news 06 Mar 12

Medak Pocket: Amnesty Calls for Investigation

Repeated calls by Amnesty International to investigate General Domazet-Loso's alleged role in war crimes in the Medak Pocket face silence in Croatia.

Boris Pavelic

The Croatian prosecutor's office, DORH, declined to comment on repeated calls by Amnesty International, AI, to investigate General Davor Domazet-Loso for his alleged role in war crimes committed in the Medak Pocket.

In a press release, AI called the arrest of five former Croatian soldiers under suspicion of war crimes in the Medak Pocket "a step in the right direction in investigating all war crimes".

AI emphasised however that "so far, the Croatian authorities have failed to investigate allegations that commanders of the 1993 military operation in the Medak Pocket had command responsibility for these crimes".

One of those commanders, the Croatian Army Chief of Staff Janko Bobetko, was indicted by the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia, ICTY,  for war crimes in the Medak pocket , but died in 2003, before the trial started.

Another officer, the Croatian Army Admiral Davor Domazet-Loso, was interrogated by the ICTY investigators several times in the first half of the 2000s, but was never indicted.

"There is enough information in the public sphere to open an investigation now", claims AI in its press release.

When asked by BIRN, the Croatian State Prosecutor’s office, DORH, declined to comment on AI's statement.

"DORH does not comment on communiques, so it does not intend to comment on Amnesty International’s one", replied spokesperson Martina Mihordin in a written statement.

In the same statement, DORH states that “because of the law” they are unable to comment on whether or not there is an investigation into what role General Domazet-Loso played in the Medak Pocket crimes.

At the time of the operation in the Medak Pocket, Domazet-Loso was one of the most senior officers in the Croatian army.

At the trial of General Mirko Norac and General Rahim Ademi for war crimes in the Medak Pocket at the Zagreb County court in 2007, judge Marin Mrcela  stated in his verdict that Davor Domazet-Loso had led the parallel chain of command during the Medak Pocket operation.

Rahim Ademi was released, while Mirko Norac was sentenced to six years imprisonment.

"Despite this, the chief state prosecutor has not yet opened an investigation to determine whether Davor Domazet-Loso has command responsibility for the crimes", said AI.

Monday’s press release is the third appeal by AI to Croatia to investigate the highest army and state officials for their role in war crimes in Croatia since December 2010.

In its report "Behind a wall of silence: prosecution of war crimes in Croatia", published in December 2010,  AI also called for investigation into the role of Vladimir Seks, then Speaker of the Croatian parliament, in war crimes committed by Croatian forces in the eastern Croatian town of Osijek in 1991.

In its second appeal, AI urged Croatia to investigate the same two officials in December last year.

After that appeal, Domazet-Loso commented in the Croatian newspapers that he is not surprised, because Amnesty International was an "intelligence body of the British Foreign Office".

"The Croatian authorities have obligations under international and national law to investigate and, if sufficient evidence is available, prosecute cases of war crimes allegedly committed by senior military and political officials of Croatia," said Nicola Duckworth, AI's Europe and Central Asia Programme Director, in Monday’s statement.

In September 1993, the Croatian Army launched a limited military operation to push back Serbian forces from the town of Gospic in central Croatia.

After a successful operation, the UN forces requested that the Croatian Army pull back to its original positions.

During the withdrawal, the Croatian forces killed 23 Serb civilians and five POWs, and totally destroyed several villages in the area known as the Medak Pocket. 

The ICTY prosecutors put the unofficial number of those killed to "at least 100".

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