Martić in 1991
|3rd President of Republic of Serbian Krajina|
26 January 1994 – 7 August 1995
|Prime Minister||Borislav Mikelić
|Preceded by||Goran Hadžić|
18 December 1954 |
Knin, PR Croatia, FPR Yugoslavia
|Political party||Serbian Party of Socialists|
|Profession||Chief of police|
Milan Martić (Serbian: Милан Мартић; born 18 November 1954) is a Croatian Serb war criminal and former president of the unrecognized Republic of Serbian Krajina. He was a senior rebel commander of Serbian forces in Yugoslavia during the Croatian War of Independence. His nickname was Kninski šerif which translates to the sheriff from Knin.
Martić was convicted of war crimes by the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) on 12 June 2007 and sentenced to 35 years in prison.
Milan Martić was born on 18 November 1954 in the village of Žagrović, Knin municipality. He graduated from the Post-Secondary Police School in Zagreb and between 1976 and 1981 worked as a policeman at the Public Security Station (SJB) in Šibenik. After 1982, Martić was a Junior Police Inspector in Knin and was eventually promoted to Chief of the SJB.
He was the local police chief in Knin at the time of Croatia's declaration of independence. In 1990, he took on the position of local Serb leader, organizing the Milicija Krajina militia also known as Martić's Police. From 4 January 1991 to August 1995, Martić held various leadership positions, including President, Minister of Defence, Minister of Internal Affairs, in the unrecognised offices of the Serbian Autonomous District (SAO) Krajina, and the Republic of Serbian Krajina (RSK).
In February 1991, Martić raised a Serb tricolor flag over the Knin Fortress. The flag was removed by Croatian soldier Edvard Baltić and was subsequently replaced with a Croatian one after the Croatian Army entered Knin during Operation Storm in August 1995. Also in 1991, Serbian opposition leader Vuk Drašković claimed that Martić and Goran Hadžić organized an assassination attempt on him. Martić replied that this was "an ordinary stupidity" and that "if he were to organize an assassination attempt, he would go through with it." Martić was also critical of Drašković as Drašković called against mobilization and called for desertion.
Martić was supported by Slobodan Milošević during the 1993 presidential election in Serbian Krajina. Martić ran for the Serbian Party of Socialists which received significant financial support from Milošević's Socialist Party of Serbia. In a second round of voting in 1994 he was elected President and remained in power until the fall of Serbian Krajina during Croatia's Operation Storm in 1995.
After the fall of the Republic of Serbian Krajina, Martić and a large portion of the Serbian Krajina army and civilians, escaped to Banja Luka. Initially, he was rumored to have been either killed or wounded. Martić didn't issue any statement for a number of days. Martić then went on to announce a plan of guerrilla warfare that would "last until the final freedom of the Republic of Serbian Krajina." Martić said in a statement:
"After the tragedy that has happened to the Serbian people of Krajina, the situation is slowly consolidating. In Banja Luka, we've formed a crisis staff which is led by President of the Krajina Parliament Rajko Ležaić. The goal of the staff is taking care of the refugees. I have taken upon myself the task of consolidating the dismantled army and preparing it for battle. I expect that many of these soldiers – the ones who aren't cowards – will return and attempt to liberate their centuries-old homeland and give Tuđman the hit that he deserves."
Initially indicted by the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY) on 25 July 1995, Martić surrendered on May 15, 2002, and was transferred to the tribunal in The Hague the same day. He was charged with murder, persecutions, inhumane treatment, forced displacement, plunder of public or private property, wanton destruction of cities, towns or villages. He pleaded not guilty to all counts.
According to the ICTY, in the amended indictment, he "helped organize an ethnic cleansing campaign of Croats and other non-Serbs from Krajina where 78,000 lived and virtually the entire non-Serb population was forcibly removed, deported or killed". He was originally charged only with ordering a rocket attack on the Croatian capital of Zagreb which killed seven civilians as retaliation to Operation Flash. Martić later appeared on Serbian television and radio, admitting he ordered the shelling.
Milan Babić who, along with Martić, was one of the most important leaders of rebelled Croatian Serbs, said during Martić's trial that the entire war in Croatia was Martić's responsibility, orchestrated by Belgrade.
His trial started on December 13, 2005 and ended on January 12, 2007. On June 12, 2007, Martić was sentenced to 35 years in prison. His sentence of 35 years in prison was confirmed by ICTY appellate council on October 8, 2008. The judgment was also especially damaging to the legacy of the Republic of Serbian Krajina and the then Serbian regime as Martić was found to have been part of a "joint criminal enterprise" which included Blagoje Adžić, Milan Babić, Radmilo Bogdanović, Veljko Kadijević, Radovan Karadžić, Slobodan Milošević, Ratko Mladić, Vojislav Šešelj, Franko Simatović, Jovica Stanišić, and Dragan Vasiljković.
- Prosecutor v. Milan Martić Judgement. p. 8. International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia. Accessed 25 August 2013.
- Edvard Baltić article
- Pogledi magazine, 15 November 1991, issue 96, page 29 (Serbian)
- Milosevic Loses Krajina, Filip Švarm, December 20, 1993 Vreme News Digest Agency No 117
- Novine, August 6, 1995 (Serbian)
- Novine, August 15, 1995, number 101 (Serbian)
- "Serb leader jailed for war crimes". BBC News. 2007-06-12. Retrieved 2007-06-12.
- Goran Jungvirth (2006-02-17). "Martić “Provoked” Croatian Conflict". Institute for War and Peace Reporting. Retrieved 2007-06-12.
- "U utorak presuda Milanu Martiću" (in Croatian). Jutarnji list. 2007-06-08. Retrieved 2007-06-12.
- "Summary of Judgement for Milan Martić" (PDF). International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia. 2007-06-12. Retrieved 2011-05-18.
- War criminal transferred to Estonia