INDEPENDENT NEWS

Cablegate: Codel Kerrey/Warner Part Two: Visit to Knin

Published: Wed 30 Aug 1995 03:03 PM
This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.
UNCLASSIFIED LIMITED OFFICIAL USE SECTION 01 OF 03 ZAGREB 03309
SIPDIS
BRUSSELS ALSO FOR USEU
USVIENNA ALSO FOR USDEL OSCE
E.O. 12356: N/A
TAGS: PREL PREF MOPS HR PREF MOPS HR PREF MOPS HR BK
SUBJECT: CODEL KERREY/WARNER PART TWO: VISIT TO KNIN
DECONTROL UPON RECEIPT -- SENSITIVE BUT UNCLASSIFIED --
PROTECT ACCORDINGLY.
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SUMMARY
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1. SENATORS WARNER AND KERREY WERE BRIEFED IN KNIN IN
THE UN COMPOUND BY LOCAL UNCRO MILITARY OFFICERS AND
OBSERVERS, REPRESENTATIVES OF THE UN HUMAN RIGHTS CENTER,
THE EC MONITORING MISSION AND UNHCR. THE UN AND ECMM
ASSESSMENTS OF THE ATTACK AND AFTERMATH OF THE HV'S
"OPERATION STORM" WERE BLUNT AND FEATURED DISTURBING
ALLEGATIONS OF SIGNIFICANT HUMAN RIGHTS VIOLATIONS,
INCLUDING LARGE-SCALE BURNING OF SERB HOMES AND VILLAGES,
SOME APPARENT MURDERS OF CIVILIANS AND PROBLEMS WITH
DISPLACED PERSONS. WARNER AND KERREY ALSO MET BRIEFLY
WITH GENERAL CERMAK, CROATIAN MILITARY GOVERNOR OF KNIN,
AND DISCUSSED CIRCUMSTANCES IN THE AREA AND THE PLIGHT OF
DISPLACED PERSONS IN THE WAKE OF MILITARY OPERATIONS.
THE CODEL AND ESCORTING EMBOFFS OBSERVED THAT MOST HOMES
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IN THE AREA OUTSIDE OF THE TOWNS OF DRNIS AND KNIN HAD
BEEN BURNED. END SUMMARY.
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MILITARY ASPECTS OF "STORM"
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2. THE OPENING MILITARY ASSESSMENT BY LOCAL UNCRO
COMMANDER FOURAND AND HIS BRIEFER, COLONEL BALFOUR (BOTH
CANADIAN OFFICERS), POSITED THAT CROATIAN FORCES (HV)
WERE SUCCESSFUL NOT BECAUSE OF MILITARY PROWESS (BALFOUR
CHARACTERIZED SOME HV TROOPS IN KNIN AS "A MOTLEY
COLLECTION OF THUGS") BUT BECAUSE OF THE "RSK"
LEADERSHIP'S EARLY DECISION TO ORDER EVACUATION RATHER
THAN MOUNT A SUSTAINED DEFENSIVE CAMPAIGN. FOURAND AND
BALFOUR NOTED THAT THE TERRAIN OF FORMER UN SECTOR SOUTH
IS "A DEFENDER'S DREAM" AND THAT EVEN MARGINALLY
EFFECTIVE "RSK" COMMAND AND TACTICS COULD HAVE BOGGED HV
ATTACKERS DOWN IN A PROLONGED, DEBILITATING FIGHT.
3. SENATOR KERREY CHALLENGED THE VIEW THAT THE HV'S
OPERATION WAS A SUCCESS ONLY BY DEFAULT, NOTING THE
EXTREMELY RAPID AND COMPREHENSIVE NATURE OF THE SERB
DEFEAT. BALFOUR REPEATED THAT THE "RSK" DECISION TO
EVACUATE REMAINED THE KEY REASON FOR THE CROATIAN
VICTORY, AND FURTHER NOTED THE HV OPERATION IN SECTOR
SOUTH INVOLVED LITTLE INGENUITY AND MIRRORED EARLIER
"RSK" AND BSA TACTICS: I.E., STAND OFF AND HAMMER THE
ENEMY'S MILITARY AND CIVILIAN CENTERS WITH ARTILLERY --
THE UN CLAIMED OVER 2,000 IMPACTS IN KNIN CITY -- THEN
MOVE IN TO TAKE CONTROL OF SURRENDERED OR DESERTED AREAS.
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(COMMENT: THE CENTER OF KNIN SHOWED LITTLE DAMAGE, BUT
THE UN CLAIMS THE HV UNDERTOOK A CLEAN-UP OF THE AREA
DURING THE PERIOD OF AUGUST 5-8, WHILE THE UN WAS STILL
CONFINED TO ITS COMPOUND. THE CITY HAD ALSO BEEN SPRUCED
UP AUGUST 26 FOR PRESIDENT TUDJMAN'S REOPENING OF THE
ZAGREB-KNIN-SPLIT RAILROAD. END COMMENT.) THE UNCRO
OFFICERS AND THE MILITARY OBSERVER ALSO CLAIMED THAT THE
HV AT ONE POINT THREATENED DIRECT ATTACK ON THE UN
COMPOUND IN KNIN AND GAVE SPECIFIC EXAMPLES OF HV ATTACKS
ON UN OBERVATION POSTS (THERE WERE TWO UN CASUALTIES) AND
OF HV ADVANCES THAT "WENT NOWHERE" WHEN SERB TROOPS
OFFERED MEANINGFUL RESISTENCE.
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HUMAN RIGHTS AND DISPLACED PERSONS
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ACTION H-06
INFO LOG-00 OASY-00 DS-00 EUR-01 TEDE-00 IO-02 ADS-00
OIC-02 SS-00 DSCC-00 /011W
------------------E8021C 301521Z /38
R 301503Z AUG 95
FM AMEMBASSY ZAGREB
TO SECSTATE WASHDC 7079
INFO AMEMBASSY SARAJEVO
AMEMBASSY LJUBLJANA
AMEMBASSY BUDAPEST
AMEMBASSY BELGRADE
DIA WASHDC
JOINT STAFF WASHDC//J-5PMA/J21//
SECDEF WASHDC//ISA/ISP//
NSC WASHDC
NATO EU COLLECTIVE
CINCUSNAVEUR LONDON UK//N2/N22//
COMSIXTHFLT //N2//
CINCUSAFE RAMSTEIN AB GE//DO/LG/XP/IN//
JAC MOLESWORTH RAF MOLESWORTH UK
USNMR SHAPE BE//POLAD//
HQ JTF PP NAPLES IT//CA/POLAD//
USCINCEUR VAIHINGEN GE//ECJ3/ECJ4/ECJ5/ECPOLAD//
CINCUSAREUR HEIDELBERG GE//J3/J4/J5/POLAD//
USMISSION USUN NEW YORK
USMISSION GENEVA
AMCONSUL MUNICH
USLO SKOPJE
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LIMITED OFFICIAL USE SECTION 02 OF 03 ZAGREB 003309
BRUSSELS ALSO FOR USEU
USVIENNA ALSO FOR USDEL OSCE
E.O. 12356: N/A
TAGS: PREL PREF MOPS HR PREF MOPS HR PREF MOPS HR BK
SUBJECT: CODEL KERREY/WARNER PART TWO: VISIT TO KNIN
4. THE MOST DRAMATIC AND DISTURBING BRIEFINGS DEALT WITH
REPORTS FROM THE EC MONITORING MISSION AND UN HUMAN
RIGHTS CENTER REPRESENTATIVES THAT THE HV OR OTHER CROAT
ELEMENTS HAD ENGAGED IN SIGNIFICANT HUMAN RIGHTS
VIOLATIONS IN THE AFTERMATH OF "STORM," INCLUDING WIDE-
SPREAD BURNING OF SERB HOMES AND VILLAGES AND SOME
APPARENT MURDERS OF CIVILIANS.
5. BURNINGS: THE ECMM MONITOR, SOREN LIBORIUS,
ESTIMATED THAT AT LEAST 60 PERCENT OF FORMERLY SERB
DWELLINGS HAD BEEN BURNED FROM AUGUST 7 THROUGH AUGUST
24, AND SUPPLIED A WRITTEN REPORT DOCUMENTING DOZENS OF
SPECIFIC INCIDENTS. IN SOME INSTANCES, ECMM MONITORS
OBSERVED HOUSES BEING BURNT BY UNIFORMED HV SOLDIERS
SUPPLIED BY FUEL TRUCKS IN AREAS UNDER HV OR POLICE
CONTROL. IN OTHER INSTANCES, MIXED GROUPS OF CIVILIANS
AND MILITARY PERSONNEL WERE SEEN BURNING HOUSES. WHILE
ECMM AND THE UN HUMAN RIGHTS REPS ATTRIBUTED SOME
BURNINGS TO INCIDENTS OF INDIVIDUAL RETRIBUTION OR
THUGGERY, THEY BELIEVED THERE MAY EXIST AN ORGANIZED
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CROATIAN EFFORT TO DEPRIVE WOULD-BE SERB RETURNEES OF
HABITATION. THEY OBSERVED A WIDE PATTERN OF DESTRUCTION
OF REMOTE SERB HOMES AND VILLAGES WHILE TRADITIONAL
CROATIAN VILLAGES AS WELL AS LARGER POPULATION CENTERS
(E.G., KNIN, VRILKA, DRNIS) WERE SPARED, POSSIBLY AS
POTENTIAL HOUSING FOR RETURNING CROATIANS DISPLACED IN
1991-92. (COMMENT: IN ADDITION TO THE UN AND ECMM
COMMENTS, EMBOFFS WITH WARNER AND KERREY SAW SEVERAL
RECENTLY BURNED HOUSES AND VILLAGES IN THE AREA OF KNIN.
APPROXIMATELY 80 - 90 PERCENT OF BUILDINGS ALONG THE ROAD
THROUGH DRNIS - KNIN - VRPOLJE - KIJEVO HAD BEEN BURNED.
EMBOFFS SAW TWO FIRES IN DRNIS AND OTHERS ALONG THE ROAD.
IN SOME AREAS THE AIR SMELLED OF RECENTLY-BURNED
BUILDINGS. END COMMENT.)
6. KILLINGS: IN ADDITION TO HOUSE-BURNING INCIDENTS,
THE UN HUMAN RIGHTS CENTER REPRESENTATIVE, E.J. FLYNN,
AND THE ECMM REP RECOUNTED CHILLING CASES OF APPARENT
MURDER OF UNARMED SERBS AFTER THE CROATIAN MILITARY
OPERATION WAS COMPLETE. IN ONE INSTANCE IN A REMOTE
RURAL AREA, A CANADIAN UN OFFICER OBSERVED HV SOLDIERS
POSING FOR A PHOTO WITH AN ELDERLY SERB, "DISPLAYING HIM
LIKE A HUNTING TROPHY." SOME TIME LATER, THE SERB WAS
FOUND IN A NEARBY FIELD WITH A BULLET IN HIS HEAD. IN
ANOTHER INSTANCE, AN UNARMED SERB WAS ESCORTED BEHIND A
HOUSE BY HV TROOPS, AND LATER FOUND THERE WITH HIS HEAD
SHATTERED BY A BULLET. THE BODY REMAINS LEANING AGAINST
A WOODPILE, ACCORDING TO THE EC MONITOR. IN A THIRD CASE
RECOUNTED AFTER THE BRIEFING TO AN EMBOFF BY A CANADIAN
UN OFFICER, AN ELDERLY SERB MAN CAME TO THE UN COMPOUND
IN KNIN AT NIGHT SEEKING PROTECTION FOR HIMSELF AND HIS
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WIFE. WHEN UN OFFICERS WENT AT DAWN WITH THE MAN TO HIS
HOME, THE WIFE'S BODY WAS FOUND IN THE COUPLE'S WELL.
7. FLYNN ALSO DISCUSSED EARLY UN REPORTS OF A POSSIBLE
"MASS GRAVE" AT KNIN CEMETERY. ALTHOUGH THOSE INITIAL
REPORTS ARE NOW OPEN TO QUESTION, FLYNN OPINED THAT THE
PLACEMENT OF INDIVIDUAL GRAVE MARKERS ON THE SUSPECT SITE
MAY BE ONLY "COSMETIC COVER." FLYNN INDICATED THAT HUMAN
RIGHTS CASES ARE BEING DOCUMENTED AND WILL BE REVIEWED BY
THE INTERNATIONAL WAR CRIMES TRIBUNAL AT THE HAGUE.
8. DISPLACED PERSONS: ALTHOUGH THE MAJORITY OF
DISPLACED SERBS HAVE NOW DEPARTED KRAJINA, 760 SERB
DISPLACED PERSONS ARE STILL TAKING REFUGEE IN THE UN
COMPOUND IN KNIN. THE UN IS STILL ENGAGED IN DIFFICULT
NEGOTIATIONS WITH CROATIAN AUTHORITIES CONCERNING THEIR
DEPARTURE. SENATORS WARNER AND KERREY MET BRIEFLY WITH A
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PAGE 01 ZAGREB 03309 03 OF 03 301521Z
ACTION H-06
INFO LOG-00 OASY-00 DS-00 EUR-01 TEDE-00 IO-02 ADS-00
OIC-02 SS-00 DSCC-00 /011W
------------------E80228 301521Z /38
R 301503Z AUG 95
FM AMEMBASSY ZAGREB
TO SECSTATE WASHDC 7080
INFO AMEMBASSY SARAJEVO
AMEMBASSY LJUBLJANA
AMEMBASSY BUDAPEST
AMEMBASSY BELGRADE
DIA WASHDC
JOINT STAFF WASHDC//J-5PMA/J21//
SECDEF WASHDC//ISA/ISP//
NSC WASHDC
NATO EU COLLECTIVE
CINCUSNAVEUR LONDON UK//N2/N22//
COMSIXTHFLT //N2//
CINCUSAFE RAMSTEIN AB GE//DO/LG/XP/IN//
JAC MOLESWORTH RAF MOLESWORTH UK
USNMR SHAPE BE//POLAD//
HQ JTF PP NAPLES IT//CA/POLAD//
USCINCEUR VAIHINGEN GE//ECJ3/ECJ4/ECJ5/ECPOLAD//
CINCUSAREUR HEIDELBERG GE//J3/J4/J5/POLAD//
USMISSION USUN NEW YORK
USMISSION GENEVA
AMCONSUL MUNICH
USLO SKOPJE
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PAGE 02 ZAGREB 03309 03 OF 03 301521Z
LIMITED OFFICIAL USE SECTION 03 OF 03 ZAGREB 003309
BRUSSELS ALSO FOR USEU
USVIENNA ALSO FOR USDEL OSCE
E.O. 12356: N/A
TAGS: PREL PREF MOPS HR PREF MOPS HR PREF MOPS HR BK
SUBJECT: CODEL KERREY/WARNER PART TWO: VISIT TO KNIN
REPRESENTATIVE OF THESE DPS, WHO ASKED THAT THE SENATORS
AND USG TRY TO ASSIST IN EFFECTING THEIR SAFE PASSAGE TO
SERBIA.
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MEETING WITH GENERAL CERMAK
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9. SENATORS WARNER AND KERREY MET BRIEFLY WITH GENERAL
CERMAK, THE CROATIAN MILITARY GOVERNOR OF KNIN, WHO
SEEMED SOMEWHAT DISTRACTED BY THE APPROACHING VISIT OF
PRESIDENT TUDJMAN. CERMAK INDICATED THAT THE CROATIAN
GOVERNMENT INTENDED TO TURN GOVERNING AUTHORITY OVER TO A
CIVILIAN IN APPROXIMATELY 3 TO 4 WEEKS, LIKELY SOMEONE
ORIGINALLY FROM THE REGION OF KNIN, AND THAT MUNICIPAL
AND POLICE DUTIES WERE BEING HANDED OVER AS QUICKLY AS
POSSIBLE TO CIVIL AUTHORITIES. (COMMENT: UN OFFICIALS
COMPLAINED OF A LARGE CONTINUING HV PRESENCE IN KNIN,
ALTHOUGH MOST TROOPS AND ARMOR OBSERVED BY EMBOFFS
BELONGED TO HEAVILY-ARMED INTERIOR MINISTRY POLICE UNITS.
END COMMENT.)
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10. CERMAK ALSO REPEATED CROATIAN PUBLIC STATEMENTS THAT
SERBS WILLING TO LIVE IN ACCORDANCE WITH CROATIAN LAWS
WOULD BE WELCOME AND PROVIDED THE FULL RANGE OF RIGHTS
AND SOCIAL SERVICES AVAILABLE TO CITIZENS.
11. SENATOR KERREY ASKED WHY SERBS STILL IN THE UN
COMPOUND HAD NOT BEEN ALLOWED YET TO LEAVE. CERMAK
REPLIED THAT CROATIAN MILITARY AND JUDICIAL AUTHORITIES
WISHED TO QUESTION 62 MEN IN THE GROUP FOR POSSIBLE WAR
CRIMES. HE INSISTED THAT CROATIA HAD DOSSIERS ON THE
INDIVIDUALS THAT WERE AVAILABLE FOR INTERNATIONAL REVIEW.
OTHERS WERE FREE TO DEPART, BUT SOME WERE RELATIVES OF
THE 62 MEN AND WERE UNWILLING TO DEPART WITHOUT THEM.
GALBRAITH
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