Zagreb has sent back Serbian indictments for war crimes against three top Croatian military officials, saying they aren't valid.
The Serbian war crimes prosecutor's office issued the indictments against former Croatian interior minister Ivan Vekic, his top adviser Tomislav Mercep, and Vladimir Seks, the head of the war crisis headquarters in the town of Osijek, for alleged genocide and war crimes against Serbs in 1991, Croatian media reported.
The indictments were sent by Belgrade at the beginning of December last year, but Croatia's justice minister Orsat Miljenic said Zagreb would not prosecute the cases and returned them to Belgrade.
"Those indictments were based on the extorted statements of Croatian war prisoners in prisons in Serbia," he said.
He also questioned why the indictments, which were first raised in August 1992 by the former Yugoslav national army, the JNA, had not been acted upon for 20 years.
Krsto Bobot, a Belgrade lawyer appointed by the Serbian court as Vekic’s attorney, recently told Croatian daily Jutarnji list that the case was "very shaky".
"The only evidence is the statements of Croatian war prisoners, but because of the way [the statements] were taken, their authenticity is more than doubtful," Bobot said.
Croatian media have speculated that Serbia could issue an arrest warrant for Seks, Vekic and Mercep after Zagreb refused to prosecute them on the basis of the JNA indictment.
If that happens, "Croatia would do everything to explain why those indictments are not valid", a government source told local media.
Seks has long been an influential political figure in Croatia and is currently an MP for the main opposition party, the Croatian Democratic Union, while Vekic is retired but leads a minor right-wing political party which has no parliamentary seats, Croatian Guard.
Tomislav Mercep is currently standing trial in Zagreb for war crimes allegedly committed in 1991.