Almost 11.00 a.m. Saturday 4th March 2017 in Zagreb, Croatia and I looked through the window of the Airbus that brought me here from Australia. Restless chest heaves with joy, a handful of years had gone by. At times life deals the deck of cards riddled with why and because and there’s nothing we can do about it (?). Ah, but what joy I see though that window: Airport Franjo Tudjman! The brilliance of Croatia’s defense against Serb aggression shines through this name on this important airport.
And then – sadness. So much still to be lifted again into the shining, brilliant light. So many of communist remnants digging deep wounds still; distorting truth, hiding it, poisoning…
The case of Tomislav Mercep comes to mind!
On 13 February 2017, the Croatian Supreme Court, that was hearing Mercep’s final appeal, convicted him of committing war crimes. Mercep served in the 1990s as an assistant to interior minister Ivan Vekic and as the unofficial commander of the reservist police battalion ‘Mercepovci’. The appeal court rejected all the claims made by Mercep, which included Mercep’s claims that the interviews conducted with him by various journalists at the time, and used as evidence in the trial for war crimes against him, are due to lack of their authorization, illegal or inadmissible evidence. But the court took the opinion that these were classical interviews, published in various media outlets.
Given the obscenely anti-Croatian independence yellow press of the time such as the notorious, pro-communist, pro-Yugoslavia, and to my taste – sickening, “Feral Tribune”, which seemed incapable of seeing the truth even if it bit it on the buttock, the Croatian Supreme Court’s evidently high regard for that weekly newspaper is, as far as I’m concerned (and many others) – nothing short of travesty of justice.
When the whole truth, or even a part of it, is distorted through giving credence to the ultimate insults against the Croatian leadership that defended Croatia from the brutal and bloody Serb aggression as was dished out regularly by Feral Tribune – one cannot but amplify the feeling of alarm and fret for true justice in Croatia.
The court also rejected Mercep’s claims that his right to a defense was breached and that the court had erred in its finding of the facts.
The Supreme Court 13 February 2017 upheld the conviction rendered in May 2016 by the Zagreb county court after a 4-year domestic trial for war crimes and raised the sentence from 5.5 year to 7 year imprisonment. Mister Mercep was accused “of not preventing the Mercepovci (the defenders of Croatia from Serb and Yugoslav Army onslaught under his command) from detaining, torturing and killing 43 mainly Serb civilians at the Zagreb Trade Fair, Kutina in central Croatia and Pakracka Poljana in western Slavonia in late 1991.
The presiding judge at Zagreb county court Zdravko Majerovic, said last year that Mercep did not stop the unit from committing the crimes, “giving them silent approval for the misdeeds”, even when he was not physically present at the crime scenes.
Reactions to the appeal verdict have been varied – for and against; as such things go.
“The judgment against the defender of Vukovar, Gospic and Pakrac is yet another proof of the morbidity of the un-lustrated ‘Croatian’ judiciary,” said Velimir Bujanec, host of a popular Osijek TV current affairs show “Bujica”. “While Tomo (Mercep) bled on the most difficult of war-fronts for the freedom of all of us, the judges who have convicted him, were dreaming of survival of Yugoslavia. We do not believe a single word from this shameful Supreme Court judgment, we don’t believe the ‘witnesses’ that were briefed by Josip Manolic and Josip Perkovic (former communist Yugoslavia secret service operatives), and the motives of the notorious leftists from the State Attorney’s office are all too clear to us… Be ashamed – Croatia,” Bujanec commented.