News 29 Aug 17

Croatian State History Institute Promotes Prlic Book

A Croatian state-funded institution for researching the 1990s war and a ruling party MP promoted a book written by former Bosnian Croat leader and war crimes defendant Jadranko Prlic in Mostar.

Sven Milekic
BIRN
Zagreb
Jadranko Prlic in court in The Hague in March. Photo: ICTY.

Ante Nazor, head of the Croatian Memorial Documentation Centre for the Homeland War - Croatia’s official name for the independence war of the 1990s - and MP Zeljko Raguz promoted a book by the Bosnian Croat wartime leader Jadranko Prlic in Mostar in Bosnia on Monday evening.

Prlic, the commander of the Bosnian Croat armed forces, the Croatian Defence Council, HVO, and prime minister of the unrecognised wartime Croatian Republic of Herzeg-Bosna, is awaiting the judgment in his appeal against his conviction at the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia, ICTY, which is due in November.

The Tribunal’s trial chamber sentenced Prlic to 25 years in prison in May 2013, finding him guilty of taking part in a joint criminal enterprise aimed at forcibly removing Bosniaks from territories under Bosnian Croat control during the 1992-5 war in an attempt to create a "Greater Croatia".

Nazor and Raguz, an MP from the governing Croatian Democratic Union, HDZ, both spoke at the promotion for Prlic’s three-volume book, entitled Contributions to the History of the Croatian Republic of Herzeg-Bosna.

The event was a part of a ceremony marking the 24th anniversary of the foundation of Herzeg-Bosna.

Raguz said Prlic's book showed how Bosniaks expelled Croats but then accused Croats of doing the same.

Nazor said the book was "a capital work of Croatian historiography" that challenges the imposed perception of the events of the 1990s, which resulted in a feeling of guilt among Croats.

"Bosnian unitarism and Serbian separatism are major threats to Bosnia and Herzegovina, then as well as today. Croats have, then and now, advocated a federal approach to the planning of Bosnia and Herzegovina," Nazor concluded.

In his book, Prlic claimed that the former US diplomat Jacques Paul Klein said Bosnian President Alija Izetbegovic offered Croatian President Franjo Tudjman the opportunity to annex Western Herzegovina, which is mainly populated by Croats and was then under the control of the HVO.

According to Prlic, Tudjman refused the offer.

In the Hague Tribunal’s verdict convicting Prlic and five other Herzeg-Bosna officials, the court declared that Tudjman was the head of the joint criminal enterprise aimed at establishing a "Greater Croatia".

In the book, Prlic also claims that the Bosniak authorities who held the eastern half of Mostar during the Bosnian war did not allow civilians to leave the town because they wanted to cause a humanitarian catastrophe that would turn the international community against the Croats.

Between June 1993 and April 1994, the HVO laid siege to the east of Mostar. The Bosniak population there was subjected to “intensive and constant” shelling which left many civilians dead or wounded, according to the Hague Tribunal’s verdict in the Herzeg-Bosna case.

The court also established that the HVO destroyed the famous Old Bridge in Mostar on November 8, 1993. The bridge has since been rebuilt and is now a major tourist attraction.

Bosnian Croats set up the Croatian Community of Herzeg-Bosna in November 1991, before the start of the Bosnian war. It changed its name to the Republic of Herzeg-Bosna in August 1993.

Nazor’s Croatian Memorial Documentation Centre for the Homeland War is Croatia’s central institution for researching and documenting events of the 1990s war, publishing scientific publications on wartime events, operations and documents.

The Croatian parliament voted to establish the Centre in late 2004, and it began work the following year.

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