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Osijek, Zagreb, 6 December 2013 / Biweekly Report on War Crime Trials 

Denial or cancellation of minority rights – a clear indicator of (un)successful democratisation process / The results of the referendum at which citizens decided in great majority to include in the Constitution a provision which would stipulate that marriage is exclusively a life union between a woman and a man, represents a clear indicator to what degree the others and those different to us are accepted in Croatian society. The possibility of holding a new referendum (and allegedly the so-called Headquarters for Defence of Croatian Vukovar has already collected a sufficient number of signatures to call a referendum), which would guarantee equal application of the language and script of a national minority in the territory of a local self-government unit in which national minority members compose a minimum of one half of the population (instead of one third, as is currently stipulated by law), only shows the readiness of our society to continue denying or cancelling minority rights.

Inappropriate invitations to attend and actual attendance of Tomislav Merčep at a great number of official events /  Tomislav Merčep, who currently faces trial for one of the most serious war crimes committed in Pakračka Poljana and at Zagrebački Velesajam during the war in Croatia, attended the official marking of the day of the fall of Vukovar on 18 November 2013. Previously in September 2013, he also attended the anniversary of the forming of the 204th Vukovar Brigade. In the meantime Merčep together with many highly ranked officials attended also the celebrations on the occasion of the Day of Police and the Day of Independence held at the Croatian Parliament. His appearance in the media and his standing nearby highly-ranked officials can have a negative influence on the readiness of witnesses to provide their testimonies on committed crimes.

Former leader of the Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ-BiH) is indicted for abuse of authority and position (abuse of office) − because he purchased an apartment to former fugitive from the ICTY / On 11 November 2013 USKOK laid the indictment before the Split County Court against Ante Jelavić, former leader of HDZ-BiH. Jelavić is charged that in his capacity as Assistant Defence Minister of the ‘Croatian Republic of Herceg-Bosna’ (HR H-B) in March 1996, he passed a written decision to purchase for HVO member Ivica Rajić, without any legal grounds, an apartment in Split (90.88 m2) for HRK 739.083.41 and pay this apartment with the funds of the Ministry, mostly supported by the funds of the Ministry of Defence of the Republic of Croatia. Just like in this case, there are many cases of concealing traces of war crimes (for instance the crimes committed in Paulin Dvor, the Medak Pocket) or aiding and abetting the perpetrator after the crime had been committed. And in such cases, highly ranked civilian or military officials which had been involved, will remain unpunished. According to the Croatian law and court practice, unlike the court practice of the ICTY, concealing the traces of war crimes and aiding & abetting the perpetrators after the crime had been committed are considered independent criminal offences stipulating low prison punishments and thus, the statute of limitation was enforced.

Retrial commenced against five absent/unavailable persons accused of the crime in Saborsko / On 29 November 2013, court hearings of the repeated trial against the accused Miloš Jovetić, Đoko Jakšić, Miloš Momčilović, Miroslav Milaković and Branko Šupica commenced at the Rijeka County Court. According to the Karlovac County Court judgement passed in 1994, the above-stated accused persons were sentenced in absentia to 15 years in prison respectively; however, the Supreme Court of the Republic of Croatia in 1996 quashed the first-instance court judgement in respect of the accused persons. The repeated trial has only just begun now (29
November 2013).

An attempt to outmanoeuvre the justice – a Mostar prison fugitive will request in Croatia a parole release from serving his sentence / Dominik Ilijašević a.k.a. Como, a former member of the Croatian Defence Council (HVO), who escaped from the Mostar prison and Bosnia and Herzegovina at the end of September 2013, where he was serving 15 years for the
crimes committed against Bosniak civilian population of Vareš and Kiseljak municipalities, including also the killings committed in the village of Stupni Do, has been located in Croatia.

Eight former members of Serb military formations, who are currently unavailable to the Croatian judiciary, accused of the crimes committed in the prisons in Stara Gradiška and Okučani / According to the statement issued by the Osijek County State Attorney’s Office on 14 November 2013, the indictment has been laid against eight citizens of Serbia. The accused have been charged with crimes committed in the period from August 1991 until December 1991 in Stara Gradiška and Okučani.

In the attachment below, there is the electronic version of the report.