Croatian Six – Judicial Inquiry Into Terror Convictions 43 Years On

It’s been 43 years 8 months and 21 days since the Croatian Six men were convicted of attempts of terrorist acts in Sydney, Australia and Justice Victor Maxwell who delivered the prison sentences was most likely completely unaware that before him was a masterpiece of lies and machinations of communist Yugoslavia operations against Croatians who rejected communism and migrated to Australia after World War Two. Perhaps Justice Maxwell felt that things were not “right” but was in no position to rule otherwise? May that too will become apparent and clear one day.

 It is now clear more than ever that the communist Yugoslavia in its rampage against Croatians who rejected communism and Yugoslavia did include not only purges by mass murders but also framing Croats for terrorist activities around the world due to which Croatians living in West had suffered awful consequences to their good name particularly during the 1960’s and 1970’s while Josip Broz Tito was alive and head of communist Yugoslavia. And so finally, after several attempts since 1982 to achieve a judicial inquiry in this greatest miscarriage of justice in the history of Australia we are looking at the best hope for justice for the Croatian Six men sent to jail on attempted terrorism charges with fabricated evidence and lies that came from a Serbian citizen infiltrating the Croatian community in Sydney as a patriotic Croat! The Croatian Six had always maintained their innocence of the crimes they were charged with eventually imprisoned for ten years each before being released early in 1991.

Finally, the New South Wales Supreme Court in Sydney Australia has 30 August 2022 ordered a judicial inquiry into the 1981 convictions of the so-called “Croatian Six” over an alleged conspiracy to bomb four businesses in Sydney and cut the city’s water supply, amid grave concerns the men were framed by a Yugoslav spy. This historic decision for a judicial inquiry was delivered by Justice Robertson Wright ordered a judicial inquiry into the 41-year-old convictions (and just over 43 years since the indictment) of Maksimilian Bebic, Mile Nekic, Vjekoslav Brajkovic, Anton Zvirotic, Ilija Kokotovic and Joseph Kokotovic, who were sentenced in February of 1981 to a maximum of 15 years’ prison each in relation to the alleged terrorist plot.

As I wrote in my previous posts here these four men of Croatian descent and birth who migrated to Australia and until their shocking arrest for alleged plot to bomb two travel agencies in Sydney, a Serbian club, the Elizabethan Theatre in the Sydney suburb of Newtown, and Sydney water supply pipes connected to the Warragamba Dam on the outskirts of Sydney, as well as other offences of stealing or possessing explosives in Lithgow and Sydney in 1979 all of these six men were decent, honest people and hard workers and it took the communist Yugoslavia dark secret services forces, using a Serb national as a spy to turn them into monsters the world loathed. In that loathing all Croatians living in Australia particularly, who fought for an independent Croatia during World War Two or who simply fled Yugoslavia because they did not tolerate the oppressive, murderous communist regime.  

In paragraph 48 of his determination for a judicial inquiry dated 30 August 2022 Justice Wright said that “a significant amount of other material in the declassified ASIO documents forcefully suggests that, at least, Mr Virkez (Serb communist Yugoslavia operative) was an informer to the Yugoslav Consulate-General for a number of months prior to the arrest of the Croatian Six in February 1979, if not a Yugoslav agent or agent provocateur”.

On Page 31, paragraph 72, of Justice Wrights 39 August 2022 determination that a judicial inquiry is to be held stated: “Having regard to all of the material, which was provided by the applicants and the Crown and which included summaries of or extracts from the evidence at trial, it appeared to me, and I was comfortably satisfied, that there are a number of doubts or questions as to parts of the evidence in the case and the guilt of the Croatian Six,”

and in paragraph 73 Justice Wright continues: “First, it appeared to me that there is a doubt, or at least a question, as to whether the evidence of Mr Virkez  at trial was deliberately false in a number of respects including when he gave evidence about the alleged bombing conspiracy, when he denied spying on the Croatians, and when he denied giving evidence at the behest of anyone connected with the Police Special Branch or the Yugoslav government. I was satisfied that this doubt or question arose having regard to the information identified above, including but not limited to the information contained in: the declassified ASIO documentation; the book Reasonable Doubt: Spies, Police and the Croatian Six; Mr (Hamish) McDonald’s interview with Professor (John) Schindler; the book The Secret Cold War, The Official History of ASIO, 1975 – 1989; the e-book Framed; Mr Virkez’s interview with Mr (Chris) Masters, parts of which were included the Four Corners program; the ABC podcasts including Mr Cunliffe’s information; and, the documents and accounts concerning Mr Cavanagh’s evidence.”

In paragraph 77 Justice Wright of his determination for a judicial inquiry said “… it also appeared that there is a doubt, or at least a question, as to the guilt of the Croatian Six as a result the real possibility that the Yugoslav Intelligence Service used Mr Virkez as an agent provocateur or informer, to cause false information to be given to the NSW Police, and possibly ASIO, as to the existence of a bombing conspiracy involving the Croatian Six, in order to discredit Croatians in Australia. Mr Virkez’s information led to the arrest and charging of the Croatian Six and their eventual conviction for conspiracy to bomb and possession of explosives. The principal evidence relied upon to secure those convictions was the testimony of Mr Virkez and the evidence of police officers of confessions said to have been made by Croatian Six and explosives said to have been found at their premises. As I have explained, there is, in my view, a substantial doubt or question as to the veracity and reliability of Mr Virkez’s evidence and as to the police evidence. Mr Master’s interview with Mr Virkez and the information from Professor Schindler also indicated that the Croatian Six may not have been part of the alleged conspiracy to bomb. This and other material concerning the alleged finding of explosives at the premises of five of the Croatian Six also led me to conclude that there is a doubt or question about the convictions relating to the explosives offences. Furthermore, on Mr Bebic’s case, the explosives found had been stolen by Mr Virkez and were said by Mr Virkez to be for opal mining. Consequently, there appeared to me to be a doubt or question as to whether the Croatian Six were guilty of any the offences for which they were convicted.”

All six Croatian men vehemently and always denied they had made confessions NSW Police sought to attribute to them, Wright said, and four of the six alleged they had been severely beaten by police. They had always maintained their innocence of the crimes they were charged with and convicted for.

Justice Wright in his determination of 30 August acknowledges previous attempts to secure a judicial inquiry into the 1981 criminal convictions against the Croatian Six and says in paragraph 80 “While the previous applications were unsuccessful, it does not appear to me that they were entirely lacking in merit, although the present application is made considerably stronger than the earlier applications by the availability of the declassified ASIO documents and the further research and information contained in the publications and podcasts since 2012…”

We now patiently wait to receive the results of the judicial inquiry, which could take several months, but as Ellis Peters, The Potters Field, The 17th Chronicle of Brother Cadfael,  wrote: “It may well be, said Cadfael, that our justice sees as in a mirror image, left where right should be, evil reflected as good, good as evil, your angel as her devil. But God’s justice, if it makes no haste, makes no mistakes.” Ina Vukic

Croatia: The Real Jasenovac

The need to resist falsifications of history in historical science of former Yugoslavia should and must be recognised by the Croatian government as a national problem and priority. The Croatian governments since year 2000 have failed consistently and, evidently purposefully, to recognise publicly and in their national strategy the need for corrective measures that would address historical misinformation and falsified Croatian history from World War Two. This need for corrective measures arose and persists given that falsifications have cruelly blackened the reputation of Croatian people worldwide and people and communities suffer because of that. It is a widely accepted fact that misinformation occurs when people hold incorrect factual beliefs and do so confidently. The problem, first conceptualised by the American political scientist James H. Kuklinski and colleagues in 2000, plagues political systems and is exceedingly difficult to correct. Over time, scholars have elaborated on the psychological origins of political misinformation and although there is an extensive body of research on how to correct misinformation, this literature is less coherent in its recommendations but, overall, scholarly research on political misinformation illustrates the many challenges inherent in representative democracy. And Croatia is no exception – relatively too many members of parliament are either former communists of Yugoslavia or their children who all, one may safely assume, either participated in falsification of Croatian WWII history or supported the falsifications.

It is regrettable that the Croatian government has not supported, nor does it support those whose research has taken them and takes them to uncovering the historical truth and correcting the misinformation sowed by Yugoslav communists and their supporters for decades throughout the world, often making the life of Croatian expats living in the diaspora a nightmare fuelled by lies, defamation and degradation spilling down from the communist agenda that relied on misinformation for its survival.  Whether, therefore, Croatian powers that be hold that lying is a virtue, just as communists did, is a question that may not be difficult to answer even though the answer shocks every decent and truth-loving human being. The fact that no Croatian government since year 2000 has in any shape or form supported the research undertaken to uncover the terribly defiled truth of WWII Jasenovac camp, such as the most credible research including the ones carried out and completed by Stipo Pilic and Blanka Matkovic or Igor Vukic … speaks volumes of how very profoundly the Croatian governments have been and are saturated with communist ideology, mental set and cover-up of communist crimes including those perpetrated at Jasenovac camp post WWII by communist Yugoslavia. Perhaps a future government, different from the Croatian Democratic Union/HDZ or Social Democratic Party/SDP ones Croatia has had so far will have the courage to assist the passage of historical truth to the surface. 

When people firmly hold beliefs that happen to be wrong, as is the case due to falsified history of WWII Croatia making it about victims of the Ustashi regime, grotesquely inflating the numbers of people that perished, instead of making it about the fight for freedom from oppressive and dictatorial, harsh Serb-led Kingdom of Yugoslavia,  efforts to correct the misinformation will be and is met with resistance and this resistance is frequently labelled as “revisionism” in the negative sense even though revisionism is a positive concept as it seeks to correct the wrongs. The truth will out though, eventually, thanks to dedicated historians some of whom I have mentioned above. The myth and lies about Jasenovac will fall one day under the overwhelming weight of truth.

The latest addition to the above-mentioned research and pursuits of truth about WWII Jasenovac is a new book titled “The real Jasenovac” (Stvarni Jasenovac), written by Tomislav Vukovic, with the subtitle “documents and discussions”. The book brings more than 150 documents, photos, and facsimiles, many of them for the first time in public! The book was published by the Society for the Research of the Triple Jasenovac Camp, and it strongly adds to the increasing body of scientific and truth research works on the World War Two (WWII) concentration camp in Jasenovac, Croatia, aiming to correct the misinformation about the camp (and WWII Croatia) served to the world by Yugoslav communists and their friends.

From the back cover of the book we find that “the documents, photographs and reprints presented in this book show the real Jasenovac as opposed to the ideologised and exaggerated depiction of the camp as it prevailed in the period of communist socialist Yugoslavia. Such a distorted view has survived in some circles to this day in the independent Republic of Croatia. The author of the book is Tomislav Vukovic, a long-time journalist and the editor of the Zagreb Voice of the Council and a contributor to a number of other Croatian public media did what every historian dealing with this topic should do: he went to the Croatian State Archives and looked for documents about Jasenovac that were discussed in public. He found them, read them and photographed. On this basis, a newspaper feature in Glas Koncila was created, which was also the basis for this book. In addition to the documents, there are also a number of reviews and polemics with the advocates of the falsified and mythologised depiction of the camp in Jasenovac. The book is therefore a valuable contribution to the discussion of history the camp and the effort to present it in a realistic form…”

The book ‘Real Jasenovac’, authored by Tomislav Vukovic, is a continuation of Igor Vukic’s contribution to the elucidation of the ‘Jasenovac myth’. What particularly impresses is that the book was printed with financial assistance not from the Government or government agency but from the Canadian-based Croatian expat benefactor Dr. Ivan Hrvoic.

The book is full of valuable documents, photographs and sources of literature that can be checked and independently verified. The author of the book is well acquainted with the subject he is writing about, so the book is worth reading.

“WWII Independent State of Croatia/NDH and Jasenovac mythology”, which the world has been faced with for decades since WWII, are based on the fictional and malicious stories of how Croatia’s Cardinal Alojzije Stepinac personally slaughtered Serbian children in Jasenovac. Or that every fourth victim of ‘Jasenovac’ was a child, or that the Ustashas competed with each other who would kill more internees during the day, and many other ‘hunting stories’ designed and concocted to hide communist crimes.

Reading Vukovic’s book (based on documents) one learns that the Ustashas were not as the ‘anti-fascist’ (communist) literature describes them, and that the camps in ‘Jasenovac’ were treated better than in camps on other continents. Packages regularly arrived at the camp, work was done, crafts were studied, cultural events and sports competitions were held, etc.

Certainly, life in the camp was not a personal choice, and everyone who survived the camp or lost someone in it is rightfully outraged. But due to historical untruths, outright lies and fabrications, it is essential to rise above the personal level and look at the picture in a wider context.

In line of this Dr Ivica Tijardovic, Croatian scientist and publicist, put forth into the public domain recently that there are several questions that need to be answered when writing about or discussing the WWII Jasenovac camp.

First question: How many lives did “Jasenovac” save? In other words, those survivors would not have been so lucky in any other place.

Second question: How many criminals and how many political prisoners were imprisoned in the camp? It is known that many lawbreakers were taken to ‘Jasenovac’ to serve out their prison sentences.

Third question: How many inmates were released after serving their sentence or after being pardoned? The figures in this context from Vukovic’s book are astonishing.

Fourth question: How many inmates went to work in Germany or in real concentration camps somewhere in the north of Europe? It is also an interesting question worth investigating.

Fifth question: How many camp inmates were killed by the Ustasha, and how many by the partisans, i.e., ‘anti-fascists’ (Yugoslav communists)? Given that the Jasenovac camp, as we know it, remained operational after the arrival of the partisans in 1945; more research on this topic is more than welcome. Namely, in the territory of the former Yugoslavia, there were about eighty concentration camps with about 200 thousand internees a few years after the end of the Second World War.

Sixth question: Why was Croatian WWII history falsified, and there is still an unsuccessful attempt to hide the truth with which a growing number of people from Croatia and the world are becoming more and more familiar?

The only unequivocal answer to that question is the following. Given that the crimes against Croats after the end of the Second World War were so monstrous, with the ‘myth of Jasenovac’, thanks to the communist dictatorship, terrible atrocity in the long history of Croats was successfully hidden. The truth will out with all thanks to the several historians who pursue research, often at personal peril and cost, with view to present the truth of WWII Croatia history to the world and the financial and moral support they receive from the Croatian diaspora. Ina Vukic

Another Antisemitism Splotch By Ivo Goldstein Against Croats

If it wasn’t for Croatian historian Ivo Goldstein’s past and perpetual fabrications and malicious lies against the World War Two Independent State of Croatia, such as alleged “bone-crushing machines” to hide the number of killed at Jasenovac camp or that Ante Pavelic’s Ustashe regime towards Serbs (whose enormous toll in exterminating Serbia’s 94% of Jews by mid-May 1942 is perpetually hidden by Goldstein himself) had a policy, even though Goldstein admits and states that such a policy had never been published or printed (!), that translated into “one third of Serbs to be killed, one third to be expelled and one third to be forcibly converted to Catholicism”, for Goldstein’s malicious and tragically categorising of Antisemitism into perpetrating ethnic groups rather than political or religious pursuits directed from authorities above, his new 640-page book on antisemitism in Croatia over the centuries may be taken as a crucial piece of encyclopaedic work. He fails miserably and I would say purposefully to note that while Croatian people had lived on the territory, he writes about for centuries they were, in reality, ruled and dictated to by foreign powers not their own until some thirty years ago.  Then again, it may be encyclopaedic only if one is to look at the hatred against Croats, undeserved imputations against Croats of others’ deeds, that emanate from the pages of Ivo Goldstein’s new book.  All in all, Ivo Goldstein’s as his late father Slavko historical work has always evidently existed to justify and protect Yugoslav communists and their crimes and to rub smears after smears at the fight for independence Croats had engaged in after decades and centuries of oppression.

When in 1918, resulting from World War One, the “Western Allies” tossed Croatia from the Habsburg Monarchy to the rule of cruel Serbian Monarch, creating forcefully the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes, this is what Croats picked up as a matter of force as far as antisemitism is concerned but Ivo Goldstein would make you believe it was the Croats that held these views against Jews because they were transferred upon Croatian soil by the ruling Serbian Monarchy regime: “The story of the Jews of today in the Balkan States is chiefly concerned with Rumania, for their numbers in Bulgaria (76,000) and in Serbia (15,780) are but few, and their influence small amid the general population. To grasp at all the intricacies of the Jewish question, and the extent of the prejudice against them, it is needful briefly to review the condition, economic, political, and social … the real control lies in the hands of one class. These are the nobles… King Petar seems outwardly friendly to the Jews, and they enjoy some equality of civil and religious liberty. Yet this freedom does not, in Serbia, extend itself to social intercourse. As yet, the Jews have no share in public life or government. A few are successful in law and medicine…”, “The Conquering Jew”, John Foster Fraser, 1915, pp 232-234.

Immediately after World War Two communist Yugoslavia authorities placed in all key educational, cultural, economic, and political positions its own people including uneducated or barely educated individuals who fought in the war as partisans under the pretence of being antifascists but in fact were murderous communists or covering up those murders.  And so, the stage was set for fake academics, for fake school directors, for fake university professors…the stage was set that gave licence and free hand to writing Croatia’s history regarding its independence fight under the Ustashe regime as it pleased the political goals of mega murderer Josip Broz Tito. Of course, this political appointment trend to key positions in Yugoslav society saw the rise of communist Slavko Goldstein and his son Ivo as some credible historians and, to eternal grief of Croats, they made up wild lies and inserted gruesome fabrications in order to paint the Croatian patriots who fought from freedom from Yugoslavia the darkest of the dark. Ivo Goldstein is still at it, seemingly changing his tactics from publishing wild lies or fabrications to stealthily imputing hateful thins against patriotic Croats! All that was possible during the totalitarian regime of communist Yugoslavia and it left awful stains on innocent Croatian people.

Last couple of weeks have seen in Croatia several launches of the latest book by historian Ivo Goldstein ‘Antisemitism in Croatia – from the Middle Ages to the Present’ published by Fraktura from Zapresic.

“Antisemitism has historically become a paradigm of hatred of the other and the different and paradigms – the ‘ancestor’ of all nationalisms and chauvinisms. But in terms of consequences, it is the most terrible of all because it culminated in the most terrible crime of all time – the Holocaust,” recently said the book’s editor Vuk Perisic. He added that the book describes the process of creating hatred in Croatia, with an extremely rich presentation of archival material, newspaper articles and political speeches. Well, if the severity of a crime is defined by the number of victims and brutality and depravity in the manner of murders then surely communist crimes take the top position! But no use of telling that to either Goldstein or Perisic as both are in the business of denying justice to victims of communist crimes. Weren’t all revolutions in human history, weren’t all wars in history of mankind the result of insufferable oppression, pressure, dictatorships etc!?   

Thankfully, political scientist from the Faculty of Political Science in Zagreb, Dr Mirjana Kasapovic, in her review of the Ivo Goldstein new book, emphasised that it is “embarrassing to read only bad books”, and she put Goldstein’s work in that category.

“Antisemitism in Croatia from the Middle Ages to the Present” by Ivo Goldstein, as Kasapovic states in her review, is a thematically, theoretically and methodologically demanding work.

It should be noted that in the scientific literature, antisemitism is studied “as a political ideology, political and social movement and state policy, either within one state or comparatively in several states.” However, as Kasapovic herself observes, Goldstein writes about only one country in his work. This of course is yet another example of his anti-Croatian and pro-Serbian bias when it comes to World War Two and the Jewish question in both; Serbia not Croatia was the one who declared itself “Jew Free”, having exterminated about 94% of its Jews by mid-1942 and Croatia had never pursued such a goal. 

“I write deliberately about the country, not the state, because most of Croatia’s history since the Middle Ages was not an independent state, but Croatian lands were included in various state formations – the Habsburg Monarchy, the Venetian Republic, the Ottoman Empire, the Dubrovnik Republic, France, Italy, Hungary, Yugoslavia – in which there were more or less recognisable geographical, ethnic, cultural and political entities. One can speak of the state only from 1941 to 1945 (NDH) and after 1991 (Republic of Croatia).

Goldstein solved this problem by tacitly ‘writing’ the modern Republic of Croatia into history and treated Croatian countries that were part of various state formations in the Middle Ages and the New Age, and today are part of the Republic of Croatia, as areas of Croatia,” explains Kasapovic.

This means that, for example, “antisemitism in Austro-Hungarian towns and cities of Varazdin, Sisak and Zagreb was treated as antisemitism in Croatia. Such an approach is pragmatic, but not unproblematic. As antisemitism was and remains state policy, the question is to whom state-produced or sponsored antisemitism in the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy should be attributed.

Isn’t that Austrian and Hungarian, not Croatian antisemitism? The opposite is also true: aren’t non-discriminatory state legal acts against Jews, such as the Edict of Tolerance of Emperor Joseph II, Austrian, not Croatian documents? The problem is even more complicated if we keep in mind that state and non-state antisemitism were intertwined: non-state antisemitism was often caused or encouraged by the state, but the state government often banned and suppressed antisemitic incidents in society and punished their perpetrators.

Therefore, Kasapovic believes that “Goldstein did not consistently adhere to this methodological approach, so he included antisemitism in Croatia as phenomena in areas that in the indicated part of history were not, and are not today, parts of Croatia.”

With some caricature, it could be said that only the 17th century Croatian noble families Zrinski and Frankopani are missing in the gallery of characters Ivo Goldstein puts out in his book, especially since it is suggested in one place that the Hungarian-Croatian King Andrew II, who ruled in the 13th century, was an anti-Semite.

Worst of all, to Ivo Goldstein, they all appear to be the forerunners of the Holocaust. For many great European thinkers and artists – from St. Augustine to Luther, from Kant to Voltaire, from Balzac to T. S. Eliot – binds some form of antisemitism, but it is difficult if not evil to claim that they prepared the Holocaust. When it comes to unfairly portraying Croats rather than their rulers over the centuries as antisemitic Ivo Goldstein does not appear truthful or fair or ethical for that matter. Ivo Goldstein’s bias against the Croatian people who fought against any form of Yugoslavia during World War Two and those who fought against communist Yugoslavia in 1990’s is an enormous burden for history to cleanse in the service of justice and truth. To talk of antisemitism as the only precursor to the concept of Holocaust as defined in its Greek origins “sacrifice by fire” would also appear for many as blasphemous. What of the much larger “sacrifice by fire” entailed in communist purges and mass murders whose body counts are much, much, higher than those of the World War Two Holocaust. Ivo Goldstein should abstain from writing about either if for nothing else then because of the portrait of communist Yugoslavia mega murderer Josip Broz Tito whose portrait still to this day reportedly hangs in prominent places in Goldstein’s home and visibly in the public offices he had until recently occupied. Ina Vukic

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