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Vol 3, No 11
19 March 2001
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Croatia news News from Croatia
All the important news
since 11 March 2001

Dan Damon


Bomb in Zagreb

A bomb caused a powerful explosion outside Zagreb's city hall on Friday. Several cars were damaged, but no one was hurt.

Police said the device had been planted in a waste bin. The blast occurred at 9.30 in the morning and the ensuing fire destroyed eight cars parked nearby, in a pall of thick black smoke. So far there has been no claim of responsibility for the bomb.

A similar explosion damaged an anti-fascist monument at Zagreb's main cemetery in February, although police are refusing to link the two incidents. Zagreb's police chief Ranko Ostojic said it was too early to judge who had planted the bomb and why. Zagreb Mayor Milan Bandić said the most important thing was that nobody was injured.


Non-political crime?

Five masked robbers stole the equivalent of nearly USD one million after ambushing a mail van. The van was carrying pension money intended for the elderly and war veterans in the region. In Croatia, pensioners can pick up their pensions in post offices—but this week many will be delayed.

The five ambushed the van near the southern city of Soline and forced the post office staff inside to climb into another van. They then absconded with the van and the money.


Revising impunity

Croatia's Constitutional Court annulled a 1997 pardon for Ante Gudelj, whose 1991 murder of a moderate Croat politician helped spark the war between the country's Serbs and Croats.

The court upheld an appeal from Jadranka Reihl-Kir, widow of the murdered Croat, Josip Reihl-Kir, and returned the case to the Supreme Court for review, said Jasna Omejec, a court official. It was not certain, though, that Gudelj would now be rearrested, and his whereabouts are not known.

Reihl-Kir, a police chief and politician, tried to mediate between local Serbs and Croats in east Croatia during conflicts surrounding the minority Serbs' armed rebellion against Croatia's independence from former Yugoslavia. Gudelj was suspected of having acted on behalf of hard-liners from late President Franjo Tuđman's ruling party, who were against negotiations with Serbian rebels.

In 1994, Gudelj was sentenced in absentia to 20 years in prison for the 1991 killing of Reihl-Kir and two other policemen, in the east Croatian town of Osijek. Gudelj was extradited from Germany in 1996 and imprisoned. He was released in 1997, when the Supreme Court concluded that the amnesty law applied to his case. For now, his whereabouts are unknown.


Troublesome cousins

This week Croatian Parliament's House of Representatives discussed implementation of Dayton Agreement and how to stabilise relations between Croatia and Bosnia-Hercegovina. The Croatian government has promised to work on bilateral relations with the Sarajevo government instead of pursuing direct contacts with Croats in Mostar.

The reaction from the Bosnian Serb Republic, Republika Srpska, was unexpectedly mild. Bosnian Serb Prime Minister Mladen Ivanić said that the Croatian initiative to relinquish the agreement on special ties with the Bosnia-Hercegovina Federation prepares the ground for possible talks on the reorganization of Bosnia-Hercegovina.

Ivanić said that Croatia had the right to give up the agreement on special ties with the Bosnia-Hercegovina Federation but that he saw no reason for this to significantly affect the RS.

"I trust that the Croatian government is totally aware of its responsibility for the situation in the region," the RS Prime Minister said.

"Since the RS was set up by the Dayton Agreement, it has achieved a great level of democracy while its functioning improves daily. We will strongly oppose any attempt at changing the Dayton Agreement," declared Ivanić.


No media trial

An investigative judge has turned down a request from state prosecutors for a criminal investigation against a media magnate and four of his alleged associates on charges of plotting to take complete control of the country's media.

Zagreb district court judge, Kresimir Devčić, said that after looking at the prosecution's files, he found insufficient evidence to prove that Ninoslav Pavić and others conspired to take monopoly over Croatian media. This means Mr Pavić has escaped a trial which could have brought him five years in prison for attempts to form a monopoly.

In January, a district attorney's office requested an investigation into the management of Pavić, whose Europa Press Holding publishes more than 50 percent of Croatia's printed media, Vinko Grubisic, who previously ran a private Zagreb TV station and two other media officials. The fifth man is Miroslav Kutle, a tycoon currently imprisoned and tried for embezzlement.

Pavić and Grubišić were already briefly detained in December following a private newspaper's claims that the five, using connections to the previously ruling party of late President Franjo Tuđman, aimed to take over all Croatia's printed and electronic media.


Bombs away

Environment ministers of countries bordering the Adriatic and Ionian seas said this week that they were increasingly concerned about the polluting effect of bombs dropped in the sea during NATO's 1999 air campaign against Yugoslavia.

They expressed "particular concern about the presence of pollutant-containing weapons and depleted uranium ammunition dumped on the Adriatic and Ionian sea beds," in a joint statement after meeting in the Italian coast town Ancona. Ministers from Italy, Yugoslavia, Croatia, Slovenia and Albania took part in the meeting, which was also attended by environment officials from Bosnia and Greece.

During NATO's extensive bombing campaign to drive Yugoslav forces out of Kosovo in spring 1999, bombers flying back to bases in Italy dumped unexploded missiles or bombs in the sea before landing. Italian fishermen have often complained about the bombs, which they sometimes catch in their nets.

But a study by Italian military officials, released on Thursday, showed that 88 percent of the 128 bombs dumped in the Adriatic sea after air strikes had been found and neutralised. That still leaves an uncomfortably unexplained 12 percent.

Dan Damon, 17 March 2001

Moving on:


Jutarnji list
BBC Radio


Sam Vaknin
New Balkan Tension

Anatoliy S Baronin Jr
The Final Frontier

Timothy Kenny
and Fate

Elke de Wit
Lost Killers

Andrew James Horton

Joanna Rohozińska
God's Eye

Gusztáv Kosztolányi
Ákos Topolánszky

Štěpán Kotrba
Sow and Reap

Brian J Požun
Shedding the Balkan Skin

Martin D Brown
Czech Historical Amnesia

Dejan Anastasijević (ed)
Out of Time

Gusztáv Kosztolányi
Hungarian Oil Scandal

Sam Vaknin
After the Rain

Press Reviews:
Oliver Craske
Macedonia in the Headlines

Andrea Mrozek
Contemplating Compensation


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