Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Operation Storm crimes under investigation

Operation Storm crimes under investigation
8 August 2006 | Source:B92

The exodus of refugees during Operation Storm

SARAJEVO, ZAGREB, BELGRADE -- The Bosnia-Herzegovina Prosecutor’s Office has begun an investigation into the Operation Storm war crimes footage.

Bosnia-Herzegovina Prosecutor’s Office official Boris Grubešić said that additional information is being collected as evidence for the case. The Prosecutor’s Office received the amateur-taped footage showing members of the Bosnia-Herzegovina and Croatian military committing war crimes against Serbian prisoners during Operation Storm in 1995.

Sarajevo correspondent Amir Sužanj told B92 that Zagreb’s insistence to shove all of the responsibility for the war crimes onto the plate of the Bosnia-Herzegovina military can only disrupt relations between Zagreb and Sarajevo, and will not help anyone get closer to the truth behind Operation Storm.

The Zagreb Government, along with a majority of the media, is denying any ties between the Croatian army and the war crimes committed during Operation Storm, claiming that the war crimes occurred in Bosnia-Herzegovina and that they were perpetrated by members of the Muslim military.

State Prosecution spokesperson Martina Mihordin said that there will be no investigations of members of the First and Second Brigade of the Croatian military, better known as the Black Mambas.

“From the footage we have, which the Croatian state prosecutor’s office has received, it is clear that there were no members of the Croatian military in that region. They were called on to free the region of Dvora na Uni. According to the data that has already been collected and after looking over the footage, there is no doubt that these actions constitute a crime.” Mihordin said.

Director of the Documentary-Informative Centre Veritas, Savo Štrbac, said that the footage which was shown on B92 does not show the actual killing of the prisoners because the tape ran out.

“There is a third tape where all of this will be seen. The pomp surrounding this will probably slow down the process of getting the third tape, where it will be seen what they did on that road, where most of the people from the line were killed, what the Mambas did, and what members of the 505 Bužimska did.” Štrbac said.

Štrbac said that even today in Dvor, on Đed Hill, there are 112 grave sites, and that the identity of only two of the victims is known. At the graveyard in Petrinje there are about 150 tombstones and according to Veritas, many of those who were killed were buried there. About 70 graves exist at the Glinska cemetery, and according to Veritas’ information, some of the people who were killed on the road between Glina and Dvor were buried there.

Štrbac reminded that after 11 years, the posthumous remains of these victims have yet to be exhumed.

“While the bodies are in the country, Croatia is able to behave this way, and to say that they did not kill anyone, that someone else did everything, that Veritas and Štrbac made everything up. Why don’t they exhume the bodies so we can find out the truth? The bodies are the strongest evidence, stronger than the footage.” Štrbac said.

Radio Television Serbia showed footage last night of the Commander of the Fifth Corps of the Bosnia-Herzegovina Army Atif Dudaković ordering his troops to burn Serbian villages in the Bosnian Krajina during the continuation of Operation Storm on September 16 and 17, 1995. The footage shows homes, buildings and other private property burning to the ground.

Footage being used for campaigning

Atif Dudaković said that the footage is being used as a campaign in an effort to make these crimes seem equal to the ones committed in Bosnia-Herzegovina.

“I watched the footage and if we compare it with the video in which the Scorpions executed people, no one was bound in this video, nor were they helpless civilians, rather, from what I saw, this was the murder of soldiers in a bunker.” Dudaković told Dnevni Avaz.

“In the zone of responsibility of the Fifth Corps, those who were confirmed to have committed war crimes have been convicted. The greatest crime happened in 1992, when they were ethnically cleansing the territory of Bosnia-Herzegovina and in 1995, when Srebrenica happened, the greatest mass war crimes committed by the Serbs.” Dudaković said.

Who is the victim?

President of the Social-Democratic Union Žarko Korać said that Serbian President Boris Tadić and Prime Minister Vojislav Koštunica, as well as all other Serbian officials, are refraining from saying anything about the politics that led to Operation Storm.

“Koštunica I expected, since he is already in a parliamentary coalition with the party that was responsible for those politics. In addition to that, in Serbia today, the chief ideologists and propagandists of these politics are very active in supporting Koštunica’s government. It is that much worse to have those who want to be the leaders of the so-called democratic bloc in Serbia stay silent.” Korać wrote in an article published by the Banja Luka daily Nezavisne Novine.

“Are the victims the rows of persecuted, innocent victims and does anyone in the government have a sense of responsibility for what happened? Was forming a so-called Serbian state on the ground of Croatia followed by the ethnic cleaning of these Croatians? Was their property plundered and were there crimes committed against them? True answers to those questions are the only way to a true understanding of Operation Storm and its consequences.” Korać said.

“Croatia and Serbia are just beginning a long and difficult process of coming to terms with Operation Storm. Every region will have to do that. Bilateral diplomatic relations between Croatia and Serbia will continue to improve, but for a proper future for our communities it will be necessary to completely face Operation Storm.” Korać said.

Video Clip of Croat & Bosnian Muslim Paramilitaries During Operation Storm in 1995

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