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

Communist Yugoslavia Secret Services Archives Needed To Fight Against Organised Crime

The report on cooperation in the fight against organised crime in the Western Balkans was adopted by the Foreign Affairs Committee on Tuesday 26 October 2021 by 60 votes in favour, 4 against and 6 abstentions.  In the report Members of the European Parliament urged governments in the region to significantly increase their efforts to go forward with reforms in the rule of law and the fight against corruption and organised crime. The report says that the Western Balkan countries (Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, North Macedonia, Montenegro, Kosovo, and Serbia) are countries of origin, destination, and transit for human trafficking, and they serve as a transit corridor for migrants and refugees and as a location for money laundering and firearms trafficking.

There is a lack of genuine political will in fighting the organised crime in these countries and MEPs want Western Balkan countries to address fully the shortcomings of their respective criminal-justice systems, including the length of legal proceedings. While not located within the Western Balkans for the matters addressed in this report, Croatia as a country that used to be a part of communist Yugoslavia until 1991 still has a great deal to answer for and fight against when it comes to organised crime and corruption.

The report said that Members of the European Parliament insisted that “fighting organised crime and advancing towards European Union integration are mutually reinforcing processes and call for an accelerated integration process.” The EU should, according to its Members of Parliament, support these efforts through financial assistance and practical cooperation. Call me a pessimist and a cynic in this if you like, but judging from the fact that organised crime and corruption are rooted in these societies of former communist regimes or similar political and social realities, the EU money dished out to root out corruption will be largely swallowed up by the same corruption, to feed itself, unless political power landscapes are changed in those countries or the EU actually controls every euro given and does not give money away.

As a member state of former Yugoslavia Croatia has also inherited widespread corruption as organised crimes from it. As such, Croatia could play a significant role in its input into fighting organised crime in those countries of Western Balkans that have their eye on being members of an extended EU member country because it possesses “inside knowledge” of organised crime. But given the alarming level of organised corruption still plaguing Croatia one must doubt as to whether much will change in Western Balkans on account of Croatia’s input. To be effective in this Croatia would need to shed most of its public administration heads and replaced them with those who have no links whatsoever with the corrupt echelons. Or, assisting the EU in this role from Croatia should be persons who would not qualify for lustration if lustration was to occur as well as not be a descendant, child, or grandchild of those who would qualify to be lustrated whether now living or not. It sounds like a big ask but, in essence, it is not because Croatia has quite a number of those who would qualify and who had during the life of former Yugoslavia either lived there or lived abroad as part of the diaspora.

Croatia’s criminal-justice system is certainly there where Western Balkans’ is and it needs a complete overhaul, however, we are not likely to see this occur while those aligned with the former communist Yugoslavia mental set control all aspects of public administration including judiciary.

The Report says that the main factors that make Western Balkans societies vulnerable, are the lack of employment opportunities, corruption, disinformation, elements of state capture, inequality, and foreign interference from non-democratic regimes such as Russia and China. Croatia, even after 30 years of seceding from Yugoslavia still has these problems plaguing its progress and everyday life.

Links between organised crime, politics and businesses existed before the break-up of Yugoslavia and have continued since the end of the conflicts of the 1990s, and Members of the European Parliament “condemn the apparent lack of will of the responsible authorities in the region to open the former Yugoslav archives and for files to be returned to governments if they want them.”

The report welcomes the conclusion of cooperation agreements between Eurojust and the governments of Albania, North Macedonia, Montenegro, and Serbia, as well as the authorisation to open negotiations with Bosnia and Herzegovina. MEPs urge the Council to authorise as soon as possible the opening of negotiations for a similar agreement with Kosovo.

It is of great interest to monitor how the recommendation from the Report that says that “Responsible authorities should open the former Yugoslav archives” will fare. Knowing the utterly corrupt persons that held the corrupt and criminal Yugoslavia together, influence of whom poisons many a responsible authority in former Yugoslavia countries, including Croatia, the opening of all archives is likely to be stalled for generations to come. Unless of course there comes a time when the political landscape changes and new generations, unpolluted by communist Yugoslavia nostalgia, come to be the authority that makes such decisions.

Suffice to say that there are multitudes of politicians in power or those holding authority in Croatia for whom the opening of Yugoslav archives would reveal alignment with UDBA (communist secret services in former Yugoslavia) communist purges operations and grand thefts for personal gain; an abominable, criminal past that included persecution and assassinations of anti-communist Croats and stealing public wealth for personal gains. Further problem for the opening of Yugoslav archives rests in the fact that when former Yugoslavia crumbled apart Serbia retained much of the archival material pertaining to the country’s federal depository held in its capital city Belgrade. Serbia did not do the decent thing and returned to all the former states of Yugoslavia their rightful archives – Serbia kept them all and it is not a member state of the European Union. Those archives would undoubtedly also reveal, among many other facts, the nasty historical fabrications Serbia has engaged in against its neighbouring countries, particularly Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina.     

Communist Yugoslavia Secret Service files (UDBa) hide everything that the lustrated or those prosecuted for endangering human freedoms, political and civil rights, destroying families would be accused or members of the service lustrated or those prosecuted for endangering human freedoms, political and civil rights, destroying families and various blackmails and interfering in political and economic life and installing in political parties would be charged with. But Croatia’s criminal justice serves largely those it needs to protect from such lustration or prosecution. Secret service files hide everything unknown that would shed light on various historical and political deceptions, montages and that it would produce grounds for a different understanding of the 20th century history that is based on facts rather than communist or Serb fabrications.

Plights by several Croatian politicians in the opposition to the HDZ or SDP governments since year 2000 for the opening of accessibility to all Yugoslav archives, wherever on the territory of former Yugoslavia they may be held, have been numerous. Lobbying for the opening of the archives has been quite rich. But all to no avail! Will EU succeed where others have failed!?  The answer to the question “what is in those secret services files” appears with more urgency as Yugoslav secret services files continue to remain a “taboo topic” despite the landscape where, on surface, all the government officials and leaders swear to their personal commitment towards the truth! EU has been asking for access to those archives for over a decade and this Report regarding fighting organised crime on Western Balkans is just another notch in the string of asking.

The Report’s other significant recommendation is that political and administrative links to organised crime must be eradicated. This all sounds very great, just like the European Parliament’s declaration condemning all Totalitarian Regimes from the past some 12 years ago (2009). But the European Union authorities still to this day fail to punish or impose consequences upon Croatia for encouraging symbols of communist Yugoslavia totalitarian and murderous regime to thrive on the streets of Croatia that lost rivers of blood in the 1990’s while trying to secede from communist Yugoslavia. All this tells me that the European Parliament and the EU authorities have no real political will to contribute effectively to the achievement of recommendations from the Report on cooperation in the fight against organised crime in Western Balkans. I, for one, would love to see Yugoslav secret services archives open for all to access and study and show the truth but somehow, I fret that in my lifetime I will not see that without a miracle of political change. There appear to be too many individuals with power at some level within the countries’ machinery involved with organised crime in both Croatia and in the Western Balkans and only a miracle can rid the people of that scourge. The miracle, of course, can be shaped at the next general elections. Ina Vukic

Deep State In Croatia

Whether one believes or not in the concept of “deep state” (in Croatia’s case it would be more like a “deep-UDBA-state” [UDBA referring to the state secret police of former communist Yugoslavia]) is in the face of evident consequences of actions – irrelevant. Although one comes across the equating of deep state concept with conspiracy theories it is difficult to circumvent the fact that applied political developments in Croatia in the aftermath of the Homeland War and secession from communist Yugoslavia have provided evidential platforms where the concept of deep state is no longer in the realm of conspiracy theories but in the realm of objective conviction from facts encountered. That conviction associates itself to a conclusion that there is an unseen bureaucracy that really holds the reins of power in Croatia; a state within a state, “imperium in imperio”, or a label for all individuals and organisations whose power is not institutionalised in existing organs of state, but it is so strong that it has control over the most important decisions in the country. It could probably be described as the coupling of the most influential representatives of the political establishment, military-industrial complex, intelligence services, civil society and mainstream media.

Deep state apparatus is in the coupling of those who see national sovereignty of the state as their greatest enemy. They are bound by common anti-sovereign-state tendencies, common ideology of globalism, liberal capitalism, open borders and multiculturalism and a common goal, which is influencing the making of strategic state decisions in order to protect their acquired position of monopoly and personal interests. To the observant eye this deep state in Croatia consists of a group of communism-aligned critics, state bureaucrats and intelligence figures, as well as the media. It’s like an all-pervasive shadow government dominating the political life of the country that invests no efforts except sabotage to decommunise Croatia into a fully functional democratic state.

Resistance and sabotage to decommunising Croatia (which was the natural and intended path to follow after the Homeland War ended) into a functional democratic state free from former communist Yugoslavia mindset and rigid totalitarian public administration, where power lies in the public official rather than the consumer, are evidenced in the country’s crucial “establishments” such as the judiciary, education, economy, foreign affairs, land titles, media, electoral access, the diaspora … Suffice to say, none of these “establishments” can to date boast of a complete overhaul outcome that would lend itself to a national system that puts independent Croatia first, above all else.

Multitudes of democracy-building aspects of national importance have in the aftermath of the Croatian Homeland War been either derailed, sabotaged, muted, ignored, ridiculed … all in the evident pursuit of sabotaging that for which the Homeland War was fought: a functional democratic Croatian state, free of communist Yugoslavia in mind and deed.

Actions of a deep state are based on the strategy of causing chaos – a constant public and secret discrediting of governments and politicians whose activities are prominent in attempts to achieve even a semblance of justice towards victims of communist crimes, towards victims of Serb aggression against Croatia in the early 1990’s, towards achieving lustration, towards decent economic sustainability and, in particular, engagement of the well-endowed diaspora…

Various publications worldwide sought to define the term “deep state,” generally agreeing that it originated in Turkey, where secretive conspiracies hatched in the corridors of power and removed from the democratic process shadow the nation’s politics.

It’s not hard to see why so many Croatians believe in the existence of an all-powerful deep state. As far as Croatia is concerned, the country has had a series of “affairs” that can be linked to the activities of a deep state, which is characterised by the mindset and protocols found in former Yugoslavia. In the first place, this refers to para-intelligence underground activities in Croatia (identified as UDBA activities even though UDBA itself had ceased to officially exist with the breakup of former Yugoslavia) reflected in countless publicly expressed experiences and implications connected to illegal surveillance of people and their movements, to eavesdropping on phone calls and conversations. The targets for destruction and oblivion appear to include patriotism and Croatian national conscience underlined by the common good and well being, which, if permitted to thrive, would lead to that prosperity for all Croatian people Homeland War was fought for.

The rather recent affairs and processes of that chaos calibre, of national significance, that come to mind are:

  • • the deliberate undermining of people’s expressed will for referendums on Electoral Law changes and on repealing of Istanbul Convention related laws recently passed
  • • all events happening around the country’s largest company – Agrokor – including the finance minister Martina Dalic’s resignation, i.e. the so-called Borg affair
  • • the infuriating resistance to solve the problems of jobs-for-bread-without-productivity (particularly related to thriving nepotism that was embedded in the operations of former communist state) (known as “uhljebništvo” in Croatian vernacular) and clientelism (a system based on the relation of client to patron with the client giving political or financial support to a patron [e.g., in the form of votes] in exchange for some special privilege or benefit) – the Agrokor and INA affairs are particular evidence of clientelism
  • • the case of purchasing Israeli fighter planes F-16 where the public was fed with an array of so-called experts who influenced the formulation of public belief that the government was wasting enormous funds, it can’t afford, on purchasing old planes;
  • • the Munich trials for murder (communist/UDBA assassination of patriotic Croats) of former Yugoslavia UDBA/KOS operatives (Perkovic/Mustac) – even though the trial findings led to life sentences, in order to deactivate its possible influence on pursuing a solid reckoning with communist crimes the matters associated with their guilt are kept suppressed from the public
  • • persons occupying judges’ seats in the Constitutional Court are in an overwhelming ratio persons actively and ideologically associated with the former communist regime
  • • Croatian diplomatic echelons are saturated with former communists or communism-aligned persons whose political agenda evidently includes participation and/or driving the suffocation of Croatia as an independent Central European state to favour the pushing of Croatia into the so-called Yugosphere, a Balkanised region that would see former Yugoslav states returning to a kind of an alliance that is utterly unnatural to the modern and independent Croatia
  • • the political football currently played in order to reduce the possible effectiveness of the announced protest in Vukovar to be held on 13 October against ineffective, inadequate prosecution of Serb war crimes committed in Vukovar area during the war
  • • the mainstream media has become the main battleground for the conquest of political power in Croatia – on the whole the Croatian mainstream media is pro-liberal and leftist, pro-communist Yugo-nostalgic, and there is no conservatively oriented mainstream media, which would offer to the public the opportunity for a healthy and essential balance of views/events otherwise freely available to the public of functioning democracies
  • • the Homeland War veterans status and the absolutely superior significance of the Homeland War to the achievement of independence for the country is barely pinned to the country’s Constitution and widely ignored in everyday life of Croatia as a sovereign state
  • • the political influence of Serb minority in decision-making in Croatia is staggering even though great many from its echelons were the drivers and, in one way or another, executors of the bloody and brutal aggression against Croatia in the early 1990’s

All of these and countless other affairs and happenings in Croatia demonstrate the devastating influence of deep state on democracy or its full development and application. The tension between loyalty (to what communist Yugoslavia was) and expertise has never subsided in Croatia despite the fact that rivers of Croatian blood were spilled in order to secede from the communist regime and utilise expertise to achieve full democracy – this problem has much to do with the cultural space inherited from communist Yugoslavia.

The surge in the usage of the term deep-UDBA-state is understandable. The deep state appears to be an appropriate way to describe the complex networks tying together the various state apparatuses. In particular, it can easily be invoked to explain the seemingly invisible, drawn out, and arcane processes by which public policy is actually negotiated and made. Beneath the politics of convenience is the reality that a large segment of the Croatian governments really have and still operate without much, if any, transparency or public scrutiny, and have abused their powers in myriad ways that leave an ordinary, taxpaying citizen, still a servant to the “power” behind the “counter”.

The conservative movement has, in vain, it seems, spent decades calling for complete overhaul and democratisation of public administration – for the axing of “careerists” and counterproductive to democracy public servants; they have called for a complete overhaul of the judiciary; they have called for lustration and for condemnation of communist crimes…

Today, looking in, Croatia is led by deep state and steered in the direction away from Croatia’s founding goals; the political and governance chaos spills into confusion and incessant protests from various groups amidst the masses. Yet, the deep state does not appear as fighting for its life even though the battleground appears ripe. With the stalwarts of former communist regime and Yugoslavia wielding prominence of power in mainstream media and backstage deals the future of the Croatia that the majority of people wanted when they voted to secede from Yugoslavia hangs in the balance. But the battle is neither fully nor partially engaged despite the battleground’s ripeness.

What would it take to fully engage in battle against this deep state? An extraordinary and focused force of unity between the patriotic homeland and diaspora forces such as Croatia saw in the early 1990’s? No doubt about that! Ina Vukic

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