Croatia: War Crimes Trial Against Serb Dragan Vasiljkovic Finally Commences

DRagan Vasiljkovic at court Split, Croatia 20 September 2016 Photo:Hamze Media

Dragan Vasiljkovic at court
Split, Croatia
20 September 2016
Photo:Hanze Media

 

Serb former paramilitary commander Dragan Vasiljkovic (aka Captain Dragan, Daniel Snedden) went on trial in Croatia on Tuesday 20 September 2016 accused of torturing and killing soldiers and civilians during the 1991-95 war of Serb aggression against Croatia. Prosecution alleges that Vasiljkovic, 61, violated the Geneva Conventions while in charge of a Serb paramilitary unit known as the Red Berets by torturing and murdering civilians, prisoner Croatian soldiers and police in the rebel Serb stronghold of Knin in summer 1991 and Bruska near the town of Benkovac in 1993. The charges carry a maximum 20-year prison sentence in Croatia.

 

The 61-year-old was indicted in January 2016 for the detention and torture of Croatian civilians and police in the ethnic Serb rebel stronghold of Knin (the so-called self-proclaimed Serbian Republic of Krajina) at the start of Croatia’s 1990s independence war. As commander of a Serb paramilitary unit, he did “nothing to prevent and punish such crimes” that occurred in 1991, and personally took part in them, according to the prosecutors.

 

Prosecutors claim he orchestrated a deadly attack in 1991 on the central town of Glina and the surrounding region in which a civilian and a German reporter were killed while the local Croat and other non-Serb population were forced to flee their homes.

 

The trial in the city of Split will be held under heavy security measures and so far the prosecution has put forward 55 of its witnesses and defence is still to put forward its list of witnesses. Hence, its likely that the trial will last quite a while.

Dragan Vasiljkovic at war crimes trial Split, Croatia 20 SEptember 2016 Photo: Hamze Media

Dragan Vasiljkovic
at war crimes trial
Split, Croatia
20 SEptember 2016
Photo: Hanze Media

Vasiljkovic was extradited last year (2015) after Croatian authorities sought an arrest warrant for the fugitive. Extradition process from Australia took ten years, much of which period Vasiljkovic spent in custody awaiting outcomes from and exhaustion of all his rights under the Australian laws. Vasiljkovic has dual Serbian and Australian citizenship, told the court in the Adriatic city of Split that he “feels absolutely no guilt”. He is also accused of drawing up plans to attack police stations.

 

It’s believed to be the first time an Australian citizen has faced court for war crimes and this had ignited a bitter debate about whether he is a national hero (in Serbia) or depraved criminal. Vasiljkovic was born in Belgrade, Serbia and moved to Melbourne aged 14 with his family and was granted Australian citizenship in 1975 according to court documents. He returned to Serbia during the breakup of the former Yugoslavia. When Croatia declared independence in 1991 Vasiljkovic trained Serbs to lead operations against the Croats. A Bosnian woman, Jamila Subasic, has accused him of rape and claims he abused her in front of other men. He denies being present at the hotel where it is alleged to have taken place.

Velibor Bracic Photo: NIKSA STIPANICEV / CROPIX

Velibor Bracic
Photo: NIKSA STIPANICEV / CROPIX

A former Croatian prisoner of war, Velibor Bracic, 41, travelled 2009 from Croatia to testify in the NSW Supreme Court in a defamation case brought by Dragan Vasiljkovic against Nationwide News, publisher of The Australian newspaper, had told the court that an Australian citizen accused by Croatia of war crimes (Dragan Vasiljkovic) kicked him in the head in a fortress prison in the early 1990s. recalled how Vasiljkovic personally beat him while showing his subordinates how to do it properly.”He said: ‘If you beat him then you should do it like this’ and then he kicked me in face,” Bracic told Nova TV upon the suspect’s extradition. He described his detention as “24 hours of mistreatment each day… beatings with rifle butts, hands.”
On one occasion, the guards allegedly brought in a baby bear and the inmates were forced to kiss the bear’s backside.
Other times, guns were put in their mouths, while a guard, with his hand on the trigger, would ask: “Do you want us to kill you?” Mr Bracic said. The inmates were also taken outside for mock executions.
The inmates were later transferred to the abandoned Knin hospital. In addition to beatings, the prisoners were allegedly given electric shocks and sexually assaulted.

Anne McElvoy Photo: Twitter

Anne McElvoy
Photo: Twitter

British newspaper executive Anne McElvoy, who was a war correspondent for The Times in 1991, told the Sydney court in 2009 via videolink she had asked a Serb paramilitary commander in Knin, who had said he was Captain Dragan, about his views on targeting civilian buildings.
“He said: ‘Nobody needs to be armed since I got here. I’m not here to kill people, just neutralise the enemy. When the Croatian side uses hospitals or police stations in their villages as fortified positions, I’m sorry, I just have to massacre them.’ ”

 

Slobodna Dalmacija news portal from Split reports that entering the court in the city of Split in Croatia 20th September 2016 Vasiljkovic said that he was defending Yugoslavia, that he had the feeling it was pulling away from him and that he is not an aggressor. In that context he mentioned that he feels the Adriatic Sea is his.
Well, nothing new there – Serbia and Serbs who attacked Croatia all thought the same and many still do. Hence, Croatia needs vigilance for its own safety for the Serb hunger for Croatian lands is quite vicious.

 

 

There is still no limit as to how far Vasiljkovic will go to insult Croatians. At the entry to the court in Split on Tuesday he reportedly also said that many Australian Croats keep the picture of General Ante Gotovina (Croatian General who led the military operation Storm in August 1995 that liberated Knin and occupied Croatian territory of Krajina from Serb occupation) but that they also keep his picture.

 

Dragan Vasiljkovic war crimes trial Split, Croatia 20 September 2016 Photo: Hamze Media

Dragan Vasiljkovic
war crimes trial
Split, Croatia
20 September 2016
Photo: Hanze Media

Mid-September 2016 Vasiljkovic had sent a complaint to the UN claiming he was illegally detained in Australia for years and unlawfully extradited to Croatia. In his statement to the UN he alleged that he had suffered from the “violation of the right to liberty and security of a person, as well as the excessive length of the investigative detention”. He urges the UN Human Rights Committee to tell Croatia that he should be freed from custody and allowed to mount his defence while on bail. His lawyers are now awaiting a positive result from the UN, i.e. that Vasiljkovic will receive bail and be able to defend himself from outside prison. The problem with that is that he is a huge flight risk and I certainly hope that the UN Human Rights Committee will think of human rights his alleged victims had and that is a right to justice. If he gets bail he is likely to flee into Serbia or somewhere like that, which could take another ten years to get him back to trial in Croatia. As I see it, Vasiljkovic has had his ten years of evading justice and it’s now the victims’ turn to get justice. Ina Vukic, Prof. (Zgb); B.A., M.A.Ps. (Syd)

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https://inavukic.com/2012/10/06/red-poppies-of-croatian-independence/
https://inavukic.com/2015/07/15/croatia-demands-for-serbias-accountability-for-crimes-in-concentration-camps/
https://inavukic.com/2014/12/17/indicted-serb-war-criminal-dragan-vasiljkovic-loses-final-battle-against-extradition-to-croatia/

Croatia Remembering Victims Of Vukovar And Skabrnje

Fountain in Zagreb lights up as Vucedol Dove the symbol of Vukovar Croatia 24th anniversary of the fall of Vukovar

Fountain in Zagreb
lights up as Vucedol Dove
the symbol of Vukovar
Croatia
24th anniversary of the
fall of Vukovar

 

On the night of November 17th people of Croatia’s capital Zagreb and their friends and visitors lit up the city with candles lining its long and wide artery called Vukovar Street! This was in memory and honour of all those who perished and died defending the Croatian city of Vukovar from brutal and genocidal Serb aggression in 1991 until the city fell on its knees on 18 November 1991, suffered genocide and ethnic cleansing committed against the Croats and other non-Serbs and became occupied by Serb-led forces.

 Croatia's President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic Lights the candles along Vukovar Street in Zagreb 17 November 2015 Foto: Darko Tomas / CROPIX


Croatia’s President
Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic
Lights the candles along
Vukovar Street in Zagreb
17 November 2015
Foto: Darko Tomas / CROPIX

More than 10,000 candles were lit last night in the capital Zagreb along the 10-kilometre Vukovar Street to remember victims from the 1990s homeland war in the eastern town of Vukovar.

 

The damage to Vukovar during the long siege prior to that date in 1991 has been called the worst in Europe since World War II, drawing comparisons with the World War II–era Stalingrad. The city’s water tower, riddled with bullet holes, has been retained by city planners to serve as a testimony to the events of the early 1990s.

Vukovar, Croatia 1991 - brutally devastated from Serb aggression

Vukovar, Croatia 1991 – brutally devastated from Serb aggression

Vukovar was heavily damaged during the Croatian War of Independence. Approximately 2,000 self-organised defenders (the army of Croatia was still in an formative stage at that time) defended the city for 87 days against approximately 36,000 Yugoslav People’s Army/JNA troops commanded by Serbia supplemented with 110 vehicles and tanks and dozens of planes. The city suffered heavy damage during the siege and was eventually overrun. Untold cruelty was suffered by the Croatian people of Vukovar during the siege – massacres, murders, tortures, rapes, forced deportation, humiliation, forced detention… Some 2,000 defenders of Vukovar and civilians were killed, 800 went missing (more than half of which are still missing to this day in 2015) and 22,000 Croat and non-Serb civilians from Vukovar were forced into exile.

Remembering those that perished Vukovar Street in Zagreb 17 November 2015 Remembering Vukovar of 1991 Foto: Darko Tomas / CROPIX

Remembering those that perished
Vukovar Street in Zagreb
17 November 2015
Remembering Vukovar of 1991
Foto: Darko Tomas / CROPIX

On that same day – 18 November 1991 – on the other end of Croatia – in the seaside village of Skabrnje near Zadar – another terrible crime was committed by Serbs, under the command of Ratko Mladic (held also responsible for Srebrenica genocide 1995), against innocent Croatian civilians. Moving from house to house, Serb butchers tortured, murdered and massacred 43 civilians and 15 Croatian defenders. The Croatian villagers that survived were forced into exile and their property burned and pillaged.

 

Memorial to victims of massacres in Skabrnje Serb aggressors were most brutal 18 Nov 1991

Memorial to victims of
massacres in Skabrnje
Serb aggressors were most brutal
18 Nov 1991

Today on the 18th of November 2015 the 24th anniversary of the fall of Vukovar is marked in Vukovar and the 24th anniversary of the Skabrnje massacre.
On the main road in Vukovar, along the road where on 18 November the procession will pass, a banner with the names of the deceased Croatian soldiers has been put up. The banner is over 200 metres long and includes 1,145 names. This is the first time that the names of all those who have laid down their lives for independent Croatia in Vukovar have been publicly presented.

Vukovar Tower and banner with names of the victims of 1991 Serb aggression Photo: Davor Javorovic/Pixsell

Vukovar Tower and
banner with names of the victims of 1991
Serb aggression
Photo: Davor Javorovic/Pixsell

Vukovar and Skabrnje from 1991 are a sad, terrifying reminder and distressing symbol of hatred and aggression the whole of Croatia was made to suffer because it wanted freedom from communist Yugoslavia; because it wanted democracy for its people!

Croatia and Croats Will Always Remember!

Croatia and Croats
Will Always Remember!

 

Croatia's President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic Bows to the victims of Skabrnje 18 November 2015 Photo: HINA

Croatia’s President
Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic
Bows to the victims
of Skabrnje
18 November 2015
Photo: HINA

May the victims of the heinous Serb aggression rest in eternal peace and honour. Lest We Forget. Ina Vukic, Prof. (Zgb); B.A., M.A.Ps. (Syd)

Indicted Serb War Criminal Dragan Vasiljkovic Loses Final Battle Against Extradition To Croatia

Dragan Vasiljkovic aka Captain Dragan aka Daniel Snedden Photo: News Ltd

Dragan Vasiljkovic
aka Captain Dragan
aka Daniel Snedden
Photo: News Ltd

 

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)

For Further Information Click Link: Documents relating to the extradition of Dragan Vasiljkovic – Daniel Snedden

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