by M. SMOLCIC
"Just like Josip, many sons of Croatia left to fight in the war almost unarmed, without true uniforms, only ‘armed' by rosary beads, something that our enemy lacked, and the faith that they were fighting for a just cause, for freedom of Croatia," Milinovic said.
"I thank above you, Mother Marija, for giving birth to your son and raising your son to love his Croatia and its entire people," Kosor said. "At this spot, one of the most beautiful in the world, every year we commemorate the Bloody Easter of 1991. That Easter remains in the collective memory of all Croats and all citizens of Croatia as a day when Josip Jovic was murdered by terrorists. That day portended many bloody events," Kosor said.
The prayer was led by Military Bishop Monsignor Juraj Jezerinac. Bishop Jezerinac asked that all prayers be dedicated to the Croat victims of the Homeland War, as well as to the Holy Father who was at that moment fighting for life. In speeches of representatives of several associations of Veterans of the Homeland War, emphasis was on unquestioning support to the Government, which despite numerous obstacles is working hard on trying to improve the quality of life of citizens of Croatia, and preserving the dignity of the Homeland War and Croat defenders.
by Zoran KRZELJ
Obviously well prepared for commemorative activities Ban had at least two identical plaques made. He placed the first one on Sunday morning. After the first plaque was removed by police, he pulled out the second one, placed it on the same spot and added the sign "stay out - mines!" Members of the anti-terrorist unit checked the plaque and the area around it and ascertained that the area had not been mined. However, they did not remove the second plaque.
On Monday, the plaque was removed by Erceg himself. Erceg moved the plaque some fifty meters from its initial spot, to his café. Half way to the café, he had to "argue" with his friend Zvonimir Sipic, a combine mechanic, who wanted to mount the plaque on his workshop in Trilj!
In café "Ante", where the centerpiece is a large framed photo of Mirko Norac, next to Pope John Paul II, Erceg "explained" to journalists his motivation, both for putting up and removing the plaque, while one of the waitresses distributed to the journalists free black lighters with Ustashe insignia.
"They took down a monument to Budak! Why don't they destroy partisan monuments? In Kumrovec, there is a statue of Tito, six meters [18 feet] high, and Partisans committed as many crimes as Ustashe did!? Why should not I, then, put up a plaque commemorating my grandfathers? If they get rid of Partisan monuments, we won't put up any more plaques," says restaurateur Ban, offering arguments recently also presented by some highly educated Croats.
"He'll take it down? Well, if he could speak Croatian, he would have said ‘skale' instead of ‘ljestve'!," Ban was angry with the hero of the Homeland War and a grandson of a Partisan hero.
"Wait a minute, ‘skale' is not a Croatian word, it comes from Italian," yours truly tried to enlighten Ban.
"Well, whose word is ‘ljestve', then?" the owner of café "Ante" wanted to know.
"It's a Croatian word. Maybe you got confused with ‘merdevine' [a "Serb" word for ladder]?"
"Maybe, but, let Anusic come, he does not need a ladder for this plaque," Branko Erceg also known as Ban raged, after personally, following the advice from the Police and the mayor of Otok, removing his plaque.
Apart from superior "knowledge" of the Croatian language, Ban also boasted with "exceptional grasp" of history. As far as he is concerned, Ustashe were defenders of the people, while Partisans were criminals. Crimes of the SS division Prinz Eugen, the so-called "devil's division", which between March 28 and 29, 1944 in seven villages in the eastern part of Cetinska Krajina slaughtered about 1800 inhabitants, mostly children, women and elderly, by burning them alive, as confirmed by one of the survivors, Jozo Akrap Majski, who recently published a book on this topic, were according to Ban committed by Serb Chetniks wearing German uniforms, while according to Ban Partisans calmly watched the whole spectacle!?
To our question whether partisans killed one of his relatives, providing motivation to put up the plaque, he answered:
"Yes, they did, they killed my cousin in 1947!"
Ban also does not understand criticism of Thompson.
"He is criticized for singing the song ‘Jasenovac and Gradiska Stara' [Ustashe concentration camps] and I know that song since I was a child. They criticize Thompson, but he did not write the lyrics for the song. He only sang it, as I would also do," Ban proudly exclaims, adding that "'U' is the prettiest of all letters".
How can one explain to the café bar owner who does not know that "ljestve" is a Croat, while "skale" is an Italian word that [Ante] Pavelic gave Dalmatia to Mussolini, and that Partisans liberated it from the Italian fascists?
What about the "heroic" removal of the plaque? According to Erceg it went like this:
"This morning I talked with the police chief in Sinj, who told me that it would be best for everyone if I removed the plaque myself, so that the police did not have to intervene. I did precisely that. The mayor has nothing to do with that. He did not even know that I was going to put the plaque up"
Branko Samardzic, mayor of Otok, says that the decision that the plaque be removed was made at the urgently called meeting of the town council.
"We ordered the gentlemen who put up the plaque to remove it, and they did as requested," Samardzic says. The town council issued the following press release:
The cryptic press release of the mayor, whose office is adorned by a photograph of Norac and the Pope even bigger than the one displayed in the cafe "Ante" begs for an interpretation!
However, it is encouraging that, based on reactions of numerous anonymous residents of Otok, Ban put up the plaque on their behalf, but without seeking their approval. The only Otok [island] in Croatia with positive natural population growth rate, it seems, had better things to do than to worry about the exhibitionism of its Ustashe "Robinson".
According to one of Srdar's lawyers, Luka Susak, in the retrial none of 12 witnesses could confirm that Serdar was involved in maltreatment and murder of eight civilians in Siroka Kula in 1991, when the village was occupied by the Serb paramilitary forces. In 1994, the court in Gospic tried Serdar in absentia, while the Supreme Court confirmed the first degree sentence the same year. In October 2003, Serdar returned to Croatia from Serbia and, even though he had requested a retrial, was immediately sent to serve the sentence. Four months later the court in Gospic decided to retry the case, after being warned by Serdar's lawyers and after an intercession by Ivica Crnic, judge on the Supreme Court. Because of Serdar's case, the State Judicial Council fined Pavle Rukavina, president of the court in Gospic, even though Crnic demanded the harshest possible punishment, dismissal.
By the way, the decision to retry Serdar's case was made on the day when a delegation of the Supreme Court inspected the district court in Gospic, although Rukavina claimed in front of the State Judicial Council that the two events were not related.