D.I.C. Veritas

SRNA, 08.03.2018, Strbac: Zagreb protecting Croatian Soldiers, Police Officers from Criminal Responsibility

BELGRADE, March 8 /SRNA/ – Director of Veritas Centre Savo Strbac has told Srna that Croatia keeps stalling the payment of non-pecuniary damages to the Serb victims’ families by intentionally procrastinating the payments and changing the grounds for disbursement in order to exonerate members of the Croatian army and police who committed crimes.

Commenting on a report that the Municipal Court in Sibenik, Croatia ruled that Dusanka Mandic should be paid EUR 17,791 for the murder of her father Mirko Pokrajac /84/ in the village of Varivode, Strbac said he assumed that the basis for the compensation was that the “Croatian state is responsible for terrorist acts” and pointed out that this meant that such acts could have been committed by anyone.

The same was suggested on an earlier occasion in the Beric family case, where children of the father Radivoj /69/ and mother Marija /69/ killed in Varivode received damages in the amount of EUR 72,783, said Strbac.

“It would be the same as if someone came from Afghanistan or any other country and killed those people,” said Strbac.

This is how Croatia protects each of its citizens because it cannot deny the fact that the Serbs in Varivode were killed on September 28, 1995, almost two months after Operation Storm, particularly because the footage showing the freshly killed Serb civilians with blood flowing from their bodies was seen by the whole world, underlined Strbac.

“We know who committed the crimes. And the Croats know that we know, but the perpetrators are protected by someone. The Croatian army and police are also protected. No one has been convicted in this case and it’s easier to say ‘It was committed by unknown perpetrators.’ It could be anyone from anywhere around the world and the Croatian state will pay for it,” said Strbac.

The amount of non-pecuniary damages ruled by a first-instance verdict for the families Pokrajac and Mandic is the lowest that Veritas knows of, since the amount usually ranges between 180,000 and 200,000 Croatian kunas /EUR24,226 or EUR26,917/.

Strbac pointed out that history had shown that Croatia was specific only in cases where there were verdicts for members of its military forces, and that in all other cases it dodged responsibility.

“It wasn’t a problem if someone was guilty or convicted, like in the cases Gospic, Medak Pocket, Lora 1, Sisak, Marino Selo. Damages in those cases amounted to millions, but the problem would occur when there was no conviction. In this case, time goes on. Dragging things out is worth their trouble,” said Strbac.

More than 1,000 suits have been lodged with Croatian courts and some of them were rejected as the statute of limitations expired.

“In 2003, Croatia passed a set of laws regulating damage compensation. Even though it was said that only when those laws came into force would the statute of limitations start running, many courts rejected claims when the statute of limitations expired, stating that the beginning of the statute of limitations was in 1995 or that it was war damage,” said Strbac.

Some families when they were rejected by Croatian courts, took their claims to the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg and some won their case while others didn’t.

“Some people win the case, others don’t. You just can’t work out how the court there administers justice,” said Strbac.



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