One questions if the justice will ever reach those who have conducted a reign of terror, looted, imprisoned and killed the citizens of Vukovar in the summer of 1991 just because they were of different ethnicity, in this town famous for the largest number of mixed marriages in Croatia. These atrocities put a new spotlight on the makers of Vukovar myth, whose political careers have been created on the foundation of so called “official truth” platform.
This is the story of Slobodan Jakovljevic, the son of Jovan Jakovljevic who was killed on June 29, 1991 in Vukovar.
“That day our neighbours put on uniforms and they put up barricades at the end of our street” My father asked them: “Well lads, what is going on in our street” They answered: “You will hear” That was his only contact with them. During the course of the afternoon they set up a machine gunfire point in the house across ours. In the evening they asked our father to come out onto the street. My brother, mother and I listened to that conversation on the landing. My father refused to come outdoors and told them to come back during the daytime. They insisted. A light came on in the corridor and the next thing we heard was the fired shot. We came downstairs and found our father dead. There was an air of silence in the courtyard. We called the police and the very next day we burried him in his home village, never to return to Vukovar” This is the story of Slobodan Jakovljevic, the son of Jovan Jakovljevic who was killed on June 29, 1991 in Vukovar.
“My father was a distinguished citizen of Vukovar, whose family has lived in this area for over 400 years. I strongly believe that the time has come for justice to be satisfied and I have faith in the political leaders to see this thing through. Slobodan continues in his testimony stating that his father death was a warning to local Serbs that they were no longer welcomed in that area.”
Jovan Jakovljevic was the first Serb victim in Vukovar. He was in charge of the sports department
at the import,export trade company “Velepromet”. He was a devoted husband and father of two. His son Slobodan
His son Slobodan Jakovljevic was 23 years old at the time of his father-s death, today he lives in Vukovar and hopes that the justice will be served to those who have committed and ordered the killings or have done nothing to stop them. Several times he has testified in Public Prosecutors office but this has all been in vain. “ I know people who killed my father, they are walking freely on the streets of Vukovar. Despite my personal tragedy I returned to my home town where I belong. I sincerely believe that the time has come for justice to be served and that there is strong will among the country s political leaders to see this process through.” says Slobodan Jakovljevic in his interview for H Alter.
Jakovljevic-s tragedy is not a one off case, the Vukovar killings are coming out of the wardrobe this month, thanks to the NGO Young People-s Initiative for human rights who has taken his testimony with five other testimonies and has sent them to Public Prosecutor-s Office. This NGO is demanding that these testimonies ought to be used in putting together the case against Tomislav Mercep and that questioning the responsibility of the Minister for internal affairs Ivan Vekic and that of the chief of the civil matters for the region of Slavonia, Vladimir Seks.
Over the course of the couple of past weeks, Amnesty International demanded that Seks potential links with the war crimes, committed by the Croatian forces in the year 1991, ought to be examined. Seks and Vekic mocked Young People-s Initiative for human rights in their Croatian television news programme as pack of young prats. They were also shifting the blame from one to another and they question the AI credibility on this matter. Zoran Pusic from the Citizens Committee for human rights thinks that if Seks believes that he is innocent that he can easily prove this in the court of law.
Needless to say that these so to speak unpleasant happenings of the spring and summer 19991 are not totally unknown. The fact that 30 Serbs were killed was reported in Danas and Feral newspapers throughout 90/s and some marginalised media in Croatia followed up these cases.
The first information regarding the Vukovar killings came from Marin Vidic-Bili, government-s chief in charge of Vukovar, who wrote a letter to president Franjo Tudjman and premier Franjo Greguric as well as opposition leaders about the fact that Tomislav Mecep, surrounded by the people of dubious, criminal past has taken the control of the town and that he is conducting a violent aggressive campaign of violating human rights by the citizens of Vukovar by looting and taking away their property, taking them away from questioning and in some cases killing them.
Mercep was recalled to Zagreb and given a post of an advisor to then Minister for Internal Affairs Ivan Vekic.
Zoran Pusic points to the fact that magazine Danas reported on the whole case about the happenings in Vukovar but the key witnesses memory was “erased” about these events. Six years after Danas reports Vidic-Bili quoted letter written by Mario Mazic stating that even if the crimes are processed the Croatian courts judgements will be rendered too lean. At that time even Mercep spoke about corpses in river Drava stating that in the heat of the moment the killings were possible and that his troopers made sure they were kept to a minimum.
County Court Prosecutor-s office opened a dossier KR-DO 624/02 in 2002 acting on the writ brought by the Croatian Office of Helsinki Committee for human rights after it had collected information on the death of 19 Serbs from Vukovar which had been killed whilst Mercep was in charge of the local military cabinet and during which time he was known as the local master of life and death. These are the words of Drago Hedl, human rights activist writing for Justice in Transition. He adds that Croatian ruling coalition has received a letter from “Concerned Citizens of Vukovar” in year 2002 after the Croatian Democratic Union had lost the elections which talked about the executions of local Serbs who were thrown in river Dunav. Stipe Pole and Zvonimir Rados, chief of the police in Vukovar and his deputy were brought in for questioning. It has been concluded that all the documentation was lost with the fall of Vukovar and it has not been resurfaced with the re-integration of this area in January 1998.
Up to this date nothing has been done on the matter. “ I am afraid that an answer to the question of Croatian ruling party willingness to deal with these crimes would be double negative. On one hand these war crimes are politically sensitive. One side of the public opinion would think that by admitting the guilt in this matter will admit to thesis that the war was started by Croats. It is clear why the political leadership is afraid but this subject is not the one which matters. We from Young People-s Initiative for human rights have extensively worked on the subject of Vukovar 1991 killings and it is true that certain members of the Serbs ethnic group were subjected to torture and killings.
The travelling corpses of Dunav are well known. However, the war in Vukovar started much later. What came with JNA was an armed conflict. The killings of Vukovar are a serious crime and the responsible for this conflict need to be brought to justice. But I am afraid that courts are inefficient and inexperienced in dealing with these matters says Zoran Pusic. He adds that Vukovar was the place when later on terrible crimes against humanity occurred and the town was used into promotion of political support for different political platforms. In the current case of Tihomir Purda we are witnesses of manipulations. Pusic believes that president Josipovic can play a crucial role in finding justice for Vukovar killings. It remains to be seen if the justice will be met in Vukovar which today is economically neglected, the town renown for the largest number of mixed marriages and the town which in that summer of 1991 witness murders of Jovan Jakovljevic just because they were different nationality.
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Tomislav Mercep in Vukovar, Pakracka Poljana, Gospic, Zagreb and Pakrac
Recently declassified CIA document says the Croatian governments protected paramilitary unit leader Tomislav Merčep
Tomislav Mercep Role in Atrocities against Serb Population i Croatia (Pdf)
Read more about Vukovar and the war in former Yugoslavia
Arms and defence equipment flowed into Croatia directly and indirectly from Germany. Mass arming of HDZ members took place, the police force was expanded and the National Guard was re-equipped as an Ustashi army. May 28, 1991, saw a nazi style rally of the “Croatian Armed Forces” at Zagreb football stadium.
Then the killing of individual Serbs started. Memories of 1941 stirred and the exodus began. The day after the rally, Serbs from Borovo Selo fled from Croatia. The killings, which started early in April 1991 at Plitvice, escalated during July, August and September. At Vukovar, Serbs were subjected to torture, rape, and murder for many months before the conflict was presented to the world as “brutal aggression by the Yugoslav Army against peace-loving Croatians”. The murders are documented and proven.
Around 5,000 Serbs were rounded up and held in the Borovo footware factory complex at Vukovar. From this Croatian concentration camp hundreds of Serb men, women and children were taken out and slaughtered. Mutilated bodies thrown into the river were carried downstream into Serbian territory. These were recovered, photographed and their identities painstakingly discovered.
Read all here.....
ONLY in Serbian, but it consists of exactly the story of Slobodan Jakovljevic statement mentioned above