THU, 18 MAR 1999 22:46:52 GMT
AIM, ZAGREB, March 7, 1999
There is not a shred of doubt now that on February 6, 1993 a crazy war drama had happened in Sibenik: according to a news report of the former Chief of Sibenik Military Police, Mario Barisic, on that day - on the eve of the Croatian parliamentary elections - the Croatian Army staged an attack of the Serbian artillery on the town at the foot of Mt.Subicevac. According to Barisic's story two military policemen took part in this feigned attack - including himself - and two fireworks experts That whole play had the unavoidable logistic support of the Croatian TV which filmed the fake attack and later on served it to the local public in its usual propaganda form.
On that same day at 10:30 p.m. in the premises of the Sibenik military police Barisic prepared an official report stating that the order for the feigned artillery attack was issued by Davor Skugor, Chief of General Staff of the 113rd Brigade of the Croatian Army and that the order was confirmed by Colonel Mihael Budmir, the then Commander of the 62nd Military Police Battalion, and Colonel Tvrtko Pasalic, former Chief of Staff of the Sibenik Centre of the Security Intelligence Service (SIS) which operates as one of the secret services of the Defence Ministry. The order was carried out at 3:00 p.m. According to Barisic the whole action was beforehand planned to the last detail with a HTV (the Croatian Television) crew led by journalist Silvana Mendjusic. TV cameras were set on fixed platforms and everything was ready for another sham organized by the intelligence and the press.
This organization wasn't actually very good, but it wasn't dangerous either. Namely, the shells were not fired from mortars, but activated on the ground so as to achieve the desired visual and sound effects. Apart from the two mentioned fireworks, the fake artillery attack probably had a very specific political purpose: elections for the Croatian Parliament were to be held the following day. Since two weeks before the Sibenik case and for the sake of securing the best possible electoral results Franjo Tudjman and his strategic experts had caused the death of 150 Croatian soldiers by sending them to a totally unprepared action "Maslenica", they were not bothered by any ethical dilemmas when it came to activating four "measly" mines on the hills around Kresimir's town. Mario Barisic claimed that he and his colleague Milorad Paic had activated two 120 mm. mortar shells while Sime Panjkota and Vinko Barisic had fired the other two missiles.
"I have decided to declare this under penalty since it all seemed rather suspicious to me and in case any investigation of this incident is initiated" stated Barisic in conclusion of his official report. After Barisic's confession to "Globus" - a confession that could hardly be called sensational as already in 1993 all important men in the Sibenik Headquarters of the Croatian Army, leaders of the local HDZ, as well as most of the Sibenik public had known about this feigned attack, while the story about the staged attack had also been mentioned in several articles in "Feral Tribune" and "Slobodna Dalmacija" - a ten-day discussion was launched in Croatian papers in which everyone had his say about the event except for those people the former Commander of the Sibenik Military Police had mentioned in his statement.
"What is the meaning of raising so much dust because of such benign action of limited tactical significance as this false alarm was, so that entire Croatia is abuzz with rumours about it! There is no city in Croatia in which such tactical tricks were not used. After all, they are an integral part of strategic plans. They are only one in a series of stratagems we have resorted to during the war", said Davor Skugor once Commander of the 113rd HV Brigade Headquarters and added: "We thought that actual shelling would occur as Chetniks were suffering tremendous losses in Maslenica and were beaten. They had to get revenge for that somewhere and it seemed only logical that they would attack Sibenik. We feared that already the first shelling would take a great number of lives". If the purpose of the feigned artillery attack was to warn the denizens of Sibenik of "immediate war threat" what was the role of TV cameras and why was it necessary to inform the entire country of this brazen lie?
Smiljan Reljic, who was in charge of the Service for the Protection of Constitutional Order at the time of the "attack" on Sibenik, confirmed that the event in question had really happened and tried to explain it by conflicts within HDZ. "All the subsequent analysis and discussions showed that right were those who suspected that the attack was launched with a specific purpose in mind. The intention was to undermine the then Sibenik authorities with fake shelling of the town and prove that it was incapable of protecting citizens and, despite all negotiations, unable of defending the town from aggression", said Reljic.
Shortly after that Reljic's statement was followed Silvana Mendjusic's, a HTV journalist who said that she could not say for sure even today whether the attack was staged. "I would like to know if I was an object of manipulations", said Mendjusic. In her own words on the day in question she was informed that an attack on Sibenik was expected but that it did not sound suspicious to her as many times before that she had been informed about the location and time of a possible attack.
In other words, it all appeared normal to Silvana Mendjusic as she "took for granted all data supplied by the Information-Propaganda Service of the Defence Ministry". It did not matter that such information had nothing to do with reality and that they were used to mislead citizens. No, this renowned war reporter and a newly-fledged fighter against censorship on HTV did not care as she stated that today she would readily "sign each TV story" she had ever made. She would do that despite the fact that she was still unable to determine whether she had been manipulated on February 6, 1993 or not. The Sibenik-Knin HDZ District Board concluded that "the recent irresponsible public statements have caused immeasurable damage to the city of Sibenik, and especially its historic role in the Patriotic War", and that the sole objective of journalistic stories about the Sibenik case was "to defamate and discredit HDZ and its role in the creation of Croatia".
Shortly after the attack the Croatian supreme commander Franjo Tudjman was informed of the entire story about the whole case. He summarily formed an investigation commission for resolving the Sibenik case: he put his son Miroslav in charge of the commission as chief investigation officer. At that time Miroslav was Chief of the Croatian Intelligence Service (HIS). But, just like all other investigations launched from Pantovcak, this neither gave any results, which was probably its ulterior purpose.
The failure of the mentioned inquest can most probably be best explained by the words of General Anton Tus who was Chief Military Adviser of President Tudjman at the time of the staged attack on Sibenik. Namely, Tus recently told the press that the fake attack was ordered by Zagreb and that it was not an idea of some local commander. In other words, the Sibenik story - particularly as there are indications that it was not an isolated example - could significantly contribute to the redefinition of all that has happened in these parts in the past nine years. The new definition could be borrowed from Stjepan Mesic who recently stated that it was necessary to have some war in order to implement in practice the secret deal Tudjman and Milosevic had made about borders and relocation of population.
However, according to Mario Barisic's confession to the journalists of "Globus", the staged artillery attack was not the central and most important thing in all this; namely, it seems that the rest of the story is much more important to Barisic himself. It speaks about crimes and criminal activities of certain highly placed people in the Croatian military-intelligence system. Incidentally, these are the people who have one way or the other stepped on the toes of the former chief of Sibenik military policemen. Irrespective of the motives behind Barisic's decision to speak openly about Sibenik war foul dealings and that, by all appearances, the whole case was a product of fierce conflicts between factions in Tudjman's party, his story is very important for further destruction of the imbecile myth on virginal purity of the Croatian patriotic war. The question is how much blood does the local public need to spit on that lousy lie which kept Tudjman's regime in power all these years. Same as it was shocked in September 1997 with Miro Bajramovic's confession about murders in the Pakrac Valley - although everything was known about that death factory much earlier - the Croatian petty-bourgeois public is appalled by bloody details of the Sibenik story.
"On March 5, 1992 at 8:00 p.m. a POW Milorad Dj. approached me requesting an interview, which I granted. He complained about being maltreated. In the last couple of days in late evening hours when I was not in the prison, Zeljko Maglov and several other military policemen took POWs Milorad Dj. and Rajko S. and forced them to strip naked and make love to each other, i.e. to fornicate in front of other prisoners of war" said the report the Warden of the Sibenik Military Prison "Kuline" sent to Mario Barisic, then Chief of Criminal Service of the 72nd Battalion of the Military Police. Barisic forwarded that report to the highest state authorities, but instead of being punished Colonel Zeljko Maglov (he is currently on trial for organizing the theft of cars in Dalmatia which he smuggled into Herzegovina which, by the way, the President of the state knew already in 1993) was awarded with a handful of high decorations for "courage and bravery shown in war".
The extent of Maglovljev's "courage and bravery" is seen in the following report of the Warden of "Kuline" Military Prison, whose contents Franjo Tudjman was familiar with: "On June 8, 1992 around 6:00 p.m. Frane Goreta, Tvrto Pasalic, Zeljko Maglov and Ivan Livaja together with some other men I didn't know, arrived to military detention facility "Kuline". They asked me to bring Marko M., born on November 16, 1959, a civilian who was brought in several days before that. I left Marko M. in the office with them. After that they told me and my colleague to go the the lounge of the officer on duty. Shrieks, beatings and Marko M's cries for help were coming from the office. At one moment Mr.Goreta came to us all covered in blood and asked us to show him where he could wash up. We showed him to the bathroom", wrote chief of the Military Detention Facility.
Later on he found out that "Marko M., a prisoner of war" succumbed to injuries he had sustained while being tortured by electricity and beaten, mostly by Zeljko Maglov and Frane Goreta". The latter, a former activist of the Naval SIS who, as we have seen, had "washed" his conscience in the bathroom of "Kuline" prison - is leading a peaceful life in a German town Saarburcken and is said to be one of the richest Croats in that country.
This Sibenik ballad in which a massacre of truth is closely interwoven with a massacre of innocent Serbian civilians could actually serve as an introduction into a large-scale unmasking of all crimes and dirty business committed under the wise leadership of the supreme commander Franjo Tudjman. There is no doubt that the dirty linen will be more intensively washed in public as the day of parliamentary elections draws near, i.e. as inter-party accounts are being settled within the HDZ ranks.