MON, 15 DEC 1997 16:44:11 GMT
AIM Zagreb, 11 December, 1997
The district state attorney in Zagreb raised charges against nine persons indicted for developments in Pakracka poljana which took place in the end of 1991. The indicted are Munib Suljic, Igor Mikola, Sinisa Rimac, Miroslav Bajramovic, Zvonimir Zakosek, Kresimir Prosinecki, Branko Saric, Zoran Karlovic and Stjepan Mandjarelo. Suljic, Mikola and Bajramovic are in custody since 3 September this year where they were taken along with the still unindicted Nebojsa Hodak after Bajramovic's confession about crimes committed in Pakracka poljana, which had been published in the Feral Tribune weekly. Urgent arrest was then demanded for the remaining six indicted.
Munib Suljic, alias Suljo and Bimbo, Igor Mikola and Sinisa Rimac were indicted for having driven, in the end of November or the beginning of December 1991, Aleksandar Sasa Antic to his grave previously dug up for him by Nikola Peles and Branko Velagic on a meadow near village Janja Lipa, where Suljic shot Antic, and when he continued to show signs of life, Mikola and Rimac joined Suljic in shooting at his half dead body.
Munib Suljic, Miroslav Bajramovic, Branko Seric alias Kosa, and Zoran Karlovic alias Karlo, in the beginning of November 1991, entered armed into the apartment of Stevan Brajenovic from Zagreb, took away his gun, a bag with money, documents and Toyota car, and drove him to Zagreb fair (where the command of their unit was located, which is not stated in the indictment), from where Suljic took him to PakraÉka poljana. He turned him over to Saric who also robbed him of what was left to rob, then they tied him, kicked him and beat him, threatened to kill him and ill-treated him in various ways. Zoran Karlo Karlovic paid additional "attention" to Brajevovic. When he had heard that they planned to kill him, Brajenovic tried to run away and was prevented by a guard, Karlovic shot Brajenovic in the stomack and seriously wounded him, or, as it is stated in the indictment, "with premeditation started but failed to complete taking away the life of another person". Mikola, Bajramovic, Saric and Mandjarelo are accused of having caused the death of Milos Ivosevic, Rade Pajic and Marko Grujic. Bajramovic and Mandjarelo took Ivosevic, Grujic and Pajic, along with "a number of other unidentified persons" from Zagreb and turned them over to Saric in PakraÉka poljana. Mikola kept Ivosevic's car and money. "At not exactly determined time and under not exactly determined circumstances" Ivosevic, Pajic and Grujic were killed by fire and explosive arms, but the perpetrators are "unidentified persons". This means that the four indicted men are not treated as persons guilty of murder, but only of "unlawful imprisonment and keeping the imprisoned", due to which fact, the prisoners lost their lives.
Zvonimir Zakosek and Kresimir Prosinecki alias Kreso the "Butcher", members of emergency units of the ministry of the interior of the Republic of Croatia, shut up Nikola Peles, taxi-driver from Kutina, into the locker-room of football team Jedinstvo in PakraÉka poljana, took away his Mercedez car and some personal belongings, kept him locked up and blackmailed him by maltreatment to pay them in order to remain alive. Despite the amount paid, Peles remained imprisoned while they robbed his house in Kutina and took the rest of the money from his mother. After a month, Peles was released from Poljana. Zakosek and Kreso Mesar also imprisoned Branko Velagic in Pakracka poljana, who had been arrested in Kutina by "several unidentified persons in army uniforms". Zakosek robbed Velagic of his Mercedez car, money and gold. The imprisoned Velagic was tortured in locker-rooms of Jedinstvo foot-ball team, he was beaten up, wounded, tormented by electric power and knife, he had his jaw and two vertebrae broken, in the attempt to force him to sign a statement that he was handing over his truck, car, motorcycle... to Zakosek. Broken down and exhausted, Velagic was released after 21 days, during which all the valuables were taken away from his house.
The nine indicted and 28 witnesses summoned by state attorney's office, should soon appear in court of Mirko Klinzic, judge of the district court in Zagreb. Lawyers of majority of the indicted have decided to lodge appeals against the indictment, believing the acts their clients were accused of to be unfounded and insufficiently corroborated by evidence, which will postpone the beginning of the trial for some time. Many times mentioned Zvonimir Trusic is not among the indicted, but appears only as a witness. The indictment typed on twenty single-spaced pages does not mention Tomislav Mercep either, not even as a witness or a commander of the indicted. It was not even specified which units of the Croatian army or police the indicted belonged to, except just a few.
It is especially interesting that in the explanation of the indictment it is stated that "concerning the other indicted and other crimes not included in the indictment, the investigative procedure has not been completed", which is supposed to mean that Bajramovic's allegations from the confession published in Feral have not been ignored, but have not been investigated yet either. It is a secret how far the investigation has actually gone. But, the statements of witnesses and the existing documentation on cases concerning which charges have been raised, an explanation was derived which to some detail describes a part of the developments in Poljana committed by the indicted.
The statement of Stevan Brajenovic, former customs official, belongs among the more interesting ones. He was taken from his own apartment by three men, and at the Fair, "Suljo" stowed him into a truck and took him to Pakracka poljana for "interrogation". Having by accident heard that they had planned to kill him, he tried to run away, but got caught during which a guard kicked him in the head. They put him back to jail, threatened that they would scalp him, but he, not wishing to wait to meet his doom, decided to snatch away the rifle which was laid aside at the corner of the prison. That is when a guard tackled him and Karlovic shot him in the stomack, after which he was transported to Zagreb and released.
Two unknown civilians asked Nikola Peles, taxi-driver from Kutina, to take them to Medjuric, a village near Kutina, but instead of paying him for the ride, one of them took out a gun and arrested him. Peles tried to run away asking for help from a policeman who was regulating traffic, but when the policeman saw who were arresting him, he refused to help him. They pushed him into a van in which he was told by the man who arrested him that 100 thousand German marks would save his life. He said that he had 20 thousand, and all maltreatment that followed was aimed at finding out where he had hidden the money. After he had given them his money and after they had taken everything from his house, Peles remained in custody. One night Peles and Branko Velagic, also a taxi-driver from Kutina, were taken from their prison to a hollow and ordered to dig a hole, and then in another car Aleksandar Sasa Antic was brought to the place where they had been digging. The taxi-drivers were ordered to lie down and cover their eyes with their hands. Peles heard the voice of Munib Suljic who shouted: "Give him to me, give him to me, I promised I would do him in with a single bullet", and then the shot. When Peles and Velagic started covering up the body of Sasa Antic with mud, it moved, and Suljic shouted: "Look at the bastard, look at the bastard", and shot another bullet at Antic's head, and Rimac and Mikola also started shooting. Rimac then kicked Peles in the head and when he stumbled, the others laughed yelling "Look how he dances". Velagic told the same story, who was during the stay in Pakracka poljana raped with an improvised rubber baton and his skin was cut in the region about the kidneys.
it is claimed in the indictment that such treatment of prisoners was "primarily aimed at depriving them of their money and valuables", which was interpreted by the public as diminishing the committed crimes. It is not even hinted that the committed crimes could have anything to do with the ethnic origin of the victims (they are all Serbs except Antic), but only that the perpetrators acted "apart from regular defensive tasks". The reason for such prompt raising charges, although the investigation has not been completed yet, is found by the lawyers of the defendants in the fact that three of them who were already in custody for the same acts in 1992, were released due to "insufficient evidence", so that the previous term in prison is also counted as part of the sentence. That absence of evidence was the excuse for releasing them by order which had arrived from the very top of Croatian authorities, was recently testified by many of former members of the ruling HDZ who later defected the party, so that doubts are expressed again about the probability that the indicted will be sentenced again.
On the other hand many are inclined to claim that the indicted will be sentenced because their release could result in instigating proceedings in the Hague Tribunal, which could bring out in the open many other unlawful and ignominious acts of those who are still holding power. But, even the acts which the indicted are charged with show that the sentences - if any - will be much lighter than expected, especially after Bajramovic's confession and especially because the acts were committed - because "they were the Serbs". A trial for war crimes was expected, but all we got is a trial for plunder and a few murders.
However, many elements and even more people are involved, and what will actually happen, it is ungratifying to predict. When the trial actually begins, and this could be already in January next year - although this is not certain either - many things will be clarified.