franjo Tudjman from about mid-1993, intending to bring down the significance of Tudjman’s cries for democracy and to criminalise Croatian Homeland War the politics in Croatia have often seemed disjointed and often irrational in recent years. After Tudjman’s death in 1999 the people (or at least the majority of voters) had often voted against the interests of democratic reform announced as essential by Franjo Tudjman in 1990. In the past fifteen years Croats have managed to thoroughly corrupt the democratic system through the intricate network of a permanent political class composed of anti-fascist lobbyists underpinned by the perpetuation of the illusion that Communist Yugoslavia was a success story of multi-ethnic unity and through the controlled media. The mainstream media in Croatia has gradually crumbled into snippets of inflammatory or sensational “fly-by-night- news” bearing without a shred of guiding commentary that would assist in the building of democracy and truth.

Croatian Presidential Elections 2014 Candidates Clockwise: Ivo Josipovic, Milan Kujundzic, Kolinda Grabar-KItarovic and Ivan Vilibor Sincic

Indeed, there was a time – and that time was Tudjman’s time – when idealism for freedom and democracy triumphed over power and many Croatian men and women of good will from all over the world, voluntarily, without expecting any kudos or material reward, entered public activism, lobbyism out of a purer motive of doing something for their country – Croatia. For them Croatia symbolised pure love for freedom and democracy. Freedom (from oppressive communist Yugoslavia) was achieved and democracy although engraved into Croatia’s Constitution suffered frustrating setbacks.

Despite Tudjman’s attempts from 1993 to embark upon ridding the power-wielding institutions of the former highly-positioned communist Yugoslavia operatives, they came out of the woodwork (largely due to Stjepan Mesic’s and his political camp’s resistance to lustration) creating a new mesh of power that would see the corruption that thrived at all levels of government for decades in communist Yugoslavia, which excluded oppressively any other ideology but communist – consolidate its suffocating effects on democratic progress.

There’s little doubt that the greatest danger to the survival of free and democratic Croatia (or any republic for that matter) is corruption, corruption being favouring special or narrow interests over the common good. Croatia is there now and the current presidential election campaigns are increasing the speed with which Croatia may become a totally special interest political system, separated from the common good; the good of the people.

And so, how do uncorrupted political leaders survive in a corrupt environment. We must fear that they cannot unless they possess equal cannon fodder to defend themselves from attacks that have no ingredients for common good but all the ingredients of furthering corruption and distorting the truth, which would if given a chance build on democracy.
And so I come to a freak Croatian media “frenzy” whereby numerous media outlets published a letter written to the Croatian presidential candidate Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic on a Facebook page by Danica Ramljak, a highly educated individual who has spent more than two decades living and working in the U.S.A. In that letter Ramljak evidently sets out to denigrate Grabar-Kitarovic as a deserving candidate for the President of Croatia by asking Grabar-Kitarovic to provide her answer to the 10 questions she (Ramljak) has asked in the letter.

And I shake my head in despair: what chance of democracy and truth has Croatia got when educated people like Ramljak publicly ask stupid questions that should not have passed a decent Editor’s desk into the “print-room”? What chance does democracy in Croatia have when media outlets download from Facebook pages material that is highly inflammatory and based on an evidently malicious agenda to mislead the public and vilify people without even warning the public that the contents of that material may misrepresent the truth or proper role of a public official?

Only someone who does not want progress in democracy in Croatia can ask and publish such questions. Only someone who wants political corruption to thrive in Croatia can ask and publish such questions.

Ramljak in her questions that to me appear stupid, vilifying and malicious suggests that Grabar-Kitarovic as the Croatian Ambassador to the US was responsible for bringing American investors to Croatia (and failed)! Even a child knows that an Ambassador does not create or control state laws and regulations for foreign investments – and God knows Croatian laws and red tapes have been hopeless and repelled many an investor. Furthermore, investing is the sole prerogative and choice of an investor and Ambassadors are no herders. Ramljak then suggests that Grabar-Kitarovic as Ambassador is to blame for not enough US tourists visiting Croatia because she did not promote Croatian tourism enough as Ambassador – truly, Ramljak needs a few lessons in choice and individual right to choice, in democracy – actually. Even if it were the job of an Ambassador to promote the tourist industry (as opposed to supporting it) – which it is not – one surely cannot attach blame to that Ambassador for a personal choice a tourist makes regarding their holiday destination.

Furthermore, Ramljak claims through a question that Grabar-Kitarovic secured her high position in NATO while working in Washington as Croatian Ambassador to the US and that her employer (Ministry of Foreign Affairs) did not know anything about that. It seems that the democratic right to do whatever one pleases in one’s private time (away from the job or working hours) or to pursue private matters (and seeking a new job is a private matter), does not factor in Ramljak’s idea of democracy and human rights. Certainly, Ramljak offers no evidence of any wrong doing by Grabar-Kitarovic and yet has the nasty gall of strongly implying it.

Ernest Hemingway’s 1940 novel “For Whom The Bell Tolls” graphically describes the brutality of civil war (Spanish Civil War) and the Spanish Civil War is all about politics: it’s a conflict between the leftist “Republic” and the fascist Nationalists. All of the characters the novel focuses on fight for the Republic, some of them with a zeal which borders on the religious. Yet what the Republic stands for is somewhat up for grabs: it’s a troubled coalition of Communists, anarchists, and those who simply believe in “freedom” or “the people.” The optimism or idealism felt by some characters is sharply contrasted with the reality of Republican politics – constant lying, infighting, and control by foreigners.

Ivo Josipovic and Danica Ramljak

While there are no fascists in Croatia, there are communists like Ivo Josipovic (also presidential candidate and current president) who would like the world to think that there are fascists in Croatia. I do hope that the bell will toll loud and clear at the coming presidential elections in Croatia and rid it of those who engage in such political corruption as Ramljak has shown through her atrocious letter that seems to me has embraced the mud-slinging tactics Josipovic never strays far away from. While the politically corrupt media do, I trust Grabar-Kitarovic will not dignify the questions put by Danica Ramljak in her publicised letter with answers! Ina Vukic, Prof. (Zgb); B.A., M.A.Ps. (Syd)

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