The Devil's Garden
A War Crimes Investigator's Story
Publication Year: 2013
In 2002 John Cencich traveled to a safe house in Belgrade to interview the former head of a Yugoslav secret intelligence agency. In less than an hour, Cencich had what he needed: corroboration of information provided by another spy. This evidence would be used against Slobodan Milosevic in his war crimes trial at The Hague. For the veteran United Nations war crimes investigator, however, the mission was business as usual.
The Devil's Garden is the inside story of the investigation and indictment of Slobodan Milosevic and the identification of fifteen coperpetrators in the joint criminal enterprise (JCE) that had resulted in the massacre of thousands of civilians. As the senior American investigator at The Hague, Cencich drew up the investigative plan, codeveloped the prosecution theory of the JCE, and wrote the first significant draft of the indictment. He also led the international team of police investigators, detectives, and special agents on the case against Milosevic and his inner circle of secret police, assassins, spies, terrorists, underworld figures, and murderous paramilitary leaders for crimes committed throughout Croatia.
Here, readers will travel alongside Cencich as he journeys to The Hague and will see how these once-in-a-lifetime experiences affect him to this day. Detailing one of the largest international criminal investigations ever undertaken, this book is a unique blend of history, international law, and true crime in Europe's deadliest battles since World War II.
Published by: University of Nebraska Press
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Title Page, Other Books in the Series, Copyright, Dedication
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In the summer of 1992, TV reports were broadcast across the globe that showed pictures, reminiscent of the Holocaust, of emaciated prisoners behind barbed wire in concentration-like makeshift camps. These were followed by the graphic images of the shelling of the jam-packed cen-tral market in Sarajevo, a city under siege. Other reports of mass killings, ...
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In 1945, with the close of World War II, man’s inhumanity to man was to have come to an end. Atrocities such as those committed by the Third Reich were never to happen again. But they did. Almost fifty years later, in Yugoslavia, hundreds of thousands of innocent people were killed, tor-These people didn’t suffer as the direct or collateral consequences of ...
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At the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia, the language spoken throughout the region is referred to as B/C/S, or Bos-nian, Croatian, and Serbian. In its Latin form, there are few letters in B/C/S that are different from those in English. To avoid the difficulties of pronunciation, some writers use the process of transliteration. For ex-...
List of Abbreviations
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Cast of Key Characters
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Adžić, Blagoje—Yugoslav People’s Army (JNA) colonel general; chief of staff of the JNA and later federal secretary for national defense of the Andabak, Ivan—Croatian Defense Council (HVO) general who served as Arbour, Louise—former chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY) and the International ...
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Iwas under surveillance just minutes after my plane landed in Zagreb. It was 2007, and I had returned to Croatia five years after my experiences working international war crimes. As soon as I left cus-toms and immigration, I was bird-dogged all the way to a forested park just outside the village of Lokve, which rests in the mountainous Gorski Kotar region of Croatia. I’m not exactly sure who the dark-clothed men in the black BMW were, but after all these years I’d grown accustomed to ...
1. The Hague
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I first saw the prison not long after I arrived in The Hague, the international city of peace and justice in the Netherlands. It was September 1998. With the sound of the crashing waves from the North Sea and the tall walls and Gothic architecture, the premises seemed more like a castle than a place for serial rapists, torturers, and mass murderers.I knew it had been used to hold Dutch resistance fighters during World War II. I could imagine the guards removing more than three ...
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Iwoke as the sun began to peek above the horizon on my first morning in Sarajevo, a Bohemian-looking city of about 300,000. From the window of my apartment I could see minarets and hear the muezzin call the Muslim faithful to prayer. The echoing calls sound spiritual to some people, mystical to others. The sound grabbed me in an eerie, hypnotic way. I thought that Sarajevo had probably been very much like this on that deadly St. Vitus Day in 1914, when, under Serbia’s Black Hand, the Arch-...
3. Wooden Rifles
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On a busy day in Mostar, I stepped into a gloomy brick struc-ture that once had been used as a battle fortification. It was almost completely black inside, but as my flashlight cut through the dark-ness, I could see remnants of the death dealt to the Bosniaks who had de-fended this place. Shattered glass, shell casings, spent rounds, and bullet This was all that remained of the decrepit buildings on Mostar’s Bule-var, the street that served as the confrontation line between the Bosnian-...
4. A Policeman’s Murder
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The time had come to execute a search warrant at Štela’sheadquarters. I knew from our intelligence that the premises, bear-ing the large, bold letters “HVO” over the entrance, would be cov-ered by members of the Herzegovina mafia. And there they were, all dressed in black, with dark sunglasses that served to mask their eyes and accentuate their menacing faces. I arrived with an international search warrant and served it to the reluctantly cooperative mobster in charge, ...
5. Two Spanish Legionnaires
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From a sniper’s den in an HVO-controlled area of Mostar,the killer lay in wait, his Yugoslav 7.62 mm rifle aimed to the east. With a single glance, a coup d’oeil, he carefully selected his target. what he was about to do. He likely had no real understanding of the legal concept of “superior orders.” The triggerman may have been a psycho-path, but more than likely he was just a confused young man who was Ever since World War II, international law has been clear that supe-...
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Isaw horror seize the young man’s face as the muzzle of mygun flashed twice and the report echoed inside my car. The first round went through the car door and struck his hand as he leaned against the doorjamb. His eyes were wide open as the bullet—and his right thumb—hit the wall of the “stop-and-rob” convenience store behind him.The bandit’s other hand was inside the driver-side window, holding a lock-blade knife to my throat. As I leaned away, the second round from ...
7. Team Four
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Every special calling in life, if it is to be followed with success, re-It was a dark day for the soul in September 1991 when mem-bers of the JNA began a frontal attack on the small Croatian village of Škabrnja. Flashes of light and the sound of explosions filled the air as the armed, violent attackers began shelling the village. Residents who tried to extinguish the resulting fires fell one by one, shot by Serb riflemen. Scores of JNA combatants and other Serb forces raked ...
8. The Conspirators
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They came from the secret police and from the highest ranks of the JNA. They included members of the Presidency of the SFRY and individual presidents of several constituent republics. One was perhaps the most feared and deadly killer in all of Europe.Sometimes they met behind the closed doors of a president’s office. On other occasions their violent ambitions took them to smoky dens fre-quented by gangsters and prostitutes. They employed both old-fashioned ...
9. Inside the Shadows
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In the dark corners of the Serbian city of Novi Sad, and deepinside the shadows of Milošević’s inner circle, was the MP Royal. A mob-owned casino run out of the Hotel Putnik, it looked from the out-side like nothing more than a large, Cold War–era building in a dodgy area of a city along the Danube. Inside, however, the MP Royal was a mix of glamorous nightlife, hookers, and gangsters. By no means a place for the fainthearted, the casino was owned by a professional assassin who ...
10. Indictment of a President
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It was a tense thirty-six-hour armed standoff. Slobodan Milošević was threatening to kill himself. Shots had been fired, and it wouldn’t have surprised anyone if he had followed through on the threat. Years before, and at different times, both his parents had commit-ted suicide. Now Milošević was brandishing a firearm with members of In a predawn raid by Serbian authorities on April 1, 2001, special po-lice and military units swept down on him at his heavily armed Belgrade ...
11. Mala Jaska
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We must never forget that the record on which we judge these men The C-47, heading east, roared over Josip Cenčić’s belovedvillage of Lokve, occupied by the Nazis. My great-grandfather and members of the Partisan resistance, including my relatives, had no way of knowing that a clandestine mission to save hundreds of Americans and Allies was just beginning. The event foreshadowed Lokve’s liberation.special agents embarked on a daring mission known as Operation Hal-...
Epilogue: The Hague Crucible
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On March 11, 2006, on a quiet Saturday morning, Slobodan Milošević was found dead. He was alone in his locked cell in Sche-veningen, the same gloomy prison where my journey to The Hague Speculation began at once and included talk that Milošević had been murdered by poison. In fact, the tribunal’s inquiry into his death revealed that nonprescribed medications at times had been found in Milošević’s blood, most recently one month prior to his demise. ...
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It has been more than ten years since I completed my work at The Hague, and I have worked on this book on and off throughout this time period. It goes without saying that a project like this cannot be done in isolation, I must begin with my great-aunt Kay Cencich, who was instrumental in providing historical facts about my family. If not for her, I never would ...
Appendix I. Cenčići Jerbićevi
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The earliest traces of the Cenčić clan were in the Čapljina area of Herzegovina, a place that fell victim to the hideous war crimes I investigated. The Cenčić surname is said to have derived from the Proto-Slavic sobriquet cene, likely meaning “dinner.” Other versions have the name originating...
Appendix II. Cases and Related Legal Documents
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About the Author
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John Robert Cencich was born in St. John’s, Newfoundland, and moved to the United States with his family as a young boy. He lived outside Detroit, Michigan, until he graduated from high school at the age of seventeen and enlisted in the U.S. Air Force. He subsequently enjoyed a long and suc-cessful career in law enforcement. Trained by the FBI and Scotland Yard, ...
Page Count: 264
Publication Year: 2013