General Ante Gotovina , French citizen, Croatian hero - a potted history of his mysterious military and criminal past
Ante Gotovina was born on October 12th 1955 on the Adriatic Sea island of Pasman (near Zadar). He was 18 when re left to join the French Foreign Legion and became a member of the 2nd Foreign Legion Parachute Regiment after qualifying from the Parachutist Training School at Pau, and joined the elite Commandos de Recherche et d'Action en Profondeur.
During those years, he met his “brother of arms”, Dominique Erulin, whose brother, Philippe is well known in France for his "heavy" past in Algeria.
Gotovina participated in Foreign Legion operations in Djibouti, Kolwezi in Zaire and Ivory Coast. After five years of service, he left the Legion with the rank of chief corporal and obtained French nationality in 1979.
During the 1980’s, Gotovina worked for a variety of French private security companies, including KO International company, which is brother of VHP Security. This firm is known as a cover for the Service d'action civique (SAC), specialists of shady actions for the Gaullist movement.
KO International also assured at that time Jean-Marie Le Pen’s personal security.
In May 1981, with Erulin, Gotovina helped the French editor, Jean-Marie Mouchard, a close friend of Le Pen, freeing Mouchard’s press La Seyne sur Mer occupied by CGT strikers.
Gotovina and Erulin then fled to Latin America, where they trained right-wing paramilitary formations, notably in Argentina and Guatemala.
Sometimes in France sometimes in South America, Gotovina’s name was registered in French police records for the robbery of jewellery in Paris in 1981 with Erulin. In 1986, he was condemned to five years imprisonment, though he was released early in September 1987 for reasons unknown , but guessed at.
On the 30th of October, 1990, Gotovina, with two other accomplices, Paul Rochat and Christian Grégoire, took a certain Gérard Tourmetz hostage for several days in Paris. Tourmetz had to pay 350.000 Francs to his jailers before he went to the police. Gotovina fled after his accomplices were arrested.
In 1993, he was convicted by default to two years in prison due to participation in an unlawful arrest, kidnapping and extortion. In 1995, he was sentenced to 30 months for extortion. All these crimes and the imprisonment are denied by Gotovina’s attorneys, arguing that France would have never given a passport in 1995 and renewed it in 2001 if their client had been a convicted criminal on the run. Zut Alors, mais, non!
During the 1990’s, his traces are found in Paraguay. There in 1991, in a bar in Iguac, his destiny was to be changed forever. He met some Croatian refugees, who told him about the massacres of Croatian police agents in Borovo Selo (on the outskirts of Vukovar). ghe decided to return to his native country, and to offer his services for its independence and right some ancient wrongs.
Once in Croatia, he climbed military echelons in high speed thanks to his military training and skills - qualities that few Croatian soldiers had at that time. First he joined the 1st Guard Brigade “Tigers” of Croatian Army with the task of training new recruits.
Soon he left his task in order to fight in Novska region (along the Bosnian border, in Slavonia) where he was wounded.
On the 9th of October, 1992, Gotovina was appointed as Commander of the sixth operational zone, later Split military district. It is not known if the Minister of Defence, Gojko Susak and the President, Franjo Tudjman were informed of Gotovina’s past. However they could not do without the former legionary’s precious services at that time.
Ante Gotovina as Major General of Croatian army
In November 1994, Gotovina became Major General he was to launch the Blitz Operation Storm on the 4th of August, 1995 and liberated Krajina, which was occupied by Serbian separatists since 1991, in only 3 days.
Storm Operation saved 230.000 Bosnians besieged by Serbians in Bihac, although a UN security zone in Eastern Bosnia along the Croatian border, had been there for over three years. It was claimed this ended a Yugoslavian War creating the necessary military conditions, which would lead to Dayton Accords.
In August 1995, Gotovina became General. From the 12th of March, 1996 until the 29th of September, 2000, he was the Chief Inspector of Croatian Army.
In September 2000 however, new Croatian President, Stjepan Mesic ordered General Gotovina and six other generals into early retirement after they refused to co-operate with war crimes probes.
Gotovina was also accused of plotting a military coup by the editor of Croatian weekly Nacional, Ivo Pukanic.
His name was crossed out of military staff.
Gotovina was a French citizen, he had a criminal past which the French Ambassador and French military attaches in Zagreb and members of the secret service station in that embassy must have known about.
Despite this, he was never chased, and in May 2001, only two months before the ICTY indictment was released, Gotovina went to the French embassy to submit a request for a new passport after his had expired. After submitting the forms, Gotovina went for a drink with the French military attaché and two other military officials of the embassy to the Boeing Café, only 50m from the embassy.
4 days later , Gotovina came to pick up his new passport and he again went for a drink with his friends from the embassy.
According to law, Gotovina should have been arrested the moment he stepped foot in the French embassy if a warrant was issued for his arrest. Instead of arresting him and requesting his extradition, they gave him a new passport, and once the ICTY indictment against him was released, the embassy did not say a word.
Today, they decline on commenting on the case. It would appear that the French know that all these cases were only part of a political scuffle between the left and right wings, and with the arrival of Chirac in power, it is thought that Gotovina should not be burdened with these political charges.
Speaking about it would only open up more dirty stories on Mitterand and the secret cells which are the tradition of each new French political establishment.He disappeared to appear in Tenerife sometime later.
His apparent silence on the involvement of US forces and help in Operation Storm might (so far) explain his diplomatic silence ..as Jackie Prkic reports
1. United States Ambassador to Croatia in 1995, Amb. Peter Galbraith, has publicly declared that the principal allegations against Gotovina are false.
2. ICTY’s primary charge against Gotovina is that he is responsible for the deportation, or “ethnic cleansing,” of approximately 150,000 Croatian Serbs from Croatia. Amb. Galbraith has on the record on numerous occasions stated that this allegation is false, telling Newsweek magazine on August 27, 2001, “The fact is, the population left before the Croatian army got there. . . . You can’t deport people who have already left.”
3. Amb. Galbraith later confirmed this fact to the Sarajevo newspaper “Dani,” stating that, “We have to understand first of all that the Serb population left their homes before the Croatian Army took over, so it is very difficult to defend the view that the Croatian Army drove out the Serbs. This was very different from Prijedor, Visegrad and other places that are synonyms for the Bosnian genocide.”
4. Amb. Galbraith was later called by the ICTY to testify in the trial of Slobodan Milosevic. In his sworn testimony to the Tribunal and under cross-examination by Milosevic, Amb. Galbraith testified under oath that the Croatian military under General Gotovina’s leadership did not deport, terrorize or ethnically cleanse the Croatian Serb population, as is alleged in the indictment against Gotovina.
Picture of Serbs feeing from a You tube film worth seeing for the result of the Croat attacks on Serb convoys.