Finally – accused Serb war criminal Captain Dragan to be extradited to Croatia

1991 in Croatia as rebel Serbs and Serbia led crumbling
Yugoslav Peoples’ Army plundered, murdered, raped and
ethnically cleansed of Croatians and non-Serbs
one third of Croatia’s territory Captain Dragan (Right) and
Vojislav Seselj (Left, currently on ICTY trial for war crimes)
pose for photographers.

Australian Home Affairs Minister Jason Clare’s decision to give the final “go-ahead” for the extradition of Dragan Vasiljkovic (Captain Dragan, a.k.a. Daniel Snedden) could not have come at a better time. It almost coincided with ICTY’s Appeal Chamber’s acquittal of Croatian Generals Ante Gotovina and Mladen Markac.

Serbia has responded to the ICTY acquittal with its usual mumbo-jumbo, threatening, in protest to scale down its cooperation with the ICTY to a technical level!

As if it has been doing anything else in the past two decades!

It colluded and collaborated with ICTY prosecutors at all times in ferocious attempts to make the equating of the victim with the aggressor stick! It hid from the ICTY Radovan Karadzic and Ratko Mladic for years. It collaborated with ICTY prosecutors in the construction of trumped up charges against the Croatian Generals of joint criminal enterprise and alleged deportation of Serbs from Croatia. It continued to reject the release of documents that prove without a shadow of a doubt that Croatian Serbs were not deported from Croatia in 1995 by Croatia but were ordered to evacuate Croatia by the Serb leadership.  It now has the hide to call the ICTY Appeal Chamber as unjust and politically driven!

It is for such reasons that the decision to set in motion the extradition of Captain Dragan to Croatia is important at this time. The just decision by the ICTY Appeal Chamber attracts currently comments that attempt to divert the attention from justice for the Generals and Croatian defense against aggression. Captain Dragan’s extradition serves as a stark reminder of how organised and terrible the onslaught against Croatia was.

Instead of seeing some light at the end of the dark tunnel of Serbia’s denials about its active role in aggression against Croatia, the world still needs reminders that Serbs were the aggressors – very organised ones, at that.

The majority decision of the ICTY Appeal Chamber November 16 to acquit the Croatian Generals of war crimes is one of the most momentous reversals of Trial Chamber judgments in the court’s 18-year history. The significance of this reversal is manifold but the most important one is in the fact that individuals (the Generals) who were on trial have been vindicated. They are not war criminals. They are the former soldiers of the Croatian Army that defended the freedom and the right to self -determination of Croatian people when they, in 94% majority, voted to secede from Communist Yugoslavia.

Furthermore, the ICTY Appeal Chamber ruling overturned the April 2011 Trial Chamber verdict that had dealt a horrible blow to the image of Croatia, which painted Croatia as a perpetrator in a joint criminal enterprise, and not the victim of atrocities as it truly was.

Journalist Lanai Vasek wrote in the Australian newspaper, November 17, the following regarding Captain Dragan’s extradition to Croatia:

Home Affairs Minister Jason Clare’s decision to green-light his removal to Croatia comes two years after the High Court paved the way for Mr Dragan Vasiljkovic – also known as Daniel Snedden and Captain Dragan – to be extradited.

‘The minister arrived at his determination following careful consideration of the provisions of the Extradition Act and taking into account representations made by, and on behalf of, Mr Vasiljkovic as to why he should not be surrendered,’ a spokesman for the Home Affairs Minister said last night.

‘It is open to Mr Vasiljkovic to seek review of the minister’s surrender determination.’

The government’s decision does not end the legal saga as Mr Vasiljkovic is still able to appeal against the ruling to the Federal and High Courts.

It emerged last night that Dan Mori, the lawyer who represented confessed terrorism supporter David Hicks in the US, was working with Mr Vasiljkovic, a Belgrade-born Australian citizen, in preparation to launch an appeal.

No Australian government has ever successfully extradited an accused war criminal.

Mr Vasiljkovic is wanted for questioning by Croatia on war crimes allegedly committed during the Balkans conflict, including murder and genocide.

This year the High Court ruled against the extradition of Charles Zentai, accused of murdering a Jewish teenager during World War II.

In 2009 former home affairs minister Brendan O’Connor ordered the extradition to Hungary of Zentai, but the 90-year-old Perth man fought the ruling in the courts and in August won a High Court appeal.

Mr Vasiljkovic’s solicitor Bruce Dennis said last night his client had been speaking to Mr Mori ‘directly all day’.

‘If Mr Mori decides to take on the case, Shine Lawyers will be acting but I will be assisting,’ Mr Dennis said. It is understood the Queensland-based law firm has taken on the case, but Mr Mori declined to comment last night.

Mr Dennis said Mr Vasiljkovic had been informed yesterday morning at Sydney’s Silverwater prison of Mr Clare’s ruling and was “just devastated”.

Mr Dennis received notification of Mr Clare’s decision in a letter from the Attorney-General’s Department at 5.30pm on Thursday.

‘The one thing he was hoping was, because there had been such a long delay since the High Court case, that the Attorney-General was in some way seeking a couple of protections for him before he would be sent anywhere,” Mr Dennis said’.

He said those protections included the time Mr Vasiljkovic had served in Silverwater being recognised, and the assurance of an independent trial.

‘Because he is someone who is a hero in Serbia but a villain across the border in Croatia, it’s very difficult for him to get a fair trial,’ the lawyer said. ‘No such assurances have been given.’

In 2010, after the High Court ruled Mr Vasiljkovic could be extradited to Croatia, the accused war criminal fled federal police and spent 43 days on the run.

The Australian found Mr Vasiljkovic hiding out on a dry-docked yacht near Yamba in northern NSW during his time on the run and he had talked of ‘sailing north’.

In 2009, The Australian successfully defended a defamation action in the NSW Supreme Court brought by Mr Vasiljkovic under the name Daniel Snedden.

In doing so, Nationwide News, publisher of this newspaper, ran a de facto war crimes hearing in which it proved, on the balance of probabilities, the substantive truth of that article. The NSW Supreme Court found Mr Vasiljkovic had committed the war crimes of torture and rape, and had admitted to a massacre.

The court found Nationwide News had proven a raft of allegations made against him, including that he repeatedly raped a woman in Zvornik in 1992; that he had admitted committing a massacre in 1991 to a journalist from London’s The Times; and that he had personally committed the war crime of torture as well as condoning such crimes by troops under his command.

Mr Vasiljkovic emigrated to Australia as a 14-year-old and served in the Australian Army Reserve. He returned to the former Yugoslavia in the early 1990s to take control of a Serbian paramilitary unit during the Balkans war. He has consistently maintained he did not commit any of the alleged offences”.

It’s alleged Vasiljkovic killed Croatian citizens and ordered others to commit murder when he was a Serb paramilitary commander with the self-proclaimed Serb Republic of Krajina (1991 to 1995).

Captain Dragan wants a fair trial! The problem is that fair to him may easily mean that his role in Serb aggression against Croatia be erased without a trial! It fits into the same frame of mind that leads Serbia in denial. Such denial has a number of functions and one of these fits into the Serb grip on Serbian Republic entity within Bosnia and Herzegovina, which was established through genocide and ethnic cleansing. Thank God Croatia’s Operation Storm delivered Croatian Krajina territory from a similar final destination.  Ina Vukic, Prof. (Zgb); B.A., M.A.Ps.(Syd)

Comments

  1. Normally I’d say screw the Serbs. We don’t have to bother with them anymore. But this process has to run its course for the whole truth to be revealed. Bosnia is another story they’ll have to answer for eventually and they will. The planets move very slowly and the stars are aligning. Keep up the good work Ina

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  2. Michael Silovic says:

    Jure, the reality is they are our neighbors and we will live side by side hopefully in peace. That does not mean that we will ignore the crimes perpetrated against our people and continue to seek justice for those who lost loved ones defending our homeland. There are so many mothers and fathers who hearts are still heavy and longing for their loved ones. For many mothers the pain is just unbearable to this day.The atrocities against our nation will take a long time to heal but with the truth being exposed it makes it easier to move on. My concern is that we have / had traitors in our own goverment that betrayed all of us and they need to be held accountable just as those Serbs who committed crimes against us. The sooner we expose our own traitors the faster we will get the information needed to assist in seeing justice done for everyone.

    Za Dom spremni!

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  3. We’re waiting for Dragan.He is gonna love his stay in Croatia.He’s going to love it so much that he’s going to stay in Croatia for the rest of his life.

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  4. It’s time for a truth commission about the wars in the Balkans so that the world will come to know the real Serbia. Truth and justice need to be served. Serbia needs to account for it’s role and it can’t keep saying that others committed crimes too…if others did commit crimes it was out of self defense…when someone strikes you and you respond by striking them back that is not a crime.

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  5. Braco Jurac says:

    well, the truth is that 80% of real Serbs did not want what happened and were actively protesting against the war.On the other hand our “serbs” ( how can you be a Serb if you were born in Croatia?) saw the situation as an opportunity to create great Serbia.Naturally as on the previous occasions they have underestimated the resolve of Croatian people.Anyhow all is well that ends well and it certainly ended well for Croatia.As for “heroic” criminals….the wheels of justice etc.etc….

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    • Silvano says:

      The criminals that are being prosecuted for war crimes do not represent their nation. They are thugs and criminals who came at a time when the population was desperate and fragile. As a Croat I can honestly say that I am happy that we have our own country. But the rich are still the rich and the poor are even poorer than under Yugoslavia. Corruption is at an all time high just look at Sanader and what he did! He was some sort of Croatian patriot? Now we are to go into Europe and have our country sold to foreigners not to mention the Russians who already have started buying everything that they can. Now we will have the Euro that we can’t even afford and end up like Greece abolishing thousands of jobs in the public sector and privatizing everything. This is the irony of our independence!

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