Dragan Vasiljkovic, a Serb with Australian citizenship known as Captain Dragan during his reported murderous rampages in Croatia as part of Serb aggressing in the early 1990’s, and also known by his adopted name in Australia as Daniel Snedden, has spent the last eight years in Australian prisons as he fought legal battles against extradition to Croatia to answer to charges for war crimes against him. On Friday 12 December he lost his final battle not to be extradited to Croatia. The Australian Federal court had rejected his appeal.
Vasiljkovic is wanted in Croatia for war crimes he allegedly committed in the 1990s while serving as a paramilitary commander during the war of the said period.
His latest appeal against his extradition order centred on the legal delays in his case, issues relating to the Geneva Conventions, and questions of procedural fairness.
The 60-year-old, who was born in Belgrade and is an Australian citizen, has denied the allegations of war crimes and has challenged the extradition order since his arrest in Perth, Australia, 2006.
Croatia has charged Captain Dragan for war crimes, torture and killing of prisoners of war, attacks on civilians during 1991 and 1992 in the Republika Srpska Krajina (Serb occupied Croatian territory that was ethnically cleansed of all non-Serbs), and commanding an assault on the village of Glina that resulted in civilian deaths and injuries.
After protracted legal battles challenging the Croatian request, ex Home Affairs Minister Jason Clare approved the extradition in November 2012.
The Supreme Court of NSW ruled on a defamation action and found the former Serbian paramilitary commander had committed the war crimes of torture and rape, and had admitted to a massacre.
A spokeswoman for the Australian Attorney-General’s Department said in a statement to The Weekend Australian (13 & 14 December 2014): “The Full Federal Court today found that Mr Vasiljkovic had been accorded appropriate procedural fairness in the making of the former Minister’s decision to surrender him to Croatia.
“The Court also found that the decision was made as soon as reasonably practicable and that the former Minister (Jason Clare) had not erred in exercising his general discretion.
“It is open to Mr Vasiljkovic to seek leave to appeal the decision to the High Court.”
According to SBS News Vasiljkovic’s lawyer said that a High Court challenge could be the next step in his fight against extradition.
Dan Mori, who represented confessed terrorism supporter David Hicks in American military court proceedings, is representing Vasiljkovic.
Mr Mori told SBS on Friday 12 December his main concern was that his client would not be afforded the protections of the Geneva Convention if returned to Croatia.
“I’m very concerned about what would happen in Croatia,” Mr Mori said.
“There’s some big unanswered questions. Is Croatia going to give him credit for every day he served here in Australia if he is brought back there, and he should be because the Geneva Convention requires it. But Australia has not sought that specialty assurance from Croatia.
“Now it’s really time to look at the rationale and look at the decisions and see if there is any viable issues that may or may not support a special leave to the High Court.”
It would seem that even Vasiljkovic’s lawyer believes that there is a case to answer for war crimes; why else would he contemplate upon time Vasiljkovic has already spent in prison and whether Croatia would recognise it under some clause or article of the Geneva Convention!? I would say: now it’s really time for Vasiljkovic to face the charges against him in a Croatian court and stop stalling and obstructing justice for the alleged victims. Ina Vukic, Prof. (Zgb); B.A., M.A.Ps. (Syd)