UN official tells court of Gotovina death threat (July 21)

THE HAGUE — The killing and looting of Serb property after Croatia’s Op Storm was organized, a former UN spokesman says.

Alun Roberts on Monday testified at the Hague Tribunal trial of three former Croatian generals, Ante Gotovina, Ivan Čermak and Mladen Markač, indicted for war crimes committed against ethnic Serbs during and after Croatian Army’s 1995 Operation Storm.

Roberts accused Croatian military forces of shelling Knin and crimes committed in the vicinity of that town after the operation, and said that 200 civilian facilities were damaged in the shelling of August 4 and 5, 1995, “which had not been limited to the locations used by the self-proclaimed local military and civilian Serb authorities”.

He said that Croatian authorities, specifically General Čermak, had limited the movement of UN members to the center of Knin “in order to conceal the extent of the shelling”.

Roberts said he had seen wide-scale torching, looting and killing of civilians, most frequently elderly people, during a tour of UN’s Sector South. The witness added that UN members “always saw Croatian Army and Special Police members in the torched villages”.

For this reason, he concluded that there was a tendency of ethnic cleansing, rather than isolated incidents and individual crimes.

In Grubori, six villagers who survived told Roberts that some members of their families had been burned alive in their houses, and then took him to the locations where he took photographs of some of the victims.

The former UN official concluded that they had been shot point blank and that one elderly man was killed in his bed.

Roberts also testified that Gotovina had threatened to kill him, accusing him of “protecting Serb war criminals hidden among the civilians”.

Oh, the Croatian forces also drove tanks over the bodies of the people they killed.