A controversial decision by outgoing Croatian President Stjepan Mesic to shorten the sentence of convicted criminal Sinisa Rimac has been questioned by government officials, Croatian media report.
Mesic earlier this month shortened Rimac’s sentence by one year to seven years. Rimac was convicted of killing one person in Pakracka Poljana, a detention centre in Croatia for Serbs during the 1991-95 wars.
Zagreb’s daily Jutarnji List has quoted an unnamed member of the country's amnesty commission and a source from the ministry of justice saying that the ministry expressed its concerns over giving Rimac an amnesty.
According to Jutarnji List, the ministry argued that giving Rimac an amnesty would create a negative impression in the public.
The decision to reduce Rimac’s sentence caused outrage in Serbia, with Serbia's President Boris Tadic protesting the decision.
Rimac’s trial itself stirred controversy. According to the verdict, the judge did not treat crimes committed in Pakracka Poljana as war crimes, but as crimes committed “in a circumstance of war’’.
Rimac was soldier in Croatian Army during the war. Rimac was 18 when he committed murder. He was later a member of the Special Forces and later on a member of the personal security for late Defence Minister Gojko Susak. In 1994 he was badly wounded. During the war he was awarded eight times, and in 2005 he retired as a colonel.
While in prison, Rimac asked for amnesty, saying that he is looking forward to having the possibility of a family life, according to Vecernji List.
When deciding to reduce his sentence, Mesic noted that Rimac was very young, only 18, when he committed murder. He noted that he is now a family man, a father of two who is expecting another child.
Following Tadic’s outrage, Mesic said his counterpart should know that amnesty is not given to someone for what he has done, or is convicted for having done, but by taking into account a person's behavior and circumstances.
Serbian and Croatian laws permit amnesty for people who are convicted for crimes committed against another nationality during war.
When Mesic granted Rimac clemency, Mesic also shortened a 14-year sentence of Branko Ljubisic, a Serb convinced of war crimes committed in Bileca, Bosnia and Herzegovina, but this decision did not provoke reactions.
Previously, in 2009, Boris Tadic granted amnesty to Zoran Stanojevic who was convicted for the murder of one person and attempted murder of two in Kosovo, according to Beta agency. Stanojevic was convicted to 15 years in 2002, but Tadic's amnesty decreased the sentence to six years in prison.
In 2008, Mesic give an amnesty to Romeo Blazevic, convicted to three years for war crimes in Mostar, Herzegovina. Blazevic served two and a half years.
Aside from Rimac, four others were also convicted for crimes committed in Pakracka Poljana. Munib Suljic and Igor Mikola were also convicted to ten and five years respectively, while Miroslav Bajramovic and Branko Saric were convicted to four and three years.
This article is Premium Content. In order to gain access to it, please login to your account below if you are already a Premium Subscriber, or subscribe to one of our Premium Content packages.
Our Premium Service gives you access to exclusive content published on Balkan Insight, including analyses, investigations, comments, interviews and more. Subscribe to Balkan Transitional Justice Premium or to Full Premium Access and get unparalleled in-depth coverage of the Western Balkans.
If you have trouble logging in or any other questions regarding you account, please contact us