Pupovac Calls for War Crimes Prosecution

Total Croatia News

ZAGREB, September 29, 2018 – Speaking at a commemoration for Serb civilians killed during and in the aftermath of the military Operation Storm in the Knin area in 1995, Serb National Council (SNV) president and Serb minority MP Milorad Pupovac said that all criminals have to be punished and denied accusations that he or his Independent Democratic Serb Party (SDSS) were working so that war crimes committed against Croat civilians in Vukovar aren’t prosecuted.

Pupovac said that nearly two months after the Storm operation, nine local civilians who remained in their homes in Varivode were killed, despite the fact that they had hung out white sheets as a sign of peace. He added that “this didn’t help them at all because those that entered their yards had come to kill, loot and burn just like they burned, looted and killed several days and years after Storm.” To kill, loot and burn in a functioning state that wishes to respect civil and human rights should not be possible, Pupovac said and claimed that that crime has gone unpunished.

“We want that crime to be punished, just like any other, whether against Serbs, Croats or Bosniaks, in the war that we experienced after the disintegration of the joint country. Every honourable state official, soldier, police officer, judge and politician should condemn and speak as I am now here. And be ashamed of the crimes that someone committed in the name of the people I belong to, and never incite hate toward others just because someone committed a crime against your people,” Pupovac said in his address.

He added that the crimes committed on 5 and 6 August 1995 in Grubori, Golubić, Uzdolje, Gosić and Mokro Polje must not be forgotten either nor those committed during the Storm operation that are not mentioned as if they had never occurred.

He also commented on the fact that over the past few days and weeks some associations and persons in the public media sphere have been accusing his party of “preventing judicial and police authorities to do what is essential to investigate crimes committed against members of the brotherly Croatian people by the Serb or other peoples,” in particular with reference to Vukovar and surrounding area.

“Neither I nor the party I belong to have done anything to convince anyone in the state authorities not to prosecute those who are responsible for the crimes committed in Vukovar or anywhere else. But we have done everything for the judiciary not to be used as a means of ethnic persecution nor as a means of preventing returns as has been done non-selectively for years. That is why we are for all those who have been convicted to serve their sentences, and they have been convicted,” Pupovac said.

In conclusion, he said that one should not destroy relations between people who should build peace and trust and with whom “one should look for ways to forgive sinful thoughts, words and bigger sins such as crimes against humanity.”

Speaking to reporters after the commemoration, Knin mayor Marko Jelić said that what happened in Varivode was not caused by Operation Storm, the Croatian police or the Croatian people, but by criminals who should be held to account. “I don’t want the Croatian people and state to carry the crime of some criminal. Eighty years of equating Croats with crimes committed in World War II have been enough,” Jelić said, adding that he was fighting for a civilised and democratic society which respected everyone in what they had to say.

The director of the Documenta Centre for Dealing with the Past, Vesna Teršelić, asked at the commemoration what one could do to honour those killed in Varivode and other execution sites in Croatia and what one could do for peace and to build trust. “In Croatia, we still haven’t found a way to mark the anniversary of Operation Storm so that, on the one hand, it would be a Homeland Thanksgiving Day and, on the other, a commemoration for all the civilians killed during and after the operation,” Teršelić said.

Some families in Varivode are still waiting for Supreme Court decisions, she said, adding that justice was very slow and that the capacities of the police and the prosecutors were limited.

Respect for all the victims, the rule of law and an efficient judiciary are the foundation of our peace today and if this is not understood, there will be more attacks, such as the one on Serb minority MPs Milorad Pupovac and Boris Milošević on Friday, which are unacceptable, said Teršelić.

Today’s commemoration was organised by the SNV and Kistanje municipality. It was attended, among others, by members of the SNV, the Serb National Minority Council, a delegation of Croatia’s government and parliament, a delegation of the Serbian prime minister, and members of human rights organisations. Police estimated that about 100 people were in attendance.


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