Institute for War and Peace Reporting | Giving Voice, Driving Change

Croatians Condemn Sljivancanin Claims

By Katherine Boyle in The Hague (TU No 475, 3-Nov-06)
According to the indictment against the former JNA officer, who is currently on trial in The Hague, those selected at the hospital were later executed near Ovcara farm by local Serb troops in November 1991.

In his testimony this week, Sljivancanin implied that hospital staff were responsible for the selection of the murdered detainees, and denied previous witnesses claims that he himself had a list of suspected Croatian fighters and had chosen who would be detained.

Croatian prime minister Ivo Sanader called the statement “stupid” and described Sljivancanin’s effort to assign blame to the hospital staff as a “cheap trick”.

He said that several doctors who were in the Vukovar hospital are witnesses for the prosecution, and that Sljivancanin was trying to “smear” their reputation.

Croatian president Stjepan Mesic also said Sljivancanin was trying to deny his own responsibility for the slaughter at Ovcara, but noted that it was unlikely that the tribunal would believe Sljivancanin’s claims.

“He, who is to blame, and whose soldiers killed wounded people, killed our men at the hospital, cannot ask for any excuses,” Mesic told the Croatian media.

Sljivancanin and former JNA officers Mile Mrksic and Miroslav Radic are charged with having command responsibility over the soldiers alleged to have killed the people taken from the hospital.

The prosecution completed its cross-examination of Sljivancanin this week.

Katherine Boyle is an IWPR reporter in The Hague.