news 19 Aug 13

Croatia Charges Man Over Flag Incident in Vukovar

Police on Friday in the eastern Croatian town charged a man for hanging a Serbian flag with the word 'Vukovar' written in Cyrillic letters on it during a junior women's basketball match.

Boris Pavelic

 Croatian police in the town confirmed that they had charged the 23-year-old under incitement-to-riot legislation, without further explanation.

According to media reports, the man was part of a group of others who hung a Serbian flag with the word "Vukovar" written in Serbian Cyrillic letters on it during Thursday's basketball match.

The European junior women's basketball championship is currently being staged in Vukovar.

Croatia's main opposition party, the Croatian democratic union, HDZ, condemned the behaviour of Serbian fans in the match, claiming that many of them shouted slogans saying "This is Serbia".

Several war veterans associations also condemned the Serbian fans. One called on Croatia's centre-left government to "rethink it's policy towards national minorities".

The town remains a highly sensitive issue in Croatia. On the border with Serbia, it was almost completely destroyed in a three-month siege conducted by the Serb-led Yugoslav Army in the autumn of 1991.

For the following four years it was under Serbian occupation and the Croatian population was expelled. They could not return until Croatia recovered the town in 1995.

More than 1,600 people died in the siege and about 2,500 others were wounded. After the town fell, more than 200 wounded prisoners of war and civilians were taken from hospital to a nearby farm at Ovcara and executed.

The shelling of the town also destroyed more than 8,000 buildings, including much of Vukovar's Austro-Hungarian architectural heritage.

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