[Amnesty International] Croatia Politician Must Face Inquiry Over War Crimes Claims


17 January 2011

AI Index: PRE01/017/2011

Croatia politician must face inquiry over war crimes claims

Amnesty International has renewed its call on the Croatian authorities
to investigate claims that a senior politician failed to prevent war
crimes committed by Croatian forces during the 1991-1995 war.

Vladimir Šeks, currently Deputy Parliament Speaker, who was a leading
political figure in the Eastern Slavonija region in 1991, faces fresh
claims that he failed to stop grave abuses perpetrated by forces under
his command.

On 13 January, the Youth Initiative for Human Rights, a Croatian
non-governmental organization (NGO), submitted new testimony from a
witness claiming that Vladimir Šeks had failed to investigate her
report of a crime allegedly committed by his subordinates in 1991. The
NGO provided statements by five other witnesses related to other
crimes allegedly committed in Eastern Slavonija at that time.

“The allegations against Vladimir Šeks must be investigated. It is
well documented that during the war he was in a position of political
command, as the Head of Crisis Headquarters in Eastern Slavonija, and
that his subordinates committed crimes with impunity,” Nicola
Duckworth said.

“He must not be allowed to misuse his power as an influential
political figure in order to block the justice process.”

Croatian forces under Vladimir Šeks’ command are said to have tortured
civilians during the conflict that followed the disintegration of the
former state of Yugoslavia.

In its report, Behind the Wall of Silence: Prosecution of War Crimes
in Croatia<http://www.amnesty.org/en/library/info/EUR64/003/2010/en>,
published in December 2010 Amnesty International expressed its concern
that a number of high profile Croatian military and political leaders
have to date still managed to evade investigation for alleged war

Following publication, one of the people named in the report –
Tomislav Merčep – was arrested and an investigation against him opened
by the Croatian State Prosecutor’s Office.

In relation to the alleged responsibility of Vladimir Šeks, the
Amnesty international report documented allegations about the
potential command responsibility of Vladimir Šeks for crimes committed
in the town of Osijek in 1991. The allegations are based on publicly
available information such as court judgments and court testimonies of
several witnesses.

“According to the Geneva Conventions, which Croatia is a party to,
military and civilian superiors may be criminally responsible for the
acts of their subordinates if they knew, or had information that such
crimes under international law were committed or were about to be

“The wounds of the war in Croatia are still open. Accountability for
war crimes and redress for the victims and their families irrespective
of ethnic origin, accompanied by a frank and informed debate in the
public sphere will help Croatia move forward,” said Nicola Duckworth,
Europe and Central Asia Programme Director.


Vladimir Šeks has been a member of the Croatian Parliament since the
country’s independence in 1991 as a representative of the Croatian
Democratic Union (Hrvatska Demokratska Zajednica – HDZ). He held
several senior positions including the posts of the Speaker of the
Parliament (December 2003-January 2008), Vice-Speaker of the
Parliament (from January 2008 until present), Deputy Prime Minister
(1992-1995) and the State Prosecutor (April – August 1992).

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Author: Impunity Watch Archive