news 04 Dec 17

Plenkovic Visits Bosnia to ‘Calm’ Bosnian Croat Fury

The Croatian Prime Minister is visiting Bosnian Croats to ‘calm them down’ following the dramatic suicide in court of a Bosnian Croat war crimes convict Slobodan Praljak.

Igor Spaic
BIRN
Sarajevo
Andrej Plenkovic and Dragan Covic. Photo: BETAPHOTO/HINA/Dario GRZELJ/DS

Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic is traveling to Mostar in southwest Bosnia on Monday to meet the Bosnian Croat community leaders and to try to calm passions roused by last week’s tumultuous sentencing of six Bosnian Croat war criminals.

Plenkovic announced the visit last Friday after meeting the Croat member of Bosnia's tripartite presidency and leader of the main Bosnian Croat political party, Dragan Covic.

“We decided to come to Mostar beginning of next week and meet the Bosnian Croat leadership and veterans to send them calming messages that the Republic of Croatia supports them,” he said.

He also announced that Croatian President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic on Wednesday would voice Croatia's dissatisfaction with the court ruling at a UN Security Council meeting in New York.

Croats in Bosnia expressed outrage last Wednesday over the final verdict by the International Criminal Tribunal for Former Yugoslavia, ICTY, and condemned it.

This upheld a 2013 combined jail sentence of 111 years for Jadranko Prlic, Bruno Stojic, Slobodan Praljak, Milivoj Petkovic, Valentin Coric and Berislav Pusic.

The six were former senior political and military officials in the wartime statelet of Herzeg-Bosna, and were found guilty for atrocities committed against [Bosniaks] in the area under their control.

Praljak dramatically committed suicide in the courtroom as his 20-year jail sentence was reconfirmed

The verdict also named Croatia’s former President Franjo Tudjman, his Defence Minister Gojko Susak and his Chief of the General Staff, Janko Bobetko, as members of a joint criminal enterprise, along with the six convicts.

The reading-out of the verdict was overshadowed when Praljak, 72, produced a bottle of poison after hearing his own verdict and drank it. He later died in hospital.
Bosnian Croats held that night a vigil in Mostar, lighting candles in front of the cultural centre where Plenkovic will lay down flowers on Monday.

On Tuesday, he will meet Bosnian Croat veterans and Bosnian Croat political leaders.

It was the final verdict handed down by the tribunal, which will close on December 31 after 24 years of prosecuting those behind the worst atrocities seen in Europe since World War II.

The ICTY chief prosecutor has, meanwhile, criticised Croatian leaders for not appearing to accept the verdicts.

“It would have been hoped that Croatian officials and media would act more responsibly and promote acceptance of the facts, but that unfortunately is not what we are seeing,” Serge Brammertz said. 

“Instead, among many, there is again a refusal to respect the judicial process and the facts proved, and claims that convicted war criminals are in fact heroes. This denial disrespects the victims,” he added.

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