The Croatian Justice Ministry over the weekend officially has confirmed receipt of an international request from Bosnia ad Herzegovina Prosecution Office regarding proceedings against several Croatian wartime commanders, in the case that make anger comments of Croatian officials.
A State Secretary at the ministry, Josip Salapić, said in an interview with Nova TV on Saturday that the request referred to the transfer of proceedings against several retired Croatian military commanders from the 1995 Croatian police and army Operation Flash, charged with war crimes.
Salapić said the cases would be forwarded to DORH to decide.
BiH media earlier reported that the State Prosecutor’s Office addressed Croatian authorities, demanding to take over the criminal prosecution of retired military commanders. But, that will not be so easy. Even in the country, many officials think that this will be an “empty case”. Croat member of the BiH Presidency, Željko Komšić, tried to justify the transfer of the cases to Croatia saying that “there is no legal basis for BiH Prosecutor’s Office to take over court proceedings against Croatian wartime commanders in relation to the 1995 Operation Flash”.
“In my opinion, there is no legal basis for the Prosecutor’s Office of Bosnia and Herzegovina to initiate such proceedings. Because even if there is such a crime, it was not committed either on the territory of Bosnia and Herzegovina or against the citizens of Bosnia and Herzegovina,” Komšić said, adding that Croatian judicial institutions should exclusively prosecute such cases.
But, the case already “poisoned” the relations between Sarajevo and Zagreb. President Zoran Milanovic said on Sunday that a conclusion on non-cooperation in proceedings against Croatian military commanders adopted six years ago was still in force and that a letter of request from the Bosnian Prosecutor’s Office was sabotage. Even the BiH Croat parties say that the request is not legal.
“This shameful request has no basis at all, especially not for prosecuting anyone in the context of Operation Flash, which liberated Croatian territory. It is a classic attempt to abuse BiH institutions,” the HNS BiH, an organisation of Croat political parties in BiH, said in a press release.
Operations Flash and Storm were the combined military-police action conducted 1995 against Serbs who established the “Serb territory” in Croatia. During the operation, several thousand Serbs were killed and about 250 000 left their homes. Many of them never came back.