Croatian President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic has called on people and authorities in the Eastern European country to admit that fellow Croats in Bosnia committed crimes against Muslims during the 1990s war.
“We Croats need to have the strength to admit that some of our fellow compatriots in Bosnia committed crimes and they have to be held responsible for them,” Grabar-Kitarovic said Thursday, a day after a former Croat general took his own life in protest to a court ruling that convicted him of crimes against Bosnian Muslims.
Catholic Croats and Bosniak Muslims fought against each other for almost a year during Bosnia’s 1992-1995 war.
The International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) has ruled that then Croatian president Franjo Tudjman was seeking to establish a unified Croat state in the region through a “joint criminal enterprise” which was meant to ethnically cleanse Bosnian Muslims.
Six Bosnian Croat wartime leaders, who had been convicted in 2013 of assisting that criminal enterprise, had their sentences upheld in an appeal court in The Hague on Wednesday. The hearing came to a shock conclusion when one of the generals drank poison in the courtroom and later died in hospital. Slobodan Praljak, 72, rejected his 20-year sentence and said he never committed war crimes.
Grabar-Kitarovic, however, said Praljak was a “man who preferred to take his own life rather than live as a convict for acts he strongly believed he did not commit.”
A minute of silence was observed at the Thursday session of the Croatian parliament for “all victims” of the early 1990s Balkan wars and the lawmakers expressed hope that Praljak’s death could “remain the last act of the tragic events of war.”