Thursday, July 24, 2003

Far Right to Control Croatian Constitutional Court?

One of the more embarrassing facts of life in today’s Croatia is the fact that Vice Vukojević (Vice Vukojevic) sits in Constitutional Court. Vukojević, who had enjoyed reputation of the extremist even among usually far right members of Tudjman’s inner circle, was appointed to Constitutional Court shortly before 2000 elections, probably as a part of political deal between soon-to-be-outgoing HDZ and opposition (which explains why MSes from SDP supported that appointment). Vukojević’s appointment didn’t create much fuss then, although it should have, since Vukojević not only had far right views, but far right actions. In 1993, while Croatia tried very hard to prove that its forces didn’t take part in hostilities between Bosnian Croats and Izetbegović’s (Izetbegovic’s) Bosnian Muslim government, Vukojević, MS (and former deputy minister of interiors in one of many Tudjman’s cabinets) at the time, shocked many by appearing on Croatian television dressed in uniform of HVO – Bosnian Croat militia. Unconfirmed stories later, leaked to Feral Tribune immediately after the appointment, accused Vukojević of raping imprisoned Bosnian Muslim women. Vukojević’s war time adventures might be in the realm of speculations and vicious rumours, but his work on Holocaust denial, sanctioned by Tudjman’s government and conducted through special Sabor Commission, is matter of public record. Findings of the Commision established that only 203 Jews died in Pavelić’s Independent State of Croatia during WW2.

It is understandable why Račan’s (Racan’s) government and Croatian media didn’t like to remind the public – both domestic and international – of Vukojević’s presence in one of country’s highest institution. But all that changed few days ago when Nacional published sensationalist article claiming that Vukojević could very easily become new Chief Constitutional Justice, since he had secured support of six right-wing justices. The article claims that Smiljko Sokol, outgoing Chief Justice, failed to secure liberal majority in 13-men Court.

I’m somewhat sceptical towards Nacional claims. If Croatian right-wingers indeed want to dominate Constitutional Court, they would probably elect less problematic candidate. And Smiljko Sokol, who had used to write electoral laws for Tudjman, doesn’t strike me as the embodiment of European, civic and liberal values.


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