by Drago HEDL
When Dragan Poljak, the judge of the County Court in Osijek in charge of the trial of Nikola Ivankovic and Enes Viteskic, charged with the murder of 18 Serb and 1 Hungarian civilians, asked witness Darko Bobeta, former medic of the 130th Brigade (with which the defendants served as well) to describe how the military medics arrived to Paulin Dvor, how they picked up the corpses and where they took them, Bobeta curtly replied.
"We came, loaded and then unloaded them," he said.
The judge demanded that Bobeta describe who was "loaded" and "unloaded", to which he retorted: "Well, people, if one could call them that".
True, on that occasion Bobeta immediately apologized for his words, but judge Poljak did not even caution him, although several relatives of the victims attended the hearing.
The peculiar Osijek trial for the crime in Paulin Dvor, which is supposed to prove the capability of the Croatian judiciary to deal with war crimes on its own, without the Hague Tribunal, has been adjourned until July 7. So far almost all witnesses of one of the most horrible Croat crimes in the Homeland War, after which the corpses of the victims were two times secretly moved and re-buried, have been questioned. Thus, it can be concluded that so far the trial has been a complete farce. Attempts to hide the crime, and especially the transport of corpses in plastic barrels from Slavonija to Lika in the winter of 1997 have not been included in the indictment, because of alleged expiration of the statute of limitations.
Witnesses still, as in the first week of the trial, do not recall anything; they cannot recall who gave them orders, some do not even recall who their commanders were, and one does not even remember that he has ever served with the Croatian Army!
General Karl Gorinsek also took the witness stand. General Gorinsek is a former commander of the operations zone Osijek. He only said that he had immediately found out about the crime, that he ordered that investigation be conducted, informed his superiors and ordered that the murdered civilians be buried at the closest cemetery. Gorinsek's very cautious testimony followed only a few days after the former Osijek-Baranja county governor Dr. Ladislav Bognar, during the war an officer serving with the IPD of the Operations Zone Osijek, said testifying in court that at the time crime reigned in Osijek. Bombs were planted and murders committed. Branimir Glavas reacted the very same day to Bognar's testimony, although he hadn't been in court, nor had he been mentioned in the testimony. Namely, Glavas was informed about Bognar's testimony, so that he (at the time of crimes the head of the defense of Osijek, which included the local commune of Paulin Dvor) opened a broadside on Bognar. Glavas went so far as to accuse Bognar of the murder of Mate Sabic, commander of the defense of the OSijek district of Jug [South] II. Glavas claims that he learned about the Paulin Dvor case from Feral Tribune.
Fortunately, the trial is observed by monitors from the OSCE. Spokesperson of the OSCE mission in Croatia, Alessandro Fracasseti said the following for Feral Tribune regarding the Pulin Dvor trial: "The OSCE mission in Croatia is actively monitoring the trial for the war crime committed in Paulin Dvor. The monitoring of trials, both civil and criminal cases in local and higher instance courts, is a part of regular activities of the OSCE mission. The monitoring includes more than 60 war crimes cases that are ongoing all over Croatia. The mission is especially interested in the Paulin Dvor trial, because of various modes of cooperation between Croatian institutions and the International Criminal Court for the former Yugoslavia in connection with that trial."