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".

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