Croatian government rejected BiH request for legal aid concerning wartime generals

Croatian government rejected BiH request for legal aid concerning wartime generals

The Croatian government on Thursday decided to turn down a request from the Office of the Chief State Prosecutor of Bosnia and Herzegovina to take over the prosecution of high-ranking army officers due to suspicion of violations of international law during Operation Flash.

“The decision on the rejection of the request was made after a thorough analysis,” state agency Hina quoted Prime Minister Andrej Plenković as saying.

“The Justice Ministry has provided us with a report on the matter, the experts have studied the documentation, and after that, we have decided to reject that motion from Bosnia and Herzegovina,” Plenković told reporters.

The documentation sent from Bosnia and Herzegovina provided no basis for any proceedings to be launched in Croatia, Hina said. The Plenković cabinet informed the wartime generals of this decision earlier on Thursday.

During the May 1995 Operation Flash Croatia regained control of the Western Slavonia region and the town of Okučani, located about 130 kilometres southeast of Zagreb.

PM Plenković “reiterated that the Homeland War and the operations such as Flash and Storm in 1995 were the foundations of freedom and the present-day Croatian state,” Hina said.

The request was turned down in line with the law on international legal aid and the agreement on legal aid in civil and criminal legal matters between Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Plenković also said that “if the prosecutorial authorities in Bosnia and Herzegovina had enough information, documents and knowledge about any suspected war crime, they would have launched proceedings on their own.”

Pavao Miljavac, who heads the Croatian Generals Association, said today that he had contacted the wartime commanders who had been mentioned in Bosnia’s request and that they had agreed that the rejection of the request “was the only possible solution.”

“I can say that we never gave any oral or written order about shelling civilian targets and thus we could not have perpetrated war crimes,” he said.

In early August, the Croatian Justice Ministry confirmed receiving a letter of request from the Bosnian Prosecutor’s Office to take over the prosecution of 14 Croatian Army generals suspected by Bosnia and Herzegovina of war crimes allegedly committed during the 1995 Operation Flash.

According to media outlets, the Bosnian Prosecutor’s Office list names 14 senior Croatian officers, including wartime commander generals Pavao Miljavac, Mladen Markač, Marijan Mareković, Davor Domazet-Lošo and Luka Džanko, as well as deceased generals Petar Stipetić, Imra Agotić, and Ivan Basarac.

They were suspected in that request of ordering indiscriminate shelling of the areas in the towns of Bosanska Gradiška and Kozarska Dubica on the right bank of the River Sava in 1995 during Operation Flash.