The newest EU member, Croatia, remains a country haunted by ghosts of its dark past. Slobodan Praljak was convicted of war crimes against the Bosniak population of Bosnia and Herzegovina, alongside five other Croatian officials, on November 29. The convicted war criminal committed suicide. Praljak swallowed cyanide in the courtroom, and died an hour later.
The Bosniak-Croat conflict, often referred to as a “war within a war,” was a conflict between the self-proclaimed Croatian Republic of Herzeg-Bosnia, supported by Croatia, and the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina. A part of an international armed conflict that took place in Bosnia and Herzegovina between 1992 and 1995, led and supplied by Serbia and Croatia, the Bosniak-Croat war has scarred all three countries. Bosnia by death, pillage, rape and mass murder, Croatia and Serbia by the burden of committing such atrocities.
The Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic, however, does not seem to be burdened by war crime.
“His act, which we regrettably saw today, mostly speaks about a deep moral injustice towards six Croats from Bosnia and the Croatian people,” Plenkovic said. He then added that the verdict “incorrectly assesses the role of Croatian leadership in the war.”
The bizarre event of Praljak’s suicide will be written about in history books, but so will the Croatian Prime Minister’s statement. Mr. Plenkovic is the first head of an EU government to support a convicted war criminal, The Guardian reports.
During the Bosnian war, 100,000 people died and 2.2 million were displaced. Herzeg-Bosnia, backed by the government of the Croatian leader Franjo Tuđman, was dismantled as a part of the peace deal that ended the war, called the Dayton Peace Agreement.
Tuđman’s son, Miroslav, also commented on Praljak’s actions, stating that his suicide was a “consequence of his moral position not to accept the verdict that has nothing to do with justice or reality.” Miroslav Tuđman is a member of the conservative Croatian Democratic Union, the current ruling party of Croatia. His father was also a member, and so is the current Croatian Prime Minister, Andrej Plenkovic. The current President, Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović, is an ex-member.
Before the Balkan conflict, Slobodan Praljak had been a film director and a writer. Ironically, he had decided to leave this world in a bizarrely dramatic fashion. All that is left after Praljak’s suicide is a country haunted by its past. A European Union member whose democratically-elected government seems to be morbidly comfortable with war crimes.