News 23 Mar 12

Protests Over Chetnik Hero's Rehabilitation

Dozens of Serbian antifascists protested on Friday in front of the High Court in Belgrade against the possible rehabilitation of the WW2 Chetnik leader Dragoslav Draza Mihailovic.

Marija Ristic

Demonstrators say that the rehabilitation of Mihailovic would mean the rehabilitation of the entire criminal Chetnik movement, which would debase the fight of the partisans against fascism.

Slobodan Homen, State Secretary in the Ministry of Justice, said that on the basis of the Law on Rehabilitation the court can only decide whether Mihailovic had a fair trial, and not whether he had committed any crimes or not.

Mihailovic, who was also known as General Draza, was sentenced to death in 1946 by a Yugoslav Court for high treason and collaboration with Nazi Germany. He was shot, but the location of his body is unknown.

His grandson Vojsilav Mihailovic, who filed the request for his rehabilitation, says that his grandfather was never a Nazi collaborator and that his trial was a product of the communist regime.

At Friday’s hearing, Belgrade historian Slobodan Markovic, said that according to the documents from various archives there is no evidence of Mihailovic’s collaboration with Nazis.

“I have filed a number of documents to the Court which show that it was a staged trial. In the eyes of the law it is impossible to accept that a trial can be fair if the Bulgarian and Yugoslav Communist Parties influenced the legal process,” Markovic told BIRN.

“This was a political trial because general Mihailovic was a minister of the Yugoslav government in exile. Mihailovic’s trial was an act against the King’s government,” explains Markovic.

Previously, Higher Court rehabilitated Prince Paul, the former Yugoslav regent deposed in 1941 by a coup, and Slobodan Jovanovic, President of the King’s government in exile.

The announcement of Mihailovic’s possible rehabilitation provoked a negative reaction amongst the Bosnian and Croatian public.  The consensus appears to be that it would not be good for the region if the Serbian state rehabilitates a war criminal.

Fourteen Serbian NGOs wrote an open letter earlier this week stating that the attempted rehabilitation of Draza Mihajlovic demeans the struggle of both the Serbians and all the other peoples of the former Yugoslavia against fascism.

Association Antifascist Action of Novi Sad has plastered the city of Novi Sad with anti-Draza posters that read: “Nazi servant and war criminal Draza Mihailovic is Serbia’s shame.”

The legal process that will decide whether to rehabilitate Draza Mihailovic resumes on May 11.

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