Praying for Croats of Herceg-Bosna Awaiting ICTY Judgment

Portal has passed on Croatian news agency HINA reporting: “The Croatian World Congress (HSK) has called on Croats worldwide to unite in a prayer “for justice” for six former heads of the Croatian Community of Herceg-Bosna for whom the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) will hand down its ruling on May 29, the media in Bosnia reported on Saturday.
‘We are confident that the thesis about a joint criminal enterprise is entirely unfounded, as it was unfounded in the case against Ante Gotovina and Mladen Markac. Every crime needs to be condemned, but calling defence a joint criminal enterprise and convicting Croats on this basis portrays all other Croatian soldiers and Croatia … in a negative light. We strongly oppose that,’ the HSK said.
The ICTY is scheduled to hand down its ruling in the case Prlic & others on May 29.
The ICTY prosecution accused the former heads of the Croatian Community of Herceg-Bosna – PM Jadranko Prlic, Defence Minister Bruno Stojic and the Commanders of the Croatian National Council (HVO), generals Milivoj Petkovic and Slobodan Praljak, HVO Police Commander Valentin Coric and the head of the Office for Exchange of War Prisoners, Berislav Pusic – of crimes committed in a joint criminal enterprise headed by former Croatian president Franjo Tudjman with the aim of ethnically cleansing the Herceg-Bosna region and annexing it to Croatia in an attempt to create a Greater Croatia.
The prosecution asked for 40-year sentences for Prlic, Stojic, Praljak and Petkovic, 35 for Coric and 25 for Pusic. The defence argued that they be acquitted.
The six gave themselves up on 5 April 2004. The trial began in April 2006 and is one of the longest running trials at the tribunal”.
I join in prayers for a not guilty verdict. There was no joint criminal enterprise perpetrated by Croats in Herceg-Bosna in defending their homes and lives. Had it not been for the establishment of Herceg-Bosna during the war of early 1990’s, the Bosnian Serbs and Bosnian Muslims would have made sure that the Croat voice from Bosnia and Herzegovina was never heard in the international circles that ruled the days. Ina Vukic, Prof. (Zgb); B.A., M.A.Ps. (Syd)

Today’s Croatian Responsibilities – No Cyrillic in Vukovar

Remember Vukovar - No Cyrillic in Vukovar  Photo:

Remember Vukovar – No Cyrillic in Vukovar Photo:

By Dr. Slobodan Lang (10 February 2013)
Translated into English by Ina Vukic

The most important question for today’s Croatia is, by far, that of its demographic health. A wrong diagnosis is a criminal act in medicine and a right diagnosis without therapy, is immoral. The whole truth must be determined and, on basis of that, the moset effective help needs to be set. Demographic health of today’s Croatia comprises of: maintenance and spacing of population, employment, ageing and ecology.

This is the fundamental responsibility of all citizens, of the academic community, of the economy, of religion and especially of politics. Only those political parties and politicians who offer solutions to these questions are to be supported.

Alongside of this, of course, we also need to attend to safety, to our reputation in the world and to our own dignity.

Emphasising other questions is merely diverting people’s attention, provoking conflicts and avoiding political and professional responsibility.

Satan attempted to provoke Jesus so that he materially overestimates the power and insubstantial politics. Jesus emphasised the importance of the spiritual, God’s power and personal responsibility. However, he did not persecute Satan because he knew that the only way is to find the truth and realisation of the good, and not in battles against lies and evil.

The demand for Cyrillic script in Vukovar is yet another attempt to vilify Croatia throughout the world and to divert the attention to secondary questions.

The International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY) judgements on joint criminal enterprise are, today, the most important factors for relations world’s towards Croatia and for the relations between Croats and Serbs in Croatia.

Joint criminal enterprise (JCE) is a legal doctrine introduced by the ICTY in the trials against political and military leaders of former Yugoslavia, for mass war crimes, including genocide, during the wars of 1991 – 1999.

The court had assessed that without certain actions of cooperation and coordination it is practically impossible to carry out the crimes such as genocide or crimes against humanity.

In trials after World War II we find the first indication of JCE under the name of  “joint goal”.

JCE was used by ICTY for the first time at the Dusko Tadic’s judgment, 1999.

During Slobodan Milosevic’s trial the joint criminal enterprise was defined as forceful deportation of non-Serb population from the territories where Serb authorities wanted to establish or maintain Serb control.

With regards to wars in Croatia 1991 – 1995, the Tribunal considered two joint criminal enterprises, that of “Serbian forces” against Croats and that of “Croatian forces” against Serbs.

According to ICTY, “Serbian forces” had, through 1736 days (from 1st April 1991, at the latest, to 31st December 1995, at least), engaged in joint criminal enterprise with the goal that most Croats and other non-Serb population, through criminal acts be removed permanently from a large part of Croatian territory in order to create a Serb ethnic territory, which the Serb leaders called Serbian Republic of Krajina (SRK).

Participants in this joint criminal enterprise personally included: Slobodan Milosevic, Milan Martic, Milan Babic, Goran Hadzic, Jovica Stanisic, Franko Simatovic (Frenki), Vojislav Seselj, Radovan Stojcic (Badza), Veljko Kadijevic, Blagoje Adzic, Radmilo Bogdanovic, Mihalj Kertes and Zeljko Raznjatovic (Arkan).

The participants were also political leaders in the Socialist Federative Republic of Yugoslavia, Republic of Serbia, leaders of Croatian and Bosnian Serbs, as well as leaders of “Serbian forces”. “Serbian forces” are: Yugoslav People’s Army, Serbian Army of Krajina, Territorial Organisation of Republic of Serbia and special units of ministry of internal affairs/ state security of Republic of Serbia for anti-terrorist activities and special operations, “Red berets”  and/or “Frenkovians”; “Scorpions”, “Arkanovians”, “Martic’s police”, members of Serb para-military groups from Serbia, Montenegro and Bosnia (including volunteers from the Serbian Chetnik movement and/or Serb Radical Party – “Chetniks” or “Seseljovians”).

Those convicted for joint criminal enterprise so far are: Milan Babic (12th July 2005), and Milan Martic (8th October 2008), and Goran Hadzic trial is still in process.

With the acquittal of Ante Gotovina and Mladen Markac, 16th November 2012, the ICTY has forever rejected that joint criminal enterprise with the goal of permanently removing Serb civilian population from “Krajina” was carried out, through the 90 days (from July to 30th September 1995).

After this judgment, it was the duty of the President of Republic of Croatia, of Croatian Government, of Croatian Parliament, of Croatian Academy of Sciences and the Arts, of the universities and of the media to consider in its entirety the joint criminal enterprise in creating Croatia. This is particularly important because Croatian defence, the Generals and President Tudjman had prevented a much greater suffering – which is constantly denied through lies and vilification.

There are only three lines about JCE in the Croatian Wikipedia, and in the English version the indicted Croats are listed, even after they have been acquitted. How is it shown in our history textbooks? Today’s authorities have rewarded the author with the position of Croatian Ambassador in Paris for his shameful and untruthful portrait of Croatian history.

The work of the ICTY is nearing to an end. Only Goran Hadzic and Vojislav Seselj are still on trial for the war in Croatia. Six Croats and Radovan Karadzic, Ratko Mladic, Vojislac Seselj (Serbs) are still on trial for the war in Bosnia.

To date, 18 Serbs and 2 Croats have expressed their remorse for the acts they had perpetrated. Those from Croatia are Milan Babic – president of the 1991/92 self-proclaimed government of Serbian Republic of Krajina (SRK), and Miodrag Jokic – commander in the Yugoslav War Navy, which was responsible for the attack on Dubrovnik.

Milan Babic has, in stronger terms than anyone else, appraised, described and expressed remorse for JCE perpetrated by the “Serbian forces”.  Given that, as far as I know, the Croatian public is not practically aware of this, I’m giving here the most important (according to me) parts of what Babic said:

Innocent people were persecuted, innocent people were forcefully ejected from their homes and innocent people were killed.

I allowed myself to participate in the program of the worst kind against people only because they were Croats, and not Serbs.

Only the truth can give a chance to Serbian people to unload themselves from the collective shame.

These crimes and my participation in them can never be justified.

Even after I had discovered what had happened, I remained silent about it.

I come before this Tribunal with deep feelings of shame and repentance.

The regret that I feel because of that is the pain with which I must live for the rest of my life.

I can only hope that by bringing out the truth, by admitting to guilt and by expressing my remorse I can serve as an example to those who still wrongfully believe that such inhuman actions could ever be justified”.

Until Serbia condemns Memorandum of neo-Nazism, Croatia will remain endangered. At the very beginning of President Josipovic’s mandate, young Jastreb (Hawk) and I warned him not to enter into any arbitrary or superficial reconciliation. We have never been in conflict with Serbs or with Germans, but we are not prepared to come to terms with Nazism. Josipovic did not invite us for talks, but he has evidently burned himself and is now more careful. Perhaps he also doesn’t like it too much when Pupovac (Milorad) lectures him from time to time, but he doesn’t have the courage to react.

Completely unacceptable statements are coming from Serbia, from politics, from academic community and the church. Serbia, in its Constitution, needs to recognise the European borders set after Allied victory, nonaggressive solution to disputes with neighbours, reject the use of its army for aggression and persecution of other nations and express universal rights of all people. Until that happens, we can talk about relations with the neighbours, but not about friendship. Only this way Croatia respects the right of greater majority of good people in Serbia and long-term interests of all.

About 250 million people in Europe use Cyrillic; half of them are Russian. With Bulgaria’s entry into the European Union, 1997, Cyrillic (along with Latin and Greek script) had become an official script in EU.

84 languages, in the world, use Cyrillic, 37 Turkish, 23 Indo-European and the rest all the way to Eskimos. Among them is Juhuri, the language of the Jews from the hills of Caucasus.

Vuk Karadzic developed Serb Cyrillic at the beginning of the 19th century, and from 2006 it is constitutionally proclaimed as the official script of Serbia.

The attempt to introduce Cyrillic in Vukovar is an attempt to impose much lesser importance to much greater human rights (demographic health, justice and the truth about the creation of the state, security), and exclude legitimacy in the name of legality. I am not a lawyer, but I know that Huckleberry Finn was right when he helped his black friend escape from slavery, even though it was against the law of that time. To maliciously and unprofessionally call for the use of Cyrillic in Vukovar is completely unacceptable and impermissible.

Croatia should introduce Cyrillic when Serbia is accepted into the EU, the same way as … Ireland or Portugal.

Our citizens are not equal in Vukovar. For peace’s sake we gave special rights to certain people of Serb nationality. Today’s Croats are dissatisfied; they feel injustice and endangerment.

The Croatian anthem alerts us with the words: “ … Danube, do not lose your might, Deep blue sea go tell the whole world, That a Croat loves his homeland…” But Croatia has already lost a lot of Danube’s might, in Zemun and in Syrmia, and the message we send to the world is too weak.

The whole city of Vukovar is a living symbol of Croatian suffering, and the whole of Dubrovnik of Croatian culture. During the creation and defence of Croatia both have suffered particularly and we defended both, particularly. They are still not secure or equal nor connected to Croatia. At the instigation of the distinguished lawyer, politician and friend, Bosiljko Misetic, I propose that there be an immediate appointment of a non-political group of distinguished and professional people to draft special laws on Croatian Dubrovnik and Vukovar.  I propose to the president of the Republic and the Parliament to immediately call the leaders of the Peaceful Reintegration (Skare, Vrkic and Klein), the war veterans, Mr Misetic and myself regarding talks on realisation of this proposal – of course, that’s if they care about Croatian Dubrovnik and Vukovar.

Dr Slobodan Lang   Photo: Pixsell

Dr Slobodan Lang Photo: Pixsell

About dr. Slobodan Lang. Born to Jewish family 8 October 1945 in Zagreb, Croatia. Physician, author, writer, politician and former personal adviser to the first Croatian President dr. Franjo Tudjman. His paternal grandfather Ignjat was the president of the Jewish community in Vinkovci (Croatia) and his grandmother Terezija was a housewife. In 1941 Catholic priest Hijacint Bošković, distinguished Dubrovnik and Croatian Dominican, was engaged in an extraordinary attempt to rescue the Langs from Nazi persecution. Bošković traveled from Dubrovnik to Vinkovci with a special permit that allowed him to relocate the Langs to Dubrovnik. Langs grandfather refused to leave, saying that he “was the president of Jews in peace and he will stay one in the war”. Both of his grandparents were killed in the concentration camp during the Holocaust. He graduated at the University of Zagreb School of Medicine and is a specialist in social medicine. (
Related post: No Cyrillic in Vukovar – Thank you!

Former ICTY Prosecutor Carla Del Ponte and Serbia ain’t whistling Dixie – Again?

When Carla Del Ponte, as ICTY prosecutor, with fervent support from the powers that be in Serbia set out to “lighten” the terrible Serbian guilt for mass murders and ethnic cleansing in Croatia particularly between 1991 and 1993, by pinning a wildly dreadful theory of joint criminal enterprise against Croatian 1995 Operation Storm (which liberated Croatian territory from terror and occupation) they weren’t just whistling Dixie – they were very serious about it!

It was a plan filled with dreadful and immoral fantasy that evidently had the aim of suppressing and minimising in the eyes of the world the horrible crimes Serbs perpetrated in the aggression against Croatia (1991-1995) and Bosnia and Herzegovina, which resulted in more than 1 Million refugees (forceful deportations of Croatians and non-Serbs/ ethnic cleansing), thousands of mass killings including genocide.

Del Ponte went about gathering “stuff” she might use as evidence for this dreadful construct whereby the ICTY Trial Chamber would eventually convict in April 2011 Croatian Generals Ante Gotovina and Mladen Markac of participating in a joint criminal enterprise against Croatian Serbs. This joint criminal enterprise was said to have been a plan of Croatia’s then President dr. Franjo Tudjman and his whole leadership circle. This joint criminal enterprise came, Del Ponte fantasized, in the form of Croatian military Operation Storm August 1995. ICTY prosecution said that Operation Storm was executed solely for the purposes of forceful deportation of Serbs from Croatia (some 200,000 Serb refugees, laden with their personal and household belongings, fled Croatia after Operation Storm in 1995)! To ICTY Prosecution, liberation of occupied Croatian territory, which the Serbs had ethnically cleansed and terrorised with murders, rapes and tortures during the years leading up to August 1995, did not factor in Del Ponte’s wicked reasoning.

For Carla Del Ponte, branding Croatia’s defence of its people and territory from Serb aggression 1991-1995 a criminal, illegal enterprise was a fantasy of the most dreadful kind.  She didn’t keep it a fantasy; she went about making it real. The aggressively and hatefully optimistic and warped ways of her attempts to achieve this was exasperating as Croatia’s bids to negotiations for EU membership were consequently thwarted for years.

She set out to falsely characterise Croatian defence from mass murders and ethnic cleansing by Serb aggressor as criminal enterprises, branding Croatian leadership, including its President dr. Franjo Tudjman, as ultra nationalistic and as whips that planned to and executed forceful deportation of Serbs from Croatia.

To succeed in realising her dreadful fantasy she set out collecting “evidence” that would or could fit into it. She got Croatia’s former President Stjepan Mesic (who spent 1990’s undermining Dr. Franjo Tudjman with unfounded but wicked fables and lies in attempts to become Croatia’s President himself) and former Prime Minister Dr. Ivo Sanader (convicted in Croatia today/20 November 2012 to ten years prison, for corruption/war profiteering) on board. Mesic, without a blink of an eye would sift through State secret documents and hand them to her at the ICTY (just as well that these State secret documents did not amount to what Del Ponte and Mesic thought they would). She spent years pursuing so-called artillery shelling diaries for Operation Storm that would prove there was illegal shelling during Operation Storm that was really (according to her) meant for Serb civilian targets. These diaries were another of Del Ponte’s fantasies.

As this fantasy was shot to smithereens, ICTY prosecution was in ecstasy when Trial Chamber judges came up with a new fantasy: any artillery shelling by the Croatians during Operation Storm that fell beyond 200 meters from military target was targeted at Serb civilians – to drive them out from Croatia! This fantasy was turned into a horrible reality (albeit utterly false) when ICTY Trial Chamber convicted Generals Ante Gotovina and Mladen Markac to 24 and 18 years of imprisonment in April 2011. To make the matters worse Serbia was never subpoenaed to produce known documentary evidence that would show how the said 200,000 Croatian Serbs left Croatia in August 1995 as part of Serb orders to evacuate Croatia, even though Croatian authorities guaranteed safety.

I guess, most of these 200,000 Serbs (if there were that many) fled rather than having to live with a guilty conscience among the Croatians and non-Serbs in Croatia against whom they had perpetrated so much evil from 1991.

When on 16 November 2012 the ICTY Appeal Chamber upheld the Generals’ Appeal against ICTY Trial Chamber 15 April 2011 judgment, in effect saying that there was no joint criminal enterprise and no forceful deportation of Croatian Serbs as far as Operation Storm was concerned – all hell broke loose in Serbia. Serbian leadership, including its foreign minister Vuk Jeremic (who currently sits at the head of UN General Assembly) protested against the ICTY Appeal Chamber’s acquittal, calling it politically motivated and unjust. Threatening unrest in the region.

Vuk Jeremic reacted by saying “It is an undeniable fact that about a quarter of a million (ethnic) Serbs were driven out of their homes in the space of only several days, and that the court, set up to investigate such misdeeds, in effect decided that no one was guilty or responsible.
This could lead to a conclusion that no crime in fact took place, which evidently stands in contrast with reality. I think that a full understanding of the work of the Hague Tribunal and its consequences must be accessible to the wide international public, so that history can have the final say, and so that it never happens anywhere again that evil deeds are pardoned and declared a virtue.

Now, this man, Vuk Jeremic, sits in a high chair at the 67th Session of UN General Assembly and if he is to be judged by these words, he has no place in being there one moment longer.

Why, you may ask? Well the ICTY Appeal Chamber found no evidence of forced removal of Serbs from Croatia as argued by Del Ponte’s indictment against the Croatian Generals and he should respect the finding of the Appeal Chamber. Furthermore, he purposefully ignores to talk about the ethnic cleansing of about 700,000 Croatians and non-Serbs perpetrated by Serbs in Croatia (plus about 300,000 from Bosnia and Herzegovina who sought shelter in Croatia) before Operation Storm. Further, he tries to twist the Appeal Chamber’s finding into that which it is not. I.e., that the finding also meant that there were no crimes committed during Operation Storm.

The ICTY Appeal Tribunal found that the Croatian Generals had not committed the war crimes they were accused of, it did not delve into what else might have happened through whom.

Carla Del Ponte declared that she was shocked as to how such a verdict by the ICTY Appeal Chamber could have come about – she said that she “had done everything as it should have been done” in the case, as prosecutor.

I would tend to agree: Del Ponte had done everything that should have been done in order to falsely characterise Croatian Operation Storm as a joint criminal enterprise but the evidence she had worked so hard to fit into her fantasy just didn’t hold water in the end.

As for Serbia, it is in its interest to make Operation Storm look like a criminal enterprise because, in doing so, the horrible crimes Serbs committed prior to Operation Storm might get forgotten by the world, or at least placed on the back-burner.

Serbia’s and Del Ponte’s reactions do nothing except perpetuate Serbia’s denial of its joint criminal enterprise against Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina in the early 1990’s.

I have no doubt that as far as Croatia is concerned any crimes committed by individuals during the war will be processed and brought to justice; and they should be.

And if Serbia threatens with continued unrest in the region because of ICTY Appeal Chamber decision to acquit Croatian Generals of war crimes, such threats are merely desperate attempts by Serbia to equate its aggression with its victims. That surely cannot be permitted, because if it’s up to Serbia then they would “guarantee” peace and reconciliation if Croatian Generals were convicted of war crimes despite being innocent.

Do Serbia and Carla Del Ponte really have a warped and offensive view of what truly happened during Serb aggression against Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina in the 1990’s? Or are they just playing a dangerous game?

Perhaps both. Surely both.

Ina Vukic, Prof. (Zgb); B.A., M.A.Ps. (Syd)

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