Plenković: Praljak’s Actions Speak of Deep Moral Injustice

Lauren Simmonds

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The Croatian PM expresses his deep regret for the death of Slobodan Praljak and offers his condolences to the Praljak family.

As Nacional writes on the 29th of November, 2017, Prime Minister Andrej Plenković has expressed his regret and offered condolences to the grieving family of Slobodan Praljak, who died after drinking poison today in the courtroom at the Hague.

”On behalf of the Government of the Republic of Croatia, I personally wish to express my deepest sympathies to General Slobodan Praljak’s family. His act, which we unfortunately all witnessed today, speaks mainly of the deep moral injustice towards the six Croatians from Bosnia and Herzegovina and the Croatian people. The government expresses sympathy for all the victims of all the crimes committed during the war in Bosnia and Herzegovina. We’d also like to express our dissatisfaction and regret regarding the confirmed verdicts for the six [who were on trial].

In relation to this, I’d like to remind you once again of the help and support the Republic of Croatia gave to Bosnia and Herzegovina at a time when it was faced with Greater Serbian aggression, and when its territorial independence was compromised.

On the basis of an agreement with Bosnia and Herzegovina’s political leadership, the Croatian military interrupted the Serbian siege of Bihać, we’re talking about a milestone in the relationship between the forces, and thus prevented the most serious of crimes and genocide, such as what happened in Srebrenica. The Croatian Army freed a large part of Bosnia and Herzegovina’s territory, thus halting the war and allowing for the possibility of the Paris-Dayton peace agreement. For years, the Republic of Croatia provided shelter to refugees from Bosnia and Herzegovina. It was among the first countries to recognise Bosnia and Herzegovina. Bosnia and Herzegovina’s independence would not exist without the Croats, who, with their vote in the March 1992 referendum with the Bosniaks, created the foundations [of the country].

The Republic of Croatia tried to get involved in the trial as a friend of the court. For the first time in 2006, then again in 2016, and finally during my government’s time in 2017, the court rejected the Republic of Croatia’s claims.

What is particularly important is that in July 2017, the Appeals Chamber interpreted the contents of the first-instance verdict in 2013 in a way that the trial chamber didn’t make any concrete conclusions about the participation of the leadership of the Croatian state for what was called the JCE, and didn’t blame them for any crime. It was also confirmed that the jurisdiction of the court was not to determine the criminal liability of the state.

The Republic of Croatia considers this verdict to have wrongly alluded to the role of the state leadership in the developments in Bosnia and Herzegovina in the 1990’s. We consider that the state leadership in these war events, according to the position of the government, could not in any way be related to those facts and interpretations that they tried to construe and interpret from 2013’s verdict.

At the same time, we’d like to say that it’s absurd that no international verdict has established the responsibility of Serbia’s then state leadership. In light of all this, the government will consider all the available legal and political mechanisms to disprove certain allegations from today’s verdict.

Once again, I want to send a message of support for the survival of the Croatian people in Bosnia and Herzegovina. In all of our activities, we should be taking care that we’re the biggest advocate of Bosnia and Herzegovina’s European path.”

Andrej Plenković has been in contact with President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović today, who, in the meantime, has interrupted her visit to Iceland and is in constant contact with judicial experts, the Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs, the Ambassador in the Netherlands and Croats in neighbouring Bosnia and Herzegovina.

To quickly recall today’s dramatic events, six individuals were handed down a total of 111 years in prison. After the reading of the verdict, Slobodan Praljak, who had been given a twenty year sentence, drank poison in the courtroom, he later passed away in hospital.

The Croatian government claims to have been shocked and worried about today’s events and Slobodan Praljak’s drastic actions.


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