D.I.C. Veritas

SRNA, 01.05.2019, Štrbac: Nothing changed 24 Years Later – Croats celebrating, Serbs grieving

BELGRADE, May 1 /SRNA/ – Head of the Documentation and Information Collecting Centre Veritas Savo Štrbac says no one has yet answered for a war crime against Serbs in Western Slavonia committed during the Croatian Operation Flash when 283 Serbs, including 14 civilians were killed, and pointed out that 24 years later things have not changed as the Croats are celebrating while Serbs are grieving.

“Twenty-four years have passed and nothing has changed. Today there is a celebration in Okučani, Croatia’s whole state leadership is there, parades, etc., and we here in Serbia, Republika Srpska and around the world where Serbs from Western Slavonia and Krajina have scattered are grieving,” the press was told by Štrbac, who attended a memorial service to the Flash victims in the St Mark Church in Belgrade on Wednesday.

He noted that no one had been brought to justice for the crime against Serbs of Western Slavonia, in which eight children under 14 among were among the casualties, and recalled that crimes had been committed against Serb soldiers too, because they were killed after they had been taken prisoner.

Štrbac said light had been shed on the fate of 154 victims so far and that their families had taken over their remains and buried them, adding that 148 remains had been exhumed from the so-called mass graves.

“I believe another 29 have not been identified yet. But, if they too were identified, we would still be missing 90 remains of the total number of victims,” noted Štrbac.

He recalled attempts in Republika Srpska, Serbia and Croatia to conduct individual proceedings, but asserted that they all either ended in an investigation or were in an investigative stage, implying there was no further action in any of the launched proceedings.

Štrbac mentioned the recent hype in the Croatian media about Austria planning to return a MiG-21 to Croatia in May, which pilot Rudolf Perešin, who the Croats proclaimed a hero and a knight, snatched away from the Yugoslav People’s Army and used to defect to Austria.

He noted that on May 2, 1995 it was Perešin himself who flew a Croatian MiG and crossed over to Republika Srpska, dropped four cluster bombs on Gradiška killing two young children and several adults, whereupon he was downed by the Srpska Army air defence.

“I constantly repeat that someone who killed children in their sleep in a big inhabited place could never be a hero or a knight. He is nothing but a child-killer,” said Štrbac.

Speaking about different standards still used in international and domestic courts, Štrbac recalled that a proceeding was still conducted before a court in Zagreb against the former president of the Republic of Serbian Krajina Milan Martić and commander of the Serb Army of Krajina, General Milan Čeleketić for the shelling of Zagreb, Jastrebarsko and Karlovac, where the toll was six people.

“They ordered it so the Croats could suspend their aggression on Western Slavonia. If they can prosecute them for those criminal offences with six victims, then someone has to prosecute the Croatian leadership for the 283 victims and the 15,000 expelled, and everyone knows who was in command of the Croatian units,” said Štrbac.

The International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia sentenced Martić to 35 years’ imprisonment for the Zagreb shelling, he said, qualifying it as a case of double standards.

During the Croatian military operation Flash in Western Slavonia, which was a UN Safe Area, 283 Serbs, including 55 women and 11 children were either killed or went missing, and Serbs were expelled from that part of Croatia.

On May 1-2, 1995, the Croatian military and police forces committed an act of aggression on Western Slavonia, which was a UN Safe Area – the so-called sector West and was part of the Republic of Serbian Krajina.

The area that had around 15,000 Serb inhabitants at the time, 4,000 of whom were soldiers, was attacked by, according to Croatian data around 16,000 Croatian military and police, who had previously informed the UN, who fled before the operation. The Serb population were surprised during sleep.

Serbs from Western Slavonia then started their exodus to save themselves and on their way to the “bridge of salvation” across the Sava leading to Republika Srpska, convoys of Serb refugees were targeted by aerial bombs, Malyutka missiles, artillery grenades and sniper bullets.






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