Croatia reluctant to prosecute its politicians

19 February 2007 by Drago Hedl

Despite the evidence gathered during investigations, in addition to the evidence handed over by the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY), Croatia's political class is in no hurry to try two of its most notorious politicians charged with war crimes: Branimir Glavas, a member of Parliament and retired general, and Tomislav Mercep, former MP and presidential candidate in 2000, even though this is Croatia's main obstacle to European Union (EU) membership.

In the fall of 2005, police conducted a full-scale investigation into the war crimes that had been committed in 1991 in Osijek, the fourth largest city in Croatia, where Glavas was alleged to have been involved in the massacre of Serbian civilians. In May 2006, the Parliament lifted Glavas's political immunity and on October 26, this powerful politician was incarcerated in Zagreb. It seemed that Croatia's courts had finally decided to confront the dark pages of its recent history. However, the case rapidly degenerated into a farce and analyst Davor Butkovic wrote in the newspaper Jutarnji List that this case had brought about "the death of rule of law in Croatia".

Want to read more?

If you subscribe to a free membership, you can read this article and explore our full archive, dating back to 1997.

Subscribe now

Related articles

article
19 February 2007 by Laetitia Grotti

One year ago on January 6, 2006, the 17 members of Morocco's Equity and Reconciliation Commission (IER) were closing up shop after submitting their final report to King Mohammed VI. The Moroccan truth commission had received a flood of compliments from the international community praising the recommendations in its report, especially those advocating legislative and constitutional reforms. One year later, however, the results have been rather mixed.

article
11 September 2006 by our correspondent in Arusha

After having tried high-ranking officers, ministers, businessmen, priests, journalists, local officials and militiamen, the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) is in uncharted waters. On September 11, the most famous rwandese troubadour of his generation will stand trial for genocide. 

article
23 October 2006 by Christine Chaumeau

China is keeping a polite distance from international criminal justice. Beijing is hardly disinterested, but China does want to make sure that these new global mechanisms are not going to infringe upon its sovereignty by delving into particularly sensitive cases such as Tibet. 

article
United Nations Operation in Burundi disarms rebel forces in Mbanda in February 2005 (Photo: Flickr/UN Photo/Martine Perret)
03 June 2015 by Janet H. Anderson, The Hague (The Netherlands)

Over the last month, Burundi has hit the headlines as the president put himself forward to be elected for a controversial third term, resulting in street protests, thousands of refugees who fled instability and an attempted coup. Behind the issues of elections and constitutionalism are also those of justice following Burundi’s long-running civil war. The international community supported an intensive process of negotiation and the signing of the Arusha Accord in 2000. But in the decade and a half since, its provisions on justice have been debated though never fully implemented.

article
06 November 2006 by Pierre Hazan

France's attitude towards international criminal justice is marked by ambiguity. Paris subscribes to a vision of the world in which international humanitarian law is considered a way to curb violence against civilian populations, but at the same time it is wary of an unchecked judicial system that could end up prosecuting French soldiers engaged in areas where it has old and deep-rooted interests.