“President Tuđman Is a War Criminal” – 15 Days of Prison

By 13 February 2019

ZAGREB, February 13, 2019 - The Zagreb Misdemeanour Court on Wednesday handed down a conditional prison sentence of 15 days against activist Zoran Erceg for disturbing the public order at a ceremony on December 10 at which a monument to Croatia's first president Franjo Tuđman was unveiled, but Erceg went to the monument after his sentencing despite a court ban.

Erceg will end up in prison if in the next 12 months he commits the same offence. Under the ruling, he is to pay 500 kuna in court costs and must not get close to the Tuđman monument in Zagreb for a year.

However, after the court handed down its sentence, Erceg went to the monument on Wednesday morning.

At the December 10 ceremony, which was attended by the entire state leadership, Erceg shouted, among other things, that Tuđman had destroyed Croatia and was a war criminal.

Addressing reporters after his sentencing, Erceg said that the judge had sentenced him to a longer term than had been recommended by the police and that there was no instrument of repression or punishment that would avert him from repeating in public what he had said.

Erceg's attorney Lina Budak said that the judge in charge of the case did not explain his verdict. "The court did not have the courage to explain its verdict thus violating my client's right to a fair trial and the public's right to see for itself that the court conducts fair trials," she said, adding that Erceg was sentenced for saying something the authorities believe he should not have said.

The nongovernmental organisations Documenta, the Centre for Peace Studies and the Civic Committee for Human Rights on Wednesday expressed concern about the ruling, noting that "the Croatian judiciary has failed to protect (Erceg's) right to freedom of expression and freedom of assembly."

"The free expression of a critical opinion at a rally that is held in a place where the highest state officials have gathered is a fundamental standard of a free and pluralist society," they said.

More news on the first Croatian President can be found in the Politics section.