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 »  Home  »  Human Rights  »  Vukovar is THE Croatian sacred ground and somebody just pissed on it.
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Vukovar is THE Croatian sacred ground and somebody just pissed on it.
By Nenad N. Bach | Published  09/30/2007 | Human Rights , Opinions , History | Unrated

Vukovar is our sacred ground


Vukovar is the Croatian sacred ground. Injustice in war has been consistent with injustice in peace. To be so blunt and arrogant and not to punish human monsters who shelled Vukovar for three months and then massacred innocent people, including women, children and patience in the hospital is not just an insult to anybody's intelligence, but true attempt to subordination of the whole nation.
Vukovar is the Croatian sacred ground. What is the responsibility of the prosecution? Do they think, for whomever they work, that they will just walk away and continue climbing their political careers? Prosecutors should be held responsible for those wrongly accused and for those who are wrong and not being accused. It is a radical thought, but I think that they should serve the sentence that they missed. There will be less court cases and sentences would be delivered according to justice, not according to an interpretation of the law.
Vukovar is the Croatian sacred ground. Few days ago we celebrated Peter Tomich a brave Croatian American who died on December 7th 1941 on the ship Utah. President Mesic honored Admiral J. Robert Lunney for fighting a bureaucracy (more about it in the next couple of days on CROWN). Croatians fought loyally for every country that accepted them as an equal citizens. Chief Water tender Tomich was recognized for his heroic actions on the USS Utah by President Roosevelt who awarded the deeds of Tomich with a Medal of Honor. You tell me, are our Croatian heroes who fought for Vukovar less appreciated or even less valued? If Vukovar was in France, England, Russia or USA, these legal rapes would never happen. Croatia must start using it's five to ten million diplomats around the world.
Vukovar is the Croatian sacred ground and somebody just pissed on it. Whoever is behind this crime after crimes, is only temporary in power. Sooner or later all corrupted powers collapse. Words of Jesus Christ still resonate two thousand years later, because they carry the message of eternal truth.
Vukovar is the Croatian sacred ground and somebody just pissed on it. Croatia should think hard and hit hard.
Nenad N. Bach
New York, Sept 30th 2007

The absurdly light or no prison terms handed out to the three most responsible for the Vukovar massacres and torture are not consistent with the crimes that the same court had ruled had actually occurred. It was not a lack of evidence but a devaluation of the crimes, or more accurately, the lives of the victims and all of us. I would hope no one in Serbia considers this a victory because this judgment is also a discount on the price of the lives of all people living in the "Balkans." 
Florence Hartmann's book and the previous revelations of Sylvie Matton and (Ambassador Sacirbey) regarding the deals that were being made between leaders of the Euro-Atlantic powers, on one side, and Milosevic, Mladic and Karadzic, on the other, indicate an overall lower value placed on the people from the region and the application of shared human values. The same western powers would have never allowed such a devaluation of their own citizens. The Vukovar judgment only follows this precedent.
The western democratic officials responsible for dealing with the devil have implicitly justified these betrayals by racist stereotyping or historical revisionism. Some have tried to convince us that these wars and crimes were an exclusively "Balkan" flaw. We have too often implicitly reinforced that argument by focusing our arguments on historic grievances to attempt to paint our "neighbor" rather than aspiring to a future based on the highest principles of western civilization and the rule of law. The murders at Vukovar were committed by Serbian military and ostensibly on behalf of a Greater Serbia, but the harm also comes from those who devalue the crimes and lives of the victims.
Unfortunately, we are projected as a deep discount region where everything is for sale, including human lives. Western leaders feel free to shop our lives, futures, values as being deeply discounted. They will never admit the underhanded deals with Milosevic, Mladic, Karadzic, but even if discovered, will try to convince our and their public that we really did not deserve better.
To change this attitude, it's part cosmetic. We're not the Balkans but "Southeast Europe." However, we will not get the fair price for our lives and future until we demand accountability. Especially those of us from the region living in the United States, Europe, the Americas must demand that our leaders investigate any overt or implicit actions by the representatives of our governments to discount the lives and future of the countries and region where we come from.
For  those of us living in the United States, I would urge all to write letters to their Congressional Representatives and Senators, as outlined in the attached draft.

         September 23, 2007

The Honorable Vito Fossella,       

13th Congressional District, New York


Dear Congressman Fossella,


The United States Congress has adopted an unambiguous position that all indicted alleged war criminals must be delivered to justice. The Congress has also called upon all states including those in the region, as well as the United States, to fully cooperate with and facilitate in the delivery to the International Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, (ICTY), of such indicted persons, in particular Radovan Karadzic and Ratko Mladic, responsible for the worst "genocide" and crimes against humanity committed in Europe since the depths of the Holocaust. The Congress correctly provided the proper lead/example by condemning the genocide of Srebrenica and in Bosnia & Herzegovina as a whole, as well as demanding the apprehension of and trial for the responsible.


However, there is growing, independent credible evidence that certain officials possibly acting under United States Executive authority have ignored such Congressional directives or even violated domestic and/or international law. The witnesses include at least one former high official of the Prosecutor's Office of the International War Crimes for the former Yugoslavia, former Foreign Minister of Bosnia & Herzegovina , numerous other officials from the region and independent international media. The evidence points to one or more of the following:

1.     Officials purportedly acting under US Executive authority provided assurances of non-arrest to indicted persons;

2.     Officials purportedly acting under US Executive authority encouraged and/or facilitated the relocation of indicted persons beyond the arrest capacity of Bosnia & Herzegovina;

3.     Officials and/or forces shielded from or alerted indicted persons as to arrest efforts;

4.     It is also beyond doubt now that such wanted persons, after already having been indicted by the ICTY, were afforded knowing and free passage through NATO/US check points.


We would request a hearing before the appropriate Congressional Committees to evaluate the evidence and testimony of such allegations and to question appropriate witnesses/officials about the matter under oath. The potential evidence and witness list is cumulative, but could include: Carla Del Ponte ICTY Chief Prosecutor, Sir. Geoffrey Nice, Chief Prosecutor on the Milosevic case, Florence Hartmann, Key Assistant and Spokesperson for the ICTY Office of the Prosecutor, Ambassador Muhamed Sacirbey, former Foreign Minister of as well as Representative of BiH to the ICTY and ICJ, (a US citizen), Sylvie Matton, investigative author and Ambassador Richard Holbrooke.


The need for such Congressional more comprehensive hearing is necessary to establish that officials purportedly acting under the authority of the United States are in compliance with US laws and Congressional directives. It is also important for a region still struggling to apply the "rule of law" to its political and legal processes. The US Congress is the ultimate custodian of democratic practices, open society and the rule of law. We must send a clear example by transparency as well as adherence rather than rhetoric or hypocrisy.


Sincerely Yours,

Muhamed Sacirbey 


The Hague, 27 September 2007
CT/MOW/ PR1185e

The Tribunal's Trial Chamber I today sentenced Mile Mrkšić and Veselin Šljivančanin, former senior officers of the Yugoslav People's Army (JNA), to 20 years' imprisonment and five years' imprisonment, respectively, for their role in the Ovčara executions. The third accused, former JNA captain Miroslav Radić, was acquitted of all charges.

Mrkšić was found guilty of aiding and abetting the murder, torture and cruel treatment of 194 non-Serb prisoners of war who were taken from Vukovar Hospital following the fall of this Croatian city to JNA and Serb paramilitary forces in November 1991. Šljivančanin was convicted of aiding and abetting the torture of the prisoners.

At the time of the crimes Mrkšić was a colonel in the JNA and commander of all Serb forces including JNA, Territorial Defence and paramilitary forces, in the Vukovar area. Radić was a captain in the JNA and a company commander of the 1 st Battalion of the Guards Motorised Brigade. Šljivančanin was a major in the JNA and held the post of head of the security organ of both the Guard's Motorised Brigade and Operational Group South at the time.

The indictment alleged that on about 20 November 1991, after the end of the brutal siege laid to Vukovar since August of the same year, the JNA and Serb paramilitary soldiers, under the command or supervision of Mrkšić, Radić and Šljivančanin, removed about 260 non-Serb individuals from the Vukovar Hospital, transported them to a farm building in Ovčara where they were beaten, tortured and eventually murdered. They were charged with crimes against humanity and war crimes for their alleged participation in a joint criminal enterprise whose goal was to murder and mistreat the prisoners and their personal and command responsibility for the torture and executions.

The Trial Chamber established that the evidence from exhumations of the mass grave in Ovčara and subsequent autopsies identified 194 non-Serbs victims named in the indictment. Trial Chamber stressed that its findings do not preclude that more than 200 persons, of whom 194 have been identified, died at Ovčara that day.

The Trial Chamber dismissed all charges of crimes against humanity against the three, finding that the persons murdered at Ovčara by Serb forces had been "specifically identified and selected because of their known, or believed, involvement in the Croatian forces in Vukovar. The Serb forces who mistreated the victims and murdered them acted on the understanding that the victims were prisoners of war, not civilians."

In relation to the alleged existence of a joint criminal enterprise, the Trial Chamber found that there is no direct evidence which establishes this. The judgements states that while "in the finding of the Chamber the evidence does not establish that these three accused, or any of them, joined in any joint criminal enterprise for the commission of the offences charged in Indictment."

The Trial Chamber found that the actual perpetrators of the murders and torture and associated beatings were members of the Serb Territorial Defence forces, led by Miroljub Vujović, many from the Vukovar area itself, and Serb paramilitary forces. The murders, torture and associated beatings had not been ordered by either Mrkšić or Šljivančanin.

Mile Mrkšić was found guilty of aiding and abetting the murders because, knowing of the presence of the Territorial Defence and paramilitary forces at Ovčara and of the threat they presented to the prisoners of war, apparently in response to pressure from the local Serb government, he withdrew the JNA troops guarding the prisoners, with the consequence that the Territorial Defence and paramilitary forces were able to murder the them. JNA forces which he commanded had earlier established the inhumane conditions of detention, and he failed to act effectively to ensure that the prisoners were properly protected by JNA guards from torture by Serb Territorial Defence and paramilitary forces.

Veselin Šljivančanin was found guilty of aiding and abetting torture because he failed to secure adequate JNA guards at Ovčara or to ensure that JNA guards at Ovčara under his authority acted to prevent the Serb Territorial Defence and paramilitary forces from beating the prisoners.

The evidence has established that Miroslav Radić was at the Vukovar hospital on 19 November 1991 and that JNA soldiers under his command provided the initial security of the hospital. It has further been established that Miroslav Radić was present at the compound of the hospital in the morning of 20 November 1991 , but not that he participated in the separation into groups of persons in front of the hospital. The Trial Chamber further found that it has not been established by the Prosecution that Miroslav Radić had knowledge or reason to know that soldiers under his command had committed crimes at Ovčara. The Trial Chamber ordered his immediate release.

The initial indictment against Mrkšić, Šljivančanin and Radić was issued on 7 November 1995 . Mrkšić has been in the Tribunal's custody since 15 May 2002 and Šljivančanin was transferred into custody on 1 July 2003 . Both accused will be given credit for their time served in the UNDU. The presiding judge Parker ordered immediate release of Miroslav Radić.

Since its first hearing in November 1994, the Tribunal has indicted 161 persons with proceedings completed in the case of 108 accused. No further indictments will be issued. It is planned that the Tribunal complete its mission by the end of 2010.  

The full text of the summary of the judgement can be found at the following links


Formated for CROWN by Nenad Bach
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  • Comment #1 (Posted by n)

    A passionate article Nenad...everyone knows what happened in Vukovar (perhaps one should send them YouTube link) Look what is happening now to Iraq, and there is no one raising their voice against it.
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