Saturday, 9 March 2019

Communist Party Political School in Kumrovec Up for Sale

At a recent session of the Croatian government, a decision was made on the sale of the former Communist Party political school in Kumrovec, now known as the Zagorje Hotel. The complex was built in 1981 and has a hotel, a cinema, a swimming pool and a library, but was completely devastated after 1990, reports Poslovni List on March 9, 2019.

The state has been trying to sell it for 15 years, but the asking price does not make it likely that this attempt will be any more successful, even though it is less than half of the 26 million kuna which the state demanded for the facility in 2003. The facility is mostly devastated, and significant investments are required for any restoration project.

The property currently includes the Hotel Zagorje building (the former political school in Kumrovec), with a floor area of 5,901 square metres, with a total gross building area of 11,310.00 square metres, divided into four floors and with a gross volume of 34,464.20 cubic metres.

The public call will be published on the website of the Ministry of State Property, on the website of the Croatian Chamber of Commerce, and in one of the high-circulation daily newspapers.

The starting price is 11,960,000 kuna. It was determined on the basis of the assessment report prepared by the certified assessor Zrinoslav Ceranec, a permanent court expert for construction and real estate assessment, confirmed by the Technical Services Department at the Ministry of State Property.

The buyer of the real estate, besides the purchase price, will also incur the cost of real estate market valuation by the authorised expert witness in the amount of 32,905 kuna and the cost of producing an energy certificate in the amount of 16,000 kuna.

The Ministry of State Property is responsible for the implementation of this decision.

The former Josip Broz Tito Political School was opened in 1975, as the central educational institution for the staff of the Communist Union of Yugoslavia. It was initially located in a memorial house, located on an adjacent hill. When that space became too small, the new building was opened in 1981 and was used for political education until 1990, when the League of Communists of Yugoslavia collapsed. The last president of the Political School was Ivica Račan, who in 2000 became Croatian prime minister. After 1990, the school was first taken over by the Ministry of the Interior and then by the Ministry of Defence for the training of members of the Croatian Army. In late 1991, displaced persons from Vukovar were accommodated in the building for a while.

More news about the Communist Party can be found in the Politics section.

Thursday, 7 February 2019

Tito’s Former House’s Site Turned into Retiree Gym

They used to come here under cover of night. In the house in what is today the Kerestinec Victims Street, the young couple lived in hiding for two years under false names. She was Marija Šarić and he was engineer Slavko Babić. In that short period of time, a child was also conceived. But, after the arrival of the Ustasha in Zagreb in May 1941, he went to Belgrade and left his pregnant partner behind. This is a story still often told by the old inhabitants on the Gajnice neighbourhood in western Zagreb. The main protagonists are actually Josip Broz Tito, the future president of Yugoslavia, and his third wife, Herta Haas. Hertha left the house to her son Mišo, whom she had with Tito, reports Večernji List on February 7, 2019.

Mayor Milan Bandić has decided that the very same house will now be the site of local self-government premises. That will be the result of an initiative launched ten years ago. At that time, according to Dejan Kljajić, the president of the City Neighbourhood of Podsused-Vrapče, the City of Zagreb allowed them to use the so-called Tito's House. In November 2016, the neighbourhood decided to open on its location the premises of the Gajnice Local Committee.

“Over the years, we have allocated 3.4 million kuna from the funds for small communal actions, and now the premises will be used by various associations, organisations, and we will also organise free fitness training for citizens of all ages, from children to retirees,” says Kljajić.

But the demolition of Tito’s house did not pass unnoticed. When the old house was almost completely demolished, members of the Anti-Fascist Association of Susedgrad complained, demanding that a memorial plaque with historical information should be placed on the new building. They sent an official request to the city neighbourhood, but the councillors unsurprisingly say they do not intend to set up the plaque. “The only plaque on the house will be the one with the address number and the name of the local committee,” says Kljajić.

The house was demolished after the neighbours had been complaining for years that nobody was taking care of it, so snakes appeared among the grass and the weed. The Susedgrad scouts’ organisation used the premises for a while, and the building and its surroundings were kept in good order during their period. A war veteran from Petrinja lived in the house for a while, but after he left, the maintenance problems began.

Mišo Broz gave up the house in 1979, provided that a memorial museum was built there about his father and the antifascist movement. After the project was not realised, he sued the City of Zagreb and sought to have the house returned to his possession, but the court rejected his request.

Translated from Večernji List (reported by Petra Balija).

More news about Tito can be found in the Politics section.

Friday, 21 December 2018

NGOs Present Map of War Victims in Former Yugoslavia

ZAGREB, December 21, 2018 - The Initiative for RECOM and the non-governmental organisation Documenta - the Centre for Dealing with the Past on Friday presented an interactive map of war victims in former Yugoslavia, from Croatia's 1991-1995 Homeland War to the 2001 armed conflict in Macedonia.

The acronym RECOM stands for the Regional Commission Tasked with Establishing the Facts about All Victims of War Crimes and Other Serious Human Rights Violations Committed on the Territory of the Former Yugoslavia from 1 January 1991 to 31 December 2001.

Long-lasting research and documenting of human losses is a result of efforts and cooperation between regional documentation centres - Documenta from Zagreb, the Humanitarian Law Centre from Belgrade, the Humanitarian Law Centre from Pristina, and the Sarajevo-based association Transitional Justice, Responsibility and Memory.

The map contains the victims' names and characteristics because we believe that it is important for people to remember people, Documenta head Vesna Teršelić said, adding that the initiative was designed to contribute to reducing and stopping the manipulation of victims.

The human rights associations working on the research as well as the organisations involved in the RECOM coalition established that around 130,000 people had been killed or had gone missing in all the former Yugoslav wars but not all names have been entered in the map because the research is ongoing.

In Croatia, 17,007 war victims have been recorded, and the map contains the names of slightly more than 4,000 victims because only victims verified by several sources are entered in the register.

Nataša Kandić, the founder of Belgrade's Humanitarian Law Centre, said that they expected Croatia to be among the countries that would compile the first regional list of war victims in former Yugoslavia and to join, as a member of the European Union, in the European Commission's open support to the RECOM initiative.

Nives Jozić, human loss research coordinator at Documenta, said that while researching human losses in Croatia since 2009 they had interviewed more than 2,900 members of victims' families, acquaintances and witnesses and gathered more than 27,000 documents, registering 17,007 victims.

Documenta's map also contains data collected by the Humanitarian Law Centre on the human loss of Serbian and Montenegrin nationals, namely the names of 2,200 members of the Yugoslav People's Army (JNA) and the army and police forces of Serbia killed in Slovenia, Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Information for Kosovo shows that from early 1998 to late 2000, 13,549 people went missing or were killed there.

The project was presented in the context of a campaign to establish a regional commission to determine facts about the victims, perpetrators and war events.

The need for such a commission is greater than ever because a year after the completion of the work of the Hague war crimes tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY), which documented more than 18,000 victims during its work, we can see how important it is, aside from administering justice, to make an additional step towards establishing facts about war victims in former Yugoslavia and building trust, Teršelić said, warning that regional cooperation in that regard is growing weaker and weaker.

More news on the activities of NGOs can be found in our Politics section.

Thursday, 13 December 2018

Bosnia Says Croatia Is in Breach of Yugoslavia Succession Agreement

ZAGREB, December 12, 2018 - The Presidency of Bosnia and Herzegovina believes that by implementing its law on the management of state assets, Croatia is breaching the Yugoslavia succession agreement, and it will take legal, political and diplomatic steps so that Bosnia and Herzegovina can protect its property in Croatia, according to a statement issued after the first meeting of the new Presidency comprising Milorad Dodik, Željko Komšić and Šefik Džaferović.

The statement delivered to Hina notes that the Presidency has tasked the foreign ministry to send a note to the UN secretary-general as the depositor of the Yugoslav Agreement on Succession Issues of the Former Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, informing him that Croatia is in breach of that agreement.

The head of Bosnia's negotiation team in the Permanent Joint Commission of Country Successors of the Former Yugoslavia was tasked to convene an extraordinary meeting of the Commission because of Croatia's breach.

The Presidency tasked the Council of Ministers to report on activities undertaken "in order to ensure the protection and restitution of property owned by physical and legal entities from Bosnia and Herzegovina and Bosnia and Herzegovina's property located in the Republic of Croatia."

Bosnia's ombudsman was tasked to coordinate measures with entity privatisation agencies for the protection of Bosnia and Herzegovina's property in Croatia and to define a model to lodge an appeal with Croatia's Constitutional Court that would dispute the constitutionality of Croatia's law on the management of state assets and relevant regulations which prevent the real owners in Bosnia and Herzegovina from being registered as owners in the appropriate land titles register.

The chairman of the Presidency, Milorad Dodik, will send a letter to Croatia's President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović and Prime Minister Andrej Plenković, demanding that the agreement on succession and its annexes be applied in accordance with international law as a legal act that has priority in relation to domestic regulations. As such, it is necessary for Bosnia and Herzegovina's property located in Croatia to be returned and for the actual owners to be registered in the land titles register, the statement said.

More news on the relations between Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina can be found in our Politics section.

Wednesday, 5 December 2018

Former Yugoslav and Croatian Intelligence Officials to Serve Prison Sentence in Croatia

ZAGREB, December 5, 2018 - Yugoslav-era Croatian intelligence officials Josip Perković and Zdravko Mustač could be brought to Croatia in January to serve their prison sentences, Perković's attorney Anto Nobilo said on Wednesday after the Croatian judiciary received the German ruling which convicted them to life for involvement in the assassination of Croatian dissident Stjepan Đureković.

The ruling must be adjusted to Croatia's legal system. Zagreb County Court will decide on Perković's punishment and Velika Gorica County Court on Mustač's, said the Zagreb court spokesman Krešimir Devčić.

Since there is no life imprisonment in Croatia, Nobilo said the law most favourable to the convicts should be applied that was also valid at the time of the Đureković assassination in 1983. Although the maximum sentence at the time was 20 years, it was handed down only as a replacement of the death penalty, so no more than 15 years can be given for murder, he added.

Upon arriving in Croatia, Perković and Mustač will first be placed at Zagreb's Remetinec prison and then to another penitentiary.

This past May, the German supreme court in Karlsruhe upheld life imprisonment for Perković and Mustač for their roles in the Đureković assassination.

In August 2016, a Munich court sentenced Perković and Mustač to life imprisonment finding them responsible for the murder of Đureković, who was killed by still unidentified perpetrators in Wolfratshausen, outside Munich, in July 1983.

It was proved during the trial that Perković and Mustač, senior officers of the Yugoslav secret service, had organised Đureković's assassination.

The main motive for the murder was the elimination of a political opponent of the communist regime, the trial chamber of the High Regional Court in Munich said in the reasoning of the conviction.

For more on the former Yugoslavia and Croatis status in it, click here.

Tuesday, 13 November 2018

Two Former Yugoslav, Croatian Intelligence Officials Sue Germany

ZAGREB, November 13, 2018 - Yugoslav-era Croatian intelligence officials Josip Perković and Zdravko Mustač have sued Germany at the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg, alleging that a German court did not give them a fair trial for their involvement in the 1983 murder of Croatian dissident Stjepan Đureković, and although the two convicts should have already been transferred to Croatia to serve their sentences, neither their lawyers nor Croatian institutions know when that may happen.

Germany has not forwarded any documents to Croatia regarding Perković and Mustač, whose transfer was made conditional on their serving their sentence in Croatia. According to unofficial sources, the Croatian Justice Ministry has no information on the case either.

Perković's attorney Anto Nobilo has told Hina that he was told by a German judge in charge of the enforcement of sentences that the German Justice Ministry had been instructed to transfer Perković and Mustač to Croatia to serve their sentences. "We have a document to that effect, but no one is acting on it. I have written to the German Justice Ministry to expedite the matter but have not received any reply yet," said Nobilo.

Once the requested documents arrive in Croatia, the Zagreb County Court will align the sentence with Croatian laws, which means that Perković and Mustač should receive the highest sentence under the law that is most favourable for them, and such a law dates back to the time of the murder for which they were convicted.

Even though the highest sentence at the time was 20 years' imprisonment, it was delivered exclusively to replace the death penalty so a sentence of not more than 15 years' imprisonment can be delivered for murder, said Nobilo.

He recalled that under the German court's verdict "despite the declarative life imprisonment, Perković should be released on 20 January 2028,” and that he did not expect a Croatian court to be any harsher.

Attorneys for intelligence officials Perković and Mustač, who have been warning from the start that their clients' rights have been violated, expect a possible new trial in Germany, if the European Court of Human Rights rules that their right to a fair trial was breached.

Mustač's attorney Lidija Horvat said the recently filed lawsuit was received by the European Court of Human Rights and that she expected it to pass the first triage. She added that it would be known in a few months' time if the lawsuit would be rejected, and that if it was accepted, a first-instance ruling would be known in two years at the earliest.

The defence believes that the main argument that intelligence officers Perković and Mustač did not have a fair trial lies in the fact that the same judges who tried them had first tried Krunoslav Prates, who was sentenced to life in prison for the same crime, the same sentence delivered in the case against Perković and Mustač.

They also underline that presiding judge Manfred Dauster did not give a statement about his involvement in the previous case even though he was obliged to do so under German law, and that he was personally biased, showing benevolence towards witnesses for the prosecution and having an aggressive attitude to the witnesses for the defence.

For more on relations between Croatia and Germany, click here.

Sunday, 15 July 2018

MoMA Presents Exhibition on Architecture in Former Yugoslavia

A major part of the exhibition is dedicated to Croatia.

Saturday, 16 June 2018

Yugoslav Army’s Role in 1990s War in Croatia in Focus

ZAGREB, June 16, 2018 - The Serbian Humanitarian Law Centre (FHP) nongovernmental organisation on Friday launched a publication in Belgrade entitled "JNA in the Wars in Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina", which accuses the then Yugoslav People's Army (JNA) of crimes or complicity in their commission, mostly on the basis of documents collected by the UN war crimes tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY).

Tuesday, 5 June 2018

“Tito’s Apartment” in New York Sold for 12 Million Dollars

The apartment used to host former Yugoslav president when he would visit New York.

Tuesday, 29 May 2018

Yugoslav Secret Service Officials to Serve Prison Sentence in Croatia

ZAGREB, May 29, 2018 - Two Yugoslav-era Croatian intelligence officials Josip Perković and Zdravko Mustać will serve their sentences in Croatia for their roles in the 1983 murder of Croatian dissident Stjepan Đureković, after the German supreme court in Karlsruhe delivered a final ruling in early May.

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