News 28 Sep 17

Australia Seeks to Revoke Captain Dragan’s Passport

The Australian authorities are seeking a way to cancel the passport of the Serbia-born 1990s paramilitary commander Dragan Vasiljkovic after he was convicted of war crimes by a Croatian court.

Sven Milekic
BIRN
Zagreb
Dragan Vasiljkovic at Split county court. Photo: BETAPHOTO/HINA/Milan SABIC/MO.

The Australian authorities are trying to find a way to use the country’s Foreign Fighters Act to cancel the passport of the former Serbian paramilitary commander Dragan Vasiljkovic, alias Captain Dragan, media reported on Thursday.

The Australian newspaper reported that senior public servants are examining whether the legislation - originally designed to tackle Islamist radicals coming back to Australia after fighting in the Middle East - can be used in Vasiljkovic’s case and if the Immigration Ministry can cancel his passport.

The county court in the Croatian coastal city of Split sentenced Vasiljkovic to 15 years in prison on Tuesday, finding him guilty of war crimes against Croatian civilians and prisoners of war in 1991.

Because he has already spent almost 11 years in extradition detention in Australia and on investigative remand in Croatia, his lawyers have announced that they are applying for his early release, as well as appealing against the verdict at the Supreme Court.

According to Croatian laws, all convicts may apply for early release after serving two-thirds of their prison sentence, which means that Vasiljkovic is eligible.

Vasiljkovic, who holds both Serbian and Australian passports, reportedly wishes to return to Australia after release, but officials in the country want to prevent this.

Vasiljkovic was extradited to Croatia in 2015 from Australia, where he had been working as a golf instructor under the name Daniel Snedden.

He had moved to Australia as a teenager but returned to Yugoslavia before the start of the 1990s conflicts and was then sent by the authorities in Belgrade to be the commander of a training centre for a Serb special paramilitary unit in Croatia in 1991.

He denied committing war crimes and pleaded not guilty at the trial.

During his closing statement in court, condemned the trial as politically motivated and “an oppressive fascist process”.

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