News 06 May 14

Croatian Courts Accused of ‘Nationalist’ Anti-Serb Justice

The head of the Serb National Council in Croatia accused the country’s courts of handing down ethnically-biased justice after a decision to auction a Serb wartime refugee’s house.

Josip Ivanovic
BIRN
Zagreb
Milorad Pupovac.

Croatian MP Milorad Pupovac, the president of the Serb National Council, said on Monday that the decision to sell off the refugee’s house showed the courts had “nationalistic criteria” and were “once again taking from those who were deprived from their property rights”.

“I am ashamed as a person who has dedicated more than 20 years to Croatian politics and I am ashamed as one of those responsible for this country becoming an EU member state,” Pupovac told a press conference in Krnjak in central Croatia.

Serb refugee Petar Kunic, left his home just before Operation Storm, when Croatian forces took back swathes of territory from Serb control, in August 1995.

A year later, the state assigned his property to a man called Vinko Petrovic. When Kunic returned in 2003, he was sued for compensation by Petrovic over the amount he had spent on the reconstruction work.

The county court in Karlovac ruled that Kunic had to pay 1.3 million kunas (around 170,000 euro) to Petrovic. But because Kunic is not able to pay, the court will put his house on public auction on May 12.

“I’ve been struggling with the judicial bodies of the Republic of Croatia for 19 years in order to get what is mine. During those 19 years, I was deprived of the right to enjoy property and any kind of progress,” Kunic told the press conference.

Pupovac said that 14 other Croatian Serb families are in similar situations.

The deputy leader of the Karlovac county authorities, Sinisa Ljubojevic, also said that it was that “clear that the state is violating the constitution”.

“The state in this case is violating its highest law, the Croatian constitution, and it is clear that there are elements of national discrimination and nationally motivated court rulings,” Ljubojevic said.

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