News 22 Sep 17

Paramilitary ‘Captain Dragan’ Slams ‘Fascist’ Trial in Croatia

In his closing statement at his war crimes trial in Croatia, former Serb paramilitary leader Dragan Vasiljkovic, alias Captain Dragan, said he had been subjected to “an oppressive fascist process”.

BIRN
Dragan Vasiljkovic, alias Captain Dragan, in court in Split. Photo: BETAPHOTO/HINA/Mario STRMOTIC/MO.

Dragan Vasiljkovic, who is standing trial for war crimes in the Croatian city of Split, said in his closing statement to the court on Thursday that he is innocent and his prosecution is politically motivated, The Australian newspaper reported.

“This is an oppressive fascist process,” he told the judges, according to The Australian.

Vasiljkovic, an Australian citizen of Serbian origin known in the Balkans as Captain Dragan, is accused of war crimes against civilians and prisoners of war while he was the commander of a Serbian Special Operations Unit sent to aid Serb paramilitaries in Croatia during their armed rebellion between 1991 and 1995.

He insisted he was innocent of all three counts, including the charge of murdering unidentified civilians in the town of Bruska.

“Those are just stupid claims from people I have never seen in my life,” he said in his closing remarks, The Australian reported.

“They charged me with murder of non-existent men. One of the witnesses who withdrew his statement testified I was never in charge at Bruska and at the end of his evidence the witness asked me, ‘Who are you?’ when he saw me in the court,” he added.

Vasiljkovic is charged with the torture, mistreatment and killings of imprisoned Croatian soldiers and policemen in June and July 1991 at the fortress in Knin, and in February 1993 in Bruska.

He is also accused of organising and leading the attack on the villages, as well as on a police station in Glina - attacks in which two people were killed.

According to the indictment, he was the commander of the training centre for a Serb special paramilitary unit called Alfa.

Vasiljkovic pleaded not guilty at the initial hearing in September.

He was deported to Croatia from Australia in July 2015, where he had been living for years under the name Daniel Snedden and working as a golf instructor.

He had already spent nine years in custody in Australia while fighting extradition.

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