Saturday, 18 December 2021

Civilians Killed in Voćin in 1991 Commemorated

ZAGREB, 18 Dec, 2021 - On the 30th anniversary of the wartime killing of Croatian civilians in Voćin, a senior delegation of the Serb National Council (SNV) and a special envoy of Serbia's president on Saturday honoured the victims for the first time as well as laying wreaths at a memorial to killed and missing Serbs.

The commemoration was organised by the SNV, which said it was honouring the Croat and Serb residents of Voćin and neighbouring villages, western Slavonia, killed in December 1991.

That month, withdrawing from Croatian soldiers in the Voćin area, Serb paramilitaries killed 47 Voćin villagers and three Croatian defenders.

Speaking at the memorial to the Croatian victims, SNV president Milorad Pupovac said it was one of the worst crimes in the 1991-95 Homeland War that would be remembered for its "bestiality and brutality."

He expressed "strong and deep regret" for the "unprotected" victims who had "no evil thought for anyone," adding, "The people who did this stopped being human and thereby our compatriots."

Serbian President Aleksandar Vučić's special envoy for cooperation with Croatia regarding the war missing, Veran Matić, said the Voćin crime marked the crimes that would ensue in the following years.

"Even 30 years after those horrible events, I have the feeling that we have lost a lot of time and failed to do a lot that could have been done in dealing with our evil past," he said.

Those gone missing in the war are proof of the fact that we have failed to find a way to successfully deal with our past and to agree on and cooperate in healing our societies, he added.

"Some of the people who inspired this crime still have a platform for hate speech and they use it unimpeded. Our task is to stop such rhetoric and not to allow such speech so that the victims, their families and our societies can rest, and as a guarantee that crimes will not happen again."

Matić also said Serbia and Croatia should continue to look for the disappeared even though 30 years have gone by.

Pupovac, Matić and local officials also commemorated Serb civilians from western Slavonia killed between 1991 and 1995.

"We are here today to reiterate our commitment to cooperation in shedding light on the fate of the missing, both those gone missing in this area 30 years ago and those gone missing in later years in other parts of Croatia," said Pupovac.

He added that "cooperation in the search for the missing leads us from hostility to partnership, from nurturing feelings of war to developing feelings of peace."

Responding to questions from the press, Pupovac said this year's commemoration in Voćin was a step forward as both Serb and Croatian victims were honoured.

Asked why no one from Croatia's state leadership was present, he said it was not the time to reprimand anyone, other than those responsible for the crime.

For more about Croatia, CLICK HERE.

Sunday, 28 November 2021

Commemoration Held for 20 Ethnic Hungarians Killed in 1991

ZAGREB, 28 Nov, 2021 - The Democratic Union of Hungarians of Croatia on Sunday held a commemoration in Dalj Planina in tribute to 20 ethnic Hungarian civilians killed by Serb paramilitaries in November and December 1991 during the occupation of that Slavonian village.

The civilians were killed by Serb paramilitaries led by Željko Ražnatović Arkan from the then Territorial Defence Training Centre in Erdut.

Hungarian minority MP Robert Jankovics said the crimes committed in Dalj Planina had characteristics of genocide because entire families were killed there.

Asked about the perpetrators of the atrocity, Jankovics said that in June 2020 the international war crimes tribunal in The Hague convicted Serbian security service members Franko Simatović and Jovica Stanišić for the crime.

As far as I know, also indicted were Slobodan Milošević, Željko Ražnatović Arkan and Goran Hadžić but, unfortunately, they died before the verdict was delivered, Jankovics said.

For more about Croatia, CLICK HERE.

Saturday, 18 September 2021

Mayor: It’s a Disgrace Nobody Has Answered for Vukovar Crimes

ZAGREB, 18 Sept, 2021 - Vukovar Mayor Ivan Penava said after a commemoration of the 30th anniversary of the Battle of Vukovar on Saturday that the incumbent and all previous Croatian governments should be ashamed of the fact that nobody had answered for the city's destruction in 1991 and the thousands of people killed there.

"If we disregard the rulings of the international tribunal in The Hague and for the Ovčara atrocity, nobody has yet been brought to account for Vukovar and that is a big disgrace for this government and all previous governments," said Penava.

Asked by reporters if today was an appropriate day to commemorate the 30th anniversary of the Battle of Vukovar, Penava said that everyone would have their own opinion on the matter but that he welcomed it as a day honouring Vukovar's defenders and the 204th Brigade.

He said that he had listened to Prime Minister Andrej Plenković's speech today, in which, he said, Plenković spoke about positive examples of the government's care for Vukovar but failed to mention problems, such as those regarding the local economy and suspended investments in the local wood-processing sector and hotel industry, which, he said, the government led by Plenković was responsible for.

"What saddens one the most, and what the government led by Plenković has inherited from the previous governments, is the shameful fact that nobody has been brought to account for the fact that Vukovar was razed to the ground in 1991, while the parliamentary majority regularly votes confidence in both the Supreme Court and the Chief State Prosecutor, thus supporting the policy that has turned its back on the Vukovar victims," said Penava.

For more about Croatia, CLICK HERE.

Sunday, 11 July 2021

Croatian PM: Srebrenica Atrocities Are Defeat of Humanity

ZAGREB, 11 July, 2021 - Prime Minister Andrej Plenković says in his message on the occasion of the 26th anniversary of the Srebrenica tragedy that the insane atrocities committed in Srebrenica amounted to the defeat of humanity and that Croatians are in their thoughts with Bosnia and Herzegovina.

On Sunday Plenković wrote on his Twitter account that today "the tribute is being paid to thousands of innocent Bosniak victims who will never be forgotten."

The killing of more than 8,000 Bosniak civilians, men and boys in Srebrenica 26 years ago when that eastern Bosnian enclave fell into the hands of the Serb force was described by the Croatian Prime Minister as "insane crime " which amounted to the defeat of humanity.

During this year's commemorative events, remains of 19 Srebrenica victims will be buried in the Potočari memorial centre. The youngest victims unearthed from mass graves are Azmir Osmanovć, who was a 16-year-old boy when he was killed, and 17-year-old Fikret Kiverić.  Also the remains of 24-year-old girl will be buried today.

So far, the funeral rites have been organised at the Potočari centre for 6,652 victims who were exhumed after the war from mass graves or from unmarked individual graves.

The families of another 237 victims buried their dearest ones in other cemeteries after the identification of the remains.

Also, the remains of 88 victims not yet identified are in the ossuary in Tuzla. In several cases, the agreement has not been obtained from families for burials as long as only parts of the bodies of their dearest ones are exhumed and identified. Those families wait for the discovery of the all the remains of those victims.

Since early Sunday morning, hundreds of mourners started flocking Srebrenica and Potočari.

To date, 48 sentenced for Srebrenica genocide to a total of over 700 years

International courts and local courts in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia and Serbia have to date sentenced 48 wartime officials and military and police officers of Bosnia Serb to a total of more than 700 years

Five high-profile convicts have been given life sentences for genocide and crimes against humanity committed in July 1995 in Srebrenica. The wartime political and military leaders Radovan Karadžić and Ratko Mladić were tried for charges of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes committed in Srebrenica, Prijedor, Ključ, and other districts of Bosnia, and these two masterminds of the Srebrenica tragedy have been sentenced to life in prison by the UN tribunal ICTY.

For more news about Croatia, CLICK HERE.

Tuesday, 8 June 2021

War Criminal Ratko Mladić Handed Down Final Verdict of Life Imprisonment

ZAGREB, 8 June, 2021 - Wartime Bosnian Serb army commander Ratko Mladić was on Tuesday given a final verdict of life in prison for war crimes committed in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

The information was conveyed to reporters in The Hague by Murat Tahirović, president of the BiH Association of Genocide Victims and Witnesses.

Tahirović was able to follow the announcement of the verdict in real time while reporters and most of the other audience followed it with a delay and without access to the courtroom.

For more about politics in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page.

Saturday, 29 May 2021

President Returns War Decorations to General Branimir Glavaš

ZAGREB, 29 May 2021 - Croatian President Zoran Milanović has invalidated former President Ivo Josipović's decision on stripping wartime Osijek official, general Branimir Glavaš, of war medals, since Glavaš's convictions were quashed and the retrials were ordered.

Glavaš's son, lawyer Filip Glavaš, told Hina on Saturday, that the return of the seven war medals to his father were the only logical and fair decision as his father had no longer the status of a convict.

Milanović's decision on declaring null and void Josipović's decision was published in the Official Gazette after it had been adopted on 21 May on the advice of the state commission for decorations and awards and in line with the Constitution and the relevant legislation.

The commission took into consideration the changes in the trials in the cases dubbed 'Garage' and 'Duct tape' for the war crimes against local Serbs in the eastern Croatian city of Osijek in the early 1990s.

Lawyer Filip Glavaš said today that the reasons such as the final convictions for stripping his father of war decorations had not existed for some time and that in 2019, they had asked the then president Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović to return the decoration to his father.

However, she ignored our request, the lawyer Filip Glavaš told Hina.

 A month ago we sent the request to this effect to  President Zoran Milanović, and he granted our request, which is the only fair and logical decision considering the fact that the Constitutional and Supreme Courts quashed the convictions, he said.

The Supreme Court quashed the trial court verdict on 28 July 2016 and requested the Zagreb County Court to hold a new trial in this case.

In the initial trial which lasted from October 2007 to April 2009, Glavaš and the other accused were sentenced to lengthy prison terms but the final verdict was quashed by the Supreme Court. By that time Glavas had served most of his eight-year term in prisons in Bosnia and Herzegovina where he fled before the announcement of the trial court verdict.

In late November 2019, Glavaš, who was still standing trial for war crimes, supported in Osijek with his signature Milanović's presidential candidacy, saying that his signature "is not a signature for the SDP or for drawing closer to the SDP but for Milanović as a candidate for the president of the republic", while members of his HDSSB party would decide for themselves whose presidential bid to support.

Later that day, Milanović, who was  the Social Democratic Party (SDP) candidate for the Croatian president,  said that he distanced himself from the support expressed for his presidential bid by member of parliament and HDSSB party leader Branimir Glavaš.

"I would like to distance myself from his support because Glavaš is not my kind of people. I think that (his support) is a message to (PM Andrej) Plenković. The man has been indicted for grave war crimes and the court is expected to make a ruling. The biggest problem about it is that the trial is taking too long, considering that the events in question happened in Osijek in 1991. That is something that I, as the future president, will change if I can, by statements and by exerting pressure at least. The case is still under way and that's not how the judiciary should work," Milanović said then during his presidential campaign.

Friday, 19 March 2021

Man Arrested for Murder of Seven Vukovar Civilians during 1990s War

ZAGREB, 19 March, 2021 - A 50-year-old man has been taken into custody following an extensive operation by the police, state attorney and the security-intelligence agency (SOA) on the suspicion of torturing and killing seven Vukovar civilians during the Homeland War in September 1991.

The suspect and members of his paramilitary unit are believed to have punched, kicked and hit with their rifle butts a group of seven civilians, aged between 24 and 55, whom they found in the basement of a house in Vukovar.

The perpetrators then led the captured civilians to the city centre, killing six on the way, while a 55-year-old prisoner was wounded.

After that, the suspect and the other paramilitaries returned to the house and collected the women and children staying there whom they also wanted to take to the city centre but were stopped by an unidentified Serb army officer. The women and children and the wounded 55-year-old man were returned to the basement, however, the next day the 55-year-old was killed by an unidentified Serb paramilitary.

The police reported that after the reintegration of the Danube region an exhumation was conducted and six of the murdered civilians were identified. A 27-year-old man from that group is still unaccounted for.

The suspect was taken into custody while the Osijek County Attorney's office has filed criminal charges against him for war crimes against civilians.

For more about the war in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page.

Thursday, 6 August 2020

Pupovac: Anyone Who Thinks State Can Be Excuse for War Crimes Is Seriously Mistaken

ZAGREB, Aug 6, 2020 - Anyone who thinks that the state can be an excuse for war crimes is seriously mistaken, the leader of the Independent Democratic Serb Party (SDSS), Milorad Pupovac, said in Uzdolje, near Knin, on Thursday, in an address to a memorial ceremony for eight Serb civilians killed there in the wake of Operation Storm 25 years ago.

"Even more mistaken are those who think that peace can be built by ignoring killings like these and without showing empathy for the suffering that people endured," he added.

Pupovac said that the victims had been "perfidiously and inhumanely" killed by those who thought they were doing a big thing and those big things justified such crimes.

Pupovac said that the people attending the commemoration had gathered together to stand up to such thinking and belief, adding that they would continue to organise such memorials to condemn those crimes and encourage the authorities to identify those responsibly and bring them to justice.

"We will continue to gather together in the belief that by respecting the suffering endured by our compatriots, both Croats, and Serbs, we will create a society of peace in which we will close the chapter on the war rather than reopen it every year, a society in which people will be able to live in peace and look to the future," Pupovac said.

War crimes against Serbs seldom prosecuted

SDSS MP Anja Simpraga warned that while the war crimes committed against Croats were recognised and formally commemorated and many Serbs were prosecuted and punished for those crimes, this could not be said of the war crimes committed against Serbs and of their expulsion.

"War crimes against Serbs have been seldom punished, particularly those committed during or in the wake of Operation Storm. The places of their suffering are marked and commemorated by Serb organisations only, and they don't seem to exist for the state and the government. The same is true of the expulsion of nearly 200,000 Serbs during Operation Storm alone, not counting those expelled during Operation Flash and those expelled from many towns outside the war zones," Simpraga said.

She said that there was no public awareness among the Croats of such large-scale suffering of Serbs and no awareness of the need to express regret and empathy.

"Condemnations of war crimes are getting fewer and fewer over the years and are giving way to callousness and unchristian ridicule, hatred of the remaining Serbs, intolerance towards what makes them different from Croats, and violence," she added.

Simpraga recalled that in addition to the 200,000 Serbs who had fled from Operation Storm, nearly 2,000 had been killed during or in the wake of the Croatian military offensive, and "hundreds of villages and a thousand houses" had been devastated. She said it was high time to shed light on the war crimes, what had happened during the war, and the damage that had been done not just to Serbs but to Croatia itself.

"It is necessary to stop the hatred and violence against Serbs and start building a society of tolerance and respect for diversity. It is also necessary to stop keeping quiet about other people's suffering during the war and ridiculing it but rather show respect for the suffering of all (both Croats and Serbs). That's what honourable warriors and wise and honest politicians do and what true priests preach," Simpraga said.

Stevan, Janja and Djurdjija Beric, Milos Cosic, and Sava, Milica, Jandrija and Krstan Sare were killed in Uzdolje on 6 August 1995. No one has been brought to account for these murders.

Friday, 14 December 2018

Pavle Strugar, War Criminal Who Shelled Dubrovnik, Dies in Belgrade

Pavle Strugar, the war criminal who shelled Dubrovnik, causing not only wanton destruction and horrific damage to the UNESCO World Heritage Site, but also a terrible loss of life, has passed away in Serbia.

Strugar was born on the 13th of July, 1933 in Peć, in the then Kingdom of Yugoslavia, now Kosovo. The Montenegrin general served in the Yugoslav People's Army (JNA), undertaking various different roles, and eventually becoming the commander of the Second Operational Group of the JNA, which operated in southern Croatia, in 1991.

Under his command, the JNA monstrously attacked Dubrovnik in 1991, in a siege which caused tremendous damage to the city, and took the lives of both veterans and civilians. The terrible siege of Dubrovnik lasted until 1992, with Strugar retiring one year later, in 1993.

As Jutarnji reports on the 13th of December, 2018, the retired General Pavle Strugar has died in Belgrade following a short but serious illness.

Strugar was tried and sentenced for his actions, as well as for the deaths of civilians at the Hague tribunal, this was coupled with the fact that in 1991, he did nothing to prevent the horrendous war crime of the shelling of Dubrovnik. The Montenegrin initially attempted an appeal to his sentence, but that was later withdrawn.

Strugar voluntarily handed himself over to the Hague Tribunal in 2001, making a name for himself as the first Serb or Montenegrin to make such a move. Because of his part in the criminal shelling of Dubrovnik, a beloved UNESCO World Heritage Site, he was sentenced to a pitiful 7.5 years in prison, and of course, he didn't even serve that, after serving a mere two-thirds of his sentence, he was released back in 2009. 

Strugar will be buried this Saturday at the Bežanijska cemetery in the Serbian capital, according to a report from Mondo.rs.

Make sure to stay up to date with our news page for much more.

Sunday, 9 December 2018

PM Andrej Plenković: Finance Minister Zdravko Marić Won't Leave Government

Amid rumours that the finance minister, Zdravko Marić, is set to step down from his position within the Croatian Government as soon as next month, PM Andrej Plenković has been having his refusal to outright deny the claims scrutinised, with some believing that this means Marić's departure was imminent and due to take place in early 2019. It seems however, that Marić isn't going anywhere.

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes on the 9th of December, 2018, HDZ President and PM Andrej Plenković said on Saturday that Finance Minister Zdravko Maric isn't going to leave the government.

"There will be no departure," Plenković told journalists after the he was questioned about whether or not he'd talked to Marić himself about his alleged departure from the cabinet before the end of his mandate, as was being circulated by some media outlets.

The Prime Minister, upon being questioned about the criticisms of controversial SDSS President Milorad Pupovac regarding recent arrests in Vukovar, said that he didn't listen to that press conference, adding that the current government is not interfering with the work of the police or with the work of DORH in any manner whatsoever.

He pointed out, in order to quell people's natural suspicions that "there are no invisible political hands" holding any influence over this process.

When asked about the elections for the European Parliament, PM Andrej Plenković stated that the party would be "almost sure" on their own and that at least five mandates can be expected. "We'll win convincingly in those elections," he said briefly.

Concerning the controversy around the procurement of Israeli F-16 aircraft, Plenković reiterated that everything that the Republic of Croatia did in this process was done systematically, thoroughly, and in fine detail, and that open issues, if there are any, exist solely between Israel and the United States of America, and are nothing to do with Croatia or the part Croatia played in the process.

He confirmed that he visited Zagreb's mayor Milan Bandić was taken to hospital yesterday morning, adding that Bandić claims to be feeling good and that he believes that he will recover and be back on his feet quickly.

Make sure to follow our dedicated politics page for more on PM Andrej Plenković, the Croatian Government, and updates from both domestic and European politics in Croatia.

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