This week Ante Gotovina saga had another major plot twist. Major news bombshell came in the form in recently unearthed videotape showing Gotovina (Croatian general indicted by ICTY for war crimes and currently on the run with US government's 5 million US$ bounty on his head) at the meeting with his subordinates in Knin on August 6th 1995.
The meeting was held a day after Croatian Army's entry in the capital of self-proclaimed "Republic of Srpska Krajina". On the tape Gotovina lambasts his officers for the bad discipline among the troops and the complete chaos on the liberated areas.
For most of Croatian public this tape is greeted as the smoking gun that finally establishes General's innocence of all war crimes. Žarko Puhovski (Zarko Puhovski), chairman of HHO, top Croatian human rights organisation, says that ICTY would have to re-write the indictment based on the materials available on the tape.
Others were less enthusiastic about the tape. That goes for Čedo Prodanović (Cedo Prodanovic), defence attorney for General Ivan Čermak (Ivan Cermak), former commandant of liberated Knin who has recently turned himself in to ICTY authorities. Čermak was supposed to awarded for this gesture with temporary release. Yet, he was also present at the meeting and the tape proves that he was aware of the chaotic situation (and burning, looting and killing that went on before and during the meeting). If the tape absolves Gotovina of the responsibility, it also puts the blame on Čermak who was appointed by Tudjman to supervise handover of power from military to civilian authorities. Prodanović thinks that this tape could jeopardise his client's chances to be temporarily released.
Other commentators are even less enthusiastic. The tape shows the meeting held few hours before President Tudjman's arrival to Knin. Gotovina's words might be interpreted as the anger over the shamefully messy state of city and troops that should greet their commander-in-chief.
In any case, Petar Malbaša (Petar Malbasa), cameraman who claims to have made those recordings, said that he had even more "spicy" tapes giving completely new perspective to certain events of 1991-95 war.