Thursday, October 16, 2003

Biological Enemies of Croatia

This story is a bit old, but worth reading, at least to those who are fortunate enough not to live in Croatia and thus unfamiliar with some of its realities.

On July 30th Gospić County Court sentenced Svetozar Karan, ethnic Serb, to 13 years of prison for war crimes committed during 1991-95 hostilities. Such, relatively harsh, sentences are quite common for ethnic Serbs found guilty for war crimes. Most of such sentenced were brought in absentia, which is hardly surprising, because those ethnic Serbs involved in war crimes were beyond the reach of Croatian judiciary, having fled "Krajina" before 1995 offensive in "Krajina" and 1998 takeover of Eastern Slavonia.

Svetozar Karan, however, was among those who either didn't consider himself to be war criminal or thought that there isn't sufficient evidence against him. In 2000 he, just like many of his fellow Serbs, returned to Croatia. In 2002 he was arrested and brought to trial, being accused of mistreating Croatian POWs while in uniform of "Krajina" Serb paramilitaries.

Croatian public was informed about the verdict only in September when Jutarnji list daily bothered to publish excrepts from it, namely Judge Branko Milinović's (Branko Milinovic's) commentary. In it Milinović dealt with the very fact that Karan actually bothered to return to Croatia. According to Milinović, "the accused discovered that Croatia is bad geo-political situation, that the Croatians are divided and in danger of losing their freedom and having foreign masters, just like they did in last 900 years; 80 of those years they were ruled by the people to whom the accused belonged, and those same people have co-operated with Ottomans when they had conquered large sections of Croatia 500 years ago; by returning to Croatia the accused returned to Croatia in order to receive reward for his role in destruction of Croatia, knowing that economically exhausted Croatia is danger of letting other people becoming their masters."

This is not Protocols of Zion Elders. This is not Mein Kampf. This is the judicial document of the country that considers itself part of enlightened, Western Europe – country which is supposed to judge people on anything but their gender, race, religion or ethnicity. In this case, the ethnicity of the accused was explicitly used as justification for the verdict, and justification itself is nothing less than racialist theories being put in practice.

Naturally, at least some Croatian commentators were up in arms over it. But Gospić County Court is only the tzip of an iceberg – Croatian judiciary is full of people who hold those chauvinistic views and are more than willing to apply them in their practice. They do it less overtly, unlike Gospić judges who got carried away by anger over Norac affair and prospect of Tudjmanist return to power.

To make things even worse, bigotry is huge problem of Croatian judiciary, but it isn't the worst. Even those "pure" Croatians who can pride themselves of not having a drop of Serb blood in their veins have little reasons to be satisfied with the institution that didn't recover from the disastrous effects of Tudjman's purges in early 1990s. Old, experienced Communist-era professionals were replaced by legions of completely unqualified but politically loyal judicial hacks, resulting in gross inefficiency and even the simplest lawsuits imaginable lasting for more than a decade.

Račan's (Racan's) government had the opportunity to do something about it but it failed; and its effort to bring Croatia into EU now suffers because of it.


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