Sunday, November 1, 2015

Andrew Leslie: Is Canada's Serial Exaggerator The Best Man for Minister of Defence?

The Liberal Party win in Canada will result in a new Canadian government, to be formed by incoming Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.  Speculation is that Trudeau will name former Canadian General Andrew Leslie as his new Defence Minister.  This is the same Andrew Leslie who dishonored himself by misleading war crimes investigators in The Hague about what he witnessed in the town of Knin in Croatia in 1995 while he was a UN Peacekeeper there.  Leslie also misled the Canadian public about what he witnessed, telling the CBC in 2003 that Croatian Army artillery shelling in Knin in August 1995 had resulted in “between 10 and 25 thousand civilians dead.”  The war crimes tribunal ultimately could not identify a single civilian killed in the artillery fire.  Leslie was grossly exaggerating on CBC in order to paint himself as a brave soldier, following in the footsteps of his famous father and grandfather in the Canadian military.  Is this guy really the best that the Liberal Party can put forward for Minister of Defence?

Leslie’s exaggeration of the nature of the artillery fire in Knin was no accident. That exaggeration was intended to make Leslie appear courageous while out in the line of fire.  Indeed, Leslie schemed with his fellow Canadian officers in the Fall of 1995 to receive a Meritorious Service Medal from the Canadian Army, by creating a false story that Leslie had personally gone out into the town of Knin on 3 occasions and, while under intense Croatian Army artillery fire, saved the lives of 40 United Nations employees who were allegedly trapped in the town, by bringing them to safety inside of the United Nations camp in the town.

This story was a complete falsehood, but this report was written up by Leslie’s Canadian subordinates inside the United Nations compound and sent to Ottawa so that Leslie could be awarded a medal for his service in Croatia.  I know this to be the case. 

In May 2007, I travelled to Ottawa to interview Canadian Army Lt. Col. Shawn Tymchuk, who in 1995 was then-Colonel Leslie’s assistant in Knin, Croatia (and also the Senior Liaison Officer for the United Nations Force in Knin).  Lt. Col Tymchuk told me that he was personally responsible for drafting all of the recommendations for Canadian medals that ultimately were sent to Ottawa for review. 

I asked Tymchuck whether, as Leslie's assistant, he would have been aware of Leslie's whereabouts on 4 August 1995 in Knin, Croatia.  He answered, "Yes."   I then asked why he had written a recommendation for Col. Leslie to receive a medal. He responded that Col. Leslie had gone out into the town of Knin on three occasions on 4 August 1995, and while under heavy artillery fire had rescued UN personnel trapped in the town.

I then followed up with another question:  “How exactly do you know that Col. Leslie did that?”

His answer stunned me:  “I did not witness Col. Leslie going out into the town.  However, several weeks later, when I was writing up recommendations for medals, I was given a direct instruction from my superior (Canadian) General Alain Forand, to write it that way.  I had no reason to doubt General Forand’s version of events, even though I had not witnessed Col. Leslie going out into the town on 4 August.”

While under cross-examination in 2008 by our Defense team in the trial of Ante Gotovina before the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia in The Hague, Leslie admitted that he had never gone out into the town of Knin on the day in question, except for a very short trip where he never got out of the vehicle and never rescued anyone. He also admitted that he hadn't rescued anyone:

Transcript page 1958:
9 Q. General Leslie, did you travel outside the Sector South
10 headquarters compound on the 4th?
11 A. Yes, I did.
12 Q. And can you tell the Court on how many occasions and what the
13 nature of that travel was?
14 A. A couple times mounted; a couple of times dismounted. The
15 mounted were sometime shortly after 6.00 for a very short duration where,
16 in the controlled chaos, that was the front gate. There were some issues
17 with UN CIVPOL who were not necessarily on the same recall list as the
18 Sector South United Nations civil staff, and there was a demand for
19 someone who knew where a street was close to the train yard. So I hopped
20 aboard that vehicle, the duration of the trip was about 15 minutes,
21 nothing significant to report. Picked up three people, none of them UN
22 CIVPOL, and came back.
23 The second trip was at some point during the day. There was some
24 bodies outside to the right, and some people were interested in
25 investigating them and putting them in bags. So I just went outside to
Page 1959
1 put a stop to that.
2 Then that evening, I went to the Serbian army liaison detachment
3 to discuss some issues. To the best of my recollection, those were my
4 sojourns outside of Sector South compound on the 4th.

Leslie, by his own sworn testimony, never went out into the town to rescue the lives of 40 United Nations personnel.

Nevertheless, Tymchuk – on Forand’s instructions – wrote up a fictional account to his superiors in Ottawa which resulted in Leslie receiving a Meritorious Service Medal from the Canadian Army for something he had not done:

December 20, 1996
Colonel Andrew Brooke Leslie, M.S.M., C.D.
Meritorious Service Medal (military division)

In 1995, Colonel Leslie provided outstanding leadership as Chief of Staff, Sector South Headquarters in Croatia. His professionalism and remarkable courage were clearly demonstrated between August 4 and 6, during Operation Storm -- the Croatian offensive in the Krajina district. During intense artillery fire, Colonel Leslie organized and participated in several missions to rescue approximately 40 United Nations employees trapped in their residences and bring them to the United Nations camp, using armoured personnel carriers. Throughout the worst of the shelling, he moved from bunker to bunker offering encouragement to those in distress and was instrumental in convincing them to continue doing their job. His performance during the operation and its aftermath saved many lives and brought great credit to the Canadian Forces.

Under cross-examination in The Hague, Leslie admitted that the justification for why he was receiving the Meritorious Service Medal was a lie.  Canada’s CTV covered Leslie’s trial testimony and his difficulty explaining his Meritorious Service Medal:

While under cross-examination, Leslie attempted to justify the Medal by saying that he had approached the “vice chief of Defence staff and said, ‘I think you got it wrong. I think you're talking about 30 to 40 civilians from the hospital being moved to the UN compound.’ And after a bit of discussion he told me, ‘That's good enough. It's going to stay because you're going it for that, you're getting it for being the Chief of Staff duties.’ “[1]

The Vice-Chief of Defense Staff in 1996 when Leslie was awarded the medal was Vice Admiral Larry E. Murray, CM CMM CD.  It would be wonderful to see if Vice Admiral Murray would confirm Leslie's claims.  I doubt it.  Leslie himself was the source of false claims that he had travelled through Knin under shellfire.  As evidenced by the trial transcript in the Gotovina case,  Leslie had told war crimes investigators in 1997 that he had travelled through Knin on three occasions on 4 August 1995 and had personally witnessed intense shellfire. At trial under cross-examination, he admitted that this 1997 testimony to war crimes investigators was not true:

(Transcript page 2002)

5 Q. General, you did say in 1997 that you personally witnessed these
6 on three occasions during trips through Knin during the shell fire;
7 didn't you say that?
8 A. Sir, I did. However, as I pointed out in my previous testimony,
9 only rarely did I see a point of detonation. The vast majority of shells
10 which I witnessed were either through oral or the smoke and glass of dust
11 cloud.
12 Q. Now, did you also explain to the Office of the Prosecutor when
13 you gave that statement that, in fact, you never took three trips through
14 Knin during the shell fire.
15 JUDGE ORIE: Stop.
16 You may answer the question.
17 THE WITNESS: Sir, I'd have to refer to that, but may I say that
18 the testimony I gave in 1995 was taken away and sent back to me. There
19 are some variances and inaccuracies in that testimony, which I'm more
20 than willing to admit to, and certain nuancing and wording that I did not
21 pay enough attention to when I actually signed it two years later.
22 I believe I was thinking at the time that one of those trips,
23 especially the one on the evening of the 4th, that there was almost no
24 shell fire and certainly not along the route.

Accordingly, Leslie was personally involved in spreading the myth that he had gone out into the town under heavy artillery fire.  It was a lie, a lie that he must have known had been told to Lt. Col. Tymchuk so that Tymchuk could write it up and send it to Ottawa for Leslie to be medalled.

Finally, recall what I said at the outset:  Leslie told a CBC audience in 2003 that the Croatian artillery fire had caused an estimated “10 to 25,000 civilians dead” in Knin.  (Transcript of Leslie’s 2003 CBC interview is available here, see page 2)

Yet in his sworn testimony in The Hague, Leslie claimed that he only saw between 30 and 60 dead bodies in total:

Transcript page 1968.

8 JUDGE ORIE: Mr. Tieger, could we ask the witness "large
9 quantities of dead, men, women, and children, stacked in the
10 hospital ..." What do I have to understand approximately by large
11 quantities? Where you are saying "30 to 40 patients, 25 in absolutely
12 critical condition," what about the dead bodies.
13 THE WITNESS: Sir, it's very difficult to estimate. I would say
14 the number was no lower than 30 and probably no higher than 50 or 60.
15 JUDGE ORIE: Yes. In the tens of?
16 THE WITNESS: Yes, sir.
17 JUDGE ORIE: Please proceed.

However, even Leslie's claim of seeing 30 to 60 bodies proved to be untrue.  Ultimately, the Tribunal could not identify a single victim of Croatian artillery fire. (See Gotovina Trial Judgment, at paragraphs 1360-1364, found here).

In short, Andrew Leslie is a man who has difficulty telling the truth.  He is a serial exaggerator who was given a medal by the Canadian Army under false pretenses. 

Is Andrew Leslie, Canada's serial exaggerator, really Canada's best man for Minister of Defence?

[1] Trial Transcript, page 2117, found here:

Monday, August 10, 2015

Ispravak netočnih navoda: Što sam zapravo predložio u Jutarnjem listu

U Jutarnjem Listu od dana 10.8.2015 godine objavljen je tekst novinarke Suzana Barilar u kojem stoji da sam na stranicama Jutarnjeg Lista navodno "iznio prijedlog da se 28. rujna obilježava kao dan sjećanja na žrtve zločina počinjenih nakon te vojno-redarstvene akcije."  Medjutim, takav prijedlog ne postoji u mom tekstu objavljenom 4.8.2015 godine.  Tamo sam napisao sljedece:

"Što da su se, kao rezultat tih gesti, predsjednica Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović i premijer Zoran Milanović pojavili zajedno na komemoraciji održanoj 28. rujna u spomen svih onih besmisleno ubijenih ljudi u Varivodama i drugim mjestima nakon Operacije Oluja da bi prenijeli svoje iskreno žaljenje cijelog hrvatskog naroda zbog ubojstva tih nevinih žrtava? [...]

Nadajmo se da će jednoga dana Vučić i Pupovac uvidjeti da je održavanje „dana žalosti“ na dan oslobođenja Hrvatske jednako provokativno kao da Hrvatska održi „dan žalosti“ za žrtve Križnog puta 8. svibnja, na Dan pobjede u Europi. Treba nam manje provokacija, i više državničkih mjera. Poput priznavanja genocida u Srebrenici, ili zločinačke prirode Republike Srpske Krajine. Također nam treba da hrvatski vrh prizna bol koju Srbi osjećaju zbog zločina počinjenih nakon Operacije Oluja. Možda bi 28. rujna, obljetnica ubojstava u Varivodama, bio primjeren dan za to."

Dakle, pisao sam o mogucnosti da Vučić priznaje genocid u Srebrenici, Pupovac priznaje zlocinacki karakter Republike Srpske Krajine, te da  hrvatski drzavni vrh ode u Varivodama i izrazi zaljenje hrvatskog naroda zbog ubojstava nevinih zrtava. (Nesto slicno je rekao Kardinal Bozanic u svojoj propovjedi u Kninu: "Nažalost, bilo je nakon vojno-redarstvene akcije i slučajeva pljačkanja i paljenja srpskih kuća, bilo je i žrtava. Zbog toga treba žaliti.")  Nisam iznio prijedlog da Hrvatska uvede sluzbeni "spomendan" ili "dan sjecanja."

Na temelju teksta novinarke Suzane Barilar, HTV Dnevnik objavio je prilog u kojem se tvrdi da sam "predložio da Hrvatska službeno obilježava stradanje Srba nakon Oluje."   Takav prijedlog ne postoji u mom orginalnom tekstu u Jutarnjem Listu. 

Luka Misetic

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Why Croatia Is Justified in Celebrating Operation Storm

by Luka Misetic

[The following is an English translation of a column I authored and which appeared in the Zagreb daily Jutarnji List on 4 August 2015, the 20th anniversary of Operation Storm].

This year, on 8 May on Victory Day in Europe, when the entire continent commemorated 70 years of Europe’s liberation from fascism, Milorad Pupovac, Vesna Terselic , and others from the NGO Documenta held a commemorative ceremony to remember the victims of Allied forces:  victims from Dresden to Bleiburg.  They invited from Germany five victims who survived the fire-bombing of Dresden to tell their stories at HNK in Rijeka, where Oliver Frljic provided them with an opportunity to tell their stories.

What’s that you say?  You don’t remember Pupovac and Documenta organizing such commemorations in Rijeka for the victims of Dresden and Bleiburg?  Actually, I don’t remember any such event either.  Because it did not happen.  What I have just described for you above is something that Pupovac and Co. would never do on the commemoration of the Day of Victory in Europe because, as Pupovac himself said in 2010, he “condemns the politics of equalization of victims.”  He argued against the equal treatment of victims of World War II because the victims of fascism were killed as part of a criminal politics, while the victims of the Allied forces were victims not of criminal politics but of vengeance which was not officially condoned.

But this week, when Croatia celebrates its own liberation in Operation Storm, you will hear Pupovac  say something quite different, something like what he said last year at this time:  “Real reconciliation won't happen until all victims are equally mentioned." When one compares this statement to Pupovac’s views about how World War II victims should not be commemorated equally, it is clear that Pupovac  is aware that behind his efforts to equate the victims in the Homeland War, lies a political agenda: an agenda to equalize the responsibility of the leadership of Serbia and Croatia in the 1990s.  One cannot otherwise explain why Pupovac treats victims of different wars with different criteria.

On 4 and 5 August, Croatia will commemorate its own victory over another criminal politics:  the liberation of one-third of Croatian territory from  the so-called “Republika Srpska Krajina,” which the Hague Tribunal in the case of Milan Martic has already declared beyond  reasonable doubt was a Joint Criminal Enterprise on Croatian territory.  According to the tribunal’s judgment, the RSK was a criminal enterprise controlled from Belgrade which had as its purpose the creation of an ethnically-pure greater Serbia through the persecution and deportation of all non-Serbs from occupied Croatian  territories.  The International Court of Justice confirmed this conclusion in its judgment in the Croatia v. Serbia genocide case.

In contrast, the Hague Tribunal has concluded that there was no criminal intent on the part of the Croatian  leadership towards the Croatian Serbs.  Even in the first instance trial judgment in which General Gotovina was falsely convicted, Judge Orie’s Trial Chamber unanimously concluded that President Tudjman and the Croatian leadership had no intention to allow Serbs to be murdered, or their homes to be destroyed or property stolen. In fact, Judge Orie’s Trial Chamber concluded  unanimously that the Croatian state did not have a policy to not investigate crimes committed against Serbs. This is now the unanimous conclusion of every judge at the ICTY, both at the trial and appeal levels.  Moreover, although Judge Orie’s Trial Chamber (falsely) concluded that Serbs had been ethnically cleansed from Knin, Benkovac, Obrovac and Gracac, it concluded  that Serbs had not been ethnically cleansed from any other part of the “Krajina.”

In the appeals case therefore, the only question  was whether Judge Orie’s Chamber had properly concluded that Serbs had been ethnically cleansed from the four towns of Knin, Benkovac, Obrovac and Gracac, even  though Judge Orie’s Chamber concluded  that they had not been deported from any other part of the “Krajina.”  The majority of the Appeals Chamber concluded that Serbs from these four towns were not expelled by Croatian forces, and acquitted  Generals Gotovina and Markac.
The conclusions from these two ICTY judgments in the Gotovina case are undeniable:  the Croatian  leadership did not have any intent to murder or expel Croatian Serbs, and it did not intend to destroy and  loot their property.  It did not expel the Serb population. Concretely: the Croatian leadership did not have a criminal political policy towards the Serb minority in Croatia.

One of the goals of the establishment of the ICTY in 1993 was that a record of history of the events of the 1990s could be created by an independent, international body, freeing the people of southeast Europe from  mythical histories created by elites. That independent body has now spoken.  On the Serbian side was a criminal political agenda which resulted in the deaths of tens of thousands in Croatia and Bosnia-Herzegovina, and the expulsion of hundreds of thousands. On the Croatian side, there was no criminal plan directed at the Serbian minority, although crimes were committed on the Croatian side as well.  Croatia launched a legitimate military operation which it was entitled to do under international law.

I would have hoped that the judgments of the ICTY would have laid a solid foundation for the beginning of reconciliation in the region.  What if Aleksandar Vucic had gone to Srebrenica and expressed his regret that G-E-N-O-C-I-D-E had been committed there?  What if Milorad Pupovac  had  publicly condemned  the criminal politics of the Croatian Serb leadership during the war unequivocally, without simultaneously condemning the Croatian leadership?  What if as a result of these gestures, President Kolinda Grabar Kitarovic and Prime Minister Zoran Milanovic together appeared at the commemoration on 28 September of those senselessly murdered in Varivode and other places after Operation  Storm to express the sincere regret of the entire Croatian  people for the murders of those innocent victims?

Unfortunately, the persistent failure to acknowledge historical facts confirmed by the Hague Tribunal continues to hamper reconciliation..  Vucic continues to deny genocide at Srebrenica despite numerous ICTY judgments and an ICJ  judgment confirming it was genocide.  Vucic and Pupovac organize a “day of mourning” on 5 August, the day Croatia celebrates its liberation from what the Hague Tribunal has confirmed was a Serbian criminal enterprise. They both continue to insist that over 200,000 Serbs were “expelled” from Croatia, despite ICTY rulings that refute this claim. And they both claim that “victims of the wars in the 1990s should be remembered equally,” something that both  men would condemn  if the victims in question were World War II victims.

Let’s hope that one day, Vucic and Pupovac recognize that holding a “day of mourning” on the day of Croatia’s liberation is as provocative as Croatia holding a “day of mourning” for the victims of the Way of the Cross on 8 May, Victory Day in Europe.   We need less provocations, and  more statesmen-like  measures.  Like acknowledging the genocide in Srebrenica, or the criminal nature of the Republika Srpska Krajina.  We also need Croatia’s leaders to acknowledge  the pain felt by Serbs for the crimes committed after Operation Storm.  Perhaps 28 September, the anniversary of the murders in Varivode, would be an appropriate day.

But not 5 August.  5 August is Croatia’s day, the day when we celebrate the country’s liberation from an evil political project,  a day when we give thanks for those that led Croatia to victory.  And when we remember each and every soldier who gave his life, or a part of his body or mind, so that every one of Croatia’s citizens can live in freedom.

Neka im  je vjecna slava  i hvala (Let their glory be eternal).

Sunday, August 2, 2015


Srpsko Narodno Vijece, Documenta i novinska agencija SENSE danas su izdali priopcenje u kojem toboze odgovaraju na moj blog od petka. Podsjecam vas da sam u petak napisao blog u kojem sam detaljno obrazlozio kako su SENSE, SNV I Dokumenta u svojoj “interaktivnoj prezentaciji” o predmetu Gotovina, namjerno skrivali neke kljucne zakljucke prvostupanjskog i zalbenog vijeca ICTYa.  Naime, u "interaktivnoj prezentaciji" SNVa, Dokumente i SENSEa, ne mogu se naci sljedece cinjenice koje proizlaze iz presuda haskog tribunal:

1.     Nije bilo UZP-a na hrvatskoj strani.

2.     Krajinski Srbi nisu deportirani iz Hrvatske od strane hrvatskih vlasti, već su napustili Hrvatsku iz drugih razloga nevezanih od nezakonito ponašanje od strane  Hrvatskih dužnosnika;

3.     Hrvatska vlast, ne samo da nije dopistila zločine protiv Srba i srpske imovine, nego je bila aktivno protiv tih zločina;

4.     Potvrđeno je 20.000 kuća nisu spaljene nakon Oluje. Broj je vjerojatno bliži 5000 i to u oba sektora, Sjever i Jug;

5.     Presudom je utvrđeno da je ukupno 44 civila ubijeno od strane hrvatskih snaga, a ne 320 kako je tvrdilo Tužiteljstvo, a nije ni 600 kao što je tvrdio HHO, a pogotovo ne 2000 kako tvrdi „Veritas“ i Savo Štrbac.

6.     Nije bilo politike neistraživanja zločina od strane hrvatskih vlasti.

7.     Stambeni zakoni poslje Oluje nisu bili u koliziji sa međunarodnim humanitarnim pravom.

Nakon dva dana razmatranja mojih argumenata, SNV, Documenta i  SENSE oglasili su se putem priopcenja za javnost u kojem nisu ni pokusali opovrgnuti činjenice iz haskih presuda koje sam naveo u mom blogu. Jer ne mogu osporiti istinu. I ne mogu demanirati da su sve te zakljucke haskog tribunala koje sam naveo, namjerno izostavili iz njihove "interaktivne prezentacije".

Činjenica je da nakon puna dva dana, SNV, Documenta i SENSE ne mogu naći jednu činjeničnu grešku u mom blogu. Umjesto toga, odlucili su pustiti priopcenje u kojem me napadaju na osobnoj razini (i napadaju moj rodni grad, Chicago). To je njihova stvar.  No, današnje priopcenje od strane SNV, Documenta i SENSE (nenamjerno) potvrđuje točnost navoda u mom blogu od petka, jer da su mogli naci gresku, valjda bi to naveli u priopcenju.

Zato je danasnje priopcenje SNVa, Documente i SENSEa klasičan primjer autogola.