Exclusive Interview With General Ante Gotovina

Ante Gotovina - November 2012    Photo: Filip Brala/Pixsell

General Ante Gotovina – November 2012 Photo: Filip Brala/Pixsell

An intimate confession by General Ante Gotovina given in his family home in Pakostane after his acquittal in The Hague

Authors: Jadranka Juresko-Kero, Davor Ivankovic, Goran Ogurlic

Published in Croatia’s Vecernji List 26th and 27th November 2012. (http://www.vecernji.hr)

(Translated into English by Ina Vukic)

“I believe that our destinies are written in God’s book, and so too the fact that as a young man I went into the world and became a soldier. I believe that it’s also written in there that I return as an experienced soldier and help the homeland that was under attack in the war it did not want”.

Translated and re-published on this blog with permission from Croatia’s leading daily newspaper Vecernji List

The complete interview with General Ante Gotovina can be read here

General Ante Gotovina’s wife Dunja still a victim of cruel European Union and Croatian politics

Dunja and Ante Gotovina (Photo:Pixsell/24 sata)

An article by Croatian journalist Davor Ivankovic, “SDP will reinstate Dunja Gotovina to her job” was published in Vecernji List and translated into English.

Suffice to say, I was deeply shaken by this article.

While aware that stigma as a social phenomenon can grow its own legs in society at large and often results in stigmatisation of entire families, status loss and discrimination, one expects authorities in a democratic world to reject stigma and act in protection of families against harm that is associated with stigma.

In October 2004 Dunja Gotovina, the wife of General Ante Gotovina who was still a fugitive from ICTY (the Hague) from charges of war crimes, was labelled as “the wife of public enemy No.1”. The HDZ government of Ivo Sanader (Sanader is currently in Croatian courts charged with various counts of corruption) at the time went on a rampage against General Ante Gotovina and his “accomplices”.

Dunja Gotovina, the first female colonel of the Croatian army (had worked in the office at the headquarters in Zagreb of Croatian Ministry of Defense/MOD), 41 years old at the time, was “retired” from her duties under the excuse that “they found her to have no further career prospects based on the number of years of holding her rank, or rather that she hadn’t been promoted to a higher rank, and that she was being sent to retirement given her age and after reviewing the overall personnel potential”.

The newspaper article further says that “The Croatian MOD added: ‘She has the right to sue us if she feels aggrieved in some way. However, if she had further career prospects, she wouldn’t have been served with a notice saying otherwise.’

Naturally, Dunja Gotovina immediately asked that her rights be protected, particularly because the Retirement Institute made it clear to her that she had no legal rights to a pension. She had no help from the political structures either, and to top it off, Andrija Hebrang said to her: ‘your employment in the Ministry of Defense is an obstacle to Croatia’s accession to the EU!?’” Andrija Hebrang was Minister for Health and Social Welfare at the time.

Dunja sued for wrongful termination, 7 years ago (!), and as far as any consideration to job reinstatement or compensation are concerned, the case is still “collecting dust” in the queues of  court orders enforcements. I.e., reportedly the Croatian Administrative Court ruled in Dunja’s favour in 2006 but she still hasn’t been returned to her job. There’s also the outstanding matter of compensating Dunja’s losses.

Around that time the ICTY Prosecutor Carla Del Ponte still insisted that General Gotovina was in hiding somewhere in Croatia despite being told otherwise. But she believed no one and Prime Minister Ivo Sanader, having in mind the upcoming report to the Security Council, search for Gotovina becoming an obstacle in the progression of Croatia’s negotiations for EU membership, obeyed all her demands.

The EU authorities didn’t ask Carla Del Ponte to back-off from her cruel and unfounded allegations, either! Croatian negotiations for EU accession took a severe blow, Croatia was cruelly accused by EU of failing to arrest Gotovina as Carla Del Ponte argued Croatia was hiding him.

And now the new Defense Minister Ante Kotromanovic (Social Democrats, centre-left) says that “Dunja has been a victim of politics. I am going to enforce the court’s decisions upon the conclusion of the proceedings which have been needlessly going on for seven years now”.

It is suggested that because Ante Kotromanovic was a friend to General Ante Gotovina he has now found himself in an “unpleasant – pleasant situation”.

This strikes me as muddying the waters.

What has friendship got to do with jurisprudence!

I sincerely hope that the new Minister Kotromanovic will not bring his personal friendships into his duties as minister.

A court decision is a court decision (2006 re reinstating Dunja to her job) and it must be translated into action, regardless of personal friendships or the outstanding separate issue of compensation.

Why on earth is minister Kotromanovic talking about the two matters (wrongful termination and compensation) as if executing the court orders for one dependes on the outcome of the other?

Court order for reinstatement to job was made in 2006. It would only be a natural outcome of such order that compensation for losses follow and the court then delivers a separate order as to compensation – whether negotiated or arrived at through court hearing.

To my view, and to view of any law abiding citizen Dunja Gotovina should have been reinstated to her job the minute Kotromanovic discovered the horrible injustice. If nothing else, his discretionary powers as minister would surely allow him to act immediately upon outstanding executions of court orders pertaining to his new portfolio.

It is not enough from a new minister anywhere to gobble on about the mistakes and underhanded political actions of his/her political predecessor, he/she must act to right the wrongs.

He should execute the job reinstatement court order, reinstate Dunja Gotovina to her job and deal with the compensation as a separate matter.

I truly hope minister Kotromanovic can see the difference between the two matters. Otherwise, to my opinion, he is no better than his predecessor. Ina Vukic, Prof. (Zgb), B.A.,M.A.Ps. (Syd)

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