At the end of 1991 the JNA withdrew from Croatia to Bosnia to enter the second phase of Milošević’s genocidal project, though before leaving, they ensured that the Rebel-Serbs of the so-called 'Krajina' region, the annexed one third of Croatia, who had ethnically cleansed almost 80,000 Croatians, looted and burned their homes and murdered 20,000, were equipped with military hardware.
In March 1994, the then Croatian Defence Minister requested assistance for military training from the US Pentagon. The Pentagon officially declined the request, though directed the Croatians to the Virginia based Military Professional Resource Inc (MPRI). Former US generals staff the MPRI and its main client is the US army. The Pentagon then licensed a contract, signed with the Croatian army and the US advisers set about training in ‘large-scale operations.’
By 1995 Milošević’s forces had butchered their way through Bosnia carving out 70% of the territory, ethnically cleansed in excess of one million Croats and Muslims, and slaughtered almost 200,000. In July, the seemingly unstoppable Serb forces massacred 7,000 Muslim men and boys at Srebrenica; before moving on to Bihać, where they bombarded hundreds of thousands of Muslim refugees, trapped inside the city. The Greater Serbian dream was almost complete. All they had to do now; was enter phase 3: to ‘cleanse’ the ethnic Albanians of Kosovo.
Something, however, was going to disrupt their plans – and its name was ‘Operation Storm.’
With the growing humanitarian catastrophe in Bosnia, particularly the increasingly ferocious shelling of Bihać, pressure on the US government finally compelled them to act.The Clinton Administration realised that in order to bring stability to the region – they needed Croatia.
Evidence suggests that Milošević, aware of an imminent large-scale Croatian offensive to liberate the occupied so-called 'Krajina' region; gave the signal to commence the transfer of Krajina Serbs, in order to re-populate Bosnia-Hercegovina and Kosovo.
On August 4th 1995, the united Croatian forces, planned and supported by one or more US agencies, and under the command of General Ante Gotovina, massed their troops around the occupied territory of Krajina. President Tudjman broadcast on Croatian radio for ‘Croatian citizens of Serbian ethnicity in the occupied territories to remain in their homes and not to fear the Croatian authorities who will respect their minority rights.’
General Gotovina’s army smashed through the Serb defences at lightening speed causing 40,000 of their troops and 400 tanks to flee to Banja Luka. Initially the Serbs, haughty with their ‘victories’ of the preceding years, responded by launching fierce artillery and rocket bombardments on Croatian towns and cities; whilst Bosnian and Croatian Serb forces united in the ferocious attack on Bihać.
Within 84 hours, the Croatian forces had liberated the occupied territories, causing the cessation of the Serb onslaught on Bihać, averting a humanitarian catastrophe, and striking the ultimate blow to Milošević’s scheme.
However, what followed defies belief.
Subsequent to Milošević’s removal from power by the Serbian people, and the termination of his failed Greater Serbia, the UN, who had stood back and watched his forces butcher at will for almost a decade, established a tribunal in The Hague to prosecute those responsible for crimes committed during the wars in the former Yugoslavia.
As the vast majority of perpetrators were Serbs – no less than “90 percent” according to a classified CIA report leaked to the New York Times in March 1995 - in an attempt to appear even-handed, the prosecutors began to indict a number of Croatians. One of the men - was General Ante Gotovina.
The General was indicted on the vaguest of charges and it is clear to anyone who has studied the case, that the indictment was politically motivated from its inception and the allegations absurd.
The prosecutors allege that due to Operation Storm ‘thousands of Serbs were ethnically cleansed,’ despite a key Serb political leader, Milan Babic, testifying that his own leadership ordered the withdrawal of both the military and civilian population. This is confirmed in Politika’s August 23rd 1995 edition, which reproduced a copy of the actual order signed by the 'Krajina' Serb President Mile Martić himself.
It is alleged that a number of soldiers under the General’s command committed atrocities against Serbian civilians during Operation Storm and that he took no preventative measures despite being warned by foreign observers.
Although the terrible crimes committed against the Serbian civilians can in no way be condoned; the majority of the crimes were committed during the three months following the operation, by returning Croatian civilians who’d previously been ethnically cleansed and maverick paramilitaries seeking vengeance.
In addition, almost 300 soldiers who were under the General’s command and responsible for criminal acts were ordered by him to be tried by military court and were subsequently sentenced to prison.
General Gotovina, who also briefed his troops prior to the operation instructing them to ‘respect the international laws of war and to keep in mind the mentality of a victorious army which must not take revenge on the defeated’; is charged with ‘personal and overall command responsibility,’ – a farcical charge which equates to a police commander being indicted if a number of his officers take it upon themselves to maltreat citizens, instead of the individual officers concerned.
There is no single fact, document or indeed any evidence whatsoever that indicates General Gotovina ordered any atrocity.
General Gotovina offered himself as a witness, but despite being aware of these facts, the prosecution is determined that he stands trial. The European Union, instigated by Britain who despatched MI6 operatives to catch him, blocked Croatia's bid for EU entry unless the Croatian government captured and extradited him to The Hague, with the additional implication that this would adversely affect the entry of other Balkan states. All despite the fact there was no evidence General Gotovina was in or near Croatian jurisdiction. The prosecutor, who later publicly claimed The Vatican was shielding the General, appealed that he should hand himself in ‘if he loved his country.’ Fine words from a member of an organisation which enforced an arms embargo preventing Croatia from defending herself and then sat safely from afar as she was torn apart by a foreign tyrant; to a man who not only returned home and offered his life to defend his people, but also saved his country’s neighbour creating regional stability.
The whole affair convinced many to believe that something underhand is at work in an attempt to make General Gotovina a ‘political scape-goat,’ and has resulted in a campaign for justice, which is growing by the day.
A smear campaign was employed, circulated by some media sources intending to discredit both the general and his associates. Full credit to Ivo Pukanic, who the British media is eager to promote as a 'Gotovina supporter', who from October 1999, was the very first to launch a series of malicious falsified attacks against the General and other Croatian Defenders in his magazine Nacional. Pukanic conveniently forgot this episode. I didn't, which resulted in Nacional's boss launching a cowardly attack against me live on Croatian TV, in my absence, for reminding him. I then joined the long list of former Croatian Defenders to be the subject of "Nacionals' research workshop" and trademarked anonymous sources. The intended coup-de-grace coming in the guise of Plamenko Cvitic's crude yet dismal failure - which attempted to attribute blame to me for media allegations connecting Ante to the IRA and organised crime. This time it appears, both Pukanic and Cvitic suffered a strange memory loss and had to be reminded once again that precisely these same allegations actually originated from Pukanic himself and his magazine in the late 1990's - a time before he u-turned having discovered printing support for the General was the solution to his mounting debts.
Based essentially on Nacional's articles some international media sources re-cycled the falsified accusations of criminality and unsubstantiated allegations of IRA connections.
These same people had the audacity to call the General ‘cowardly’ for not surrendering and clearing himself of the charges. The General's conduct, however, has been characteristically courageous.
General Ante Gotovina, is an innocent man and his unjust indictment must be immediately withdrawn, his reputation reinstated, and his family be left to continue their lives in peace.
16.11.2012 - General Gotovina's wrongful conviction was finally overturned by the Appeal Court.He was exonerated, freed and reunited with his family.
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