News 29 Oct 10

Australian Surgeon Fights Serbian ‘Smear’ Campaign

An Australian surgeon who lifted the lid on his time fighting with the Kosovo Liberation Army in explosive memoirs published this year has condemned the ‘smear campaign’ launched against him by the Serbian war crimes prosecutor.

Lawrence Marzouk

Last week, Vladimir Vukcevic ordered an investigation into Craig Juresivic’s ‘mercy killing’ of a dying woman during the Kosovo conflict, suggesting he could be prosecuted for murder.

Jurisevic, who fought alongside the KLA in 1999, branded the move hypocritical in an interview with Balkan Insight, adding that the decision was an attempt to discredit him.

In his book, Blood on my Hands, Jurisevic describes his extraordinary journey from an Adelaide hospital to the frontline of the KLA.

In one episode from his memoirs, released this year, he reveals how after hearing an explosion in a village near the Albanian border, he discovered the bodies of 15 women and old people riddled with bullets, before stumbling across a woman whimpering in pain in a nearby house.

She had triggered a booby trap and was lying near her dead husband and cradling a dead child in her arms.

According to Jurisevic, the woman had been shot in both legs to prevent her moving and was sitting in a pool of blood, fatally injured.

A soldier translating for her said: “Doctor, she is asking us to kill her.”

Jurisevic wrote: “I move the woman as gently as I can and place her beside her dead husband.

“From the bedroom I fetch a thick blanket. I think she sees clearly enough what is to follow, and she nods and manages something like a smile.

“I turn her head to one side, gently place the blanket down on it, point the barrel of my pistol down and pull the trigger.

“I wait for a few seconds, then reach for the woman's wrist. The pulse is gone. I slide the pistol into its holster and take my leave.”

It is this episode which has landed Jurisevic in trouble with the Serbian justice system.

According to a statement issued to Serbian media last week, the War Crimes Prosecutor suspects that the action could be considered murder and has passed on the investigation to Belgrade-run institutions in Mitrovica, Kosovo.

Jurisevic told Balkan Insight: “It is quite hypocritical that they are investigating my actions without even mentioning the Serb forces who killed the woman’s family and fatally injured the woman.

“The Serbs are attempting to discredit me simply because I have exposed the truth about the war in Kosovo.”

He added that he has faced death threats from Serbs in his native Australia since the book’s publication.

But he said that he was not surprised that his memoirs had sparked such a response.

“I am not surprised by all these allegations,” he said. “The criminals who still walk free in Serbia, many of whom are in positions of power in business and government, will stop at nothing to hide the crimes of Serb forces in Kosovo.

But he said that he had “received no formal notification from the Serbian prosecutors office and have not been contacted by a single Serb official”.

Balkan Insight contacted Serbia’s war crimes prosecution office several times but received no reply.

Despite the furore, Juresivic remains committed to transforming his book into a Hollywood blockbuster, and says he has received interest from a number of high profile directors.

“The film rights are still in my hands and I am awaiting a film producer/ studio to make an acceptable offer for the sale of the film rights,” he said.

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