news 23 Sep 13

Croatia Memorial To Murdered Yugoslav Troops Destroyed

War veterans cleared away candles and flowers laid in memory of 13 Yugoslav army soldiers killed by a Croatian policeman in the city of Karlovac 22 years ago.

Boris Pavelic
BIRN
Zagreb

The temporary memorial on a bridge in Karlovac, where the 13 unarmed Yugoslav army prisoners were shot dead in September 1991, was destroyed by Croatian veterans after it was set up by unknown mourners on Saturday morning.

“This is a provocation which must be cut off at the roots,” said Alojzije Cerkez, president of Karlovac branch of the Croatian war veterans’ invalids’ association, HVIDR-a.

“We Croatians and war veterans were always for peace, but if somebody is provoking you, you have to stop him,” he said.

Croatian special forces policeman Mihajlo Hrastov killed the prisoners with an automatic rifle, and has been tried six times for murder so far in the longest case in the country’s judicial history.

In September last year, Hrastov was sentenced to four years in prison, but he appealed so the verdict isn’t confirmed yet.

After the trial, Hrastov was released, because immediate transfer to prison isn’t obligatory in Croatia if a person is sentenced to less than five years in jail.

Rights groups complained about the light punishment.

Zoran Pusic, the president of the Citizen Committee for Human Rights said at the time that “it is difficult to see how four years in prison could be an adequate sentence for killing 13 people”.

Nada Radovic from Karlovac’s Serb minority council said that she didn’t know who set up the memorial to mark the anniversary of the killings.

“On this day last year, Karlovac county’s vice-prefect for the Serbian minority and I lit candles and put 13 roses on the bridge. Nobody touched them, and I was pleased to see that memorial went untouched on the bridge for several days,” Radovic told local media.

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