News 08 Mar 17

Bosnian Army’s Role in Croatian General Movie Criticised

Serb war veterans condemned the Bosnian Army’s decision to allow a production company to use its tanks and military equipment to shoot a film about the life of controversial Croatian general Ante Gotovina.

Igor Spaic
BIRN
Sarajevo
Ante Gotovina. Photo: Beta.

War veterans in Bosnia’s Serb-dominated entity Republika Srpska have criticised the army’s decision to allow the Croatian production company shooting the life story of Ante Gotovina to use five tanks, several trucks and other military equipment for the film.

Milomir Savcic, the head of the Veterans Association of Republika Srpska, called the decision “unacceptable”, arguing that it does not foster good relations between the ethnic groups in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Gotovina was cleared in 2012 of committing war crimes during the Croatian Army’s Operation Storm in 1995, which caused a huge exodus of Serbs from Croatia.

Savcic said that a lot of ill-will remained.

“Even though there was no official sentence for the crimes he was accused of at the Hague Tribunal, this [movie] is still about a person under whose command more than 200,000 of his fellow citizens of Serb ethnicity were exiled from those territories,” said Savcic.

The approval was signed by Bosnia’s Defence Minister Marina Pendes, and armed forces joint chief of staff, Anto Jelec - both ethnic Croats.

Jelec told local media that the armed forces were not paying for any of the costs.

The film’s director Antun Vrdoljak has said that it “won’t have a political dimension” and will not deal with the circumstances of Gotovina’s arrest and extradition. He was captured in the Canary Islands in 2005 after being on the run for several years.

But Aleksandra Letic, the secretary-general to the Helsinki Committee for Human Rights in Republika Srpska, called the decision to approve Bosnian military resources for shooting the film “irresponsible”.

“This is absolutely counterproductive in terms of the reconciliation process and attempts to normalise relations [in the Balkans],” Letic told BIRN.

She said that no laws were violated, as Gotovina was acquitted and can be treated as an innocent person, but argued that it was problematic to make such a controversial figure the leading figure in a film.

“Making movies about people who created those policies and took part in the spreading of an atmosphere of fear, which enabled crimes to be committed, is everything but a government effort to create an atmosphere of peace, and promote human rights and reconciliation,” she said.

The film, entitled ‘General’, is scheduled to be released next year.

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