2006-01-03

Update on "Captain Dragan"

The district court in Šibenik has announced that it has begun a criminal investigation against Dragan Vasiljković on suspicion of crimes against prisoners of war and against civilians. The announcement provides no details of the time, place or nature of the crimes. The court has also ordered that Mr Vasiljković be held in custody, which would be mostly a formality since he is in Australia, but it allows prosecutors to issue an international arrest warrant. In the recent past, Dragan Vasiljković has declared that he would willingly face any charges, on the condition that the Croatian government covers the cost of his airfare from Australia. I do not believe he specified whether he would demand business class or a vegetarian meal.

6 comments:

András said...

A report by HINA (2 Jan 2006) has further specifics on the charges brought by Croatian prosecutors:

Vasiljkovic is suspected of torturing and killing imprisoned Croatian soldiers and police in a Knin prison in June and July 1991, and at Bruska near Benkovac in February 1993.

According to the charges, in Glina in July 1991, in his capacity as special unit commander, Vasiljkovic drew up a plan to assault and seize the police station in Glina, its suburb of Jukinac and the villages of Gornji Vidusevac and Donji Vidusevac.

During the attack, contrary to Geneva conventions, civilian buildings were demolished and destroyed, the population was forced to flee, their property was plundered, and civilians were killed and wounded,
including a foreign journalist.

Charges against Vasiljkovic, an Australian Serb, were pressed after an Australian newspaper published a story about him in early September.
----

For more on "Captain Dragan" Vasiljkovic and his role as a mercenary and paramilitary commander in the 1991-1995 wars in Croatia and Bosnia, see --
http://www.domovina.net/mercenaries/ident/vasiljkovic.php

A photo of the Catholic church at Gornji Vidusevac, in ruins after the war, see --
http://www.hbk.hr/crkve/gor_vid/vi_i_fk.jpg

The journalist mentioned in the charges is Egon Scotland, aged 43, correspondent of the Munich daily Sueddeutsche Zeitung. He was ambushed and shot from behind by Serb gunmen on 26 July 1991 in Jukinac, near Glina. For the story and photos, see --
http://www.enquirer.com/editions/2002/02/12/tem_poem_foretold.html

Eric Gordy said...

The Domovina page is a little confusing. They link to the section of the Bassiouni report that mentions Dragan, but not in connection with any events. I didnt read the "Soldier of fortune" article. The only reason I mention this is that it seems odd that he should be charged now for events in 1991. Not that prosecutors can't do that, but the best explanations I can imagine are either that they have evidence they did not have before, or because he spent part of last year taunting them. Or maybe it is political timing in response to the Gotovina arrest?

Steven Platter said...

Captain Dragan, or Daniel Snedden is my best friend. I met him first during the war and continued to grow our friendship long after. I've known him for over a decade and can truly say that he has always been proud of his keeping a firm military discipline over his men, and not letting them run wild like a lot of other commanders (on all sides) did. I've seen him arrest one of his own men for selling a hand grenade to a civilian in a warring area for their protection. He wanted the an tried and was truly upset that one of his men (soon to be formerly one of his men) would do such a thing.
I've seen Dragan in war, and after, I've seen him constantly give and give and give when he himself had nothing.

Dragan's unit was taken away from him and it was morphed into something else entirely. Even though he founded the unit, he was not it's commander through the entire war. Many of these stories have been "moved" in time so it would cover the time in which he held command.

Dragan was a real soldier, who conducted himself and demanded that his men conduct themselves in a truly disciplined manner. I've even heard that he imprisoned civilians when he took over a village, when in fact he rounded them up so he could talk to them and let them know what could and couldn't be done safely. Then he immediately would set about finding out who needed medical attention or food. This was his normal modus operandi. It is unfair to entertain the charges of his former enemy nation, and turn him over to them. That would be like the USA turning over our soldiers to a gov't in Irag ten years from now to face charges of atrocities.

If there were true charges, he was in The Hague for over two weeks testifying, during which time he refused immunity. Were there any charges that held credence (and I was told many years ago, that The War Crimes Tribunal was looking) it would have come out. Instead they've said they could find nothing to charge him with.

My best friend is in jail for no reason whatsoever, except that a nation wants to exact revenge against a military leader that they put a reward out for (dead only). THAT is NOT true military discipline. THIS is NOT justice.

Anonymous said...

What was Captain Dragan doing fighting in a foreign country internationally recognised by the UN? He went and invaded a foreign country as an Australian citizen and the country he was attacking was recognised by Australia. What possible excuse does he have. He wasn't defending Serbia he was attacking Croatia. The death penalty would be too lenient for this war criminal. I would hate to have him in my community in Sydney.

Simon Saivil said...

Reply to anonymous from Sidney:

Captain Dragan was not attacking foreign country - Croatia. He was defending the rights of those Yugoslavs - Serbs of Croatia - who did not wish to live in a neo-Nazi Croatia.
As for foreign countries and not wanting him in "your neighbourhood" in Sidney, you should perhaps recall early seventies when a group of Australian citizens came to Yugoslavia and attempted to start an insurgency killing a number of civilians. I suspect you have no quarrel wth those Australians. You shouldn't - they were sent back in pine-boxes!

Anonymous said...

It might be prudent to mention that those Australian citisens returned in "pine boxes"were Croatian "Ustashi"terorist,trained in Australia,lived and worked there.They were the remnants of Croatian Nazis and fashists that comited a vell documanted atrocitis upon Serbian and Jewish men women and children,which the world forgot.Serbian people suferd enough,but Croatian people should be ashaimed of theyr bloody past and present,no mater how hard they are trying to wash theyr bloody shame,but in the end nothing is forever but God"justice.