Glavas Ruling Overturned

Appeals judges quash decision to release war crimes suspect.

Glavas Ruling Overturned

Appeals judges quash decision to release war crimes suspect.

Saturday, 16 December, 2006
A Zagreb County Court appeals chamber this week overturned an investigative judge’s decision to release from custody the Croatian parliamentary deputy Branimir Glavaš and temporarily suspend an investigation into his alleged involvement into war crimes.

Glavas was arrested in late October and almost immediatelly went on a hunger strike, claiming the case against him was fabricated and politically motivated. He was released from custody on December 2, because the authorities concluded his 37-day hunger strike seriously endangered his health.

The same day, investigative judge Zdenko Posavec suspended an investigation concerning the accused's alleged involvement in war crimes committed in the eastern Croatian town of Osijek in 1991.

The Zagreb county prosecutor’s office filed an appeal last week against Judge Posavec’s decision to release Glavas from custody and suspend the investigation due to his deteriorating health.

The appeals chamber accepted the prosecution's arguments and sent the decision back to Judge Posavec for reconsideration. They demanded the judge summon doctors again to establish whether Glavas was able to comprehend the proceedings against him.

It was not immediately clear when Judge Posavec might issue a new decision, and whether he would send Glavas - now being treated in a hospital - back to prison.

“At this moment, Glavaš remains free. Of course, his status depends on the new decision by the investigative judge,” said the Zagreb court’s spokesman Krešimir Devčić.

“It must be determined if Glavas’s incapacity is of such a nature that he cannot understand the purpose and the nature of criminal proceedings against him and their consequences.”

Two investigations are being carried out against Glavas. In one case, he is accused of ordering the 1991 killing of two Serbs and the torture of three others in Osijek. In the other, he is charged with ordering the killing of about six Serb civilians in the town, whose bodies were then thrown into the Drava river.

Judge Posavec suspended the investigation into the first case.

This week, at a hearing held at the Osijek County Court, where the investigation into the other case against Glavaš is being conducted, a team of doctors said Glavaš was incapable of attending the court proceedings. The investigative judge in that case has yet to decide whether to suspend the investigation.

But according to the latest Croatian media reports, Glavaš is still not capable of following the proceedings and does not understand directions given to him by his lawyers.

Goran Jungvirth is an IWPR reporter in Zagreb.
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