Serbia’s indictments against Croatian veterans are again in the focus of attention.
Zdravko Hlobik from Osijek was arrested by Serbian authorities at the Bogojevo border crossing between Croatia and Serbia because he was misidentified as another person with the same name, Zdravko Hlobik from Jelisavac near Našice, a Croatian veteran who has been convicted by Serbia for terrorism during the Homeland War. Serbia has issued a warrant for Hlobík from Jelisavac, and it was used to arrested the other Hlobik, reports Večernji List on August 20, 2016.
“I went with my friend to Bogojevo, when they took me to the side. They said they had to run some additional checks but did not give me any further explanation. It all started at 7.30 am and at 1.30 pm they handcuffed me and drove me to the High Court in Sombor”, says the 54-year-old from Osijek, still in disbelief. His friend did not want to leave him, and went with him to Sombor.
“I have tried to explain to the judge that this was a mistake because I knew there was another Zdravko Hlobik from Jelisavac. But nothing helped”, he continues. Since he is a pulmonary patient, he was breathing heavily due to stress and soon after he was brought to court he got sick and was sent to a hospital. He is convinced that the hour and a half at the hospital actually saved him. In the meantime, they managed to get in contact with the Croatian consul in Serbia and alert the Croatian Foreign Ministry.
“If I did not get sick, they would have driven me to a prison in Belgrade, because the detention documents had already been prepared. In the end, they issued a ban for me to leave Sombor while my identity was not determined so we spent the night in a hotel”, he explains. The Ministry has promised to pay for the hotel costs.
Next morning, he headed back to the High Court in Sombor, in the company of the Croatian consul. His identity card was returned and he headed home to Osijek. “They again made problems for me at the border, although I was escorted by the consul. They kept me waiting for at least 20 minutes”, he adds. In the last few years, he has visited Serbia dozens of times and has never had any problems. He says he will go again there because he hopes that the misidentification will not happen again not that everything has been sorted out.
Zdravko Hlobik from Jelisavac says that he knows he was sentenced in Serbia during the war without his presence, but he did not know that the arrest warrant against him was still in effect. “I checked it on the internet one time when I went to Hungary, and there was no arrest warrant. But, I knew I should not go to Serbia. Since the arrest of another veteran Tihomir Purda, I have stopped going to Hungary as well”, says Hlobik from Jelisavac.
The issue of arrest warrants against Croatian veterans is again becoming a hot topic in relations between Serbia and Croatia. Serbia has adopted a law which enables it to prosecute people it claims have committed war crimes on the territory of former Yugoslavia. Croatia is demanding that Serbia should withdraw the law since it is being used to prosecute veterans who though for Croatia during the Homeland War. Many of the arrest warrants have been issued on the basis of “confessions” signed while POWs were kept in prison camps in Serbia.