interview by Ivica NEVESCANIN
SPEGELJ: My book does not accuse anyone, let alone contain grave charges. On the contrary, the book simply states dry facts, without any commentary. The chief inspectorate of the defense of the Republic of Croatia and the Croatian Army submitted about 60 reports about the state of defense and the Croatian Army on all frontlines. The work of the inspectorate started on September 22, 1991, and these inspections are still active. The book contains inspection reports based solely on my notes and personal impressions about visits to all regions, including Zadar. That region was inspected on several occasions by the following inspectors: General Djuro Srnec, Brigadiers Ivan Karkas, Vladimir Volarevic, Josip Breuneger, Drago Franciskovic, Ljubo Barisic, Ante Marinov, Ivan Grabavac Kobra, Miso Munivrana, and others. The inspections were always conducted by teams, so that the findings were definite and credible. All of inspection reports, with my commentary, to the last one, were submitted to the Supreme Commander's Cabinet, and I also reported them verbally to president Tudman, which has been recorded and exists on tape. All reports related to certain Marinko Radas and reports about the activities of his unit were submitted the President's Cabinet, the Minister of Defense Gojko Susak, Chief of Staff General Tus, president of the Office of Protection of Constitutional Order Josip Manolic, while one copy was placed in the archive of the Chief Inspectorate. I personally haven't kept any original documents, but I had personal notes that were used for compilation of pretty much all the submitted reports. I used those notes when informing president Tudman, Defense Minister Gojko Susak, and other individuals responsible for the waging of the war, if needed.
That is probably the result of confusion of inspectors who submitted reports from the southern front. All together, 16 groups that haven't been part of the Croatian Army command chain have been registered. Marinko Radas' group is one of them.
How did General Ante Roso and late Minister Gojko Susak command the company "Kralj Tomislav"?
Radas explained in his interview in Slobodna Dalmacija that he was only subordinated to certain General Ante Roso and Minister Susak. The latter personally admitted to me that he had "his units". That is the catch! Because of all that, it is good that Rados sued me, because we'll clear all of that up in court. Radas' company was a political formation subordinated to the Minister of Defense, as a vice-president of the HDZ. Captain, or perhaps colonel Ante Roso formed the so-called special units based on Susak's instructions. In conversation with president Tudman, it was agreed that those so-called special units be within the Croatian Army chain of command. However, that did not happen in practice and these units remained independent, under control of Minister Susak who commanded them either indirectly, through Roso, or directly. Similar complaints against such units came from commanders all over Croatia, and were sent directly to president Tudman.
I do not know whether the company "Kralj Tomislav", under command of Marinko Radas, did defend Zadar. The Croatian Army inspectors always encountered that unit in the base Sepurine. Based on the information provided by the Command of the Defense Sector Zadar, it can be concluded that the company went to the frontline whenever it pleased, and similarly abandoned the frontline whenever Radas ordered them to do so.
His claim that Zadar would have been captured by Chetniks if it weren't for his company is a grave insult for all independent battalions and brigades defending the frontline between Starigrad and Vransko Lake. Radas has no right to talk about that. I was personally present during those most critical days in most critical zones and was not even aware of existence of Radas' company. However, I cannot claim with certainty that Radas' company did not act successfully on some part of the frontline.
What were the problems in the defense of Zadar?
There were problems in the defense of Zadar regarding organization, discipline, and execution of orders, lack of adequate armaments, and activities of various semi-illegal groups. Former Yugoslav People's Army officers, led by Colonel Terzic were in extremely difficult conditions, exposed to destructive pressure and that pressure was absolutely anti-Croatian. Those officers were the only professionals and the only commanders of the defense in addition to Police units which played an important role in the defense of Zadar.
Such charges clearly indicate Radas' political extremism, which inflicted immeasurable damage on the defense of Zadar and indirectly endangered the defense and resulted in unnecessary casualties and destruction. Besides, that is why we had inspections and submitted reports to the top leadership.
Today, such a Ustashe-like and destructive campaign has the goal of splitting all Croats. That is a dead end, and the huge silent majority of the Croatian citizens has a chance to prevent such a split.
Report number 53, dated March 11, 1992, about "company Zrinski-Frankopan in Zadar, under command of Marinko Radas" was based on informal conversation with inspectors of the Croatian Army, Brigadiers Dr. Vladimir Volarevic and Ivan Karakas, with Radas. According to the inspectors, "Radas claims that he only accepts orders from the Defense Minister [Gojko Susak] and General Roso, that he has official documentation regarding the founding of his unit (which is not mentioned anywhere in the Croatian Army documentation)... He claims that the whole Sapurine complex was allocated for his use. In a conversation about negative developments, break-ins into apartments, demolition of houses, he approves of them. He admitted that he personally authorized ten forced evictions and occupations of apartments, one of which was given to the local primary school principal, Mr Radas (a relative, as we've later found out) because he is a very distinguished citizen. He expressed regret that he hadn't provided more apartments for his men. Regarding the demolition of houses, he also approves, because that is the way to prevent the return of certain people. These views were seconded by his deputy, present during our conversation. To the question whether he was aware that 700 buildings had been demolished in Zadar, he answered affirmatively, but added that that was 'normal' and that it would be more harmful if those houses were not destroyed. He commands his men and promotes them(...). Regarding numerous cars that had been sequestered for the company use without any official orders, he claims that those vehicles are necessary and that he personally signed use permits and provided fuel for the vehicles. He says that he took about ten vehicles from "Auto Croatia" dealership, because otherwise they would have been wasted. We did not see any documentation regulating organization, status and financial activities of the company."
by P. OPACIC
Aras' proposal states that "all residents of Zadar and the Zadar region know and remember that the appointment of Ante Gotovina for the commander of the Split Defense Region brought about the end of daily bombardment of Zadar". After that the city started living more peacefully and more safely. By leading military operations he and his soldiers, heroes to the last one, stopped the marauding destructive death in its advance towards Zadar, Aras explains his proposal, and adds that he personally heard Gotovina, as a wartime commander, telling his soldiers that "war is waged to conquer territory. That territory is defended by enemies; that territory can be conquered only by defeating and possibly capturing the enemy. Keep in mind that every prisoner of war is a man and is protected by international conventions and our laws. Tomorrow, our men can be captured and we would justifiably demand that they be treated humanely."
In the end of his proposal Aras says that despite the fact that Croatia won the war, the Homeland War is being maligned, and that the Hague Tribunal, supported by the Croatian government, is persecuting heroes of the Homeland War, including General Ante Gotovina, based on command responsibility. Exactly because of that, given that there were no crimes based on command responsibility in the Homeland War, and because of his accomplishments in the defense of Zadar, Aras proposed that Gotovina become a honorary citizen of Zadar.
On behalf of the councilors of the Independent List of Stanislav Antic, Ante Bozulic announced that "Antic's councilors" would abstain from voting on this issue, but he also reacted to the part of Aras' proposal in which he states that wars are waged for conquest of territory.
"As a defender [war veteran] and a man I cannot take that responsibility. We defended and liberated territory, we did not conquer any," Bozulic said and added that he was honored to be in the company of General Gotovina, who is a true hero. Davor Aras accepted Bozulic's criticism, so that in the proposal the word "conquer" was replaced by "liberate". On behalf of the SDP, Omerka Saric suggested that the decision be postponed for "some better times when we will with happiness and pride unanimously award this honor and hand it to General Gotovina," reminding the councilors to the part of their oath which talks about the protection of the Constitution and laws and respect for the legal order. "Under pressure of issued indictment and out of spite, we are proposing Gotovina for an honorary citizen even though that does not help Gotovina while it does harm both to Gotovina and Croatia. We do not have the right to do that," Omerka Saric said. She concluded that all of that was being done for "certain individual, group, or political interests and for the sake of scoring political points".
"We are convinced that he is innocent, but we should wait until international legal institutions confirm that," Omerka Saric said.
Her proposal was rejected so that the councilors of the Independent List, the SDP and the HNS abstained during the vote.
Since it was said at the meeting of the Committee for public honors that the title of the Honorary Citizen would personally be handed to Gotovina "once the situation permits", while nothing was said about that at the session of the city council, it is unclear whether the title of the honored citizen will be given to General Ante Gotovina on Saturday, with other public service awards awarded on the occasion of the City of Zadar Day.(...)