President Under Pressure to Take Away Medals from Convicted Officers

Total Croatia News

The President says she will not do it.

There are more and more demands for President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović to take away wartime medals given to officers who have recently been found guilty of war crimes by the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia in the Hague, reports Večernji List on December 12, 2017.

The President, who is also the supreme commander of the Croatian Armed Forces, commented on the demands on Tuesday morning. She said that “these people have received medals for defence against the Greater Serbian aggression” and added that she would not take the medals away from them. “Such practice has not been implemented so far, except in the case of verdicts made by Croatian courts,” she said.

According to unofficial sources close to the Office of the President, “the presidential practice has not been institutionalised so far in any of the previous cases of final verdicts for the commission of war crimes following the decisions of the Hague Tribunal.”

“The medals of the Republic of Croatia have not been taken away from either General Tihomir Blaškić, Mr Dario Kordić and others, who have been convicted by the same court, so there is no institute of automatic removal of the medals,” said a representative of the Office of the President.

The Law on Medals and Recognitions states in article 36 that the President of the Republic shall, upon the proposal of the State Commission for Medals and Recognitions or by his or her own decision, take away medals and recognitions if the person in question acts contrary to the legal order or moral values of the Republic of Croatia.

The Regulations on Medals and Recognitions include the provision relating to the procedure and the reasons for the withdrawal of medals. Article 16 explicitly states that the State Commission will propose the removal of medals for people who have been legally convicted to an unconditional sentence of at least three years in prison.

In earlier years, President Stjepan Mesić took away medals given to generals Mirko Norac, Vladimir Zagorac and Ivan Korade, as well as to war crimes perpetrators Tihomir Orešković, Siniša Rimac, Tomislav Duić, Ante Gudić, Davor Banić, Stjepan Grandić and Anđelko Botić. Zagorac, Rimac and Norac also lost their wartime decorations.

His successor, President Ivo Josipović, took away the official rank of generals Branimir Glavaš, Vladimir Zagorac and Mirko Norac, as well as of Major Siniša Rimac. Josipović also took away all medals given to former Prime Minister Ivo Sanader.

Goran Beus Richembergh, MP from the liberal GLAS party, said on Tuesday that it was the legal obligation of President Kolinda Grabar Kitarović to annul ranks and medals for officers convicted for war crimes by the Hague Tribunal.

“Unfortunately, nobody knows what the President will do, because her behaviour lately has been rather unpredictable in that sense. I hope it will not take too much time for her to decide to respect the law because this is not a precedent. These are cases similar to the ones which we have already had, there is a legal model, as well as the principle of the behaviour of the supreme commander in such cases,” said Beus.

Translated from Večernji List.


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