news 24 Jun 14

Bosnian Professor ‘Beaten for Criticising War Criminal’

Mostar University professor Slavo Kukic said he was beaten up in a bid to silence his criticism of the hero’s welcome given to a freed Bosnian Croat war criminal.

Elvira M. Jukic
  Slavo Kukic in hospital after the attack. Photo: Klix.

Kukic told BIRN on Tuesday that he was attacked because he spoke out against the welcome party thrown for returning convict Dario Kordic in his hometown of Busovaca, which was attended by representatives of the Croatian Democratic Union, the party that governs the Mostar area.

“This was the price I had to pay. This had nothing to do with by professional career as a professor, but had to do with the fact that I often stand out as an intellectual and am critical,” said Kukic, an ethnic Croat who often takes Bosnian Croat political leaders to task.

“The day before the attack, I gave an interview to Al Jazeera and spoke in a critical way about that welcome [for Kordic]. No one should be proud of such an event,” he added.

The professor said that his assailant entered his office at the economics faculty in Mostar on Monday and asked him whether he was Slavo Kukic. When he said yes, the man started hitting him with a baseball bat.

Police said they were looking for the culprit but could not comment on his possible motives.

“The attacker used a baseball bat and hit Kukic on the head and other parts of the body,” Srecko Bosnjak, spokesperson for the Herzegovina-Neretva Canton Interior Ministry, told BIRN.

Dario Kordic during his trial at the Hague Tribunal.

Kordic was released earlier this month after serving 17 years of his 25-year war crimes sentence for ordering an attack on the village of Ahmici in 1993, during which 116 Bosniak civilians, including children, women and the elderly, were murdered.

A former leader of a self-proclaimed wartime statelet called the Croatian Republic of Herceg-Bosna, Kordic also received a welcome from supporters at Zagreb airport, and a Croatian Catholic bishop led a service of thanksgiving for his return.

The alleged glorification of a war criminal sparked a protest by Croatian human-rights activists, who rallied in Zagreb carrying placards with the names of the victims of the 1993 massacre in Ahmici.

Judgments at the Hague Tribunal have said that Herceg-Bosna was founded with the intention of splitting the territory from Bosnia and Herzegovina and uniting it with a 'Greater Croatia'.

Six of its other leaders were convicted last year of taking part in a joint criminal enterprise aimed at forcibly removing Bosniaks, and sentenced to 111 years in total.

Protest against the 'glorification' of Kordic in Zagreb earlier this month. Photo: Josip Ivanovic/BIRN.

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