Jovan Divjak arrested in Austria.

General Jovan Divjak was arrested tonight in Austria, in compliance with an arrest warrant issued by Serbia.

Here’s the news report on the website  of Radio Sarajevo (in Bosnian).

This is episode two of the ‘Dobrovoljacka ulica’ case. One year ago (1 March 2010) Ejup Ganic was arrested in London at the demand of Serbia, on grounds of his role on  the attack of the JNA column (see about this here). His extradition to Serbia was contested in court, and in the end he was released.

If the arrest of Ejup Ganic caused outrage, it was nothing compared with the shock with which the news of Jovan Divjak’s arrest was received in Sarajevo. Jovan Divjak is not only considered a hero for his role in the defence of Sarajevo, he is also loved and respected by everyone for his commitment towards Bosnia as a multinational country and by his post-war philanthropic activities, promoting the access to education of disadvantaged children.

This arrest thus follows a pattern. It comes not only after Ganic’s case, but also after the case of Ilija Jurisic, and the case against a member of the defence forces of Vukovar, Tihomir Purda.That the persons in question were prosecuted for actions taken in defence of their countries against the JNA, the Yugoslav army (and effectively a Serb army since 1991) represents an inversion of the value of justice.

All these cases ended up as an embarrassment for the Serbian judiciary, but still the trend continues. While the Serbian state is unable or unwilling to arrest the greatest war criminal of the Balkans, Ratko Mladic, known to be hiding in Serbia,  the Special Prosecutor, Vladimir Vukcevic, has called upon himself the mission of investigating and prosecuting alleged war crimes committed outside Serbia’s borders. This paradox can only be explained not by a commitment towards Justice, but by the importance of Justice as an instrument to mould the memory of the war.

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22 Comments

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22 responses to “Jovan Divjak arrested in Austria.

  1. American Man

    You are trying to instigate a war between your people, Serbia, and it is not welcome in the world today. This man has done nothing that hasn’t needed to be done because of your blatant disregard for human rights. Let Bosnians live in PEACE.

  2. Sarah Correia

    American man, I will delete your first comment because it does not comply with my guidelines for comments. I do understand your outrage, but I cannot allow any hateful comments.

  3. Sadie M. Talich

    Ratko Mladic is a FREE MAN.
    Jovan Divjak is a PRISONER.

    And they tell me I shouldn’t be paranoid; I shouldn’t believe in conspiracy theories.

  4. The Serbs have been playing catch and release with Agim Ceku for almost a decade now. Ceku is blessed with powerful American backers who intervene with Interpol and the detaining countries and keep out of prison. Divjak lacks that protection and will suffer accordingly.

  5. kora

    Serbian politicians are challenged to find peace within themselves, their county and their nation. I really feel for all decent people in Serbia and outside of Serbia who are represented by bunch of criminals.
    Jovan Divjak is a model of decent Serbian who suffers from Serbian deviant legitimacy.

  6. Bekir

    A brave man who stood for the very principles Europe like to call their own (freedom, justice, …) and in times when that same Europe denied it to a whole nation. It is now contradicting itself once more by imprisoning this man who symbolise all that Europe pretend to be but never realy was.

    Divjak already fought both Serbian vandalism and the Europe’s hypocrisy. He did it out of his sense of honour and humanity- and won. Give it a few weeks and he’ll do it again.

    He commited no crime- everyone knows that- and this is just another legal shambles.

  7. Bekir

    Good article by the way. Couldn’t click on “Like” though, as the news is hardly likeable.

  8. Kole

    Why he didn’t pass to Serbian army during bombing of Yugoslavia in 1999 if he realy like to be on the weaker side as he said in one of his interview?
    I think he was naive at that time. Now, he know that war in SFRJ is caused by West (Germany and USA, mostly), but he can’t change his past. All three side in yu-war actualy lost.
    Now, we can clearly see what happened to the Balkan.
    Divide et Impera!

  9. Filip

    I am not sure about DIvjak case, is he responsible or not, but young boys were cowardly murdered while trying to get back home. These young soldiers DID NOT invaded Bosnia, at the time they started serving the Armi Bosnia as a country didn’t exist.

    I’ve heard many first hand stories of Serbian friends stuck in both Bosnia and Croatia when the crisis started. They were just trying to get out alive, and they were often denied that right. The responsibility is mainly on the US and EU who didn’t care for consequences – they started recognizing Yugoslavian provinces independence without making sure that Yugoslavian Army is safely withdrawn from their territories.

    There is another case of murdering young soldiers in retreat in Slovenia as well. Ratko Mladic is a criminal and overall Serbian leaders are more responsible for the war crimes than the others, but Serbian crimes came later and most of them as a revenge crimes. Sorry, but that’s the bitter truth. As with the Kosovo case, it takes 10 or more years for the EU and US to start investigating crimes against Serbs (Dick Marty’s organ trafficking report)

    Serbia sent Milosevic, Seselj, Radovan Karadzic to the Hague. Ratko Mladic is pretty much the only one left.

    • Bekir

      In revenge to what? I hope you won’t say for “rebelion against Dahis”. By the time “dobrovoljacka” happened there were already thousands of dead Bosnian civilians killed by Arkan’s and Sesel’s volunteers in Zvornik, Bratunac, Foca, Visegrad… while JNA remained ‘neutral’.

      Many of soldiers, also, were not young (the reservisst, for instance, some of which openly wore chetnic’s insignia) and started serving when Yugoslavia didn’t exist any more. The JNA should, in fact, left Bosnia by the end of April, if it was to comply with already negotiated agreements. Instead, it chooses to stay and hold on to the weapons belonging to the ‘Teritorial Army. It also launched heavy attack on centre of Sarajevo on 2nd of May bombarding the Presidency and other government buildings and civilian targets including the main Post Office. Special units from Nis were involved in these attacks but met with the resistance they did not expect and suffered heavy losses. The same evening JNA arrested President Izetbegovic, his daughter, and some ministers who landed on the Sarajevo airport upon return from peace talks in Lisbon. That is when garrisons were blocked by the ‘territorials’, green berets, and policemen loyal to the Bosnian government. They demanded release of Izetbegovic and others, immediate departure of the JNA and handing over the Territorial Army weapons. The events in ‘Dobrovoljacka’ occurred the next day, on 3rd of May. This is the background against which this episode should be looked at.

      Some innocent soldiers have certainly died and someone should answer for that. But what Sarajevans were supposed to do? To let JNA take their weapons so they can continue pondering them with their own guns? or, to let them drive away with their president? And what about General Kukanjac? ‘Dobrovoljacka’ would never happen if he pulled the army out as agreed, did not bombard the city and did not arrest the president of the country in which he no longer had any legal position. He was also instrumental in helping Karadzic, Mladic and their henchmen set up three and a half year long siege of Sarajevo during which, day by day, they indiscriminately murdered and terrorised the inhabitants, many of which were ethnic Serbs too. Their deeds have long dwarfed any possible crime committed in ‘Dobrovoljacka’. That is not to say that any crime should go unpunished- just that right person(s) should answer. It is madness to compare Divjak with these monsters.

  10. Asteri

    “they started recognizing Yugoslavian provinces independence without making sure that Yugoslavian Army is safely withdrawn from their territories.”

    You mean Yugoslav Republics.

    I can’t help but think this is going to blow up in the governments face, it looks like an attempt to distract the population after last months anti-government protests.

  11. Filip

    Bekir, the point is some people in Bosnia wanted an independent country and some people did not. It was more of those who did wanted it and they decided to pronounce independence regardless of strong opposition to the idea by the other part of the population. Bosnian politicians decided to ignore 35% of their own population which strongly opposed separation and they decided to proceed with separation by any means and taking any risks necessary. Of course they could have perceived the war, but they thought it’s worth it.

    In the end, Serbs committed more crimes than the others, and their politicians the most responsible for but everyone was ready to shed blood for the ideas. Croatians fought with Muslim population in Mostar, and Muslim population had conflicting fractions (remember Fikret Abdić).

    • Djordje

      “Bosnian politicians decided to ignore 35% of their own population which strongly opposed separation and they decided to proceed with separation by any means and taking any risks necessary.”

      So what they should do? They should say that unless 101% vote for independence, we will not proceed? And what the 35% did? How did they respect the rest 65%? By starting a campaign of creating a small serbia inside the Bosnia with ultimate goal of conquering whole Bosnia?
      And you imply that they took risks so, i assume, you are fan of the (in)famous speech of your favorite leader. So, according to you, not respecting the minority in a Democratic decision, means that the minority has the right to start a war against the majority. I am sorry but you need to open the dictionary for the necessary definitions.

      “Of course they could have perceived the war, but they thought it’s worth it.”

      How, exactly? By letting Bosnia to be part of “Velika Srbija”? And noone, absolutely no one in Bosnia could ever imagine that their neighbors would be able for such atrocities against them. So, potentially, there was no actual risk for a large scale conflict. Noone of us could ever imagine, even in the wildest dreams, that our neighbors would have so much of hate for all the Bosnians. No one believed that a large scale war would ever happen. But you knew better what you were talking about…but we didn’t wanted to believe you

    • Bekir

      This wasn’t actually a point, until you introduced it and it is not a valid one either- Djordje has already explained why.

      The Bosnian government did what any government should do- they proceeded in accordance with the will of the great majority of population. Your figure of 35% is, in fact, the percentage of ethnic Serb population in BiH in 1991 and you assume that none of them voted for independence- this simply isn’t true. Though Serbs were instructed (by SDS) to boycott the referendum, not everyone obliged and some Serbs still voted for independence as was almost 98% of non-Serb voters.

      Not only in the end (as you say) did the Serb forces committed more crimes than the others but also at the beginning and throughout the conflict. The official figures (UN) show that 80% of all atrocities against civilians were committed by the Serbian forces, 15% by Croatian forces and 5% by Bosnian (who were the biggest victims – 80% of total civilian deaths). It is clear that the majority of crimes by Serb forces were coordinated, planned and ordered from the top- they were not the consequence but a goal of the war and sponsored by Serbia itself. The Bosnian crimes, on the other hand, were the result of the actions of individuals- and that is precisely the perception that Serbia wants to change by desperately trying to link prominent Bosnians with the war crimes. Needless to say, they don’t fool anyone but those inclined to believe them anyway.

      For Bosnians it wasn’t about ideas – it was about survival. The only idea that started it all was the idea of Great Serbia.

  12. Filip

    Reading some other sources now I see that Divjak seems to be a silly figure, he having no power at all. However, if Bosnian authorities processed the case of Dobrovoljacka street Serbia would certainly stop working on it.

    However, Bosnian authorities think there’s no crime in the case and everything was clean. The same was for the cases of raids around Srebrenica when Naser Oric was the issue. One side celebrates him as a hero and the other holds him for a monster.

    It’s similar for Arkan, when you confront some Serbian people with the horrible facts of his deeds they might say: you know, he was a criminal but let me tell you something, in my village we would all be dead if he didn’t come.

  13. Sarah Correia

    Filip, Divjak is not at all a silly figure.

    The Bosnian authorities could not investigate him because the ICTY considered there wasn’t enough evidence, in accordance to the Rome Agreement.

    Please read this carefully.

    http://www.ifimes.org/default.cfm?Jezik=En&Kat=10&ID=588

    I will come back to this issue later.

  14. Filip

    Divjak, according to some sources was very important to the Bosnian authorities as an ethnic Serb who stood up to defend Sarajevo and who was on the Bosnian side of conflict.

    However, for the very same reason he was denied any real power to decide because high ranked Bosnian officials thought his Serbian background presents too much of a risk. So as a consequence he did not have significant decision making power. He was arrested by his own subordinates and and he was always skipped in the chain of command.

  15. Filip

    >>He was once arrested by his own… <<

  16. Filip

    >>The Bosnian authorities could not investigate him because the ICTY considered there wasn’t enough evidence, in accordance to the Rome Agreement.<<I didn't mean to investigate him but to investigate the case.

    Do you really think after those people in retreat were shoot everyone should just forget about it and pretend there's no crime in theat act at all?

  17. bozhidar balkas

    as far as i cld espy, yug’v republics– or, rather, croatia and bosnia– had two very bad choices to choose from in late 80s: a yug’a with three or more serb countries [?homelands in ‘holy’ serb lands; each with veto power in croatia, bosnia, and kosovo or face an invasion by serb army; called, of course, “yug’v army”, in order to deceive or obtain approval from their friends: u.k., u.s., france, canada, et al.
    serbs did not have to fret about what russia wld do. it always had been a given that russia wld not only approbate anything serbs do, but wld scream at them to do i t.

    to my great surprise, serb allies performed a volte face. the allies said “nyet”.
    tnx

    croat’ns, bosniaks, and kosovar chose the second hell; it being by far better than the first choice in their respective eyes. tnx

  18. bozhidar balkas

    as long as we do not have an antipodally standing political party to the ones which represent personal, nat’l, religious, cultural supremacists we will always witness murder, oppression, abuse, insecurities, etc.
    all evil that befalls us on interpersonal, intrapersonal, nat’l, international, religious, intereligious, sport, cultural levels are caused by the feelings of me right-u wrong; me-beeter-worthier-smarter than u.

    for that is a declaration and espousal of person owning a person and not just property, war peace, nutrition, healthcare, schooling, truth, etc. tnx for ur deaf ear!

  19. Owen

    Filip, the difference between Oric and Arkan is that Oric was defending the starved and brutalised survivors of the genocidal butchery of 1992. Arkan was a key part of the preparatory campaign of terror in which Serb villagers were softened up by the deliberate fear-mongering of the media before butchers like Arkan were sent in to terrorise the non-Serb population before the JNA artillery and the local Crisis Staff Committees completed the task of strategic population adjustment. We have had long enough to know what happened and to recognise revisionist misrepresentations for the propaganda effort they are. The British judge who threw out the Serb request for Ejup Ganic’s deportation described the application as an abuse of the process of law. It astonishes me that the Austrian judicial authorities didn’t recognise the Divjak application as more of the same. Serbia not only continues to shelter Mladic and Goran Hadzic, there are hundreds and hundreds of lesser fish, like the “rulers of Visegrad”, Savovic and Perisic, and all the rest of the butchers still enjoying impunity. Too many Serbs/Serbians still believe that the world owes them explanations and justice when explanations and justice are still being waited for from them. They’ll find a bit more sympathy when the expressions of regret and contrition sound a little more genuine and games-playing with international arrest warrants gives way to compliance with obligations under international law.

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