Canadians to testify against Croatian officers

The war crimes tribunal indicts two Croatian military officers for alleged crimes against Serb civilians

Canadian soldiers are likely to be the main witnesses against two senior Croatian army officers indicted Thursday by the war crimes tribunal in The Hague.

Generals Ante Gotovina and Rahim Ademi are the first Croats to be indicted for alleged crimes against Serb civilians in the Croatian war during the mid-1990s.

Both men are accused of attacking and capturing Canadian soldiers during the war, and United Nations investigators interviewed many of those same soldiers.

Col. Jim Calvin of Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry lost two men dead and 20 wounded in Croatia.

In Medak in 1993, his men killed 27 Croats in the heaviest fighting Canadian forces have seen since Korea.

The Croats were commanded by Gen. Ademi. When Ademi's forces pulled back, Calvin's men came upon the scene of a slaughter.

Dozens of Serb civilians, mostly elderly peasants, lay decomposing in the fields and hedges. Calvin's men documented the scene.

The colonel says one woman of about 60 had been shot in the back. Her body had been dragged by a rope into a field.

On Thursday, Ademi pleaded not guilty to crimes against humanity at The Hague.

Also indicted was his comrade Gen. Gotovina, the Croatian commander who rolled over Canadian peacekeepers to occupy Serb Krajina in 1995.

Gotovina went into hiding two weeks ago and was charged in absentia.

Maj-General Alain Forand of the Royal 22nd Regiment, who commanded UN Sector South, swore an affidavit against Gotovina on charges of murdering Serb civilians.

Gen. Forand says he's ready to testify against Gotovina as soon as he's captured.

Both Gotovina and Ademi face several counts of crimes against humanity, each count carrying a sentence of life in prison.